Divine teachings: Lord Hanuman continuously meditates on His master, Lord Rama on Thursdays
Questions and Answers
Q. Normally, it is said that the Mahabharatham epic should not be read at home. What is the reason?
It is a legend that Lord Ganesha broke one of his tusks and wrote the Mahabharatham with the broken tusk. He thus penalized Himself for writing the epic. So, it is folklore that if one reads the epic at home, one might encounter troubles and quarrels at home. One can read the Bhagavad Gita at home.
Q. Why do you always advise us to put Tulsi malai (garland made of Tulsi leaves) to Lord Hanuman on Thursdays instead of Saturdays which is usually considered as auspicious for the Lord?
It is said that Lord Hanuman continuously meditates on His master, Lord Rama on Thursdays. So, when one puts the tulsi mala on him, he feels that he is being adorned by a devotee of Rama. This pleases him very much and He gives special boons to them on Thursdays.
Q. Why do you advise us not to put vada mala to Lord Hanuman at home?
Generally, people keep a framed photo of Lord Hanuman at home in their prayer place. When one puts the garland on the picture, we are actually putting it on the glass cover. Whenever one wants to put a vadamala as an offering to Lord Hanuman, it should be put on an idol of Lord Hanuman kept in the temple. By placing butter on His chest and adorning Him with Tulsi leaves, one would get his full blessings.
Q. Often during poojas, you invoke a God or Goddess on an individual and ask us to pay our obeisance to the individual. Please explain its significance.
This is to realize the absolute truth that God is within oneself and in all around us.
Q. Why do brahmins in south India feed the crows before they partake of food?
Crows are unique birds in that they represent our forefathers. They invite other crows to come and share the food. It cries out "Ka Ka" at least once and only then starts eating. At the death anniversary of our forefathers, we call a brahmin, personify him as our fore father, feed him first and then we take the food.
After offering food to God, one should not take that and feed it to the crows. This is because, normally, the forefathers do not accept the prasadam of God. Hence, only after the rituals are over on a death anniversary, after feeding the crows, we light the lamp and worship the Lord.
One should keep a portion of cooked rice separately and offer the rest to God. After offering to God, one should feed the crows with the rice that was kept aside. On Amavasya day, one should add a little black til along with rice and feed that to the crows. The rice offering signifies our gratitude to our forefathers. The til represents our karma.
Q. You advise us to remove our spectacles when we do namaskaram. What is the reason?
When one does namaskaram, spectacles become a hindrance since our thoughts get diverted with the anxiety of making sure that they don't fall off and break. So, to keep one's mind focused on the subject of our worship, we should remove spectacles while doing namaskaram.
Q. Why should we do namaskaram at the flag post situated in the front of the temple instead of doing it to each deity inside the temple?
By doing namaskarams at the flag post, you are in fact doing so to all the deities in and around the temple. The flag post is the tallest in the temple and it is above the gopuram and therefore doing namaskaram to that is equivalent of doing so to all the Gods inside.
Q. Many brahmins feel that if they go to Gaya and perform the death anniversary ritual (srardham) for their forefathers, then there is no need to continue doing so in future years. Is that correct?
When one performs shrardham in Gaya, which is just north of Banaras, the forefathers gets full satisfaction. But this does not mean that after performing the ritual at Gaya, one need not do so thereafter. That is very wrong. Over the years, age, sickness or other reasons may prevent us from performing the shrardham. If such a situation arises, the ritual done in Gaya would compensate for the missed ritual. So, as long as one is able, one should continue to perform shrardham annually.
Q. Can eyes be donated?
When one is alive, none donates their eyes. After death, the body does not belong to the individual at all. One has no right to donate any part of their body after death. If one chooses to donate any part of the body after death, in the next birth, one is likely to be born handicapped. Blood can be donated, since we do so when we are alive. Immediately after donating blood, within a few minutes, the body replenishes the blood supply.
Q. Why do vaishnavite brahmins do namaskaram four times?
They think of the immediate subject of worship on their first namaskaram. The second one is for their Sadguru, the Jeeyar or Andavar. The third one is for Lord Narayana and the fourth one is for Goddess Lakshmi.
Q. You always insist that we do not send our offerings to God through someone else. Why?
Normally we pray to God conditionally. We pray that if our requests are fulfilled, we would offer the Lord something in return. We may put cash in a hundi kept at home. We should not send the hundi cash through someone else to the temple. If we do so, the benefit will go to the person who carries the offering. Whenever possible, we should go and offer the same to God. No agent's help should be sought for fulfilling your offering to God.
Q. You say that total surrender is superior to devotion. Why?
(Author's note — answer is given in the chapter — Divine Teachings of Swami).