[Advaita-l] Idea of Namaskaram

Navin Rajaram navinr at moschip.com
Wed Dec 22 10:32:46 CST 2004

Hari Om,

S Jayanarayanan wrote:

>However, there are problems when unequals are treated as equals in any
>society. It may not be that there exists a special "conceit" in people
>occupying high positions, but only that the position the person
>occupies is to be respected. For example, when one honors an
>individual's achievements, one ought to applaud that achievement and
>treat the individual with special honor. In this case, treating them as
>equal to dogs is a grave sin, and not to be tolerated. Similarly, a man
>convicted of a crime ought to be punished, and there is no harm in
>treating him with severity as a convicted criminal deserves. Treating
>him as equal to an innocent man is simply wrong. These are false ideas
>of equality, and is the "tumult" being referred to in the
I was probably confused by the lines "Therefore, one ought not to show 
equal respect to all jIvas when in the presence of those who possess 
conceit". The context, as you point out, might mean giving special 
respect to those who occupy a high seat of honour on account of 
achievements. All namaskarams are diverted to Iswara and both the doer 
and the one before whom the doer prostates divert the offering to 
Iswara, as you rightly point out.

In this context, the late Kanchi Periyawal Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati 
"On the other hand, the case of the person performing the namaskara 
appears a blessed state. Blessed in which sense? When he lowers his body 
and prostrates before another person whom he considers a saint, he also 
"pushes" a load off his mind as it were, in the belief that the other 
person will take care of that. Namaha is sometimes itself interpreted as 
the meaning of "Na Mama" (not mine") - that is pushing away something as 
"not mine". A true namaskara will always be in this attitude only. Most 
people do not perform such true namaskaras. As I said earlier, there are 
cent per cent and pass mark types. Even in a pass-mark namaskara, at 
least for that fraction of the moment during the actual performing of 
the namaskara, he feels a relief. This is what we notice daily. I lost 
this "blessing" to prostrate before another and to enjoy the feeling of 
lightness and relief in just remaining in the namaskara posture, at a 
very young age. The position (sthanam) robbed me of the blessing.

The "bhagya" of experiencing such a feeling of becoming light through 
namaskara was taken away from me at a very early age. When the dignity 
of a position is weighing me down, how to become light?  In my case 
(meaningfully he stresses on "my") I got two special "unlucky prizes". 
What are the two unlucky prizes? There is a general rule that a junior 
sannyasi should do namaskara to a sannyasi who is his senior. The senior 
and junior are not determined by age of the person. It is reckoned on 
the number of vyasa poojas performed. Every sannyasi has to perform 
vyasa pooja in ashada pournami. If supposing one person became a 
sannyasi at age 20, he would have performed 10 vyasa poojas by the time 
he reaches the age 30. If another person took sannyasa at 55 when the 
earlier person was only 25, then he would have performed five vyasa 
poojas only by the time he is 60 and the earlier person is 30. If they 
both meet at some time, the 30 year old sannyasi with more vyasa poojas 
will be the senior and the 60 year old sannyasi will do namaskara to 
him.... After I became a sannyasi, I have met a number of sannyasis with 
more vyasa poojas to their credit; even then, I did not do namaskara to 
them but the opposite happened. Reason, the title of Jagatguru! Even 
though I understand the title as meaning that the entire jagat is my 
guru, in common practice I have to act according to the law of the mutt 
which ordains that "the entire jagat is sishyavarga of the Jagatguru and 
namaskara to the sishya is not even to be thought of. Therefore, I could 
not do namaskara to sannyasis who were otherwise senior to me.

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