Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 4
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Skanda Puranam: The Legend of Surapadman & Krauncha
Surapadman, the powerful asura, who had obtained many boons from Lord Siva, waged war with Lord Skanda with the help of his entire kith and kin. When all of them were destroyed and the asura was left alone, he fought assuming various forms one of which was that of a huge mango tree with many shooting branches. The Lord cleaved the tree with the Vel. Thus, Lord Subrahmanya pierced the asura in battle, as if in sport, by the dispatch of His divine weapon, the Vel. This the saint refers to as, "O Lord who dispatches the Vel as to pierce through Soora, who rose with his retinue (or with many branches as a tree)."
Krauncha was one of the lieutenants of the asura Taaraka the younger brother of Surapadman. Krauncha used to assume the form of a mountain with many paths leading through it. When passersby (especially sages and pious men) entered the mountain through these paths, the mountain (the asura) would close itself from all sides and kill the persons. This was Krauncha's pastime. Once sage Agastya was going southwards from the Himalayas under the instructions of Lord Siva. Krauncha, too, played the same trick with the sage, who, understanding it in time, through his intuition, cursed Krauncha to remain in the shape of the mountain itself till he came to be destroyed by the Vel of Lord Skanda, in the fullness of time. Lord Skanda, while leading the Deva-forces southwards to attack Surapadman, met this Krauncha mountain and killed the Asura by a throw of His Vel.
The mountain referred to in the verse may also mean the Elugiri (seven-fold) mountain that always followed Surapadman and helped him in many ways, which also was pierced by the Vel of the Lord.
Spiritual significance of the mountain
The mountain represents Karma and Surapadman the ego (Avidya). As the mountain and the asura could be killed only by the Vel of Lord Skanda, even so, only Jnana (wisdom) can destroy Karma and Avidya. Therefore, the saint pleads, "O Lord, you destroyed the mountain and the asura. Similarly, destroy my bondage of Karma and Avidya."
By ordinary human effort the bondage of samsara cannot be broken. The attachment to wife and children is so strong that nothing but divine grace can snap it. In this verse, Arunagirinathar practically weeps before the Lord over his helplessness and invokes His grace to snap the ties of samsara.
How to pray to God & obtain His grace
It is not that Arunagirinathar was really bound by the bonds of wife and children. He had already attained the supreme grace of Skanda and the whole Kanthar Anubhuthi is an ecstatic outpouring of his high spiritual illumination. We have, therefore, to understand that he places himself it the pitiable condition of people in common and prays. The beauty of the treatise is that Arunagirinathar has sung the verses in the first person so that when we sing them, it becomes our prayer to the Lord. We are so ignorant that we do not know how to pray even. Left to ourselves, we would pray and ask for things which would prove to be harmful to us. Hence, Arunagirinathar places himself in a common place position and prays as if we would pray so that we have only to repeat them. This verse is so worded that one cannot but be moved to tears by a repetition of it. A mere chanting of it will bring tears in one's eyes and also move the compassionate Lord. And the Lord's grace will snap the bonds of samsara. Nothing but the divine grace is a help in this and nothing but a heart-moved, tear-flowing, weeping, invocatory prayer can draw the Lord's grace. So, Arunagirinathar prays, "O Lord Muruga, that powerful Krauncha and that mighty Surapadman were killed by you by a throw of your Vel. Is it fair for you that I perish under the clutches of wife and children And is it a big job for you to snap off this tie and release me?"
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[In the previous verses, Arunagirinathar made clear the goal to be attained, its nature, and the method of attainment. Here, he points out the obstacles that stand in the way or the Sadhaka, the first and foremost of which is the bondage of family, the maintenance and care of which takes away all one's time and energy.
The aspirant who has commenced his Sadhana and has a clear conception of the goal to be attained, now realizes that wife and children are the immediate obstacles, in the sense that they are the gross and external, and prays for their removal.
Objectively, family constitutes the bondage of a person, while subjectively Karma and Avidya bind the soul to samsara or relative existence, all which can be put to and end by the grace of God.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.