In this series, we present, each month, divine verses and slokas of praise and prayer composed by His Holiness Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, and their meaning.
“Athichoodi” is a type of poetic work (in Tamil) that comprises of a collection of one-line philosophical verses. HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji has composed a “Vedanta Athichoodi”, a poetic work that speaks of life’s most important principles. We had published the entire Vedanta Athichoodi and its overall meaning as part of our Madhura Geetham Sloka Series, earlier this year.
Here we present an in-depth look, into the meaning of each of the lines in this Vedanta Athichoodi.
When a magician performs a trick, a child watching it is filled with awe and wonder and truly believes it to be magic. But, when the child grows into a man and learns to see the trick behind the magic, he is no longer fooled by the magician. Similarly, the Lord who has created this universe has us believing that this universe and our experiences of joy and sorrow to be real. Just as the grown man knows to see the trick behind the magic, Mahans and realized souls see the Supreme Being behind this creation and are therefore do not get carried away like us.
Thanks to the fantastic play of Maya, we perceive duality in everything – from physical objects to abstract entities – human and non-human, Man and woman, poor and rich, sleep and waking state, heat and cold, pain and pleasure. It is because of the perception of duality that we have various experiences – disease, joy, hunger, fear, anger, likes and dislikes. These, primarily stem from the base – the ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ -nesses.
‘Irumai PoiyyAm’! – Fallacy is this Duality!
Transcending duality is the essence of spirituality. When one realizes this fallacy of duality – it is pure bliss – and that is the state of great Mahatmas.
Sage Shuka who gave us Srimad Bhagavatham – the supreme scripture among the 18 Puranas that talks about the Lord Krishna’s leelas on this earth, was a born Jnani. So, as soon as he descended on this earth, he left everything behind including his own father and started wandering! It was because he saw the Supreme Being in this entire creation and not the individual objects like trees, house, lions, tigers, etc. As a result, when Sage Vyasa, called out to his son, the trees in the forest responded to his call and not Sage Shuka – “…… putreti tanmayatayA taravobhineduH tam sarva bhUta hrudayam munimAnatosmi” – Srimad Bhagavatham (1.2.2)
Sri Bhishma too talks about this profound concept in the last stanza of Bhisma Stuthi, just before giving up his body –
“tam-imam am-ajam sarIra-bhAjAm hrdi hrdi dhishTitam-Atma-kalpitAnAm | pratidrsam iva naikadhArkam yEkam samadhigatOsmi vidhUta-bhEda-mOha: ||”
I have realized that this Supreme Lord who has no birth is in the hearts of all the beings. Just as the Sun may have multiple reflections, yet the actual Sun is only one. Now, that I have realized this, I am now free from the misconception of duality.
As lower mortals, how are we to transcend the duality? When the Lord, out of his will and his opulence called ‘Maya’ made us such, how can we, by our own mite, overcome it? It is only be His grace can we transcend this.
Sant Kabir Das says,
“guru krpA anjan pAyO mErE bhAi rAma binA kacu dEkhat nAhi”
(I got a collyrium called Guru’s Grace and now, I perceive only Lord Rama and none else)
Only Guru’s Grace or the Lord’s grace can give us this realization. And, the easiest way to attain that is to chant the Names of the Lord!
Sowmya Balasubramaniam, Dallas, TX