Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In humility - mantrA 95

SrigurubhyO namahA

With the next mantrA in the series, the sage begins a new sub section titled 'avai adakkam' - which in effect is a small section where the sage speaks of siva's powers while remaining in an attitude of humility.


ஆரறி வார் எங்கள் அண்ணல் பெருமையை
யாரறி வார்இந்த அகலமும் நீளமும்
பேரறி யாத பெருஞ்சுடர் ஒன்றதின்
வேரறி யாமை விளம்புகின் றேனே. 1. 6.95.


Infinite Greatness!
Who can know the greatness of our Lord!
Who can measure His length and breadth!
He is the mighty nameless Flame;
Whose unknown beginnings I venture to speak. 1.6.95.

ComWho can know the greatness of our Lord! Who can ever understand the glory and the greatness of my Lord siva? Who can measure His length and breadth! And who can there be who could encompass by mind or deed the vast expanse that is the body of siva? He is the mighty nameless Flame; He (siva) is like a mighty pillar of light that possesses no attributes (of name and form) for Himself Whose unknown beginnings I venture to speak. (And yet) without even knowing the root of this supreme I still venture to speak (i.e. reveal the rest of the body of the thirumandiram).

* This mantrA is the first of four in this subsection where the sage speaks of the supreme with humility. Though the sage is an enlightened siddhA who abides in the highest state of self realisation, he acknowledges in these four mantrAs the limits of his abilities while singing the glory of the supreme siva.

So when the sage raises the question of there being someone who understands the glory of siva, he is alluding to the idea of the supreme tattvA. The vEdAs speak of this principle as ‘braHmam’ or ‘parambraHmam’. The siva who is spoken as ‘Ekam’, ‘sat’, ‘chit’ ‘AnandA’, the one who is the medium where the world(s) seemingly arise, rest and dissolve in. This supreme is akin to the ocean in whose waters the waves are born, stay for a period and disappear back into. Thus the sage here rightly asserts that there is none who can understand the greatness of this supreme principle.And again in the next line where he declares that there could be none who can understand the length and breadth of siva, he is alluding to the same idea of braHmam. The Sanskrit word has its root in the dhAtu ‘br’ which connotes an incredible vastness. The ‘sarvavyApaka shaktI’ or the All pervading nature of this supreme tattvA means that it is impossible for one to understand its limits as there are none. Thus we see here, the essence of the advaita system of philosophy revealed. The sage speaks of the One, the undivided, the eternal - the parabraHmam. In the final line of this mantrA the sage uses the words ‘vErariyAmai’ in a superbly effective fashion. The Tamil word vEr means root (of plants, trees etc) and suggestively implies lower/under the ground regions.

According to Hindu thought there are 14 worlds/planes of existence within what is known as smasArA. Of these 14, seven are known as ‘lOkA’s’ or worlds and seven are known as ‘talA’s’ or planes. The 7 lOkA’s are worlds of higher sattvic composition (as they ascended from the earth plane to the satya lOkA) and the seven talA’s are descending deeper and deeper into tamas as they go down. These are the pAtAla’s/ under worlds. So when the sage declares that he is about to speak of this supreme principle through the thirumandiram, even though he does not understand Him perfectly (due to his not being aware of the root), he achieves two things at the same time –Firstly, he brings across the message of humility by acknowledging the limits of his knowledge with regard to siva and secondly he beautifully suggests that he is beyond the taint of any tamas! As the lower talA’s (which are what are implied by the word ‘vEr’) are realms of tamas and the sage, as has been revealed before, is a denizen of the highest realm of consciousness, his lack of familiarity with this region is only natural!