Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Collection of thoughts 1



SiRiyaatthaan (சிறியாத்தான்) was a unique teacher in the consequent period of Sri Ramanuja. He was principles personified. The idea 'A devotee of Thirumaal, whoever he may be, educated or ignorant, irrespective of any social divisions or satus, commands one's highest adoration' was not just a piece of eloquence or a status message to be displayed in one's FB. He meant it every word by his action. When he was passing by in the streets of Srirangam, no prapanna or Vaishnavaite devotee was able to be at ease. For no body knew how, he will be the first person to salute prostratingly, unmindful of dirtying his own clothes and not only that he will rise up and stand in full pride, as if he had achieved great laurels of endevour. Periyavaachaanpillai more than once cites him as the exemplar. And SiRiyaatthaan's favourite was Sri Krishna. How the Supreme Soul, Paramaatma, was just like that loitering in the streets of Brindavan, doing pranks like a kid! It was an inexhaustable source of wonder for him. To understand his wonder we must first become aware that the highest understanding of philosophical contemplation, the Metaphysical Being Absolute. Then we must slowly bring to our minds the altercation that happens. Such a Being Absolue Metaphysical assumes a human embodiment, is born, grows up as a kid doing all sorts of pranks and lo! it is there running visible across streets and cars, crying 'Heyyyee !' Really it is the wonder of wonders !

*


Savitri of Aurobindo is extending the English language deep into the inward reaches and inner pulsating resonances. The language made explicitly introvert.

***


In Savitri there comes a passage -

All that the Gods have learned is there self-known.
There is a hidden chamber closed and mute
And kept the record graphs of the cosmic scribe,
And there the tables of the sacred Law


And so even Gods are having a learning curve it seems ! What they have learnt is self-known in a hidden chamber. In that chamber are the library of the cosmic scribe. There are hung the calculation tables of sacred Law - such a corner closed and mute! Why closed? closed from whom or what? mute means no sound? silent for what ears, perhaps ears unhearing.

Once somebody told Thiruloka Sitaram, quoting Sivavaakkiyar, 'natta kallum pEsumO?'.

Thirulokam retorted saying, 'when the stone stopped talking? It is always talking voraciously. Do you have the ears to hear it?'

The other person asked back 'what do you mean?'

Thirulokam replied, 'yea! when the stones stopped talking? they are always in discourse. Perhaps sometimes a sculptor happens to hear its talk and lo! you get a beautiful Image! Sometimes an engineer happens to hear the talk of stones. And you get a wonderful bridge or building! The stones are never-stop talkers. Only we are stone-deaf !'

*

Say it is easy to talk glibly about the long period of matter-sleep and the uprise of will and praxeologic movements. But to mentally arrive at that point of realisation, to stand exactly in such a spot in awareness full and bare, the shock and shudders are steep and striking. Exactly standing at that very point can you mint the experience in words?

In the glow of the Spirit's room of memories
He could recover the luminous marginal notes
Dotting with light the crabbed ambiguous scroll,
Rescue the preamble and the saving clause
Of the dark Agreement by which all is ruled
That rises from material Nature's sleep
To clothe the Everlasting in new shapes.


(Savitri, Book One Canto Five)

***


You need some attentive inwardness and spiritual gaze powered by intuition as per Sri Aurobindo in his Savitri. Otherwise all is screened, mystical, a voyage from the unknown to the unknown.

"But all is screened, subliminal, mystical;
It needs the intuitive heart, the inward turn,
It needs the power of a spiritual gaze.
Else to our waking mind's small moment look
A goalless voyage seems our dubious course
Some Chance has settled or hazarded some Will,
Or a Necessity without aim or cause
Unwillingly compelled to emerge and be.
In this dense field where nothing is plain or sure,
Our very being seems to us questionable,
Our life a vague experiment, the soul
A flickering light in a strange ignorant world,
The earth a brute mechanic accident,
A net of death in which by chance we live.
All we have learned appears a doubtful guess,
The achievement done a passage or a phase
Whose farther end is hidden from our sight,
A chance happening or a fortuitous fate.
Out of the unknown we move to the unknown."


(Savitri, Book One Canto Four, pp 57)

***


What is there in the Ultimate, a signal happens even in the undoubting sceptic life sometimes visible to the discerning chance vision. When we stop look and stop imagining and before we start to think the rigmarole begins to run again. And we hastily run from the moment of stop.

"Even in our sceptic mind of ignorance
A foresight comes of some immense release,
Our will lifts towards it slow and shaping hands."


(Savitri, Book Two, Canto Five)

***


Sri Aurobindo's poetry rises upon mystical-empirical. Hence at the first encounter is twice-bound distanced. To explain it I can say, it is poetry rising on poetry.

***


I do not know whether to laugh or weep for this. But the mystery of it has a broad smile over it!

"Mukti or liberation is our nature. It is another name for us. Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade, voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat there, making great efforts to get back into the shade and then rejoicing, 'How sweet is the shade! I have after all reached the shade!' We are all doing exactly the same. We are not different from the reality. We imagine we are different, i.e., we create the bheda-bhava (the feeling of difference) and then undergo great sadhana to get rid of the bheda-bhava and realise the oneness. Why imagine or create bheda-bhava and then destroy it?"
(Day by Day with Bhagavan, pp 172)


Funny? mysterious? riddle? - whatever you call it, it s the existential predicament and the mystical impasse that one comes around to understand, may be earlier or may be later.

***

Life looks different in different times. That too in transition times of life it really begins to look a lot different. Perhaps I am changing over from middle age. Life reveals differently. First it is a bit shocking. But slowly you begin to like it. And I always carry a learner's readiness in my mind, I begin to find this interesting. It happened so when I shifted from teens to man, young man to middle age. And now this. Perhaps the whole life is a continuous academy, we going from class to class, year to year, graduated all the while.

***

Sometimes our own lives write a commentary for poetry or is it the poetry writing a commentary of our life. It is sometimes hard to tell ---

"In this passage from a deaf unknowing Force
To struggling consciousness and transient breath
A mighty Supernature waits on Time.
The world is other than we now think and see,
Our lives a deeper mystery than we have dreamed;
Our minds are starters in the race to God,
Our souls deputed selves of the Supreme.
Across the cosmic field through narrow lanes
Asking a scanty dole from Fortune's hands
And garbed in beggar's robes there walks the One.
Even in the theatre of these small lives
Behind the act a secret sweetness breathes,
An urge of miniature divinity.
A mystic passion from the wells of God
Flows through the guarded spaces of the soul;
A force that helps supports the suffering earth,
An unseen nearness and a hidden joy. "


(Savitri, Book Two, Canto Five)

And Sri Aurobindo rocks in the felt inner scalings of my trepid soul in its onward journey.!

***

Nobody twists the fibre of language so passionately extracting the full valency of it like Sri Aurobindo -

The world quivers with a God-light at its core,
In Time's deep heart high purposes move and live,
Life's borders crumble and join infinity.


(Savitri, Book Two Canto Five)

The first line talks about an immanent light holding the wold in swing.

Before we recover from the shock of sense instilled through, Sri A throws missile-like another

In Time's deep heart high purposes move and live

That means Time is teleological and not just a blind vector speeding from behind to before. When we try to match the two lines and try to draw a composite meaning, the third missile has already arrived -

Life's borders crumble

superb!

and join infinity.

pHah!

***

In one place Swami Vivekananda is expressing an idea that the world does not change and only that we change by making changes in the world. Yea, reading it was different. But coming to see it in life makes the picture clear and obvious. But when we come to see things as they are is something unpredictable. All the while we are with it but when it chooses to get fixed by our understanding is something we realise only after understanding it. Till that time we go on thinking that it is something well-known to us.

***

If one understands the story of Udanga Maharishi, then all lessons are instilled in that one story.

Udanga wanted to do meditation with no disturbance of thirst in the forests. He asked a boon of water whenever he thirsted for it to come to him of its own accord.

Krishna said yes and graced him so.


But Udanga found nothing happened really or perhaps he thought so.

why not? he asked Krishna furiously.

But Krishna smiled him off saying, 'it should have, great sage! Think twice.'

A vague remembrance came to Udanga, but was it not some hunter offering water from the dogskin? and was he not attended by ferocious dogs?

But sense dawned on him and lo he was much ashamed to have refused Amrta itself offered out of the hands of Indra, attended by the Vedas.

Yea Divine answers in its own ways. But are we ready? Or perhaps we are stipulating conditions!

Beware Udanga! think twice not afterwards but before.

***


There are three most important tasks for the Modern India, says the great World Teacher Sri Aurobindo -

"The recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendour, depth and fullness is its first, most essential work;

the flowing of this spirituality into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science and critical knowledge is the second;


an original dealing with modern problems in the light of the Indian spirit and the endeavour to formulate a greater synthesis of a spiritualised society is the third and most difficult.

Its success on these three lines will be the measure of its help to the future of humanity.”

I find in this an ultimate formulation and expression of the Great Agenda that is going on visibly in the past three centuries among us, in us, through us and also into the future. This great agenda bugled forth by the great-child of the tamarind tree, Nammalvaar!

***

Sometimes you have to be over-cautious, even then...

It is difficult to talk to religious people. Because they always look at things and informations only in a judgmental way. They may ask you something as a piece of information. If you in the spirit of research and knowledge-sharing tell the info and if it is not to their liking, immediately their rhetoric begins to slip into attributive and insinuative meanderings of phrases. If you are not careful he may be fighting in the end with you for what you have not said.


And if you are quick enough and timely, catching the person at his game well in advance, then the person will excuse out or slip out and in the uncertain future (not too distant and not immediate) the person will prop up to you and try to drag you into stances over-assumed by him and try to make up his lost game. And if you remain smart enough even then, then he will hibernate for sometime and in the meantime spread his failed assumptions as 'so evident facts' about you, which is his vengeance on you being too careful.

And on the contrary, if what info you shared happened to be to his liking then it is good day for you. You can be sure of a place in the arena of his chosen lists of divinely illustrious :-) But you must not every now and then count on such blessings. But the other fate is more certain and comparatively surer.

And a secular version of such reversal of fates I have experienced in my life with Communism-minded friends also. But with them, you are not buried too deep, for C always believes that you are part of the historical force Inevitable and that he can somehow convert you to his only true way of seeing.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

I prefer not to name it

No religions and mythologies
and no atheism
as the blind seesaw;
all science
and not blinded by 
material empiricism;
mysticism not blind to matter;
philosophy
and not getting one-sided
into this or that ism or ology;
spirituality
and again not spirited away
into hanging gardens of delusions;
...... m..m...er....
I prefer not to name it
for the fear that it may be
duplicated into what it is not;
a clear, precise, profound
roughness of vision
beholding reality as it is;
however rough the pathway
towards that
it is better
every step is a gain
and that much near.
***

Creative Madness

Creative madness makes life beautiful
but why and why this frenzy
of cremating madness of all values
deep drilled into the holes of utility;
please please stop and look 
you are deep-frying your infancy;
childlike innocence makes life
divine or at least superbly effulgent;
but why why this fever
of dismembering and sale of parts
for the sake of heavy bucks;
let the creative madness linger long
leave it; all things are not merchandise;
profit margins make you puerile
leave something out as elements natural;
do you ask me what is the use
of literature?, of values?, of art ?
of philosophy? of the creative laziness?
what is the use of you
when already dead while breathing
suffocating airs from carcasses of calculation?
leave something undisturbed
let the creative madness linger somewhere
somehow in some ways
even if it be in blind rituals or stones carved
or erudite meanderings of theologies past.
but why do you run away
and hide somewhere
values will not chase you
when the nemesis does overtake you.
***

Space

It is space all over
spilled space onto space
onlooked by again space
spaces stand on spaces
walk on spaces 
drive spaces across spaces structured
spaces growing
spaces changing shapes
spaces playing all
relative micro macro games
but all put in the long shot
or into the deep micro shot
it is one space
spilled over as many
biting bound fitting
what these very many actions
who do where
space unto space?
but who does look?
or looks are plural
and looker one?
will space look?
or nothing looks through space
and look at space?
all in cascading micro macro games.
where stand who on what
except in the absolute relative
it is one changing monolith of space.
***

To walk with God

To walk with God
to walk after God
to walk in God
to walk towards God -
Is it what is meant by 
brahma charya
So when they started
the Big End-to-begin
walking after Ranga
who follows the Tamil
Divine songs of Our-Alwar,
who the Vedas follow after,
and chasing all when I go after
Is it walking with God
or walking towards God
or walking after God
or go in search of the meanings
in Tamil and Vedas
when the meaning goes in search of
Our-Alwar's songs;
who goes after whom
when it is a travel to the inner
or is it the giving up
of the very going-after
and be still where you began
going after everything
and see that you house the universe
and the universe everywhere
you are at home;
to walk with God
what is it
to come around
in the streets of Chitra
beginning at the beginning
of the Big End-to-begin
when on the big swan
Ranga is jostling forth
to keep pace
with the meaning or the text
what is it
to walk with God.
***

Singularities

Great men are always
singularities.
Traditions preserve
but their own versions of them.
Great men carry away 
their own versions with them
may perchance preserved
in someone's memories rare.
Singularities are hard to deal with
they are not smooth
you can't take them for granted.
It is so down the time
across the world.
When you go more and more
into yourself
you find you as a singularity
not like any
perhaps not liked by many
so what
then you understand
that there runs a tradition
of singularities
unrecorded and unknown
and inconvenient for easy-goers;
but again singularities
scarcely need any tradition
they are too much busy
with themselves
to tow behind any.
***

Is blossoming just fame?

Men of old
men of bold
men of conviction
thousand-fold
have gone 
and gone forever
men of arms
men of norms
men of sway
multi-formed
have gone
and gone forever
men of icy
conspiracy
men assuming
role of nemesis
have gone
and gone forever
down the passage of time
drowned in the gutters of the past
run over by the gushing
forth from the future
but the flower in woods
in lonely moods
smiling at the dawning rays
winks back at the setting Sun
au revoir till coming morn
Is it the flower same?
or is blossoming just fame?
who cares? the flower smiles
rarely so, saying, the Time flies.
***

You are ever the Spirit free !

It is a very narrow region
in between
very hard to decide
highly tempting to decide
on the side of matter 
yea from birth through growth
when one is with matter and forms of matter
what then?
decide one is matter
matter alone
all talks of spirit
just false and imaginary
keep it over the ale
in some camp-fire
it is like walking
through the sheets of ice
on the mountains cold
when the chilling feet
tempt you to sit and
have a rest
but the only way to escape
sweet cooling death
is to shake shake
shudder out oneself
and pulling oneself out
of the open icy grave;
it is like that
matter tempting
that you are none other than matter
shake shake and shudder
and pull yourself out
brutally snatch thyself
out of the identity-death
you are the free Spirit
ever and ever free
and knowing
and knowingly free
boldly say that
you are not matter
but spirit free
of the form of knowing
you are never the object
but the Eternal Subject
free and knowing';
may be it sounds now
as a distant rumble;
but hold on hold on
never give up
your rugged freedom
to the cozy sweet chill
and cold grave of matter
wake up and know thyself
see the false Delphi to the face
and say, say and pronounce
You are free
and the Soul.
***

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Salvation of Nammaazhvaar

Today 18-1-2017 Nammaazhvaar Moksham is celebrated. Nammaazhvaar or Sri Satakopan is the celebrated Mystic-Supreme of the faith of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya.

Why is it so significant that the salvation day of one Yogi is being participated for the past thousand years and more? Of course any great soul is worthy of our adoration and worship. But why even great teachers like Sri Nathamuni, Alavandaar and Sri Ramanuja have poured their total heart into Azhwar-Bhakti? Nammaazhvaar is the Family Wealth of the surrendered souls, Prapannas. He is the Leader of the Prapanna tribe!

Nampillai gives an excellent explanation for this when he writes the introduction for 10th Ten 9th TVM, Soozhvisumbu aNimukil - Here I will try to give it a rendering in my own anglo-saxon.

"The great spiritual ecstacies that happen to great mystics occurred to Nammaazhvaar gradually. From the stage of transcendent devotion all further stages ensued forth in our Azhwar. Those stages have been logged very truly upto the 9th Ten and even upto 10.8. Now hereafterwards Nammaazhvaar could not bear to stay longer in the worldly life. He is dying to enjoy the ecstatic bliss of union and communion, immediate. Such immediacy is not possible on this earth. It is inherently transcendent experience. If Azhwar is so anxious to reach Him over there His anxiety in getting Azhwar transported over there is much more and more forceful. Who suffers worst is difficult to decide, Azhwar or God? He has been tarrying so far only to make Azhwar prepared enough. So he was giving him all stages of experiences of His Essence, Form, Qualities and Manifestations. And He gave really all these experiences so realistic as if visible and perceptual externally. The path of Lights, the assistance and reception given by the way-guarding deities, the grand welcome gestures from the ever free of the Transcendent World, whatever have been narrated in Vedanta, all those experiences escatological Azhwar was made to experience here while living. And all these mystical magnum Azhwar is singing in the coming two decads viz., 10.9, 10.10. And while singing now Azhwar is narrating what he experienced as something experienced by devotees in general. He is describing his personal experiences as general and universal experiences of all devotees for all time to come. The commentator asks a beautiful question here - why? Why does Azhwar do like this? Why he describes his own private experiences as general statements of the devotees at large? The commentator gives an extraordinarily significant reason for this. Azhwar wants to assure by this way of generalising that whatever salvation he got belongs to all devotees in all places in all times, whoever happens to relate to him direct, indirect or remote or by chance. All such souls reap this Supreme Grace vouchsafed unto Azhwar by Thirumaal."

How significant is this day of the Salvation of Azhwar!

***

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In the eyes of Divinity, even wishing is doing !

Today, 10-1-2017, Araiyar Sevai was having reading of an important piece- The Introduction and the Commentary of First Stanza in Third Ten, 3RD Thiruvaymozhi, 'Ozhivilkaalam Ellaam'.

One of the important concepts stressed in the commentary is the principle that in the eyes of the Divine, even mere wishing to do the divine service on the part of the human soul is taken as Service Done. What is required on the part of the human soul is the intense desire and wish to do Service to the Almighty God. This hearty wish pleases the Divine like anything and it is taken as Real Service by Him.

The Commentator says 'Nammazhvaar bhaarikkiraar' - i e Nammaazhvaar wishes and earnestly imagine and wants to do all services, without any blemish. Of course we may ask what mere wishing can do? A wish is a mere wish - it has no gratifying power. Is it not?

But the Commentator asks us to look closer at the issue. He sites one example of a glutton who derives immense pleasure even reading just the menu card (UNadhyaayam). Seeing this dish and that dish and again that different dish is available, his mental palate is pleased as if tasted all those very things.

Let us see some points of theological interest covered in the commentary both by way of introduction and also the explanations for this first stanza.

In the last stanza of the 2ND Thiruvaymozhi Nammaazhvaar was saying 'my heart has become stable and my soul has got firmly established in the realisation of its own real and intrinsic nature' - 'nilaiperren nenjam perradhu needuyir'.

Now when the soul understands its own self-nature firmly then the next step is to do activities of spirituality proper to such self-nature. So in this 3RD TVM - Ozhivilkaalam - Nammaazhvaar craves for Kainkarya - Service to the Divine - which is proper and naturally ensuing such realisation of self-nature. This TVM is prayer for Service. The previous 2ND TVM was anouncement of self-nature.

While earnestly panting for divine service Azhwar becomes clearly aware of certain uncomfortable truths and what he has left undone and ignored. He is now speaking as the representative of all souls in that - Right from the start, this soul has been escaping all the chances created by God to make it easier for the human soul to come and reach Him and enjoy Him. He gave Sastras, He was born as Avataras, Divine INcarnations. Why? He has been residing inside this very soul from the day one of creation as Inner Soul, Antaraatman. But very deftly this soul has been giving the lie to the Divine and escaped all such chances. Azhwar is seeing in his intense awareness all such omissions and commisions, runnings away from the Divine, ignoring the Inner Soul and all that. He becomes very dejected and about to lose his heart. Woof...! NO way no way...

Then the Divine answers, 'Why Azhwar? why are you so choked in sorrow? why you think you have lost? No soul loses the Divine in the Total Scheme, my dear! Have I not come and am I not standing all the time waiting for the souls to come and reach me, on the very Hills of Venkatam? Am I not? Have you forgotten? It is for souls like you I am waiting there. Why? What problem? Are you crying over the fact that your body will be an impediment in the way? No chance. Only with this body you have to do service here in the HIlls. So the body is not a block! Then? Perhaps you are hesitant over the fact that your Knowledge is not Expansive as it should be but narrow because of this samsara. So what? Even those persons who have their Knowledge attained natural expansion crossing this samsara, even they are facing this trouble of their native knowledge standing no match for the Infinite Knowledge of the Divine, which is always demanding to know more and more and gets never exhausted. So it is not something your own specific problem. Leave it.!'

Azhwar thinks: 'Ahaa ! Yea it is true. The Ultimate Absolute Divinity is the same here or there. If it is so, and if the self-same He is here on the Hills, and if my own body which I thought to be a handicap for service is actually not an impediment but an accessory needed for service, then why, for what am I waiting here? I can do all the services which I wanted to do by going to the Sri Vaikunta, I can do all such services here itself. Woww...! Yea come on, when the chance is so handy and near reach, my mind races in imagination of all kinds of service I intend to do and which I will be called to do by Him and all that...' So Nammazhvaar starts day-dreaming or mentally imaging all situations of his doing service in this TVM. - So the commentator beautifully expands on this theme. The commentator says : "Lakshmana was saying 'I will do and panting to do, all types of service for my Lord, going with Him'. It is teh nature of Lakshmana. Just like that Nammaazhvaar is also panting to do all services. It is like the glutton reading and reading over the menu-card and mentally feasting over the dishes there." Bhajanaparanaai irukkum avan UNadhyaayam patikkumaap polE iruppathondraayiRRu ivarutaiya kainkarya manOratham.

Just imagine all these stuff read before the Lord Divine in the original Manipravala Commentary by the Araiyars! My Lord Ranga was so very immensely pleased and just to look at Him His 'ILLippu' was so visible.

Is it for nothing they say the Kondaattam - 'Thamizh pin senRa PerumaaL' - Divinity chasing the honey like Thamizh!

***

Friday, December 30, 2016

A rare song of the genre Thiruppugazh on Thirumaal

"You created this world
you recovered this world
you saved this world
you measured this world
you swallowed this world
not only that
you brought this world out again
you have been born in this world
and you have taken form
similar to the beings of this world
and you have become the goal
of all the religions sixfold as a sport
to suit the tastes and understandings
of all the worlds triune
sustaining ever
is it possible for me, a slave
to extol all the dimensions of your saviour-ship?
when the cows and oxen hedged in their yards
were driven asunder by the fiery rains,
seeing their plight you of your own accord
took a mountain aloft as a shelter
for the pining kine
are you not one tall form of Love, my Lord!
You were born in Madura
famous for swans beautifully asleep in ponds
and the musician-bees ringing
lisps of sweet ragas while exploring
the buds of lotuses in the morn"

This is my translation of one old Tamil Thiruppugazh song sung by one Kuravai Iraamaanuja Dasar written about 1850 and published in 1857 and again in 1897. This forms part of his work which is called Noorriyettutthiruppathi thiruppugazh - a composition on 108 temples of Thirumaal. The original of this verse is as follows -

உலகுப டைத்திடந்திவ் வுலகமெ டுத்தளந்திவ்
வுலகம டுத்தருந்தி
யொழியாதே
யுலகம றித்துமிழ்ந்திவ் வுலகுத னிற்பிறந்திவ்
வுலகுயி ரொத்து நின்று
நிலையாகும்
அலகில்ச கத்ரயங்க ளவரவ ருக்கிணங்கி
யறுசம யத்தினின்று
விளையாடி
யருள்புரி ரட்சகங்க ளுனதுச ரித்திரங்க
ளடியனெ டுத்தியம்ப
வசமாமோ
பலகிடை யிற்கிடந்த பசுநிறை தட்டழிந்து
பதறவி டுத்திடுங்கன்
மழைமாரி
படுமொரு விர்த்திகண்டு மலைகுடை யிட்டுநின்று
பரிபவ ரட்சைதந்த
நெடுமாலே
மலர்வன சத்தரும்பும் முகையவி ழக்குடைந்து
மழலைவ ரிச்சுரும்ப
ரிசைபாட
மடவெகி னக்குலங்கள் விழிதுயில் பொற்பிலங்கு
வடமது ரைப்பிறந்த
பெருமாளே !

My homage to THiru Kuravai Iraamaanuja Dasar! (and Thiru S E Arangasamy Mudaliyar who brought this out in 1897)

***

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Status-Bag A

Samvartha while giving upadesa to Parasurama, very beautifully sums up the very gist of spirituality like this:
'It is better you ask where the Atman is not rather than asking where it is. It is so pervading and forms the prior basic of the I thought. It exists prior to all the thoughts that crop up. It is the very pith-like awareness which makes possible all other things occur by meaning. It is wrong to take this body as Atman, because Atman is that which knows, whereas the body is something that is known. It is a contradiction in understanding to consider something that is known as something that which knows. So this kind of contradictory assumptions must be given up. Thinking of this body as oneself must be given up. One must rightly take to considering oneself as the knower. One who arrives at such a right understanding will come to realise that he has nothing to achieve in this ever-changing world. What is the proof that he has arrived at right awareness? Along with the right awareness there occurs automatically dispassion. Not wanting anything of this world, these worldly things and desires. A mentality of non-attachment, which doesn't give any value to the ways of the world. This is the noble path. Those who resort to this path definitely reaches the highest bliss. And this is the essence of everything to be known.' (Translation mine)
Tiripura Rahasya is wondering that even being told in such a simple way, the utmost essence of all the Sastras like this, Parasurama was not convinced and still lingered in confusion. Samvarta realised that Parasurama can attain to understanding only when given upadesa by Dattatreya and so he guided him to the great Master and went on in his way.
***


Sri Ramana Maharishi, I came to know when I was a boy through the book of Sri Ramana Vijayam, written by Yogi Suddhanandha Bharathi in Tamil. Excellent photos of Bhagavan and the Arunachala Hills and caves were enchanting to the eyes and engaging the mind. In the front even Yogi's photo was such an aura.
Invariably, all spiritual personages were given those days in books, a circular-light background to the head. So in the school days, the natural idea was spirituality means something fantastic, suffusing with brilliance, light and rays. It was more optical and luminary. After reading epic-like narrations of Yogi about Maharishi it added all the more to the irradiance. Even now Yogi's 'langue' is unforgettable.
And that too, appendixed by my father's memory of meeting Bhagavan, added still more to the depth of the event of my getting introduced to the Ramana's loka. My father Mr R Venugopal, used to have a photo of himself acting the part of Prince of Morocco from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, , where the still portrays the moment of the dialogue -- "Hey pluck the young sucking-cubs from the she-bear"- when he was showing the action of gripped right fist across his chest, along his left eye. I asked him one day, 'why do you keep this photo always in your purse?' Then he was telling it carries a story, associated with Sri Ramana Maharishi. I was all eager and babbled out - 'have you seen him? did you talk to him? what did he say? what did you ask?'
My father was saying, 'cool boy cool. There was no talk and questions. Once I went to the Hills to have his Darshan. First day it didn't click. Second day I tried, thinking, if not that time then to return back home, visiting temples. Fortunately I found entry among the devotees sitting in front. It was uniquely calm to watch him and just sit there. For some purpose, I took out my purse to take or place something there. Perhaps Bhagavan was seeing that, I do not know. This photo, a still of the just-staged play, I was keeping it there. He asked for the photo and stared at it for a moment. Then doing the same action in the photo by folding his fist and looking at me, he returned it. I consider this as his blessing and am keeping it as the sacred memory.

*

SiRiyaatthaan (சிறியாத்தான்) was a unique teacher in the consequent period of Sri Ramanuja. He was principles personified. The idea 'A devotee of Thirumaal, whoever he may be, educated or ignorant, irrespective of any social divisions or satus, commands one's highest adoration' was not just a piece of eloquence or a status message to be displayed in one's FB. He meant it every word by his action. When he was passing by in the streets of Srirangam, no prapanna or Vaishnavaite devotee was able to be at ease. For no body knew how, he will be the first person to salute prostratingly, unmindful of dirtying his own clothes and not only that he will rise up and stand in full pride, as if he had achieved great laurels of endevour. Periyavaachaanpillai more than once cites him as the exemplar. And SiRiyaatthaan's favourite was Sri Krishna. How the Supreme Soul, Paramaatma, was just like that loitering in the streets of Brindavan, doing pranks like a kid! It was an inexhaustable source of wonder for him. To understand his wonder we must first become aware that the highest understanding of philosophical contemplation, the Metaphysical Being Absolute. Then we must slowly bring to our minds the altercation that happens. Such a Being Absolue Metaphysical assumes a human embodiment, is born, grows up as a kid doing all sorts of pranks and lo! it is there running visible across streets and cars, crying 'Heyyyee !' Really it is the wonder of wonders !
***


Thiruvaimozhi is unique in various ways. It is a grand work by Illusion's Enemy - Sataripu. It is the great essence of all the spiritual canons, the Sastras. It is the dispeller of maya spreading by its threefold qualities, It is the land of hope for the beings immersed in the misery-sea of the world. It is the great treasure vouchsafed to beings visible in the presence of and showing the divine presence of the Eternal Couple Super-Conscious.
saara saarasvadhaanaam sataripu paNidhi:
shanti suddhaananda seema
maayaamaayaamineebhi: SvaguNavidathibhi:
panthayantheem dayanthii |
paarampaaram pareethoo bhavajaladhi
bhavanmajjanaanaam janaanaam
prathyak prathyakshayEnna: prathiniyatharamaa
sannidhaanam nidhaanam ||

(Dramidopanishad taatparya ratnaavali, Sri Nigamaantha Desika)
***


Savitri of Aurobindo is extending the English language deep into the inward reaches and inner pulsating resonances. The language made explicitly introvert.
***



In Savitri there comes a passage -
All that the Gods have learned is there self-known.
There is a hidden chamber closed and mute
And kept the record graphs of the cosmic scribe,
And there the tables of the sacred Law

And so even Gods are having a learning curve it seems ! What they have learnt is self-known in a hidden chamber. In that chamber are the library of the cosmic scribe. There are hung the calculation tables of sacred Law - such a corner closed and mute! Why closed? closed from whom or what? mute means no sound? silent for what ears, perhaps ears unhearing.
Once somebody told Thiruloka Sitaram, quoting Sivavaakkiyar, 'natta kallum pEsumO?'.
Thirulokam retorted saying, 'when the stone stopped talking? It is always talking voraciously. Do you have the ears to hear it?'
The other person asked back 'what do you mean?'
Thirulokam replied, 'yea! when the stones stopped talking? they are always in discourse. Perhaps sometimes a sculptor happens to hear its talk and lo! you get a beautiful Image! Sometimes an engineer happens to hear the talk of stones. And you get a wonderful bridge or building! The stones are never-stop talkers. Only we are stone-deaf !'

*

Say it is easy to talk glibly about the long period of matter-sleep and the uprise of will and praxeologic movements. But to mentally arrive at that point of realisation, to stand exactly in such a spot in awareness full and bare, the shock and shudders are steep and striking. Exactly standing at that very point can you mint the experience in words?
In the glow of the Spirit's room of memories
He could recover the luminous marginal notes
Dotting with light the crabbed ambiguous scroll,
Rescue the preamble and the saving clause
Of the dark Agreement by which all is ruled
That rises from material Nature's sleep
To clothe the Everlasting in new shapes.

(Savitri, Book One Canto Five)
***


You need some attentive inwardness and spiritual gaze powered by intuition as per Sri Aurobindo in his Savitri. Otherwise all is screened, mystical, a voyage from the unknown to the unknown.
"But all is screened, subliminal, mystical;
It needs the intuitive heart, the inward turn,
It needs the power of a spiritual gaze.
Else to our waking mind's small moment look
A goalless voyage seems our dubious course
Some Chance has settled or hazarded some Will,
Or a Necessity without aim or cause
Unwillingly compelled to emerge and be.
In this dense field where nothing is plain or sure,
Our very being seems to us questionable,
Our life a vague experiment, the soul
A flickering light in a strange ignorant world,
The earth a brute mechanic accident,
A net of death in which by chance we live.
All we have learned appears a doubtful guess,
The achievement done a passage or a phase
Whose farther end is hidden from our sight,
A chance happening or a fortuitous fate.
Out of the unknown we move to the unknown."

(Savitri, Book One Canto Four, pp 57)
***

What is there in the Ultimate, a signal happens even in the undoubting sceptic life sometimes visible to the discerning chance vision. When we stop look and stop imagining and before we start to think the rigmarole begins to run again. And we hastily run from the moment of stop.
"Even in our sceptic mind of ignorance
A foresight comes of some immense release,
Our will lifts towards it slow and shaping hands."
(Savitri, Book Two, Canto Five)
***


How true of me presently ! Autobigraphical through a different hand? Or the Eternal Eye vieweth every several being, every several minute? Who knows...!
"A hope stole in that hardly dared to be
Amid the Night's forlorn indifference.
As if solicited in an alien world
With timid and hazardous instinctive grace,
Orphaned and driven out to seek a home,
An errant marvel with no place to live,
Into a far-off nook of heaven there came
A slow miraculous gesture's dim appeal."

(Savitri, Book One, Canto One )
***



What an existential predicament the human being is thrown into! An ounce of pure contemplation at what a cost!
"A packed assemblage of crude tentative lives
Are pieced into a tessellated whole.
There is no perfect answer to our hopes;
There are blind voiceless doors that have no key;
Thought climbs in vain and brings a borrowed light,
Cheated by counterfeits sold to us in life's mart,
Our hearts clutch at a forfeited heavenly bliss. "

"Here even the highest rapture Time can give
Is a mimicry of ungrasped beatitudes,
A mutilated statue of ecstasy,
A wounded happiness that cannot live,
A brief felicity of mind or sense
Thrown by the World-Power to her body-slave,
Or a simulacrum of enforced delight
In the seraglios of Ignorance.
For all we have acquired soon loses worth,
An old disvalued credit in Time's bank,
Imperfection's cheque drawn on the Inconscient.
An inconsequence dogs every effort made,
And chaos waits on every cosmos formed:
In each success a seed of failure lurks.
He saw the doubtfulness of all things here, "
(Savitri, Book One, Canto Five)
***

Down the memory lane

Down the memory lane
You stand some blocks away
Dipping into the heart
I behold your secret sway
Ripping all my pretences
Revel thee in thine ever-presence
Roaring laughter rearing a doubt
Round about ways of the winning fate
Abounding glory, abiding grace
Thwarted desires, thirsting passions
But ever and ever your Hand is there
Somewhere, somehow, salvaging me
Standing atop the Hills, south or north,
Reclining across the rivery beds
A rare stealth of vision I beg of Thee
Just to compose my hungry soul
That you are the self-same You
Down my memory lane.



***

Status-Bag

Can you think of a saner piece of advice to anybody, rather than this? I find it hard to word it in a better way.
"To be clear-headed rather than confused; lucid rather than obscure; rational rather than otherwise; and to be neither more, nor less, sure of things than is justifiable by argument or evidence. That is worth trying for." -- Geoffrey Warnock

***

Reading Jeffrey R Timm's essay 'Scriptural Realism in Pure Nondualistic Vedanta'.
A very good point about the perceptual change that happens in the research circles is instantiated by contrasting the remarks of Eliot Deutsch in his work, Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction, in 1969 with that of his own thoughts some twenty years later.
'The exegetical dimension of Vedanta is ..........of very little interest to Western students of philosophy. We do not accept the authority of the Veda (or, for the most part, the authority of any other scripture); consequently, we are not concerned whether one system or another best interprets certain obscure passages in it.'(p 5)
Jeffrey R Timm's comments over this:
'The question, of course, was never whether or not Western scholars could accept the authority of the Veda. The question was whether or not something akin to a Bultmannian demythologization could be invoked to isolate "kerygmatic" philosophical issues from the exegetical concerns that traditional thinkers had with the text.'
Twenty years later in 1988, in his essay, 'Knowledge and the Tradition Text in Indian Philosophy' which appeared in Interpreting across Boundaries, Eliot Deutsch obseves, (as commented by Jeffrey R Timm - 'marking not only a shift in his own thinking but the maturation of a field as well')
'Something important and essential is lost when we study (and teach) philosophy - as has unfortunately become typical in many contemporary analytic circles - as if it were made up of a series or set of alternative arguments, ideas, or isms capable of being abstracted from the concrete forms in which these arguments, ideas, and theories were presented and shaped.'(p 166)
The shift in the perspective does not only concern the primary Text as it were but also the commentorial traditions inherent to the subsequent and continued receptions of the Text by the engaged and involved community. This is very aptly marked by Jeffrey R Timm in his comments, paraphrasing Eliot Deutsch's words in the article (p 170): 'This effort includes not just a "primary" scriptural canon; the myriad commentaries, subcommentaries, glosses, and so on must be taken seriously because they "form, hermeneutically, integral parts of a continuing text" '
Reading Jeffrey R Timm reading Eliot Deutsch is interesting in its own ways. The field of research is so absorbing just for this reason that it is able to be self-critical as an ongoing process.
Is it just for fun that I like to say 'Reading is itself a unique yoga'?

*** 
Though everybody nowadays seems to know the x y z of everything nobody knows the a b c of anything.
-- Bernard Shaw
How true !
Any way to alter or give it a lie?
I don't hope so.
But who cares..! 



***
The concentration and fusion into the
whole being can never happen through me
nor can it happen without me. I become in
relation to the Thou, becoming I, I say Thou.
All actual life is encounter.
—Martin Buber, Ich und Du
What a pregnant statement ! An Upanishad in itself ! Mind is addicted to this statement now.

***
I thought of Dr Richard Dawkins while reading these beautiful and clear pieces of the great Darwin -
"Thus we can understand how it has come to pass that man
and all other vertebrate animals have been constructed on the
same general model, why they pass through the same early
stages of development, and why they retain certain rudiments
in common. Consequently we ought frankly to admit their
community of descent. .

It is only our natural prejudice, and that arrogance which made our forefathers declare that they were descended from demi-gods, which leads us to demur to this conclusion. But the time will before long come, when it will be thought wonderful that naturalists, who were well acquainted with the comparative structure and development of man, and other mammals, should have believed that each was the work of a separate act of creation
Some of the most distinctive characters of man have in all
probability been acquired, whether directly or more commonly
indirectly through natural selection
The difference in mind between man and the higher animals,
great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind. We have
seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and
faculties, . . . of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient,
or over some time in a well-developed condition, in the lower
animals."
(The Descent of Man)
Really a spectacular thinker, Darwin is !

***
Really Gadamer is highly interesting ! I could not have expected such a bouncer on 'prejudice' -
" Prejudices are not necessarily unjustified and erroneous, so that
they inevitably distort the truth. In fact, the historicity of our
existence entails that prejudices, in the literal sense of the word,
constitute the initial directedness of our whole ability to experience.

Prejudices are biases of our openness to the world. They are
simply conditions whereby we experience something-whereby
what we encounter says something to us. "

***
It is customary to talk of seven sages of Greece, like Solon and others. But Richard Schacht talks of seven great philosophers who characterize the classical modern period in philosophy. He expresses beautifully how pivotal their contributions are, in his book Classical modern philosophers Descartes to Kant.
"Philosophy had a two-thousand-year history prior to Descartes, and has had a career of nearly two centuries since Kant; but these seven men had so profound an impact upon its course that it is almost impossible to conceive of the very existence of the various forms of inquiry which collectively constitute the enterprise of philosophy today—as well as the diverse issues debated and positions taken by contemporary philosophers of all persuasions—had they not made their different contributions to it."
How nicely he divides the whole time of philosophy as 2000 years before Descartes and 200 years from Kant.! This stream has received a definite and unalterable impetus of change in more than one aspect by the seven philosophers' inputs.!
Really a clear way to meditate on the course of philosophy's history !

***
Umberto Eco, an author of many thought provoking novels like The name of the Rose', Foucault's pendulum and more so, of a theory of semiotics, is no more. I feel sad even though fully aware of our common existential predicament. But few authors have ventured on theories and employed novel as means of articulating them. U Eco is one such.
A sentence I like very much in his 'Semiotics and the philosophy of language' is --
"The ability of the textual manifestations to empty, destroy, or reconstruct pre-existing sign-functions depends on the presence within the sign-function (that is, in the network of content figures) of a set of instructions oriented toward the (potential) production of different texts."
As a reader I do feel the bereavement.

***
Sometimes academic philosophers do describe some interesting pictures of abstract ideas. Here is one, on virtue, by Simone Weil, resorting to a quote from the ancient Book of the Dead -
"There has never been a more moving definition of virtue than the
words, spoken in The Book of the Dead by the soul on the way to salvation:
Lord of Truth . . I have brought truth to thee, and I have destroyed wickedness for thee . . I have not thought scorn of God . . I have not brought forward my name for honors . . I have not caused harm to be done to the servant by his master . . I have made no one weep . . I have not struck fear into any man . . I have not spoken haughtily . . . I have not made myself deaf to the words of right and truth. "
(while reading a quote in - Pragmatrism and non-scientific knowledge, by Hilary Putnam)

***
Putnam seems to conceive of Pragmatism as containing some characteristic features like anti-scepticism, fallibilism and the like. Not only beliefs need justification but also doubts, which is what he terms as anti-scepticism. And one can never say that a given belief will never need revision, which is what he terms as fallibilism. Yea it is interesting like tying the mammoth, which anyway needs some bindings. (while reading Richard Warner)

***

Remember the days

Remember the days
when as a child I was involved
with playthings
and caught in my own self-talk;
Haven't I crossed that fool's paradise
and only the playthings
varying over time;
doing self-talk or talking about self
the foolish child lost in play;
Alwars talk about a Child
playing creation games
again and again;
The Great Masters of the Faith plead
'don't make us objects for your play;
rather deem to consider us
objects of Thine causeless pity!'
The divine swan of Dakshineswar
is talking of a child remembering
its mother and all the playthings
thrown afar;
'a day gone waste!
yet I have not seen thee!'
so Gadadhar plunged
at the hanging sword of the Mother;
but here am I dulling all the swords
hanging or in action
to escape realisation
that may occur
perhaps by any chance,
this way or that way;
only the butter-thief knows
how to falsify my game
and conquer me against my plans;
for he knows how to play
and break any design
by his playmates;
waiting for that Child
kills all my grown up airs
and I really begin
to grow to His childhood
and become His playmate again;
but what a task!
breaking me through the spine;
but never will he give up,
I hope,
till he becomes all mine.

***

Monday, December 05, 2016

Srimad Vedanta Desika on twilights

Twilight-reddish waist-cloth of Sri Ranganatha enchants Thiruppanazhwar in his poem Amalanathipiran. The colour of the waist-cloth is reddish like the twilight sky.

Which twilight? Morning or evening? 'Both twilights' so saith Srimad Vedanta Desika in his commentary on this poem. The morning twilight-red indicates the dawn of knowledge prior to the God-realisation. The evening twilight-red indicates the flood of love streaming forth after the Realisation. Both hues of reddish-twilight exemplify the waist-band cloth of Our Lord. 

How beautiful this explanation !

’அந்திபோல் நிறத்தாடையும்’

***