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A couple of doubts from a friend.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (nkrish_at_lucent.com)
Date: Tue Feb 23 1999 - 05:07:06 PST

Dear BhAgavatootama-s:

I got the following mail from a friend raising a couple of questions related
to SrImad rAmAyaNam.  
I would like to request the learned members to assist in responding
to the questions.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan

============
(Questions from a friend)

I have been a great admirer of the poetic gift of Vali, the poet in Tamil
who thanks to Lord's grace (nirhetu-I don't think it could be due to
Markata Nyaaya)
has been contributing to Anandavikadan with the story of Ramayana and now
Mahabharata. I was reading Ramayana portion for its poetic beauty from Vali
and in Ayodhya Kandam, I noticed a strange thing which I would like to
share with you all. I have already discussed the first controversy with
some of you which was not kindled by my curiosity, but by a Tamil scholar
Navalar Somasundara Bharatiyar. Some of you know that.

When Dasaratha dies, Rama is in the forest. Vasishta sends people to pick
Bharata and Satrugna, it looks apparently both are away. Bharata come back
and goes through the agony and it takes 8 days for the cremation to take
place. The body was kept in Tailam ( special oil). Finally when Bharata was
ready to do the Samskaram, he does know Rama has gone to the forest and why
he went etc.
There are 2 options. 1. Delay a few more days and do the samskaram with
Rama as the eldest, by locating Rama in the forest. Assumes Rama cannot be
found and so  do the samskaram as the eldest among who is traceable. If he
assumed the second course, there is no need for running to the forest to
bring Paduka, laeving the state without any king. If he assumed the 1st
corse of action, he should have delayed. On top of this according to Vali (
we all agree he has no position like Valmeeki or Kamban or more recently
Tulasidas, for religious recognition ). Vali's version says: Since
Dasaratha never wanted Bharata to be his rightful son for samskaram related
activity at the time of death (is it so?), Vasishta advises Bharata to take
the second place and ask satrugna to do the samskaram.
I checked valmiki ramayanam and in it it is clearly Bharata who is asked by
Vasishta to do the samskaram and even advises him not to cry any more but
continue with the rituals. I wanted to check with kamba Ramayanam.
Unfortuanately I do not have Ayodhya Kandam part. I wish some one can
educateme on what is Kamban's version. Is that same as what vali says.
Since Kamban differes significantly in ceratin details, it is possible
Kamban says to that effect.

A second problem is: The details of homa kundams and removal from places to
avoid pollution due to death are discussed in detail in the Valmiki
Ramayanam.
However, it also mentions 8 days were past before the cremation took place
after death. In our home traditions we have definite conflict on this. When
my mother died, I wanted my mother's body to be kept till I reached home.
But according to Sastras none like my father, sisters, aunts etc could eat
without the body being cremated. Among farmers in villages, the tradition
is to put the body with oil and wait till all the closest relatives are
present. SrImad rAmAyaNam agrees more with the farmers' tradition 
than with our tradition.
In general when in doubt we use Srimad Ramayanam (Smarta+ vadagalais) or
riRamayanam- in case (Madhwas or Tengalais) to conduct all our principles
and rituals according to the standards set forth by Ramayana traditions.
Any explanation is better than no explanation