Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 21

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


karuthaa maRavaa neRi kaaNa enakk— ,
iruthaaL vanasam thara enR— isaivaay
varaThaa murugaa mayil vaahananE,
viraThaa sura soora vipaadaNanE. 21


Non-thinking and non-forgetting state, I to attain,
Your two Foot-Lotuses to confer, When will you deign?
O Granter of boons! O Muruga! O Peacock-Rider!
O Protector! O terrible Surapadma-Cleaver!

"O Peacock-vehicled Lord Muruga, Who art the Granter of boons, Who art avowed (to protect devotees), Who rent the Asura, Surapadma, into two halves (with Thy Vel)! When wilt Thou condescend to grant me Thine two Lotus-Feet, that I may attain that non-thinking and non-forgetting state (of Mukthi)?"



Detailed Commentary:

Murugan — the granter of boons...
the only requirement is sincerity

The Peacock-vehicled Lord is the granter of boons. He confers boons on His devotees very easily, in the same measure in which they ask, if their prayer is sincere. No sincere prayer goes unanswered by the Lord. He is Lord Murugan — one possessed of undecaying beauty, eternal youth.

Skanda Puranam: The Legend of Surapadman (continued)

In his battle with the Lord, Surapadman finally took the form of a huge Mango tree and the Lord's Vel pierced it into two halves. At once, Surapadman assumed his original form. Again, the Vel cleaved him into two and threw the two parts into the sea. The mighty Vel of Lord Murugan could alone do it. He is, thus, the destroyer of the terrible Surapadman.

Arunagirinathar prays to the Lord to condescend to grant him His two Lotus-like Feet. Why? To attain Mukthi (or that state wherein there is neither thinking nor forgetting).

Non-thinking and non-forgetting —
the 3rd state of the mind (mukthi)

There is a yogic state wherein there is neither thinking nor forgetting, which is beyond ordinary understanding. Thinking and forgetting are the two functions of the mind. Usually, either the mind thinks of an object or not think of it. We do not know of a third state of the mind. But this state of non-thinking and non-forgetting, which Arunagirinathar prays for, is a peculiar one, where the mind ceases to exist. Hence, it is not capable of being understood. It is, of course, to be differentiated from the state of deep sleep wherein also there is, it may be said, neither thinking nor forgetting. (One need not specially pray to the Lord to grant the state of sleep; He, out of His compassion, has given it to all as a daily experience.) It is different from sleep because in sleep the mind is present though it has withdrawn its functions temporarily. But this state is not merely the cessation of the functions of the mind, but of the mind itself. The mind gets absorbed into its source, the Atman (Self or God). Thus, it is not merely the non-functioning of the mind, as in sleep, but the non-existence of the mind itself.

This "non-thinking" and "non-forgetting" may be said to be in respect of the Atman, in which case the prayer would go as, "O Lord, when wilt thou grant me that state wherein the Atman is neither thought of nor forgotten?" It means, it refers to the actual state of realization (Mukthi), which is other than the waking state (also deep sleep state) as well as the state of meditation. That we do not think of the Atman in the waking state goes without saying, because we are busy with the world outside. So, it is a state of non-thinking, but it is not non-forgetting as we have forgotten the Self in the midst of our activity. In the act of meditation, we try to think of the Self (God). Hence, it is a state of non-forgetting, but it is not non-thinking. Thus, the condition of non-thinking and non-forgetting (rather, neither think nor forget) is neither the waking state nor that of meditation; it is one of actual realization or Being.

Existence and Consciousness (explained)

Let us see a little deeper. We exist. How do we know of our existence? Do we exercise thinking and then know it? No. Do we, then, forget our existence? No. What is this mystery — we do not think and we do not forget, and yet we know we exist! How do we know our existence then? By an awareness, a state of being, which does not involve thinking and forgetting because it is a state in which the awareness is identical with our existence. The question of our thinking or forgetting of ourselves does not arise. Why? We do not feel the necessity for it, because our existence and consciousness of our existence are one and the same, they are not separate. We exist and also we know that we exist. Can we exist without knowing that we exist? No; it is not possible. We may think that in the state of deep sleep we exist and yet we are not aware of our existence. But it is not so. Even in that state, there is awareness of our existence, though not known then; for we make the statement, on waking up, "I had a sound sleep."

In sleep we existed and there was consciousness also present. Thus, there is no time when we exist and yet are not aware that we exist, which goes to show that our existence and our consciousness of our existence are one and the same. But in the case of objects (including God, as we conceive Him in our present state of understanding) their existence is separated form our consciousness, and so there is thinking as well as not thinking of them. Hence, when existence is outside the ken of consciousness, thinking and forgetting are possible, and are necessitated. But when they become one, as in our own existence, there is neither thinking nor forgetting, nor is there a need for it. In short, where existence and consciousness stand together, where `Sat' becomes `Chit' (or Sat is Chit), the state of thinking and not thinking is transcended into a peculiar state of existence-consciousness, where existence itself is consciousness and consciousness itself is existence. It is not the existence of consciousness or the consciousness of existence; but existence which is consciousness and consciousness which is existence. Even the example our case is only a crude one, because here consciousness is of the body. But in the case of the state referred to in the verse, it is consciousness, pure and simple, consciousness as it is in itself and not in association with anything. It is Moksha (liberation). It is consciousness being conscious of itself, without being conscious that it is conscious.

Moksha = God's feet

This is the state for attaining, which Arunagirinathar prays to the Lord. How to get to this state? For this, he prays to the Lord to grant him His two Lotus Feet. The Lord's feet means the Lord Himself. The granting of the Feet and the attainment of Moksha (God-consciousness) are one and the same. God is, to us, an object of worship, an object of meditation, however abstract it may be. He is something other than us, different from us, standing apart from us, to whom we offer worship or upon whom we meditate. He is an object of our worship or meditation. But what Arunagirinathar prays for is a state different from this, wherein the Lord should become one with us, He should reveal Himself to us. He should condescend to grant His Lotus-Feet to us, to give Himself to us.

We usually meditate on the Lord in various ways, i.e., as being seated in our heart, etc. But all this involves thinking, and this is not what Arunagirinathar wants because this meditation on God is not on His essential nature, but on a form and name. hence, this meditation does not confer on us that state. Then how do we get it? Meditation should be on God as He is, as the divisionless Reality. God is the Supreme, He is the Absolute, He is Omnipresent existence. He should be meditated upon as such. In this meditation, the Absolute or the Omnipresence of God leaves nothing outside it; even the meditator does not exist independent of it. When, thus, the meditative consciousness in us attempts to meditate on the Lord as the Absolute and when this meditation becomes intense enough it, instead of being conscious of its individuality, becomes so absorbed in the consciousness of the Absolute that it gets lost in the latter which alone remains. As a wave that sinks in the ocean, trying to fathom its depth, would get absorbed intot he ocean and be the ocean itself, the two being nothing but water, so does the Jiva melt into the Aboslute in its honest effort to meditate on the Lord as the divisionless existence. When, thus, the individual is swallowed up in the Absolute, there is no Jiva to think or forget! He alone is, in His pristine glory, as the all-pervading presence. No individuality is left. To this, Arunagirinathar refers as "the granting of the two Lotus-Feet," by which the Tamil scriptures denote that state where "I-ness" and "Mine-ness" are abolished. Thus, when the Lord's Feet are granted, i.e., when God manifests Himself, the individual ceases to be, i.e., "I-ness" and "Mine-ness" cease. With the ceasing of the individual, the two states of "non-thinking" (i.e., the waking state wherein God is forgotten) and "non-forgetting" (i.e., the state of meditation wherein God is the thought of) are transcended and the Jiva rests in God, which is the state of Mukthi (liberation). Hence, the prayer for the granting of the two Foot-Lotuses so as to obtain the state of non-thinking and non-forgetting. This blessing, the saint prays for from Lord Murugan, who is a quick conferer of boons on His devotees.

Instruction for the devout Sadhaka

[With the inner transformation brought about by the Guru's initiation (verse 20), the seeker's aspiration for realization is intensified and the soul longs for the highest attainment of Mukthi (that state where there is neither thinking nor forgetting) i.e., an establishment in God-consciousness, which can come by the revelation or granting of the Lord's Feet, i.e., when the sense of "I-ness" and "Mine-ness" goes.]



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

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