Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Thirumangai Alwar assumed the Lord’s sweetheart and was attracted by Sri Sowriraja Perumal and totally surrenders to His unimaginable beauty. The Alwar in the guise of the sweetheart’s mother complains that her daughter is becoming weaker and pining for the Lord. Today’s lecture is from this Alwar’s sannidhi. Just in front of the main Gopuram [Tower] there is the pushkarini or temple pond. It has nine snan ghats or bathing places. It is believed and practiced that couples wanting to be blessed with children, bathe in all these nine ghats and worship the Lord of Thirukkannapuram and they are blessed with good children. The same Lord as Sri Krishna sermonizes to Arjuna the reality of soul and body. Arjuna seems to be having a doubt. Though he is convinced that the soul is eternal and the body is perishable, that one has to get accustomed to some discomforts to achieve great objectives, yet there is a small hitch in his mind. In our daily life, when we have to vacate a house we resided for some years and move to another town or a bigger house, we are sad to leave the old place. As we take a last look at the old house, we go back in our memory lane and are taken over by emotion. This is the case where we lived in that house for a very short duration. Therefore, when an atman has to depart a body it had occupied for 70 or 80 years, how one can overcome grief and emotion? This is the doubt haunting Arjuna. This was the body by which one got knowledge, one visited so many sacred places, one was blessed by great people and one was fondled by one’s parents. So one was lucky to have had this body and so it is but natural to feel sorry to leave this body. As a reply to Arjuna’s this query, that one should grieve at departing a body, the 22nd sloka is framed:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro ’parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi

"As a person puts on new garments, giving up used up ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones."

Here the body is compared to apparel. It is our practice that we cast away old and worn out dress. This body also wears out with time passing. Knee joints pain, vision becomes dimmer and hearing diminishes. Should not, therefore, atman seek a new body and cast aside this body, just as we choose new attire? In fact on festival days like Deepavali and Pongal, we are happy to put on new dresses. We celebrate such events. We take sweets and seek blessings of elders on those days. So, these are days for merry making. Similarly, when a soul departs a body and enters a new one, should we not celebrate? Sri Krishna points out the second error committed by Arjuna. The first one was mourning for the perishable body. Now, as a second error, Arjuna instead of being happy is feeling sorry. This is a greater error. The soul has got a new body and so the playful child times can be re-enacted. The Vedas describe the happiness of human beings. In Thaithriya Upanishad, youthfulness is taken as the scale to describe the happiness one can get. In youth one has a very good capacity to eat anything and digest. An old person has many excuses to deny eatables after particular time in the day. Whereas, a youth eats whenever he finds food. He has the capacity to do what many persons can jointly do. He is able to run, jump, climb and what not. All these happiness is possible only in the youth. Therefore, the soul also takes a youthful body to enjoy. Arjuna raises another doubt. It is right to be happy, if the atman is going to take a better body and enjoy. If one had a worn-out dress, it is correct for that one to cast that dress away and put on a better clothe. But if the new apparel is torn or is made of rags, why should one throw away the old clothes? Similarly, if the atman is sure of getting a better body, one can agree with the statement that one should be happy at the atman being born in a new body. Because of the past karma, what if the atman is going to take the body of a mouse or cat or a sickly person? How can we rejoice? None is sure of the new body the atman is going to get. In the case of apparels, surely we will only purchase new and better dress only. One was living in an old palace, which required repairs and refurnishing. Suppose, the one is offered a brand new multi crore worth prison to live, will that one accept? Therefore, if one is assured of a better and higher level body, one can be happy. But with the karmas, the atman does not know its destination. How, then we can feel happy at the departure of a soul from the body? Sri Krishna allays that fear also. After all Arjuna is fighting righteously and for a just cause. In case he gets killed, he is assured of swarga or the heaven, where happiness will be much more. On the other hand, if the Pandavas win, they are going to reign righteously and with the blessings of the subjects they will reach heaven only after their death. So anyway, Arjuna is assured of a better life after death and so the fear he has is baseless.

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