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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-36

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)

Translation & explanation of Verse-36

The power of knowledge is endless;
The end of all this can be marked as “sameness” and “the other”;
Thus, in this way, there are two divisions; in this, merging the other with sameness,
One should remain awake to that clear state of being.

(“Arivinu sakthiyananthamundithellaam
Aruthiyidaam ‘sama’ ‘anya’ yennivannam
Irupirivaay ithilanya saamyamaarnnu
ulluruvilamarnnu thelinjunarnnidenam”)

Key message:-
When we hear the English word “knowledge”, what comes to our mind is a passive idea, such as that of a reflected image in a mirror. Sree Narayana Guru, however, is not using the word ‘Arivu’ (knowledge) in such a passive sense. This is because, by translating ‘Arivu’ into knowledge, we minimize its meaning. The dynamic power implied in the word ‘Arivu’ is not in knowledge.

Words like awareness, consciousness and knowledge refer only to partial aspects of that great dynamic whole which includes within it the conscious and the unconscious, the potential and the actual, the transcendent and the immanent, the creative and the created. In the present verse, knowledge is to be understood as all this. In that sense, what is there other than knowledge?

Philosophical context:-
The simplest form of knowledge is the awareness of the I-consciousness. When a person says “I am”, what he really says is: “I know that I am”. In this sentence, “I” comes twice. Is the first “I” different from the second “I”? And what is the difference between “I am” and “I know”? The first “I” is a postulate to be examined. The examination is performed by knowing it. Knowing is a process. The culmination of the process is restated as a verified “I”. The verification is that it exists. Its existence is emphasized here as “I am”. The awareness of the I-consciousness is a very simple pulsation of an idea, there cannot be anything more simple than that, yet in that simple act of awareness, there is a presentation, a scrutiny and a judgment.

When we are seeking knowledge and finding it, who is it who seeks it, and just where does the seeker get knowledge from? These are really mysterious things. You presume that you do not know when you seek, and yet you seek in a certain direction. How do you decide this is the direction you have to move? Who motivates you, moves you? What intuition comes to you to say that there is a knowledge to be sought and found? Look at the millions of inventions we have made to make life so very comfortable. Look at all the technical devices, the artifacts. All these have sprung up from nowhere. They are all the creations of knowledge.

Knowledge can be just passive consciousness, a desire, a dynamic that makes you restless until you get up and seek and find and realize. Knowledge is a zest, a compulsion, a perseverance. It is the joy of recognition. It is fulfillment, accomplishment, effort. The whole of life and everything happening in it is nothing but that knowledge. They are all the creations of knowledge.

Knowledge is dynamic. Not one moment passes without the movement and transformation of it. And what transforms? There must be a substance that transforms. This substance cannot come from a fresh supply somewhere, since it already represents totality. A fresh supply would imply that it originated from somewhere and that it had been originated by something and that it gets expended somewhere else. It is not like that.

Word meanings of the verse:-

Arivinu = knowledge, which is ‘Dharmi’
Sakthiyananthamundu = endless power
Ithellaam aruthiyidaam = these powers can be included in
‘sama’ ‘anya’ yennivannam irupirivaay = two divisions such as ‘sameness’ and ‘the other’
Ithil anya saamyamaarnnu = in this, merging ‘the other’ with ‘sameness’
Ulluruvil = true form that is unified.
Amarnnu = the curious person by himself surrendering and merged
Thelinju = the clear state of being attained on the Supreme knowledge
Unarnnidenam = to be awake after attaining such Bliss.

Explanation of the verse:-
The power of knowledge is to know. It is endless. For instance, a person having curiosity and doubts on a topic, doing research on that, arriving on a conclusion and deciding its benefit on what is inferred out of it, to memorize what is known, imagining a new idea and conceptualizing new creation out of this, emotions such as desires, anger, competition and envy and the list goes on and on. It is the same knowledge that bonds and integrates all sciences. Take the case of a stone lying on the ground. It has a definite weight, size, color and gravitational pull, which are its characteristics. In fact, we are knowing these qualities in actual sense. In other words, the qualities of the stone are perceived as our experience. All experiences are knowledge. In short, the stone and all qualities of the stone are various styles or manner differences. Therefore, there is no surprise to understand what the Guru said about power of knowledge is endless.

The Guru brings forward the division of power of knowledge into ‘sama’ and ‘anya’. ‘Sama’ is called the universal aspect or sameness, and ‘anya’ is called the particular aspect or the other. In this work, Guru advices us the integration of both the above divisions of power of knowledge, not to give importance on any of these divisions. ‘Sama’ is etymologically related to ‘same’ and ‘anya’ to another. In the real life, we are always moving, shifting and changing our attention from the particular to the universal and from the universal back to the particular. There is a likelihood of our making the mistake of getting caught in the particular. When this happens, we stand always divided, treating ‘me’ as sama and ‘you’ as anya, and finding no way to come together in a common interest. The other possibility is to clasp our hand and sit together in silence, sharing the feelings of wonder. Then we forget that there are many. We also forget this ‘I’. Then there comes a great peace, a great serenity, a joy that is not a form of excitement. In that joy, everything merges. At least for some time there is no other. We need this, very deeply.

When ‘sama’ and ‘anya’- sameness and the other, interrelate in this harmonious way, it brings the quality of the highest kind of inner peace and calm to our life. When life is so protected with an integrated wisdom, there is no dissipation of energy. It is all conserved. It is hard to even comprehend this state, unless we are already established in it. It can be attained.

A garland is made up of a number of flowers and thread. We can appreciate and enjoy each flower separately. As we examine the color, smell, texture and softness of each one, we forget about the garland. If we treat it as whole garland, the flowers blend together and lose their individual identities. It is also possible to think of it as both flowers and a garland. This is the integrated vision.

Concluding message:
Sree Narayana Guru is not asking us to run away from the particular to the universal, but to transcend the duality and live and accept both these games together. Then we will be living in our beingness and also allowing every little aspect of becoming to come to pass. It is a very joyous way of accepting life and a wonderful way of living it richly and beautifully.

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