Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 45
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Arunagirinathar's advise in approaching learned ones
Arunagirinathar asks of the Lord to grant him Divine Knowledge, the essence of all learning, to avoid the need for him to go to and beg of Pundits (or men of learning) who hide their knowledge. It is not that Arunagirinathar is against learning, but he disapproves of the idea of approaching those who are unwilling to part with what they possess. Learning is necessary. It is also a gift of God. The learning we have (from books and teachers) and our Knowledge (that dawns from within) are both from the Lord (verse 17). Hence, learning as such is not bad, but learning that loses sight of its purpose at the hands of unspiritual pedantics is what is disapproved by Arunagirinathar.
The great law is: "Give and it shall be given to you ten-fold, hundred-fold, manifold." Especially in the case of knowledge, one does not lose by giving, for it is such a thing that it cannot diminish by sharing. On the other hand, it increases the more it is imparted, as water from a spring in the river-bed wells up the more it is extracted. Wealth, food, etc., deplete when given to others, and these can satisfy the recipient only for a limited time.
The greatness of Jnana-Dhanam
But the charity of knowledge (or Jnana-Dhanam) is a lasting one. Neither the giver loses anything by giving nor the recipient loses it at anytime. Both are benefited forever. The glory of Jnana-Dhanam is, therefore, greater than that of all other charities. Why, then, hide what one knows? Yet, generally men of learning do not easily impart their knowledge to others. They conceal it not knowing that God also hides Himself from them.
Why people hide their learning?
Why do people hide their learning? They are afraid that their "business" will be affected if they impart it to others. Those who utilize their knowledge as a means of acquiring wealth, position, fame, power, etc., do not wish to impart it to others, lest the latter should compete with them. But the purpose of learning is something else. It is, as Thiruvalluvar says, "To worship (attain) God." Those who direct their knowledge to its true purpose, viz., to attain God, never hesitate to share what they know with honest seekers. Such noble souls are Gurus, who are kind and compassionate by their very nature, from whom knowledge is to be sought.
Why go to men of learning when you can seek
the Lord for wisdom?
Arunagirinathar prays to the Lord for wisdom supreme, for it can be granted by the Lord alone. Men of learning can give bookish knowledge, i.e., mere information, but not wisdom, for they themselves lack it. After all, one has to go to someone, whether for learning or wisdom. Then, why go to men; why not pray to the Lord Himself? And how beautifully the Saint contrasts the nature of men of learning with that of the Lord. They hide what they have, though what they possess is not the highest Knowledge, but only bookish learning. On the other hand, the Lord, says Arunagirinathar, is the granter of Siva-Yoga. Siva-Yoga (or Siva-Jnana) is the supreme state of non-dual consciousness and God is capable of giving it. Also, He is an embodiment of grace and mercy. He is ever ready to give to those who really want it, if they approach in the proper manner.
How to approach the Lord for wisdom?
One may wonder as to how to approach the Lord for wisdom? Guru is God, says Arunagirinathar. He addresses the Lord as Guru, because it is God who comes in a human form in response to one's sincerity and longing, at the appropriate time. God Himself is the real Guru of all. Hence, no distinction is to be made between God and Guru. That God Himself is our Guru is known only by those to whom it is revealed by His grace, said Arunagirinathar (verse 13).
How to recognize a Guru?
Now, how to recognize a Guru, is the next problem of seekers. On this, Swami Sivananda says:
Studying under a SatGuru vs. men of learning
There is a lot of difference between studying under a spiritual master (Guru) and men of learning. As the Guru is a Brahma-Srotriya and a Brahma-Nishtha, apart form his mastery over scriptures, his teachings will have the magical touch of personal experience, as he has already trodden the path, while those of learned men will be dry. Also, doubts and difficulties of various kinds will arise in the course of Sadhana, which have to be cleared then and there. This is possible only for a Guru, as he has undergone them personally. Thus, is the supreme importance of a Guru for seekers of Truth.
Guru being God Himself, the contrast made in this verse seems to be between real Gurus who are kind and compassionate and dry Pundits who conceal and are miserly.
Guru as Kumara
Kumara means the Lord of eternal youth. It also means one who destroys evils. The Guru is the real Kumara his beauty consists in his possession of divine wisdom; and he has powers to destroy the evils (Avidya, etc.) of the seekers.
Skanda Puranam: the Kulisa & Kunjara weapons
Kulisa is a weapon in one of the twelve hands of the Lord. It is with this weapon that the Lord killed the Asura Simhamukhan, the younger brother of Surapadman. As the Lord has the Kulisa weapon, He is Kulisaayudha. Kulisa is also the weapon of Indra.
Kunjara means elephant. Deivayanai, the daughter of Indra, was brought up by Indra's divine elephant, Airavata. Hence, she is called Kunjari. As Deivayanai is the consort of Lord Skanda, He is called Kunjarava. Also, as the Lord has an elephant, by name Pinimukha, as His Vahana (vehicle), He is called Kunjarava.
In the entire work of Kanthar Anubhuthi, this is reference to Deivayanai in this solitary verse. Arunagirinathar seems to have felt that a reference to Deivayanai would bring completeness to the work, as all else of Lord Skanda and His divine family is made mention of in this work, viz., Lord Siva, Uma Devi, Lord Ganesha, Valli, the Vel, the Peacock and the Cockrel.
Kulisa (or Vajra) is the weapon of Indra, too. Hence, Indra also goes by the name of Kulisaayudha. "Kulisayudha Kunjarava" may, therefore, be taken together, meaning "Lord Skanda, who has as His consort Indra's daughter Kunjari or Deivayanai."
The prayer of Arunagirinathar in this verse does not mean that he lacked wisdom, for he gave Kanthar Anubhuthi after attaining direct realization of God. It is, therefore, to be construed as his wholesome advise to seekers to approach a Guru for divine knowledge.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Though as a Sadhaka, one's goal is the attainment of that "good" which is God (verse 2), God has a definite mission for him to fulfill. He on whom God chooses to shower His grace, fro and through Him will God naturally get His work done. Thus, the task of spiritual ministering is ordained to the Jivanmukta to whom God has given that experience (verses 42 to 44). And for this reason, it is that saints are considered as representatives of God (or moving divinities) on earth. Verses 45 and onwards are, therefore, of a special type. They are unique and highly instructive. They reveal the exalted spiritual moods and attitudes of a Jivanmukta, who is always in God-awareness, to whom seeking souls resort for guidance; they naturally vary, but form solid advices to seekers. Hence, we will find something peculiar in each of these verses, though no sequence can be seen in them.
The Jivanmukta, who has realized God's nature of unbounded grace, feels pity over the lot of those ignorant men who fail to recognize the source of wisdom (i.e., God) and do not seek it from Him, but approach men of learning (bereft of wisdom) who are miserly by nature. Here is, therefore, his exhortation to people to approach a Guru, the visible God, for spiritual wisdom.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.