Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 50
By Sri Arunagirinathar
We are now approaching the consummation of the work, Kanthar Anubhuthi, and almost everything about the life spiritual and Sadhana has been said by the Saint. Before concluding his work with a grand description of the Sahaja Samadhi Avastha (or the natural, super-conscious state of a Jivanmukta), in the next verse which is the last verse, Arunagirinathar poses, in this verse, a peculiar condition which will invariably be experienced by every Sadhaka sometime or other in his spiritual march, and prescribes a powerful means of avoiding such a predicament or overcoming it when it prevails. All this is done by the Saint in his own inimitable way, i.e., by placing himself in the position of a seeker.
The final pitfall found in spiritual Sadhana
In spite of one's vast study, long years of practice, and considerable amount of advancement in the spiritual path, there come moments when the understanding of the seeker gets deluded and bewildered and he loses his power of reasoning. We may wonder as to why this should happen. But this is quite natural and there are various factors which might bring about this situation. Let us see a few major ones.
Doubting one's own Sadhana, one's own Guru, and one's fitness for the spiritual path
Doubts of various kinds start assailing seekers even after years of practice. "I have been doing Sadhana for such a long time; but I do not seem to have achieved anything substantial! Is the path I am treading a suitable one for me; or, is there something wrong in my practice? Have I chose a proper Guru and is he competent to take me to the Goal? Am I really progressing or am I deceiving myself with false satisfactions?" Such critical moments are not uncommon in the life of spiritual seekers. Again, when one reads books of different authors advocating different techniques, or listens to the different teachings of preachers of vested-interests, or resorts to different methods of practice prompted, though unconsciously, by one's own lurking desires which come to the surface for their fulfillment at the opportune time, one gets bewildered and is at a loss to know as to what to do.
Again, when a seeker is faced with hard obstacles, or when he is put to severe test, or when he is placed under unfavorable circumstances, or is assailed by sickness, etc., his intellect gets confounded and he fails to understand as to what is happening to himself. It is at these junctures that his faith in the efficacy of his practice, in the competency of his Guru, and in his own fitness to the spiritual path, gets a rude shaking. He is then likely to lose his reasoning power.
Thus, though the reason for the seeker to get confounded may be more than one, the net result is one and the same, viz., loss of reason or confounding of the intellect. In the word "Madhikettu" with which Arunagirinathar begins this verse, and by which is meant "reasoning lost", he may be said to imply the various factors which bring about the loss of reasoning power.
What happens when reasoning power is lost?
Now, what happens when one's reasoning power gets confounded? All the evils that come in its wake at once befall the seeker. The intellect being the highest faculty in an individual, when it is confused, the mind also gets enervated and gloomy. It cannot think properly. The confused intellect and the deluded mind, having lost the power of reasoning, mistake the wrong for the right, the pleasant for the good, pursue that which is detrimental to their own ultimate good, advance illogical arguments to justify their wrong pursuits and thus, go astray from the chosen Goal. What is the result of these? He gets lost in bewilderment and perishes in the end. All this is on account of confusion of intellect which may be brought about by various factors.
These are the crucial hours when the Sadhaka needs a peculiar kind of strength from within, which can save him from being torn asunder. It is to tide over these circumstances, as also to save oneself from falling a prey to such a predicament, that this verse is given by the Saint, which provides the needed inner strength and enthusiasm to overcome the passing difficulty, which if not tackled suitably will result in one's destruction.
How to gather strength to keep the intellect clear?
What is that strength? It is not Sadhaka's own strength of understanding, etc., but is from a different source altogether. It is in the intrinsic, essential nature of the Lord the Object of one's devotion and meditation. How can loss of reason, etc., befall him who is faithfully devoted to Lord Skanda? It can never happen, assures Arunagirinathar. Why? Because the Lord is such. He is the "river-son"; He is the wisdom-bliss Absolute (Jnana-Sukha); and He is the vanquisher of the prowess of the Asuras.
Lord Skanda is the Nadi-Putra; His Avatara took place in the holy river Ganga. He is the Lord of Jnana and Sukha wisdom and bliss. He is the destroyer of the prowess of the Diti-Putras, the sons of Diti the Asura Surapadman and his brothers were born of Diti to Sage Kasyapa. What a grand concept! The Jnana-Sukha Lord manifested Himself as the Nadi-Putra to destroy the Diti-Putras.
The waters of the Ganga rush down from the high Himalayan peaks; and its flow is also perennial. Even so, Lord Skanda's grace descends upon His devotees, spontaneously and incessantly. Again, even as the "river-son" destroyed the Diti's sons, the Divine grace annihilates the evils that follow loss of reasoning. In response to the devout prayers of the Devas, the Lord whose essential nature is Jnana-Sukha appeared as the son of river Ganga and destroyed the sons of Diti and brought freedom and bliss to the Devas. Even so, the Lord (or the Self), whose very nature is Satchidananda, manifests Himself as inner divine grace which removes all difficulties of the Sadhaka and fills him with strength and joy. Therefore, when one's Object of devotion or meditation is the Wisdom-Bliss Lord Skanda, how can confusion of intellect, etc., arise in him? And even if they arise, how can they stand before the embodiment of Knowledge and Bliss, whose grace instantaneously flows into the Sadhaka's heart and removes them? When one's ideal is the Blissful-Awareness (or the Self), which is one's essential nature, how can confusion (or gloom) show its head in a seeker? As long as one is aware that one's true being is the Atman, one cannot be swayed by the passing moods of the mind and intellect.
Thus, in these powerful modes of addressing the Lord, Arunagirinathar rules out the possibility of confusion, etc., arising in a Sadhaka, wherein also is implied the assurance that such a thing can never befall him. A deep reflection on the full import of the verse is capable of infusing such a strength into the heart of the seeker that he can overcome any obstacle in his Sadhana. The verse is alike a "pick-me-up" in crucial moments.
"Reasoning lost, confounded, deluded, and deprived of Moksha, am I to perish! Can such a condition befall me! No, it can never happen. Because, O Lord, Thou, to whom I am devoted and who art my Object of meditation, art the grace-showering "river-son", the Lord (embodiment) of wisdom-bliss (Jnana-Sukha), and the vanquisher of the prowess of Diti's sons." Thus, does Arunagirinathar assure a true seeker whose Goal is clear and well-conceived that he can never come to be assailed by confusion, etc. Let all Sadhakas, therefore, take to heart that Divine Grace is unfailing in its nature, and that so long as they do not lose sight of the Goal, divine grace shall protect them and they can never come to perish.
The verse may also be taken as an appeal to the Lord to save one from losing the goal of God-attainment (Anubhuthi) on account of loss of reason, confusion of intellect, delusion, etc. "Am I destined to perish? O Lord! Let it not happen. Save me," is the appeal of a helpless devotee (or seeker). Arunagirinathar has so powerfully worded and composed the verse that a sincere recitation of it brings tears in one's eyes, which draw into one's heart that ever-descending grace of the Lord. This verse is a boon to seekers in the hours of bewilderment and confusion, and a daily prayerful repetition of it will also safeguard one against any such contingency.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[The grand work of Kanthar Anubhuthi is approaching its consummation in the next verse, wherein is a glorious description of the exalted state of a Jivanmukta who is ever established in God. Before that, Saint Arunagirinathar gives a final and solemn assurance to all that an earnest aspirant can never be lost in confusion, etc., so long as his ideal is the Lord grace-showering, wisdom-bliss, and evil-destroying in nature. A true devotee of the Lord (or an honest seeker after Truth) can never be lost or be deprived of his Goal.
We have seen earlier (in verse 43) that the liberated soul moves about freely ministering spiritual food to hungry souls according to each one's needs. Thus, are verses 45 to 50, of which the advices in verses 45 to 49 are specific in nature. In this verse, he gives a common advice and assurance which will be helpful to every kind of seeker, irrespective of the path one treads, as everyone is bound to face this situation, for one reason or the other, sometime or the other in one's spiritual career.
The placing of this verse as the last but one of the work seems to suggest that it is like the Phalasruti the verse that declares or assures the beneficial results accruing from a devoutful and regular recitation of the work, viz., an assurance that those who recite the Kanthar Anubhuthi and follow its teachings will unfailingly receive the grace of the all-purifying, wisdom-bliss Lord, which will wipe off one's confusion, delusion, and other obstacles that might come in the way of one's attaining the Goal, viz., Anubhuthi (God-experience).]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.