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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-24

Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-24

“That man,” “this man” – thus, all that is known
in this world, if contemplated, is the being of the one primordial self;
What each performs for the happiness of the self
should be conducive to the happiness of another.

(“Avanivanennariyunnathokkeyorthaal
Avaniyilaadimamaayoraathmaroopam;
Avanavanaathmasukhathinaacharikkunna-
Avayaparannu sukhathinaay varenam”)

Key message:-
This verse introduces the concept of “Swadharma”, performance in accordance with your true nature. In deciding this nature, the Guru wants us to know there are two aspects. One is our specific nature, and the other is our general nature. As humans, you and I should have the same general nature, while our specific nature is to function in society in certain different ways.
For instance, in the case of a teacher, the specific nature is that of a teacher, and the general nature is of a man or a woman. So there is a complementarity in the interpersonal relationships, while from inside just human beings.

Explanation:
“That man,” “this man” – thus, all that is known
in this world, if contemplated, is the being of the one primordial self;
(“Avanivanennariyunnathokkeyorthaal
Avaniyilaadimamaayoraathmaroopam”):

The characteristic of compassion is that it occurs from one person to another. The case of anger is also of the same nature. Sometimes, we get anger all of sudden. But afterwards we think that it was not required and in our heart there is a lack of mercy. We have studied in all moral codes, scriptures and ethical laws that mutual help, mercy, compassion etc. are to be practiced and developed by every one of us. In those literary compositions, the basis is ‘I’ and ‘you’ functioning as separate entities. This is the form of morale functioning in conditionality. Every individual loves his self than anything else.

But there is a unifying stature where our knowledge can lead to homogeneity. Every living being is a separate entity. At the same time, all have come to existence through the central line of Absolute Truth (‘Param Porul’)
The main reality is the knowledge of the Self. If you choose to be a fully developed person, you should naturally put before yourself the highest possible standard of the attainment of pure knowledge. The highest possible truth is continuous and contiguous from the very first form of reality to you. It is whole, without part, and without any possible division. This makes one not only a brother to all fellow humans, but also in kinship with all of existence.

What each performs for the happiness of the self
should be conducive to the happiness of another.
(“Avanavanaathmasukhathinaacharikkunna-
Avayaparannu sukhathinaay varenam”):

When we look around, we see other human beings just like us. We also see other kinds of living beings with some of the traits of humans. If everything manifested is our own Self, and we are considering the happiness of the self, such happiness lies in being harmonious with our own nature. If we are dislodged from the harmony of our physical well-being, we become sick. If we are pushed-out of our moral integrity, we become morally sick. If we are pushed away from the proper functioning of our minds, we become either retarded or sub-normal. If our understanding is clouded, we become stupid.

We know how an atom is constituted, as we are the knowers of nature. We also know how to fission an atom, blast it apart. It can be said that knowledge can be good to maintain and appreciate harmony, and also to destroy it. So knowledge for a wise man is a great tool for being good, but for an evil man, it is a tool which makes possible tremendous destruction. Thus, knowledge by itself is amoral. There has to be more involved than factual, rational knowledge. The truth that you are seeking to discover is not only a rational truth, it should be a truth which is rich in its content of love. Protagoras, the Greek philosopher says the Knowledge need not necessarily be a virtue. But Socrates says it is and continues to state that “A man who says he know the Absolute Truth and is not virtuous knows only one part of it”. In the Upanishads, this is called knowledge that walks on only one leg.

For the Self to walk on two legs, it must have knowledge and also love; i.e. love for itself. Nature reveals itself in a human self so that it knows it is all, or that it belongs to all. This brings us to the conclusion that, if you are concerned with the happiness of the Self, which binds you to commit yourself to live always for the happiness of all.

Concluding message:
The principle viewed above from the social and the ethical standpoint is here restated in terms of Self-knowledge. The duality that is apparent between the interests of two individuals can be viewed unitively as referring to the self-same central or neutral Self conceived in the context of the Absolute. The Bhagavat Gita (chapter-VI, verse-32) alludes to this way of establishing “sameness” (‘samam’) between the Self and the Cosmos. The dialectical method known to ancient wisdom world-over is implied in the equation of the Self and the non-Self. But over covered and lost in later philosophies. Looking at the verse in a common sense way, we could derive the simpler principle of human equality from it. As the Scottish poet Burns writes “A Man’s a Man for A That”, the principle of equality is at the basis of Western civilization and variously named democracy, socialism or communism. Treating thy neighbor as thyself implies the equation of the Self with the non-Self.

The one you love most is your own Self. If you truly know your Self, it is not confined to your body, it permeates all beings. Your life should be a consecrated life, dedicated to the happiness of all. That is why the previous verses said that such a person, whether he is healthy or not, all day, all night, whatever he does is motivated to make life a little brighter for others, to bring a little more light on things which are concealed, to make a little more harmony whether is chaos and disorder. This is Narayana Guru’s very basic fundamental of social ethics, which is based on Self-realization. Realization and doing good are not two separate things, they are one and the same.
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