In stanzas 21-25, Guru discusses matters relating to Dharma (social righteousness). In this world with multitudes of people, there are certain rules or principles, which have to be respected (followed) by everyone. These are called duties (Dharma). These principles or values change with time. Therefore the greatest importance should be given to the advise of the most recent Guru, who makes the necessary modification in relation to time to make it relevant (practicable). The followers of Guru who are vocal about Manusmriti should understand this point. They should study and practice Sree Narayana Dharma. Sree Narayana smriti is Manava Dharma (equally applicable to all human beings irrespective of caste or kind). Guru has taken the relevant portions of Manusmriti and deleted the others to suit our times.
priyamoru jathiyithenpriyam tvadiya-
priyavishayam prathi vannitum bhramam tan-
Endearment is only of one kind. This is dear to me, this is dear to the next man, this is dear to the other man- thus objects of endearment are differentiated, and confusion comes. What is dear to oneself is dear to another also. This should be acknowledged.
Endearment is only of one kind. Something becomes really ‘dear’ (worthy of endearment) only when it is held dear by the person and others. If one’s action, though to his liking, is not to the liking by another, it does not become an adorable (lovable) act. Guru says, that if we start differentiating the ‘likings’, as ‘my liking’, and ‘your liking’ then it will end up in utter confusion. What one likes should be also dear to another. What is called as an act for the good of mankind should bring happiness to others. This is the right thing to do.
nayamathinale narannu nanma nalkum-
The other man’s happiness is my happiness. My own happiness is the other man’s happiness. So the Dharmic principle is- the action that is good for the mankind (one person), should bring happiness to the other.
Here Guru has clarified how to perform one’s actions, without resulting in wrongful deeds. The core principle of Dharma rests in ‘Our actions should be responsible for the happiness of others’. (Paropakaram punyam). All vocations chosen for one’s livelihood, should be good (beneficial) for the person for whom the work is undertaken, i.e. the ultimate consumer (beneficiary). When one sells toddy or brews liquor to sell, it results in intoxication to the consumers of these products and finally destroys their lives. Therefore Guru has given the advise ‘Alcohol (liquor) is poison, don’t produce it, don’t consume it, don’t offer it to others’.
aparanu vendiyaharnisam prayathnam
kripanatha vittu kripalu cheythidunnu
krpananadhomukhanay kidannu cheyyu-
nnapajaya karmamavannuventi mathram.
The compassionate man does things, day and night, giving up self-centered interest for the sake of others. The mean person, with head bent down, does unsuccessful actions, which are self-centered only.
The compassionate person strives honestly day and night for the benefit of others. But the crook has no desire to know who has come and is not even prepared to give him a look. Hence the words ‘with the head bent down (stooped)’. A thief never looks at you (eye to eye). His action is solely on his benefit and purpose. He is not concerned about the misery or loss he causes to others. Hence his deeds are ‘failures’. He may be able to earn wealth or satisfy his desires. But, being ignorant of what is Dharma (righteousness), he fails to reach the goal of liberation, and in course of time, degrades himself to the level of an animal. That is why his actions are called failures. By performing prescribed duties, observing the principles of Dharma, and proceeding in that path, a man attains liberation. This is mentioned also in stanza 4.
avan ivan ennariyunnatokkeyortha-
nnavayaparannu sukhathinay varenam.
“That man’’ “this man’’- thus, all that is known in this world, if contemplated, is only Self’s single form. What each performs for the happiness of the self, should be conducive to the happiness of others.
Though the concept of ‘this man’, ‘that man’ appears in the plane of names and forms (manifest world), in the plane of Atma all these are seen as One- the one and only one- that is, Awareness. Hence all are soul-brothers (spiritually bonded). Atmaroopam- is a figure of speech. This is similar to the words used in sloka 2 (thiruvuru), in sloka 48 (satha thanu), in sloka 69 (atmapratima) and sloka 86 (rtaroopam). Guru has amplified the reason for recommending the principle of Dharma. When everyone becomes spiritual-brothers, one’s liking is also the other’s, and a brother’s sorrow becomes one’s own sorrow. This has already been elaborated in stanza 22 as ‘the action that is good for one person, should bring happiness to the other.’
There is no concept of differentiation in the eyes of Guru. Today even men and women are on a warpath of genders. The feminist give leadership to this fight calling it women’s lib(eration). This does not jell with the Guru’s views.
According to scriptures God has created man as ‘masculine’ and woman as ‘feminine’(Ref- Pindanandi-1). A man cannot become a woman or a woman a man. Man and woman are not created to fight with each other on the basis of differences. A man should be a good man and a woman, a good woman. Both should live as compliment to each other, like the concept of Arthanareeswara (a harmonious union of male and female principles). What we need is not war of genders but a man-woman combination as equals. In Guru’s view there is no relevance for any type of class-wars (including man vs. woman). Instead of class-wars Guru recommends class- cooperation.
The people who argue for women’s freedom often quote Manusmriti saying that there was no freedom for woman at the time of Manu. They should understand one thing. India, that is Bharat, was not a country, where woman had no freedom. We must not forget that Swayamvarams (a woman’s freedom to choose her husband) were conducted in India in olden days. When Manu said ‘na sthree swatantryamarhati’, what he meant was that a woman need not live by her own means. She has to be protected. A woman should be in the care of her father in the teens, protected by her husband in her youth, and looked after by her sons in her old age. She should not be a destitute at any time.
What each performs for the happiness of the self, should be conducive to the happiness of others
Whatever profession or work is chosen for one’s livelihood, it should be undertaken with the benefit to others in our mind. That is, it should bring happiness to others. The teacher, the auto rickshaw driver and the barber do their jobs according to this principle. But the work of the toddy-tapper, or the brewer of liquor, or the dealer in narcotics (drugs) are against this principle of human welfare. Hence Guru once said ‘With one toddy tapper’s knife, we can make four razors’.
Guru has further clarified how to perform deeds without resulting in wrongful actions. A deed that does good to the doer and others is a noble action. It is the right one to do and is Dharma. When he has purity in his thoughts, speech and actions, man starts to live in the plane of God’s grace. If the actions are not pure, then whatever is achieved through prayers or offerings will all get lost due to their malefic intentions. To fill water in a leaking vessel is a wasteful act. When one takes stock of his gains and loss, in a final analysis, he will find that the loss is more than the gains.
oruvanu nallatum anyanallalum che-
reri narakabdhiyil veenerinjidunnu.
Remember an action good for one person and brings misery to another is opposed to the Self. Those who give great suffering to another will fall into the burning sea of hell and perish.
This stanza deals with those actions and principles that result in wrongful deeds. Even if an action, results in a gain to the doer, if it creates misery or loss to the consumer (another) it is opposed to the Atma (Self), and thus becomes a vicious action. The Atma is all in all. Hence Atma-virodhi (enemy of Atma) means the devastation of everything. This is what happens when one produces liquor and sells. The seller earns money. But what happens to the one who consumes it. His health suffers. He loses money and his self-respect. When the breadwinner’s money, health and respect are lost, the whole family perishes. When many such families perish, the community is ruined. Thus it becomes the cause of ruin of everything.
Those who give great suffering to another will fall into the burning sea of hell and perish
What you sow, you reap. If you sow joy, you reap joy. If it is sorrow, you reap sorrow. Respect begets respect. Despise gets despise in return. This is similar to the law of physics ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Wrong deeds can be remedied by appropriate noble deeds. Even the ‘incarnation’ of God have not been able to violate this law of Karma. (What you sow, so you reap).
Untouchability and social ostracism
Guru has exposed the hypocrisy of some bad practices like untouchability and social ostracism. Such acts seem to please one group and cause distress to another. Hence these are malefic actions (practices). Such actions have been responsible for the downfall of this country. Just like the ‘Bharanda-pakshi’ mentioned in the Panchatantra which has two heads. Bharat is a Bharanda-pakshi with hundred crores of heads. Even if with one of its heads, the bird eats poison, it will die. If the proponents of the caste system, understand this fact, at least now, it will do good to them also.
Those who start caste-war in the name of Guru, by using terms like ‘forward communities’ ‘backward communities’ should also understand this truth (fact). Even if the upper castes have exploited the lower castes in the past, Guru has not said to anyone that they should retaliate. Any revenge or reprisal is an act that ‘pleases’ one and brings sorrow to the other. Even if one refers to the ancestors, such actions will bring mal-effects upon that person. According to Vedanta, we are all ‘brothers-in-Atma. Hence there is no place for revenge. At best we can reject them. Only God can sit in judgment for human actions and decide what a person deserves for his actions. This can be seen from the example of ‘Indamthurithi Nambuthiri’ who led the upper castes during the Vaikkom Satyagraha. His house has now become the office of the toddy-tapper’s union. If the followers of the Guru also indulge in such actions, which can result in undesirable consequences, it will also lead them to their ruin.
Man should discriminate between right and wrong actions, and then choose the right ones, and avoid the wrong. This is the nature (mark) of a jnani. One who does both right and wrong without discrimination, is like a lunatic. Man should show his discriminating power in all cases and all times. He should see what should be seen and avoid what should not be. He should hear what should be heard and avoid others. He should eat what should be eaten and shun what should not be. Therefore, a person with discrimination (ability to know what is right and what is wrong) does only what should be done and avoids those which are prohibited (evil).
There is another point, which we should keep in mind, when we talk about Dharma. If one sees Adharma (violation of righteousness or wrongful actions) and turns a blind eye to it, it is as good as supporting the same. Even if one cannot face a violator, all of us are duty-bound to create an awareness of Dharma amongst the public. If this is done the general level of Dharma will rise and at the same time the power of Adharma (evil doings) will decline.
Those artists or reformists who make noise in the name of freedom of expression should also understand a few lessons from Guru. The freedom of expression is not an unlimited freedom. Such reformations or changes are permissible. But any change should not be such that it benefits one and creates problem for another. That is not Dharma, and it is not permissible.
We can see the Veda Vyasa’s statement in this context, “Helping another is a virtue, harnessing another is a sin”. (Paropakaram punyam, papam para peedanam).
avanivan ennathinal avanninaykku-
Holding all the limbs together, and remaining as a bolt, the limb-owner envelopes the spiritual being. For this reason, man believes “that man’’ and “this man’’, solely due to the weakness of non-discrimination.
The hands, legs, eyes, ears and such organs are situated in their appropriate places, as if they have been fitted using nuts and bolts. The owner of such organs (i.e. a human body) covers his Atma like a veil. That is why the body is said to have enclosed the Atma. The 7th stanza in Isavasya Upanishad says ‘the face of Truth is covered with a golden disc’. The human body with its ego is ignorant. Hence he knows only names and forms. Then he starts saying ‘this man’, ‘that man’, ‘the other man’ and so on. But the Jnani ‘sees all beings in Self, and Self in all beings’ (Isavasya Upanisad- 6). Having this view, he has no doubt or uncertainty.
The limb-owner envelopes the spiritual being
When Guru says that the body has covered the soul, he is referring to the human soul, just as his indication to Jeevatma in Kundlini-pattu in the couplet:
This body here no truth it has;
Owner another in it resides’
Such wisdom do thou gain, and thus
Dance, snake, dance! (13)
Later he refers to Paramatma in another couplet as:
What swallows all, with rival none
Such is the omnipresent Awareness
Which swallow thou, and steadily
Dance, snake, dance!
The Paramatma and Jeevatma should be understood as a net and its meshes. Then we can infer that these are not two, but one entity.
varivatu tanadha namaroopamayum
karanamotindriya karthr karmamayum
varuvatu kanka mahendra jalamellam.
The Atman knows, sitting in the dark. That is Awareness. See it comes here as name and form, as senses with inner organ, as actor and action, like great Indra’s magic.
The Atma perceives everything sitting in darkness. Darkness refers to the body. But the Atma is the embodiment of Knowledge. Hence it is called Awareness. This Awareness manifests itself as the mind, the sense organs, the doer and the deed. If one ponders on this, all these will seem like a Great Magic (a conjuror’s trick). All names and forms (manifestations) are waves in the ocean of Awareness. Just as the waves are not different from the ocean, names and forms are not different from Awareness. If we think about these, we cannot but conclude all these appear to be a Great Magic. Just as the magician’s display of tricks by making manifold objects, these appear to be true, but in reality they don’t exist.
adi mudiyattati thottu mauliyantham
sphutam ariyunnatu thurya bodamakum
jadam ariveelatu chinda cheytu chollu-
Without bottom or top, from the bottom to the crest, what is known vividly is Turiya consciousness. The name of form (brain) cannot know. It thinks and speaks, sitting in between. That is not true knowledge at all.
Without bottom or top, from its base to the peak, what is known is Turiya consciousness. In the concept of ‘Awareness’ Lord Siva has no beginning or end. But when He is seen as idol, with attributes or form there is bottom and top. But to know the Lord without beginning or end is Satchitananda. The inert matter (brain) does not realize this. That which knows this is Jnanam (Chit, Awareness). This inert brain sits in between and speaks (to confuse us). That is not Awareness. This must be borne in mind.
Sitting in between
Here what is said as ‘sitting in between’ is the same as ‘sitting outside’ in stanza 3. True knowledge is not what the brain says after thinking. They are not the thought that emerges from the mind. Real knowledge is, knowing the Super Consciousness or Awareness.
manamalar koytu mahesa pooja cheyum
manujanu mattoru vela cheythidenda
vanamalar koytumatallayaykil maya-
Plucking the mind-flower, who worships the Grand God, for him there is no other thing to do. If this is not possible, let him pluck wild flowers and offer, or let him repeat a mantra- that is also maya. Then the maya will disappear.
The scriptures do not advocate that all should resort to idol worship. Those who cannot install God within their hearts, install Him outside and then worship Him. It is said that ‘Plucking the mind-flower, who worships the Grand God’- has installed the Great Lord in his mind only. His mind is fully in God (submitted to Him). There is no ego-sense. His mind revels in Bliss. Those who cannot do this, are advised to perform worship (pooja) by offering wild flowers and chant the mantras (divine names or praise). The first part of this stanza recommends the Vichara Marga (path of contemplation) and the later part, Upasana Marga (the path of worship and Karma). The path of ‘Neti, Neti’ (‘not this, not this’ as the Vedas define Brahman-Vichara marga) is most suited to the person who has renounced the world.
Upasana means ‘sitting near’. The devotee sits near God, when he has God installed in his mind. Those deeds that are performed with the thought of God (in mind) are Upasana. The devotee, who understands God as all pervading, performs all his actions with the assumption that he is performing a Guru-pooja. A devotee’s actions, which are performed with the thought of Guru-pooja, become pure in nature. It will bring great results.
vitukil avan visadantaranganay me-
lutakil amarnnuzhalunnatilla nunam.
The inert does not know. Awareness has no thought and it does not hold any discourse, knowing Awareness to be all, and then renouncing, his inner state becomes boundless, indeed, thereafter he never suffers confined within a body.
The inert matter does not have real knowledge. It knows only names and forms (manifested world). Only Chit (Awareness) is capable of acquiring real knowledge (of Brahman). Awareness has no thoughts and does not give sermons. Awareness is only a witness, beyond the three states (waking, dream and sleep). One who liberates himself from all bonds, becomes a man of pure consciousness. Certainly, he will never suffer by being encased in a body (he attains Moksha) and he will not be tormented by mental problems.
Pain and sorrow exist only in the plane of the body and mind. There are no sorrows in the plane of Atma, when one forgets the existence of the body and mind. The mantra 6 in Isavasya Upanishad says ‘ ‘ The person who has attained this level of Awareness has no desires or sorrows. Only those who go after sensual objects (pleasures) suffer from sorrows and infatuations. i.e, there is no mental illness at this level.