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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-25

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-25

What is good for one person and brings misery to another
Such actions are opposed to the self, remember!
Those who give great grief to another
will fall into the fiery sea of hell and burn.

(“Oruvanu nallathum anyanallalum cherp-
Oruthozhil aathmavirodhiyorthitenam;
Paranu param parithaapamekitunnor-
Erinarakaabhdhiyil veenerinjitunnu”)

Key message:-
After presenting the positive approach to the happiness of all in the previous verse, Narayana Guru here counterbalances it with the negative approach, which brings in the problem of evil. In the last few verses, wherever the Guru referred to the ‘other’, he used a special word ‘aparan’, meaning one who seems to be another, but when properly considered is not. Here, however, he uses ‘paran’, meaning one who definitely is another. When such a contradiction comes into our life and we do not see any kinship with another person, even the reluctance against doing evil does not go very deep. A kind of disease comes to the mind; we become dull and insensitive to the pain we cause others. To that extent, we shrink into our egoistic shell and lose touch with the transcendent aspect of reality and its all-permeating beauty.

One definition of the Absolute is ‘Satyam Sivam Sundaram’. ‘Satyam’ means the all-pervading truth; ‘Sivam’ the auspicious, peaceful calm which is absolutely harmonious; and ‘Sundaram’ is that which is positively experienced as beauty par excellence. To have a comprehensive vision of the Supreme Self, one should experience the overwhelming beauty of the Absolute in both its manifested and un-manifested states. When there is a deficiency in this vision, ignorance is casting its shadow on us. When the shadow of ignorance becomes more and more pronounced, we see less of truth and become increasingly identified with our physical entity, which separates us from our divine nature.

What is good for one person and brings misery to another
Such actions are opposed to the self, remember!
(“Oruvanu nallathum anyanallalum cherp-
Oruthozhil aathmavirodhiyorthitenam”):

In most religions, there is a belief that those who do meritorious actions and good things in their life will reach heaven and those who do sin reach hell (inferno). But non-dualistic vision is something which is beyond merit and sin deeds.

In case you give a place for sin deeds in non-dualistic way, it should be in the following perceptions:-
1.The actions which are against the righteousness and unacceptable to the Absolute Truth.
2.The actions which are good for own and others, acceptable to the principle of Absolute Truth and belonging to the good deed or merit.
3.Whereas the actions performed good for own self, but causes difficulty and bitter experiences for others belong to sins.
4.The situation leading to hell-equivalent is caused by the wrong decisions and vested interests of the people creating divisions among the people and societies and at the same time against other countries’ security and happiness.

This is due to the wrong and dualistic approach of individuals or communities towards others as against the principle of unitive vision on the Supreme Self. This results in non-inclusiveness and a hell-situation, which need not be waited after death.
Everyone fears the hell and therefore people look for the remedial actions for the sins they did. These actions are done keeping in mind on their own self-interests. This is in turn against the principle of Supreme Self and a pure violation.

Those who give great grief to another
will fall into the fiery sea of hell and burn.

(“Paranu param parithaapamekitunnor-
Erinarakaabhdhiyil veenerinjitunnu”):

Like the quality of mercy, kindness has to be conceived as a double blessing and its absence as a double disaster. The non-dual way is the only escape when conflicting interests develop in a given situation due to unilateral action. Favoritism is a form of duality, to whichever the side it might be applied. What is evil is the duality implicit in the unilateral interest that is taken.

Ethics is not to be conceived as depending on the conduct of a good man taken by himself; it is to be understood as a double-edged situation cutting both ways. It has to be conceived not as a lame or one-sided affair, but as a process in which donor and beneficiary belong to a unitive and universal context.

When a spark of fire goes into a pile of sticks, it does not just burn one tiny bit of it. It will affect the next piece and the next until it becomes a conflagration. Like that, when we sow the seeds of discontent, it is contagious. In a very literal sense, it can become a hell fire, even when small discontentment accumulates.

One possible misunderstanding that can arise from this verse is to think of action in a linear way. If we consider all the actions that we do in life and their virtues, we may be filled with a sense of self-righteousness and see injustice in our suffering for things which we have seemingly never done. This is a linear vision, and karma is not to be understood as linear. It is highly complex. Our actions make one composite whole, and our responsibility to each other is unlimited. If we do not understand our unlimited liability to each other and make it a partial one, then our thinking becomes relativistic. Our understanding is no longer that of an absolutist.

Any deficit in any one of us is also a deficit of the whole. The deficit action of one can weaken the whole system to an extent. The contributory effect of that kind of karma is like a stain, which is a localized disturbance but the poison it generates circulates throughout the body. In a sense, it is the poison of the whole body that comes and accumulates as a stain in one place. Similarly, through specific people, the poison of our collective activity is manifested. If that person retrospects about his own personal life, he may not see anything to justify the pain coming particularly to him. Here it is not the individual but the collective Self, which is suffering.

Concluding message:
When the dualistic attitude has once been abolished, and generosity spreads evenly like sunlight without distinction, on all human beings, even on the publican and the sinner. Such kind of generosity belongs to the context of the absolutist way of life and is one that, in the context of Self-realization, is very important to keep in mind. The self can itself become the worst enemy to the Supreme Self. This has been brought out with the full force of delicate dialectics in the Bhagavat Gita (Chapter VI, verse-6). With this verse and the previous one, Sree Narayana Guru gives the world his contribution of social ethics, based on Self-realization. It should become a cardinal principle of our own lives.

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