Saturday, August 03, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 7) Dated 02 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 7) Dated 02 Aug 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 135 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)

186.        There are many other such examples to be quoted from the Upanishads wherein the fact of there being more than one Guru for an aspirant on the path is clearly apparent.  There are two distinctly separate descriptions of how the Guru tests          the students' patience by not imparting any Upadesa for years and it so happens that some divine powers come in to play to give the Upadesa to the student.  Then when the Guru fortuitously notices that the disciple has been advised by some others.  He asks the disciple to repeat what he has learnt and finding that he has been correctly advised, confirms the same while adding to it.
187.        The first is the case of Satyakãma Jãbãla (about whom we have heard earlier that he got his Mother's name as surname).  His Guru Gautama Haridrumata having accepted him as his disciple still does not teach him anything and lets him take care of the cattle in his Guru Kulam organization.  Uncomplainingly Satyakãma goes on doing this job and the cattle are proliferating in to a thousand in numbers.  Seeing him wasting his time thus Rishabha the Bull from within that herd, gives him the necessary Upadesa.  The next day he is given Upadesa by the Fire in Agni Upãsana and the third day a Swan gives him Upadesa.  Fourth day was the Upadesa by Madgu a water fowl!  Having found that he has been correctly advised, the Guru Gautama Haridrumata confirms all the teachings that he has learnt.
188.        The second instance is one in which this very Satyakãma Jãbãla is the Guru, who tests his disciple Upakosala very similarly.  Despite 12 years of stay in the Guru Kulam the student is not given any Upadesa.  While the student is demonstrating his patience and endurance, the three fires maintained in the Guru Kulam feel pity and start teaching the student.  Getting to know about it, the Guru gives him wholesome Upadesa saying that the fires had told him only partially what is required to be taught!  Some may feel that these stories cannot be construed as being taught under more than one Guru.  But there are other evidences in the Upanishads.  In Gita itself Sri Krishna is saying, 'upadeshyanti te Gnãnam gnãnina: tatva darshina:' – 'उपदेष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिन: तत्व दर्शिन:' meaning, "knowers of the truth will advise about it as they have seen the reality!"  He is himself telling Arjuna the whole of Gita of 700 slokas of a concentrated dose of all that is to be known, as the Guru for Arjuna; and he is telling him to go to other Gurus also!
189.        Sri Krishna himself had more than one Guru.  The family Guru for Yadu Kula was Garga Ãchãrya.  He is the one who gave him PooNool in Upanayanam.  Then he did formal Guru Kula Vãsam under Guru Sandipani, under whom he learnt the Vedas with Uddhava as a co-student.  Then having declared himself as the son of Devaki he also got Upadesa from Guru Gora Ãngiras.  We have seen the example of Dattãtreya also who had learnt some important lesson from each one of those 24 different things or beings whom he calls his Gurus.  Though all of them cannot be called formally as Gurus, there is one statement of his which we should be giving attention to and that is, 'nahyekasmãt guror gnãnam sustiram supushkaLam' – 'नःयेकस्मात गुरोर ज्ञानं सुस्तिरं सुपुष्कलं', meaning that 'it could happen that at times you may not be able to get strong and perfect conviction in the teachings, if it is from only one source!  Having said so in the first part of the sloka, in the second part he says, 'brhmaitat adwiteeyam vai gheeyate bahu darshibhi:' – 'ब्र्ह्मैतत वै गीयते बहुदर्षिभि:' meaning that 'the one Brhmam is sung in many ways by the Seers', similar to the famous Vedic statement 'ekam brhma, vipra: bahudã vadanti'!  What we are concerned is the fact that, if a student is not able to comprehend the meaning fully from one Guru, he may go to another Guru.
190.        Please do not take Dattãtreya lightly.  He is one of the top authorities amongst the Gurus of our Adwaita tradition.  In this Kãmãkshi Amman Sannidy there is one separate Mandiram or enclosure for our ÃchãryãL.  In the Gopuram or edifice in it, there is a statue for all the past Gurus.  Who do you think is the top most among them?  You may think of Lord DakshiNa Murthy or Narayana.  But in fact it is Dattãtreya only whose statue is at the pinnacle!  Anyhow who in our view is the 'Chief Justice' the deciding authority, it is our ÃchãryãL only, isn't it?  If he has spoken highly of some past Ãchãrya, who had more than one Guru, then we will stop bickering about this question of having or not having more than one Guru, isn't it?  Before that are you interested in knowing as to, if there is some authority over him also, is it?  Yes, there are the Vedas and in the Vedas is the Brihad ÃraNyaka Upanishad!
191.        In the Brihad ÃraNyaka Upanishad, the parts are called the 'BrãhmaNam'.  Amongst them there is one 'Shad Ãchãrya BrãhmaNam', about one who had six Gurus.  That one was not some unknown character but famous as a Raja Rishi!  I am talking about Janaka who as an Emperor was also a great saint of immense fame and Gnãna simultaneously!  Sri Krishna himself has quoted Janaka's name as an exemplary Karma Yogi.  He was the student under great Seers as Jitva, Utanga, Barggu and Satyakãma Jãbãla, about whom we had known about a little earlier.  In the BrãhmaNam he is telling Yãgnyavalkya about his earlier six Gurus and is now requesting Yãgnyavalkya to give him Upadesa!  Nobody thinks of either his past actions or this present request as something not done!  From the narrative we can make out that Yãgnyavalkya also is appreciating his, this request.  Now comes the Supreme Court ruling from our Chief Justice!
192.        Yãgnyavalkya had asked Janaka to tell him about what others have told Janaka already.  This asking about, 'what others have told him', is not for the sake of gossip!  Yes Janaka while receiving Yãgnyavalkya had asked in fun, "May I be audacious enough to question you Sir, as to whether this visit it is to receive cattle as presents or to discuss some subtle points on philosophy (Tatva Vichãra)?"  In similar vein Yãgnyavalkya had replied very pleasantly, "For both"!  So in the very next breath when he asked Janaka about what others have told him, it cannot be about some worldly news and gossip but what Janaka has been told by his earlier Gurus only!  Here, our ÃchãryãL in his Bhashyam has said that, 'since Janaka is known to interact with many great Saints and Seers, it must have been the interest of Yãgnyavalkya to hear their words as to how they have described these matters of esoteric interests.'  Here our ÃchãryãL has used the phrase 'aneka ãchãrya sevi' – 'अनेक आचार्य सेवी', 'as serving many a guiding-light in the plural'.  This means that our ÃchãryãL is of the opinion that it is quite normal for someone to be serving more than one master!  His opinion is as good as a ruling as far as we are concerned!
193.        On later dates, amongst many of the stalwarts of our Adwaita Sampradaya, who have contributed much in understanding and spreading the concept, there have been many who have had more than one Guru.  I told you about the Mukhya Guru of VidyãraNya Swami, namely Guru Vidya Teerta.  He also had referred to Sankara Ãnanda as his Guru, I said.  This Sankara Ãnanda was also a disciple of Vidya Teerta only.  It seems Sankara Ãnanda was also a disciple of another Guru, namely Anantãtma!  There was one Madusudana Saraswathi a well-known exponent of Adwaita doctrine.  He was an ardent Bhakta of Sri Krishna also.  In fact he is the one who combined Bhakti and Gnãna Marga, so that an aspiring devotee could progress in both without having any pangs of guilt consciousness and glitches!  He had three Gurus namely, Sri Rama, Visveswara and Madhava.  While as it is one could have Mukhya Guru and Upa-Guru; normally it so happens that Vidya Guru and Ãshrama Guru are mostly two different persons.  
194.        Anyhow I hope it is sufficiently clear that there is nothing wrong in sincerely accepting more than one as Guru based on necessity of circumstances and compulsions of life and not based on whims and fancies!  Even in the VaishNava tradition, their ÃchãryãL Ramanujacharya himself had ALavandãr as the Mukhya Guru and there were three Upa-Gurus namely, Periya Nambi, Thirukkachchi Nambi and Thirukgoshtiyur Nambi.  I have covered a lot of grounds rambling along and I am happy if it serves the purpose of a doubt that is normally more widely prevalent than recognised!
195.        With eyes blind-folded by ignorance, many of us in this life are lost in the forests of this worldly life.  That is the normal state of all of us, thought of as the common man in general and referred as the Jiva Ãtma herein.  He gets the vision back from one Guru and traces his way back, guided by many enroute and reaches his home, abode, refuge that is also his source.  That is the story we studied in the Upanishad.  That story was told to Uddãlaka ÃruNi, who as we noticed also had many Gurus.  (As his father's name was one AruNa, his name became ÃruNi.)  His son was Swetaketu.  Uddãlaka ÃruNi despite being very well read sends his son for education to some other Guru.  He goes and comes back after 12 years of study under many elders.  The father had sent the son to a Guru Kulam as he felt it would be better in the interest of learning, instead of being spoiled at home.  But the son came back tremendously conceited!  Those were the times, when being humble was the common quality widely prevalent.  The teachers too must have repeatedly emphasised the value of that quality of being humble.
196.        But Swetaketu was so full of Ahankãra!  He had been sent to Guru Kulam when he was 12 and come back, when he was 24 years of age.  It was then that his father had told him the story of that 'rich man from Gãndhãram' being blind folded and left in the forest after being rid of all his wealth.  It is not enough to get educated only, but one should be acquiring the simple quality of being contended devoid of haughty head-weight, isn't it?  That is why there is description of how the character asks for the way from many who show him the way back.  Here I am reminded of Thiru Valluvar who said, 'karka kasudu arakkarka kartrapin nirka adarkut taga' –
'கற்க கசடறக்கற்க கற்றபின் நிற்க அதற்குத் தக',
meaning, 'Learn without leaving gaps and grey areas and then live as per what you have learnt'!  Then he had also said, 'adakkam amararuL uikkum adangãmai ãriruL uithuvidum' –
'அடக்கம் அமரருள் உய்க்கும் அடங்காமை
ஆரிருள் உய்த்துவிடும்',
meaning, 'Being contended will get you in to the company of Angels while being overly proud can damn you unto eternal darkness'!  Learning is not only a cerebral exercise. Learning should be so that one may practice what one learns and live by those wonderful principles one learns, while avoiding what one dislikes in others!    Later we notice that Swetaketu was sensible enough to pick up what was hinted at, in the story.  When you surrender to a Guru, it is better to totally do away with an opinion of one's own and leave it all in his hands.  But such surrender is easily said than done!  The disciple has to do things by his own efforts too, isn't it?  May be that is why in the parable the way-farer after removing his blind-fold does not accompany him all the way back.  But the disciple did follow the path shown by the Guru who opened his eyes and that is very important!  The one who gives you directions and shows the way is called the Desika, another synonym for Guru.  So, in the parable, this man returning to his origins has to take the help of many enroute, who further show him the way, like so many Upa-Gurus in one's life and that is their job as per the Upanishad, to give directions and guide the student on his way!
(To be continued.)




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