Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 9
By Sri Arunagirinathar
The Lord is Fierce
Lord Shanmukha with a throw of His Vel destroyed the Krauncha mountain, i.e., the demon who was cursed by sage Agastya to remain as a mountain till he came to be killed by Lord Skanda (verse 4).
The Lord is fierce. He is not only fierce to His enemies in battle but He is also the scorcher of the inner enemies of His devotees, viz., lust, greed, anger, egoism, etc., which cannot be eradicated except by divine grace.
The Lord is painless. He is free from sorrow of any kind due to the absence of limitation of any kind. He is blissful Anandamaya.
The Lord is fearless. To give battle to the terrible Surapadman and other Asuras was a mere play for Him.
Invoking God's grace to overcome desire
Arunagirinathar invokes the special grace of the Lord saying, "O fierce One, save me," because this delusion as the wiles of sex is difficult to get over by ordinary human effort. No advice, no admonition will work here. It appears that the Lord has to use fierce means to rescue one from this terrible malady. Arunagirinathar had suffered much from this craze in his earlier days. He fell into the hands of women of ill-fame. His love for sex was so inordinate that he lost all his wealth in it and became penniless. Yet, the desire did not leave him. One version of his life-story gives the following account.***
Thus, saint Arunagirinathar knew pretty well what it was to suffer from passion and he also learnt that nothing but God's grace can help one in overcoming desire. Arunagirinathar in this verse, addresses the Lord as "fierce," because His grace often comes through hard situations in life. Those piercing words of his sister that not only shook him, made him repent and resolve never to seek pleasure any more, but also, as a measure of Prayaschitta (expiation of sins) made him attempt to end his life by falling down from the tower were the inscrutable, fierce ways of working of the Lord. The medicine should be as strong, if not more than, the malady itself. Hence, the Lord adopts violent and fierce means to recover one from acute situations.
The tossing of the mind & requirement of the grace of God
The condition of tossing of mind is an experience known to every seeker. He has an ideal to concentrate his mind upon an Ishta Devata (chosen form of God) on whom he wants to meditate. But the objects of love do not allow this; they attract his attention and the mind is drawn out from the ideal by force, as it were. With great difficulty, he tries to withdraw the mind from them and fix it on the Lord, only to find that in a moment's time it has again gone to the objects of pleasure. The swinging of the mind, thus, between its ideal (the Self/God) within and the objects of love outside, between the effort at its concentration and the pull of sense-objects is very trying. This painful plight of tossing of the mind cannot be overcome except by the grace of God, for which is the prayer in the verse.
Infatuated love is like a net
Infatuated love is compared to a net because those who get entangled in it cannot easily extricate themselves from it, even as those that got into the Krauncha mountain were trapped into it and cannot get out of it. And again, even as the Lord's Vel alone could pierce through the mountain, only the Lord's grace can free one from the net of Moha. Hence, the implied prayer, "O Lord! You dispatched the Vel on the mountain; why don't you shower your grace on me?"
Women are not condemned in Kanthar Anubhuthi
The verse is not a condemnation of women, but points out the power of inordinate love for sex that makes men suffer and directs one to resort to God for freedom from it.
Arunagirinathar weeps before the Lord for His grace and mercy to be freed from infatuation for women. Though he has already been freed, he does it for people's sake, placing himself in the plight in which they are, so that men have but to repeat the verse and God's grace shall save them.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Though the instruction of the Guru has given the aspirant an intellectual understanding that he is not the body, etc., he is not free from sensory attractions, the most annoying of which is that for women. He tries to control his senses and meditate on the Self but his mind is tossed about between his ideal and the actual (between the Self within and the objects outside), between his intellectual understanding and the practical temptations in day-to-day life.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.