The Peerless Preceptor – 10


Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore

We have seen in detail the purport of the sloka

“Gurum prakAsayEt dheemAn mantram yatnEna gOpayEt
aprakAsa prakAsAbhyAm kshEeyatE sampat Ayushi”

Here, the instruction to publicise the greatness of the Guru is applicable to the entire Guruparampara, for, after all, one’s Acharya derived his wealth from his own Acharya and so on. Hence it becomes the duty of the sishya to extol the praise of not only his own Guru, but of the entire lineage of Acharyas.

Further, the term “Mantra” includes the “MantrArtthA” or the mantra.s sacred purport. Thus the dictum not to reveal the mantra to the unqualified applies to the mantra’s purport too. This is borne out by the following Bhagavat GitA sloka :-

“idam tE nAtapaskAya nAbhaktAya kadAchana
na cha asushrooshavE vAchyam na cha mAm ya: abhyasooyati”

Having imparted to Arjuna the divine secrets of Karma, GnAna, Bhakti and Prapatti YogAs, the Lord cautions him not to disseminate this hard-earned knowledge to certain classes of people-

“nAtapaskAya”- Mantra and its purport are not to be told to one without absolute control over the body, mind and tongue, and lacking penance. Such a person would neither benefit fully from the knowledge, nor realize its greatness.

“nAbhaktAya”- Even if a sishya has the preliminary requisite of “tapas” as detailed above, if he lacks devotion to the Acharya and to the Lord, he is not qualified to receive upadesa of the mantra or its purport. For, as shown above, the efficacy of the mantra is directly proportionate to the degree of the beneficiary.s devotion to the Guru from whom he receives it, as also to the Lord who is enshrined in the mantra.

“asushrooshavE”- Mere tapas, and bhakti in the Guru and the Lord, do not entitle a sishya to the scriptural secrets- he must also be imbued with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the eagerness to perform kainkarya to the Acharya, as an outward manifestation of his Gurubhakti.

“Yobhyasooyati”- Even if endowed with all the aforesaid sterling qualities, if a sishya is eaten up with envy or intolerance at the Lord’s svaroopam, His boundless auspicious attributes, His unlimited Ishwarya, etc., he is instantly disqualified to receive the treasure of knowledge.

The Mantra herself beseeches her possessor not to give her away to the non-believer, the devotionless, the envious, etc., as the following sloka indicates-

“NAstikAya satAyApi mad bhakti rahitAya vA
asooyakAya mAm mA dA: sEvadhi: tEsmi rakshamAm”

The Mantra, putting herself in the position of the daughter of the Acharya, pleads with him not to give her away in marriage to the unqualified, thereby putting her and the Acharya in misery. When a good girl marries a bad person who lacks appreciation of his bride.s sterling qualities, it causes untold misery to the girl herself, her father who performed the kanyAdAnam, and to everybody who was witness to the marriage.

All this elaborate prohibition is intended to ensure that only the qualified disciple receives the mantra and its purport, so that he would appreciate its greatness, afford it the due devotion it calls for and reap the bountiful fruits it is capable of conferring on the upAsaka.

Whenever one recites the mantra mentally or verbally, or meditates on its enlightening purport, one should simultaneously remember with overwhelming gratitude the Acharya and the illustrious lineage of preceptors before him, who made it possible for one to attain the great treasure of knowledge. Similarly, whenever the Acharya performs mantrOpadEsa, he should do so only after meditating upon the Acharya vamsa-

“AchAryam manasA dhyAtvA mantram adhyApayEt Guru:” lays down the Scripture.

Meditating on the lineage of Gurus is not only our bounden duty, but is immensely pleasurable, when one’s devotion and gratitude are true. Further, it also redeems one of certain sins like conversation with the wicked. Just as association with the pious adds merit, alliance or even mere conversation with the wicked is capable of pulling us down into an abyss-

“na mlEccha asuchi adhArmikai :saha sambhAshEta
sambhAshya puNya kritO manasA dhyAyEt”

Thinking of the purifying lineage of Acharyas washes away the sin accruing from speech with the impure, unrighteous and the outcasts, says the Goutama Dharma SUtra.

Remembering with gratitude his own Acharyas, and to enable our meditation on the lineage, Swami Desikan enumerates the Guruparampara in the following sloka-

“en uyir tandu aLittavarai sharanam pukki
yAn adaivE avar gurukkaL nirai vaNangi
pin aruLAl PerumbOOdUr vanda vaLLal
Peria nimbi, Alavandar, ManakkAl nimbi
Nan neriyai avarku uraittha UyyakkondAr
Natamuni, Satakopan, SenainAtan
Innamuda TirumagaL endru ivarai munnittu
Emperuman tiruvadigaL adaigindrEnE”

என் உயிர் தந்து அளித்தவரை சரணம் புக்கி
யான் அடைவே அவர் குருக்கள் நிறை வணங்கி
பின் அருளால் பெரும்பூதூர் வந்த வள்ளல்
பெரிய நம்பி, ஆளவந்தார், மணக்கால் நம்பி
நன் நெறியை அவர்க்கு உரைத்த உய்யக்கொண்டார்
நாதமுனி, சடகோபன், சேனைநாதன்
இன்னமுத திருமகள் என்று இவரை முன்னிட்டு
எம்பெருமான் திருவடிகள் அடைகின்றேனே

The reference to “en uyir tandu aLittavar ” says a lot. It indicates that this life was indeed worthless before the Guru, through his infinite mercy, induced the realisation that we are the Lord’s own creatures, and exist solely for His service (“Seshatva GnAna). Anyone who lacks this realisation doesn’t live, but merely exists, like other inanimate beings.

That such a life is no life at all is borne out by Sri Tirumazhisai PirAn’s words, “andru nAn pirandilEn, pirandapin marandilEn – அன்று நான் பிறந்திலேன், பிறந்தபின் மறந்திலேன்”. Azhwar considers himself to have been born only after he acquired Seshatva GnAna described above. Every Brahmin is supposed to be born twice- once when he takes birth, and then again when he undergoes upanayanam and BrahmOpadEsam, which entitle him to study the Vedas and Vedanta. Azhwar and Swami Desikan are of the opinion that apart from the two births described above, there is a third and most important birth-that induced by Seshatva Gnana. Unless one takes this third birth, the other two births would remain incomplete and useless, as they would only lead him deeper and deeper into the whirlpool of Samsara, whereas the third birth would show him the way out of the morass and uplift him to worlds above.

The words “en uyir” could also be taken to refer to the Lord, for He is verily the giver of life and its sustainer. He is indeed life itself. Without Him, we are as good as non-existent. The Acharya, by enlightening us as to the true nature and auspicious attributes of the Paramatma, gives us life in its true sense. And in so doing, the Acharya protects us from the fate that befalls those who know not the Ultimate-hence the sobriquet “aLittavar”, meaning protector. It is to this Acharya that we pay obeisance, says Swami Desikan.

to be continued…

Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore


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