You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : March 1996

Date: Tue Mar 19 1996 - 06:06:39 PST

Mani said: 

I ask a simple question:

>>Is crossing the ocean still considered equivalent

to losing all sense of Suddham, as our ancient

acharyas thought? Since our present acharyas

accept us freely even though we cross the ocean,

and some of the swamis even come across the

ocean themselves these days when a Desika

or Ramanuja would never have done so, can we

not say that this form of acharam is outmoded?<<

Sri Ramar crossed the occean on Setu with Lakshman and the army of vanaraas
and bears. Hanumar flew over the occean numerous times and was untainted. I
think the take home lesson is how we cross the occean is to be considered.
 The way most of us cross an occean is by flying  and this is rather fast
compared to the months it used to take on a ship during olden days.  

The crossing of occean (by ship) was considered impure, more so because of
the poor hygeinic conditions that prevailed in such an endeavor. In this day
and age travelling by train from Delhi to Trichy is less shuddham (takes
longer time without proper snanam and ahnikams) than flying over the occeans
from USA to Trichy.  Also, when we fly, our excretions do not fall on the
occean as they remain contained within the body of the aeroplane (a point
noted by Mr. Kaushik as a reason why occean travel was not favored). Thus, I
can see why most Sampradayasthas accept crossing the occean as just fine.
However, there are some who would not accept. Such people in my opinion are
taking a literal meaning of an aacharam, paying less attention to why of it.
Here is one example.

During my recent trip to India, I was told by the US-returned head priest of
the kote Koil of Bangalore, that some of the Temple goers objected to his
 performing Puja at the Temple after his trip to USA. They insisted on some
purification rites, which he underwent before returning to temple puja. He
did that only to please them and  he did not think  that he had become
ashuddha because of overseas travel.

Here is another example. After urinating, we are expected to wash our feet in
our aacharam. This is simply because of the spurting of urine, especially on
our feet. This is no more true in the modern Western style toilets.  We can
still wash our feet, but it is not that essential. However, I have noticed,
the part that gets sprayed is Ankle .  However, it  is mostly not felt
because the pant receives it.  But, if we are wearing shorts, we can readily
feel this. So, for a Western style toilet, we need to wash ankle and not

_K. Sreekrishna (Tatachar)