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Vedic "vairAgyam"

From: sudarshan madabushi (sudarshanm_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Jul 30 1999 - 13:01:00 PDT

Still on last week's "top-of-the-list" topic of "material comfort and 
spiritual pursuit", I received a number of interesting private mails from a 
few members. Thank you all for the keen discussions.

One common query raised was, of course, if I knew of anyplace in India where 
an indivdual or a community lived entirely in accordance with the "sAstrA".

My answer is:

I have heard that in parts of Krishna Districts in Andhra Pradesh many 
villages still live as per the old Vedic code. There are scores of families 
in villages who have devoted themselves solely to Vedic pursuit. They rarely 
venture out of their villages. Their children are also trained to become 
full-time "ghana-pATin-s". They do not seek the patronage of anybody. They 
ask for no donations to finance their life-styles. They do not also want to 
become the cynosure of "religious tourists" from outside both in and outside 
India. They want to be left alone.

In Tamilnadu, I have myself witnessed a Vedic community living more or less 
as per "sAstrA". Last year I visited Navalpakkam--- a hamlet near Wandiwash. 
This place is a 3-street village where the main one is an "agrahAram" with a 
"perumAl-koil". The place has electricity but none of the other trappings of 
modern living... no drainage, no taps, no metal roads, no commercial 
establishments like grocery-stores and wayside restaurants.

A community of Tatachars still lives in this village. The most venerable, 
the late Sriman Navalpakkam Devanatha Tatachari lived in this village. He 
passed away not very long ago. He was a veritable giant amongst Vedic 
scholars of recent times. He was a "nitya-agnihotri". All his life he was 
known to have hardly stepped out of Navalpakkam. His farthest trip was to 
Kanchipuram to attend "brahmOtsavam" of Varadar temple. He spent the rest of 
his life in Navalpakkam in strict observance of all Vedic precepts and 
ideals. When it was announced that he was the recipient of the President of 
India Sansrit Award, he politely asked that if he must receive it at all 
then it better be handed to him at Navalpakkam itself. For he had no plans 
to go to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to collect a mere award!

The kanchi-Acharya, it is said, had the greatest regard for this Vedic 
doyen.

After Devanatha-tatachari passed away some members of his family and 
family-tree still live in the village. They are today carrying on the 
tradition of the hamlet unmindful of secular pressures. When I visited the 
place last year for the annual "adhyAyana-utsavam", I saw a galaxy of Vedic 
scholars congregated there. They had all learnt thier Vedic lessons from 
"ayyasami" (Devanatha-tatachari's pseudonym). Every year they gather at the 
village to celebrate "adhyayan-utsavam" in a solemn manner bereft of 
ostentation or fanfare. They do not solicit donations. Valayapatti 
Sriman.Ramanuja Tatachar and Sriman Yagnyavarahaswami were notable amongst 
the congregation there. Ramanuja-tatachar continues to live in Navalpakkam 
devoting himself to Vedic training and propagation. He is training a band of 
select disciples in "ghanam". I even saw a young Advaitin boy from 
Uttar-pradesh who they said was undergoing "gurukula-vAsam" under the 
tatachar for about 3 years.

So.... the long and short of it is that .... yes, it is not impossible at 
all to live according to the Vedic "sAstrA" even in these days of MTV, 
Coco-Cola and pan-pizza.

But one needs a great deal of "vairAgyam" to make such a choice in life.... 
and "vairAgyam", I have realised, is far easier to talk about on the 
"bhakti-list" than to put into practice in real life...

The Vedic ideal still lives and flourishes here and there in India.... but 
invariably it prefers, I suppose, low-profile and even lower hype....

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,
Sudarshan



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