Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 10
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Skanda Puranam: The Legend of Vala
Vala was an Asura. He propitiated Lord Siva and obtained a boon from Him by which his body, on his death, should become the nine precious gems.
He once defeated Indra in a battle. In appreciation of the Asura's valour, Indra asked him to choose for a boon from him. The Asra laughed and replied, "You have been defeated and you ask me to choose a boon! I will give you a boon; choose."
Indra, seizing the opportunity, wanted Vala to become Indra's sacrificial cow and when he did so, Indra killed Vala. Thus, when the Asura died, due to the boon from Siva, his body became the nine gems as:
For adopting unfair means in killing Vala and for many other atrocities committed, Indra had to undergo untold torture at the hands of Surapadman who invaded his kingdom, Indraloka and even burnt it. Surapadman is, therefore, referred to as the enemy of the kingdom of the Valan-killer, Indra.
Skanda Puranam: The Legend of Surapadman (continued) personification of Ego
Surapadman, with his entire army, gave a heroic battle to Lord Skanda. The Lord destroyed his army, his chariot and everything, and the Asura was left all alone. Yet the ego, a personification of which he was, did not leave him! The time for his doom had come. But the Asura had performed great Tapas and had obtained the blessing of Lord Siva, who only had come in the form of Lord Skanda, though the Asura was not aware of it. Pleased with his earlier austerities and with his heroic stand now, the Lord, out of compassion showed Surapadman His Visvarupa. It was the blessed fortune of Surapadman to have a vision of the cosmic form, beholding which he humbly bowed down to the Lord recognizing His Divinity. But lo! The power of ego is so great that when the Lord withdrew His cosmic form the Asura was again up with arms to fight, forgetting the vision. Now, having been left alone, Surapadman used all his mayaic tricks in the fight. He assumed in quick succession various forms and fought with the Lord, who destroyed them all. Finally, the Asura took the form of a mango true. Standing in the mid-ocean as an unimaginably huge tree with roots struck deep and branches shooting up to the heavens, he shook the Earth and Heavens, causing terror even to the Devas. It seemed as if the Earth and Heaven would crumble to dust. Now, Lord Skanda dispatched His Vel which cleaved the tree into two halves and threw the Asura into the ocean.
Fear of death and Yama
To the Lord who destroyed Surapadman with His Vel and whose chest is ever adorned with victory-garlands, saint Arunagirinathar offers the prayer, "O Lord, if Yama comes to take away my life, appear before me and save me."
This verse is an effective prayer to ward off the fear of death. Yama approaches only the world-conscious people but not the devotees of God, much less a saint of the order of Arunagirinathar. Yet, he offers this prayer to infuse confidence in the heart of devotees that the Lord will appear before them to protect them in case Yama comes by chance. Because, if by any mistake Yama happens to approach a devotee, Yama's form with his black buffalo may cause terror in him; but the Lord's Darshan at that time with His enchanting form of garland-adorned chest on the beautiful peacock will soothe the devotee's heart and comfort his soul. Hence, the prayer. What a beautiful contrast between the black, buffalo-riding terrible Yama and the beautiful, peacock-riding enchanting Skanda!
Yama never approached Arunagirinathar
(true devotee of God)
Arunagirinathar had no doubt that Yama could not approach him as he had been specially blessed by Lord Shanmukha. And, truly Yama did not approach him; for when Arunagirinathar's mission was over, he attained blissful communion with Lord Skanda.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Fear of death may take possession of the Sadhaka. This may be on account of his body getting emaciated due to the inner psychological tussle (verse 9) and the consequent mental unhappiness or due to his Tapascharya or due to advancing age. The seeker, therefore, offers a prayer to the Lord for protection, i.e., to appear before him in case Yama comes to take his life, because he does not wish to die before attaining God-Experience.
Fear of death is also a great factor in Sadhana, which goads the seeker to resort to the Lord with greater surrender.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.