DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol # 6) Dated 22 July 2012
DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol # 6) Dated 22 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 the middle of page No 186 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)
(With regard to the subject content about Guru, as covered in today’s talk, the readers may also refer to Deivathin Kural (Vol # 3) under the heading ‘Guru – Aachaarya’ and in (Vol # 4) under the heading ‘Guru Kulam; Gatika Sthanam’.)
13. This prefix ‘upa’ has many further meanings. One of them is ‘near’ or ‘close by’. We know that the ‘PooNool’ KalyaNam or the ‘Thread Wearing Ceremony’ done to young boys, when they wear the ‘Yagnyopaveetham’ is called ‘Upanayanam’. Here that prefix ‘upa’ in the word ‘Upanayanam’ means that the boy is taken closer to the Guru or in other words, the individual soul is taken closer to his reality of existence! This ‘pooNool’ is known as ‘upa’veetham. After the ceremony of ‘upanayanam’ in which the boy is given ‘Brhma Upadesam’, for further instructions or ‘Upadesam’, he is left in the Gurukulam with the Guru who is also called ‘Upaadhyaaya’. Out of such instructions that the Upaadhyaaya can give the aspiring student are the end portion of Vedaantam known as Upanishads. Thus all these great things are all in some way related to ‘upa’!
14. When we talk about Upanishad, the student is seeking to know Brhma Vidya. Here this ‘upa’ means that the student is ‘approaching’ or ‘closing-in on’, as explained by our AachaaryaaL in the preamble to his Bhashyam to Katopanishad. The ‘ni’ that is after ‘upa’ means ‘certain focussing achieved’, while ‘sat’ at the end is pointing out the erasing of ignorance by that closing-in on Brhma Vidya. Erasing of ignorance simultaneously also means arriving at or revelation of Gnaana. Thus ‘upa + ni + sat’ means, ‘seeking brhma vidya, closing-in on it and arriving’. Thus, ‘upa’ shows closing-in near. This nearness to Guru at once means proximity, closeness, regards and respect. In many types of Moksham, ‘Saameepyam’ of intimacy is said to be a very high state of bliss. In the ‘Upadesam’ that the Guru gives, he does not just give instructions and lets the student fend for himself in any which way but, closely monitors the disciple’s progress and assists by staying close to the student. Such a package of advices, directions, counsels and instructions from close with love in the Guru’s heart reaching the disciple’s heart is what is known as Upadesam.
15. If the Guru thus says something, what is that something? Instead of talking about that particular thing, I am telling you things about it and around it. The thing that he teaches is the way of life. He tells the student to proceed on the life’s path in a particular direction. From this life of ephemeral mirage like existence, we have to progress to the everlasting life of experiencing eternity. While the disciple does as advised by the Guru, the Guru will encourage and assist from the physical as well as the subtle levels, theoretically as well as practically. Thus what he tells the disciple becomes qualitatively the Upadesam, in content as well as in effectiveness!
16. In this act of ‘Upakaar’ (meaning help), if the latter part of the word that is, ‘kaar’ is indicative of what all the Guru does; the former part of ‘upa’ is indicative of his interest, care, good-nature and readiness to persevere against all odds in his attitude. Similarly in the word ‘Upachaara’ (meaning the acts of service and hospitality), the ‘Upa’ part is indicative of one’s devotion, respect and gratitude. For Guru this teaching the student, instead of being a mere formality, becomes an act of Upachaara to the Goddess of Learning.
17. My discourses are called ‘Upanyasam’. This word is also synonymous with a ‘Novel’. Here, what is the meaning of ‘Upa’ and ‘Nyasam’? Nyasam has many meanings such as, ‘keep’, ‘register’ ‘leave’, ‘install’, ‘deliver’ and ‘abandon’! In Sanyasam the nyasam part means ‘to give up’ or ‘abandon’. To give or deliver convincingly can also be the meaning of ‘Upanyasam’. While we in the south understand this word ‘Upanyasam’ to mean spoken discourse or lecture, in the north of India, they refer to the big volumes of printed books only by this word. Whatever it is, Upanyasam is not below or lower to Nyasam but higher. The act of giving or delivering when done more forcefully or convincingly, it is Upanyasam. Similarly, when the act of delivering an order or instruction is done in a more refined manner, it is Upadesam. The one who does Upadesa is Upadesika or Upadesakar and one who does Upanyasa is Upanyasaka.
18. That Upadesika is also called Desika or Desikar. Though what he says instead of being simply ‘Desam’ is said with the prefix ‘Upa’ as ‘Upadesam’, without ‘upa’ the word ‘Desikar’ is a more popular. There is a word ‘swadesi’ to mean local or native. In this context of meaning, Desikar could also mean a guide who knows all the ins and outs of the local ways. But the word is more used for a guide for life, who teaches and gives directions for the journey of life. Though we use this word Desika without ‘Upa’ as a prefix, he is a man to be respected by position of higher standing, while simultaneously he stands very close in terms of love and compassion.
19. The Word Indicative of Intimacy. There are three words for the same person as Guru, AachaaryaaL and Desikar. As the Guru, it has the connotation that he is the one who erases the darkness of ignorance. Aachaarya or AachaaryaaL means that he strictly abides by the traditions of Aachaara himself and teaches the disciple the rules and regulations of those traditions, causing him to follow those rules. In these words ‘Guru’ and ‘AachaaryaaL’ there is no indication that he is the director. ‘Desikar’ is the only name indicative of his being the executive director. Firstly he is a bigger and elder man, secondly he is the one to chase away the darkness of ignorance, and then thirdly he is a follower of the high paths of Brhma Gnaana. For these reasons, the young children already look at him with awe, admiration and respect; making him to stand apart far above. He comes closer only when he tells the disciple the interesting points to look forward to or give attention to and the likely pitfalls and hazards on the way, like a guide does in conducted tours. Thus as a Desikar he comes closer and intimate when he protects the disciple from likely dangers in the material world and points out the beautiful scenarios not to be missed in the spiritual world! Then only the relationship from being mundane becomes cemented with love and affection.
20. Guru Is Far above One’s Mother and Father. Nobody can ever do what the Guru does. “If we are to be salvaged, one’s own mother cannot be our ‘शरणं’ / ‘சரணம்’ / saraNam that is, sanctuary! However much she may love us, sacrifice for us, she cannot lift and throw us out of the mire, as the double weight is likely cause her to go down further! Similarly one’s father is also disqualified and so are brothers, sisters and relatives. So, Guru’s feet is the only destination”, says our AachaaryaaL, virtually touching the responsive cords of our heart, in his ‘Bala Bodha Sangraham’. I Quote “சரணம் நபவதி ஜனனீ ந பிதா சோதராஸ் ச அந்யே | சரணம் தேசிக சரணம்”. (In this last line, one of them is ‘saraNam’ and the other ‘charaNam’) Now the Sanskrit version is as follows – शरणं न भवति जननी न पिता न सोदरा: च अन्ये | शरणं देसिक चरणं” Unquote. Here our AachaaryaaL has used the word ‘Desika’ for Guru. Thotaka AachaaryaaL while paying his homage to his Guru (our AachaaryaaL) has used the same poem with a slight variation saying ‘பவ சங்கர தேசிக மே’ saraNam. (There will be more about Thotaka AachaaryaaL later in our discussion.)
21. The parents having brought us into the world, enabling us to live comfortably, will also give us material assets. But, none of these things are permanent but, ephemeral. The only person who could give us the assets of eternal value is the Guru, who gives us the Brhma Anubhava. That is, it is only our Guru who enables us to experience our physical, moral and spiritual oneness with God everywhere as well as in our hearts (‘dahara aakaasam’ ‘दहर आकाशं’) and in the core of our existence. At the end of Viveka ChoodaamaNi our AachaaryaaL has described as to how intensely the Guru feels about his onus of responsibilities to teach and educate his disciples (Sloka 576 starting with the words ‘सकल निगम’ [sakala nigama]). He tells his disciple, “I have thought of you like a son of my own and imparted all the knowledge, concepts and principles to you!” This same sentence with a slight change in the Sanskrit original is differently interpreted to mean that he is saying, ‘you may go over these inestimable advices repeatedly mulled and absorbed’! The interpretation that appeals to my mind however is that, the Guru becomes both a father and mother to the disciple and advices and tutors him, never tiring or cribbing about the lack of his own comforts. Thus the Guru has to keep reiterating his Upadesa till the Sishya understands and absorbs the concept fully.
22. Aachaarya Dharma. At the end of Bhagawat Gita (72nd sloka in Chapter 18), Bhagawan Sri Krishna asks Arjuna, “Have you understood and absorbed all that I have so far told you with a concentrated and attentive one-pointed mind? Has the delusion of thy ignorance been destroyed, O Dhananjaya?” While explaining as to why Bhagawan asked Arjuna thus, our AachaaryaaL in his Bhashyam says that the aim is to confirm if the disciple has fully assimilated the essence and purport of the teachings. If he has not understood, Bhagawan as a good Guru would have had to think of how best to make him understand his message. Then he says that the Guru has a duty and responsibility to try in as many ways as possible to make the student understand and comprehend the teachings. Strictly following our AachaaryaaL’s outlook, Ananda Giri in his ‘Teeka’, meaning Explanatory Notes, says that even if the student is dull witted in his in-take, instead of leaving him to his fate uncared for, the Guru has to take extra efforts to make him understand. That is ‘Aachaarya Dharmam आचार्य धर्मम्’!
23. The way a mother uses all the tricks to fill the stomach of the baby, even when the baby is playful and not eating properly, so also the Guru redoubles his efforts with a student whose grasp is poor or below par. This shows the level of kindness and compassion of the Guru. The food given by the mother is satisfying for a temporary period. Then after a few hours there is hunger and weakness again. Guru’s Upadesam on the other hand is permanent and like the divine nectar of Amrutam gives the eternal nourishment of Aatma Gnaana. More than the mother’s feeding and the father’s material wealth, the Guru’s Upadesam is of eternal values.
(To be continued.)