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CONCLUDING Musing on garuda/mantrA-12

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Apr 14 1997 - 05:22:58 PDT

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",

Passage #1 of the story relates the conditions and circumstances into which
the brahmin-boy was born and bred. His parents were poor. They left him
generally to fend for himself. He loitered around the village-streets
aimlessly like a vagabond.

Now such dissolute and abject conditions of life the boy led, in spite of
being born into a good brahminical family, can only be attributed to
"purvajanma-karma" -- those "sins of the past (and present)" hinted at by
Swami Desikan in the phrase "vargasthry-vargikANAm gathi...." in Verse 51 of
the "garUDa-panchAshath". 

Passage#2 in the story narrates how the boy at the outset "tries his hand"
at learning some "rks" from the Master and fails ---- fails miserably. He is
unable to articulate properly even a single vEdic "rk" after the Guru !

This inability --- be it physical, attitudinal or moral --- to undertake
endeavours of a higher order in life is what is meant by "tamas-ic" "guNA"
that frustrates progress in life at every step along the way. The boy, too,
was unable to overcome highly debilitating and discouraging "tamas" that
simply rendered it impossible for him to embark on apprenticeship with the
"guru" in our 'Mukkur Swamy' story. 

In Passage#3, we find that although pinned down by "tamOgUNa", the boy
nevertheless, could not suppress a passionate inclination for pursuing a
career in 'vEdic' scholasticism. Which is why, in the story, it is narrated
that "... (Whenever) euphonic vedic sounds filled his ears, he felt a
strange thrilling sensation run through his body." Now such "thrilling
sensations", dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', are what may be inferred as "rajas-ic"
rumblings within the human personality which constantly kept heaving the
poor brahmin-boy's heart-strings during that period in his life.

IN Passage #4, the Mukkur Swamy story relates that the boy could no longer
contain the overpowering leanings of his "rajas-ic" desires and that his
"heart began to stir and quicken with a burning desire to learn the Vedic
hymns the village guru was imparting to his other students." He kept
knocking at the doors of the Master and kept badgering him. This compulsive
obsession, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', it must be understood is not
pathological. It is not carnal. It is not inspired by petty objects of the
world. It is a burning desire for high purpose in life which, in the boy's
case in the story, was the straight and plain pursuit of vEdic-"shabdA" ----
a truly "sAttv-ic" motivation to fuel one in life, indeed !!

Thus, Passages #1,2,3 and 4 of the Mukkur Swamy story give us altogether an
idea of what Swami Desikan meant in the lines 

"yathpakshasthA trivEdi trigUNa-jalanidhir-langhyathE yadGUNagnyai-hi
  vargasthry-vargikANAm gathimiha labhathE nAthavad yathsanAtha-ha" 

..... that the "garUDa-mantrA" operates silently, effectively and surely in
one's life in such a way as to direct and impel one inexorably towards
"sAttiv-ic" ends. This progress towards true goals is gradually achieved
when obstacles on the way -- the "trigUNa-s"-- are simply swept aside!! In
the story, the boy's past "karmA-s" are swept away and so are the
debilitating tendencies of his "tamas" and his "rajas" (the seeds of present
"karma") !! And all of it, in fact, happens even before the boy has even
learnt the "mantrA" the "guru" in the story is about to initiate him into ! 

In a way the story, as it unfolds upto this point, shows that even "future"
sins ("karmA-s") of the boy are taken care of by the mere "prospect" of his
initiation into a Master's "mantrA" !! Instead of remaining the village-
vagabond that he was, and instead of being dragged ever deeper into wastrel
ways, the boy in the story, as we see, was however driven slowly but surely,
by forces more than fortuitous, towards a true "sAttv-ic" calling in life.

Next in Passage #5, we see the boy faithfully accepting the great
"maha-mantrA", "ingEnthu angae!angEnthu-ingae !" from his Master (who does
it in a mood of mischief and jest !). But the boy unquestioningly takes it
as if it was truly "vEdic" truth ! He retires to the forest with it without
blinking an eyelid ! It never occurs to the boy to even ask the Master what
the "mantrA" means ! To the boy that is of no consequence ! All that matters
to him is that the "mantrA" given him by the "guru" is the only available
route to attain "eligibility" for the "vEdic" experience the Master has
promised him ! The "mantrA" itself, "ingEnthu angae!angEnthu-ingae !", is a
great ENIGMA for the boy; but he cares not if it is an ENIGMA ! All that he
knows about the "mantrA" is that his 'guru' has promised it WILL OPERATE and
that once mastered it shall pave a smooth road to the experiences of the
great "AURAL" world of "vEd-ic sruti" ---- that special world .... glimpses
of which haunt and torment the little boy in the depths of his heart !

In Passage #6 we have the boy waking up from his long period of
"mantra-dhyAna" only to find that the world has changed ! The boy exclaims
that 'everything in this world has changed except the "mantrA" and the
boulder that stands before me!". We must take this to mean, dear
"bhAgavatOttamA-s", that the boy wakes up to a "DIFFERENT" world after long
and intensive inquiry into the "mantrA". In other words, the boy now sees
the world around him in a new and more meaningful light because he now
"PERCEIVES" differently than before ! And that's because he does not see the
world anymore in terms of "VISUALITY"! His "mantrA" has taught him to
PERCEIVE the world now in "vEdic"/AURAL terms ! He has learnt now to
"switch" from his former "REFLEXIVE" modes of viewing the world ! The
"acoustic-key" of the "mantrA", "ingEnthu angae!angEnthu-ingae !", has
opened the DOORS OF PERCEPTION  to give the little boy a "world-view" of the
"sea-change" in his life  !!

In Passage #7, we see the little boy realize one of the greatest objectives
of human birth --- the realization of one's true "dharmA" ! 

According to the story, after discovering that the "mantrA" works, the boy
is not amazed that he has has acquired "powers" to lift and throw articles
about in the air by mere utterance of a "mantra" ! The boy instead is
relieved by " ....the happy knowledge that now he could easily go back to
the Master and proclaim his eligibility for further Vedic studies !!". What
we see here, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is awareness being born in the boy;
not awareness of his "mantra-siddhi"; but awareness of his true purpose in
life --- his "dharmA" ....the "dharmA" which makes him become finally aware
of "eligibility for  Vedic" experience!!

In Passage #8, we see the boy returning to the "guru" and exclaiming "I have
returned to you to commence our Vedic studies !" Here in this scene,we must
pause and examine the little boy's intentions.

The boy has just attained "mantra-siddhi" --- and a powerful one at that !
Now the first thing one usually does after one has acquired a skill,
knowledge or expertise is to begin to explore how to profitably exploit it
for personal gain. I can vouch for this feeling, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",
because many years ago after I walked out of the Institute of Chartered
Accountant of India with a professional qualification tucked under my arm,
the first thing that occurred to me was, "OK, here I've got it! I've
arrived! I'm now a professional accountant ! Now let's see how much money
and success it earns for me the rest of my life !" 
The feeling is common to all of us ! And it is called "kAma" --- in the
ordinary sense of the term that denotes "base desire".

But the "kama" which Swami Desikan refers to as one amongst the 3
supreme-ends in life, and which he states "mantrA" secures for man, is a
different sort of "kAma". It is "kAma" of the sort celebrated by Sri.AndaL
in that immortal phrase in the 29th verse of the 'tirUp-pAvai' : "UnndhanOdu
uttrOmE-yAvOm, unnakkE nAmAt-sEyvOm .... mattrai-nam kAmangaL ...etc." ! 

The "kAma" that is the true end of Man is the "kAma" that stokes "desire"
for Him and His Glory alone !!

And, in the story of Mukkur Swamy, we see the boy clearly realising that
such GLORY being readily resident in the "vEdic" experience he hankered
after !! Which is why he returns to the "guru" and says, "I have returned to
you, O Master, to commence our Vedic studies !" ! The boy doesn't say,
"Master, thanks for the "mantra" ! I think now I can earn my livelihood with
it for the rest of my life in a conjuror's vaudeville !" 

And that, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is true "kAma" !!

In the "garUda-dandakam", Swami Desikan too, after having eulogised Garuda
in 3 splendid verses, does not say much about warding off
"serpents","scorpions" or "toxins";  finally in Verse# 4 he makes an
extremely moving request to "garUDa" (which term we must understand refers
to the entire "garUDA-symbolism" and "mantrA") as follows:

" ...... pratignyA-vathIrNa sthirAm tatva-bUddhim parAm bhakti-dhEnum
jagan-mUlakandE-mUkUndE ....etc"

He beseeches "garUDa" to grant him "steadfast knowledge" (i.e. vEdic
experience of truth) and "inexhaustible bhakti" for Mukunda !
("bhakti-dhEnum" is a wonderful phrase! the nearest one can get to a
translation of it is "bhakti-cow" in the same sense as one understands the
modern term "cash-cow!" in the world of corporate-finance or
investment-banking !)!!

Finally, in Passage #9, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", we see the little boy
attaining the last of the three supreme ENDS of human life called "ARTHA" ! 

Now "arthA" is normally explained as "material means of well-being"
necessary to progress spiritually. Very true. But we must be careful not to
understand the word "material" in its extremely narrow sense of "things of
the world" ! In the story, the boy is seen to attain "arthA" yes ! But true
"arthA" ! 

How ?

By finally returning to his "guru" after so many years of "tapas" and
thereby securing the most precious "thing" one can attain in life ----
"Acharyan-tiruvaDi-sambhandham" !! 

We must never forget that the greatest "arthA" that "mantrA", therefore,
secures for one in life, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is that precious and
extremely rare relationship called "Acharya-tiruvaDi-sambhandham"  which is
worth more than all the "material things" in the world and without which
there really is nothing called "progress" for man anywhere .... anyside ...
anyway !!

This relationship, this "artha", that little boy in the Mukkur Swamy story,
we saw, finally secured ! 

And therefore "lived he happily ever after .....!"


I have now completed this series. I have tried to cover all the themes in
the "garUda-dandakam" and "panchAshath" verses we referred to in Swami
Desikan's hymns. Also we examined their subtle reflections in the Mukkur
Swamy II story.

The influence of "mantrA-s" in one's life, thus, is a matter of extreme
personal faith. We should be wary of speculating casually on such things in
the way of "Recite a "mantrA", get results !!". We cannot trifle with things
related to "ved-ic" "sruti". 

I trust that these musings of mine have been of some interest to all those
of you who had so many very interesting views to offer on the topic of
"mantrA" and "garUDA" a couple of weeks ago. I hope my views too have been,
more or less, of the same interest to you.

Thank you one and all.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikAya namaha