Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oru Sutram - A fine “sutram”

Oru Sutram - Commentary by HH Srimad Azhagiya Singar

By Srimad Azhagiya Singar ( Translated into English from Tamizh)

The Tamil word "sutram" literally means the one who surrounds. This word is normally used to refer to one’s family members. One is surrounded by family, and hence, the family is one’s "sutram". Our incomparable Lord who protects us at all times without forsaking us is also "sutram". Much like our family, the Lord also stands around us and therefore He is "sutram".
However, there is an important difference between the family members surrounding us and the Lord surrounding us. We think the family surrounds us out of love. But the Lord surrounds us due to greater love. There is a selfish reason for the family to be near us. The Lord does not have any selfish motive. Due to His infinite compassion He surrounds us to protect us. But, there is an interesting selfish motive for the Lord also to protect us. Shasthras proclaim that it is for His own pleasure He protects Jivas.

Take for example a great king feeding fruits and milk to his pet parrot. Why does he do it? He takes pleasure when he sees his pet enjoying. Our Lord stands guard around us and protects us for the same reason. It grieves our Lord to see us suffer from the misery of worldly life. Take the case of a son who disobeys his father and as a consequence suffers. If the son regrets his mistake, the father will eliminate the suffering and rejoice at his son’s joy. Having ignored the enjoined rites commanded by our Lord, described in Sruti (Vedas) and Smrithi, we get enslaved in the worldly life and suffer. The Lord is saddened to see this. If we surrender to Him through a bona fide Acharya, the Lord will take that as a pretext and protect us at all times by standing guard around us. In the end, we attain joyous union with the Lord. This gives a great deal of delight to the Lord. This is a golden truth of shasthras conveyed to us by our past Acharyas.

So, like the family members, there is a selfish motive even for the Lord to be around us. Then, what is the difference between family members and the Lord? We must understand the answer to this question very carefully. The selfishness of family members result in only their benefit, there is nothing in it for the Jiva. However, the selfishness of the Lord surrounding us brings great benefit to us.

Periazhvar describes this in the verse 4.5.3 of Periazhvar Thirumozhi

How the family members will surround one in his death bed cajoling him to reveal the location of any wealth he may have hid. If one has wealth there will be many surrounding him to share in its enjoyment. Some hide their wealth to protect it from these parasites. So, when he is in the throes of death, the relatives form a close circle around him for fear of missing out any information the dying man may give about any hidden wealth. They are unconcerned about losing a close member of their family. All they are interested in is their share of the money. What good is this selfishness to the dying man?

The Lord is also encircling this dying man. The Lord wishes to take him to Parama Padam where all his sorrow will be eradicated. There, he can enjoy exquisite pleasures. This is pleasing to the Lord and will make Him happy.
The Lord’s self interest brings great joy to the Jiva. Even when his own close family members forsake him, the Lord stays close to him out of divine compassion. Lying in the death-bed like a peace of wood or stone when even the closest relatives turn away with repulsion, the Lord stays very close and bestows only good things. He is indeed a fine "Sutram".

In Sri Sahasranamam, the Lord’s 931st name is "Paryavasthita". Sri Bhattar says, in his Sri Sahasranamam commentary, this name means the Lord is a fine "Sutram" for everyone. This is explained with the episode when the Lord saved the elephant king Sri Gajendran. Here is what Sri Bhattar says in the commentary.

vaTsLyat! gajendram Pari - Parita: Avasthitha: Paryavasthitha:

When the elephant king went to a pond brimming with cool water to quench his thirst he was bitten by a crocodile. The Lord of all lords came rushing to release Sri Gajendran from his distress. Sri Gajendran’s distress was no ordinary distress. It was not like the distress ordinary beings may feel. Ordinary beings may call out to the Lord only to get released from the jaws of the evil crocodile. But Sri Gajendran was not worried about that. The pressing jaws of the crocodile did not bother him. He was distressed that the Lord is now facing a danger because of his carelessness while taking a drink of water. What if the Lord does not appear? Won’t the foolish world lose faith in the Lord? This is what was going on in Sri Gajendran’s mind.

If the Lord does not answer the remorseful cries of the elephant king, won’t the general public conclude there is no Lord. People will start preaching against the very existence of God. Foolish masses will conclude there is no use surrendering to the Lord. This is what distressed Sri Gajendran, not the pangs of pain from the pressing jaws of the crocodile. So, when the Lord appeared and saved Sri Gajendran, the Lord was in fact saving Himself from this ignominy. The danger Sri Gajendran faced was in fact a danger to the Lord. When the Lord saved Sri Gajendran, He was actually saving Himself. Only our early Acharyas have been able to offer such an interesting and enjoyable twist to the story of Sri Gajendran.

Thus, in the case of Sri Sri Gajendran, when the Lord acted on His self interest and saved Sri Gajendran, it benefited not just the Lord, not just Sri Gajendran, but everyone as well by illustrating the assurance of Lord’s promise to protect a surrendered soul.

(This is a translation of a portion of Srimad Azhagiya Singar’s article which appeared during the Masi (February 2004) issue of Sri Nrisimha Priya, pp. 7 – 16 )

Dasharathi Dasan
Sarvam SriKrishnarpaNamastu

No comments: