Episode 34 – Performing our regular Spiritual Practices – A food for thought!!

rama-sita

In the previous episode we witnessed that King Dasharata pays heed to the advice given by his minister Sumanthra and his “Guru”, Sage Vasishta to perform the “Puthra-Kaameshti Yaaga” and approaches Romapada, the king of his neighboring state, Anga Desha for bringing Sage Rishyashringa. Accordingly King Romapada was very happy at Dasharata’s request and he directs Sage Rishyashringa to leave for Ayodhya immediately. Thus, we also saw the commencement of the first procedure of the ritual – To let a horse travel across the country and upon its successful return back to the kingdom, the other rituals would start. Accordingly the horse returned back successfully and now Sage Vasishta further advises King Dasharata to extend an invitation to various kings of other states, great sages, etc. to grace the occasion and bless him. Now we are at the juncture to see as to why did Sage Vasishta want Dasharata to do this. Why should he invite everyone? Why can’t he do the ritual by himself? Here’s an interesting and an important explanation in today’s episode!

Let’s see it in this way: Sage Vasishta wanted King Dasharata to invite other people for the reason that, he should receive the blessings of all the great sages and also the kings, and through those blessings he should become a father of a child. This is because; a person would not be able to receive the grace of Bhagawan just by performing his/her karma (duty) alone. This is the reason why even today, we invite all our friends and relatives for a marriage function or a house-warming ceremony, etc. Also, we have the tradition of offering breakfast/lunch/dinner for all those people who come to attend the marriage or whatever function that we conduct. It’s just for the simple reason that “food” is one important aspect that would make people contented, happy and satisfied. Once people are happy, they whole-heartedly bless the occasion and it adds so much of value for those who organize the function.

However, it is important to note here that although the invitation to other people is necessary, the “karma” that we are supposed to perform in this world is also equally important. When I use the word “Karma”, it means our regular and routine spiritual practices that we are supposed to do everyday – Be it any religion or community in this world. The point here is that, irrespective of whatever religion we follow in this world, we should strive towards meticulously following the principles laid down by the respective religion!

For instance, in Hinduism we do our “Sandhya-Vandhanam” (A daily spiritual offering that is done by Brahmins), “Shraadha-Karma” (An spiritual practice that is performed after the demise of our parents), etc. and it is to be noted that these kinds of spiritual practices are to be strictly performed regularly without skipping. This is a very important aspect of the Indian Dharma.

Having said this, there might be different arguments put forth by people in the modern day – Some people say and declare to themselves that they’ve spiritually awakened to such an extent that they are not in a position to do all these daily routine “Karma” and they’ve crossed all these basic stages and gone to the “Gnyaana Maarga” (The path of deep knowledge). Let me tell something here – We’ve never crossed over to all those higher levels yet, and it’s only next to impossible for us to do all that in the present Kali Yuga. “Gnyaana” (Knowledge) is in the place where it should be and we are still somewhere at an extremely lower levels. Hence, as normal human beings born in this world, we are bound to perform our regular spiritual practices everyday without fail.

Moreover, some people propagate that we’ve entered into the path of “Bhakti” (Devotion towards the Lord), and we keep chanting a “Manthra” regularly. Hence we need not do other daily routine spiritual practices. Also, some people propagate that we’ve gone to Varanasi and Gaya (Places in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh & Bihar) and performed our “Shraadha-Karma” for our demised parents once in our lifetime and hence, we need not perform anymore yearly “Shraadha-Karma” that we are supposed to perform – All these kinds of propagations according to me are ways and means of escapism. There is nothing like this in our “Shaastras” (Spiritual texts). It is extremely important that we do our “Sandhya-Vandanam” every day (in case of Brahmins). Also in fact, the “Shaastras” say that a person should do his “Shraadha-Karma” for his parents every year after their demise. This is mandatory, and no “Shaastras” say that we need not perform the annual ritual for our parents once we do a “Gaya Shraadha” in our life.

“Gayayaam pindapradhaanancha prathyartham bhoori bhojanaath”!!

The above line is a “Shaastra-Vaakya” (Sentence from the Scriptures) that emphasizes that every year a person should do the “Shraadha-Karma” for his parents after their demise, even though the “Gaya Shraadha” is done once in his lifetime.

Another argument here might be that, we keep chanting the name of the Lord every time and everyday and thus we are rising in our “Bhakti Maarga” (Path of Devotion) gradually. Let me tell one thing here – Chanting the name of the Lord is very good and there is absolutely no doubt in that. However, no Shaastra says that we’ve to leave behind our “Nithya-Anushtaana” (Daily spiritual practices) and chant the Lord’s name.

Also, many a time, we wrongly understand the meaning of “Complete Surrender to the Lord”. We all think that once we surrender ourselves to Bhagawan, whatever wrong activities we do in this birth henceforth, would never be seen as wrong – There’s nothing like this! Firstly we should note that Bhagawan is not a fool – He knows when and where to punish all of us for our bad deeds.

Hence, it is very important for all of us that we do our daily spiritual practices regularly without fail! At this stage, questions may arise from another corner: Why do we need to do all these regular spiritual practices? Why is there so much of an emphasis on this? Yes, it’s a very interesting question – Let’s wait till the next episode to find out the answer for this!

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