Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The esoteric metaphors in the story of kannapar.

Srigurubhyo namaha.

Here I am - delivering on my word to be back with the esoteric meaning of the story described in the previous post. If you did not see the last post with the story of kannappa nAyanAr please click here to see the story. Otherwise keep reading.....

I had in the concluding part of the story mentioned that kannappar was none other than the pAndavA arjunA in his previous birth and had briefly alluded to the events that transpired when arjunA performed a severe tapas directed at shivA to obtain the pAsupatAstrA. Though arjunA enjoyed a very close connection to bagawAn krishnA throughout his life and though the supreme krishnA was a friend, guide and master to arjunA, a clear study of the mahAbhArathA will show some flaws in arjunA's charecter. The presence of pride was a major flaw and the arrogance that is a product of pride was the main reason that he was not able to see that it was shivA Himself who had come to him in the form of the hunter. Of the three kinds of malA' s or impurities that taint the jIvA (viz. mAyika malA, kArmika malA and Anava malA) the Anava malA or the taint of ego or the ahamkArA was strong in arjunA. Perhaps his close contact with the teacher of teachers sri krishnA cleansed arjunA of the mAyika malA or the taint of mAyA (the illusion through which the one is seen as many) and perhaps his fulfilling the role of the kshatriyA or the warrior class by fighting bravely alongside his brothers cleansed his kArmika malA or the taint of karmA (action reaction cycle). But the hardest of all to cleanse, the taint of ego, was strong in arjunA. And as a result of the curse of shivA he was born again as the hunter tinnanar.

It becomes evident from the portrayal of tinnanar as a child who learnt everything fast and was a brilliant archer etc that the samskArAs or mental tendencies from his previous life as the high born arjunA are carried through. And though he was from a clan of people who hunted for a living, tinnanar himself was beyond the cycle inflicted by kAma (lust),krOdhA (anger/hatred), mOhA (delusion), lObhA (greed) etc as he is shown to be compassionate with the animals and not to kill weak or injured animals, only killing when hungry, not killing female or pregnant animals etc. So it is clear that the attachment to identity or AnavA was the main fault. This sense of ego too dropped when the vAsanAs or the tendencies that made it manifest were finished. This is what is shown by the chase of the boar in the jungle. The boar here represents the ego (oft compared to the lone and rougue elephant in the texts and also boar) and the chase refers to the pursuit of a path through which the seeker attempts to rid himself of the idea or notion of 'I'. After a long pursuit the boar tires and is easily killed (though at first it escaped the net that was set for it and had to be chased all over furiously). The killing of the boar is the metaphor for the riddance of the last clinging Anava malA. Thus as soon as that was done the supreme devotion or bhakti that was until then only in a potential stage became manifest in tinnanar and he was possesed by an urge to climb the summit.

We also saw that during the chase tinnanar (the seeker) was accompanied by his friends nanan and kadan. Here nanan is a metaphor for good and kadan for evil. We also were told that nanan (good) described the glory of the kudumithEvar or the lord atop the hill and also detailed to tinnanar the way worship was traditionally done to the lord. Thus we see that the good tendencies(samskArAs) help in making evident the glory of the supreme lord. On the other hand, kadan (evil) was left behind cooking the boar while the other two went to climb the peak. That is to show that only the good samskArAs can accompany the seeker to the realm where the supreme becomes manifest. All the negative tendencies (vAsanAs) have to be left behind. So now we have the meaning that the aspirant or sAdhakA with his good tendencies can reach the shrine of the Lord. But when there, even those tendencies (however good they may be) have to be left behind - to realise God or Self or the supreme tattvA, which is one without parts, the idea of duality and everything else has to be renounced. This is the final communion. That is why he climbs the hill a second time on his own without anyone.

His parents (and the people of the village) who came and tried in vain to bring him back to his 'senses' and back home to the village represent the myriad good and bad tendencies(samskArAs and vAsanAs, attachments (bandhAs), and worldly desires (kAmA,mOhA etc). Thus we see them trying to bring him 'back' to the world of duality - but since true bhakti had dawned in the mind of the seeker at that point, their efforts to distract the seeker were in vain.

We also saw that the priest was asked by shivA to hide behind the lingam and observe what happens when kannapa nAyanAr came up to offer his worship. That is, the shivAchAryAr or the priest was behind shivA while kannapar was in front of shivA. This illustrates that true bhaktI is any day far superior to mere ritual (however ordained they may be). Though this is not an open getaway clause for everyone to do what they like and claim to be 'devoted', it shows that fundamentally real bhaktI or devotion is superior to mere rituals bereft of the emotion of devotion. I feel it my duty here to add that given the current trend in the world to 'drift as the senses lead one', bhaktI or real devotion is something way beyond the grasp of the average Joe Bloggs! Most of us need the superbly organised and structured rituals and modes of worship before our inner faculties are pure enough to realise the supreme. That is why the rituals are structured in such a fashion as to provide the chitta shuddI (mental purification) and bhUta shuddI (body/elemental level purification) gradually.

Tinnanar's readiness (without a second thought) to pluck out his own eyes for the sake of the lord is indicative of the highest form of self surrender. This is atma nivEdanA or total offering. This is bhaktI at it highest. Such a high peak of devotion reveals the lord in all his glory - which it did, as shivA appeared from within the lingam and blessed the seeker and named him kannapar. If one's devotion was at such an elevated state, then the usual rules of cleanliness and liturgy etc that apply are transcended and no demerit accrues as a result. If however, these rules were defied by one whose level of attainment was lacking then it becomes a transgression and it is quite full of demerits. Rather than this legend be understood as one that okays abandoning the regular and prescribed practises in worship, it has to be understood as one that merely illustrates the intensity (and mind you, the uncommonality) of bhaktI at its highest. If we were also able to dig out our eyes for the lord without a second thought, then it probably wont matter if we offer boar or water from our mouth to the lingam. But if we are not in that state of being, then it is best to stick to scriptural and prescribed methods for worship!

5 comments:

naz said...

Thanks for the update, it was really interesting and thought provoking, but i have a doubt. All these means of worship is created by us right and for me i believe its all in our mind which we dont worship but believe in.

Am i right saying this ?

naz said...

Thanks for the update, it was really interesting and thought provoking, but i have a doubt. All these means of worship is created by us right and for me i believe its all in our mind which we dont worship but believe in.

Am i right saying this ?

mooligai sidhan said...

Srigurubhyo namaha.
@naz
Thanks. When you say all these means of worship were created by us, it is not all together right. The vedas are not attributed to human thought or creation. They are eternal(sanAtanA) and uncreated by man(apaurushEyA). The vedic mantrAs are agnimUlA or that which have originated from fire.That is why we place so much value of the shruti as pramAnA.

Secondly, hindu thought aggrees that in the final and very high level of attainment even the liturgy and worship methods and the dEvatAs themselves are all only products of a~gnyAnA or ignorance (of the one eternal principle). Having said that, it is impossible to reach that level without first passing through the level of sAdhanA or upAsanA.

If we question whether the dEvatAs are actually there or are they just the products of imagination and belief systems, I have to say very vehemently that the dEvatAs do indeed exist.The mantrAs and yantrAs etc are not some random conception of some people with time on their hands!And even if one does not believe in the sun, the sun still shines - similarly, even if one did not necessarily believe in God, the existence of God is in no way diminished by that.

Hope this answers your doubt.

naz said...

Thanks for that. Even am trying to identify how these are related. Just to quote recently when i went for a yoga session they thought me about gayathri mantram and OM.

When i chant OM i get a feeling of relaxation and it cools my mind, i donno whether its my mind which does it or is it the power inside that which causes this ?

Sorry bothering you too much, but am really interested in this and think will bother u till am clear :)

mooligai sidhan said...

Srigurubhyo namaha.
@naz
''Just to quote recently when i went for a yoga session they thought me about gayathri mantram and OM.''
- My views on this are famously public!I have openly said so many times and will say it again here, the mantrAs like gAyatrI etc are not suitable for all.It cant be just taught at a yoga class (and if it is there will be no success or siddhi from the mantrA)but have to be recieved through upadEshA during the upanayanA or sacred thread ceremony.
For a more detailed answer to this, I will appreciate it if you just send me a private mail as a public forum is not the best place for that discussion.

''Sorry bothering you too much, but am really interested in this and think will bother u till am clear :)''

- Dont worry about bothering me with questions.Any one who is interested in these matters is a friend of mine!I will be more than glad if I can help in clearing your doubts on this subject.But like I said, a private mail is a better way.