Author Topic: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.  (Read 1635 times)

Subramanian.R

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Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« on: February 09, 2016, 03:15:04 PM »
(The article appeared in Jan.-Mar. 2008 issue of Mountain Path)

The Sri Arunachala Puranam mentions, as he mythological origin of Arunachala, the Tiruvannamalai Hill,
the tussle that took place between Brahma and Vishnu on 'who was the greatest?'  This argument lased
from Ardra Darsanam to Maha Sivaratri.  It has always fascinated me, not the least for the numerous
lessons that it contains.  In this article, I venture to suggest that there is more to it than meets the eye,
especially when it is looked who do not know the story, let us retell it.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 09:59:22 AM »
Once there was a tussle between the Lord of Creation, Brahma, and the Lord of Protection, Vishnu.
Brahma maintained that since he was the creator, without him there would be nothing to protect,
therefore he was the mightiest.  Vishnu contested this, saying that since nothing created could
remain without his acts of protection, he indeed was the greatest.  This developed into a heated
argument.  As the situation deteriorated, the Lord Supreme (Maheswara) decided to intervene
and he decided to appear before them as an infinite column of light. Bhagavan elsewhere described
this as being accompanied by a thunderous explosion.  Maheswara suggested to the contenders
that they might resolve their argument by taking part in a contest of trying to find either end of the
column of light, and that whosoever succeeded could indeed be declared the winner.  Since both of
them were, in their own minds, superior to all others neither of them could identify the newcomer,
and so agreed to this fair way of settling the issue. Vishnu took the form of a boar and went digging
in the earth to trace the bottom end of the column, and Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up
to seek the top end of the column.  Even after a long time, neither was successful. Vishnu got tired
of the venture and realized that the new entrant was obviously mightier than himself and therefore
he was not in a position to boast of being the mightiest. Having learnt his lesson, he retired from
the contest.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 10:19:22 AM »
Meanwhile during the flight upwards, Brahma saw a cactus flower (thazhambu) floating down from
the above, and invited it to be a witness as to having sighted the top of the column, after convincing it
with the argument that 'if something comes from above, there is a top and it had been seen.' When
Brahma went down along with the flower, Maheswara realized the trick being played by Brahma and
cursed him, saying that he would never be worthy of worship and there would therefore be no temples
dedicated to him.  It was also ordained that, for having been a false witness, the 'thazhambu' would
be prohibited from use in Siva pujas.  Thus both the gods were shown that they were not the mightiest.
The column of light had appeared on a Arudhra darshan day (usually the day ahead of Ramana Jayanti
day), and cooled itself down in the form of a Hill on a Mahasivaratri day.  The cooling down was in response
to the earnest pleadings by all the devas led by Vishnu as no one could stand the heat and light of the column,
which was at its peak especially after the trick played by Brahma.  This event is depicted in all Siva temples,
in the form of Lingodhbhavar, installed on the peripheral pradakshina route directly secure to the wall
behind the temple of main idol of Siva in a temple complex. Also, that is the main deity traditionally
worshipped on the night of the annual Maha Sivaratri day

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2016, 10:11:55 AM »
The lesson from this story is that, in a given situation, one is expected to play one's role and to
respect the responsibilities that others have.  That is, there is as much independence as there is
interdependence.  Realization of these moral precepts benefits any community.  Now, what about
the possibilities of other lessons?  Also, suppose that there is a reversal of roles of two gods in the
above event. For instance, could Vishnu have gone upward instead of Brahma, and Brahma downward
in place of Vishnu?   This is the most unlikely and quite unnatural, as i will explain.

Why so?  Just like any person is driven by their own vasanas, as it would be natural to presume that the
gods too have their tendencies, as long as they see different gods instead of the only One.  Our
mythological descriptions of the gods attribute protection qualities to Vishnu, and that includes creation
of wealth.  That is the reason for the goddess Lakshmi being his consort.  Likewise, the generation or
procreation aspect of Brahma include the ideas and the learning of new methods and procedures.
Is this why the goddess of learning Sarawathi is Brahma's consort?  Against this background, let us
consider the process and the result of the tussle.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 11:31:54 AM »
Protection of anything or anyone presumes material stability.  It starts with having some infrastructure
including land, buildings etc.,and proceeds further with the creation of wealth in some form or orther
in order to engender a feeling of security.  Businessmen tend to understand this better than others;
although when taken to its extreme ends by the avaricious, it can lead to the exploitation of people.
Lakshmi, also known as Sri Devi, being one consort of Vishnu the other one is known to be Bhudevi,
who has direct relationship with earth and thus the world.  Thus, anything worldly, wealth related,
down to earth tends to be related to the source of wealth, so it is no wonder that Vishnu went digging
through the earth to find the base of the column of light.

Likewise, creation not only belongs to the realm of physical growth, but also that of the development
of ideas which generate the seeds of thinking, contemplation, and such similar traits.  The generally
tend to elevate a person. Ideas form the core of learning, and are characteristic of something essentially
nebulous and fuzzy like thought, which can take shape only when given the physical form. Until then it
has a cloud like character, with no specifically definable form or shape.  This aspect has more to do with
the logical nature of things. That is why we describe a person as being in cloud when engaged  in deep
thinking.  Thus, anything that is related to knowledge or learning, and associated with being up in the
clouds, is the purview of Brahma who, being the consort of the goddess of learning, went up towards
the sky in order to establish his supremacy.  Hence reversal of the roles of these two gods would not have
been natural. Now, let us look at the progress and the fruits of the efforts of these two gods.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                             

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 01:02:28 PM »
Vishnu persisted with his efforts, and at  some point he realized the futility of his work.  He was able
to see clearly that there was a greater power than  his.  He returned and surrendered as a loser ti
the Infinite.  Is not surrender what is expected of anyone who is able to see clearly the finiteness of
oneself.  What is the general experience of any person who is very wealthy, but is struck by a tragedy?
He not only learns that all his wealth cannot get him what he needs, much less happiness that he desires
so much.  He begins to see the futility of belongings and eventually develops detachment from things
that are not ultimately useful.

On the other hand, what was the experience of Brahma?  He saw a flower falling from above, his intellect
started working in a very logical way, and he coached the flower to be a false witness buttressed by a
convincing argument.  He returned with this witness and strove to get himself declared the winner.
How could it ever have happened to the consort of goddess of learning?  Obviously, there is a lesson here
for us.  If the pursuit of knowledge is not undertaken in the right spirit and is confined to ephemeral things,
there is always the danger of it becoming a double-edged sword. Intelligence can become perverted,
in Sanskrit 'yukti becoming kuyukti', and that marks the fall of a person.  Knowledge usually picked up
through worldly senses and things must progressively and ultimately graduate to that of knowing oneself.
If that does not happen, then there is always potential for trouble.  It will make a person argumentative and
cunning, ready to coax others into colluding in what is believed to be the only right way of behavior, but
actually is immoral.  This is what possibly has been illustrated by Brahma's experience.

contd.,
         
Arunachala Siva.   
« Last Edit: February 14, 2016, 02:51:01 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 10:23:54 AM »
Action is needed to develop one's well being. It starts with the development of comfort for living,
initially in order to meet basic needs and later on, develops into a yearning for more comforts and
luxuries.  Even when this go unchecked and may develop into avaricious ways, a sudden shock may come
to the person in the form of some event, usually in the nature of tragedy. At that point, the futility
of all the material things acquired thus will become apparent. For the majority of people, this seems to
be the way; except that it may take a long time to reach the stage of maturity and acquisition of real
knowledge. But that is the safest path, as it starts with certain ground realities. In the pursuit of path,
knowledge and understanding develop and the mind is prepared for the ultimate action of surrender.
The path taken by Vishnu is representative of this trajectory.

However, knowledge of the finite and the infinite, if not properly backed my maturity of mind, cam
be dangerous. When that knowledge develops in a person having the right state of mind, there is
the possibility of instant realization of the Self, as they say, by the time the second leg is placed after
the first one while mounting a horse, as in the example of King Janaka. In spite of this quick result,
knowledge can work like a double edged sword, as has been shown in the case of Brahma. Further,
it must be realized that this type of knowledge is only at the intellectual level and, at that level, one can
only ask questions oneself.  The answers that are received must again be regarded as intellectual and
hence ephemeral. The right answers will evolve by themselves to the questioner, as and when he is ready
to receive them as experience. At that point, it is said by the seers, that there may neither be Brahma nor
Vishnu!

In this context, we may recall how Bhagavan when he relatively ranked karma and jnana paths,  stated
that the latter was more direct than the former. In ranking the other methods in between, He showed how
all of them are nothing but the variants of the karma path, differing only in the ways of practice.

It may not be out of place to point out that following the grossest method can lead a person to the more
subtle methods, finally resulting in the realization of the ultimate knowledge.

Has the Brahma-Vishnu tussle then got one more lesson for us?  Vishnu symbolic of path of karma, and
Brahma, symbolic of the Jnana path, both start with a handicap, namely their individual egos. During
the competition, Vishnu realizes this, and ultimately surrenders. Does it mean that the karma path, however
arduous and long, has the benefit of mellowing and maturing a person even when he is not so ready to
begin with?  The subtler method of the Jnana path is more direct, but one must be aware of the consequences
of wrong leads that the self assumed or arrogant intellect may provide.  Does a fall such as the one that happened to Brahma await a person, who continues to look for answers on the intellectual plane?

All these show that the mythological descriptions and associations have packed in them a lot of associative
information. When earnestly tapped with right state of mind, they can offer new perspectives on spiritual
endeavors.       

concluded.
         
Arunachala Siva.         
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 03:17:47 PM by Subramanian.R »

arcsekar

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Re: Lessons from the Brahma-Vishnu Tussle: S. Raman.
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2016, 07:07:40 PM »
Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi the  Goddess of Wealth. Brahma's consort is  Saraswathi, the Goddess of Knowledge. In this world , if you have any one of these two powers - Wealth or Knowledge, you can control and rule .Still, with  both these powers, you can not fathom the greatness of Almighty .