By Periyava
Translated by V. Krishnaraj

எள்ளும் தண்ணீரும் எங்கே போயின? : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
Sesame and Water:Where Did They Go? Deivathin Kural

All human beings should express gratitude to their ancestors and deities. This is paying the debt to Pitrs and doing rites to gods. We should do what we can to all living things. We should play host to at least one guest a day. This is called ‘Viriunthu’ meaning food for guest or Maṉuṣyayajṉam (sacrifice to a human being). Brahma Yajnam. Braḥmam has a plethora of meanings. Here it means Veda. Brahma Yajnam is reciting Vedas and encouraging others do the same. This satisfies the Ṛṣis. This is not performed by all. Only Brahmanas do it for others. Bhūta Yajnam is performed by all, meaning it is an act of expressing love and serving food to all beings other than human. We are indebted to do in one form or another Pitr Yajna, Deva Yajna, Manuṣya Yajna, and Bhuta Yajna. Īśvarārppaṇam is performed according to Vaidika Dharma and involves doing once own vocation: These are called one’s own Brahma Yajnam.
Yajna = யஞ்ஞம் yaññam = yajña = Sacrifice, sacrificial worship, offering of an oblation; யாகம்.
Pitr Yajna = Oblation to dead parents and ancestors; Deva Yajna = Oblation to a deity; Manuṣya Yajna = food offering to a human being; and Bhuta Yajna =
Tiruvalluvar has mentioned what was said in Vedas.
குறள் 43:
தென்புலத்தார் தெய்வம் விருந்தொக்கல் தானென்றாங்கு
ஐம்புலத்தாறு ஓம்பல் தலை.
Theṉpulaththār theyvam virunthokkal thāneṉṛāngu
Aimpulaththāṛu ōmpal thalai. Verse 43 Tiruvalluvar.
Thenpulaththār are the Pitrs: Mother, father, and ancestors to whom we should perform our duties and pay debts. ‘Mātru Dēvō bhava, Pitru Dēvō bhava’ Avvaiyār says, ‘அன்னையும் பிதாவும் முன்னறி தெய்வம்’ (Mother and the father are the first-known gods.) When the parents become dependents, we should be humble before them. We should provide for their needs to them to the extent possible. We cannot realistically compensate for all the past sacrifices our parents did for us. We should protect and nurture them and make sure they are happy.
After they leave this world, we should perform without fail the Śrāddha ceremony.
The reformers agree that we should care for our parents while alive. For the reformers, Śrāddha ceremony appears ridiculous.
சிராத்தம் cirāttam, n. = šrāddha. The ceremony of offering oblations of food and water to the manes.
The reformers. Sesame seeds, water, rice balls, plantain, food… are all sitting here. Or someone took them away before our eyes. Or someone ate the food. You (the ritualists) say the ancestors took another birth somewhere. Is it not crazy to say this food leaves and reaches them? Many of you may have such doubts, but do not express it.
Let me tell you a story.
A father sent his son to the town for his education. The student had to pay his examination fees. That too, it was due the next day. The student sent a telegram to his father to send the money immediately. The father went to the post office and told the postal clerk he wanted to send the money to his son. He thought that the clerk will punch holes in the paper currency, pass a wire through the holes and send the money. But the clerk received the money, gave the father a receipt and told the father, the money will reach his son. Seeing the money in the cash box, he asked the clerk, “The money is still in the box. You did not put any holes in the paper currency and send them on the way. How could the money reach my son?” The postal clerk said, “the money will reach your son.” The clerk operated the telegraph machine making onomatopoeic ‘kattu-kata-kata’ sounds. He makes the lottu lottu (telegraphic) sounds and says the money will reach my son. The money is still here. How do the Lottu Lottu sounds done in the post office help send the money? The father had his doubts.
But the money reached his son. Oblations are similar. Whatever we give, it should be given according to religious injunctions. The Pitr gods (the transportation gods for the ancestors) knowing the rules and injunctions take the oblations to whomsoever is the recipient. If the Pitr was reborn a bull or a cow, the oblation will be hay. If he was born a horse, it will be grass. Paramesvara authorized the Pitr gods and gave them the power to deliver the oblations in the form appropriate to the pitr at that moment in time. The dear departed father need not come in person to receive the Śrāddha oblation.
The Telegraphed money order does not go to the beneficiary in the same currency. If the recipient is in another country, our rupee has no value. Once the Rupees are handed over, there is an arrangement for the money delivery in the currency of the receiving country: Dollar, Pound. Only the valid currency of the country is accepted. The sesamum seed, water, plantain… are given here, and where Pitrs stay, the appropriate food (based on the present life form of the ancestor) will be served for them. .
What is important is our gratitude, love, and care for the Pitrs. In the west, friends toast for the health and welfare of an individual. The celebrants eat (or drink) the toast in the name of their friend. They believe that the power of their attitude will give health to their friend or relative. Śrāddham is to do with the spirit of Sraddhai, which is most important. When a ritual is done, injunctive rules apply. When you write a letter, there are certain protocols to follow. You cannot enter the recipient’s address anywhere you want. You must post the letter in the post office box and not anywhere else.
Śrāddham= Annual ceremony for the manes. Sraddhai = Eagerness.