Sunday, June 20, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 28 (Vol #4) Dated 19 June 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 28 (Vol #4) Dated 19 June 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 last paragraph on page 170 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.)

159. When we look into our old time literature, we see as to how great in knowledge, those Gurus were, over flowing with the milk of human kindness! Not expecting any name or fame, so that the knowledge of the Vedas may be carried forward to the future and so that the world may benefit in the process, they were ready to work day in and day out with other’s children! Out of all the things we can be proud of, in this country that is India, this I consider as the pinnacle of achievement of the society!
160. Without a single thought of “what can I get out of this situation”, if someone comes to the Guru in total surrender, they have also taught everything they knew without keeping anything back! Thus the Guru and the student were both not interested in minor matters of wealth and possessions! In both Bruhad AaraNyaka Upanishad (6.2.) and Chandogya Upanishad (5.3.), there is this story concerning Bhagawan Gowtama, his son Sweta Ketu and King Pravahana, that brings out these two points very clearly.
161. There is a reknowned Bhagawan Rishi Gowtama. His son’s name is Sweta Ketu. Sweta Ketu goes to a King named Pravahana. The King asks him a few questions. Sweta Ketu replies to all of those questions truthfully in the negative and returns to his father with his head hung in shame. He tells his father, “What have you taught me so far? I had to accept the fact that I did not know any of the answers to the questions asked by that King!” This was doubly more unpalatable because it was a Brahmin boy who had to shamefacedly accept that he did not know the answers to the questions of the King, who after all was a lower ranking caste!
162. The father Rishi Gowtama, having come to know as to what were the questions, realizes that he himself was not aware of the answers. He tells his son that, he was not aware of the answers himself and that is the reason that he had not taught his son! Without standing on false pretence and formalities he goes to the King Pravahana to learn from him! This is a clear indication of how humble this Brahmin was that, despite being called Bhagawan Rishi Gowtama, he could go to a man from the next ranking caste Kshatriya, without any reservation just so that he may learn the answers of which he was not aware of!
163. Sweta Ketu was a boy with a haughty opinion about himself! His father makes him realize his ignorance and educates him. But that incident comes much later, after the father goes to the King to learn what he was not aware of, with due humility and keenness to learn! So we can make out that, when it comes to learning, even a person already established as a Rishi and Bhagawan, did not have any qualms about going to a socially lower ranking person!
164. The King reveres Gowtama as Bhagawan and tells him that he could ask for any worldly wealth. The Brahmin is interested only in getting that treasure of knowledge available with the King and not known to himself! Having learnt from the King, the father Gowtama comes back and teaches his own son Sweta Ketu. I have been talking for so long about this incident involving Sweta Ketu, his father Gowtama and King Pravahana that by now, you should be interested in knowing as to what is the knowledge that Gowtama gained from Pravahana! It is one of the Maha Vakyas which a disciple says after Self Realization that he has realized that he is verily the Brhmam! I quote, “aham Brhma asmi” !
165. On another occasion, five great well read sages come to the same Gowtama with the question as to who is ‘Vaisvanara Atma?’ This reveals as to how even well read ‘Srouties’ were ready to go searching for knowledge! Then Gowtama deciding that he was not going to play act as though he knew the answer, while being ignorant, directs them to approach Aswapathi, the King of Kekaya. Now-a-days, it is jokingly said that a Professor is the one who professes that he knows!
166. There is another interesting anecdote in Prasna Upanishad from which we get to know many related truths about the attitude of our ancestors about knowledge and its acquisition! Sukesa, Satyakama and three other very learned saints who are constantly endeavouring to understand, accumulate and assimilate all knowledge about Para Brhmam, together approach Pippalaada for acquiring more knowledge and clarifying their doubts!
167. In the time honoured style of, aspiring students approaching their would be Guru, they hand over bundles of twigs to Pippalaada and prostrate before him in all humility! Having surrendered to him, they request him to impart knowledge to them. Still the Guru has a duty to test their sincerity. He tells them, “For one more year, please observe celibacy and come back to me with ‘sraddha’ and I shall clear all your doubts. Ask me whatever you want, without any reservation and I shall endeavour to reply all your questions to the best of my ability”! That is his humbleness!
168. Sraddha. That one year delay imposed, is the Guru’s discretion. Whatever he says the student has to willingly accept. That is the required level of the intensity of disciple’s ‘Sraddha’! In Bhagawat Gita too Sri Krishna says that we should seek and get the advice from such Gnaanis who are knowers of the truth, in Chapter 4, Sloka 34. Then after another four slokas in Sloka No.39, He says, “sraddhaavaan labhate gnaanam”, meaning that, only the man of sincere efforts will attain to Gnaana!
169. Here in Sloka 34, Sri Krishna says that the disciple should ask the Guru probing questions, till he is satisfied and his doubts are removed. He has used a word, “...pari prasnena...”. The word ‘prasnene’, means by questioning. By putting the prefix ‘pari’ before ‘prasnena’, he has brought the meaning of ‘repeatedly probing’ questioning! Not with the purpose of grilling or insulting the Guru, (as is done by modern day TV interviewers with little knowledge and lesser respect for the Guru) but, to gain deeper meaning and comprehension!
170. So, Bhagawan Sri Krishna has added two words on either side of ‘pari prasnena’ thus, “praNipaatena pariprasnena sewayaa”, like two body guards! The first word, ‘praNipaatena’ means, after paying due respects to the Guru, by falling in his feet! The second word ‘sewayaa’ means, that the disciple should do all service to the Guru with respect, taking care of him as a mother takes care of her baby! For all this basically, the disciple has to have unshakeable trust and faith in the power of the Gurus words! It is such a disciple who is told to get to the bottom of the concept with probing questions!
171. For such a trust worthy person to be there in reality, it is practical only when a single person is running a Guru Kulam. When you live with him always, observing him during all your wakeful moments, you would really know his behaviour, response to various situations and his basic attitude. This is not possible in a school or college. That too when you have different teachers for different subjects, you can never be certain of the teacher’s depth of knowledge. They can prepare their notes from so many reference books available, that too with help from a plethora of search engines on the internet, these days!
172. The humility in the Upanishadic Rishi Pippalaada’s reply that he will give answers to their questions to the extent that he knows is simply not possible these days. There is a synonym for a student as ‘vineetan’, that is, an epitome of humility. The teachers were also not very different either!
(To be continued.)



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