Touch Of A Sanyasi
February 3, 2009 Leave a comment
The priest and Thiru on reaching the palace were taken to the open ground where the homam was to be performed on the following day in a temporarily erected yagasala and then to their quarters where they would spend the night. Early morning, they readied themselves and proceeded to the yagasala where everyone had assembled. The Raja and his consort with the baby in her arms were seated near the kund (the altar for the sacrificial fire) constructed as per the geometry of Sulba Sutras (1).
The homam was prescribed to appease Aayur Devatha, the god of life, to counter any malefic effects of planets, tithi (day of the fortnightly), vaara (day of the week) and nakshatra (star) in the baby’s natal chart, as specified by Sage Bodhayana (2). It started off, as most homams do, with invocation the blessings of Vishwaksena to remove all possible hurdles followed by sankalpam (a formal resolution by the Raja to perform the homam), agniprathishtanam (installation of the sacrificial fire in the kund) and kalasa sthapanam and devatha avaahanam (invoking various gods on symbolic vessels). In the main phase of the homam, the yagasala resonated with the chanting of Aayushya Suktha mantras by the priests with plumes of ghee-fed fire leaping out of the kund.
The heat and smoke from the kund made their eyes water besides sweat streaming down. Thiru was awe struck by the royal splendor, the religious fervor and the over-all gaiety. He was mightily impressed by the Raja and his regalia and his dignified bearing. He had never seen anything like this before.
Meanwhile, Aavahitha Devatha homams and other homams followed. The baby was symbolically fed cooked rice (Anna Praasanam). And finally the last phase of guests blessing the baby with gifts and in return the host Raja honoring and compensating the priests and giving away gifts to the guests.
With the homam formally concluded, now it was time for lunch for the guests. The crowd slowly moved towards the pandal where the food was to be served. The Raja personally steered the guests towards the pandal. In the midst of the mild commotion that prevailed, when a glass of water was offered by an attendant, he took it without a thought, to refresh himself. As he was ready to take a sip, Thiru barged in from nowhere and strongly cautioned the Raja not to take the water saying it was poisoned. The Raja looked at the young lad all worked up and was annoyed at this sudden and contumely intrusion; he returned the glass without a sip as if to humor the youngster and not wanting to create a scene, and walked away thinking no more of the incident.
The officers of the Raja’s court rushed to the spot and severely reprimanded Thiru for his act. They withdrew only after the priest intervened and assured them that there would be no more trouble. They quietly had their lunch at the pandal and set out on their return journey. On their way, a confused Thiru could not get over the incident. He told the priest how he had a clear vision of the Raja dropping dead after sipping the water; the Raja’s life was in danger. The priest assured Thiru that there was nothing to worry now; he had seen Raja’s competent minister already getting suspicious; the alert minister would get to the bottom of it and protect the Raja from the palace intrigues that were rumored about.
When they returned, they found that the word had already reached the village about the incident. While the resilience of youth was willing to put the unpleasant incident behind and get on with life, it was not so with the villagers. There were some amused looks cast at Thiru like one would at a monkey doing tricks. And there were others concerned if Thiru had his wits about him. It was a few months before normalcy returned.
And then it happened.
(To be contd.)
(1) One of the sutras of this well known set implies the Pythagoras Theorem as follows:
The rope which is stretched across the diagonal of a square
produces an area double the size of the original square.
(From History of Mathematics – The Indian Contribution by V. Krishnamurthy January, 07)
(2) From Sri Vasudeva Tatacharya’s (Bangalore) book: “YAjusha-Ayushya-homa-prayOga”, in Kannada, based on Shruti and Smritis, following the path of Sages Bodhayana and Shounaka.