What is Rare? Views of Three Great Poets! (Post No.2784)


Written by london swaminathan


Date: 5 May 2016


Post No. 2784


Time uploaded in London :– 13-54


( Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to tamilandvedas.com OR swamiindology.blogspot.com)



What is rare? It is very interesting to see how Adi Kavi Valmiki, great philosopher Adi Shankara and Tamil poetess Avvaiyar answered this question.

Valmiki said in his Ramayana,

Speaker of unpleasant truth and listener of unpleasant truth are rare.

“sulabaa purushaa raajan satatam priyavaadinah

Apriyasya ca pathyasya vaktaa srotaa ca durlabhah

–Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, 37-2

It is easy to find the speakers of pleasant things. But pathyasya vaktaa (speaker of unpleasant truth) and pathyasya srotaa 9listener of unpleasant truth are rare to find.


Easy death is also rare!


There is another Sanskrit saying that says easy death and life without misery are rare:-

“Anaayaasena maranam vinaa dainyena jiivanam”

Anaayaasena maranam = easy death

Vina dainyena jiivanam = life without misery

We see our friends and relatives suffer in the hospital for a long time before death. It has become very common nowadays to stop the life supplying machine at our will and pleasure. In the olden days all good souls died peacefully in their sleep. That is ‘anayesena maranam’.


Following is from my old article:–


‘Jantunam Narajanma Durlabatha:’



Human Birth is difficult to obtain (21 October 2013)
wriiten by london swaminathan

Human birth is difficult to obtain is a famous saying from northern Himalayas to Southern Kanyakumari. It is in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature. The above quote is from Viveka Cudamani of Adi Shankara. Let us look at the full sloka:

“ For all beings a human birth is difficult to obtain, more so is a male body; rarer than that is Brahmnahood; rarer still is the attachment to the path of Vedic religion; higher than is erudition in the scriptures; discrimination between the Self and not-Self, Realization, Identity with Brahman—these come next in order. Mukti/liberation is not to be attained except through the well earned merits of a hundred crores of births (1000 million births!)”.

In the next sloka he says three things are rare:Human birth, the longing for liberation and protective care of a greatman (mahapurusha).
Tamil literature explains the same thing in a beautiful way. One of the five Tamil epics is Jeevaka Chintamani which gives the story of Udayana and Vasavadatta. The author Thiruththakka devar says human birth is rare. It is like one yoke floating in southern sea coming next to another yoke floating in northern sea and a pole is inserted into it. Human birth is rarer than this.


Avvai answers Lord Skanda’s question
Another famous episode in Tamil is about the grand old lady of Tamil literature Avvaiyar meeting Lord Skanda. Skanda asked her several thought provoking questions just to enjoy her beautiful Tamil. He asked her what is bigger, sweeter, crueler and rarer. When she answered his question about rarer things in the world she says human birth is rarer. Let us look at the beautiful Tamil poem in full:

“ Rare is human birth, Vadivel (Skanda/Subramanya)! Rarer is birth as a male with perfect limbs and with full use of all the senses. Rarer still is attainment of knowledge and wisdom. Rarer than this is the tendency to give and serve; and rarest of all is a life dedicated to spiritual enlightenment, for when one reaches the end the heavens will open to welcome that person—the perfect of all human beings”.

I consider this as an echo of Adi Shankara’s three slokas 2, 3 and 4 of Viveka Cudamani. It is not uncommon to see the same thoughts in all saints of India whether they speak Tamil or Sanskrit. Great men think alike. We see the same thought in all the hymns of Thevaram,  Thiruvasagam and Divya Prabandham.





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