KARAPATRAM - WHAT IS IT?
Karapatram literally means hand and vessel, that is, the hand utilised as vessel. In the order of Renunciation, it is the highest that the Initiate can reach before he attains to Mastership, or Siddhahood. And it corresponds to the Avadhuta stage in Sannyas. There are various kinds of Renunciation, beginning with the renunciation of the Student life to that of Paramahamsa. But the Avadhuta is the highest. The Paramahamsa represents the supreme state of Samadhi or the constant merging of the uplifted Individual soul in the Paramatman or Supreme soul. But the Avadhuta represents the transcending state of Sahaja Samadhi, in which the Individual and the universal are so inextricably at one as to be undifferentiated. It is the realisation of the Advaita relation in everyday life.
The Avadhuta is one who has risen above the shackles of thought and sense-perceptions and all other limiting conditions. It is in fact the soul "alone-become" realising in full its identity with the All-soul. Such an one functions in all planes without feeling the sense of limitation, for the soul never, even for a moment, identifies itself with the various upadhies. It knows them as upadhies and utilises them as such, but never does it identify itself with them as it is apt to, when the Vasana of Ignorance, (Avidya or Maya) is still a predominant factor in the life of the soul. "The soul is" - Aum Tat Sat. In this state, "Existence" pure and simple is the basic fact. But what is it doing? It is usual to say that it does not function at all. If the functioning power of the soul cease to exist, it cannot recover it. 'Evolution is the Law of Life" says Pythagoras, and the beginning and end of Evolution have a common source. Therefore "That which is" merely must as a matter of necessity be potentially alive. For, "the Light is the life of men." St. John who traces the Life of Christ from the beginning of Evolution, says "In the beginning was the Word" - but he does not stop there, for he could not. He has perforce to add (that he may be true to the Sakshatkaram or the direct testimony of the soul) "the word was with God" and continue it again with the statement "the word was God." These three affirmations regarding "the word" cannot be separated or differentiated in actual experience. The Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman
is, knows and enjoys. These three functions are inherent in it. That which is One only without a second becomes the many in One or Sakala; and that which knows itself as "One only without a second" evolves itself into innumerable names and forms; again that which enjoys Itself, being Love and knowing itself to be Love, by the continuous realisation of that "Unity" which "is the Law of God" enjoys All by its power of becoming one with all or tadatmyam. These functions which are three-fold are always inherent in the soul, whether it be entirely "at Rest" as God, or functioning most actively as Man (Skt. man=to think) who in reality is "Thought-formed" at his best and most perfect state. The Indriyas are the instruments of Thought! But "Thought" as "Sankalpa Vikalpa" which is the Sva-rupa of the Mind, is itself the instrument of the soul.
In its perfect state of Absolute Rest it transcends all states and merely is, knows and enjoys: It is this Potential Power of functioning in the "God at Rest" that is Its Sakti, Sat, then, is the patra or vessel, the basic fact of existence; and that vessel holds the Chit-Ananda Rasa. Without sat, there can be no chit, any more than water can exist without a vessel to hold it. But the same water, by absorbing heat and holding it latent within it, can exist separately by itself as Ice. In this state what is it that holds it together. It is the heat within, which forms the concentric force and it serves the purpose of the vessel. Make the ice give out its heat, it becomes water and runs out. It is not able to hold together as before.
"எரியலால் உருவமில்லை" says St. Appar. As Agni is the form of the Lord, to the vision of the Seer, ice is nothing but water held in the "vessel" of Agni, which is Sat. Sat, therefore, is the vessel, Chit is the Rasa (essence) which the vessel holds and Ananda is the Advaita relation between the two. Milk held a vessel made of mercury partakes of the essence of mercury and becomes life-saving. Milk merely is nourishing. But milk in a mercurial cup is life-saving. It holds in check the katabolical principle at work in Nature. Similarly the mass of material formed of semen and serum* or Sukla-Sronita, by the fact of its advaita relation with the Mother, becomes anabolic or constructive, instead of its being katabolic or destructive, as is evident when the advaita relation is cut off, as when a child dies in the womb; or the connecting chord or tissue is affected. God even when "at Rest" is tasting the sweet (Advaita Relation) of Chit (Rasa) in the eternal cup or vessel of Sat (Existence).
[* The writer obviously means the "ovarian serum" if "serum" it can be called. It is the material which the semen vivifies or fertilizes.- Ed. L. T.]
St. Manikkavacagar most beautifully sets forth the whole in the first hymn of his inimitable work Tiruvacagam.
The Five-fold letter explains the whole process, so crudely described above. The rest stand closely related to one another until it attains to the grand symphony in the last line. "ஏகன், அநேகன், இறைவன் அடிவாழ்க!"
As to the result of the cultivation of the Five-lettered Mantra, which the Lord teaches to all His servants, before they are admitted to his eternal presence, I would like to quote from my own experience, or Svanubhavam. the realisation of the God at Rest in the Daharakasa of the Heart is the sign and symbol of the "personal relation" between God and the Devotee. The Bhakta longs for the union and gets it; but when he longs to know the WAY, he is bidden by the Lord to find it out by the Yoga-path. As to the realisation of God within, St. Manikkavacagar says:-
அந்தமொன்றில்லா ஆனந்தம்பெற்றேன் யாதுநீ
சிந்தையேகோயில் கொண்டவெம்பெருமான் திருப்
எந்தையே! ஈசா! உடலிடங்கொண்டாய் யானி
Happy the Soul who could say this to the Lord. But the power of Chit, the native inquisitiveness in the soul to know the why and wherefore of things, is so persistent that it begins to question how it came to possess such Supreme Bliss? Let me quote again:
கைம்மாறுதானிலையென்றே கைப்பொருள் மெய்ப்
This mandate from the Lord of one's bosom to enquire into the Mystery of the Five letters is irresistible and the Devotee sets to work at it with no little ardour. The result of it all is:-
"அஞ்செழுத்தாய்ந்தேயானு மதன்பொருள்நீ யெனவேகொண்டேன்!
Though the enjoyment of the Lord in His formful state * as Saguna Brahman is highly ecstatic, the true Devotee or Yogi who yearns to know the Lord and enjoy Him in full as He is and not as He becomes, to grant grace to his devotees, soon gets satiated with this enjoyment of Saguna Brahman and longs for the ineffable joy of union eternal with Nirguna Brahm. This is voiced forth in the following verse:-
[* The writer means, "in His sakala-svarupa" Ed. L.T]
தவரோகத்தீயென்னைத் தஹித்தும் தஹிக்கவில்லை
The Siddhantin who delights in the symbolical worship of Sivalingam is not content to be ever worshipping the symbol. He longs to attain to the highest, and with his success at every turn, he aspires after the higher realisation until he attains to the Highest Nirguna Brahmanubhavam and then like a Man he comes out of it and brings the Lord with him (by Samaya worship) until he realises the One in the Many and the Many in the One and can say with St. Manikkavacagar:
ஏகனநேகன் இறைவன் அடிவாழ்க!"
This is Nirvana from "top to toe" and this, the greatest spiritual Experience, is the end and aim of all Sannays or Renunciation. The Avadhuta represents the Vedantic presentation of this the greatest of Soul-Experiences. (vide Avadhutopanishat). The "Karapatra-Diksha" is the Siddhantic counter-part of the Avadhuta Diksha or graduation in Soul-Experience. The Avadhuta at a certain stage goes naked with the simplicity of a new-born child: And the Karapatrin gives up everything external, even the danda and kamandalu of the Sannyasin, and uses his hand as the vessel for taking the food voluntarily offered to him by those who feel his hunger. He never accepts food from those who offer it to him out of the plenitude of their worldly goods. He cares to take his food only from those who feel his hunger! And when he rises above this, he even refuses to use his hand for feeding his mouth. These in reality have become spiritualising agents and their bodies are the perfect mechanism that serves them in spiritualising matter. Therefore doth St. Tirumular say that food or water offered to such an one, is equal to offerings and oblations offered to the Three Gods who maintain this world of manifestation. The physical hand of the Karapatram - Soul then represents the Supreme Sat - It is the Sat-patram. The food and water offered is the Chit or "Knowledge"; the Karapatrin hungers after and thirsts; and as the food and water accepted by him is turned into spiritual light in the mechanism of his perfected body, it is considered and truly so, to be the greatest Yajna or sacrifice one could make. God as Varahamurti is the incarnation of the Yajna or sacrifice and the Karapatrin is "the living Fire" who turns whatever he accepts with his hand, into energising spirit. Of this I have a story to relate, but I have taken too much space already and I must here stop.
"The world ever plucks us back from ourselves with a thousand arms." - The Mystic Author of Zanoni.
Sri Sadasiva Yogindra was not only a great Yogin, but one who in a previous incarnation attained to Yoga-siddhi. The Lord Sri Krishna says that even a soul who has fallen from the Path of Yoga after proceeding some distance in it, doth not lose the effort of his Yoga-practice. The Yoga-bhrashta even in his next birth proceeds from where he left the Razor-Path of Yoga! If this be the case with a man who has failed to achieve success in Yoga, how much more would it not be more efficacious, in the case of one who in a previous incarnation has attained to Yoga-Siddhi! Unfortunately for the Yogin, Yoga-Siddhi does not necessarily mean Kaivalya-siddhi. It is only the Power to enter into the Spirit of Nature and become one with the Universal Nature. But Kaivalya-Mukti is beyond Prakriti. It is in the realisation of Chit-Sakti - the Power of Intelligence ensouled in the Spirit of Universal Nature; and of the God Supreme (One only without a Second) who is ensouled in that Intelligence Supreme.
St. Tirumular says:
அறிவார்ப்ரனுமவளிடந்தானே." --- திருமந்திரம்.
The "Knower" of the Triputi (Knower, Known and Knowledge) - the Knower of the Known and Knowledge (the "அறிவார்" in the above Mantra), knows by his knowledge of the other two that in the beginning was" which St. Auvaiyar describes as "ஆதியாய் நின்ற அறிவு". This "Knowledge" of the "Knower" is eternal Bliss in Self-Experience. It being "அறிவார் அறிவு" it is also of the form of Supreme Intelligence transcending the Triputi form of knowledge. As evolution which is the Law of Life begins with the "ஆதியாய்நின்ற அறிவு" ("the Word that was in the beginning" of St. John) it is the presiding Genius over Action (Karma). Again, as "the Word that in the beginning was alone", previous to that alone-become state of UMA or Vyashti-Pranava, "was with God" as Ardhanarisvara, and previous to that state of at-one-ment with God, it "was God" in the Supreme Relation of Advaita, it is plain that the Supreme Being is to be found in the Supreme Intelligence. ("அறிவார்பரனுமவளிடந்தானே").
Now the Yoga-Siddha who transcending the differentiating powers of the Mind and the Intellect has attained to an undifferentiating knowledge of Triputi, has yet to work his way upwards and onwards to the Self-Experience which realises Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss which is free from Triputi Jnana (Triputi-rahita-Jnana it is called). This is the short and unfinished path of the true Yoga-Siddha, who therefore, when he incarnates again to complete his cycle of Evolution is born with the knowledge of Triputi or "Triputi-Sahita-Jnana" as it is called. He is a born Master of Nature, being able to enter into the Spirit of Nature. Now every soul that takes embodied form in human shape is subject to the eternal laws of body (The Laws of Physical Nature)!. And these Laws of Physical Nature manifest themselves to the Physical man of civilisation in the shape of three imperious wants. These are:-
(i) The Necessity of Food (in which is included food and drink) and all formative aliments coming under "ஊண்."
(ii) The Necessity for covering his body (உடை).
(iii) The Necessity for sleep (உறக்கம்).
Some would describe the sexual instinct for procreation as one of the wants of Individual Nature. But truly speaking it is more a function of collective Nature which it performs through the Individual group forming the species, keeping itself ever on the alert to preserve the continuance of the species.
Now of the three Primary necessities of Individual Physical Nature (i..e of UMA) success in overcoming any one of the necessities brings with it corresponding success from the limitations of the other two necessities. The main object of taking food is to convert matter into spiritual energy through the spiritualising agent of Man. When this is realised, the Master-soul is freed from the care of maintaining the body - for he knows his body to be a spiritualising agent, a spiritual dynamo, so to speak, and all that comes to his hand is grit to the Mill that grinds and transforms all material food into spiritual Energy. He has now become a Karapatrin and Kind Nature immediately turns herself into the Genius that feeds the spiritualising agent with fuel or food to turn into spiritual Energy. Here, then, have we the ennobling Vision of the Goddess Annapurni giving food to Paramesvara in the hollow palms of his joined hands.
In this age of material civilisation where Matter through Mammon holds sway over the hearts of men, it is urged and often with very much of force, that the requirements of the body must first be provided for. This of course is absolutely necessary so long as bodily consciousness remains. But the body itself is a means not for continuously feeding it; but a handy portable Laboratory furnished by the Divine Architect for every soul that has wandered away from the Home of the Father and the lap of the Mother into the wilds of Nature (Samsara) to serve it for the purpose of working and experimenting and understanding the Laws of Nature and of Spirit.
Matter and Spirit, these in truth, are not two entirely different things as Western savans and Scientists are apt to hold and teach. But they are one in essence, the apparent differentiation and antagonism between them being due merely to the Action of the Law of Polarity (மிதுனசக்தி) which makes them manifest, just as the Law of Electric Polarity makes the otherwise invisible substance of electricity manifest itself in various ways.
When the use of the Human Body has been thus rightly understood and the same is put to the right use as designed, then doth one realise the truth of the Aphorism of St. Auvaiyar:
The Summum bonum of Human Existence is
To realise the Supreme Personality (of God) in the Human body*."
[* Quoted from my work on "The Path of Salvation", rendering into understandable English, St. Auvayar's Aphorisms concerning the same under (வீட்டு நெறிப்பால்).
This tyranny of the Flesh over the Spirit which is exhibited in the piteous spectacle of a large portion of humanity reversing the aim of life and turning its current topsy-turvy by the great majority of them being content under various pretexts "to live to eat" rather than "eat to live" has always been exercised with extreme vigour against spiritual men at the transition stage of their progress from the life of the world, worldly, to the life of the spirit, spiritual. We all know how Jesus cursed the worldly who found fault with John the Baptist for his austerity and, again, with himself and his disciples for not observing the traditional fasts. Sri Sadasiva Yogindra was made no exception to the rule!
When the call of the spirit came on him just when he was about to be dragged into the mire of worldly life (Samsara), he fled from it as he would fly from the very Devil and took to the life of Yoga-siddhi at the point where he left it in his previous incarnation.
They tried every means to bring him back to the ways of the world: but he was not to be so easily seduced from his Path of Yoga, with the knowledge of his previous experience of departing even by a hair's breadth from the Narrow and Razor-like Path of Yoga.
His young wife was sent to seduce him to the ways of worldliness under the pretext of her daring to follow him through in his Path of Renunciation. The dodge was soon discovered and the young "Mohini" was left severely alone to herself.
Then they tried the methods of neglect, abuse, calumny and what not. Finding all this of no avail, they resolved on trying the last resort of the worldly, and made him starve for days together. But the Master-Yogin has attained to a true conception of the use of the Human body, and the tyranny of the flesh did not avail in his case. He bore it meekly without letting it disturb his Yoga-samadhi, and when the body found itself, thus left to its own resources, Dame Nature came to him in the form of Anna-purni and bade him hold out his hand that she may feed the mouth, which is to pass on the food well-prepared to the spiritualising agent within, to convert it into spiritual Energy.
For three, four, five days and more, the villagers conspired together not to feed him or let him be fed by anyone. When this conspiracy failed by his not taking any notice of it, they were astonished at his wonderful powers of endurance and left him alone in neglect and ignominy. "The word ever plucks us back from ourselves with a thousand arms" like Banasura of old, but Sri Krishna, the Paramatman incarnate ("the Word made flesh"), ever proves himself stronger than Banasura with his thousand arms. So it happened in this instance also. The tyranny of the flesh and of the hydra-headed public availed not to dislodge the Yogin from his Yoga-samadhi. They gave him up as a hopeless lunatic, when lo! he was found feeding sumptuously on the leavings of a festive party in the Village. The World was dumb-founded. A Brahmin among Brahmins who would rather endure starvation for days, rather than ask of puny perverse man the food which he would transform into world-sustaining spiritual Energy, is now found feeding on the leavings of leaf-plates, not as an outcaste hungry wolf, but as a bridegroom enjoying his feast. For the pleasure of taking food is not in the taste or eating of it, but in the readiness with which it is easily transformed into spiritual Energy. Here is a true "Karapatram Svami" and let him who eats with gusto all and sundry offerings, like a dog swallowing its food, beware of how he calls himself a Karapatrin. For the Great God is the only Karapatrin and the Word Karapatram is the symbol of the "Spiritualising Agent" who transform the Inertia of Food into the Spiritual Energy of Light.
This interpretation of the word Karapatram with special reference to the Ideal centred in it, by dwelling on its lakshyartham, may not be acceptable to those whose knowledge of "Mukti" or "Realisation" partakes of the form a "Vedantic Idea" which they are bare-faced enough to preach to the public from the Altar of the Press and Platform! They will denounce the writer, no doubt, as one not falling in with their "Vedantic Idea" (!) of "Mukti" and therefore as one who deserves to be given a bad name first and then hanged for it. That may suit their "Vedantic Idea" of Justice; but I do not write for them nor against them. The world is big enough for all to live in; and in these days of Mammon-Worship when an American Millionaire actually built a temple for, and dedicated it to, Satan, everyone is free to preach his own "idea" of "Mukti," provided that the word is not made a cover to preach "sedition" and his "idea" does not fall within the all-embracing talons of the Special Crimes Acts. But I am not alone in stigmatising the open and public presentation of "Mukti" as "Vedantic Idea." The learned Editor of this Journal in the course of a personal communication pronounced himself as follows on this very point:-
"I should sooner say that God is an idea. It is as much as saying that the substance is a shadow. Mukti is the most fundamental FACT or Truth of all experience, be it physical, mental or spiritual. As St. John says:
'And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own Self with the glory which I had with thee BEFORE THE WORLD WAS.'
(The italics and capitals are not mine).
"'The fools' and 'the blind' will say that the 'world' as a fact and the 'Glory of the Father' an 'idea.'"*
[* Mr. Svaminatha Aiyar is quoting from a letter that we wrote to him months ago, in regard to the question whether the 'sense of spiritual freedom' may after all be only a pleasing idea (phantasy) or wayward hallucination. When Dr. Nunjunda Rao (apud the title page of his valuable 'The Cosmic Consciousness') speaks of the Vedantic IDEA of Mukti, the 'idea' has to be understood in a sense analogous to that of Schopenhauer when he uses the word in the collection "The World as Will and IDEA", or, perhaps, as a consistent Berkleyan would employ it. - Ed. L.T.]
This is enough for the present. For, as the Poet says:-
"They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or thrice."
And to be free from the Slavery of the "Opinion" of worldlings, to dare to be wise and in that daring to think and give expression to one's inward thought for the benefit of one's fellow-men is no small thing gained to the cause of true Progress.
Even a "Judas Iscariot" may set himself up now as the apostle of Christ and preach his doctrine to those who would listen to him in the 'Temple of Satan", but for him to come forward and claim the right of suppressing or advising the suppression of "the Gospel of St. John" is preposterous, and cannot be tolerated even in this age of aggressive Materialism! Mammon should beware of the "Handwriting" in the Wall over the inner gate warning him seriously:-
"THUS FAR SHALT THOU GO AND NO FARTHER."
For within is the Kingdom of God!
Aum Tat Sat.
C. V. S.