By Periyava

Translation from Tamil: Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

அதுவேதான் இது! : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி) 1-05

That is This! Deivathin Kural (the Divine Voice)

A carpenter made a wooden elephant for the temple. Another carpenter went to the temple to examine the wooden elephant. As he went close to the elephant, his child shouted, “Father, don’t go near the elephant. It will butt you with its head.”  The carpenter to his child said, “It is a wooden elephant. It will not butt me.” He took her near the elephant.

The elephant mount appeared real to the child. It hid the Jñāṉam from the child it was merely a wood piece. To the carpenter, the elephant-ness of the object disappeared, though it bore exact resemblance to an elephant.  That it was wood was the knowledge, he held.  He only saw the wood. The elephant was in his perception. That was real Jñāṉam.  

மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை

மரத்தில் மறைந்தது மாமத யானை  Verse 2290

என்று இந்த இருவர் நிலையையும் திருமூலர் திருமந்திரத்தில் சொல்லியிருக்கிறார்.

The great elephant in musth hides the wood. (The child’s view of the elephant. She sees the elephant and not the wood.)

The great elephant in musth hides in the wood. (The carpenter’s view of the elephant. He sees the wood and sees not the elephant.)

This presents the views of the child and the carpenter, as depicted by Tirumular in Tirumantiram

பரத்தை மறைத்தது பார்முதல் பூதம்

பரத்தில் மறைந்தது பார்முதல் பூதம். Verse 2290

Tirumular is a great God of Yogis. He tells great Tattvas in easy laymen’s terms. The above saying is in Tirumantiram (verse 2290). Why did Mular tell the story of the life-size elephant sculpture, seen by a child as the real elephant and the wood seen by an adult. The 3rd and the 4th lines of the verse explains it.  

The world and the elements hide Param.

The world and the elements hide in Param. 

The message is the elephant and the wood are nondifferent. Likewise, Paramātma and the world are nondifferent. By this illustration (Elephant and the wood) Mular explains. This world and the elements are made of the wood of Paramātma.  In the doll of this world and the elements, the child did not see the wood. Likewise, in the world, the Param is not seen by us. In our sight, the world and the elements hide the Param. For Jñāṉis, all appear as Brahmamayam (wholeness of Braḥmam or Essence of Brahman).

All right. This story, for what purpose, you may ask. What we need is a comfortable life in this world. For that, there is a necessity for money. You may ask why we should worry about this and where is the relevance regarding Param and the world.

OK, let us assume that all become rich. Will it serve us to stay in tranquillity, calmness, fearlessness…? Once all people come to a great fortune, everyone desires to be richer than the next one with the result there will be competition and quarrels. It is just not enough to live in comfort. It is the nature of man to have a competitive spirit and more than the other. Though the conveniences are equally shared by everyone, there is a penchant to have it first. I serve holy water to everyone and then only I leave the hall. They all know it. Could they not wait in a queue in peace and receive it at a time when it happens? The prevailing attitude is it is not enough to receive the Tīrtham but get it first and to achieve it, they jostle each other, fall, rise, fight… As long there is such competition, there will not be mental satisfaction for anyone. Competition will not diminish just because there is prosperity.

If competition must be had, we should get the wisdom there is no object worth to compete for.  Then only, we can live in full measure and in peace. Not denigrating wisdom, the perpetual action is to indulge in self-enquiry. If you do not want to pay to buy the miseries of the world, this world in not what we think of it; It is all Śivamayam (Śiva in essence); this and that are non-different. The wood is elephant; that the universe is Param (the Supreme) must be in your constant thought. If you don’t have this Jñāṉam, any prosperity coming your way means the world is shrouded in the darkness of night. We should not be lackadaisical about the effort in acquiring Jñāṉaprakāsam (Light of wisdom) to drive away to night of ignorance. Even if the sun is gone forever, it is not a grievous loss. This Jñāṉaprakāsam should not be allowed to leave us anytime.