Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 24
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Skanda Puranam: Analogy of Indra Surapadman
to Men Lust
Indra was tortured by the Asura Surapadman. He fought with the Asura, but could not defeat him. Surapadman invaded and virtually burn Indra's Kingdom (Devaloka or heaven) and made Indra a captive. So is the fire of lust for women that tortures men, burns their hearts and slaves them. Having failed in his attempts to defeat the Asura, Indra finally resorted to Lord Siva, surrendered himself totally to Him and invoked His grace. Siva appeared as Skanda, whose mighty Vel destroyed Surapadman and saved Indra. Even so when one, rendered helpless by repeated failures in one's effort to overcome lust, resorts to the Lord and surrenders oneself to Him, His Vel (as His Grace) comes to one's help and frees one from lust. Hence, Arunagirinathar says, "I am one who joins the breast of women. I am unable to overcome lust. I am unfit for Thy Grace. I do not deserve it. But, O Lord, who threw thy Vel on Surapadman and destroyed him and thus, saved Indra, wilt thou not think of showering thy grace on me, destroy the lustful nature in me and save me?"
Lust is a great obstacle in spiritual Sadhana
Lust for women is a great obstacle in the aspirant's spiritual evolution. Women for men (and men for women) are like wine, says Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Their eye-looks are so piercing and endowed with such mysterious power that they can shake the heart of any man however strong-willed he may be. Their looks are like fire in the presence of which the candles of the hearts of men cannot but melt. No-one is seen to be totally free form the deluding influence of the look and the breasts of women. Even great Tapasvins were not spared.
"Is there anyone except the sage Narayana," says the Srimad Bhagavata, "who has not been tempted by women at least once?" How true! One might be a Brahmacharin (celibate) or a Sannyasin (renunciate), but he is not exempted from their influence. At least in thought, everyone helplessly becomes a victim to the arrow-like looks of women and to their breasts.
Saint Arunagirinathar himself had suffered much from the influence of public women (prostitutes). He openly confesses his weakness. This verse, too, is sung for the sake of others, knowing the pitiable condition in which all find themselves. There is no other way than an open confession to invoke the Lord's grace to be freed from sex. So Arunagirinathar sings, for our sake: "Wilt thou not condescend, O Lord, to bestow thy blessings on me, who am so mean and sinful as to be enchanted by women?" Should one feel ashamed of repeating this verse? Though one may not admit this publicly, the heart knows it. An open confession is a sure means of expiation and also of invoking the Lord's grace.
Arunagirinathar weeps bitterly before the Lord over his helplessness, as in verse 9. He repents over his wrong deeds. Repentance is a great purifier; it is the only means of washing of the effects of the wrongs committed in the past. Repentance simultaneously implies a determination not to repeat those acts again. One realizes one's folly, realizes that those acts of his are sinful, realizes also one's helplessness in controlling them in spite of his best efforts. Here it is that he turns to God for higher help. He weeps before the Lord, confessing his mistake, admitting the inadequacy of mere human effort, and invoking the Lord's intervention. Arunagirinathar is seen, as it were, standing before the Lord in this condition, as though to represent man's helpless condition. The weeping appeal to the Lord, therefore, implies realization of one's wrongs, determination to turn away from the evil once and forever, admission of the limitation of human effort, and the need for it to be backed by divine grace. It is not mere lip-prayer or showy-weeping that is pictured by the saint, which cannot draw down divine grace. This and the previous verse move one to tears as one repeats them. They are so worded that they are capable of even bringing about the needed Bhava (feeling) in the heart of the declaimer, if recited a few times. Thus, the saint implies that divine grace must back human effort for the latter to be successful. Without divine help, mere human effort falls short, especially in this battle against lust for sex. But effort from our side is necessary, and is implied in the prayer. Why does one pray for God's help unless one has decided to break the evil habit and has also found his effort inadequate? If one is satisfied in the pleasures of sex and feels not the need to refrain from it, does he invoke God's grace? It is only he who once gave himself to sex, and who now wants to give it up but finds his mind still longing for it, that seeks God's grace to turn it away from women and fix it on Him. But, if one prays to the Lord but also cherishes a secret desire within for satisfaction, will His grace descend?
When, thus, truly invoked, the Lord showers His grace on us, and the joining of His grace will free us from joining women. One "joining" will break another joining.
Women's looks are sharp like the "Vel"
Arunagirinathar compares the bewitching looks of public women (prostitutes) to the sharp, piercing Vel. The looks of these women can snatch away the determination from the hearts of men and helplessly toss them and make them yield to their evil ways. And, Arunagirinathar refers to the Vel of Lord Murugan as the only means of help to overcome the effects of the Vel-like piercing looks of women. One "joining" breaks another. One "Vel" frees from another. What a comparison and what a composition of words! "Thy Vel pierced Surapadman and the Krauncha mountain (Asura). Will thy grace-Vel not save me from the Vel-like piercing looks of women and their breasts?"
Saints can easily visualize the helplessness condition of the weaklings of the world, and they are moved by compassion. What else can they do to help these weaklings out? Philosophy and logic, canons and admonitions, moral instructions and ethical teachings, will not work here. They found that resort to the Lord's Feet for His grace with an open heart is the only thing that can help the people. Saint Arunagirinathar, therefore, addresses the Lord as we would address Him. What a beautiful way of helping the helpless! The malady is a permanent one generation after generation people will find themselves in this pitiable condition. So, a permanent remedy is prescribed in the form of the verse, sung in the first person.
How to free oneself from lust?
A repetition of the verse with an open heart and honesty of feeling is sure to absolve one of one's past evils and draw divine grace. It is not that Arunagirinathar still suffers from the clutches of women, for he has obtained the Lord's full grace. In one of his Kanthar Alangaaram verses, he boldly declares that once for all he has crossed over his mire of women, through His (Skanda's) grace. He found that, for us who are still suffering, nothing except weeping to the Lord would be of any avail. Hence, this verse. Humanity is specially indebted to Arunagirinathar for such verses.
Alternate translations of verse 24
The verse may also be translated as:
"...will I, who (am so mean as to) join the breasts of women with eyes (looks) sharp like Vel, be enabled to think, at least hereafter, of obtaining thy grace?"
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[The seeker was unable to contemplate on the Lord's Feet due to the play of Avidya (verse 23). But, why and how does Avidya trouble him? When meditation is commenced in all seriousness, the process of internal clearance begins. It is like sweeping and cleaning a room that has been kept locked for months and years. Lot of dust would lie settled on the ground. When the cleaning process is begun, the dust will rise up and cloud one's vision. It would sometimes be difficult to see where one stands. Some such thing takes place in the Sadhaka's mind now. The Kama Vasanas and Samskaras the impressions of earlier enjoyments, of sex in particular lying latent within the unconscious are touched and given a rude shock by deep meditation and they come up to the conscious level. They naturally cloud his understanding, prick his conscience, and disturb his mind. The gushing out of the Kama-Vasanas and the impact of their prick on the conscience are, at times, so heavy that not only the Sadhaka is unable to think of the Lord's Feet but also a sense of doubt creeps into his mind as to whether he is at all eligible for God-experience. This is the condition in which he finds himself now. This makes him cry out to the Lord regretting over his past wrongs and pray for expiation (forgiveness) and for the descent of His grace.
Here is the Sadhaka's confession to the Lord, which is at once an atonement, which also draws divine grace.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.