627 – Physical Pain

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Physical Pain

The lives of Jnanis is replete with instances where they also undergo suffering, as a part of prarabdha, in the form of disease of the body.  Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s throat cancer and Bhagavan Ramana’s tumour of the hand are some popular examples.  A question arises as to whether they experience pain at all and how they remain unperturbed in the face of the great pain/trauma the disease causes.

While a stone, a log of wood and a living human are all exposed to heat and cold alike, the scriptures credits only the man of wisdom with the virtue of equanimity only because he is able to feel the afflictions and yet remain unperturbed.

Saint Appayya Dikshitar, born around 12th Century in Tamilnadu was a renowned spiritual Scholar with more than 100 Vedanta books to his credit. During his life time, he was  suffering from an incurable stomach pain. However, that did not deter him from performing his daily Pujas or teaching his disciples. During the Puja and teaching sessions, through Mantras, he transferred his pain to a dharba (holy grass) to enable him to concentrate on his work. After the completion of the puja/training, he transferred back the pain from the Dharba on to his body. He firmly believed that body is not immune from pain and it is a result of Karma of previous births and the pain has to be undergone.

Kanchi Paramacharya in his book ‘Deivathin Kural’  refers to Kalidasa’s commentary on Goddess Parvathi’s rigorous Tapas by sitting on ice during severe winters and during scorching summers, she sat surrounded by fire on all sides.  Parvathi endured the physical discomfort and pain on both occasions, as part of the Tapas. Paramacharya says that, even though common man cannot undertake such rigorous tapas, at least, he can mentally convince himself, that fever and cold, which everyone normally experiences during their life time, are just small opportunities provided by God, for them to undergo the pain and dissolve their Prarabda Karma of Previous births. He says, that physical pain is an opportunity to understand and practice  Titiksha (तितिक्षा) as defined in Vedanta philosophy.

Adi Shankara in his Vivekachudamani 25 defines Titiksha as Endurance of all afflictions without countering aids, and without anxiety or lament.

ஸஹனம்  ஸர்வது³꞉கா²னாம (அ)ப்ரதிகார பூர்வகம் |
சிந்தாவிலாப ரஹிதம்  ஸா திதிக்ஷா நிக³த்³யதே ||

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 627 says:

“The body in all four births, namely demon, animal, human being and angel, is a natural target for many pronged attacks by the sword of misfortunes. Learned persons (jnanis) will not consider troubles as something to worry about.”

இலக்கம் உடம்புஇடும்பைக்கு என்று கலக்கத்தைக் 
கையாறாக் கொள்ளாதாம் மேல்.

Ilakkam Udambu-Idumbaikku endru kalakkathaik
Kaiyaaraak  kolladhaam mel

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

உடம்பு இடும்பைக்கு இலக்கம் என்று – நாற்கதியினும் உள்ள உடம்புகள் இடும்பை என்னும் வாளுக்கு இலக்கு என்று தெளிந்து; கலக்கத்தைக் கையாறாக் கொள்ளாதாம் மேல் – தம் மேல் வந்த இடும்பையை இடும்பையாகக் கொள்ளார் அறிவுடையார். (ஏகதேச உருவகம். ‘உடம்பு’ சாதிப்பெயர். ‘கலக்கம்’ என்னும் காரியப் பெயர். காரணத்தின்மேல் நின்றது. ‘கையாறு’ என்பது ஒரு சொல், இதற்கு ஒழுக்க நெறி என்று உரைப்பாரும் உளர். இயல்பாகக் கொள்வர் என்பது குறிப்பெச்சம்.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

து³:கா²ஸ்²ரயோ தே³ஹ இதி ஜ்ஞாத்வா தத்த்வவிதா³ம் வரா​: |
து³:க²காலே ஸமாயாதே ந முஞ்சந்தி மனோத்ருதிம் ||