One of Amma’s senior most disciples, Swami Amritageetananda Puri gives us valuable insight into Amma’s teachings. Through his rich stories and metaphors, he shows what’s needed to overcome the lower tendencies and limitations we all have.
First, he gives the example of a tiger that has been trained by a zookeeper, and then gives examples of human tigers that were trained by Sage Narada and Sri Buddha. These human tigers transecded their lower natures and transformed into Great Souls.
Swami Amritageetananda Puri goes further to illuminate the metaphorical meaning of the tiger and the tiger tamers. We cannot tame our egos ourselves, as the ego is like a ferocious tiger. You cannot succeed either by trying to make the tiger (ego) your pet either.
He concludes that only tiger tamers such as Sage Narada, Sri Budha and Amma can make transformed Tigers and Lions who can serve the world.
You Cannot Shoo Away a Tiger
One or two years back, newspapers reported an incident in which a young man fell into a tiger enclosure in a zoo. The crowd was watching from above, may be 30ft. We saw the video of the young man fearfully huddled up in a corner. But the amazing thing was, the tiger (a white tiger) slowly walked towards the young man and playfully patted the young man’s cheek with its paw. The tiger was playful, even though the young man was naturally scared to death. The crowd watching this scene from above spoiled everything. They began to throw stones at the tiger and started shooing it! A most foolish thing to do – shoo away a tiger, the way one shoos away a dog or a cat! The crowd’s continuous shooing and throwing stones made the tiger angry – it roared – the poor young man collapsed – probably out of fear!
“Taming of the Tiger” is a phrase which we use not very often. What the circus people do must be condemned! They cause pain to the tigers and lions and tame and make them behave like domestic cats! This is not an achievement which one can be proud of!
Sage Devarishi Narada tamed a human tiger named Ratnakar and transformed him into Maharishi Valmiki! (The holy sage Narada found Ratnakar who was making a living through robbery.) Sage Narada saw a sacred potential in Ratnakar and told him to do spiritual practices. After years of dedicated practice Ratnakar became enlightened and became the sage Sri Valmiki. Sri Valmiki went on to write The Ramayana which recounts the life of the great Avatar Lord Rama.
Sri Buddha tamed a fearsome human tiger named Angulimala and transformed him into the Bikshu (monk) Ahimsaka! (Angulimala was a thief and murderer before he encountered Lord Buddha.) Angulimala met the Buddha and became fully transformed into the peaceful monk Ahimsaka. Later Ahimsaka became enlightened and was one of the Buddha’s senior disciples.
There are many such tiger-lion tamers in our blessed country (of India) and these tigers and lions love their masters, unlike the circus animals who obey their masters out of fear. Durga Matha on a Lion, Chandika devi on a Tiger, Swami Ayyappa on a leopard! These are the real animal tamers! (Durga Matha, Chandika and Swami Ayyappa are 3 important deities in the Hindu pantheon.)
Amma tells a story where a Grandfather takes his grandson to zoo – shows him two lions in a cage – asks him, in a fight which lion will win. The boy has no answer, so the Grandpa tells him that lion which is fed well and looked after well will be stronger and will win!
The two lions are our good and bad qualities or mind. In English, they call a Lion “His Majesty” but they call the Tiger “Jungle Tyrant!” A tyrant is one who forcefully takes what rightly doesn’t belong to him. And that is the Human Mind – the Ego! Bhagavan Krishna, in the Bhagavad Geetha, calls it the power which motivates man to commit sin –
“Kaama esha krodha esha,
Rajo guna samudh bhavah!”
“It is desire, it is anger, which arises out of Rajas – Guna, O Arjuna!”
Amma’s Advice to us, Her children
Rajas is activity. When it is controlled by Sattva (purity), it becomes selfless Activity. When the same Rajas is controlled by Tamas (egoic energy), it becomes Selfish Activity. Therefore Tamasic Rajas is negative and Sattvic Rajas is positive.
The tiger is Rajas, activity. Unfortunately, for the majority of the human beings, it is controlled by Tamas. So the Mind, Ego Tiger becomes a tyrant, totally uncontrolled. “You cannot shoo away a Tiger!” We cannot tame our ego by ourselves, however much we try! The Ego is a ferocious Tiger, and one who tries to tame it by himself/herself gets badly mauled and one retires bleeding! You cannot make this tiger your pet, the tiger will make you his pet, you cannot sit on this tiger like Durga does, this tiger will sit on you.
There is only one Tiger tamer who also makes the Tiger “useful” to the world – that Power is called “Guru”. Around Bhagavan Siva’s neck, the cobra is silent, harmless. Bhagavan Vishnu lies on a huge snake – the snake is harmless! The ego also is like a snake that is venomous and also coils around a person and squeezes him to death! Let us place our Ego at our Guru’s Feet –
The Guru Geetha says –
Janma Karma nivaarakam,
Jnana vairagya Siddhiartham,
Guru Paadodakam Pibeth!
“I drink (sip) the holy water which washed my Guru’s feet, the water which removes my ignorance along with its root, the water which ends once and for all my future births and bondage causing actions, the water which bestows knowledge and dispassion”.
Long time back Amma used to say,
“Makkal Simha kuttigal ayirakkanam”
“My children should be Lion cubs!”
Our Upanishads say,
“Na ayam Atma balaheenena labhyaha”
“The atma can never be gained or known by one who is devoid of strength”
Yes, we are Lions and Tigers with Durga, Kali, Chandika Devi on our backs! We will fight Adharma (unrighteousness) and injustice! Lions and Tigers are endangered species and have to be protected! Only Amma, the Guru can make a lion a real lion, and a tiger a real tiger – Lions and Tigers who serve the world. Let us surrender to our Guru, Amma on Guru Poornima day and pray to Her to give us strength and purity to serve the world!
Swami Amritageetananda Puri