Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 43
By Sri Arunagirinathar
This is a very beautiful and sweet verse in which Arunagirinathar sums up the entire process of Sadhana as well as the attainment of the Goal. In each verse, the Lord is addressed with words significantly meaningful, appropriate to the context. Here, the Lord is referred to as the Beloved of Valli who wears pure gems (ornaments) and clothes.
Skanda Puranam: The purity of Valli
The hunter-caste girls (tribal women) wear different kinds of gems and clothes which are usually dirty. They do not keep their clothes and ornaments very clean and pure. But Valli, though brought up in the hunter-caste, wore clean clothes. Jivas are a product of Avidya, i.e., Malina (impure) Sattva Sattva mixed with Rajas and Tamas, which may be said to be represented by the general mass of hunter women. But, aspiring souls that yearn to attain the Lord do intense austerities, eschew their impurities (Rajas and Tamas) and develop pure Sattva, like Valli who wore clean clothes. This is what Arunagirinathar seems to denote when he says, "She who wears clean gems and clothes." This description of Valli is so very unusual and different from the rest of her in the treatise and is meant to indicate the state of total purity (Suddha Sattva) attained by the Jiva in the state of Samadhi (of the previous verse), when the Lord becomes the true Beloved of the Jiva. The Lord is the beloved of such purified souls, as they, by the purity developed through intense Sadhana and meditation, render themselves fit to receive and experience the Divine grace in a full measure.
Skanda Puranam: Why the Lord is the beloved of Valli?
Why is the Lord the beloved of Valli? Or, what is it that attracted (or endeared) the Lord to her and to be her Beloved? Is it her riches, her erudition, her high birth, or social status? No; none of these. Her pure love attracted the Lord. On hearing form Rishi Narada of her undivided devotion for Him even from her previous birth, Lord Skanda left His abode for Vallimalai where, in the fields, she was protecting the corn. He was not enamored of her wealth, etc., which have no meaning for the Lord. What brought glory to Valli and what endeared her to the Lord was not her riches (gems, pearls, etc.), her princeliness, etc., but simple devotion, pure love to the Lord. Wealth, position, etc., are great in the eyes of the world; but not in God's vision. His ways of judgment of one's greatness (or with) is quite different from the human, social way of judgment.
God's way of judgment differs from man's way
humility increases man's greatness in God's eyes
On the other hand, the more does none become "small", i.e., simple, unassuming and humble, the more does one become "great" in the eyes of God. Nothing but true, undivided, pure devotion of the Jiva can draw God's attention and grace, and He becomes the Beloved of such souls. This is very beautifully and meaningfully brought out by Arunagirinathar when he says that the Lord is the "Beloved" of Valli who wears clean clothes and gems. This has the specific purpose of indicating the need for a whole-souled devotion on the part of the Jiva so as to attract the grace of the Lord and have Him as one's Beloved. Though the Lord loves all equally and His grace is on one and all in the same measure, He becomes the Beloved of only those Jivas that are pure.
Why shower grace only on pure souls like Valli?
Is not God an embodiment of Grace? Why, then, should He shower His grace on Valli, i.e., pure souls, only? It is true that God is an ocean of grace and compassion. His grace is on all beings, and always. But, what about one's fitness to receive and experience it? The sun shines and sheds its light equally on all objects. But do they all reflect it in the same measure? No. Each object reflects it according to its capacity. A block of stone (or wood) does practically reflect nothing, while a polished brass (or silver) vessel reflects it partially; but a clean (vs. dirty) mirror reflects the light fully and radiantly. Even so, a Jiva that has rendered its Antahkarana (or mind perfectly pure) receives the Divine grace in its completeness and shines. The Lord is, therefore, said to be the Beloved of such purified souls and to bring out this fact, Arunagirinathar says, "Beloved of her who wears pure gems and clothes."
Skanda Puranam: Valli Personification of Anbu (love)
Valli is the Jivatman. Her wearing clean clothes represents the whole-souled aspiration (love) of the purified Jiva to attain the Lord. Valli is Iccha-Sakthi purified and ennobled emotions which is all-consuming divine love, Anbu. She is a personification of Anbu. This Anbu, therefore, denotes all that she stands for absolute purity developed by intense Sadhana, single-minded devotion and firm determination to attain the Lord, all carried on patiently and unremittingly, with great enthusiasm, awaiting the Lord's grace. This Jiva's self-effort (or Anbu) draws divine grace (Arul) according to the degree of its intensity. To the extent the Jiva is pure and evinces love for God, to that extent divine grace manifests itself, i.e., to that extent the Lord becomes the Jiva's beloved. The love-attracted-grace, in turn, helps the Jiva put forth greater effort and thus, draw more grace. Love attracts grace and grace enriches love. When this joyous process goes on steadily and reaches its zenith, love and grace fuse into one another and become "love-grace" Anbarul.
Desires destroyed by love and grace together
"O Lord Muruga, the Beloved of Valli who wears pure gems and clothes, by Your love-grace, the desire-chain was destroyed and Speechless-Experience born," says Arunagirinathar. This love-grace has a mystic connotation. Neither by the mere love or effort of the Jiva alone, nor by the mere grace of the Lord alone are these brought about. Effort and grace should totally stand together, fuse into one another and become one, in order that the desires may be destroyed and Divine Experience be had. One can control one's senses, purify the mind, do intense Sadhana and love God whole-heartedly. Yet, the final release from the shackles of desire is possible only when Divine grace joins it. The subtle desires in the form of Samskaras and Vasanas imbedded in the subconscious and unconscious, and Avidya are not easy of annihilation, by mere effort. They are wiped out when God chooses to reveal Himself, i.e., when His grace dawns. The Gita says, "The objects of senses turn away from the abstinent man leaving the longing (behind); but this longing also turns away on seeing the Supreme" (II-59). This is one aspect of the matter, i.e., grace should join effort. The other aspect is: Is effort necessary at all? Or, will not grace alone do? No. God and His grace are one they are inseparable like the sun and its light and God being everywhere and ever-present, His grace is also there everywhere and always on all. But Grace can be made manifest or felt only in a purified heart, as sunlight can be reflected only by a clean mirror. Hence, effort is necessary to draw (or manifest) Divine grace.
Effort & Grace should fuse together
Patience sought till that happens
Now, another interesting question poses itself. Even after putting forth effort by the Jiva and grace being ever-present, why do they not join and bring Divine Experience? This again is a mystery! We do not know when and how the two join and bring the Experience. God only knows. Hence, the Kathopanishad says, "He whom the Self (God) chooses, by him He is known. To him, He reveals His true nature." That is why we often come across dedicated and honest seekers who strive for God-realization for years but yet not achieve the Goal. Because, effort is there but grace has not yet joined it, i.e., God has not yet chosen. Hence, such seekers should not get dejected, lose hope, and give up their Sadhana, but patiently persevere awaiting the dawn of grace. Again, instances are may where apparently worthless souls, inimical to any spiritual growth, have had the unique blessing of sudden Divine Illumination. Who can understand God's ways!
Arul (Grace) vs. Anbu (Love)
Now, while the grace of God, the love is of the Jiva. But Arunagirinathar says, "By Your love-grace," i.e., not only the grace is His, the love (or effort) of the Jiva is also His. How is this? The Jiva is a part of Isvara (God) and it has no existence of its own. Hence, on ultimate analysis, the Jiva's effort is also Isvara's only; it is a way of working of His will (or grace). Divine grace expressed through the Jiva is self-effort (or love); Arul working through the Jiva is Anbu. It is called love when expressed through the Jiva; it is called grace when received (or experienced) by the Jiva. In fact, the two go together right from the beginning of Sadhana and experiences come at every stage of development of the soul, in varying degrees, though only at the culminating point of Samadhi they fuse into one another totally and give birth to God-experience. Tough the Jiva might regard itself as the doer of Sadhana, its effort is also Isvara's only even from the very start of Sadhana; but it is realized to be so only in the state of Samadhi. Men of wisdom, therefore, often say: God it is that appears to be in bondage, to be doing Sadhana, that showers and receives grace, that experiences freedom (or realization). Everything seems to be a play of God, very marvelous and mysterious, baffling human understanding, as Lord Krishna says, "One sees This (the Self or God) as a wonder; another speaks of It as a wonder; another hears of It as a wonder; yet having heard, none understands It at all." (Gita: II-29). Such is the mystery of "Your-love-grace", and the purpose and peculiarity of the usage of "love-grace" (Anbarul) is to denote the commingling (or fusion) of the two to destroy the desire-chain and give birth to Speechless-Experience.
Desire is a chain that stands in the way of Anubhuthi
Arunagirinathar calls desire a chain. A chain has a two-fold aspect. It acts as a fetter to bind the soul; and in itself it consists of rings, linked to one another. It is desire that stands in the way of attaining Anubhuthi. Desires bind the soul to earthly existence and subject it to birth and death, again and again. Desire is bondage and freedom from desire verily constitutes liberation. This, the Kathopanishad beautifully puts as, "When all the desires lodged in the heart are cast out, the mortal becomes Immortal here and now." The lesser the number (or intensity) of desires, the greater is the happiness, being closer to God; and the more the desire, the greater is the misery, being away from God. How far one is from God can thus, be known by the number of desires that one cherishes (or the intensity of desires that assail a person.)
More on desire
Desires are gross, subtle, and even causal, and they are manifest not merely on the surface of the mind. They are often hidden deep in our being. They are lodged in the recesses of the heart. Our very personality is made up of desires. We are nothing but a bundle of desires in different layers. It will not be wrong to say that desires are we, and we are what our desires are. They dominate over our physical personality, psychological being and extend even up to the subconscious and unconscious levels. Hence, they are compared to a chain. The desires that express themselves through our outer or physical personality have their links, like a chain, deep inside the unconscious. The entire chain of desires has to be destroyed if God-experience is to be had. Hence, very significantly Arunagirinathar says, "desire chain" and not merely "desires".
"This desire-chain was made to dust by the love-grace of the Lord, and then Speechless-experience ensued," says the Saint. Speechless Anubhuthi, Maha-Mowna, Absolute-Experience, Bliss-Consciousness are all various terms that indicate the grand spiritual realization of non-dual Awareness. This Awareness (or Anubhuthi) "was born" says Arunagirinathar. It was not given, because giving implies a giver (i.e., another person) duality. God Himself is that Awareness (or Experience). Who is to give it? When the Vel reveals Itself, when Intuition dawns, when God-consciousness supervenes, as stated in the previous verse, the Jiva-consciousness is absorbed in the Absolute consciousness, and the latter alone remains by Itself.
A grand experience, which words cannot explain, is born when the desire-chain is destroyed by the love-grace of the Lord. When effort meets with Grace, when Anbu and Arul become one, which itself is a mystery, something more mysterious happens. The union of Jiva and Isvara results in the experience of the Absolute (Brahman), which transcends the concepts of Jiva and Isvara. The union of the two gives birth to a third. It is not third in the sense that it stands in addition to the two, as in the case of the birth a child which there is an addition to the parents, but it is third because it is neither of the two. The two vanish and in their place something Unknown is. This Unknown includes and transcends both, which are its apparent phases. This is the Mowna-Anubhuthi that "is born", wherein are transcended the usual concepts of Jiva, as an effort-center, and of God (Isvara) as the bestower of grace (or destroyer of desires). All concepts, whatever they be, are phenomenal and so are transcended; and "Pesaa Anubhuthi (speechless-experience)," supervenes (or "is born"). It is speechless from the standpoint of the Jiva, because all its faculties cease then, as explained in the previous verse; it is Experience, pure and simple, from the point of view of Isvara, because even the acts of destroying and bestowing cease. It is mere Experience Pesaa Anubhuthi of which nothing can be said. The coming together of Anbu and Arul gives birth to speechless-experience due to Anbu (or extreme love), the Jiva loses itself in God and so becomes "speechless." Due to Arul (or grace of God), the Experience is born. Anbarul is Pesaa Anubhuthi; Love-Grace is Speechless-Experience. What wonderful packing and conveying of ideas! Even the Grand Experience is conveyed to a great extent, as much as language can contain and permit.
In the entire work of Kanthar Anubhuthi, the term "Anubhuthi" occurs only in this verse. This is a very wonderful and significant verse. Herein, Arunagirinathar declares boldly that the Lord's Grace brought him Speechless-Anubhuthi that Supreme state of spiritual realization of non-dual consciousness, of Bliss-Experience, which is also called Maha-Mowna (Supreme-Silence). He also gives out, though hidden, the Sadhana that is demanded of one to obtain the Grace of the Lord which brings that Anubhuthi. Both the attainment and the means for it are beautifully blended, couched in meaningful terms, in this verse. These verses are not merely statements of Arunagirinathar's experience (or prayer) as they may apparently appear to be, but they also indicate the practices that will lead to the Experience.
Heart & its role in Sadhana
It is interesting to note that the heart plays the vital role in Sadhana and Realization. Purity, love, grace, destruction of desires, birth of Anubhuthi these are the salient and successive points of the verse. Purity is of the heart. The heart is rendered pure by the annihilation of Rajas and Tamas, and development of Sattva. Devotion (love) emanates form a purified heart. Love attracts grace which is felt in the heart. The two commingle in the heart and cause destruction of desires. Desires are lodged in the heart. "Anubhuthi" is then born in the heart. Thus, the heart is the arena of Sadhana and Sakshatkara. It is the point of meeting of effort and grace; of the particular and the universal; of man and God; of Jiva and Isvara. Hence, the Narayana-Upanishad says, "In the center of the body is the sinless lotus of the heart, which is the abode of the Supreme Being. Further within that is the Sorrowless Ether, and That should be meditated upon." Hence, any spiritual practice that doe not emanate from (or is concerned with) the heart becomes more mechanical than vital, more hypocritical than real, more for others than for oneself; such a Sadhana becomes fruitless. The heart is the touchstone of spirituality.
Link to verse 39
The soul's cry of verse 39 is seen fulfilled in this verse. In verse 39, the soul prayed as, "O Lord, as You embraced Valli; come and embrace (grace) my soul; only then the three Eshanas (that grip me) will come to an end, whereby my seven great births shall cease." Each item is correspondingly fulfilled in this verse. "When shall the three Eshanas cease?" was verse 39. "The desire-chain has been shattered," is the answer now. ("Maayaividaa Moovedanai Enru Mudindhidum?" "Aasaa Nigalam Tugal Aayina") the three Eshanas are nothing but the desire-chain with links in the physical, subtle, and causal levels of the personality; both bind the soul to phenomenal existence.
"In order to destroy the seven great births" (verse 39), "Speechless-Experience is born." ("Maavel Sananam Keda" "Pesaa Anubhuthi Pirandadhu") the "seven great births" are put to an end with the "birth of Anubhuthi." The birth fo the one destroys the other births. What mystery!
Link to Verses #39-42
"Anbarul", as we have seen, is Muruga's Grace coupling with Valli's Love. It is the joining of Divine Grace with the Jiva's effort. It is God embracing the Jiva, for which prayer was offered in verse 39, which comes to pass now. That is why there is reference to Valli in both the verses. Thus, the prayer asked for in verse 39, followed by the determined effort (verse 40), gave a conviction that death cannot touch his soul (verse 41), revealed the Vel that at once swallowed up the Jiva (verse 42), and found its fulfillment in that Speechless-Experience (or the destruction of desires) through Love-Grace in this Anubhuthi verse.
Link to Verse #2
This verse, again, is the fulfillment of the prayer of verse 2: "O Lord Muruga, pray grant me that all-ceasing and mine-losing Good." "Al-ceasing" takes place when "the desire-chain is shattered". (In "Aasaa Nigalam Thugal Aaayina", "Ellaam Attradhu".) "Mine-losing" comes with "Speechless (ness)". In "Pesaa (mai)" "Yennai Elandhen". The "Good" is had in "Anubhuthi". "Grant me", was the prayer and "is born" is the fulfillment. ("Sollaai" is answered in "Pirandhadhu"). The prayer in verse 2 was made to Lord Muruga; He by whose love-grace God-experience is born in this verse is, again, Lord Muruga. The order of the prayer and the fulfillment is also sequential: Ellaam Ara; Ennai Elandha; Nalam; Sollai Aasaa Nigalam Thugal Aayina (Pin); Pesaa; Anubhuthi; Pirandhadhu.
Thus, this verse sums up the entire course of Sadhana, i.e., the entire instruction of the treatise, culminating in the Attainment. How beautifully Saint Arunagirinathar portrays in one verse everything about Sadhana and the Attainment the soul's longing for God, total purity, prolonged Sadhana with love till Grace joins it, God's love for the soul, the dawn of His Grace that destroys the desire-chain, and the birth of the grand God-experience in Maha-Mowna!
The verse ends with "Pesaa Anubhuthi Pirandhadhuve" "Speechless-Experience was born." Some, therefore, consider that the work Kanthar Anubhuthi ends with this verse, and that the remaining 8 verses are not Arunagirinathar's. Others, however, hold that all the 51 verses are Arunagirinathar's own compositions, because of certain evidences being available to that effect and the remaining verses being of a special type.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[In the heart of the Sadhaka, that is rendered perfectly pure and filled with longing (love) for God (Mumukshutva), Divine Grace is attracted and the commingling of the two breaks the causal desire-chain (Avidya) and there blossoms forth Pesaa Anubhuthi (God-experience).
The grand Goal fixed (and prayed for) in the beginning of one's Sadhana (verse 2) and for the attainment of which so much of ordeal has been gone through, is realized now. That "all-ceasing and mine-losing Good" has been attained.
This verse seems to be more of the nature of a recollection of the Divine experience born of the Infinite Grace of the Lord, on emerging from that Experience; it, evidently, is also a summing up of the entire process, as the Experience is but a culmination of it.
Verses 42 and 43 may be regarded as complementary one leading to and entering into Samadhi and the other rising from it. The success of meditation, culminating in Super-Consciousness and the simultaneous cessation of all the faculties of the Jiva are described in verse 42. A memory of the Bliss-experience of Samadhi on rising form it is portrayed in verse 43.
Just as on getting up from sleep one says, "I enjoyed a blissful sleep; I knew nothing," though he had no experience while in sleep; on rising from Samadhi (which was attained in verse 42), he retains a vivid memory of that Bliss-experience on account of the persistence of its impressions in the Suddha-Sattva-predominated Antahkarana. This is so vividly portrayed in this verse. This Bliss-experience is a lasting one, and persists even on emerging form Samadhi, because of the intensity of previous practice coupled with Divine Grace.
Jiva becomes a Jivanmukta
Now the Sadhaka becomes a Siddha Purusha, a Jivanmukta Purusha, a sage. He is no more a Jiva, an effort center, and there is no more need for him to do conscious Sadhana, for it becomes natural and spontaneous, his inner awareness of Reality being unbroken and steady. Evidently, that is the reason why there is no mention of Valli (who represents the Jivatman) from verse 44 onwards.
It is rare that souls gifted with Pesaa Anubhuthi remain absorbed in Samadhi and never rise form it. Usually they do come out of Samadhi and engage themselves in Lokasangraha acts of compassion for the solidarity of the world. As their inner awareness of God is steady, they radiate joy and bliss; they are regarded as moving Gods on earth, and their actions are verily God's actions. To see such great souls (Mahatmas), to get an opportunity to serve them, to listen to them, and to be guided by them is indeed a rare privilege. Just as God came as Guru of the Sadhaka in the beginning of his practices and guided him, God, in turn, makes him guide other seeking souls. Hence, it would not be right to regard that the work Kanthar Anubhuthi ends with this verse. The liberated soul moves about freely, ministering spiritual food to hungry souls, according got their needs; such are verses 45 and onwards which are, therefore, unique but variegated in nature. Thus, the world I never bereft of realized souls (Gurus) to provide the needed guidance to aspiring souls.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.