Madhura Geetham – Sloka Series
“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. Read that article here.
Each of the lines of this Athichoodi is extremely deep and contains a wealth of meaning. In our sloka series over the next few months, we will look at the meaning of each line of this work.
IHdE Unakku VazhiyAm! – This is the way of life!
Sri Adi Sankara says,
“jantUnAm narajanma durlabham….”
All other forms of life only have five senses and can only perform basic functions like breathing, eating, sleeping, reproducing, etc. They cannot perform any spiritual sadhana nor do atma vichara (inquiry of the Self) nor can do bhakti towards the Lord. It is only humans who have been bestowed with a higher intelligence and have the capacity to discriminate what is real and unreal and go in pursuit of the higher truths.
Yet, the power of Maya is so strong that humans get attracted to the pleasures of the world and forget the true purpose of their birth. That is why countless Mahans have descended again and again to show us how to lead a human life. This work of Sri Swamiji is also along those lines. He discusses the higher truths and the various spiritual disciplines in this work and concludes by stating that “iHde unakku vazhiyAm” (This is the way!).
Another way to interpret this verse is, the term “this” or “iHde” is used to refer to something that is relatively close. So, in that sense, if we look at the penultimate verse, he says – “aushadhamAm bhagavan nAmam” – The Lord’s Name is the cure. This concluding line can, therefore, be interpreted as referring to the penultimate line.
In another work of Sri Swamiji’s, Kali Dharma Undiyar, also, after discussing the various spiritual truths and disciplines and their state in this Kali Yuga, in the final verse, he concludes that the Lord’s Name is the only refuge! (“idhu varai sonnadhai idhayathil niruthinAl, irai nAmame gathi endru undhipara, evarkum eLidAm enDru undhipara”).
Sri Swamiji emphasizes the path of Nama Kirtan not just because it is the safest, surest, easiest way and the apt path for all in Kali Yuga. (“panDidhan mudhar kondu pAmaran varaiyilum, anDi pizhaithiDum, keerthanam pADIre!”)
When choosing a path, a spiritual aspirant has to consider two things. First, is the path prescribed by the scriptures? Second, is the path suitable for this Age?
“vEdhatthil sonnadhai kAlatthiRku otthavA karutthinil koLLavENDum undhipara! maRutthaRkiDamillai undhipara!”
The path of Nama Kirtan, especially Mahamantra Kirtan is extolled in Kali Santarana Upanishad, one of the 108 Upanishads, by Lord Brahma himself as the apt path for Kali Yuga. He goes on to declare that there is no other solution prescribed in the Vedas for this age of Kali!
“sa hovacha hiraNyagarbha:|
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare |
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||
iti shodashakam nAmnAm kali kalmasha nAshanam |
nAta: parataropAya sarva vedeshu drushyAte ||”
It is such a lofty path that has been bestowed on us. Is it not a fortune then, to be born in an age where attaining the Lord has become so simple? All we have to do is take the names of the Lord in our lips and go about in this world. This is indeed the way of life in Kali!
Sowmya Balasubramanian, Dallas TX