Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

Deva Prashna – Principles and Practice

Brh.Bhargavaram
The Vedas are the most basic & authoritative scripture in Hindu Dharma. After, Vedas comes the Vedaangaas, which means the organ/parts of the Vedas.

There are six Vedaangaas. They are: - 1. Siksha, 2. Nirukta, 3. Vyaakarana, 4. Chandasaastra, 5. Kalpasaastra and, 6. Jyothisha. A number of books are available on these six Vedangas.



Jyothisha

Jyothisha has over the period developed and discussed in various texts. After Vedanta, we have maximum number of texts on Jyothisha shaasthra. Jyothisha has six parts, namely: -
1. Jaathaka, 2. Prashna 3.Muhurtham 4.Gola 5.Ganitha 6. Nimitha
Of the six parts of ‘Jyothisha’, ‘ Jaathaka’ and ‘Prasna’ deal with astronomy and astrology. Even though various ancient sages have contributed to Jyothisha shaasthra, it is Sage Varahamirha who is credited with taking Jyothisha shaasthra to a higher level, creating awareness and interest in this science. That is why the science of ‘Prashna Paddathi’ also gained importance during Sage Varahamirha’s time.
The science of ‘prashna paddathi’ developed keeping Varahamihira’s ‘Deivajna Vallabha’ as its core text and various other texts as reliable texts. In kerala, this science was developed further and ‘Prashna Paddathi’ is also known as ‘ Kairali’.
Each and every topic in the world can be discussed through ‘Prashna’. Of this, the branch specifically dealing with the topic of temples and temple deities is called ‘DEVA PRASHNA”. For hundreds of years now, ‘Deva Prashna’ occupies a very important position with regard to temple matters in Kerala.

Deva Prashna and the text ‘Prashna Maarga’

Even though a number of texts have been compiled after ‘Deivajna Vallabha’ of Varahamirha, and his son Acharya Bhattothpala’s texts ‘Shat Panchakshika’ and ‘Prashna Jnaana’, ‘ Prashna Maarga’ is considered the most comprehensive. After the writing of ‘Prashna maarga’, it is this text that all the astrologers rely upon. All the subsequent texts deal with topics, either fully or partially, contained in the thirty-two chapters of ‘Prashna Maarga’.

Texts dealing in ‘prashna paddathi’ like ‘Prashna thanthra’, ‘Prashna darpan’, ‘Prashna Reethi’, ‘Prashna pradeepam’, ‘Prashna Kouthukam’, ‘’Prashna Prajnaana deepika’, ‘Prashna Anushtana Paddathi’, ‘Krishneeyam’, Madhaveeyam’, ‘Kaalaamrutham’, ‘Santhana Deepika’ etc either rely or are related to the text ‘Prashna Maarga’.

Only a person well versed in ‘Jaathaka’, ‘Muhurtha’,’Ganitha’, ‘Gola’ and ‘Nimittha’ and also having obtained ‘Guru Upadesha’ as well as ‘Devatha Upaasana’ is eligible to handle ‘Prashna’. That is why ‘Prashna’ has more importance over ‘Jaathaka’.

In Kerala, this science has been practiced traditionally through several scholars like Thalakulathoor Bhattadhiri (who wrote the commentary by name ‘Dashaadhyaayi’ for Varahamirha’s ‘Hora’), Pulimukhathu Potti, Perumbara Vasudeva Bhattadhiri, Punasseri Nambi Neelakanta Sharma, Puliyoor Purushothaman Namboodhiri etc. Such scholars have written number of texts in Malayalam as well as Sanskrit. Many of them have accepted ‘Prashna Maarga’ as the core text written around AD 1650, the author not known. This text consists of two parts, namely ‘Poorvaardham’ and ‘Uttharaardham’and having sixteen chapters each. The first seven chapters of ‘Poorvaardham’ discusses the theories of ‘Prashna Paddhathi’.

The twenty fourth chapter of ‘Prashna Maarga’ comprising fifty nine slokas, discusses ‘Deva Prashna’. The twelfth sloka of the twenty fourth chapter refers to the necessity of ‘Deva Prashna’. According to this sloka, ‘Deva Prashna’ for a temple has to be conducted whenever there is any doubt or apprehension with regard to a death in the temple, entry of barred creatures, deviations in the pujas and rituals, applying of barred substances on the deity, sudden loss or gain in wealth etc and any other doubts or apprehension with regard to temple matters.

Just as in the case of horoscope, the effects of all the twelve ‘bhaavaas’ has to be told. The first ‘bhaava’ represents the presence of ‘chaithanya’ of the deity, the temple and the idol. The 2nd ‘bhaava’ represents the treasure, treasury, wealth, vehicle and security. The 3rd represents the ‘nivedya’ and the surrounding people, the 4th the ‘garbha griha’, ‘mandap’ and structures closely related to the deity, the temple surroundings and the temple vehicles etc. The 5th represents, specially the presence of ‘chaithanya in the idol and also ablot the idol. The 6th represents the impurities, enemies, thieves/robbers etc, the 7th represents the surrounding dwellings, the ornaments etc. the 8th represents the rights and mistakes regarding the presence, ‘nivedya’ and surrounding people. The 9th represents ‘punya’, the person to whom the temple belongs etc. the 10th represents daily puja, the 11th the ‘punya’ and wealth gain, and the 12th, the wealth loss.

Thus, in brief, ‘Deva Prashna’ is the inferring of the 12 bhavaas, based on the various texts on Jyothisha denoting the ‘sannidhya’ ‘devaswom’, ‘sevak’, ‘vaahana’, ‘deity’, ‘deity’s displeasures’, ornaments, offerings , owner, wealth gain and wealth loss. Generally, if in the 12 ‘bhaavaas’ from the ‘Laghna’, there is ‘drushti’( sight) or position of ‘subha grahas’, it would be suggestive of a good sign and the ‘drushti’ or position of ‘Paapa graha’ would be indicative of bad sign.

Thus ‘Deva Prashna’ has been and is an integral part of temples, especially so in kerala. It is done periodically to know that things are going as per the likes of the deity and if not to ascertain the wrongs and correct them. This being a ‘shaasthra’, cannot be dismissed as blind belief.

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