Discussion in 'Customs' started by garry420, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Pic: Dried Darbha

    Darbhai is a Tamil word, born of Darbha, in Sanskrit

    Darbhai, also called kusa, is a grass leaf and its role and place in a Brahmin’s life is supreme. Darbhai is considered as a form of wealth and can cleanse us of our sins as it has the power to purify. We must have at least basic knowledge about this holy grass leaf, and that is the purpose of this monograph.
    Pic: Darbha-Bush

    There are several types of grass that can be used such as darbhai, viswamitra, kusa, munja, sara, doorva etc. The botanical name of darbhai is Poa Cynosuroides. Even modern researchers speak of its special characteristics and the power of its vibrations. Tradition avers that Brahma resides at the roots of kusa, Kesava in the centre and Sankara in the tip; and other Gods in the four directions – as in the case of a peepal tree. Great sages like Harita, Markandeya, Atri, Kausika, Vyasa, Saataatapa, Yajnavalkya, Asvalayana and Apasthamba have eulogized darbhai. Though there are minor variations in the use of darbhai in deva karmas and pitru karmas, there is unison among all the Rishis in underscoring the place of darbhai in all rites and rituals.

    The Vedas too speak specifically of the value of darbhai: the acchidra section of Krisnayajurveda Braahmama is a case in point. Reference to darbhai is found in granthas, the ancient texts of Sara-samuchaya, Smrti-saram, Smrti-ratnam, Smrti chintamani, Smrti-bbaskara and Vishnupurana. There are many Puranic stories woven around darbhai. The Mahabharata contains the story of Garuda, the mythic bird and Vishnu’s vehicle bringing ambrosia and the serpents getting their tongue split lengthwise when they licked the darbha leaf on which a few drops of the ambrosia fell. The story of Rama throwing darbhai at Jayanta in the shape of a crow can be found in the Ramayana. In the story of Mahabali Vamana clears the spout of pitcher with a leaf of darbhai.

    How to wear the ‘Pavitram’
    Pic : On ring finger.

    The darbhai is to be worn on the ring finger of the right hand, in a circular formation, prior to starting any religious rite like homa, dana, yaga-yagna – in fact any deva or pitru karma. This ubiquitous adornment on the finger of the karta of any ritual is called a ‘pavitram’, and it is necessarily made of darbhai. There is an opinion that one can permanently have the ‘pavitram’ on. Perhaps an extension of this thinking is the idea ascribed to sages like Katyayana and Harita that a pavitram could be made of gold and worn all the time. Please note that a pavitram made of gold cannot substitute a darbhai. When a karma starts one has to necessarily have a darbhai pavitram on, even if one is already wearing a swarna pavitram. Any reference to pavitram means only darbhai. Incidentally, when a swarna pavitram is worn on the ring finger, a ring called tarjani made of silver is to be simultaneously worn on the index finger. And only the eldest son can wear the tarjani (but not when his father is alive).

    Generally one does not prepare darbhai for oneself. It is either received from the family Purohit (Sastrigal) or a properly qualified elderly person. Of course if the pavitram is not available from these sources one can prepare it oneself. The darbhai has to be fresh and prepared just before the start of a ritual – it should not be stocked.
  2. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Pavitram - Differences for different occasions:

    There are restrictions in the number of darbha leaves used to prepare the pavitram. In general in Vedic recitations, meditation and for puja it is prepared from 2 leaves of the grass. In all ancestral worship like Sraaddha or Amavasya libations we use 3 leaves. In death rites darbhai is prepared with one leaf of the grass. Though the number of leaves may change, the shape, size and method of preparing it do not change. Of course there are some variations in the number of leaves that are used in the Pavitram in some sections of the Hindu society.

    As we have already seen, there are quite a few options for the leaf to be used as darbhai. The type known as viswamitra is available in plenty. Other grass leaves like that of paddy, wheat, yava, rundhura, and usiram (vlamicheri ver) can also be used.

    Regulations for wearing & discarding the pavitram:The karta should first do aachamana while taking the pavitram from his acharya, preparatory to the start of the ritual. Likewise, the performance should end with an aachamana. On both occasions (i.e. when aachamana is done), the pavitram is to be positioned over the right earlobe. At the commencement the karta will do the aachamana, take the pavitram from the ear and wear it on his finger as described above. At the conclusion of the rite, he has to remove the pavitram from the ear, untie it and throw it in the niruriti (south-west) direction and do the aachamana.
    If the karta has to drink water during the ritual or sip milk etc. as part of the ceremony, he should not drink with the pavitram on. He should lodge it over the right earlobe and drink.
    The pavitram should not be kept elsewhere or handed over to anyone. Similarly while doing paada prakshalana (a ritual of washing another person’s feet) the pavitram must be removed from the finger and placed above the right earlobe.
    Use of darbhai grass other than as pavitram : It becomes the asana or seat for doing Vedic karmas.
    • It serves as a connecting link between husband and wife during</p><p>a ritual when they do sankalpa (take a resolve to do the karma). The wife touches her husband with darbhai grass.
    • At the time of temple consecration (kumbabhishekam) thekalasa is connected to the idol and the tower with a rope madeof darbha grass (Nadisandama).
    • Darbhai is believed to protect food prepared during an eclipse.
    • Darbhai is a must in all homas (in places like Paristheeriya,paatra sadhana, ayaamita, aajya samskara, etc.)
    • Along with the mango leaves and coconut, a koorcham made of darbhaiis also placed in the kalasa where avahana is performed for devas.
    • A belt made of darbhai grass is tied around the waist of the brahmachari during upanayana, and around the waist of the bride in a marriage.
    • For Brahmavarana (the selection of a vidwan or scholar) in homas, darbhai is used.
    • A small clutch of darbhai is handed over to the Acharya to whom power of attorney is given by the karta with a request that the acharya may perform the proposed japa or homa on his behalf.
    Do’s and don’ts :*The tip of the darbhai should be intact. The grass leaf without the tip is useless.
    *When we take darbhai from a bundle, we have to do it from the lower/root side and not from the top.
    *When we set it down, care must be taken to see that its tip faces east or north.
    *The darbhai should not be placed on bare earth.
    *Darbhai cannot be reused; or and if it is trampled it should not be used again.
    *Darbhai grass should not be cut with our nails.
    Summary : Darbhai purifies us, protects us from any mishaps during the ritual. Harita Maharishi emphatically says the merit of rituals done with pavitram becomes manifold. To quote another sage, “pavitram is like the Vajrayudha in the hands of Indra, the Trisula in the hands of Siva, Chakra in the hands of Vishnu. All bad and negative forces like demons etc. run away once they see a pavitra-paani, the hand that wears a pavitram.”So in future when you receive a pavitram from the Acharya, do please keep in mind its value and greatness and don’t treat it as a mere grass-leaf.

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