[This is a new Advaita series, taken from the Deivathin Kural by Kanchi Paramacharya]
A carpenter made a wooden elephant for the temple. Another carpenter went along with him to test it, along with his child. The child saw the elephant and was scared, “Appa, do not go near the elephant, it may attack” he screamed. The carpenter said, “this is but a wooden toy, it won’t attack” and he took the child near the elephant.
For the child, the elephant was real. For the carpenter, however real it appeared, he knew that it was a toy.
The elephant was hiding the tree
The elephant got hidden in the tree
The above is a lame translation of what Yogeeshwara so eloquently mentioned both the child and the father’s state of mind in Tamil as below.
மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை
மரத்தில் மறைந்தது மாமத யானை
This phrase is in his Thiru Manthiram. Why did he narrate the following story can be clarified if we see the other two lines.
பரத்தை மறைத்தது பார்முதல் பூதம்
பரத்தில் மறைந்தது பார்முதல் பூதம்
Just as the elephant and the wood were one and the same in the above example, the Lord Paramatma is no different from the world itself. The (toy) world is made by the wood called Paramatma. Just as the child did not know the wood in the elephant, we do not know the wood that had become the world. We can feel the five elements which hides us from the almighty, which is behind and beyond everything. But the Gnani’s know the wood behind the world, they seldom get distracted by the toy aka the world.
Why is this being said here? To live happily in this world, we need money, who cares about Paramatma or wood? Let us just assume that everyone becomes rich. Can then everyone be happy and peaceful? Take a look at the developed, rich world, are they all happy and peaceful? The human tendency is to have more than the other. Even if all facilities are given equally, they would want them to be served first.
For this ‘rat race’ to vanish, one should get the Gnana that there is nothing to race against. What we ought to do all the time is ‘Athma Vichara’ – to search for the truth within. If you do not want to buy the misery of this world, then remember that this world is that of Shivamaya. This is the elephant, and this is the wood. One should remember this always. Without this gnana, one should be doomed in darkness associating the world to the elephant and running behind its pleasures.
[From Kanda & Akhanda]
There is just one sun for us. Take a bit of water and sprinkle it in a polished surface and you shall see countless sun in every droplet in the floor. They do not mean individual suns, but a mere reflection. Likewise, it is one Paramatma who has manifested itself in to many. This is stated by Adi Shankaracharya in His Brahma Suthra bashya.
That one source from which everything has manifested, that one is what reflects as many, you and me etc., That One is what is called in the Vedas as Thath (see how the word That matches closely with it!). Thath means, it is far, above everything. Though it appears to be far and above, in reality it is what there is! It is very close. It is you itself. That’s what the Vedas say ‘Thath Twam’ – twam means you.
But the practical problem is, when I say the above in this second, you feel everything is understood. We will be blissful if we remain in this consciousness always, but this disappears the next second itself. Therefore we suffer. How can we stick to this consciousness which is bliss absolute? It is to stick to That which is blissful, conscious and existing all the time. Hold on to That one. Sat – Chit – Ananda, existence, knowledge, bliss absolute. It is the paramatma himself that we should hold on to.
Thiruvalluvar says this beautifully:
பற்றுக பற்றற்றான் பற்றினை அப்பற்றினை
பற்றுக பற்று விடற்கு
Grab hold of that one’s holy feet who is never attached, and never let go – a lame translation again. Bear with us. Once we got hold of Him, there won’t be any rat race, anger or jealousy or fear. This is the fruit that Shankaracharya got us from the tree of Upanishads. This fruit has to be ripened in us, for which we need patience. We cannot ripen it artificially. How do we make this fruit ripen naturally then?
Do dhyana, japa, tapa, pooja etc., Do Athma Vichara. Then we shall know that Thath which seems far away is so very close to us, it is Us ourselves.