Brahmanartham - Making a Mockery of it! by Valliyoor Satya SignUp
Brahmanartham - Making a Mockery of it!
Valliyoor Satya Bookmark and Share

The Tamil Brahmin culture is replete with n number of rituals when a person passes away. Unfortunately, today the very same rituals are being commercially exploited by Tamil Brahmin priests who lust after earning a few quick bucks. Some of them claim to have learnt the vedas in "sankara matam" under the guidance of Kanchi Mahaperiyava - yet it is no secret that most of these vadhyars (priests) do not follow any of the advice rendered by Mahaperiyava who is still considered as a living god by many Tamil Brahmins across the length and the breadth of the globe.  

Besides lusting after money and fleecing unsuspecting clients (sorry to use this word - but the truth is that all these vadhyars treat their vocation as a service business - so it is natural for clients to expect them to follow the tenets of the legendary SERVQUAL model - reliability, responsiveness, empathy, assurance and tangibles). The word "sambhavanai" has been replaced with "rates for different kinds of services" rendered by these priests. This is not to say that all of them are bad - but a few rotten apples among the lot have created a vitiating atmosphere. These priests try to emotionally blackmail their clients to persuade them to follow the rituals after a person passes away using words like "pitru dosha" but what about  the sins committed by them? What kind of dosha is that? How are they going to face the consequences of their bad karma? Would Kanchi Mahaperiyava approved of such an obnoxious behavior by these so called Vedic scholars?   

My request to all Tamil Brahmins is not to get intimidated by all these avaricious and attitude-throwing priests who claim to have learnt the vedas but do not know what humility is all about. These are the same people who would want a death to occur in every family 365 days of the year so that their coffers keep overflowing. Will our ancestors and forefathers get peace if the rituals are performed by people who have no morals?   

When a shrartham is performed, two Brahmins are invited for partaking lunch. They are considered to be the via media for our ancestors to have food. These Brahmins (there is a collusion between the priests and these individuals) demand anywhere between Rs 800 to Rs 1200 for partaking the food and have the gall to waste the food. They are gifted with 9 x 5 dhotis or 10 x 6 dhotis but they do not fulfil the primary task for which they are invited. In the olden days, poor Brahmins who could not afford two square meals a day were invited to partake such feast. They used to eat to their heart's content and leave the home satisfied for the opportunity bestowed on them.   

But professionals in Chennai and Bangalore have made it a vocation - some of them doing this chore for more than 15 years. In the process they have thrown caution to the wind. They come to the house where they have been invited after a heavy breakfast (which they are not supposed to eat anyway) , demand a cup of coffee and tea and start preparing "dhonnais". Dhonnais are cups made from banana leaves.  These dhonnais are used to waste food that has been prepared with so much effort. Some of them claim to be on diet and eschew eating 70% of the items. If they are on diet or have health issues, why accept the offer of Brahmanartham - only to earn Rs 800 or Rs 1200 in a matter of 2 hours without doing much work? Is this the right approach? Is this not a sin? Who is going to pay for this sin? Obviously, it is not the client.  

How I wish that Kanchi Mahaperiya had issued certain standard operating instructions to all these priests on how to conduct themselves while performing the rituals! Certain dos and don'ts for the Brahmins visiting a house for Brahamanartham too would have helped..I am sure that periyava would have censured  for  money being the primary driving force for all these Vedic scholars. In their greed for money, some Brahmin priests don't follow even religious protocols - visiting a samshan ghat in the morning for performing a death ritual and visiting another household in mid morning for performing a naming ceremony of a new born... How unfortunate and tragic.  

Manufactured Brahmin priests are even more notorious. Manufactured Brahmin priests are the sons of Brahmin priests who have entered into the profession after the death of their fathers. These are the people who have not formally learnt the vedas. But they can read the shlokas from a smart phone. Some of them have abandoned their not so happening corporate careers to enter this profession lured by the easy money. Some of these manufactured Brahmin priests have learnt vedas from a vedic scholar (Hope Byjus is not listening to this!) during middle age and have jumped into the fray.  


A few tips for people who are conducting srarthams... 

1. Be upfront and blunt with the priests. Don't beat about the bush and don't allow them to beat about the bush either.  

2. Since the priests behave like service providers and have fixed charges for every ritual, there is no reason why you shouldn't behave like a customer.  

3. Buy only two banana leaves for the 2 Brahmins who visit the household. Do not allow them to make donnais. Preclude that option by buying only two banana leaves. If you have purchased extra banana leaves, keep them separately but don't tell them. Offer them coffee in a small cup. Make it clear in the beginning that you wouldn't be happy with gross wastage of food.  

4. Do a recce of Brahmin priests before you engage them. Seek referrals. Look at social media for reviews of their performance. There are Brahmin priests who will perform rituals according to Yajurveda smug in the notion that the customer belonging to Samaveda cannot understand it.  

5. For every Brahmin priest who is conscientious, committed and ethical, there are ten Brahmin priests who will do anything to earn the green bucks. They will perform short cuts while doing rituals to appease their customers. Their customer driven approach will put FMCG manufacturers to shame. Karmas performed by such unprincipled and unscrupulous priests will never reach your near and dear ones who have attained moksha. Always remember this...   

As always, the principle of caveat emptor stands out. Buyers beware!   

Going forward, it will be better to self- learn the rituals or seek a better option than give in to such moth infested practices that are clear outliers in the Internet Era. 

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