Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 32
By Sri Arunagirinathar
The real use for learning & the dangers of it
Learning has to bring culture and wisdom, and humility has to result from wisdom. Learning is not to become puffed up with pride. Scriptures try to bring home these truths in a variety of ways. They give instances of persons who suffered on account of their vanity due to learning. They also cite references to great men who were humble. They lay down codes of conduct, means for the development of virtues, methods of Upasana and contemplation on the Supreme Being, and also reveal the experiences of Realization. The scriptures are to be studied well, understood in their true connotation, and their instructions practiced diligently and God attained. Study is to end in practice and practice in experience. The purpose of learning is to live life truly, to have an understanding of life, and to attain God-experience. Learning is to be put into practice in daily life. Learning is to live life, and life is to learn. In short, learning is life and life is learning. To attain God to have God-experience the purpose of life, which is the purpose of learning too.
Thiruvalluvar: Purpose of learning is to worship God
The great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar says, "What is the use of learning, if the learned intellectual worships not the Lotus-Feet of the Lord (and attains the Lord)?" Our learning should not remain isolated from our living. They should go together.
Harm of learning: parading one's intellectual vanity
If learning enters into our life and forms part of our being, we become humble, realizing the greatness of God; and then we have a true understanding of what the scriptures purport to convey through their variegated teachings. But when it does not become part of us and remains only in the books or in our brains, then it is that we become proud and egoistic and find it difficult to reconcile between the apparently contradicting instructions and then we start contending and entering into heated debates with similar others. And, what happens in religious debates and controversies? Man loses his decorum. He shouts and screams, and decries the other's view. He gets mentally agitated and upset, and feverishly excited. His brain gets confused and confounded. This is what is generally seen among the highly learned in whom their learning has not entered into their hearts but remained only in their intellects. Their whole life goes in studying scriptures with a view to find flaws in them, to enter into controversies with others, and parade their vanity. They get caught up in the intricacies of the scriptures by entering into heated arguments and their learning becomes a bondage; they lose the purpose of learning and the goal of life, too. Hence, Arunagirinathar offers a prayer to the Lord that such a lot may not befall him, which is a warning and a caution to us. "Am I to enter into heated debates, get mentally agitated, scream at the opponent, get my intellect confounded, and thus, be lost in my learning and arguments? Lord, let this not happen. Let me not forget that the purpose of learning is to attain Anubhuthi. Bless me that I may not be distracted and side-tracked by my learning."
Not merely is learning not to lead to debates and discussions, but also is not meant to earn a living, which unfortunately seems to be the aim of the present day education. The education of today does not equip one with the needed knowledge of life the knowledge that will give strength to face life, steer clear of all problems in life, and attain the purpose of life. On the other hand, when one steps out of the school or college, he is bewildered and knows not what to do next. In fact life stares at him. He has no aim in life, for his education has not given him that, and he is drifted here and there in search of a job. That is all his aim! The education he had has not prepared him to accept the challenges of life, though it might enable him to secure a job. But simply to secure a job is not the purpose of education and learning. Saint Thiruvalluvar, again, says, "Learn well that which is to be learnt, and then live up to it." "Wisdom is to experience the truth, in one's own experience, of what has been heard or learnt from whatever source." So neither securing a lucrative job nor wasting one's life in mere reading and debating is the purpose for which learning is meant.
Skanda Puranam: Murugan & Valli relationship (explained)
mountain and elephant analogy
Valli Devi was found by the hunter-king Nambirajan and was brought up in the midst of hunters. Hunters live by killing animals in wild-games. They are cruel by nature. Though Valli lived amidst them, she was of divine nature; she was gentle like elephants, which walk softly, without making a sound.
Valli is the Jivatman and the cruel hunters, in whose midst she lived, are the mind and senses. The nature of Jivatman is quite different from that of the latter. While the mind and senses are ever engaged in the wild-game of sense-pleasure, the Jiva depends on the Lord because it belongs to the Lord. Valli is compared to an elephant and the Lord to a mountain. Mountain and mountain-forests are the abodes of elephants. So is the Lord the real abode of Jivas, not the hunters or the mind and senses (body).
Lord Velayudhan wears victory garlands, dangling over His chest, on account of His victory over Surapadman and other Asuras. He has the Vel, which is the Victory-Vel. Lord Skanda's Vel killed the Asura Kraunchan who was cursed by Sage Agastya to remain in the form of a mountain till he came to be destroyed by the Lord.
God is both law and love
The hands of the Lord that killed the Asuras also embraced Valli Devi. This means that the Lord is a terror to the wicked and a beloved to the devout. He is law and love at once.
To that Lord Velayudhan, Saint Arunagirinathar prays, "O Lord! Thou killed the Asuras and the Krauncha-mountain and wearest victory-garlands. Thou accepted Valli in thine divine-fold. Pray, let not my learning (which is given by thee: verse 17) lead to vanity and debates; let it bring me Anubhuthi (God-experience)."
Instruction to the devout Sadhaka
[After the needed reconciliation and the inner joy resulting therefrom (verse 31), the Sadhaka now faces a new kind of danger two-fold in its nature which he should very carefully avoid. The aspirant, on account of that glimpse of God-consciousness (verse 28), might feel that he has achieved something and might be tempted to exhibit his knowledge by entering into arguments with others on the different scriptures; or, people (Pandits), having know that he has attained something, might approach him to have debates with him on scriptures both of which will distract him from his Sadhana and Goal.
Here is, therefore, the Sadhaka's prayer to the Lord an earnest struggle for not getting entangled in heated discussions with people on scriptures which are vast and contain apparently contradictory statements and instructions; and thus, not to waste his time but to cautiously go ahead with his Sadhana, being mindful of the Great Goal. "O Lord, am I to be entangled in discussions and thus, waste my time! Pray, save me from this."]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.