Thursday, August 08, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 22 (Vol # 7) Dated 08 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 22 (Vol # 7) Dated 08 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 150 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)

207.        Whether it is a passage through an inaccessible forest or a walk on the razor's edge, or floating along the current on a suitable boat, the one to show us the way is the Guru.  At the place where the Upanishad talks about the relative difficulty of the aspirants' path as comparable to the walk on razor's edge, it says that they should go to the 'varãn' – 'वरान्' in plural.  What is the meaning of this word 'varãn'?  We often come across words such as 'Rishivarar and Munivarar', meaning the best among the lot of Rishis or Munis.  Like when you select the best amongst suitable, prospective match for your daughter in marriage, the one you select as the best is called the Varan, isn't it?  These words come from the root 'vru' – 'वृ', meaning the process of choosing and selecting.  So, the best choice is the choicest and that is Varan and with respect the same word becomes Varar.    Two other synonyms for this in Sanskrit are 'utkrushta and prakrushta' – 'उत्कृष्ट & प्रकृष्ट'.  In his Bhashyam our ÃchãryãL has used this word while interpreting the word 'Varar', saying that they are highly accomplished beings as 'Prakrushta Ãchãrya' – 'प्रकृष्ट आचार्य' and 'tat vida' – 'तत् विद' meaning 'he who knows that'!  'Such people should be chosen as one's own Guru', he says and continues to add that, 'at this point the Upanishad is advising us as a Mother tells the son with extreme compassion' – 'sruti: anukampamãha mãtruvat' – 'श्रुति: अनुकंपमाः मातृवत्', as though telling us not to get too fearful of the razor's edge as the mother's love makes it easily manageable!

Guru for the Final Destination and the Transit Areas
208.        Other than the Guru for the final leap, the Upanishads often talk of Gurus for the various stages enroute.  In many places in the Upanishads we come across disciples learning one particular Vidya from one Guru and proceeding to another Guru for the next, progressing step by step.  There have been also some disciples who were not interested in learning all sorts of things and were keen on 'Ãtma Sãkshãtkãram' – 'आत्म साक्षात्कारं' as the only aim worth aspiring for!  So also there were preceptors who were not interested in other subjects and were paying attention only to this one aspect of self-realization.  Our ÃchãryãL was like that only.  Though to the general public he did advise them on devotion to various Gods through a large number of his devotional stotras and slokas, when it comes to the critical crunch areas of philosophy, all his Bhashyams and PrakaraNa Granthas, they were all directly about the central issue of Adwaita Ãtma Anubhuti only!
209.        Another point to be taken note of is the fact that, even those who were self-realised, depending on the level of maturity of the disciple, taught them instead of Brhma-Vidya some preliminary or auxiliary or ancillary subjects as required by that individual's progress.  Another factor is that just because the Guru was a Brhma Gnãni it does not mean that he would have been aware of all that is to be taught!  Though they may be aware of the all comprehensive 'ãdhãra tatva' – 'आधार तत्व', it did not necessarily mean that they were knowledgeable of everything to be taught to the student!  So keeping him as the 'Mukhya Guru' there could have been other teachers of subsidiary Vidyas.

Whatever the Guru Knew for the Disciple
210.        Whether the way for Brhma Vidya or depending on the level of maturity of the disciple the way for other preliminary Vidyas or whatever, in our Sanãtana tradition invariably each and every Guru was magnanimous enough to give his all, knowledge and Anubhava totally to the student, without holding anything back.  This quality is noticeable uniformly in all the Gurus we come across in the Upanishads without any exceptions!  The way they felt compelled to give their all to the Sishya, though astonishing to note, is taken as part of their duty, as a Guru has confirmed in Mundakopanishad, "A Guru is meant to transfer his entire knowledge to the student and that is why he is known as a Guru!"

211.        In that Upanishad at the end of the first part, it is said that however much advanced, however perfect in his dispassion a disciple may be, he has to go to a Guru for Brhma Gnãna.  Then it says for a student who has come to him as a Sishya correctly and formally, the Guru will give wholesome Upadesa.  That is how it is stated in the text of the Upanishad that, 'the Guru will give complete Upadesa'!  While explaining this in his Bhashyam our ÃchãryãL has said, the Guru is duty bound to do so.  In the original is the word 'provãcha' – 'प्रोवाच' and our ÃchãryãL has made it 'prabruyãt' – 'प्रब्रूयात'; that is, converting what the Upanishad says as, 'the Guru will' in to 'so the Guru has to'!

212.        What is telling as it is?  It means that the Guru completely and wholesomely conveys to the disciple his own knowledge without any reservations.  Here our ÃchãryãL uses the word 'yatãvat' which means, sincerely, directly, without any additions and subtractions, and so as it is! Whatever has been traditionally the Brhma Vidya Sãstrã that has been conveyed to him by his Guru has to be passed on to the disciple.  It is here that our ÃchãryãL has spoken about the bounden duty of the Guru as 'ãchãryasya niyamam' – 'आचार्यस्य नियमं'. Here this word 'niyamam' has to be taken as the duty of the Guru, the rules and regulations all included.  There is 'Yati Niyama', 'Gruhasta Niyama', 'Brhmachari Niyama' and like that 'Acharyasya Niyama'.  If the Brhmachari Niyama is to do three times a day Sandya Vandana, that becomes his duty also, isn't it?  Whatever the systematic, regular, iterated actions required to be done, were laid out as the duties in the Sãstrãs.  They included the Do's and Don'ts, thereby ensuring discipline and regulated behaviour. 

The Duty of a Guru as Delineated by our ÃchãryãL
213.        OK, right.  What is that Niyama as delineated by our ÃchãryãL as the duty of a Guru?  You may answer that yourself as after all his duty is to teach.  But that is what it has become these days that, the duties of the teacher ends with teaching only.  But that is not the end but only the means!  Through teaching and coaching the Guru has to make the student comprehend the usefulness of the teaching.  From learning, the student has to practically come to understand and comprehend the purpose in his personal, practical Anubhava.  If a teacher is to give the 'yatãvat' coaching in Brhma Gnãna, the student is being taught that to practically cross the ocean of this Samsara and so, that has to be achieved in the student's Anubhava.  To make him do that is the duty of the Guru as per our ÃchãryãL!     

Satguru and Sachchishya
214.        The Guru who is very good in his teaching and commitment to the task of giving Brhma Vidya Upadesa and causes the student to reach the aim is known as a Satguru.  Similarly the student who is a very good student is known as 'Sat + Sishya = Sachchishya'.  A Sachchishya should be having a good character especially Adakkam that is, humility, with a sharp intellect and have the thirst for Self-Realization and should not be interested in short cuts but be ready go exactly as per the dictates of Sãstrãs as understood and followed traditionally.  To get the disciple out of the 'avidya mahodadhi' – 'अविद्या महोदधि', that is the ocean of ignorance, is the duty of the Satguru, says our ÃchãryãL.  Appar SwamigaL called it in Tamil as 'poi mãyap perunkadal'!   To get the disciple out of that imaginary ocean which is unreal, is the task of the Guru.  ÃchãryãL uses the word 'nisdharaNam', that is to recover this lost Jiva from that ocean.  Such recovery is as good as Mukti.  For a person born in this world, that is the ultimate recovery.  To make this mortal, limited being to realize his reality of oneness with immortal life is the task of the Guru.

215.         You might have heard of this pithy statement in Tamil, 'kalviyinoongillai sirtruyirku urtra thuNai', meaning, 'there is nothing greater than education, as the safe guard for this small mortal being'!  To conduct one's worldly life with the right attitude, behaviour and discipline was the aim of education in the olden times, as emphasised by this above statement.  Though to improve one's knowledge was the main aim, when you add discipline, devotion and Gnãna; such education eradicates ignorance and makes this 'Sirtru Uyir' to become 'Peruyir', removing his smallness and imparts greatness!  So, to do so is the highest gift to the individual, isn't it?  Thus when we realise that through Brhma Vidya, this small, infinitesimal, fractional and mortal being is made to realise his greatness and immortality; isn't so doing the greatest gift from the Satguru?  That too when he not only tells you the way but also leads you to the destination as his duty, isn't that the most magnificent safe guard?

Guru's Entire Assets Goes to the Disciple
216.        I wish to enlarge on this 'yatãvat' – 'यतावत', a little more.  Like the father transferring all his properties to the son, is this 'yatãvat' principle of the teacher transferring all his intellectual properties to the disciple.  A father cannot transfer all his assets to his son, if he has more than one son!  But a Guru can and does transfer all his knowledge to all his disciples and can give them 'poorNa mahã vidya abhyãsam' – 'पूर्ण महा विद्याभ्यासं'!  This is the greatness of Vidya!  It is a 'Sri' that does not lessen, however much the dissemination and distribution!  Unless the Guru has absolute love for the disciples, total involvement in his commitment to show the way to them and has equal amount of love in his subject knowledge; he cannot so completely transfer all his knowledge to the student.  This is rather rare nowadays, but not totally absent either, as I gather from experts in various fields when they talk about their teachers and professors.  Many youngsters bring their thesis for my blessings before submitting the same to the University authorities for their doctorates.  From those children I get to know that there are many teachers who teach and transfer all their knowledge to the students.  I also hear some complaints contrary to this.

217.        But when we look into these Upanishads, we see that but for rare exceptions in the olden times the teachers believed in transferring all their knowledge to the disciples.  Take the case of Swetaketu himself who came back from Guru Kulam with a supercilious attitude, when his father asked if he has learnt about Brhmam replied that he was not aware of it as his teachers had not told him and that possibly they may not have known about it, since otherwise they would have told him!  This one answer coming from him is good enough to prove the reputation of those teachers. 

218.        I quoted from the end part of 'Prasnopanishad' some time back about how the students told their Guru, "It is you who should be considered as our Father, as you have taken us across to the far shores of this ignorance of Avidya!  You are our Father positively!"  Let me take you to the early parts of the Upanishad.  Six students get together.  They are each one of them great Rishis by their own rights!  They were Sekesa, Satyakãma, Gargya, Kousalaya, Bhargava and Kabandi.  Though they were very knowledgeable about Brhma Vidya, they wished to clear their doubts and fill in the gaps.  So they opted to go to Pippalada, whom the Upanishad refers with the title as 'Bhagawanta'.  As their offering to the Guru they carry Samit.  Samit means only twigs used in Yagnya.  We should take note of the fact that more than the thing that is offered, those who were Gurus then, paid more attention to the spirit and attitude of the students in this act of theirs!

(To be continued.)




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