[Advaita-l] Kanchi Mahaswamigal's Discourses on Advaita Saadhanaa - (KDAS - 74)
profvk at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 30 09:48:43 CDT 2006
For a Table of Contents of these Discourses, see
For the previous post, see
SECTION 59: SHRAVANAM AND
SUSHRUUSHHAA (RESPECTFUL SERVICE)
Tamil Original: http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/dk6-132.htm
First there is shravaNaM. It stands for the receiving through
hearing/listening of the teaching of the mahAvakyas from the Guru. Along
with that he teaches also several other matters about tradition
according to Brahma-vidyA ShAstra. He also tells you several
methodologies of how to reflect through DhyAna on the non-difference
between Jiva and Brahman. Receiving all this through hearing is also
It does not mean that it is just hearing through the ears. One has to
receive it in the heart and hold on to it. This is what is formally
called shravaNaM. When we refer to the action of eating we usually refer
only to the action that takes place in the mouth. Actually the purpose
is to get it into the stomach and get it digested and absorbed into the
blood. The mouth is only an external organ whose action is termed
'eating'. So also the external organ, the ear, does something and we
name it shravaNaM, but it really means that what the ear consumes has to
be digested in the mind and intellect as 'nectar' of upadesha and
finally it has to be absorbed in the heart. When the 'Vinayakar Ahaval
says *yen cheviyil yellaiyillaa aanandam-aLittu* it means it goes
through the ears into the heart and creates Bliss there.
Sound is what belongs to the all-permeating space principle. That is why
there is importance to shravaNaM of receiving the teachings that are in
the form of sound. Our Veda-mantras are the sound-chains that have been
caught as such, so as to be accessible to our ears, by the Rishis
through their extra-sensory powers, in the form of subtle sound
vibrations that emanated in space from the very breath of the Lord .
What they heard through their subtle ears should also be heard only by
our physical ears and not be written down and learnt - this is the rule.
Then only the quintessence of the teaching that has to reach the
heart-space, the Source of everything, will go through by tracing the
Universal Space, the breath of the Absolute, and the breathing
paramAtmA. Hence the importanc of shravaNaM.
Another thing. When we learn from a book, the book, being an inert
object, may show the writing but it will not feed us the life behind the
writing. It is when the letters come through the live medium of the
Guru or the Acharya who has known the essence of the Teaching, that the
upadesha enters as a living message.
Furthermore, only when there is the upadesha coming from the Guru there
happens the disciplic bhAva (*shishhya-bhAva). The humility and the
sense of smallness are necessary for the destruction of the ego. The
thought that "I am doing the very difficult jnAna yoga sAdhanA"
certainly will bloat the ego; it is only the sushruushhA that one does
to the Guru - who is himself in that enlightened state - that will knock
you on the head and constitute the strategy for killing the ego.
[Note by VK: The Tamil word the Mahaswamigal uses
here as an attribute of the Guru is *anubhavi*.
The literal English equivalent would be 'Experiencer'
A few paragraphs later, the Mahaswamigal himself explains
what *anubhavi* means.]
I said 'sushruushhA'. The Tamils wrongly call it 'sishruushhA'. If we
go by the root word for sushruushhA, it is related to 'shravaNaM'. The
root 'shru' means 'to hear'. It is from this that both the words
'sushruushhA' and 'shravaNaM' have come. The direct meaning of
'sushruushhA' is 'to long to hear'.
The meaning of 'to long to hear' when related to the Guru, is 'to long
to do what is heard'. It is not just hearing that matters. The heard
matter may be to one's liking or not. Either way there is no question of
discarding it or leaving it just there after a word of appreciation.
Without any scope for liking or disliking, what is heard must be put
into practice. Thus 'sushruushhA' in its extended form has the meaning
'to long to practise whatever is going to be heard'.
'Listen to what is said', we usually say. We find fault by saying 'One
is not being heard'. On all such occasions what we mean by 'heard' is
'heard and done'. Similarly, 'to long to hear for the very purpose of
doing what is going to be heard' is *sushruushhA*.
To do what one is told one needs a lot of the quality of humility. Once
the quality of humility is there, a natural desire will arise to do
service to him before whom we are humble. In other words respectful
humility will automatically breed the willingness to serve. It is that
service that has come to be known as *sushruushhA*.
'Go to the Guru! Fall at his feet! Listen! Do service! Serving him get
the upadesha of jnAna from him! --*tad-viddhi praNipAtena pariprashnena
sevayA*, says the Lord.(B.G. IV - 34). *praNipAtaM* is 'straight fall'.
'pAtaM' is fall. 'nipAtaM' is a clean fall. 'Pra-nipAtaM' ( =
*praNipAtaM*) is a very clean, straight fall, as a total surrender.
*pari-prashnena* means by a constant and repeated questioning. That is
exactly 'sushruushhA'. As soon as He says that, he adds 'sevayA',
meaning 'by service'.
The matter unwinds here by a chain of one thing leading to another. The
way the Gita shlokas appear here tells us that one gets the
jnAna-upadesha from a guru only after one has abdicated all karmas and
become a sannyAsi. "More than the yajna that one does in karma yoga with
external accessories, the internal yajna of jnAna yoga is superior. All
karma finally terminate in jnAna" says He in the previous shloka. Having
said that, immediately he follows: "The jnAnis who have directly seen
the Truth-that is, experienced - will teach you jnAna. Go to them,
fall straight at their feet, question and listen repeatedly, and serving
them, learn". This occurs in JnAna-karma-sannyAsa-yoga. When we put all
these together, it is clear that he is talking about getting the
Brhma-vidyA teaching from a jnAni only after throwing off karma and
taking up sannyAsa.
The sequence goes like this. First we hear by the ears. The very
hearing is done for obeying what we have heard. This is sushrUushhA.
The inseparable part that comes out of this is the humility. And from
that the respectful service. Thus starting from hearing by the ears it
leads on to service. And the service itself has got the name of
sushruushhA. In due course of time people came to think that sushruushhA
means service; its original meaning of 'listening' disappeared from
But, more than the sushruushA of respectful physical service, the Guru
considers as great (and is pleased at) that sushruushhA by which the
disciple receives, with a clean heart, with the intention of carrying
out in practice, the teaching imparted by the Guru with all the humility
and the respect it deserves. He will not think as greatly of the
service that the disciple does for the Guru's physical comforts as he
would, of the spiritual progress that the sishhya makes by properly
benefitting from the treasures of the Atman that the Guru transmits to
him. It is the proper sushruushhA of the ears that constitutes the
greatest sushruushhA of service. ShravaNa-sushruushhA is what is
superior in the eyes of the Guru. Instead of his being served by the
disciple, he would rather have his disciple rise spiritually with the
instrument of the upadesha he transmits. But from the point of view of
the disciple, however, both kinds of sushruushhA must rank equally
important. One should receive the upadesha from the bottom of the heart
and obey accordingly in practice; and one should also consider the
dispenser of the upadesha as Ishvara himself, surrender to him and do
all kinds of respectful service to him .
The mantra that is taught does half the job and the Grace of the teacher
completes the other half!
Where is the scope for all this when one learns from books?
SECTION 60: IS AN ENLIGHTENED GURU AVAILABLE?
To be Continued)
PraNAms to all students of advaita.
PraNAms to the Maha-Swamigal.
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