With humility, I thank you for having chosen to read this book.
It is likely that your curiosity about our Sanatana Dharma and interest in our rituals made you reach out for this book; it is also likely that you are moved by a desire ‘to do the right thing’ as enjoined by our Sastras. ‘I have now come to that age when I must start getting spiritual’ could be a thought in some of you. ‘How is spirituality connected to rituals?’ could be another question in your mind.
This book is born out of many such queries that have been posed to me by well-meaning people, genuinely interested in knowing more about our Dharma.
My responses and explanations have often struck a chord as logical and sometimes even scientific. Of course in today’s modern world, with changing conditions of day-to-day living, one would find it difficult to lead a life based on our Sastras alone, But one can retain the basic principles and practice the Sastras to a significant degree.
Dharma Sastra is a combination of the most profound principles covering every aspect of existence – past, present, future and beyond. The sages who lived in our land thousands of years ago had the ability to receive divine vibrations and give them shape in Sanskrit - a language known for its richness in grammar and phonetics. Does that sound like spiritual fiction? Well, it isn’t, if one looks at the analogy of a radio set picking up invisible electromagnetic signals from a far-off radio station and converting them back to melodious music.
Hindu Dharma is a combination of philosophy and rituals. The modern thought process finds rituals irrelevant and I have often been asked whether we can retain the great precepts and do away with mindless rituals. I would only say that rituals, which can be defined as Vedic practices, are the means to ensure that precepts are assimilated and ingrained, and hence have a great deal of meaning and purpose.
The Law of Karma, known as Karma theory, is a strong, and sometimes cold, intimidating principle to many. But one can find an identical theory operating in any other Life Science: the theory of cause & effect, of action & reaction. The Law of Karma is just that.
And when I speak in the following pages about several rituals including Pitru karma, I am attempting to show you how the Law of Karma applies beyond worldly boundaries.
In this book I claim no unique expertise nor have I said anything new. I have selected a few topics and tried to interpret the wisdom of the ancient sages in a simple language. My purpose is to satiate an immediate thirst, and create the desire to drink deeper. My idea is to debunk the myth that “our religious philosophies and rituals are too complex for me to follow and are only meant for learned saints and sanyasis”. Dharma Sastra is indeed for a common person like you and me.
This volume also contains translations of some Tamil books I have written earlier on these subjects.
English has come to be accepted as a language of convenience in our multilingual milieu, and I would like to reach out to all those curious people who will be comfortable getting their answers in English.
I have attempted to be as definitive as possible in the treatment of topics covered in this book; and should any reader have a different perspective, I would recommend that he clears his doubt with elders or the family Purohit.
I bow to the Supreme Almighty and the sages through several thousands of years, without whom we would have lost this ocean of knowledge and bliss, my Guru Sri R. Sankarji, my venerated father Brahmasri V. Srinivasa Sastrigal (disciple of the great Mahan Brahma Sri Uthukkadu Sankara Ghanapadigal of Raja Patasalai, Kumbakonam) under whose tutelage I learnt the Vedas, my wife Viji and other supportive family members, my friends and well-wishers who have showered love, affection and encouragement, and you, my dear reader, who have encouraged me with your interest in Vedas, the subject of my enduring passion.
Loka samasta Sukhino bhavantu
May all the beings in all the worlds be happy.
--Sarma Sastrigal (Author)