From the last blog after watching the videos about spider, we understood that God is The Creator; but ended up with a doubt – how does God create the world? What materials does He use? How does He present his creation? Before answering these questions we must have a look at two more videos and hear a Tamil Film Song. Curious ? Here we go!
First let us see a video titled “Sequoia in a Snowstorm” from the National Geographic channel.
Now let us come to the core issues on this video.
From where did this gigantic Sequoia tree come from ? Well, it came from this simple looking seed
How is it possible for such a gigantic tree to hide inside a small seed? Tons of wood, millions of leaves, huge number of branches etc. No way! Then how ? Watch another video (a bit long)
Now let us see a magic show in 1957 by the legendary Indian Magician PC Sorcar.
What did PC Sorcar do in the magic show? Didn’t he keep creating animals after animals from that flat screen? Didn’t he cut that girl into two and bring her back as one living entity? Is it a creation or an illusion?
These two videos are real life happenings – aren’t they?
Now let us listen to a Song penned by the legendary Tamil Poet Kannadasan in the film “Valar Pirai”.
Meaning – The guy who rules the Infinite Universe through emptiness, the guy who resides as a kernel inside a tough shell of a coconut from the coconut tree, the guy who becomes a relative of monks who abdicate everything in life, the guy who keeps a chicken in an egg and an egg in side a chicken and the guy who keeps the sapling inside the trunk of a banana tree – if you can understand and follow that guy, then that guy is the God.
Confused completely further ! How does He do it ? It is time that we should get some answers to our doubt. Let us straight away get into Dakshinamurthy Sthothram – Sloka 2 in the next blog where we will get our doubts cleared by Adi Sankaracharya.
We saw in the previous blog that Brahman/God, the one “which is invisible, inconceivable, without lineage, without any classifications (Varṇa), without eyes and ears, without hands and feet, and that which is eternal, all-pervasive, omnipresent, extremely subtle and undecaying” is the source of all beings. We also saw that we need an intelligent cause and a material cause for a creation. Now, we have a logical question that may arise in one’s mind to answer “How can this universe and physical beings come out from such an entity that is beyond physical attributes”?
In the two videos we saw how the spider creates a web. The Spider in-fact is a great teacher and a living example of the creation process adopted by God/Brahman/The Ultimate Reality. What does the spider teach about? It teaches about īśvaraḥ.
Spider is the intelligent cause behind the web; and most interestingly, spider never goes after any raw material; the raw material is found within itself. spider is nimittam and upādānam.
यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः संभवन्ति |
yathā- as, just like; ūrṇanābhi- spider; sṛjate- emits;
gṛhṇate- take back; ca- and; pṛthivyām- on the earth;
oṣadhayaḥ- herbs; saṃbhavanti- spring up;
sataḥ puruṣāt – from living person; keśalomāni- hairs (on head and body); tathā- so, in that manner;
akṣarāt- from the imperishable; saṃbhavati- arises, happens; iha- here, this; viśvam- universe.
As a spider emits threads (and makes its web) and takes them back (at his will), as herbs spring up on earth and as hairs grow from living persons, so does the universe arise from the Imperishable (entity).
We must note that the spider is unaffected by the emission of thread and also outlives the thread; moreover, it also sustains the thread and also withdraws it at its will.
In the same way, Mundaka upanishad points out that Brahman the paramātma is the intelligent and the material cause of the universe and therefore, before creation, there was only non-dual Brahman, which served both as the intelligent cause as well as the raw material to produce the universe. And therefore, paramātma is said to be jagat abinna nimitta upādāna kāraṇam. And the world is the kāryam.
Whenever this subject of the Spider comes, my mind goes immediately to the Discourse by the legendary Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshithar around the year 1960 at Matunga in Mumbai (I don’t know the exact year and date) while explaining the significance of Vishnu Sahasranama. Here is that rare audio clip. This is in Tamil. செங்காலிபுரம் அனந்தராம தீட்சிதர் உபன்யாசம்
So, the Creator is the Ultimate Reality, “an undefinable something which is everything”. We call Him as GOD.
A doubt can arise in the mind of the seeker. “Ok. Understood that God is the Creator. How does He create the world? What materials does He use? How does He present his creation? Why is He creating?
Adi Sankaracharya answers these questions in Sloka 2 with two examples, which we will see in the next blog.
Essentially the first Sloka of the Dakṣiṇāmūrti Sthothram deals with “atma svaroopam” which Adi Sankaracharya reveals with two day to day examples of “darpana nagari” and “svapna nagari”. The Atma is revealed as the base “adishtaanam” of the Universe, as the independent existence – truth “sathya”, as the one unaffected by the events and whatever happens “asamgaha” and finally as non dual “advayam”, the Brahman Himself.
In this first verse, from the experiential standpoint we discover that the world exists in our mind. The world exists because we experience it. Usually we think the other way around. The conventional perspective is world exists therefore we experience it. This is called srishti drishti vada . (Srushti means creation. Drishti means seeing. Vada means doctrine or teaching). It means, you see the world because it has been created. In the ongoing “Global Festival of Oneness 2021” conducted by Advaita Academy, there was an interesting presentation on this. This is how this debate on the two perspective was summed up pictorially by the speaker.
But the presentation by Sankara in this first verse is opposite to the conventional view. The creation exists because you see it. The world in the mind exists because you are there to experience it. If you are not there to witness the world, the world in your mind would not exist. What you directly experience is only the contents of your mind. So the vision conveyed by the first verse is drishti srishti vada. It is opposite to the conventional perspective.
ஆதி சங்கரரின் தக்ஷிணா மூர்தி ஸ்தோத்திரத்தின் முதல் பண்ணின் கருத்துக்கள் சைவ சித்தாந்தத்தில் வெளிப்படுகிறது. திருமூலர் திருமந்திரத்தில் சொல்கிறார்:
தன்னை அறியக் கிளம்பியவர்கள் தன்னுடைய மூலை முடுக்குகளிலெல்லாம் தன்னைத் தேடினார்கள்; மனம் எதிர்ப்பட்டது; அங்கும் தேடினார்கள்; அது ஒரு மாயப் பிம்பத்தை எழுப்பிக் காட்டியது. அடிமுடி தேடிய படலத்தில், முடி தேடிப் போன பிரம்மன், முடியைக் காணாமல் அன்னப் பறவையைக் கண்டு திரும்பிவிட்டதைப்போல, தன்னையே தேடிப் போனவர்கள், தன்னைக் காணாமல் ஏதோ ஒரு மாயப் பிம்பத்தைக் கண்டு அதுவே தான் என்று எண்ணித் திரும்பி விட்டார்கள். விளங்காதவர்கள்; விளக்கிச் சொன்னாலும் விளங்கிக் கொள்ளத் தெரியாதவர்கள். தலைவாயில் அடைத்திருப்பதாக எண்ணி ஏமாந்து பின்னால் சென்று புறக்கடை வாசலைத் தட்டிக்கொண்டு நிற்கிறார்கள். தன்னை அல்ல, தன்னுடைய நிழலைக்கூட இவர்களால் கண்டுகொள்ள முடியாது.
Brahman is in essence the indwelling Controller for all activity seen in any being whatsoever. That is why Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi says that stop unwanted discussions/arguments about the real or unreal world and objects. Start looking inwards in his “Ulladhu Naarpadhu” – உள்ளது நாற்பது.
உலகுமெய்பொய்த் தோற்ற முலகறிவா மன்றென்
றுலகுசுக மன்றென் றுரைத்தெ — னுலகுவிட்டுத்
தன்னையோர்ந் தொன்றிரண்டு தானற்று நானற்ற
வந்நிலையெல் லார்க்குமொப் பாம்.
What is the use of disputing: ‘The world is real’, ‘[No, it is] an unreal appearance’; ‘The world is sentient’, ‘It is not’; ‘The world is happiness’, ‘It is not’? Leaving [all thought about] the world and investigating [or knowing] oneself, [thereby] putting an end to [all disputes about] one and two [non-duality and duality], that state in which ‘I’ [ego] has [thereby] perished is agreeable to all. So instead of looking outward, start looking inward.
இதனையே திருமூலர் திருமந்திரம், 2956 பதியில்;
மனமாயை மாயை;இம் மாயை மயக்க;
மனமாயை தான்மாய, மற்றொன்றும் இல்லை;
பினைமாய்வது இல்லை; பிதற்றவும் வேண்டா;
தனைஆய்ந்து இருப்பது தத்துவம் தானே.
என தெளிவாக உரைக்கிறார். உங்களைப் பேதைமைப்படுத்துவதும் மயக்குவதும் நீங்களே உருவாக்கிச் செல்லங் கொஞ்சிப் பேணி வளர்த்து வைத்திருக்கிற மனம்தான். மனம் உங்களை மயக்குவதை நிறுத்துங்கள்; மனத்தை நீங்கள் மயக்குங்கள். மனம் என்கிற மாயை ஒழிந்துவிட்டால், பிறகு உங்களை மயக்கத்தக்கது வேறு ஒன்றும் இல்லை. ஒழித்துக்கட்ட வேண்டியதும் வேறு ஒன்றும் இல்லை. மனத்தின் தூண்டுதலுக்கு ஆட்பட்டுத் தாறுமாறாக நடந்துகொள்ளவும் தேவையில்லை. தன்னையே தான் ஆராய்ந்து, தானே தானாக இருப்பதுதான் யோகம்.
தன்னையே தான் ஆராய்தல் எப்படி? மாணிக்கவாசகர் சொல்கிறார்:
நான்ஆர்?என் உள்ளம்ஆர்? ஞானங்கள்
ஆர்? என்னை யார்அறிவார்?
(திருவாசகம், திருக்கோத்தும்பி, 2). நான் யார், என் உள்ளம் எது, ஞானங்கள் எவை என்று அறிய வேண்டும்; என்னை அறிகிறவர் யார் என்றும் பார்க்க வேண்டும். எல்லாமே வானோர் பிரானாகிய சிவன்தான் என்று தன்னை அறிவிக்கும் பொறுப்பையும் அறியும் பொறுப்பையும் இறைவனிடம் ஒப்படைக்கிறார் பக்தியின் வழிவந்த மாணிக்கவாசகர். யோகத்தின் வழிவந்த திருமூலரோ அந்தப் பொறுப்பைத் தன் வசமே வைத்துக்கொள்கிறார்.
So, how do we elevate ourselves to that enquiry Who am I? How can I look inward? In answer to this question, Sages have identified four areas
Study of Shastras and Shruti 2. The Kripa of the Guru 3. Yoga practice (Abhyasa) through meditation 4. God’s grace/Isvara Anugraha
When, by Shruti,, by the master’s favour, by practice of Yoga, and by the Grace of God, there arises a knowledge of one’s own Self, then, as a man regards the food he has eaten as one with himself, the Adept Yogin sees the universe as one with his Self, absorbed as the universe is in the Universal Ego which he has become.
1. Dakṣiṇāmurty. Sthothram – Talks By Swami Paramarthananda; Transcribed by Sri P.S. Ramachandrn; Published by :Arsha Avinash
2. Dakshinamurti Stotra with Mānasollāsa of Sureśvarācārya translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri – from archives.org
Looking at the Sunrise with awe and reciting Aditya Hrudayam during my early morning walks has been my most enjoyable moment for the day for several years.
Nothing can be more invigorating than this particularly in this era of pandemic and lock down. The one hour that I spend in the early morning is worth the gold. That is what Aditya (Sun) seems to be telling me today morning.
Watch Him talk to me today, Sunday the 16th Morning between 0545 and 0645 Hrs in Bangalore
It is an oft-quoted saying that philosophy begins in wonder. The mystery of the Universe with all its changes strikes the reflective temper of human beings. Through this reflective temper, human beings constantly question their experiences. The Vedic philosophy grew out of a demand for the explanation of actual experiences of an individual.
One of the fundamental laws of Vedanta is “ I am different from whatever I experience”. In general, this whole world that I experience therefore, comes under the Category – “The experienced” or in other words “The object” and I come under the category “The experiencer” or “The subject”.
Now, start the reflective temper by dismissing the object and the subject only remains. In this world I interact with persons and I clearly say that “I am not like this person; I am not like these group of persons; I am not this animal; I am not this; I am not that, I won’t be like that, I am different etc.”….and the list goes on. This way you go on dismissing everything that you experience as an object different from you and finally dismissing the world itself as an object. This is the first level of reflection. The next level is to look at yourselves, since you ruled out the world.
I am not the world that I experience ; but then who am I ? To my limited knowledge, there cannot be any other question other than this simple question which evoked such a vast, deep and wide analysis of the individual experiences by the Saints & Philosophers of Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma. One lifetime to understand the material available may not be adequate. Yet from this ocean of information and knowledge I will venture out and reproduce what is quoted in the basic source book on Vedanta “Tattva Bodha”.
‘I’ (addressed as Atma) am the one who is distinctly different from the gross, subtle and causal bodies; who is beyond the five layers (kośas); who abides as the self-evident witness to the three states of experience (of the nature of existence/awake-awareness/dream-fullness/deep sleep).
Vedanta identifies the features of a human body-mind-intellect complex with three types of bodies, 5 types of sheaths/layers, 5 sense organs 5 action organs , the mind the intellect and the three states of the consciousness (viz, wake, dream and deep sleep). This means that the “Atma (“I”) ” is beyond all these 21 seamlessly integrated features of body-mind-intellect complex.
“I” am not the world; “I” am not the body, “I” am not the mind/intellect. If “I” am different from all these three; then “I” must be a conscious principle, because I am experiencing them.
Thus the entire object or anātmā consists of three factors, the world, the body and the mind; and “I”, the ātmā, the observer consists of the consciousness principle called chaitanyam. This is the fundamental concept that we are trying to grapple with in Vedanta
At this stage I am again reminded of this excellent poem “Master Piece” by “Author Anonymous” which I posted in my blog on June 12, 2020 (Masterpiece – Prabhu’s Ponder (prabhusponder.com)). It simply moved me – what deep understanding of the subject and what an expression! The author wanted to remain Anonymous and clearly stated that “spirituality decreases when it is attributed to a person. I was but a scribe.”
This master piece is what “I” am and can only be experienced rather than be defined.
Now in the first Sloka, the subject matter is: What is the relationship between I, the consciousness principle, and the entire universe; the inert matter. What is the relationship between I the ātmā, the consciousness principle, and the world, the inert principle called anātmā.
So अत्म–अनात्मसम्भन्दः atma-anātma sambhandaḥ “ஆன்மாவும்அண்டமும்” “Jivatma and the Jagat” is the subject matter of the first verse; and Sankaracharya beautifully explains this with the help of two examples of mirror and dream, about which we will see in the coming blogs.
Throughout the blogs, you will see fair mix of words in Sanskrit and Tamil. Wherever possible, I will try to use the transliterated/ words with verbatim letters in English for easy understanding based on my elementary knowledge.
As each Sloka brings out the essence of Vedanta, it is necessary that some basic concepts of the Vedanta is discussed first before dwelling into the Sloka. As such there will be introductory blogs which will cover the concepts before taking up the Sloka and its meaning. With my limited understanding I will try and make these conceptual blogs simple through day to day examples. If you find them too elementary, please bear with my ignorance. It will turn out that we may need a minimum of 4-5 blogs to cover each Sloka. Get ready for a long haul.
Dakṣiṇāmurty is regarded as an aspect of Siva, as the universal teacher. He is the young and radiant Adi-Guru, Para-Guru, the Supreme Guru, imparting knowledge that liberates. He is the very personification of spiritual wisdom and eminence; and one who is immersed in Self. His teaching is through the subtlest form of speech- para vak – beyond the range of the physical ear, abiding in silence; the sort of silence that envelops within itself all other forms of expressions. It is the silence that underlines the limitations of rational knowledge, futilities of the blind alleys of metaphysical queries and the frailty hollowness of words. His teaching transcends speech and thought; it is experience. His listeners are learned and wise; ripe in intuitional understanding. The Guru’s language of silence dispels the doubts, the confusion and uncertainties in the minds of those around sitting in silence.
The Banyan Tree:
The banyan tree (vata vruksha) under which the Guru sits symbolizes creation as also the expanding universe, which regenerates itself. The tree known as Akshya vruksha with its unique growth pattern also represents the eternal principle, the Dharma. (Vata derived from the Sanskrit root “vat” means: to expand, to surround and to encompass). It is meant to suggest that Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty who sits under the vata tree presides over the cyclic processes of srishti (creation), sthiti (preservation), samhara (absorption or gathering up), tirobhava (suppression) and anugraha (revealing true knowledge).
The iconographic descriptions of Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty are not uniform. In addition, there are several versions of his aspects and attributes. The following, in brief, is a summary position of Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty- iconography.
Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty is depicted as a young person with serene, tranquil and pleasing countenance; seated in a secluded spot in the Himalayas, under a banyan tree, upon a throne or a rock or an elevated platform covered with tiger-skin or deer-skin. Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty who is is always depicted singly.
He is usually depicted with four arms. In his upper right hand, he holds a rosary (aksha-maala) in kapittha-mudra, as if counting beads of japa-mala; or a snake (sarpa: symbol of tantric knowledge) or both. Sometimes, he is also shown holding a drum (damaru) with a snake coiling around it. The damaru, the srishti (creation) aspect of Shiva, represents the primeval sound and rhythm from which the universe emerges; and, into which it dissolves before re-emerging. The snake coiling around the damaru, symbolizes Kaala (time); it could either be the beginning or the end of time. In his upper-left-hand, he holds a flaming torch (Agni) symbolizing enlightenment or illumination, removing the darkness of ignorance. It also stands for his samhara (absorption or gathering back the created existence) aspect. His lower-left-hand resting on his left knee (the back of the hand touching the knee) gestures varada-mudra bestowing a boon (varadam vamahastam); and, it also holds a bunch of kusha grass or a palm-leaf manuscript symbolizing scriptural knowledge. The lower right-hand is depicted in a number of ways; and, the position of its palm, its fingers/gesture often defines the nature of a particular form of Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty. The lower-right-hand:
either gestures grace (his anugraha aspect) or assurance (abhaya-mudra); or
gestures jnana-mudra (thumb and middle/index finger meet each other and touch the heart (jnana mudram hrdi sthane); or
it faces inwards (abhyantara mukham karma) as in the temple at Ilambyankottur (conveying that knowledge comes from within); or
is held in chin-mudra (the index finger of his right hand is bent and touching the tip of his thumb – the other three fingers are stretched up) indicating identity of the Absolute and the individual; or
is held in Vykhyana-mudra (similar to chin-mudra)- but, facing the viewer as if imparting a teaching, while seated in a relaxed position; and so on
Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty is most usually depicted in a seated posture; and at times in standing, as in his Veena-dhara variation (holding a veena). But he is not depicted in reclining (shayana) postures. While seated in Virasana, his right leg is stretched down (lambaka padam); and, is stamping upon (samharaka) the dwarf (apasmara–puruṣaḥ : representing ignorance and delusion). This suppression (nirodha) of ignorance is described as the tirobhava aspect of Sri Dakshinamurti. And, his left foot bent at the knee is resting on his right knee or thigh (sayanam padakam or kunchita-paada). His sitting posture is relaxed; his body position and carriage is free from bends and rigidity. His general aspect is calm and meditative.
The Hair and Decorations:
His luxuriant hair of matted locks (jatabhara, jatabhandha, jatamandala or jatamakuta), said to represent his sthithi (preservation) aspect, is adorned and enriched with jewelry, the crescent moon, a snake and bunches of wild flowers such as durdhura (dhatura). The mass of the jatas is either disheveled or held together by a snake or a band (patta-bandha); and, is arranged in conical shapes to resemble a crown. In the middle of jatabhara, resides a small smiling face of the Ganga. Curly hair locks fall onto his shoulders and upper arms. On his forehead, he bears a vertical urna (third eye). It is said dhurdhura (dhatura – belonging to Solanaceae family) and other forest-flowers as well as the cobra must be positioned over the right of his head ; the skull and moon over the left ; and , Ganga in the middle. Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty is modestly adorned with rudraksha-mala; garlands of wild flowers; flowers above his ears (karna avathamsam). The yagnopavita (sacred cord) runs across his chest, which is adorned with sandal-paste, garlands and necklaces. He is ornamented with kati-bandha jewelled waist band; naga-bandha armlets; anklets with little bells; bracelets; kirti-mukha earring in his right ear and conch- shell earrings (shankha-patra) or an open circular earring (karnavali or vrutta-abharana) in his left earlobe.
The Complexion and the dress code
The nature of Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty is sattva, pure, blissful, bright and serene (shantha). His complexion is radiant like a clear crystal (shuddha spatikopama); or the pure silvery white pearl (spatika-rajatha-varna mauktikeem); or soothingly bright as the jasmine flower or the moon (kundendu dhavala prabha). He is also described as glowing like gold (hema prabha) or dark (shyamabha) . Some Tantric texts describe his complexion as white as milk (kshira-gaura) or snow-white (Kailasadri-nibha), absorbed in self (bhava shuddha). His countenance is free from even the slightest traces of disturbance (klesha vargitam). A soothing and gentle smile lights up his expression. His steady gaze is fixed upon the tip of his nose (nasagra drshti yuk) or on the tip of his toes (padagre drhsti patam). His eyes must be slightly open (kimchid unmiltair netraih), as in contemplation (yoga dhyana-anusarinam). He is dressed in white upper garments (sittottariya) and yajnopavita (sita-upavita). His lower garment is of tiger skin (vyagra charmambara) or silk (divyambara) , held in place by a serpent.
The great teacher-god is surrounded by many animals, particularly the deer and the Nandi bull. The Rishis eager to absorb the Guru’s teaching are at his feet. Their numbers and names are mentioned differently in different texts. For instance; Karanagama mentions four Rishis: Agasthya, Pulasthya, Vishwamitra and Angoras. The Kamikagama mentions seven Rishis : Kaushika, Kashyapa, Bharadwaja, Atri, Gautama and two others. And, the Amsumad-bhedagama mentions seven Rishis as Narada, Vashista, Jamadagni, Bhrighu, Bharadwaja, Sanaka, and Agasthya. The texts also mention that the number of sages depicted could either be one , two or even three (esham ekam dvayam vapi trayam vaparsvayor nyaseth). The aged sages must all be shown with matted hair coiled up (jata bhara); dressed in white; and, wearing rudraksha maala . Their height is prescribed not to reach above the chest of Sri Dakshinamurthi.
Significance of the name:
Let us now dwell on the name. Why is he called Dakṣiṇāmurty? It is mentioned repeatedly that he is called Dakṣiṇāmurty because he is facing south and also because the deity is placed in the southern quarter of the temple. Some say that the name of the deity may have been derived because of this practice. However, there are few other explanations too.
Yama, the Lord of Death, is in the southern direction. Usually this is considered inauspicious, for example, we are not advised to do Achamanam, japam or any mangala kaaryam facing south. Some people do not even sit facing south while eating. Since Yama, being the Lord of death is a dreaded one, Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty who liberates one from eternal death, saṃsāraḥ., is actually face-to-face with Death, challenging him. In other words, Jnana is the panacea for saṃsāraḥ., death. He who gains Jnana is never afraid of death. Death is kAla, and Shiva, Jnana, is kAla-kAla, or Shiva deals Death to that very Death. To signify this we have Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty facing south.
The south-orientation of Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty appears to be based on the notion that he is seated in the Himalayas looking towards the land-mass where the aspirants reside; that is towards south.
Another way of understanding it is; Suta –samhita describes the five faces or five aspects of Shiva which are turned towards four cardinal directions and the space above, as: on the West: Sadyojata (representing earth, and pervading ego); on the North: Vamadeva (water and manas); on the South: Aghora (fire and Buddhi); on the East: Tatpuruṣaḥ (air and maya); and above all: Isana (akasha and soul). The South face of Shiva is Aghora. Aghora the benevolent is predominantly of sattva nature with minimal of rajas and tamas. It is a state of pure being and energy. It is pure knowledge (para-vidya); and, Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty represents that knowledge. Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty who corresponds to Aghora the south aspect of Shiva is therefore represented facing south.
The great seer Sri Ramana Maharishi who perhaps is closest to Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty in his ideals and in his teaching methods, explained the term as Dakshina + Amurthy, meaning a formless entity, one which is capable but is without form. Dakshina refers to He, who is competent to create, sustain, and dissolve this Universe; and, who, however, in reality, in his Absolute state, is A-murthy i.e. formless.
He is called Dakṣiṇāmurty because of his boundless compassion (Dakshinya) towards all creation. Dakshina , it is said , also means favourable (anukula ) to the devotee. Dakshina is also interpreted as grace. Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty is regarded the very embodiment of grace. It is explained that ‘grace’ (anugraha) is an act of unbound compassion releasing the individual from the coils of saṃsāraḥ.. As Guru, he is the sublime ideal of spiritual wisdom adorned with grace towards all aspirants. And, only through his grace can one attain liberation.
The term ‘daksha’ denotes one who is capable, skilful or an expert. Daksha also signifies the intelligent or competent. Dakṣiṇāmurty is the Daksha, the Master in music, arts and in all that is accomplished artistically; an exponent, an authority on scriptural learning; an adept in Tantra-vidya; a supreme Yogi; and, a teacher beyond compare who teaches the true knowledge that liberates.
As a kid nearly 60 years back, Visalakshi Ammman Kovil (Temple is more than 300 years old ) in Batlagundu (Vattlagundu), situated in Nilkottai Taluk of in Dindigul District in Tamilnadu, on the bank of HARIDHRA RIVER (MANJALARU – no idea if the river exists today!) was the only place which I used to go regularly for prayers, not because I understood what a prayer is and the need for one; but that used to be the mandate those days for boys at the “Agraharam (an ungated community!)” from the family. Visalakshi Amman & Lord Visvesvarar are the principal deities and the temple included several Deities such as Ganesha, Subramanya, Chandikeshwarar, Dakṣiṇāmurty etc. For each of the Gods, we used to recite a specific Sloka and when it came to Dakṣiṇāmurty, we used to recite as a routine. Here is a short video of the temple (Photo Courtesy – My friend Muthunarayanan alias Muthappa)
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheswara
Guru sakshath ParaBrahma tasmai Sri Guruve Namah.
I did not know anything about either God or the Sloka except that I had to recite it at that particular spot where Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty was situated. All I knew was that He was a form of Siva. Never in my life subsequent to that period and even in my dreams did I imagine once, that one day I will be writing about the Sthothram on Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty by Adi Śankarācārya. Blessed I am indeed to even think of consolidating what is written and explained by legends and doyens of Spirituality and Vedāntaḥ.
But strange is the nature and power of “the Ultimate Reality”. Study of Vedāntaḥ and listening to Spirituality oriented Discourses is the most familiar route for spending time after retirement for most of us and I am no exception to this. One such lecture by Prof. Mahadevan of IIM, Bangalore was the spark I needed to dive into the Ocean of Vedāntaḥ Concepts brought out in Dakṣiṇāmurty Stotram. Realizing that I am getting old and spending time on spirituality, my son presented me with a book titled “The Upanishads” by Sri. Eknath Easwaran. This added fuel to the fire. As I was exploring these two topics, I learnt that I can’t do either if I don’t know Tattva Bodha. Now this is the third dimension to my time management. My preoccupation with these three books and commentaries by Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Omkaranada and Swami Sravapriyananda drove my grandchildren (my daughter’s young boys) to the conclusion that their “Thatha” (grandfather) who used to spend lot of time playing cricket and organizing/fixing the place rendered as a “mess” by them is not doing it anymore and is lost. They even declared my room as “Thatha’s Corner “– The lost and found room. The fact is that as a “Thatha” I am lost; but I am trying to find out as to who I am instead of where I am.
How can I find out the answer to the question “Who am I”? The legendary Tamil Saint Thirumoolar comes to my rescue in his epic Thirumandiram
“நரருஞ் சுரரும் பசுபாசம் நண்ணிக்
கருமங்க ளாலே கழித்தலிற் கண்டு
குருஎன் பவன்ஞானி கோதில னானால்
பரமென்ற லன்றிப் பகர்வொன்று மின்றே”.
மனிதர்களும்,தேவர்களும் பாசத்தில் அகப்பட்டு பல்வேறு வினைகளைச் செய்து அதனால் அழிந்து போகின்றனர். இதைக் கண்ட பின்பு ஒருவன் செய்ய வேண்டியது என்ன? ஒரு குற்றமற்ற ஞானியைத் தன் குருவாகப் பற்றிக் கொண்டாலே போதும். “பரத்துடன் கூடி நீயும் பரம் ஆவாய்” என்று உபதேசம் செய்வதன்றி அந்த குரு செய்ய வேண்டியது எதுவும் இல்லை.
As mortals like me, get trapped by “attachment” and perform actions which lead us nowhere, one has to look for a Guru who will make him understand that “You are That”. Fine; I need a Guru. How do I look for Guru at this Old age? Thirumoolar gives a response to my query.
“ஆட்கொண்ட வர்தனி நாயகன் அன்புற
மேற்கொண்ட வர்வினை போயற நாடொறும்
நிற்கின்ற செஞ்சடை நீளன் உருவத்தின்
மேற்கொண்ட வாறலை வீவித் துளானே”.
ஒரு குருவாக வந்து மாணவனை ஆட்கொள்பவர் ஒப்பற்ற ஈசனே ஆவார். அவர் தன் மாணவனின் வினைகள் அழியும் வண்ணம் நாள்தோறும் உபதேசிக்கிறார். அவர் நீர்மலிந்த நீள் சடையை உடைய சிவனே அன்றி வேறு எவரும் அல்ல. சிவனே மனம் இரங்கியும் கீழே இறங்கியும் வந்து மாணவனின் வருத்துகின்ற வல்வினைகளை அழித்து விடுகின்றார்.
Thirumoolar further states Lord Siva Himself comes in the form of a Guru to help us understand ourselves. It is with this confidence, that I am undertaking this journey, with Lord Dakṣiṇāmurty as my Guru and Adi Śankarācārya’ Stotramon on the Lord as the first leg of my journey.
To be honest, nothing that I will be writing in the months to come is mine, except the attempt to focus my understanding and in that process try to express the Sanskrit Slokas in my mother tongue – Tamil; it is only my limited understanding of the vast literature available in public domain. The purpose of documenting my understanding is with the hope that someday someone as ignorant as me (hopefully not when they become “the lost Thatha”), will take baby steps as a novice like me, into this delightful field of spirituality holding this piece of document as the helping hand. If that happens, that will be the biggest gift that I would be automatically passing on (without holding back) to all the people in the public domain whose works I have used extensively. There is no commercial interest whatsoever.
A word of caution here – Millions of pages have been written over centuries by “Subject” – “Matter” – Specialists to provide commentaries for the Slokas in these books. Summing them up into few lines is absolutely immature and childish; yet as a child I have started my baby steps on Vedāntaḥ. Pardon me for that. But Children have the right to enquire and ask questions. The child I am, I am asking questions to myself with the fond hope that someday I will find answers as to who I am.
Seeking your Blessings and wishes as I commence my journey. You are most welcome to join me in my journey. Looking forward to your wonderful and valued company. A broad based schedule for April & May will be posted in the next blog.
With very little knowledge of Sanskrit and abysmally poor idea about Vedanta and Spirituality, on January 4th of this year , I commenced my journey to try and get a feeling of the first Dasakam of Narayaneeyam. No need to emphasise the very low confidence that I had in this journey. It was akin to the journey by foot undertaken from the erstwhile State of Madras to Kasi (Varanasi) in the previous centuries, with the traveller not really sure if he will ever reach the destination; leave alone the chances of studying there.
As a beginner and a self-learner, like the Kasi traveller, I take lot of time to understand the sentence in Sanskrit (In Tamil we call it எழுத்துக்கூட்டி படிப்பது). Then look for help in splitting the long words into simple and understandable words (பதம் பிரித்து) and then refer to the dictionaries for meaning; come to some conclusion and then refine it with respect to the context. Many times I had lost hopes of me understanding the context and the concepts that are propounded by Bhattathri. But as I started the journey, I had an invisible hand holding mine after I finished studying each sloka – I can only guess that it was indeed the Lord of Guruvayur Himself.
So here I am; at the end of 75 days plus around 25 days of preparation , have just completed the first round of my study of 10 Slokas . I need to study this again and again till I get an understanding, as I feel that this Daskam brings out Vedantic concepts in describing Lord Guruvayurappan. I will do that as my next project. In the meantime, here is a consolidation of my learning.
Pl bear with me if you find my understanding and translation as inadequate. Please feel free to let me know through your comments.