ll ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः, भगवते वेदव्यासाय नमः ll
Shravana Pournami, the full-moon day of the Shravana month has a great significance in the lives of all aspirants seeking after inner growth and Self-knowledge.
An animal is free from dharma-adharma – it does not have a sense of right and wrong; nor does it have any complexes of any kind – for it is purely programmed by nature, in its actions. A human being on the other hand, has this most wonderful endowment – 'choice over action' (Karmani adhikarah), and is hence, at once accountable for his actions. There is then a value system, and a sense of right and wrong. Universal values, Samanya dharma, are a function of this 'doer-ship', this awareness of being the author of one's actions, the presence of a free will.
There is thus a framework of laws for his conduct, rights and duties, justice and punishment – all because the human is expected (by fellow humans) to conform to some norms, so as to permit co-existence in harmony. From how you expect others to treat you, (what they should and should not do), from what harms you and what does not, stems the norms for your own conduct towards others – recognizable intuitively as Samanya Dharma (universal values).
The capacity to think deeply and analyse lets us see additionally, 'Vishesha Dharma' also, particular values which are situational and also have cultural moorings in terms of perception. There is this huge, intricate and broad (as well as specific) framework available to base our actions upon.
The former is innate and does not require any special education about, whereas this latter is a function of culturing of the human mind and its growth, bettered over the ages. The Vedic culture deems this upward transformation essential, and had perfected a way to impart it to the younger generation in a structured manner, down to the nuances. The process is called 'Samskara'. Life itself is divided into stations for one's growth and perfection, and is termed order of 'Ashramas' . It is a beautiful model. Any human is deemed akin to an animal, in the absence of Samskara. The most essential of them is 'Upanayana' or 'Yajnopaveeta Samskara', that marks entry into a committed scholastic phase. The sacred thread and initiation with Gayatri Mantra make one a 'Dvija' (born again or twice born). The life hereafter, is not only of intense learning but that of great responsibility.
This heightened responsibility is exactly in respect of one's actions and sensory experiences. One can no more behave as one pleases, but each choice of action must now conform to dharma, one's awareness has to be very keen, in order to minimize omissions and commissions. One has to deal well with desires and temper – and grow into great maturity. One can not be casual about actions any more…. for one is expected to be very sensitive as a Dvija. He must be an 'Arya'.
It is with this understanding, and in all humility that this day of Shravana Pournami, and the following day is spent in atonement and prayer, in deep objectivity, reinforcing an already evolved way of life. The day is termed Upakarma.
One starts with Kama-Manyu japam with the explicit Sankalpa "अध्यायोत्सर्जन-अकरण-प्रायश्चित्तार्थं , संवत्सर-प्रायश्चित्तार्थं च " for objectivity towards anger and desires, doer-ship and being an experiencer, as well as all omissions and commissions in the year past. To be an Adhikari for Brahma Vidya, one needs the requisite 'yogyata' or eligibility, and this exquisite sensitivity is necessary, with the recognition of Ishvara as the centre-point of ones' life, and understanding Dharma as a critical manifestation of the Lord.
Invoking Bhagavan Veda-vyasa (the 'Organizer' of the Vedas and author of the Brahma-Sutras) and Varuna (the great teacher of Brahmavidya), as well as Agni, the great Pavakah (purifier), adhyayopakrama karma is then performed, and Vedarambha done. What a noble and deeply symbolic procedure of 'atonement', and neutralization of demerits!
Brahmacharis and Vatus (young scholars) perform Samidhaadaanam, offering Banyan-twigs into fire, praying for brilliance and strength, for commitment and knowledge.
Gayatri mantra itself is a prayer for endowment with right thinking, which is vital to action and experience-seeking, and learning. The following day, (Prathama) with the sankalpa of "मिथ्याधीत-प्रायश्चित्तार्थं, दोषवदपतनीय-प्रायश्चित्तार्थं च ", the Dvija does Gayatri Mahamantra Japam (1008 times), taking some 4-5 hours. May I have clear knowledge free of doubts and ambiguity, and may I commit to Svaadhyaaya earnestly for it. May Ishvara, who is all-knowledge, bless me!
Knowledge alone neutralizes all Karma and sets me free!!