Wednesday, September 04, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 23 (Vol # 7) Dated 10 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 158 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)

219.        When the student was worthy of being taught, the teachers were ready to accept even small tiny pieces of twigs known as Samit, as Guru DakshiNa is one side of the coin.  The other side is that, if the would-be student was unworthy of being taught, they were ready to discard him even if he was ready to offer much in DakshiNa!  The Rishi imparting knowledge of Madhu-Vidya says that if the student was not up to the mark in the required qualifications, he is not to be accepted as a student, even if he was capable of offering the whole of the earth surrounded by the oceans!  Possibly keeping this idea in view, our ÃchãryãL also has stated at the end of his 'Upadesa Sãhasri' that, even if the disciple were to offer the whole of this earth surrounded by the oceans including all the wealth it contains, it cannot be equivalent to Guru's Upadesa, which is supreme!  OK let it be.
220.        The six great Rishis got together by their thirst for further clarity and opted to go to Pippalãda as their Guru, with Samit in their hands.  The very fact that, such well-established luminaries got together for further clarity and sharpening of their knowledge, is indicative of their sincerity, sense of adventure and lack of false prestige.  That is why there is the famous proverb which says, 'vidya vinaya sampanna' – 'विद्या विनय संपन्न', meaning that good education, humility and modesty went hand in hand!  OK let it also be.

221.        They knew that Pippalãda knew what they did not know and that is why they got together to approach him as their Guru.  On the way they are talking to each other and saying that, "He will tell us everything about 'That' – 'tat' – 'तत्'!  Doesn't it sound like children going to school and chirping amongst themselves saying, "That Teacher is very good, you know?  He will teach us completely transferring all his knowledge to us"?  Accordingly on reaching, he tells them, "O K for a year you people do Tapasya with discipline staying here.  Then ask me whatever you wish to know.  If I am aware of the answers, I shall positively teach you all that, as much as I know!"  The point to note is that a Guru teaches comprehensively, not leaving any part of the knowledge uncovered. 

222.        One aspect comes out very clearly and convincingly.  King Janaka is being taught by Guru Yãgnyavalkya.  He goes on with a series of Upadesa-s.  At the end of each, Janaka is so full of over flowing sense of bliss and gratitude, that he says, "Here I grant you Sir, a thousand cows with an elephant like bull."  Yãgnyavalkya says, "It is my Father's ruling that I am not to take anything as Guru DakshiNa till I complete the teaching fully", thus disregarding the offer while adding value to his father's dictum!  It is clear from this that, more than the material value of the DakshiNa offered by the disciple the Guru valued his commitment to teach comprehensively.

Further Lessons about Guru-Sishya Relationship
223.        In the Prasna Upanishad story, while the point about comprehensive teaching by the Guru, other defining characteristics about Guru and Sishya are also brought out.  When Pippalãda told the six would-be disciples to do Tapasya for one year while staying with him, the question arises as to, why did he lay such a condition.  He might have wished to test for himself the level of their sincerity.  Here there is evidence to the rule that Brhma Gnãna should be imparted to only deserving students.  Another reason could be that, having been well learned and having been Guru for others, they could have imbibed some amount of pride in themselves.  But further Upadesa will get in only when the student's mind is void of such pride, like the land that has been just harvested may not be ready for further cultivation.  To test their ability to receive further instructions, one year of doing Tapasya could have been levied, as that period would do away with whatever residual sense of pride that could have been there.  Instead of one of those reasons, for all those reasons, such a condition of one year of Tapasya could have been laid.

224.        In this we get to know about many of the defining characteristics of the disciples too.  When the Guru says, 'Stay with me for one year formally', for this word 'formally' our ÃchãryãL comments in his Bhashyam, 'samyak guru susrooshaNa parã' – 'सम्यक गुरु सुस्रूषण परा', meaning 'to be fully dedicated in taking care of the Guru's creature-comforts'.  When someone is fully merged in meditation we say, 'dhyanaparã' – 'ध्यानपरा'.  Like that they have to totally involve themselves in being 'गुरु सुस्रूषण परा' says our ÃchãryãL further using the word 'samyak', meaning properly.  Thus Shraddha (faith), Brhmacharyam (celibacy) and Tapas (asceticism uncaring for physical comforts) are the three qualities required of a disciple, as demanded by the Guru Pippalãda from his masterly disciples.  What the Sãstrãs say and that Guru also says, are the best for us too.  This word 'Shraddha' is rock like faith, as clarified by our ÃchãryãL as 'ãsthikya buddhi', means 'sticking on, come what may'!  If the Guru demands these things, only if the student has Adakkam – the readiness to bend his will, that is have Vinaya; will he be able to do all this. 

Clarification about Disciple
225.        If the primary qualification of a Sishya is Vinaya, what are the other qualifications required of him?  What is the meaning of the Sishya?  Elders have defined in three different ways.  The word 'Siksha' – 'शिक्षा' means learning or tuition or lesson.  So, the one getting taught is the Sishya, as he gains knowledge by learning.  Another meaning of the root word is balance, residue or the remaining material.  By learning he is separated from the unlearned and so becomes the exception to the common.  That is 'Sesha' – 'शेष' in Sanskrit and so the learned persons are 'Sesha' and also 'Sreshta'When we add the prefix 'Vi' – 'वि' that prefix either indicates the opposite or adds additional value.  Thus the balance 'शेष' becomes 'विशेष', the exceptional.  Thus when he gets the tuition from the Guru the man who was common as the rest gets special value and becomes the Sishya.  The word Siksha also has the meaning as punishment.  The royal punishment is said to be 'Raja Siksha'.  As per Sãstrãs the king is supposed to give Raksha (protection) and Siksha (punishment) and thus control the population. 

226.        The student, who controls his own senses, is called the Sishya. That is the third meaning of the word.  If control of the senses is the characteristic of the student that also means that he is humble and full of the quality of Adakkam and Vinaya, which is another name of the Sishya as 'Vineeta' – 'विनीत' As he lives with the Guru in his household he has another name as 'antevãsi' – 'अन्तेवासि'This prefix 'ante' means 'with' or 'within', like the 'ante room' in English.  He lives with the Guru, and as time goes on starts living within the Guru in his heart!  That is the real 'antevãsi', the Sishya who has won over the Guru's heart by his quality of Vinaya!  So, before he becomes full of Vidya, he also becomes full of Vinaya and Sãstrãs show that the Guru towards whom he is so graciously respectful is also an epitome of that very quality!

Guru's Quality of Vinaya
227.        We noticed this fact in Prasnopanishad when the Rishi told the would-be Sishyas, "You ask me and I shall answer to the extent that I know about it and tell you everything that I know".  At this point our ÃchãryãL explains this quality in Guru as 'anuddhatva' – 'अनुद्धत' meaning lack of contemptuousness and conceit.  Here our ÃchãryãL explains beautifully, that from the fact that Guru later clarifies all the doubts of his disciples and answers all their questions; we can draw the conclusion that the Guru did not have any doubt about his own knowledge and or lack of confidence but, was totally devoid of conceit.  When a disciple approaches with faith and sincerity and asks his Guru to clarify some doubts, if the Guru replies that he will try and answer his questions if he knows the answers; think of the level of the Guru's sincerity to truth and perfect mastery over conceit!  We can refer that the message of the Upanishad is to demonstrate that Vinaya was equally an important quality of the disciple as well as that of the Guru. 

228.        In this respect, I used to think the pinnacle of such attitude and behaviour is depicted in Taitreeya Upanishad, where with utter intensity a Rishi is praying that students may come to him.  From that we can see as to how avidly the Gurus those days wished to take up this difficult role of taking care of children and grooming them.  The Rishi is saying that as the water flows down and gathers in the lower reaches of the earth and the way months run into years, students may come to him!  If the students are keen about getting a Guru, so the Guru was equally keen about getting students to come to him.  OK let it be so, let me come back to the point of Vinaya again.

229.           Both the examples, of water running to the lower ground and the months running to the years, are very appropriate and in-depth examples.  If water does not accumulate in it, a depression in the ground is of no use to anybody, but a hazard!  Thus the life of a Vidwãn, who is highly qualified in many subjects including Ãtma Gnãna, is a sheer waste; if such a Vidwãn were to remain without students!  It is the Sishya who makes the life of a Guru, effectively useful.  The second example is even more befitting.  If without water the lower ground is just that, without months running to it, the year has no existence!  Zero is a nullity within a parameter.  How to depict nothingness and non-existence?  That is the condition or plight of the year which has no months!  The Upanishad thus describes the sort of intensity and commitment that Gurus of yore felt about their profession.  While dedicating their whole life for the ennoblement of the disciple, they had the heart and mind to think of the beneficiary of their kindness as their benefactor!  That is the sort of mutual Vinaya and sense of gratitude between the student and teacher & Guru and Sishya!  At the same time, we have to take note of the fact that while the disciple could and should demonstrate his sense of respect and gratitude towards his Guru, the Guru did not have that freedom.  His had to be a silent, secret and refined supplication!  That is the way their roles have been ensured and enshrined in Sanãtana Dharma! 

(To be continued.)




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