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Page No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Vaishnavism Vedanta Philosophy and Vaishnava Religion Visishtadvaita Philosophy of Sri Ramanuja (1017-1137) What is Philosophy and What is Religion ? Hindu Traditional Calendar Creation of the Universe Hindu Traditions Chapter 1 Hindu Traditions Chapter 2 Hindu Traditions Chapter 3 2 14 22 30 43 47 51 55 58

Sri: Sri Ranganatha Parabrahmane Namaha Sri Ranganatha Divya Mani Padhukaabyam Namaha Azhwar Emberumanar Desikan Thiruvadigale Saranam Srimathe Sri Ranganatha Mahadesikaya Namaha Srimathe Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha Srimathe Sri Ranga Ramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha

INTRODUCTION This book contains nine articles written by me on various dates between 2005 and 2008 at various places in response to my inner call. I was motivated to put in writing what I have learnt till now from my father, elders, teachers and acharyas from their oral discourses and writings which have inspired me a great deal. I thought I can leave this legacy for my children and other family members and close relatives and friends who may be interested to know what kind of life one should lead especially if one feels attracted towards spiritual goals. It is not that all these writings give a complete picture of all that need to be known and that there is no more to learn. I am still in the learning process and continue to take lessons from teachers and elders as I am convinced that there is lot more to learn in the spiritual realm. I pray for Gods Grace and Acharyas blessings in my efforts in the learning process, and to everyone who happens to read these writings. THESE WRITINGS ARE REVERENTIALLY DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF MY PARENTS, SRI TENPARAI TIRUMALAI EECHAMBADI T. S. VIRARAGHAVACHARIAR (1902-1969) SRIMATHI RUKMANI AMMAL (1911-1980) Srimathe Sri Viraraghavarya Mahadesikaya Namaha

A 20 Arcot Terrace, 160 Arcot Road, Vadapalani, Chennai 600026 Tel: 91-44-23650911; 91-9840052787 September 9, 2008


VAISHNAVISM Vaishnavism is the way of life followed by Sri Vaishnavites and this religion is also known as the Visishtadvaita Philosophy. The roots for this philosophy lie in the Vedas and more particularly, in the Upanishads which are popularly referred to as the Vedanta. In order to help a layman understand the various Upanishads that outwardly seem to contradict each other, the ancient Maharishis have written Sutras on these Upanishads. The Sutras accepted by Advaitins, Visishtadvaitins and Dvaitins (the three branches of Hindu Dharma) are primarily the Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras written by Sri Veda Vyasa, the great Sage of repute, the son of Parasara Maharishi and the great grandson of Sage Vasishta. Veda Vyasa is the same Sage who codified the Vedas and gave them to the posterity as Rik, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas. Sri Adi Sankara (788-820) wrote a commentary on the Brahma Sutras and the conclusion drawn from that commentary gave birth to Advaita Religion. Sri Ramanuja, aka Emberumanar (1017-1137) wrote his commentary called Sri Bashyam and the conclusion drawn from that commentary gave birth to Visishtadvaita Religion or Sri Vaishnavism. Several other religious leaders wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras and the conclusion drawn from the commentary of Sri Madhwachariar (1238-1317) gave birth to Dvaita religion. Needless to say that all these religions owe their origin to the Brahma Sutras of Sri Veda Vyasa and these Sutras themselves owe their origin to the Upanishads in Vedas as given to us by Sri Veda Vyasa himself. The principles of Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita religions which are prevalent today amongst the Hindus emanate from the ancient scriptural texts of various religious authors even prior to the advent of Sri Adi Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhvachariar and these great luminaries had referred to their writings in their own commentaries and works. However, from the 8th century (which was the period of vedic renaissance) onwards, the origins of the three religions are respectively attributed to these three Icons.

In Sri Bashyam, Ramanuja relied on the commentaries written on the Brahma Sutras by earlier Maharishis like Bodayana and others and also he relied on Vishnu Puranam, the Purana Ratnam written by Sage Vyasas father Parasara Maharishi. Ramanuja also relied on the Bhagavad Gita and the two Ithihasas, viz. Srimad Ramayanam and Srimad Mahabharatham, the Bhagavatha Purana and the like. Ramanuja examined the Upanishads in greater detail and convincingly related the various meanings of the Bheda, Abheda and Gataka Sruthis in the Upanishadic Mantras and Upanishadic Prose. He did not omit any command or injunction or statement or declaration made in any of the Upanishads. He accepted all the Upanishads and all the sruthis found therein and reconciled all of them in his own inimitable style and rendered the famous Sri Bashyam, the foundation of modern Vaishnavism since the 11th century. Sri Ramanuja wrote the Vedhartha Sangraham, Vedanta Saram, Vedanta Deepam, Gadhyathrayam, Sri Gita Bhashyam and Nitya Grantham. In these granthas or works, he has popularized the great vaishnavite ideal, namely that Lord Narayana is the only Goal, and the only means to attain that Goal is Lord Narayana Himself. Means and Ends coincide in the feet of Lord Narayana for a vaishnavite desirous of spiritual progress and final liberation from this universe. As noted earlier, Vaishnavism was in vogue even before Sri Ramanuja, but it is Sri Ramanuja who simplified this philosophy and spread it widely amongst all classes of people in his days during his life time. Many Advaitins got converted on account of this philosophy of Ramanuja and Sri Vaishnavism has now come to stay as the only religion which does not repudiate any statement made in any of the Upanishads. Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369), an Acharya of par excellence next only to Ramanuja, and Sri Manavala Mamunigal (1370-1444), an equally great Acharya propagated the Sri Vaishnavism Religion as propounded by Sri Ramanuja and spread its awareness among more and more people during their days. Sri Ramanujas philosophy is therefore widely spread and accepted amongst the people who understand the Vedas and the Upanishads.

In the pre-Ramanuja period, in vaishnavite thought and philosophy, mention should be made of the great roles played by the Azhwars (pre Kali Yuga and immediately after the advent of Kali Yuga, which began in 3100 B.C.E.) and other great Acharyas like Sri Nathamunigal (824-920), Sri Alavandar (916-1036), etc. Azhwars works (Divya Prabhandams) inspired Bhakthi and Saranagathi, the two vehicles for attaining moksha. The Bhakthi and Saranagathi concepts are advocated by the Upanishads as well. Upanishads and Divya Prabhandams are combined in the evolution of Ubhaya Vedanta Vaishnavite Philosophy. It has been said by our Acharyas that they complement each other well. A person resorts to philosophy if he is interested in spiritual pursuits and liberation of his soul, the ultimate purushartha of an individual (a Jivatma). The other purusharthas are Dharmam, Artham and Kamam. These three purusharthas are not rejected by the Sri Vaishnavism religion but are upheld with esteem provided these purusharthas are aimed for achievement through the dharmic path advocated by the Vedas and the Upanishads. These scriptures do advise us elaborately on how to achieve the four purusharthas including Moksham. Moksham is liberation from the Lila Vibhuthi or the Prakriti Mandalam (the Universe as we see it and hear about) and reaching the Nithya Vibhuthi to enjoy unlimited Knowledge (Jnana) and Bliss (Anandam) on par with the Almighty God, Narayana. However, the difference between the liberated soul and Sriman Narayana, the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent will continue to be there in the Nithya Vibhuthi too. The liberated soul will not get the powers of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction and the power of granting Moksham or Liberation which are in the Almightys domain only as per the Vedas, Upanishads and Sastras. This shows that there is eternal difference between the Eternal Isvara (the Paramatma or the Almighty God) and the Eternal individual souls (Atmas other than the Paramatma). Lord Narayana is the consort of Goddess Mahalakshmi and the two are inseparable and enjoy all the powers equally and in tandem with each other, the Mahalakshmi residing in the chest region of Lord Narayana. In the Sri Vaishnavite philosophy, the Lord has a

Thirumeni made of Suddha Satva, unlike the thirumenis of all others including other gods, deities and devas which are a combination of the three gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Thamas born out of the Moolaprakriti or the Primordial Nature. The three gunas are born out of Ahankara Tattva which itself is born out of Mahat which comes out of Prakriti at the time of creation by Gods Sankalpam. Prakriti, Mahat, Ahankara, 11 Indriyas (born out of Satva Guna), 10 thanmaththirais and pancha bhutas (born out of Thamo guna) constitue the Universe which is activated by the Rajo Guna. Hence, it is the Thriguna (3 gunas) that is the Universe in reality. The Sri Vaishnavism philosophy acknowledges and reiterates the three Tattvas, viz. Chit (the soul which is always knowledgeable), Achit (Matter which is always nonknowledgeable) and Iswara (the Lord of all Chits and Achits). The purusharthas are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The recommended paths leading to the four purusharthas are known as Hitha. In Hitha, those leading to the Moksha Purushartha are exclusively either Bhakthi (devotion) or Prapatti (absolute surrender or saranagathi). Knowledge in Tattva, Hitha and Purusharthas is necessary for a vaishnavite in spiritual quest. Chit is Soul or Atma whose inherent attributes are Jnana, Bliss and the Seshatvam to Lord Narayana and Lord Narayana only. Forgetting its own real inherent attributes, practically it combines with Achit (the body or sarira) and while it is supposed to rule over the Achit, it gets ruled by the Achit and thereby enjoys and suffers. Achit is the bhogyam and the Chit is the bhoktha in this relationship. In this process, life after life, it accumulates various Karma Vasanas (pleasure and pain) from which it finds it extremely difficult to pull out. Thus, the atma is perennially in darkness or Ajnana (ignorance) of its inherent attributes and being bound by karmas and their vasanas goes after pleasure and pain born out of desires which are inspired by the Prakriti (the three gunas). When it relieves itself from this Ajnana and realizes its true nature as Jnana and Anandham and as the Seshan of Lord Narayana primarily, it attains Moksha. It then gets eternally settled in the Nithya Vibhuthi worshipping the Almighty and rendering service to the Almighty all

through. Bhagavath Kainkaryam is the ultimate purushartha even in the Paramapada (Sri Vaikuntam or Nithya Vibhuthi). No doubt it is the desired Purushartha even in the Lila Vibhuthi for a spiritual passenger. Our Acharyas have taught us that Gods Grace is absolutely necessary and has to be prayed for in every step in the spiritual journey. Atmas are classified as Jivatma, Muktatma, Nithyathma and Paramatma. While Jivatmas struggle in the Lila Vibhuthi, Muktatmas are realized souls and are in attendance and kainkaryam to the Paramatma in Sri Vaikuntam. Nithyathma are Nithyasuris who are eternally doing kainkaryam to Paramatma in Sri Vaikuntam. Nithyasuris never had mortal lives in the Lila Vibhuthi arising out of Karmas. Paramatma is the Supreme Soul or Being and it is Sriman Narayana with his consort Goddess Mahalakshmi. In Sri Vaikuntam, Prakriti has no role to play and everything there is Suddha Satva. The Universe or the Prakriti Mandalam (Lila Vibhuthi) is perishable at the time of the great Deluge (Pralaya Kalam) and this area is one fourth of the Lord Sriman Narayanans Sarira. The remaining three fourths sarira of the Lord Sriman Narayana is the Nitya Vibhuthi or Paramapadam or Sri Vaikuntam which is imperishable and eternal. Both the Vibhuthis constitute the Sarira of the Lord in His Virat Svarupa. Bhagavan takes avatars in suddha satva thirumenis only in Lila Vibhuthi, and these avatars having nothing to do with karmas have also nothing to do with Prakriti or Thrigunas. Such Avatars include Archa Avatars or Archa Moorthies in Temples consecrated according to the Agama Sastras and the Vedas. Worship in temples is just like worshipping God in Sri Vaikuntam. It is immaterial whether the Idols revealing the Archa Moorthies are made of Stone, wood, etc. by Vedic and Agama rituals. Achit (Matter), again by Bhagavad Sankalpam, takes all forms, shapes and names and is available for enjoyment of Atmas who take bodies and who manipulate the achits for their enjoyment and get benefited by Achits. Eventually, the Jivatmas forgetting that they are slaves (Seshans) of Sriman Narayana (the only Seshi) fall as slaves to these They are Gods Thirumenis consecrated

Achits (Prakriti and its various permutations and combinations) and become victims in the process carrying the vasanas of delight, enjoyment, desire and pain, and inviting births and deaths repeatedly till the vasanas get exhausted. The karma vasanas will come to an end only by Gods Grace when the Jivatma surrenders at His feet and appeals for His Mercy, thereby trying to reduce His ire with the Jivatma for having gone astray and for having lived lives forgetting his Seshatvam to the Bhagavan. All things other than the Atma, and all materials which have no knowledge in themselves and which cannot function by themselves like the Atma in a body, are achits in various forms, shapes and names. Iswara is the Master of all Chits and Achits and the relationship of an individual soul with Iswara is that of a Servant and Master. Iswara being the Antaryami within the Jivatma is the inner controller but He is not affected by the actions or inactions of the Jivatma through the body. Only Jivatma is affected by such actions and inactions. The Sesha Seshi Bhavam must be realized by the Jivatma before God could shower His Grace for the Jivatma to liberate itself or attain Moksha. All Chits and Achits constitute the Body of Iswara, and for this Body, the Soul is the Supreme Soul or Paramatma or the Almighty. In effect, the Lord only functions and it is not the Chits and Achits (which constitute His body) and Chits (Jivatmas) are always dependent on Him. Chits or Jivatmas can never be independent of Him even in the liberated world of Paramapadam or Sri Vaikuntam. Only Iswara is Swathanthran and all other atmas including in the bodies of various devas or deities are Parathanthrans, viz., dependents on Iswara who is Lord Narayana as the Vedas proclaim. Chits and Achits in Sookshma (at the pralayam stage) and Sthula (at the creation stage) positions constitute the sarira of Sriman Narayana. This Sarira of the Lord contracts at the time of pralayam and expands at the time of creation purely by the Lords Sankalpa. Sriman Narayana remains the same un-affected by the activities of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction. It is His Sankalpa which throws up these activities.

There comes a pralayam at the end of each Kalpa which consists of 4.32 billion human years and all chits and achits are withdrawn by the Almighty and kept safe and protected in a subtle or sukshma form and after another Kalpam of 4.32 billion human years, the creation starts again. The Chits and Achits are released from the body of the Almighty God and given names, forms with shapes and attributes. Simultaneously, He enters into all His creation of Chits and Achits to control and direct them in their lives without Himself being un-affected in any way. Brahmas one day is one Kalpam (there are 6 Kalpams going in a cycle) and in this one day, 14 Manvantaras take over each manvantara taking about 308.57 million human years. One Kalpam is 1000 Chathur (4) Yugas and each Chathur Yuga consists of 4.32 million years. One Chathur Yuga means Kritha Yuga (1.728 million years), Thretha Yuga (1.296 million years), Dwapara Yuga (0.864 million years) and Kali Yuga (0.432 million years). Our time cycle is based on Kalpam, Manvantharas, Yugas, Samvatsaras (years), Ayanams (Utharayanam and Dakshinayanam), Rithus (6 rithus in a year), Months (The Rasis in which the Sun is based during a period), Pakshams (two in a month, viz. Sukla paksham and Krishna Paksham), Thithis (dates), days and Stars ruling over each date. This is our calendar. This is a human calendar in vogue in Bhulokam. In Deva Lokams, these numbers will have to be divided by 360 to know their calendar, as one human year is considered one celestial day. We now know what is one day in Bhulokam, one day in Devalokam and one day in Brahmalokam. In Sri Vaikuntam (Paramapadam), this time cycle is absent and there, the only time is first and next. It is as if for Kainkaryams to the Lord who rules over the paramapadam, first you do this, next do this and next do this, etc. This is the only time concept. The Lord not only rules over this Nithya Vibhuthi but also rules over the Lila Vibhuthi. In Sri Vaishnava religion, stress is always given to Bhagavatha Kainkaryam first before Bhagavath Kainkaryam. We have therefore to understand the greatness of our Acharyas.

Acharya Paramparai For understanding God (Paramatma or the Supreme Soul), the individual soul (Jivatma) and all Achits (Knowledgeless materials) and the relationships inter se (among these three Tattvas), one has to approach an Acharya for knowledge and guidance. The Acharya will also teach the paths of Bhakthi and Prapatti and will on behalf of his disciple and for him, do prapatti before the Lords feet so that the individual soul gets liberated at the end of its life. How a prapanna (a person having done the prapatti) should lead his life after prapatti will also be taught by the Acharya. Acharya is considered superior to even God in this respect as without the guidance of a proper Acharya, one cannot attain the ultimate purushartha of Moksham or liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. It may be stated that ultimately it is Gods Grace only that can sanction Moksham to a Jivatma. By prapatti, Jivatma makes his attempts to mitigate the ire of the Lord on him for having gone away from Him and living the lives of sinners over several births and deaths. Gods ire over a prapanna having gone by His accepting the Prapatti, the Jivatmas sins are condoned and destroyed for all time to come and therefore the effects of sins are nullified by His Grace. Let us recall our Poorvacharyas with respect and regard to every one of them. Let us go back to Sri Ramanuja and his period and post-Ramanuja periods and recall the Vaishnavite traditions established by them. contemporaries were Some of the Ramanujas disciples and Koorath Azhwan (1010-1116), Embar (1026-1131),

Thirukkurugai Piran Pillan (1073 and this Acharya wrote commentary on Nammazhwars Tiruvoimozhi, which is called Aarayiraththuppadi and Bhagavad Vishyam and this work was praised by Ramanuja and other great Acharyas and is still the basis for understanding the Tiruvoimozhi), Parasara Bhattar (son of Koorath Azhwan) and Nanjeeyar. Nadathur Ammal (1165-1275), Periavachan Pillai (1157-1262) - aka Vyakarna Chakravarthy who for the first time wrote commentaries on all the 4000 Divya Prabhandams), Nampillai, Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai, Kidambi Appullar (1220-1295),

Pillai Lokachariar (1264-1329) and Kumara Varadachariar, son of Sri Vedanta Desika (1316-1401) are some of the great post-Ramanuja Acharyas. It was Brahma Thanthra Swathantra Jeer (1286-1386) who established in 1360 the oldest Mutt, which is known as the Parakala Mutt. He was the disciple of Sri Vedanta Desika and his son Sri Kumara Varadachariar. In 1398, Sri Athivan Satakopa Yatheendra He was the disciple of Ghatikasatham In 1440, Mahadesikan established the Ahobila Mutt.

Ammal, who is the disciple of Brahma Thanthra Swathanthra Jeer.

Vanamamalai Mutt was founded by Sri Vanamamalai Jeer. In 1783 was established the Periasramam of Srimad Andavan in Srirangam by Sri Vazhuthur Andavan/Sri Thiruthuraipoondi Andavan. Sri Vazhuthur Andavan (1743) is the disciple of Sri Sri Srinivasa Gopalarya Mahadesikan, aka Thirukkudanthai Desikan (1700-1782).

Mahadesikan (1847-1934 - Poundrikapuram Andavan, a disciple of Velianallur Andavan) founded the Poundrikapuram Andavan Branch at Srirangam. The lives and works of these great Acharyas are so inspiring and will live for ever so long as Sri Vaishnavism continues to influence the people. In the Sri Vaishnavism Religion, Emberuman Sriman Narayanan is the first Acharya followed by Goddess Mahalakshmi. Senai Mudaliar or Vishvaksenar is the next Acharya and these Acharyas have permanent abode in Sri Vaikuntam, aka Nithya Vibhuthi which is imperishable. All the worlds other than Sri Vaikuntam are called Lila Vibhuthis and these are perishable at the time of Great Deluge. Brahma Lokam, Siva Lokam, Indra Lokam (Swarga lokam) are all part of Lila Vibhuthis only. We live in Bhulokam and in Bhulokam the first and foremost Vaishnavite Acharya presently being worshipped is the Nammazhwar, said to be the Avatar of Sri Vishvaksenar. Azhwars are 12 in number and their works collectively called Nalayira Divya Prabhandam were chanted in Temples and were popular for a long period since the birth of these Azhwars, but they being in Tamil were opposed by the extremist Sanskrit Vedic Scholars and gradually these prabhandams faded away little by little. It was Sri Natha

Munigal (824-920) who literally retrieved these Prabhandams by his tapas and yogic power. The twelve Azhwars are Sri Poigai Azhwar (pre Kali Yuga) Sri Bhuthath Azhwar (pre Kali Yuga) Sri Peyazhwar (pre Kali Yuga) Sri Tirumazhisai Azhwar (pre Kali Yuga) Sri Madurakavi Azhwar (pre Kali Yuga) Sri Nammazhwar (born on the 43rd day of the advent of Kali Yuga) Sri Kulasekhara Azhwar Sri Periazhwar Sri Andal Sri Thondaradipodi Azhwar Sri Thiruppanazhwar Sri Thirumangai Azhwar

Sri Thiruvarangath Amudanar (Ramanujas period) wrote Ramanuja Nootranthathi (108 pasurams) and these are included in the works of the twelve Azhwars to constitute the Nalayira Divya Prabhandams. The details of the Nalayira Divya Prabhandams are given below:

Particulars of Prabhandams 1. Periazhwar Thirumozhi (including Thiruppallandu) 2. Thiruppavai by Andal 3. Nachiyar Thirumozhi by Andal 4. Perumal Thirumozhi by Kulasekara Azhwar 5. Thiruchchanda Virutham by Thirumazhisai Azhwar 6. Thirumaalai by Thondaradipodi Azhwar 7. Thiruppalliezhuchi by Thondaradipodi Azhwar 8. Amalanathipiran by Thiruppanazhwar 9. Kanninun Siruththambu by Madurakavi Azhwar MUDHALAYIRAM 1. Peria Thirumozhi by Thirumangai Azhwar 2. Thirukkuranthandakam by Thirumangai Azhwar 3. Thirunedunthandakam by Thirumangai Azhwar IRANDAM AAYIRAM 1. Mudhal Thiruvanthathi by Poigai Azhwar 2. Irandam Thiruvanthathi by Bhuthath Azhwar 3. Moonram Thiruvanthathi by Peyazhwar 4. Nanmugan Thiruvanthathi by Thirumazhisai Azhwa 5. Thiruviruththam by Nammazhwar 6. Thiruvasiriyam by Nammazhwar 7. Peria Thiruvanthathi by Nammazhwar 8. Thiruvezhukootrirukkai by Thirumangai Azhwar 9. Siriya Thirumadal by Thirumangai Azhwar 10. Peria Thirumadal by Thirumangai Azhwar

No. of pasurams 473 30 143 105 120 45 10 11 10 947 1084 20 30 1134 ` 100 100 100 96 100 7 87 1 40 78 108 817

11. Ramanuja Nootranthathi by Thiruvarangath Amudhanar IYARPA

THIRUVOIMOZHI by Nammazhwar Grand total of all pasurams

1102 4000

It is said that we must go to three places for spiritual knowledge (Prasthana thraya). These are Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras. In the Sri Vedanta Desika sampradayam, emphasis for knowledge is laid on Grantha Chathushtyas (4 scriptures) and these are Sri Bashyam, Gita Bashyam by Bhagavat Ramanuja, Bhagavath Vishayam (Thiruvoimozhi) and Rahasya Thraya Saram by Sri Vedanta Desika (his ( magnum opus). All knowledge in the pursuit of spiritual path for attaining moksham are available in these 4 Granthas (Works). They take the cake among all Vaishnavite literature. _______________________________________________________________________ _ Chennai, January 11, 2008

Vedanta philosophy and Vaishnava Religion Six great philosophers explained Hindu religion in the ancient days. They are Gautama (Nyaya philosophy), Jaimini (Mimamsa philosophy), Kapila (Samkhya philosophy), Patanjali (Yoga philosophy), Kanada (Vaiseshika philosophy) and Vyasa (Vedanta philosophy). Among these schools of thought of Vedic Religion (which subsequently came to be known as Hindu religion without any acceptable provocation), what predominantly survives today is the Vedanta school of thought. Vedanta School owes its origin to Brahma Sutras written by Sage Vedavyasa who composed and compiled the till then unwritten Vedas into four Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana. Traditionally, it is believed that Vedas are there from time immemorial as revelations of God. But modern historians attribute them to a few thousands of years before the Common Era. We are not concerned here about the age of the Vedas but concerned about what they teach. Each Veda at its end contains the Upanishads, which are said to number more than 200 from the four Vedas. 108 were earlier identified as important ones and later 10 were identified as the Principal Upanishads. Some have added to this 10, a few more. Be that as it may, the essence of Upanishads is revelation of Knowledge about Brahmam or the Ultimate, about how the universe was created and how living beings were born and the relationships of all the creation inter se and with the Creator. These Sutras are intended to have a birds eye view of the Vedas including the Upanishads and especially about the Brahmam and its relationship with the universe that we see around. While the Upanishads are difficult to understand in the sense they talk of various gods and elements each as Supreme in different contexts, and identify the Souls of individuals as the Brahmam in some context, simultaneously attributing the creation, protection and destruction of the universe to the Supreme Being in some other context attributing various auspicious qualities to the Brahmam, the Sutras which virtually summarise all the Upanishads into brief or short aphorisms are equally difficult and not simple or easy to understand for a layman without the assistance of expert philosophers.

Adi Sankara (788-820), Ramanuja (1017-1137) and Madhvacharya (1238-1317) wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras and these now teach the layman about the Vedantha philosophy. Even prior to Adi Sankara, there were commentaries on the Sutras and they are now practically extinct or unavailable to the layman, and they were of course relied upon by these great Acharyas and commented upon by them in their own commentaries. Based on these three popular commentaries, Vedantha philosophy got divided into three subsections, viz., Advaita (monism), Visishta Advaita (qualified monism) and Dvaita (dualism). The gap in time between these great Acharyas may be seen as about 200 years between Adi Sankara and Ramanuja and about 100 years between Ramanuja and Madhvacharya. Whether the efflux of time as noted here had anything to do with the change in thinking of the Vedantha philosophy by these Icons is anybodys guess. The fundamentals of all the three sub divisions of this philosophy are the same and they all rely on and accept the same original documents, viz. Upanishads and Brahma Sutras. In brief, Advaita focuses on One Reality alone, the rest being Maya or illusion saying that the one reality is the Brahmam. According to Advaita, the Brahmam is Nirguna Brahmam (without any form or attribute). On the other hand, the word Dvaita itself denotes two aspects, Man and God and says that Man is ever subservient to God and he should always be devoted to God. Visishta Advaita accepts the One Reality as the Brahmam, but qualifies it by saying that that Brahmam pervades all living beings (Chits) and matter (Achits), which are also real. They focus on Tattva Thrayam (3 realities Chit, Achit and Iswaran), and four Purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). Without Brahmam, the universe consisting of Chits and Achits only cannot survive, and they are separate from Iswaran, but form part of the Brahmam, which pervades them and which is the material and instrumental cause for the creation, protection and the destruction of the universe (which consists of chits (Jivatmas), and achits (Matter in its various permutations and combinations called modifications of the Premordial matter or Moolaprakrithi), and eventually the cycle of births, deaths and rebirths of both chits and achits continues for ever and ever. Chits (Jivatmas) who do not want to be reborn have to adopt certain

measures to please the Brahmam so that they attain the feet of Brahmam after which there is no return for them to the world of beings and matter. Universe. Brahmam is called Lord Sriman Narayana or Mahavishnu (with more than thousand names) and He has all the good and auspicious attributes. Jnanam, Balam, Aiswaryam, Veeryam, Sakthi and Thejas constitute the Bhagavan and He is the Brahmam or Sriman Narayana with His consort, Sri Devi who adores His Chest. He is personalistic with all divine weapons and ornaments to adore Him and He is Suddha Satva, and nothing bad or ill is capable of affecting His attributes, Form and Auspicious qualities although he pervades or is part and parcel of all chits and achits who/which have both good and bad qualities and attributes. The salvation is for the individual souls (Jivatmas) to attain Lords feet recognising His mastery over them and realising that whatever they do or do not do is based only on the Sankalpam (Decision or Determination) of Lord Narayana or Bhagavan. This does not mean that the Jivatmas are deprived of initiatives. In fact, they are They would become Mukthas after liberation and would be rendering eternal service to the Lord, Master of the

expected to take initiatives in various directions in which they want to proceed, grow and prosper for attaining various purusharthas (goals). They should of course realise that their initiatives would not succeed without Divine or Bhagavans blessings and they should always be seized of this thought in all their endeavours. While their actions or karmas would bind them in the ordinary course, they can free themselves from this bondage if they dedicate all their actions and their fruits to the Bhagavan without caring for and getting attached to the fruits or working only for the fruits or the desired results. And being devotees of the Lord and surrendering at His feet realising their own helplessness to be independent of the Lord. Sources of knowledge are Direct Perception (prathyaksham), Inference (anumanam) and Scriptures (Sounds meaning thereby Vedas, Upanishads, Ithihasas, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita and other Smritis including Agama and Dharma Sastras). Knowledge

about God and human relationships with God can only be attained through Scriptures and this knowledge revealed by Scriptures is to be known from the Acharyas, who practice what they preach. The foremost Acharyas are Sriman Narayana, Goddess Mahalakshmi (Sri Devi) and Vishvaksenar (the Chief of Staff of Sriman Narayana). They are in Srivaikuntam or Parama Padam where the nature (the three gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Thamas and their various combinations which emanate from Moolaprakrithi) that we witness in the universe is absent and therefore cannot have any influence. Man is suffering or enjoying because he is in combination with the Moolaprakrithi with all its evolutes such as the three gunas, tanmatras, elements, indriyas and manas. Freed from Prakriti he can enjoy liberation in Sri Vaikuntam where Prakriti has no place. Prior to the Acharyas, in the Vaishnavite religion, there were Azhwars (12 in number) and they inculcated Bhakthi amongst the human beings, themselves being Embodiments of Bhakthi. Their writings are collectively known as Divya Prabhandams and they are 4000 in number. These are in Tamil and are called Dravida or Tamil Vedas as what they contain is what Vedas and Upanishads tell us. They focus on Lord Narayana and Goddess Mahalakshmi, Bhakthi and Prapathi (Absolute surrender to God) towards Them. The Chief of the Azhwars (though not in chronology) is Nammazhwar who is said to be the Avatar in the Bhulokam of Vishvaksenar in Srivaikuntam. Azhwars 4000 divya prabhandams are given the same status of Vedas and Upanishads in the worship in Temples where the Archa Moorthys are worshipped as Bhagavan in the Suddha Satva Thirumenis. List of Azhwars and their Works are given in an Annexure. In short, it is said that there are three places to go for knowledge and these are Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita (the Prasthanathraya). This is also to be supplemented by a study of Ramayana and Mahabharatha (the Epics or Ithihasas), Puranas and Sastras including Agama and Dharma Sastras. While Vedas and Upanishads are called Srutis (those which have been heard but were not authored by anyone being revelations of God first revealed to the Brahma, the Creator and then to others through the Brahma), the rest are known as Smritis (those which have been written by various authors or remembered). Vedas are therefore above board and any test, and can never be

faulted as they are not the works of any human being. Whereever the Smritis are inconsistent with Vedas, Vedas alone are to be relied and they are the ultimate authority (Pramanam). Vedas are also considered as Gods breath and therefore as God Himself. What the above scriptures reveal have been mastered, analysed and are explained to us in simple manner by means of prose and poetry or a combination of both, written by Azhwars and Acharyas in Tamil, Sanskrit and Manipravalam (both Sanskrit and Tamil being employed side by side to explain the Tattvas and the Rahasyas). These works by Acharyas are the result of not only their research into all Scriptures, knowledge born out of tapas and meditation, but are also products of debates and discussions amongst them repudiating or asserting one or the other theory in philosophy or in interpreting the Vedas and Upanishads. They are no doubt based on the teachings of their own Acharyas too. There are innumerable Acharyas owing allegiance to Adi Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhvacharya and these Acharyas have been giving life to the Vedantha philosophy without interruption for several centuries now (since the 8 th century) and will continue to do so for several more centuries to come. In the Vaishnavite religion, we worship Lord Sriman Narayana, Goddess Mahalakshmi, Vishvaksenar and Nammazhwar and other Azhwars as the foremost Acharyas in that sequence. The Vaishnavite Acharyas who followed the teachings of the Azhwars (besides of Vedas and Upanishads) and whom Ramanuja followed and those who subsequently followed Ramanuja are chronologically as under: Approximate Period (CE) 824 920 826 931 832 - 941 NA 916 1036 Name of the Acharya Nathamunigal Uyyakkondar (Pundarikakshar) Manakkal Nambi (Ramamisrar) Kurukaikavalarappan Alavandar (Yamunacharya)

Approximate period (CE) 973 987 NA 997 NA NA 1017 1137 1027 1133 1010 1116 1028 1026 1131 1052 1073 NA 1028 1074 NA 1106 1157 1262 1165 1275 1207 NA 1220 1295 1264 1329 1268 - 1369 1286 1386 NA 1316 1401 NA

Name of the Acharya Thirumalai Nambigal Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal Thirukachi Nambigal Peria Nambi Thiruvarangaperumal Araiyar Thirumalai andan Ramanujar Mudhali andan (1) Koorath Azhwan (2) Nadathur Azhwan (3) Embar (4) Kidambi Achan (5) Thirukkurugai Piran Pillan (6) Arulala Perumal Emberumanar (7) Vaduga Nambi (8) Parasara Bhattar (9) Nanjeer Engal Azhwan Peria Vachan Pillai Nadathur Ammal Nampillai Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai Kidambi Appullar Pillai Lokachariyar Sri Vedanta Desikan (Venkatanathan) Brahma Thanthra Swathanthra Jeeyar (who established the Parakala Mutt) Thiruvoimozhi Pillai Kumara Varadachariar (Nainachariyar) Ghatikasatham Ammal

1370 1444 1379 1459

Sri Manavala Mamunigal Athivan Satagopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan (who established the Ahobila Matam)

1400 to the present day

Number of Acharyas and Branches flowing out from the earlier and Acharyas all their including paramparais Swayamacharyas, forms.

continue to this day under various names and

Munithraya (Srimad Andavan) Sampradayam/Periasramam Andavan Paramparai 1700 1782 Sri Gopalarya Mahadesikan (who established the Munithraya Sampradayam as HH was the preceptor of Vazhuthur Andavan) 1743 NA 1801 1884 1824 1900 1828 1895 NA 1847 1934 1871 1932 1880 1946 1886 1963 1907 1989 1989 1934 present 1. Vazhuthur Andavan Asramam was established) 2. 3. 4. 5. Thiruthuraipoondi Andavan Periandavan Chinnandavan Kadanthethi Andavan (In 1783, Andavan

Sri Narayana Mahadesikan (Velianallur Andavan)*

Srinivasa Mahadesikan (who established the Poundrikapuram Andavan Branch)** 6. 7. 8. 9. Therezhundur Andavan Akkur Andavan Tenparai Andavan Thirukkudanthai Andavan

10. Mysore Andavan 11. Sri Mushnam Andavan (who took over the Peetam in 1990)

* He originated the Poundrikapuram Andavan Branch

** He was the Sishya of Velianallur Andavan Srimad Andavan Periasramam Paramparai is given above and there is a separate paramparai for the Poundrikapuram Andavan Branch also which is not given here. Note: (1) to (9) indicated in brackets after the names of certain Acharyas show their seniority in the Discipleships of Ramanujar. The above list is not exhaustive but indicative of the Acharya Paramparai in the grand Lineage of Vaishnavite Acharyas.

New Delhi, April 24, 2007

VISISHTADVAITA PHILOSOPHY OF SRI RAMANUJA (1017-1137) Sources of Knowledge are Pratyaksham (what one sees), Anumanam (inference) and Sabdham (sounds meaning Vedas or Sruthis). What cannot be known from Pratyaksham and Anumanam can only be known through Vedas. Vedas were not written by anyone. They are Gods own words existing in space as sounds. Great Maharishis of the ancient days, through meditation and prayers were able to grasp these sounds and gave them oral expressions. They taught these to their disciples and the disciples in turn taught their disciples and so on. They are therefore called Sruthis, those that are heard. About 5000 years before, Sage Vyasa is said to have codified these Vedas in writing in four categories called Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda. Vedas are divided into two parts Karma Kandam and Jnana Kandam. Karma Kandam is again sub divided into Samhitas (Mantras) and Brahmanas (Rituals). Jnana Kandam is sub divided into Aranyakas (forest life situation) and Upanishads (Knowledge of Brahmam). As Upanishads are at the end of the Vedas, they are also called Vedantha and the knowledge indicated here is the Vedantha philosophy. In Hindu religion, 6 philosophies (schools of thought) were in vogue in the ancient days and these are Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa (Poorva Mimamsa) and Vedantha (Uttara Mimamsa). Gradually, the earlier four became extinct mostly and the fifth and sixth are in vogue now. But even the fifth (which talks of doing yagnams and yagas to please the various Gods and attain material benefits and punyams) are not faithfully followed as such following had become difficult and what mostly is prevalent today is the sixth, viz. Vedantha philosophy (Knowledge based). Vedantha philosophy owing its origin to Sanskrit Vedas are not accessible for learning by everyone and those authorized to learn (only Brahmacharis) have to undergo rigid disciplines from the age of 7 through Guru Kulam studies for 12

years. Sage Vyasa therefore wrote a crisp and short summary of the important Upanishads in the form of Sutras (aphorisms or short statements) and these are called the Vedantha Sutras or Brahma Sutras (the object of study being to enquire about Brahmam). These Sutras are a literature in themselves and can be accessed by all. Brahmam is not Brahma, the well known Creator, but is the Supreme God known as Sriman Narayana and/or Lord Vishnu. In the southern India, the Vaishnavite Azhwars (12) sang hymns in Tamil which were compiled in later days by Sage Nathamuni (824-920) as Nalayira Divya Prabhandam. These Tamil hymns are called the Tamil Vedas as they reflect nothing but Vedic thoughts and they are considered equivalent to Sanskrit Vedas. These hymns are accessible to everyone without restriction and no rigorous discipline is prescribed for their study like Sanskrit Vedas. These establish the supremacy of Lord Vishnu over all other Gods and are born out of Bhakthi of the Azhwars towards Lord Vishnu/Sriman Narayana. Our Acharyas (Preceptors) have therefore combined the knowledge of the Vedas and Divya Prabhandams and called the philosophy thus emanating as the Ubhaya Vedantha Philosophy. Any person who accepts the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu as the Paramatma (the Supreme Soul or the Supreme Being or the Almighty God) and follows the teachings of the Vedas and/or Divya Prabhandams is called Vaishnavite and his philosophy is known as Visishtadvaita philosophy. The other philosophy is Advaita philosophy which says that everything other than Brahmam is illusion or Maya (they only appear to exist and really they do not exist at all) and everyone is Brahmam and when that realization or knowledge is attained, the living person becomes Jeevan Muktha and he can carry on his lifes activities even after becoming Jeevan Muktha and when he relinquishes his body, he is one with Brahmam. There is only one Reality and that is Brahmam and there is no second. The third and the youngest philosophy is Dvaita philosophy according to which there are two eternals Jivatma (living persons) and the Paramatma (the Supreme


The Jivatma should know the differences between him and the

Paramatma. The Jivatma should constantly worship Lord Vishnu only. Sri Ramanujas (Visishtadvaita) philosophy says that Reality is three Chit (or Soul that is knowledgeable), Achit (matter which has no knowledge) and Iswaran (Sriman Narayanan). All the above three are eternal and real. A vaishnavite has to learn the three realities and the relationships inter se in order to understand Brahmam and reach Moksha, a state from which there is no rebirth and a state which is identical with God but not the same as God and from which state he continues to serve God with devotion. Until you attain Moksham, you are born again and again in this Universe in some form or the other depending upon your karmas and in order to experience the results of the Punyas and the Papams that one earns in each life. Moksham is the deliverance from all these Punyas and Papams which cause repeated births. Sri Adi Sankara (788-820), the founder of the Advaita philosophy, relies for his conclusions on the sruthis which point out that there is one Reality. According to him, these are primary sruthis and the other sruthis which point out more than one Reality and the differences between one and the other are all secondary sruthis and these are meant to be followed till one gets rid of ignorance and attains true knowledge that one is Brahmam. The sruthis he relies on as primary are Abheda Sruthis. Sri Madhwacharya (1238-1317), the founder of the Dvaita philosophy relies for his conclusions on the sruthis which point out that Jivatma and Paramatma are not one and the same but are different (Bheda sruthis) and says that all other sruthis other than Bheda Sruthis are secondary in nature and are only meant to understand that there are only two and not one or more. Sri Ramanuja (1017-1137) relies for his conclusions on all the sruthis without omission (all the Upanishads literally) and says that there are Abheda Sruthis, Bheda Sruthis and Ghataka Sruthis (pointing out relationships interse between Jivatma, Matter and God) and all these have to be understood in conjunction and

in co-ordination with each other and no sruthi can be called primary or secondary saying that no sruthi can be ignored or be treated in a diluted manner. As sruthis are the Pramanams (authority) to know about ourselves and God and the related issues which cannot be known through Pratyaksham or Anumanam and all the sruthis have to be integrated and understood as a whole, the Visishtadvaita philosophy he founded seems readily acceptable as it is more scientific than the other two. In the days of Sri Adi Sankara, there were onslaughts on Vedas and God by Buddhists and Jains who maintained that there was no God and Vedas teach rituals which had no meaning. Their stand seemed to be that nothing exists in reality. Sri Adi Sankara had therefore to re-establish the supremacy of the Vedas and the supremacy of Brahmam and therefore propagated the theory that as against nothing exists, only one thing exists and that is Brahmam and the rest are illusion and knowledge of this will lead to abandonment of the rituals prescribed in the Vedas. Insistence on practice of Vedic rituals and the difficulties in such practices resulting in non-practice or partial practice probably resulted in easy conversion of Hindus to Buddhism and Jainism which said no rituals were necessary. Sri Adi Sankara by saying that rituals are not all that important and that they are secondary and are valid only upto one gaining knowledge that he is Brahmam and there is no second entity at all even as per the Vedas, succeeded in fighting these onslaughts and could prevent the spread of Buddhism and Jainism which opposed the Vedas and the God. Sri Adi Sankaras theory was called Monism. qualities). In the days of Sri Ramanuja, he repudiated the theory of Sri Adi Sankara and pointed out that Brahmam has qualities (Saguna Brahmam, all good qualities unlimited in extent) and the qualities of Jivatma are not the same as Brahmam and essentially they are different but Jivatma emanated from the Paramatma and the Paramatma stays within Jivatma as the Inner Controller. All the matter gets different forms and stages due to the Sankalpam of the Paramatma and thus the According to him Brahmam is Nirguna Brahmam (no gunas or

world is said to be created by the Paramatma, which is what the Vedas say. All the Jivatmas and all the Matter form the body of the Paramatma who is the Supreme Soul in that Body and therefore He is the controller of the various limbs of His body, namely the Jivatmas and all the Matter and He decides on their creation, existence and protection. He gives them the different qualities and helps them in their activities according to their own Punyas and Papams. He protects and sustains them and guides them. All the Jivatmas and all the Matter are subservient to Him. This theory is known as Qualified Monism. Jivatmas and the Matter (Chit and Achit) are Sesha Bhuthas (servants and subservient) to Iswara, the God who is the Seshin (Sarva seshin). Jivatmas and the matter are not independent in Svarupa (form) and Svabhava (qualities) but are dependent on Gods own Svarupa (form) and Svabhava (qualities) and Sankalpa. According to Sri Ramanuja that is what Vedas preach and the Brahma Sutras preach and he has written all these in his works Sri Bashyam (commentary on the Brahma Sutras) and Gita Bashyam (commentary on the Bhagavat Gita), the three Gadyas (Saranagadhi Gadyam, Sri Vaikunta Gadyam and Sri Ranga Gadyam), Vedartha Sangraha (Meanings of the Vedas in abbreviated form), Vedanta Saram (the essence of the Vedanta), Vedanta Deepam (Light shown by the Vedanta) and Nityam. Vaishnavite Acharyas A Chronology Period 788- 820 824- 920 826- 931 832- 941 916-1036 973 987 997 1018-1092 Acharya/Event Adi Shankarar (NON VAISHNAVITE ACHARYA) Nathamunigal Uyyakkondar (Pundarikakshar) Manakkal Nambi (Ramamisrar) Alavandar Thirumalai Nambi (Ramanujars Maternal Uncle) Thirukkoshtiyur Nambi Peria Nambi Thirukkachchi Nambi

Thiruvaranga Perumal Araiyar 1017-1137 1010-1116 1026-1131 1028 1052 1028 Ramanujar Koorath Azhwar (Srivathsangar) Embar (Govinda Bhattar) Ramanujars cousin B Nadathur Azhwan (Varadavishnumisrar) Ramanujars another sisters son R/B Kidambi Achan (Thirumalai Nambis wifes brothers son) Vaduga Nambi Ramanujar 1074 Parasara Bhattar, son of Koorath Azhwar (successor to Ramanujar in Srirangam Temple Admn.) Also a disciple of Embar Arulalaperumal Emberumanar Nanjeer (Parasara Bhattars disciple) 1106 1165-1275 1157-1262 1207 1220-1295 1238-1317 1264-1329 1268-1369 1286-1386 1300-1410 1316-1401 Engal Azhwan (Vishnu Chithar) successor to Thirukkurugai Piran Pillan Nadathur Ammal (Varadavishnu) grandson of Nadathur Azhwan Successor to Engal Azhwan Periavachan Pillai (Vyakyana Chakravarthy) Nampillais disciple Nampillai (Nanjeers successor) Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai (Nampillais successor) Kidambi Appullar (Ramanujan) great grandson of Kidambi Achan, Nadathur Ammals successor and Desikans maternal uncle. Madhwachariar (ESTABLISHED MADHWA MADHAM DUALISM) Pillai Lokachariyar (son of Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai) Sri Vedanta Desikan (Kidambi Appullars nephew and successor) Thiruvoimozhi Pillai (Pillai Lokachariars successor) Brahma Thanthra Swathanthra Jeer (Disciple of Sri Vedanta Desikan and Sri Kumara Varadachariar, Desikans son) Sri Prathivathi Bhayangaram Annan Swami Kumara Varadachariar, son of Sri Vedanta Desikan.

1027-1133 B Mudaliyandan (Ramanujars sisters son)

1073 BV/R/B Thirukkurugai Piran Pillan (son of Thirumalai Nambi) Gnanaputhra for

Ghatikasatham Ammal, disciple of Brahma Thanthra Swathathra Jeer 1360 1370-1444 1379 1379 1398 1440 Parakala Mutt was established in Kanchi by Brahma Thanthra Swathanthra Jeer Sri Manavala Mamunigal (Thiruvoimozhi Pillais disciple) Parakala Mutt shifted to Tirupati Sri Athivan Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan (disciple of Ghatikasatham Ammal Ahobila Mutt was established by Sri Athivan Satakopa Yatheendra Mahadesikan Vanamamalai Mutt was founded by Sri Vanamamalai Jeer Sri Ranga Ramanuja Muni (Upanishad Bhashyakarar) Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan (Sakshat Swami) 1700-1782 Sri Gopalarya Mahadesikan (Thirukkudanthai Desikan) Sakshat Swamis disciple (also 15th generation from Kidambi Appullar, Desikans maternal uncle and Acharya 1743 1783 1801-1884 1824-1900 1828-1895 Vazhuthur Andavan (Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan) Srimad Andavan Asramam was established in Srirangam Thiruthuraipundi Andavan (Srinivasa Ramanuja Mahadesikan) Periandavan (Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan) Vatthal Swami Sri Narayana Mahadesikan (Velianallur Andavan) Chinnandavan (Sri Paduka Sevaka Ramanuja Mahadesikan) (Periasramam Branch came to be known as such) Kadanthethi Andavan (Sri Srinivasa Ramanuja Mahadesikan) 1847-1934 Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan (Poundarikapuram Andavan Branch was founded by this Poundarikapuram Andavan, a disciple of Velianallur Andavan) 1871-1932 1880-1946 1882 1886-1963 TherezhundurAndavan (Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan/Nammandavan) Akkur Andavan (Srinivasa Mahadesikan/Engal Andavan) Sri Ranga Ramanuja Mahadesikan (Kozhialam Swami) Tenparai Andavan (Sri Ranganatha Mahadesikan)

(Sanyasam years 1947-1964) 1891-1983 1897-1983 1907-1989 Sri Prathivathi Bhayangaram Annangarachariar Swami Sri Uthamur Viraraghavacharya Mahadesikan ThirukkudanthaiAndavan(Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan) (Sanyasam years 1964-1989) Mysore Andavan (Srinivasa Ramanuja Mahadesikan) (Sanyasam Year 1989) 1934Srimushnam Andavan (Sri Ranga Ramanuja Mahadesikan) (Sanyasam years 1990Notes: ) Present Andavan

1) Ramanujar established 74 Simhasanathipadhis out of whom he named four of his disciples as Sri Bashya simhasanapadhi (B), Rahasya Simhasanathipadhi and Bhagavat Vishaya simhasanathipadhi (BV) 2) There were other great Acharyas and what are given above are those who signify a paramparai (in succession to each other) 3) After Sakshat Swami, there were so many other religious heads who were also Acharyas and their paramparais are not given above.

Chennai, December 25, 2006

For Padmanabhan Family: What is philosophy and what is religion? Philosophy is an enquiry into the realms of Unknown and a school of thought based on enquiries already made by philosophers into what is known and what is unknown and what is to be known is known as a philosophy. Sometimes, while interpreting the scriptures he chooses to explore during the course of his enquiry, he comes out with his own thoughts and repudiates the scriptures or he develops his own thoughts based on his own understanding of the scriptures stating that he relies on scriptures and this is what he says that the scriptures teach or preach. Religion (code of conduct) is the practice followed by a group of persons called a community, caste, etc., based on customs, traditions and values of a family or inherited by the family or in a region/s or nation/s. While the western philosophy is not linked to a religion, in India, in Hindu religion, religious practice is generally dictated by the philosophy one believes in or one inherits from ones ancestors. Philosophy and religion are therefore linked together and co-exist in Hindu systems. In ancient days, there were six schools of thought (Philosophies) and today, the common school is Vedantic school (philosophical thoughts based on Vedantas. Vedantas mean that which are at the end of the four Vedas, and these are Upanishads). Our Vedantic school is based on Upanishads. In the south, there were Azwars in Dravida Nadu (3102 BC to almost early few centuries AD). What they sang were revealed to Sri Nathamuni (in the early 9th century AD) who compiled it as Nalayira Dhivya Prabhandam consisting of 4000 tamil songs sung by 12 Azhwars (Mudal Azhwargal (3) Poigai Azhwar, Bhuthath Azhwar and Peyazwar -, Tirumazhisai Azhwar, Nammalwar (the chief amongst them), Madura Kavi Azhwar, Kulasekara Azhwar (who was a reigning monarch in south in the ancient days), Periazhwar, Andal, Thondaradipodi Azhwar, Tiruppanazhwar and Tirumangai Azhwar). These Prabhandams are considered Dravida Vedas (Tamil Vedas). Those who follow the Sanskrit Vedas (Upanishads) and Tamil Vedas (Divya Prabhandams) jointly and severally are called Ubhaya Vedantis. These two Vedas teach

the philosophy as well as religious practices to be followed based on the philosophy taught. What is our School of thought (philosophy)? We follow Ramanujas philosophy called Visishtadvaita (qualified Monism) philosophy named as Sri Vaishnavism which is Ubhaya Vedanta Philosophy (taught by both Upanishads and Nalayira Divya Prabhandams). It has been established by our Acharyas that Upanishads and Divya Prabhandams say the very same thing and there is no conflict at all between them and both can be relied upon and practiced together or separately for the ultimate objective of attaining liberation. Divya Prabhandams are expressions of ones (Azhwars) personal experiences and therefore they are inspirational poems inducing bhakthi in the readers towards Sriman Narayana and these prabhandams teach that only Vishnu is the Ultimate God and repudiate the supremacy of the other gods like Brahma, Sivan, Indran, etc. who are all servants of Vishnu (Sriman Narayana) only. According to Sri Ramanuja (1017-1137), Upanishads also teach that Vishnu (Sriman Narayana) is the Ultimate God (Bhagavan, Paramatma, Brahmam, Iswaran etc.). He has in his writings and in debates established this position of Upanishads and has tremendously succeeded in raising his followers who all worshipped him as God (with Vigraha Prathishtam in temples). Sri Ramanuja established 74 Simhasanathipadhis, religious heads, to continue his work and teachings. Our family owes its origin to one of these 74 Simhasanathipadis (at Tenparai) and that is why we are called Swayam Acharya Purushals as we are his descendants/disciples. These religious heads/mutts have now culminated into Parakala Mutt followers, Ahobila Mutt followers, Sri Andavan followers, Vanamamalai mutt followers, Tirupathi Mutt, Ethiraja Mutt followers, Swayam Acharya Purushals and so on. There are quite a few Acharyas heading both organized mutts and unorganized entities. They all have one thing in common, that is Sriman Narayana along with Goddess Mahalakshmi are the divine couple to be worshipped and all Jivatmas should surrender at their feet and Prapatthi or Bhakthi are the only means of attaining the abode of the divine couple (Moksha Lokam or Sri Vaikuntam). Further, no other God is equal to or greater than Mahavishnu or Sriman Narayana. worship. A true Vaishnivite (follower of Vishnu) should resent other Gods and not go to them for

What is this philosophy? Valid sources of knowledge are prathyaksham, anumanam (inference) and Sabdhas (Sounds meaning Vedas & Upanishads and Sabdhas in this context also include smrutis (codes of conduct and rules and regulations laid down by the Maharishis like Manu, Yagnavalkya and others), epics (Ithihasas), Puranas, Bhagavad Gita, etc. which are not inconsistent with what have been stated in the Vedas). If there is a conflict between a literature and the Vedas, Vedas alone shall prevail. There are four Vedas Rig, Yajur (Sukla yajur, Krishna yajur), Sama and Atharvana. We are Krishna Yajur Veda followers. Realities are three chit (Jivatma), achit (Nature or Matter) and Iswaran (Paramatma or God). There is no other Reality or Truth. Jivatmas include all Gods from Brahma, Sivan and downwards. We should understand the relationships amongst these three realities in order to understand the spiritual path laid down in this philosophy. Chits Chit (Being) is knowledgeable and that which can realize and understand what is seen or heard or felt and it always exists in a body be it the body of the god or deity or deva, or the gandharva, asura, man, woman, child, etc. or the animal, bird, insect, worm, etc. or plant, tree, etc. which can breathe and grow. What body a Jivatma takes is decided on Punyas and Papams which are collectively called Karma (actions, past and present). Brahma and Sivan and other gods have their divine bodies with divine powers vested in them by virtue of their karma. The Swarupa (form) of a Jivatma is an Atom in form and is the full embodiment of Knowledge and Bliss (Gnanam and Aanandam). Its inherent nature includes Dharmabootha gnanam which means it can identify all things external to it and in cases of jivatmas who have developed spiritual talents to an extent, it helps identify (realize) itself too. The degree of the presence of this gnanam varies from one Jivatma to another and also the body it lives in. Brahma, Sivan and

other gods do have enormous divine powers to bestow boons and give grants and answer the prayers of their devotees, but all these benefits are short-lived in the sense that they have an end and they add to the karmas meaning more and more bodies to live in in the future. It will be a cycle of births and deaths (samsara sagaram). Aham or I means Jivatma and not the body that houses the Jivatma. Bodies die and Jivatmas being eternal do not die at all. They were never born at all. None can harm and injure them. All harms and injuries are caused only to the bodies which are perishable. First understanding should be that body is not the atma or jivan or man and that atma and body are two separate things. While Atma is eternal, body is born out of Achit (Moola Prakrithi or three gunas) and is perishable. Jivatmas constitute the body of Paramatma. At the time of great deluge

(mahapralayam), Jivatmas in sukshma bodies are consumed by the Paramatma who let them out at the start of the next creation by first creating the creator, Brahma from his Navel. Jivatmas being a constituent of Paramatma, Paramatma decides their Swarupas (forms) and Swaroopams (characteristics or gunas). Jivatma is therefore considered a slave or servant (Seshan) and Paramatma is the master (Seshi). As the Paramatma is the master of everyone and everything, he is Sarvaseshin. This relationship is a reality and cannot be shied away from. The palans (consequences of actions or inactions) of a Jivatma, while binding the Jivatma for ever in Samsara sagaram, belong to Paramatma who therefore through his Sankalpam (determination) decides the course of life of a Jivatma in a body that He gives to that during a life. In other words, the form and characteristics of a Jivatma in a body and the course of its life are the Bhagavat Sankalpam (Gods decision). All these will lead to the knowledge that Jivatma is not a Swathanthran (independent) and is only a Parathanthran (dependent on Paramatma). Since these things are true and common to all Jivatmas, it comes to that that between Brahma/Sivan etc. and a man or woman, there is no essential difference. The

only apparent difference is that Brahma/Sivan etc. have far superior powers vested in them only by the Paramatma and due to the illusion that they are Masters and Gods, devotees go to them and worship them only for material benefits in this world. There are four Purusharthas (goals) dharma, artha, kamam and moksha. For achieving the first three goals, one can resort to any god. For achieving the last goal, namely moksham, one should resort only to the Paramatma as He alone has the inherent power to grant moksham (liberation). When a Jivatma attains moksham, it does not come back to the samsara sagaram (worldly living). Worldly living includes living in celestial areas of other seven Lokas like Surya Lokam, Chandra Lokam, Siva Lokam, Sathya (Brahma) Lokam, etc. above the Earth and another seven Lokas (Athala, Vithala, etc. called Narakas) below the Earth. There are 14 Lokas or worlds. Paramatma or the Supreme Being or the Supreme Soul is none other than Vishnu, called Vasudeva, Narayana, etc. He always desires that all Jivatmas should ultimately and as soon as they can reach Him in Sri Vaikuntam (Moksha Lokam) to be on par with Him in all respects except in having the powers of Creation, Protection and Destruction of the World which always stand vested in Him and Him alone. He being the first Acharya (Guru), wants the Jivatmas to come to Him at the end of their lives through the Grace of an Acharya who would teach him the Truth and the Path that would lead Jivatmas to God ultimately. Acharyas are of even greater importance than God Himself according to God, He being the first Acharya to everyone. There are three Rahasya Mantras which are called Ashtaksharam, Dvayam and Charama slokam to be chanted millions of times during ones life after one is initiated into that by an Acharya, with full belief and faith (Mahaviswasam) and in all humility without offending any other being (chit or achit) and considering that he is the Seshan and the God is the Seshi and he has no independence of his own to protect himself and that his protection is the privilege and prerogative of God. He should further pray that he does what he does believing in that his action is the action of God and the consequences of his actions, being Gods own actions, go

only to God and that he has nothing to gain or lose. He has nothing to offer to God as he, Jivatma, is itself the property of God (Saathveeka Thyagam). The feelings of I or Me or Mine (collectively called Ahamkara or Mamakara) should go and the feeling of Seshatvam (subservient to God) all the time should settle in. Attainment of all the four Purusharthas and the means of such attainment are there in the Vedas which are divided into Karma Kandams and Gnana Kandams. Karma will lead to Gnanam and Gnanam will lead to Bhakthi and Prapatthi (surrender) and in this order only one should strive for. It means we cannot give up our Nithya Karmas or Naimittika Karmas ordained on us as per Sastras even if we are solely interested in Moksham following the Gnana and Bhakthi or Prapatthi paths. Technically, Karma, Gnanam and Bhakthi paths can lead to Moksham, but their practice as ordained for that purpose being very complicated and difficult to practice, ordinary men cannot resort to them as means to Moksham and the path for them is the Prapatthi (surrender to God). Prapatthi is generally done through an Acharya and the angams of prapatthi have to be followed like Mahaviswasam, abandoning all gods other than Sriman Narayana, doing actions desirable by Him and abandoning actions not desirable by Him, cultivating the spirit of utter helplessness and humility in ones course of life and realizing that he has no other way or path but to surrender to God and having surrendered to Him at His feet, he is fearless and he is doing only Bhagavat and Bhagavata Kainkaryams and nothing else during the rest of his life. Prapatthi can be done by any Jivatma in any Body. Moksham means destruction of all past karmas (which alone gives repeated births and deaths) until the Jivatma leaves its body in the final stage and ultimate Liberation for the service of God eternally in Sri Vaikuntam (Moksha Lokam). As long as the Jivatma is bound by Karma, it can never hope to attain Moksham. To shed the karma, the means is Prapatthi or Surrender at Lords feet.

Achits Achit is not knowledgeable and it is called Jadam (no knowledge). It is meant to exist only for the benefit of Chits or Jivatmas. It is also Seshan and its masters are Jivatmas and Paramatma. Achits also constitute the body of Paramatma and are dependent on Him, being Seshans to Him. Achit originates from the primary Achit called Moola Prakrithi (primordial matter). From Moola Prakrithi, 24 substances are evolved and these substances give the Jivatmas their bodies and offer themselves as help for the lives of Jivatmas and Jivatmas realizing the help, benefits from their association with these 24 evolutes, always desire to continue to enjoy what all the Achits (Everything in the Earth or the World minus the Jivatmas) are capable of giving them for enjoyments. Commonly, the association with Prakriti (Achit) gives enjoyment to a Jivatma who considers himself as the body only and that atma and body are one and the same (which is not true). He wants to enjoy and continues to enjoy without realizing his true self, which is the Atma for which these enjoyments are no good as they would bind the Atma for ever in the Prakrithi Mandalam, depriving the Atma from attaining liberation. The 24 evolutes are Moola Prakrithi, Mahan (intermediary stage of evolution), and Ahamkaram (final stage of evolution) are the primary three Evolutes of the 24. From Ahamkaram, the three Gunas are formed (Sattva, Rajas and Thamas) and an inter-action of these three gunas results in the formation of Indriyas (limbs) of the body and senses. The five limbs (karmendriyas) are hands, legs, the two organs which excrete the waste and the mouth (speech). The five senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. Manas or the mind is the 11th sense in a human body. The trigunas are considered as the Prakrithi as they alone are ultimately responsible for all worldly substances in the actual sense. Apart from the 3 plus 11 stated above, five Tanmatras (characteristics) called sound, feeling, form, taste and smell are created and these respectively fructify in

what are called the five pancha boothas, namely, Akasa (space), Vayu (wind), Light (including fire), Water and Earth. The 5 Tanmatras and 5 Pancha boothas with 3 plus 11 stated earlier will total up to 24 evolutes. Jivatma is considered as the 25th principle and God is the 26th principle. There is none other than these in reality. Whatever we see are the modifications of one or the other of these principles only. Everything or anything that is witnessed in the Earth is a change of the form of one or the other 24 evolutes mentioned above and they are all modifications of the Premordial nature or the Moola Prakrithi in the ultimate sense. Moola Prakrithi alone is the Reality and the rest are its various modifications and forms. Moola Prakrithi again has the power to change its form to modify into another and again repeat such changes and modifications only because of the Bhagavat Sankalpam as it cannot on its own do such things as it is bereft of any knowledge. Moola Prakrithi (Achit) is also a Seshan and Paramatma (Bhagavan) is the Seshi for that also. In time of Great Deluge all perish and the moola prakrithi (achit) in a subtle form is consumed by the Paramatma along with Chits and they are conserved or kept in custody in subtle forms by God in his smallest body (an infant in a leaf of a tree in the midst of water, which alone exists at the time of Maha Pralayam) who protects them all until they are again re-created through his Navel and Brahma after the Deluge dies. Iswaran From a reading of the above, Iswaran is known as the Supreme Soul having the entire Universe (consisting of chits and achits) as his Sareera or Body and therefore just as the soul controls the body, he is the Controller of all chits and achits in the Universe, both this world and the upper/lower worlds. He is called Bhagavan, Brahmam (different from Brahma), Parabrahmam, Sriman Narayana, etc.

He has five forms to carry on various functions Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa and Antaryami. Para is the form in Sri Vaikuntam Para Vasudeva and unless one attains moksham it is not possible to view this form of His. Vyuha is the other forms Vasudeva, Samkharshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha and in these forms he conducts all the affairs of the Worlds {Prakriti Mandalam). Vibhava is the Avataar of Sriman Narayana in the Prakriti Mandalam for destroying evil and protecting the good from time to time. the Epics. He has taken innumerable Avataars and we only know certain Avataars from the Puranas and Elders had listed 10 Avatars of His as the important Avatars Mathsya, Koorma, Varaha, Nrusimha, Vamanan (also Trivikraman in the same Avataar), Parasuraman, Dasaratha Raman, Bala Raman, Krishnan and Kalki (yet to come). His Avataar as Hayagriva is very important to Sri Vaishnavites, as Hayagriva was the redeemer of Vedas and is the embodiment and source of all Knowledge (Sarva Vidhyas) although this is not listed in the Ten. Archa is the Moorthy in Temples consecrated according to Vedas, Agamas and Sastras where the daily rituals take place as ordained in the Sastras governing worship in Temples. 108 such Temples were temples where the 12 Azhwars had personal experiences of seeing God and enjoying His Anugraham or Blessings. They are called Vaishnavite Divya Desas and two of them are not in Prakriti Mandalam. One is Sri Vaikuntam and the other is Thirupparkadal. Antaryami is the Paramatma inside the Jivatma in the body of the Jivatma and very few yogis have realized the Paramatma as the Antaryamin and surrendered to him in that form.

Sriman Narayana is mostly worshipped in Archa Form and the surrender or prapatthi is done at the feet of the Archa Moorthy. The other forms are difficult to comprehend. Other than Sri Vaikuntam (His abode) which is called Nitya Vibhuthi (eternal place), all other worlds are called Lila Vibhuthi (Prakriti Mandalam, perishable places which are called his playing field) and Lila Vibhuthi is Sport for Him. In the Nitya Vibhuthi, there are Nithyas (eternal souls like Adisesha, Vishvaksena, Garuda, etc.), Mukthas (liberated souls who had reached moksham through bhakthi and/or prapatthi) and Goddess Mahalakshmi along with Sri Bhudevi and Sri Neela Devi. Goddess Mahalakshmi is inseparable from Him as she adorns his chest and He always works in conjunction with His Consort (Mahalakshmi or Sri Devi) and there is absolutely no difference between the Two of them. They are One in Two. Goddess Mahalakshmi helps Jivatmas in their pleas to Paramatma in the matter of attaining moksham or relief from their sufferings and this help is called Purushakaratvam (recommendation to God about servants pleas). One who worships Sriman Narayana for attaining Moksha without seeking any other benefits from Him after surrendering to Him at His feet also gets all the material and spiritual benefits necessary for him until his life comes to an end in the Prakriti Mandalam. Sriman Narayana is the Sarvagnan (knows everyone and everything). Acharyas Acharyas are Preceptors and they only teach us the scriptures and help us to know God and work on the means to attain God. They have therefore to be worshipped first before God is worshipped. We always recite the Thaniyans (prayers) of Acharyas first in Temples and also before commencing our daily worship in the

houses. It is believed that the recital of Acharyans Thanian leads one to God through Acharyas feet and blessings. Our Acharya Lineage starts from Sriman Narayana in the following order: o Goddess Mahalakshmi or Thirumagal o Sri Vishvaksenar or Senainathan (Commander in Chief in Sri Vaikuntam who with his stick helps God to rule the world) o Sri Nammazhwar or Satakopan (considered to be an avatar of Sri Vishvaksenar himself in the world to help the Jivatmas to know the Truth and the Realities) o Sri Natha Munigal (824-920) o Sri Uyyakkondar (826-931) o Sri Manakkal Nambi (832-941) o Sri Alavandar (916-1036) o Sri Peria Nambi (born in 997) o Sri Ramanujar (1017-1137), considered as the founder of the Sri Vaishnavism. The above is the primary Acharya Paramparai common to everybody and the secondary Acharya Paramparai for our family as per our traditions is as follows: o Sri Vedanta Desikan or Nikamantha Mahadesikan (1268-1369) o Sri Gopalarya Mahadesikan or Thirukkudanthai Desikan ((1700-1782) o Srimad Vazhuthoor Andavan, Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan ((born in 1743) SRIMAD ANDAVAN ASRAMAM WAS ESTABLISHED IN SRIRANGAM IN 1783 o Thiruthuraipoondi Andavan, Srinivasa Ramanuja Mahadesikan o Sri Periandavan, Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan (1801-1884)

o Sri Chinnandavan, Sri Paduka Sevaka Ramanuja Mahadesikan (18281895) o Sri Kadaththedhi Andavan o Therezhundur Andavan, Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan (aka Nammandavan) (1871-1932), Acharya for my father Late Sri T S Viraraghavachariar, my and ammas Samasrayanam Acharya. o Sri Akkur Andavan, Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan, aka Engal Andavan (1880-1946) o Sri Tenparai Andavan, Sri Ranganatha Mahadesikan (1886-1963), my bharanyasam (prapatthi) acharya (He was Andavan for 17 years) o Sri Thirukkudanthai Andavan, Sri Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan (1907-1989), samasrayanam and bharanyasam acharya for krishnan and balaji and bharanyasam acharya for amma. (He was Andavan for 25 years) o Sri Mysore Andavan (Sri Srinivasa Ramanuja Mahadesikan) for one year in 1989) o Srimushnam Andavan, Sri Ranga Ramanuja Mahadesikan (1934present). He took over in 1990. We should constantly be reciting our Acharyas thanians In the other file, I am mailing, I have given a summary in general and chronology of our and other Acharya Paramparais compiled to the best of my knowledge. All Acharyas are worthy of worship irrespective of which Acharya we worship as per our family tradition. According to our Acharyas, a Sri Vaishnavite has to study the following four texts (grantha chathushtyas) 1. Sri Bashyam (a commentary on Brahma Sutras or Vedanta Sutras written by Vyasa Maharishi (this text in Sanskrit has been translated in English by George Thibaut)

2. Gita Bashyam (a commentary on Bhagavat Gita written by Sri Ramanuja) 3. Bhagavat Vishayam (a commentary on Tiruvoimozhi, consisting of 1000 tamil poems or songs out of 4000 such poems called Nalayira Divya Prabhandam written by Tirukkurugaipiran Pillan, a primary disciple of Sri Ramanuja. After this, other commentaries on Tiruvoimozhi were written by other illustrious Acharyas and a Mahan by name Peria Vachan Pillai (who is called Vyakyana Chakravarthi) has written commentary on all the 4000 divya prabhandams. 4. Srimad Rahasya Thrayasaram (written by Sri Vedanta Desikan) If one is unable to read all the four above, at least he is supposed to read the last one, viz., Srimad Rahasya Thrayasaram. The above reading is intended to acquire knowledge of our philosophy and religious practice and the need to follow that practice in our spiritual endeavour. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------East Hanover, NJ 07936, USA, August 9, 2006

HINDU TRADITIONAL CALENDAR Hindu traditions are millions of years old. They draw their beginnings from the Vedas and the Upanishads, which defy their own dates of origin. Western Philosophers have given dates of origin to them, but Hindu faith does not accept them. Neither Hindus nor the Western Philosophers have authentic authority to quote for their respective positions. Be it so. Vedas are called Srutis meaning that they are heard and are not written. Vyasa only codified and compiled what were already heard and spread over by Maharishis to their disciples and these disciples to their own disciples, etc. The 29 th Vyasa known as Krishna Dvaipayana codified the Vedas into four (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas) approximately 5000 years ago, probably at the advent of Kali Yuga. YUGAS Hindu calendar has the Yuga cycles as its base. There are four Yugas, viz. Krutha Yuga, Thretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga . A cycle of these four yugas is called a Chathur Yuga (block of 4 yugas). Krutha Yuga has 4800 celestial years; Thretha 3600 celestial years; Dwapara 2400 celestial years and the Kali 1200 celestial years. One human year in this Earth is one day for the celestials or devas. In other words, 360 human years will be one celestial year. Reckoned on this formula, Krutha would be 1728,000 human years; Thretha 1296,000 human years; Dwapara 864,000 human years and Kali 432,000 human years. boggling figure. KALPAM 1000 such Chathur Yugas form one Kalpam. A Kalpam therefore consists of 4320 million years or 4.32 billion years. One Kalpam is said to be one day for Brahma, the Creator. Kalpams are 6 and these are 1. Koormam 2. Parthibam 3. Savithri 4. Pralayam 5. Varaham 6. Brahmam The aggregate for one Chathur yuga reckoned in terms of human years will be 4320,000 years or 4.32 million years, a mind

MANVANTARAS In each Kalpam, the Universe is ruled by 14 Manus, the term of office of each Manu being 71 Chathur Yugas. Manus are appointed by Brahma, the Creator. The period ruled by a Manu is called a Manvantara after his name. There are therefore 14 Manvantaras in one Kalpam. The 14 Manvantaras are 1. Svayambhuvamanu 2. Svarosishamanu 3. Uthamamanu 4. Thapasamanu 5. Raivathamanu 6. Chakshushamanu 7. Vaivasvathamanu 8. Savarnimanu 9. Dakshasavarnimanu 10. Brahmasavarnimanu 11. Dharmasavarnimanu 12. Rudrasavarnimanu 13. Devasavarnimanu 14. Indrasavarnimanu THE PRESENT KALPA, MANVANTARA AND YUGA We are now in Svethavarahakalpa and Vaivasvatha Manvantara in Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga commenced in the English year 3100 B.C. The present English year 2005 means Kali Yuga Year 5105. Kali yuga has a total of 432,000 human years or 1200 celestial years. Imagine the long way that we have to go to see the end of Kali Yuga. DAY, NAKSHATRAM, THITHI AND PAKSHAM A day consists of 24 hours, as we understand now. In our tradition, it consists of sixty (60) nazhikais. Each hour is therefore equal to 2.5 nazhikais. Each day has a Nakshatram and a Thithi and each of these two lasts in each day for a period of nazhikais specified for each, and is then followed by the subsequent Nakshatram and Thithi in the same day, and this information is available in our Panchangam. We have to convert the

nazhikais into hours and minutes, and reckon them from the time of sunrise each day to find out the time upto which one nakshatra or thithi lasts in a day and when the next nakshatra and thithi start in a day. While there are 27 nakshatras, there are 15 thithis. Thithis are only numerals to indicate the first day, the second day, etc. upto 14 days and the fifteenth day is known as either the new moon day (Amavasai) or full moon day (Pournami). The thithis come in a cycle and the first day of the thithi that is known as Prathamai is the day following the New Moon Day or the Full Moon Day as the case may be. The fifteen-day period before the New Moon Day is called Krishna Paksham or the Thei Pirai and the fifteen-day period before the Full Moon Day is called Sukla Paksham or the Valar Pirai. MONTHS Our Hindu calendar year (as followed in South India mostly) commences from the mid April each year with the first month known as Chiththirai in Tamil. The day Sun enters Mesha Rasi in the Zodiac is the day of commencement of Chiththirai. The Sun stays in one Rasi for one month and takes 12 months to complete its round of 12 Rasis in a cycle. Each month is therefore known in Sanskrit in the name of the Rasi the Sun occupies in that month. (namely, Mesha, Rishaba, Mithuna, Kataka, Simha, Kanya, Thula, Vrischika, Dhanus, Makara, Kumba and Meena). RUTHUS (SEASONS) Every two months block starting from Chiththirai is termed as a Ruthu. There are six Ruthus (bi-monthly periods) in a year and these are Vasantharuthu, Greeshmaruthu, Varusharuthu, Saradruthu, Hemantharuthu and Sisiraruthu. AYANAMS (HALF YEARLY PERIODS) A block of 6 months commencing January middle upto July middle is called the Utharayana, namely when the Sun takes its northern course. The other block of 6 months stretching from July middle to January middle is called the Dakshinayana, namely when the Sun takes its southern course. Utharayana is the daytime for the celestials or the devas and Dakshinayana is the night time for the celestials. SAMVATHSARAMS (YEARS) A year in Sanskrit is called Samvathsaram. Each year has a Sanskrit name and there are sixty names to denote a cycle of sixty years. These years keep coming in rotation starting

from Prabhava. The present year is called Dharana and Parthibha will commence on the coming Tamil New Year Day in April 2005. DAYS Each day is known by a particular name in Sanskrit which name denotes the planet ruling on the day concerned. Sunday is Bhanuvasaram; Monday is Induvasaram; Tuesday is Bhaumavasaram; Wednesday is Saumyavasaram; Thursday is Guruvasaram; Friday is Bhruguvasaram and Saturday is Sthiravasaram. It may therefore be noted that in Hindu tradition, we have our own days, dates (thithis and Pakshams coming in cycles), months, bi-months (Ruthus denoting seasons), half years (Ayanams) and years (Samvathsarams). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Apex, North Carolina, USA, February 18, 2005

CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE God is the centre of the Hindu faith. God's breath is said to be the Vedas. The Vedas are the only source of knowledge. Everything is contained in the Vedas. Vedas say that the God has no beginning or end. He is the Ultimate. One may call him as the Supreme Being or Brahman. Vaishnavites call him as Narayana. He pervades the Universe and there is nothing in the Universe, which does not have Him as its part. In human beings, he is the Antaryami or the Inner Soul or the Paramatma. Every human being has a body with a soul (Jivatma). Paramatma resides inside the Jivatma. All individual souls and matter (world or nature and everything that forms part of them) are amsas (parts or modes) of the Supreme Brahman. While they are distinct from the Brahman, they are inseparable from Him, as they constitute His body. This is the theory according to our philosophy and based on this theory, one has to approach the subject of the creation of the Universe for easy understanding. The Vedas (especially the Upanishads which form the latter part of the Vedas) speak of the creation in various ways. It is difficult to understand, comprehend and reconcile what all is spoken about creation in these Upanishads unless one is fully well versed in the Vedas and the secondary scriptures like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas, Agamas, Dharma Sastras, etc. While there could be differences in one's approach and understanding what the Vedas ultimately reveal about the creation, one thing is for sure, and that is God created the world as part of his manifestation. Creation is said to begin after a Mahapralayam and when God takes a Sankalpa to create again. Mahapralayam comes after a Brahma's lifetime, which is one hundred years (4.32 billion multiplied by 360 multiplied by 100 human years) to be calculated based on chathur yuga formula detailed in the first write up of the author, viz. Hindu Traditional Calendar. The Purushasuktham speaks of the glories of the God. The Purushasuktham contains in itself the three different constituents of the Vedas, namely Samhita (Manthras - Prayers), Brahmanam (Yagnams - Karma Kandam) and Aranyakam (Upanishads - Gnana


We have a splendid account of the creation of the Universe in this

Purushasuktham and it is narrated below. The Universe, as it appears to us, is only one fourth of God's manifestation and three fourths are unmanifest. Creation is a big Yagnam. The creation is in two parts. In the first part, God manifested Himself as Brahma and from Brahma as various beings. In the second part, God became food and other essentials for the created beings to enable them live. In the first part, God manifested Himself into a Brahmandam and from it, appeared the Brahma, the Creator who created individuals. In the second part, a sacrifice or Yagna was performed by the Devas, the first that was created by Brahma. Brahma permitted himself to be used by the Devas as the Holy Cow for sacrifice into the Homam in this Yagna. From this Yagna came birds, deer, animals, cows and other similar creations. Then came the Rig-Veda, the Sama Veda, Gayathri, and Yajur Veda. Then horses, other animals, goats, sheep etc. came out. Brahma's face became a Brahmin, hands became a Kshatriya, thighs became a Vaisya and feet became a Sudra.(*) From his mind appeared Moon, from his eyes appeared Sun. From his face appeared Indra and Agni. From his breath appeared Air. From his navel appeared Space. From the head, the heaven, from the feet the earth, from the ears the directions (east, west, south and north) came out. Thus was created all the worlds (Sastras say that there are fourteen worlds in all). The devas through this yagna worshipped the God, the Creator. established in the form of worship and prayer. It will be seen that from God, Brahma appeared and from Brahma, all other beings appeared, Devas being the first. God thus pervades his creation. God works ceaselessly in the universe through his amsas or parts, namely chits and achits by being their inner soul, controller and director. The dharma was then

The Purushasuktham worships Him as having thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, thousands of feet and states that his vast figure spreads and pervades the entire Universe in a symbolic ten inches height. In the Aitareya Upanishad, it is said that God first created Ambalokam (water world), Marichilokam (world of light), Maralokam (world of immortals) and Apalokam (world of water) . Ambalokam is above the Heaven, Marichilokam is the Space in between the Heaven and the Earth, Maralokam is the Earth and Apalokam is below the Earth. He then created the Brahma from out of water to be the guardian of all these lokas (worlds). At God's behest, Brahma opened his mouth and from the mouth came the speech. From the speech came fire. At God's behest again a nose appeared for the Brahma and from its nostrils, came the air. Similarly, from eyes, vision came and from vision, came the Sun. From ears, sounds and hearing came and from them came the directions (east, west, south and north). From the skin, came hair and from the hair came herbs and plants. From the heart came the mind and from the mind came the Moon. From the navel, came Apanan and from that came death. From the genitals, came the fluid and from it came water. The above then fell in the water. Brahma created hunger and thirst for them. The created ones wondered where would they reside. Brahma brought them a cow first and on their expressing inadequacy, brought them a horse. They still felt it inadequate. Then Brahma gave them Man. (Obviously woman too). They appreciated Man as the best creation. Then Brahma ordered all of them to get into their respective places within the Man. Fire became speech and entered the mouth. Air became Pranan and entered the nostrils. Sun became vision and entered the eyes. The directions in the form of hearing entered the ears. Herbs and plants became hair and entered the skin. Moon became Mind and entered the heart. Death became Apanan and entered the navel. Water became fluid and entered the genitals. Hunger and Thirst asked for places from the Brahma. He gave them places in the Devas (who were first created) and made them share in their food. (If we offer food to the devas, hunger and thirst share in that food.) Having created Man, Brahma proceeded to create food out of water. Food ran away and the man wanted to take the food by speech, and failing that, by smell, and failing that by vision, and failing

that by hearing, and failing that by touch, and failing that by mind, and again failing that by genitals. He failed in all his attempts. He then tried through the Apanan and he could reach the food. Therefore it is the Apanan that bears the life through food. God then thought as to how the man could function. He then entered the Man opening a gate in Man and the head. Man then got his life and realized that the Paramatma is inside him.

Woman then had their union and they got a child, which is said to be the representative of the Man. It is said that the child gets life from father and body from mother. God enters the child as the Paramatma and protects the child. Thus the creation continues forever and ever. Though I had given two accounts of the creation as per the Vedas and the Upanishads (there are other accounts of creation too), we have to read them together to conclude that God created the worlds, Brahma, the Devas, man and woman and made them to pursue further creation Himself being part of the never ending process. We believe that it is God's Sport. *These divisions were more for the performance of various duties and dharmas as ordained in the Shastras for the good of the world. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Apex, NC, USA, 22nd March 2005 (This article was written in response to a request from a friend who stated that in other religions, they have their versions of the Creation of the Universe and when that is so, what is our version of the Creation of the Universe. Our version is always what our Vedas state.)

HINDU TRADITIONS - CHAPTER 1 Hindu Traditions have been upheld from time immemorial despite onslaughts on them by various persons whose faith for their own religions and cultures prompted them to spread their own and destroy Hindu faith. None of them had succeeded although they inflicted some injuries and wounds on the Hindu faith. Everytime such things are done, the faith becomes stronger and stronger. We have seen that in the last five decades, in Tamilnadu, atheists started attacking Hindu faith in 1950s, but in the later decades, such attacks became thinner and thinner. We now see quite an enormous increase in the number of people asserting their faith in Hindu traditions, customs and practices and the onslaught on them is minimal and invisible. Every year, people want to construct temples in various places dedicated to their own Gods and Goddesses (the faith takes into account 33 crores of Gods and Goddesses) and also patronise the ancient and modern temples with frequent visits, pilgrimages, prayers and offerings. The faith stays for ever and ever, whatever politicians or others might otherwise say or do. The Vedas, Upanishads (part of Vedas only), Epics, Dharma Sastrams , Puranas, Stotras etc. are the unshakeable foundation on which the superstructure of the Hindu faith was built and is ever growing. The Hindu faith takes into account respect for all other faiths and we have no craze to convert anyone to our faith as we believe the same God resides in everyone and no one needs to be convinced or converted. Even the Hindu faith acknowledges the different paths to God and different Hindu sections of people worship different Gods and Goddesses. The strength of the faith lies in unity in diversity as the faith rests on the same foundation. In Bhagavad Gita, in reply to a question by Arjuna, Lord Krishna says, "I am the Time". "I create, protect as well as I destroy." JANMANAMANTHE GNANAVAN MAM He further says "BAHUUNAM PRAPADYATHE. VASUDEVAHA

SARVAMITHI SA MAHATMA SUDHURLABAHA" (At the end of innumerable births, the man of knowledge finds refuge in Me knowing that all this is Vasudeva. It is very hard to find such a great souled person). To understand God it takes many many births. God is beyond easy human comprehension and it requires Yoga powers to understand

Him and realise Him. All the three Yogas taught in the Bhagavad Gita, viz. Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Bhakthi Yoga all leading to Prapatthi or surrender to God have to be practised during our many lives to realise God. There is a view that having done prapatthi, one is sure of reaching Vaikuntam and nothing more needs to be done. It is a valuable lesson taught to us by our Ancestors to demonstrate the power of the Mantras, but one should not have any wrong and simplistic notion in this regard. After doing Prapatthi, how we live, act and behave is of the maximum concern to determine whether we would get the results meant for people who have done the prapatthi. We are witnessing a situation where people who have done prapatthi are still self centred, afflicted with hatred for others and their faith and feelings, and are not following the disciplines expected of them after their Acharyas had performed the Saranagadhi on their behalf and prayed to God to absolve them of all sins committed and that may later on be committed unintentionally. Our faith urges us to have a universal approach and to see everyone as ourselves, as what we have to see is the 'soul' and not the 'body' and the 'soul' is the same in everyone without any distinction whatsoever. Our Ancestors were Sages, Maharishis, Saints and Yogis. Our form of self-introduction to elders by the "Abhivadhaye' method will illustrate this. In order that we do not forget our traditions and practices, Azhwars and Acharyas appear from time to time and exhort us in our beliefs and faith to enable us to continue doing our Karma, Gnana and Bhakthi Yogas and Prapatthi more and more effectively and without discouragement emanating from sorrows, disappointments and sufferings that we experience in our lives. Approximately around 5000 B.C., after the Dwapara Yuga ended with Lord Krishna ascending to Vaikuntam, and around the time of Kali Yuga beginning, Krishna Dvaipayana known as Sage Vyasa is said to have codified the till then unwritten but heard Veda Mantras (Srutis) into four categories of the Vedas. To enable us understand the contents of the Vedas Sage Vyasa also wrote Brahma Sutras, Mahabharatham and

eighteen Puranas. The oldest Hindu religious literature, the Ramayana, the Adhi Kavya written by Sage Valmiki very much before these times contains the essence of Vedas and it itself is also called a Veda. No other literature has outbeaten or excelled this time immemorial Epic in the form of 24000 songs. Sage Valmiki and the Ramayana written by him will live as long as there is life in the Earth and none can erase them according to our belief and faith. Picking up from all these scriptures, the following Azhwars and Acharyas were holding the flag of Hindu faith over thousands of years and handed over the legacy to us to maintain. B.C. 4302 Muthal Azhwargal - Poigai Azhwar, born at Kancheepuram as an avatar of Pancha Janyam of Lord Vishnu; Bhoothathazhwar born at Mamallapuram as an Avatar of Gadhai; and Peyazhwar born at Mylapore as an avatar of the Sword. 4202 3224 3102 3102 3056 3005 Not known 400 Thirumazhisai Azhwar born at Thirumazhisai as an avatar of Sudarsana Chakram of Lord Vishnu Madhura Kavi Azhwar born as an avatar of Kumudar Nammazhwar born as an Avatar of Satari at Azhwarthirunagari on the 43 rd day from the commencement of Kali Yuga Kulasekhara Azhwar born as an avatar of Kausthubam Periazhwar was born Andaal was born Thondaradippodiazhwar was born Sage Bodhayana wrote Vrithi Grantham explaining the Brahma Sutras and establishing the Visishtadvaitha philosophy of thought and worship ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A.D. 788-820 800 825-918 916-1042 Adi Sankarar Thirumangai Azhwar Natha Munigal Alavandar (Yamunacharya)

Not known 1017.1137 1238.1317 1268.1369 1370.1443 1762.1827 1767.1847 1776.1827

Kooraththazhwar Ramanuja Madhwacharya Vedanta Desikar Manavala Mamunigal Shyama Sastri - Music Icon, a Bhakthi Yogi Thiagaraja - Rama Bhaktha and Music Legend Muthuswamy Dikshitar - Music Icon, a Bhakthi Yogi

There are innumerable other Acharyas, Scholars and Pundits during the above periods and omission of their names does not mean that their contributions were not great. Hindu faith and thought and have even exceeded their own Acharyas. All the above Icons and Legends have upheld Hindu thought and faith and have held the flag very high and have handed over a very rich tradition to us to protect and preserve in our own interests. We have to draw inspiration from their lives, works and preachings and be benefited by their words of wisdom. While noting the years mentioned above, let us not confuse ourselves with some inevitable controversies around those dates and years, as records and history writing were of such recent origin that they cannot correctly reflect what happened several thousands of years ago although palm leaf writings were in vogue in the ancient times in our country. Further, western authors have done their own research based on their own data and information, and such data and information have neither been verified for accuracy or completeness nor approved as authentic by our religious leaders. The basis of their writings does not rest on faith about what is written, and that explains a lot of inaccuracies. Our faith will tell us that dates and years are not so important as the events and lessons that have been taught to us. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In fact some of the Acharyas left out in the above list have contributed immeasurably to the

Apex, North Carolina, USA, 19th February, 2005

HINDU TRADITIONS - CHAPTER 2 HARMONY BETWEEN VARIOUS SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT Our traditions solidly rest on the unshakeable foundation of the Srutis, which are called Vedas and Upanishads. In a way of sort, their condensed form is the Brahma Sutras written by Sage Vyasa in order to explain in a nutshell about Brahmam whom the Vedas and the Upanishads eulogise, preach and explain. Bhagavad Gita is called the essence of the Upanishads. Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and the Gita are called Prasthana Thraya. This Prasthana Thraya is also known as Vedanta school of thought. Other schools of thought are Nyaya, Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga and Vaiseshika founded by Sages Gautama, Jaimini, Kapila, Patanjali and Kanada respectively. From the ancient days, it may be noted that there are different schools of thought. VEDANTIC SCHOOL Various scholars wrote commentaries on Vyasa's Brahma Sutras. The earliest known one is the commentary of Sage Bodhayana known as Vritti Grantham written in or about 400 B.C. Some scholars preceding Bodhayana seem to have also written commentaries on these sutras. None of these is presently available in original. Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhwacharya have written commentaries on Brahma Sutras drawing mainly from the writings of Sage Bodhayana (during their periods, the book written by Sage Bodhayana was obviously available to them). But they differ in their approach to the Sutras as their commentaries preach Monism, Qualified Monism and Dualism. Followers of these three great Acharyas are called advaitis, visishtadvaitis and dwaitis. There are various other sects and sub sects, but they are all mostly divided between dualism and non-dualism. Every sect in support of its own philosophy quotes Brahma Sutras only. It is therefore clear that interpretations of sutras were done based on the writer's own perceptions of what the sutras say in relation to their exposition of the Vedas and the Upanishads. While interpreting the sutras, the writers have quoted and relied upon Upanishads in various stages for their own reasoning and arguments. Whatever it may be, a few common things emerge. These are; there is God, He is the creator, protector and destroyer, there is a soul inside each body and the soul reincarnates itself after leaving a body until it is liberated. The difference between Advaita and

Visishtadvaita schools lies in what happens to the soul after liberation and whether Brahman has qualities or not. 'Nirguna' and 'Maya' are the arguments of Advaitins. Saguna (auspicious qualities), Personal God with attributes and various modes, the inner self (paramatma as Antaryamin) directs the self (individual soul or the jivatma) in a Sarira and all souls and bodies form the body of the Paramatma, are the arguments of Visishtadvaitins. Sometimes, Vedantic school as relating to Visishtadvaita is called as Ubhaya Vedanta school, implying Tamil Prabhandams and Vedas as the two pillars of thought and guidance in this school. Another less known view about Ubhaya Vedanta is that it combines in itself both the advaita and visishtadvaita philosophies. "The Dwaita philosophy or Dualism says that the universe is a playfield of God. According to it, 'Man is only a tool in His hands'. "For him, world is not an illusion. It is a school, meant to study God's greatness." VISISHTADVAITA The Supreme Reality (the God) is personalistic, with countless auspicious attributes, and it is a qualified Whole of which Iswara is the Soul, and the Jiva and the Jagat (the individual soul and material nature), form the body in inseparable relation with the Whole. It is non-dual as a Whole, but there are internal divisions of the nature of modes in it. This doctrine is known as Pan-Organistic Non-dualism or Visishtadvaita. Ramanuja did not coin the word 'Visishtadvaita' but others later on described Ramanuja's philosophy as such. This doctrine further states that the Jiva or the individual self is different from Isvara, though indissolubly connected with Him as His mode. In short, it is Tattvathrayam - Chit, Achit and Iswaran. These three entities are real and not illusions. The individual soul is eternal. Of course, after a pralayam, all chits and achits merge with Iswaran and later on at the commencement of another cycle, they are brought forth from Him to experience their Prarabdha Karmas. This is the Bhagawan's Leela and everything happens according to Bhaghavath sankalpam. (Narayana is the Iswaran or the

Bhaghawan and He has five forms, viz. Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa and Antaryamin forms.) While philosophers differ in their philosophies as above in intrepreting God, the universe and the individual soul, laymen like us who are not philosophers or academicians or researchers have to follow the teachings of the Acharyas in so far as they relate to doing our Karmas, worshipping God and trying our best to control our minds and senses so that we rise above desires and their afflictions and do karmas for the sake of God and offer the fruits of our actions or karmas to God and does not resort to an action or Karma for the sake of enjoying its fruits or results or for inflicting sufferings or sorrows on others. By and large, Hindus do follow this path except that they find it difficult and challenging to rise above senses and sense objects which is because the body is subject to the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) which emanate from the Nature. To fight the Nature is naturally difficult for laymen like us. ULTIMATE GOAL Since the ultimate goal should be to liberate the soul from bondage and seek an end to the phenomenon of repeated births and deaths in this world, at some stage one has to rise above one's senses and desires and all karmas that one does should become Nishkama karmas and not kamya karmas, so that karma will not affect the soul in the sense of causing its repeated bondage in the Ocean of Samsara. Towards this, one has to practise Devotion to God (Bhakthi Yoga) and surrender at the Feet of the God (Prapathi). Bhakthi will lead to Prapathi and vice versa. Instead of concentrating on Bhakthi and Prapathi, the only paths for laymen leading to liberation of their souls, let us not waste our time and energies in what Swami Vivekananda once called 'bull fights' in Varanasi about, which one amongst the Advaita, Visishtadvaita, or Dwaitha is true and supreme and stand higher or greater than the other. challenge. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All the Acharyas have shown us different paths with one ultimate goal only, and in this all Hindus have a common heritage and a

Apex, North Carolina, USA, 22nd February, 2005 HINDU TRADITIONS - CHAPTER 3 LIBERATION OF SOUL (MOKSHAM) There are different paths to attain liberation. As bodies come to an end in this earth

itself, and the individual souls are eternal, liberation is for the souls so that they are not subject to pangs of repeated births and deaths due to prarabdha karma (commonly understood as destiny). Jnana (knowledge), Karma (action), Bhakthi (devotion) and Prapatthi (Saranagathi or surrender) are the various means to liberation as taught to us by the scriptures and acharyas. Knowledge refers to knowledge of God, the Universe, the individual soul, the matter (nature) and their relationships inter se. As is popularly known to everyone, Rajaji has said that "knowledge is bhakthi. If it doesn't transform itself into bhakthi, such knowledge is useless tinsel". Karma, as a means of liberation of the soul, has to be practised in such a way that all actions are dedicated to God, the feeling of doership should be attributed to God, the results of actions should be surrendered to God and actions should be desireless, but prompted by obligatory duties depending upon one's station in life and the stages he undergoes (brahmacharya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa) and all karmas, as noticed in the previous chapter, should only be nishkama karmas and not kamya karmas. One can therefore note that Jnana and Karma paths are difficult to practise for liberation, but nevertheless, they should be practised as best as possible. While some may ignore Jnana (spiritual knowledge) for various reasons, no one can afford to ignore Karma as without karma, existence itself becomes impossible. We witness people indulging in various karmas for material pursuits, happiness and prosperity but not for spiritual enlightenment or for liberation of the soul. The above discussion leaves us to the remaining two alternatives that will lead us to liberation, viz. Bhakthi and Prapatthi. (Saranagathi).

ACHARYAS' TEACHINGS Alavandar (Yamunacharya) (916-1042) whom Ramanujar considered and revered as his Guru and whose three unfulfilled wishes were carried out by Ramanujar, wrote among other works Stothra Ratnam (jewel among stotras). In this, bhakthi and prapatthi are reflected in no small measure. Ramanujar ((1017-1137), the great Acharya, Scholar and Philosopher and above all, the earliest social reformer has elaborated on the principles of bhakthi and prapatthi propounded by Alavandar. If one were to summarise Ramanujar's teachings as revealed by his own conduct and practice during his lifetime, one would find that in God's creation, all are equals and God protects everyone and God loves his devotees. A devotee calls himself as 'Adiyen' and/or 'Dasan' while mentioning or signing his names to show that he is a humble servant of God. Ramanujar lived for others and his life shows that one should not be selfish but serve God's creation with love and humility. Vedantha Desikar (1268-1369) and Manavala Mamunigal (1370-1443) who came next to Ramanujar re-established and promoted Ramanujar's teachings and spread Vaishnavism. Any of the Stothras or Slokams (verses) written by Desikar if read and understood clearly in the appropriate context will invoke Bhakthi in one's mind and heart. Let us see what Lord Krishna, the Parama Guru (the ultimate Acharya) says in the Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 9 Verse 29 I am the same to all creation. There is none hateful or dear to Me. But those who worship me with devotion (bhakthi) abide in Me and I do abide in them. Chapter 9 Verse 30 If even the most sinful man worships Me with undivided devotion, he must be regarded as holy, for he has rightly resolved. Chapter 9 Verse 34 Focus your mind on Me, be my devotee, be my worshipper, bow down to me. Engaging your mind in this manner and regarding Me as the supreme goal, you will come to Me.

Chapater 11 Verses 53 & 54 Neither by the Vedas, nor by the austerities, nor by gifts, nor by sacrifices, am I visible in this form (Viswaroopam) as you have seen me. But by undivided devotion, can I in this form be known and realised in truth and entered into. Chapter 11 Verse 55 Whosoever works for Me, looks upon Me as the highest and is devoted to Me, free from attachment and without enmity towards any creature, he comes to me. Chapter 18 Verse 65 Focus your mind on Me. Be My devotee. Be My worshipper. Prostrate before Me. You shall come to Me alone. I promise you truly, for you are dear to Me. Let us now see what Yamunacharya (Alavandar) (916-1042) says in his work, Stothra Rathnam (jewel among the Stothras) Verse 23 There is not a single despicable deed in the world which has not been committed by me thousands of times. O Mukunda, now, when those deeds are fructifying, I cry out helplessly before Thee. Verse 26 O Supreme Lord, even if Thou drivest me away, I cannot relinquish Thy Lotus Feet. A suckling does not at all desire to leave its mother's feet at any time, even though she has rejected it in anger. Verse 53 What shall I offer Thee, O Lord, being awakened to the consciousness that whatever I have, whatever I am, all these verily are thine own fixed property, Madhava. Let us now see what Vedantha Desikar taught us in the following stothras. Dayasathakam Verse 30 O Daya, I am the emperor among the sinners and You, the Empress of all virtues. O Knowledgeable one, knowing this situation, You, of Your own accord, come and place me at the feet of the Lord.

Nyasathilakam Verse 28 When You, Mukunda, the embodiment of auspiciousness and the beloved of Kamala, who become a servant just for a gesture of folded hands (anjali) and who bear with all the sins of living beings without any motive are here, my tongue becomes ashamed to prattle words such as - "O Master, protect me! Be kind! Give me what I ask for. May you live long in good health. O lord, consider me as yours!" before people who are puffed up with arrogance. The verses quoted above are just brief illustrations of the teachings of the Acharyas to cultivate bhakthi. There can be cited any number of Slokas of Vedantha Desikar and others that inspire us into bhakthi or one pointed devotion to God. According to Ramanujar's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Bhakthi or the loving devotion is the only means of liberation. He explains that Saranagathi (surrender to God) is auxiliary to Bhakthi itself. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Apex, NC, USA, 20th March, 2005