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And a word about how the translation scheme goes. The intention of this translation is to provide a comprehensive conveyance of the original but I omitted some routine words of expression that are very common in Puraanams. The reason is that, unlike in classical poetry, these attributes in Epics and Puraanams are more often sans any specified contextual stress. Mostly descriptive or salutations, these expressions do well without than with their presence. For example, referring to Yudhishthira, numerous occasions read - 'Kuntheeputhro Yudhishthirah' , meaning 'Yudhishthira, the son of Kunthi'. The latter part of this description can be dispensed as can be clearly seen. Referring to any sage, the epic often reads - 'Mahaathapaah', meaning 'one with great penance.' Referring to a hero or a king, it reads - 'Nararshabhah', meaning 'bull among humans' or 'Nripasaththama!', meaning 'the best of the kings!'. Needless to say that such nonchalant references may very well be ommitted unless indicative of any special contextual expression. A person comparing the original and this transalation should bear this point in mind. But, as far as the story and other details are concerned, no part is omitted, including topics of rock-solid Phylosophy.
In this introductory note, I wish to explain about the following things.
1.) Braahmana, 2.) Kshathriya, 3.) Vyshya, 4.) Shoodra, 5.) Yajna, 6.) Pathivratha, 7.) Thapas, 8.) dharma, 9.) Artha, 10.) Kaama, 11.) Moaksha, 12.)Veda, 13.) Braahmanam, 14.) Aaaranyakam, 15.) Upanishat, 16.) Puraanam, 17.) Incarnation (Avathaara), 18.) Brahmacharyam, 19.) Gaarhasthyam, 20.) Vaanaprastham, 21.) Sannyaasam. 22.) Boon(Vara) , 23.) Curse (Shaapa), 24.) Athithi and Abhyaagatha, 25)Pithris and Shraaddha, 26.) Vedaanga, 27.) Punyam and Paapam
1. BRAAHMANA, KSHATHRIYA, VYSHYA AND SHOODRA ( THE FOUR VARNAS OR ORDERS OF THE SOCIETY
Brahmana, Kshathriya , Vyshya and Shoodra are the four terms we come across anywhere in the scriptures. These are the names of the four orders of the society, called varnas, later known as castes . DO NOT GET CONFUSED BETWEEN THESE FOUR ORDERS OF SOCIETY AND THE FOUR ORDERS OF LIFE, GIVEN UNDER ITEM 9 BELOW. ( Though the word class can easily convey the sense, I prefer using only this word - order, at the cost of similarity with the four stages of life which I mention as four orders of life. Early confusion vanishes after a little acquaintence.) Each has his own duty . Brahmana should learn the Vedas Vedaangas and other scriptures . He should perform and conduct yajnas or sacrifices . His life was subject to a lot of very strict ascetic rules . He should not go for pleasures or luxury. He should not amass wealth.He forms the intellectual force of then society.
Kshathriya should guard the society and country from the disturbances from within and outside . He was ordained to stake his self for the defence of the society . He was the ruler of the people . He forms the martial force of the society. He should follow the scriptures and should be guided by the Braahmanas.
Vyshya should carry out agriculture, business, commerce, industry and animal husbandry etc. He too should follow the principles prescribed in the scriptures . He forms the financial and economical force of the society.
Shoodra should provide ancilliary services to the three sections mentioned above . He should follow the just guidelines given by the three sections in the interest of the society . He forms the work force of the society .
Marriages were permited between a man of a particular order and a woman of the same or any lower order. Marriages between a man of one order with a woman of higher order were not that common . They were derided, nevertheless, they existed. Such marriages were called Prathiloma or converse marriages . People born from converse marriages were of many classes and were all classified as hybrid people . Some classes among them enjoyed good reputation and influence in the society too, in the later periods of the ages .
2. YAJNA (OR YAJGNA) OR YAAGA OR SACRIFICE
A yajna is a sacrificial RITE performed by a Braahmana , Kshathriya or Vyshya . A yagna is always conducted i.e. officially supervised ony by a Braahmana. The process involves construction of the required altar with the specific shape and measurements , selecting the eligible braahmanas for different duties , commencing the performance, observing all the processes meticulously and finally consummating the whole performance in the end. The principal process involved in a yajna is offering of oblations (havyas) to the gods, which is symbolised by the act of dropping ghee into the altar fire with a woodden spoon while chanting the required hymns in propitiation of the intended gods. Not even a small deviation is allowed right from the selection of the place to the closing of the performance.
The elaborate procedure of building of altars etc is prescribed in Kalpa, one of the six appendices (Angas) of Vedas. For details about Vedaangas, see item 14 below in this essay.
Depending on the purpose , different yajgnas are performed by different people . Some are solely meant for the monarchs. Some can be performed by kings. Some are of routine nature. Some are mandatory . Some are for pleasure of the gods. Some are for the welfare of the society. Some are of short duration and some are of longer duration. Some run for years together . People believed that regular and sincere performance of yajgnas pleases the gods and they in turn keep the country rich and safe by awarding timely rains etc. Thus, yajgna was the life of the ancient Indian social structure.
3. PATHIVRATHA ( A chaste wife) The word is a compound of two words Pathi ( husband ) and Vratham ( dedication or rule or regulation ) . This is applied to a woman who is chaste,pious, righteous and shows utmost fidelity to her husband , whatever his qualities are , not thinking bad of him even in her dreams . For her , the husband is the god, teacher and king . She never betrays him, she never entertains another man even in her jestful thoughts ,she follows him unto death , with highest regard, through thick and thin, without questioning his policies . If the husband happpens to predecease her, she remains ascetic for the rest of life, devoid of any pleasure in life . If she passes away before him, she will await him at the heavenly abode . This is what the scriptures describe a pathivratha as. Women ranked as pathivrathas were given high respect. For example, Gaandhaari , Kunthi , Droupadi , Damayanthi, Seetha,Ahalya, Mandodari, Sumathi, Saavithri, Anasooya, Arundhathi etc.
4. THAPAS Thapas literally means 'heating' or 'troubling' . The word indicates the ascetic penances observed by the great sages . Thapas , put in simple words , is a deep meditation on god with higher goals in life . People involved in thapas often do so in the forests where disturbances are less in comparison with inhabited areas. The third part of one's life should , according to Indian customs , be spent in the forests in thapas . The degree of thapas observed by people differs with their capacity. Yoga and meditation form the basic part of thapas. Sages like Visvaamithra were said to have been in thapas for hundreds of years . Vaalmiki was said to have been covered fully under anthills formed around him during his thapas. Thapas was and is considered to be the best way to reach salvation or true knowledge at least . The Geetha describes various categories of thapas to dispel the misbelief that thapas only means that great feat done by sages in the forests. It was said that thapas enables a person to ordain things. It was that ability that made the sages give curses or boons to the befitting , out of their anger or pleasure . But, it was very clearly mentioned that such consuming of the powers acquired by thapas was sinful . The sages spend their thapas power only when it was most needded. Thapas to the seers is like financial resources to the kings. Both should be used juduciously .
5. DHARMA ,ARTHAA , KAMA , MOKSHA ( FOUR GOALS OF LIFE . )
Our life has four goals or interests . Dharama, Artha, Kaama and Moksha . Dharma should not be foregone for the purpose of the other goals. In fact , strictly following the prescribed Dharma itself brings the remaining goals with it .
The word Dharma or righteousness is very often mentioned in the books. The word means ' that which holds' . People believe that the world is held by the Dharma or the universal justice . While the word justice has legal sense, the word Dharma has intellectual and philosophical sense. Dharma is the prescribed course to be followed by each individual , or put simply , 'duty' . A king has his own Dharma , a common man has his own dharma , a student has his own dharma, a soldier has his own dharma , a braahmana has his own dharma , so on . But no one should deviate from his own dharma, whatever it is . That is the principle of Dharma . The word virtue or virtues is used in this translatin to mean Dharma or Punyam.
Artha literally means 'money' ( In our translation, to denote Artha, we used the word resources or interests or monies in singular number.) but it indicates the means that are useful in attaining our livelihood in the society. It also means the interests of a person,usually king, which he should guard very cautiously. Kaama means 'desire' ( In this translation, we used the word desire to mean Kaama) but it denotes the things we need not only for our pleasure but for some obligatory achievements in the life . The difference between Artha and Kaama is to be understood . Artha comprises the achivement of means to satisfy the needs of every individual , such as money, house, wealth etc, which are needded for his survival in the society . Kaama represents such interests required to be achived for the purpose of one's pleasure as well as for satisfying some scriptural ordinances . Thus, Artha and Kaama together consist things like : Earning for one's livelihood ; getting married ; leading an ideal married life far from lust ; begetting children according to dharma so as to relieve one from his debt to his ancestors ; bringing up the off-spring in a cultured manner ; discharging his duties towards his parents , wife , children and relatives ; and then renouncing the routine life for persuing moksha. Kaama interests are to be achieved only by the deployment of one's artha resources, but not by illicit means like theft, treachery etc .
Then, the last one, Moksha , meaning ' release' denotes one's getting salvation from this cycle of birth and death . ( In our translation, we used the word salvation to mean Moksha.) Proper observation of Dharma and judicious achivement of Artha and Kaama form the way to Moksha. Attaining of Moksha is said to be very difficult , because, for being eligible to Moksha , one should have practised the Dharma without the least lapse.
. Scholars say that proper observation of Dharma makes way for successful achieving of Artha , success in Artha allows success in Kama and all these three , rightly achived , give chance to attain Moksha . However, the Karma of previous births too is a vital element in achieving Moksha .
6. VEDAS , BRAAHMANAMS, AARANYAKAMS, UPANISHATHS . The earliest literature in human world , the Vedas , are from India . They originated from the God himself , according to Indian culture . Some great sages who lost themselves in meditation on the Lord ' heard' them from Him and hence they were called Shrithi ( shri = to hear ) too .
Vedas are four in number, each being a compendium of chants grouped together. They are 1. Rik Veda, 2. Yajus(Yajur) Veds, 3. Saama (Saaman) Veda and 4. Atharva Veda.
Mahaabhaaratham is revered as the fifth Veda ( Panchama Veda) in our culture.
The Vedas were not in a written form till recently . They were preserved meticulously , through the generations , through an oral tradition of reciting and learning by rote .
Tradition says that the Vedas were in one single lot in the beginning . Vyaasa divided them into various i.e. four different collections called Rik , Yajus , Saama and Atharva hymns . But, my humble opinion is this. The Veda itself says that the Rik,Saama and Yajus hymns came from the Paramaathma himself. So, it is not tenable that Vedas are one lot initially. What the tradition means may be this. The hymns so forthcoming threeforld from Him might have become intermixed in usage when there was a confusion as to which hymn is of which sect. Vyaasa might have decided the proper place by seggregating them. Thus, what vyaasa did might be only a 'rearrangement in their proper place'. In this process, a new sect named Atharva might be given an equal place too. Lest, Thrayii (three Vedas) etc should be meaningless. I am subject to correction by scholars in this regard.
Also, each veda comprises four segments in itself viz. Samhitha , Braahmanam , Aaranyakam and Upanishath .
Samhitha is the set of hymns usually addressed to gods to propitiate them.
Aaranyakam and Braahmanam are those parts which are studied by Grihastha and Vaanaprastha people usually to study about rituals and soul. This study further continues into upanishaths where salvation is dealt with.
The last segment,Upanishaths, discusses in detail, salvation, the soul , god and the universe . Upanishaths form the basis for Indian philosophy . Even great learned scholars find it difficult to properly interprete the Upanishats, what to talk of foreigners, their blind followers and half-knowledged critics of low intellect who go so far as to claim that the upanishats derided the Vedas !
The ordinances of veda are unoverridable to anybody . They are like a legal statute . Everyone is bound by them . A word unconfutable is often referred to as Veda-vaak or Vyaasa-vaak ie Veda's word or Vyaasa's word.
7. PURAANAM The word Puraanam means 'ancient'. Analysed as 'puraa, api, navam = old ,still new' .
Puraanam is a treatise consisting of genesis of the world,ancient history,biographies of great sages and kings, description of royal dynasties and discourses on phylosophical,devotional,moral,scriptural,scientific and social topics. These mythological works are often seen as legendary stories nowadays. But they form the true and correct basis of our country's history, as they detail the chronology of many ruling dynasties for the past many thousands of years. However, the modern western scholars misinterpreted their chronological accounts so as to suit their views about our country's history which should always look low to them. The blind Indian historians are more dutiful to their false western teachers than to the truth needded for history. The historical account of the Puraanas are ably interpreted to be true by a great Thelugu scholar Kota Venkatachalam of twentieth century. That, of course, is a matter of different referrence and different forum.
We have eighteen Mahaa (=major) puraanams and eighteen upa(=minor) puraanams, all composed by sage vyaasa, but surely revised by his successors. (The Jains and Buddhists too have their own puraanams with their own characteristics.). It is clearly mentioned in the puraanams that the original source of all these puraanams was the one single treatise emanated from the face of the creator lord Brahma. From that, many were composed later by sage Vyaasa, each with some different content but common features of composition. Also, there are eighteen sub-minor (upa+upa=upopa) puraanams too, but we don't list them here.
A typical definition of Puraanam says that a puraanam has five characteristics viz., 1. Genesis of the creation, 2. Destruction of the creation and re-creation, 3. Genesis of gods,sages and kings, 4.Creation,terms and ruling of the manus, 5. Description of dynasties of the kings and their history.
Some say that these five factors apply to the minor puraanams but the major puraanams have ten characteristics.
The names of the eighteen Mahaa-puraanams and the approximate number of their shlokas is given hereunder. The upa-puraanams are not mentioned here in detail.
|S No||Name of the Mahaapuraanam||Shlokas in it|
Here, some scholars count Devee-bhaagavatham in place of Bhaagavatham. In their view, this Bhaagavatham is not a work ov Vyaasa. They attribute it to certain Boapadeva or Voapadeva and for clarity, thy name it Visnu-bhaagavatham.
There is a funny verse naming all these eighteen books.
" Ma-dvayam, bha-dvayamchyva;Bra-thrayam, va-chathushtayam; A-naa-pa-lin-ga-koo-skaani; puraanaani prithk prithak."
It means, Two (names starting wirh sound M) 'Ma's , two 'Bha's, three 'Bra', four 'Va's(i.e. the sound V), (one each with ) A, Naa, Pa,Lim(n), Ga,Koo and Ska. Compare this hint with the first syllable of names in the table above.
In Indian mythology , especially in the puraanams, it was said that Lord Vishnu takes birth in different forms for different purposes. Such taking birth by Vishnu is called 'Avathaara' which literally means 'getting down'. Usually, Vishnu takes up such incarnations for a specified purpose like protecting the good or punishing the bad, as it is his duty to safeguard the creation till its destruction. Though there were many such incarnations described in puraanams like Bhaagavatham, ten of them are very prominent and popular, out of which the tenth one is yet to take place. Some people very imprudently mix up Gouthama Buddha among these incarnations, but the Buddha mentioned as Vishnu's incarnation was a different one. In usual usage, incarnation means the act of incarnation and the person so assumed in that incarnation too. For example, fifth incarnation means Shreeraama.
The ten popular incarnations, commonly known as Dashaavathaaras (= ten incarnations), are,
1. Mathsya, 2.Koorma, 3.Varaaha, 4. Naarasimha, 5.Vaamana, 6.Parashuraama, 7. Balaraama, 8. Shreeraama, 9.Krishna, 10. Kalki ( yet to come). Here, some take Buddha in place of Krishna, bt it looks imprudent, as Buddha is a minor incarnation whereas Krishna is a total one. The traditionalists most rever and worship the two incarnations Shreeraama and Shreekrishna.
9.FOUR ORDERS OF LIFE - 1. BRAHMACHARYAM, 2.GAARHASTHYAM, 3. VAANAPRASTHAM, 4. SANNYAASA .
In ancient Indian tradition, a man's life is divided into four stages called orders (aashrama). The word stage is used here to more easily convey the sense but I prefer to use the word order, later and elsewhere, because it describes an institution in practice from times immemorial. 1. The first one is Brahmacharyam. The word means, practising(char) of vedas(brahma). During this stage of life, one should study the vedas from a mentor in the latter's hermit, usually set up in a forest or away from the populated places. The student is subject to many stringent impositions in this stage which bar him from any luxury or comfort. During this stage, the sole aim is 'dharma' , the first of the four goals of life. He should involve in study of vedas and various subjects of material and meta-meterial sciences, serve his teacher and mould himself to be a good man under the teacher's instructions. After the teacher permits him for the second stage he returns to his parents and gets married. That is the starting point of the second stage.
2.The second stage is Gaarhasthyam. 'Griha' means a 'house', 'grihastha' means 'one in a house. or a 'householder'. 'Gaarhasthyam' means 'relating to a householder'. During this stage, man should try to achieve the second and third goals viz Artha (benefits) and Kaama (desires). He should earn and satisfy both his needs and duties too. He should marry, beget children, serve parents and elders, bring up children, honour the guests and visitors, take care of the unprivileged of the societyl like he poor, beggars and the destitutes. After settlling his children and performing all the rituals and sacrifices required to be done by a householder, he should, usually after seeing the birth of grandchildren, try to enter the third order i.e. Vaanaprastham.
3. The third order of life is vaanaprastham. 'Vana' means 'forest'. 'prastha' means 'settled'. 'Vanaprastha' means 'one settled in forests'. 'Vaanaprashtha'(notice the double aa) means 'relating to one settled at forests'. It is otdained that one should renounce the family life and the normal society,after discharging his duties towards the family and society. Since then, he should strive for the last and fourth goal of life 'moksha' or salvation. During the stage, a man should leave the populated places and prefer to live in forests or some solitary places, with or without his wife, where he should dedicate himself to the study of soul and god. He should subsist on whatever is available in the forests. He should perform all the rituals needded. He should welcome the guests and serve them. After surviving through this stage, if he wants to take up, he can take up the fourth order Sanyaasa.
4. Sanyaasa or Sannyaasa is the fourth and the last order of human life. 'Nyaasa' means 'laying off'. 'sam' 'nyaasa' means 'total laying off'. Before entering into this order, one should renounce the world and wordly bonds. He should lay off his household fire which he keeps himself with until the vaanaprastha order. He should tonsure his head. Should ware only a loin cloth. Should not keep anything for him. Should live by begging only. Should not have a permanent residence. Should wander about the country, sleeping at a village for only one night. Three nights is the maximum period allowed to him for continuous stay at the same place, . During rainy season, they are permitted to stay at a single place for the four rainy months. They should engage in teaching the people during their visits to the householders. Just like a brahmachaari, a sanyaasi too is strictly prohibited from acquiring anything for himself. Should cathorsise his mind and excercise it over equality, non-violence and piety.
This fourth order is as difficult to maintain as is honourable in the society. Once entering this order, no reentry into other orders is permitted. Whether women can renounce is a question of debate. Though the process required in case of a man is not applicable to a woman, she too can live with her husband in the third order. Later, she can become a sanyaasini too. There were referrences in scripts about women adopting the studies of vedas and soul and universe. They were referred to as brahmavaadinis meaning 'students of vedas'. Also, there is no compulsion that one should take up all the orders of life or follow them in the same order. It is upto one's choice to adopt the next order or last order directly. Rare occasions were there for examples of adopting the fourth one right after the first one.
10.) Boon (Vara) .
boon is an award granted by a powerful person like a deity, sage or Braahmana or any person out of pleasure and satisfaction. Only people rich in penance and virtue can give such grants. All that makes them give such boons is the destiny of the giver and taker, of course. In Mahaabhaaratham and Puraanas, we come across the occasions of some deity or powerful mortal too giving a boon to some one. For example Shiva, the Lord, gave a boon to Jayadratha, the Sindhu king that the later can be able to stand against the Paandavas save Arjuna, in the for one day. Similarly, Shanthanu, the Kuru king, a mortal, granted a boon to his son Devavratha (Bheeshma) that the latter may leave his body only when he preferred. Usually, we come across demons, kings, sages and some other mortals going on observing stringent penance (thapas) for propitiation of some god and praying for certain boons from him. Boons sometimes played a crucial role. It is clear from this epic itself.
11.) Curse (Shaapa)
Curse is the counterpart of boon. That means that it is an imposition of a kind of infliction or suffering or trouble on some one. Usually curses are given, like boons, by powerful entities such as deities, sages and others who are rich in oenance and virtue. While boon is result of the granter's pleasure, curse is the result of wrath or displeasure of its giver. In Puraanas and Epics, we come across many occasions where the deities, sages and Braahmanas inflict curses on others. For example, Lord Brahma cursed Mahaabhisha to take birth as mortal. Sage Vasishtha cursed the Vasus to take birth as mortals. Karna is the worst case of example for curses. May be, he is not the only one,but the curses he received are direct causes for his defeat in his very arch-rival, Arjuna.
In many occasions, those inflict the curses have blessed the victims with some way of overcoming them too ( vimoachana = liberation from that).
12.) Athithi and ABHYAAGATHA
The first th in this word is lightly pronounced like th in with. The second th is pronounced hard like th in thought. An Athithi can be described as a visitor to a house without prior intimation or knowledge. Presently, we use the English word guest to indicate an Athithi. But, it is not an exact substitute, since a guest can be an invited one where as an Athithi is one drops in unknown. (A-thithi = without time. He may come anyday anywhere, untold. )
During one's household order of life, one should honour and satisfy the Athithis. It is considered not only a duty but an honour to entertain athithis and satisfy them with welcome, service,food and rest.
An Abhyaagatha is a real drop-in, to say. He is a late comer among the athithis! He is one that arrives even after the cooking job in the house is over. An abhyaagatha is entitled to the same honour as an athithi. Our scripture say that satisfying athithis and abhyaagathas means satisfying the Almighty himself. However, like many good customs, that also disappeard nowadays due to many reasons.
13.) PITHRIS and SHRAADDhA
The word Pithris indicate the lot of one's deceased ancestors. The word also indicate that group of seven deities with whom the deceased ones absorb. The names of the seven deities of the abode of Pithris are - Kavyavaaha, Anala, Soama, Yama, Aryama, Agnishvaaththa and Barhishada ( Differently listed as Sukaala, Aangirasa, Susvadha, Soamapa, Vyraaja, Agnishshvaaththa and Barhishada.). It is Indian tradition that those who die do reach the abode of Pithris if their deeds are sufficiently pious to render them to that abode. Yama is the ruling Lord for these deities Pithris. We often use the word manes to mean Pithris.
Every household is directed to perform sacrifices in propitiation of gods, pithris and others. The rituals done in honour and for propitiation of the Pithris are daily in nature, but there are some occasional ones too.
A shraaddha is a performance done in propitiation of Pithris. It includes, among others, the performance of alms and feast done by the sons in memory of their father and grandfathers, every year on the day of death of that ancestor.
In Mahaabhaaratham and Puraanams, Shraaddha is held highly important. Yet, some modern schools of thought consider the shraaddha useless and non-vedic too. but, seen from the evidence in several places of Epics,Smrithis and Puraanas, it is very much Vedic.
As we have four Vedas, we have six supplements to Vedas. They do not form the part of the Vedas but are appertinent to them. They are named Vedaangas (Veda= Veda, Anga= supplement). The six Vedaangas are 1. Shikshaa, 2.Niruktham, 3. Kalpam, 4. chandas, 5. VyaakaraNam, 6. Jyouthisham .
1.Shiksha : (The word itself means instruction.) This is instruction about accent, duration and pronunciation of various sounds. This teaches about short, long and longer vowels. The literature consisting this branch in Samskritham is very wide.
2. Niruktham. The word means 'defined or definition'. Aptly, it defines and explains the words used in Vedas. Yaaska is its composer. it is the earliest form of a lexicon prepared for an intended purpose. Later lexicons pertaining to general Samskritham language are abundant, numbering over 200.
3. Kalpam : The word means 'creation'. It deals with various rules and procedures of building the altars etc.
4. Chandas : Means 'metre'. This supplements deals with properties of meters used in Vedic verses in particular and verses of poetry in general. Later, a separate branch of Chandas emerged for non-Vedic Samskritham.
5. Vyaakaranam : The word means 'Analysis', but it correponds to present day.s Vyaakaranam, though the former's scope is a bit wider touching etemolofy too, to a limited extent. Probably, no other language has such a perfecr grammer as Samskritham. There are various treatises on grammer but presently, a book by Paanini, with eight chapters (hence, Ashtaadhyaayii = of eight chapters) of four quadrants each is mostly, or the only one, followed. A thorough commentary(Bhaashyam) on this, available only upto some part, by Pathanjali is acclaimed as Mahaabhaashyam (The Great Commentary). Gramaatical analysis is at its height in Samskritham.
6. Jyouthisham : The word means 'of jyothis' ie relating to stars. this is a near substitute for astrology mixed with elements of astronomy. As time is an essential factor for performing sacrificial rite and observing special occasions, ancient Indians measured time to a minute accuracy. This supplement deals with the study of stars. Later, a separate branch of astrology came into existence which is no less vast then any other branch of science. Tratises of writers like Aaryabhatta, Varaaha Mihira are famous in present astrology.
15. PUNYAM AND PAAPAM
These two are loosely substitued with the two English words virtue (or piety) and sin. Punyam is the good act as well as its result. One making punyam means one is performing a good deed. One is amassing punyam means the lot of results of good deeds is getting higher and higher. Similarly, sin is an unworthy and proscribed act . Unworthy act is commonly unworthy to all but proscribed action may not be proscribed to all . Stealing is a sin because it is unworthy act ie unseemly act and that remains unworthy to one and all. But, in case of harm, that is proscribed in general but exempted in case of fighters in war.
Mercy,generousity,sacrifices, dutifulness,kindliness,forgiveness etc cause virtue and also develope and increase that. Lies, harm, dereliction of duty,spitefulness, stealing etc cause and increase sins.
Thus, doing righteous things according to his order , one amasses punyam, while doing prohibited acts, one amasses sin. Punyam takes one to higher abodes and Paapam takes one to lower abodes, hell ie. Depending upon the punyam and paapam, the being enjoys the suitable results and takes birth again in a fitting class of beings.