Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 7
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Mind the cause for suffering and the key to salvation
The mind is the cause of one's bondage and liberation. A proper education of it is, therefore, necessary. Hence, the instruction to the mind in this verse.
The ignorant mind takes the fleeting objects of the world as something real, goes for them, gets entangled in them and in the end suffers miserably. This is Vishaya-Chintana (thinking of objects) which is the cause of its bondage. The Gita warns us of the disastrous effects of thinking of sense-objects. Thinking leads to attachment for objects, from attachment is born desire, from desire arises anger, from anger delusion, from delusion loss of memory and from loss of memory destruction of discrimination, and finally with loss of discrimination the individual perishes. Hence, the malady is to be cured at the root itself. The mind should not be allowed to dwell upon objects. It is, therefore, advised to give away in charity whatever it has as its possession. But how is it to be given? Not with a feeling of remorse or grudge, but with love of God, i.e., not thinking of the object given but of God. This is called Bhagavat-Chintana, Atma-Chintana or Brahma-Chintana, which is an antidote to Vishaya-Chintana. When anything is given in charity, there should be no thought of the object given; but the Lord should be thought of. How?
Charity: How one should give
God should be thought of as the giver, the given, the receiver, and even the act of giving. Everything is God and everything belongs to God. The one who gives and what is given are as much creations of God as the one who receives. All are limbs of the one universal being of God. A practice and as establishment in this is "Brahma-Karma-Samadhi," as explained in Verse 24, Chapter IV of the Gita. There is the fire of knowledge that burns to ashes the endless process of birth and death. Where is the possibility for an individualistic existence or Jivatva when everything is beheld as God or Brahman, as an undivided ocean of existence, of which the giver and the given are but waves which have no independent existence of their own apart form the ocean.
Charity: Its effect on Karmas
Karmas, says Aruangirinathar, are the cause of our present suffering as also for the never-ending chain of Samsara, of which our present life is but a link. He also prescribes the remedy for these, namely charity and meditation on the Lord charity to wash away Karmas and meditation to cease from birth and death.
"Charity covereth a multitude of sins," said Jesus Christ.
Charity: Expands the heart and draws the Lord's grace
We commit sins due to desires, greed, etc., which constrict the heart. Charity is an antidote to this malady. It expands the heart, fills it with compassion and love for the suffering. A man of charitable nature has a broad heart. He can feel for the sufferings of others. Charity, thus, renders the heart wet and soft, fit for the blossoming of the lotus of the Lord's feet in one's heart, for which the prayer was offered in the earlier verse. Thus, charity purifies and prepares the heart and thinking of the Lord while giving anything in charity enables the planting of His lotus feet in that cultivated heart. Charity and meditation thus lead to liberation.
Charity: the true spiritual definition
Charity is a broad term. It is not merely sharing or giving a little of one's wealth. One can be (and has to be) charitable in one's thoughts and feelings, in one's notions and attitudes. One can give one's wealth, knowledge, talents, or wisdom in charity. Wisdom-charity (Jnana Dana) is considered as the highest form of charity because while the effect of other forms of charity does not last long, Jnana-Dana leads to permanent good. All charity involves, however, sacrifice of one's pleasure it may be physical, psychological, or egoistic. Unless this element of sacrifice is involved in charity, charity loses all meaning. The different kinds of charity or sacrifice are meant to serve as a means to and a preparation for the final sacrifice of meditation on the Lord, wherein one's individuality is offered in universality. Thus, one has to give away everything one has in charity one's wealth, one's capacities and talents, one's ego and finally oneself to God so much so, that nothing is left behind to be called as one's own or oneself. It is a giving without a remainder. No possession is left and individuality, too, remains not. That is why Arunagirinathar did not content himself with saying "give in charity" but has pointedly added "unconcealingly." Nothing is to be concealed or left over. Thus, when all one's possessions are given away in charity and with the master-stroke of meditation on God, one's very individuality is offered in the universal existence of God, the bonds of Karma break and the process of Samsara comes to an end.
Arunagirinathar, therefore, advocates charity and meditation as means to shatter karmas and transcend transmigratory life.
Charity is (material) external sacrifice and meditation is (spiritual) internal sacrifice, the former leading to and preparing for the latter.
This is a practical instruction to attain that "all-ceasing and mine-losing good," referred to in verse 2. There it is a prayer offered to God and here it is an instruction given to the mind; there the goal, here the means. How beautifully are the truths driven home by the saint!
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[In addition to invoking the Lord's grace, as stated in the previous verse, the aspirant now advises his mind to give in charity and to meditate on the Lord's feet charity for the hard heart to become soft and meditation for the blossoming of the feet-lotus in the heart thus, rendered soft the combined action of which will attract divine grace.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.