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Scriptures of Mercy (Anukampadasakam) Class –III

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That Dispenser of Mercy, could He not be that reality
Who proclaiming words of supreme import, the chariot drives,
Or Compassion’s ocean, ever impatient for all creation,
Or who in terms clear non-dual wisdom expounds the Guru?

The allusions here are to three ways of appreciation of the central human value called kindness in three different contexts. God himself is first referred to as the Dispenser of Mercy as He was Mercy-Maker in the first verse of the poem. Functionally, God is Mercy’s Author. Generosity, goodness and bounty are integral parts of His absolute nature in the usual sense of the positive, transcendental immaterial principle.

As a representative of this Principle, we have Vyasa who, in the Bhagavad-Gita represents Krishna as a Guru or teacher of contemplative wisdom. Krishna drives the chariot of Arjuna in the midst of the battle. Krishna represents in his person the word or the wisdom such as the Logos meant to the Greeks. This is an objective aspect of reality but should be conceived in pure terms. Such a reality is the “Stuff” or “Substence” here (Porul in the original)

In the third line of the verse the reference is to that type of wisdom which expresses itself realistically at the level of daily life. Buddha’s ethics had this character. The boundless human sympathy which welled up in within Buddha overflowed and reached out to all life in the quest of a universal synthesis, taking in life as a whole realistically and rationally. The universal elements presents Buddha’s sympathy gave it a mystical character which is described here as a restless ocean ever seeking to make good prevail in human affairs.

Sankara can easily be taken to be a typical example of the Guru referred to in the last line, although many others could also be taken as examples.


In human semblance here is He a divinity,
Or perhaps the law of right in sacred human form?
Is He the pure begotton Son of the Lord Most High?
Or kindly Prophet Nebi, pearl and Gem in one?

When we say “Son of God”this means the same as when in another place we read “Son of Man”. The second Person of the Trinity is the meeting point of two aspects of reality. In Vedanta we have the famous example of the sentence “This is that Devadatta “.The syntactical and grammatical relations of the different-seeming but identically semantically “this”and “that” helps to fix the identity of Devadatta, as if from two opposite poles of reality. Much Vedantic scholasticism has been continued round these attributes which meet in the Absolute neutral, central, actual or numinous reality. This central Value is to be recognized intuitively by the contemplative mind.

In the present verse the same contemplative method of examination is carried out. The “man-god” is the same as the “god-man”. In some cases it is easy to see the antinomial features. In other cases where the pure and the practical coalesce more closely in the person of a prophet or spiritual teacher, the two aspects adhere without distinction, like the two sides of the same gold coin.

According to the Guru Narayana, the Nebi or the Prophet Mahommed has this last described quality. He is called “kindly Prophet Nebi, pearl and gem in one”. The pearl found in the ocean’s depth represents perfection. It symbolizes an integrated normal value in human affairs. The gem is a similar beauty- value with many facets. There is a certain pure severity combined with a lavish sense of richness and kindness combined in the character and personality of Mahommed the Prophet. The Quran is full of practical injunctions based on a sense of justice in the name of the Most High and Generous God. Mahommedan art provides an example of this double- character. The gem inset in the Taj Mahal and the pure pearly perfection of Islamic architecture reflect this austerely severe love of purity, combined with beauty and justice. Islam’s success as a religion further testifies to these qualities.

Verse – 8

Is He that soul personified who with holy ashes once
Fever drove away and many wonders worked?
Or yet that other of psychic power who wandering in agony,
Allayed His ventral distress even with song?

Reference is made here to the early seventh century Tamil saints, last representatives of the Siva tradition, who, after the decadence of Saivism in the South, by a strange appeal to the emotional aspects of the ancient traditional religion, were able to give it new life once more in the Tamil country at a time when foreign ideologies from the North were beginning to confuse the life of the people. They were able again to revive in the masses a simple pious reponse to Siva. The ashes and the snake were inseparable counterparts of this old pre-historic cult which we have elsewhere traced from the times of the Mohenjo-Daro seals.

When Jaina influences came to the South and when the ruling families were being converted one after another to the Jaina ways, these saints demonstrated how healing and psychic wonders of faith occurred when older, atavistic or memory reactions in reference to wisdom were revived. Ventral troubles are often due to emotional maladjustments which get healed when deeper memory factors are revived by atavistic group behaviour or the like. Even fever can come from excitement and overwork due to lack of balancing interests in life.

The devotional character of these saints is revealed in the profuse songs they poured out in praise of the ancient God Siva. All the accumulated imagery, rich in mystical import- the heritage of ages of the Tamil genius, reaching back into pre-history- came back to the surface and gave a specific character to these songs. With all these connected associations, and with the “miracles” which, as in the case of Jesus, were possible and actually in the air, along with rumours of all kinds, these Tamil saints lived and moved among the kings and the common people of the period.

Appar, Sundarar, Manikkar and Tirugnanasambandar were four of the great names in this early era. The first two lines here refer to Appar who is said to have healed the Pallava king Mahendravarman 1, of his chronic fever. It was evidently faith-healing to the credit of the Saiva cult, by which Appar became famous. The last two lines refer to Sundarar. The object here is to show that bodily health depends on a balance of emotional and intellectual factors. Most “miracles” examined in the light of the ambivalent factors in the psyche lose their mystery. This domain of psychopathology must not lure us into lengthy discussion here.

Channar and Doves.

Once Narayana Guru visited a Channar’s house in Alummood village (Southern Travancore). After seeing flocks of pigeons in the third floor of his house Guru said-“Channar thinks that the mansion belongs to him where as the birds are the impression that it is their own”.
from Narayana Guru Vaikhari
Compiled and edited by Dr. T. Bhaskaran

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