Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 28 (Vol # 7) Dated 20 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 28 (Vol # 7) Dated 20 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 194 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)

270.            So, whether as a religious teacher assisting a number of families in conducting religious functions periodically or on special occasions when required or as part of a King's household, he is known as a Purohit, another name by which a Guru is known.  As I said, such a name evolves from his ability to forewarn his students about the likely pitfalls on the way ahead, in a pleasantly acceptable manner and guide them through.  'Fore-telling what is good for us in the future' is the literal meaning of the word Purohit to which you can add the clause, 'in an acceptably pleasant manner'!  Nowadays we do not attend a Guru Kulam or go to a Purohita for Vidya Abhyasam.  The only Purohit we know of is the Vãdyãr who comes to our homes for assisting us in conduct of religious functions.  He is known as the 'paNNi vaikkira Vãdyãr' – 'பண்ணி வைக்கிற வாத்யார்' in Tamil, meaning the one who gets it done.

271.            In the olden times, in the Guru Kulam in which we stayed for 12 or more years, there was a Guru on whom, the lives of the students was centred on.  Then when you came back to worldly life, there was the Purohit playing an important role in conduct of ceremonies, functions, celebrations, obsequies, and memorials giving us information, days in advance and being there to assist us in conducting the functions with Mantras and directions as to how to go about it and in which order.  He will come days in advance and tell us as to when Varalakshmi Vratam, ÃvaNi Ãvittam (on which day every year we replace the old PooNool with new ones) or any such important event is due and timing within which the function is to be conducted.  He is the one who enables to let at least those functions to be conducted formally as guided and managed by a Guru.  In the name as 'Puro-hita', since he comes days ahead and forewarns of the schedule of events, I know that the 'puro' part of the condition is fulfilled and do not know about the 'hitam'!  I hear now-a-days the Purohita-s are proving to be more 'pro' or professional in accommodating to every whims and fancies of his clientele in cutting down the 'Karmas', strictness in discipline and leeway in timing and thereby proving his 'hitam' part quite suitably.  But the Purohit-s of the past were not only good in telling you what is good for you and your family, but also had the power of influence to make you do so!  So the Purohita takes care of an important area of duty of a Guru, as the Guru for the entire family of the house-holder!

The Perseverance of the Sishya and the Blessings of the Guru
272.            We know that the Guru has a responsibility to transfer all his knowledge to the disciple and we also know that he does transfer all his knowledge equally even when, the number of students are many!  But it is not to mean that the entire show is that of Guru only while the Sishya can afford to simply be the 'Johnny come lately'!  Each disciple is in a different level of maturity, sincerity and comprehension because of the family background and his own individual, intrinsic advancement over many a lifetimes!  More than anything else, the student's level of Vinaya is going to be an important factor.  When factors such as intelligence, mental attitude and acumen, of the student are all relevant; Guru's power to kindle, motivate and Anugraha Shakti are critical from his side and from the side of the disciple his discipline and intensity of surrender can be the critical issue.  As the words clearly indicate, to be a disciple also means that he has to be a disciplined person.  Other things being equal, the degree of intensity of surrender of the student will be the deciding factor, in the net effect on the student.
273.            Prajãpathi advices both the King of Asuras and the King of the Devas.  The King of Asuras received the message with 'Deha-Ãtma-Buddhi' and remained at that level.  Indra understood Ãtma to be a truth beyond the body as the eternal truth of one self!  So the quantum of the disciple's absorption is dependent on how the disciple opens up his mind and 'antah-karaNam' to the teachings of the Guru!  Bhavabhuti, the Sanskrit poet of Uttara Rama Charitam and such dramas in Sanskrit, comparable to Kãlidãsa and Varãha Mihira; goes to an extreme when he says that, the receptivity and quality of the student to be the main factor in absorption of the teachings.  Bhavabhuti says,

"vitarati guru prãgne vidyãm yateiva tatãm jaday

na kalu tayor gnãne saktim karoti apahantivã  |
bhavati cha tayor-bhooyãn bheda bhalam prati tat-yata
prabhavati suchir-bimba-grãhe maNir-na mrtãm cha ya: || 
(Please note that I am quoting it from transliteration in Tamil of which I am not very certain about the correctness of the spelling.  See if you can locate the original sloka by Bhavabhuti.  In the meanwhile, as we are concerned more with the meaning of the sloka, let me continue.)  There is an intelligent student who has the necessary humility and readiness to absorb fresh knowledge and the maturity of mind.  Such a student is being taught by the teacher along with another student who is a dullard and also not very disciplined.  The inputs from the side of the Guru, is the same for both.  This is the meaning of the first line of the sloka.

274.            What he says in the next line of the sloka is what I said is a bit of an exaggeration – 'na kalu tayor gnãne saktim karoti apahantivã', he says as though the Guru's teaching does not make a difference in the student's knowledge base, 'as it neither adds nor subtracts'!  Just to emphasise the point the poet is exaggerating. That is as good as saying that the absorption quotient of the student is the main factor as though the Guru has no relevance except blurting out the subject contents! In fact the poet here, Bhavabhuti is a great, thinker, philosopher cum litterateur.  The sloka under discussion occurs in Uttara Rama Charitam, a drama set in the Ãshrama of Vãlmeeki in which Sri Rama and Sita's sons Lava and Kusha are the students.  Ãtreyi is a co student, who is walking out of the class saying that with her limited knowledge base, intelligence and capacity for memory and retention of the acquired knowledge,  she is not able to match up to the brilliance of Lava and Kusha.  So, she says that she is leaving the Ashram of Vãlmeeki and shifting to Agasthya's Guru Kulam!  (This also reveals that girls also attended Guru Kulam in the days of yore!  Well that is beside the point I am making here.)

275.            While saying that she is not able to match up to their abilities, the poet is high-lighting the abilities of Lava and Kusha and so causing her to talk like that; without bringing the factor about the Guru Vãlmeeki's role, emphasising the disciple's role mainly in learning.  The next line is saying that though what the Guru does is equally the same for all the students the effect on the students who are smart on the up-take and the students who are Jada meaning so inert, is so remarkably contrasting.  The poet calls it the 'bheda bhalam'.  The student with 'prãgna' fully absorbs the teaching and elevates himself while, the other remains ignorant.  To explain this, the poet is giving an example in the fourth line.

276.            To make the point clearly understood the poets make use of 'upamã' – 'उपमा' that is called 'uvamai' – 'உவமை' in Tamil.  In this 'Alankãra' there are two parts as 'upamãnam' – 'उपमानं', the example quoted, and upameyam' – 'उपमेयं', that is the thing with which the comparison is being made.  The fourth line is, 'prabhavati suchir bimba-grãhe maNir-na mrtãm cha-ya:'.  What does it mean?  There is a thing.  It has a shape, figure and a form and that is called the 'bimbam' in Sanskrit.  Fine surfaces reflect that 'bimbam'.  Finer the surface better is the reflection.  Clean surface of a mirror reflects the form truly.  Before man made mirrors came into being it was the 'Suddha Sphatika', naturally occurring surface of a crystal that could so truly reflect.  In Saraswathi dhyãna sloka it says, 'dorbhiryuktã sphatika maNi mayeem akshamãlãm dadhãnã'.  It is that Sphatika MaNi being referred in the fourth line as 'suchir maNi' with the phrase 'bimba-grãhe' inserted with poetic licence.  Please note that in poetry, the words and phrases do not have to be in the same order in which they may occur in prose. 

277.              That phrase 'bimba-grãhe' means, 'the capacity to receive and reflect'.  It is in this respect that mediums differ.  One medium is 'suchir-maNi' and the other is 'mrtãm-cha-ya:', a lump of clay, which neither receives nor reflects!  Starting point is the same bimbam or the teaching by the Guru.  Some students absorb fully and reflect also fully while some student neither receive nor reflect.  (There is yet another extreme lot which so totally absorb that they also do not reflect, like the 'black-holes' of the Universe; about which we are not talking here!)  The Upamãnam for a good student is 'Suddha Sphatika MaNi' and the Upamãnam for a dullard is the 'mrutam-chaya:' – a lump of clay.  Anyhow here, we are not discussing the power of the Guru to project, as Ãtreyi is only comparing herself as a student with Lava and Kusha.  Though the maturity and personal effort of the student are important, the role played by the Guru remains the primary force to cause his teachings to instil in the brain, mind and anta: karaNam of the student and he will also accompany the student till the destination is reached. 

278.            In fact there is a Tamil adage which says, 'sudar viLakke ãyinum thoondu kole tevai' – 'சுடர் விளக்கே ஆயினும் தூண்டுகோல் தேவை', meaning that, 'Even a sparkling light needs a prodder at times!'  A lump of clay will not reflect the sun's rays and also not show his image despite the brilliance of sunlight.  But a crystal will reflect the image, light and the image of the Sun!  However, let us say that there is a mud wall outside the window of our room in darkness.  It is day time and the Sun is shining.  The Sunlight falling on the mud wall does get reflected and enlightens the room.  That is the power of the Sun / Guru's Anugraha that our dark room also gets some reflected light.  The reflecting surface may be opaque and not smooth, but do reflect some diffused light, don't they?  That is the power of the Sun / Guru.

279.            The Sun instils his form, figure and light in to the medium.  If the surface does not let it enter inside, at least the Sun causes its light to spread on the surface.  Like that, if the Guru is bright with the effulgence of Gnãna, he causes the student however much he may be clay-headed, by spoon-feeding if need be, become at least capable of spreading some of that knowledge if not absorb.  By doing so he ensures that there is a lighting effect in the environment.  Of course, if he is an excellent student, he receives, absorbs, reflects and further spreads the light of knowledge for the world to benefit! Thus the jobs of the Guru and Sishya are mutual and reciprocal by which, the world stands to benefit.

(To be continued.)




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