From the Hindu
Chandran, Nanda (NBC)
Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM
Tue Jan 20 11:05:39 CST 1998
Date: 20-01-1998 :: Pg: 28 :: Col: a
FACE TO FACE WITH THE SUPREME: Compiled by Bhaskaracharya; Srimathi Books,
607, Sankaranagar, Tiruvananthapuram. Rs. 60.
``Full many a gem of purest ray serene, the dark unfathomed caves of ocean
bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness in
the desert air,'' sang Thomas Gray, in the famous ``Elegy Written in a
Country Churchyard.'' The poet was concerned to meditate on the unrealised
merits of those who die unknown and undiscovered and lie buried in a country
churchyard. ``Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, some Cromwell
guiltless of his country's blood.'' Brooding thus came to him easily as he
roamed among the graves of the churchyard of the village of St. Pogis.
It is not only village Miltons and Cromwells who lie unknown to fame and
posterity but great sages and prophets, great masters of the eternal wisdom
of life, the great spiritual path-finders. True, some of these become known
but that is often accidentally.
The boy, Sankara, the gifted and the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba of the
then obscure village of Kaladi, would have remained unknown altogether, but
for the fact that this boy prodigy became a young sanyasi with his mother's
reluctant consent and as sanyasins are required to do, traversed the whole
of Bharat on foot, brooding and meditating intensively on the fundamental
Reality behind the manifold appearances that so distract and deceive
mankind. Sankara was not ``discovered'' by anyone. He shot into fame as a
master-mind by the vigour and force, the unremitting vigour and force of his
intellectual gifts.Ramanuja provoked the displeasure of his Acharya by a
wholly unexpected and altogether unique intellectual independence which led
him eventually to the total repudiation of his first Acharya's teaching.
But these great Acharyas too would have remained utterly unknown, more
especially in circumstances of total lack of communication facilities, but
for the inscrutable decree of a merciful providence that they shall be known
for what they really were, Acharyas of the absolute, Acharyas of salvation,
each in his unique way.
But thanks to the growth of modern communication, as well as to the
development in odd individuals of a certain intense spiritual curiosity,
modern sages do not remain as utterly dependent as they were in ancient
times on a series of accidents for their message becoming known and their
guidance accepted and followed. The rediscovery of the Veda in India was
entirely the work of the modern spirit which rebelled against the
impertinent zeal of the missionaries of faiths not native of this great
land. True, orientalists like Sir William Jones, Max Mueller, Macdonnel and
Keith helped in several ways to ensure the national recognition of the vast
riches of our moral and spiritual heritage. Most of these were inclined to
regard Indian thought and speculation of the ancient seers of India as
profoundly primitive, animistic, naturalistic and lacking in spiritual
profundity and depth.
That they made a monumental mistake was the discovery of the great leaders
of the Indian, moral and spiritual renaissance, auspicated by Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Annie Besant, Ram Mohan Roy, Tilak and Mahatma
Gandhi, not to speak of surpassingly magnificent exemplars of the true
Sanatana dharma like Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peeta
and Chandrasekara Bharati of Sringeri Sarada Peeta.
Among the most distinctive manifestations of the Holy Spirit in this land
was Bhagavan Sri Ramana. He would have remained known only to his early
devotees like the old woman who fed this Brahmana Swami. Paul Brunton too
would have totally failed to discover the Maharishi if Chandrasekerendra
Saraswati had not spoken of Ramana as a seer who remained a great seer
despite being unknown to fame and unbound by the limitations and
restrictions that afflict the universal operation of a great message beyond
the immediate devotees and adherents of a Math. Ramakrishna became known to
Principal Hastie first and through him to Narendra who later became the
great inaugurator of the unique Ramakrishna Mission.
It is of such a relatively unknown seer that this book deals with.
Bhaskaracharya has translated the original aphorisms in Malayalam by Sadu
Gopalaswami of Kerala which thus achieves the double distinction of having
given us a Sankara and a Gopalaswami. The aphorisms are set out in four
chapters with tell-tale headings ``I am all, wisdom'', ``Knowledge'',
``Self- realisation'' and ``Experience of Self-realisation''. The aphorisms
are true aphorisms, tense and fraught with a most magnificent message for
moksha. They are not new in the sense of revealing a hitherto unknown
philosophical message but new and fresh in that they bear the fragrance of
new blown flowers, the inspiriting force of a truth affirmed by someone who
has wrought it out in his own being and reveals it with his authentic
blessing. The book is a real treasure.
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