GOOD QUESTION : Are You a Brahmin? If so, how come you crossed the ocean violating Manu Smriti? (Post.11,995)

Swami and Swami- London swaminathan welcoming Sri Subrahmanyam Swamil in London


Post No. 11,995

Date uploaded in London – –  12 May , 2023                  

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London swaminathan welcoming Swami Dayananda Saraswathi at Sindhi Mandir, London

Here is the e mail I received today:

Dear Swaminathanji (London)

If you are in London, then please explain

You said:

Hindus and oceans are inseparable. Lord Vishnu resides in the ocean on a snake bed of Adi Seshan. The word Narayana itself shows that his residence is sea. Neer means water which is in Greek as well. Nereids is water nymph in Greek. Neer/ water also in Tamil. Conch from the sea is in his hand.


Generally, two reasons are given by scholars for the ban to cross sea/Ocean.

The first is that it is impossible to maintain one’s required daily religious observances on a ship, particularly thrice-daily personal worship. The second is that one will incur the sin of mleccha samparka, usually politely translated as mixing with foreigners. Mleccha, however, is more accurately translated as “barbarian” or “savage.” One should remember that triangle-shaped India is surrounded on two sides by the ocean and the third by the Himalayas. Leaving ancient India to unknown lands meant either ocean travel or a journey by foot through rugged terrain. It is a logical conclusion that travel outside India in those days did make religious observance difficult and took one into cultures that were not Hindu. The question is whether such concerns apply today; and if they do not, how the decision to adopt the scriptural dictate should proceed.

Speaking to Hinduism Today, Sri Vishweswara Tirtha–the head of Pejawar Matha and the senior monk of the Udupi Ashta Mathas–said that violation of the scriptures cannot be accepted. “Sri Sugunendra Tirtha had crossed the ocean and, therefore, strictly following the scriptures, he could not perform the Mahapuja of Lord Krishna by touching the Deity. We have reached a consensus that he can occupy the Sarvanja Peetha at the current Paryayam rituals, but not touch the Deity.” On January 18, 2008, a convocation of 500 priests, scholars, and Madhva swamis (including six of the eight Ashta Mathas), supported this opinion and concluded that the ban on travel should not.

“According to the Agama, all brahmins are supposed to worship at sunrise, midday, and sunset, called trikal gayatri sandhya,” he explained. “This trikal sandhya cannot be performed on a plane or ship; it must be done on the earth.”

If so, why you are in London? Please explain. 


V. N.


swaminathan garlanding Sri Velukkudi Krishnan Swamikal in London

My answer is as follows


I have never seen a Brahmana or a Hindu who sticks to Shastra in letter and Spirit in Western countries. 99 percent violate the injunctions laid out in Smritis. Personally, I am only 50 percent Hindu if you go by the Smritis (Hindu Law Books). But my conscience tells me to go by the spirit rather than the letter. So, I don’t take it literally. One must remember that Swami Vivekananda,  Paramahamsa Yogananda, Vishnu Devananda and Sathya Sai Baba have crossed the ocean violating the Manu Smriti. We have benefitted because of these ‘violations’ rather than suffering.

Dharma changes according to Kaala, Desa, Varthamaana (Time, Place, Circumstances). That is why Hindus follow 20 Law Books (Smrtis). Manu laid the foundation; others updated it.

I am an ordinary man, Swami, only in my name. I came to Britain willingly, when the BBC world Service recruited me to broadcast in Tamil from London. I have been living here from 1-1-1987.



If one goes out of India, change of time and change of place make it impossible to stick to Smrti or other rules.

Just for example, if I live in Finland, instead of Britain, sun never sets there for nearly six months in Uttarayana Period. Sun never comes out for six months in Dakshinayana period.

If I live in southernmost part of Australia, it is just opposite. So, the meaning of Tri Kala Sandhya Vandana is not applicable. ( I go to Australia as well).

Dress code

With Swami Omkarananda in London Temple

In the northern most part of the globe (Norway, Finland Sweden, Alaska (USA) and Northern Canada), you can’t take off your upper or inner garments for six months to perform certain rituals. Only inside the house it is possible to do it to some extent. There you will be doing it on polluted (Theettu in Tamil) carpets. No daily washing of floor or carpet is done.


Certain food items are prohibited for Hindus and Jains. In some parts it is not that easy to get what you get in India.


If you work in a Western country, you may have to work at odd times to earn your bread. So, you cant even do Trikala Sandhya Vandana. We had work even on Deepavali, Makara Sankaranti, Vijaya Dasami etc.


Puja Items

If I want to do Ratha Saptami- Bhisma Tarapanam I would not get Arka patra (Erukku in Tamil). This is just one example. There are hundreds of examples like this. Even if I order from India, my Money purse will become empty.


Attractions and Distractions

So many attractions and distractions will push you away from Dharma. Even Vegan restaurants serve you Fish and Crabs ( I myself was surprised when I was in Madrid /Spain last year). One orthodox Hindu distributed Cake in a Bhajan in London; thank God, before I put it in my mouth, another person whispered in my ear it contained egg. Later the person who gave it, apologised to me. In one of the BBC farewell parties, I put the Samosa in my mouth. My boss Kailash Budhwar , Head of the BBC  Hindi and Tamil Service, came running to me saying, Swami, don’t eat it. It is Meat samosa. I never knew Samosa can contain meat till that time. In all Sri Lankan temples garlic and onion are used. When one devotee gave me Vadai from Hanuman’s neck Vadai Maalai, it was full of Garlick. In one of the public Pujas I organised, the food came very late with Masala ingredients. The restaurant apologised to me saying that electricity went off in his and so he got it from another place! My order was only for pure Satvik food. Very recently I got onion Vadai through the priest for Ganpati Homa Naivedhya. Priest apologised to me saying that his devotee put it by mistake thinking that it is Sri Lankan Hindu Puja!


Availability of Priests

Very few, only a very few, know what a South Indian Vedic Pundit knows, leave alone the practice. I have attended scores of Brahmin Funerals in London. Not a single death ceremony was done as in India. Not even one tenth of it. Those who helped them did with books only. They simply read what is in the book. Remember! I said ‘only one tenth’. If one dies outside India, HE (THE SOUL)  WILL NEVER GET THE RITUALS THAT HE OR SHE (the soul) COULD GET IN INDIA. During Covid times, the bodies in black bin bags were burnt in fire without much ceremony.


swaminathan with Sri Hariji and Srimathi Visaka Hari


Even Mahatma Gandhi praised Manu Smriti for the good things in it (Please read Gandhi’s Quotations in my blog posted as May 2023 Calendar)

Manu clearly defines Dharma as follows:

वेदः स्मृतिः सदाचारः स्वस्य च प्रियमात्मनः ।
एतच्चतुर्विधं प्राहुः साक्षाद् धर्मस्य लक्षणम् ॥ १२ ॥

vedaḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyamātmanaḥ |
etaccaturvidhaṃ prāhuḥ sākṣād dharmasya lakṣaṇam || MANU 2-12 ||

 The Veda, the Smṛti, the Practice of cultured Men, and what is agreeable to oneself—these directly constitute the fourfold means of knowing Dharma.—(MANU 2-12)


Spirit is more important than letter. Veda is the basis. But cultured men and your conscience tell you what is right and what is wrong under certain circumstances.

Sathya Sai Baba taught Vedas and Gayatri to million Non- Brahmins. Orthodox people may not like it. If he had not done It , million Telugus, Tamils and Kannadigas would have become Christians or Muslims. We, in western countries see it every week. Even in India Love Jihad incidents prove it.

People from Hare Krishna Movement, Swami Narayan movement and several other sects follow their own rules, not Vedic Smritis.

In short, instead of paying more attention to letter one must pay attention to spirit of the Sutras and Slokas, one must go by one’s self-satisfaction on the basis of Vedic Dhrama.


If those who reside in India follow the Smritis, that itself will save our Hindu Dharma. Millions don’t do it. Not even Brahmins do it.

Last week when Charles took over as King of Britain, we said God Save the King. Now we have to say God Save Hinduism.

London Swaminathan, 12 May 2023


Tags- Brahmin, crossing ocean, Manu on Dharma

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