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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :-

Monday, October 11, 2010

'Things are not the same as they seem to be'

Sunday, January 17, 2010


( The essay is in three parts and please have patience to read all the thre'Things are not the same as they seem to be'e parts -)

I) We think of life in one way and it turns out to be something quite different.
Adi Sankara advocates not to get caught in this cob-web and for this he propagates a doctrine which underlines, " All things in this world are part of 'Brahmam".

Adi Sankara goes step by step to explain this philosophy. He cites some simple examples. A carpenter carves an elephant in wood.
A child views it as an elephant whereas the carpenter identifies it as a kind of wood. He will not think of it as a mere elephant.

Likewise, an ordinary man will not be able to see ' Brahmam' as he is able to see only the visual things viz. the five basic elements like Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Akasa. In other words, 'Brahmam' gets concealed by 'Pancha - Bhoothas' for an average person.

Toys may have the shapes like vegetables, fruits, animals and so on where as the man who had made the toys knows them to be 'mud' only. We think of sugar when we taste sweets. In a similar manner, visual appearances though many in this world, it is 'Brahmam' alone that occupies what ever we behold or come in contact.

Adi Sankara has experienced the aspect of ' Brahmam' in his real life.
'Kasi Viswanatha' (Lord Siva) appeared before Adi Sankara as a 'Chandala' with four dogs. Adi Sankara commanded the 'Chandala' to make way for him to have darshan of the 'Sanctum Sanctorum'. The 'Chandala' in turn questioned Adi Sankara : " Who is to make way, is it my body or Atman ?" Adi Sankara immediately shed his ego and realised the presence of 'Brahmam' standing in front of him. He concluded that it was Lord Kasi Viswanatha Himself who appeared before him as a "Chandala".

Adi Sankara went on to compose the celebrated treatise ' Manisha Panchakam'. The last sloka of ' Manisha Panchakam' brings out the aspect of 'Brahmam' vividly. It says that Devas including Indra do enjoy the part of 'Brahmam' but it is a decimal portion of 'Brahmam' only. A true 'gnani' alone
who is in deep meditation with 'Brahmam' and who shuns his ego will be able to become one with 'Brahmam'. Adi Sankara hopes that by reading again and again this last sloka of ' Manisha Panchakam' it may dawn on ordinary person to get some awareness of his self.

II) In a lighter vein, some more examples are taken up to elaborate how words and appearances are not always the same what they seem to be:-

1) A lead pencil does not contain lead.
2) A Silk worm is not a worm.
3) India Ink is not made in India.
4) A shooting star is not a star.
5) A Turkish bath is not Turkish.

A rope lying on the floor is sometimes seen as serpent and in a mixed shades of twinkling light, it appears to be moving to convince the on looker as a real snake itself. Similarly when one sees the Sun's reflection in the water kept in a pot, can he mistake it for the real Sun ? Now the pot is broken and the water scatters and still the Sun is seen in the portion of water in every part of the broken pot. A stick when partly immersed in a jug of water appears half bent due to refraction . These are examples for illusion.

In Ramayana we know the appearance of 'Maya Sita' who appeared like Sita. Twins look alike and it is difficult to differentiate between the two. A kilogram of apples may contain 5 or 6 apples of average size and we may not be able to distinguish one from the other. We can cite many such cases which all sing in tune with the central theme of this essay.

A man goes disguised as a King or plays the role of a thief in a drama.
Does this mean the man has changed in real life too? It is not uncommon for a person to see something, perceive it as some other thing, but inform yet another thing to others about what he had seen. What we see sometimes or hear may not be true. Appearances are evasive. All these illustrations stress that it is necessary to look for the truth before accepting any version.

III) A story comes to my mind in this connection:-
Two Angels who were traveling knocked the door of a wealthy man and sought a place in his house to spend the night. There the people behaved rudely before showing at last the basement of the building for the Angels to sleep. The first Angel saw a hole in the wall at the basement and immediately started closing the hole. The other Angel looked at it strangely. She was not able to guess the reason for the first Angel's action.

The next day, the Angels knocked at the door of a person who was not so rich and asked for a place to spend the night. The people here showed due courtesy to the Angels, made inquiries about their welfare, gave them food to eat and shelter to rest with all the warmth they knew. The next day when the Angels were about to take leave, the head of the family was seen in tears. He informed that his cow which was yielding good amount of milk was dead.

Now the second Angel questioned the first for the happening. She asked why in the first case, where the people behaved with disrespect, the first Angel did good by way of closing the hole. In contrast, in the second house, where the inmates showed a lot of courtesy to them, the first Angel had caused the death of the cow. 'Why"- the second Angel insisted the first Angel for an answer.

The first Angel replied that ' THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS SAME AS THEY SEEM TO BE' !

She further clarified that she closed the hole in the wall in the first house because she was able to see a lot of gold was concealed behind the wall. She closed the hole with a purpose so that the people could never be able to locate and make use of it. They would come to know and repent for their wrong actions in due course.

In the second house, the Angel saw the messenger of Death entering the house to take away the life of the lady of the house.The first Angel saved the lady by allowing the life of the cow to be taken away. Thus she could help the man and woman to live long and bless them continued happiness in their life.

The first Angel brought out the moral from the above two episodes by saying "Things are always not the same as they seem to be ".



Blogger Rhoda Alex said...

nice blog...

October 18, 2010 at 9:52 PM  

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