When we were young and we got a priest to do the pooja (or when I started doing it myself)..it would end with the following aashirvaad…. “Dhanam, dhanyam, pashum, bahuputralabham, shatha samvatsaram dirghamayuhu”.
This of course is from the Suktams…a part of the Vedas..and it crudely translates to wealth, food to eat, cattle, many children, and life up to 100 years. I do think it is still a brilliant, brilliant blessing. It is amazing that about 5000 years ago somebody could make a statement which is still being used.
We may have to tweak the understanding a little bit – let us look at each one of them.
Dhanam: Hindu philosophy has always encouraged the creation and proper usage of wealth. See the awesome and amazing temples that the kings built (they never build graves for their loved ones). So it was the dharma of the King to earn money and spend on public good. I have always held the view that money earned well gives a lot of happiness and the power /choice to help the less privileged people. So in my head Dhanam still stands at the top, and many of us spend a lot of time trying to acquire it. I would include managing money too in the aashirwadam/blessing. So please when you hear this assume Dhanam means earning, paying taxes, spending smartly, investing wisely, doing charity, writing the will, looking after the money well – the whole works.
Dhanyam: We do earn to eat well. No great debate needed on this. Dhanyam should in today’s context mean ‘may you get good, organic, well grown naturally food, well packaged and whole grains’ . In the days of yore the blessing did not have to say anything about pure food. We will increase the scope of ‘dhanyam’ to include good healthy food which will nourish your soul and your body. Fair enough. Let us use a saying from Ayurveda “Let medicine be your food, and food be your medicine”. I would think of this as the interpretation of the word ‘dhanyam’. Making sure that you do not eat junk food, do not waste food – think of all this when you are giving or receiving this blessing.
Pashum: May you be compassionate to animals, and not consume any product which is got by troubling animals. To me milk means ‘satvic’ milk. Satvic milk means “milk got from a HAPPY COW obtained from her AFTER the calf has had its fill”. Such milk exists ONLY when you go and live in a village where YOU have your own cow, where you milk the cow, offer it as a blessing to God (Naivedh) and then consume. What we get in a plastic packet hand delivered every morning is a white chemical fluid which we pretend is milk. So may God give you the guts to go and live in a village and have your own ‘pashu’ .
Bahuputhram: More than one is ‘bahu’. In the days of yore child mortality was high. We should today interpret this as ‘nice kids’ who will be responsible citizens of the world…no great change from the original.
shatha samvatsaram dirghamayuhu: May you live to the age of 100, and live those 100 years well with good health…fair enough.
I still say this in every wedding that I attend (why I prefer attending weddings and not receptions)…I do think this 5000 year old mantra still holds. Hats off to our ancestors…who created it..now all of you reading he blog..here are my blessings to you and your families (oops for non readers too, why restrict it to readers??)…’Sarva Lokan Sukhinav bhavantu’ and May God bless you with whatever you want, importantly… “Dhanam, dhanyam, pashum, bahuputralabham, shatha samvatsaram dirghamayuhu”.
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