Sunday, July 28, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 17 (Vol # 7) Dated 27 July 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 17 (Vol # 7) Dated 27 July 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL 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 112 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

158.        I told you the story of the PouraNik and the King to underline the idea that when the speaker fully understands the inner meaning of his talk, then the audience will also be enabled to absorb the teaching better.  Isn't there a vast difference between chanting without understanding and doing so with understanding the meaning of the mantra being chanted?  That is why MaNikka Vãsagar differentiates between these two when he says, 'solliya pãttin poruL uNarndu solluvãr' – 'சொல்லிய பாட்டின் பொருள் உணர்ந்து சொல்லுவார்', as compared to 'mumbo-jumbo' by others!  That PouraNik had repeatedly iterated study of Bhagawatam 21 times and was motivated to give up worldly involvement!  Other subjects are not like that and so nobody will be suddenly urged to give up their teaching profession!  Even if we were teaching religious books, we who are so rooted in normal life, involved in all these pulls and pressures, will not be suddenly impelled to abdicate and resign!  When we fully comprehend what we are talking about, it will enhance our instructional abilities and our students will be benefitted.  That is what is expected of us and that will suffice. It is not only that the students should be studying with absolute concentration and sincerity, so also the teacher should be whatever the number of iteration.  In higher studies of abstruse and nebulous subjects, iteration may also lead to greater understanding!

159.        One more thing.  While the teacher should be keen on complete transfer of what he knows to the student, one word of caution.  First of all the teacher should have patience and not be in a hurry.  If you try to impress the student with the vastness of your knowledge or try to stuff all that in to the student, nothing may get in!  Here we should remember the example of the Hundi (aka the piggy-bank) which has a small hole for the coin to be inserted!  You may have a bag full of coins.  You cannot put them all in one go in to the Hundi, but only one by one!  You have to check if the coin you inserted earlier has gone in or stuck at the entrance may be by touching it or by shaking up the Hundi.  Similarly the level of the student's absorption should be checked by way of question and answers.  Then go for the next item.  As a teacher you have to be balanced, patient, not easily provoked to anger and be encouraging.  I do agree that it is difficult to teach some students who are slow on the up-take.  But you will agree that it is more difficult to teach a student who is a little too smart!  Even in the example I have quoted about Hundi and student's in-take, I know that the problem is more as the teacher is not dealing with one but many students.  But still, the teachers should realise that they are working in a noble profession of preparing the young to take over the responsibilities as future members of the society and citizens of the Nation!  I said all this because of the important fact that the teachers are shaping those who are going to shape the future!  It is teachers who should be insisting that the syllabus and subject content should be aimed at enhancing both knowledge and character of the student!  In the olden times, the system catered for it and presently it does not.

Secular Education
160.        There were teachers in the past also who were teaching such subjects, which had no connection to Ãtma, Religion and Dharma.  But they were small in numbers, to be searched for and located rarely.  For example it was a difficult job to find a Guru who taught Agnosticism and so were teachers in the art of gambling.  In the art of stealing, that is in Choryam, if there were teachers they were doing it stealthily unseen, I suppose!  (PeriyavãL laughs saying this!)  Other respectable secular subjects were GaNitam (Maths), Ãyur Vedam (Medicine), Shilpam (Sculpture), Chitram (Drawing), Bowthikam (Physics), Rasãyanam (Chemistry), Nrutyam (Dance), Gitam (Music) and Dhanur Vedam (Archery).  Even these did not refrain from teaching morals as a secondary subject!  For that matter even religion as a subject was never divorced from morality.  The individual if he were to make any progress in Ãdhyãtmic subjects, he had to first of all have a clear conscience and cannot hope to make any progress with a pricking conscience, isn't it?  Not only this, the teachers too would avoid such a student, whatever may be the subject of their teaching!  During the Britishers' reign at least there was a subject as Morals, as part of the curriculum, from the beginning!  Over time this has also been shunted out as invariably these moral stories had some religious connotations and they did not want it in the secular set up!  If the governments have so misunderstood and misinterpreted ideal secularism as anti-Hinduism, there are reports of teachers themselves instigating students in politics, protests, sexual subjects and immorality!

161.        To add insult to injury, in this Tamil Nadu, learning of Sanskrit that was very much prevalent even during the Britishers' time from the secondary school level, has been virtually given the go-by, after the country's independence!  It is sad but true that this wonderful and most scientific and systematic of the languages (which is reportedly more amenable for computerisation and for being digitalised, because of its being scientific), which could have given strength to the idea of National Integration, which is so flimsy as of now, has been denied to the younger generation of this country, especially in Tamil Nadu!  It is an open secret that it is hatred for Hinduism in general and Brahmins in particular, that is the cause of Anti-Sanskrit movement.  But in Sanskrit other than the religion, there are various other subjects too, which are denied to the people of this country because of this bias against the language!  There are many other intellectual subjects in that language without any connection to the religion as such, that are admired all over the world as food for thought.  In subjects such as literature, arts and science there are treasures waiting to be discovered in that language!  In state-craft, medicine, surgery and nursing there are still gems to be mined in Sanskrit!  It was not a caste specific language but was the unifying influence throughout India from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari that anybody interested in advanced studies learnt first.  Forget about me, classified as a religious man and take a person like Vivekananda much admired by all including the revolutionaries.  He had much admiration for Buddha and the Buddhist religion.  He has said that maximum harm was done to this nation's high culture when the Buddhists ignored Sanskrit and adopted the Pali language for their religious propaganda and scriptures!  I am sad that such a heritage is lost to people of this State of Tamil Nadu because of the parochial stand of the powers in being!  I wonder if there is any glimmer at the end of the tunnel!  In olden times there was no education without Dharma.  Dharma is not simply a property of any one religion.  Use any of its synonyms, still without the discipline of morality no society is going to survive!

Guru – Ãchãrya
162.        Keeping Dharma only as a secondary issue, if an Ãchãrya taught secular subjects, he was also given only a secondary status in Dharma Sãstrãs. While discussing the qualitative differences between the Guru and Ãchãrya it has been Guru who has been kept at a higher pedestal.  But in another way it is Ãchãrya who has been given the pride of place, as for example in Manu Smruti.  Not looking for or caring or expecting remuneration, the one who teaches Vedas, Vedãnta, Dharma, Devotion and Gnãna is the Ãchãrya.   The one who does it for remuneration, teaching Veda and Vedãnta with due attention to Dharma is Upãdhyãya.  The one who teaches secular subjects to enable the student to find his way to sustenance is Guru, as per that classification.  But this definition cannot be considered as acceptable amongst the intelligentsia, because, for long it has been the tradition, to accept and address all religious teachers as the Guru.  Amongst all such who are considered as Guru, the few who pave and show the way for Gnãna are thought of as the Ãchãrya.  You can see the direct connection between 'Acharam' as 'religious discipline' in addition to the power of the Ãchãrya as the one who practically shows the way by being the ideal, apparently for the world to see and know, of what the Sãstrãs, especially Ãtma Sãstrãs are aiming at!

Adhyaksha – Adhyãpaka
163.        With that phrase 'apparently for the world to see' brings me to another such titles by which the teacher is known and that is Adhyaksha.  Though these two words Adhyaksha and Adhyãpaka both start with 'adhya', they are not similar in meaning.  In Sanskrit 'aksha' means the eyes.  So, the one directly observing the learning process of the students and teaching by the staff is the 'Adhyaksha', a position normally given to the Vice-Chancellors of Universities.  By the meaning of the word it is more nearer to what we call the Overseer or Supervisor.  Adhyãpaka is the one who makes the student do Adhyayanam.  Though this word can be applied to any of the studies, it is particularly applied to learning of the Vedas.  'Ayanam' means to follow a specified route.  The idea is to learn the Vedas without errors in pronunciation and syntax by iteration till committed to memory using the various Krama in which, the order or sequence of the words are purposefully changed in each Krama.  Once learnt by this method, the effect is that they are remembered for ever.  The one who teaches Vedas by this method is Adhyãpaka.

164.        I started telling you the defining qualities of a Guru.  I could have simply told you some typical characteristics and his qualifications and left it at that.  Then I started giving the meaning of other such words for Guru as Ãchãrya and Desika.  In the process, other synonyms started pouring in to my mind and thus we have covered quite a bit of ground and come far afield.  When separating the Aksharãs making up the word Guru, the letter 'U' that occurs twice has a meaning as 'Vishnu'.  In Vishnu Sahasranãma he has a name as 'Guru', about which our ÃchãryãL in his Bhashyam has mentioned that as Vishnu is the begetter of all living beings, it is very apt that he is called a Guru.  As I went about explaining this, other stories also came in.  Let me also tell you some of the other stories in the same vein.

Defining Characteristics of a Guru Occurring in Sishya
165.          As the first letter 'G' in Guru is 'Siddhi Prada', from small advantages of Iham, slowly all sorts of greater and greater benefits and blessings start accumulating to the Sishya one by one.  The word Siddhi though refers to the eight great attainments such as 'ANima' (अणिमा meaning the ability to assume or become as small as the atom) and others, and the Guru may teach each one of them; the literal meaning of the word is the state of 'attainment' or 'achievement'.  As the Guru is the 'sarva siddhi pradayaka', he is capable of enabling the student to whatever his ambitions desired or worthy of achievement.  Then he is also the 'Pãpa Hãraka' the remover of all sins of the Sishya.  Now, since the 'U' is Vishnu as 'Avyaktam', it means that his capacity for blessing is all embracing and universally true.  Thus it is hinted that Guru makes the Sishya as himself!  He can and does enable the student to achieve all that is to be achieved and reach a stage where there is no need for becoming anymore as he is already achieved, attained and is not the 'Vyakti' the individual but the 'Avyaktam' the source!

(To be continued.)




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