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Re: parisEshaNa mantram
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 19:26:16 PST

In a message dated 3/13/00 2:54:20 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

<< I would like to know the meaning and the import of the parisEshaNa 
mantrams, that we recite before having food in the day and in the night>>
Both Sri Vijayaraghavan and Sriram have explained "What" should be recited 
and "How" the procedure should be observed in great detail. 

But, the point raised is not addressed viz. 
<<Many years back, someone made a sarcastic comment before me (but not 
targeting me) while we were having food in a restaurant where food was served 
on a table. The comment was that "parisEshaNam" is for keeping away ants and 
other insects around the plate.. But some people out of ignorance do 
parisEshaNam even when eating on a table.."  >>

There is no reference in our scriptures. to taking food on a table or eating 
out at a restaurant or eating from a plate (stainless steel or paper plate / 
Paper cup etc) From SwAmi DEsika's AahAra Niyamam, we know that these are 
definitely taboo. 

Though most of our customs have some spiritual import, they also do have some 
mundane purpose like the one commented viz, to ward off insects, ants etc 
which may contaminate the food on the leaf.

In fact, we seem to specialize in doing what should not be done "akritya 
karaNam" and abandoning what should be done "kritya akaraNam" not only in the 
matter of eating but also in all our activities whether we are in the 
PuNyabhoomi of BhAratha Varsha or in the BhOgabhoomi like USA.and in an alien 

This raises more questions than answers. 

But, why do we do precisely what has been prohibited?  
It is because we have given up our duties prescribed (Including this one, let 
alone doing our nitya and naimittika anushtAnams). No wonder, we have become 
the butt-end of such remarks.

Why have we given up? 
It is because our elders instructed us on "what" and "how" they had not cared 
to explain the "Why" of it all. We also never cared to question either out of 
apathy or fear. And, we remained non-starters throughout. 

When we ourselves do not know, how can we guide youngsters?

One practical answer, however, is that as a first step, we should make a 
conscious effort to avoid such habits but if it is clearly not possible and 
we are forced by circumstances, we should at least feel remorse and regret 
called "PaschAthApam". We are told that this is a kind of "ParihAram" though 
not regularizing or sanctioning a misdemeanor.

May be, other erudite scholars in the group may be able to offer better 
solutions for this dilemma.

Anbil Ramaswamy

                  - SrImate raamaanujaaya namaH -
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