Bhojana kramam – Pariseshanam

Respected Acharya Deva,
Bhojana Kramam, which includes Pariseshanam, Pranahoothi mantras are described here.

Karma:

After Sandhyavandhanam and Thiruvaradhanam, Bhojana kramam starts.

Bhojanam offered to Lord during Thiruvaradhanam should be had just as it is without any addition / omission.

Short version:

First you address the food “AsmAkam nityam astu Etat”

1. Om Bhurbhuvasuvaha: Sarva sAdhArana Prokshana Mantram for purifying the
food

2. Satyam tvA ruthEna ParishinchAmi:  Here the food is addressed as satyam.
I encircle you with ‘rutham’.  These two words are often used in vEdAs.  For
eg.  Brhma Yagnyam etc.,  In the evening the address is reversed.  I recall
the meaning of rutham as righteousness.  Learned members please correct me.
3. amruta upastaranam asi; Be a ‘lining’ to the amrutam(i.e. the food)
4. amruta abhidAnam asi: Be a ‘lid or cover’ to the amrutam.

Extended Version:
1) Wash your feet and palms and perform aachamanam.

2) After the rice and ghee are served, sprinkle little water on the food
while chanting the following mantra, inorder to do nivedhanam to
Bhagawan who resides in you as an antharyAmi.
Om antharyAmiNE nama:

3) In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate)
in clockwise direction and chant the following mantra.
Om bhurbhuvassuva:

4) Do the following nyasam.
prANAgnihotramanthrasya bhrahmA rushi:  (touch top of the head)
anushtup cchandha:  (touch the tip of the nose)
vaishvAnarAgnirdevathA  (touch the heart)
prANAgnihotrE viniyOgha: (both the palms together do the
semicircular motion starting from outside towards you)

5) In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate) in

clockwise direction and chant the following mantra.
sathyam thvarthEna parishinchAmi (during the day)
rutham thvA sathyEna  parishinchAmi  (during the night)

6) Then partially lift the top left corner of the leaf or you could touch the
plate.
Use only the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the left hand.  You can
skip
this step if perumAL theertham is self-served.

7) Request for the perumAL theertham to be served.  First, sprinkle the
theertham
onto the food.  Second, hold the perumal theertham(pAdhyam).  Don’t have yet,
wait until the theertham is served for all.

8) Chant the following manthra and then have the theertham without noise.
amruthOpastharaNamasi

9) Then perform the following prANAhoothi.  Use only the thumb, index finger
and middle finger of the right hand and take a very little amount of the rice
and ghee
mixed and swallow it without touching the teeth.
Om prANAya svAhA  (east)
Om apAnAya svAhA  (south)
Om vyAnAya svAhA  (west)
Om udhAnAya svAhA  (north)
Om samAnAya svAhA  (center)
Om bhrahmaNE svAhA  (center)
Om bhrahmaNi mama AthmamruthathvAya (center)
SriGovindhAya nama:

10) Now, switch the one you are holding with left hand to right hand.  Request
to
serve water to purify your left hand at that corner.

11) Until you come to this point don’t have anything other than what you had
during parisEshanam.

12) Have thrupthi bhOjanam.

13) Have what you need to (food, fruits, water etc) before the utthara bhojanam.

14) utthara bhojanam.  Request for the perumAL theertham to be served.  Hold the

perumal theertham(pAdhyam).  Don’t have yet, wait until the theertham is served
for all.
Chant the following manthra and then have half what was served.
amruthApidhAnamasi

15) And pour the rest around the leaf while chanting the following.
rauravE apuNyanilayE padmarbudha nivAsinAm |
arththinAmudhakam dhaththam akshayyamupathishtathu ||

16) Then, gargle 16 times, wash your feet and perform the Achmanam twice.

Gyana: ( Philosophy )

There is actually philosophical significance to
the parisecana and prANAhuti mantras.

1) Parisecana
————-

As has been explained earlier, after we sit down
for our meal, we say the mantra:

satyam tvartena parishincAmi

(O Food! You are True. I encircle you with
divine righteousness.)

and we circumambulate our food with a sprinkling of water.
This sprinkling of water is known as “parisecana”.

At night, this mantra is ‘Rtam tvA satyena parishincAmi’,
transposing the ‘Rtam’ and ‘satyam’.

I am not sure of the exact philosophical details as to
why Vaidikas do this particular part, but I can surmise one
meaning from the mantra. “Satya” means that which is real
or true. “Rta” is a notion of the Divine Law or moral principle.
The term “Rta” is often found in the Rg Veda, and it is
from this that the idea of “dharma” later evolved.

>From this we can gather that the parisecana mantra is sort of a
formulaic “protection” for the food we are about to eat.
Practically, it does also serve to ward off insects, etc.,
and perhaps this is another reason why the ritual developed
in this particular form.

2) prANAhuti — the offering to the vital breaths
————————————————-

The next step is the part of greater philosophical significance.
Recall that in the Vedic tradition, every act eventually becomes
an act of worship, an act of recognition of the pervasiveness of
the Supreme Brahman and Its power.

When we eat, we nourish our bodies. Food is therefore essential
for bodily sustenance. Within our body is the “ana” or
vital breath. The “ana” has five activities or “prANa-s”.
The five prANa-s represent the various bodily functions that are
critical for survival.  They are considered a manifestation
of the power of the Supreme in the bodily plane.

[ It is almost a universal cultural idiom to recognize breath
as the vital force behind life.  In English, when someone dies
they are said to have “breathed their last”.  In Tamil,
the word “ushir” or “uyir” can mean both breath or life. ]

The idea is that by first making an offering to the prANa-s,
we pay homage to their life-giving power by virtue of their
performing the bodily activities that are crucial to our
survival.  In this way, this ritual recognizes that not
only is food important to survival, but the very bodily
functions that we take for granted are essential, and we
owe all of this to the Supreme, who sits as the superintending
power behind all bodily activity, no matter how mundane.

The vital breaths or “prANa-s” are five in number. The latter
four are derived from the first. They are:

prANa — the principal breath
apAna — responsible for excretory activity
samAna — responsible for digestive activity
vyAna — responsible for circulatory activity
udAna — respiratory activity

This act of thanksgiving to God who through these bodily
functions sustains life is done by saying the following
mantras, and eating a little bit of rice and ney (ghee)
without chewing it (because, after all, the food is an
offering, not meant for personal consumption):

om prANAya svAhA
om apAnAya svAhA
om vyAnAya svAhA
om udAnAya svAhA
om samAnAya svAhA

om brahmaNi ma AtmA-amRtatvAya

The last line means, “May my self be united
in Brahman (the Supreme), so that I may attain
immortality.”

Eating, then, is a profound act of worship which
sustains the body so that we may further worship
Brahman. There is also an implication that the
swallowing of tasty food symbolizes the oblation
of the individual self to God, so that God may,
in a sense “eat” and “enjoy” us.

Before and after eating the meal, water is sipped,
once again with a mantra.  The rishis of yore found
this aspect of the ritual so important that they
mention it in both of the largest Upanishads, the
Brhadaranyaka and the Chhandogya, in virtually
identical terms:

Realized people, while eating, do as follows: before and
after their meal, they “dress up” the prANa with water.
The prANa receives clothing in this manner, and
is does not remain naked.

— Chhandogya 5.2.2 & Brhadaranyaka 6.1.15

I am not quite sure why “clothing the prANa” with
water is so important, but both Sankaracharya and
Ramanujacharya write that meditation on prANa having
water as its garments is very important.

It does make some sense, however, from other angles.
Water is a purifier, and drinking water before and
after (Acamanam) is a purifier and sustainer of
the body.  Furthermore, the yoga shastras recommend
that we eat food to fill only half our stomach;
one half of the rest, i.e., one quarter of the
stomach we should fill by drinking water. The rest
should be air.  This is supposed to be the ideal
proportions for spiritual and bodily health.

The mantras recited when sipping water before and
after imply this as well:

amRtopastaraNam asi — Oh water! You are the seat
of immortality.

Since water is drunk before and after the food,
perhaps this is a suggestion that to approach
immortality, one should drink water to fill the
stomach 1/4 way. But this is just a guess.

—————————————————

Comments:

Both above statements have explained “What” should be recited
and “How” the procedure should be observed in great detail.
There is no reference in our scriptures. to taking food on a table or eating
out at a restaurant or eating from a plate (stainless steel or paper plate /
Paper cup etc) From SwAmi DEsika’s AahAra Niyamam, we know that these are
definitely taboo.

Though most of our customs have some spiritual import, they also do have some
mundane purpose like the one commented viz, to ward off insects, ants etc
which may contaminate the food on the leaf.

In fact, we seem to specialize in doing what should not be done “akritya
karaNam” and abandoning what should be done “kritya akaraNam” not only in the
matter of eating but also in all our activities whether we are in the
PuNyabhoomi of BhAratha Varsha or in the BhOgabhoomi like USA.and in an alien
environment.

This raises more questions than answers.

But, why do we do precisely what has been prohibited?
It is because we have given up our duties prescribed (Including this one, let
alone doing our nitya and naimittika anushtAnams). No wonder, we have become
the butt-end of such remarks.

Why have we given up?
It is because our elders instructed us on “what” and “how” they had not cared
to explain the “Why” of it all. We also never cared to question either out of
apathy or fear. And, we remained non-starters throughout.

When we ourselves do not know, how can we guide youngsters?

One practical answer, however, is that as a first step, we should make a
conscious effort to avoid such habits but if it is clearly not possible and
we are forced by circumstances, we should at least feel remorse and regret
called “PaschAthApam”. We are told that this is a kind of “ParihAram” though
not regularizing or sanctioning a misdemeanor.

———————————————–

Once all the organs of the body got together to find out who among them was
the greatest – one on whose leaving the body would be destroyed. The organ
of speech left, but the body did not perish, though the person became mute.
In the same manner the organ of sight, hearing, touch etc. left, but then
the body was not destroyed. Ultimately, Prana started leaving and in doing
so, started uprooting all the other organs – resulting in the destruction of
life – upon which the rest of the organs recognized Prana as the greatest.
This recognition they bestowed by clothing and feeding Prana. Water is thus
the clothing of Prana, offered before and after food and all food eaten is
offered to Prana as its food.

This is the Upanishadic lore. This is the Vidya that Sankara and Ramanuja
comment on. The meditation on Prana in this form confers immortality.

I am sure you remember this tale. But I seem to recollect that this
meditation in the Upanishads is different from the reason mentioned in the
Karma kaanDa for parisecaNam – Sankara also says this in his commentary ( I
vaguely remember this – we need to check ).

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Bhojana kramam – Pariseshanam

  1. Sipping of water is to
    1 commence the peristaltic movement
    2 prepare the throat to recieve the first bolus of food.
    3 prevent injestion of air along with food.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s