Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 16
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Praying to God is no easy task
Even the practice of the Divine Name, as prayed for in the previous verse, is difficult of achievement for people, because of desires. It is no wonder that people often think it a mere waste of time to sit and utter the Lord's Name. Their inordinate desire for wealth and enjoyment does not allow them to sit quietly even for a few minutes, think of the Lord and enjoy inner peace. What a power these desires have! They shake the very personality, agitate the mind and senses, and allow not man to be peaceful. Man is fooled by his desires that make him move outward, strive for wealth and pleasures which are not lasting and which bring pain in their train. People are helplessly tossed about by their desires. Poor man! He does not know that he is a puppet moved by desires. How aptly did Arjuna ask Lord Krishna, "Impelled by what, O Lord, does man commit sin, though against his wishes, constrained, at it were, by force?" And the blessed Lord revealed the fact, the secret of secrets, that it is this desire and this anger that are the causes of all sinful deeds, that prompt men to sinful action, much against their wishes. Desire and anger (anger is only another form of desire) are the causes of human suffering. All sins can ultimately be traced to these two violent forces. This world-show is kept up by desires.
Desires are insatiable
Desires are insatiable. The more we give them, the more they want. It is like pouring ghee over fire that will burn brighter consuming the ghee and wanting more. Every satisfaction adds strength to desire which craves further satisfaction. And if anything stands in the way of its satisfaction, it causes anger; and we know the disastrous consequences of anger. Man loses his balance and becomes verily a beast. So much for desires.
Thus, desires lead to undesirable results, whereas the practice of the Divine Name is sweet and soothing even while being uttered, brings solace to the heart and in the end bestows salvation to the soul. Yet, the inordinate desires goad man to strive for the perishable things of the world and make him suffer throughout. He revolves, caught up in this wheel of desires now for this and now for that. Man is nothing but a tool in the hands of desires.
Cause of desire is non-discrimination
Arunagirinathar traces the cause of this disease of desire to non-discrimination. In this, he sums up the whole of human life, its suffering and its cause. Human life is characterized by suffering. There is no real happiness in this embodied life. Even the so-called pleasure is considered by a man of wisdom as only pain, for the pleasure, apart from being momentary and false, ends in pain, craving for further enjoyment, restlessness, anxiety and sin. What is the cause of this misery of ours? The body. The state of embodied existence is the cause of our sufferings. Now, embodiment is due to karmas. Karmas bring us into existence in this mortal world. Why do we do karmas? Because of love or hatreddesire and aversionwe act; and attachment is the cause of love or hatred. Attachment to certain persons and things necessarily implies aversion to other things and persons and this is due to non-discrimination. As everything is the creation of God, as everything is a limb of the Universal Being, as there is nothing outside God, as God has become all this, as God indwells all things, as everything shall pass awaythere is no reason to love certain things and hate certain others ;but to do so is Aviveka (non-discrimination), which is the cause of all our suffering and unhappiness. Though Ajnana (ignorance) is the cause of Aviveka, for all practical purposes, we may consider non-discrimination itself as the final cause for the disease of desire, embodiment, and suffering.
Desire as a disease
Desire is the cause of repeated births and deaths, and truly Arunagirinathar refers to inordinate desire as a disease. In fat it is the real disease. Bodily ailments and diseases are not real diseases, because they trouble us for a short while and are cured afterwards. Evne mental disorders can be cured or kept in check. Even if a disease is a chronic one, incurable, it will last only as long as the body lasts, and when the body dies, it dies with the body. It does not cause rebirth nor does it follow one in one's next birth. But these desires do not leave a man even in subsequent births.
Desires follow man into his next birth
Unfulfilled desires trouble a man throughout the present life, cause rebirth and continue to trouble him in many future births. As we have earlier seen, since desires can never be fulfilled, they cause endless births, until they are sublimated or evaporated by spiritual Sadhana, coupled with Divine Grace. This sublimation is possible only through a discriminative understanding of the nature of desire, its cause and methods of sublimation (for details refer to verse 14).
Arunagirinathar weeps, on our behalf, that he is bereft of this discrimination on account of which he is tossed about and afflicted by the disease of inordinate desires and he appeals to the Lord for His grace and mercy. To which Lord does he appeal? To the Lord who killed Surapadmanan embodiment of inordinate desires, who, not being satisfied with his rulership of the whole earth for ages, conquered even the heavens and subjugated the Devas.
Skanda Puranam: Lord Siva incarnated himself as Skanda
Lord Siva incarnated Himself as Lord Skanda to help the Devas fight against the Asuras. Skanda was an embodiment of courage and an undaunted warrior even from his boyhood. He did many Bala-lilas (childhood plays). He used to uproot the mountains, hide them in the ocean, and do all such feats. The Devas in heaven have heard of His glories, but have not seen Him as yet.
On one occasion, they thought that some small boy is doing so much mischief and, not knowing that it was Skanda, they hurled on Him their weapons; and there ensued a big fight between all the Devas on one side and the Boy (Lord) on the other. All their weapons fell on Him as flowers and crashed to pieces. Finally, the Boy sent His arrow and all Devas fell victim to it.
Appraised of the situation by sage Narada, Brihaspati, the Guru of Devas, came and pleaded with the Lord on their behalf, and the Lord was pleased to bring them bac to life. The Devas fell prostrate before Lord Skanda and begged of Him His pardon. The Lord, wanting to reveal to them His Divinity, said, "You thought I am a small boy. Now you have realized who I am. I will further show you my power."
So saying, the Lord showed them His Visvarupa (Cosmic Form). But they were unable to behold the full majesty of the Cosmic Form and, on their request, Skanda bestowed on them Divine Vision with which they beheld the full glory and majesty of the Visvarupa.
This incidence shows the valour and prowess of the Lord that even as a small boy, He was courageous and brave to meet any situation. Hence, destroying Surapadman and his entire army was a mere play for the Lord. A throw of the Vel vanquished Surapadman, though the Lord allowed him to fight for six days. Thus, the Lord is referred to as the Valorous one, as the vanquisher of the age-old Asura and protector of Devaloka.
Desires can only be destroyed by the grace of God
Desires can destroyed only by the grace of God, even as the Asura, Surapadman, could only be killed by the Sakthi-Vel of Lord Murugan. Arunagirinathar, therefore, invokes the Divine Grace of Skanda to destroy his desires and grant him, and us too, discriminative understanding and wisdom. He prays, "O Lord, You destroyed the age-old Asura with a throw of Your Vel and saved the Devas. There is a greater Asura in me, the insatiable desire. Is it fair that I should endlessly suffer at the hands of these desires, losing my discriminative power? Let Thy Vel, Thy Divine grace, kill this persisting disease of desires, and save me."
And again, "O Lord, you undertook to protect Devaloka. Can you not protect me? Is it a big job for you? Have mercy on me and save me."
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Though the Sadhaka may cry out the names of God, the melting of the heart does not come about easily, much less the feeling for God, because of the desires that lurk within the heart, that keep the heart stony. The gross desires that project themselves through the avenues of the five senses (verse 14) may be checked, but the subtle desires continue to tease the Sadhaka. He realizes that lack of discrimination is the cause of this, and he prays to the Lord to grant him the needed discrimination.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.