Wisdom from life

Wisdom from life

The Narayaneeyam is a magnificent poem as well as a devotional hymn, which expounds the glories of the Lord, beginning with the details of the cosmic evolution, the course of creation and such other metaphysical details.

 As the author progresses in his description of the different life forms and the interplay of cosmic forces,  the reader is swept along with the  surging current of devotion , culminating in the breathtaking description of Bhattatiri’s vision of the Lord.

In canto ninety three of this work, Narayana Bhattatiri expounds on the lessons to be learnt from life and the world around us and the wisdom that such experiences confer on man. In a marked similarity to Shankara’s Vivekachoodamani, Bhattatiri says that birth  as a human being is rare in this universe where there are countless forms whose only aim in life is to fulfil physical wants.

Man is superior as he is endowed with the power of  thinking and the ability to discriminate between right and wrong. A man’s own self can be his friend or foe, depending on how he uses his powers of higher thinking and understanding.

The wise one is he who devotes his mind to spiritual values. The world around us is our
spiritual teacher, provided we care to look. By employing common similies, Bhattatiri drives home lofty philosophical truths. The earth, loaded as she is with this world and man’s assault on her, does not shake.

This is true forbearance.  The air around us, though polluted with all sorts of poisons, continues to sustain us, teaching us  the value of detachment even in the midst of sense objects. The sky, all pervading, shows us the all pervasiveness of the soul.

Bhattatiri says. “ Just like fire which takes on different shapes depending on the shape of the object which is burning, may I learn that the soul which manifests in bodies of different sizes and shapes is the same supreme spirit! May I learn that, just like the moon remains the same even when it waxes and wanes, that the soul is deathless, and growth and decay are only for the physical body!”

 “May I be deep and dignified like the ocean, without showing off my spiritual wealth.Like moths attracted to fire, may I not fall into the flames of greed . May I not accumulate wealth unnecessarily, only to fall into the hands of others, like the honey gathered by bees after painstaking labour is taken away by gatherers.”

This canto concludes with a request to the Lord to grant such wisdom.

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