Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 5
By Sri Arunagirinathar
The essence of Maya (world-delusion) is home, wealth, and women (wife). These are so tiring and painful. Though one may be engaged in japa, etc., yet their thought persists in the mind. This is called Maya (reasonless delusion) because though they are pain-giving the mind still goes for them and does not dwell upon the Lord, who is capable of freeing one even from the Mahamaya and bestowing upon the devotee joy and wisdom.
Power of Maya over Nama-Japa
The Lord is capable of destroying the world-delusion. But even after repeating His names, one is still not free from the clutches of women, wealth, and home. This is to show that the power of Maya is so great that one should not be satisfied with the repetition of the Lord's name for sometime, but patiently continue the practice till the dawn of His grace. Great emphasis is, therefore, laid by the saint on continued practice with love and dedication for a long time until the attainment of the goal, which fact Maharishi Patanjali also stresses in his Yoga-Sutras.
Mechanical utterance of God's name is not enough
Why has the world-delusion not left us, though we have been repeating His name? The reason is simple. The mouth utters the Lord's name but the mind is still centered in the objects of love. It relishes a secret desire for them in the heart. Hence, japa does not bring the desired result. Therefore, mere japa is not enough; the heart should also go with it to God. With utterance of japa, if the mind also thinks of the Lord without a second thought and heart feels God, then it is that His grace manifests which destroys Maya. Hence, the saint in verse 15, prays thus, "O Lord when shall you bless me such that repeating, 'Murugan, Kumaran, Guhan,' my mind will melt and the heart feel or experience you…" While he uses the word "uttering" only in this verse, Arunagirinathar adds the words "melting" and "feeling" also in verse 15. Hence, mere mechanical utterance is not enough, there should be Bhava (feeling). But this is the way, the beginning. When the practice is continued, in course of time, the mantra-sakthi (Sadhana-power) will make one's mind melt and the heart feel God within.
How beautifully Arunagirinathar portrays facts! It is true that eh Lord is powerful enough to destroy Mahamaya and it is also true that we are doing Japa of His names. But it is all the more true that we are not freed from maya. How strange? But this is the experience of everyone who actually practices Sadhana. It may be asserted theoretically that a single repetition of the Lord's name "can" destroy all one's delusion and it may be true. Or, it may also be held that maya has not left us because we have not uttered His name and prayed to him. Well, this may also be true. But what is the actual state of affairs? Have all those who have uttered the Lord's names been freed from maya? No; not until the grace of God manifests, for which the heart should melt and feel. This verse is the cry of a Sadhaka who has commenced doing some Sadhana. Arunagirinathar is not a dreamy theoretician. He states facts vividly and touchingly, for which art he is held in high esteem. Saint Thaiyumanavar, wondering at this skill of Arunagirinathar says, "O Arunagirinathar, my Lord and (spiritual) father! Is there anyone who has said words of fact as vividly as you have? …"
The need for continuous Sadhana
Arunagirinathar wants to lay great emphasis on the need for Sadhana. One may be fortunate enough to get initiation from a Guru or God, but that is not enough. The Guru or God gives the needed strength along with the initiation. But prolonged Sadhana has to be practiced to obtain His grace. The old samskaras are so deeply imbedded in the subconscious that they cannot be easily destroyed. The three Eshanas are very powerful to be overcome like that. They persist and refuse to be wiped out. Great effort is needed. Prolonged practice is called forth. Though the Lord's grace alone can destroy them, Sadhana is essential to draw the grace of the Lord.
The verse is also interpreted as:
1. "The Lord is capable of removing the Mahamaya. But alas, I have not uttered His names as "Shanmukha, Shanmukha!' Is it my lot to remain immersed in the wearisome samsara by thinking of women, wealth, and home!"
2. "The Lord is capable of destroying the Mahamaya. Though He gave me upadesa with (not only one face but with) all His six faces, I am still thinking of home, wealth and women, and am not freed from the suffering of this world-delusion which is so irksome."
Whatever be the interpretation, it is clear that the Lord is capable of removing Mahamaya, and that the world-delusion has not left its hold on us because we have not whole-heartedly resorted to Him. Hence, a sincere dedication, a whole-hearted application and a total offering of oneself to God till the dawn of His grace is the way for freedom from samsara.
Obstacles in the initial stages of Sadhana
This is the experience of every Sadhaka in the initial stages of Sadhana that inspite of his best efforts to control the mind (which is the seed of Maya), the irksome Maya does not leave him. It may also appear that all one's effort will finally prove to be of no avail. Often, at this stage, Sadhakas get discouraged and even lose faith in God and some even give up their practices as useless. But no, is what the saint wants to lay emphasis in this verse. One should persist with one's heart and soul, and with firm determination as the Tamil saying goes, "Even if I am wiped out (of existence), I will not leave (the practice)."
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[In spite of the prayer in the previous verse, the Jagan-Maya does not leave the seeker. He realizes that this is so, not because the Lord is incapable but because his Sadhana is insufficient to draw divine grace which demands further effort.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.