Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 15
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Skanda Puranam: Why Devas offer devout worship to
Lord Murugan is worshipped both by the gods in heaven and the morals on earth, alike. The Devas were driven out of the heavens and put to untold humiliation by the Asura Surapadman and his brothers, with the power of extraordinary boons obtained by them from Lord Siva. Lord Skanda killed the Asuras in battle and saved the Devas from the atrocities of these Asuras and restored them back to their rightful heaven. Hence, the Devas always offer devout worship to the Lord.
Why mortals offer worship to Lord Murugan?
People on earth approach the Lord for various purposes for fulfillment of their desires, for warding off their calamities, for attainment of God-realization, etc. for everything they are in need of, all which the Lord grants. Hence, the mortals on this earth sing the Lord's praise and resort to Him for all their needs.
Skanda Puranam: Murugan as the Supreme Guru
Lord Skanda imparted the secret Upadesa on Pranava (Omkara) to Lord Siva. He also gave Jnana-Upadesa to saint Agastya and the six sons of Parasara Muni. Hence, Arunagirinathar addresses the Lord as Supreme Guru or Master.
Eight-fold attributes of God
The eightfold attributes of God, according to the Tamil scriptures are:
These attributes are reducible to Sat-Chit-Ananda, which is Brahman.
How to seek God's Lotus Feet?
Withdrawing the mind from its externalization, i.e., from desire-prompted sense-activity, the Lord's Lotus-feet are to be sought, as the instruction of the preceding verse. Now, in this verse, one of the methods of achieving this is given by Arunagirinathar. Mere human effort to fix the mind on the Lord is not enough. God's grace must come to our help and it is to be invoked through prayer and repetition of the Lord's Name.
The Lord's Name is more powerful than the Lord
The Lord's Name is filled with infinite powers. It is all-purifying. The Name is considered to be even more powerful than the Lord Himself; because while the Lord saved a few only, His Name gave liberation to many. Name is a vibration a powerful vibration which consumes all less powerful vibrations (thoughts) of objects. Repetition of the Lord's Name creates such a harmonious vibration in the mind and the system that it is easily attuned to the Lord, who may be said to be a Cosmic Vibration. The mind becomes subtler and subtler by prolonged repetition so that a time comes when the mind melts itself in God, and God alone remains. So Arunagirinathar prays to the Lord to grant him the blessedness of repeating His Names as "Murugan, Kumaran, Guhan," and so repeating to melt the heart and experience God within.
Beginning of Japa Sadhana
In the beginning of Sadhana, Japa (repetition of the sacred Name) may be merely a loud chant or utterance; it may not be accompanied with the requisite feeling in the heart. The lips may be repeating the mantra, but the heart may be dry and the mind thinking of something else. But, by and by the repetition should bring about the desired result. Verbal repetition should not merely end with it, but should slowly lead ot the feeling o the heart, is hinted at by the saint.
Japa with Bhava is not easy
The Japa to be accompanied with heart's feeling is not an easy achievement, because the heart is full of impurities and it takes quite sometime for the heart to be purified and to melt. But the Name of the Lord is powerful enough to effect this, provided that it is done with faith and for a long time. Will this alone do? No. Sadhana does not end with purification of heart. When the Lord's Name is repeated, the heart should melt and it should further lead to inner communion with the Lord. It should end in spiritual awareness an awareness of one's true Being or God. God-consciousness or Divine Experience is the goal of all spiritual Sadhana.
When we utter the Lord's Name, the mind should melt and the heart should feel God. It is the atonement of the speech, mind, and heart the total personality of ours with God that can bring God-Experience. Else, this delusion of world-experience will not leave us and we will be in that condition which was touchingly portrayed by the saint in verse 5. But one should not lose faith. Constant utterance of the Lord's Name will bring about the melting of heart and Divine feeling in course of time, by continued practice with love and devotion to His Feet.
In the first verse, Arunagirinathar offered a prayer to the Lord that he be blessed with the only work of singing the glories of the Lord. But he did not mention the purpose of it, which he discloses here. It is not meant to make a show to the world that one is a great Bhakta or devotee, but to have inner communion with Him. How? The utterance of the Lord's Name leads to melting of the heart (which is hardened due to countless desires) and finally to the Awareness of God. Utterance of the Name, melting of the heart and God-Experience this is the process of Bakthi Yoga; and this can be compared to the three steps of the Vedantic Sadhana of Vasanakshaya, Manonasa, and Tattva Jnana.
Vasana subtle desire
Vasana is a subtle desire, and the mind is nothing but a bundle of desires. There is nothing to be called the mind when there are no vasanas, even as there is no cloth without the threads constituting it.
Vasanakshaya Destruction of desires
Now, when we think of an object, a desire for it arises in the mind which is a disturbance in the mind. Just as the thought of an object is capable of creating a disturbance in the mind, which is desire; even so a thought of God is capable of setting a harmony or balance in the mind, which is destruction of desire. This destruction of desire or the process of pulling out the threads of vasanas from the mind is called Vasanakshaya, which is brought about by the utterance of the Divine Name in the path of Bakthi. Such is the difference of between God-thought and object-thought, between thought of the particular and the universal.
Manonasa Destruction of the mind
Just as there is no cloth when the threads that constitute it are pulled out one by one, there is no mind when the vasanas that go to make it are thus, destroyed gradually. Vasanakshaya, therefore, leads to Manonasa (destruction of mind), which is the melting of mind consequent upon the utterance of the Lord's Name.
Tattva Jnana Revelation and experience of Atman
When the mind is thus destroyed, the Atman, which is Self-luminous shines in its pristine splendor, even as the sun shines when the clouds that hide it disperse. The sun is always there and it ever shines; we do not create the sun or bring light to it; only the clouds, which are a collection of particles of water, that screen it are scattered. Similarly, hen the mind, a bundle of desires is destroyed, the Atman is revealed and experienced, which is Tattva Jnana.
Thus, Vasanakshaya leads to Manonasa and Manonasa to Tattva Jnana repetition of the Lord's Name to melting of mind and the latter to Experience of God. Such great Vedantic truths have been compressed in this verse in simple terms. Tattva Jnana may be said to be termed by Arunagirinathar as, "Unarvu" in Tamil Awareness, Experience, or Feeling.
Japa Sadhana leads to God-realization
Japa Sadhana is, therefore, considered as a complete Sadhana in itself, that is, it is capable of bringing about God-realization. Japa leads to meditation and meditation to realization.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Instruction has been given to the mind to give up desires and to resort to the Lord (Verse 14). How to bring about this, is mentioned now to utter the Lord's Name, to melt the heart, and to feel God in one's heart is the method, for which Guru's grace is invoked. The seeker has already learned that Divine grace has to back up human effort at every stage to attain anything worth the name. Hence, the invocation.
Giving up desires and resorting to the Lord are not two independent Sadhanas to be practiced separately, one after the other. The one implies the other. To the extent desires are given up, to that extent we are nearer to God. To remove the old, rusted nail in a plank and to replace it with a new one, there is the single process of placing the new one over the old and driving it, by which both are accomplished in one effort. Even so, a sincere repetition of the Lord's Name at once brings about the destruction of desires and also turns the mind within, gradually leading to melting of the heart and actual realization of God within.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.