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அழகி மென்பொருள்
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Courtesy: Balasubramanian, Chennai

One can argue that most of the rituals contribute to Karmayoga; this does not mean that Bhaktiyoga and Gyanayoga are neglected in rituals. "One should continue to follow whatever yoga one chooses for attaining liberation, but should continue to perform rituals, according to Kanchi Mahaswamigal. He used to explain the need for performing rituals in this way. When a child is about three years old, it becomes naughty. So parents put the child in a nursery school in order to infuse some kind of discipline in its acts. The child gets into regular habits, repeats the rhymes, does the classwork and homework meticulously and learns to listen to and obey the teacher. Likewise rituals infuse a sense of discipline and good conduct in the actions of people.

Kanchi Paramacharya (PeriyavA) also used to say that one cannot see his refection in the mirror clearly, if the mirror is dirty and when it is swinging like a pendulam. To see the image clearly, the mirror should be fixed on a wall and wiped clean. The mind is also like a dirty swinging mirror. It has to be fixed on a particular object/action. The rituals are meant for that. The mind gets dirty because of dirt like desire, jealousy, anger, ego, infatuation, delusion and the like. The mind has to be wiped clean of these dirty things. By the performance of rituals, the mind becomes clean in such a way that it can reflect the true Paramatman. Kanchi Mahaswamigal used to tell that some people meeting him used to ask him as to why so many rituals have been prescribed. His answer was that the mind is like a copper vessel; it has to be cleaned/polished everyday, otherwise it presents a tarnished look. Similarly, the mind has to be cleaned as often as possible, and hence a number of rituals have been prescribed.

Paramacharya used to emphasize that rituals are symbolic. We Indians are fond of symbols. Our ancestors invented symbols for zero and other numbers. They also provided symbolic images for their gods and goddesses. Symbols are subtle, and they are representative of a bigger concept. For example, a circle is represented by an equation x raised to the power 2 +y raised to the power 2='a' raised to the power 2. Just by writing an equation, a circle will not appear before us. It is just a symbol. In the same way, rituals are symbolic representation of bigger concepts of bhakti and jnaana. Mahaperiyava compares rituals to brahmvijay a ladder that takes one nearer to the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate reality. The ladder must be used for climbing heights. He who kicks the ladder after reaching the first floor is a fool. A wise man picks up the ladder and uses it to climb to the second and other floors as well. Likewise, rituals should not be given up after reaching a particular position in life. They should be performed for further advancement in life. Thus spake the Kanchi Mahamuni.

G. Balasubramanian

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