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Re: why not to cross the ocean?

From: Ram Anbil (
Date: Thu Dec 07 2000 - 21:00:12 PST

Dear friend:
You have already received a lot of inputs. Hope I may also add a word or 
Dear friend:
The reason why “crossing the Ocean” is considered taboo are as follows:
1. In the olden days the only mode of transport normally was by the sea 
route which took months on end to reach a “port of entry” in another land. 
If during the travel any death (Aasoucham) took place in the vessel, the 
death rites (pretha SamskAram), and the other ceremonies (Apara  prayOgams) 
could not be performed. More importantly, ParamaikAntins could not perform 
the daily TiruvArAdhana to the Lord without first completing the other 
ceremonies. Nothing could be a greater anguish to them than the loss of this 
privilege- “kainkaryasri”.

(I have heard that even in a household where a death had taken place, the 
performance of Nityakarma of SandhyAvandanam cannot be skipped under any 
circumstances. I am mentioning this because someone had asked a question on 
non-performance of SandhyAvandanam during inconvenient times. I will post a 
separate note in reply to this)

2. The human wastes were being dropped into the sea polluting the waters of 
the Ocean considered in the scriptures to be very holy.

In fact, long ago, one of my great grand uncles, Sri T.S.S.Rajan of 
Srirangam (who was the Health Minister in Sri C. Rajagopalachari’s Cabinet) 
was excommunicated for going to England for higher studies.

In the recent past, I heard that one of the Pontiffs of Udipi mutt who 
visited U.S.A. faced similar problems on his return to India. (I am not sure 
of the facts or details. I am subject to correction)

When I discussed this issue with our AchAryas, I presented the following 
1. If all that lies south of Meru mountain (merO: dakshiNe pArsve) is 
considered ‘BhAratha varsha”, a place like U.S.A for instance, falls within 
its ambit and what objection can there be in visiting it?
2. If the name VishNu means that He pervades the entire universe and beyond 
both within and without, did He exclude a place like U.S.A? If not, why this 
3. When Trivikrama measured the three worlds, did He exclude a place like 
U.S.A? If not, why this objection?
4. These objections are no more valid because nowadays we fly by plane which 
can take us to a “port of entry” in the matter of a few hours and the 
Aasoucha ceremonies can be done almost within hours making them free to 
resume their routine TiruvArAdhanas.
5. Also, the human wastes are emptied out on reaching the land and no 
pollution occurs to the seawaters.

They gave a very convincing reply:
All Vaidheekas are expected to bathe only in bodies of waters like those of 
a river or lake or tank or well. They were deemed to forfeit their 
brahminsm, if they resorted to bathing in tap water or water taken out 
through bore pump etc. While this is applicable to all Vaidheekas, it is 
more so in the case of SannyAsis for whom a stricter code of conduct is 
prescribed vide, for example, “yathi dharma samuchchaya”. Even today, the 
first question our AchAryas ask when someone invites them to visit their 
homes (PonnaDi sAthuthal), is to enquire whether well water would be 
available in their place.

They added that should waters as above were not available during long 
journeys (even on land), SandhyAvandanam cannot be skipped but could be 
performed with the help of tender coconut water which is considered pure and 
unsullied. But, the bathing part of it had naturally no alternative.

Sri Raghavan of Chicago was mentioning that when he approached 44th Pattam 
Azhagiyasinghar for permission to go to USA for studies, the AchArya 
remarked “Periya ThiruvaDiyE pOyAchu, unakkenna aatchEbam?” meaning “Even 
GaruDAzhwAr has gone to America, why not you” obviously referring to the 
bald eagle, the national bird of America.

May be some AchAryas in our very own SampradAyam, who visit frequently 
foreign countries may be able to explain whether there is any exception to 
this restriction and if so under what authority.
Anbil Ramaswamy

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