[Advaita-l] Samit Pani

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Nov 17 15:17:46 CST 2013

Just clearing up some loose ends.

On Thu, 24 Oct 2013, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> One explanation is it is fire wood required to keep warm in the 
> cold hills of Himalayas where Gurus were sitting in those days, in 
> contemplation.

If we examine the geographical terms in the upanishads, they seem to take 
place in the belt from the land of the Kuru-Panchalas (modern 
Haryana/Delhi environs) to Videha (modern Bihar) not the Himalayas.  While 
it can get cold in winter in this area it is hardly the same as the 
Himalayas.  So this explanation is a bit strained IMO.

On Fri, 25 Oct 2013, D.V.N.Sarma డి.వి.ఎన్.శర్మ wrote:

> Is there any explicit admonition that a grihastha should not enjoy the
> warmth of agnihotras?


> When the grihapathi and grihasthas are in the griha, warming of the 
> griha, and grihasthas by the agnihotra is automatic.
> I do not think that the inmates used to sleep outside the griha in the 
> winter in order to avoid being warmed by the agnihotra.

My understanding is that nitya agnihotris typically have a separate 
agnishala either a room or free-standing structure where the garhaptya 
agni is kept burning. The other two shrauta agnis are produced from it at 
the time of yajnas.  The household fire or laukika agni which is used 
for cooking, heating etc. (or rather was prior to electricity) is not used 
for agnihotra and other shrauta rites but is used for e.g. vivaha and 
other sanskaras etc.  Which is why the latter are described in the grhya 
("household") sutras and not the shrauta sutras.  So again, the need to 
keep warm doesn't provide a good explanation for my samidhs are offered.

On Sat, 26 Oct 2013, vaidehi chaitanya wrote:

> the samit is a symbol of the readiness of the student who approaches the
> guru  that "s/he is ready to burn the ego".

On Sat, 26 Oct 2013, Sumitha Ramachandran wrote:

> It shows the readiness of the student for Brahma vidya
> with immense vairagya  who approaches the Guru with folded hands as a
> sign of humility.   The Guru is going to see his physical appearance at
> first with his eyes. The student for his part shows his humility with
> his folded palms followed by submission of dried sticks indicative of
> his vairagya and falling like Dhanda at His Lotus Feet indicative of
> complete surrender.

On Sun, 27 Oct 2013, Br. Pranipata Chaitanya wrote:

> yathA samiddhaH agniH edhAMsi bhasmasAt kurute tathA GYAna-agniH
> sarva-karmANi bhasmasAt kurute. (BG 4.37). As a well lit fire burns the
> wood to ashes, so do the fire of knowledge burns all actions.

On Tue, 29 Oct 2013, Swaroop Sharma wrote:

> Namaste,
> I was told in my Gurukulam, by my Acharya that Samit represents two subtle
> meanings.
> 1. Once we offer it to the Yajna as Havis, it can't be retrieved, so the
> innate feeling of "total surrender" is portrayed.
> 2. Even a Paramahamsa, or a Jeevanmukta precisely,  cannot completely
> destroy his memories, but they'd have become like ash, for Ex., a rope
> burnt to the core looks like it is existing, but taken in hand, it'd be
> nonexistent. So would promise a Shishya with a Samit in hand,
> symbolically,  that he'd turn all his conditionings of the past and
> occurring of the future into existent yet nonexistent ash. Samit conveys a
> symbolic meaning, "procuring knowledge, yet be unbound by the same"

I'm sure there are also adhyatmic meanings for the act of samitpani.  I'm 
not arguing that "symbolism" is wrong only that it does not fully explain 
why this particular act was the basis of the symbolism.  Consider that 
madhuparka is also a ritual of offering to ones superiors amongst whom are 
ones acharya.  Why then is this not prominently featured in upanishadic 
accounts?  Because underlying the symbolism is the "practical" fact of 
brahmacharya being a necessary prelude to instruction in Vedanta.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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