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The Winter Winds from the West — Chapter 03

The thin veil has vanished.
There has been continuous snowing since last night; glistening thin white pellets are still dropping. The sun, in the distant horizon,  is slowly raising his head , veiled by a thin layer of muslin cloth- like mist  , to watch the lavishly spread  luminous white marble chips spread all over on the earth’s surface and on the top of the slopping house tops.. As if to compensate the loss of colorful leaves during autumn, the nature has decorated the sad, silent and moaning dry trees with shining white snow petals in abundance which hang like pendants of pearl from the branches.
I am sitting close to the window in my study here, gazing at the unbelievably amazing extravaganza of nature, which will not be opened before you every day, even during the winter season here.
When nature gives, it gives in abundance.
P.K. comes in along with his wife, touch my feet as a mark of respect, while bidding farewell. I hate anyone  falling at my feet but accept the salutation of these youngsters, unwilling to offend their sentiments.
“ Thanks, mama, for those consoling words and that warm hug” said P.K. while I hugged him again close to my chest..He continued,” for a moment I thought it was my departed father who had followed me from the temple and accepted me on his hairy chest”
Sri.P.Krishnamoorthy, my son’s friend came to Baltimore yesterday  to perform his father’s  sraadham, annual ceremony for the departed souls, in the Greater Baltimore temple, not far from our house. Availing permission to be absent from his work, with much difficulty and driving over 100 miles, he comes twice an year to perform the annual ceremony of his parents and a spends a night here with my son recalling their school days.
P.K. came to America over ten years ago to earn his living, as he failed to get a suitable job matching his qualification in India and also wanted to study further. By sheer hard work, he prospered in this country and unlike many other youngsters, saved enough money to assure a comfortable life to his parents back home , educated  his siblings, performed  the wedding of his sisters and gave a fitting farewell to his parents who closed their eyes with the satisfaction  that the offspring left behind them in this world was an asset indeed.
The old couple’s only unrealized  wish was that they could not visit the country of settlement of their son  and smell the  soil in which their grand children were born.
“Call me there every year for the annual ceremony. I will cross the seas, flying over the clouds, happily”  His father, from his death bed, had told Kittu  with full hope that his beloved son would offer him sesame  seeds and water, after his departure from this world.
. “Nanum avar koode varenda, Kittu” –I too will come there along with him-His mother too said. Their last wish suited Kittu as well.  It will be practically impossible for him to visit India twice an year, to perform the annual ceremony of his parents, considering   his busy work  schedule,  wife ‘s job, children’s education and several other factors.
I accompanied him yesterday to the temple and the pandit , wearing crystal clear pancha and equally pleasant  smile, conducted  the ceremony strictly according to the vedic sanction. It was a solemn occasion with no intermittent cell phone sound or distracting talks or bargaining for the fees, though the priest’s  pronunciation of mantras  was slightly different from the vaadyars from the south. There was also some minor variations in the procedure, for example,   archana or floral tribute along with arkhyam ( offering of water) for the departed souls , devathas (divinities), Rishies (Saints)  and  great aacharyas (teachers) like  Bheeshma, Anjaneya etc  was performed with great dedication.
Kitto  and  his wife were completely satisfied and sincerely believed that his father’s soul would have crossed the  oceans and accepted the beloved son’s offering of fruits, vegetables and cereals, comfortably seated on  darbha grass neatly spread on the bamboo mat placed over an absolute clean floor surface.
Their happiness, unfortunately was short- lived. When we returned home for food , Kittu, unexpectedly saw the  print- out of  some of the posts from our forum’s website, which I had placed in a tray on the computer table for studying .  Those were related to the commentary on Bagavatham, a Hindu scripture, by a well  known vedic exponent.
One of the extracts said:
“Do not perform sraadha in foreign countries and call the pitrus there! When you do avahanam of the Pitrus in the kurcham, they actually come there”
(Explanation:  In the annual ceremony, the departed soul is invited to be seated on a spread of darbha grass and the belief is atman (soul or spirit) does respond to the call and accept the offer of clothes and food in the form of water, sesame seeds, fruits, vegetables etc. In a more elaborate form of annual worship, the offer is made through the tongues of the holy fire generated for the purpose,accompanied by appropriate mantras.
According to the exponent, the Bagavatham do not sanction the invitation of pitrus or departed souls to foreign countries.)
The second  one was the learned Veda exponent’s reaction to a query :
“Oru payyanukku, avan thayyarukku karmam pannarathei vida verey periyya velai enna irukku ?  Appadi leave kedakkaleinna, velayei vittu vittu varattum.  Intha velei pocchunna innoru velai kedeikkamala irukka  pokarathu ?”
(Explanation: For a son, what other activity can be more important then performing the ceremony of his mother? He should resign the job if permission to absent from the work is not granted. After all, he should be able to get another job)
Kittu went through the comments, remained silent for a while, lifted his head and with tears rolling down his cheek, asked me, “did I commit a sin by inviting my father to cross the sea and  come over here to accept my offerings?. Intha velai pona (if I lose this job ), won’t my family be in the street mama?” I patted his back to console him.
”Please answer my query, mama!” he pleaded again,” did I commit a sin by inviting my father to cross the sea and come over here to accept my offerings?”
“No my son” I consoled the youngster, hugging him close to my chest, “ Your father would have come even to the Sahara desert to respond your sincere invitation. The scriptural sanctions seize to act beyond the border of life. And remember, the sanction of your own conscious, clear and pure as the snow around here, supersedes any dictates, from the present or past, human or divine.”
I watched silently while that obedient and worthy son was moving along with his wife towards his Mercedes-Benz.
In the distant sky the sun shone  brighter. The thin veil  has vanished.
Love and regards,
Jan 08 2010

1 thought on “The Winter Winds from the West — Chapter 03

  1. An excellent and thought provoking mail.I am very much moved with the devotion and purity of Sri Krishnamurthy and may his tribes grow in this material world.I am also staying outside India and constrained to perform shradam for my parents outside India.But I never felt that i am dong this ritual against the tradition by invoking the Pitrus to travel to a foreign country.I never used to miss any Amavasya Tharpanam and the satisfaction I derive cannot be explained.Mr Krishnamurthy’s sincereity only reinforced my commitment and resolve to perform the Sradham where ever you are irrespective of the scriptures interpretations by somebody.

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