DEIVATHIN KURAL # 26 (Vol # 6) Dated 20 July 2012
DEIVATHIN KURAL # 26 (Vol # 6) Dated 20 July 2012
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from page No 177 of Volume 6 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated constantly)
DIRECTOR CUM ADVISOR
(The Desika who is Also Upadesika – Path & Direction in Life)
1. The path is related to cardinal directions. If there is a path, it will proceed in some direction and reach or fetch us to some place. The moment there is space or place at once there is also direction. Without being related to north or south, east or west, there can be no space. The very word path is always from place A to place B. Even if it were to go right or left, up or down, eventually between places A and B, there has to be some direction, as related to the Earth in which we all live!
2. In conducting one’s life also we talk about the path that, we should adopt the right way and not go astray. When there are many problems faced in life we think of a way out. There is a proverb ‘தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்’, (‘thai pirandaal vazhi pirakkum’), meaning that ‘by the time the month ‘Thai’ comes, the way will also be clear’! Thus life in conducting or running our life, there is a connection to a walkway or runway. Similarly in other languages too the movement in time (that is, life time) is invariably equated to movement in space, by some way or path.
3. As we move in time from one point to another, so also we move from one point to another in thoughts and space. Thus, what was, instead of remaining static, keeps moving and changing. This movement of change is seen in all things of life, weather living or non-living that the whole life is thought of as a journey and a way of life! For any journey we should know the route, isn’t it? If you do not have route plan or road map, we are likely to go around in circles or end up in the wrong place. So, there has to be the right direction in life too. Those who are seemingly without any aim in their life are thought of as being directionless. In Tamil such people are said to be, ‘திக்கற்றவர்’ (‘dikkartravar’). This word ‘திக்கு’ (‘dikku’) is from the Sanskrit root word ‘दिच् (‘dich’), from which the words ‘disaa’ and ‘disai’ in Indian languages and the word ‘direction’ in English, seems to have evolved.
4. Poorvottaram: கிழக்கு/வடக்கு (Kizhakku/East – Vadakku/North). In Tamil we ask as to what is somebody’s Poorvottaram, to mean as to what are that person’s past and future. The word ‘Poorva’ means East or prior/previous origins and the word ‘Uttaram’ means North or later day details about him. In books also the earlier part is called ‘Poorvam’ and the later part is called ‘Uttaram’ of the book. Thus, the order of events in time as they occur, are referred by terms of space, isn’t it? In Sanskrit, those words are rather closely related to directions. OK, we use East to indicate prior or poorvam. The opposite word for east or poorvam should be west. How can it be north or uttaram? So, how did this word Poorvottaram come into being? I mulled over it.
5. Life is often likened to a wheel and is said to be a ‘life cycle’. So, it runs in a circle from east to south, west and north, instead of going haphazardly like the acronym NEWS indicates. That is why the news of the world is also going in any which way, I suppose. We have this word ‘pradakshina’ for clockwise circular movement, of moving from east to south, west, north and again to east, thus completing the cycle; instead of the other way around, known as, ‘apradakshina’! So, if the start of life is east, you go to south, then west and finally north. Thus, start is poorvam and later at the end is north. Then the cycle goes on to east for the life cycle to keep rolling forward! Hence, the word Poorvottaram has come into being, with east in the beginning and north towards the end!
6. The words like opposition and oppose came into being because of their location on the opposite side. So, East – West and North – South would have meant opposition. Instead Poorvottaram indicates the circular movement in a progressive manner. In this, east is indicative of front and west, the rear while north is indicative of the top and south the bottom. Thus East – North as indicated by the word Poorvottaram is in the correct order. That is why, while doing Japa that is, chanting the mantras to the accompaniment of moving the beads, sitting facing east and north are preferred. So we say and move also.
7. Upper – Lower / West – East. While talking on the above logic, another matter occurs to me, that is not related to the way of life but the way in space. Let me tell you that also. When there is a crowd of listeners, I have to show off all my tricks, isn’t it? (PeriyavaaL says this with his tongue in cheek and a smile on his face!) In Tamil there are two words மேல் pronounced as ‘mel or male’ & கீழ் pronounced as ‘keezh’; which could mean upper or lower as well as west or east, respectively! But, only north and south are in fact upper and lower, whereas west and east are at the same level on the earth. Then why is that the east is thought to be lower and west has the connotation of being higher? The clue lies in the geographical location of the Tamil Land. In Tamil Nadu, towards east is lower, as clearly indicated by the flow of rivers from west to east, ending in the ocean. In the west are the mountains of the Western Ghats. If you look at the map of Tamil Nadu, you will observe that towards east, it is blue of the sea, then the deltaic regions of Chengalpet, South Arcot, Tanjore, Trichy and Madurai are green, which becomes successively light green, light brown and dark brown as you go towards west in areas of Salem and Coimbatore. So, towards east are the plains which are கீழ் and towards west are the மேல், thus giving this interpretation of lower and upper respectively I suppose.
8. The Word ‘दिच or திச்’ as a Noun and Verb. There are ways and directions in human life as also in space. I had been telling you as to how the words such as ‘Disha’ and ‘Dik’ or ‘Dikku’ have evolved out of this ‘Dich’. In Sanskrit this word ‘Dich’ could be a noun as well as a verb. Similarly the word ‘direction’ in English too could be a noun and or a verb isn’t it? So, whether we give directions as to how to do something or as to how to go somewhere, are both ‘showing the way’ only. Thus, we have again come back on the right path! When the doctor writes the prescriptions containing the list of medicines, he writes the sign ‘R’ with the right stroke slightly extended and crossed, which also has the meaning of ‘direction, as to how much of the medicine is to be taken and when. All this shows that these words such as ‘the way, path and directions have similar meanings’ with the underlying concept that life is a voyage, everywhere in the world whatever be the language.
9. Desam and Upadesam. The word ‘Desam’ is also a derivative of the root word ‘Dich’ only. Many of the States in India have the name ‘Pradesh’ or ‘Pradesam’ as a suffix. From the word ‘dich’ (which teaches what is to be done to do something or go somewhere), are the words such as ‘Upadesam’, ‘Aadesh’ and ‘Sandesh’ have all evolved. Generally though the cardinal directions are universal, the word ‘Desam’ derived from that sense has come to mean only a portion that limits and delineates the geographical area of a particular country or nation. Then you have to add a prefix of ‘aa / sam / ud or upa’ to mean directions or instructions! Aadesh means official instructions or inner promptings. Sandesh means information, news, message and or order.
10. The word ‘Uddesh’ could mean ideation or intention and or guess work or approximation. In ‘Vibhuti Yoga’, Bhagawan Sri Krishna himself while having listed as to how he is something special in every walk of life says in Bhagawat Gita, Chapter X-40, “Though I have listed all these things, my unlimitedly abundant greatness are not fully covered, but only a limited approximation, using the words ‘उद्देशतः प्रोक्तः’ (uddeshataha proktaha). Here this word ‘uddeshataha’ means approximation. As against this, ‘एकदेश’ (ekadesha) means particularly and individually. When someone has done something all by himself, we use this word एकदेश. All said and done, all these words Aadesh, Uddesh and or Ekadesh; are not about the subject that we have been talking about, about the way or path. That leaves the word ‘Upadesh’, ‘उपदेश’ / ‘உபதேசம்’ as yet unexplained; in preparation for which, I have given all these things as a preamble, in these 10 paragraphs!
11. The moment I say ‘Upadesam’, we will immediately think of Guru and disciple. There can be no ‘Upadesam’ without either of them. Anybody telling anything to anybody is ‘Sandesh’. Whether good or bad for the listener, from someone like a king or higher ranking person to a lower ranking person like a servant or citizen is ‘Aadesh’. What the Guru says for the betterment of the disciple is ‘Upadesam’. In status and position, more than the difference between the king and the subject, the difference between the Guru and Sishya is more, much more. Guru is to be kept at the same supreme position as God Himself. So a Sishya has to be even more obedient and subservient to a Guru. Still, without the rigidness of a royal command, the Guru’s advice and instructions are sweeter and pleasanter. More than honey and sugar, love is sweeter that is, मदुरं in Sanskrit and மதுரம் in Tamil.
12. The Inner Meaning of ‘Upa’. I told you that ‘upa + desam = upadesam’. I had also told you that if this word ‘desam’ is derived from ‘dich’, it could mean a direction telling someone to do something or follow an order. But, I also told you that ‘desam’ has no such meaning except that it defines a geographical area and that only when a prefix such as ‘aa’, ‘san’ or ‘upa’ is added, then only the meanings such as, order, message and advice come into being. Now let us clearly learn about this prefix ‘upa’. Normally words such as ‘angam’ (part), ‘katha’ (story) and ‘janaadipathy’ (president) have all got ‘upangam, upkatha and upajanaadipathy’ to mean a sub-part or side-story or vice-president. Thus we have come to understand the prefix ‘upa’ to mean an assistant or vice or the second. But, this prefix has one more connotation to mean ‘in addition to or more than’! For example there is a word ‘paraardham’ which means 1 followed by 17 ciphers. While describing the countless (अनन्त कल्याण) qualities of God, they are said to be उपपरार्ध, pronounced as ‘upaparaardh’, to mean ‘much more than a hundred quadrillion’!
(To be continued.)
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