Guru Smarana Samithi
"Chaithanya",Chandrathil Road
Edappally - 682024

Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-23

Play Kolatheerasha Sthavam Audio
Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-23

For the sake of another, day and night performing action,
having given up self-centered interests, the compassionate person acts;
The self-centered man is wholly immersed in necessity,
performing unsuccessful actions for himself alone.

(“Aparanuvendiyaharnisham prayathnam
Kripanatha vittu kripaalucheythidunnu;
Kripanan adhomukhamaay kidannu cheyyunna-
Apajaya karmmamavannuvendi maathram”)

Key message:-
All of us, whether compassionate or selfish, have to do action. Even breathing is an action. Bhagavat Gita says that no person remains for even a moment without engaging in action. Our actions are of three kinds. One is ‘nitya karma’, the daily activities which you have to perform necessarily for the maintenance of your own life. In the morning, you have to wake up, clean yourself, eat and evacuate your bowels. No one else can do these things for you. They are imperative actions, because you yourself have to perform them. The second kind of action is called ‘niyata karma’. This refers to your placement in society, where you have accepted a certain role due to your vocation or career. This type of daily, expected work is called ‘niyata karma’. The third kind of action is ‘naimittika karma’. It is incidental. There is no regularity to it. For instance, you go for a walk or a ride and you see someone fall down unconscious. This is not a daily occurrence. If you are a compassionate person, a good Samaritan, you stop and see what happened. You call for help or try to get him to a hospital or his home or you administer first aid. All this is done incidentally, and little or none of it is prescribed. This is ‘naimittika karma’. Of the three karmas, ‘nitya karma’ is common to all people. It is for one’s own creature comfort. There is nothing good or bad about it. Leaving this type of action, aside, there are really only two kinds, ‘niyata’ or ‘naimittika’. The motivation to act in either of these ways can come from two entirely different sources, namely selfishness and compassion. This is where your whole life pattern is decided.

“For the sake of another, day and night performing action,
having given up self-centered interests, the compassionate person acts;”
(“Aparanuvendiyaharnisham prayathnam
Kripanatha vittu kripaalucheythidunnu”):

There are many kinds of ego boundaries. There is a “home front” where, if you are not certain of your neighbor, you make a strong barricade. Narayana Guru uses the term ‘kripanan’ to describe someone caught in the self-centered limitations. For the person who sees his counterpart as frontier-less, the whole world is his. He cannot brook any kind of differentiation, whether by caste, race, color or creed. Even though for the sake of communication such a person uses the word ‘I’ in his mind, it means ‘we’ or ‘all of us’. Such a person is here called a compassionate one, ‘kripaalu’. The dominant theme in his life is “We are one. I care for you. It does not matter who you are, I care for you.” Since a compassionate person has no ego boundary, he uses the word ‘I’ only for the sake of centralizing thoughts and relating ideas. It is only a philosophical reference point, a focus for consciousness, not a fixed social structure. It is not an ego. As he is not putting walls around himself, he comes into relationship with the rest of humanity and all kinds of animals, birds, and plant life.

The self-centered man is wholly immersed in necessity,
performing unsuccessful actions for himself alone.
(“Kripanan adhomukhamaay kidannu cheyyunna-
Apajaya karmmamavannuvendi maathram”):

The person who is basically selfish has to limit the world around him to make himself secure. The more he thinks of himself, the more glaring is the contrast with what is his non-self. An increasing strangeness comes between him and the rest of the world. He becomes suspicious of the outside, which brings feelings of insecurity. As he is feeling insecure, he cannot be open with others, and this lack of openness makes him unacceptable to others. Thus, every day he is losing some ground. He makes his life more and more difficult by shunting himself away from others. Ultimately his life becomes very shallow. He cannot have any real truths or any great culture or tradition. There is no sublime height to go to. His world of interest is very cramped.

Such people live within their own prison walls, incarcerated by their own selfishness. There are hundreds and thousands of families who live this kind of wretched life - no meaning, no value before them. All day and all night long they think only of their eating and drinking and their one particular family’s interest. They are always in trouble. Each day, they further cut off their vital links with the rest of the world. Narayana Guru says here that their face is always down and they cannot face the world. They are living in shame, living in vulgarity, share and greed. They are engaged in actions which will never succeed. They are living only for their own sakes. Even if you try to help such people, they can never be helped. This is the terrible situation where both daily and incidental actions are monitored by selfishness.

Concluding message:
It has been illustrated here about the two contrasting principles underlying our actions. The selfishness of the self-centered egoist, and the compassion of the spirituality open person. These are the two possibilities before us, and it is up to us to choose between them. It is a pity that most people make themselves lost to the world by opting for the egoistic stand. It is equally easy to be compassionate, to be open, and to not push away. To make it happen, a transformation in our mindset is needed in a way that- how our joy should also be the joy of the other, by looking for our counterparts in life.

For example, take the case of a business person doing a strict business deal. Once you are in the situation, you can open-up the transactional discussion to the other person as a human being. Instead of just scheming how you can make a profit off of him by exploiting the situation, you can look at how you would want to be treated, if you were in his place. Then it would be easy to imagine what kind of security the customer should have and what kind of benefits he should receive. If you look from both sides, from the side of the business executive and the side of the customer, you can come to a neutral position which is optimally beneficial to both. When you take this approach, you are not afraid of what you are doing. There is great moral support for it, looking out for the well-being of your brother. And the customer trusts you and feels encouraged to always come to you in the future as the person to provide his supplies. The good will always increases.

This will never fail in any field. When a doctor cares for a patient by thinking first of the fellow human coming to him and not just of the money to be made, the very look or word or touch he uses is like nectar. The patient may be healed even before any medicine is administered. In this way, we are all saints and we can be saints, here and now in our daily life. This is the great lesson Narayana Guru is giving us for our meditation on this verse: how to move away from selfishness to compassion, and how to break down the barriers around us.

Home | About Narayana Guru | Narayana Gurukulam | Guru Smarana Samithi
Gurudarsanam | Discussion Forum | Photo Gallery | Contact Us

Copyright 2010-2011 Powered by Orchid Blues