The poem is truly the "vision" of Paduka. Valmiki and Vyasa, says the author, are the two eyes with which we beheld the "vision". It means that unless we see, not merely eye to eye with, but with the very eyes of Valmiki and Vyasa -- the one the primate of all poets, the other the primate of all philosophers, -- we can not have the "vision" of "Sevice" in the glory of its universal soverignty. It is the one vision of all good poetry and the one truth of all good philosophy. It is the vision of the very essence of both in one and therefore a very beautiful vision. Truth was his eye and beauty was his vision, and that vision was Paduka. Such was the eye of the author and that eye was the eye of the "Poet-Philosopher". That eye in " a fine frenzy rolling" glanced "from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven and in that'glance' heaven and earth was seen as one(51). That is the "vision" of Paduka -- the integrator of earth in Heaven.
Author's art vision and creation
Poetic art creative
If Paduka was his vision it was equally his creation. Valmiki discovered it and the author recovered it and that recovery is his "creation". It was a creation in the intensity of poetic passion and in the sublimity of poetic art. Valmiki was his guide and he guided him into the creation. That creation was beauty and Paduka was that beauty. To the author Paduka is not merely beautiful but is beauty itself.(52) The poem is the experience of the aesthetic appeal of Paduka and that experience is unique in all literature. Paduka is the very crown of aesthetic philosophy and that is the author's philosophy as literary artist. Its essence , its function and its form is the one essence, the one function and the one form of "universal" service. That in essence is truth, in function is virtue, and in form is beauty. That is the author's "Paduka" and that "Paduka" is the author's creation. He created what he saw and he saw what he created. It is vision and creation in one. The poet's function is creation and therefore divine. The word 'poet' is derived from a Greek root which means "to make". He is a poet who creates......." is the author's definition of a poet(53). God is the Supreme Artist and creation is His supreme art. The author has sung the supremacy of God's creative art -- the one model for all good art, in his Yadavabhudaya. (54) God's is the creation in Himself (the One) of the Universe (the all) in all the richness of variety and in all the vitality and beauty of organic life and form. That is creation and that creation is the art of God. That is the Upanishadic art of "He saw" and "He created". In that art He not merely conceals His art, but in all His art, He conceals Himself in His own creation, his own work of art -- the universe. That concealment is the greatest art, and that art is immanence. That is His sport (lila). While He is manifesting in Himself His "all" (the universe) , He conceals Himself in His "all" (the universe) and remains concealed everywhere in that "all". That is truly the most wonderful of all arts -- the one wonder of Divine immanence . That manifestation is evolution, and evolution is His sport. It is the 'sport' of His concealing Himself in His own creation. All good art is the art of concealing the hand of the artist in his work of art. It is the immanence of the hand in its work. The artist therefore creates himself in his work of art. He is as much the creator as the creation of his own work. It is his "recreation". It is truly art for art's sake. That is creation and that creation is God's lila. It is the lila of Divine Love and 'Nature' is God's creation in that lila. It is the sport of God's concealing Himself in "Nature" and revealing Himself in "Grace". Concealment is the nature and revelation is the grace of poetry. Hence the divinity of literary art.
Creative and Figurative Arts -- Difference
Literary art differs radically from figurative and pictorial arts in that it is essentially creative. The latter are merely repetitive. There can be no true aesthetic philosophy in repetitive arts. The geometrical symmetry of mechanical patterns is usually mistaken for the aesthetic of organic forms. The former are soulless imitations and counterfeits. They are merely the "creations" either of biological necessity or of business propaganda. They are vocational or commercial activities and not aesthetic creativity. Figure is not form and symmetry is not beauty. Being soulless, "figures" have no aesthetic value, It is because of their soullessness and therefore of their "untruth" and "counterfeit" character that Plato in the tenth book of his Republic has excluded 'poets' from the philosopher's state. Plato's criticism is directed against arts for the reason that they are soulless and therefore counterfeits. It does not matter to him whether that art is figurative or pictorial or literary. It is a fallacy that because the art is literary, therefore it is necessarily different from or superior to, the figurative or graphic art. Plato's criticism concerns itself, not so much with the form or the technique of the art, as with its substance. That substance is life. In so far therefore as any art has no live in it but is merely a shadow, be that shadow figurative or literary, it is a counterfeit. Both are to Plato mere figures, the one being pictorial the other literary. Both are equally conterfeits for the reason that they are mere shadows without any substance, mere figures without any life, and both should therefore be excluded from the philosopher's republic. His objection is to mimicry and it is founded on its soullessness. That objection remains unanswered. His criticism does not touch the art of literary creation, the creation of organic life and form. He is in effect, if not in truth, driving by that criticism to that conclusion. That is Plato's art, and he is the very master of that art. That is the art of concealing his conclusion in his objection. That is the art of tenth book which is an attack on 'poetry' and which ends with a poem. It is a poem on life and it is life itself. His objection is not to creation, but to imitation. In his very attack on poetry by the method of extension by analogy of the figurative to the literary art is implicit his assumption that the attack applies only in so far as the analogy of that figurative is applicable to the literary, and no further. That the distinction between literary and graphic arts consists in that the former is creative and the latter is imitative, is beautifully voiced by the present author in his Subhashita Nivi.(55) Much of the "poetry" (and we may add also "philosophy") that we hear so much talked of and advertised is mere "counterfeit" for the reason that it is soulless repetition. Hence the condemnation of such "counterfeit" poetry as much by our sages as by Plato. It is "counterfeit" aesthetics that is condemned and condemned deservedly.
Beauty Goodness Service Joy
What man needs is not sensual excitement but spiritual equipoise and all aesthetic appeal is the appeal, not to the sensuality of the body, but to the spirituality of the soul. While imitations pander to the craving of the senses, creators minister to the longing of the soul. That longing is for beauty and that beauty is the creation of the poet. That is the beauty of truth, that is the beauty of goodness. That is the one beauty of "Service". Service is the function of selflessness in the height of spiritual equipoise and it is in that function that the universe is maintained in its moral anchorage and sustained in its organic form. That service is joy. It is ananda (abiding happiness) Happiness, according to Aristotle(56), is not the sum total of pleasures but "unimpeaded activity of the natural state of one's being". "No activity" according to him "is perfect if it be impeaded and happiness in its nature is perfect". It is the perennial activity of soul in the spiritual equipoise of selflessness, and "service" is that activity. It is perennially creative and beautific. It is in the height of spiritual equipoise that the author served and the poem is that service. That is the beauty of the poem. The author is the servant, service is his art and beauty is his creation. "Paduka" is that beauty, and here it is for the aesthetic philosopher to marvel: "Beauty! Thy name is Paduka!"
Such is the appeal which the poem makes. That is the reason for this humble service in translating the original Sanskrit into Tamil. Translation is a creative art. It is not a repetitive work in word--substitution. To be true to the original is to be true to its soul and not to its figure. The author is a saint and teacher, a poet and philosopher, a creator and artist. He is the "Teacher of Vedanta". His teachings is "Surrender"(Anjali) and his gospel is service. He has taught the law of eternal survival in everlasting service. Anjali(surrender) is the weapon (astra) with which alone God could be 'won'. It is the glory of that "weapon" (anjalivaibhava) that he taught and taught to all. His is the teacher's voice and that is the voice of universal love (57). It is the symphony of Sanskrit, Tamil and Prakrit. The poem is that symphony in all its charm and sweetness. Service is its soul, music is its voice, and rhythm is its march. It is the vision of glory, the experience of purity, and the expression of sweetness -- all in one. That one is Paduka -- thousandfold. Hence the difficulty of its translation. It is therefore in a spirit of humble service that the original Sanskrit has been rendered into these Tamil songs, such as they are. May Paduka be pleased with the gesture of service!
(51): Paduka 974,977,979,1001 et passim
(52): Paduka 898. (53). Yadavabhudaya I.15 (54). I. I9. (55). Subhashta 2.3 (56). Nicomachean Ethics. Book VII. Ch 13. (57). Desikamalai: Adhikkarasangraha 17.
This introduction ends here and sri R. Kesava Iyengar continues his magnum opus “Thiruppaduka maalai” from here. That has already been posted here.
adiyen sincerely thank for those handful of few who followed this introduction and the Thiruppadukamaalai and pray Srimad Andavan to shower all the best on you.