In the last few episodes we’ve been talking at length about the auspicious Sita-Rama wedding, and the inner meaning of the sloka “Iyam Sita mama suthaa..” – The most important sloka in the Valmiki Ramayana that beautifully portrays the auspicious event. As an extended discussion, during the last couple of episodes we were witnessing a very important social evil called “Divorce” and we pondered upon why divorces and separations happen at ease in the modern day. The last episode also focused on some possible solutions to curb this social menace. We discussed the importance of “Satsangs” and “Saadhu-Samaagama” wherein we said that, by channelizing ourselves towards good and healthy friendships with people around and by enhancing our “Bhagawat-Chintana” by reading and exploring various spiritual texts, music in the praise of Bhagawan, etc., it gives us the ultimate divine pleasure and automatically, the relationship between the couple would enhance further and thus follow the path of Dharma together!
In today’s episode, we shall continue to discuss about a couple of very important rituals done as part of the marriage ceremony, even today – The “Saptha-Pathi” and “Laaja-Homam”. Of course we’ve spoken a bit about “Saptha-Pathi” already, but today we shall discuss it in more detail. To begin this discussion, we recall here that the most important lesson to be learnt from the Sita-Rama wedding is that; Marriage is a bonding – A divine and a happy bonding between the couple – The bonding that is undertaken by us with the guidance of the “Shaastraa”, in front of “Agni Bhagawan”. Given this extremely high level of significance, there is absolutely no question of breaking away from this divine bonding! Now let’s go back to our subject on the Valmiki Ramayana.
“Iyam sitaa mama suthaa saha dharma chareethava!
Pratheecha yenaam bhadramthe paani grinheesva paaninaa!!”
In the last phrase of this all-important sloka, King Janaka says, “Paani grinheesva paaninaa”, which means, “Oh Rama! Hold her hands with yours!” For this, Periyavaachaan Pillai gives a beautiful description in one of his commentaries on the Ramayana. He says, “Oh Rama! You can hold Sita’s feet later on! Now, hold her hands first!” Rama asks back, “What are you saying? I’m a great prince! Why should I hold someone else’s feet?” He again says, “Oh Rama! I’m not telling this! The Shaastras are saying!” While the “Saptha-pathi” is going on, the boy has to hold the girl’s foot and place it slowly on a stone (“Ammikkal” in Tamil), and chant the following manthra:
“Aathishtenam asmaanam asmenathvaa sthiraa bhava!!”
This manthra signifies that “Oh my dear wife! Please harden your mind and heart like this stone and get yourself prepared! You will need to do lot of work and you’ll need to shoulder lot of responsibilities after our marriage!” This same manthra would be employed for boys when they do their “Upanayanam” – wearing their sacred thread (Poonool, or Saarani). In that context, the meaning would be, “Oh son! You are now becoming a Brahmachaari and would be going to the ‘Gurukula’ to learn your lessons, wherein you would not get to be physically comfortable! Hence, harden and prepare your mind for the challenges ahead!” Here we say the following:
“Aathishtenam asmaanam asmenathvaa sthiroo bhava!!”
Thus, for the boy it is “Sthiroo bhava” and for the girl it is “Sthiraa bhava”. This is the only difference – The former is “Pullinga” (Masculine) and the latter is “Streelinga” (Feminine). Thus, the significance of the “Saptha-Pathi” is that, the girl is preparing herself to enter her husband’s home, wherein she has to shoulder numerous responsibilities! This is exactly what Aandaal says in the following lines:
“Ammi midhikka kanaa kanden thozhi naan!
Thee valam seiya kanaa kanden thozhi naan!
Kaithalam pattra kanaa kanden thozhi naan!!”
As I had mentioned before, the phrase “Kanaa Kanden” in Tamil means “Dreaming about”. Thus, Aandal dreams about her marriage with Lord Krishna, and hence she invokes each and every ritual of the marriage ceremony and says that she is dreaming about performing all these important rituals, holding hands with Lord Krishna! She continues to explain one more important thing:
“Pori muharndhu atta kanaa kanden thozhi naan!”
Here, the phrase “Pori muharndhu” signifies another very important ritual called “Laaja-Homam”. The girl’s brother should perform this ritual. Accordingly, the girl’s brother, takes his sister’s hand and places it on her husband’s, and places a handful of puffed rice (“Pori” in Tamil) on their hands together. Now the husband has to chant manthras, while the wife should pray to Agni Bhagawan for a long life for her newly wed husband. This is a very important event and is called “Laaja Homam”.
There is one more event in a marriage ceremony that is very significant – The “Thirumangalya Dhaaranam”. This is a unique event and has to be covered in detail. Why do we perform the “Thirumangalya Dhaaranam”? What is it’s significance? Let’s wait till the next episode to talk about this! 🙂