Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 18 (Vol # 7) Dated 29 July 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 18 (Vol # 7) Dated 29 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 120 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   http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)

166.        Thus this sloka on Guru, which we have been discussing for quite some time now, embellishing the Guru with the ability to grant all powers of achievement, praises him as the eraser of all sins, omniscient, omnipresent and capable of sanctioning whatever the disciple may wish for and as the unseen Vishnu can raise the student to his own level of understanding, comprehension and abilities!  Then why are we calling Sankara Bhagawat PãdãL as 'our ÃchãryãL' and not as 'our Guru'?  I will come to that word now and tell you about its greatness!  The one who is well aware of all the rules and regulations of Ãchãrã including the 'why' of it instead of blindly following the tradition, also establishes the student in such implicit obedience, while sincerely following those Do's and Don'ts himself; is an Ãchãrya!  Then giving respect to that person, idea and concept, a capital 'L' is added at the end, to make it 'ÃchãryãL'!   The catch phrase here is 'swayam Ãcharate' – 'स्वयम् आचरते' as the very 'Life Line', which enhances the value of the word Ãchãrya!  He does what he teaches as a living example!  Then only will he be able to motivate the student.  Otherwise what is pleasing for the ears, eyes and mind may only be very fleetingly appealing, to be ignored or forgotten the very next moment.  So the Guru who does not only prompt from the back but leads the way is an ÃchãryãL!

167.        There are many names and titles by which Gautama Buddha is known in Buddhism (evidently), but amongst them all the most powerful is 'tatãgata' – 'तथागत' that is also very similar in meaning to 'स्वयम् आचरते'- going by the way teaches, he is basically not a hypocrite!  But Buddha did not follow the traditional ways but went by his own way.  Our ÃchãryãL followed the traditional ways of our Sãstrãs in letter and spirit and demonstrated by living by what he preached – those very Ãchãrãs!  Buddha is more popular nowadays because people like the watered-down-Ãchãrãs than be very strict about them!  But in Dharma Sãstrã Ãchãrya is defined as the one who having been given the Upanayanam and learnt the Vedas with all its parts up to Kalpam and also the 'Rahasya' of Vedanta, the Upanishads and teaches them as a Master!

168.        Nowadays the Guru and Ãchãrya that we know about are only the teachers in schools and colleges, whom in Tamil we call as 'Vãdyãr' – 'வாத்யார்'.  The Brahmin Pundit who visits our houses and guides us in the conduct of various rituals is also referred by this term 'Vãdyãr' – 'வாத்யார்', who is otherwise known as the Purohit.  So let me talk a little about these terms.  The Sanskrit word Upãdhyãya has become 'Vãdyãr' – 'வாத்யார்' in Tamil.  Though as required, the teacher is to be given DakshiNa that is some honorarium for his services, the real Guru does not expect to be paid and teaches.  He is not the one to fix the rates first and then teach!  He teaches with the aim of spreading knowledge.  Thus all these names as Guru, Adhyapaka, Upãdhyãya and Adhyaksha are synonyms emphasising a particular aspect of his profession.  The meaning of this word Upãdhyãya / Vãdyãr though has thus come down in colloquial usage, the real meaning is in the statement 'upedya: tasmãt adheeyata iti upãdhyãya:' – 'उपेध्य: तस्मात अधीयत इति उपाध्याय:'!  This definition contains within itself a whole drama with characters enacting the scene!

169.        A loving father takes his son to a good teacher.  A teacher who is not just pre-occupied with money making as the main aim!  He is showing such a teacher to his son, whom he is going leave in Guru Kulam with an aching heart, as he is going to be separated from his son presently. He is pointing out the Guru to his son and tells him, 'उपेध्य: तस्मात अधीयत', meaning 'Go to him and learn from him'!  'इति उपाध्याय:' he continues, 'Live with him and learn from him as he is your Upãdhyãya from now onwards!'  Thus within that definition there is a mini drama with three characters as the Father, Son and the Upãdhyãya!  We have to understand that a young boy leaving his household – the house that has been holding him till now with the Mother, ever doting on him – has to step in to the field of responsibility leaving his childish pranks and play, become more serious about the purpose of his life, live in a Guru Kulam, that is the teacher's residence and learn from his Guru the Upãdhyãya!    

'Desika' who Shows the Way
170.        Instead of such definition with drama, there is one more statement that defines a teacher as the one who simply gives education to the student as the Desika 'disati vidyam iti desika:' – 'दिसति विद्यां इति देसिक:' in which as the one pointing out the direction in which the student has to proceed is also the meaning that is alluded.  So Desika is another synonym for Guru.  Though in Vedas and Upanishads the word Desika is not specified, the meaning as the 'direction pointer' is very much there in the Vedas.   Guru leads the way and the disciple follows him.  In fact in one of the Upanishads the Guru is depicted as the one who shows the way for a lost person in the form of a story.

171.        In Chandokya Upanishad there is such a story, as we say in Tamil 'kaNNai katti kãttil viduvathu' – 'கண்ணை கட்டி காட்டில் விடுவது', meaning 'to leave in a forest blind-folded'.  There is a place known as 'Gãndhãram' and one of Dhrutarãshtra's wife was known as 'Gãndhãri' as a girl from that place.  In Anglicisation of Indian place names it came to be called the 'Kandhãr'!  Some say that it is what is known as Afghanistan and some say that it is the area of Peshawar north of Pakistan nowadays.  Let it be whatever!   There is a rich man.  A robber makes him his prisoner, blind-folds him takes him to a forest and absconds after taking away all his valuables.  This rich man's hands are also tied.  He is not able to see and starts shouting for help.  Finally a way-farer locates him, opens his eyes and shows him the way to get out of the forest.  Then he gets out of the forest, passes through some villages and is further shown the way back to Gãndhãram and thus gets back to his own home.  The Upanishad cryptically finishes the parable with the statement that, 'Thus only the one who gets an Ãchãrya can learn'!  Let me explain that story a little more clearly.

172.        Similar to the rich man who was kidnapped and taken away from his home and hearth, are all of us who are lost without direction in the forest of this worldly life.  The deceiving Mãyã is the thief who blinds us from reality and robs us of the wealth of knowledge.  One major difference is that like the thief who runs away, Mãyã does not easily leave us and run away!  Exactly like the victim who is crying for help, we are all lost cases who do not know as to where to go and how to seek help!  Like that some time in our lives too we get the thirst for vision!  The way-farer who removes the blind-fold and shows us the way out of the forest, back to our reality of our oneness with the Brhmam is the Ãchãrya.    He is the channel for Anugraha.  He removes our blindness of ignorance and grants us the vision.  So then we are able to trace our way back to the origin or source of our very being.  Thus the Jiva returns to his own state, which we call Moksha reached by proceeding on the path as shown by the Guru!

One Guru or More Than One
173.        In the parable it is not shown as though the way-farer himself personally brings this rich man back to his origin.  He goes away after removing the blind-fold and generally showing the way.  So also the Guru does not usher the Sishya back. This man then asks many other villagers enroute about how to go to Gãndhãram and becomes knowledgeable enough to be referred as a 'Pundit'!  So if we now relate this to the Jiva finding his way back to Gnãna, he has to gradually progress by the Sãdhana Krama, at various stages referring to a number of knowledgeable authorities like that man from Gãndhãram asked many villagers for further direction on the way.  So when initially the blind-fold was removed, it is tantamount to opening of his eyes to reality and not the complete attainment of Gnãna.  All those who gave him further directions are the Upa Gurus, confirming the earlier teaching by the one who removed the blind-fold.  That is how I understood the story.

174.        Then I was wondering a little more about there being more than one Guru.  Why should it have been said that he asked for direction from many other villagers on the way?  The way farer who opened his blind-fold could have completely explained the way back or guided him by accompanying him, isn't it?  Especially the sentence, 'Only the one who gets an Ãchãrya gets Gnãna' made me mull over it.  Though there were many others who gave him directions, they are like the direction pointers on the road side, confirming the earlier advice by the one Guru who opened his eyes.  So there is a need for others also, as Dattãtreya says that he had 24 Gurus to mean that he learnt from many the important lessons of life!  Similarly, one Guru tells you the way but then at every stage there will come a Guru who will enable you to progress to the next stage.  The Upa-Guru is not to be thought of somewhat secondary or tertiary.  They are all equally important.  In later dates there have been great saints who have had more than one Guru, like Rama Krishna Parama Hamsa.  Initially there is one who gives you Brhma Upadesa at the time of Upanayanam.  Then there is one who teaches you the Vedas as 'Vidya Guru'.  For Gruhastas to assist you in doing Karmas there are Vãdyãrs.  Then the one to give Sannyãsa Ãshrama could be a different one.

175.        (After some deliberation PeriyavãL continues.)  Let me tell you something more about the Vidya Guru.  He is the head of the Guru Kulam, the main one for the Brhmachari students.  He teaches many things but, may make use of other instructors to assist him.  From the talks of the Guru in 'Taitreeyam' in 'Siksha Valli', when he talks to the students who have completed their studies and are going back to their homes, something like the Valedictory speech in the Universities at the time of Graduation these days; we can make out that he refers to a number of teachers in plural as having taught the students.  In Ãpasthamba Dharma Satra it is given that the Vedas should be learnt from such experts who know their Veda well.  One man in his life time cannot be expected to know all the Vedas well!  The Atharva Veda is not so much in vogue.  So, there have to be at least three Gurus.  The point given there is that the student has to be completely dependent on that Guru and totally surrendered unto him during that period, when he is in his care!  Later in the same vein it is said that if a point is not fully understood under one Guru, the student is free to approach another Guru for clarification of the point not very well understood!  It is also given there that the Vidya Guru should stop giving orders to the Sishya once the study is over.  He is not to treat the student like a bonded labour!  In South India, it is that Ãpasthamba Dharma Satra which is much in use.  I am not saying all this to further weaken the Guru Bhakti, which is already a rare commodity these days.  Guru Bhakti is very important of course!  But there are some limitations and parameters, which I wanted to show.  Now, let us go from Vidya Guru to Ãshrama Guru.

(To be continued.)




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