Paramacharya's Perception

Justice R. Sengottuvelan

The child of a carpenter drawing a toy-elephant by a rope joyously exclaims that he is leading an elephant by a rope. To the child's perception it is real elephant. The father's mind thinks that is only a piece of wood and just a toy.

Saint Thirumoolar illustrates by this the difference in the perception of people. To an ordinary man the world appears to be real, made of physical elements whereas to the realised soul it is the manifestation of the eternal God

A realised soul perceives the happening in the world in a way very different from ours. I narrate a few instances where I was immensely benefited by the true perception of the Paramacharya.

Saint Thirunavukkarasar, in one of his Theveram hymns, sets out his experience of God-Realisation. He was thrown into the lime kiln by his enemies, but by the grace of the Lord, he came out unscathed. He narrates his experiences in the Thevaram:

By the grace of Lord Siva, the lime-kiln which in the ordinary course would have reduced him to ashes turned out to be soothing and pleasant that he experienced the flawless music of the Veena, the cool rays of the evening moon, the freshness of the southern breeze, the cool of a lotus-pond. The holy feet of the Lord is, he says, comparable to all these comforts.

I was under the impression that the phrase in that Thevaram hymn meant only the coolness of the lotus-pond.

Paramacharya in one of his discourses brought to light the underlying meaning of that phrase, Paramacharya's exposition was as follows:

"Under the shadow of the feet of the Lord even tortures will have no sting. Saint Tirunavakkarasu Nayanar, know also as Vageesa, sang the praise of the Lord's Feet when he was thrown into the hot lime-kiln. Absorbed in the bliss of God's own grace, he felt, within the burning kiln, the highest delight which each sense organ can give. The flawless music of the Veena, the cooling rays of the evening moon, the verdant fullness of early spring, the humming bees, all these are the enjoyments, derived through the five sense organs. But the joy and satisfaction from the sight of bees hovering over the lotus flowers, after drinking the honey to the full, was not through his own senses. The joy was only derivative, even as a hospitable house-holder derives satisfaction on seeing his guest taking the food offered by him with relish."

Now we realise the inner meaning the words, which illustrates the virtue of hospitality. This is the rare perception of Paramacharya.

Saint Gnanasambandhar re-established Saivism, conquering the Jaina religion that was then prevalent in Tamilnadu. Even Adi Sankara praise the noble work done by the Dravidasisu (thirugnana-sambandhar). According to the tradition, Gnana-sambandha conquered the Jains in several debates and put them to death. My conscience rebelled against this and I am convinced that Gnanasambandhar could not have done such a heinous act. The Paramacharya in one of his discourses absolved Saint Gnanasambandhar by the following narration.

"There is a story about Gnanasambandha that he caused the death of the Jainas by making them mount sharp steel pores. This seems to attribute a defect to him. Nilakantha Dikshita, a great poet and teacher, wrote a work called Sivaleelaavam. It relates to the sports of Siva in Madurai. In the course of this narration the story of Gnanasambadha is given. It says ; The Jainas before commencing their debate with Gnanasambandha made a wager saying that if they were defeated they would commit suicide. And they were defeated. Although they were atheists they had some good qualities, for example, truth speaking. Therefore on being vanquished, in view of their earlier wager, they immolated themselves. This is what is stated in Nilakantha Dikshita's work. Although Gnana-sambandha forbade them they did not listen. Gnana-sambandha reconciled himself to the situation thinking that this punishment came to the Jainas for their offending the Vedas!" Nilakantha Dikshita will have to be accepted as the authority in this matter. I bow in reverence to the Sage of Kanchi who perceived things better and more deeply than the usual commentators.