2 poems by narayana guru


POEMS BY NARAYANA GURU


TRANSLATED BY NATARAJA GURU
FROM "THE WORD OF THE GURU"

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TRANSLATOR'S FOREWORD

Our main object in this volume has been to introduce both the life and teachings of the Guru Narayana in a general way. Now that we have covered the personal ways and attitudes of the Guru and elaborated the background and the general mythological, ethnic, religious, social, historical and philosophical setting in which his teachings and the method used, have to be viewed, we proceed here to select a few typical samples from his writings, mainly from his early compositions, where much of the imagery is that of the 'stone-language' that we have dealt with in Chapter XV.

We need hardly say why he used such imagery, or why these early writings were clothed in a language of their own, since we have already shown the inevitability of such a language as part of the socio-religious necessary world in which the Guru lived. Such mythology and iconography with all their own idioms, as it were, have been alive in the daily life and mentality of the common people of South India from the earliest times, and for everyday use constituted the readiest means available to the Guru for the communication of his own high thoughts.

Essentially, such thoughts were the same as those of his later, more positive and less iconological works and, needless to say, the mystical, philosophical, contemplative or dialectical doctrines contained in all his compositions have remained the same throughout; but there will be many readers outside India, not to speak of those in India who have lost touch with the old mystical-cultural language, who may be puzzled by the two modes of literary expression found in the Guru's writings: the
mainly figurative Indian-contextual earlier poetry, and the more openly universally-fronted later productions; and
therefore

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it may be puzzling on the surface to see how both modes of writing are really identical in wisdom-values. This is the
background problem which we have tried to clear up.

Shorn of the difference of linguistic or stylistic mode, both kinds deal with the same subject, breathing the same spirit; always indicating by this or that mode some central human value or good as viewed in the light of pure contemplation. No means of communication or tradition is rejected if it can serve the purpose of indicating such values of help to all. Some of these approaches have academic form and finish; some are in classical Sanskrit - while others view reality from the point of view of the Indian peasant, using popular everyday Tamil and Malayalam. In his earlier verses he spoke as one South Indian peasant to another, using the familiar idiom of a common environment. In his later writings he opened out and became universal, just as he did with his personality. He then took a more positive or definitely universal stand, treating his subject in a correctly academic or contemplative manner which was not only valid for India but global, applicable in any context anywhere.

The compositions we have selected here are just samples of some of these various styles, and, mainly because of space, but also because the more serious works are reserved for future treatment, we have kept to the Guru's miscellaneous and shorter writings. The longer works, The Atmopadesha Satakam (Centiloquy to Self) and the Darshana Mala (Garland of Visions), each consisting of one hundred verses, since they require extensive comment on account of their profoundly rich philosophical content, require volumes to themselves. In them the Guru's mature and finalized wisdom is contained in a fully developed form. His supreme crowning achievement is the Darshana Mala, in which the Guru rises far above what superficially might be esteemed as even his 'own special note', a statement which lifts philosophy above the philosophical, above the systems; pure and noble, treating of all systematized thought and philosophies in the light of wisdom itself. But these must wait for future treatment. The last sample selection given in this volume is a foretaste of this kind of wisdom-writing.

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We have graded the present selections in a certain order. The first poem, the 'Critique of Caste', has a bearing on an actual problem acutely felt in India, to which the Guru Narayana finds a simple solution, without swerving from his own position as a contemplative philosopher. Then in later selections we have the theme centred round essentially real and human values such as 'Prenatal Gratitude' and 'Kindness to Life'.

We pass on to samples in which doctrines of contemplative mysticism, covering the psychological or cosmological fields, are
introduced. Many of the Guru's poems are constructed around the Shiva myth, which has a language all its own, surviving in
revalued terms from the earliest times, prehistorically at least as ancient as Mohenjo-Daro. The distinctive Indian approaches of Samkhya and Yoga philosophy with their specialized features and vocabularies are also covered in our selections. Finally we arrive at the concluding sample, representative of the most sublime form of contemplative writing extant in India or in the world. This conforms to the strict discipline of Brahma Vidya or the Science of the Absolute, as finalized in the long history of the Guru-Word. Thus through 'politics' in the Aristotelian sense, ascending a ladder of human values contemplatively reviewed and determined, we reach the end of the ladder where there is suspended the glorious crown of Word-Wisdom.                                   

In conclusion a word might be added to point out that in the following translations I have adhered closely to the original Malayalam or Sanskrit text, perhaps in fact too closely and literally for the comfort of the reader, and thus marring their
readability as 'poetry' in the living English language, or even verging into what may seem like doggerel. While conscious of this, it must be explained that this is due to a desire to adhere loyally to the original without adding any flourishes of my own, as these might detract from the value of the Guru's own words. However, in some rare instances I have taken what seemed to be an inescapable liberty with the original and employed a slightly different turn of expression. But here too, in order that the reader may not mix up what is mine with what belongs to the Guru's own words in the original, I have taken care to

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explain all deflections of this kind from the original in the word notes. On the whole, therefore, the reader can rest assured and can verify for himself, where necessary, the authenticity of the original words of the Guru.
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A CRITIQUE OF CASTE

(JATI MIMAMSA)

(The first verse is translated from Sanskrit, the four other
verses from Malayalam).

I
Man's humanity marks out the human kind
Even as bovinity proclaims a cow.
Brahminhood and such are not thus-wise;
None do see this truth, alas!

II
One of kind, one of faith, and one in God is man;
Of one womb, of one form; difference herein none.

III
Within a species, is it not, that offspring truly breed?
The community of man thus viewed, to a single caste belongs.

IV
Of the human species is even a Brahmin born, as is the Pariah too,
Where is difference then in caste as between man and man?

V
In bygone days of a Pariah woman the great sage Parasara was born,
As even he of Vedic-aphorism fame of a virgin of the fisher-folk.


A CRITIQUE OF CASTE
INTRODUCTORY

This short composition has been selected as an instance where the Guru Narayana, who was essentially a contemplative mystical philosopher dedicated to wisdom (jnana), treats critically a subject which at first sight seems to belong merely to the social world, to the domain of obligation or necessity.

Normally, according to the strict methodology of the Vedanta, the Dharma Shastras or Smritis (scriptural commandments or codes) are expected to deal with such questions involving social duties. A closer examination of the contents of these verses, however, will reveal the fact that the Guru here does not treat any aspect of contemplative wisdom other than what reason should confront normally. Although he deals with a question bearing upon or implying social justice or equality, his critique is not conceived or composed as a code.

The final distinction between wisdom and action (jnana and karma) should be sought in the obligatory and necessary character of action and the permissive, contingent or commendatory nature of wisdom. When a critique strictly stops short of a programme of necessary action, it is still contemplative, and should be considered as belonging to the subject-context of wisdom. A clarified intelligence awake to reality cannot avoid any aspect of reality.

After the Buddhist period the strictly neutral position of wisdom relative to social matters was violated and the necessary aspects of social obligations were stressed by way of a reaction against the 'heterodoxy' implied in Buddhism. Here, in reviewing the whole matter critically, the Guru Narayana brings  characteristics of reality, hitherto uncritically treated, within the full scrutiny of contemplative criticism.

Sankara treated the subject of caste as part of the vyavavaharika (the world of relative, everyday life), a necessary and given aspect of social obligation taken for granted as something natural. For various historical reasons the critical revaluation of the subject of caste in the light of the full implications of

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contemplative, non-dual Self-knowledge was avoided in India. In our own times, as we know, this neglect has led to extreme
forms of social inequality and discrimination, known today as caste, exclusive and segregatory, leading to the extremism of
untouchablity. It is Brahmin versus Pariah dialectics.

But in the Guru Way and Word, contemplation and common sense come together again without distinction and distortion. Under one discipline, existence and reality meet. Everything is brought under the scrutiny of reason in these verses, but at the same time pure reason never degenerates into any kind of injunction or mandate. Here, essentially, the plea is that man should realise his true humanity and unitive solidarity, and realise also that terms like 'Brahmin' and 'Pariah' are ideas superimposed on the reality that is human nature which is essentially one, and fundamentally of one single sameness.

In the West the idea of equality became accepted publicly and forcefully after the French Revolution. The Age of Reason, with its dialectics between Voltaire and Rousseau, brought this fundamental idea into popularity for the regulation of human relations. Man respected himself and attained a status with a new value never so clearly recognized before. While it is true that, since the time of its pre-Platonic formulation in Greece, democracy had been there, it had hitherto always been qualified by theoretical considerations which complicated the issue, or limited it to a special social group.

This idea of equality is perhaps the greatest single contribution brought by Western culture to the East, where the stress on the individual and the subjective had yielded its full fruition of benefit and had turned toxic to life. As we have seen, during the days of Buddhist decadence  free spiritual life had been smothered by an overpowering weight of grammar-like abstractions; hence the breath of overt reason, a common-sense outlook and the revival of a living mystical contemplation were all necessary for the strengthening and emancipation of the life of the common man.

By his status in contemplative Word-wisdom the Guru Narayana had the right to revalue and restate the position. He

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fulfilled this role with that characteristically wistful touch of mysticism which is revealed at the end of the first verse of the poem : 'None do see this truth, alas!' They do not see the truth because the truth can only be known by the contemplative, by the one who knows it and sees it in terms of a Self-realized certitude, from the still centre where such truth resides. That certitude is unlike other kinds of knowledge which can be obtained in the market for the asking, like purchasing a set of volumes of an encyclopaedia. As we have explained elsewhere such contemplative knowledge requires the Guru-Sishya bi-polar or mutual relationship, with the necessary corollary of a wholehearted intellectual sympathy by which the intuitive understanding becomes firmly established.


COMMENTARY

I
Brahminhood and such are not thus-wise;
Man's humanity marks out the human kind
Even as bovinity proclaims a cow.
None do see this truth, alas!

This verse in aphoristic Sanskrit, while the remaining four verses are in Malayalam, conveys its own meaning, which can only be appreciated in the light of the Word-dialectics and the interplay between the two main Word-formulations as we have described them. Sanskrit is the language in which the idea of caste in the hereditary social sense came about; hence there is a kind of poetic justice in crowning this set of verses with a summary in the classical language. Malayalam itself has a large proportion of Sanskrit in its composition, grafted on to an early Tamil framework, but Malayalam belongs structurally to the non-Vedic Dravidian context. So here in this poem there is an implied ambivalence in putting the inquiry in the two languages which belong, as it were, to the group representing the Brahmin and the group representing the Pariah, respectively, out of whose interactions the false notion of caste has arisen.

Here the opening line provides the key to the main

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approach and method of dealing with the subject. First it is essential to know the truth about caste, and then whatever
sociological system there is to be can have a sure foundation. Caste distinctions have no basis in actuality. Subjected to the most drastic of scientific tests, homo sapiens falls within the human species. Racial distinctions do not amount to distinctions in the species in any strict terms. Like languages and customs, these may give an appearance of variety to the species, but they are only superficial factors of no importance intrinsically to biology.

The writer remembers once having put the following question directly to the Guru : 'If people can develop a healthy rivalry in the name of groups, imaginary or real, within the human species, would it not be good to give recognition to such groups since it would promote human welfare?' To this the Guru had a simple answer. He replied there was actually no difference between man and man. Hence whatever sociological theory or system is erected must rest on sound premises of truth or fact.

In this 'Critique of Caste' all that the Guru denies is that castes such as Brahmin and Pariah have reality. While historical, sociological, economic, or even dialectical circumstances may have caused the complex configurations of caste, this does not mean that it has a raison d'être of its own. Any number of sociological experiments for the improvement of man are possible, but this is another matter, like the dream of Utopia or some closed religious doctrine, each experiment requiring examination on its own merits. Whatever the system or theory practised or proposed, the simple fact remains that mankind is one.

Contemplation cannot be erected on a non-factual basis. The higher human values which contemplation incidentally brings to light as its obvious mark cannot ignore truth or fact without being absurd; for truth or fact is indeed the pedestal upon which wisdom of the highest kind rests. Therefore the denial of the non-factual or the non-existent or the superimposed (Sanskrit adhyasa) is the correlative and anterior aspect of contemplation, necessary before the reasonings and conclusions

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of contemplative wisdom can be made. Differences are not seen by the contemplative in any case, and all the more so when
actuality or even empirical science denies the difference. Caste therefore, from both points of view, becomes absurd.

The argument based on bovinity etc., it will be noticed, never loses its contact with actuality in the usual, factual, rational or scientific sense. Contemplation is not divorced from common sense. On the contrary, contemplative wisdom seeks erection on the strictest foundation of a realistic, existential common basis. The discipline of contemplation complements the discipline of science. In the name of the transcendental there is no foisting of any ideological doctrine on the reader, but rather the testing of the ontological, here and now put forward as a corrective to all myth-making tendencies that might arise from either the contemplative or the day-to-day practical approach. Thus exaggeration and distortion in thinking is eliminated. Hysteria is the pathological term for such distortion; and when the factual method is not strictly adhered to, there arise the pseudo-sciences which, based on non-factual premises, cause human conduct in society to go astray and awry, resulting in terrible confusion, injustice and suffering in the human world.

The history of the European Middle Ages is sufficient proof of this; while in Indian history the domain of social privileges has been a sacrosanct no-man's-land. Thus in both cases the clever ones got away with many theories whose irrationality was never, or rarely or weakly challenged - all of which worked to the advantage of the power-seekers, to the detriment of the trusting and inarticulate masses who were finally segregated to the uttermost fringes of social life without even primary human, let alone civic, rights.

If pure contemplation has nothing to do with reformist programmes, at least those who stand for it must refrain from the
semblance of support for wrong causes, so that at least there should be no possibility of any confusion regarding true human values. When such values are not clearly stated, or unclarified, there is a state of confusion, a kind of smoke-screen, wherein injustice and all manner of human wrongs begin to

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thrive. Contemplation in its 'pure' disciplines must therefore conform to actuality, and if unrighteousness is to disappear
it is equally important that the disciplines of the actual world of scientific facts must also be kept pure and in keeping with the universal front presented by contemplation. Only then can the dialectical relation between the two polarities result in a normal recognition of human values, without any extraneous considerations or diversions creeping into the process.

The Brahmin needs equating with the Pariah so that a central human reality may emerge to view as a simple truth which is both actual and real, both existing and subsisting. Brahminism is based on a racial distinction which arose from the Vedic penetration into Dravidian or pre-Vedic India. It implies such rules as the ban on marriage of Brahmin with non-Brahmin, and a refusal to dine with non-Brahmins. Two sets of considerations, some actual and some theoretical, have been confused and mixed up, resulting in the strange irrational absurdity which distinguishes caste prejudices in India from similar class-snobberies common elsewhere in the world. These absurdities are held up by the Guru for re-examination and revaluation, in accordance with the standards emerging from a science of contemplation. When intermarriage or inter-dining between castes in India are prohibited and the false theory therefore made into a dogma of practice, it is on this ground that the Guru steps in to say this is a mistake which must be abolished from the reasoning mind.

'None do see this truth, alas': In knowing that, even in a contemplative sense, Brahmin-hood, Paria-hood and all the
intermediary classified postulates are neither actual nor rational, there is a need for the Word-wisdom to bring back the true value of life at each level of social complexity. But those who have this Word-wisdom are rare, and it becomes, as the Bhagavad Gita points out, of the nature of a secret which the genuine Advaita Vedantin alone possesses. (1) The Bhagavad Gita also says that contemplatively the notion of Brahmin-hood does not

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exist even theoretically, any more than does the distinction between an elephant, cow, dog or one who eats dog-flesh.(2)

Thus, both existentially and subsistentially, the distinctions of caste become meaningless. This question is reminiscent of the relation of genus and species which puzzled theologians throughout the Middle Ages. A paradox is involved here as in the case of the interdependence of the concepts of the One and the Many in Platonic dialectics (e.g., Parmenides), and hence this apparently sweeping generalization becomes justified. Genuine Brahmin-hood, to have any meaning at all, must be a subtle personal value revealed to non-dual dialectics; something which has nothing to do with social status, biological heredity or holiness in the ordinary religious sense at all. Where there is the absence of recognition or understanding of this sole possible meaning of Brahmin-hood, the consequences are so full of ill-portent for man that the Guru deplores the situation by an apt interjection 'ha!' which we have rendered 'Alas!'

WORD NOTES:
Jati is rendered here as 'caste.' Although it is the nearest usual equivalent, 'caste' is inadequate. The English word is derived from the Portuguese 'casta', meaning 'unmixed race; breed, race, strain', and came from the Latin 'castus', 'pure, clean, unpolluted'. Jati has its own complexion on the Indian soil, where ideas of tradition, custom, culture, colour, ethnical groups and ideas of the sacred all

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fuse together and blend to form this phenomenon of 'caste', and throw up the two extreme types called the Brahmin and the Untouchable. Class enters only feebly into the general  concept, and although economic repercussions are inevitable, they are not directly related to the main notion of jati. The dialectical revaluations that have been made throughout history between the Vedic and non-Vedic concepts, as two sets of values or refinements, may be considered to be at the bottom of the whole question of caste. The sonorous title which is sometimes given to caste, namely varna-ashrama-dharma (colour-status-duty) fails to make any definite meaning. It is a confusing compound term consisting of divergent theoretical elements; Varna meaning just colour; Ashrama normal or stable type of livelihood; and Dharma incorporating all notions of right living, whether spiritual or social. All these ideas put together produce an opiating black liquid called caste-prejudice, without any sense being left of the original meanings of the separate factors making up the compound term. The result is not only irrational but detrimental to well-being from every point of view. Innumerable people, in particular the religious-minded peasantry and illiterate women generally, tend to treat the difference implied in jati almost like a difference in species; for the word, etymologically meaning 'kind', means that to speak of this or that jati as of one man or another man, is to separate mankind into different kinds; and hence in this short composition the Guru's aim is to make this position clear.

Manushyatvam: 'humanity', means the assemblage of all specific qualities that distinguish man from other beings, including those higher values which are essentially human.

Gotvam: 'bovinity' or 'cow-nature'. In Vedanta this is a favourite example for illustrating the specific qualities of an animal.

Brahmanadi: meaning here 'the state of Brahminhood'. This appellation and others of a similar kind, it is pointed out, are not determined or fixed like the specific qualities of a species or kind of living being. They are honorific titles, like the English words 'Lord' and 'commoner': sometimes based on a certain social status, sometimes on a pattern of belief or

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behaviour which, at a certain period in history, may once have been valid and distinct. The Brahmin exists because he is not a Pariah; thus only doctrinal and not actual difference is involved here.

The word 'pariah' is left to stand by itself, but it should not be at all supposed that it has any derogatory significance in the present context. It is merely the existential counterpart of the existence of the Brahmin. The English word pariah is derived from the Tamil 'paraiyar', the plural of paraiyan, or 'drummer', the beater of the 'parai' or large drum. Thus we are transferred linguistically to the prehistoric age beyond Mohenjo-Daro times by this simple derivation. Drumming is pre-Vedic, even proto-Dravidian - the drums that have been thumping 'for ever', as the Guru graphically described it once, as we have noted elsewhere. The Vedic victors had no drummers of their own, and so employed the indigenous drummers, the Pariahs, who specialized in this art which was novel to the invaders, for their festivals, marriages, funerals and other ceremonies, particularly in their penetration into the depths of South India. Thus originally, as 'drummer', the word only meant those who were clearly outside the Vedic fold. Much later it became synonymous with its present meaning of social ostracism.

Tatvam: 'truth',  implies that Brahmin-hood appertains to the subsistential aspect of reality and not to the existential.
Brahmin-hood belongs to another order of reality altogether. When this distinction is not recognized the entirely false notion of caste arises; a mystical fact with a psychological implication is given an entirely wrong legalistic and social meaning. In view of the fact that even moderns like Gandhi accepted this confused interpretation of caste, the question gains an importance all its own. (3)

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II
One of kind, one of faith, and one in God is man;
Of one womb, of one form; difference herein none.

III
Within a species, is it not, that offspring truly breed?
The community of man thus viewed, to a single caste belongs.

The solidarity and equality of mankind, both in its existential and subsistential personality-aspects, is reviewed here again in the proper scheme of a contemplative science. Self-knowledge is part of this science and the deeper human values have a place in the conception of the human personality, when examined in connection with this Self-knowledge.  Here we touch the very essence of wisdom. The archetype or the phenotype of genetics to which man or homo sapiens belongs by the natural background of necessity is also valid as a general fact which has to be related to all matters involving ideals or wherever problems of a teleological nature arise.

Whether we conceive these ideals or goals by names such as 'Nirvana', 'dwelling in the presence of God', or 'attaining eternal life,' the position remains the same. In fact, as the Guru Narayana admitted in reply to a question, one can substitute some other set of values which omit the theological content or implications. Such for example, would be the case with Buddhist terminology, where the word 'Dharma' could be substituted for the terms 'one caste', 'one religion', or 'one God'. Dharma, considered in relation to necessity, equates with the idea of one human kind or caste; related or conceived as a means to Nirvana, it equates with the idea of a single faith or religion; while when it is conceived as a goal, as for example when the Buddha is referred to as the Dharma-Kaya (the embodiment of righteousness), the idea tallies essentially with the idea of a God. In such a context, prospective idealism's teleology gives us God or Dharma, a purposeful absolute righteousness. The immanent aspects of reality, when formulated, give us

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general values such as brotherhood or religion. Conceived in universal terms such values become unitive at each level, retrospective, prospective or immediate, as a series of corresponding ontological excellences.

'Of one womb, of one form' etc.
Here we come close to problems such as are dealt with by modern genetics, eugenics and allied subjects. In the West,
heredity is studied in relation to freaks in nature rather than in relation to the 'eternal' law of heredity. Freaks are the exceptions, while the law they prove is the rule. A cat which has had one of its tail bones crushed by something falling on it, may of course have kittens with variously twisted tails reappearing, according to observed laws of heredity, such as those of Mendelism. This however, does not disprove anything with regard to the main rule or law that father and offspring bear resemblances through generations.

In the search for 'objective' evidence the tendency in the modern laboratory has been to forget the laws that require no experiment. These being given to human experience by common observation and inferred without doubt, they are, for that very reason, taken for granted and forgotten. They are valid outside the laboratory, while the specialist shut up against this sunlight-like evidence, forgets it in his too-keen love for his own field of specialist research. This is a tendency needing to be countered by the new science of contemplation. As soon as this kind of 'scientific superstition', as Swami Vivekananda put it, or 'the learned ignorance' that Ramana Maharshi called it, is abolished, we have once more contemplation and common sense coming together to support the fundamental findings of perennial wisdom or Advaita Vedanta.

Homo sapiens is of the single same phenotype, whatever the dominant or recessive variations may be that enter here and there. The evolution of the species, whether through sudden mutational steps or by slow degrees, never goes beyond the essentially specific characteristics of homo sapiens as a prevalent single species or kind. Although some modern thinkers hold

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that the emergence of a new type or 'race' of human beings is possible, such fancies are far from being strictly scientific.(4)
Nothing has so far shown the existence of more than one species within mankind, and the possibility must therefore be ruled out for the present.

'Within a species, is it not, that offspring truly breed? '
The allusion here is to the law of inter-specific sterility. A mare can have offspring (the mule) when crossed with a jackass, but the mule is sterile. This is proof of the specific limits existing between the horse and the donkey. Without being a biologist in any modern sense, the Guru is as able as any scientist to state the rule of inter-specific sterility, just as he was equally competent to deal with other questions such as evolution, etc. We have here therefore a striking example of the strictly objective and scientific method of reasoning he followed. By the aid of that science of contemplation which we have referred to, the Guru Narayana establishes the undoubted fact of human solidarity, whatever may be the approach - of one kind genetically, of one fundamental faith religiously, and of one supreme value considered under the many synonyms of God or the Grand Dharma.

WORD NOTES:
Matam: 'faith', means formulated religion, which is essentially a value regulating human conduct and relations in society. As we have seen, Dharma or righteousness, social or personal obligations or duties, are all the same everywhere when they are shorn of historical or incidental stresses given by each particular expression of religion, and they can then be equated to one or other of the various aspects of wisdom. Thus, in the light of contemplative Self- knowledge or neutral Word-wisdom, as understood in revalued dialectical terms, all variations become included under one religion, common to humanity as realized in norms of universal,

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unitive and simple values which remain the same for all men, irrespective of time or clime.

Akaram: 'form', refers to the typical contours or outline of the body of man in its species-aspects; the phenotype, deducting those appearances that are incidentally due to variations in climate and food, such as sunburn, skin-colour, thickness or thinness of lips etc. The Negro's skin is part of his environment, as the eyelids of a Mongolian are regulated by hormones coming from other environmental conditions.

Within certain human limits, skin colours can change when stimulated by secretions produced by long years under special environments, as the study of the ductless glands reveals. The subsoil can also have a similar effect in the absorption or deficiency of certain elements through the food and water of particular localities.

A novel written in one language is appreciated when translated into another language because of the essentially human interest it evokes.  Similarly, love between different races is common and gives healthier and more virile offspring. Beauty and refinement follow in the footsteps of good economic or educational conditions. A 'Pariah' boy taken by the Guru Narayana and educated in the Ashram at Varkala was easily mistaken for an orthodox 'Brahmin', as the Guru very often demonstrated.  In any district in India, in any school, when Scouts in their uniforms are reviewed in line, the fact is again objectively demonstrated how difficult it is to sort out castes based on purely physical features. It is only by the aid of external and easily-imitated marks, such as dialects, styles in hairdressing or appropriate 'caste marks,' that any possible caste-groupings can be made under such circumstances. Objectively there is no difference, unless the term 'objectively' applies also inclusively to the incidental, superficial or extraneous accretional circumstances, which from a rational point of view are strictly irrelevant to the judgement of the subject.

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IV
Of the human species is even a Brahmin born, as is the Pariah too.
Where is difference then in caste as between man and man?

Here the Guru brings together the inevitable dialectical counterparts of the problem. For without the Brahmin the concept of Pariah as a concept would lose its meaning, and without the Pariah as a background factor, Brahmin-hood, at least in the Indian context, would lose its present import because in the dialectics of history, as we have shown in a previous chapter, the one rises up in response to the other. But both the Brahmin and the Pariah, in the pure light of reason or  ontemplation, although they may be historical counterparts, are essentially one in human content. Whatever asymmetry
there may be in the 'typical' personality of one or the other is fictitious, they are social vestiges, out of place and incidental to the changed world situation, and quite irrelevant to spirituality. Patterned after the prehistoric Shiva-who is worshipped as a God even by the Brahmin - the Pariah-drummer (synonymous terms as we have noted) is holy in his own way; while the Brahmin again embodies as a 'type' certain revalued refinements which are called Aryan virtues, more socialized than the prehistoric ones, and holy in another socialized context. These virtues held up as 'Brahmin-hood' consist of certain publicly-workable qualities, such as a clean diet, monogamy, improved housing conditions, dress and elaborated personal, social charms.
A dominant group always has this advantage, which justice seeks to abolish in favour of the common masses, the peasants and plebeians. The dominated are the 'have-nots' and 'underdogs' because of human injustice, and it is here that contemplation can help in bringing order, balance and equalization between the two opposites. Fundamentally, as Robert Burns touchingly and poetically summed it up in his grand verses, 'A man's a man for a' that'. It is the good heart and kindliness that unites all classes as 'man' and neither the wealth and extravagance of the strutting 'Lord'

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or 'Earl' or the grovelling poverty and drunken illiteracy of the 'peasant' or 'worker'. Both Brahmin and Pariah belong to
one and the same essentially human context.

Although this statement is simple enough to understand and even banal when harped upon, yet it is one around which many polemical battles and revolutions have been long and vainly waged. Even Sankara, otherwise so rational and critical a philosopher, and in spite of the strict distinction which he made between the Vyavaharika (everyday practical) and Paramarthika (ultimate or final idealistic) values in life, left much alone that was irrational in the former, without comment, such as those matters of Vedic ritual and caste obligations which he treated as if they belonged to the Vyavaharika as necessities. But even the necessary need not be irrational; and this is the whole point that the Guru Narayana here brings out. Although much of what comes under the necessary has to be taken for granted as inevitable, like geographical and climatic variations; all that comes under the necessary need not be treated irrationally. If it is necessary that we should breathe and communicate, this does not mean that it is necessary to tell a lie. Reason can penetrate into the domain of the necessary in order to regulate and rearrange it, after critical scientific scrutiny based on common sense or contemplation.

Contemplation is not intended to condone absurdities, nor to confuse factual issues, but is rather a support and aid to common sense. Common sense and contemplation should be regarded properly as complementary parts of the same discipline, and should be conceived as under a strict common methodology and epistemology of wisdom.

In an interesting composition called 'Manishi Panchakam' (Five Stanzas about Man), attributed to Sankara, probably correctly, each verse concludes with the statement that whoever represents unitive wisdom, whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmin, is Sankara's Guru. According to legend the poem was written following an incident in Benares: Sankara and his followers were returning from their bath in the Ganges when they were confronted by a Pariah who not only refused to get
out of the way, but with poignant pertinacy questioned

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Sankara's caste-scruples and orthodoxy. The Pariah did so, not only on ordinary human grounds, as the story goes, but on the basis of Sankara's own Advaitic approach. From the nature of the poem, Sankara is supposed to have learnt from the Pariah counterpart the lesson of the neutral wisdom of this matter of caste and outcaste. But whether he did or not is doubtful, for a close examination of the various Bhashyas (commentaries) of Sankara on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras reveals to anyone that he still treated caste-distinctions based on Vedic ritualist gradations as something taken for granted. At the most, he is very mildly expostulatory. (5)

Perhaps he was anxious, after the Buddhist decline, to catch up with the pre-Buddhist orthodoxy of the Vedas, which
included the social distinctions of caste, and history perhaps justified his lukewarm attitude. The right of the Sudra or lowest caste to have Vedic wisdom is questioned implicitly and even explicitly. The right of a Pariah to such wisdom does not arise at all, and the inference is that he is to be eliminated rather than made even to serve the Vedic pyramidal superstructure erected on the broad base of the Indian social masses.

Further, as Sankara must have known, the Pariah represented a valid Word-wisdom belonging to his own historical context, which Word-wisdom was, as in Tiruvalluvar, even better than the later revalued Vedic-based Word. The anterior Veda
typified in the Kural was as good at least as the posterior Aryan Veda which latterly became too critically defective and esoteric. For a fuller examination of this we refer the reader to what we have said already concerning Aryan and proto-Dravidian dialectics in our discussion of Blast and Counterblast.

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V
In bygone days of a Pariah woman the great sage Parasara was born,
As even he of Vedic-aphorism fame of a virgin of the fisher-folk.

After treating the matter empirically and dialectically in its various aspects, the Guru finally supports the whole with
reference to historical fact. He selects as instances sages of unquestionable status in the authentic dialectical context of the Vedanta, which is the same as that of the Vedas, where this phenomenon of caste has to be placed if it is to be understood.

Parasara was the father of Vyasa, who was also called the Veda Vyasa (Arranger of the Vedas), said to be the author of
the Maha-Bharata and of the Bhagavad Gita contained or inserted in it, which is one of the canonical texts of Vedanta, held in high authority. Parasara must have been of the prehistoric dialectical context whose characteristics we have already indicated in earlier chapters. Vyasa and Vedanta are linked-up inseparably for ever; so in the very context of the Vedas we find nullifying evidence against caste. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy meet and revaluate themselves in terms of pure wisdom, without heredity or tradition playing any part in the revaluation, which takes place more in spite of than because of heredity. Even if some people hold that Brahminhood emerges as the culmination of a hereditary selection of aptitudes, such a theory or notion is not borne out by historical facts.

The other sage referred to is Vyasa himself, also mentioned in the Genesis-chapters of the Puranas as being born of a fisher-maiden. If, as may be, he is also the author of the Brahma-Sutras, the great stringer-together of the wisdom-aphorisms, then here at the heart of what is called roughly 'Hinduism', we have evidence that blows the false notion of caste to smithereens; for Vyasa or Badarayana - whatever he may be called, sometimes known as 'Vyasa the Dark-skinned Sage' is a recognized Brahma-Rishi, taken into the fold as a Brahmin of the Brahmins, although not of that line at all.

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The Guru's aim here is to reveal to all that these saintly characters, Parasara and Vyasa, who are recognized everywhere
as ancestors of holy cherished memory, and worshipped as such by all castes in every home in the Hindu world, are themselvesoutstanding reminders that mere prejudice lingers round the notion of caste, since they come from the much-abused and misunderstood Pariah line and not from the Brahmin stock at all; hence here to be faced is the ultimate contradiction of the Brahmin, not only accepting and adopting the Pariah Guru, but putting him on the topmost pedestal as a sage of supreme value from the Vedic point of view. In the contradictory absurdity thus proved, all caste prejudices based on heredity, dynasty and blind tradition must be dispelled, and the social atmosphere of the present ultimately and finally cleared of this major caste-impediment.

Here it might be permissible to add some concluding remarks on caste, having dealt with it more or less completely in the
form of actual textual comments. The Upanishads speak of Brahman (Brahminhood) and Kshatram (Kshattriyahood or
the warrior-pattern) as attitudes of the personality which are superimposed as secondary conditionings on the Self.  The
Katha Upanishad (6) treats of these as rice or food, to which the final consummation of specialization is the dead-end fixed sauce or pickles added on to the rice base of food, as it were, which is called 'death', the cul-de-sac terminus of artificial specialization. The basic ego is characterless and neutral, but becomes specialized with character as Brahmin and Kshatriya, which finally attains culmination in the extinction of death. The numinous Self is the neutral basis for all the secondary conditionings, social, psychological or religious, added on to it. Such is the attitude of the highest Upanishads with regard to Brahminhood.

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If this attitude is vague, we find in the Bhagavad Gita (7)further indications regarding the four castes:

'The four castes were created by me (i.e., Krishna, the
Guru, God, or Acharya) in order to divide innate nature and
(aptitudes to) action. Know me to be the author thereof as
also its undoer ever the same. '

The innate contradiction in this verse, where God creates caste and undoes it himself, can be explained only in the light
of the dialectical revaluation of caste as it prevailed at the epoch when the verse was composed. The four castes, based on
vocations and corresponding aptitudes, being necessary and inevitable in any human society (even as in the Greek society of
Plato), had elements of universal validity which were attributable to the Creator of nature. Wisdom, however, transcends nature, and in transcending the practical domain of relative, historical or sociological necessities, seeks pure reason and dissolves what has been built up by prior necessities, by means of new or revalued terms of contingent freedom. In the light of the revival of orthodoxy after the decline of Buddhism, at the time when the above verse was written, such an ambiguous revaluation was all that was possible for the author.

The Guru Narayana, however, has no need for this ambiguity and indeed his clarity restates the whole position. He has in these five verses brought about distinct conclusions. Humanity is one and indivisible in kind (jati). There is no room for any multiplicity at any level of human nature, socially, religiously or contemplatively. Neither actuality, empirically examined, let alone contemplative verities, admit of a raison d'être for caste; nor does history lend the idea any valid support.


NOTES

(l)
Manushyanam sahasreshu kashchid yatati siddhaye
Yatatam api siddhanam kashchin mam vetti tattvatah
(Bhagavad Gita, VII, 3.)

'Among thousands of men scarcely one strives for perfection; and even among those who strive and are perfect, scarcely one knows Me in truth '.

(2)
Vidyavinayasampanne brahmane gavi hastini
Shuni chai 'va shvapake cha panditah samadarshinah
(ibid., V. 18.)

'In a Brahmin who is learned and mild, in a cow, in an elephant, even in a dog and in a dog-eater, the wise see the same'.

(3)
Cf., articles on caste in 'Young India' by Mahatma Gandhi.

(4)
This possibility was alluded to by Bertrand Russell in a speech at Columbia University, New York, on 16 November 1950. The New York Times reporting him as saying that the armaments race is a genetic competition 'to breed a race stronger, more intelligent, and more resistant to disease than any race of man that has hitherto existed'.

(5)
See e.g., Sankara's introduction to the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya and his ambiguous comments on such passages as IV, 13; and XVIII, 41; and also Mundaka-Upanishad Bhashya, II, 12; also Vedanta-Sutras Bhashya, I, iii, 25;I, iii, 34-38.

(6)
Yasya brahma cha kshatram cha ubhe bhavata odanah,
Mrityuryasyopasechanam ka ittha veda yatra sah.
Katha Upanishad, II, 25.

'He for whom Brahminhood and Kshatriyahood are as food, and
death but the sauce, how can one know where that Self is?'


(7) chaturvarnyam maya shrishtam gunakarmavibhagashah
tasya kartaram-api mam viddhy-akartviram-avyayam.
Bhagavad Gita, IV, 13.

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PRENATAL GRATITUDE

( PINDA-NANDI)

( Translated from the Malayalam )

I
Within the womb, 0 Lord of Good,
Was that lump in hand - this humble self.
With what exceeding love,
Who but Thou, kind One, nurtured it into life!
Ordered by Thee, all comes about.
Thus knowing, this Thy servant
To Thee now surrenders all.

II
Of earth, water, fire, air and ether too,
From each gathered, and firmly shaping in the palm,
Who confines me within a cell with blazing fire alit
Even from the oppression great of such a feminine divinity,
Protect and nourish me in Thy nectarine Immortality.

III
Thy Grace it is that even now proclaims
This never remained a mere stone-confined creature, impotent.
The very Indra of high heaven,
Who within a vase-like lotus dwells
And all heaven's host besides,
From such a Source do all grow out.

IV
Having no kinsmen, strength or wealth -
How could this ever grow? 0 marvel picturesque!
My Master's sport is this!
No darkness is possible in thus knowing.
So to see, do grant Thy Grace, good Master!

V
For months full four or five,
Growing, becoming, by slow degrees,
Even Thou it was who eyes formed one after one,
Ever warding off Death's hand.
All that is now past,
But to my recollective weeping of that prime foetal time,
Listen, 0 Lord of Good!

VI
Yea, semen it was that mixed with blood;
And thus, by sound matured and taking form, I lay mediate.
Then for me there was no mother or father;
So by Thee alone raised, sole parent mine,
All that I am is here today.

VII
If all that now-forgotten suffering should be revived within,
I would this very day fall and perish in flames, alas!
Alone Thou didst then provide those outlets five of sense,
0 Father mine of gold.
Even thus to know, Thou, 0 Lord, permits.

VIII
That mother of mine who, as a burden bore me within,
With a tender melting heart, vainly breathing many a sigh,
Fuming hot, in pain she brought me forth,
To lie here, howling on like a jackal.
For once deign to tell me, Lord, what all this can be about.

IX
Full well aware art Thou, good Lord of all,
Hence what need is there for humble me to tell?
Do banish, pray, all agony!
Thy servant has no one here, and if Thou me disown
Then all is lost,
0 Saviour coming mounted on a bull (1)



INTRODUCTORY

Prayer, piety and questions of the hereafter are matters that are generally given an apocalyptic or liturgical form. But here, in this striking composition bearing on the subject of spiritual progress, and covering the same contemplative field, the Guru Narayana follows a new line, an unusual departure from the normal.

Consistent with the modern spirit of a scientific biologist,he takes the human foetus as his normal starting point and follows up its history, very much in the same way as an investigator in experimental science. Continuing this method in terms of Self-knowledge, the Guru is able to traverse a region hitherto overcovered with guesses and rife with age-old speculation. In Europe the hair-splitting of the theologians and scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages made all thinking minds turn in revolt from their methods of approach, and after the eighteenth century, the age of Voltaire and the full flood of rationalism, the whole subject of piety and devotion was left far behind. Materialism then became the only firm ground upon which human beings could collectively build monuments of common human value, such as in the form of what is called civilization. Considering that civilization is a matter for which man is willing to

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lay down his life, the finding again of real values which suffer from no asymmetry of vision as between the present and the
future, the here or the hereafter, and so on, gains ever-renewed importance.

It was Bergson who broke away from the highly theoretical academic idealism of German philosophers like Hegel, and in his own direct and graphic way brought some elements of contemplative metaphysics into the philosophical world. Influenced by Plotinus in his approach, the 'élan vital' (vital spirit or force) of Bergson came nearest to a biological concept of the
'soul' of man which had gone into disrepute with the rise of scientific materialism. Biology, as conceived by Bergson in
'creative' terms of flux and 'pure becoming', gave a living and breathing reality to the whole problem of spiritual life. He saved metaphysics from being lost in the mere grammar of abstractions, and his rhetoric came as a saving factor, making
the dry winds of the desert humid and life-giving.

In like manner, the Guru Narayana here retrieves liturgical, ritualistic or unrealistic piety and gives it an intimately realistic and personal status, so that it yields Self-bliss through the common sentiment of parental gratitude.


COMMENTARY

I
Within the womb, 0 Lord of Good,
Was that lump in hand - this humble self -
Who but Thou, kind One, nurtured it into life!
Ordered by Thee, all comes about.
Thus knowing, this Thy servant
To Thee now surrenders all.

This opening verse sums up the whole position in regard to spiritual progress and the various factors involved. The foetus
represents the personality of the seeker or aspirant, as conceived in his most primal simple form without any of those attributes belonging to the world of expansion or action. In the intimate

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negative recesses of the mother's womb before birth, the self or the ego subsists in direct relation to whatever draws it out into life-manifestation. In this process of life-manifestation there are two poles. There is the self and there is the conception of a providence, an ultimate or God conceived as a light, perceptual or actual.

Kindness or love is a value that fits into this process as its natural counterpart. Kindness is of the same stuff as bliss or Self-knowledge, while piety or devotion are but words which are soaked in the essential content of kindness, mercy or compassion. When viewed without the asymmetry of a bias towards the subjective or the objective; without the prejudices attached to the 'triputi' (the three elements of contemplation), we have a central notion called mercy or kindness which covers an essential human value of a spiritual or contemplative order.

This, regarded as the kind care of Providence, is like the parental concern of a father, and may be called the Father,
as a spiritual factor, the conscious contemplative conceptualisation of the ultimate or supreme pole of the self, immaterial and invisible, subtle or subsisting, rather than merely existing. This kind one marks the principle which presides over or dominates matter, which is merely inert or negative.

It is the touch of this principle or the relation to this pole which enables the whole of life to regulate itself in progressive stages of self-realized self-expression or unfolding. Between these two poles thus marked out, the whole phenomenon of subjective or objective life becomes comprised. Pious surrender is but the recognition of this verity.

'That lump in hand' 
'Brahmanda' (the cosmic egg), in Vedantic writing, has for its antinomy its microcosmic material counterpart reciprocally in 'Pindanda'. In this cosmological context, this latter term is not merely the conventional ball of rice that is offered to ancestors in ritualistic Vedic ceremonies, but represents figuratively the substantial material principle of cosmic reality. 'Pinda' has here been rendered as a 'lump in hand', which would then correspond to microcosmic aspects of reality as implied when the human personality is considered ontologically in terms of cosmic relations.

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'With what exceeding love, who but Thou, kind One, nurtured it into life!'
The treatment here of 'what' and 'who' side by side, as if the difference between them was negligible, suggests that the generosity of the Supreme can be treated personally or impersonally. The pronoun does not make any fundamental difference. There is no limit to the implied generosity, and such an absolute and limitless bounty cannot be attributed to anything but what touches the essence of the personality itself.

'Ordered by Thee, all comes about'
This phrase seems to indicate determinism, or a god who directs and designs all according to an inscrutable will. When viewed existentially, there is a law of necessity in nature. This law of determinate necessity of the world of relativity is never abolished as long as the least vestige of duality is supposed to exist between the Supreme and the Self. As this prayer is addressed here to the idea of the Lord of Good (Bhagavan), i.e. with Good as a supreme human value, determinism shifts, in a greatly extended sense, to merge, almost, into the domain of free-will. The law of determinism itself becomes a principle or criterion of pure reason, an imperative will of goodness, culminating in reflection and Self-knowledge. The object here is to present and explain this mode of operation of the free will in relation to the actual, realistic aspects of life.  Such a treatment is meant to make extreme idealism realistic at the same time.

WORD NOTES:

'Bhagavan' has been rendered ' Lord of Good ' as the root 'bhag-' would indicate.

'Pindam', as we have said, is applicable also to the ball of rice offered to ancestors in Vedic ritual. In the Upanishads the ball of rice has been further equated to the Self or the Absolute in formulae such as 'Annam Brahmeti', etc.(l)

II
Of earth, water, fire, air and ether too,
From each gathered, and firmly shaping in the palm,
Who confines me within a cell with blazing fire alit
Even from the oppression great of such a feminine divinity,
Protect and nourish me in Thy nectarine immortality.

Here the allusion is to the negative principle which is elsewhere referred to as Maya. As long as positive spiritual progress is conceived we must also postulate for it something as its negative aspect, although in the consciousness of one who is fully established in non-dual wisdom this 'negativität', as Hegel would call it, has no place. If the positive principle of spiritual progress is to be Purushottama, the Most High God, then the negative aspect of the same principle, which is finally to be identified with that positive principle, as wisdom gains ground,is justly to be called Maya, the feminine counterpart of the same.

Like the female Parvati and the male Parameshvara of Kalidasa's opening verse in his 'Raghuvamsa', they are ever united as the word and its meaning. Every god in Indian mythology and iconography has his 'shakti' or counterpart ofmanifestation or becoming. This 'shakti' is the creative urge, which is not merely a supposed abstraction of the intellect but something here on the existential side of truth.

The Guru refers to this aspect as something to be transcended, however great its claim may be to be recognised as subservient to the methodology of the Advaita. Maya is not a reality but an inevitable epistemological and methodological necessity, to be used until Self-realization establishes the full flood of silence in the Absolute beyond words.

Suffering, sin and evil are all correlated, and dependent factors arising out of this concept of the negative side of reality in Maya. They all mean the same when viewed symmetrically, without prejudices arising from our angle of vision as between the cosmological-objective or the psychological-subjective.

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The good is the nectar that nourishes; while evil is the poison that corrodes the spirit as negative attributes in the gross, inert world of bondage or necessity.

Earth, water and the other elements are considered here as stages in the descending gross manifestation of the negative
principle. Although the modern materialistic and scientific view of the elements seeks to arrange them round a scheme of
'periodic' laws, the Guru adheres here to a scheme belonging to the contemplative dialectical outlook of the Vedanta, the aim of which is mainly to resolve a finally-persisting duality in terms of unitive comprehension.

Advaita (non-duality), Vishisht-Advaita (non-duality of the specific) and Dvaita (duality) all imply a recognition of this
double character in various degrees for purposes of methodological or epistemological emphasis or explanation of one or other of the aspects of reality, viewed from the personal level.

A detailed discussion of the Vedantic theory of manifestation of gross inert matter as we see it in nature, which is called 'panchikarana', deserves close attention in the light of this implicit dialectics. This we shall undertake later. In the meantime we shall merely keep in mind that the reference in this verse to the elements being gathered into a lump needs examination for its own proper merits, quite apart from the modern notions of physics. It requires discussion as a part of the contemplative discipline, as Vedantins have always done.

'Who confines me for baking within a cell'
The cell here can be understood from any of the different ways of regarding reality. Biologically, life begins in a cell bounded by cellular walls. Psychologically, the cell represents the limitations of the narrow necessities of conditioned life. Cosmologically the cell is that particular space-time system into which mind and memory are inserted or fitted, in relation to the rest of the universe. An object is subjected to gravity, while gravitation as a principle applies to the universe, which can be conceived in terms of electromagnetic or thermodynamic worlds. Whatever the theory, there is something which can correspond to the cell mentioned here, in the sense of a limiting context of the 'here and now.'

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'With blazing fire alit'
This would naturally correspond to the counterpart of the cell. Energy, described for example as electromagnetism, is like a fire; and this, psychologically, would be the fire of consciousness itself, the consciousness of otherness. The pure consciousness, which is itself unlimited, seems to accommodate at its other pole, so to say, its own limited or conditioned aspect. The duality which is the cause of suffering is compared here to baking. The Upanishads refer to cooking (pachyathi) in a similar context (2). The incubatory process in the foetal state within the womb is actually comparable to subjection to such a slow process of heat as in a baker's oven.

The oppression of the feminine divinity is balanced by the protective nourishment which the positive principle represents.
We suffer and seek happiness, thus involving the same polarized elements indicated here. One yields place to the other in any spiritual progress at whatever level it may be conceived or formulated.

WORD NOTES 
Amritu: ' nectarine immortality ' -like Soma, the heavenly juice of Indian myth coveted by the Devas and Asuras (the good and evil spirits), symbolises a common human value. This neutral or central value of Good is like food, saving life from death, which latter is negative, representing suffering. When scientists say that the entropy of the universe is tending to a maximal state, and that food represents a negative entropy, using thermodynamical language, the same positive and negative sides are involved as here.

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III
Thy Grace it is that even now proclaims
This never remained a mere stone-confined creature, impotent.
The very Indra of high heaven
Who within a vase-like lotus dwells -
And all heaven's host besides -
From such a Source do all grow out.

The life-giving principle is like 'the little leaven that leaveneth the whole lump'. It is both potent and small yet expansive and amplificatory in its effect. On this common ground of life-expression which is of the nature of the Self itself, cosmology and psychology meet. Here that transcendental factor called 'Grace' is the positive aspect of the principle. Grace is not material but is like the 'quality of mercy' which 'droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven' to nourish life beneath. This cycle, conceived inclusively both cosmologically and psychologically, is implied in the Bhagavad Gita, which refers to 'evam pravartitam chakram' (such a cylic motion) (3), where recognition is given to this same process, involving positive and negative aspects of reality. Wisdom, within the limits of dialectical method (as well as piety or prayer), implies the postulation, at least for the sake of argument, of a second pole which is sometimes vaguely alluded to as sacrifice. (4)

Whatever the name: Vishnu, Purushottama or the Most High God, this is the factor constituting the second pole. It is with reference to this alone that it becomes possible for us to discuss the Absolute in any methodical manner. Inevitably, for
otherwise the word 'Absolute' itself would fail to have any meaning, and silence on the subject would be the only other
alternative. Here Grace is to be understood in contrast with the negative principle of Maya referred to in the previous verse.

'Thy Grace it is...'
There is ample evidence of what is meant here by Grace. This Grace is not a mere theological term to be considered in a context of piety or prayer. Grace is a fact, inasmuch as, whatever its essential nature may be, it is

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capable of making an embryo develop into a full-fledged personality such as a man. Man appreciates the cosmos and gains
philosophical knowledge through books. He is interested in extra-mundane values, and thus gains a status which is unusual
in nature taken as a whole.

'The very Indra, of high heaven...and all heaven's host besides'.
As conceived in Indian myth and cosmology, Indra is the ideal of such a consummation of human values, and is shown as having originated in the hollow of a lotus-bud which symbolises creation, from which even Brahma the creator first came, with four heads for the directions. What is cosmologically great is psychologically and potently contained within the span of a hollow lotus, as in a vase. All the mental constructions which are the further elaborations of this creative urge in consciousness, resulting in hypostatic realities such as gods or angels, belong to the same order as Grace. The names are different, but the reality is the same. Such is the implication of these lines.

'From such a Source do all grow out.'
This would seem to point to the fact that the transcendent realities have their source in the immanent. According to the Guru there is no distinction even between the transcendent and the immanent.

With intuition it is possible to link these as belonging to one central reality in which there is no duality, even though its aspects are named 'transcendent' or 'immanent'. The heavenly beings are grounded in the Self here and now, as the Self is implied in all such notions of heavenly values. These and other matters need more explicit determining in the light of the whole of the philosophy of the Guru, as considered in its various applications both here as elsewhere in his works.

WORD NOTES

'Kripa': 'Grace' This could be translated ' kindness', but God's kindness is well-known as 'Grace' in the theologies of the West.

'Alpa Jantu': rendered 'mere stone-confined creature impotent', should be considered as a worm within a stone which itself is helpless and at the end of its resources in gaining power over its environment.

IV
Having no kinsmen, strength or wealth -
How could this ever grow? 0 marvel picturesque!
My Master's sport is this!
No darkness is possible in thus knowing.
So to see, do grant Thy Grace, good Master!

The object of this verse is to draw the distinction between certain secondary factors and the all-important primary factor
of Grace which is involved in the growth and progressive adjustment of an organism to its environment. It is true there
is the father and mother, and nourishment from the mother's body. But these are only partial explanations of the main cause running through them like a vertical chain of cause and effect in time, rather than in the horizontal world of space or action. The potter is secondary to the basic clay of the pot. Clay is the 'prius' in the Aristotelian sense being the basis of the 'entelecheia', the true cause which makes anything what it is, in its own perfection, which touches actuality here. The role of the father, mother, wealth or friends who nourish a human being in a social context after birth, are seen to be non-operative before birth. An invisible numinous cause of an order of the 'thing-in-itself' is then operative, as opposed to the incidental factors in which humanity seems to thrive in a socio-economic framework, as understood in the usual sense. The contemplative environment for the progress of life or of spirituality is quite another thing. Here the mysterious factors, such as Grace, Presence, the numinous Absolute, the other-worldly, the given, a priori reasoning or intuition, have their prime place. This is but in keeping with the methodology of the Vedanta, as we have seen in earlier chapters.

'0 marvel picturesque! My Master's sport is this!'
The numinous aspect of the Absolute or the 'thing-in-itself', as viewed in the light of the non-dual Word-wisdom, is bound
to have the character of a marvel or a mystery. It is part of its essential make-up. A central human value, conceived psychologically and cosmologically at once, leaves behind only a sense of wonder. Insofar as such a wonder fits in with actualities and

305
is normal and harmonised in other ways, without disruption of the personality, it is to be accepted as normally falling within the scheme of contemplative thinking. Sport ('lila' in Sanskrit) is that field of elusive 'occasionalism' where psychic and cosmic factors enter into interplay.

'No darkness is possible in thus knowing. So to see, do grant Thy Grace, good Master!' The Guru is aware that these matters lend themselves to various superstitions in the name of religion or spirituality. Followers and teachers of pseudo-sciences, and false, interested or asymmetrically-constructed doctrines have often, in the name of spirituality, erected edifices whose value to human life is often questionable or suspect in various degrees. One religion may condemn the belief of another. But whatever the variety of belief, the compromise of opposites is inevitably bound to be present in one form or another. This makes the whole matter necessarily speculative when concrete details of doctrine or faith are stated. But this does not make the position fundamentally any different. Knowledge of the Supreme must partake of light, and lack of knowledge must be of darkness. Whatever the form by which we come to know of the higher Grace and its sport or mystery; as knowledge it is illuminative and thus belongs to the side of light rather than to darkness. Grace thus seen unitively is the universal positive principle of the Good, the True and the Beautiful which, whatever its form, cannot be a superstition. Unknowing alone, which is negative, would constitute the essence of superstition. The prayer here is for that Grace which can open the eyes of knowledge towards reality, at whatever stage such reality is envisaged.

WORD NOTES:
Aho vichitram: '0 marvel picturesque'. The phenomenal world has been attributed to Maya which projects this empty vision, just as a mirage in the desert is also empty of the water imagined there. Objective reality affords no final satisfaction to the ever-present thirst for knowledge, and such satisfaction comes only when conviction about the real is gained once and for all. In the futile sojourn here, one vision after another tantalises the spirit, which is finally lost in the

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wonder of the Absolute. Such is the goal of non-dual wisdom as known to Vedantins from classical Sanskrit times. The phenomenal world is a mere presentiment of the will to live, and in this sense is an empty picture which allures, without any reality as such. No further settlement of the problem is to be sought. Vedanta ends in the non-dual sense of wonder in the vision of the Absolute.

Andhatvam is 'blindness', or 'superstition', whichever is required by the context, as interpreted philosophically or religiously, as the case may be.

V
For months full four or five,
Growing, becoming, by slow degrees,
Even Thou it was who eyes formed one after one,
Ever warding off Death's hand.
All that is now past,
But to my recollective weeping of that prime foetal time,
Listen, 0 Lord of Good!

The transition of the foetus from a characterless lump of matter to one in which the sense-centres become pronounced
stage by stage takes a period of several months from conception, as physiology knows. During this whole period, one steady direction is maintained towards growth and life, with tendencies urging to light and not to darkness. Plants are geotropic and heliotropic, while ontogeny repeats the memory of the phylum. The steady direction is a certain development towards a mature phenotype and this is maintained continuously. Metabolism goes on through time without interference from external factors, and is protected from their interference. The embryo is thus saved from outside conditionings while innate tendencies are given a chance to assert and strengthen themselves.

In all this process, that principle which was referred to as Grace has its role, which is an important determining factor as against climatic and other adverse factors which, if given scope,could at any moment bring an abrupt end to this unfoldment.

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These are facts well known to biology; but even in an extended sense, reaching beyond the orthodox limits of biology, the same laws hold good, revealing the organic relation existing and underlying both biology and theology, scientifically and correctly conceived in the light of the method and epistemology of the Vedanta which we have already examined.

The conquest of the future is the task of the intelligence. This is the path of bliss. Regrets characterize memories which weigh on the self from an opposite direction, as it were. Retrospection has been recognized as a form of regret by philosophers and psychologists, who see in memory the negative weight of inaction and helplessness. Memory is sometimes consoling when attached to pure forms of subjective quietism; but on the whole memory in actual life is linked up with regrets. The feelings roused in the personality when brooding on the past constitute a familiar element in piety, which is not perhaps the best form that piety can take. Positive piety rejects the past and lives in possible future freedoms in terms of Self-realization.

'Eyes formed one after one'
Here the 'eyes' are meant to cover all the senses, which are directed to take cognisance of whatever is presented to them in the environment. Biologically, the senses, which are situated in close proximity and relation to the higher brain centres anteriorly, constitute together a pole which is opposite to the seat of the emotions, often located posteriorly in the viscera or in the tail of certain animals. Evidence of such an ambivalent polarity of the nervous functional centres could be collected, and this would tend to show that all the cognitive centres such as the eyes form a series, as it were, of concentric rings; the outer and most objective being the eyes, and the most subjective the ears with the sensation of hearing which puts sound and meaning together. Grace may be said to enter into the formation and functioning of the senses and  organs, such as sight and the eyes, to the extent that such functioning is independent of memory-aspects but rather dependent upon prospective intelligence. The desire to look at light wills the opening of the sense organs to light. It is in this sense that Grace is to be taken as responsible for the formation of the senses.

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'But to my recollective weeping of that time. Listen, 0 Lord of Good!'
Here we have retrospective, regretful piety turning towards the desire for prospective recognition by the higher positive principle of the supreme Good. This sentence gives us the key to the whole technique of contemplative devotion or spiritual practice. The annihilation of the past in terms of the future, and the arrival at an eternal present in the Self, is the basis of contemplation. When thus examined in detail, this prayer of gratitude adheres to the strict epistemological and methodological fundamentals of Advaita Vedanta. Faith is retrospective; hope is prospective; while the resultant charity is the essence of the bliss of Self-realization. Charity in its widest sense is therefore a contemplative human value.

WORD NOTES:
Kalan: translated here as 'Death', is more than a mythological figure, inasmuch as 'Kala' means 'Time' in Sanskrit. Time, as related to the process of becoming ever new, is a great destroyer of the past. The destructive elements of time which are detrimental to life are here personified in the term 'Kalan', the God of Death.

Karuvinkal has been rendered 'in prime foetal'.

Karu is the soft kernel or essential part of a fruit or nut. It is the
substratum of life at its inception.

VI
Yea, semen it was that mixed with blood;
And thus by sound matured and taking form I lay mediate.
Then for me there was no mother or father;
So by Thee alone raised, sole parent mine,
All that I am is here today.

The intermediate stages of the incubation and formation of the foetal personality are now under reference. The biological picture of fertilisation given here corresponds exactly to that of science. The ovaries and principles connected with them are referred to generally as 'blood', while the spermatozoa

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are referred to as 'semen'. Without going into microscopic details, this corresponds to the biological picture in general
terms, inasmuch as blood would represent the basic aspect and semen the factor which gives character and individuality to the mass fertilised. The two principles that were antinomies are again here referred to side by side.

Beyond and besides the material basis for the proliferation of the cells to form the organs, there is introduced the idea of sound as the factor which makes the whole organism mature in the contemplative sense. Sound, as we have noted, is the meeting point of word and meaning; the outer and inner principles meeting through the common 'sound', conceived as a principle. This theory of the relation of sound to the maturing of matter into organisms finds support vaguely in various Vedantic writings in connection with the theory of Panchikarana, and has been the subject of recent investigation by some Western scholars. This has relationship with the mystery of number itself, which was one of the subjects of Eleatic philosophy, dealing with order and music in regular patterns and scales, expounded by Pythagoras and beginning to be reaffirmed by scientists like Jeans and Eddington.

Whatever the final theoretical implications may be, for our present purposes it will be sufficient to know that sound is the medium where the subjective and the objective meet, and where the mind may be said to be inserted in general consciousness. The foetus is no more a mere inert lump, but gains a certain degree of self-consciousness, however low or feebly initiated at this stage. This self, thus integrated, connects positive and negative aspects, and holds them together in unitive knowledge. In this inceptual stage of consciousness, such a self knows nothing of a father or mother. It is innocent of all relations; innocent of the outer world's superimpositions which come only later. Thus by origin, the personality is essentially independent of external human relations. These belong to a social context of a later stage.

'I lay mediate' - can refer to the position of the foetus within the maternal body in an actual sense, or it might be understood in a psychic or symbolic sense. This self, at its

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inception, was neither positive nor negative in its adjustment to the environment. It was a neutral entity, balanced between the two extremes, and thus represented the principle of being in its purest form. The essential nature of the personality pertains to this neutral self, and it is in this sense that the later remark in the verse applies, namely, that the self is to be looked upon as raised solely by the Grace of God, as the child of immortality.

WORD NOTES:
En Thathan: 'Father Mine', is here rendered 'sole parent mine.' 'Thathan' is a word of endearment applied to any parent, including the grandfather, and sometimes even to a child. It has no relevance for the particular generation. Ancestor and heir become interchangeable in its intimately pure connotation. It is representative of the protective principle in the abstract, whether conceived prospectively or retrospectively.                                

VII
If all that now-forgotten suffering should be revived within,
I would this very day fall and perish in flames, alas!
Alone Thou didst then provide those outlets five of sense,
O Father mine of gold.
Even thus to know, Thou, 0 Lord, permitest.

Retrospection, when overladen with regretful memories of suffering, must be detrimental to progress in the usual sense. It
is of the nature of a self-consuming fire, as the Sanskrit word 'thapam' (regret) sufficiently well recognizes (i.e. thap - to burn). In this negative state of self-immolating memory, the senses have a corrective or balancing role. They hold the interests on newer and ever-newer objects. Life is thus diverted into progressive channels of normal activity. This helps to balance and maintain the metabolism and the life of the tender being in normal consciousness. Integrated and unified consciousness can reflect on its own nature, and thus, through the

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balancing of the senses, the personality is able to attain to full human knowledge. Such Self-knowledge can theoretically imply more. As the Guru Narayana himself points out, lucid retrospection need not be an impediment to wisdom.(5) The
implications here deserve detailed and separate examination which we shall defer for later consideration.

'Alone Thou didst then provide those outlets five of sense... '
The ambivalent aspects of life have to be maintained at a certain equilibrium so that life and Self-realization may be possible. The higher values depend on the more basic ones, as when the Bhagavad Gita says that the Gods are to be propitiated by sacrifice, and they in turn would then shower graces on man.(6) A reciprocity is suggested here between what memory implies and what the senses represent. One cannot exist without the other. Like sin and grace in theological discussions, the relation here is to be understood in both its implications at once. As the Tamil Tiru-Kural puts it, in connection with rain, 'Should the sky run dry, there would be neither festivals nor worship for the gods here.'(7) The circulation of ambivalent factors and values of good and bad goes hand in hand and has to be understood intuitively in its global entirety.

'0 Father mine of gold'
The reference to a father of gold is to indicate that matter itself is not to be thought of as divorced from any idea of the supreme principle. The thinking substance of Spinoza comes near to this way of looking at the reality which is at once immanent and transcendent.

WORD NOTES
Unarnal, rendered 'should be revived within', means more literally, 'waking to the past'. Sleep and dream are like memories in the subconscious. At the conscious level we are awake where another set of tendencies come into operation, more in relation to the objective, empirical or actual.

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Porivathal, rendered 'outlets five of sense,' would be more literally 'doors.' The senses have been compared to windows, and, together with the other bodily orifices, they have been referred to in the Bhagavad Gita as the gates of a city.(8) Reflexive thought is also a higher function involving the positive aspects of the personality.

VIII
That mother of mine who, as a burden bore me within,
With a tender melting heart, vainly breathing many a sigh,
Fuming hot, in pain she brought me forth,
To lie here, howling on like a jackal.
For once deign to tell me, Lord, what all this can be about?

The picture painted here is so realistic that it calls for little comment. There is even a touch of humour in this very realistic form of adoration, especially at its tail-end, like the sting of an epigram.

'With a tender melting heart .... in pain .... howling on like a jackal.'
The painful heat and the tenderness of feelings alternate in the mother, making life a pendulum swinging between two extreme poles. The mother has pain in giving birth, as the child shows pain in being born, by crying. The final question is therefore pertinent and cannot be answered with logic one way or the other. The cyclic rotation of Samsara or the wheel of life is here summed up. It revolves between the ambivalent factors and tendencies at the root of life itself-a continuous cyclic movement. No philosophy or science offers an answer to these questions, which involve an understanding of the numinous Absolute. Only the silence of the Guru can represent an answer.

WORD NOTES
Venthullazinju, literally 'cooked and melted loose within,' has been rendered ' fuming hot . . .with a tender melting heart' and shifted round to give the meaning in English.

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IX
Full well aware art Thou, good Lord of all,
Hence what need is there for humble me to tell?
Do banish, pray, all agony!
Thy servant has no one here, and if Thou me disown,
Then all is lost,
0 Saviour coming mounted on a bull!

In the last lines the Guru links up the whole composition with the prehistoric Shiva-tradition and affiliates the entire theme to the doctrines of the perennial philosophy or mysticism. The duality as between the Supreme Providence and the adoring Self here is the cause of all the agony or suffering referred to above. Mutual recognition of the bi-polar interdependence between the supreme and the ontological self is strikingly restated here by way of conclusion; the two aspects being brought together into close reciprocity for purposes of contemplative understanding of the one in terms of the other.

The allusion in the last line is to Shiva, who rides a bull and saves lives, as against Yama or Kala, the God of Death who is represented symbolically as riding on a black buffalo. This final reference to the Shiva-bull who is the white Nandi, adds that characteristic depth to the composition, reaching back to prehistory and to that virile principle of positive life in the symbology and mythology of Shiva which we have outlined in earlier chapters.

The Markandeya Purana describes the way in which Shiva, mounted on a white bull (the Nandi) appears on the scene at
the very last moment of the death of a young man who was destined to die at the age of sixteen. Death (or Kala) claims the
life at the appointed hour, but the saviour on the white bull comes at last as the youth's final refuge, in his hour of extreme despair. Such is one of the images which this verse revives in the time-honoured context of contemplative Word-wisdom.


NOTES

(1)
Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad, V, xii. 1; Taittiriya Upanishad,
II, ii, 1.

(2)       
Anupashya yatha purve pratipashya tathapare
Sasyamiva martyah pachyate sasyamivajayate punaha.
Katha Upanishad, I, 6.

'Viewing restrospectively, as also prospectively, man, like vegetation, is subject to the process of becoming (or cooking) repeatedly (is born again).'

(3)
Bhagavad Gita, III, 16.

(4)
Sahayajnah prajah Srishtva ....
Bhagavad Gita, III, 10.
'Having created the peoples together with sacrifice…' .

(5)
Atmopadesha Satakam, verse 64.

(6) 
Bhagavad Gita, III, 11.

(7) 
Kural, II, 8.

(8)
Bhagavad Gita, V. 13.


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KINDNESS TO LIFE
(JIVA-KARUNYA-PANCHAKAM)
(Translated from the Malayalam)

I
All are of one Self-fraternity.
Such being the dictum to avow,
In such a light how can we take life,
And devoid of least pity go on to eat?

II
The non-killing vow is great indeed,
And, greater still, not-eating to observe;
All in all, should we not say, 0 men of righteousness,
Even to this amounts the essence of all religions?

III
If killing were applied to oneself,
Who, as a favour, would treat such a dire destiny?
As touching all in equality, 0 ye wise ones,
Should that not be our declaration for a regulated life?

IV
No killer would there be if no other to eat there was-
Perforce, himself must eat!
In eating thus abides the cruder ill
In that it killing makes.

V    
Not-killing makes a human good -
Else an animal's equal he becomes.
No refuge has the taker of life,
Although to him all other goods accrue.

INTRODUCTORY

This short composition of five verses shows that ethics arises directly out of the contemplative way of life. In fact we see here how contemplation and matters which primarily concern the commandments of a religion can be brought together under one general principle of wisdom and rational living. The ethic here is dictated by the inner voice of contemplative reasoning, when a man wants to be fully human. Leaving aside on the one hand epicurean, hedonistic or utilitarian views of life which are based upon satisfactions too ordinary for the dignity of man; and on the other hand preventing such commandments from becoming mere dead letters, which might happen if divorced from all human considerations, the Guru here follows a line of contemplative reasoning which is full of true humanity and dignity. The pious man of prayer seeks refuge in God while denying what might give a similar refuge to animals. The contradiction in such a unilateral attitude of prayer, with the subsequent conflict which it brings about, is forthrightly abolished here, with a tenderness that is touching and which even has some humour.

COMMENTARY

I
All are of one Self-fraternity.
Such being the dictum to avow,
In such a light how can we take life,
And devoid of least pity go on to eat?

When piety and kindness are hinged one on the other they together constitute an important article of faith, a law or axiom
of contemplation. In the very first verse, Narayana Guru relates

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it to the axiom of the Advaitic or non-dual reality of the Self. The Self is universal and unitive and therefore cannot
countenance conflict between life and life. This is the first corollary arising out of the pure contemplation of a priori
truth. When it is accepted that killing is wrong, the same holds good a fortiori with the question of eating.  Kindness emerges naturally as the argument of the second degree which partakes of the logic of the emotions to at least an equal measure as it is itself based on pure reason. To the Advaitin one is as valid as the other, since the principle involved is the same.

The need to be kind to one's fellow creatures does not require the support of argument. One does not have to look for this justification in any book. It is self-evident and, consciously or unconsciously, humanity treats it as such. All civilised governments provide laws for the protection of wildlife, even though instituted for aesthetic rather than ethical reasons. The promiscuous destruction of nature is beginning  to be recognized as at least undignified behaviour for those calling themselves civilised.

However, much vagueness clings to this subject. Some consider kindness as being sentimental, and others as an impractical ideal. Killing in some form being incidental to life, such as that involved, for example, in agriculture, there is a condoning of killing or a conniving of it in various degrees without any real criticism. There is even a popular saying in  Malabar that the sin of killing is abolished by eating. Killing a man is murder (except in the case of war), while slaying a beautiful deer in the woods is not. Cannibalism, again, cannot be treated as at the same level as the consumption of microscopic beings in milk or other food. Confusion between the inevitable and the contingent aspects of the question gives rise  to the prevalence of an uncritical vagueness, creating a no-man's-land of absurdities.

But here the Guru marks out the field of rational contemplative norms of conduct in terms of the dignity of man. Man is the measure of all things, as Self-realization in universal terms is his goal, when intellectually conceived. After understanding critically the position in regard to this question of killing and

317
eating, it is for each man to make up his mind where he will draw the line of demarcation between what is necessary according to him and what he should avoid in the name of kindness. But the palate here should not be the preponderant consideration.

Duty, piety, righteousness, and religion are matters involved here, more than a merely rational outlook. Here reason is affiliated to a humanitarian outlook. This attitude is of the essence of religion, whatever the verbal form it may assume.

Man is seeking spiritual consolation as a refuge from suffering and sin, or even seeking emancipation in wisdom in ultimate terms of pure reason. The generosity of the absolute principle is always there as an inevitable factor to be dealt with, whatever path of wisdom or piety a particular aspirant may place before himself as his ideal. In times of stress all men pray for mercy of some kind, and that same prayer must bind us all to acts of mercy, as Shakespeare says. A man who was sure that he would never need mercy might perhaps be the only one who could logically escape from being merciful. Only in the context of neutral wisdom is such an indifference to mercy imaginable, and when such a neutrality is really gained, it becomes tantamount to being one with the Absolute. Then the question of mercy does not arise. In all other cases mercy becomes a necessary and inevitable form of obligation, even in the most contemplative of disciplines. Mercy, however, should not be mixed up with sentimental regret or retrospective self-pity. The kindness meant in this poem is that tender feeling of universal sympathy which is based on an open and rational outlook.

In this first verse the doctrine of non-duality as conceived in universal terms is invoked to support the idea of kindness as an obligation to be rightfully recognized by man. Reason makes kindness binding. Otherwise ethics would depend upon necessity and would be left for its support on instinct or animal nature. Non-dual contemplation requires reason to be taken as a corrective to instinct. Instincts must always be subjected to the sublimating purification of reason.

'Self-fraternity': 'atma sahodarar' in the original means the same as that universal brotherhood or equality in the eyes

318                  
of God spoken of by religious people. Such terms as 'created in the image of God ' are sufficiently recognized in the study of comparative theologies of all religions to be clear to the general reader.

II
The non-killing vow is great indeed,
And, greater still, not-eating to observe;
All in all, should we not say, 0 men of righteousness,
Even to this amounts the essence of all religions?

There is no religion which does not stress one form or another of universal brotherhood, and which does not advocate kindness to all living things. The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill', which Christianity and Islam inherited from Hebraic and perhaps from proto-Hebraic sources, confirms this view and, taken side by side with facts in practice such as the prohibitions and injunctions regarding killing on certain days and of certain animals (such as a red or stray cow or bull), we can gather, even in the religions of the non-vegetarian peoples an acceptance, in principle at least, of the non-killing commandment. And there is the general acceptance by the Semitic religions that a form of grace accompanies fasting and abstention from meat-eating on certain days. Buddhism in principle (though not in practice, in Burma for instance) is solidly based on non-hurting (Ahimsa), and Jainism marks the high level of this principle. The universal principle of brotherhood of all life and general equality becomes confined to 'humans only' in those climes where animal food becomes more excusable than say, in the southern latitudes of Asia. Making allowances for local differences due to necessity, non-killing, in principle, is enjoined by all religions.

'0 men of righteousness '
This verse is addressed particularly to those who think in terms of organized and active religions which try to keep the faithful on the path of righteousness and virtue by edict and law. The more contemplative religions accept it in the axiomatic form which does not require legalisation.

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III
If killing were applied to oneself,
Who, as a favour, would treat such a dire destiny?
As touching all in equality, 0 ye wise ones,
Should that not be our declaration for a regulated life?

The appeal in this verse is to those endowed with wisdom or education. Equity leads inevitably to the notion of equality. The argument here is against unilateral attitudes of equity. Reciprocated equity applied to both sides concerned without difference, and based on a uniformly general principle, becomes equality, which the wise are here asked to recognize so that they may lead humanity along such lines.

WORD NOTES
Dharmyam has been rendered 'for a regulated life ', i.e., conducive to a life lived according to the first principles which have been stated already. When Karma (or conduct) is controlled by considerations of first principles, it becomes Dharma or right action, and anything which promotes the prevalence of such activities in group life is Dharmyam - what conduces to a regulated life.

IV
No killer would there be if no other to eat there was-
Perforce, himself must eat!
In eating thus abides the cruder ill
In that it killing makes.

We often hear the argument that someone else has done the killing and therefore one can eat without any qualms of conscience. The hollowness of such an argument is exposed here with a certain touch of humour. The picture arises of a lone huntsman having brought down a deer and being faced with the problem of consuming it all himself. This readily brings home the absurd relation between killer and eater, and in the argument, is not without its humorous side.

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WORD NOTES
Agham: 'evil,' has been translated 'ill'.

V
Not-killing makes a human good -
Else an animal's equal he becomes.
No refuge has the taker of life,
Although to him all other goods accrue.

This last verse appeals to human dignity and in its name puts in its final plea against killing. Even if all the other arguments should be logically unconvincing, here is an appeal to a higher value in man which is reasonable. Man becomes the equal of an animal by wanting to kill it for the pleasure of his palate or for the pleasure of hunting, which are motives of a very ordinary order, common to more uninformed levels of life.

'Although to him all other goods accrue.'
There are values and values. Those in the form of goods which we enjoy here are many and varied and may be had in a unilateral fashion, even when one is undeserving. But the essential good, as a value such as grace or refuge or sanctuary in God, comes from the unitive, presiding principle of Good with which a bilateral and unitive relationship is necessary. One cannot think of bribing God for a partial favour based on no principles. To be loved by God one has to love one's fellow creatures, all in all.


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SONG OF THE KUNDALINI SNAKE
(KUNDALINI-PATTU)
(Translated from the Malayalam)

REFRAIN
Dance, cobra, dance!
Thy burrow seek and witness
The bliss of grace in wild display.
Dance, cobra, dance!

I
Keep close the foot so lotus red
Sacred of the Lord who dons
The crescent moon and cassia bloom, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

II
Besmeared with ash and bright His holy form shines.
Thy tears for Him in streams do shed,
And thus steadily
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

III
Upon this burning ground
Where ghost and also corpse are born
United well with what subsists, its counterpart supreme
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

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IV
The tresses of hair so fragrant
Excelling flowers of sweet aroma
In shade they lie within you
Beside this beauteous form, which view, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

V
A spotted leopard skin surrounds
His form of tender bloom.
'Within the Self he dances' say, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

VI
Upon the silver hill what gleams
As Vedic wisdom's quintessence,
Say 'That in me is dancing too', and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance!…

VII
He for whom a sportive snake
An ornament becomes
His home it is in us; so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

VIII
No one has seen, not he of blossom's bloom
Nor even that holy garlanded one,
This flower-form of thine, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

IX
Aum and all the rest that form
The essence of ten million charms
We now do know and so keep on, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

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X
To the One who conjures down
Who all things here brings out
To His leaf-tender foot adhere, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

XI
From lettered charm of Shiva-praise
To every formula of truth -
Even from sound do they come out, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

XII
Ten thousand millions
Of that Ananta snake art Thou;
Thy million hoods then open out, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...

XIII
This body here no truth it has;
Owner another in it resides.
Such wisdom do thou gain, and thus
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

XIV
Uniting body and owner too,
Radiant, who abides as one,
Such there is to know, as well, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

XV
What swallows all, with rival none
Such is the omnipresent Word
Which swallow thou, and steadily
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

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XVI
Consuming all the words there are
As the supporting wall for all
Even on such do take thy stand, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

XVII
From very name this great expanse
And even earth as well did come
As a presentiment in thought, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

INTRODUCTORY

Kundali is the seat of the Kundalini, which is often spoken of in yoga as a snake lying coiled at the base of the vertebral
column. It is supposed to represent a ganglion, plexus or storehouse of nervous energy which irradiates upwards to the
higher centres of the nervous system. Although anatomists have tried to locate this Kundalini Shakti (basic nervous energy)
in histologic, organic or functional terms more precisely in modern scientific language, all such attempts remain unconvincing and resemble the efforts of a pseudo-science, for the very simple reason that this psychic energy is not reflected directly in objective organs or functions.

The subjective and the objective come together here, hand in hand, as the methodology and epistemology of the Vedanta
would necessarily require. Where inner and outer values are spoken of together, a certain vagueness is bound to be present,
at least according to the objective standards of science with its great stress on what is visible. Under suitable attitudes and spiritual disciplines known to yoga, the coiled-up snake at the base of the vertebral column is capable of uncoiling itself. The roused-up serpent power then reaches higher and higher levels, touching or attaining successive plexi, often referred to as lotuses or central points from which nervous energy of a spiritual order radiate.

Of these, the highest ranking is somewhere at the base of the brain, beyond the soft palate, which the tongue's tip, when

325
trained, can touch and stimulate. This is the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara Padma), of the full radiance
of positive wisdom in which all relative knowing becomes absorbed. This is like the burrow of a snake situated on high.
And when the snake reaches this home on high it is lost inside it and all 'becoming' is absorbed finally in 'being'. Such is the imagery underlying this composition.

The cobra charmed by music lifts its hood and swings and sways in response to it like a dance or play. This is a familiar
sight on the Indian scene and affords the author an apt literary device around which to build his mystical doctrines and philosophy of the Self. The whole process is attended with a certain sense of exaltation, joy or bliss which the yogi feels, like a poet or artist who reaches out from one sublime vision of the psycho-physical universe to another one higher or still more superb.

In order to appreciate the suggestive meanings of mystical import in this naive-looking form of poetry, one has to be sufficiently familiar with the dancing Shiva legends. The bronze of Nataraja, now so well known in the West, represents this dance which is both cosmological as well as psychological in symbology, fused into one creative image based on the myth or prehistoric personality of Shiva, such as we have traced in ourearlier chapters.

Snake symbology has been in the tradition of many lands: Crete and Egypt as well as India (where the tradition still lives
on). The snake, cosmologically, is the principle of time, continuity, or eternity. Adi-Sesha and Ananta (the cosmic serpent of time) are two well-known snakes of mythology, inseparable attendants upon Vishnu, and whose long coils form the couch
upon which this form of the divine principle reposes.

With Shiva the snake comes in as an ornament worn round the neck of this cosmo-psychic God. It represents again the
principle of becoming, memory or time, with a personality of its own which may be said to represent some mystical attitudes on the lines of the Kundalini snake we have already referred to, particularly in the yoga context.

In the present composition of the Guru Narayana the snake symbolises the Soul or Self in its progress. It represents

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aspects of the numinous and the Absolute made living and real for purposes of helping to explain mystical doctrines, over which otherwise we should be obliged to pass in silence. The whole composition should thus be treated figuratively as explanatory, by an apt literary device, of some aspects of Word-wisdom.

The verses are meant to be suggestive mystically, and belong to the world of intuitive imagination; and therefore we shall
refrain from explanation in cut-and-dried doctrinal terms. The elusive and ineffable character of the style is meant to be
left untouched by mere logical analysis. We shall confine our remarks to show on the one hand how the lines can be dovetailed into a context of Self-knowledge, and on the other hand to indicate the symbology which has grown traditionally around the personality of Shiva in India. Shiva-symbology pervades prehistory and comes to us even in the West through the Dionysian mysteries and frenzies into the heart of Christianity itself - especially in its mystical aspects. Perennial philosophy and mysticism with contemplative visions contain elements of this wisdom which we see represented in this example of the Guru's writings.

COMMENTARY

REFRAIN

Dance, cobra, dance!
Thy burrow seek and witness
The bliss of grace in wild display.
Dance, cobra, dance!

While the psyche seeks realization in terms of perfect Self-knowledge, the phenomenal world is seen as a presentiment to
the Self or the will. In the process of transcending this visible phenomenal aspect, the psyche takes a dispassionate view of the whole and witnesses it without particularized emotions, but with a global sense of bliss. As electricity implies magnetism secondarily; the phenomenal is secondary to the main search for truth in terms of Self-knowledge. The display is here referred

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to as wild or meaningless because the values involved in the field of the relative are all evanescent, tantalising and elusive. They have no substratum of reality except in terms of knowledge, which is the main object of the search by the aspirant.

WORD NOTES :
Adu: here rendered 'Dance', could be equally 'play' or 'swing'. This swinging movement reflects the movements in the phenomenal aspects of life which also alternate.

Kuthu is any exhibition of dance, implying movements without much meaning, here translated 'wild display'.

I
Keep close the foot so lotus red
Sacred of the Lord who dons
The crescent moon and cassia bloom, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance!

The clear tender light of the crescent moon has always been associated with the cosmic picture of Shiva who wears the
crescent on his dark knotted hair. The cassia flower is also held traditionally to belong to the Shiva context. It might have some prehistoric associations with the personality of Shiva. Saraswati is often addressed as one who lives in the forest of Kadamba trees. The red lotus foot suggests that subtle aspect of creation, tender and ruddy, like oxidised mango leaves in the Indian spring. In all references to the foot in this symbolic language the ontological aspects are implied, whereas references to the head signify teleological or transcendental meanings. The light of the crescent moon thus refers to the latter. Both foot and head aspects meet in the personality of the Dancing Shiva.

II
Besmeared with ash and bright His holy form shines.
Thy tears for Him in streams do shed,
And thus steadily
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

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Holy ashes are associated with the Shiva-symbolism. The burning ghat is the favourite haunt of Shiva. This indicates that death and its terrors have first to be transcended for spiritual attainment. Vitalistic levels fall short of the implied vision, while the light-grey ashes are the pure residue remaining after all the vitalistic elements which cling to the instinctive personality are burned. Passions and emotions have all to be sublimated and surpassed. This burning of the instincts does not destroy the essential principle of the Self as pure consciousness, which is immortal and which lives on in a life that is eternal, as accepted by many theologies. This uncompromising renunciation of Shiva has its counterpart in the tenderly emotional attitude of the seeker, which is here depicted by the tears which the snake is asked to shed.

III
Upon this burning ground
Where ghost and also corpse are born
United well with what subsists, its counterpart supreme
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

The two grounds of spiritual life are here distinguished. The corpse is the objective body, considered as matter.  The ghost is the immaterial counterpart. Some aspects of the human personality are just matter, while certain other aspects of the personality persist in the form of subtle tendencies. These affect the minds of others and to that extent belong to a certain order of reality which, contemplatively, there is no special interest in abolishing. The Guru thus speaks of 'ghost' incidentally, as he might speak of higher hypostatic principles, always in a figurative sense.  He is not directly concerned here with concrete scientific proof for the existence of disembodied spirits called ghosts. They are as much mental fixations to the Advaita Vedantin as the phenomenal world itself, and are treated alike as will-presentiments or dream-stuff. The concept of a concrete ghost does not arise here, in the sense which might be assumed by an objective scientist.

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Here all that is legitimately implied is that there are certain subtle tendencies, besides the material body, which go towards the total structure of what we call the personality as known here and now. This ontological, immanent aspect has its second pole in the Supreme which is 'beyond', in the Platonic sense. Although this 'beyond' has finally to be identified with the ground 'here', when the arguments and suppositions are completed, the Supreme has to be understood before a full sense of the mystery of the Shiva-presence, as representing the numinous Absolute, can be grasped even intuitively. The existing aspects have their subsisting counterparts which are supreme and transcendental.

WORD NOTES:
Peyum Pinavum: 'Ghost and Corpse' - these are ambivalent aspects of the human personality. The first is given to the mind and the second is given to the senses. In so far as suppositions affect human conduct, they are realities of everyday life. The question of the existence of ghosts with a status of their own does not arise here. Viewed empirically, this world consists of dead bodies after life has been lived; and some other factor known as 'life' which meets matter and makes the personality whole. This life-principle has to be supposed in one form or another, and the term 'pey' or 'ghost' just applies to the ontological aspect of such a factor as an entity, even though it may be treated as a mere mental hallucination.

Elum Param Porul has been paraphrased in the third line, to keep as close to the original as possible. 'Porul' would suggest a substance, while 'Param' implies the supreme or the transcendent, while 'Elum' implies 'having as a counterpart'.

IV
The tresses of hair so fragrant
Excelling flowers of sweet aroma
In shade they lie within you
Beside this beauteous form, which view, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

The reference here is possibly to the tresses of Parvati which are said to have a natural perfume.

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This would then be an indirect reference to that type of mysticism of a poetical kind similar to Solomon's 'Song of Songs' in the Bible. But the intensity of this mystical sense of beauty is weak when compared with the virile and direct expression of life which the Shiva-symbology in its pure form is meant to revive here. The Shiva approach transcends lyrical effects and bucolic comedy, reaching tragic heights in Shiva's radical dance of frenzy in the name of the Absolute. Erotic mysticism is lukewarm when compared with the full-blooded cosmic vision of the Dancing Shiva.

WORD NOTES
Pu Manakkum-Kuzhal- literally 'tress of natural perfume.' The suggestion here is that the perfume is indirectly suggested in the hair while in Shiva the bloom of beauty itself is seen directly. Immediacy of vision is here implied. A certain amount of whole-hearted, confident attachment or loyalty to the mystical principle is also implicit in this emphasis, as when a child says 'I have the best of all fathers' etc. No reflection on the merits of the Shiva cult is directly intended here, at least in the sense that it is a rival faith to Shakti worship. The aim is merely to compare levels of mysticism. As within lyrical emotional limits or in attaining 'tragic' heights of sublimity.

V
A spotted leopard skin surrounds
His form of tender bloom.
'Within the Self he dances' say, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance!…

The unconventional and anti-social ways of Shiva are well-known. Although his inner personality belongs, like that of all
such figures, to a perennial context of Word-wisdom, Shiva outwardly belongs to a prehistoric stratum, and he has never caught up with the refinements of a later age. Shiva's enemies, to test him, set a tiger or leopard to kill him, but Shiva killed the leopard and thereafter wore its skin. Then-according to the same legend - an elephant was sent, and he also killed it and its akin was also donned. Viewed in the light of mystical symbology,

331
these skins represent external material aspects of the personality of the cosmic principle. The tough elephant skin is dark - the negative side of objective life, full of inertia and lethargy. The spotted leopard represents the harsh or louder aspects of creation, the positive wilfulness of uncontrolled instinctive life. Both are but outer coverings to the spirit which dances in bliss within.

VI
As Vedic wisdom's quintessence,
Say 'That in me is dancing too', and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

Shiva's abode is often referred to as the great Hill of Silver. He is said to live in the snowy white peaks of the Himalayas, in Kailas, with Gowri, otherwise known as Parvati, Kali or Saraswati - who are all different consorts varying according to the mythological contexts of the many-branched Shiva legends. When South Indian wisdom attains the heights of Mount Kailasa and becomes allied to Vedic wisdom, this rouses the ire of Ravana, who may have been a prehistoric ruler of Ceylon. Ravana is said to have disturbed the happiness of Shiva and Parvati when they took up their North Indian abode. In the light of the historical blast and counterblast in the formulation of the Word-wisdom in India, this legend gains pointed significance. Here we note that the Guru Narayana alludes to the Vedas as teaching essentially the same wisdom as that of the ancient indigenous Shiva-wisdom. The two currents of Word-wisdom meet in the Shiva symbology which dominates India even to the present day, inasmuch as the chief deity of Benares is Shiva in the form of Kashi Vishvanath. Sankara dedicated Vedantic verses to this deity of Manikarnika, considered the holiest of holy places for the Hindus, on the banks of Mother Ganges. In thus bringing Vedic wisdom in accord with the Shiva tradition, the Guru is here conforming to the principal trend of spiritual life in India.

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VII
He for whom a sportive snake
An ornament becomes
His home it is in us; so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

This states the converse of what was said in verse three. The earthy snake is an ornament to the supreme Absolute, just as the 'here and now' aspect of the Absolute is common to all devotees or to humanity in general. These two poles are evident also in the Christian 'Lord's Prayer' when it reads 'Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven'.(1)

VIII
No one has seen, not he of blossom's bloom
Nor even that holy garlanded one,
This flower-form of thine, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

The Lord of all creation and the first created is Brahma, the four-faced God born out of a lotus flower. (Brahma the God is not to be confused with Brahman the Absolute). Brahma himself being produced out of a flower, as the flower itself emerges
from its stem, is poetically described as 'blossom's bloom'. Vishnu is possibly the 'garlanded one', the consort of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, in her name as Sri or Holy, summing up all that is good or auspicious in the Vishnu context. Here again is a comparison of the relative depth of mystical feeling implied in the two sets of symbols - one extolling widening values of ease and prosperity, and the other the soaring, virile, radical principle of cosmic mysticism reaching to the heights of tragedy.

IX
Aum and all the rest that form
The essence of ten million charms
We now do know and so keep on, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

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'Aum' is the key or root charm which symbolically implies all its further elaborations, variants or branches in whatever other religious or spiritual context they may occur on the tree of wisdom. 'Aum' represents Brahman, the Absolute, and contains all the mystical secrets in its single syllable. This is explained in the Upanishads, especially in the short Mandukya Upanishad, which is wholly dedicated to a discussion of complete spirituality as related to this one syllable in its articulate and inarticulate forms. The aspects of the personality and all the psychic states possible to man are masterfully correlated round this little word. Thus the ten million other symbol-words or charms are unnecessary to anyone who understands the wisdom implied in the one holiest of holy charms represented by the three letters A, U and M.

X
To the One who conjures down
Who all things here brings out
To His leaf-tender foot adhere, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

The hypostatic (heaven) world above is related to the hierophantic (priest or ritual) world below in the idolatrous or
existing sense by something like magic. The natural chains of cause and effect have to be somewhat reversed in the descending dialectics implied here. At the lower levels of realism the higher abstractions emerge with various names and forms in the multiplicity of creation; but in every creation there is a revertive unitive principle of the invisible and the Supreme which participates and neutralises the multiple and many-named into the uniate. This theory, which we have developed throughout our earlier chapters, is illustrated here by an apt instance wherein the Guru expounds some of the aspects of the mystical doctrine.

334   
The familiar image which is evoked is that of an Indian juggler who is also a snake-charmer. Sometimes the juggler
materialises a mango tree, as if drawing it into being on earth with sweeps of his arms from above downwards. The serpent
that belongs to the same mysterious or magical setting of the Absolute is representative of the Self seeking emancipation. An understanding of the whole situation can be gained by closely adhering to existing realities, here symbolized by the magician's feet, the holy feet of God or Shiva; this being the lowliest or ultimate earthy aspect of the human form which is accessible or amenable in terms of human behaviour-touching the feet of the Lord.

XI
From lettered charm of Shiva-praise
To every formula of truth -
Even from sound do they come out, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya is the five-lettered (syllabled) sacred charm which is given to a disciple as the password and motto which the disciple has to treasure as his lifetime secret. This is the holy mantram which is obtained after many years of disciplinary trials. There are other mantrams, but all gain their potency in their common affiliation to a basic truth. Sound is such a basic principle. Sound that is heard meets, mingles and coalesces with the sound that is of the inner ear, and both together form what is here referred to as the principle of sound, a principle in which all names and forms, letters and their audible sounds or even their meanings have their being. Nominalism and phenomenalism can be fitted into this basic meeting-point when the principle of sound is conceived neutrally; that is to say conceived as between its perceptual and its actual aspects, as intended in this verse. All secret teachings such as that suggested here are meant to reveal the numinous Absolute through sound.

XII
Ten thousand millions
Of that Ananta snake art Thou;
Thy million hoods then open out, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! ...
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Ananta is the snake of the Vishnu symbology representing eternity. (An: 'not' or 'without', anta: 'end'). By the
multiplication of such an idea of endless time, eternity as a new quality of time emerges. It becomes qualitative instead of quantitative. Adi-Sesha, which means 'first-remaining' or 'ever-remaining in the eternal present', is another snake which is an emergent mystical quality independent of duration. Present, past or future lose their meanings in the bliss of the 'eternal now' as Plotinus would call such a 'moment.' This moment now being full of joy, the Guru calls upon this timeless principle of pure duration so that Self-bliss may be enjoyed. The million hoods mean the many-sided appraisal of the 'eternal now' in the universe, and not mere subjectivism which is lost in the past or the future in a closed or individual sense.

XIII
This body here no truth it has;
Owner another in it resides.
Such wisdom do thou gain, and thus
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

'This mortal coil', as the body has been called by Shakespeare, (2), is divided into more and more centralised zones of subjectivity, like the successive layers of peel of an onion. These zones, concentrically arranged, are graded from the gross to the subtle, from the physiological to the psychological.

The deeper seats of consciousness have their cosmic counterparts such as moonlight or starlight, whose beauty and presence is appraised by subtle senses or a globally artistic sensibility to beauty. It is here in these inner zones that the personality attains its full spiritual stature as an abstract principle, just as when we say 'the kingdom of God is within you' (3).

336
The introspective approach to metaphysics is an inevitable part of the method of Advaita Vedanta, which speaks of five 'Koshas' or sheaths, beginning from Anna-Maya and up to Vijnana-Maya (i.e. from 'food-formed outermost sheath' to the 'subtlest innermost ground of all intelligence').

XIV
Uniting body and owner too,
Radiant, who abides as one,
Such there is to know, as well, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

Understanding the double nature of the body on one side and its subtler counterparts on the other side, is one step in knowledge.  There follows the further step of treating this dialectical pair unitively. To know the terms of an equation in mathematics is one step and to actually perform the equation, arriving at a result, is another process. But these two phases are neither mutually exclusive nor are they contradictory. Duality as a supposition is abolished in non-dual awareness, thus indicating two steps in a contemplative method whose result is the final triumph of Self-realization as a central experience.

WORD NOTES:
Deham is 'the body '

Dehi is 'one who occupies the body', the agent or subject thereof.

XV
What swallows all, with rival none
Such is the omnipresent Word
Which swallow thou, and steadily
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

Having traced the Absolute to the principle of sound and noted how reciprocal aspects meet conversely and reversely in
the manner of the terms of an equation, it is not hard to see that the Word, conceived in terms of nominalism or conceptualism,

337
can imply and contain the pure principle of the Absolute of the Vedanta. The Word can include all reality in one conceptual
synthesis of the Self-contemplative act. This act is compared in this verse to swallowing, as if intuitively making one's own the essence of a syllable such as 'Aum', with all its philosophical implications correctly understood in its Advaitic or non-dual context, as part of the science of Brahma-Vidya which we have tried to outline in previous chapters.

XVI
Consuming all the words there are
As the supporting wall for all
Even on such do take thy stand, and
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance! . . .

The universally-existing, which is the prime substance, is both transcendent and immanent as the basic support of all that can be conceived. No picture can be seen without a wall. A canvas is needed for a painting. The screen is needed for a cinema film. Similarly the experience of the mystical state becomes possible only when there is a mainstay. This is the supporting 'wall'. The phrase here is commonplace in the ordinary language of South India, but elsewhere such popular wisdom lives on the fringes of life or has to be sought out with trouble. This maintaining, supporting 'wall' is the Sat or the Satyam as explained in the Bhagavad Gita in its extended meanings and implications, comprising values, realities and existence. (4)

(4) 'The word Sat is used in the sense of existence and of goodness, and so also, 0 Partha, the word Sat is used in the sense of a praise-worthy act. Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity, and gift-bestowing is also called Sat: and even action for the sake of That is called Sat.'

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XVII
From very name this great expanse
And even earth as well did come
As a presentiment in thought, so
(repeat refrain) Dance, cobra, dance!…

The Guru abolishes this final idea of universal substances by relating them directly to their concrete-seeming counterparts, such as the earth and other empirical realities, and by reducing all to the terms of nominalism. Such a nominalism sums up rather than contradicts the notion of the Absolute. Name is the last dividing factor keeping subject and object apart. When the nominative factor is removed and the last trace of division dispelled, then Self-realization reigns fully. Beyond this there is pure consciousness alone.

NOTES

(1)
St. Matthew, VI, 10.

(2)
Hamlet, III, i.

(3)
Luke, XVII, 21.

(4)
Sadbhve sadhubhave cha sad-ity-etat-prayujyate
prashaste karmani tatha sachchhabdah partha yujyate
Yajne tapasi dane cha sthithih sad-iti cho-'chyate
karma chai-'va tadarthiyam sad-ity-eva-'bhidhiyate

Bhagavad Gita, XVII, 26-27.


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THOUGHT AND INERTIA

(CHIT-JADANGAL)
(Translated from the Malayalam)

I
Should ten million suns rising all at once
Eclipse the earth, fire and water and all else,
That ascendant presence of Thine
Radiant ever abide.

II
Be it askance, pray give but one glance
From the corner of Thy keen eyes, 0 Uma's spouse.
Inertia shall vanish, no place has it in aught that is
Such is Thy servant's cherished desire.

III
On earth as in fire and in evenly-flowing water,
In air and in the sky, that state of Thine
Which in all these five steadily endures,
Do give again and again, this even is our sole refuge.

IV
Mind first, then smell, and wakefully all five
Up to the dark mystery, is the will's domain of mind-stuff made,
From earth we touch to darkness' boundary- Alas!
Inertia gross extends. These twain do all comprise.

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V
All of yore such doctrine held-Suka Sage and others.
Easily attained they thought it and in varied forms
They did transmit it down from age to age.
Such the Maya mystery of the Blessed One. Ah, how great!

VI
Great, small and middling too, steady and waveless it rises,
0 Mental Firmament! From sinking into Maya's dross.
From mind confused and foothold lost, 0 save
And grant Thy grace of erect immobility.

VII
0 Grace that round Thy sacred Presence wraps
0 darkness-light, 0 nook and public space,
0 core and what within the core as treasure dwells,
0 Burner famed of the cities three!

VIII
Holding aloft the flambeau, how Thy Presence divine
Descending, while reigning still in thought's blue dome,
As that city of fame - Chidambaram - is called,
Could yet the cities three burn down, a marvel that is!

IX
Fresh mango bloom, 0 flower's nectar, confection sweet,
0 honey, luscious fruit, 0 rich juice, 0 Master mine!
Ever sought by gods, both of Providence and Grace,
Thy lotus foot alone my final refuge is!

X
Refuge art Thou alone for this supplicant, 0 Thou
Who elephant's skin did strip and wear,
0 Presence of mind-stuff made!
0 chase somewhat at least this treacherous dark,
And grant this servant Thine Thy grace!

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INTRODUCTORY

The duality of mind and body and an occasionalism which made them interact was the doctrine of Descartes, for whom the body was like a machine. This picture of the relation between the two aspects of the self or the personality has held the field in spite of the non-dual doctrines that have been put forward later. Synergism, antinomianism, bi-polarity, ambivalence, and other theories implying duality, have been in vogue in various branches of knowledge. Some have been stated psychologically, and others elaborated cosmologically.

In earlier chapters we have had occasion to refer to these methods of approach under different settings, so that it will hardly be necessary for us to enter here into any fresh discussion of what they imply. If truth itself is not to be dually conceived, at least the method of arriving at truth and making truth prevail in life requires the recognition of some sort of duality. Contemplation, stated in terms of a goal or end, needs taking account of the positive and negative division of what we call right, reason or understanding, as a means for the guidance of all aspirants to higher unitive wisdom. The contemplative mind, confronted by multiplicity, has to categorise and deal methodically and critically with the subject according to an implied science, on somewhat the same rational footing as in mathematics. Understanding or certainty needs the form of an equation, and before any worthwhile conviction can result, the terms at least of the equation have to be intelligently related. It therefore follows that it is necessary for us to have correct notions about what we mean by 'mental' and 'material,' or as the Bhagavad Gita puts it, about the distinction between 'the field ' and 'the knower of the field.'(1)

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This distinction and the understanding of one in terms of the other is of the essence of wisdom.

In this present composition from the pen of the Guru Narayana this very problem is confronted in his own unique way, in a blending of devotion, contemplative mysticism and critical elements, the whole affording a basis of life for the
Brahmachari - for one who would walk in the path of Brahman, for one dedicated to the wisdom of the Absolute or to that
'divine Ground' which is neither thought nor inertia, but in which these are 'inserted' or basically established.


COMMENTARY

I
Should ten million suns rising all at once
Eclipse the earth, fire and water and all else,
That ascendant presence of Thine
Radiant ever abide.

The imagery here aims to sublimate, as it were, the material aspects of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space-ether), conceived phenomenally into a numinous presence. In such a process of contemplative transmutation of values from the grossest tangible or earthy to the spiritual, the reference to the rising of ten million suns is both apt and necessary.

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The quantitative aspects of the vision have to be converted into the qualitative before the real import of what constitutes the divine presence can be understood with any degree of rationality or positiveness. Inert conditions of the gross, earthy, material world have to be conceived in terms of the omnipresent, all-filling principle of light. The ontological aspects of reality are thus transformed in real and living terms into transcendent or ideological aspects, disclosing the mechanism of their relation and possible interaction. The two aspects are not after all so distinct as they are represented to be in systematized doctrines or articles of faith. By an intuitive grasp of the whole in non-dual vision one can think of one in terms of the other as counterparts or ambivalent equivalents. When the contemplative vision dominates the personality, then the lethargic heavy inertia yields place to the resplendence which fills all, while the outside phenomenal world is inserted without conflict into the psychological or inner world of the Self. Transient cross-sections of reality give way to the eternal flux of pure becoming. Eternity itself gains a new and purer meaning, removed from the relative aspects of time. Such are some of the suggestions contained in this opening verse.

WORD NOTES:

Koti means 'crore', the Indian numerical term for ten million.

Kedumaru: 'So as to extinguish' has been rendered 'should .... eclipse'.

II
Be it askance, pray give but one glance
From the corner of Thy keen eyes, 0 Uma's spouse.
Inertia shall vanish, no place has it in aught that is;
Such is Thy servant's cherished desire.

'Uma's spouse' is a reference to Shiva as the husband of Parvati (also called Uma). The mystical union of the two blends ambivalent counterparts. The God who can make Uma happy by his understanding of feminine nature, and able to deal with it as befits the unitive vision of contemplation, has

344                
also a certain compassionate attitude and kind look for all. This look makes us think of one keen eye rather than of one who sees actuality with the two eyes open. Shiva is sometimes also represented as being androgynous and as having a central eye in the middle of the forehead. The Guru here does not refer to this middle eye as a distinct organ, but prefers the psycho-physical imagery of a keen meeting-point of the glance of kindness in poetic terms, familiar in the context of love.

The word 'askance' suggests that the full glance of the God of grace may not be fully deserved by the devotee with his
sense of humility and surrender to the higher principle. Being related to this higher principle of kindness or grace helps in the sublimation of the lower order of living. The inert view we take of the physical world loses its importance when the
contemplative way begins to prevail and becomes more and more firmly established, as it advances in terms of grace or
higher value.

The indirect reference here to Shiva as the consort of Uma, the daughter of the Himalaya, white-clad and pure, the principle of Beauty as mentioned in the Kena Upanishad (2), has its own relevance. Like the Beatrice of Dante, this principle of Beauty is the intermediate stepping-stone to the appreciation of the divine grace in the abstract, in relation to the Absolute principle. It takes a great God like Shiva to be happy and confer happiness on Uma. The supreme principle can transcend all and prevail as the final value of bounty or grace. When affiliated to such a higher principle, the mind is lifted out of the setting of inert matter which has no reality, no existence by itself, apart from its relation to the higher principle of all truth.

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III
On earth as in fire and in evenly flowing water,
In air and in the sky, that state of Thine
Which in all these five steadily endures,
Do give again and again, this even is our sole refuge.

Just as gravitation is a principle regulating the movements of bodies in the universe, so it is possible through contemplation to arrive at a sustaining and preserving principle which gives continuity and therefore a permanence, by contrast to phenomenal expressions. The sectional view which the mind persists in taking of the physical world results from inability to appraise the principle of continuity.

When this new or vertical view is taken we find that terra firma has a new status in reality as something of human value
which endures more than space. But thin air or space on the other hand, suggests the ineffable spiritual aspects. Between the extremes of solidity and space there are the states of fluidity, as in water, the fire that burns upwards, and the still thinner condition of air. Throughout these graded levels there is a constant axis of interrelationships which shows the same reciprocal  interdependence or bi-polarity which is the dual manifestation of the unitive reality of Advaita (non-duality). Gravitation is common to all objects and yet objects in relation to the earth in particular instances are said to come under the earth's 'gravity' as if it was a quality of the earth only.

Whatever the variation in the name, the universal principle, when conceived as it ought to be in its entirety, satisfies the  requirements of an all-comprehensive law of matter both in electro-magnetic and gravitational terms. Similarly, this
universal, ordering, unitive principle is the enduring state of grace or goodness alluded to here in this verse.
This can be seen to correspond to either a law of reality in the terminology of positive science, or as a principle of divine grace in a more or less theological sense.

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The expositionary style, whether academic, monastic, lay or expert, should not make any difference to the subject-matter.
Without violating the methodology or terms of knowing of any one of these, the Guru is able here to state the case for a
contemplative and comprehensive view of reality with as little sophistry as possible, in a setting of reverence and devotion
which need not itself be treated as unscientific.

IV
Mind first, then smell, and wakefully all five
Up to the dark mystery is the will's domain of mind-stuff made;
From earth we touch to darkness' boundary - Alas!
Inertia gross extends. These twain do all comprise.

The central doctrine is expounded in this verse with  unmistakable clarity. The contemplative way, to have a proper method of its own in order to arrive at any convincing results, must needs divide all reality broadly into two primary categories such as envisaged in the expression in the Bhagavad Gita already referred to, about the Field and the Knower of the Field.

In this verse the question of the perceptual and the actual, which is one of the recognized problems of modern philosophers, is confronted. The categories and laws of thought have to be determined a priori. No experimental methods can be employed here to reduce such factors into the terminology of the applied sciences. Such a treatment is precluded by the pure principles involved. The only way open is to subject our own inner experience to a closely-focussed scrutiny, without confusion.

We know we have a physical world surrounding us. We touch the ground and stand on it while talking of abstract realities. On one side extends this gross aspect of reality, and when we focus our attention on it, it becomes more and more inscrutable. It is like a cloud of unknowing, of negation, fear, inertia and ignorance into which we sink as if into a deep morass of darkness. Past memories and associations make this region doubly dark with all sorts of vaguely-suggestive memory-factors in which all is lost.

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On the other side, mental factors begin to assert themselves. Through the mediation of the senses such as smell which, like taste, is nearest to the tactile sensations, consciousness opens out fanwise or funnel-like, giving contact with the vast world of light. The sensible light has its own limits and at its fringes it again merges into the mystery of the unknown.

The dark unknown is a mystery looked at from either end with, in each case, its own specific implications. There are negative and positive ends of unknowing, and both meet in the numinous mystery in which all is comprised, as stated in the last line of this verse.

WORD NOTES

Chin-Mayam, rendered 'of mind-stuff made'; Chit being 'mind-stuff ' and Mayam 'wholly made of.'

Jadam has been translated 'inertia gross.'

V
All of yore such doctrine held - Suka Sage and others.
Easily attained they thought it and in varied forms
They did transmit it down from age to age.
Such the Maya-mystery of the Blessed One. Ah, how great!

The perennial character and mysterious content of the wisdom which is the heritage of humanity is affirmed in this verse. The contemplative law of non-duality enunciated in the previous verse is no new invention or ingenious discovery. Even in
the setting of India from the time the Puranas were written by Vyasa and others, and especially in the Bhagavata Purana, ways of spiritual life in relation to higher values are seen expounded. The outer form of the mystical garb of holiness can vary, but the message which can be gleaned out of these varied doctrines or disciplines is common to all - an attitude and way of life always implying a correct appraisal of the two categories already mentioned. These two categories belong to the basic formula of all contemplative disciplines, whether in the East or in the West. The sage Suka of the Bhagavata is cited here as a typical example.

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Although this doctrine has been known for ages, it is not of the nature of open public knowledge, determined only by the visible and objective, to the detriment of the mental or perceptual. Actualities are more readily accepted by the public than truths which pertain to subtler facts of personal life. These subtler facts form the subject-matter of doctrines understood and expounded by a few contemplative philosophers of each generation who take the trouble of passing on the doctrine to their disciples. These hierarchical inheritors keep the doctrine alive in modified form until, kindled into flame by another intuitive soul who responds to the age-old message as if spontaneously, the torch of wisdom once again flares up brightly.


WORD NOTES :

Akhilarkum: 'All of yore' means all those original contemplative thinkers who exist in every country and every age. This is evidence of the perennial and universal nature of the 'Matam' or 'doctrine' enunciated above.

Parampara is the 'vertical line of successive generations'. In Tamil, people refer to the immortality of the banana tree, one tree being replaced by another young one growing out from the same underground stem, making for an everlasting continuity of succession, just like the immortality of the amoeba. What is meant here is a vertical continuity in time.

VI
Great, small and middling too, steady and waveless it rises,
0 Mental-Firmament! From sinking into Maya's dross,
From mind confused and foothold lost, 0 save
And grant Thy grace of erect immobility.

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In the understanding of the doctrine of contemplative wisdom, this verse recommends the need for gaining a certain steady balance. Only then can the peaceful life of contemplation and happiness be established. The upward sweep of wisdom-dialectics takes account of all things, rising into the regions of higher and higher hypotheses, and in the process constructing hierophantic or hypostatic mental entities which may be big either spatially or in psychic potency and content. When conceived unitively, all these make for a hierarchy of 'monads', with God as the greatest of them all, hidden away and unknowable in the idea of the holiest, most supreme 'Absolute' or 'intelligible' entity. This entity is the steadying factor countering all unholy haste and motion in this world of variety and appearances of the actualities seen through the senses.

Maya is that factor allied to memory, whose tendency is to drag down the spirit in its flight to the higher values attained by contemplative insight. Maya is the negative drag which, when we yield to it, displaces unitive insight by a confusing and bewildering multiplicity of phenomenal aspects.

Nature and instinct range themselves on the side of this Maya, always tending to destroy the steady calm outlook which contemplation or grace instils into the spirit of man. As the Chinese Taoist philosophy recognizes, water symbolises this
natural negative tendency. It spreads all around and is opposed to being gathered up unitively under one steadily-enduring law of solidity or rigidity. It takes any shape, while just finding its level passively without any will or effort. The ocean of Samvit (knowledge) is referred to in Vedanta in a similar way as being essentially spatial, yielding and passive; while the erect principle of immobility running through this passivity links such a principle to the principle of supreme values. The neutrality of the psychological principle of immobility gives support to the dedicatory aspiration of the aspirant, producing a steadying influence on the Self or Personality. Through this steadying influence the mind is oriented to the positive factors which transcend the dull level of nature.

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WORD NOTES

Chid-Ambaram, 'Mental-Firmament' has also been rendered in Verse 8 below as ' thought's blue dome ' with a little more freedom.

VII
0 Grace that round Thy sacred Presence wraps
0 darkness-light, 0 nook and public space,
0 core and what within the core as treasure dwells,
0 Burner famed of the cities three!

The sacred Presence is a hierophantic entity, while Grace is hypostatic, as coming from the supreme invisible God on
high. In the next line the 'darkness' is brought into close relationship with the idea of the open 'light'. The recess or 'nook' is also placed vis-a-vis 'public' or open 'space'. In both cases there is the same kind of affinity-reciprocity as existing between two aspects of the same reality.

The ambivalence is not only expressed by opposite extremes or poles, components of the same ' magnet' as it were, but it is
also to be imagined as belonging to different zones of the personality. The more interior the zone, the closer the resulting value becomes as a counterpart of the cosmic. Thought and substance meet in such a central concept - the 'core' mentioned in the third line; thought and substance becoming interchangeable terms; while hidden within is the priceless glory, the 'treasure' referred to. The virtue of the shell consists in its precious kernel, while the kernel needs the protection of the shell. Only by unitive vision is the duality of shell and kernel abolished.

The symbolic myth of Shiva as 'Burner of the Three Cities of Metal' is continued in the next verse, where it is both explained and left intact. With the touch of divine neutralizing grace, the gross inert material heaviness vanishes. Thought and matter meet in a central expression of life 'as such' in the Absolute, as revealed by contemplative introspection.

WORD NOTES :

Tiru meni: rendered ' sacred Presence.'

Irule: '0 darkness' is in the vocative case, although it remains the object of the 'wraps' of the previous line.

Karale, which has been translated as 'core ' or heart, actually refers to any inner organ such as the liver.

Arum porul: 'treasure'; Arum: rare; Porul: thing, reality.

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VIII
Holding aloft the flambeau, how Thy Presence divine
Descending, while reigning still in thought's blue dome,
As that city of fame - Chidambaram - is called,
Could yet the cities three burn down, a marvel that is!

All phenomena are based on duality. Any recognition of actuality leads us to the implied duality between aspects of
reality such as we have tried to distinguish. A neutral position has to be taken before the equation of mind in terms of matter and vice-versa can be correctly treated contemplatively to yield the non-dual reality underlying both. This non-dual Absolute is a mystery, and its functions and operations are bound to remain enigmatic. The hand of the Lord is not given to anyone here to go any further in unravelling the mystery of the Absolute.

Philosophers are in the habit of treating the idea of the Absolute without any enthusiasm or appreciation of any value implied in the concept. Only in the light of the science of Self-knowledge does this value emerge and the mystery become acceptable as a reality in itself. To say that the reality is Absolute, or that it is a mystery, or even that it is a numinous presence, are only different ways of stating the same truth.

Chidambaram is both the actual name of a city in South India where the famous Dancing Shiva is adored by thousands still today, as well as the name of the 'most high God' symbolic of a highly philosophical idea of reality, derived from the two words Chit or 'mind' and Ambaram, 'sky'.  This 'most high God' is one of the factors which, taken together with its counterpart in the sense of the 'actual here' as representing the 'field' of manifestation or phenomena, yields the key to the mystery of creation, or conversely, its destruction - the city on high is the reflected necessary counterpart of the city on earth.

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WORD NOTES

Puram is a city, but in psychological references in Vedanta it signifies psychic classes or units as when the term Puryashtakam meaning the 'eight cities of the subtle body ' (sukshma sharira) is used.  In Vedantic literature such as the Vasishta there are also cosmological references to various cities in the sky. One of the names of Shiva is Tripuranthaka, i.e., 'The One who finished the three cities', which refers to the same myth or prehistoric legend.

IX
Fresh mango bloom, 0 flower's nectar, confection sweet,
0 honey, luscious fruit, 0 rich juice, 0 Master mine!
Ever sought by gods, both of Providence and Grace,
Thy lotus foot alone my final refuge is!

Academic, philosophical or contemplative aloofness to reality
is abandoned here in favour of an intimacy such as that felt between a lover and beloved. Lavish lyrical extravagance is
unreservedly expressed to show the intimate value and personal meaning which truth, both existential and subsistential, has for the seeker or aspirant. Here is a crescendo of rhapsody. It breaks through all convention into the intimate cultivation of the presence of the Supreme in the language of ecstasy, exaltation or bliss. This marks the ultimate appraisal of reality as a value and not merely as an intellectual abstraction.

By scanning the adjectives or attributes piled up here one finds that now one leans on 'origin' or 'cause' and in the next moment on the 'result' or 'effect', 'fruition' or 'flowering'. Freshness and antiquity are both suggested side by side, making this verse a sweet delicacy, a rare joy, suggesting ideological and ontological values together and immediate.

The juice referred to here is reminiscent of the Soma juice mentioned in ancient Indian literature, which is sometimes a
herbal extract, a honey, or an ambrosial essence or drink of the immortal gods of Indra's heaven. Soma is also sometimes the principle of the moon, while the King Soma of the Vedas suggests life and vitality. Soma is always a symbol of the Ritham or the existential, as opposed to the Satyam or subsistential aspect of reality or truth. Here in this verse both aspects are referred to together non-dualistically as the underlying principle of life, both prospective or retrospective, immanent or transcendent. The reference to the gods of Providence as well as Grace in the same line is suggestive of the non-dual position taken.

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WORD NOTES

Vidhi and Madhavar : 'Providence' in the sense of necessary fate, and 'conferring principle of Grace', are justifiable by the implicit derivation of the divinities suggested by the verse. These are to be thought of as presiding principles, the one of  'necessary law' or Vidhi, the other of 'contingent Grace'. More simply, in the symbolic language of Indian religious thought, they can stand for Brahma as Lord of Creation and Vishnu as the Principle of Preservation.

X
Refuge art Thou alone for this supplicant, 0 Thou
Who elephant's skin did strip and wear,
0 Presence of mind-stuff made!
0 chase somewhat at least this treacherous dark.
And grant this servant Thine Thy grace!

In this sequence of ten verses the implied scheme of the various aspects of reality, as examined under the two primary
categories, has been covered. In this last verse we have a pointed reference to the gross-inert aspect of the harsh actuality of life where the problems of evil reside. The dark unknown beyond is on the other side of visible light, and there is also that darkness which is that other kind, thick and crude as the stripped hide of a large elephant. This typifies the monstrous, sinister, macabre side of the dark unknown aspect of the Absolute as conceived realistically.

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This treacherous dark aspect can be banished only by the light of Grace, which is the intuitive understanding; and by
relation with the opposite pole for which the lower is only an attribute. The higher Grace absorbs the lower terminal and
abolishes it, making of it part and parcel of its own higher personality. The higher category includes the lower, in the
same relation as a simple item, instance, appendage, attribute or raiment is to the supreme person. The raiment can be rejected or donned at will by the wearer. When understood, the pure principle can thus make the evil aspects of life and suffering as of no importance. These are then considered incidental, being taken for granted instead of being considered as factors of worrying import. It is in this sense that contemplation of the supreme principle as personified in Shiva or any other personality treated similarly, can be taken to be the last refuge for a suffering supplicant who is really the aspirant for Self-realization. In this a doctrine of the double negation of evil is implicitly intended.

WORD NOTES

Chin-Mayam has been rendered, as in Verse IV, 'mind-stuff made', which is vocatively employed here for one made of
mind-stuff.

The legend of Shiva stripping the elephant to make apparel from its skin, refers expressly to a gruesome aspect of reality in the name of realism. The allusion has been explained already.

NOTES

(l)
idam shariram kaunteya, kshetram-ity-abhidiyate
etad-yo vetti tam prahuh, kshetrajna iti tadvidah
kshetrajnam cha-pimam viddhi, sarvakshetreshu bharata
kshetrakshetrajnayor-jnanam, yat-taj-jnanam matam mama
Bhagavad Gita, XIII, 1-2.

'This body, 0 Son of Kunti, is called the field, that which knows it, they who know call the Knower of the Field
And understand Me (Krishna) as the Knower of the Field in all fields, 0 Bharata. Knowledge as to the field and the Knower of the Field is deemed by Me as the knowledge.'

(2)
Sa tasminnevakashe striyamajagama bahushobhamanamumam
Haimava tim tam hovacha kimetadyakshamiti.
Kena Upanishad, III, 12.

'He (Indra) beheld in that very spot a woman, Uma, very beautiful daughter of the Himalaya. He said to her, 'What is this great Spirit?' '


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SCRIPTURES OF MERCY
(ANUKAMPA-DESAKAM )

(Translated from the Malayalam)

I
Such mercy that even to an ant
Would brook not the least harm to befall,
0 Mercy-Maker do vouchsafe with contemplation
Which from Thy pure Presence never strays.

II
Grace yields blessedness; a heart love-empty
Disaster spells of every kind.
Darkness as love's effacer and as suffering's core,
Is seed to everything.

III
Grace, love, mercy-all the three
Stand for one same reality - life's star.
'He who loves is he who really lives'. Do learn
These syllables nine by heart in place of lettered charm.

IV
Without the gift of grace, a mere body
Of bone and skin and tissue foul is man
Like water lost in desert sand,
Like flower or fruit bereft of smell.

V
Those phases six that life do overtake
Invade not wisdom's pure domain;
Likewise the mercy quality, when human form has gone,
As good reputation's form endures.

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VI
That Dispenser of Mercy, could He not be that reality
Who proclaiming words of supreme import, the chariot drives,
Or compassion's ocean, ever impatient for all creation,
Or who in terms clear non-dual wisdom expounds, the Guru?

VII
In human semblance here is He a divinity,
Or perhaps the law of right in sacred human form?
Is He the pure begotten Son of the Lord Most High?
Or kindly Prophet Nabi, pearl and gem in one?

VIII
Is He that soul personified who with holy ashes once
Fever drove away and many wonders worked?
Or yet that other of psychic power who wandering in agony,
Allayed His ventral distress even with song?

IX
Else is He that sage of crowning fame who uttered once again
That holy script already known and writ in Hara's name?
Or He devoted to the value of the Lord Supreme
Who here departed bodily ere life for him was stilled?

357
X
Dealing bounty here on earth and taking human form
Is He that Kama-Dhenu cow of all-providing good?
Or perhaps that wonder-tree of heaven supreme,
The Deva-Taru which to each its gifts bestows?

ENVOI
High scripture's meaning, antique, rare,
Or meaning as by Guru taught,
And what mildly a sage conveys,
And wisdom's branches of every stage,
Together they all belong,
As one in essence, in substance same.


INTRODUCTORY

Here we have another sequence of ten verses around the central concept of kindliness, compassion, grace or mercy. The slightest inclination one way or the other of the meaning of this central concept gives us various representations, some
based on hypostatic, and others on hierophantic principles.  The substance of reality can be conceived ontologically as
the immanent, the transcendent or the ideological. Generally speaking, when we take most other concepts the divergence
between these aspects seems to widen. But given a central concept or factor of human value touching life in a direct way,
it is possible to focus discussion of all possible variants of what is commonly understood to constitute the good, virtuous or holy life.

The concept of mercy affords such a pivotal factor.Shakespeare's oft-quoted passage on mercy treats the subject in this globally comprehensive impartial manner as a central common human value. It is the 'twice blest' state of the personality, irrespective of donor or receiver, subject or object. In fact it is identical with blessedness, which objectively would be grace, and subjectively would be bounty, generosity or compassion. One acts compassionately and receives grace.

Blessedness is a central and neutral state which neither refers to objective nor subjective factors. The difference between a state of being in love and that of blessedness, when conceived in their widest and most universal connotations, is negligible. The negation of such love is the negation of life and thus of all wisdom.

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Such are some of the arguments inferred here, whether explicitly stated or not. Contemplation itself depends on the middle way implied in a loving and positive attitude. Exclusiveness, hatred, a unilateral position, stressing duality -
all suggest the negation of life and love. Love and consideration for other living creatures is the basis of the good life and upheld as the central doctrine and commandment of all the world's religions. We have touched upon this theme already in the Guru's poems, but here spiritual expressions are correlated over a wide and varied range.


COMMENTARY
I
Such mercy that even to an ant
Would brook not the least harm to befall,
0 Mercy-Maker do vouchsafe with contemplation
Which from Thy pure presence never strays.

This opening verse reciprocally links the one who prays and the object of prayer through the intermediacy of the one and same concept of mercy. The kindness shown to an ant is of the same measureless quality as the mercy we expect from God in the form of grace. Both refer to one common central value belonging to the human personality. To love a brother is natural and instinctive, but to love a lowly creature like the ant demands an intelligent sympathy which thinks in universal terms.

When this universal idea of kindness applies to one and all, including the Self, without any asymmetry or difference,the essential attitude belonging to contemplation is attained. Such contemplation knows neither distinction of subject or
object but equates all factors impartially according to fundamental laws of knowing, which means reducing one factor
in accord with its natural and normal dialectical counterpart.

359
Here the 'pure Presence' is the Absolute conceived as a human value; while contemplation is the intellectual or spiritual approach implied in appraising such a personalized value. The quality of mercy which ' blesseth him that gives and him
that takes,' is the common, real, living and actual factor which induces contemplation to yield a consciousness of the presence of the pure or the sacred in the sense of the Absolute. Neutral or global awareness as Self-realization amounts to the same thing. Philosophically conceived as 'knowledge', psychologically conceived as 'self', cosmologically conceived
as 'the supreme divinity', or ethically and religiously conceived in the universal language of 'brotherhood' or 'mercy' - all these, representing existence, truth and value, meet in this central concept which the Guru has chosen as the normative principle or correlation for all the various forms of spiritual expression.

WORD NOTES :
Anu Kampa:  'mercy'.  More literally it is nearer to the word
'sympathy' (Anu: 'after'; 'Kampa': 'to move ').

Karuna Kara has been rendered  'Mercy-Maker', closely in
keeping with the original.

Chinta has been rendered 'contemplation'.

II
Grace yields blessedness; a heart love-empty
Disaster spells of every kind.
Darkness as love's effacer and as suffering's core,
Is seed to everything.

The inter-relation of factors is here stated concisely: both the joy-yielding positive and the suffering-productive negative forces. Grace is first equated to love on the positive side. Darkness and suffering are also to be understood as referring to the negative side of the personality. Just as knowledge tends to make a man generous and universal in his sympathy and outlook, opening out the restraining limiting power of the ego, so ignorance is the cause of hatred. All factors which produce the idea of value in connection with the Self or personality of man are joined together in a certain way with the ambivalent principle underlying the whole.

360
This principle regulates personal relations according to the subtle dialectics of wisdom. This consists in viewing all neutrally in the light of the Absolute. This is a marvel too great for words. In common language we refer to such a reality as God. If we do not do so strictly all the time, at least we ought to do so. For then concepts like love and grace begin to have a consistently rational, convincing, non-dogmatic and even some kind of scientific meaning. Grace is only the positive side of one's own love of life. We can place it in a heaven or in the heart of each man. Sin and grace must be taken together and fitted into a common context of self-knowledge so that all values have their place in the general
scheme. When this is accomplished it would help to minimise ideological conflicts.

WORD NOTES:
Arul: translated 'grace' is not so strictly connative of 'divine ' grace in Tamil and the South Indian prehistoric languages. It can mean just compassion or the welling-up of sympathy in oneself, in a poet or in a mystic. In English it is perhaps more exclusively used in a theological sense.

Inpam:  'blessedness'. Per inpam is 'great blessedness' and
Chit-Inpam is 'little or worldly well-being or happiness.'
Both meanings are comprised here.

Allal: 'disaster' is just 'evil' or 'ill'.

Karu, rendered 'core' is the tender nuclear part of a living organism where life-factors are concentrated and from whence all action is initiated, as in the central nervous system.

III
Grace, Love, Mercy - all the three
Stand for one same reality - Life's Star.
'He who loves is he who really lives'.
Do learn these syllables nine by heart
In place of lettered charm.

361
Here the positive factors are brought closer to one another to indicate the one dominant human value intimately related
to life itself. Doctrinal religion tends to reduce faith into dry liturgical formulae and creeds to be repeated mechanically for a promised salvation. The aspirant who seeks instruction in Brahman-wisdom or knowledge of the Absolute often becomes a slave to its deadening, mechanically repetitive word-features, which is the word that kills and not the bread of life, though such word-features can be potent in their own way in a purely perceptual context.

It is not enough to understand love as a doctrine and say that one believes in it as an article of faith. This and other
values have to enter into intimate union with the self as part of a life that is lived. But even such a life, where theory and practice meet, involves an intuitive apprehension of reality in the most intimate understanding of self-realization. On the one hand one has to enter into the spirit of the words, and then on the other hand the manna of the Word has to be made
effectively true again in the everyday living meaning of daily bread.

In the first formula the value which ought to dominate life is indicated as a star to guide the mariner on the sea of existence, and then it is related backwards, as it were, to real living in the here and now. Thus in both ways the unity of life and love is affirmed. The whole object here is to bring ethics, piety and knowledge unitively under one dominant conception of a human value, in accord with the fundamental method and theory of the Advaita Vedanta which affirms ' That Thou Art' (Tat-Tvam-Asi).

WORD NOTES :
Arul, Anpu and Anukampa:  'Grace, Love, Mercy' have somewhat the same connotations in both English and Malayalam. Sympathy, compassion, misericorde and pity contain also the same value, some implying more distinction between subject and object than others. The attempt here is to strike those meanings of value which are common to subject and object and, if possible, to abolish all asymmetry and thus reveal the central single value of Good implied in Self-realization.

362                            
IV
Without the gift of Grace, a mere body
Of bone and skin and tissue foul is man
Like water lost in desert sand,
Like flower or fruit bereft of smell.

The frustrated Self buried in its own desert sands does not emerge into positive levels of goodness either to humanity or
to its own true nature. When grace has gone and love has weakened, the body loses its beauty. A flower through its
fragrance confers some benefit, and fruit too has its positive smell-taste virtue. These are the opposites of the inert bodily aspects. Flower and smell complement each other, producing the total value of a good flower. Similarly the bird and bird-song can be equated, together resulting as joy for the poet.
Water lost in sand cannot allay the traveller's thirst or be of use to plants; and with the non-satisfaction of simple needs, more refined cravings for luxury are out of the question. At the personally hedonistic, the collectively utilitarian and the universal Platonic levels there are corresponding emergent factors which tend to complete the personality, bringing into existence an integrated central value compounded proportionately of both 'positive' and 'negative' factors. Contemplation stabilises, harmonises and equalises these opposing factors, producing the good life at all levels in different forms, as indicated in the various ways discussed in this composition.

WORD NOTES :
Sira has been rendered 'tissue.' What is meant is the small lymphatic or other vessels taken collectively. The idea of cell
units as seen microscopically, which constitutes tissue, as understood today, was not meant by the term Sira.

363  
V
Those phases six that life do overtake
Invade not wisdom's pure domain;
Likewise the Mercy quality, when human form has gone,
As good reputation's form endures.

The perfume of a flower can leave its traces in its surroundings till breezes carry the scent across the fields. In a similar way, when we come to human values which are subtler than the perfume of a flower, it is possible to imagine how the behaviour of a good man in a certain locality can createaround him associations and memory-factors which we generally call, vaguely, the 'atmosphere' of a place. Sometimes this results from the contributions of many personalities who have lived a life of goodness.

In the case of a highly spiritual man of the status of a harmonised contemplative or sage, this ineffable influence
affects the surroundings almost permanently. The reputation of a Christ or of a Buddha belongs to this category. It does
not depend upon the passing away of the body. The body is the phenomenal aspect of reality which suffers change.
Metabolic changes, and changes through the larger cycles of life and its extinction (such as the six phases usually
mentioned in the terminology of Vedanta, viz., existence, birth, growth, transformation, decline and death) affect only
one aspect of the personality. The subtler, purer or inner life tends to become independent of states, and the last lingering traces of duality vanish in Self-realization, which is the innermost awareness of all, the Vijnana Maya Kosha (zone of pure consciousness), where Plotinus' 'flight of the alone to the alone' takes place.

Even when this final consummation is unattained, at whatever intermediate level it may be that we consider the matter, the antinomian principle makes for a fundamental distinction between the bodily and other subtler, positive aspects, successively sublimating and approaching pure reason as contemplation gains ground. When human values enter into the conduct of a wise man, as they ought to in a normal way at every stage of his spiritual progress fromthe real to the ideal, the higher aspects of the personality leave various traces on

364
his environment. Actually, all this good influence remains as a favourable appreciation on the part of humanity, which is often grateful for the good implied in a certain way of life. This reputation is the life after death recognized here. There is no confusion of false esoterics in a public or scientific sense.

VI
That Dispenser of Mercy, could He, not be that reality
Who proclaiming words of supreme import, the chariot drives,
Or compassion's ocean, ever impatient for all creation,
Or who in terms clear non-dual wisdom expounds, the Guru?

The allusions here are to three ways of appreciation of the central human value called kindliness in three different contexts. God Himself is first referred to as the 'Dispenser of Mercy' as He was 'Mercy-Maker' in the first verse of the poem.

Functionally, God is mercy's author. Generosity, goodness and bounty are integral parts of His absolute nature in the usual
sense of the positive, transcendental immaterial principle. As representative of this principle, conceived as a human value which makes human beings more human, in the same sense that they are distinguished from less intelligent animals, we have Vyasa who, in the Bhagavad Gita, represents Krishna as a guru or teacher of contemplative wisdom. Krishna drives the chariot of Arjuna into the midst of the battle. In this capacity Krishna was Arjuna's friend and equal, but as a teacher of  wisdom he was at the same time an acharya or guru. The historical Krishna is the friend, but when the Bhagavad Gita refers to Word-wisdom, the teacher-quality gives Krishna another status. He then represents in his person the Word or the Wisdom such as the Logos meant to the Greeks. This is an objective aspect of reality, but should be conceived in pure terms. Such a reality is the 'stuff' or 'substance' here. (Porul in the original).

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In the third line of the verse the reference is to that type of wisdom which expresses itself realistically at the level of daily life. Buddha's ethics had this character. The boundless human sympathy which welled up within the Buddha overflowed and reached out to all life in the quest of a universal synthesis, taking in life as a whole realistically and rationally.

The universal elements present in Buddha's sympathy gave it a mystical character which is described here as a restless ocean ever seeking to make good prevail in human affairs.Sankara can easily be taken to be a typical example of the Guru referred to in the last line, although many others could also be taken as examples.

WORD NOTES:
Bhuta Daya: 'Kindness to creation'; here translated 'ever impatient for all creation.'

Sarala: 'clear', 'unequivocal'.

Advaiya-Bhashya-Kara : 'Commentator on Non-dual wisdom' suggests Sankara as directly as necessary.

VII
In human semblance here is He a divinity,
Or perhaps the law of right in sacred human form?
Is He the pure begotten Son of the Lord Most High?
Or kindly Prophet Nabi, pearl and gem in one?

When we say ' Son of God', this means the same as when in another place we read 'Son of Man'. The second person of the Trinity is the meeting point of two aspects of reality. In Vedanta we have the famous example of the sentence 'This is
that Devadatta'. The syntactical and grammatical relations of the different-seeming but semantically identical 'this' and
'that', help to fix the identity of Devadatta, as if from two opposite poles of reality. Much Vedantic scholasticism has
been continued round these attributes which meet in the Absolute neutral, central, actual or numinous reality. This central Value is to be recognized intuitively by the contemplative mind. By the reversal of a proposition, e.g., analytical judgement in synthetical terms, and so on, we arrive at central notions.

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In the present verse the same contemplative method of examination is carried out. The 'man-god' is the same as the 'god-man'. In some cases it is easy to see the antinomian features. In other cases where the pure and the practical coalesce more closely in the person of a prophet or spiritual teacher, the two aspects adhere almost without distinction, like the two sides of the same gold coin.

According to the Guru Narayana, the Nabi or the Prophet Muhammad has this last described quality. He is called 'kindly Prophet Nabi, pearl and gem in one'. The pearl found in the ocean's depth represents perfection. It symbolises an integrated normal value in human affairs. The gem is a similar beauty-value with many facets. There is a certain pure severity combined with a lavish sense of richness and kindness combined in the character and personality of Muhammad the Prophet. The Quran is full of practical injunctions based on a sense of justice in the name of the most high and generous God. Muslim art provides an example of this double character. The gems inset in the Taj Mahal and the pure pearly perfection of Islamic architecture reflect this austerely severe love of purity, combined with beauty and justice. Islam's success as a religion further testifies to these qualities.

WORD NOTES :

Paramesha: 'Lord Most High'.

Pavithra: 'Pure',

Puthran: 'Son'. These three words refer to Christ.

Dharma: 'Law of Right' in the second line, refers again to the founder of an ethical religion, and could mean Mahavira of
Jainism or Buddha.

VIII
Is He that soul personified who with holy ashes once
Fever drove away and many wonders worked?
Or yet that other of psychic power who, wandering in agony,
Allayed His ventral distress even with song?

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Reference is made here to the early seventh-century Tamil saints, last representatives of the Shiva tradition, who, after the decadence of Shaivism in the South, by a strange appeal to the emotional aspects of the ancient traditional religion, were able to give it new life once more in the Tamil country at a time when foreign ideologies from the North were beginning to confuse the life of the people. They were able again to revive in the masses a simple pious response to Shiva. The ashes and the snake were inseparable counterparts of this old prehistoric cult which we have elsewhere traced from the times of the Mohenjo-Daro seals.

When Jaina influences came to the South, and when the ruling families were being converted one after another to the Jaina ways, these saints demonstrated how healing and psychic wonders of faith occurred when older, atavistic or memory reactions in reference to wisdom were revived. Ventral troubles are often due to emotional maladjustments which get healed when deeper memory factors are revived by atavistic group behaviour or the like. Even fever can come from excitement and overwork due to lack of balancing interests in life.

The devotional character of these saints is revealed in the profuse songs they poured out in praise of the ancient god Shiva. All the accumulated imagery, rich in mystical import - the heritage of ages of the Tamil genius, reaching back into prehistory - came back to the surface and gave a specific character to these songs. With all these connected associations, and with the 'miracles' which, as in the case of Jesus, were possible and actually in the air, along with rumours of all kinds, these Tamil saints lived and moved among the kings and the common people of the period.

Appar, Sundarar, Manikkar and Tirugnanasambandar were four of the great names in this early era. The first two lines here refer to Appar who is said to have healed the Pallava

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king, Mahendravarman I, of his chronic fever. It was evidently faith-healing to the credit of the Shiva cult, by which Appar became famous. The last two lines refer to Sundarar. The object here is to show that bodily health depends on a balance of emotional and intellectual factors. Most 'miracles' examined in the light of the ambivalent factors in the psyche lose their mystery. This domain of psycho-pathology must not lure us into any lengthy discussion here.

IX
Else is He that sage of crowning fame who uttered once again
That holy script already known and writ in Hara's name?
Or He devoted to the value of the Lord Supreme
Who here departed bodily ere life for him was stilled?

The author of the Kural, that monumental Tamil masterpiece dating from the beginning of the Christian era or earlier, and based on the background of prehistoric Shiva, who is also known as Hara, is referred to here.

The Hara cult was widely prevalent in ancient times, and it is even likely that its influence was wafted across the seas and deserts to far-off shores and lands outside India, as we have tried to depict in previous chapters. It had its own scriptures, some of which are extant to the present day, but much of it has been overcovered by the debris of time. The allusion to favourite trees, stones and animals in the seals and ideograms through its long history reveal sufficient of its character to identify it with what still persists in popular myth, legend and fable even to this day.

Tiruvalluvar, the author of the Kural, is held in high esteem in the Tamil country, and the Kural itself with its ethical and philosophical implications of deep significance is understood by Tamil scholars who can still read meanings into its 1330 verses correctly and with great richness of insight. The work being conceived correctly as Word-wisdom is a monument

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of remarkable importance in the Tamil world, and no child is unfamiliar with at least a few of its proverbial apothegmatic sayings. The Guru Narayana revives here this classic and its author who is so often forgotten and overlaid by later expressions of spirituality on the Indian soil. The perennial nature of the Word-wisdom as formulated in the systematically and critically constructed chapters of the Kural draws out the just homage from a Guru of a later age, who gives it an honoured place in these verses extolling representations of the Word-wisdom throughout the world.

The idea of the dialectical revaluation of the Word-wisdom is suggested in the second line and at the end of the first: 'once again'. Wisdom lives on, ever and again revalued and restated by great sages and the person of such a sage capable of revaluating Word-wisdom critically and methodically attains a supreme status as the counterpart of such wisdom, when objectively and correctly considered.

In the last two lines the reference is to the common belief held in the Tamil-speaking South India that certain great
saints like Nandanar and other more recent devotees were able to pass from this state of life here to one beyond the threshold of life by a new adjustment of their life-tendencies in relation to ultimate and transcendental values. The Guru here seems to give some verisimilitude at least to the theory implied in such a belief, though not in realistic terms of actuality.

The death of certain saints can be of the type of an enigma as viewed in the usual sense, inasmuch as they did not die
in the normal sense of death where life-energies get spent in a certain way. On the contrary the Guru here implies that
it is possible for a person who dedicates himself to the life of the hereafter, and to those transcendental values which lie on the side of the Ultimate and the Supreme, as personified in a divine being, by earnest dedication to such ideals, to die a special kind of death. The physiological aspects do not come to their end by fatigue but by a special exaltation which occurs in which nervous stress or pressure increases due to intense otherworldly interests.

370
Cases have been known of bursting of certain blood-vessels due to psychic intensity rather than to physiological causes.
The passing away of Swami Vivekananda, as gathered from the intimate personal reports given by those present at the time,
as the present writer heard directly, bore some resemblance to these ultra-biological traits. Some yogis go into long-lasting trances and lie without any consciousness (like hibernating animals) in the normal sense. Food looks strange in their eyes, and they do not seem to need it, and ultimately, by a long process of wasting away, life comes to a radiant and beautiful end.

The Guru Narayana himself was one who passed away in this gradual and willed fashion, as those who have been at his
bedside during his last days had ample evidence to know. After recording some details in the earlier chapters, the present writer has had additional confirmation on this matter on his return to India from his first visit overseas. The body of the Guru was absorbed by gradual stages of unconsciousness into peaceful Samadhi or passing into the peace beyond.

Such a happening can be seen to be normal and possible if the two-sided nature of the psyche is imaginatively understood and applied to the case of understanding of the phenomenon known as death. The lyre becomes its music, and this is seen to be its death here. But contemplatively it is a fuller life.

WORD NOTES:
Mara is the name applied to any scripture of the status and canonical authority of the Vedas in India. The Kural is often
spoken of as the Tamil Veda.

Ma munindran: 'the great Indra among Munis (sages)' has been rendered simply 'sage of crowning fame.'

Pararthya:  devoted to the Value of the Lord Supreme', from Para : 'beyond', and arthya 'something desired'. It is in relation to 'bhaktan' devotee. '

X
Dealing bounty here on earth and taking human form
Is He that Kama-Dhenu cow of all-providing good?
Or perhaps that wonder-tree of heaven supreme,
The Deva-Taru which to each its gifts bestows?

371
After alluding to various forms in which the counterparts make the Absolute Presence real to us in its various
manifestations in different contexts, we come here to more matter-of-fact expressions of the emergent value of good in
human affairs.

The pragmatic 'good' consists of distributing benefits in a concrete sense. The Kama-Dhenu is the fabulous cow of
plenty. It is a mythical symbol of certain values of general good or prosperity. It stands for the common-weal, as when
social reformers speak of 'the greatest good of the greatest number' in collective or individual terms. The man who wants
to do good becomes elevated to a status of holiness by his very intention. He aims at an ideal which, equated with
himself, yields that numinous factor which is a supreme value.

The heavenly cow is like a generous man on earth. Aspects meet to reveal the same value, though in apparently different forms. This central value is kindness or mercy. A tree or an animal can have, hierophantically, the same status in the Absolute as hypostatically-conceived angels or spirits. Good is always the centrally emergent factor and mercy is that same good stated in realistic language. A good man can be equated to a tree, and, vice versa, a cow of plenty can be equated to a generous man. Whatever the terms used in the understanding of value it has the same worth as a 'guiding star' in contemplative life.

WORD NOTES:
Anukampa Andavan: 'the one who  mercy has' has been translated according to the grammatical  needs in each verse.
In this verse it is the 'Is he ....' etc. 'Andavan' by itself stands for God, thus 'Anukampa Andavan'z would denote divinity or humanity indifferently, according to its usage and derivation.

ENVOI
High scripture's meaning, antique, rare,
Or meaning as by Guru taught,
And what mildly a sage conveys,
And wisdom's branches of every stage,
Together they all belong,
As one in essence, in substance same.

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This concluding verse sums up the position in conformity with convention, as the first verse also did in a certain way, in
explaining the general subject-matter without entering into it
too deeply.

The mystical doctrines contained in the body of the composition apply directly to a spiritual life without any
special religious or academic coloration. In fact it is above such distinctions and considerations. Vedanta, particularly
Advaita Vedanta, is no substitute religion or scripture, but is a synthetic approach to all scripture. The verses above should not be taken to be a new religion or any religion based on mercy as a creed or doctrine. Mercy is a transcending human value running through all expressions of spirituality, whether pre-Vedic, Vedic, post-Vedic or non-Vedic. The Agamas are all the various later ramifications and elaborations of the primary attitude of mercy implied in the highest scriptures. The Guru is generally one who teaches in critically systematic and philosophical terms instead of through myth or fable. The 'Muni' is the silent recluse who does not talk much, but by practising self-control in seclusion conveys his message of mercy and who, examined closely in the light of the discussion above, is not different from the Guru.

In this verse the Guru wants to ensure that there is no mistake made in this matter. The Vedas, the Upanishads and the later wisdom-literature based on them, whether they take the form of philosophy or asceticism, express the same human value which has been chosen as the central subject-matter of this composition.

WORD NOTES :

Arumamara: ' High scripture ...antique, rare'.

Artham can be ' meaning, ' or ' value ' such as wealth.

Muni is generally a silent ascetic of self-control. The Guru-type and the Muni-type represent the same wisdom expressed in two personal styles which are only to be treated as incidental.

Porul is the substantial content which is the Same as the Artham
or value. Both indicate value, which is here the central idea of mercy.

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THE SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE

(BRAHMA-VIDYA-PANCHAKAM)
(Translated from the Sanskrit)

I
Even through the discrimination of the lasting from the transient,
Attaining well unto detachment,  the well-instructed one,
Duly well adorned with the six initial conditions known,
Such as calmness, control, and so on,
And thus keenly desirous of liberation here on earth;
He then greets with prostrations
A Brahman-knower superior,
Pleased and favourable by anterior attentions and service;
Thereafter should he ask of such a Guru:
'0 Master, this 'I' here, what is it?
Whence this world phenomenal?
0 teach me this, great One'.

II
Thou verily art Brahman, not senses, not mind,
Neither intellect, consciousness, nor body;
Even life and ego have no reality, being but conditioned
By nescience, superimposed on the prime Self.
Everything phenomenal here, as object of perception, is gross.
Outside of thine own Self, this world manifested is nought,
And Self-hood alone does shine thus
Mirage-like in variegated display.

III
What all things here, both moveable and immovable, pervades,
As the clay substance does the pot and jug,
Whose inward awareness even Self-hood here constitutes,
And whereunto resolved what still remains, instil with reality unborn,
And That which all else do follow -
Know That to be the Real, through clear insight,
As That same which one adores for immortal bliss!

IV
Nature having emanated, what thereafter, therein entry makes,
What sustains and gives life, both as the enjoyer
Of the divided objectivity outside,
As the 'I' of the deep subconsciousness of dreamless sleep,
Whose Self-hood even shines as the 'I',
Within the consciousnesses each of the peoples too-
That same in which well-being stands founded firm at every step;
Such a plenitude of Perfection; hear! 'That verily Thou Art!'

V
'Intelligence Supreme, even That I am! That verily Thou art!
That Brahman is the Self here!' Singing thus full well,
And so established in peace of mind;
And reborn to pure ways in life by the dawn of Brahman-wisdom,
Where could there be for thee the bondage of action
Whether of the past, present, or future?
For everything is but superimposed conditioning on thy prime Self.
Thou verily art That existing-subsisting One of  pure intelligence, the Lord.


INTRODUCTORY

In this our last selection of this volume, we have a Sanskrit composition of five symmetrically-conceived verses dealing with the Absolute value in the terminology of Self-knowledge. Such wisdom has a long tradition as a branch of exact knowledge or science. It is the flowering and culmination of the Vedantic trend of thought on the Indian soil. This composition has for its subject-matter an ultimate personal value which is appraised through contemplative dialectics. Immanent and transcendent realities are considered in such a way as to reduce them all unitively in relation to Self-realization, to Brahman or the Absolute. The composition is a complete and positively-conceived whole.

Brahma(1) is the cosmological god of creation of Hindu mythology. He is the first person of the Hindu Trinity, consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshvara (or Shiva). Although called a 'Trinity' because of the three divinities brought together, this is meant to be understood historically, or at the most cosmologically, rather than theologically as in the case of the Christian Trinity. Brahma as the first member of a trio of divinities who have dominated the Indian mind through its long history, is considered the first of all creation - although Maheshvara or Shiva, can claim historical priority and precedence. The rival claims of these divinities finds place in many a legend bringing these three together. When they are taken together, different values of the spiritual world are fused, but

(1) This word Brahma which is masculine, should not be confused with Brahman which is neuter (see explanation in next paragraph).

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the discussion of their relative primacy is a favourite subject of the Indian pundit.

Brahman, the Absolute of the Upanishads. should not be confused with any divinity, whether theological, cosmological
or historical. Although arising terminologically from the male Brahma of the Vedic background, in the effort to explain reality in as 'real' terms as possible, in the post-Vedic literature the philosophical nature of the Brahman stands out unmistakably. Here it is the unknowable Absolute, the numinous presence which can be conceived cosmologically or psychologically at the same time, and in which transcendence or immanence have no importance. Its truth is meant to be both ontological and ideological, and all philosophical approaches and religious attitudes only lead up to it.

In some of our earlier chapters we have attempted to lay the foundations for the proper understanding of the concept of the Absolute as implied in the meaning of Brahman as it belongs to a science of Brahma-Vidya (Brahman-wisdom). Here in these stanzas the Guru Narayana outlines the scope, method and epistemology of this Brahma-Vidya as understood dialectically as a revision or a revaluation of human knowledge of high import.

The Guru and the sishya, the teacher and inquiring disciple, are inevitable counterparts of such a dialectical revaluation, or progressive culmination of Vedantic wisdom A bipolar relation is established between them when the preliminary conditions have been fulfilled. When such a relationship gains firmness and directness, the Guru begins to represent in his person those aspects of the unknown which are outside or complementary to himself. The silent teaching of the Guru implies special lines of reasoning which are outlined here as an indication of its nature, content or scope. One inquirer approaches the great subject ontologically and cosmologically while another has a psychological bias. Each has his own way of stating problems.

The problems themselves are first clearly stated in the form of questions of the typical kinds put at the end of the first verse by the Sishya to the Guru. After covering the

377
questions in a certain order in which all philosophies and theologies and ethics are incidentally brought to a focus on the subject of the Absolute in terms of Self-knowledge, the stanzas go on to cover the whole field of wisdom. They leave no major gaps in free and easy reasoning for either the pragmatist's or idealist's 'buts ' and 'its. ' Both theological and philosophical questions are answered by implication. Ethics and eschatology are also brought into the scheme. The four walls within which contemplative wisdom has to live, move and have its being are definitely indicated.

Action is not wisdom's domain. According to these verses knowledge is freedom and all-sufficing power. Self-knowledge is the foundation or opening for all other knowledge which is secondary to it. The duality of man and God is finally and boldly abolished, not in favour of self-conceit, egotism or self-deification, but as a dedication to the high cause of self-realization. In this sense as the Upanishads declare, the Brahman-knower attains the status of Brahman itself. Knowledge and Brahman thus mean the same, the value underlying all values.

COMMENTARY
I
Even through the discrimination of the lasting from the transient,
Attaining well unto detachment,  the well-instructed one,
Duly well adorned with the six initial conditions known,
Such as calmness, control, and so on,
And thus keenly desirous of liberation here on earth;
He then greets with prostrations
A Brahman-knower superior,
Pleased and favourable by anterior attentions and service;
Thereafter should he ask of such a Guru :
'0 Master, this ' I' here, what is it?
Whence this world phenomenal?
0 teach me this, great One. '

378                    
The unmistakable imprint of the Sankara tradition is to be recognized here in this first verse. The metrical form and the style of all the five verses are also strongly reminiscent of some similar compositions of Sankara, such as the Dakshina-
Murti-Stava, where Vedanta is discussed with the name of the ancient Guru of the South as the object of adoration. This
accepted Guru tradition is carried over by the Guru Narayana entirely in the present composition.

In this verse all that Sankara discussed through the first part of his famous work, the Viveka-Chuda-Mani (Crest Jewel of Wisdom) which altogether consists of nearly 600 verses, is summarised and quickly reviewed by way of preparation of the ground for the four later verses. Here the basis is laid for the construction of the superstructure of doctrines to be stated later as the findings and conclusions of the Vedanta. The basis indicated covers such topics as the requirements and qualifications on the part of the seeker for wisdom, the main problems of the contemplative philosophy stated in brief, and the necessity of having that bi-polar relationship which inevitably belongs to the dialectics of wisdom.

Within the span of these five stanzas there is a symmetry and methodical presentation of the whole inquiry and its result, dealing with preparation, complication and resolution in the progress to wisdom. The facets of each step are well defined. The six initial conditions or qualifications required of the Sishya are found in verses 22 to 26 of the Viveka-Chuda-Mani already mentioned in Chapter XIII. These are Sama (calmness), Dama (control), Uparati (breaking of other interests), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (earnest trust) and Samadhana (steadfastness). These mark the six stages of withdrawal from actual action while gaining self-control as training and practice before actual wisdom is imparted. It represents the preparing of the soil before the implanting of the seed.

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II
Thou verily art Brahman, not senses, not mind,
Neither intellect, consciousness, nor body;
Even life and ego have no reality, being but conditioned
By nescience, superimposed on the prime Self.
Everything phenomenal here, as object of perception, is gross.
Outside of thine own Self, this world manifested is nought,
And Self-hood alone does shine thus
Mirage-like in variegated display.

The Absolute Brahman is the real, and 'That Thou Art'.
This is the finalized doctrine of the Vedanta as taught by the Guru here in response to the question of the disciple in the
previous verse.

By a process of systematic elimination of the outer or extraneous factors related to the Self, beginning from the mind
to its various bodily and other appendages and attributes, one succeeds by the 'Neti! Neti' (Not this! Not this!) of the Upanishads, identical with the 'via negativa' of the teaching of Dionysius the Areopagite in Western mystical theology, to
arrive at what constitutes the ' thinking substance,' which is the essence of the Self, which itself is neutral to subjective and objective aspects, as the Absolute Brahman as represented by the purest state of the prime Self of man.

The phenomenal vision which we see ever-changeful and tantalising, with its many value-contents, is a mirage-like play of psychic constituents, which has no reality but is only appearance. Its reality, if any, is the same as that of the Absolute. The inside reflects the outside or vice-versa and, put together, they meet in the mirror of wisdom, which reflects reflections as well as originals indifferently. The Self on one side and the phenomenal on the other make for the variegated display by alternation of conditioned mental states. The whole doctrine of the Vedanta is thus summarily reviewed in this second stanza, in answer to the problems stated in the first.

380  
WORD NOTES:
Buddhi has been translated as ' Intelligence.'

Manas means 'Mind'. When this mind expresses itself in a more integrated and unitive manner through the ego, it attains different levels of willed thinking, the totality of such functional expression being named Buddhi. it is thus just will above just passive thinking which is the normal function of the mind.

Chittam is here translated 'Consciousness', is also on the side of intelligence, implying purer reasoning.

Avidya, rendered 'Nescience'.

Svatmani: ' on the prime Self. '

Kalpitam means conditioned or superimposed secondary reality outside the Self.

Jadam : 'Gross'.

III
What all things here, both moveable and immovable, pervades,
As the clay substance does the pot and jug,
Whose inward awareness even Self-hood here constitutes,
And whereunto resolved what still remains, instil with reality unborn,
And That which all else do follow -
Know That to be the Real, through clear insight,
As That same which one adores for immortal bliss!

The conscious substratum of all life, responsible for all the actual and subtle manifestations of reality here, is like the clay to the pot, the common universal and primal basis. Ontologically approached in this manner, we reach our own Self as the factor involved in our appraisal and awareness of the world around us. Consciousness turns rounds the Self, and is of the same stuff as the matter which it represents round itself in its outer zones. We know ourselves and our own ego.

It is here that the 'mind' and 'self' come into our being, with the visible world as one of its aspects. This outer aspect is manifested and absorbed again into consciousness, according to its life-phases or states.  Even when absorbed or dissolved into the prime nature of the Self it remains a reality as a 'prius'. Conversely, it can be thought of as something which leads and is followed by all. By whatever method it is treated, according to an ascending or a descending dialectics, it remains the same reality. Intuitive insight has to result in such a contemplative wisdom, and the attitude of mind implied in the insight is the same as reverence, adoration or worship as known in other and different spiritual contexts. The result is bliss in Self-realization.

381  
WORD NOTES : Mrith satta has been rendered 'clay substance'.

Dhi, Buddhi and Manas are degrees of integration of consciousness:
Manas being the mind in its most general non-integrated sense,
Dhi representing 'will' or well-integrated consciousness.
Nirmala Dhi is 'pure or clear insight'.

IV
Nature having emanated, what thereafter, therein entry makes,
What sustains and gives life, both as the enjoyer
Of the divided objectivity outside,
As the 'I' of the deep subconsciousness of dreamless sleep,
Whose Self-hood even shines as the 'I',
Within the consciousnesses each of the peoples too -
That same in which well-being stands founded firm at every step;
Such a plenitude of Perfection; hear! 'That verily Thou Art!'

Reality is viewed here from the side of nature. The actual manifestations of variegated nature and multiplicity are one
extreme pole of reality. The existing aspects of reality are pervaded by the subsisting principle which comes to it, as it were, from the other pole. In the Upanishads also there is this same idea of two aspects of the Absolute, one being manifested and absorbed into the other.

The creation of nature first, without form, like water, and its later characterisation as the Absolute principle, is a figurative illustration bringing out the bi-polarity inherent in reality. The Taittiriya Upanishad discusses this later figurative entry of Brahman into its own creation in a very striking passage which reads: 'Having performed austerity he created this whole world, whatever there is here. Having created it, into it, indeed, he entered' (2) The figurative nature of this entry has been explained by Sankara in his commentary on this passage. In the light of the bi-polarity and ambivalence which we have discussed in our earlier chapters the 'figurative' nature of the twofold character becomes further clarified. No duality is to be finally countenanced in Advaita Vedanta. From the point of view of the actual, however, it becomes necessary to recognize duality, at least for purposes of argument.

382
WORD NOTES:
Pravibhakta Bhuk: ' Enjoyer of the divided objectivity outside.'

Sushuptau is 'dreamless sleep' being a technical name  for the third state of life where the Karana or Causal Body or  Self is marked out for discussion. This is Prajna.

Jagra, Svapna, Sushupti and Turiya are the four states of  'waking' 'dream', 'deep sleep' and ' absolute consciousness' respectively.

Prathyantharangam : rendered 'subconsciousness', could also be translated 'unconsciousness.' Inasmuch as the word refers to the collective and individual ego it implies one and many (vyuha).

(3) Taittiriya Upanishad, II Valli, 6th Anuvaka.

V
'Intelligence Supreme, even That I am! That verily thou art!'
That Brahman is the Self here!' Singing thus full well,
And so established in peace of mind;
And reborn to pure ways in life by the dawn of Brahman-wisdom,
Where could there be for thee the bondage of action
Whether of the past, present, or future?
For everything is but superimposed conditioning on thy prime Self.
Thou verily art that existing-subsisting One of  pure intelligence, the Lord

383               
The Aitareya Upanishad reduces all into unitive terms of intelligence. It reads:

'All this is guided by intelligence, is based on intelligence.
The world is guided by intelligence. The basis is intelligence. Brahman is intelligence.' (3)  

Here we arrive at a finalized doctrine of the Vedanta which takes the extremely pantheistic and idealistic position of reducing all into the unitive terms of intelligence which is supreme and all-inclusive. The Maha-Vakyas (Great Utterances) like Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art), etc., are variously stated in different texts in the first, second or the third person, according to the psychological, metaphysical or cosmological setting. They are all meant to mark the supreme synthesis of all dual factors into one unitive idea. Consciousness and its aspects are all equated, one to the other, till all differences vanish in a final contemplative vision.

The present verse brings out such a culminating doctrine of the Advaita Vedanta. The Guru here recognizes the divine and absolute nature of the disciple, whom wisdom has made one of pure reborn ways, as when one is called a Brahmin or when he is said to be baptised in the Holy Ghost. Whether the baptism is with water or with the fire of wisdom, it is accomplished by supreme and final knowledge of all reality in unitive absolute terms. Peace comes to the man who has this understanding, and all those considerations of relative good and bad, virtue or vice that are associated with the Self, as conceived in relative consciousness, have no reason or need any more to be. From the position thus taken these questions do not arise. Karma is transcended. Duality, even in a theological sense as between the worshipper and the worshipped, is finally effaced, as implied when we say one ' lives in God.'

384
(3)Aitareya Upanishad, III, v, S.

WORD NOTES :
Vipra Charah: Vipra is the twice-born Brahmin, here 'one of pure life ';
Charah means 'one who moves or lives ' (as when we say Brahmachari, i.e., 'One who walks in the path of Brahman.')
The combined meaning of Vipra Charah has been rendered
'reborn to pure ways in life.'