The chapter on God is followed by the one on "Rain." This may seem strange to many, but neither virtue, wealth nor happiness could exist without rain. In the Christian Bible, in Acts, XIV, 17, we read: "Nevertheless, he left not himself without a witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
In the Gita (III, 4), Krishna says: "Beings are nourished by food, food is produced by rain, rain comes from sacrifice, and sacrifice is performed by action."
Thiruvalluvar therefore also praises rain. The first couplet reads: "Life's sole elixir is unfailing rainfall on which depends the world for its existence. Rain gives life to all creation, revives the dying vegetation and restores life to what seems dead."
H.P.B. mentions significantly in her article on "Zoroastrianism in the Light of Occult Philosophy" that Tistriya, son of Ahura-Mazda, is "the rain-bestowing god (the 6th Principle) that fructifies the parched soil of the 5th and 4th, and helps them to bear good fruit through their own exertions, i.e., by tasting of Haoma, the tree of eternal life through spiritual enlightenment." Says H.P.B.: "Water" in a metaphysical and mystic sense, "is the base and source of material existence." (S.D., I, 64)
In natural sequence, the next chapter is devoted to the Great Renunciators. Herein, Valluvar shows the greatness of Renunciation as also the whole subject of asceticism is dealt with in detail, in Chapters 25 to 37. Only the Wise Ones who have no attachments, who have risen above the pairs of opposites, can point out the "Way" and explain to mankind Dharma, Artha, Kama, i.e., Virtue, Wealth and Happiness.
In the first verse Valluvar points out that the one supreme thing which all scriptures affirm is the great renunciation of those who walk in right conduct.
The greatness of the "renouncer" exceeds all other greatness. To measure the greatness of one who has renounced, is like counting the number of the dead. He who has understood what birth and deliverance mean has accomplished the greatest thing, says Valluvar.
In the next three couplets he shows us the source of this greatness. (1) Restraint of the senses; (2) Ascetic practices (Yoga); and (3) True knowledge. He who with firmness bridles the five senses is himself the seed of immortals and of eternal bliss. Lord Indra is the witness to the might of those who have conquered their five senses. This is the kernel of the teaching of all the Great Ones.
Shri Krishna in the Sixth Chapter of the Gita points to the restraint of the senses and organs as a sine qua non condition for true meditation. Earlier in the same chapter he says: "The man who hath spiritual knowledge and discernment, who standeth upon the pinnacle; and hath subdued the senses, to whom gold and stone are the same, is said to be devoted."
The Voice of the Silence says: "Mistrust thy senses; they are false." "The WISE ONES tarry not in pleasure grounds of senses" (p. 7). In describing a Master, a Perfected Man, it says: "Yea, he is mighty. The living power made free in him, that power which is HIMSELF, can raise the tabernacle of illusion high above the Gods, above great Brahm and Indra." (p. 71)
Valluvar shows the difference between the Great and the Small thus: "Things hard in the doing (i.e., the conquest of self and attainment of virtue) will great men do; things hard in the doing the small eschew."
In the last four verses the poet tells us that he alone is perfected who has completely subdued his senses and has a perfect comprehension of their operation. Speaking about the Powers of the Great Ones, he says that They can read the Past, the Present and the Future clearly and thus prophesy things and events to come. They have reached the summit, the terrace of enlightenment.
The last verse is important because in it he defines a Brahmin. It says: "They are the Brahmins who are righteous and love all creation," thus showing that Brahminhood does not come from birth in a Brahmin family but from possessing the qualities enumerated by Shri Krishna, in Chapter XVIII of the Gita.
Lord Buddha says virtually the same in the Canto of "The Brahman" (The Dhammapada): "Not by matted locks, not by lineage, not by caste does one become a Brahmana. By his truth and righteousness man becomes a Brahmana. He is blessed." (Verse 393)
In Chapter 4, Valluvar asserts the value of Dharma, Virtue or Arram. The Tamil word "Arram" has great latitude of meaning. The nearest equivalent in English is "Virtue." It denotes justice, charity, righteousness and all the good qualities in Man.
We may compare this with Chapter XVIII of the Gita: "Deeds of sacrifice, of mortification, and of charity are not to be abandoned, for they are proper to be performed, and are the purifiers of the wise....The abstention from works which are necessary and obligatory is improper."
Valluvar says that action is not to be forsaken. Ascetics are great; but in the performance of virtuous deeds men obtain their highest joy, and merit the greatest rewards. There is nothing higher than Dharma which gives eternal bliss and glory. There is no greater loss than to forget it. Valluvar then shows us how Dharma is to be practised—with the mind, by thinking good thoughts; with the mouth, by speaking good words; with the body, by doing good deeds. The same teaching Lord Krishna gives in the Gita (XVII), in enumerating the mortifications of the body, speech and mind. This Triad is the kernel of the teaching of Zoroaster (Humate, Hukhte and Huvereshte—purity of speech, purity of action, and purity of thought).
Valluvar emphasizes that the first requisite for virtue is purity of mind. Are we not told in several places in The Voice of the Silence, of the necessity for purifying our mind before entering the Path? "The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer" (p. 2). "Before that path is entered, thou must destroy thy lunar body, cleanse thy mind-body, and make clean thy heart." (p. 12). Later, we are told how the mind gets covered with the dust of our illusions, which must be brushed away by the "gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom." (p. 28)
Valluvar then mentions the "three gates of hell) of which the Gita speaks in Chapter XVI. He says that only that course of conduct that steers clear of every desire, of wrath, and of offensive speech, is Dharma. Did not Lord Buddha say: "Shun evil, follow good; hold sway over thyself"? When is this to be done? Valluvar condemns Procrastination—the thief of time—thus: "Refer not virtue to another day; receive her now and at thy dying hour she will prove thy never-dying friend." This is "destiny or fate" in the true sense.
Valluvar has devoted one full chapter (Chapter 38) to this subject. "A man's good and evil deeds determine the state into which he passes after death, accompany him into that new state and influence his character and fortune therein. It is only when a human body is reached in the drama of evolution, that 'virtue' whose fruit is 'eternal bliss' can be practised; hence this mortal life is the time for prompt, virtuous efforts. All the true Teachers of Humanity have therefore emphasized the need for a virtuous life. Virtue alone is the immortal companion of a virtuous man. In the next verse we have Valluvar's support of "Reincarnation." He says: "If you were to practise righteousness every day, it would be the stone that blocked the way to rebirth." In Chapter 34 on "Instability," he says: "Death is like sleep; birth is the awakening from sleep."
(To be continued)