Saturday, August 17, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 26 (Vol # 7) Dated 16 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 26 (Vol # 7) Dated 16 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 179 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 High Culture in which Guru also Becomes Sishya
250.            Desika has to show the way.  For the same destination, there could be many ways such as the right royal route, short-cut, circuitous path, paved & unpaved roads and foot-path, isn't it?  Except for some         like our ÃchãryãL and VidyãraNya SwamigaL, not all Gurus can know them all nor are they required to know.  If and when faced with a situation in which a certain gap in one's knowledge is revealed, one should accept the fact of one's ignorance without any hesitation.  If necessary, one should be ready to learn it from another who knows, to fill-in the gap in one's knowledge.  That is how in the Upanishad we have been looking at six well-read Gurus get together to approach another who was capable of clarifying their doubts.  Rishi Sukesa told Pippalãda about how he could not answer the question about 'Shodasa Kalã Purusha' and wished to know about it, the answer to which forms the sixth part of Prasnopanishad.
251.            Our ÃchãryãL in his Bhashyam says that, 'From the day he could not answer the question, it had become a thorn in the mind of Sukesa Rishi, as to what is the explanation for Shodasa Kalã Purusha'!  'When a disciple has come trusting me, I could not reply him, because I did not know!  How can I call myself a Guru anymore?'  This matter had become the hurting thorn in his mind.  The best among all those who claim to be Desika has to be one who is ever ready to learn.  I told you about how Swetaketu who had the pride that he is omniscient, later had to accept defeat and learn from his father.  There was also a Guru who had a bloated image about himself as an exception to the rule!  Let me tell you that story.
252.            There was a Rishi belonging to the Garga Gothram referred to as Gãrgya.  His father's name was 'Bãlaka' and so the son was also called as 'Bãlãki', as a name deriving from the father's name. He was also known as, 'Trupta Bãlãki'.  Now this word 'Trupta' as we normally understand means 'satisfied'.  But as an adjective for the name of the Rishi Bãlãki, it meant that he is so self-satisfied that he is smug, egotistical and pompous!  This Rishi went to the King of Kãsi named Ajãta Shatru, (whose name meant that his enemies were never born) intending to give him Brhmopadesa!  There is a very interesting interaction between the two that ensues.  Seemingly, repeatedly the would-be Guru 'Trupta Bãlãki' is telling the would-be Sishya Ajãta Shatru, "Let me tell you and teach you!"  Thus he talks about 12 different things, starting with the Sun and the Moon, as to how to meditate on them as the Brhmam.  Every time the King Ajãta Shatru says in response, "Yes, I know, I know."  Initially, it looks as though there is a clash of personalities.  Then as we read deep into exactly what they are telling each other, we note that the Guru 'Trupta Bãlãki' is talking about meditating on the Sun, Moon, Space, Air, Earth, Fire and so on including 12 different aspects as to how they are all indicative of the Brhmam. Then as we listen to the yet-to-be Sishya Ajãta Shatru; we come to realise that every time it is 'Trupta Bãlãki' who is talking about the apparent aspect and it is Ajãta Shatru who is expounding on the reality behind what is only an appearance!  We start wondering as to, which one is the Guru and which one is the Sishya!
253.            It is Bãlãki who is talking about 'upãdi sahita brhmam' – 'उपादि सहित ब्रह्मं' which is the appearance due to Maya and Ajãta Shatru is talking about 'upãdi rahita brhmam' – 'उपादि रहित ब्रह्मं', that is reality behind the appearances, every time!  All that Bãlãki was saying were all already known to Ajãta Shatru, who had something more to add devoid of the 'Upãdi-s'!  There comes a time when the would-be Guru had nothing more to say and shut his mouth speechless.  The very Brhma Vidya Sampradaya has come about to teach this 'Upãdi Rahita Brhmam', about the reality behind appearances, devoid of conditioning.  It was exactly when 'Trupta Bãlãki' spoke about the Ãtma in every man with a number of conditioning adjuncts that Ajãta Shatru stopped him and corrected him describing the Ãtma as the very unconditioned, pure, NirguNa, Nishkriya, Upãdi Rahita Para Brhmam itself, that finally the proud 'Trupta Bãlãki' became suddenly bereft of his head weight and conceit!
254.            Ajãta Shatru now asked, "Have you completed all that you wished to talk about?"  Bãlãki confirmed in the affirmative.  Ajãta Shatru now said, "By this one cannot hope to attain to Brhma Gnãna!"  Suddenly the pride in Bãlãki had evaporated like a balloon deflated.  From being a proud man, he instantly became the very form of contentment and solicitousness and said, "In that case, you be my Guru and accept me as your disciple!"  Both Swetaketu in the story seen by us earlier and Bãlãki here, despite being extremely proud about their own intellectual abilities, when faced with the fact that there was some far superior knowledge in existence and that there is someone capable of expounding that knowledge, from being too proud had the sense to turn about and become full of the quality of Vinaya as an epitome of Adakkam, élan and culture!  This is a clear indication of the seed that had been sown by the tradition by which they had been groomed so far.  It is the power of the personal example of their teachers of the past and their blessings, enabling the seeds of Vinaya to sprout at the right time and place in their lives.
Vanity / Immature – Modesty / Wholesome
255.            Only the immature and half-baked would make much of their knowledge and the real learned masters will go about quietly without any need for showing off!  As they say in Tamil, 'nirai kudam neer taLumbãdu' – 'நிறை குடம் நீர் தளும்பாது', which means that a pot that is full with water will not splosh about when a half-full pot will.  There is a sloka by the Sanskrit poet Bartruhari, of which I am only giving the meaning here.  He talks about his own experience.  He says, "Till I was having only limited knowledge, I was roaming about as though I am an omniscient person like an elephant in mast, as though there is no end to me and my knowledge.  But slowly the company of really knowledgeable people, made me aware of my cheekiness and by and by the fever of stupidity ('moorkhata' – 'मूर्खता') left me".  Similarly here the 'self-satisfied' Bãlãki became humble enough to request the King to become his Guru, setting aside even the diffidence that a Brahmin may have about accepting a Kshatriya as his Guru!  Initially Ajãta Shatru refuses to accept this Rishi as his Sishya on the grounds that there has never been such a custom and then reluctantly accepts his role as Guru, that too for a great and well known Rishi as a disciple, after much persuasion and dramatics!
256.            In the same vein there is another story of a Brahmin Guru becoming a Sishya under a Kshatriya.  It is a continuation of the Swetaketu story that I have been referring to often in my narrative.  Pravãhana is a Raja Rishi, that is, a Kshatriya who is also a Rishi. It is from him only that Swetaketu came back feeling slighted, complaining to his father.  His father Uddãlaka ÃruNi's reaction was unlike that of the sun.  His reaction was that, if the King knew something that we are not aware of it what objection can be there for our learning from him?  So he suggested to his son, "O K!  If that is the case, let us both go and learn from him!"  Here this Brahmin Rishi is ready to go to a Kshatriya King as a Guru, in all humility without any hassles!  But his son says, "I am not coming.  If you want, you may go!"  This father, without further ado, goes to that Raja Rishi for Upadesa with apparent sincerity and keenness. 
257.            Normally the student is called the 'Vidyãrthi' – 'विद्यार्थि' meaning 'the one who accumulates knowledge'!  For him Vidya is the Artha and hence he is not to have head-weight, ego, Ahankãra and conceit.  Vinaya is the predominant quality of a student that, he is known by the name of 'Vineeta'!  Here Swetaketu at a young age of studentship is full or pride and not ready to come down from his high pedestal while his father it is, who is ready to come down from being a Guru and a Rishi himself, to become a student in all Vinaya as a Vineeta and Vidyãrthi!  Uddãlaka ÃruNi goes to Pravãhana and requests him to kindly accept him as a disciple and give him Upadesa.  Exactly as Ajãta Shatru was hesitant of accepting a Brahmin as a student in the case of Bãlãki, here too Pravãhana thinks twice.  It is Uddãlaka ÃruNi who wins the situation by the sheer weight of his sincerity and keenness.  Thus we learn that generally though in a high pedestal as a Guru, they were full of humility to accept studentship, as they considered learning as more important than prestige and position. 
258.            For this quality of Uddãlaka ÃruNi, Chandokya Upanishad itself gives yet another example.  Five exalted persons known as 'Maha Shrothri', a title given only to persons specially and highly qualified in Vedas approach Uddãlaka ÃruNi to get some special coaching.  'If it is not known to such highly qualified persons, it may not be known to me also,' Uddãlaka ÃruNi thought.  So he decided that it was better to take them to Raja Asvapathi who was known to be much knowledgeable, so that along with them he could also learn or refresh his own knowledge.  Accordingly they all go to Raja Asvapathi and learn from him as his disciples in all keenness and sincerity.  I wished to tell you this story because the one showing the way should first of all know it well.  When occasionally the subject matter happens to be not known, he should have the simplicity to accept his lack of knowledge and not try to hide behind some excuse.  He should be also prepared to learn the same from whosoever, if need be by becoming a student once again.
259.            As the one showing the way, he should be learning all the ways.  So, he should consider himself a student of life forever who happens to be a Guru who teaches what he knows.  Only the one who has seen the way can show the way.  As a Guru, as the one who has seen the way means that he has practically experienced the truth of what he teaches.  There is a view in the west that a teacher is better than just a preacher, as they distinguish between the two as one who teaches after knowing, experiencing and practicing while a preacher may only be mouthing the words.  The Sanskrit word 'prachãra' – 'प्रचार' is the root word for preaching.  The root word for 'teach' is the Greek word for 'showing'.  Here the showing is about, 'showing the way' or demonstrating.  When the Guru not only shows the way but also proves to be a practitioner of what he preaches, he becomes the way and the destination, as the Bible says, "The Way and the Goal".  All this is about Desika, the Guru who shows the way!
(To be continued.)



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