Inspired by the grand old lady of Tamil poetry Avvaiyaar (Tamil: ஔவையார்; literally means ‘Respectable Woman’) and her classic treatise Moodhurai (மூதுரை) , where the opposite characteristics are beautifully poetically expressed in two consecutive stanzas, I am writing this post on similar lines to my earlier post titled Unknown and this post is titled Mundane!
The intention to depict opposites is because everything is relative and hence opposites are inevitable in this world and may be taken relative to one’s position based on the observer and the observed, perceiver and the perceived.
For example, a person fallen on the ground will not have to fall down further because he is already fallen! but a person standing on the ground or a person sitting at an elevated position can experience a fall 😊.
The purpose of this post is to depict the dual states of being in knowledge and being in ignorance.
Ignorance is not bliss in all circumstances!
Fire causes a burn to a little child irrespective of whether the child knows the characteristics of the fire or not.
Water drowns a person irrespective of whether the person is aware of this fact or not because that has got to do with the chemical composition and physical properties of the person and the water and it will act according to it.
Poison acts on the person irrespective of whether the person knows its side effects or not and whether he has consumed it voluntarily or not.
Medicine acts on the person irrespective of whether the person has the knowledge of its potency or not and whether it is has the propensity or cure or whether it causes adverse side effects.
It is the nature of substances to act according to its composition and properties.
Humans are no exception in this regard, having constituted of five gross material elements in various proportions, each having its own properties and the three subtle elements mind, intelligence and false ego governed by the combination of three modes of material nature – goodness, passion and ignorance.
Thus we (mind) are helplessly acting because of the functions of these gross and subtle elements in material creation.
It is to understand this fact that we mundane, needs to transcend beyond the modes of material nature. We are not mundane in the real sense because we have a mind and an intelligence that can discriminate but since everything is governed by the modes of material nature in this material universe and we are also part and parcel of it, we are in the cycle.
Akrura during his mission to Hastinapura emphasises this fact to King Dhritharashtra through this beautiful advice:
“In this world no one has any permanent relationship with anyone else, O King. We cannot stay forever even with our own body, what to speak of our wife, children and the rest. Every creature is born alone and dies alone, and alone one experiences the just rewards of his good and evil deeds.” – Srimad Bhagavatham – 10.49.20 – 21.
The accumulation of our good and evil deeds since time immemorial and also the deeds in our present life determines the ever-transforming combination of the three mode of material nature that is responsible for the unique mental composition of each one of us and that drives our way of life in the present and the next destination after death! It’s only by the endeavour to being in the mode of goodness and by finally transcending even this material mode of goodness to a transcendental mode of goodness or Suddha-Sattva, there is an escape from this material existence.
Before going to the aspects of mundane, first, due respects to the grand old lady of Tamil poetry Avvaiyaar as to how she brings in the pair of opposite nature of people in this world:
“நல்லாரைக் காண்பதுவும் நன்றே; நலம் மிக்க
நல்லார் சொல் கேட்பதுவும் நன்றே – நல்லார்
குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் நன்றே
அவரோடு இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் நன்று” – Stanza 8 – Moodhurai
This translates to:
“It is beneficial to see people of good character,
It is beneficial to listen to their words,
It is beneficial to talk about their lives and
It is beneficial to have them as friends.”
The opposite has been written with such a minimalistic effort and choice of words and can be noticed just by visually observing the arrangements of alphabets between the two stanzas, even without knowing the language! This is reflected even in the translation!
“தீயாரைக் காண்பதுவும் தீதே; திரு அற்ற
தீயார் சொல் கேட்பதுவும் தீதே – தீயார்
குணங்கள் உரைப்பதுவும் தீதே;
அவரோடு இணங்கி இருப்பதுவும் தீது.” – Stanza 9
This translates to:
“It is harmful to see the wicked,
It is harmful to listen to their words,
It is harmful to talk about their character and
It is harmful to have them as friends.”
Coming to the mundane:
Mundane are the ways of the mundane
Mundane is being in bondage
Mundane is the incomplete
Mundane is the one that is easily known
Mundane is the Jivatma (due to its externally looking nature and perceiving through imperfect senses)
Mundane is the activated (by the Paramaathma, Antaryaama, Indwelling or Supersoul)
Mundane is the eternal servant (either to senses (during material existence) or to the supreme lord (after liberation))
Mundane cannot realise that unknown
Mundane speculates using the imperfect knowledge of material sciences
Mundane cannot attain the unknown
Mundane drives itself using the material senses
Mundane identifies with the body
Mundane identifies with the senses
Mundane identifies with the mind
Mundane identifies with the intellect
Mundane identifies with the intelligence
Mundane identifies with the ego
Mundane is being in a state of forgetting the original identity
Mundane is being bound by feelings and actions
Mundane is being materialistic
Mundane is being in a tendency to dominate material nature
Mundane is being in a state of inequilibrium
Mundane is being bound by the modes of material nature
Mundane is being superficial
Mundane is being predictable to circumstances and situations
Mundane is being known
Mundane is being slave of the senses
Mundane is being in the concept of “I” and “Mine”
Mundane is being conditioned
Mundane is being in a bodily state of existence
Mundane is being in a state of lamentation due to failed desires
Mundane is being afraid of death
Mundane is being considering oneself as a “doer”
Mundane is being in a sense of proprietorship
Mundane is being in a state of sense gratification
Mundane is being in a state of forgetfulness
Mundane is being in illusion
Mundane is to be overcome
Mundane is to become self-realized
Mundane is to realise the pangs of four-fold misery – birth, death, old age and disease
Mundane is to attain the Unknown
Mundane is to realise it is only spiritual knowledge that is factual and eternal, all else is temporary and nescience
Mundane is to realise the tricks of speculators, jugglers and pseudo-mystics and not to fall into their trap
Mundane is to listen to the inner voice by shutting out the external noises
Mundane is to engage in solitary pursuits to purify body mind and intellect
Mundane is to thoroughly understand the transient nature of material existence
Mundane is to slowly get detested detached from this transient world through knowledge of revealed spiritual literatures from a spiritual master (alive or not alive taking the master by heart)
Mundane is to learn to tolerate bodily and mental pain inflicted through the three sources 1. Adhyatmik 2. Adhibhautik 3. Adhidaivik. (miseries inflicted by the body and mind itself, those inflicted by other living entities, and natural disturbances)
Mundane is to realise the futility of senseless exploitation of mother nature and learn to live in harmony with all the living entities
Mundane is to reject man-Gods or man-made Gods and understand that there is a supreme controller who is the source of everything
Mundane is to learn to surrender to that supreme
Mundane is to totally understand the helplessness in the hands of material nature and the illusory energy of the Lord
Mundane is to learn to activate the intellect to our pursuits towards the absolute truth through devotional service
Mundane is to acknowledge the indwelling that is doing its designated duty and functions in a subtle manner
Mundane is to acknowledge that it is the indwelling that activates the consciousness to awaken ourselves from sleep
Mundane is to acknowledge that it is the indwelling that activates our vital organs to perform its functions
Mundane is to acknowledge that it is the indwelling that controls the fire of digestion that digests four types of food stuff – Bhagavad Gita 15.14
Mundane is to acknowledge that it is the indwelling that activates the five prana
Mundane is to acknowledge the indwelling is unknown…no one knows how it does these activities for our survival in the material world
Mundane needs to understand that the process of self-realization can only start from inward to outward.
Mundane needs to understand the futility of material existence and want to give it up.
Mundane needs to understand whether to transcend from this mundane existence to a transcendental state is self-discretion…
To summarise, a mundane should realise that human life is a misery at every step, confronted with dangers due to the propensity of the soul to lord it over material nature through the deluding power of false ego, injecting the concepts of I and mine, having lured by the unsurmountable illusory potential of Maya (at least in theory) to get entangled perpetually through the attractions of opposite sex, progeny and wealth remaining in the trap of material existence, the way out of this trap is self-realization through knowledge and surrender through devotional service to the Supreme Lord.