At the spot where today's [26th June 2009] lecture was recorded, we see a statue of Ganga Mata! She is seated with right hand in abhaya, left arm pointing to her divine feet, with water pot in one upper hand.
After worshiping Ganga, we see the swiftly flowing river and surrounded by many gopurams.
Every tower has a history behind it. We are at Brahma kundam. Bhagiratha performed penance to bring Ganga on this Earth. We can see thousands of people waiting to take holy bath in this Brahma kundam. With well built steps to enable safe bathing and performing poojas, we can see many pilgrims here. This place is also known as Hariki pauri. Ganga was formed when the Lord took Sri Trivikrama Avatar. When the Lord lifted His left leg, high up, it crossed all the Seven worlds and reached Brahma's Satya loka. Dharma Devata transformed herself into water and flowed out of Brahma's kamandalu, to wash the Divine feet of the Lord. That is why it is Sri Pada Theertham.The water flowed in all Four directions. We see a place called Daksheshwar. Lord Brahma created many Prajapatis, of them Daksha Prajapati is one. Prajapatis are in charge of craetion of various living beings in this World. Shashi Devi was Daksha's daughter, who was married by lord Shiva. Daksha performed one yagna, but did not invite lord Shiva. Though Shashi Devi wanted to attend that yagna. But earlier Daksha and lord Shiva had some misunderstandings. Once in an yagna attended by Shiva and Brahma, Daksha Prajapati also entered to attend the yagna. That time he did not give due respects to Shiva. Further he talked ill of Shiva. Thus the relationship between the father-in-law and son-in-law was strained. In this background, Shashi Devi requested lord Shiva to permit her to attend the yagna performed by her father! Lord Shiva dissuaded her from attending, where her husband was not respected. Shashi Devi argued that with close relatives, like father, one should not mind such formalities. But lord Shiva maintained that Daksha, well aware of formalities and rules, had disrespected lord Shiva and so it would not be proper for her to attend. Shashi Devi was adament and attended the yagna. According to shastras, every god had to be offered havis, in yagnas. Lord Shiva was to have been offered havis. But Daksha performed the yagna without offering havis to lord Shiva. When Shashi Devi inquired why havis was not offered to her husband, not only proper reply was given, Daksha humiliated her. She instantly immolated herself and died. Learning this news, lord Shiva grew angry and came to the yagna spot and destroyed all. He was assisted by Veera Bhadra. When Daksha was also killed, all were worried about creation and so requested lord Shiva to shred off his anger. The Lord Sriman Narayana also appeared on Garuda and after pacifying lord Shiva, resurrected Daksha. This is the place where Daksha's yagna was conducted and so it is called Daksheshwar. Nearby is the hermitage of Sapta [Seven] Rishis, and is called Sapta srotha. When Ganga flowed down, she branched herself into seven rivers. First as she came down from sky, she branched into Three - one flowing in Deva lok, another in our world and third in Patal lok. But before reaching our Earth, she branched into Seven, in response to the prayers of Sapta Rishis. While satva quality would grow by drinking Ganga water, in sloka 10, is explained what factors nurture Tamo quality. Food determines our quality. A person's character is based on his shraddha, we saw earlier. His type of shraddha identified him. Food contributes to one's mind. In our mind, organs and body, the Three qualities are inherently associated. If we have satvika mind, then our shraddha would be satvika and we would do satva meditation and pray satva God. On the contrary, if rajo or tamo quality dominates our mind and body, then our shraddha would also be according to that. We drink milk shake of various flavours. These are added to milk. Milk becomes sweeter only on the addition of sugar. When we drink strawberry shake, we think we are drinking strawberry juice! Thus the additives dominate the main! Our mind in its natural form is pure; but when rajo or other qualities are added, the mind's action and the shraddha are according to the added quality. Our atman is pure, but is contaminated by others. For our shraddha to be good, our food should be good. Indirectly, therefore, our food habits determine our character. That is why Sri Krishna very carefully said which types of foods were encouraging satva quality in sloka 8; rajo quality in sloka 9. Now, in sloka 10, He tells about food liked by tamasa persons or food which will encourage tamasa qualities:
yātayāmaṃ gatarasaṃ pūti paryuṣitaṃ ca yat
ucchiṣṭam api cāmedhyaṃ bhojanaṃ tāmasapriyam 17.10
These foods are liked by tamo quality persons. We may get a doubt. Do these foods create tamo quality or tamo quality persons like these foods? It is like whether egg first or chicken first! If we start taking a particular type of food, then we get habituated to that type! Southerners can not remain without rice for long; while Northerners can not be away from wheat food for long! Which are those foods? Yatayamam = food cooked much earlier or cooked food eaten after a long time. These should not be taken has to be added after every type mentioned. After hearing the list, one might wonder whether we are asked to starve by the Lord! More than 90% of our food eaten, might come under the banned list mentioned here! Gatarasam = [food that has] lost its natural taste. We have to avoid any food with artificial additives! Fresh juice is better than with preservatives and essence! Puti = bad odour. As we eat we should not close our nose! Paryushitam = [food's] state has changed [like stale food]. Ucchistam = remnants [of food, of another person]. Here Swami Ramanuja mentions certain exceptions. Remnants of food eaten by one's Acharya, father, husband, elder brother or great Bhagavatas or devotees. Amedyam = [food that was] not offered in yagnas. That is food not offered to the Lord. Bhojanam = foods, tamasapriyam = are liked by tamo quality persons; and therefore, we have to avoid.