Among the many saints who have appeared in Tamil Nadu, Ramalinga Swamigal, popularly known as Arut Prakasa Vallalar, stands out as a spiritual leader with a difference.? He founded a universal religion, where no human is discriminated on the ground of caste, colour or creed, where God is perceived as Jyoti, the effulgent Light.? His philosophy, called Suddha Sanmargam, path of purity, truth and perfection, is based on universal brotherhood, where peace, goodwill and harmony prevail. He held up certain principles and values which he articulated in his songs, ‘Thiru Arutpa’.? He advocated three simple ways for a life of complete fulfilment: Pasithiru, thanithiru and vizhithiru – stay hungry, maintain distance and remain awake.
Stay hungry:? It does not mean abstaining from food which is the vital source of energy.? It means that one should avoid food once in a while and thereby give respite to the digestive system. The Krishna temple at Guruvayur observes ‘Ekadasi festival’ every month when devotees abstain from regular food. Good health is determined by the quality of food that is satvic in its purity, nutrition and its balance.
? If the quantity is more, it would lead to inertia and the quest for knowledge would diminish.? Starving for a while would curtail the tendency for sense gratification.
Vallalar who is also an acknowledged physician, stipulated the kind of food one should adopt and the kind of food one should discard. Needless to say, moderate eating habits and healthy food would create good resistance power in the human system, boosting its immunity.
Maintain distance: To remain alone does not mean being totally isolated from the world; it only means keeping a distance from the world.? Indian saints and sages habitually resorted to solitary spots like woods and jungles because they found immense value in social distancing.? The act of distancing oneself from other contacts and being ‘one’s own Self’ assumes importance and urgency in the present critical situation.
We are so engrossed in various human activities that we deny ourselves many ‘pleasures’ like being alone, reflecting upon ourselves and contemplating.? Our mind has a tendency always to turn towards the external world; therefore social distancing is an opportunity to redirect the mind to our own source.? It is an opportunity to go deeper into the reality of our own Self, free from the adverse influence of the world.?
Remain awake:?? When an individual gets up from bed in the morning, he thinks he has woken up.? Actually, he has woken up only to the realm of his body and mind.??? He has woken up only to awareness of the images of the world.? He really wakes up only when he comes out of the complexities of his body, mind and intellect and realizes his true nature.
When a dreadful disease like Covid-19 strikes humanity, it should be an occasion to ponder over the hollowness of life and the futility of material values.? Occasions like this should prompt the individual to ponder over the question, ‘what is real?’? This is the time he should listen to the call of the Lord of Death, Yama Dharma Raja: "Uttisthata Jagrata", Kathopanishad 1: 3.14. “Arise, Awake and reach the path shown by the saints. Perhaps, Arut Prakasa Vallalar’s teachings have never been as directly relevant to humanity as they are, now.????????