Friday, June 25, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 31 (Vol #4) Dated 25 June 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 31 (Vol #4) Dated 25 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 third para on page 186 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 updated constantly.)

199. To keep the disciple under constant scrutiny is a very difficult, relentless activity. More than the responsibility, you have to bear with the hostility from the disciple, who is likely to be irritable because of the constant supervision. To feel that knowledge should spread is alright. But, one has to guard against undermining of value systems by making knowledge available to one and all! Vidya should be imparted only to deserving eligible persons. For that sake, you have to be rather strict in testing the recipient’s worth! That worth is not only a matter of brains, but one of behaviour, attitudes and character qualities! The Gurus of yore were keen on this!
200. That King of Devtas Indra and King of Rakshasas Virochana were ready to subject themselves to such strict conditions, is indicative of how keen students of that period were in learning! The disciples of that time thought, “Yes! This Guru has the worth and value to make such a fuss about whom he teaches. It is in no way a dishonour for us to subject ourselves to his conditions!” Such a response from a student is possible only when the Guru was not only great by himself in terms of his worth, sincerity, character, tapasya, dispassion, honesty and such things only, but also was a great humanitarian and an embodiment of kindness! Other qualities can make you respect him from a distance. But only humaneness and kindness can cause you to accept him as your own Guru! Out of all adorable qualities this love and milk of human kindness of ‘Anbu and AruL’ comes from the divine power of Grace.
200. From our Saastra Puranas, we gather that the Aachaaryaas of those days were ideal past masters in this quality of ‘Anbu and AruL’. Before starting their studies and at the end of it, their daily prayers included that, “Between the Guru and Disciple let there not be any alienation and enmity!” There is a saying in Tamil that goes, “adikkira kaidaan aNaikkum”, meaning, ‘Only the hand that uses the cane is the one that embraces too’! While being strict they were impartially so and while out pouring with love they were like the monsoon clouds.
201. A conversation between Sri Krishna and Kuchela in Bhagawatam clearly shows both these aspects when Bhagwan Sri Krishna reminisces with Kuchela about their Guru Kula days. After the death of Kamsa, Krishna and Balarama are given Brhmopadesa and Upanayanam and do Guru Kula Vasam under Guru Saandipani. Though Sri Krishna is the God in human form and is the source of all Vidyas, to demonstrate the ideal behaviour of a student towards his preceptor, he is also depicted as studying for his schooling under a Guru!
202. Instead of 12 years of being a student, he learns one Vidya a day and learns everything in 64 days! So does Balarama, who is also a Divine Avatara! Guru Saandipani becomes aware of Sri Krishna’s divine attributes. So when finally all the teaching is over, Bhagawan asks his Guru as to what should he give as Guru Dakshina? Saandipani asks that his son, who had died in a freak accident in the ocean some years back, may be brought back to life! Bhagawan Sri Krishna accedes to his request and takes the necessary action to fulfil this demand, but that is not what we are concerned with just now!
203. What we are concerned with just now is that, even when the Guru was aware of the divinity of the disciple, he as a Guru will play his part as a mentor and bring out the best in the student in terms of sincere hard work, genuine humbleness and effective intelligence! That darling child Krishna who was also the unknowable Bhagawan, by Guru’s order had gone to the forest and brought fire wood and done all sorts of house hold duties! After the passage of many years, he is now reminding his class mate Kuchela of one particular incident.
204. One evening Krishna and Kuchela had gone deep in to the forest to cut and collect wood, when suddenly it was night. In total darkness when they were groping, it started raining too! In no time the area was flooded. He is asking Kuchela now, “Do you remember that night when we were going around in circles catching hold of each other’s hands, the whole night, with the bundle of fire wood on our heads?”
205. Then we get to know Guru Saandipani’s love and concern for the kids from the words spoken by Krishna. “Then early morning, we found that our Gurunatha himself was searching for us deep in the forest. With tears in his eyes he said, ‘Oh! Poor boys, how much you have suffered for my sake!’ Then he was kind enough to bless us with these words, ‘Let all your education be complete, never to leave your minds! Let all your wishes be fulfilled! The Vedas you have studied may protect you throughout your lives!’ That was how our Guru blessed us”, said Sri Krishna.
206. All told, the Guru was not only a depository of all knowledge but was also a model person worthy of emulation in terms, of good manners, stead fast practitioner of Anushtaanaas, a treasure house of love and kindness, ever to be remembered with love and affection by the students! This was a result of the system of Guru Kula of the past! When living under the same roof and partaking the same food, they were an automatic check and control over each other’s behaviour! The system made them pure and clean!
207. Despite living together, if the Guru is to deserve and earn the love and respect of the students, he has to be really a man of excellent character, ability and knowledge! Similarly, the student had the freedom to repeatedly question the Guru and get his doubts cleared by what is known as the method of, ‘pariprasna’. So the Guru could never remain on the peripheral since he was under constant compulsion to go into the depth of whatever he was teaching!
208. In this ‘pariprasnena’ method of questioning by the student to clear his doubts as and when they occur and Guru’s immediate response, there is something special that instigates and inculcates deeper probing and understanding. We find that this method is to be found in many places in the Upanishads. You will note that in Bhagawat Gita too, which is by itself an Upanishad containing the gist of many Upanishads, this method is extensively used. Arjuna interrupts the flow of Sri Krishna while he is speaking, a number of times, clearly bringing out the effectiveness of this method.
209. When a Professor prepares his complete lecture and rattles it out, he does not have to cover the subject so completely as he would have to, if he enables the student to clarify his doubts as and when they occur! Even in to-days world we notice that a lecture becomes more interesting during the question and answer session! Especially an attentive audience can make the session more interesting. For both Guru and the disciple, this method of ‘pariprasna’ is a great pro-activator. Jiddu Krishnamurthy used this technique in his talk sessions, making it very interesting, I am told. We also use this method while conducting classes on ‘Bhashya Paatam and Vakya Artam’. When the questions are intelligent, it adds to the interest created in the conduct of the classes. There are many occasions when some ideas not thought of earlier gets suddenly revealed, by this process.
210. AcharyaL himself has spoken about this aspect. When we read his Bhashyams on ‘Prasthana Thraya’, we find that, before he comes to the final idea called, ‘Siddhantam’ meaning ‘the end of the concept’, he interposes many a question and counter question himself and answers them all! Unlike Tarka Saastra, here the aim is to bring out the inner meanings in all their nuances. There is another issue here. Some people may know much of the subject matter. But, their method of presentation or instructional ability may not be good enough. But, by questioning we may be able to draw the best out of them!
211. I will give you one example to prove my point. There was one Sthapathy ‘Maalai Kandaan’ Somasundara Aachary, an expert architect in making the ‘Ratham’, that is the Chariot pulled by thousands of devotees with the ‘Urtsava Moorthy’ installed in it during festivals. But he was not educated and so did not know as to how to read, write or give lecture! In ILaiyaathangudi Sadas, the organizer Sa.Ganesan wished to make this Sthapathy Somasundara Aachary speak, as he had done wonderful work in commissioning the Temple Chariots in some 20 to 25 important places. Sa.Ganesan was telling me that he was feeling bad because of his inability to make ‘this treasure house of knowledge in making Temple Chariots’ speak to the assembled audience !
212. At that moment this concept of ‘pari prasnam’ method occurred to my mind, like a flash! I told Sa.Ganesan , “Since you already know about the subject generally, based on that you introduce him to the audience and then conduct an open interview and let the audience hear your conversation. I am sure that with your prompting, you will be able to bring out all the interesting aspects of the construction of a chariot!”
213. Needless to say that the interview better bettered all expectations and was a thundering success. In the Sadas conducted over many days that talk about construction of the Temple Chariot was the most appreciated by the audience. As the talk went on all the assembled felt as though a chariot took shape in front of their mind’s eyes! Finally they ended up endowing the Sthapathy with Gold Ear Studs and a title of “Ratha Chakravarty” to mean ‘Emperor of Chariots’! May be that in olden days, the title of Chakravarty was something like a Rolling Shield, each king getting the name of an Emperor by turn I suppose! Chakra means a wheel. A chariot has to have wheels, you see! So the title was more than appropriate!
(To be continued.)



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