Where is God Hiding? तिलेषु तैलं விறகில் தீயினன் Appar and Upanishad reveal (Post No.11,616)


Post No. 11,616

Date uploaded in London – –  2 JANUARY 2023                  

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Appar alias Tirunaavukkarasar was a great Shiva devotee and saint who lived in the seventh century, a contemporary of another great saint Tiru gnaana Sambandar. Both lived during the reign of the great Pallava king Mahendravarman. Appar’s devotional poems are included in the 4th, 5th and 6th parts of Thevaaram.

His similes about the obscurity of god are similar to Shvetashvatara Upanishad

Appar  says,

Like the fire in the wood, like the ghee in the milk,

the great gem like Brilliant Lord is standing obscured.

installing the pole of relationship, with the rope of

feeling, when gyrated vigorously, It (it) would appear in front.


1. God is very much with each one of us, however

not explicit. When one chooses the right process

and pursues God with passion and perseveringly

tries, the Gracious God shows up.


We may compare it with the Upanishad mantra

Sloka : 1.15-16

तिलेषु तैलं दधिनीव सर्पि-

रापः स्रोतःस्वरणीषु चाग्निः ।

एवमात्माऽत्मनि गृह्यतेऽसौ

सत्येनैनं तपसायोऽनुपश्यति ॥ १५॥

सर्वव्यापिनमात्मानं क्षीरे सर्पिरिवार्पितम् ।

आत्मविद्यातपोमूलं तद्ब्रह्मोपनिषत् परम् ॥ १६॥

tileṣu tailaṃ dadhinīva sarpi-

rāpaḥ srotaḥsvaraṇīṣu cāgniḥ .

evamātmā’tmani gṛhyate’sau

satyenainaṃ tapasāyo’nupaśyati .. 15..

sarvavyāpinamātmānaṃ kṣīre sarpirivārpitam .

ātmavidyātapomūlaṃ tadbrahmopaniṣat param .. 16..

As oil exists in sesame seeds, butter in milk, water in river- beds and fire in wood, so the Self is realized as existing within the self, when a man looks for It by means of truthfulness and austerity-when he looks for the Self, which pervades all things as butter pervades milk and whose roots are Self- Knowledge and austerity. That is the Brahman taught by the Upanishad; yea, that is the Brahman taught by the Upanishads.


Another translation

Like oil in sesame seeds, like butter in cream, like water in springs, like fire in firesticks, so dwells the Lord of Love, the Self, in the very depths of consciousness. Realize him through truth and meditation.

The Self is hidden in the hearts of all, as butter lies hidden in cream. Realize the Self in the depths of meditation—the Lord of Love, supreme Reality, who is the goal of all knowledge.

Shvetashvatara Upanishad 1.15–16; translation by Eknath Easwaran


Another translation by R E Hume of the above passage

As oi in sesame seeds, as butter in cream

As water in river beds and as fire in the friction sticks

So is the soul apprehended in one’s own soul

If one looks for Him with true austerity



Appar’s Tamil poem

விறகில் தீயினன் பாலிற் படு நெய்போல்

மறைய நின்றுளன் மாமணிச் சோதியான்

உறவு கோல் நட்டு உணர்வு கயிற்றினால்

முறுக வாங்கிக் கடைய முன் னிற்குமே.

—-திருநாவுக்கரசர் தேவாரம் ஐந்தாம் திருமுறை, (திருக்குறுந்தொகை)


Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa explains it in simpler terms:

“You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises. Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the heavens during the day? Because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.”


 There are pearls in the deep sea, but you must hazard all the perils to get them. If you fail to get at them  by a single dive, do not conclude that the sea is without them. So also in the quest for the Lord, if your first attempt to see him proves fruitless, do not lose heart. Persevere in the attempt, and you are sure to realise Him at last.


 Tags- God, oil in sesame, churning milk, in firewood, Svetasvatara Upanishad, Appar, Tevaram

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