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 are extremely deep and contain 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.
We all lead very busy lives. Everyday in the morning, we wake up, get ready, prepare breakfast and lunch, quickly drop our kids to school and then head to office. After a hectic day at work, we come back, pick up kids from school, help them with their homework, get things ready for next day and retire to bed. Apart from this daily routine, we also carefully plan for the kids’ future, putting them in classes that will supplement what they learn in school, planning for financing their education, give them the safety and security of a home and finally about our own retirement.
We are so overwhelmed by our routine that we have no time to pause and reflect. We all are running around everyday and force our kids’ too to join the race. But, what race are we really running? Are we even running the right race? Or are we running because everybody else around us is running? Is this all we have been born for? Or is there some other higher purpose?
While we spend so much time planning for the 70-80 years that we may live here on Earth, we have no clue what the journey afterwards entails. We all have to face death one day. In Srimad Bhagavatham, Vasedeva when trying to pacify Kamsa says,
“Mrtyu janma vatAm vIra, dehena saha jAyate…”
On who is born has to die someday because death is born along with the body.
But, are we ready to face it? We are like a frog sitting in the mouth of a snake. Just as the snake slowly swallows the frog, as each day passes, death too is getting closer and closer. Yet, the power of Maya is such that even when we see our near and dear ones passing away, we do not think that we will also meet the same fate someday!
Yet, death is not the end. Our scriptures have described the journey after death in vivid detail – how the soul after getting another latent body travels through various worlds based on its merits(punya) and demerits(papa) and finally, based on its vasanas(latent tendencies) acquires another body and is once again born in this Earth.
In the famous Bhaja Govindam song, Sri Adi Sankaracharya says,
“punarapi jananam punarapi maranam, punarapi janani jatare shayanam.
iha samsAre bahu dustAre krupayA pAre pAhi murAre!”
One will be born again and again, die again and again and repeatedly reside in the womb of a mother!
This endless cycle of birth and death is extremely difficult to cross! Oh Murari! Please bestow your grace on us and liberate us from this endless cycle!
Sri Adi Sankaracharya clearly tells us that we will have to undergo this cycle of birth and death and suffering repeatedly until we are liberated from it.
Sri Swamiji too conveys the same message in this fifth verse of Vedanta Athichoodi – Uzhalvadellam uyarvadarke. We are undergoing this endless journey of birth and death only to reach the Supreme!
There is no other way out of this cycle. The soul will keep wandering until we realize the purpose of our birth and make efforts to reach the Supreme who is also the Source of all this creation.
In another work of Sri Swamiji, known as Kali Dharma Undiyar, he says,
“paDaippin kAraNam paTTavardanamAm vIdu peradaivadharke undeepara”, vishayAnubhavam illai undeepara”.
The purpose of creation is clearly to go back to our Home (Source). Not to be lost in the pleasures of the world!
So, one may have a question – If the pleasures are not to be enjoyed, then why should God create it in the first place? Let us say we go to a friend’s house. We see a beautiful painting there. We are unable to take our eyes off of the painting. The vivid colors, the beautiful contours keeps drawing our attention. After a while, don’t we get curious about the painting and inquire about the artist who painted it. Similarly, this beautiful creation is the work of a Master! The beautiful sights, the different varieties of food, soul-stirring music – everything is His work! So, if His creation is this wonderful then how will the Master who created it be? Great seers have thus discerned, renounced all the pleasures and focused all their efforts on the One who is behind all this and finally realized Him!
Coming back to our busy lives, liberation, renunciation of pleasures seem like lofty goals. It might have been possible for the great souls but what can we ordinary people do? Even if we want to, we are completely in the clutches of the Lord’s Maya and do not have the mental and the emotional strength to pursue Yoga, Dhayana, etc. The compassionate Lord understands our plight and has therefore given us a very simple yet effective means to reach Him!
In the Mahamantra Anthem, a composition of Sri Swamiji, he says – “MaNNulaga Asaigalum viNNulaga Asaigalum, gana pozhudil nalgidum, kirtanam pAdIre”
If you chant the Divine Song (Mahamantra), all your wishes in this life and beyond will be answered immediately!
So, all we have to do is wherever we are, whenever we can, chant the Divine Names as The Name and the Named are no different.
Sowmya Balasubramanian, Dallas TX