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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-15

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-15

“To the blessed ones who relish the milk of the Transcendental,
Ten thousand years is as just a short while.
On the other hand, if one’s understanding
Is caught in the snare of non-transcendental nature,
Even half a moment would be one thousand years.

(“Parayude paalunukarnna bhaagyavaanmaarkku
Oru pathinaayiramaandoralpaneram
Aranodiyaayiramaandupole thonnum”):

Key message-
A fundamental epistemological distinction is made in this verse, by way of comparing the two kinds of knowledge that the human mind is capable of having, or of aspiring after. The knowledge of the Absolute which is beyond, unconditioned by the multiplicity of attractions here in relativistic nature, with which we are everyday related, refers to the supreme aspect of the Absolute. The ordinary everyday world of life here in the biological sense involves values that are multiple and relativistic.

Vedantic literature makes use of two terms applied to Nature. One of these is called ‘paraa’ which has the quality of otherness, or in other words “the Absolute beyond (Transcendental)”. The second is called ‘aparaa’ which has the quality of non-otherness or that which is familiar to us here. It is also termed as “relative here (non-transcendental)”. Sree Narayana Guru refers to them only in their broader aspects, contrasting them with reference to the factor of time and without referring to space for the present.

A perfectly symmetrical picture is built round the notion of Time, half a moment in duration, which is the central and neutral reality that is here postulated for the comparison of two aspects of the same Absolute, as seen in Nature, whether taken to be within or without.

“To the blessed ones who relish the milk of the Transcendental,
Ten thousand years is as just a short while,

(“Parayude paalunukarnna bhaagyavaanmaarkku
Oru pathinaayiramaandoralpaneram”):
In this first half, the inner Nature is related to pure Time with no events. Here, the image of a mother suckling her child is introduced. The supreme Absolute, in its most ultimate aspect, is indescribable, but it is usual to try to help the seeker by words of wisdom to think of it as far as thoughts can take us. There is a flickering light which is like a spark somewhere in us, which is not afflicted or affected by any of the passing qualities of life. This is actually the spark of the spirit in us. It is our Self. The necessities of life can easily overpower and veil this subtle light. Suppose you befriend it. If you are in search of yourself, be friends with that little shimmering spark in you. In fact, the love that you give to others comes from it, and the love you enjoy arises when it is touched by another person. If your mind is conjoined with the divine spark, you begin to experience a more beautiful world within yourself.

Regarding the future you can say “let it come. When it comes, I will see”. It is not that you should not plan your life, but instead of seeing a hundred problems all at once, make ninety-nine problems wait, while you take up the one problem that is most relevant. Then if your mind does not exaggerate it, it would not look particularly unnatural. In case of problems, it can be of that the body; people are always being born, while others are dying. This is normal. Growth brings other problems. A child cries when a tooth is coming in – there is nothing we do about it. We cannot prevent the pain. Our sitting and crying with the child does not do any good. You just understand that the child is having a tooth come in. Then after sometime, gray hair comes, wrinkles come, the face changes, teeth fall out – these are natural. We should not exaggerate them.

We need to be doing two things simultaneously. One is going inward and befriending our own spirit, our dear friend that is the Divine. We are realizing the Self within; in other words, seeking the kingdom of God within ourselves. The other is in regard to the outer world, the world of necessity: we need to give-up all exaggerations and become more matter-of-fact. We are still sympathetic, but we are changing the mode of our sympathy. Perhaps your most beloved friend is in a state of crisis. He or she is in great darkness. Instead of adding your own darkness to theirs, you should try to bring them to your joy. Share your joy with them and not your sadness. This does not appeal to most people. As soon as they see the other person’s face, long and sad, their countenance falls and they also become sad. They think it is a must that if their friend is crying, they should be too. It is not necessary. When Arjuna was caught in the most terrible situation between two armies, and the missiles were flying, he stood there in tears. Krishna was also standing right next to him in the same situation, but he smiled. This implicitly showed that there was a way out of the seemingly insurmountable difficulties. It was with this smile Krishna started Arjuna’s programme of correction. So you should offer your smile and not your tears. This is not something that can be accomplished in just one day, but it definitely can be accomplished. In such state of Bliss, we see varieties of ‘I’ consciousness of individual entities in this universe as single ‘I’ within us.

On the other hand, if one’s understanding
Is caught in the snare of non-transcendental nature,
Even half a moment would be one thousand years.

Aranodiyaayiramaandupole thonnum”):
In the second half of this verse, Guru depicts the outer nature, which is so full of events that duration feels heavy and unpleasant.

Some people are always caught in one difficult situation or another. They need to have something to cry about. There is always darkness surrounding them. And yet we cannot say they are bad people. They have very tender minds, highly suggestible. They are compassionate. Mostly they suffer because of their relationship with someone; or else they have economic difficulties, physical disease, and mental aberrations. Even if you try to help them, as soon as you pull them out of one tight situation, they slip into another. After some time, you become fed-up with them. It looks as if they can never be helped. What is wrong with them? They are caught in the necessities of a relativistic world.
In moderate way, we all suffer from this same problem. We are human beings, so our lives are all intertwined and interrelated. Naturally, we have to be sympathetic to the needs of those whom we love. Our own needs can also be very pressing. When the day breaks, several necessities come and stand before us, asking for our attention. There are many obligations: we have to oblige this friend or that relative. If you have a sensitive mind which exaggerates situations, then even little things will appear very urgent, needing to be done immediately, and you can get into an anxiety neurosis. Afterwards, you regret what you have done in haste. The regret over what you have done, the anxiety over what is yet to be done, and the darkness in which the present moment is caught, assault you from all sides, and then all you can do is sit and suffer.

In the second half of this verse, the above state is described as getting caught in ‘Apara prakrithi’. In Sanskrit, ‘A’ means ‘not’, ‘para’ means ‘the Absolute’. When a situation proliferates, or something multiplies and recurs, it is ‘prakrtihi’. Most of the things in our life are recurrent. We have breakfast, but by noon, we are hungry. Then we have lunch, but by evening we hungry again. Hunger is recurring. Our needs, most of which have to do with the body and the mind, can all multiply in this way. In this state, when we see ‘I’ consciousness as separate entity with earth, water, fire, air and space, as well as of mind, our intellect and five sense organs, they will come as conditional factors. Such knowledge which is gained in conjoined with non-transcendental is called ‘Aparaa vidya’. Thus our life becomes tragic and we struggle to proceed even a small moment of life.

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