Last week, my father's bhImarathA (70th year shAnti) was performed at our kuladevatA devasthAna. Interestingly, during mantrAkshata prasAda, one of the senior priests (SP1) gave me an AshirvAda that I always try to avoid. He invoked blessings to the effect that my marriage should take place within the year! Just when he was invoking blessings, I too invoked contrary blessings as to AjIvanabrahmacaryam cittashuddhiMca prAptirastu. Obviously, we got into a debate, as is my nature. The priest standing by immediately addressed SP1 and said that the Ashirvacana needs to be what I expect and not otherwise. To that, SP1 replied that he has already asked for an ashIrvAda, while I added that since I've asked something else, SP1's blessing didn't apply to me and we'll see as to which one my beloved Ganesha agrees to.

This discussion came to the forefront a bit later, when SP1 told SP2 as to what happened. I was warmed up from the previous discussion and said that I know a little bit, understand much less, but still I do know that for any Ashirvacana to work I need to have the saMkalpa, and if I don't have the latter, the former goes waste! The debate shifted to the four purushArthAs (dharmArthakAmamoksha) and four Ashramas (brahmacarya, grihasta, vAnaprasta and saMnyAsa) as per Vedas and the responsibility of the individual to follow those and bindings thereof. SP2 asked me if I knew those; I replied to confirm so. But, I went on, none of the people I know, at least those in my family tree, had taken to vAnaprastAshrama themselves, so they shouldn't even recommend marriage to me. Moreover, I said, to the person who has vivekavairAgya, these rules do not apply and as Kanchi paramAcArya, a jivanamuktA and a living God, Shri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, wrote in his Hindu Dharma, such a person can go directly from brahmacarya to saMnyAsa instead; not only is this approved, but also shreshTa! Lastly, I said that my Guru, Bhagavan Shridhara Swami Maharaj, has Himself mentioned in clear terms in one of the pravacanAs that a guru that asks a person of vairAgya to go back to saMsAra is not a guru at all! SP2 agreed, while SP1 went mum, and the debate turned to a beautiful discussion on Bhagavatpada Adi Shankaracharya.

I found out later that SP2, who is in his mid-sixties, is himself a staunch brahmacAri!

shRtismRtipurANAnAm AlayaMkaruNAlayaM
namAmibhagavatpAdaM shankaraMlokashankaraM
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