Function Disabled

Πέμπτη, 28 Ιουνίου 2012

ΙΔΕΕΣ=ΧΑΡΑΚΤΗΡΕΣ

Οί Ιδέες, διαμορφώνουν Χαρακτήρες, για να συμβιώσουν και συνυπάρξουν δύο η παραπάνω άτομα Ενωμένα, χρειάζονται να κατέχουν τις ίδιες Ιδέες. Όταν αυτό δεν συμβαίνει, υπάρχη ασυμφωνία Ιδεών και Χαρακτήρων, η Λύτρωση των Ιδεών και των Εαυτών! αυτών των ατόμων, είναι ο Διαχωρισμός.

Σιβαντιάναμ Σαρασουάτι

Δευτέρα, 25 Ιουνίου 2012

Homage to Guru


Homage to Guru
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

To our Guru and Master who has given us everything, and shown us how to live life properly, today we express our heartfelt sentiments with a sankalpa. We shall walk the path you have shown, we shall not falter, nor shall we lag behind. Sri Swamiji is not present with us in body, but he lives within us in the form of inspiration and that is his greatest gift. He lives inside each one, in the form of a fiery inspiration to become creative and excel in life, to connect with our environment, to bring happiness, peace and to share our joys with everyone. Sri Swamiji has given us this trust and we shall fulfill it.

We bow our heads in thankfulness to this great personality. We are truly fortunate, to have lived in an age when there was a person like Sri Swamiji. We have not seen Christ, Rama, or Krishna or Buddha, we have only heard about them. But we have had the fortune to see Swamiji, to laugh with him, to sit with him, to listen to him, and to receive his grace. In him is the greatness that was in Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Christ. In Sri Swamiji is the peace of Buddha, the compassion of Christ, the clarity of Krishna, and the balance of Rama.

His grace and inspiration, love and compassion is what we seek. The prayer of our hearts is:

"Oh Guru, guide us to fulfill your mandate, inspire us to walk the path that you have shown us, give us the strength to complete the journey which we have undertaken and always be with us in our heart, mind and thoughts, so that we can never go astray.
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Sri Guruvae Namah".

Σάββατο, 23 Ιουνίου 2012

Yogasadhanas in the Gita Part Three


Yogasadhanas in the Gita
Part Three
The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.

Bhagavad Gita begins with a person in grief and despair who finds it difficult to decide what his dharma is. This difficulty and indecision arises due to attachments and desires which have given birth to grief, dejection and depression. On the other side stands Sri Krishna who sees this person forgetting what his dharma is and falling into a depressive, grief-stricken state of mind and undergoing a nervous breakdown which is affecting his entire personality. Sri Krishna has no other choice but to try to bring Arjuna out of that physical and psychological condition, so he can remember what his dharma is and find the appropriate understanding which will lead him towards success in life.

Sri Krishna is continuously inspiring the warrior Arjuna to become active and involved in the performance of his duties. Again and again Sri Krishna reminds Arjuna to perform his duty with detachment, perfection and creativity, to express and give his best. In the early days when I came to the ashram, this was one of the few instructions that Sri Swamiji gave me. He said, "Niranjan, believe that every day is a new day and that there is always something to learn in that new day. The day that has gone does not come back again. Always be alert to learn whatever you can every day." In this way, Sri Swamiji inspired me to become active mentally, keep the eyes open and awareness expanded to see what new lessons I could learn and imbibe every day. That process continues even today and is one way of understanding involvement in karma.

As Sri Krishna goads Arjuna to perform action he also instructs him to keep actions and attachments separate. Actions and the desire for action or the results of actions have to be kept separate. Do not let anything affect your creative and natural skill and ability to perform. If at any point there is an expectation from the action, for the result and gain or loss, then the mind will become entangled in that action and will reap the consequences of either grief or elation.

In this manner the mind will continue to swing between grief and happiness and this swing of mind will always keep it disturbed, distracted and looking outwards. The more you look out, the more entangled the senses become with the sense objects. The more thesenses are entangled with sense objects, the more desires and attachments will arise. The mind will again be buffeted by the winds of loss and gain and the cycle of grief will start once again. Involve yourself physically, mentally, whole-heartedly in the present moment, in the karma that you are performing, according to time, space, location, environment, and the need of the present moment.

If one is aware of the present karma and tries to do one's best, then that karma will free one from the negative and the binding, conditioning expressions, behaviours and moods of the senses. Senses are both physical and internal; the internal senses are the mental vrittis. Towards the behavior of both physical and internal senses one must cultivate detachment. From one aspect Sri Krishna is constantly inspiring Arjuna to become involved in action, and on the other he is telling and reminding him not to fall in the trap of grief, delusion, dejection and depression but to find mental balance. In order to find mental balance Sri Krishna guides Arjuna into the process of pratyahara.

Stilling the mind
Then Arjuna asks Sri Krishna, "Do you think I can still the nature of my mind by this practice? The nature of mind is always to be dynamic, active and to move from one object of perception and understanding to another. Mind is very dissipated, distracted, and disturbed. If it is not possible to stop the constantly moving wind, how can it be possible to stop the mind?" Sri Krishna answers, "Yes, it is possible."

This ability comes with abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa means practice and vairagya means detachment from actions. In the Yoga Sutras, Rishi Patanjali describes abhyasa as constant, continuous practice and effort, which has been sustained over a long period, with faith. Through abhyasa one can attain mastery or perfection of the practice. Sri Krishna has said the same thing; it is possible to manage the upheavals of the mind with practice. Practice means following a system, a sequence of changing the perception and awareness, and observing the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of human experience.

With abhyasa and vairagya it becomes possible to still the agitations of the mind, just as in a closed room where there is not a whisper of wind, a candle flame burns steady and does not flicker or move. In the same manner, with restraint of the senses, abhyasa, vairagya, and through knowing the effects of attachment in the form of attractions, insecurities and anxieties, one can gradually reduce the movement of mind. Here Sri Krishna also identifies a specific behaviour of the mind, the obsessive passionate behaviour.

Passion denotes a state or condition of mind which hangs on to one thing, one idea, thought or object and begins to revolve around that. If mind begins to think of sensorial pleasure, the need for sensorial pleasure will be highlighted. If the mind thinks of emotional pleasure, the need for emotional pleasure will be highlighted. In this passionate state of mind, one obsession can totally taint and colour the entire area of the mind and change the total human behaviour. That is known as kama, passion.

Pranayama
Passion is not only sensorial, sensual or sexual, it is also emotional, intellectual and spiritual. It is an intensity of desire, intention or thought that is seen in expression and action. Passion resides in the senses, mind and intelligence, and disturbs the pranas of the body. One cannot control the passions, but one can manage the pranas, and through the pranas control the passions. Therefore Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna in the practice of pranayama. To reduce attachment, to reduce mental and sensorial attractions, to overcome insecurities and fears, to manage anxieties and the aggressive character, Sri Krishna teaches the method of pratyahara. To overcome passion which disturbs the energies and forces of body and mind, he teaches pranayama. The basic pranayama is nadi shodhana - which is the simplest and the most intense also. As you increase the length of your respiration, with continued slow and deep breathing, the flows in ida and pingala nadis are balanced.

For many, many months in Rikhia, Sri Swamiji practised only pranayamas for eight hours a day, when he used to perform his austerities. During this time his entire personality changed. With the lengthening and regulation of the incoming and the outgoing breath, the energies of ida and pingala, the prana shakt or vital energy and the chitta shakti or mental energy were balanced. That is the moment when one can become free of all the influences of karmas, and this was the last practice of Sri Swamiji's tapasya. This is an example which confirms what Sri Krishna is intending to achieve with the practice of pranayama.

Next Sri Krishna gives a series of instructions for another higher type of meditation, which is remembrance of the name of God. He explains that the location for practice should be a clean place where there is a feeling of purity. One should place an asana, either made out of grass or skin or cloth, sit down on that asana with firmness of the body, hold the body perfectly still, gaze at the eyebrow centre and with the gaze fixed at the eyebrow centre stop looking at everything else. Fix the mind on the inner self and remember God.

How does one remember God? There are two ways to recognize anything, either by name or by remembering a form. If you have to think of somebody the form will come in front of your eyes, if you have to think or speak of somebody their name will come to the tip of the tongue. Any manifest thing is always identified by name and form. The name of God is the mantra. By remembering and repeating the mantra or by focusing the mind on the image of the ishta devata which appears in front of the eyes of the mind, one cultivates an awareness of the higher self.

These are the two common practices of meditation, mantra meditation and symbol meditation. While chanting the mantra try to focus on the symbol or image, so the mind is fixed at two dimensions - at the visual level, it is seeing the image, and at thought level it is repeating the mantra. At the sensorial level the mind is seeing the image and at the mental level it is repeating the mantra. In this manner, Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna into the mantra sadhana.

Now Arjuna asks, "With all the things that you have told me, many of my doubts are clear. But you keep saying, focus on you, what does this mean? Focus on you as God or as an individual? As God you are impersonal and as an individual you are my friend. Who are you?" Sri Krishna then describes his divine nature. Here the instructions and guidelines on yoga stop, and the description of the divine nature begins and a devotee or jnani begins.

Sri Krishna describes the divine attributes and says, "I am endowed with them and you are also endowed with them. The only difference is that I am aware of them and they are awake within me and you are not aware of them, they are dormant within you. I pervade the entire universe and at the same time I am confined to this body as your friend." Then Arjuna says, "Okay, I believe that you are contained in the entire universe, can you show me your universal form?"

Then through shaktipat, Sri Krishna enables Arjuna to see his universal form and Arjuna is rendered speechless. He sees all the galaxies, the multiverses, all the stars, suns, moons, planets, everything contained in the body of Sri Krishna. He sees life forms of different types - elemental and physical forms, people, animals, and insects - the entire creation in Sri Krishna's body. He sees all the people who are born in the past, all those who are living in the present and all who will be born in the future. With this transcendental experience, Arjuna goes into a complete stupor and he says to Sri Krishna, "I'm frightened, I'm afraid of your universal form, come back to your human form, the form with which I identify all the time as my friend."
Paramhansa Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
The complete satsang will be presented here in four partsmore: http://delfeios.blogspot.gr/2012/06/yogasadhanas-in-gita-2.html

http://delfeios.blogspot.gr/2012/07/yogasadhanas-in-gita-part-four.html

Τετάρτη, 6 Ιουνίου 2012

Yogasadhanas in the Gita 2


Yogasadhanas in the Gita

Part Two

The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.

Pratyahara
Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna in the process of pratyahara. He tells Arjuna, "In order to stabilise the mind pull the limbs of the mind and the senses inwards, just as the turtle pulls the limbs of his body into the shell." The state of pratyahara is defined here. The turtle has six limbs sticking out of the shell; two arms, two legs, one tail and one head. Humans function with five senses and the mind - six senses in total. The mind represents the head of the turtle and this mind has to be pulled inside. The five senses represent the arms, legs and tail of the turtle, pull them in. Withdraw the senses from their sense objects and pull them within yourself. This is the practice of pratyahara as defined by Patanjali and also as taught to us by Sri Swamiji.

Pratyahara begins by stilling the physical senses through kaya sthairyam and by regulating the breath. Breath is the mirror of the mind and mental conditions and moods are reflected in the breath. When the mind is hyperactive, breath is rapid, shallow and fast but if the mind is at rest then the breath is long, deep and slow.

Therefore, in order to access the mind, regulate the breath as well. If you can regulate the breath and equalise the inhalation and exhalation, through the practice of nadi shodhana pranayama, then you can access the mind through breath. To still the physical senses practise kaya sthairyam. To still the mind use a physical agent, regulation of the length of breath and then focus the mind on awareness of the higher Self.

But before one can focus on the awareness of the higher Self, the layers of mind have to be traversed. Just as to reach the bottom of the ocean one has to swim through many, many metres of ocean water, in the same way one has to go through many layers of mind to eventually realise and see the presence of higher consciousness within. The deepest part of the ocean is six kilometres deep and you have to swim all the way down. In the same manner you have to walk through six kilometres of your mind before you come to realise the presence of the supreme Self within you.

Identify with the sattwic karma
When you walk through the six kilometres of your mind you will encounter different experiences which are instigated by insecurities and anxieties and passion, kama. By cultivating self awareness and knowledge, one learns to manage the behaviour and the manifestation of insecurity, anxiety and passion. Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna to continue to focus on performance of karma diligently, effectively, creatively and perfectly. If you are able to perform karma creatively, perfectly, diligently, effectively without any selfish motive it will liberate you from the clutches of samskaras and the behaviours of the mind.

If you continue with karmas for selfish reasons, without cultivating awareness and understanding, then the karmas will further bind you into gross awareness. Therefore, continue to perform karmas, but identify with the sattwic karma rather than with tamasic or rajasic karma. Do not identify with the limiting, conditioned, detrimental and confining effect of the karma, but identify with the sattwic, luminous, creative and perfect aspect of the karma. Try to remain detached from the karmas, without expectation of the result. Try to maintain mental equipoise while engaged in the world and in the karmas.

Whether you succeed or you fail is not in your control. What you can control is how you act, so try to act in the best manner possible using the best of situations that become available. Don't be a soggy face. Try to maintain mental equipoise in success and failure. Sri Krishna says, "Maintain this mental equipoise by remaining fixed on my memory. Any of the senses can disturb the mind, just as a sailboat in the middle of the ocean is moved by the gale and hurricane as well as a gentle breeze. Even a soft gentle breeze of the senses can attract the mind, not only the gale and the hurricane. Absolute awareness has to be maintained as one journeys through the layers of mind, perfecting pratyahara and performing karma".

Arjuna asks Sri Krishna, "With what do I identify, so I can perform karma in the correct manner?" Sri Krishna answers that karma which is according to dharma and natural human justice should be performed. Karma which follows the mandates of dharma should be performed because it will always uplift the individual and the surroundings. Learn to identify with those actions, perceptions and attitudes which will help bring creativity in life. Arjuna asks, "How do I improve the karmas?" Sri Krishna answers, "There is no question of improving anything. Only dedicate your karmas to me."

The same teaching was given to Sri Swamiji when he asked his guru Swami Sivananda, "What do I do after I take sannyasa?" Swami Sivananda replied, "You have to carry on with the same things that you have been doing till today. You have been cleaning the ashram daily. You have been looking after the office, the income, expenditure, kitchen, press, and correspondence?" Sri Swamiji said "Yes." Swami Sivanandaji said, "Continue doing the same. There is no change in your duty or karma." Then Sri Swamiji said, "Well then I can return home and continue to do my karma."

Swami Sivanandaji replied, "No, the difference is that when you perform karma thinking you are the cause of that action and expecting a result, then that karma is binding. In ashram you are performing karma but you are not responsible for the result. Your duty is to act in the best manner possible, but the result whether positive or negative belongs to Guru. Do your best and do not have any expectation of the karma."

Therefore according to ashram tradition a sannyasin has to live for twelve years in the ashram of the guru doing guru seva. It is not sadhana, but guru seva that is mandated, because guru is able to connect us with the right way of action. In karma when the creativity and perfection is expressed then it becomes karma yoga. But one also has to be aware of and manage the responses and reactions that karma generates.

If you do well other people get jealous and try to pull you down. If you do badly other people will still complain and want to pull you down. That is the law of life. Nobody speaks any good word about anybody else, it is always complaints. The best way is not to react with praise or abuse. If somebody tells you, "You are a dog", rather than getting angry and barking at that person, "How can you call me that?" if you say, "Wonderful, only another dog recognises another dog," the moment passes in a light manner, without anger. In this manner reactions have to be managed and instead of becoming the cause of grief, they should become the cause of laughter.

Thy will be done
If you acquire that ability, then all your actions are offered to Brahman, the highest supreme Self, because you become like an instrument who is played. A harmonium can play beautiful music but not by itself. The player has to play. In the same manner, the realisation eventually dawns that I am not the doer in the world, nor I am the enjoyer. As long as the attention was diverted for self-oriented and selfish reasons, motives and purposes I was the doer and I was the enjoyer - I do and I enjoy. But once the attitude, identification and perception shifts from a self centred focus to the realisation and understanding that I am not the doer, surrender of the limited ego to the higher self begins.

The entire teaching to Arjuna given by Sri Krishna uses meditation as a tool to withdraw the senses, develop awareness and knowledge. Meditation is not cutting off from the world but becoming more involved with the world. Develop the knowledge of the situation, your duty, commitment, obligation, mood, and intention. Manage passion, fear, anger, attraction, attachment. Become active creatively. Develop and expand your awareness so that you increase your knowledge. Meditation is used to increase gyana, awareness of oneself, of how one behaves in different moments and different situations.

Restrain the wild movement of the senses by fixing the mind consciousness and mental attention, and try to attain the experience of the higher Self by going through the layers of the mind. Remain true to your goal - perfect pratyahara. Do not let different expressions and experiences of the mind divert your attention and awareness. Just as a wisp of wind can move the sails of the boat in the ocean, in the same manner, a simple diversion at any level will shake your boat as well.

Then Arjuna poses a question, "How do I control passion? You have spoken of antar mouna as the process to manage conditions and states of fear, anxiety, attachments, but how to manage passions?" Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a sadhana, to fix the mind at the eyebrow centre and regulate the breath, make the inhalation and exhalation of breath as long as possible and in the gap between inhalation and exhalation, focus the awareness on the inner Self.

This is the practice of nadi shodhana pranayama. By placing the two fingers at the eyebrow centre a pressure point is created where the mind is fixed at the eyebrow centre. Regulate the breath to minimum of 24 matras per incoming and outgoing breath. Each matra is like a second.

The Gayatri mantra of 24 matras is used to practice nadi shodhana pranayama, "Om bhur bhuva swaha, tatsavitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyoyonat prachodayat," 24 matras is one inhalation. This is the training Krishna gives to hold the mind fixed.

When you regulate the breath the brainwaves are affected. High alpha and theta waves predominate and with these two waves predominating, the nervous system and mental dimension experiences a state of relaxation and balance of energies - physical, sensorial, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual. When you practice slow pranayama the body will feel different. With fast pranayama and rapid breathing the body condition will be different.

The word which has been used in Gita indicates long, deep breathing and lengthening the ratio of breath. Slow and deep breathing will relax the physical structure, nervous system, and the brain. This relaxed condition influences the mental and psychological behaviour. Many therapists use pranayama to create a change in the mental behaviour of mentally challenged people and in the early days I have also used pranayama in a prison and in a catatonic care centre, so I can tell the efficacy of pranayama. By balancing the energies of ida and pingala personality changes happen for the better.

Sri Krishna speaks of pranayama as a method of managing the hyperactive passionate mental behaviour. Passion is not always sensorial, sensual or sexual. Passion is any desire or thought that dominates the mind. It represents a condition of mental behaviour in which one item becomes predominant and highlighted and all the reactions, responses, actions, thoughts and interactions revolve around that one particular thought or idea. This sustained mental function is known as passion which can be directed and used for anything. An artist can become a passionate artist, a sculptor can become a passionate sculptor, a yogi can become a passionate yogi. That energy, awareness and mentality can take any form and shape, negative or positive, tamasic or sattwic. By regulating the prana shakti, pranayama balances out the extreme behaviour of the passions and levels the mental extremes.

In this way Sri Krishna teaches ways of managing different types of situations which we all encounter on a day to day basis, by using very simple practices of yoga and ideas to cultivate understanding and awareness.Paramahamsa Niranjanananda Saraswati
Bihar Yoga Bharati
The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.


LINK to the first part http://delfeios.blogspot.gr/2012/03/yogasadhanas-in-gita.html
http://delfeios.blogspot.gr/2012/03/yogasadhanas-in-gita.html

Δευτέρα, 4 Ιουνίου 2012

MENDICANT-practicing beggary


Panchangam - Almanack.......for some spirits is for a hole life, for a sannyasin it is a state that has to overcome as an Athlos achievement.

It was natural, when the various rules regulating the life of the community were drawn up by Brahmins, that they should have followed the universal law of human nature and have taken care of their own class. .Much is said about alms in the sacred books of the East ; but, to a very large extent, these books deal with the necessity of bestowing alms and gifts on Brahmins. In the Institutes of Manu it is stated that an oblation in the mouth or hand of a Brahmin is far better than offerings to holy fire, it never drops, it never dries, it is never consumed. A gift to one not a Brahmin produces fruit of a middle standard; to one who calls himself a Brahmin, double; to a well-read Brahmin, a hundred thousand fold; to one who has read all the Vedas, infinite.' Manu also says :
" Let every man, according to his ability, give wealth to Brahmins, detached from the world and learned in Scripture ; such a giver shall attain heaven after this life."2 Very early in the statutes, a universal law is proclaimed, the spirit of which pervades the whole code. This law calmly lays down that whatever exists in the universe is all, in effect, though not in form, the wealth of the Brahmins ; since the Brahmin is entitled to it all by his primogeniture and eminence of birth. The Brahmin eats but his own food, wears but his own apparel, and bestows but his own in alms ; through the benevolence of the Brahmin indeed other mortals enjoy life. This is a broad principle to enunciate, so it is easy to see how there is nothing derogatory in a Brahmin's receiving alms. He takes but what is his own, and leaves a blessing to the giver.


According to religious enactment, a Brahmin's life is divided into four great stages, the first of which is that of a student. After being invested with the sacred thread and initiated into the Brahminical order he is supposed to leave his father's house and reside for some years with a religious teacher, as an unmarried student. This is in order that he may acquire a knowledge of the Vedas. During this period the student should live by alms, begged for by himself ; and although this state of things is perhaps nowhere carried out in its entirety in these modern days, still even now, at the investiture, the neophyte must ask for alms from those present as a part of the ceremony. Thus Manu says :

" Each day must a Brahmin student receive his food by begging, with due care, from the houses of persons renowned for discharging their duties, and not deficient in performing the sacrifices which the Veda ordains." Manu 183.)

A vestige of this old Vedic custom still remains, though it has changed somewhat in form to suit modern requirements, and is seen in a system by which the charitably disposed assist the poor Brahmin boys in their education, and in providing meals for them. One family will agree to give one or two meals a day to a certain student for a certain day in the week, and others will do the same until the whole week is provided for throughout the year. There is nothing lowering to the student in thus subsisting by charity. It is taken as a natural sort of thing and adds merit to the donors. It is not usual, I believe, to provide in this way for any other than Brahmin students. A poor student will sometimes say that he lives ' by weeks,' that is, each day of the week he gets his food at a different house.

The following extracts from the " Mahabharata," show the personal benefits to be derived from supporting students :

" Imparting knowledge is conferring a great boon.

Giving of food is most meritorious."

" Those who to the humble scholar

Give food every day,

Regularly and ungrudgingly,

With desire for heaven, (will obtain it)."

The laws and customs of India are very kind to the poor traveller and many who have occasion to move about from one place to another, though utterly devoid of means, are able to do so with comparative comfort. The traveller is always sure of a meal when he arrives at a village, if he waits until the midday or evening meal is served. The laws of hospitality in India are very real ; and it is imperatively binding upon those, who can do so, to give food to needy travellers, regardless of caste or condition. A Brahmin must go to Brahmins for caste reasons ; and a Sudra, or Panchama will go, in the first place, to his own. people by preference ; but if his own people cannot help him, he is sure of something, even from the Brahmin. To send a hungry suppliant empty away is not only unkind, it is a positive sin. There are many enactments on this point, and these are all held binding upon the hearts and consciences of the people. The following are specimens taken from the " Mahabharata."

"From whosesoever house

The stranger goes empty away,

His ancestors will perish

For fifteen generations."

" Were he a sinner or an outcast,

Or even a Brahminicide, or parricide,

Whoever is entertained at meal time,

That stranger will cause the host to attain heaven." (Svargam.)

I do not quarrel with such casual mendicity ; I commend such almsgiving, though it is easy to see how the thing may be abused by the lazy loafing tramp. I cannot, however, view with any such complacence the regular systematic mendicity that abounds on all hands, and that must be a great drain. upon the resources of the people. I allude to the professional religious beggars, a fraternity answering in some respects to the begging Friars of the Middle Ages, although they are under no vows and do not live in communities. This profession is not confined to any particular caste or section of the community, and there are many varieties of it. It is impossible to give here a full and complete catalogue of the brotherhood. I can only take a few specimens, from which a fairly accurate notion may be formed of the whole.

First, I will give a description of the mendicant Brahmin. In inculcating the merit of almsgiving, it is always enunciated that the highest form of charity is to give to the Brahmin. Manu, after mentioning various conditions in which one may be placed, goes on to say :-

" To these most excellent Brahmins must rice also be given with holy presents at oblations to fire and within the consecrated circle ; but the dressed rice, which others are to receive, must not be delivered on the outside of the sacred hearth : gold and the like may be given anywhere.

Let every man, according to his ability, give wealth to Brahmins detached from the world and learned in Scripture : such giver shall attain heaven after this life" (xi. 3,6).

Whatever the original theory may have been, it is far from being the case that all Brahmins live in these modern days by gifts and alms. The learned professions and other walks of life are crowded with Brahmins, who labour for their subsistence as do others. Probably it is only the principle of the thing, as stated by Mann, that now survives ; though it is a principle that in various parts and in manifold ways is still acted upon. There is,' however, even now, a section of Brahmins who are professional mendicants, who depend for their daily sustenance upon the alms of the faithful. These are principally the Panchangam Brahmins. A panchangam is an almanack, the word being compounded of pancha, five and angam, a number or division. This alludes to the five specific things taken into consideration in computing by astrology, viz., the lunar day, the day of the week, the sign in which the moon happens to be, the conjunction of the planets and the combinations. The Panchangam Brahmin is one who, by studying the almanack, is able to state propitious or unpropitious times. He gets his livelihood by going certain rounds, day by day, from house to house, declaring the condition of things according to the almanack, and receiving in return a dole usually consisting of grain. He is not held in much respect by his own caste people, but he is looked up to by the other castes. He is consulted by his constituents, from time to time, when they wish to know the propitious period for any undertaking, such as starting on a journey, making an important purchase, putting on new clothes or new jewels, or when about to take up a new appointment, or when any other important event is contemplated. He is a Smartha by sect, a worshipper of Siva and. wears the marks of that god ; but at the same .time he respects and worships Vishnu. He dresses very plainly, or rather he dresses very little. He has on the loin cloth and an upper cloth is worn over his shoulder. His head is bare, but, as a Smartha should be, he is plentifully marked with the three horizontal white marks of Siva on the forehead, across the shoulders, on the breast and stomach, on the upper and lower parts of each arm, and across the back of the neck. He wears the sacred thread, hanging over his left shoulder, as a sign of being a twice-born. In his hands he carries a copy of the current almanack and a brass vessel in which he collects his doles. He does not confine his attention to Brahmins, but he goes also to the other castes, except the Panchamas and a few other sections of the community, considered to be too inferior for his attention. On going his daily round, when he comes to a house, he shouts out Hail Sita and Rama! (Sitaramabhyam namah) ; or Hail to the beneficent supreme god Rama! (Ramachendra, parabrahmane namah) ; or Hail to Siva and his wife Uma ! (Uma Maheshvarabhyam namah) ; or some other expressions of the same kind. The people of the house, upon hearing the call, present themselves, when he will go just inside and repeat the details of the almanack for the day, his particular point being to tell the unpropitious period of the day. After this he receives his dole of rice or, very occasionally, a coin or two. He then takes his departure to the next house on his list. The native almanack is headed with slams declaring the benefits to be derived from hearing the panchangam. The following is a specimen of these verses :—

"Hearing the almanack is meritorious; In all undertakings it ensures success. The prudent must never fail to hear it ; By this all sins will be destroyed." 
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Examples

The 
punishmen that SOCRATES proposed for him self to the court was, his maintenance in the Prytaneum, which means that he receive free meals, an honor ordinarily reserved for Olympian athletes and other state benefactors. Such meals would be provided in the Tholos, the official state dining room. He then said his punishment should be a fine of thirty minae. Since a mina was equal to 100 drakhmai, and a drakhma was the average daily wage, 30 minae would have been 3000 days' wages, or over eight years' salary.

“The Mendicant was a well respected part of daily life; their wisdom was often sought, asked and answered for a loaf of bread or a few alms.” Buddhism: A beginners guide: Part 2

“When she was in a neighborhood where there was a Convent of Mendicant Friars, she told me to remind her of the day when the children of the poor received the Eucharist, so that she might receive it with them; and this she did often: when she confessed herself she wept.” The Holiness of the Maid

“It was through the ingrained, but not enforced it must be noted, social welfare structures of his time that allowed him to enter on the path of a Mendicant, or holy man who was wholly dependant on others for his food and clothing.” Buddhism: A beginners guide: Part 8

“The traditional social welfare system that enabled a Mendicant to survive is still present in many parts of the Asian continent.” Buddhism: A beginners guide: Part 8

Siddhartha right then resolved go to Rajagaha, a large city in a neighbouring kingdom and once there, to live as a Mendicant.” Buddhism: A beginners guide: Part 2

“And then they flew right back again to confirm, if only in the sounds of horses hooves and railed wooden wheels, that great and esteemed Prince Siddhartha had indeed renounced the material world, and walked the open streets as a Mendicant.” Buddhism: A beginners guide: Part 2

“Mendicant Odysseus, the Laconian Women, the Fall of Ilium, the” Poetics

“I believe that he is an heretic; the devil take me, if I do not! he doth so villainously rail at the Mendicant Friars and Jacobins, who are the two hemispheres of the Christian world; by whose gyronomonic circumbilvaginations, as by two celivagous filopendulums, all the autonomatic metagrobolism of the Romish” Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel

“Mendicant friars, the Carmelites moved from Mount Carmel in Jerusalem to Cyprus in 1238 and thence throughout Western Europe.” Simon & Schuster: A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art


“Nights which we shall mention is that of "The Second Royal Mendicant," found in Comparetti (No. 63, "My Happiness") from the Basilicata, and in the collection of Mantuan stories.” Italian Popular Tales

Swami Satyananda

Giving should be spontaneous and unrestrained. Some people give and are anxious to see their names published in the newspapers with their photos. This is not giving at all. You must experience extreme joy in giving. You must not think, "I have done a very charitable act. I will enjoy happiness in heaven. I will be born as a rich man in the next birth. The charitable act will wash away my sins." Give silently. Do not boast. Your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing. It can be difficult to give a gift silently, without manifesting pride and without expressing to others.

* * *

Generosity, tolerance, kindness, compassion, affection and sympathy are all synonymous with charity. Greediness, harshness, ill-will, inhumanity, selfishness and unkindness are all the opposites. Giving should extend to all beings, whether humans or animals, in prosperity or in. distress. Tenderness especially goes out towards the young, feeble and needy. Generosity is self-forgetful kindness in disposition or action. It includes much besides giving.

Generosity is giving freely and kindly. A generous person has a large and magnanimous heart. A generous person always gives and gives. The essence of generosity is self- sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is the surrender of one's own self or personal happiness or comfort for the sake of advancing the interests of others. It kills egoism and leads to the descent of divine grace and divine light. Rejoice in the welfare rather than the punishment of an offender. Magnanimity is a greatness of soul that rises above injury or insult.

* * *

Charity is sharing what you have with others. Sharing destroys greed, removes selfishness and creates selflessness. Always give with faith, in plenty and with modesty. Giving with an unwilling heart is not giving. Think well towards suffering people. Pray for their welfare. This will accomplish more good than much money. Do not be mean-minded.