Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 33
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Samsara like the Vindhya-forest
Samsara is full of pain and suffering. The problems of household life are innumerable. House, wife, children, and wealth are the source of troubles. Yet, they are very attractive and it is easy to get involved in them. They appear to be pleasing and desirable; they look pleasant so long as they are at a distance, so long as they are not obtained. Man struggles hard to have them and he is restless till he possesses them, but the moment they are got, they lose their charm and become sources of vexation and mental agony. The completely rob man of his peace of mind, and make him restless. The sufferings and anxieties of family life, especially in these days, are too well-known to all to be described. Now, having got involved in them, man might want to do away with them, but he cannot. Even if he wants to leave them, they will not leave him. Thus, enmeshed he dies miserably. So agonizing, so inextricable, so vexing, so soring are family and wealth that the Saint compares them to the forests of the Vindhya mountains in Central India. The ever-green Vindhya-forest is charming and attractive. Those who are attracted by its beauty and enter it, forget themselves in enjoying its charm until they get deep into it. But it is so thick that they find it difficult to trace their way out and are finally consumed by wild beasts of the forests. So is this life with wife, children, and wealth. It is attractive but creates problems after problems and drags man into more and more entanglements so that he gets lost in them, and all his time goes away in trying to solve the problems and free himself from entanglements. He is, thus, left with no time or energy to devote himself to God. Home and wealth are the destroyers of mental peace, they are great obstacles to spiritual progress, holds Arunagirinathar.
Caution: Family life is not to be condemned
Though there is nothing wrong with family-life and God can be and has been attained by house-holders, the actual condition in which man generally finds himself is something different. He is tormented form all sides. Arunagirinathar is a practical saint. He can visualize people's condition. He is specially gifted with this rare art of conveying truths as they are not only of the highest spiritual experiences in a mystical language, but also of the miserable worldly life in striking, vivid terms. Kanthar Anubhuthi being a treatise on "Anubhuthi" (God-experience), the Saint has to tell things as they are whether pleasing to us or not which, we have to take in their true spirit.
Man gets involved in women and gold almost unwittingly. But when he finally realizes his folly and tries to leave them, he finds it impossible. He is prepared to leave them, but not they. He gets so much entangled that he cannot extricate himself from them, even as one cannot find his way out of the Vindhya-forest. Arunagirinathar, therefore, very significantly says, "When shall I get freed?" One cannot, by one's own effort, free oneself from them. The more one tries to leave them, the more they will cling to him. The only way is to fix one's mind on God. To get freed from other attachments, have this attachment the attachment to the Lotus-Feet of Him (the Lord), who is unattached says Saint Thiruvalluvar. God only can free us from the clutches of women and gold. Therefore, does Arunagirinathar pray to get "freed" and not "leave" He does not say, "When shall I leave," but says, "When shall I get freed." God's grace is the means for getting rid of this Samsara. The all-merciful and compassionate Lord has to shower His grace on us, to whom is the prayer of this verse addressed.
Skanda Puranam: Lord Skanda is a sacred boon given
by Lord Siva
Lord Skanda is a boon-incarnation. He was given as a boon by Lord Siva to the Devas. The Devas could not fight against the Asura Surapadman. They were defeated by the Asura and driven out of heaven. They approached Siva and prayed to Him for help for the divine birth of Skanda. Siva, out of His compassion over their plight, assumed His original form of six-faces and smilingly looked at Parvathi who was seated by His side. At once, from the third eye (Eye of Wisdom) of each face flashed forth a light (Tejas) of extra-ordinary brilliance. It filled all space, from infinity to infinity. Siva, then withdrew it, handed it over to the wind-god and fire-god, and commanded them to throw it into river Ganga (also known as Mandakini). When Ganga received it, she shelved it into a pond called Saravanappoigai, where the light assumed the form of six-beautiful babies on six-lotuses. This is the "Mandakini-given" and "boon-born" Avatara of Lord Skanda.
The Skanda Avatara signifies the manifestation of the Absolute in the relative plane of the five elements of ether (space), air, fire, water (Ganga), and earth, as described above. It refers to the awakening of the spiritual consciousness in the element-bound mind of the seeker, which is agonized by and engrossed in women and gold, to be freed from which is the prayer of this verse. Another name for Skanda is Murugan, which means "One who is of eternal youth, beauty, and divine in nature." He is the Beauty of beauties and the divinity behind all things. The beauty and the value that is seen in objects is but a reflection of Him. Our attraction for home and wealth is to be transmuted into higher aspiration for God by resort to Lord Murugan. Whether He is "Mandakini-given," "boon-born," Skanda or Murugan, He is an embodiment and outcome of compassion. To that Lord, Arunagirinathar prays: "O Lord Skanda, the Devas could not themselves fight the Asura Surapadman. They prayed to Siva and you were born as a boon to them. I am also in a similar condition, unable to overcome the entanglements of home and wealth. Be gracious to be "born" in me and free me from these, O Ocean of Compassion!"
Saint Arunagirinathar has long before been freed from these on "that day" itself (verse 30). Yet, moved by compassion for us, visualizing the pitiable condition in which we worldlings are, he has given us this verse an unfailing one to invoke the compassion of the Lord of Compassion. A very recitation of the verse is heart-melting and grace-drawing.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Though the aspirant does not want to enter into vain discussions (verse 32), he will not be allowed to do so. Learned men will approach him and trouble him. So, to avoid this danger he feels the need to renounce his home and property and take to seclusion probably on the banks of Mandakini, i.e., the Ganges which is to the north of the Vindhya mountains because home and property, apart from causing mental suffering, bind him to his place whereby people can easily find him and disturb him. But, if he takes to a life of seclusion, he can avoid them and also engage himself in undisturbed and protracted meditation for long periods, which is necessary at this stage to attain the Goal.
He now earnestly longs to renounce worldly life for the higher purpose of attaining God and prays to the Lord for the same.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.