Monday, August 05, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 7) Dated 04 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 7) Dated 04 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 143 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)

The 'Desika' or Guru as Guiding Spirit
197.        The Vedas have many parts as Samhita, BrãhmaNam, ÃraNyaka, and Suktam like sub-parts.  The end parts of the Vedas contain the Upanishads collectively known as Vedãnta.   There are places in the Vedas where Guru the teacher cum mentor is also the direction-pointer or the word much in use nowadays as the Director.  There is a rather famous and long Suktam starting with the words 'Asya vãmasya' in which, there is description of how the whole world or universe has come in to being (Prapancha Srushti), and the principle of the Ultimate  (Paramãtma Tatvam) in cryptic language understood only by knowledgeable and experienced persons in this line.  The statement such as, 'there is only one real thing', which is being described in many ways by those who know – ekam sat gnãnina: bahudã vadanti; the mantra in Mundakopanishad about the Jivãtma and Paramãtma being two different kinds of birds; the principle of sound being an idea not yet formed in the mind undergoing four different transformations till it comes out as a word uttered by human mouth; then the mantra we use invocating AmbãL in pooja starting with the words – 'gowri mimãya salilãni….' – 'गौरी मिमाय सलिलानी....'; are all occurring in that 'Asya vãmasya' Suktam only.  In the start of it there is one mantra which says, 'I am an uninformed Agnãni, I may be given Upadesa by those who are Gnãnis', which is quoted widely as the Sruti PramãNa, as the statement by the disciple desirous of acquiring knowledge!

198.        To be born as a human being or whatever in this world means that we are enveloped by the cover of ignorance, though there may be a hazy idea as to our source and stuff that we were made of.  For such a being, he has to approach a Guru who may guide us back to our source.  It is the Mantra I wish to tell you about, in which this above fact is clearly brought out.  It is a Mantra occurring in the Rik Veda, in the Seventh Ashtakam, given by a rishi named Cavashar (or कवश ऋषि) to Indra.  (KTSV adds: - Please note that as I am reading out of an e-Blog and translating in to English.  There are some spelling mistakes in the Tamil encryption and I am not able to counter check.)  In it the Rishi is telling that, 'an Akshetravit – 'अक्षेत्रवित' is learning the way from a Kshetravit' – 'क्षेत्रवित'.  That could be interpreted as 'an outsider learning from a local' or an Agnãni – 'अज्ञानी' learning from a Gnãni – 'ज्ञानी'!  This body-mind-intellect complex of what we are all made of is collectively known as the Kshetram or the Field and the knower of the Field are the Kshetragna: - 'क्षेत्रज्ञ:' or Kshetravit – 'क्षेत्रवित', respectively! 

199.        Thus the Sruti indirectly conveys that the disciple, who does not know, learns from the Guru who knows the Sãdhana Marga meaning the way as to how to persevere on the path and thus becomes aware of the way towards the goal and reaches.  The Mantra says so indirectly – 'marai mugamga'.  (PeriyavãL chuckles as there is a pun on the word 'marai' in that phrase, as it means both 'hidden' and 'through the Vedas' in Tamil.)  Then so that the message may not remain too indirect and not understood, the Sruti comes out more clearly in saying that, 'this is the sacred value and the ruling or command of the Mantra'!  There are two words used here which may be clearly understood.  The adjective used for the message is 'bhadram' – 'भद्रं', meaning 'happily safe and sound'; and the noun used is 'Anusãsanam' – 'अनुशासनं', meaning 'obedience to ruling, order and command'! 

200.        Pãndavãs were given a whole lot of advices by Bhishma Pitãmahã in two Chapters of Maha Bhãratham towards the end, known as Shanti Parva and Anusãsana Parva.  In that chapter are all the advices about enacting rules, giving orders and commands, which come under Anusãsanam.  That Anusãsana Parva also contains the famous Shiva Sahasranãma and Vishnu Sahasranãma both!  The advices and directions given by a Guru are so purely beneficial and useful for the disciple say the Vedas.  Veda make use of two words 'bhadram' for 'Mangalam' and 'anjanam' to mean the straight forward path, which takes the student directly forward!

Guru as the Kshetragna
201.        We came across two persons as the 'Knower of the Field' and the one who does not know that, a little earlier.  They are none else but the Guru and disciple.  They are two words chosen by Rishi Cavashar after much deliberation may be.  But it is certain that from the wide open spaces of 'Akhanda Ãkãsa' those words came in his comprehension.  That means that they are the words of God spoken through that Rishi!  Kshetram is a place or city, a field or space.  The farmer ploughs the field.  The soldier fights the enemy in the battle field.  The Guru knows his ground.  In the story of Gãndhãram we saw that it is the path through the ground that was important.  If the plants of cereals and pulses grow in the field, the field in which the crops of devotion grow is the mind of the individuals.  Such places where the crops of devotion grow are identified as Divya Kshetrãs – the Temple Towns.  

202.        The 13th Chapter of the Bhagawat Gita known as 'क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञ विभागयोग:' may be read for a clear distinction between the Field and the Knower of the Field. In it Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, 'idam sareeram kounteya kshetram ityabhideeyate' – 'इदं शरीरं कोउन्तेय क्षेत्रं इत्यभिदीयते', meaning that 'this body Kounteya is known as the Kshetram'.  Amongst many names that Arjuna is known as, one is 'Kounteya' as the son of Kunti, his mother.  The real knower of the field is in this gross body as the life of it.  He or it is the self or soul referred herein as the Ãtma.  Without life in it, this body is a cadaver!  It is the Ãtma by its presence gives life, identity and meaning to the body.  But the fact of the situation is that this man with a mind of his own does not know that he is the 'Knower of the Field' the Kshetragna!  He thinks of himself as another person with a body!  His awareness is blinded by Maya, like the rich man who was lost in the forest blind-folded.  In his true state of his being there is nothing for him 'to do' or 'to know' or 'to reach'!  That state is the very being, sans any defining adjectives and qualities.  In Sanskrit there are two words 'Jada' and 'Chetana', very close in meaning to 'insentient' and 'sentient' respectively.  As of now we are all blind to our reality.  For us to become sentient, we have to go to a Guru who will euphemistically open our eyes to our reality enabling us to become sentient beings, aware of our reality!  As of now we know ourselves only with the five senses and mind like any other animal!  The sixth sense of ours, our mind and intelligence are clouded by so many blinding and covering influences of deception, delusion and ignorance!

203.        So, to be raised from this state of being aware of oneself as the Body – Mind – Intellect complex to be raised and become aware of reality to the level of becoming a Kshetragna there are many steps or flights to be climbed, understood and absorbed; though we are already that only.  To get rid of our ignorance so much effort is required!  That is what in short what Sri Krishna has said in the Gita too.  But as of now we are only thinking ourselves to be the Knower –Kshetragna and our body and mind as the Kshetra the Field.  Even in Lalitha Sahasranãma, it is this meaning intended when it says, 'kshetra kshetragna pãlinee' – 'क्षेत्र क्षेत्रज्ञ पालिनी', meaning that Sri Lalitha is the protector of the body and the one who claims this body to be his!  Since, for the Knower of the Ãtma as Kshetragna, there is no protection required at all, isn't it?  When Sri Krishna says, 'know that I am the Kshetragna in all Kshetra-s' – 'kshetrgnam chãpi mãm viddhi sarva kshetreshu bhãrata' – 'क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्व क्षेत्रेषु भारत', he Sri Krishna Paramãtma has given scope for us to understand this word 'Kshetragna' to mean both the above states in which Maya is there and devoid of Maya.  Rather three states, One – as all of us and every one of us, as the ignorant beings of the world enwrapped in Maya, Two – as the Easwara who knows us all and thus is the Kshetragna who knows the Kshetra and Three – as the only being sans Maya, as NirguNa, Nishkriya Parabrhmam!  In all the three states the Knower is only that Parabrhmam!  In that final third state of NirguNa, Nishkriya Parabrhmam, there is no action of knowing also – just being, the Anubhava that there is no knower and no Kshetra to be known!

204.        I said that Kshetragna is the knower of the Field.  The one who knows that 'this body is me' is at the lowest level.  The one who knows that this body is 'maya kalpitam' – 'माया कल्पितं', an imagined adjunct only, an apparition in no way connected to my reality; has reached the other end of the spectrum!  He is the true Kshetragna.  So this Kshetragna and Gnãni are one and the same who knows this body to be a lie, untrue and appearance only and Brhmam is the only truth.  If you wonder as to why I have got you involved so deeply in this maze and mire of ideas, concepts and principles; let me get you out of it also!  What was the Veda mantra for someone who knew the way or way-out, that I quoted?  It was 'kshetravit' – 'क्षेत्रवित', isn't it?  This Kshetragna and Kshetravit are both the same as Gnãni!  These suffixes 'gna' and 'wit', both indicate the state of knowing only!

205.        This suffix 'gna' is written in English as 'gna' and 'jna', sounding similarly.  The Greek word 'gnosis' has been taken in to English as it is, meaning Gnãnam, with the letter 'g' silent the word is pronounced as 'nosis' only.  This word 'know' is another word, with the same meaning as 'gnosis' and also pronounced as 'no' with the first letter silent!  That 'g' has become 'k' here, like there is no 'ka' and 'ga' in Tamil, both becoming one and the same letter ''!  It is the Sanskrit 'vit' – 'वित' that has become the English 'wit, witty and even with'!  Though we understand it to be only humour and fun, knowing is the closest in meaning.  Thus the 'Kshetravit' in the Vedas and the 'Kshetragna' in Gita are synonyms.  When we understand like this, the meaning of the Veda Mantra is that, 'the Sishya who is an Agnãni, learns from a Guru who is a Gnãni, the way for release from the clutches of this worldly life and proceeds on the path so indicated towards the quintessential Truth of existence.  This is the salubrious message.  Instead of swimming across the current he happily goes with the flow, happily floating towards the goal!  This is the beautiful straight path, adding some of my Bhashyam also along the way!  (PeriyavãL smiles while saying this.)

206.        In the Upanishad, there is description of fearful forest and then one has to pass through many unknown villages.  That is the end portion of the Vedas known as Vedãntam, describing a walk through the 'Razor's Edge'!  In the earlier portions of the Vedas, in the Samhita it is happily boating or floating along with the current.  With the blessing of Guru our journey becomes a pleasureful excursion with the flow!  In fact you might have heard of that famous novel titled Razor's Edge, by Somerset Maugham, (who was much interested in Indian Philosophy), describes the path to Salvation being very hard, as taken from a verse in Katha Upanishad!

(To be continued.)




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