Thursday, May 27, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 17 (Vol #4) Dated 28 May 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 17 (Vol #4) Dated 28 May 2010.

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti 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 proceeding from the second paragraph on page 108 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at constantly.)

13. Even in the olden days, evidently there were some who took to teaching as a profession so as to earn a living. Possibly everyone could not have established a Guru Kula Paathashaala. In them some teachers were employed. That is why there is mention of that in the Dharma Saastraas. The important point is that with change in circumstances, over time, these words have undergone subtle changes.
14. Dharma Saastraas have given clear definitions as to who is a Guru, Aachaarya or Upaadyaaya. In Upanayanam / Yagnopaveetam, the one who gives the ‘Brhma + Upadesa = Brhmopadesa’, that is the one who initiates the young boy in chanting the Gayatri Mantra and teaches him up to Vedanta Darshana, is the Guru. The one who does not happen to give the Brhmopadesa, but teaches the boy some or all the Saastraas, is an Aachaarya. Like Sri KrishNa was given the Brhmopadesa by Garga Aachaarya. All other education was given by Sandipani in a Guru Kula run by him.
15. There is another way of looking at it. Generally Guru as a word is applicable to anyone who, without coming into traditional boundaries, imparts wisdom through his touch (sparsha deeksha) or look (nayana deeksha) or spoken word (of mantraopadesa)! His presence and proximity showers grace on the visitor, borne out of his personal, intrinsic awareness and self realization! His advice could be in any language, as the message is not bound within the parameters of human verbal communication!
16. (KTSV adds. I will give you one example from the life of Ramana Maharishi. Everyday Ramana used to go for a walk up the hill in Thiruvannamalai, accompanied by one or two of his helpers. There was this girl of four or five years of age, who followed the elders and was noticed only after some distance. So, one of the helpers pointed out to Ramana, that this small girl was following them. Ramana stopped, turned back and waving his walking stick told the girl, “Go back to where you came from!” That was Upadesa from a Guru, sufficient enough to show the way back to her Self!)
17. Guru, like Dattaareya, without being bound by any tradition, is capable of imparting ‘Atma Gnaana’, by whatever means as he pleases! Whereas Aachaarya comes within a disciplined tradition, teaching a well established collection of concepts, like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva AachaaryaaLs! That is why we say, ‘Datta Guru’ and not ‘Dattaachrya’! Even those who taught the ways of ‘Atma Gnaana’, by a systematic logical analysis, like Sankara AachaaryaL, could be considered as a Guru. So teaching by systematic means does not preclude being a Guru. But to be a Guru, they were not necessarily adherents of any established traditions.
18. So, going back to the definition of a Guru as the one who, starting with giving the disciple Ygnopaveeta and the Gayatri mantra, goes on to teach him all the Veda Saastraas. The same definition is also given to an Aachaarya, in the Manu Smruthi! “upaneeyatu ya: sishyam vedam adhyaapayet dvija: I sakalpam sarahasyam cha tam aachaarya prasatchate II” Please do not jump to the conclusion that there is any confusion! I will solve the riddle shortly.
19. Giving the word much divine meaning, there is another meaning or interpretation. Parabrhmam is something, which is not a thing and which does not have a name or form or quality! How to bring that into one’s mind? That Parabrhmam comes in front out of its extreme compassion and kindness with recognizable Guna (gu) and Rupa (ru), which becomes the Guru!
20. In very old times, it was the father who gave his son the Poonool or Yagnopaveeta, initiated him in the Gayatri Mantra that is gave him Brhmopadesa and taught him all that he knows, in terms of Vedas, Saastraas and Vedanta of Upanishads! At that time, the knowledge base was limited. Possibly each family stuck to its own branch of the Vedas known as Shaaka and did not go far afield! So the Guru and Aachaarya was the biological father himself! In period literature of Treta Yuga for example, the Guru would have meant the father only.
21. Later, for reasons of knowing the other branches of the Vedas of other families, learning more than one’s own particular branch of the Veda Shaska, came in to vogue. So the son started to go to approach other religious teachers. So also for purpose of avoiding, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ situations of over indulgence, it was thought better to take the son to other teachers. So Brhmopadesam he got from his biological father and went to other boarding cum lodging schools of Guru Kula! While doing so, the child was encouraged to adopt begging for his food, to overcome pride and imbibe humility! When this happened, the complete responsibility from Brhmopadesam to teaching and training all the Vidya Sthanas, inculcating of attitudinal and behavioural principles and instilling Atma Gnaanam, became that of the Guru!
22. Learning at home could lead to taking liberty on the part of the child and being liberal and not strict on the part of the father. So Guru Kula Vasam was correctly identified as the best for the students learning and growth as well as advancement to higher and higher levels of learning. There were Guru Kula run by great sages, whose biological son also participated in the same setup! We also see that despite running their own famous Guru Kula, renowned teachers sending their own son to other teachers. It is surprising to note, as to how keen people were in both their own son’s progress and in the advancement of knowledge per se!
23. In today’s world this is not the concern of parents at all! How well can he earn more and more is the only concern, it seems. It does not matter what or how he learns. How much he earns seems to be more important than even how he earns! Lure of the lucre has so much pull! There was a time when the parent’s main concern was the son’s name, fame and reputation! Virtually sacrificing the baby’s childhood company, they sent him to Guru Kula Vaasa. ThiruvaLLuvar has a couplet of Kural for each and every occasion! Here he says, “eenra pozhudinum peridu uvakkum than maganai saanron enak-ketta thaai”, meaning that, ‘the mother gets a greater thrill than even when she gave birth to her child, when she hears that he is a good man’!
24. Later on it somehow came back to the father conducting the ritual of Brhmopadesam, as though to complete a formality. In the olden times despite their own level of knowledge, the fathers were prepared to sacrifice much for the sake of the son’s education. That is why this Brhmopadesam was considered as a prerequisite before the boy was taken to Guru Kula for Vidya Abhyasa. That is how this function came to be known as ‘Upanayanam’, as an act of fetching him closer to a Guru! If the boy was to learn from his own father, there could not have been an act of ‘Upanayanam’ as he was already there!
25. First the father takes him nearer a Guru. Then the Guru takes him closer to God! That is the second ‘Upanayanam’. Then finally, when he approaches the Ultimate, he enters the Sanyaasa Aashrama, when he is required to remove the outer symbols of religion, including the Poonool given to him, during the first Upanayanam!
(To be continued.)



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