Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 12

By Sri Arunagirinathar
Commentary by N.V. Karthikeyan
Chanted by S. Pranava


semmaan makaLaith— irudum thirudan,
pemmaan murugan piRavaan niRavaan
summaa ira sollaRa enRalumE,
ammaa poruL onRum aRinThilanE. 12


The Stealer who kidnapped Valli, the red-deer-born;
That Glorious Murugan, deathless and unborn —
When He, speechless, instructed me 'Be Silent,'
What wonder! Even a single object I knew not.

"What a wonder! When Lord Murugan — the Stealer who kidnapped Valli born of (Lakshmi in the form of) a red deer, the Glorious One, the birthless and deathless One — instructed me through silence (speechless Upadesa) to 'be silent,' Lo! I knew no object of the world."



Detailed Commentary:

The Lord is the glorious One. His glory is beyond human understanding. He is immortal, birthless, and deathless. He is not born nor does He die like us, forced by Karmas. But the Lord appears in a human form out of His free-will for the sake of His devotees, which is called an Avatara (descent of God for the salvation of man). God manifesting Himself in the relative realm is Avatara. It is in the higher sense, the descent of God-consciousness for the ascent to it of the Jiva-consciousness.

Skanda Puranam: Murugan — the Stealer of Valli

In verse 6, we have already seen the birth of Valli, through the deer. Valli developed intense love for the Lord from her birth and it grew with her age. Knowing this, one day Lord Murugan went in disguise to the corn-field where Valli was and tested her devotion to Him in many ways. Being pleased with the steadfastness of her true devotion to Him, the Lord revealed His identity and assured that He would soon come to her home and accept her in marriage. Accordingly, Valli was eagerly awaiting the Lord's coming, day and night. In the dead of a night, the Lord went to her home and finding everyone else fast asleep, took her away without the knowledge of anyone and made her His divine consort. Hence, He is referred to as the "Stealer of Valli."

Indeed, the Lord is the greatest and real stealer, as He snatches away the hearts of people. The stealing of Valli at midnight has a spiritual significance too. Valli is the Jivatman — the soul aspiring for communion with the Lord. When the Jiva is determined to attain the Lord and engages itself in earnest Sadhana, the Lord tests the Jiva in a variety of ways and finally gives assurance, by way of inner spiritual experience and conviction, of accepting the soul, as He did in the case of Valli. The soul now awaits the blessed moment and is ever vigilant; and the Lord appears when it is the dead of night, when all are asleep and everything is silent. When it is all night to the senses, the mind and intellect, i.e., when they cease functioning on account of their powers having been consumed in the fire of the Jiva's aspiration for God, God snatches away the soul — the higher spiritual consciousness takes possession of the Jiva. Herein is revealed the secret that the awakening of the higher spiritual consciousness (which is the appearance of the Lord) is possible only when the outgoing tendencies of the senses, the externalizing nature of the mind and the objectifying character of the consciousness are withdrawn and centered in the heart, which is the abode of the Self.

Murugan's upadesa: "Be Silent"

In the previous verse, Arunagirinathar said that the Lord gave him upadesa on the Supreme Reality, but did not reveal as to what the upadesa was. In this verse he does it, "Be silent," was the upadesa.

Silence or Mowna is of three kinds — physical, verbal, and mental.

To remain steady or unmoved in body, in one pose, is physical silence or Kashtha-mowna.

To observe silence of speech is verbal or Vang-mowna.

There is then the silence of the mind, due to eradication of Vasanas (desires), which is Mano-mowna.

In Kashtha-mowna, mental silence may not be there; similarly, in Vang-mowna, the body and mind may be active. But in Mano-mowna, physical and verbal silence take place automatically. Mental silence is, therefore, the most difficult of achievement and is superior to the other two. All these three kinds of Mowna are practiced and attained with effort.

Spiritual mowna

But, there is another kind of Mowna, the spiritual mowna, which is altogether of a different nature, which includes and transcends the three types, which can be had only by God's grace. Spiritual mowna is the silence of the soul or the resting of the Jiva in God-Awareness wherein the mind automatically rests in silence, the mouth speaks not and the body does not move. When God chooses to give this spiritual Mowna (speechless upadesa) which is the manifestation of God-consciousness, the Jiva becomes "silent" and it sees nothing of this world as it loses itself in God and becomes one with everything. This is indeed a rare experience, given only to the chosen few.

How to practice "be silent" — speechless upadesa?

The upadesa "be silent" is the last instruction in the spiritual path. And it is needless to say that it is to be given through silence. What is this speechless upadesa? Or, how to instruct without speaking? Yes, language or speech is the means of instruction, but each aspect of the human being has a language of its own, peculiar to itself.

There are kinds of language which the different aspects of the personality understand. We do not speak to animals and tell them not to do a thing; they will not understand our language? So we resort to the "language of the stick" to instruct them.

We have then the case of obstinate children who would not listen to their parents. But a good thrashing is the method of instruction to them, which they understand at once. This may be called the "physical language."

The ordinary "verbal language" is generally understood by all.

Emotions such as love, compassion, and even anger are expressed through the "language of the eyes." The lover and the beloved speak between themselves in this language.

We have then the "language of the heart"; a devotee speaks to God and vice-versa, in this language, through feelings.

Finally, there is the "language of the spirit" in which God speaks to a ripe soul. That is the "language of silence" which a Jnani understands. Divine wisdom is conveyed through silence.

Here, each successive language is superior to the former. Hence, the saying, "the language of silence is more powerful than the language of speech." One can understand or instruct in a corresponding language according to the level in which one is. Thus, the Lord who is the Absolute can speak through silence, through His omniscience, which is speechless upadesa.

Puranam: The Legend of Dakshinamurthi

When the four Kumaras approached Lord Siva (Dakshinamurthi) for instructions, the Lord explained the lower stages of Yoga and when the final stage of Samadhi was to be taught, He remained in silence (Samadhi) and made them too enter into Samadhi. He revealed that state to them, not through any instruction but by Being. Samadhi is supreme silence and He gave the instruction on Samadhi (i.e., to be silent) by Himself being silent. This is the mystery of revelation of Avatara, of God-experience. Hence, the Bhagavad Gita says, "He that ses, hears, and speaks of the Self is a wonderful man. Such a man is very rare. He is one among many thousands. Thus, the Self is very hard to understand." (Gita II-29). Hence, the saint also exclaims and says, "What a wonder, I got the rare blessedness!"

"Be Silent" is not given by mouth

The Guru or God does not stand outside and instruct the disciple. Physically, He may appear to be so, but He manifests Himself as the latter's very consciousness and thus instructs silently. God-consciousness supervenes in Jiva-consciousness, the instructor and the instructed become one. Thus, the supervening of God-consciousness is itself the speechless upadesa as well as the instruction to be silent. So, Arunagirinathar says that this instruction to "be silent" was given not by word of mouth. It is not an instruction through activity or external demonstration, not a verbal instruction, not even a thought-transference. It is a mysterious "happening" — a process of the spirit by the spirit, through the spirit. The Lord or higher Self reveals Himself as one's own Self. It is a spiritual awareness granted sheerly by the Lord's grace and not attained by mere human effort. To this the Upanishad refers as, "He reveals Himself to him whom He chooses." Lo! In this highest spiritual awareness, the world ceases to exist — the world as perceived now, as an entity outside and independent of the knower, as cut off from the universal existence of God. The Jiva is not the world and the world, too, ceases to be; God alone exists.

It is very interesting and important to note that the moment the Lord gave upadesa to be silent, Arunagirinathar knew nothing of the world. It was not that he had to put the instruction into practice and then have the experience. No; it was not so. The Lord instructed and he experienced; that is all. This is quite evident from the verse, wherein the saint says, "When He instructed me, `Be Silent,' Lo! I knew nothing." The word "Enralume" is very significant and it leaves no room or scope to say that the experience came after some practice, but positively indicates that it was had at once. After the Lord's instruction, he was not required to sit motionless, observe verbal mowna, silence the mind, or do any such thing, to enter into that state. There was no process involved; it was a simultaneous happening. The Lord's upadesa and the saint's experience were not consecutive, but instantaneous. The two were one. We have also seen how the speechless upadesa of the Lord and the upadesa to be silent were also simultaneous. Thus, the three — the silent upadesa, the instruction to be silent, and the experience of silence or not knowing anything of the world — were not different, but was an at-one-stroke-happening.

Thus, God revealing Himself in one's heart as supreme silence or the Self is "speechless upadesa" (sollara upadesam); the simultaneous absorption of the Jiva-consciousness is to "be silent" (summa iruththal); and the consequent non-awareness of the world is "to know nothing" (porul onrum aridhal illaamai) — which all occur simultaneously — which is, in essence, the spiritual significance of the Lord's stealing Valli. Therefore, Arunagirinathar says, "The Lord who stole Valli away from her people and made her to be with Him as His consort, stole me also away from this world-awareness and made me `be silent' in His awareness."

Why "be silent" is a great upadesa

Why is "be silent" a great upadesa? God is omnipresent, He is all-pervading. The question then arises, why do we not feel or experience God? But the answer is simple — we are not "silent," we make the mistake of "searching" Him. He is everywhere; where then is the need to search for Him? But that is the mistake we do! It is a mistake because to search is to localize or externalize God; and God being all-pervading or universal cannot be so localized. The universal cannot admit of externality, of space and time. Hence, the need to cease from this search. This "ceasing" is to "be silent." The consciousness of ceasing from all activity through the mind and senses and to rest (or be in itself) is "to be silent." Then, naturally, nothing of the world will be known.

Instruction for the devout Sadhaka

[As mere upadesa does not help the disciple much (verse 8 to 10), this time the Guru, in addition to the upadesa (verse 11), gives him a state of temporary spiritual awareness by his spiritual power. At once, all objectivity vanishes, he sees nothing of the world and has a glimpse of that baffling experience of non-dual awareness.

This temporary state also gives the aspirant an insight into the nature of God and Guru, which he reveals on return to normal consciousness (in the next verse).

The spiritual state is given by the Guru not by verbal instruction but by silence — may be by a touch or a look or even a gesture.

Though in the case of Arunagirinathar, it means actual realization the Absolute; in the case of the Sadhaka it is only a temporary state "given by the Guru only to convince him of the existence of higher spiritual experiences and of his supernatural powers, so as to infuse confidence into the disturbed seeker's mind of the competency of the Guru to lead him to God-experience.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, by a touch, made Vivekananda fly into an ecstasy of spiritual awareness, in which state he saw nothing but consciousness everywhere. But it is not attainment of the goal; the seeker returns to his normal condition and has to put forth effort to realize that experience for himself.]



Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.

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