புராண லக்ஷ்யத்துக்கு நடைமுறை வழி : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (இரண்டாம் பகுதி)
Procedures of Puranic Observances: Deivathin Kural2.001

The Purana elders were the lodestar. Their stories reveal their highest qualities and ideals which we want to acquire. It appears impossible to cultivate those virtuous qualities and remain steady in practicing them.
The human nature is to be engaged in activities. The mind fails to remain inactive. Bhagavadgita expresses the same sentiment. Man fails to become acquainted with the proper ways of doing deeds, does not acquire mental purity, earn virtuous qualities, transcend activities, give up action thereafter, become Jñāṉi and acquire the state of Brahman.
What are we expected to do to attain Mokṣa? We should follow the precepts of Hinduism and purify our soul before we can attain Mokṣa. Sins and merits are the cause for birth of embodied soul. We should wash the sins off the soul. We should not acquire new sins. We should rise spiritually so our mind and character do not engage in sinful activities. Religion helps us in this effort. What are we to do to comply with the precepts of our religion? We are not familiar with them.
In the present state of our ignorance, we know a little of Ramayanam, Bhagavatam and Puranas. We learn about the religious observances performed by the characters in these books. These were not codified. These religious texts do not describe procedures. Therefore, we do not have the manual for proper observances.
Purana Itihāsas stress Bakthi as the primary approach to God. Could we do Bakthi, Puja, Stotra and Dhyanam 24/7/365? Not possible. We spend time and effort for the family welfare, besides showering and eating. We cannot spend the rest of the time in Puja. We would become tired. Different Satkarmas are obligatory. Where are we to learn about it?
From Dharma Sastras.
Of the 14 Vidyas, Dharma Sastra comes at the end after Purana.
The Purana elders show us the goal, attaining which begins with observances and the procedural elements. Veda Upāṅgam brings all the bits and pieces together in a codified and cogent manner with details and explanations.
Family matters, personal matters, bathing, eating…must all be done with determination and discipline. According to Veda Dharma, all aspects of human life and living are centered on the spiritual advancement with their own rules and observances: How to sleep; how to dress; how to build a house; the inseparability of secular life and religious life; the worldly life… All actions must be performed according to sacred formulas, which become a facilitator in the advancement of the soul. Integrating societal life, the worldly life, the spiritual life and the individual life according to Veda Dharma contributes to individual salvation, societal weal, and general welfare.
Vedas speak of Bakthi as espoused by the puranas and in addition have injunctions and rituals. Bakthi as an act of Puja has many rules. Bakthi, Yagas, Sraddha, Tarpaṇa (Libations)… are essential for Veda Dharma.
All these are described in Vedas but scattered all over and not codified. All procedures were not described expansively.
Manu says, Vedas are the basis, the primary root and the resource for all Vedic injunctions, requisite rites and rituals.
Vedas offer guidance for spiritual and worldly welfare. Dharma is whatever that helps create these two. Through Dharma, Vedas exist.
Vedas do not offer well established and delineated guidelines and list of what we ought to do. There are no expansive writeup of procedures. The limitless Vedas offers very little to us. Even the Vedic sayings are inscrutable and defy understanding.
Kalpam the sixth Vedāṅga has the proper, codified and collective injunctions with Dharma, Gṛhya and Śrauta Sutras. But they are short and pithy. All aspects are not in one place but scattered all over. It is not an expanded guide. Dharma Sastras explain and elaborate these cryptic sayings precluding any doubt.
Dharma Sastras by Āpasthambar, Gautamar…are short passages in the flavor of short Sutras. Dharma Sutras like Smṛtis by Manu, Yajnavalkyar, Parasarar… are expansive sutras.
Vedas are the basis for all these latter works. We should follow the precepts of Vedas on what, when and how of the injunctions. Dharma Śāstram is regularized, expanded and elucidated Kalpam presentation of the Vedic injunctions. Kalpam describes about Yagna Bhūmi and Gṛhya Nirmanams, while Dharma Sastra describes the code of conduct for man.
“I want to perform this action. There is no guideline in Veda whether doing this act is right or wrong. Veda is limitless. Most of it has vanished. I don’t know where it tells how to do an act properly. I am not sure about the existence of anyone who are familiar with these. What am I to do?” This is the question.
It is impossible to pick what we need from the ocean-like expanse of Veda.
“If I know the instructions and guidelines for an action, I will perform according to Vedic words. What am I to do, if I am not knowledgeable?”
Manu answers. “If that is so, I say this. Smṛtis were written by Maharishis well-versed in Vedas. See what it says. Smṛti is Dharma Sastra.
Smṛtis are notes in the repository of memory. Maharishis deeply familiar with Vedas composed, codified and wrote them all in one book. They were written in a language familiar to us all. Look into it and study it. It elaborates the How, the Dos, and the Don’ts, says Manu. Dharma Sastra is these Smṛtis.
The how-to-do of acts and observances prescribed by the Veda are mentioned in Kalpam the sixth Vedāṅga. Kalpam contains the description of the procedural elements of fire-sacrifice in Gṛhya, Śrauta and Dharma Sutras. There are minute descriptions of the stages of Jīva from the moment of fertilization, birth, marriage, family life, commitment to funeral pyre and cremation. Smṛtis describe the Dos, the Don’ts and the Hows in great details from awakening to sleep as a routine checkout list.
Smṛtis, once seen and studied, tell us for our complete understanding what we should do according to our religious precepts.