Sages of the New Covenant
Thirukkural was written by Thiruvalluvar, who lived in the First Century AD. Researches done by scholars have proved that he became a disciple of St Thomas, Apostle of Jesus Christ. It is believed that Thiruvalluvar, who is born in Kanyakumari got the Good News from St Thomas and accompanied him all through his journey into the Chera Kingdom.
The official presentation of Thirukural was done at the court of the Pandya King in Madurai. He later started living in the ashram started by St Thomas in Calamina (olden days Madras). The Tamizh Calendar is dated from that period and referred as Thiruvalluvar Aandu (Year).
We find Thiruvalluvar as a moral philosopher, political scientist and master of public administration in the first two parts of Thirukkural. We find him to be a creative artist in the third part, depicting the fascinating aspects of lovers.
Thirukkural has three major parts. The first part deals with Aram (Virtue), the moral value of human life. It has 38 chapters. The second part is on Porul (Wealth), the socio economic values of men in a civilized society. It has 70 chapters. The third part is on Kamam or Inbam (Love), the psychological values of life. It has 25 chapters.
Thirukkural's immortality and universality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all countries and time. It has been translated in over 60 languages of the world.
அகர முதல எழுத்தெல்லாம் ஆதி
பகவன் முதற்றே உலகு.
'A', as its first of letters, every speech maintains;
The "Primal Deity" is first through all the world's domains.
As the letter 'A' is the first alphabet in all languages, so the eternal (first) God is first in the world.
According to the Bible (Genesis Chapter: 11), initially the whole Earth had one language. With the invention of making "Baked Bricks", it became easy for the descendants of Manu (Noah) to build sky-rising buildings, as they need not lift heavy stones. Hence by using bricks instead of stones, they wanted to build a tower that would reach the Heaven, using asphalt for binding. Their pride, prompted God to confuse their language and as a result the descendants of Noah got scattered over the face of all the Earth; which culminated in they abandoning the 'Project Tower to Heaven'. When I visited Mohenjo-daro (meaning -Mound of the Dead) one of the excavated sites of Indus Valley Civilisation, I had reasons to believe that Mohenjo-daro is nothing but the biblical 'Babel', where God confused the languages of the descendants of Noah. As descendants of Noah got scattered over the face of all the Earth, they started calling God in different names as well, which later gave room for the creation of various religions. Hence, Thiruvalluvar in this distich brings the parallel of the commonality that exist in the First Alphabet (A) in all language to talk about primal nature of the First Bhagwan (God).
During the time of Thiruvalluvar, the northern kingdoms of India were ruled by Indo-Greek kings, who had spread their Hellenistic practices and the Tamizhs kingdoms were doing trades with Greeks (followers of Fertility Worship), Romans (followers of Planetary Worship) and the Chinese (followers of Ancestral Worship). As a result, Gods and Goddeses and the religious liturgies of the traders too were introduced into the Tamizh country. Buddhism and Jainism were at the threshold of making a deeper penetration into the Tamizh country. As Thiruvalluvar had come to know of the true God from St Thomas, he talks about the God, who is common to people of all Languages / Religion and who is also the Creator of the Universe. To understand this couplet better, I cite the following verse from the Bible:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." - John 1:1
If we look at the creation in Genesis, we understand that God created Earth with his verbal commands. In scientific theory, this Voice is the rumbling of the Universe, which goes on expanding. What is this ‘Word’, which denotes God? It is the divine vibration, which sounds ‘A-U-M”.
AUM (ஆம்) is a Tamizh word, which means “Yes”, which could be called in the parlance of Dr E Stanley Jones as "Divine Yes' and one could see the relationship of AUM to the following verse from the Bible:
" ... but in Him was 'Yes'. For all promises of God in Him are 'YES' and in Him 'Amen', to the glory of God around us." - 2 Cor.1: 19 & 20
In Hebrew Jewish text, God's name is referred as YHWH, which means: "I am that I am (God of affirmation)" or just 'DivineYES'. According to me Jews have written the name of the God as YHWH only to mean 'AUM'. One needs to keep in mind that the Jews had forgotten the Name of their God as well from the following verse:
"... My people forget My name ... as their fathers forgot My name .." - Jer. 23:27
YHWH intended to be pronounced as "A-U-M", later became "A-do-nai". The reason for writing 'AUM' as YHWH in Hebrew is because of the following reason:
The third commandment of God to the Israelite tells: “You shall not take the name of God in vain.” In vain means to change, falsify or to make common. Hence, after the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish Rabbi’s felt this name to be too sacred to say and started to hide the phonetic pronunciation of the name YHWH. The Talmud tells us that they even wrote it incorrectly so that if someone was reading the name they would not accidentally pronounce it.
The Jewish and the Bible scholars later added the vowels to YHWH called God with the tetragrammaton as Yahweh or Yehovah. I strongly believe that the Hebrew word YHWH denotes only AUM.
This Tamizh word is pronounced as 'OM' (ஓம்) by the Tamizhs in Jaffna and the Sanskrit scholars adopted the same pronunciation in their language; though they can not write correctly 'OM' in devanagiri scripts.
The first chapter “The Praise of God” is dedicated to the Father God (Primal Deity) by the author and in the first couplet, he speaks about the supremacy of Father God, which he had attempted to do with the Primal letter of all language ‘A’.
The cause Primal's the A (அ), that set
The Cosmos alphabet.
10th February 2013
கற்றதனால் ஆய பயனென்கொல் வாலறிவன்
நற்றாள் தொழாஅர் எனின்.
No fruit have men of all their studied lore,
Save they the 'Purely Wise One's' feet adore..
What Profit have those derived from learning, who worship not the good feet of Him who is possessed of pure knowledge?
This couplet is nearly literal and requires no explanation. The term here used to designate God is : Valarivan (வாலறிவன்). The meaning of the word Valarivan is: HE WHO IS PURE INTELLIGENCE and has immediate reference to Primal Deity (ஆதிபகவன்) in the preceding distich. This Valarivan (He who is pure Intelligence) God is very neatly explained in the Bible in the following verses:
Though knowledge is considered power, at the first place, while reading this Kural (couplet), we need to remember that human beings have lost their eternity by choosing the “Fruit of Knowledge”, in place of ‘Tree of Life’.
There must have been specific reason for Thiruvalluvar to place this Kural as the second one. There was a Temple of Julius Caesar built by Caesarion, son of Cleopatra in the Chera kingdom, where he had got the asylum, lest Augustus Caesar (his half brother) would kill him. Worship of Julius Caesar was popular during the time of apostles in Rome and Worship of the Kings and Heroes was becoming popular among the Indians because of the Roman influence as there were heavy trading happening between the Southern kingdoms of India and the Romans. In addition the popular religions of the 1st century India too tried to equate human beings with God, which later emerged as Advida concept. Hence, Thiruvalluvar, placed this as the second distich, which calls for self-surrender at the feet of God.
Though human beings are “made in the image of God”, but was never intended to become God. And the attempt to become God is the central sin of religion. It is an attempt to enthrone the self as God, which is the height of self-assertion; and the height of sin. This proud claim to be God is the sin that made Lucifer to descend from the heights to the depths. Let me explain two incidence from the Bible, which negates Hero worship, which the Romans were practicing then.
Every self-centered person is a disintegrating person. Herod had a disgraceful death, because of his reluctance to surrender before God. St Paul who educated by Gamaliel lowered himself at the feet of God, which made him stand straight before everything else. Man is invited to be like God in self-surrender, which we see in the case of St Paul and St Barnabas. The Psalmist, who has surrendered to God says: “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels”. Similarly through this kural, Thirivalluvar also attempts to say that the self is created, a creature and can never become the Creator.
To drive home the message of self-surrender, let me take two personalities, one from the history and another from the legend. The first one is the legendary Dr Faustus and the second one is literary scholar Oscar Wilde.
Through his confession, we see the willingness of Oscar Wilde to surrender before God and I am sure, Devil would not have taken passion of his soul.
Self-holic person is full of fears, worries, anxieties, resentments and all are rooted in un-surrendered self. All sins are rooted in the un-surrendered self. Why do we get angry and “blow our top”? Because someone has crossed the self. Why do we lie? Why are we dishonest? Because we think it will be some advantage to the self. Why are we dishonest? Why are we jealous and become green eyed monster? Because someone is getting ahead of the self. All these outer-sins are only fruit – the un-surrendered self, which is the root.
I repeat: Man is invited to be like God in self-surrender. Low at God feet, you stand straight before everything else. When you surrender to God, you suddenly realize that you have aligned yourself with the creative forces of the universe, so you are free – free to create, free to love, free to live at your maximum.
This couplet is synonymous to the following verse in the Bible, where St Paul talks about the living sacrifice as: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Rom. 12 1&2
What counts World lore that bows not ‘fore
That Fount of Wisdom pure?
17th February 2013
மலர்மிசை ஏகினான் மானடி சேர்ந்தார்
His feet, 'Who o'er the full-blown flower hath past,' who gain
In bliss long time shall dwell above this earthly plain.
They who are united to the glorious feet of Him who passes (walk) swiftly over the flower of the mind, shall flourish long above all worlds.
In the mythology of "Nala-Thamainthi", the bride Thamainthi, differentiates Nala (whom she loved telepathically) from the Heavenly-beings (who have come in disguise in the form of Nala) by three factors. One among the three factors is: Thaminthi notices that only Nala’s legs are touching the ground and others feet do not touch the ground. Hence it became easy for Thamainthi to single out the earthly man – Nala - from the other Heavenly-beings. If we look at the pictures of Gods and Goddess one can notice that they either stand or sit on a flower.
In this couplet, Thiruvalluvar calls God - மலர்மிசை ஏகினான் (Malarmesai Yehenan) - the ONE WHO WALKS and DWELL IN THE FLOWER OF HEART / MIND. In Tamizh language (in which Thirukural was written) there is a poetical expression – இதய கமலம் (Idhaya Kamalam) to denote Heart / Mind. Idhaya Kamalam means Heart, which is like the lotus flower. In spiritual science too the pictorial depiction of the astral centre of the heart is in the form of a flower.
From the mythology of Nala-Thamainthi, one can understand that it is not only God’s legs that do not touch the ground; but also all the Heavenly-beings. Hence, “legs not touching ground” is not an exclusive nature of God. May be the legs of Angels and Nephilims would not touch the ground as well; which is why, Thiruvalluvar, specifically uses the word “Malar mesai Yehenan” only to differentiate the God from other Heavenly-beings. The following Bible verses will help us to understand this word better about the “Malar mesai Yehenan” God:
“… you are temple of living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them’. – 2 Cor. 6:16.
“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; ….” – Eph. 3:17
From the above verses, we can understand that our body is a temple of God and the Heart / Mind is the sanctum sanctorum, where God desires to dwell.
This Kural (distich) too aimed in emphasizing the need for the human beings to “Self-surrender” to God, which was also the main subject of the previous couplet. Surrendering to God is like the baby-monkey holding on to its mother and definitely not like queen (mother Cat) carrying the kitty with her bite. In the case of kittens there is no liberty, as the queen does not give any choice. In the case of mother-monkey, she gives the choice to the baby-monkey, either to leave her or to hold on to her.
In a particular village, Jesus Christ was welcomed by woman named Martha to visit their home. Martha considered it a great privilege to cook food for Jesus Christ. While Martha was busy in the kitchen, her sister by name Mary preferred to sit at the feet of Jesus and as a true protégé she was getting the true knowledge from her Guru (Jesus). Martha approached Jesus and said: "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." But Jesus' reply was: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
Martha failed to understand that food was never a problem for Jesus. Whenever people have come to listen to Him, He is the One, who provided food to everyone, rather than other providing food for Him. From this incident itself (Luke 10:38-40), we can understand that surrendering to God is a 'good part'. Martha could have unloaded the burden of cooking to Jesus; but she was worried and troubled about many things.
When we surrender to God, we unload our burdens to God and as a result, we save ourselves from the psychiatric couch. We are also emancipated from tranquillizers and sleeping pills, for you tranquil through surrender and sleep without drugs.
In surrendering ourselves to God, the Self is not swamped, nor flattened out, nor tied up with restrictions “I can’t do this, I can’t do that” nor dominator over, but by complete obedience is completely free. When we surrender to God, our deliverables are not in our best; but in God’s best, as ‘divine PLUS’ is added to our Self. In addition, when we surrender to God the Sneer becomes Cheer, Probability become Possibility and Life becomes Alive; that may be reason the Indian devotee Jeremiah wrote a Tamizh lyric as follows:
பாதம் ஒன்றே வேண்டும் - இந்த்ப்
பாரில் என்க்கு மற்றேதும் வேண்டாம்
Meaning: Your (God's) foot alone is sufficient; and I don't require anything else.
Through this Kural, Thiruvalluvar attempts to teach us that when you surrender to God, who is willing to dwell in our astral centre of our heart (which appears like the flower), God will make you to live long and prosper you, because, you are no longer your Self; but your Self with a Divine PLUS.
For E’er bides he who ascends to greet
The Flower-shrined’s splendid feet.
24th February 2013
வேண்டுதல் வேண்டாமை இலானடி சேர்ந்தார்க்கு
யாண்டும் இடும்பை இல.
His foot, 'Whom want affects not, irks not grief,' who gain
Shall not, through every time, of any woes complain.
To those who meditate the feet of Him who is void of desire or aversion, evil shall never come.
In all the above three distiches, Thiruvalluvar names God with the attributes of God; so is in this Kural (couplet) as well, where he highlights the “Hot Stove” approach being adopted by God and calls God as: வேண்டுதல் வேண்டாமை இலான் (Impartial).
In every family, every child wants to give identity to his / her father through him / her. For example, when I was small boy, I used to say to other: “இது எங்கப்பா “, which means ‘he is my father’. Most of my relatives used to identify my father as: “பிரேமாப்பா”, which means ‘father of Prema’ (my elder sister). They used to say that you all came later; so it is fitting to identity your father by the first child’s name; still I used to argue with them that I am the only son; hence, I should be allowed to claim my father as: “எங்கப்பா”, which means ‘my father’. The Jews of the Old Testament were like me seeking an exalted identity for their race / religion.
According to the Talmud, (one of the Jewish books) God offered the Torah to all the nations of the earth, and the Jews were the only ones who accepted it. Hence, God blessed them and gave them the identity to Jews as “My People”. Would others identifying my father as “father of Prema”, undo the fact, I am also the son of my father? Nay. So is the case with non-Jewish people. People of others nations and races too are the descendants of Noah; and more particularly a creation of God, which gives them the liberty to identify themselves as “Children of the Creator (God).”
During the time of Thiruvalluvar, there were Jewish traders (who must have exalted them by calling themselves as ‘exclusive people of God’) doing business in the Chera (present day Indian State of Kerala or Malabar coast) and Pandya (Southern part of Tamizh Nadu) kingdoms. The claim of Jews must have projected the 'baised' nature of God. Hence, Thiruvalluvar must have felt the need to write this Kural.
If we look at the Bible, the following verses bring out the impartial nature of God:
From the above verses, we can better understand the impartial nature of God and Thiruvalluvar, once again reiterates the benefit the devotee would gain, if he / she humbles to be at the feet of God. In my interpretation to the earlier Kural, I had stated how Mary preferred to meditate at her Master’s feet. In John 11:32, we once again seeing Mary falling at the feet of Jesus Christ saying: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother (Lazarus ) would not have died.” By doing so, she had unburdened her sorrows Jesus Christ with that her weeping is stopped. Mary poured out her heart’s sorrows, disappointment and regret at His feet. The Psalmist said: “Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalms 62:8). “Pouring out our heart” means telling Him everything, emptying our heart’s grieves and disappointments. When Mary did that, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and He identified Himself with her. We read at the 35th verse that “Jesus wept.”
Mary also believed that her Master is capable of bring joy. As Mary had surrendered all her sorrows, it became a compelling need for Jesus Christ to something to make the family members of Lazarus and the other Jews happy; which must have prompted Jesus to ask people to remove the stone with which the tomb has been sealed. Martha, who failed to flex her faith muscles, tried to stop the opening of the tomb by saying: “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” and cried with a loud voice: “Lazarus come forth!” and Lazarus who died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes (John 11:44). Mary’s faith and self-surrendering nature brought her brother alive from the grave and brought happiness to everyone around.
Thiruvalluvar in this Kural drives homes the blessed privilege one could enjoy by taking refuge at God’s feet !.
With yon Dispassionate One you stay
Beyond all cure for aye.
28th February 2013
இருள்சேர் இருவினையும் சேரா இறைவன்
பொருள்சேர் புகழ்புரிந்தார் மாட்டு.
God's praise who tell, are free from right
And wrong, the twins of dreaming night.
The two-fold deeds that spring from darkness shall not adhere to those who delight in the true praise of God.
In this Kural (distich), while Thiruvalluvar has not given any attribute call God and simply he refers as: இறைவன் – Eraivan - (God), he has devoted this couplet to make us understand:
In this kural Thiruvalluvar talks about the two types of sin that leads mankind to darkness (spiritual death). In Shivaite philosophy (Theology of Shiva) one sin is known as : சகசமலம் – Sahasamalam (natural sin) and the second one is known as: தொழில் கன்மம் - Thozhil Kanmam - (sin we commit through our deeds). The distinction between the two sins is clearly visible in the 3rd and 4th chapters of the book of Genesis.
God did not curse Adam or Eve (in Genesis 3) after they disobeyed God, by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. This reference we could get from the Shaivite poem by Thiruunthiyar (திருஉந்தியார்), which goes like this:
முத்தி முதற்கொடிக்கே மோகக் கொடிபடர்ந்
அத்தி பழுத்தது என்று உந்தீ பற
அப்பழம் உண்ணாதே உந்தீ பற – திருஉந்தியார் – 41
Meaning: In the holy state of Mukthi, the vein of Moham (lust) encircled and as a result the evil (forbidden) fruit had ripened.
In Genesis3, God only cursed the Earth, on which God had given human being the dominion. As a result of the curse on the Earth, the mankind has to toil a lot to meet their physical needs.
In Genesis 4, we read that when Cain killed his brother, God cursed him immediately. This is the first time we read of God cursing a man. What was the difference between Adam's sin and Cain's sin? When Adam sinned he hurt only himself, through it is being inherited by his generation, which include us. But when Cain sinned, he hurt another human being (Abel) as well.
There are sins that we commit, hurt only ourselves. There are sins that we commit, hurt others as well. God takes more seriously the sins which hurt others. If we smoke or drink or take harmful drugs or indulge in dirty habits or thoughts, or keep bitterness or anger in our heart and the like, we hurt only ourselves. But if we gossip, speak evil of others, judge others, lose our temper at others, act in jealousy or bitterness or anger or hatred against others, or commit adultery or murder and similar abuse on others, we harm others, in addition to indirectly hurting ourselves too. Think of all the sins that we can commit that harm only ourselves. There are many. They fall under the category of Adam's sin. Then think of all the sins that we can commit that harms others as well. These too are many. These fall under the category of Cain's sin. But both the sins lead to the spiritual death and Darkness.
Humanity had lost its everlasting life and forced into Darkness because of the sin committed by our first parents - Adam and Eve. This sin is referred as Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life). Humanity is ONLY assured of an everlasting life, through the blood-shed of Christ (is referred as Ehakkodi - ஏகக்கொடி - in the Shivaite poem by Thirukalttuppadiyar - திருக்கற்றுப்பாடியார்); which means that human being can only do away with the curse of Adam and Eve only by the faith in the salvation offered by God on the Cross. As long as the humanity continues with the Cain-type of sin, we would only remain in Darkness. This Cain-type-sin is called as Thozhil Kanmam or Karma Pavam - (sin we commit through our deeds). We get reference to both the sins from the following verse:
“And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man (Thozhil Kanmam or Karma Pavam) or his parents (Sahasamalam [natural sin] or Jenma Pavam [sin of Life], that he was born blind?” – John 9: 2 & 3.
In this kural, Thiruvaluvar entices the humanity that by saying, if we offer praises connected with the real nature of God, then we could be free from the darkness or spiritual death that comes through both kinds of sins. This is the Divine Secret, which three people in the Bible had realized:
1. Asaph, the Psalmist. In Psalm 50 verses 12th and 13th we get reference to God negating the animal sacrifices and instead prefers us to:
“Offer to God thanksgiving. And pay your vows to the Most High. Call Upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” - Psalm 50: 14 & 15
In addition Asaph goes on saying:
“Whoever offers praises glorify Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright, I will show the salvation of God.” – Psalm 50: 23
2. King David.He has not only known the ‘divine secret’ of praising, but also well versed in using the words to praise God and the following verses support this fact:
“ … Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.” – 1 Chr. 29: 10-13
Look at how carefully King David has selected the words to declare the REAL nature of God.
3. St Paul, The Roman Jew, who got his education at the feet of the great scholar Gamelan. St Paul acknowledges this truth in Heb.13:15 as follows:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name”
As Thiruvalluvar has known this ‘divine secret’, he preferred to give praises to God by identifying the attributes of God and using different names of God in the earlier couplets. He praises God in the first kural, highlighting the ancientness of God by calling Him as: Aathi Baghwan (ஆதி பகவன்) and in the second he focuses on the knowledge aspect of God and called him as: Vallarivan (வாலரிவன்). In the third kural, Thiruvalluvar identifies distinctive nature of God and calls Him as: Malarmesai Yehenan (மலர்மிசை ஏகினான்) and in the fourth kural he pitches on the impartial nature and describes God as: Venduthal Vendamai Elan (வேண்டுதல் வேண்டாமை இலான்). In this kural, by unfolding the ‘divine secret’ of getting freedom from Darkness, Thiruvalluvar expects us to identify the real nature of God and give praises to Him, so that we could be in the Light of God.
Sin’s dark double-sting hurts none who lard
The laudable Name of God.
3rd March 2013
பொறிவாயில் ஐந்தவித்தான் பொய்தீர் ஒழுக்க
நேறிநின்றார் நீடுவாழ் வார்.
Long live they blest, who 've stood in path from falsehood freed;
His, 'Who quenched lusts that from the sense-gates five proceed'.
Those shall long proposer who abide in the faultless (devoid of lies) way of Him who has destroyed the five desires of the senses.
In the previous Kural (distich), Thiruvalluvar touched upon the concept “Paradise Lost” and in this Kural, he brings out the message of “Paradise Regained”. After teaching us the benefits of “offering praises to God” in the fifth Kural, Thiruvaluvar is back in orienting ourselves with the attributes of God; and he refers God as: “பொறிவாயில் ஐந்தவித்தான்” - Porivayil Ainththavithan - the one who has put an end to the sins that arises from the five senses of human beings, at the entrance of the trap.
To understand this ‘attribute of God’, one needs to know the process by which the paradise was lost” by human beings and the process by which God, on our behalf regained the paradise. In order to understand these two, we need to know how human beings are special than the rest of His creations, which could be better understood from the following distinctive process involved the in the creation of man:
From the creation itself, one can understand that human beings are created for God’s commission. But by disobeying God, human-beings lost their ‘pre-determined ever-lasting life’. In the previous couplet, Thiruvalluvar touched upon the kinds of sin and in my interpretation, I have given a briefing about சகசமலம் - Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life), which was forced on the humanity by our first parent – Adam and Eve; the reason being their inability withstand the following temptations at the Garden of Eden:
Eve succumbed to the temptations through the following process:
Though Genesis 3: 6 is silent about the senses of the nose, I am sure she must have enjoyed the fresh aroma (smell) of the fruit just before her first greedy bite. In the absence of smelling, we have to take into consideration the greed to be ‘worldly-wiser’ (thought process or Thinking, which is mentioned as a 4th process) as one of the senses that must have prompted Eve to disobey God.
By yielding to the sensual pleasures, Eve disobeyed God, and in the process, man shifted the dominion of the planet Earth into the hands of Satan. From then onwards, human beings started living in the pattern of Satan by committing different kinds of sin starting from Cain. In fact human beings had forgotten that they are destined to have an ever-lasting life and to have dominion over the planet Earth.
The ever-loving God was not happy about this. He wanted to give back the Eternity that was pre-determined for the humanity; hence, God incarnated into the World, taking human form:
This concept is well explained in one of the Shaivites poems called: போற்றிப்பஃறொடை – Pottippartodai . The following are the lines:
இறவா இன்பத்தேமை இருத்த வேண்டிப்
பிற்வா முதல்வன் பிறந்தான்.
Meaning: The unborn (not out of male female union) Primal (God) is born to retain the humanity in the joy of deathlessness.
The Background story for the above poem: A young prince lost his way in the forest, during his childhood days and starts living with the hunters and has forgotten his royal identity. The king gets an opportunity to get his son back to the palace. Hence, he dresses himself as a hunter (if he goes in kingly attire, there are chances that his son may run away) and searches for his son. Later he tells his son, that he is not destined to be a hunter; but a ruler; and also advises his son to severe the mooring with the hunters and come back to the palace to take charge of the kingdom. The prince becomes aware of his origin and recognizes his father and follows him to the palace.
- Story from the Prayer of Sivagnana Sidhdhiyar (சிவாஞான சித்தியார்), திருச்சிற்றம்பலம் (Thirusittambalam)
Like the king, who disguised himself as a hunter, God took the human form and took an avatar into the World as a Man and offered Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross, so that human-beings could get back the dominion over the Earth. In addition, He gave the assurance to the human beings an ‘ever-lasting life’ through His resurrection. Those who are interested in reading some of the biblical verses that connects to the message of “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”, please read the following verses:
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God …”. - Genesis 1:27
“ Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” - Romans 5:12
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” - Romans 3:23
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ [Cross])”. - Galatians 3:13
“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”. - 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
- 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Another Shaivite poem “சிவஞான போதம் – Sivagnanabotham – by Meikandar talks about the redemption work undertaken by God in the following verse:
ஐம்புல வேடரின் அயர்ந்தனை வளர்ந்தெனத்
தம்முதல் குருவுமாய்த் தவத்தினி லுணர்த்தவிட்
டன்னிய மின்மையின் அரன்கழல் செலுமே.
- பாடல் எண்: 1, சாதனவியல் எட்டாஞ் சூத்திரம்
Meaning of this poem: As soul of the human beings have grown along with the five hunter (of five senses) and are unaware of the Self and God, the Primal God Himself came as a Guru to redeem the souls, by shifting human suffering to Himself in a meditative process. In this process, the soul was brought to the awareness and got separated from sin; as a result, the wedge between the soul and God is removed and the soul reached the foot of God (self-surrender).
In this kural, Thiruvalluvar talks about an attribute of God as: Porivayil Ainththavithan (the one who has put an end to the sins that arises from the five senses of human beings, at the entrance of the trap). What are these five senses that are referred here and why putting an end to the senses is more important? Please remember the five senses that we have discussed in the earlier paragraphs, which caused the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
Thiruvalluvar, in this kural portrays God, as the One, who limited the avaricious nature of the FIVE senses that was the root-cause for the first sin.
When Jesus Christ lived in this world, he ate like man, walked like man and exhibited every kind of human qualities like tiredness, anger, and sorrow. When Jesus took baptism from John the Baptist, three things (Matt. 3: 16 & 17) happened:
All these phenomena affected Satan. He could not tolerate someone having the password or key to Heaven – a place where Satan has no assess. Immediately after the baptism, and before starting His ministry in the World, Jesus undertook 40days of fasting in Wilderness. Fuming like a green-eyed monster, Satan felt the compelling need to stop Jesus from ministering to the people and he thought that it would be easy to manipulate Jesus when He is hungry (immediately after the fasting for 40 days and nights). Hence, Satan tempted Jesus Christ three times to implement his evil designs, which are as follows:
Thiruvalluvar talks about a trap in this kural. A trap was laid in the Garden of Eden. The bait was the ‘Fruit of Knowledge”. Adam and Eve fell a prey to the temptations of Satan. What is a trap and what was the nature of snare that was laid to entrap God?
Prior to the invention of ultrasonic pest alarming machines, every house used to have a trap for the mouse; some traps will bring instant death and some will catch the rodent alive. The young generation may not have an idea of such traps. Please look at the pictures and I am sure you will get an idea about the mechanism involved in killing / catching the animal.
A trap is an instrument to kill animals or catches them alive. Similarly in Roman Empire, Cross was used as an instrument to give people a shameful death; something similar to கழுமரம் – Kazhumaram - in ancient Tamizh Nadu. When all his attempts failed to make Jesus to yield to his temptations, Satan was waiting to put Jesus to shame by putting Him on the Cross.
SATAN LAID CROSS (Yupastambha – Sacrificial pillar) AS A TRAP FOR JESUS CHRIST. Satan expected that the death of Jesus on the Cross is detrimental to the ‘divine-mission’ of Jesus Christ. But when he realized that Jesus’s blood-shed would nullify the Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life) of the human beings, he wanted to stop Jesus Christ from dying on the Cross. Hence, Satan put the words in the mouth of the Chief Priest to mock at Jesus by saying: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. …. Let Him now come down from the cross and we will believe Him” (Matt. 27:42). But Jesus was determined to die on the Cross, as per ‘His pre-determined mission’, and I am told that the Vedic scriptures like Kathopanishad too speak loud about this theory. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3.9.28 1 & 2) one could see the reference as follows:
“Yadha vruksho vanaspati, stahaiva Purusho amrusha”
“Ivacha evasya rudhiram, prasyandi tvacha utpatah; Tasmaattadarunnaat prait, raso vruskhadi vahataat”
Meaning: As Vanspati is Lord to the trees, so is Purusha to the mankind. As sap is coming out of the cut tree, blood comes out of the Purusha, who is cuts.
The Rig Veda – 10.90.6 (Shvetashvatara Upanishad) seems to be saying: “It is the Purusha, who takes form as a body and gives self to the gods to be offered as sacrifice”.
Was Purusha really slain on the cross? Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day. The following Bible verses talks about the victory of God on the cross:
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks are to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Cor. 15:54-57
Satan tried to kindle the EGO of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Satan expected that He would come down from the cross to prove His divinity. If Jesus Christ had yielded to the mockery of the High Priest, then God’s mission to ‘regain the paradise for the humanity’ could have remained: unaccomplished and a mission failed. By dying on the cross, God gave human beings the access to the key / password of the heaven. Jesus Christ demonstrated right from the days in the Wilderness, to His death on the cross, how to resist the sensual temptations and in the process put an end to Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life) that surfaced at the Garden of Eden through the sensual temptations of Eve.
Thiruvaluvar in this kural, talks about the means to attain the ‘long-lasting-life’ as well. While explaining ‘long-lasting-life’, he adds certain attributes as – A MORAL LIFE DEVOID OF LIE. Here, we need to remember how the first sin entered into this World ! Satan introduced LIE in this World, which qualifies to be the first sin of the World, by saying (Gen. 3 4 & 5):
Thiruvalluvar, in this kural, emphatically indicates that high-quality moral life, devoid of lie, like the life-style adopted by the ‘Porivayil Ainththavithan God’ or Purusha is needed for a prosperous long life, for Jesus Christ says: "I have come that they (human beings) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). More importantly, according to this kural, it is all the more significant to ABIDE with the Porivayil Ainththavithan God for an Eternal life.
Abiding with God has given hope for Eternity to many. Disciples of Jesus Christ invited the resurrected Jesus Christ to “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them (Luke 24:29). This is the verse that prompted Henry Francis Lyte to write a poem: “Abide with me; fast falls the eventide” in 1847 and set it to music while he lay dying from tuberculosis. Rev. & Dr Robert James Bateman, evangelist from Bristol on the fateful night of 15th April 1912 collected about fifty men on the stern of RMS Titanic and told them to prepare for death. He led them in saying the Lord's Prayer and as the band played his favourite hymn, 'Nearer my God to Thee'. As the ship slipped under, the band changed to 'Abide With Me'. Bateman was still beating time when the waters closed over his head.
One need not abide with God at the threshold of death. Today is day to listen to the silent calling of this kural.
They prosper long who walk His way
Who has the senses signed away.
6th March 2013
தனக்குவமை இல்லாதான் தாள்சேர்ந்தார் க்ல்லால்
மனக்கவலை மாற்றல் அரிது.
His feet, whose likeness none can find,
Alone can ease the anxious mind.
Anxiety of mind cannot be removed, except from those who are united to the feet of Him who is incomparable.
Thiruvalluvar has marvelously constructed the first chapter – Praise of God – with a methodical sequence. Right from the second kural (distich) to the fourth kural, Thiruvalluvar is dealing about the benefits one would get by surrendering to God, while in the first kural, he has identified the ‘Primal God’. As discussed earlier, the fifth kural deals with the sin that had denied human beings the access to the heaven and the “sixth kural is dedicated to explain the process by which one could regain the access to heaven. Thiruvalluvar, who has used three kurals to talk about the benefits of surrendering to God, warns the readers in the last four kurals about the potential harm or lose, one might have to face, if one is not interested or reluctant to self-surrender to God; while he continues to give different dimensions of God’s attribute all the kurals, except the tenth one.
In this kural, Thiruvalluvar, talks about the God who is not only ‘peerless’ but for whom there is no similitude by which He can be described, no human speech by which His nature can be expressed or in simple terms NONE LIKE THIS GOD. In Latin expression, this attribute of God can be said like this: qui sibi similitudinem non habet.(Of Him to whom no likeness is.) But scriptures have tried to put His attribute in the verbatim form, which are as follows:
paraḿ brahma paraḿ dhāma, pavitraḿ paramaḿ bhavān, puruṣaḿ śāśvataḿ , divyam, ādi-devam ajaḿ vibhum - Bhagavad-Gita (10. 12)
Meaning: You are the Supreme Brahman [the Supreme person], the Supreme abode, the Supreme purifier, the eternal divine person and the greatest.
In the Bible the following names are given to God, based on the attributes:
The names mentioned in 5 to 11 are closer to the quality of a mother and known as: Shekinah (means the dwelling or settling) and represent the feminine attribute of God. In Tamizh or is Shivasim the name for God with this feminine attributes is called: தாயுமானவர் (Thayumanavar - God who became a mother).
From the above list, the nearest name to the God, who has no similitude, is: El Hakkadosh, as Kaddosh means sacred, holy, set apart, utterly unique and one of a kind. The central message in this kural is to teach the people to lead a worry free, anxiety free and a life free from restlessness. In the previous kural we have read the ‘good-news’ of redemption from the Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life), that has been worrying the humanity for generations. As a result, people where giving sacrifices in the altars of God or undertaking pilgrimages to shake off soul’s ‘mortal coil’. Hence, in my opinion Thiruvalluvar, who gave the attribute - – மலர்மிசை ஏகினான் (Malarmesai Yehenan) - in the third kural would definitely would have given preference to the following name of the God: Immanuel (God is with us), which makes Him El Hakkadosh as well.
“ Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel, Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good” - Isaiah 7:14 & 15
Thiruvalluvar in this kural says IT IS HIGHLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SELF-SURRENDERED TO THIS ‘UNEQUALED GOD’, TO LEAD A WORRY FREE, ANXIETY FREE AND A LIFE FREE FROM RESTLESSNESS. It is time for you and me to release ourselves from greed and the other various delusions, which causes worry, anxiety and restlessness about the’ life after death’, by surrendering ourselves to this God, who has no similitude, as this ‘Immanuel’ has given access to the human beings the password / hey to the heaven, through His death on the cross, by paying the price for Sahasamalam (natural sin) or Jenma Pavam (sin of Life), the humanity has inherited through the first parents - Adam and Eve.
When you self-surrender to God, you get confidence like the small boy who was care-free about the danger, when emergency landing was imitated, while everyone in the aircraft was paniky. When people alerted him about the problem; he had the confidence to reply: "I have no worry; as the pilot is my father." When you surrender to God, you become anxiety free like the son, who had great trust on the landing skills of his father.
No heart-aches cease till thou the feet
Of the Matchless One wilt greet.
10th March 2013
அறவாழி அந்தணன் தாள்சேர்ந்தார்க் கல்லால்
பிறவாழி நீந்தல் அரிது.
Aravaazhi Andhanan Thaalserndhaark Kallaal
Piravaazhi Neendhal Aridhu
His feet, whose likeness none can find,
Alone can ease the anxious mind.
None can swim the sea of vice, but those who are united to the feet of that gracious Being who is a sea of virtue.
Thiruvalluvar, who warned us about the ‘ill-effect on the mind’ who has not ‘Self-surrender’ to God in the previous kural (distich), attempts to caution us about the difficulty one would face in their entire journey of Life in this Kural.
The attribute Thiruvalluvar gives to God in this Kural is: அறவாழி அந்தணன் - Aravaazhi Andhanan. Before going into the main content of Thiruvallur’s message in in this Kural, let us try to understand the attribute, Thiruvalluvar has given to God in this couplet. Aravaazhi Andhanan has two Tamizh words Aravaazhi and Andhanan.
The first one is a combination of two words - Aravaazhi , which means SEA OF VIRTUE (Aram – Virtue and Aali – Sea). In the second line of this kural, Thiruvalluvar mentions about another kind ‘aali’ – sea - to signify quite opposite of the ‘sea of virtue’; that is ‘sea of Vice‘ (பிறவாழி). Thiruvalluvar frequently uses this word: பிற to designate the opposite of some quality or thing previously mentioned in those respective kurals. Hence we can conclude that this word - Aravaazhi , one hundred percent means ‘Sea of Virtue’ only.
Some of the scholars of the past have interpreted this kural connecting this word - Aravaazhi - to the one (Arugen - Arhat), who holds the “Wheel of Dharma”,; hence it becomes highly imperative to place my arguments as well.
This word Arhat is occurs as arhattā in the Rigveda, Srī Narada Pañcaratnam and in the Bhagavata Purana; which affirms that this name Arhat is not an exclusive word to denote the gods of Jainism (24 Tīrthaṅkaras) or Buddhism; but an word to refer the attribute of God. Based on a possible Sanskrit etymology, arhant can be translated as "deathless", since "hant" in Sanskrit means death or killing, and "ar" is often used for negation, implying "cannot be killed" or "beyond death" or "deathless". Wheel of Dharma is to pictorially refers the nature of God (deathless or who won over death), which is: “He is the Beginning and the End”, as there is no beginning point or a point of ending in a wheel. The Greeks tried to refer this nature of God with a combination of their first and final alphabets. If one wants to portray God, which could be understood by people of all languages, then “Dharma Chakra” is handy. To be a good wheel, the spokes are to of equal length and these spokes in a wheel symbolizes righteousness or impartial nature of God. In the 6th kural, we have seen how Jesus Christ won over death on the Cross and the following verses from the book of Revelation makes Him fit to be the One to possess the Wheel of Dharma (He is the Beginning and the End):
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Rev. 1:8
“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” – Rev. 1:17 & 18
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts”.
– Rev. 21:6
The second word: Andhanan is the actual word which refers God, where as the first word – Aravaazhi - is the word to refer the attribute of God - Sea of Virtue. The Tamizh word - Andhanan too is a combination of two words அம் (beauty) and தணன் – word that derives from the word – தண்மை, which means literally means coolness, freshness and figuratively means kindness and mercy; and the compounded word - Andhanan – means, therefore, BEAUTIFULLY MERCIFUL. In the prayer of Moses it says as follows: “ .. let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us ….” (Psalm 90:17). From this verse, we understand the beautiful nature of God. Psalms 118 and 136 say “ …His mercy endures forever”.
We are living in Kali Yuga, where we could find 25% virtue and 75 % sin. Hence the expression: பிறவாழி - sea of vice - is well suited to the context; and the only method of crossing is holding on to the wooden float (cross) and finish the swimming (life) by total ‘self-surrender’ to God; because Thiruvalluvar, in this kural says:
“It is impossible to swim and cross the பிறவாழி - sea of vice, for others, than those who have ‘self-surrendered’ at the feet of அறவாழி அந்தணன் - Aravaazhi Andhana - the beautiful and merciful God, who is an embodiment of ‘sea of virtue’ (the Beginning and the End)”.
In the story “Life of Pi”, Piscine Molitor Patel (hero, known as Pi) is left with a precarious situation. Having lost his parents and sibling in a shipwreck, Pi is forced to co-habitat with a Bengal Tiger (which survived the shipwreck, in which Pi’s father was transporting his animals of his zoo in Pondicherry, India to Canada) at mid-sea, with no food to survive, must have been reminded of the following verse from the Bible:
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. - Acts 9:15
“that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” - 1 Thessalonians 4:4
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”. - 2 Timothy 2:20&21
“… now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand”. - Isaiah 64:8
Hence Pi prays to God as follows:
“God, I give myself to you. I am your vessel. Whatever comes, I want to know. Show me”.
When was the outcome of the above Pi’s prayer? Miracles started happening. God created a prophetic “The Millennium Rule”-like situation (Vasudevakudumbakam or Kingdom of God or a utopian Earth to come) in the small life-boat; and as a result, the tiger started enjoying the caressing of ‘Pi’, which helped the tiger to survive the sea-sickness; and their journey culminated in Pi and the tiger reaching safely the shores of Mexico. It would be indeed helpful to read the following verses, which talks about the nature of prophetic “The Millennium Rule”, in which God will reign the Earth for 1000 years:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them”. - Isaiah 11:6
When Pi surrendered to God, God changed Pi's dreadful life-boat into a boat of Manu (Noah's Ark). This kural just reminds us to surrender to God and today is the day for you and me to self-surrender to God, by singing:
“I’m only human, I’m just a (man, women, person)
Help me believe in what I could be in a I that I am
Show me the stairway I have to climb
LORD, for my sake, help me to take one day at a time”.
Who swims the sea of vice is he
Who clasps the feet of Virtue's sea.
14th March 2013
கோளில் பொறியிற் குணமிலவே எண்குணத்தான்
தாளை வணங்காத் தலை.
Kolil Poriyin Kunamilave Ennkunaththaan
Thaalai Vanangkaath Thalai
Before His foot, - Ennkunaththaan - with unbent head,
Who stands, like palsied sense, is to all living functions dead.
The head that worships not the feet of Him who - is an embodiment of Simplicity / possesses eight attributes - is as useless, like an organ, which has not lost its power of sensation.
Thiruvalluvar, has spoken about the benefits of ‘self-surrender’ to God in three (2,3 & 4) kurals (distiches) and has warned the consequences that would befall on the ‘un-surrendered self’ in two (7 & 8) other kurals. He once again warns us by describing the nature of the person, who is stiff-necked (un-yielding) and reluctant to surrender to God.
The name Thiruvalluvar gives to God in this Kural is: எண்குணத்தான் – Enn Gunathan. Many have believed that this word - Enn - refers to the numeric eight and struggled to interpret the eight qualities of God. Most of them, which include Veeramamunivar (Constantine Beschi) and Bharathiar, have attempted to find the answers through their respective scriptures.
Parimelazhagar in his interpretation has offered three menus on single platter giving the best from all spiritual spheres (three lists), which are as follows:
- தன்வயத்தன் ஆதல் - Self-existent Lord of all
- தூய உடம்பினன் ஆதல் - Corporal form of perfect and perennial purit
- இயற்கை உணர்வினன் ஆதல் - The intuitively Wise
- முற்றும் உணர்தல் - The infinitely Intelligent
- இயல்பாகவே பாசங்களின் நீங்குதல் - The Immaterial
- பேர்-அருள் உடைமை - The most Merciful
- முடிவில் ஆற்றல் உடைமை - The infinitely Powerful
- வரம்பு இல் இன்பம் - The infinitely Happy
- Anima– the power of reducing his bulk to the size of an atom
- Mahima– the power of increasing his bulk illimitably
- Garima– the power to accelerate the law of gravity by rendering himself heavy
- Leghima– the power to counteract the law of gravity by rendering himself light
- Prapti– the power of obtaining the fulfillment of every desire
- Pracamya– the power of penetrating to everywhere, unrestrained by obstacles
- Isita– the power of compelling all creatures to act according to his will
- Vasita – the power of assuming any shape at pleasure.
“கடையிலா ஞானத்தோடு காட்சி வீரியமே இன்பம்
மிடையுறு நாமமின்மை விதித்த கோத்திரங்க ளின்மை
அடைவிலா ஆயுவின்மை அந்தராயங்க ளின்மை
உடையவன் யாவன் மற்றிவ்வுலகினுக் கிறைவனாமே”
- கடையிலா ஞானம் - Ananta Gnāna– (Infinite Vision or Wisdom)
- கடையிலா காட்சி - Ananta Darshana(Infinite Perception / Intelligence)
- கடையிலா வீரியம் - Ananta Verium / Labdhi(Infinite Power)
- கடையிலா இன்பம் - Ananta Sukha(Infinite Bliss / Happiness)
- நாமமின்மை – Akshaya Sthiti / Nir Naman (Without Name)
- கோத்திரமின்மை – Vitāraga / Nir Gothram(Without association to any Tribe / Caste)
- ஆயுள் இன்மை / நிராயுஷியம் – Nirvédaniya / Arupa(Without Senility / Infinite Life-span)
- அழியா இயல்பு / சகலசம்மியக்த்துவம் – Nirayushya / Aguruladhutaa (Without Impediment / Without any Change / All Bountiful / Indestructibility)
Now let us analysis all three lists of attributes from three different schools of thought one by one. The third listing from Sudamani Nigandu falls short of exclusive divine attribute, as these eights were attained by human beings, who later emerged as the Tirthacas. So is the case with the second list - ashta maha siddi or ashta aiswarya - as well, as these powers could be obtained by human beings to become a Siddis by performing the atha-yogam, and many Rishis and Patriarchs of Vedic period have claimed to have attained, as enumerated in the Amara-simha. The attributes from the first list are based on the scriptures of St Thomasine Christianity (Shivaism); and is closer to the divine attribute, as it mentions about: பேர்-அருள் உடைமை (Per-arul Udamai) – The most Merciful.
Sir Francis Whyte Ellis of Madras Civil Service who came to India in 1799 has attempted to draw the Vedic reference known as Guna-ashtacam from the Dahara-vidhya, a chapter of the Chandogya,an Upanishat of Sama Veda. The following are the attributes:
Next to Enoch, the person who had the opportunity to see God was Moses. From Exodus 34:5-7, we read the manner God was revealed to Moses. The attributes of Guna-ashtacam qualifies to be divine and would fit well with the Sanatan Sat Guru of Thiruvalluvar – Jesus Christ; still it would fall short of perfect description of God; because of the following reasons:
In my interpretation to the Seventh Kural, I have mentioned about some (23) of the divine qualities of God that we find in the Bible. Would this twenty three attribute describe God completely? I doubt! In a movie (பாவை விளக்கு) song the lyricist Maruthakasi says:
ஆயிரம் கண் போதாது வண்ணக்கிளியே,
குற்றால அழகை நாம் காண்பதற்கு வண்ணக்கிளியே.
The meaning of the lines is: “Oh parakeet! Thousand eyes are not enough to see the beauty of Courtallam.
If the humans require thousand eyes to see the creation of God – Courtallam (Pothigai Hill), how much human brain is needed to verbatimise the attributes of God! Hence, limiting the attribute of God, just to eight, will do no justice. We would only land-up in misperception, similar to the perception of the visually-impaired people about elephant, based on the portion of elephant they had the opportunity to touch. What Moses has written about the nature of God in Exodus 34:5-7, based on the manner God was revealed to him at Mount Sinai. If Enoch had to describe, I would have been different from the description of Moses, as it based on the manner God has revealed to him.
Johari Window is popular tool, which behavioral scientist use to expand the human awareness about their Self. From Johari Window, we learn that there are Blind Spots (known to Others; but not to Self) Unknown Areas (not known to Self and Other) of human awareness / personality. When human being are incapacitated to known their Self and the Self of Others, How could they they know God-self completely?
Is Thiruvalluvar faulting by limiting God’s qualities to just eight? No. Only commentators of this kural have tried to find the answers from outside; whereas the answers are within Thirukkural itself. It is like a case (கையில் வெண்ணையை வய்த்துக்கொண்டு நெய்க்காக அலைந்தது போல்) while having the butter in hand, commentators have wandered around in search of ghee. I am of the opinion that Thiruvalluvar tries to remind us the eight attributes that he has referred in the preceding eight kurals which are as follows:
The Tamizh poet Kulanthai draws the reference from the following kural and tries to find the connotation by which Thiruvalluvar uses this word: “எண் – Enn” in the 424th kural:
எண்பொருளவாகச் செலச்சொல்லித் தான் பிறர் வாய்
நுண்பொருள் காண்பது அறிவு
In the above mentioned Kural, Thiruvalluvar uses the word: “எண் – Enn” as an adjective to mean SIMLICITY. Hence, either Thiruvalluvar has attempted to summarize the eight attributes mentioned in the previous kurals or just has mentioned “Enn Gunaththan” to describe his Sanatan Sat Guru, who lead a simple life, before His crucifixion. This quality is best revealed from the following Bible verse:
And Jesus said to him (scribe): ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man (God) has nowhere to lay His head’. – Matthew 8: 20
I leave the choice to reader to choose between the following two:
This particular kural is not generic in nature; but more focused to target the வணங்காத் தலை (Vanangkaath Thalai). Vanangkaath Thalai is an expression in Tamizh to connotatively indicate the people who have un-yielding pride and literally refer those who are not prepared to bow their head (as a mark of humility / respect for others). In the Bible, such people are referred as ‘stiff-necked’ and following are the verses that explain the divine warning to people with Vanangkaath Thalai:
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. ….” - Exodus 32:9-10
Then the Lord said to Moses, “…. for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you is a stiff-necked people.” - Exodus 33:1-3
This kural too aimed to drive home the message of ‘Self-surrender” to God. Hence, it is highly desired that we get more insight on this concept: “Self-surrender to God”. When we surrender ourselves, you can then fully know ourselves as a child of God. You are then under that unfolding destiny that God has for you. The self is not clearly wiped out; rather, you are living under a future that is unfolding with the grace of God. You are under the unfolding plan of redemption; where as a self that is centered on itself is a cancerous self. It demands that the rest serve them and expect others to bow before them. Remember, the oak that resists the wind loses its branches one by one, and with nothing left to protect it, the trunk finally snaps. The oak that bends lives longer, its trunk growing wider, its roots deeper and more tenacious.
We have more things to learn from Mary of Bethany. The gospel according to John says: “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, and expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.” (12:3)
Nard / Spikenard is a costly aromatic essential oil, preserved in alabaster jars, whose chief ingredient is believed to have been extracted from the rhizome (Musk Root) of perennial herb of the Himalaya Mountains (Nepal, China, and India), having rose-purple flowers from the Valerian family, whose botanical name is Nardostachys Jatamansi. It was used in aristocratic kitchens, perfumeries and breweries of ancient Rome and was part of the - Ayurvedic / Unani herbal - tradition of India and the Mediterranean to cure many ailments, which included sexual debility. Nard was the main ingredient of the ancient Roman perfume called nardinum, usually used only by wealthy Roman women. Mary must have known the other benefits of using nard and must a bought large quantity in an Alabaster Jar for the following purposes:
Using Nard was considered a luxury in ancient Egypt and in the Near East. In metric measurement, she poured half a liter on His feet. The gospels according to Matthew and Mark say that she poured it on His head. From this, we understand she anointed both His head and His feet. Mark elaborates that she broke the alabaster jar which had the perfume. She broke it so that all of that perfume could be poured on Him without leaving even a drop behind. She did not want to retain any of it, nor did she want to preserve the beautiful jar. True love and total surrender do not count cost. The cost of it could have been Mary’s compounded earning for an year. She wiped His feet with her hair. She took the place of a slave at His feet; because, she undid her hair, something Jewish women of her times, wouldn’t do it in public. By doing so, she has ventured to indicate the following to the people around:
She humbled herself and laid her glory (pride) at the His feet. Mary was willing to bear shame for the sake of her Lord. She did not hold back anything from Sanatan Sat Guru.
The difference between the ‘surrendered self’ to God and the ‘un-surrendered self’ is like the violin string. The ‘un-surrendered self’ is like a loose string lying on the table, with no constrain. When the string surrenders to the master, he place it on the violin, draws it tighter and tighter by stretching up the keys. As the string has surrendered to be swept by a bow, it is ever-ready to sing.
In this kural, Thiruvalluvar compares Vanangkaath Thalai – unyielding stiff-necked people - to the head in which, the senses of all the organs are palsied and we all know that the effect of palsy is to destroy the powers of the organs – the eyes which can’t see and the ears that can’t hear. In other words, Thiruvalluvar indirectly calls such people (Vanangkaath Thalai) as ‘vegetables’.
When Moses realized that God is merciful God, he appealed to God as follows:
Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.” - Exodus 34:9
After the restoration of the temple worship, King Hezekiah and his team agreed to keep the Passover Festival. Hence, King Hezekiah appealed to the Israelites to return to their fold, by reminding them how God has made them to escape from the Kings of Assyria:
Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. - 2 Chronicles 30:8
Similarly, the intension of Thiruvalluvar is not to condemn the Vanangkaath Thalai – the stiff-necked; but to persuade them to come to the awareness level of their self, which is currently, is like a head with palsied organs, that has lost its senses.
In the Bible circumcision is an act of covenant between God and the humans, which started with Abraham and his sons; that is why we come across the following verse in the Bible: “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” (Deut. 10:16). Mary of Bethany made a covenant at the feet of Jesus Christ, with her ‘self-surrender. What was the relative benefit she derived through her act of devotion?
“She has done a beautiful thing to me … Where ever this gospel is preached throughout the World, what she has done will be told, in memory of her”
– Matthew 26: 10 & 12
Our whole-hearted, costly (Shedding pride is no doubt a costly one indeed!) surrender will always be rewarded. The evidence is: ‘even after nearly 2000 years, I am still writing about Mary of Bethany. She has perpetuated her name by ‘self-surrender’.
Just before the martyrdom of St Stephen, he made an appeal to the Council Members of the Synagogue of the Freemen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cicilians and Asians) like this: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears!”(Acts 7:51). In the similar fashion, Thiruvalluvar is making an appeal to all those ‘stiff-necked in heart / mind’ to ‘self-surrender’ at the feet of God. It is better to listen to the silent Inner-voice, which persuades you to surrender before God. It was no wonder Mary of Bethany was criticized by all the disciples (Matt. 26: 8&9) and particularly the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry – Judas (John 12: 4&5). But it is worth surrendering at the feet of the எண்குணத்தான் – Enn Gunathan and according to the Bible, there is great warning given to those who are unwilling to surrender before God; and the warning is as follows:
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
- Proverbs 29:1
Nard was sold in expensive Alabaster Jars, which were considered a piece of art and people used to display the empty jars to show to the world the extravagant life they were leading. The Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut of 18th dynasty from 1341 BC to1323 BC) had huge collection of such alabaster jars. But Mary of Bethany chose to break the alabaster jar. Breaking the alabaster jar is breaking the ‘stiff necked-ness’ of the heart and mind. Thiruvalluvar has appealed to us through nine kurals to surrender at the feet of God. Today is day to ‘self-surrender’ to God and sing the following Hymn: “None of self and all of Thee”.
Like senses stale that head is vain
Which bows not to ‘Enn / Eight - Virtued’ Divine.
23rd April 2013
பிறவிப் பெருங்கடல் நீந்துவர் நீந்தார்
இறைவன் அடிசேரா தார்.
Piravip Perungatal Neendhuvar Neendhaar
Iraivan Atiseraa Thaar.
The sea of births they alone swim
Who clench His feet and cleave to Him.
None can swim the great sea of births but those who are united to the feet of God.
One of the books that had greater impact upon me during my childhood days was the Tamizh translation of the illustrated book of “Pilgrim's Progress” which my father had got as gift for excelling in the Sunday School, while studying at King George V High School, Seramban, Malayasia. For those, who do not know about the book, let me give the following briefing:
The Pilgrim's Progress is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan (it was first published in 1678). The tale's central protagonist is, fittingly, named Christian, and Bunyan takes the read on Christian journey from his home, styled the "City of Destruction" (representing earthly existence) to the "Celestial City" (representing Heaven) atop Mt Zion.
The journey to the Celestial City in this story is an allegorical representation of a life of the Bhakta (devotee).
After having undertaken a long journey, full of trails, tribulations and failures, the hero of the story Christian, reaches a wonderful place called Land of Beulah, along with his companion called Hopeful. There they meet a Gardener who tells them about the Glory that is yet ahead of them, and then, eventually, they come to the River of Death. There’s no bridge over it. The only way to cross this River is to swim through it, or else they can’t arrive at the Gate of the Celestial City.
The River of Death is an allegorical representation of death. To accomplish the race of life, one has to go through death and those who swim the River of Death with HOPE are sure of reaching the Gate of Heaven.
John Bunyan brought the allegory of process involved in death to "“swimming in the river”. All those who are born in this world as human beings can not escape death; hence, Thiruvalluvar refers the journey of LIFE from Birth to Death to “swimming in the sea”, which involves more difficulties than 'swimming in the river', as 'sea swimming" has additional dangers like the following:
In this Kural (distich), Thiruvalluvar is very conclusive (like the Gardener in the Land of Beulah of the Pilgrim's Progress) by saying that those who have not “self-surrendered” to God cannot swim across the sea of life, which means they can’t win over the Death.
There are lots of pious people in this world who have developed “Spiritual Arrogance” and are judgmental about others. Their piety does not guarantee them the win over the death.
Will there be a visible difference between the ‘Self-surrendered” and the Un-surrendered Self? The 167th stanza of the poem by Siddhar Siva-vakkiyar (Siva-vakkiyar or Civavakkiyar) was a great Tamil Poet who lived in the period preceding the 10th Century A.D) says as follows:
நீரையள்ளி நீரில்விட்டு நீ நினைத்த காரியம்
ஆரையுன்னி நீரெலாம் அவத்திலே இறைக்கிறீர்
வேரையுன்னி வித்தையுன்னி விதத்திலே முளைத்தெழுந்த
சீரையுன்ன வல்லிரேல் சிவபதங்கள் சேரலாம்.
While taking up the water and throwing it again into the water [in performing the Sandhya (vespers) and other rites] what is the object on which you think?
On whatsoever you think you have thrown all the water vainly:
Think on the root; think on the seed, and on the benefit arising from the seed;
When you are thus able to think, you may approach the feet of God.
Jesus Christ is very emphatic by saying as follows:
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. – Matt 7: 16-20
A “Self-surrendered” person is sure of completing the race. In the case of Pilgrim’s Progress hero, he felt the water in the river deeper, whenever he believed in his strength to swim. But whenever his companion Hopeful encouraged him to believe in the King of the place (God), and Christian believed in the King of the place, the very same water in the river appeared shallow to him. If Christian was not hopeful of reaching the Celestial City and hadn’t surrendered himself to the King of the place (God), he would not have completed his swimming in the river of Death to reach Heaven.
If someone has surrendered to God, will they be devoid of sufferings? No. suffering will be there; but the approach of a “Self-surrendered” to the problem will be different from the way the “Un-surrendered Self”, handle the situation. Dr E Stanley Jones in one of his sermon on: “The Way to Meet Unmerited Suffering is to Use It”, has given a briefing about a woman, who has “Self-surrendered” to God, and the following is the real story:
A Woman who thought that her home was intact and beautiful and believed that her husband was faithful and everything was all right, received a cable one day from Mexico saying: “Divorced in Mexico and re-married here”. That news came out of a blue sky. She learned that her husband had married a Japanese woman and they were now living in Okinawa with two children. – two girls and that he now had tuberculosis. She cabled her husband and said: “Please send those girls to me and let me take care of them, so that your wife will have time to serve and help you”. The children came and she took them into her home and treated them like her own daughters. Then she heard that the husband had died and so she sent a telegram to the Japanese wife and said: “Please come and live in our home and take care of your children here and be part of our family”. And when she went to meet the Japanese wife in the airport, she said that my one prayer was this: “Oh God, please help me accept her and love her with as much joy as I would experience if it were Carl - her husband – coming back to me again”. And she did with the grace of God and took her into her home. They became a real family of God
As Mrs Carl had totally “Self-surrendered” to God, she was able to use her suffering and loss; and in the process, she had taught three other people the real meaning of love. "Self-surrendered” person is a good tree and they can bear only good fruits; so was Mrs Carl. John Greenleaf Whittler (John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States.) too must have realized this secret, hence he wrote the following surefootedness in death as follows:
And so beside the silent sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Thiruvalluvar had dedicated the first Chapter of the first book on Virtue to deal with the concept of “Self Surrender” to God; and the sequence of placing these Kurals (couplets) in a particular order is superb.
Thiruvalluvar, who believes in One God, has facilitated us to identify the Primal deity in the first Kural. In the following three couplets, he explains the results of Self-surrendering to God. Before warning the people about the consequences of un-surrendered self, in the 7th and 8th Kurals, Thiruvalluvar highlights the 'divine secret' of Praising God in the 5th Kural; and in the 6th couplet, he once again reiterates some fact by which people could identify the true God. In the previous kural (9th), he has attempted to persuade the stiff-necked (un-yielding) and reluctant people to ‘self-surrender’ to God.
This couplet being the last one in this chapter – The Praise of God, Thiruvalluvar says with full determination the result the “Surrendered Self” people can expect after death and the consequences that would befall on soul of the “Un-surrendered Self” after death.
Today is day to surrender to God. By doing so, you shall see only shallow waters, while swimming through the Life - from Birth to Death and in the bargain help other swimmers of like the way Hopeful helped the Christian at the River of Death, before reaching the Celestial City.
And till you’re His, you will not o’er
Birth-billows, win the shore.
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Sages of the New Covenant