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Why Stitched Clothes Not Worn While Performing Vedic Rituals

Hindu practices such as clothes, accessories, ornaments and symbols generally are not constrained in sampradayas of Brahmana, but…

Sri Rangapriya Mahadesikan Swami expressed the following view some 30 years ago. The traditional practice across संप्रदाय, निष्ठा and ब्राह्मण segments in not wearing stitched clothes during Vedic recitations such as परायनम्, पुजा-पाठ, होमetc are at variance across different parts of the Hindu nation. For example, the रुद्री, who are reciters of सप्तशती पारायण in south India and गृहस्थ wear a पञ्च कच्छा cloth while it is not mandatory for brahmacharis or those who have been celibate.

Hindu practices such as वस्त्र (clothes), वेश (accessories), भूषा (ornaments) and चिन्ह (symbols) in general are not constrained in specific sampradayas of Brahmana. Cultural and comfort compliance is not exactly the essence of Vedic, Dharmashaastra or yoga compliance.

Any possible reference that comes up, traced to Puranas or other आचार स्मृति works in this context as a socio-contextual implementation of Dharmashaastras as a Yogic principle reminder.  The other extreme, in a lighter vein, is that the Vedic citer must not be नग्न (nude), irrespective of the dress code guidelines.

When देश (native place) or काल (time or era) changes, for example in the case of an Indian Vaidika going abroad and facing a different nature like climatic variations, affecting the well-being of the body in terms of आरोग्य (recovery) or सौख्य (comfort), a relaxation to the rule in achara is permitted.

This brings us to the next question of whether wearing native, handmade clothing from the local market is preferred to foreign or pre-stitched clothing during पारायण. The same logic as above would apply. When जप, होम and पारायण are not done as yoga,  and the event is more of a ritual in the social mode, the local cultural conveniences take precedence. The dress code of a Maharashtrian पुरोहित, for instance, differs from that of a पण्डित in Nepal while both may be reciting the same वेदपारायण.

So, how is जप, होम, पारायण done as yoga in the यज्ञ model? The symbolic explanation of plainclothes is equated to the wrappings of unbound आकाश, अखण्ड शब्द or आत्मचैतन्य, the anchor. The transcendence level is a prequalification to probe deeper into वेदपारायण and internally vocalising (for example, वैखरी to मध्यमा or बाह्य to अभ्यंतर journey). This is आकाश शरीरम् ब्रह्म-linked yoga directive.

A shloka by Acharya Shankara says,

नग्नो निस्सङ्ग शुद्धो त्रिगुणविरहित or त्रिगुणातीत

as staying in प्रकृति and aiming to get the त्रिगुण freedom.

The symbolic explanation of clothes (stitched, cut, printed, decorated or coloured) is equated to a bound आकाश, खण्डवाक्य or a देवचैतन्य, the finite manifestation of अव्यक्त (tacit), an anchor with a name form like a devata, which is a pre-qualification to access परब्रह्म. Through वेदपारायण, where the devata precedes Brahma, this is Ganapati अथर्वशीर्ष. The difference between worshipping Ganesha as ध्यानश्लोक describes the devata before experiencing Ganapati as “त्वमेव प्रत्यक्षम् ब्रह्मासि” yoga-directive.

Stitches block चैतन्य

Since every thread in an uncut cloth is as it had been made by the weaver, it is capable of spreading waves of चैतन्य across the cloth. An individual wearing an uncut cloth let’s चैतन्य spread to its and then his/her body. This leads to spiritual healing. A sari, for example, is good for spiritual healing.

It was believed that the holes in a cloth created by stitches let in the रजोगुण and तमोगुण from the atmosphere into the cloth and then the body.

Vedic-era dressing

The clothing worn in the Vedic period consisted of a single cloth that covered the entire body and was draped over the shoulders. People used to wear a lower garment called परिधान, which was pleated in the front and tied with a belt called मेखला, and an upper garment called उत्तरीय (a shawl-like covering), which they would remove during summer. Orthodox men and women usually wore the उत्तरीय by placing it only on the left shoulder, called उपवीत.

There was another garment called प्रवर, which they wore in cold weather. This was the common dress of both sexes, the only difference being the size of the clothes and the way of wearing them. Sometimes the poor wore the lower garment only as a loincloth while the rich wore it extending to the legs as a sign of prestige.

This suggests that most clothings of Vedic-era Indians were merely wrapped around the body and knotted. The question of prohibiting stitched clothes during rituals, therefore, does not arise.

The अधिवस्त्र (outer cover), कुर्लरा (headdress) and अंडप्रतिधि (headcover) — mentioned in both ऋग्वेद and अथर्ववेद — were optional. But निवि (underwear), वावरी (upper garment), उपवासना (veil), कुम्ब, उस्नलसा and तिर्ल्ता (all headdresses) might have involved stitching. It suggests that the absence of evidence of stitching in Vedic India may not be evidence of the absence of stitching. Nevertheless, if at all some clothes were stitched, they were not permissible at rituals.

Swadharma
Swadharmahttps://swadharma.in/
Swadharma is a one-stop web destination for everything Hindu. We will cover history, theology, literature and rituals of all sects of Hinduism one by one besides news of the state of the Hindu community worldwide through videos, podcasts, reports and articles.

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