Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Today’s lecture is from Thirumangai Alwar sannidhi in Thirukkannapuram temple. This Alwar was so much devoted to the Sri SowriRaja Perumal here, that he sang 100 songs or one entire 8th decade in his Peria Thirumozhi was devoted to this Kshetram. This Alwar also made another collection of hymns and that is Thiru Nedunthandakam. With the aid of this collection, we will try to examine the 21st sloka of chapter 2 of Gita. In ThiruNedunthandakam, in the first hymn, the Alwar while describing Paramatma, jeevatma and achit, he employs three words in Tamil. They are Munnuru, Pinnuru and Ponnuru. Munnuru represents all the inanimate –achit- objects, like the body, we see. Pinnuru is the jeevatma that is latent in these achit entities. Ponnuru means the Paramatma hidden in the atman. We have seen that the achit perishes while the atman is eternal. This Alwar also says that the atman is unborn, unchangeable and imperishable. The achit are all created, modified and perish. Alwar says he wants to surrender unto Him Who pervades this atman. Earlier we told that the atman is the tiniest entity. Some may raise doubts here. When atman is atomic in size, how it is logical or sensible that Paramatma can be tinier than atman? In the primary classes we were educated that atom was the smallest matter. But later on in higher studies we were told that the atom consists of protons, electrons and neutrons. Similarly, though atman is the tiniest entity, as we research and reason, we conclude that the Paramatma resides in the atman. So, we should understand that Paramatma is fully dwelling in the soul. The soul with his intellect is fully present in the body it is occupying. This relationship among the three entities has to be borne in mind and we pass on to the 21st sloka:

vedavinasinam nityam
ya enam ajam avyayam
katham sa purushah partha
kam ghatayati hanti kam

"O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or encourage anyone to kill?"

Here, Sri Krishna says that he, who realizes that the atman cannot be destroyed, neither tries to destroy atman nor persuades others to destroy atman. Will anyone do that? If I know that I cannot break this pillar by my head, I will not try to do that. Similarly, if it is realized that the atman is imperishable, nobody will ever try to annihilate the atman nor induces anyone else to do that. Sri Krishna says this because if Arjuna realizes that he cannot destroy atman, he will know he cannot kill Bheeshma or Drona, nor he will think that he could possibly ask Bhima or other friendly kings to kill. So He reiterates that how he, who realizes that the atman is ajam-unborn, avyayam- unchangeable and avinasanam- indestructible and nityam- eternal, can ever think of killing anyone or induce others to kill anyone. This soul is in this body and experiences the pleasures and pains and after this is over, atman gets released from that body. So only the body is destroyed. Sri Krishna uses three adjectives to describe jeevatma unborn, immutable and imperishable. This does not cause boredom, as the soul is gyana swaroopy- embodiment of knowledge and ananda swaroopy- repository of happiness. Here, we have to know two types of entities. One is called paradarsam and the other is pratyadarsam. All objects we see such as this pillar, watch, etc., are all paradarsam. Jeevatma, on the other hand is pratyadarsam. The difference is atman knows it is atman while other objects will not know what they are. Souls do not require an external agency to know who they are. But all the inanimate objects require identification by another entity. Atman is always awake. As an example, we nowadays see clock in cars. Let us say we drive the car and reach a place at say 4p.m We switch off the engine in the car and all are closed including the clock. After an hour we again get into the vehicle and start the engine. The clock panel also gets illuminated and shows the time, now as 5p.m. Even though the car engine was shut, the battery in the clock keeps it ticking during the engine-off period also. This can be noticed in the computers also. Similarly, the atman in our body is always alive as he is an ocean of knowledge and that knowledge is refreshed always. A person with this knowledge knows that that atman is everlasting and cannot be killed. There is an episode in the Mahabharatha called Yaksha Prasnam. The Pandavas when in forest in exile, one day feel thirsty. Sahadev first goes to a pond to drink and fetch water for others. An Yaksha asks him to answer his questions before taking water. Sahadev is indifferent to that and tries to take water and he swoons and falls down. Later, other brothers come one by one and they also do not care to answer the Yaksha and meet the same fate. Finally, Yudhishtra comes and encounters the same question from the Yaksha. But true to his humble nature, he tries to answer the questions. One of the questions was whish is surprising in this world. Yudhishtra replied that the surprise is, in spite of the nine holes in the body, the soul does not leave the body. Such a tiny atman does not escape even when the holes are wide open. If in a cage, the door is open, it will be a surprise if the bird in the cage does not fly out. Then another question posed was which is most surprising? Yudhishtra replied that while we see so many dead, we still think that we will live for ever. Humorously it is told that when a dead body is cremated or carried by professionals hired for that purpose, they will be praying that more such dead bodies they should cremate or carry so that they could live happily for ever with the money so earned. So it is very difficult to come to that realization that the atman is everlasting and the body only perishes.

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