Elephant and wood

Ravi msr at COMCO.COM
Wed Mar 10 20:31:04 CST 1999


Yesterday I sent mail to the list, for some reason it did
not reach the server yet.

About the mAyA thread I wanted to point out an example from
thirumular's work "maraththai maraiththathu ..." which I
wrote about in the list (with my bad translation)  (May 5th
week 1996)


I recently read about this again in the book Acharya's call
(compilation of talks by shrI shrI chandrasekharendra
sarasvatI svAmigaL, former pontiff of kAnchi maTha) and in
that he quotes a verse from shrI shankara which runs in the
similar line and gives the same example.

dantini dAruvikAre dAru tirobhavati so.api tatraiva |
jagatI tatha paramAtmA paramAtmanyapi jagat.h tirodhatte ||

In tamil

maraththai maRaiththathu  maamatha yaanai
maraththil maRain^thathu maamatha yaanai
paraththil maRaiththathu paarmuthal bootham
paraththai maRain^thathu paarmuthal bootham

A little child is playing with an elephant toy made of wood.
As far the child is concerned it treats it like an elephant
and the fact it is wood is covered by the image of elephant.
But to the carpenter, it is just wood. When he looks at it,
he looks at it as wood and not as elephant. The image of the
elephant is now covered by the knowledge that it is wood.
In a similar way, for an ignorant person, this world looks
real and fact that "brahman alone" is hidden from him. But
to a jnAni sees only the brahman in everything and the
distictions of the world disappear in the light of that
knowledge.  The duality seen in the vyAvahArika due to
ignorance disappears in the pAramArthika due to the
knowledge of brahman (brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati).  It is
like shifting the perspective.

This shifting of perspective can be seen in science (which
is still in the realm of avidya) in many nice examples. For
instance, what appears to us as solid plate of steel, at
atomic level is 80% empty space. Yet the forces of nature
does the trick for us. Similarly what appears as solid and
liquid is very subjective due to the time frame of
observation.  In fluid mechanics it is quantified by the
term called Deborah number (based on the biblical verse
"Even Mountains flowed before the Lord"). For God, he can
change his time scale and look at everything as a solid or a
fluid. In the same way jnAni-s and Ishwara can shift the
perspective from vyAvaharika and pAramArthika easily.

As pointed out all examples give only a hint or pointer.
Only the AtmAnubhuti will convince a individual. It is
possible only (IMHO) by the guidance of a satguru not


mInalochanI pAshamochanI

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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