Thursday, August 15, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 25 (Vol # 7) Dated 14 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 25 (Vol # 7) Dated 14 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 172 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)

One Against Tradition is Publicity Seeking Idiot – ÃchãryãL
241.            The one who breaks with traditions may be seeking publicity, but an idiot essentially!  For our ÃchãryãL who is considered as a repository of kindness – 'KaruNa Ãlayam' – 'करुणालयं', to make such a statement is rather abnormal!  All over the world there may be traditions which are not necessarily based on sense, research and analysis.  It is worthwhile to study and look into the logic of the tradition.  When we say that traditions in Sanãtana Dharma have withstood the test of time, it means that the logicality of its traditions have been repeatedly questioned, tested and proved.  Even then some stupid ideas do creep in and disguise themselves as traditions.  Like the unnecessary elaborate conduct of marriages and PooNool wearing ceremony known as Brhmopadesa with enormous expenditure and the socially heinous system of Dowry.  There used to be a stupid belief in families that we should not have three Brhmacharis in the house together.  So, the third brother was not given PooNool till the time of the marriage of the eldest, if there were three brothers in the same family!  Now relate this to the dictum by our ÃchãryãL that, "The one who inserts a meaning or interpretation not in the Sãstrãs, is an 'Ãtmahã' – 'आत्महा', meaning that he is as good as committing suicide!"   "Even if he were foolish to commit suicide it may be alright, it is worse to be confusing the society by wrongly interpreting the Sãstrãs.  He should be side lined as an idiot", says our ÃchãryãL in his Gita Bhashyam.

ÃchãryãL's Devotion towards the Guru Lineage & Tradition
242.            Our ÃchãryãL had such loyalty for the Guru lineage and traditions as evolved by them that is immeasurable and indescribable.  He never went beyond what is said in the original in his Bhashyams and did not bring in any extraneous matters in explaining.  But about the topic under discussion, he did so towards the end of his Bhashyams to the Upanishads.  Stating from Esãvãsya Upanishad to Brihad ÃraNyaka Upanishad, he has written Bhashyam for ten selected ones, known as 'Dasopanishad'.  Though there are some more commentaries on some other Upanishads, this one is more famous.  The first and last one of them, are from Shukla Yajur Veda.  Let it be.

243.            He comes to the end part of the last of the ten Upanishads.  That is the one in which the names of the Gurus are listed as the son of so and so mother, as I told you earlier.  At the end the order is reversed with the names of the Gurus and goes back tracing out the names of the Gurus in the order of son, father, grand-father, his father and so on, and finishes with, 'Prajãpathi-Brhma'.  There it ends with a Namaskãr to the last mentioned.  Here this word Brhma can be taken as God the Ultimate or the Shabda Brhmam that is the Vedas as a personification as a Guru or Brhma as one of the Holy Trinity of Brhma-Vishnu-Maheshwara from whom all creation is said to commence.  The Upanishad finishes with a Namaskãr to the whole lineage collectively and to all of them individually.  Here is where as I said our ÃchãryãL has slightly deviated from the original.  He stopped for a moment with his writing instrument hanging in mid-air!  He felt that paying our respects to this continuous chain of Gurus from the past till the present will not be complete without bringing in the future too!  So, after the last phrase in the Upanishad – 'BrhmaNe Nama:' – 'ब्रह्मणे नम:' he added, 'nama: tat anuvartibyo gurubhyo:' – 'नम: तत् अनुवर्तिभ्यो गुरुभ्यो:' and then only kept his writing instrument down.  That phrase means, 'our salutations to the future generations of the Gurus, who are nicely continuing to follow the tradition of the Vedas'!  (Please take note that it does not mean any Tom, Dick and Harry who claims to be a Guru himself!)  Our ÃchãryãL who shines as the central gem in the necklace of Guru Parampara lineage has thus completed his Bhashyam of the Upanishads.

244.            At the beginning of Taitreeya Upanishad, he expresses his veneration to all the Gurus of the tradition, who had been writing Bhashyams for the Upanishads before him.  He says, "I do Namaskãr to all those Gurus who have written commentaries for 'VyakarNam' known by the name of 'Padam', 'Meemãmsa Sãstram' known as 'Vãkyam' and 'Nyãya Sãstrãs' known as 'PramãNa', based on which they had interpreted the Upanishads.  In appreciation of their scholarship and erudition, I pay my respects daily".  This is a sloka worthy of chanting daily by us also:-
"यैरिमे गुरुभि: पूर्वं पद-वाक्य-प्रमाणत: |
"yairime gurubhi: poorvam pada-vãkya-prmaNata:
व्याक्याता: सर्व वेदान्तास्तान नित्यं प्रणतोस्म्यहं ||
vyãkyãtã:  sarva vedãntãs tãn nityam praNatosmyaham"

He Who Never Said What He Did Not Know
245.            While the Guru is one who will tell his disciple, all that he knew completely, he did not do one of the mistakes commonly found in teachers of the present day!  I must tell you about that also.  What is that common mistake?  It is the tendency to act as though he is omniscient and so tell the student, things which he is not fully aware of.  May be some of the teachers of the present day are ashamed of accepting that they do not know and hence use their power of imagination and expression at their command, to give some reply.  But the Gurus of the Upanishads did not do that.  When he teaches the student to 'satyam vada, dharmam chara' – 'सत्यं वद, धर्मं चर', meaning 'tell the truth and practice morality'; he believed in practicing what he preached.  I told you about the end part of 'Prasnopanishad' and also the start of how the six learned Rishis got together and approached a Guru as students.  Now I am giving an example to this about point, about the truthfulness of the Gurus those days, from the start of the end part of the same Upanishad.

246.            There was a Prince of the Kosala Desa, namely HiraNya Nãbha.  He had approached Guru Sukesa with the doubt about Purusha of Sixteen Kalas or parts. The Jiva has 16 parts and so is known as 'shodasa kala Purusha:' – 'षोडस कला पुरुष:' about which HiraNya Nãbha had asked and Sukesa did not know the reply.  He could have given the Prince some sort of a reply, describing some sixteen aspects of a Purusha or Jiva and bluffed his way through.  But Sukesa did not do so, despite the fact that the Prince was sure to have rewarded him with many presents in addition to name and fame that would have accrued.  But Sukesa was truthful enough to have told the Prince that he did not know the answer!  (It is this question with which Sukesa came to Guru Pippalãda for being educated in the Sixth part of Prasnopanishad.)  The Prince HiraNya Nãbha could not believe that Guru Sukesa could be unaware of the reply.  He thought, "Possibly I may be lacking in the required qualifications and so instead of telling me on my face, this Guru may be saying that he does not know the answer!"  He even mentioned this to Guru Sukesa, for which the Guru replied, "Had I known the answer, why should I not tell you?"  Here we find the very idea expressed by Swetaketu elsewhere in another Upanishad, is being uttered by a Guru conveying the same meaning!  Then the Guru says that, to utter a lie is a heinous crime and sin.  We generally simply say that, 'The mouth that speaks a lie will not get food to eat' and stop there.  The words of the Upanishad as expressed by Guru Sukesa, is far more awful.  He says that a Guru who bluffs will be destroyed like a tree that rots from the top to the roots!  Our ÃchãryãL explains in his Bhashyam that he loses all benefits of both Iham and Param!  The Prince quietly rode away from the Guru's presence after taking leave of him.

247.               From this anecdote, our ÃchãryãL says we can gather two lessons.  One is that when approached by a worthy student correctly and formally, a Guru has to teach him.  Second is that, a Guru who does not know the answer should never play-act as though he knows!  He uses the phrase – 'sarvasyãpi avasteshu' – 'सर्वस्यापि अवस्तेषु', meaning 'under all circumstances'.   That is the defining characteristic of a Guru that he has to teach all that he knows and should never ever lie and project as though he knows what he does not!  Once that Prince was clear that the Guru really meant what he says, he simply was flabbergasted that there could be things that a Guru like Sukesa may not know and further looking at the enormity of his truthfulness!  ÃchãryãL says that the Prince went away – 'vreedita:' – 'व्रीडित:' meaning slightly abashed and embarrassed, from the presence of Guru Sukesa.  If the Guru could not reply the question because he did not know the answer, one is likely to wonder as to, why should that Prince be abashed and embarrassed.  He might have thought on the following lines, "Poor man, he is so great and of all things, I should go and ask him something that he did not know!"  The Guru was not at all ashamed!  He later told Pippalãda about his not knowing as to what were the 16 Kalas of a Purusha and asked for clarification.  He simply did not feel one bit ashamed because he did not believe in any false airs of assumed omniscience.  The Prince could have felt abashed that he was the cause for asking a question bringing out the fractional ignorance of the Guru!

The Matter of Assessing Guru's Worth and Surrendering to Him
248.            One more thing.  Here we can take it that we are getting evidence of a major issue.  Having thought him to be the guide we go to someone and find that he is himself requiring guidance, is likely to be a cause for disappointment isn't it?  May be that Prince from Kosala Desa was in that sort of a quandary.  That is, only after carefully assessing the Guru's worth, one should be going to him as the Guru and be seeking his advice.  If one were to find out that he is not worth it, we have no option but to say 'good bye' to him and his direction!  So it all comes down to the fact that the way a Guru is supposed to assess the qualifications of a Sishya, to check if he deserves to be accepted as a disciple, the Guru's worth will also have to be evaluated!  Contrarily, there is also another point that comes up.  It is also said that surrender to the Guru implicitly is more important than trying to evaluate him with our limited knowledge and capabilities, is also a major factor.  This is exactly similar to the requirement that a wife has to be devoted to the husband after the marriage.  All assessment and selection is only before the marriage and not afterwards!

249.            I started enlarging on the meaning of the word Desika.  That has taken me all over, far afield!  Having started a lecture    on the subject of what is a Guide, I hope, you do not think that I have lost the way.  I happen to remain totally focussed.  I am emphasising the point that, whether it is the Disciple selecting the Guru or Guru accepting the Sishya or selection of husband and wife; all assessment and evaluation can be done before selection and after selection one should remain truly loyal.  You better be sure as to whom you are going to have as your Guru.  But once you have selected and become his disciple, even if were to be seemingly different, do not regret your earlier decision.  Remain steadfast in your surrender with him as the refuge!

(To be continued.)




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