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Swami Desika Master of Analogy - 15 (October 15, 2009)

100 Gems from Srimath Rahasyathraya Saaram
S. Padmalatha, Chennai.

Analogical Gems 71 to 75

71. How the stalk of the eight-nodal sugarcane is used by all after removing the leaves and the root (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

எட்டுக் கண்ணான கரும்பிலே வேர்ப்பற்றும் தலையாடையும் கழிந்தால், நடுவுள்ள அம்சம் ஸர்வோபஜீவ்யமாகிறாப் போலே

The Ashtaakshara Manthram or Thirumanthram is prescribed differently for various classes of people as per their status of birth. For example, ladies are required to pronounce the Pranavam (ஓம்), the first part of the manthra as “Um” (அம்) instead of the full enunciation.

However, the central portion of the manthra, namely, “Namo Narayana” can be uttered by one and all to contemplate the Lord. The sugarcane has eight nodes like the eight lettered Thirumanthra. The stalk is consumed by all after removing the leaves on top and the root. Similarly, the use of words “Namo Narayana” from the Ashtakshara is permissible for all.

72. How the Kamadhenu is but a cow (Prabhaava Vyavastha Adhikaaram):

திருஸுரபியானாலும் கோத்வம் கழியாதிறே

The esteemed Kamadhenu is but a cow and the species does not change. Similarly, of the two aspects of caste and creed for a Bhagavatha, the creed may change from that of an agnostic or atheist to a Vaishnava, but not the caste. (பண்டைக் குலத்தைத் தவிர்ந்து பல்லாண்டு பல்லாயிரத்தாண்டு என்மினே! — Periyazhwar Thirumozhi 1-1-5)

The Bhagavathas of lower caste, no doubt, have to be appreciated and respected. However, a staunch conformist of Saasthras that he was, Swami Desika held that a person’s caste, which arises from birth, never changes.

73. How a person is guided towards the correct route during a pilgrimage (Prabhaava Vyavastha Adhikaaram):

தீர்த்த யாத்திரையிலே வழி திகைத்தாரை வழியிலே சேர்த்த மாத்ரம் அவர்களைத் தெளிவித்து விட்டார்களித்தனை

All the restrictions which are imposed upon us by the Saasthras as per our Varna and Asrama have to be implicitly followed and hence Saasthraic knowledge has to be obtained only from one’s designated Acharya.

One might wonder as to how Vidhura and Dharmavyadha (a butcher) would qualify to preach about justice (Vidhura Neethi) and knowledge considering their birth and occupation. The answer is that their advice was similar to guiding a person who has already embarked on a pilgrimage towards the correct route lest he may be confused about the path to take.

They did not take it upon themselves to impart the highest knowledge. When asked by Dhridharashtra, Vidhura desisted from going the whole hog about Bhakthi Yoga and implored him to learn about it from Sage Sanathsujatha. Similarly, Dharmavyadha, the butcher, advised Sage Kausika (who infamously cursed the crane to fall dead for inadvertently puking upon him) about concepts in the broad sense only.

74. How a touch by the hand of a great Bhagavatha purifies even the Lord’s idol before consecration (Prabhaava Vyavastha Adhikaaram):

திருப்ரதிஷ்டையில் மஹாபாகவத ஸ்பர்சம் போலே

It is said that a Bhagavatha purifies everything. Swami Desika clarifes the purported meaning of this statement by giving examples. This will apply only where it is prescribed by the Sasthraas and not to those actions specifically prohibited, i.e., eating fig fruits has been expressly forbidden and one cannot claim that it had been purified by the touch of a Bhagavatha and consume it.

A touch by the hand of a great Bhagavatha is enlisted before the consecration of the Lord’s idol in a temple as per the Sasthraas. However this premise is not to be misused, misinterpreted or generalised.

75. How it is wrong to embrace asceticism to shirk family responsibilities (Prabhaava Vyavastha Adhikaaram):

குடும்ப பரணாதிகளுக்கு அலைந்து ஸந்யாஸாதிகளைப் பற்றுவாரைப் போலே

This is a very important analogy in that it emphasises upon the continuance of Nithya and Naimiththika Karmas for a Prapanna as demonstrated by our Acharyas till their departure from this world.

To forego all rituals through ignorance is Thaamasika Thyaga. To give up because of laziness and misconception that they are time-consuming and exhausting is Raajasika Thyaga. For this Swami cites the example of an ascetic who takes to Sanyasa for shirking his family duties and not for the renunciation of material pleasures in favour of God.

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Next in series: Gems 76 to 80, on November 15, 2009.

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