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Sunday, May 29, 2011

the five fires

पञ्चाग्नयो मनुष्येण परिचर्याः प्रयत्नतः।
पिता माताग्निरात्मा च गुरुश्च भरतर्षभ॥६२॥
महाभारते उद्योगपर्वणि प्रजागरणपर्वणि विदुरवाक्ये अध्यायः ३३
pañcāgnayo manuṣyeṇa paricaryāḥ prayatnataḥ|
pitā mātāgnirātmā ca guruśca bharatarṣabha||62||
mahābhārate udyogaparvaṇi prajāgaraṇaparvaṇi viduravākye adhyāyaḥ 33

The great scholar and minister Vidura is rendering his learned treatise on statecraft and lifestyle  management  to his King and elder brother  Dhritaraashtra.
"O bull of Kuru race, every  man should serve with due diligence and sincerity the following five fires.  They are (1) his father (2) his mother (3) the fire itself (4) his own pure inner self  and  (5) the preceptor."

Fire when properly channeled is the most benevolent and rewarding force one can have at his disposal. But the same fire, if neglected or made angry can destroy the whole world including the one who has fomented it.
 Right from birth we are all taught that the most important things in our life in the order of priority  should be mother, father, preceptor and the God. This is because the first three are before us as the physical manifestation of God while God himself stays in the background as a noble but invisible presence. 
The parents always work for the benefit of their offspring and would happily sacrifice everything they have for their benefit. They may not think of any rewards for this.  However all their lives, dreams and expectations are hovering around their children. Spontaneous love is flowing from them like the nectar of the rays of moonlight  soothing the child....for them we are only children whatever our ages might be. But when their feelings get disturbed involuntarily because of some  wrong actions and deeds of the children, a destructive fire springs out from sorrow, and this fire, if not assuaged in time can burn up the son or daughter.  Applying value standards and criticism  to justify disrespectful treatment  are of no use  when it comes to our parents.  No one can become superior to his parents. After all we  originated from them. 
The fire itself is very potent.  Through fire, we cook food, through fire we offer oblations to all Gods, through fire we dispose off the garbage.  Fire was the first god we started worshipping..." agnimeelee purohitam... is the beginning of the Rg vedam".  But the same fire inundates forests, the same fire in the hands of a terrorist as gunpowder of a bomb causes terrible explosions and destroy life and all good things in the shortest possible time.  The leader of the armed forces shouts  "Fire.." as his  first war command.
The subtle self, innate in ourselves is also like fire.  Tended with calmness, this inner self gives us peace and bestows some purposefulness for our life.  If this soul is neglected, we are lost for ever.
The preceptor or Guru is also to be equated to our parents. Every person who has, at any point of time, enriched our knowledge or helped us  out in directing our own lives in a better direction  is a Guru. The neighbour, the boss, the colleague, the subordinate, the friend, all in addition to our teachers in academics should be treated as gurus.  God himself has manifested as guru in the shapes of Krishna, Shankara, Dakshinaamoorthy, Vyasa, Hayagreeva, Dattatreya, Ramanuja,  Jesus, The Prophet..the list is very lengthy. Will it be possible for us  to fight the  enraged fire coming from a  provocated preceptor and  continue our existence?


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