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VAISHNAVAM-Concept:series
Question 1: What is Caste system?
Does Vedic religion divide people based on birth?
===================================================
Answer: Popular misconceptions say that the Vedic religion encourages division
of human beings based on one's birth.
As a result, some people have been kept backward and uneducated while others
have abused this misconceptions and misinformation for personal gains.

Much of this misconception can be attributed to the use of the words 'Varna'
and 'Jaati' interchangeably. A closer analysis will reveal just how wrong these
misconceptions are.

===================================================
Question 2: What is Varna?
===================================================
Answer: Varna: The root word for Varna is 'Vri' which means one's occupation.
The Varna system was hence originally based on division of labor. Those whose duties
were
to protect the men, animals and properties were called as 'Kshatriyas', the warriors.
Those who had skills in teaching and scholarly thought, were 'Brahmins' and so
on.

The Varna system was solely based on the attitude and qualities of an
individual and his/her propensity for performing certain duties. The source of these
identified in the
Srimad Bhagavad Gita as being the gunas, or inner qualities, that were the result of the
karmas of
each individual from previous lives.
Those who had more of Sattva guna were Brahmins,
Those who had Rajasic Guna were Kshtriyas and so on.

======================================
Question 3: Is that just your opinion or there is any proof for this?
======================================
Answer:
To quote from Lord Krishna’s words in Bhagawad Gita: (GeetaAcharyan)

Chapter 4, Verse 13 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita


catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam

Here Lord says that according to the three modes of material nature and the
work associated with them,
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He created the four divisions of human society.

===========================================
Question 4: Are there any examples of great "accepted Scholars" who were not
born in brahmin families
===========================================
Answer: We have instances from Puranas of many who were not born from
Brahmin parents actually teaching Brahmins and others.

Sri. Vedavyasa was the one who actually compiled 4 Vedas. He was not a Brahmin
by birth.
He is the compiler of the Vedas (Not the Author – Vedas are Not Authored by
anyone) He is the compiler of Mahabharatha.

Lord Krishna, was born a Vaishya and He gave us the Bhagawad Gita.
Lord Rama was born a Kshatriya, and his life is the Ramayana.

The caste of the person giving the message is is not important, but the Actual
message is.
At first, the people had more or less a right to choose over their varna based
on their gunas and karmas. However, over time, fathers began to expect their sons to
take
over the duties of their specific calling. Due to the continual aspect of Son
taking
over father's duties in the society, the 'Work associated' became a matter of
birth and in later days,
became identified as a birth right.

Swami Ramanuja (A Brahmin by birth) who is the foremost SriVaishanva Acharya


had Acharyas who were not Brahmins. He had many Sishyas (followers) who were not
Brahmins.
So in the SriVaishnava sampradaya, the issue of caste does not arise for
Salvation. Love for Lord, intiation and salvation is for everyone.

=========================
Question 5: And what is Caste (Jaati)?
=========================
Answer: Jaati (Caste): The Root word for 'jati' is 'jan', which means Birth.
It might have happened that due to a continual evolution of one's father's duty to his
son over many years , the Varna became confused with 'jaati' and we know
where are we now.
Instead of having four divisions of labors, we now have several dozen jaatis,
each competing with one another for special rights, and each blaming the other for the
problems of society.
So, even though two jaatis may actually belong to one varna, they may see each
other as being two different castes. It is this which has led to the degradation of the
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varna system and a general disrespect for the Vedas.

While it may not be possible to move completely away from the equating of varna
and jaati, we must recognize that when our Poorvacharyas referred toVarna, they literally
meant 2 things:
1. One's attitude (Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasa Gunas)
2. The duties the individual held in the society.

What is important to recognize that, in line with Vedic teachings, our


poorvacharyas refused to acknowledge one varna as being greater than another,
or one being lower than another.
All people, irrespective of their varna are equal in their ability to do Good
for this world, and in their ability to obtain salvation through surrender to the
Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayana.

In many of the Srivaishnava works such as Sri Vachana Bhushanam, it is


clearly emphasized that a Srivaishnava , irrespective of race, caste, or
gender should be
revered and respected as 'Thirumal adiyar' (a devotee of the Lord of Lakshmi)

Consequently, while we must respect and perform the the duties and obligations
of our specific varna, we must not divide ourselves by jaati. We are all one family
bound together by Sriman Narayana and His Unconditional Love for each and every one
of us.

===================================================
Question 6: In recent years are there examples of Non-Brahmin born Scholars
who inturn had Brahmin born students. (your previous example of Veda Vyasa is very
very
old, thousands of years ago)
===================================================
Answer: Swami Satagopan (Nammazhwar) was Born in 4th Caste.
He is the most important acharya who brought the teachings to all the
SriVaishnavas.
We have Azhwars (were born upto 600 AD) who are from all walks of life, gender,
caste and community.

In fact our Acharyas and MahaPurushas are so revered that even talking about
their varna is is Taboo. In fact that is the attitude towards all Sri Vaishnavas., once a per
son has
become a devotee, even to talk about the devotee's Varna is not-accepted.

In all Srivaishnava homes you will find prayers and utmost respect for Swami
Nammazhwar.

===================================================
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Question 7: Again Nammazvar example is too old, Are there any examples in the last few
hundred years?
===================================================
Answer: Yes, there are many examples in SriVaishnava Acharyas, the most famous
Sri Pillailokacharya lived in Srirangam throuhgout his life and was a strong
believer, preacher & propogator in equality of various varnas in the eyes of God.

One of his foremost disciples was a Harijan, called Vilancolaippillai,


who became very learned and, in his turn, had many Brahmins as his disciples.

In the eyes of the Lord all are same, and everyone has been give this blessed
birth. This is an oppurtunity to fall in love with God, and realize our true purpose
of life, irrespective of race, caste, or gender.

In the Srivaishnava path this is seen in practice in daily life and in our teachings.
===================================================
Further questions send mail to: ramanuja@yahoogroups.com

azhwAr emperumAnAr JeeyAr thiruvadigalE sharanam

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan


Mukundan Vangkipuram Pattangi
http://www.radioramanuja.com

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Message: 2
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 11:18:00 +0000 (GMT)
From: Vaikunth G <vai_kunth@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Digest Number 438

Srimate Ramanujaya Nama:

Dear Bhagawatas,

Some One could Upload the Photo's of Thiruppullani


Samproksanam .
I will also try to get the photo's from my srirangam
friends.

emberumAnAr jeeyAr thiruvadigalE saranam


5

Ramanuja Dasan,
G.Vaikunth

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Everything you'll ever need on one web page
from News and Sport to Email and Music Charts
http://uk.my.yahoo.com

_______________________________________________________________________
_
_______________________________________________________________________
_

Message: 3
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 23:26:04 -0000
From: "vtca <vtca@yahoo.com>" <vtca@yahoo.com>
Subject: Mumukshuppadi - 120

Sri:
Srimathe Ramanujaya Nama:

Sri Pillai Lokacharya's


Mumukshuppadi

Sutra:
120. dhvyaththukku adhikAri Akinjcanyamum ananyagathiththvamum
udaiyavan.

Meaning:
Who is the person who is qualified to recite the Dvaya rahasya
mantra? One who has the quality of Akinjcanyam, which is having
no other means (than Him); and the quality of ananyagatitvam,
which is not seeking anyone but Him for protection.

Sri PBA Swami's Sarartha Deepikai:


It is difficult to find those who are qualified to recite the
Dvaya mantra which shows the means to the goal. The qualified
are those who have the qualities of Akinjcanyam and
ananyagatitvam. Akinjcanyam is having no means in one's hand
to gain the goal, as in Azhvar's "nORRa nOnbilEn nuNNaRivilEn".
ananyagatitvam is not even thinking of anyone but Him for
protection, as in Azhvar's "pugal onRillA adiyEn" and "kaLaikaN
maRRilEn".
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Pillai Lokacharyar Thiruvadigale Saranam


Azhvar Emperumanar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam

adiyEn madhurakavi dAsan


TCA Venkatesan

1. DESIKAMRUTAM II:
SWAMI DESIKA’S SIMILES “UPAMA” Part 25 (107 and 108)
By Sri Anbil Ramaswamy
------------------------------------------------------------
In the last issue SRS 4.13 dated 12th February 2003, the topic on Swami
Desika’s Similes mentioned above was somehow not included. We present
the
same here.

107
“VEda Vaideeka SaastrangaLir sollugira niyamangaLai baahyarum
kudrishTigaLum braantiyaalE viDugiraviDam “Taamasa tyaagam”…
“KuDumba bharaNaadigaLukku alaindu SannyaasaadigaLaip patruvaaraip
pOleE
duhka roopaigaLaana Pravritti – NivrittigaLukku Sombi viDugiraviDam
Raajasa
tyaagam..”
Meaning:
“Those who are outside the pale of the Vedas and those who hold
heretical
views give up, owing to delusion, these restrictions and regulations
that
are ordained in the Vedas and the Sastras based on Vedas. This kind of
renunciation is due to “Tamas”…”Giving up of activities and abstentions
which are of the nature of pain is renunciation due to “Rajas”. His
Tyaga is
like that of the man who becomes Sannyasin because of the difficulties
in
maintaining a family”

108
“Ib bhagavad preeti-prayOjanamaaga anushTikkira ip preetikku mOkshamum
phalamaaga kOlaatE poorva prapattiyaal piranda Parama kaaruNikan
prasaadathaalE mOksham siddham enru ninaithu muktanUDaiya kainkaryam
pOlavum, arOganuDaiya paal vaartu uNNugai pOlavum anushTikkai Saatvika
Tyaagathin ellai nilamaagak kaDavadu. Idu Pasittu uNbaar maatram. Ingan
allaada pOdu OTTathukku appam tinbaar maatram”
Meaning:
“The Prapanna should not ask for even mOksham as a reward, for he
should
realize that, by the grace of the All-merciful Lord which has been won
by
the Prapatti performed earlier, mOksha is certain. This would resemble
a
healthy man eating food with milk (without any thought of the cure from
illness to be obtained from milk). Such a code of conduct is the
highest
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limit of renunciation due to “Sattvam”. This is like eating food when


one is
hungry. Otherwise, their conduct would resemble that of one who eats
cakes
for winning a wager. They cannot derive any true pleasure there from
and
cannot relish the food”
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2. QUESTION BOX REPLIES:
Some reader asked for the source details of two Sanskrit SlOkas. While
we
answered the one on the invisible witnesses to one’s actions, Vide SRI
RANGA
SRI VOL 03 / ISSUE 26 dated 24th April 2002, the Answer to the other
question on “When a lie is considered harmless”” was left out. We
present
the same here.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q.17. Saastras provide for uttering lie in certain circumstances. What
are
those circumstances?

Answer:
There are 5 circumstances when a lie is not considered a lie, as per
the
following Sloka in Dharma Saastra.
Vivaaha kaalE rathi samprayOgE praaNaathyayE sarva dhanaapahaarE /
Mitrasyacha aarthEpi anrutham vadEyu: pancha anrutaani aahuh a-
paatakaani //
1. Wedding (vivaha kaalE)
2. Conjugal enjoyment (rathi samprayOgE)
3. When faced with danger for life (PraaNathyayE)
4. When one is robbed of all one possesses (Sarva DhanaapahaarE)
5. For protecting a friend from danger (Mitrasya aarththE)
This SlOkam occurs in Mahaabhaaratam, KarNa Parvam- 69.
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3. CONSUMERS” ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (CAI)
While in India, I was a Member of the Executive Committee of the
“Consumers’
Protection Council in Chennai. I continue to be a member even now. This
Council has been doing wonderful work in protecting the interests of
Consumers. The Council has been renamed as “Consumers’ Association of
India”
with All India recognition (CAI). This is a Non-Profit Organization
engaged
in Social service to the needy consumers. The CAI wishes to bring to
the
notice of well-wishers in USA and elsewhere on their activities.
Though
this does not fall within the mission statement of “Sri Ranga Sri”, by
way
of recognition of the yeomen service (kainkaryam) done by CAI for the
defenseless consumers, the appeal is featured for the information of
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members. Those interested in knowing more about this or like to take


part
and help in their efforts may kindly contact the Trustee.
Anbil Ramaswamy
======================================================================

------------------------------------------------------------------------
CONSUMERS” ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (CAI)

Ref. No.CAI/VYY/SB/160
Dated 13.02.03

To

Mr. A. K. Ramaswamy,
Email: ramanbil@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Ramaswamy,


Following is a write up about CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION OF INDIA.

Rapid industrialisation, low level of transparency in Government


Departments, and inefficient, substandard service is adding to the woes
of
the consumer in India

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 brought marginal improvement in that


the
consumers had separate quasi-judicial Consumer Disputes Redressal
agencies
in our country. Unlike the Civil Courts which only after a long delay
could
punish the offender, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) gave total
redressal
to consumers in getting back what they lost with interest, compensation
for
mental agony and costs.

Today, there are over 3,000 registered Voluntary Consumer Organizations


in
the country, doing good service, but their service is confined to their
locality. There is no single consumer organization with a large all
India
membership. It is only the strength of members that can make a
consumer
organization strong enough to deal with all problems faced by
consumers.
This is what encouraged us to start and build an organization like
CONSUMERS
ASSOCIATION OF INDIA, with a large membership base that would be a
force to
reckon with.

1. PEOPLE BEHIND CAI


The Consumers Association of India (CAI) was founded on 15th March 2001
and
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registered as a Voluntary Charitable Trust. It is managed by a panel


of
trustees comprising -
Mr. R. Desikan, Consumer Activist/Journalist, Mr. V.Y.Yegnaraman,
Consumer
Activist, Mr. K. Krishna Kumar, Consultant Logistics, Dr.T.K.Partha
Sarathy,
The Vice Chancellor, Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research
Institute,
Mr. R. Ramakrishnan, Former Executive Director & Technical Advisor,
Ashok
Leyland and Mr. P.K. Ranganathan, Retired, Additional Director General,
Geological Survey of India.

2. OUR OBJECTIVE:
CAI’s objective is to build the consumer movement as a Citizen-Consumer
power in India by enrolling as many associate members as possible and
spreading consumer awareness amongst them.

3. OUR ACHIEVEMENTS:
¨ We have enrolled over 3000 members during the first year of our
operations.

¨ We have helped over 1,500 members to get redressal for their


consumer
complaints.

¨ We have conducted 8 seminars under the Responsibilities & Rights


series to
educate consumers on their responsibilities and rights. The topics
were
Patients & Hospitals, Advertising & Sales Promotion, Rational Use of
Drugs,
Police & Traffic Management, Motor Insurance, Pension Funds, Medical
Insurance, Safety & Helmets,

¨ Consumer’s Guide to Diagnostic Medical Tests-a comprehensive,


handy
reference guide for the consumer written by a doctor of international
repute
has just been published. Price Rs.200/- per copy.

4. WHAT WE CAN ACHIEVE TOGETHER:


¨ Our strength as a national body, with a large membership base,
will make
us a force to reckon with - a voice that will be heard in circles that
matter.

¨ Associate Members of CAI will be able to exercise their rights.

¨ CAI can provide guidance on topics of consumer interest thereby


providing
an opportunity to represent the problems of the community around you.

¨ Important events and news on topics of consumer interest can be


publicized
through Consumer’s Digest.
10

V.Y. YEGNARAMAN
Trustee
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Sri Ahobila Matam Web Site

Bhakti and Prapatti


An article by Sri Karalappakam Anantha Padhmanabhan

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Sriman nArAyaNA out of His great compassion towards
Articles the baddha jIvAtmAs propagates vedAs and allied
sAstrAs, which are the only way through which they can
Samasrayanam possibly know about Him & the ways to reach Him. The
ultimate and final essence of sAstrAs is that Sriman
NArAyaNA is the sarIrI and, all chit & achit are His
sarIrA. This eternal sarIra sarIrI bhAvA is composed of
the following three things:

1. AdheyatvA (i.e. being supported by a sarIrI):


Existence of the sarIrA(body) is due to the sarIrI
i.e. sarIrI supports the sarIrA. In other words, if
sarIrI ceases to exist, sarIrA also ceases to exist.
2. niyamyatvA (i.e. being controlled by a sarIrI):
Not only that sarIrA derives its existence from a
sarIrI, it is also being controlled by the sarIrI. So,
sarIrA acts as per the will/desires of sarIrI.
3. seshatvA(i.e. existing for the pleasure of sarIrI):
Not only that sarIrA is supported & controlled by
sarIrI, it exists only for the pleasure of sarIrI, i.e.
sarIrI is sarIrA's Master.

It is to be noted that the "sarIrI" needn't be physically


present inside a "sarIrA". This is not a condition to be
met out for the sarIra-sarIrI bhAvA to hold good.

Thus Sriman NArAyaNA supports and controls all


jIvAtmAs, and all the jIvAtmAs exist purely for His
enjoyment. Thus, the very essential nature (svaroopam)
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of a jIvAtmA is to perform kainkaryam to Sriman


NArAyaNA for His pleasure and performance of any
other activity doesn't conform to its nature. This implies
that, baddha jIvAtmAs are like fish out of water,
suffering in the material world by not living according to
their actual nature. Only in Sri VaikuNTham can a
jIvAtmA perfectly act according to its nature
(svaroopam) without any interruption. Realizing this
great truth by the mercy of a sadAchAryA, a baddha
jIvAtmA becomes highly desirous of obtaining
moksham and thereby reach Sri VaikuNTham, the
spiritual world beyond this material world, and perform
uninterrupted bhagavad anubhavam and kainkaryam to
the Divya Dampati, with great bliss. This is just like the
ardent desire of a fish which is out of water (not
according to its nature), to get into the water (in
accordance with its nature). Such highly glorifiable
baddha jIvAtmAs are called as mumukshus, whose only
goal is the attainment of moksham. The mumukshu thus
needs to know about the means(upAyA) to fulfil his
desire.

sAstrAs declare that Bhakti and prapatti are the only two
means (sAdhya upAyAs) by which the baddha
jIvAtmAs can attain moksham, while the Divya
Dampati are the Siddha upAyam. NArAyaNA Himself,
in Ahirbudhnya samhitA categorically declares:

"bhaktyA paramayA vA-pi prapattyA vA mahAmathe


prApyoham na anyathA prApyO mama kainkarya
lipsubhihi"

NArAyaNA here clarifies that bhakti and prapatti are the


only means & by no other means will He grant
moksham. So, all other processes like Bhagavad
kalyAna guna Sravanam, nAma sankeertanam, living at
a Divya desam, bathing in pushkarinIs & sacred rivers
etc should culminate in either "bhakti" or "prapatti" for
one to obtain moksham. So, it is not that a highly
devoted person would be deprived of moksham by
Sriman nArAyaNA. Such a devotee would be guided by
Sriman nArAyaNA to end up with either "bhakti" or
"prapatti" and thus its just a matter of time may be
within that life time or in the next few births, that he/she
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would obtain moksham.

In many Vedic literatures & in works of Sri Vaishnava


AchAryAs, the term "Bhakti" is usually associated with
the term "Bhakti YogA", which is the meditation through
ashtAnga yogA on the kalyAna gunAs, divyamangaLa
vigrahA etc of Sriman nArAyaNA with unsurpassed
love. "Bhakti" referred here is the continuous stream of
knowledge which is of the nature of uninterrupted
memory and which is unbroken like the flow of a stream
of oil. This description is not be taken lightly. The
intensity of the uninterrupted nature of contemplation on
Sriman nArAyaNA is the central focus of ashtAnga
yogA. There are 32 Brahma vidyAs (i.e. upAsanAs) that
are prescribed in the upanishads. A devotee performing
bhakti yogA will adopt a particular Brahma VidyA as the
means (sAdhyaupAyA) for attaining moksham. Due to
lack of a proper word, the term "Bhakti" is also
sometimes used to imply "devotion" to Sriman
NArAyaNA, which needn't be the "matured state of
jn~AnA" (i.e. "Bhakti" proper) expressed through
ashtAnga yOgA.

The seven general pre-requisites for Bhakti YogA are:

1. VivekA (discrimination): Purification of body


through proper intake of sAttvik food etc.
2. VimOkA (freedom): abjuration of all desires
other than to meditate on Sriman nArAyaNA.
3. abhyAsA (practise): Practise worshiping the
Lord with full enthusiasm (again & again). This
involves strict adherence to scriptures etc.
4. kriyA (work): proper adherence to the
VarnAshrama dharmA mainly dealing with the
pancha mahA yaj~nAs (this makes only the
dvijAs to be fit for starting "Bhakti yogA").
5. kalyANA (auspiciousness): practise of virtues
like truthfulness, integrity, compassion,
benevolence, ahimsA etc.
6. anavasAda: being without any despair due to
dissappointment, completely forgetting all past
sorrows.
7. anuddharSa: absence of exaltation i.e. being in a
state which is the optimal midway between
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excessive joy & the absence of it.

The severe practise of karma & jn~Ana yogA can only


bringforth the stage for performing bhakti yogA. Jn~na
yogA is the "self-realization" ("self" stands for
jIvAtmA), whereas "bhakti yogA" is "God-realization".
So, "ashtAnga yogA" is performed for God-realization
i.e. for obtaining moksham.

Jn~Ani is a person who performs Bhakti YogA (God


realization) & not jn~Ana yogA. The person performing
Jn~Ana YogA (self-realization) is known as kevalA.
Jn~Ana YogA is the constant meditation of the self i.e.
jIvAtmA. It results in Atma sAkshAtkAram i.e. self-
realization. It is however important to note that a kevalA
is fully aware of his swaroopa of being subservient to
Sriman NArAyanA. But a kevalA is neverthless firmly
attracted by the bliss derived in the meditation of his
own self (with the understanding as servant of
nArAyaNA) & is unable to come over it & proceed
further to meditate on ParamAtmA Sriman NArAyanA.
A kevalA's position is very much understandable since
many a people in this world cannot overcome even
watching TV, cinemAs, sports etc which only have dry
hapiness (fully material; not spiritual). The bliss derived
from the contemplation of the "self" (jIvAtmA) would
certainly be attracting a kevalA like a magnet. He attains
"KaivalyA" wherein he attains the state in which he
simply meditates on his own self (fully self-realized
state). From there he can continue further to perform
bhakti yogA and attain moksham.

After perfecting karma & jn~Ana yogAs one will start


performing "bhakti yogA" (since karma yogA by itself is
integrated with jn~Ana yogA, bhakti yogA can be
started after its perfection also).

The perfection of bhakti yogA is through ashtAnga


yogA which has 8 parts:

1. yama: self control & practise of virtues like


ahimsA, non-covetousness, non acceptance of
gifts etc.
2. niyama: practise of purity in thought, word &
deed.
3. Asana: adoption of proper posture & seat.
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4. prAnAyAma: Control & regulation of breath


alongwith the reflection on the meaning of the
mantrA like ashtAksharam.
5. pratyahAra: Withdrawl of mind & other senses
from their out going tendencies.
6. dhAranA: fixing of the mind towards Sriman
nArAyaNA. Depending upon the type of
upAsanA (out of 32 Brahma vidyAs prescribed
in upanishads) one chooses, the contemplation
on nArAyaNA will vary.
7. dhyAnA: Continuous meditation on the divya
mangaLa vigrahA, kalyAna gunAs etc of
nArAyaNA to the exclusion of all other objects.
One must be almost sinless to attain this stage of
having deep and profound love towards Sriman
nArAyaNA which is the driving force for
dhyAnA.
8. samAdhi: Final stage of concentration when the
yogi attains the super-conscious state of divine
life & becomes united with Sriman nArAyaNA.
There is "unity" & not "identity". When the
dhyAnA ceases, this communion (i.e. unity) with
nArAyaNA also ceases. In other words, eternal
communion is not possible as long as the
jIvAtmA has connection with prakruti. The
culmination of samAdhi is the attainment of
liberation (mokshA) & eternal union at Sri
VaikuNTham.

Devotion in the form of nAma sankeertanam, Bhagavad


ArAdhanam, Listening to the avatAra leelAs of Sriman
nArAyaNA etc aids one to have steady rememberance of
Sriman nArAyaNA. They by themselves doesn't
constitute "bhakti yogA". Rather they are some ways of
expressing one's devotion & develop the "love" for
nArAyaNA, thereby aiding the process of ashtAnga
yogA.

During bhakti yogA, the yogI will at first encounter the


stage called "Para bhakti" wherein his mind, thought &
all sense organs are completly focussed on Sriman
nArAyaNA. He does only worship of nArAyaNA &
meditation on Him & these are the only things that
sustain him. After severe practise of the ashtAnga yogic
process, the yogi passes onto the next stage called "para
jn~AnA" wherein the thirst for the direct vision of
15

Sriman nARAyaNA becomes highly intense. Sriman


NArAyaNA being pleased with his devotion gives the
mental vision of His divya mangaLa vigraha. This
results into much more intense love & the yogI is mad
after communion with NArAyaNA. He cannot bear the
separation even for a second & is literally pleading with
Sriman NArAyaNA constantly for the arrival of the
eternal union with Him. At right time, he attains the
God-realization & enjoys the divine company of nitya
soorIs & muktAs at Sri VaikuNTham in serving Sriman
NArAyaNA uninterruptedly.

Obviously this process is out of question in this age of


kali. Likes of vashistar, vyAsar, sukar, jada bharadar,
Bheeshmar, nAthamunigaL are the capable persons for
performing such contemplation with deep &
unsurpassed love towards Sriman NArAyaNA. Thus,
prapatti is the only way out.

The second upAyA Prapatti (i.e. SaraNAgathi alias


Bhara nyAsam) as nyAsa vidyA is enshrined in
upanishads and can infact be performed by anyone
irrespective of age, sex, caste etc. Its modus operandi is
explained in a detailed manner in Ahirbudhnya samhitA,
Lakshmi tantrA & other pramAnams. IthihAsa
purAnams also have lot of references to prapatti.
Ofcourse, AzhwArs advocate Prapatti. Similarly, Sriman
nArAyaNA advocates prapatti especially in His varAha
avatAram, RAmA avatAram and KrishNA avatAram
through the respective charama slokams. Not satisfied,
He in His most merciful archAvatAram also advocates
prapatti through His varada hastham, as in
Thiruvinnagaram (Than oppAr illappan alias
oppiliappan) and Thirumalai (SrInivAsan).

The greatness of Sri Vaishnava sampradAyam is that,


Sriman nArAyaNA in His archA avatAram as
PeraruLALan (kAnchi varadan) also advocated prapatti
by His divine answers to Bhagavad RAmAnujA through
Thiruk kachi NambigaL. Sriman NArAyaNA did not
want to merely be a preacher of prapatti. His mercy is so
unbounded that He as MAlolan of Ahobilam initiated a
paramabhAgavathA into sannyAsa AshramA and
ordered him to propagate the most glorious
prapattimArgA in each and every village and He
16

Himself accompanied the AchAryA to all the villages,


inorder to accept the prapatti of baddha jIvAtmAs. That
parama bhAgavathOthamA was none other than the
illustrious Sri Adivan Shatakopa Yateendra
MahAdesikan, the first jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt the
6th centenary celebrations of which is going to be
celebrated in a very grand manner by adiyEn's
AchAryan and the current AzhagiyaSingar Sri Lakshmi
Nrusimha Divya pAdukA sevaka Srivan Shatakopa Sri
NArAyana Yateendra mahAdesikan, only because of
whose divine katAksham can adiyEn be even considered
as a worthwile object. The forthcoming celebration at
Ahobilam for sure is going to be eulogized by even all
the muktAs and nityasUrIs, as a great event in the
history of Sri Vaishnavam.

SwAmi Desikan explains that Prapatti is neither a mere


faith in the saving grace of Sriman nArAyaNA nor a
mere prayer to Him for protection/moksha. Prapatti
doesn't mean merely a surrendered life in this world,
centred around serving Sriman nArAyaNA. Prapatti
encompasses all of this & is much much more. Though
"SaraNAgathi" is in general used for denoting
"surrender", what all things that needs to be fulfilled in
that surrender which is performed only once for
obtaining moksham, is very important.

The greatest burden (Bharam) for a baddha jIvAtmA is


"bhakti yogA" because Sriman nArAyaNA would only
grant moksham to a perfectionist of bhakti yogA.
Though the jIvAtmA wishes to meditate continuously on
nArAyaNA, it is not able to do so primarily because of
its karmA. Also, not all are eligible for Bhakti yogA.
Only dvijAs can start performing it. Moreover, one
cannot be sure of the number of future births that is
needed to be taken while adopting bhakti yogA, since
the prArabdha karmA (that which has started to yield its
effect) is not destroyed.

Neverthless, a mumukshu (one desirous of moksham),


who has the burden of bhakti yOgA seeks moksham. So,
during prapatti, Sriman nArAyaNA Himself is pleaded
to be present in the "place"(sthAnA) of bhakti yOgA and
give the fruit of Bhakti YogA i.e. Sriman nArAyaNA is
pleaded to attain the level of "pleasing" He will obtain if
17

one approached Him through "Bhakti yOgA", which


will make Him grant moksham to the mumukshu. Thats
why, Prapatti is also known as BharanyAsam. The main
qualifications for a mumukshu to adopt prapatti are:

1. Akinchanyam: Destituteness which may result


either due to one's lack of mental and physical
strength to adopt bhakti yogA OR lack of
requisite knowledge from sAstrAs OR
Prohibition by sAstrAs regarding the adoption of
Bhakti yOgA OR Inability to put up with any
delay in attaining mokshA.
2. Ananyagatitvam: Seeking the Supreme Lord
Sriman NArAyaNA as the sole refuge with
complete aversion to all fruits other than
mokshA. This implies that one shouldn't resort
even in his/her dream to a demigod like BrahmA,
ShivA etc.

Prapatti, which is also called by different names such as


(Atma) nikshEpa, nyAsA, SannyAsA and tyAgA has the
following five angAs (accessories).

1. Anukoolyasya Sankalpam: Determination to


perform whatever is pleasing to Sriman
NArAyaNA. Since sAstrAs are His divine
commands, one should be firm in one's mind to
perform what they are being ordered to do so
(like SandhyAvandanam, Bhagavad ArAdhanam
etc), which will thus be pleasing to the Divya
Dampati.
2. Pratikoolyasya Varjanam: Avoidance of acts
that are displeasing to Sriman NArAyaNA. So,
one one should abstain from acts that are
prohibited in sAstrAs. For example, one
shouldn't either eat egg, meat, onion, garlic etc
OR drink alcohol, tea, coffee etc; one shouldn't
eat rice during ekAdasi etc.
3. KArpanyam: Feeling of utter helplessness. One
should cry in front of Sriman NArAyaNA for his
inability to perform Bhakti yOgA and should be
fully aware of the fact that he/she cannot attain
moksham by their own efforts. Utter dependence
on the mercy of the Divya Dampati is needed.
4. MahA VisvAsam: Intense faith that Sriman
18

NArAyaNA will certainly grant moksham for the


prapatti performed, eventhough one has
committed countless sins. This complete faith on
the saving grace of the Lord i.e. on the efficacy
of prapatti is very difficult to obtain because of
various reasons. But inorder to obtain mahA
visvAsam, one needs to have absolute faith in
sAstrAs and the words of Sriman NArAyaNA
and AchAryAs, which unanimously glorify
prapatti as a supreme upAyA. Extensive
knowledge in various fields of sAstrAs wouldn't
neccessarily yield this supreme unshakable faith.
Only by the mercy of a sadAchAryA can one
obtain mahA visvAsam, the most important angA
of prapatti.

It is also very important to understand that lack


of mahA visvAsam doesn't mean that one is
either doubtful about the authority of vedAs or
skeptical about the supremacy of NArAyaNA OR
skeptical about the existence of Sri VaikuNTham
etc. If one doesn't even recognize Sriman
NArAyaNA as the supreme unparalleled Lord,
then his/her prapatti won't be accepted by the
Lord in first hand. The mahA visvAsam here is
regarding the faith in the efficacy of prapatti
which can be strengthened by contemplating
upon the efficacy of purushakAratvam
(recommendation) of pirAtti, eternal sesha-seshi
bhAvA existing between jIvAtmA &
paramAtmA, Soulabhyam & Sowseelyam of
Sriman NArAyaNA, He being the Sarva
Saranyan and SaranAgata Vatsalan etc.
5. Goptrtva Varanam: Begging Sriman
NArAyaNA for offering protection. This is the
prayer to the Lord for granting mokshA, wherein
one pleads with Him, the sole refuge, to be
present in the place (sthAnA) of bhakti yogA and
grant its fruit of moksham to an akinchanA like
himself/herself.

Performance of prapatti is done with sAthvIka tyAgam,


similar to how one performs sAthvIka tyAgam before
and after a kainkaryam. The three components of the
sAthvIka tyAgam are:
19

1. Kartrutva tyAgA: One should shed the


doership attitude and realize that Sriman
NArAyaNA is the actual doer, since it is the
ocean of His dayA that is responsible for one to
perform the act of prapatti.
2. MamatA tyAgA: One should give up the
thought of "mine" while performing prapatti. It is
also done for the pleasure of Sriman NArAyaNA.
3. Phala tyAgA: One should give up the thought
that the fruit of performing prapatti belongs to
him/her and realize that the fruit of Prapatti also
belongs to Sriman NArAyaNA.

One is completely wrong if he/she thinks that they by


themselves performed prapatti (i.e. doership ego is still
there). One cannot say "I performed prapatti to
perumAL", since this defies kartrutva tyAgam. Actually,
it is by the mercy of the Divya Dampati that one is made
to perform prapatti. So, one with proper understanding
of prapatti will say either "Divya Dampati by their
mercy has made adiyEn to perform SaraNAgathi and
granted moksham" OR "AchAryA out of his great
compassion made an akinchanan like adiyEn obtain
moksham" etc. This is the essence of kartrutva tyAgam.

The performance of prapatti is for the pleasure of Divya


Dampati. The fruit of prapatti is the eternal kainkaryam
to the Divya Dampati, which is done for their pleasure.
So, if Sriman NArAyaNA tells a mumukshu 'x' that He
would grant moksham simply because 'x' wanted it, then
also 'x' shouldn't accept it. 'x' accepts the moksham only
if Sriman NArAyaNA awards it out of His own pleasure
and not simply because 'x' wanted moksham. Though a
mumukshu sincerely wishes to be in accordance with his
(jIvAtmA's) svaroopam by performing the kainkaryam
eternally to the Divya Dampati at Sri VaikuNTham, its
upto the Divya Dampati to grant it out of their own
pleasure and a mumukshu while performing prapatti
should not have ego in this aspect also. This is the
essence of mamatA tyAgam and phala tyAgam.
Ofcourse, Sriman NArAyaNA's vratam (vow) is to grant
moksham to those who perform prapatti unto Him and
the Divya Dampati will be very happy to grant moksham
to such a mumukshu.
20

The most important thing to understand while


performing prapatti is that, "Prapatti" (SAdhyaupAyam)
as an act by itself is not the reason for one's moksham.
Rather, it is the mercy of Sriman NArAyaNA (Siddha
upAyam) which is responsible for one's moksham.
Prapatti is a SAdhya upAyA which needs to be done by
a baddha jIvAtmA. This becomes a vyAjA for Sriman
nArAyaNA, the Siddha upAyA, to grant moksham. In
front of Siddha upAyA, SAdhya upAyA is "nothing" &
can't even be compared. Neverthless, SAdhya upAyA
needs to be performed since thats the way Sriman
nArAyaNA has ordered (in Sruti & Smruti) to have a
vyAjA (excuse) for Him and thereby grant moksham by
being impartial. Similarly, Bhakti YogA is also a
SAdhyaupAyam. Ofcourse, the performance of
sAdhyaupAyam is also due to Sriman NArAyaNA's
mercy. Since the mumukshu has proper karmA due to
various pious deeds and (most importantly) divine
blessings of bhAgavathA(s) and SadAchAryA(s),
Sriman NArAyaNA out of His mercy makes him/her
perform the sAdhya upAyam prapatti and grants
moksham using it as a vyAjA.

So, if someone asks the reason for ones moksham,


without any hesitation, it is the siddha upAyam Sriman
nArAyanA. The Divya Dampati is both the upAyA
(means) & the upEyA (end). SwAmi Desikan beautifully
portrays the state of a prapannA while performing
prapatti in the best & unparalleled heart melting
pAsuram:
21

ninnaruLaam gathi anRi maRRonRillEn


nedung kaalam pizhai seytha nilai kazhinthEn
unnaruLukku inithaana nilaiyuganthEn
un saraNE saraNennum thuNivu pooNdEn
manniruLaay ninRa nilaiyenakkuth theerththu
vaanavartham vaazhchcithara variththEnunnai
innaruLaal iniyenakkOr baramERRaamal
en_thiru maaladaik kalangoLennai neeyE.
--Amritha Swathini #31

"With no refuge other than Your grace,


abandoning my ageless erroneous ways,
committing to the way that will please you,
resolving that your lotus feet are the only
means,
I surrender unto your lotus feet with the hope
that you will
save me from the darkness that has stood by
me,
and deliver me the life of eternal angels,
with your beautiful grace, release me from the
burden for salvation,
accept me as your ward, the consort of Sri."
The actual performance (angI) of prapatti is composed
of the following three acts:

1. Atma samarpanam (svaroopa samarpanam):


From time immemorial, a baddha jIvAtmA is of
the thinking that it is independent on its own.
This is the greatest theft since all jIvAtmAs
being chetanAs and made up of jn~Anam, are
actually the most precious properties of Sriman
NArAyaNA. Svaroopa samarpanam refers to the
recognition of this fact and the anusandhAnam
that one belongs only to Sriman NArAyaNA (not
to any demigod) and is not an independent being.
It also extends to the recognition and
anusandhAnam that all chetanAs and achEtanAs
like wife/husband, children, house etc that are
associated with one also belong only to Sriman
NArAyaNA.
2. Bhara Samarpanam: Recognition and
anusandhAnam that the burden of one's (and all
chEtanAs & achEtanAs associated with him/her)
protection belongs only to Sriman NArAyaNA,
22

the sarva rakshakan & not to oneself. This


surrendering of burden of protection is unique
for prapatti. One performing Bhakti YOgam will
perform only Svaroopa and phala samarpanam &
not Bhara Samarpanam.
3. Phala Samarpanam: Recognition and
anusandhAnam that the fruit of one's (and all
chEtanAs & achEtanAs associated with him/her)
protection also belongs only to Sriman
NArAyaNA, the sarva phalI. The highly sacred
Dvaya Mantram which is eulogized as
Mantraratnam is the prapatti mantra and the
actaul act of prapatti is performed using this.
Thus, prapatti is actually an act which is
performed with all its entirety in a moment. This
is much like the action of an archer, who after
performing preliminary acts like taking the
arrow, fitting it to the bow, perceiving and
aiming the object etc discharges the arrow for
hitting the target, in a fraction of a second
(jIvAtmA is the arrow which hits its target viz.
Sriman NArAyaNA). Infact Upanishads
describes this act very well. Such an act of
Prapatti is celebrated as the marriage between a
jIvAtmA and paramAtmA Sriman NArAyaNA,
due to which the jIvAtmA would lead its life
totally dedicated in serving Sriman NArAyaNA
like a pati vratA.

There are various types of prapatti that is performed for


obtaining moksham viz. Svanishta, Ukti nishta, AchArya
nishta and BhAgavatha nishta.

"Svanishta Prapatti" is the culmination of the fully


blossomed Bhagavad PremA. For performing Svanishta
prapatti (i.e. on one's own, without the aid of the
AchAryA, though the prapatti sAstrA as such would be
learnt from an AchAryA) one needs to have Very high
qualification - likes of Bhagavad RAmAnujA & SwAmi
Desikan. The most important ingredient for Svanishta
prapatti is the IN & OUT knowledge of the meanings of
the three rahasya mantrAs apart from other scriptural
knowledge which exactly aids in completing all the
requirements for a fruitful prapatti in a proper order/way.
Even if one of the requirements gets unfulfilled, Prapatti
is not complete & moksham won't be granted by Sriman
23

nArAyaNA.

Thats why, Ukti nishta & AchArya nishta is followed


even by AchAryAs for their prapatti. Infact, the exact
modus operandi of prapatti won't be revealed to a sishyA
& a sishyA can possibly know it only during his prapatti
& that too if it is in Ukti nishta. In AchArya nishta, that
also is not possible. AchAryA passes on the upadesam to
his select disciple whom he likes to continue performing
"prapatti" for others. In ukti nishta, since the sishyA
repeats whatever the AchAryA says and Sriman
NArAyaNA knows its meaning, he/she fulfills all the
neccessary requirements of prapatti. In AchArya nishta,
ofcourse all the neccessary requirements are taken care
by AchAryA himself, while performing the prapatti for
his disciple. The fourth type of prapatti is the
BhAgavatha Nishta wherein a learned Sri VaishnavA
(bhAgavathA) performs prapatti on one's behalf.

Rarely does one develop very intense desire to reach Sri


VaikuNTham immedietly to join nityasoorIs and
muktAs to have uninterrepted bhagavad anubhavam and
perform kainkaryam to the Divya Dampati. In such a
case, one can perform "Artha prapatti", for which
Sriman NArAyaNA mercifully grants mokshA without
any delay as per the request. But, almost everyone
performs "Dripta Prapatti", for which Sriman
NArAyaNA grants mokshA at the end of one's lifetime
as per the request. The basic reason for even parama
bhAgavathAs to perform "Dripta Prapatti" is purely due
to their boundless compassion to rescue all the
jIvAtmAs suffering in this world by imparting them the
infallible knowledge vouchsafed in the sAstrAs and
thereby make everyone realize their svaroopam of being
subservient to the Divya Dampati and aid them in
performing prapatti. Ofcourse, it is due to the sankalpam
of Sriman NArAyaNA that these parama bhAgavathAs
exist in this world for the benifit of everyone. They also
perform everything as a kainkaryam to the Divya
Dampati with sAthvIka tyAgam.

Prapatti thus assures moksham for sure, if the


requirements were met out in its entirety. If even after
undergoing prapatti, one doesn't have full faith in
NArAyaNA & resorts to something like demigod
24

worship & this was the case till he/she died, then it is be
understood that NArAyaNA hasn't accepted his/her
prapatti at all, since the basic qualification of having
ananyagatitvam was not met out by him/her during the
time of prapatti. Also, even after prapatti, if a person
somehow due to prArabdha karmA resorts to demigod
worship and the like, but somehow restores back
anytime before his/her death and follows Sri
Vaishnavam with reverence to Sriman NArAyaNA and
AchAryA, and develops mahA visvAsam, it is to be
understood that the Lord has accepted his/her prapatti.

A prapanna should certainly have devotion in the sense


of reciting VedAs, Divya Prabandhams, StotrAs,
performing Nama Sankeertanams, etc, which are to be
carried out as a kainkaryam (service) with sAthvIka
thyAgam. Never should a prapanna perform some act as
a means of attaining moksham, since he/she has already
been assured of it through the prapatti and more
importantly such an act exhibits his/her lack of mahA
visvAsam and would thereby even negate the previous
prapatti.

While performing Prapatti, a mumukshu requests for


Para Bhakti, Para Jn~Anam and Parama Bhakti from
Sriman NArAyaNA and thus it is granted for him/her.
Depending upon the mumukshu's karmA, the time at
which they will blossom will differ. For instance,
NammAzhwAr performed Prapatti unto Sriman
NArAyaNA and did not perform Bhakti yOgA. But,
AzhwAr went through all these three stages while being
in this material world itself. Similarly, some prapannAs
may go through these stages and they will be highly
immersed in bhagavad anubhavam. But, they are not
carrying out these things as an upAyam (i.e. means) to
attain moksham. Rather they perform it since it is their
svaroopam (nature). This is ofcourse done with sAthvIka
tyAgam and is known as "sAdhya bhakti". For many,
these three stages blossoms only after reaching Sri
VaikuNTham.

It is however very important to understand that


"prapatti" is not some mechanical process that fulfills
some conditions. It is the fully blossomed stage of
complete understanding of the tattva, hitam &
25

purushArtam. sAstrAs are very merciful in enlisting


various things that one would perform in that state of
surrender thereby giving rise to its modus operandi.
Ofcourse, for mumukshus performing through ukti &
AchArya nishta, such thorough knowledge of sAstrAs &
rahasya mantrAs is not neccessary. AchAryA takes care
of all the requirements for pleasing Sriman nArAyaNA.
This is also taken as a vyAjA for granting moksham by
Sriman nArAyaNA. That is why, the adoration of
AchAryA is even more important than the adoration of
Sriman nArAyaNA for a baddha jIvAtmA. There is no
possiblity for a baddha jIvAtmA who doesn't have the
capacity to perform bhakti yogA (complete akinchanA),
to ascend to Sri VaikuNTham other than to fully depend
on the mercy of his AchAryA who knows the way of
performing Prapatti for him. Thus, even one who has
transgressed sAstrAs for time immemorial can obtain
moksham by the mercy of a sadAchAryA. To repay
one's AchAryA for either blessing one with the true &
divine knowledge OR initiating him/her into rahasya
mantrAs (pancha samskAram) OR performing prapatti
for him/her, is an impossibility. To be in accordance with
one's svaroopam (nature), one has to perform AchArya,
BhAgavatha & PerumAL kainkaryam in that order of
decreasing priority & these things doesn't mean that one
is repaying something to the debt one owes to his/her
AchAryA.

To understand Prapatti properly, one needs to perform


kAlakshebam under the lotus feet of a sadAchAryA &
only by his blessings through the exposition of the
grantham far supreme viz. Srimad Rahasya Traya
SAram, the magnum opus of the Vishnu ghantA
avatArA SwAmi Desikan, can one appreciate its glories.
It is an unparalleled granthA containing the ocean of
insatiable nectar delineating all the things a mumukshu
needs to know (tattvA, hitA & purushArthA), presented
in such a commanding authority through pramAnAs &
logic, which once heard would vanish all the sufferings
and turmoils undergone by a jIvAtmA and make it have
the unshakable faith on the saving grace of the most
merciful Lord Sriman NArAyanA, thereby perform
prapatti & attain prapatti nishtA with the impeccable
jnAnam obtained from this granthA completely
controlling all of its actions, thereby engaging
26

completely in AchArya, BhAgavatha and Bhagavad


kainkaryam for the pleasure of Divya Dampati, with no
more burdens to be worried about.

AzhwAr, EmperumAnAr, Desikan thiruvadigaLE


saranam
Sri Adhi vaNN shatakOpa yateendra mahAdesikAya
namaha
Srimad Azhagiyasingar thiruvadigaLe saranam namo
nArAyaNA
adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan anantha PadmanAbha dAsan
sarvam sri KrishnArpanamastu

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sarva dharma:n parithyajya


ma:m e:kam saranam vraja |
aham thva: sarva pa:pe:bhyo:
mo:ksha yishya:mi ma:suchaha || 18-66

Lord SriKrishna says to Arjuna


"Abandoning all righteous deeds, seek me as thy sole Refuge ; I will
liberate thee from all sins ; do thou not grieve. Righteous deeds
(dharma) ; including unrighteous deeds (adharma) also, since naishkarmya
or freedom from all action is intended to be taught here. Here may be
cited such passages of the sruti and the smriti as the following Not he
who has not abstained from evil deed .can attain It.(KathaUp. 1224),
abandon dharma and adharma So, the passage means renouncing all works.
Me alone ; the Isvara, the Self of all, dwelling the same in all. Seek
Me as thy sole Refuge: in the belief I myself am that Isvara ; i e, do
thou understand that there is naught else except Me. When thou art firm
in this faith, I shall liberate thee from all sins, from all bonds of
dharma and adharma, by manifesting Myself as thy own Self. So it has
been already said here, I destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the
luminous lamp of wisdom, abiding in their self.(x. 11.) Wherefore do
thou not grieve. "
27

Notes:
The compound word `Sarvadharman' in this verse denotes all those duties
enjoined by the sastras, which have been prescribed for a particular man
according to his grade in society, stage in life, temperament and
circumstances, and which have been referred to in verse 6 of Chapter
XII
[[
But those who worship Me, renouncing all actions in Me regarding Me
Supreme, meditating on Me with exclusive devotion (Yoga) ; for them
whose thought is fixed on Me, I become ere long, O son of Pritha, the
deliverer out of the ocean of the mortal sansara.
]]
as `Sarvani Karmani' and by the term `Sarvakarmani' in verse 57 of the
present chapter.
[[
Mentally resigning all deeds to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme,
resorting to mental concentration, do thou ever fix thy heart in Me.
Mentally: with discriminative faith. All actions: producing visible and
invisible results. Me: the Lord. As taught in ix. 27, do thou dedicate
all thy actions to Me. Regarding: regarding Me, Vasudeva, as the highest
goal ; his whole self centered in Me. Regarding, & resorting to the
Buddhi·Yoga (samahitabuddhitva, steadymindedness, firm faith as thy sole
refuge.
]]

Laying down all these duties in God in the manner suggested in the
commentary on the verses mentioned above is what is meant by the verb
`Parityajya'. For, while discussing the conception of `Tyaga' in the
course of this chapter, the Lord has unequivocally declared in verse 7
[[
But even those actions should be performed, setting aside attachment and
the fruits ; this, O son of Pritha, is My firm and highest belief.
Those actions, &c: the acts of worship, gift and austerity which have
been said to be purifiers, should be performed, setting aside attachment
for them and abandoning their fruits.
]]
that it is not justifiable to abandon one's allotted duties, so that
giving them up through ignorance is what has been characterized as
Tamasika Tyaga. Therefore, by no stretch of imagination can the word
`Parityajya' be interpreted in the sense of abandoning all duties.
Besides this, the Lord has commanded Arjuna at more than one places
III.3O;
[[
30. Renouncing all action in Me with thy thought resting on the Self,
being free from hope, free from selfishness, devoid of fever, do thou
fight. To Me, Vasudeva, the Divine Being, the Supreme Lord, the
28

Omniscient, the Self of all, surrender all actions, with the wise
thought that I, the agent, do this for the Isvaras sake as his liege:
Fever: anguish, grief.
]]

VIII. 7;
[[
7. Therefore at all times do thou mediate on Me and fight: with mind and
reason fixed on Me thou shalt doubtless come to Me alone. Meditate:
According to the Teaching (sastra). Fight: do thou perform thy proper
duty of fighting. Vasudeva. Come to Me: as meditated upon by thee. The
Divine Being to be meditated upon.
]]
XI.34
[[
Drona and Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and other brave warriors,these,
killed by Me, do thou kill ; fear not, fight, thou shalt conger the
enemies. The lord speaks of these warriors whom Arjuna had any reason
to fear as killed by Himself. Now it is evident why there should be any
hesitation (on the part of Arjuna) concerning Drona and Bhishma Drona
was his teacher in the science of archery, was possessed of celestial
weapons and was especially his (Arjunas) own dear greatest Guru Bhishma
had his death at his own command and was possessed of celestial weapons.
He once entered into a single combat with ParasuRama and was not
defeated. As to Jayadratha, his father was engaged in austerity firmly
resolved that whoever causes my sons head to drop down on earth, his
head too shall fall: Karna, too, was furnished with an unerring Sakti
(missile) given him by Indra. He was a son of the sun, born of a maiden.
Wherefore he is also mentioned by name. Enemies: such as Duryodhana.
Arjunas adoration of the Universal Form Sanjaya said:
]]

not to desist from fighting, which is a sacred duty with the Ksatriyas,
but to participate in war resigning all duties to Him. And having
carefully listened to the Gita, Arjuna himself not only expresses his
willingness to do His bidding in verse 73 of the present chapter,
[[
73. Destroyed is delusion, and I have gained recognition through Thy
Grace, O Achyuta. I am firm, with doubts gone. I will do Thy word.
Delusion: born of ajnana or ignorance, the cause of the whole evil of
samsara, hard to cross like the ocean, who have sought Thy Grace.
Recognition: of the true nature of the Self. When this recognition is
obtained, then will all the ties of the heart be loosened: This
questioning and answering about the destruction of delusion shows
conclusively, what the purpose of the knowledge of the teaching of the
whole Sastra is, namely, the destruction of delusion and the attainment
29

of a recognition of the Self. So the sruti begins with the words. Not
knowing the Self, I grieve and then speaks of the loosening, of all ties
by means to Selfknowledge. There are also scriptural passages such as
The tie of the heart is broken (Mund. Up. 228) and To him who sees
unity, what delusion is there, what grief ? (Isa. Up· 7), I am firm: in
Thy command. Do thy word: Arjuna means to say Through Thy Grace I have
achieved the end of life: I have naught to do.
]]
' but actually participated in the Mahabharata war and thus discharged
his sacred obligation. `Sarvadharman parityajya' should, therefore, be
taken to mean laying down all one's duties in the Lord, and not actually
giving them up. And the man who has laid down his duties in the Lord
regards everything as belonging to Him; and completely renouncing the
feeling of `I' and `mine', as well as attachment and desire in respect
of his mind, senses and body and with regard to all actions performed by
them as well as to their fruit, continues to perform such duties only
for His sake and according to His behest's and prompting like a mere
tool in His hands.
Having resigned all his duties to God in the above manner, the devotee
who has solely taken refuge in the Lord regards Him as his supreme goal,
safest retreat, chief support, dearest object of love, greatest
well-wisher, most intimate friend and nearest relative, and looks upon
Him as his supporter, lord and guardian. He constantly thinks of Him at
all times with supreme reverence and exclusive love even while sitting
or standing, awake or asleep, eating and drinking, walking and moving
from one place to another and carrying out His behest's in every way. He
ever remains contented with His dispensation and like the celebrated
devotee, Prahlada, entirely depends on Him and Him alone. All this is
covered by taking refuge in the Lord. The idea has been clearly brought
out in the commentary on verse 6 of Chapter XII, the concluding verse of
Chapter X
[[
But, of what avail to thee is this vast things being known, O Arjuna ?
I stand sustaining this whole world by one part (of Myself). Of what
avail to you can be this .knowledge of vast but imperfect details
Listen, I will tell you completely of it. I stand sustaining firmly this
whole world by one part, by one limb, by one foot ; i.e one part of
Myself constitutes all beings.
]]
and verse 57 of this very chapter.

The word `Papa' forming part of the compound word `Sarvapapebhyah' in


this verse stands for the bondage of action in the shape of fruits of
good and evil deeds, under which this Jiva or embodied soul has been
revolving from birth to birth through different species of life; and the
absolution from sins referred to here consists in freeing one from the
30

above bondage. Therefore, the idea underlying the freedom from sins
promised by the Lord is the same as has been conveyed in verse 31 of
Chapter III
[[
Men who constantly practice this teaching of Mine with faith and
without caviling, they too are liberated from actions.
Men who always follow this teaching of Mine without caviling, i.e
without cherishing any feeling of envy towards Me, Vasudeva, the Supreme
Master (ParamaGuru)they too are released from actions, i,e from dharma
and adharma, from the merit and demerit of actions.
]]
by the words `Karmabhih mucyante' by the words `Mrtyusamsarasagarat
samuddharta bhavami, in verse 7 of Chapter XII,
and by the words `Matprasadat sarvadurgani tarisyasi' in verse 58 of the
present chapter.
[[
Fixing thy heart in Me, thou shalt, by My Grace, cross over all
difficulties ; but if from egotism thou will not hear (Me), thou shalt
perish. Difficulties: the impassable obstacles arising from (avidya),
the cause of samsara. Egotism: the idea that thou art a learned man. If
thou wilt not abide by my advice, then thou shalt be ruined. Neither
shouldst thou think, I am independent ; why should I obey the dictates
of another ?
The Lord winds up the teaching of the Gita by comforting Arjuna in the
words "Ma Sucah" (worry not). Concluding with these words the teaching
which He commenced in verse 11 of Chapter II with the words
`Asocyan'(not worth grieving for), the Lord exhorts Arjuna, who had
already betaken himself to Him, to urrender himself completely and
thereby be rid of all worries, and having shed all grief and fear,
abandon himself to His care for ever. This total absence of sorrow and
realization of God form the principal theme of the Gita.

(Courtesy Multimedia book on the Gita by ISRA www.bhagavadgita.com)

For more details, please listen/download the discourse of His


Holiness Sri Sri Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana
Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji in Telugu, placed in the above sites
courtesy Gemini TV (2nd March 0600 IST 2003)

P.S. 1. Links to gitajyoti discourse archives and other bhakti sites


available at the following site
http://acharyakrupa.tripod.com
2. As all the above sites are free sites, due to bandwidth limitation,
service breaks are given by the site provider. Please try again after
some time in such cases. ( inconvenience caused is deeply regretted)
31

===========================================================
1. "KULAMANI" DESIKA ON "VISWAMBHARA" AND "SUDARKKODI"
By Anbil Ramaswamy,
=============================================================
ANDAL is considered to be the incarnation of BhoodEvi.
Let us see how.

During the great deluge ending Padma Kalpa, the Lord took the form of a
behemoth boar, leaped into the air and plunged deep into the ocean and
reached the fathomless PaaTaaLa to save Mother Earth who was kept
concealed
there by the demons. Swami Desika in his Dasavatara Stotra refers to
the
Lord in this incarnation as “MahaapOtrin” to indicate that the massive
boar
bore Mother Earth who herself bore the entire universe (Viswambhara).

As the Lord lifted her on his single horn (Eka sringhO Varaaha tvam)
-(Srimad Valmiki RamayaNam) as if she were a piece of tuber root
(mustEeva),
Mother earth requested the Lord to instruct how with minimum effort,
all the
Jivas could secure the maximum benefit of attaining MOKsham. (MatkritE
sarva
bhootaanaam laghu upaayam vada PrabhO)

Thereupon, Varaaha PerumaaL made a solemn declaration of his famous


“Varaaha
Charama Slokam” in which He promised that if anyone remembered Him
during
sometime, anytime during one’s lifetime while in good health and normal
sense functioning, the Lord would Himself remember that at the time of
death
even if one were to lie immobilized like a stone or log of wood and
lead the
Jiva to His abode.

SthitE manasi sukhasthE sareerE sati yO nara: /


Dhaatu SaamyE sthitE smartaa viswaroopam cha maam ajam //
Tatas tham mriyamaaNam tu kaashTa paashaaNa sannibham /
Aham smaraami madh Bhaktam nayaami paramaam gatim //
(Vide Swami Desika’s Rahasya SikhaamaNi Slokas 1 and 2)

Thus, Mother earth literally wrested from the Lord the solemn promise
to
save her children from the throes of Samsaara.

And, it is this Viswambhara (BhoodEvi) who incarnated as ANDAL for


propagating this promise to the world and to emphasize the need for and
the
efficacy of SaraNaagati, the basic theme of the said promise.

Why should she do this?

This is because BhoodEvi represents earth, one of the five elements


32

(Panchbhootas) and being at our terrestrial level, is having the most


intimate proximity and nexus to all living beings, the human, the
flora, the
fauna etc. even to the lowliest of insects and shrubs. In Sloka 33 of
Bhoo
Stuthi, Swami Desika draws attention to this fact saying that this is
verily
proclaimed in the Srutis. “AsyEsaanaa jagata iti yaa srooyatE
VishNupatnee”

Also, of the three consorts of the Lord, Mother earth is the only
visible
element who could be comprehended even with our limited sense organs
unlike
the other two who could be understood only at an esoteric level.

That is why, even as we wake up and tread on earth we pray her to


forgive us
for the act by saying:

“Samudra vasanE Devi parvatastana maNDitE /


VishNu patni namas tubhyam paadasparsam Kshamasva mE //”

Also, before commencing the Asana Mantra kramam in Sandyaavandanam etc,


we
invoke her saying: “Oh! Mother! You bear the entire world and you are
borne
by Lord VishNu. Please accept me and by taking your seat here make it
holy
and purified and fit for performance of the Japa Araadanam.

Prithvee tvayaa dhrutaa lOkaa: dEvi tvam VishNunaa dhrutaa


tvam cha dhaaraya maam dEvi, pavitram kuru chaasanam //

BhoodEvi’s name occurs in the Vyaahriti Mantra immediately after


“PraNavam”
“Bhoor Bhuvar Suva:” and also before the Gaayatri Mantra. Swami Desika
brings this out in SlOka 2 of Bhoo Stuthi thus:
“Tvaam Vyaahruti PraNava: Prathamata:
priyam tE samvEdayati”.

BhoodEvi has special attachment to her children more than SridEvi.

You may wonder how?

SridEvi may ask “Na kaschit na aparaadyati?” meaning “Who in the world
has
not sinned?” implying an admission of guilt and the propensity to err
on the
part of Jivas and pointing to the need for the Lord to forgive their
indiscretions. But, BhoodEvi is Compassion personified (Saakshaat
Kshamaam).
She would say that they had not committed any fault at all. There was
thus
no way for the Lord to punish them in His capacity as disciplinarian
(DanDadharan), nor was there anything to “forgive”!
33

Lord DattaaatrEya also asserts this aspect of proximity when he


enumerates a
list of 24 teachers from whom he learned lessons and “earth” tops this
list
(Srimad Bhaagavatam XI Ch.7.37 and 38)

Bhagavad Ramanuja in his SaraNaagati Gadhyam (SlOkam 7) briefly refers


to
her “Evam Bhoota Bhoomi NeeLaa naayaka” meaning “Like Periya PiraaTTi,
the
Lord’s other consorts are BhoodEvi and NeeLaadEvi”. Purusha Sooktam
Uttara
Anuvaakam (verse 6) also declares this as: “Hrees Cha tE lakshmees cha
patnyou”. “Hree” is another name of BhoodEvi.

Swami Desika visualizes the scene of Bhgavad Ramanuja doing SaraNaagati


to
the Lord accompanied by these consorts and pays rich tributes to all of
them
with the word “PrapadyE” occurring in the very first Sloka in each
StOtra.
He also composed on the subsequent incarnation of BhoodEvi as ANDAL in
his
“GOdaa Stuti”

We will limit ourselves to consider how “Thooppul KulamaNi” Swami


Desika
proves himself a true follower of “SooDik KoDutta SuDarkkoDi” ANDAL the
reincarnation of BhoodEvi.
----------------------------------------
SWAMI DESIKA – A TRUE FOLLOWER OF ANDAL
----------------------------------------
- ANDAL conveyed the lofty philosophical doctrine of how Jivatma
should strive to reach Paramaatma through commonplace examples like
praying
to “Parjanya dEvata” for copious rains that sustain life on earth
(thingaL
mummaari peidu) and mundane (loukeeka) concepts like observing “Paavai
nOnbu” for attaining a good husband. Lord Ranganatha yielded to Her
binding
Him with Her with garland of flowers (Poomaalai) even as He yielded to
YassOda binding Him to a mortar. (kaTTuNNap paNNiya peru maayan) In the
case
of Swami Desika, both PerumaaL and PiraaTTi allowed themselves to be
bound
by the wonderful garlands of StOtras (paa maalai) so much that they
conferred on him honorifics like “VEdanataachaarya” and “Sarva Tantra
Swatantrar”.

In fact, Swami says that having conferred such titles, it became the
responsibility of the Lord to prove them true! (VEdaanta dEsika padE
vinivEsaya baalam dEvO vaihaarikENa vidhinaa samayE gruheetam veeNaa
visEshamiva vEnkaTasailanaatha: - Dayaa Satakam SlOkam 104)

- ANDAL shows how the Lord whose greatness, even the VEdas
could
34

not comprehend and therefore returned crestfallen (YatO vaachaa


nivartantE
apraapya manasaa saha) was found rubbing shoulders with the unlettered
cowherds of AyarpaaDi. Upanishads describe various means to reach the
Supreme Lord. It is not possible for ignoramus children like us to
understand and much less adopt any of these means. Merciful mother that
she
is, ANDAL literally spoon-feeds us with “baby formula” food. In
Tiruppaavai,
she calls her peers (and by extension us too) as “Dear Children”
(Selva
SirumeergaaL) and proceeds to teach step by step in a language that we
children could understand and readily relate to on topics like-

(i) Who is “Paraman”? (PaarkaDaluL paiyatuyinra paraman)


(ii) How to approach Him? (Thoo malar toovi tozhudu,Vaayinaal paaDi,
manathinaal sindikka)
(iii) How to approach Him in a congregation? (KooDi irundu kuLirndu)
(iv) How to pray to Him in His august presence? (POtri, POtri)
(v) What to ask Him? (UntannODu utrOmE aavOm)
(vi) How to ask Him? (UnnODu uravEL namakku ingu Ozhikka Ozhiyaadu)

Swami Desika brings all these into our focus with equal felicity
through his
simple but sound Srisooktis to cater to lay folk like us and to
scholars
alike.

In fact, in all of his works whether in Gadhyam, Padhyam or NaaTakam,


whether small, medium or long in size, and whether in Sanskrit,
Praakritam
or Tamil – the one message that runs through the warp and woof of his
works
is nothing but “SaraNaagati” (Surrender to the Lord which ANDAL has
conveyed
through her Tiruppaavai.

- ANDAL’s Tiruppavai is considered as the very seed from which


Vedas
sprouted (Vedam anaithukkum vithu aagum).
Do you know why?

She is the darling daughter of Periyaazhwar, the very incarnation of


GaruDaazhwar (Periya TiruvaDi) and the very personification of the
VEdas
(Vedaatma VihagEswara). Therefore ANDAL could have comprehended the
Vedas as
revealed in her Tiruppavai, which is justifiably regarded as the seed
of the
Vedas. Swami Desika was also the recipient of the benediction of this
“Vedaatmaa VihagEswara”, since his Acharya “AppuLLaar” initiated him
into
the GaruDa mantram. (Incidentally, the word “Appullaar” also refers to
the
divine bird – GaruDaazhwar). Therefore, there is no wonder that he had
also
understood the essence of the Vedas all within 20 years of his age.
35

Added to this, GaruDaazhwar blessed him with Sri Hayagriva Mantra,


which
made him a real “Sarva Tantra Swatantrar” Thus, in a mystical sense,
can we
regard Swami Desika as ANDAL’s younger brother even as Bhagavad
Ramanuja is
deemed to be her elder brother (Perumpudur maamunikkup pinn aanaaL
vaazhiyE)?

- If ANDAL in her original form had the blessings of Lord


“Yagjna Varaaha”, Swami Desika had blessings from “Jnaana Ananda mayam
dEva
” Lord “Hayagriva”

- ANDAL’s concern for the welfare of the world (neengaada selvam


niraindu
and engum TiruvaruL petru inburuvar) is well reflected in Swami
Desika’s
works. (e.g.) He calls his “Dasavatara StOtram” as conferring universal
happiness “Jagan MangaLam”, his “Goda Stuti” as delightful with
numerous
auspicious qualities “BahuguNa RamaNeeyaam”- conferring supreme bliss
on the
readers (sa bhavati Bahumaanya: SreematO Rangabartu:)

- Like Azhwars, Swami Desika’s ornaments were his Knowledge and


detachment
to worldly pleasures (Jnaana Vairaaghya bhOOshaNam). Like Azhwaars, he
also
forgot his manhood and simulated the role of a ladylove in “Naayaki
Bhaava”
inspired by the example of ANDAL, the bridal mystic. He was indeed
“Desika
Naayaki” like Nammaazhwar and Tirumangai Mannan who were called
“Paraankusa
Naayaki” and “Parakaala Naayaki” respectively.

- If ANDAL had single minded devotion to the Lord as to declare


that she
would rather end her life than getting married to a mere human
(maaNidavarkku enru pEchuppaDil VaazhagillEn- Naachiyaar Tirumozhi 5),
Swami
Desika’s Vairaaghyam was of the same caliber when he declared “Dhanyaam
na
manyaamahE, Deavm sevitumEva nischinumahE” in his “Vairaaghya Panchakam”

- Being head over heels in divine love with the Lord, he was so
enchanted by
“Devanaayakan” of Tiruvaheendrapuram that it overflowed in what the
Swami
himself calls “Chandamigu Praakritam”, the language used by womenfolk
in
those days in his “Achyuta Satakam”, an exercise not attempted even by
the
Azhwars!
36

- Besides this, he sang also in Sanskrit (Devanaayaka Panchaasat)


and in
Tamil (MummaNIkkOvai and NavamaNi maalai) on Devanaayakan – “a hat
trick”,
as it were, that no other Divya Desa PerumaaL could muster!

- ANDAL appealed to Nappinnai to recommend (Purushaakaaram) vide


“Ukkamaum
TattoLiyum tandu unn maNaaLanai ippOde emmai neeraaTTu”. Similarly,
“Desika
Naayaki” appeals to PiraaTTi saying “Please recommend to your spouse to
accept me” thus emphasizing the importance of and need for
“Purushaakaaram”
(Bhoo Stuti 30)

- Like ANDAL who adorned her Lord with fragrant garlands and won
Him over,
Desika Naayaki also wove multicolored garlands in his Tamil Prabandams
employing varied metres like “Agaval”, “VaNbaa”, “Aasiriyappaa”
“KaTTaLaikkaLiturai” etc., that are the specialties of that language.
Like
Lord Ranganaatha who preferred to wear garlands of poems and flowers
offered
by Naachiyaar, Lord Devanathan seems to have yearned to adorn Himself
with
the wonderful garland of poems brimming with “Sringaara Rasam”

- Like Naachiyaar who pined for her KaNNan, this Desika Naayaki
languishes
for the love of Devanaayakan accusing Cupid (Manmata) of heartlessly
tormenting her with his flowery arrows. The joy of union (SamslEsham)
and
the pangs of separation (VislEsham) get portrayed graphically in his
work
reminiscent of similar sentiments of Naachiyaar and other Azhwaars.
When the
Lord does appear before Desika Naayaki, she exclaims that those who
have
seen the pulchritude of the Lord will reach Him forever and will never
again
be born in this world.
“Adiyavarkku meyyanE! Ayindai vaazhum manju enavE aruL pozhiyum
vaLLalE!
Ninn vaDIvazhagu maravaadaar piravaadaarE” (NavamaNI maalai Paasuram 6)

- Swami refers to ANDAL as “Bhoo-magaL”. Vaikuntavaasi Sri Seva


SwamigaL
used to interpret this both directly and derivatively. In the former,
it
refers to BhoodEvi while in the latter taken as “Bhoovin magaL”, it can
refer to her as Mahaalakshmi Herself, who as Sri Sita sprang from the
earth
while ploughing for the Yaagasaala while Sri ANDAL sprang from the
earth in
the TuLasi pit.
-----------------------------------------------
37

SWAMI DESIKA ON VISWAMBARA


-----------------------------------------------
(Numbers in brackets are the numbers of SlOkas from Swami’s Bhoo Stuti)

- She augments the glory of Bhagavaan with Her own glory that
bears no
comparison. Yet, Her Soulabhyam is such that she is easily accessible
to
all. Swami says that because she is thus equal to Him in every
respect, she
commands His utmost respect. (4 and 5)

- Even as the Lord is having numerous names (Naamas), She also has
several
names like Sarvamsahai (Enduring tolerance), Avani (Granting
sustenance),
Achala (Standing firm), Viswambhara (Supporting all lives), Vipula
(Expansive), Vasundara (Holder of treasures), etc. each having deep
significance (6)

- All the Tattvas remain as Sareera of BhoodEvi in the same way


and measure,
as they do in the Lord. In fact, BhoodEvi represents the last Tattva
viz.,“Earth”(8)

- The Lord is fond of BhoodEvi more than even SridEvi. How? The
Lord wears
SridEvi only on His chest (Vakshasthalam) while honors BhoodEvi holding
Her
on His very head in the form of the thousand hooded AadisEsha a role He
had
taken purposely to honor BhoodEvi (10)

- When the Lord gets incensed at the sins committed by Jivas, it


is
BhoodEvi, the personification of mercy (Kshama) who by Her very
presence
diverts His attention and extinguishes His intent to punish (Nigraha
Sakti).
But for Her, Swami avers that we have no chance of redemption. (13)

- Swami refers to the scene in Varaaha Avataara and says that both
the Lord
and BhoodEvi merely acted as if BhoodEvi was in trouble concealing Her
powers of Jnaana, Sakti etc and assuming an effeminate role and the
Lord
acted as if He was saving Her – all for the benefit of the devotees!
(14)

- Swami describes vividly the coronation of BhoodEvi as the Royal Queen


(PatTTa Mahishi) (20 and 21)

- BhoodEvi along with the Lord acts as the means (Upaaya) and the end
(UpEya) and grants all that one needs, be it material welfare or
Svargam or
Kaivalyam or even Moksham (22). Taking pity on Jivas who do not
understand
38

their real Svaroopam and do not know anything about Emperumaan and,
therefore, continue to commit sins with impunity and without any shame,
She
stands in the Upaaya sthaanam and exercising Her Purushakaaram submits
them
at the feet of the Lord. Swami concludes the StOtra with a prayer to
BhoodEvi to confer on all of us all that is auspicious. (30 and 32)

- BhoodEvi affords “abhayam” with Her right hand and for this
purpose holds
the lotus and blue lily flowers in Her left hand! (26)
-----------------------------------------
SWAMI DESIKA ON SOODIKKODUTHA SUDARKKODI
----------------------------------------
(Numbers in brackets are the numbers of SlOkas from Swami’s Godha Stuti)
We will savor some of the fine sentiments Swami expresses in this
SriSookti.

- Godha is a verdant creeper that entwines the divine Harichandana


tree,
suggesting in the 1st SlOka itself both her birth and her wedding with
her
Lord (Sri VishNuchittakula nandana kalpavalleem Sri Ranga raja
Harichandana
yoga drisyaam) (1)

- The glory of Godha’s qualities breaks the silence observed by


Swami.
(Mouna druhO mukharayanti guNaas tvadeeyaa:) (2)

- Swami prays to Godha to grant him power of sweet speech. Why?


Only with
the power so granted could he praise her glory! (Vaacham prasanna
madhuraam
mama samvidEhi) (3 and 4)

- Swami compares Godha to six rivers, SONa, Tungabadra, Saraswati,


Viraja,
GOdaavari and Narmada (6)

- Valmiki became Kavi Saarvabouman because he was born out of


Godha’s ear.
Poets describe the anthill springing from the earth as the “ear of the
earth” (valmikaata: sravaNatO vasudaatmanas tE (7)

- The Azhwars who attempted the “Naayaki Bhaava” could not do so


as
effectively as ANDAL because at best they could only emulate and
simulate
what came in naturally for Godaa as a woman (BhOktum tava priyatamam
Bhavateeva gOdE) (8)

- VishNuchittar, Godha’s father got the honorific of being called


“Paeriyaazhwaar” (The great Azhwaar) only because he gave you to the
Lord in
marriage. (Taatastu..lEbhE mahattara padaanuguNam prasaadam) (10)
39

- Because Godaa was born in the South, the very direction became
superior to
the rest since Lord Ranganatha lies with his look latched on to Godaa’s
birthplace Sri Villiputtur that lies south of Sri Rangam. (dik
dakshiNaapi..sarvOttaraa bhavati dEvee! tava avataaraath) (11)

- Unlike Yamuna, which parted to make way for KrishNa’s crossing


over to
Gokulam, Godavari, out of fear of RavaNa stood silent when Sri Rama
asked
for the whereabouts of Sri Sita and thus incurred opprobrium. Only when
ANDAL was born and named as Godaa, it was relieved of this infamy and
became
the holy center for all other rivers to take bath in its waters for
their
own purification. (Godaavaree jagad idam payasaa puneetE) (12)

- The friends of Godha, the bride, make fun of her for choosing a
grand old
man having a snake for bed and a bird for vehicle. Swami finds the very
points as extolling her choice! (naagesaya: sutanu pakshiratha:. Katham
tE
jaata: swayamvara pati purusha: puraaNa :) (13)

- The Vaijayanti garland adorning the chest of the Lord has been
relegated
to a lower position when the Lord adorned Godha’s garland on His head
(tvadbukta maalya surabheekrita chaaru moulai: hitvaa bhujaantara
gataamapi
vaijayanteem) (14)

- Swami describes the flower decorations, the music of the bees,


the
fragrance of the wedding couple, their dressing, their sidelong glances
to
each other etc in graphic detail (15 to 21)

- The color of Godaa is green like Durva grass (arugam pul) and
that of
Mahaalakshmi is yellowish red (gOrOchana). When they occupy either side
of
the Lord, the blue black color of the Lord becomes a happy blend of all
-
like the array of colors on the neck of a peacock and shines with a
unique
hue that spells auspiciousness for the world. (Dorvaa daLa pratimayaa
tava
dEha kaantyaa gOroChanaa ruchirayaa cha ruchEndraaayaa aaseeed anunjita
sikhaavala khaNDa sObham) (22)

- Describing the attainment of Godaa’s Archaavatara samaadhi,


Swami offers
obeisance” to the divine couple. (23)

- If only ANDAL were not there to give us Darsanam in the company


of the
40

Lord, we would have been left ignored and helpless - says Swami Desika
(24)

- Like a mother who does not stop but continues to breastfeed her
baby even
when it bites her nipple, GOdaa, the mother, should nourish us despite
our
propensity to indulge in sins all the time (Vaatsalya nirbharatayaa
Jananee
kumaaram stanyEna vardhayati dashTa payOdaraapi) (27)

- Swami asserts that anyone reading this StOtram composed with


great
dedication will be eligible to receive the grace of Lord Ranganatha and
secure the blessings of rendering eternal service at the feet of the
Lord
here and hereafter.
Iti Vikasita bhaktE: uthitaam VenkatEsaath
BahuguNa ramaNeeyaam vakti Godhaa stuitim ya: /
Sa bhavati bahumaanya: sreematO Rangabartu:
CharaNa kamala sEvaam saaswateem abhyupaishyan //
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2. "VEDA NOOL PIRAYAM NOORU"
Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami of Coimbatore
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A Hundred is a magic figure. The fascination with the hundred begins
with us
as a child, when we are urged by our parents to get a "centum" in exams
to
denote that everything is well, people say that they are "one hundred
percent okay". In Cricket, it is every batsman's dream to get a
hundred, on
debut and in every innings thereafter. Similarly, bowlers are also
after the
hundredth wicket, which is a landmark in their career.

There are batsmen who have the distinction of a hundred centuries to


their
credit. Historians measure time and happenings in terms of centuries,
viz.,
a hundred years. When we are busy, we lament that we have a "hundred
things
to do". It is customary to perform archana to the Lord by reciting His
hundred (and eight) tirunAmas-an ashtotthra Satha nAmAvali. Currency is
usually measured in units of hundred- hundred paise make a Rupee,
hundred
Cents a dollar and so on.

It is every man's ambition to live to be a hundred. The Shruti too


considers
a benediction to live a hundred years to be the ultimate in
AsIrvAthams.
Whenever we prostrate before elders, they invariably utter a blessing
that
41

we may live a hundred years- "SatamAnam bhavati.pratitishttati". The


bride,
during the lAja hOmam ("poriyidal"), prays to the Lord to bless her
groom
with a hundred long years of life-"deerghAyu: astu mE pati: jeevAtu
sharada:
shatam." We pray to the Lord to afford us a hundred years of familial
happiness-"shatam jeevEma sharada: sa veerA:"

Not content with an occasional prayer for hitting a century in life, we


pursue the matter with the Lord painstakingly on a daily basis, during
the
Madhyahnika SandhyOpAsanam, with the mantra beginning with "pasyEma
sharada:
shatam."
And what sort of a life do we pray for, during these hundred years?
Let's
find out from the aforesaid the upastthAna mantra-

1. "pasyEma sharada: shatam"-

Our first prayer is that we should see for a hundred years. See what?
Not
the mundane sights which only add to our desires and lead us on the
path to
nowhere, but the sort of sights that Sri Nammazhwar says he saw-"KandOm
kandOm kaNNukkiniyana kandOm". We should spend these hundred years
making
the Lord, (residing in the middle of the Solar orb and in His numerous
other
abodes) the object of our sight.
Sri Kulasekharazhwar says "Krishnam lOkaya lOchana dvaya!”
Emperuman's devotees, the things which are of utility in His
kainkaryam,
like fragrant flowers and TirutthuzhAi, our Acharyas who lead us to
Paradise-all such auspicious sights should greet us, says the ShAnti
pAta-
"Bhadram pasyEma ashabhir yajatrA:” Impliedly, we pray our eyes should
be
spared all painful or inauspicious spectacles.

2. "JeevEma sharada: shatam"-

We pray that we may live to be a hundred. Such a life should be one


filled
with utility to others and to the Lord. There is absolutely no point in
living a hundred non-descript or inglorious years, with nothing to show
for
all that time. We must be remembered, for all the right sort of things.
When
we leave these mortal coils, our contemporaries should wish we were
with
them for longer or that we should live on forever. Even today, we
fervently
wish that Swami Desikan were with us and voice our desire daily that he
should live on for centuries-"VEdAnta DEsikanE innum oru noottrAndu
irum".
42

Our lives should be Such as those of a Bhashyakara, an Alavandar, a


Swami
Desikan-all of whom lived beyond a hundred years and left the earth a
much
better place than it was.

3. "nandAma sharada: shatam"-

There is no use of living long, if our days are to be filled with


loneliness
and desolation-such a life is hardly worthwhile living. Hence the
prayer to
bless us with happiness in good company, the enlightening company of
bhAgavatAs, with whom we can exchange experiences and tales of the Lord
and
His innumerable auspicious attributes. Let us rejoice for a hundred
years in
Satsangham says this mantra.

4. "ModAma sharada: shatam"-

Bless us with a hundred years of unalloyed happiness, we pray to the


Lord.
If our lives are one of grief and unhappiness, who would want to live a
hundred years? We pray therefore for a life filled with fun, frolic and
happiness. The happiness sought here is not of the type arising from
ephemeral enjoyment or sensual pleasures, but one afforded by selfless
service to the Lord and His devotees, which provide as much pleasure as
that
experienced by the permanent residents of Paradise.

5. "bhavAma sharada: shatam"-

Let our long lives be brightened by fame. Let us not be "also ran"s,
and
make a mark for ourselves in this world, marks that would live on long
after
we leave.

6. "ShrunavAma sharada: shatam"-

Let everything that is good fall on our ears-"Bhadram karNEbhi:


shrunuyAma
dEva:" says the Shanti Pata, invoking the Lord's blessings for a
lifetime of
listening to Veda parayanam, Prabanda anusandhanam, grantha
kAlakshEpam,
bhagavan nAmAs, tales of the glorious Lord and his celebrated devotees,
etc.
A hundred years of only glad tidings, only the most auspicious of
sounds, is
what we pray for. A similar prayer is voiced in the
Upanishad-"KarNAbhyAm
bhoori vishruvam".

7. "PrabravAma sharada: shatam"-


43

Only the most propitious of words should pass our lips during these
hundred
years. And what could such words be, other than the Lord's haloed
names? Let
our lips always be vibrant with Bhagavan nAma, prays this mantra.
Stotras
extolling the Lord's glory should be the daily diet for our tongue.
Conversely, the praise of mere mortals or that of demi gods should not
be
uttered in all these hundred years that are sought, as Sri Nammazhwar
declares-" mAnidam pAda vanda kaviyEn allEn".

Even when interacting with our co-passengers in this life's waiting


room,
our tongue should be as if dipped in honey-"jihvA mE madhumatthamA"
says the
Upanishad. Our lips should be busy learning and reciting the Vedas,
Divya
Prabandas, Stotra patas and Stotra patas and the like.

May we live a life of constant victory and never taste defeat in these
hundred years, we pray. What sort of triumph is sought here? Is it over
our
rivals in the economic, social or academic spheres? Not at all, for the
victory we seek is over our own senses, which are the worst foes a man
could
encounter. What is worse is that these enemies form a part of our own
system, which makes them that much more difficult to conquer. Everybody
knows how treacherous it is to deal with internal foes, which remain
dormant
till the crucial moment and emerge suddenly to fell us with a single
blow.
As victory over our faulty faculties (indriyAs) is essential if we are
to
make anything of our lives, a life of sustained success over these
internal
enemies is prayed for.

We see thus that the Shruti envisages a full life of a hundred years
for all
human beings and elders bestow a benediction upon the younger ones that
the
latter may live with distinction and devotion for a century, as
ordained by
the "Veda nool".

We come across a rare instance of a devotee blessing the Lord with an


interminably long life. In this reverse flow of good wishes, Sri
Periazhwar,
enthralled at the sight of Emperuman on His Garuda vAhanam and
apprehensive
that the evil eye might befall Him and prove injurious, prays that the
Lord
be granted a long life. The Azhwar's concern for the Lord's continued
welfare comes through in his seeking a life of not merely a hundred,
but
44

several billion years, for the Lord. Azhwar begins reasonably, with a
prayer
for a several thousand years of life ("pallANdu, pallAndu,
pallAyiratthANdu") for the Lord, but then his overwhelming maternal
love for
Emperuman makes him extend the benediction to cover not merely several
thousand, but several billions of years ("pala kOti noorAyiram"). It is
not
that Azhwar is unaware that the Lord is without a beginning and an end,
and
is not bound by limitations to life, like the rest of the creation-it
is his
tremendous love for the Lord and an over-powering feeling of
protectiveness
that make him pray for a long life for Him. And he doesn't mean just
billions of years, when he says "pala kOti noorAyiram"-what he means is
that
the Lord should live on and on, infinitely. He mentions these numbers
simply
because these are the largest his imagination could grapple with, and
not
because he wants Emperuman's life to be limited to several billion
years.

If the Lord alone lives on and the rest of His companions don't, won't
He
feel bored and lonely? Azhwar hastens to extend the mangalasasanam to
cover
not only the Lord, but Piratti too-"vadivAi nin vala mArbinil
vAzhgindra
mangayum pallAndu"-and to Sri SudarsanAzhwar and Sri Panchajanya
Azhwan, who
are the Lord's constant companions and protectors too- "sudar
Azhiyum...Panchajanyamum pallANdE"

While seeking an interminably long life for the Lord, Azhwar seeks such
a
boon for himself and ourselves too-"adiyOmOdum ninnOdum pirivindri
Ayiram
pallANdu". There are people, who, in the guise of seeking favors for
others,
incidentally favor themselves too, though indirectly. Azhwar's love for
the
Lord is such that he wants to be with Him always, without a moment's
separation ("pirivindri"). And this would be possible only if Azhwar
too
were to be endowed with an equally long life. We should note clearly
that
Azhwar prays for such a life only to ensure uninterrupted and constant
kainkaryam and not out of a mundane desire to live on and on. And
kainkaryam
is always more enjoyable if performed in the company of like-minded
BhAgavatAs- "koodi irundu kulirndu", as the Azhwar's beloved daughter
too
confirms. Hence Azhwar includes us too in his prayer for a life of
several
thousand (interminable) years.
45

On the occasion of Sri PerukkAraNai Swami's satAbhishEkam, we too can


but
pray the Lord to grant Swami not merely a hundred years of Bhagavat
kainkaryam, but "pala kOti noorAyiram", so that Swami may bless us with
more
satgranthAs and kAlakshEpams. For Swami to do this, we too must live on
with
him, performing kainkaryam to him yatAshakti. Hence, following the
haloed
footsteps of Sri Bhattar PirAn, we too pray to Swami-"adiyOmOdum
ninnOdum
pirivindri Ayiram pallANdu".

May this prayer fall on the ever-attentive ears of the Sharanya


Dampathi.
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3. “BHAGAVAD RAMANUJA”
Sri Madhava Kannan Swami of Singapore
Moderator, “Acharya” group.
----------------------------------------------------------
It is aDiyEn’s bhagyam to be chosen for contributing this article for
the
SathAbhisheka malar of Sri PerukaraNai Swamy. It is our fortune to live
in
his period. His ThiruppAvai commentary is a feast for anyone and
everyone –
is a gross understatement. With humble prayers to Divya Dampathi for
Their
continuous blessings on this Swamy to live for innumoRu nooRRaaNdu… and
bless us with many more such brilliant books for the sake of future
generations.

aDiyEn wants to mull about out unparalleled peerless YathirAjar and his
greatness in this rambling of mine. Please forgive me for mistakes and
if
ever there is any good in it, it is all due to the wonderful articles
in
Tamil from which I have written this piece.

Sri Ramanujacharya with His towering personality- Fair complexioned-


with
dwAdasa oordhva pUndram (12 ThirumaN), the pristinely pure saffron
sanyaasi
robe (that adds beauty to the fair complexion further), the dark
tresses
curly hair of sikhA which is so charming on His moon like Divine
smiling
face laden with dayA on us, (Charming Most graceful Thirumukham), the
white
bright pooNool (yagnOpaveedham), the strong thridhaNdam, the lovely
Lotus
feet- Oh Lord! What a sight It could have been, to those Srivaishnavas
must
have been blessed with!
46

How nice it would have been to witness Sri Ramanujacharya, walking so


gracefully with such an enchanting personality, with his group of
sishyas of
caliber like KooratthAzhwAn, MudaliANdaan, Embaar, Boy Paraasara
Bhattar,
Kidaambhi Acchaan, and others…. What a sight! Once, even Periya Nambhi
(who
had initiated Sri Ramanuja with Pancha smaskaram) saw this group coming
in
the front and prostrated on the ground falling flat. When asked, he
said "It
appeared to me as if Alavandhaar is coming with his sishyas!

This scene of Divine Beauty of Sri Ramanuja reminds us of Embaar's


verse on
the divine beauty [azhagu] of Sri Ramanuja and declares in the end
"illai
enaaku edhir; illai enakku edhir; illai enakku edhirE! "There is none
equal
to me; none equal to me; none equal to me!". True!

There is NONE equal to us FOR BEING BLESSED WITH Sri Ramanuja


(sampradayam)!
EmbAr's description:
“parppOm enatthigazh pai~nkazhal unRan pallavamE viralum/
paavanamAgiya painthuvaraadai pathintha marunkazhagum/
muppuri noolodu munkail yEndhiya mukkOlthan azhagum/
munnavar tandhidum mozhikaL niRaindhidu muruval nilAvazhahum/
kaRpagamE vizhi karunai pozhindhidum kamalkkaNN azhagum/
kaarisuthan kazhalsoodiya mudiyum kana naRRsihai mudiyum/
yeppozhudhum ethiraaJan vadivazhaghu yen idhayatthuL uLLathaal/
illai enakku edhir; illai enakku edhir; illai enakku edhirE!"

Embar's enjoyment of seeing Sri Ramanujacharya's lotus feet, tender


fingers
reminding one of the creepers, sacred saffron robe, most auspicious
pooNool,
thridandam, His enchanting smile laden with dayA, large dark eyes
reminiscent of wish yielding kaRpaka maram (tree), the kudumi (sikhA)
formed
by abundant tresses is simply beautiful. EmbAr declares that there is
no
one equal to him; since YathirAjan's Divine Beauty lingers in his heart.

This beautiful description also reminds us of Swami Desikan's verse in


YathirAja saptathi:
upaveethinam Oordhvapundravantham
thrijagath punya phalam thridhanda hastham
sharanagatha sarthavahameede
shikhaya shekarinam pathim yatheenaam"

The upaveedham [poonool] and 12 ThirumaN [dwadasa oordhva puNdram] are


special characteristics of Yathis. The other unique characteristic of
our
Emperumanar as Swami Desikan's vision perceives is the fact that he was
ever
47

surrounded by a huge Srivaishnava prapanna goshti

Adding to our enjoyment is today's description of how the Lord was


saved by
YathirAjA. Swami Desikan's excellent description of the greatness of
YathirAjA and his Srisookthis can be felt in each of the 74 slOkAs of
YathirAja Sapthathi.

The 38th slOka says: (From Sri U Ve VN Vedantha Desikan's translation


in Sri
Nrusimhapriya)
"Victory to Ramanuja- who saved the Para Brahman by giving a hand lift
from
being caught in the slough of Saiva religion, without getting hooked,
also
from the net of pure dreamy imagination that the Saankhyaas had cast,
avoiding also the entanglement in the contrivance laid by the scheming
Chaarvaaka and finally when Brahman was almost about to fall into the
trap-mouth of Advaitins, the deceitful misguides"

Elaboration: (as heard from the lovely sweet mellifluous voice of


asmadhAchAryan His Holiness Srimath PaRavaakkOttai Andavan of Sri
Poundareekapuram Andavan Ashramam, Srirangam in his seven cassette
upanyasam
on Yathiraja Sapthathi): [Please forgive me for my free translation]

The Lord (Brahmam) had started to look for the most accurate religion
of
philosophy and commenced His journey. On the way, He saw lots of muddy
waters (i.e. Saivism sect, with various "odd" formalities and worships)
and
sensed danger of getting trapped. He avoided by going away from the
track;
but still, He was pulled by the current of the muddy waters (sERu) and
He
somehow managed to hold on to a nearby stick, saving Himself.

The Lord further proceeded and was caught in the deep, dense bushes
with no
trace of way anywhere (Saankhyaas); He managed to get out of it somehow
(getting lost here and there). He could escape similarly from the
clasps of
Chaarvaakam too!

Then, when He further proceeded, He saw an excellent philosophy that


follows
Vedas! Brahmam was quite excited! YES! There's at least one religion
that
refers and interprets Vedas! It shall be the right one! Let me get in!

Alas! He fell down into the deep well with absolutely no water inside,
full
of bushes and thorns inside the well. The well was not at all visible
from
outside. There was huge covering of the well with leaves and flowers
(Vedic
48

statements and their (mis) interpretations). Brahmam was hooked like


anyone
else thinking that it is following Vedas! And He is deep down! No way
to
escape!

Brahmam has now realized that at least other religions do not refer at
all
to Vedas and thus He could sense the danger. Here he has been
completely
swept by the outside sugarcoated logic covered by (wrong) arguments
/logic.

Sri Ramanuja heard the Brahmam's lament and moans. He sensed something
wrong. He spotted the danger. He saw the covers and traps, and also
comprehended what could have taken place! He could understand that even
Brahmam was trapped by the misinterpretations of advaitam.

AchAryA, holding strongly and using his interpretations to Vedas, (with


no
ambiguities/ contradictions, in full accordance with BhOdhAyana's
commentary
for Brahma soothram,) as a support for himself, removed all the covers
and
bushes that hide the well, saw clearly the pitfalls- lent a hand to
Brahmam
and lifted Him out of danger. (Here, it should be noted that the one
who
lifts the other from the deep well, should be strong enough and even
stronger than the one who is in danger. He should know of his capacity
that
he would be able to get the other One out of danger without himself
falling
into the well!

OUR SRI RAMANUJACHARYA, thus has emerged victorious and is stronger!


Powerful! He lifted the Brahmam out of danger! So great are His Sri
sookthis! (which AchAryA used as his support for himself)

(True! The Lord was claimed to be having no form, no guNam, no body;


the
world is false, the jIvan is false were all the statements as per
advaitham,
referring a portion of Vedic statements ignoring other Vedic statements
completely, and understanding wrongly! It was Sri Ramanuja's
VisishtAdvaitha
siddhaantham that gave the true picture of what is Truth of the Lord!
Without ignoring any statement, without contradicting any statement,
encompassing all Vedic truths, AchArya saarva bhouman clearly and
unambiguously established the Brahman and His KalyANA guNAs, His
SarIram
(i.e. the jIvan and Prakriti)). Thus, he established Brahman's identity
and
saved His existence even!

However, for Amudhanaar there is nothing more pleasurable than


immersing in
49

the overflowing kalyaaNa gunaas of emperumaanaar. Verse 84 of


Iraamaanusa
nooRRanthAthi:

kaNdukoN dEnem iraamaa NnusanRannai kaaNdalumE


thoNdukoN dEn_avan thodtar_poR RaaLil_en thollai ven^n^Oy
viNdukoN dEn_avan seerveLLa vaariyai vaaymaduththin
RuNdukoN dEn,innam uRRana Othil ulappillaiyE.

Now that I have seen my Ramanuja- what a sight it is indeed, it makes


me
seek to serve the golden feet of his devotees; Now that I have taken
just a
sip from this ocean of auspicious qualities and all my past karmaas are
destroyed. There is no end if I start to say more.

The Lord Remembers

People have long memories. We tend to remember words of insult decades after they
were uttered. A friend's refusal or even reluctance to help at a crucial moment rankles in
our memory as long as we live. An injustice, real or imaginary, meted out to us, continues
to simmer in our heart forever. Denial of due recognition in our official or personal lives
results in persisting dissatisfaction and demoralization, which at times endures even after
the grievance has been redressed.

Paradoxically, our memory for favours received is deplorably short. When our elderly
parents are dependant on us physically and financially, some of us forget the Herculean
struggles they had undergone for bringing us up and ensuring that we have a sound start
in life. Timely assistance extended to us at critical periods is forgotten, once the crisis
passes. Even the Lord is not excluded from the ambit of our oversight-we pray to Him
sincerely for this and that, offering to do something or the other for Him in return.
However, once we get what we want, we conveniently forget our part of the bargain.
Thus, ironically, our memory retains all the wrong sort of things, but relinquishes with
alacrity matters it ought to retain.

The Ramavatara, which is model of how a human being ought to conduct himself
towards everyone he encounters, has a lesson for us in this regard too. Sri Rama, who
was a repository of all auspicious attributes, is reported to have forgotten in a jiffy all bad
turns done to Him, however grave and numerous they were, while being eternally pleased
by even a small favour somebody did in the distant past. Here is Sri Valmiki's beautiful
sloka-
50

"katanchit upakArENa kritEna EkEna tushyati

na smarati apakArANAm satamapi Atmavattaya"

TheLord's magnificent habit of remembering with everlasting gratitude even an


insignificant good turn done in the distant past, is known as "Kritagyatvam". This divine
attribute is of extreme importance to us mortals. The Lord is reported to store it away in
His memory, each time we utter His haloed name or even the name a divyadesam. And
He never forgets any such meritorious action of ours, however inconsiderable it is. It is
these positive records that prompt Him to lead us in due time to an Acharya and through
him, to liberation. We are extremely fortunate that we have a Lord with a prodigious
memory for the right sort of things, for we shudder to think where we would be, if He
remembered only our sins and functioned only as an Avenging Angel.

Hence Emperuman is "Kritagya:", one who remembers our good deeds. This attribute,
due to its singular significance, comes in for generous accolades at the hands of various
Acharyas. We have for instance Sri Alavandar praising this in his Stotraratnam-

"KritI Kritagya: tvamasi svabhAvata: samasta kalyANa guNa amrutOdadhi:"

Sri Alavandar points out that this attribute of Gratitude is natural to Emperuman and not
something acquired with effort-"svabhAvata: Kritagya:asi".

The mere utterance of His name by a devotee makes His heart brim over with
indebtedness, says the Lord Himself in Sri Mahabharata-

"Govinda! iti yat Akrandat KrishNA mAm doora vAsinam

RINam pravruddham iva mE hridayAt na apasarpati"

The distressed Droupati's cry of "Govinda, PundarIkAksha, raksha mAm sharanAgatAm"


enters the heart of the Lord located thousands of miles away, and its intensity multiplies
by the moment, like an unsatisfied debt contracted at usurious rates of interest. This
51

makes the Lord restless to rush to her aid, boring into His heart. This is the effect the
utterance of a single nama with devotion can cause, and attests to the Lord's sense of
indebtedness (Kritagyatvam) to His votaries who utter His tirunAmam, even by accident.

We all know the story of AjAmila, who was snatched away by the Lord's acolytes from
those of Yamadharmaraja, all for having uttered the name "Narayana" at the time of
shedding his mortal coils. The point to note here is that AjAmila was calling to his own
son Narayana and not to the Paramatma, while speaking the name. Still, the Lord utilized
the unintentionally acquired merit as a means to save Ajamila from the fires of hell.

Addressing the Lord of TiruppEr nagar, Sri Nammazhwar poses a very pertinent question
-" You have pervaded me now, seeking to liberate me and take me to Paramapadam: but
why did You not bother at all about me all these millions of years, when I continued to
wallow in the misery of samsara? In short, why save me only now, and not earlier? For, I
do not remember to have done anything to merit Your special attention now!"

"indru ennai poruLAkki tannai ennuL vaitthAn

andru ennai puram pOga puNartthadu en seivAn?"

When Emperuman doesn't reply, Azhwar racks his brains for something he must have
done, which has made the difference between the Lord's earlier attitude of indifference
and the current one of infatuation. Then it strikes him that he has indeed done something
to merit the Lord's undying attentions-he has uttered the haloed name of the Lord's abode,
viz., ThirumAlirumsOlai.

"ThirumAlirumsOlai endrEn, enna ThirumAl vandu en nenju niraya pugundAn",


acknowledges Azhwar, realizing that the Lord felt so much in the Azhwar's debt, merely
for Azhwar having uttered the name of a divyadesam, that He decided to do what He had
not done for ages-liberate Azhwar from samsara and take Him to Paramapadam. This is
another instance of the Lord being a Kritagya. The Lord remembers such small things,
keeps them in His broad mind and rushes to our rescue at the appropriate juncture.

The Lord Himself declares that He has an exceptional memory for the good that we do.
He assures Sri Bhoomidevi in Varaha Puranam, that all that a devotee has to do is to
surrender to Him, when in full possession of his faculties. At the moment of death, even
52

if the devotee were to lie unconscious and senseless as a stone, the Lord with the long
memory remembers what the devotee did when he was well, takes the person under His
wings and bestows on Him the best of all worlds, viz., Paramapadam. "aham smarAmi
mad bhaktam", assures the Lord, telling us that not a single good turn we do Him (!) is
forgotten.

Sri Periazhwar and Sri Kulasekharaperumal bank on the Lord's prodigious memory, when
they apply well in advance for His attentions, confident that they would be in no state to
think or act cogently when the spirit is about to leave the body-"appouzhudaikku
ippoozhudE solli vaitthEn" says Sri Periazhwar, while Sri Kulasekharazhwar concurs, "
Krishna! Tvadeeya pada pankaja pancharAntam adyaiva mE visatu mAnasa rAjahamsa:"

Just as the King is pleased by the mere offer of a lime fruit (given him by visitors as a
token of their respect and affection), the Lord too is floored by our mere utterance of His
tirunAmam or that of a divyadesam. If we take Him a flower, a fruit or even plain water,
He is pleased beyond measure and gives us everything we aspire for, even the coveted
MOksha itself. Did He not endow the penniless KuchEla with immeasurable riches, in
return for just a handful of "aval" offered with love? Did He not afford unlettered Sabhari
a passage to the same worlds as attained by her erudite Acharyas, pleased with a few wild
fruits offered by Her with affection? Did He not liberate even DhadhibhAndan's clay pot,
in return for paltry favours? Did He not, as a toddler, give away His gems and jewelry, all
as price for His favourite "nAga pazham"?

All these are but a few instances of how great a virtue His memory for our good deeds is.
Clearly, this "KritagyatA" is perhaps the greatest of Emperuman's attributes and the one
that is the most significant for samsAris like us. We should perhaps pay obeisance to this
virtue first, before worshipping the Lord. Alas, I am not endowed with the magnificent
poetical prowess of Swami Desikan-had I been blessed with even one-millionth part of it,
I would have composed a "KritagyatA satakam", as a counter to Swami Desikan's Daya
Satakam.

Bhagavat KritagyatAyai nama


The Lord Remembers Not

We saw how the Lord has a prodigious memory for our good deeds, "KritagyatA' being
one of His principal attributes. However, this, by itself, is not enough. If the Lord were to
53

be an extremely fair person, guided solely by the rulebook, meting out rewards for the
merits we accumulate and commensurate retribution for our transgressions, we would be
nowhere. Many of us commit lapses, knowingly and otherwise, all through our lifetime,
and in life after endless life. If the Lord were to cumulate all the sins we commit and
insist on exemplary punishment, we would forever be wallowing in the mundane morass.
As Swami Desikan remarks, if the Lord is the repository of all auspicious attributes, we
too are no less in stature- we are Titans in Transgression ("aparAdha ChakravartthI").
This being so, we are able to commit in a trice grave and innumerable sins, which would
take the Lord years to process and pardon.

Thus, given our predilection for PApam, the Lord can never lay down His instruments of
reprisal, if He were to act as an Avenging Angel. It would however be an impossible task,
even for the omnipotent Lord, to keep count of and mete out just punishment for each and
every one of our misdeeds. Perhaps it is this factor, which forces Him to adopt a forgiving
attitude.

Recalling Sri Rama's goodness, Sri Valmiki remarks that even if a person were to do Him
a hundred bad turns, the Prince of Ayodhya never remembered them. There are those who
tolerate insults and refrain from punitive reprisals, but even they would definitely harbour
some misgiving or other against the offender. Sri Raghava was not only unmoved by
offences against Himself, however grave and numerous they were, but also promptly
forgot about them, says Sri Valmiki-

"na smarati apakArANAm satamapi AtmavattayA".

When we analyse the true purport of the term "Atmavatthaya"(which is ascribed as the
reason for the Lord readily forgetting all our wrongdoings), we arrive at the conclusion
that it refers to the beneficial presence of Piratti. "ardhO vA Esha Atmana: Yat patnI" says
the Shruti, giving the Better Half a significant stature in the scheme of things, and
Emperuman appears to be no exception to the Universal Law. Thus, even though the Lord
might, by nature, be inclined to be just and expect us to reap the fruits of our misdeeds,
His justice is liberally tempered with Mercy, due to the constant presence of His Consort.

According to the Maharshi, Sri Rama took cognizance of transgressions, but never
remembered them. Swami Desikan, going a step further, avers that the Lord never even
recognizes the offences as such, turning a blind eye to them-"Bhakta dOshEshu
adarsanam". Lest anyone misconstrue this to be the result of the Lord's own loving
nature, Swami Desikan hastens to add that it is due to the seductive glances of Sri
NeeLA. dEvi that the Lord is prevented from casting even a cursory glance at the
offences of His devotees-
54

"nisAmayatu mAm NeelA yat bhOga patalai: dhruvam

BhAvitam SrinivAsasya bhakta dOshEshu adarsanam"

That the Lord falls heavily for the charms of His Consorts is borne out by Sri
Nammazhwar's sreesookti,

"alli malar magaL bhOga mayakkugal Agiyum nirkum ammAn"

Thus Sridevi, Bhoodevi and Neeladevi keep the Lord entangled in their romantic web,
such that He is able to neither take cognizance of our misdeeds nor award appropriate
punishment.

"Isvaranai azhagAlE tirutthum" says Sri Pillai Lokacharya, confirming that the Divine
Consorts use their boundless beauty as a tool of blackmail, to ensure that the Lord never
lifts a punitive finger against any devotee for his misdemeanours. Sri Manavala Mamuni's
beautiful lines of elaboration in this regard are as follows:

"Unakku paNi andrO idu, endru upadEsatthai udari taLLinavArE, kaNNai purattudal,
kacchayai negizhtthudal seydu, tan azhagAlE avanai picchEttri, tAn sonnapadi seidu
alladu nirka mAttAdapadi paNNi angeekAra unmukhan Akkugai"

Piratti tells the Lord that there is none in the world who doesn't commit mistakes and that
as the Divine Father, it is the Lord's duty to forgive and forget, irrespective of the
graveness of the offence. If the Lord is not inclined to listen, either due to the offence
being deadly serious or because the offender is a habitual one, Piratti throws Him a
glance filled with love, and exercising all Her feminine guile, makes Him so enamoured
with Her that He is ready to do Her bidding in the matter of absolution for the sinner.

We now know where our better halves inherit their persuasive skills from, especially
when they are intent on committing us to a course of action which we would never even
contemplate adopting. Ladies' powers of persuasion are such that their male counterparts,
who usually start with a firm "No!" to the proposal, tone it down to "You know that this is
not possible at this juncture" five minutes later, and further to "let me see. I am not
committing myself.". After another ten minutes of listening, the man usually surrenders
honourably, with "Oh well! Have it your own way." Even the most resolute of men has no
reply to the ultimate weapon in women's armoury, viz, tears. If men are pig-headed
enough not to listen to the feminine voice of reason, then tears come into the arena,
usually enforcing a meek surrender. The Lord too is no exception to this Universal Law,
55

and ends up doing what the Lady of the house desires. After all, He, like most of us,
simply carries out His Lady's wishes-"tad ingita parAdhIna:" says Sri Koorattazhwan.
And when it is His Consort's desire that devotees' misdeeds should not be taken
cognizance of, the Lord says "TathAstu" and turns a blind eye to them.

There are thus several reasons for the Lord's short memory, as for as His bhaktAs'
offences are concerned.

1. By nature, the Lord Himself is infinitely merciful. He is a "KaruNA varuNAlayam", a


veritable ocean of Mercy, and a "KaruNA Kakutstttha:". This makes Him a lenient father
tolerantly forgiving the lapses of his beloved children. If someone were to carry tales to
Him about us, He would just turn a deaf ear, even in the impossible event of Piratti being
the complainant-"TamarayAL Agilum chidagu uraikkumEl, en adiyAr adu seyyAr,
seidAlum nandrE seidAr enbar pOlum"

2. Emperuman has the ever-merciful Mahalakshmi as His constant companion. Being the
Universal Mother, this Lady knows not what anger or punishment is-"nityam agyAta
nigrahAm". She is just incapable of being offended by anything we do, and would do all
that is in Her immense power to ensure that we come to no grief, interceding with Her
spouse on our behalf whenever necessary. "na kaschit na aparAdhyati" is Her oft-repeated
averment, reminding the Lord that He would find none except sinners in this world,
however hard He might search, and hence He should take a tolerant view of His bhaktAs'
misdemeanours.

3. Sri Bhoodevi, the Lord's other Consort, is the personification of tolerance-"Sarvam


SahA". Searching for an apt simile for the Lord's "porumai", Sri Valmiki ends up
comparing Him with His own Consort, unable to find a better repository of this
virtue-"KshamayA PrithivI sama:". Every day, She forgives us our innumerable
transgressions, but for which our burden of misdeeds would become unbearably heavy.

4. Sri NilA Devi is known for the exercise of Her feminine charms on the Lord, to ensure
that He forgives and forgets, and, better still, doesn't look our way at all when we commit
lapses-"bhAvitam SrinivAsasya bhakta dOshEshu adarsanam".
56

5. DayA Devi is another inseparable companion of the Lord, keeping in strict check His
other attributes like GnAnam, Shakti, Balam etc., which apprise Him of our offenses and
recommend just retribution. The magnificence of this Consort of the Lord should be
evident from the fact that Swami Desikan, who devoted mere thirty-odd slokas to Sridevi,
Bhoodevi and Kodai Nachiar, composed 108 brilliantly beautiful verses in praise of Daya
Devi.

6. If all else should fail, there are our merciful Acharyas, who are of our own ilk and
hence in a better position to appreciate our frailties and compulsions. They strongly
intercede with the Lord on our behalf and spare us from what would be one continuing
saga of punishment.

With all the aforesaid entities pleading to the Lord on our behalf, is it any wonder that the
Lord Remembers Not?

Srimate Sri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra
Mahadesikaya nama:

Dasan, sadagopan

Dear bhAgavatas,

Attached is a beautiful and powerful message from Sri U. Ve.


Velukkudi Krishnan Swami for our minds in this time of unrest.

adiyEn madhurakavi dAsan

--

Dear Bhaktas,

SrI nidhim nidhim apAram arthinAm arthithArtha paridAna dIkshitam


sarva bhUta suhrdam dayAnidhim dEvarAjam adhirAjam AsrayE

(Let my salutations be to Lord Devaraja whose unparalleled wealth


is Perundevi thayar, who Himself is the wealth of all the begging
jivatmas, who has resolved to grant all the needs of His bhaktas,
who is the well wisher of one and all and who is a treasure of
mercy.)

Swamy Koorathazhwan's invocatory verse of Sri Varadaraja stavam has


a lot to convey to us. It is all the more important in these days of
57

unrest. We need to pray together and individually for the safety and
well being of all our fellow citizens on Mother Earth. Srivaishnavism
and all the vedas accept that the whole universe is the divine body
of Sriman Narayana. All the residents of this earth, cutting across
countries, language, sex, community, caste , religion and above all
whether they are humans or flora or fauna, belong to one group -
Servants to the Lord. One attribute that is common to all of us is
SEshatva - absolute unconditional servitude to our Lord. This
jivatma's first and foremost identification is this SEshatva. Swamy
Ramanuja in his work, defines SEshatvam as (paragata atisaya AdAna
iccha...) i.e., a servant who is always wanting to add glory to his
Master. So let us try to add glory to the Lord.

Alas ! Adding glory to Him is impossible. If He is short of glory


I could add. But He is proclaimed as "avikArAya suddhAya nityAya
paramAtmanE, sadaika rUpa rUpaya vishnavE sarva jishnavE" .. (one
whose inherent nature,attributes and divine body is unchanged). I
would fail in my attempt to add any glory to Him as He is already
full with it. This failure pushes me to another problem. If I do
not serve him by glorifying him, I lose my status to be a SEsha.
This leads to the destruction of jivatmas' inherent nature.

Our preceptors have showed us the way to wriggle out of this


problem and retain our SEshatvam. He - is the embodiment of all
the sentient and non-sentient beings in this Universe. So SERVICE
TO FELLOW CITIZENS WOULD BE ADDING GLORY TO HIM. Service to
humanity would ultimately retain our SEshatvam. Now let us try
to serve humanity. But how?

WE can monetarily or physically help them in days of need. It is


misconceived that Srivaishnavas should help Srivaishnavas alone.
Are we accepting that Sriman Narayana is the Master of only
Srivaishnavas? Are the others not the divine body of the Lord?
Let us pack up these ideas and focus on serving everyone who is
in dire need. I will find some road blocks while implementing
this. You have access to known people to help them. Go ahead and
do your might. But how do we serve humanity at large? Seek the
help of someone who is close to all of them. That unique
personality is none other than Sriman Narayana. Whether others
agree to His Lordship or not, we agree to their servanthood. So
let us look upon Sriman Narayana to help everyone. He is the
one who can and who should give a helping hand.

This is why Swamy Koorathalwan calls upon us to collectively pray


to Him as He is the "sarva bhUta suhrt" (common well wisher).
Prayer is nothing but a call, a representation, a plea - not only
for me but for Him, for His well being. His well being would mean
the well being of this universe. So bhaktas, let us resolve from
today to pray together for the well being of our Lord and
humanity. This fetches many fruits in one throw. I retain my
SEshatvam, I have prayed for Him, I have prayed for everyone.
Lastly this prayer is nothing but a form of "dyAnam."

Swamy Ramanuja says that the first step to salvation is gnAnam -


knowledge about self and the Lord. (jivatma paramatma gnAnam).
But mere knowledge would make you grope in the darkness of
samsara. We need to focus this gnAnam on Paramatma which
58

transforms to dyAnam - meditation. Meditation can be in the


form of mantra japa, vigraha pUja etc. Mere meditation would
make us rigid and egoistic. One needs to refine it with love
and affection (snEham). Ramanuja says "dyAna arcana
pranAmadibhi: atyartha priya: tat prApti phala:" (the Lord is
pleased with meditation, pUja and surrender - His pleasure is
the means to salvation). He also defines bhakti as "snEha
pUrvam anu dyAnam bhakti:" - (meditation with love is known
as bhakti).

Swamy Nammazhwar says "eNNilum varum .. "(first centum tenth


decade of tiruvoimozhi). The Lord is waiting in the aisle to
come to our rescue - expecting us to think about Him. A humble
thought has the power to invoke Him.

I am sure you would all now appreciate the importance of dyAnam.


Is it just closing our eyes and thinking about our Lord. We
need to do more. We must enjoy his attributes, recollect his
divine actions during incarnations for our well being, plead
for His well being (mangalasanam / pallandu pallandu un sevadi
sevvi tirukkappu) and in turn ensure the well being of everyone.
Perialwar pleaded for the safety of His lotus feet which is the
embodiment of all bhaktas.

So make it a daily practise to establish an undisturbed stream


of focussed thoughts on Sriman Narayana. Pray to Him. Do not
plead for any mean fruits. Request for the well being of
everyone. All the other wealth would automatically be granted.
Once in a while, make this jointly in a satsang, then the
energy gets multiplied and you start feeling the synergy.

We can pray. We should pray. Will we pray?

SarvE janA: sukhinO bhavantu. Samasta san mangalAni santu.

The Twelve Alwars


In the Sri Vaishnavite tradition in their history of their lineage, they list some outstanding
devotees. There were twelve Alvars who appeared in South India. Not all at the same
time, but over a period of several centuries. They established the basis of the Krsna
bhakti cult in the Kali-yuga. The appearance of such great devotees in the Kali-yuga is
predicted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam was spoken at the beginning
of the Kali-yuga, and when Krsna left this planet then he took with Him dharma. The
Vedic dharma at that point disappeared, or became invalid, and spiritual knowledge was
also obscured. But it says in the same verse that Lord Krsna left the Srimad Bhagavatam
for the people in Kali-yuga to get light out of. Now still, the book Bhagavata was there
but they also needed the person Bhagavata, or one who lives the Srimad-Bhagavatam. In
other words, they needed the spiritual master. So in the initial stage of Kali-yuga, the
first few centuries, these twelve Alvars appeared in South India, and actually established
the basis of what would later on become the four Vaisnava sampradayas. The four
59

sampradayas all had their origin in South India, and the founders of these sampradayas
each in their own way drew, to a greater or lesser extent, from this tradition of the Alvars,
especially in the Laksmi sampradaya, but it is also there in our sampradaya too, and in the
others. The Radha Krsna cult is the further development of the devotional tendency of
loving God in close fellowship and in the spirit and relation of a woman to her husband
or lover. This tendency is striking in the Prabandham of the Alvars. Goda, the famous
woman Alvar, is said to have been married to the Deity Ranganath of the Sri Rangam
temple. Tondaredipodi Alvar (Bhaktanghri Renu in Sanskrit) expresses in his Tirup
Palliyeducci (Paramatmar Jagarana in Sanskrit) that to serve and love God one's spiritual
body is the summom bonum of one's service to God.

One of the Alvars was known as Bhaktisara. So he was living at Sri Rangam, and he was
living very very simply, like a babaji. So he would sit at Sri Rangam. Around the temple
are 7 walls, and between the walls are some areas like streets where people would walk
and live. So Bhaktisara would sit in that street area, or in the courtyard of the temple, and
he would sit in the sun and sew his cloth. He wore old old cloth, and he would sew it and
maintain it until practically speaking it was unwearable, and only then he would he go
and find some new old cloth. And because he was purposely kept himself impoverished,
he used to sew it with a broom-straw, this would be his needle. And on the end of it he
would tie a thread. Then he would take his old torn garment and sew it. So he used to be
seen often, sitting somewhere in the Sri Rangam complex sewing his cloth. One day
Lord Siva and Parvati were flying over the sky just above the earth. By flying like this,
their shadow was cast upon the ground. So whe rever this shadow would fall, naturally
people became very enlivened in their material desires. But when the shadow fell on
Bhaktisara, they stopped and observed him. Bhaktisara was sewing, and then he looked
around and saw this shadow. He could understand that this shadow is inspiring one to
have material desires. So thinking, "This is inauspicious," he moved out of the shadow.
Parvati turned to Lord Siva and said, "What is this? Everyone else is so eager tha t we
may give benediction, that they rejoi ce if they catch sight of us or if our shadow falls on
them. But this person is moving out of the shadow. What does this mean?" Lord Siva
replied, "He is a great Visnu bhakta. We have no business with him. He doesn't need
anything from us." Parvati said, "No no no. Everyone wants something from us.
Everybody has material desires and wants them fulfilled. Let us go down there." So they
went down there, Parvati and Siva, and they appeared before Bhaktisara, who was just
sewing his cloth. So then Parvati, who was standing behind Lord Siva said, "Offer him
heaven." Lord Siva said, "My dear devotee of the Lord, we have come down before you
to give you a benediction, so I am offering you the svarga, the heavenly world. You may
go there." Bhaktisara didn't even look up, he just kept on sewing and ignored them. So
then Parvati said, "Offer him the post of Lord Brahma." Bhaktisara ignored this also, and
continued sewing his cloth. Parvati was becoming more and more agitated, so she said,
"Offer him a form just like yourself." So Lord Siva said, "So will you take a form or a
position just like mine?" Then Bhaktisara looked up and said, "You've already got
enough trouble." He was referring to the fact that although he was the great Lord Siva,
he was still being pushed around by Parvati. So then Parvati said, "He must ask
something from us. So just tell him to ask for a benediction." Lord Siva said, "All right,
if you don't want any of these things I am o ffering, then you pick something, because
60

you must take a benediction from us." So then Bhaktisara said, "Well, you give me
liberation from material existence." Lord Siva said, "That's one thing I can't give." Lord
Siva himself says mukti pradata sarvesam visnu eva na samsaya. One who wants mukti
has to approach Lord Visnu. So he was caught in an embarrassing situation when
Bhaktisara asked for that, something he could not give. "I'm sorry, but this is something
that I cannot g ive." Bhaktisara said, "Then what is the use? What is the use of you and
your benedictions?" Lord Siva said, "You must take something from us, because we have
come to offer you a benediction." "All right," Bhaktisara said. "While I sew, the thread is
always coming off the needle, because that is only a broomstraw. So you please make
some arrangement that this thread becomes attached to the back of the straw so I can
finish sewing my cloth." At this, Parvati became enraged. "He's insulting you! You can
give him the universe, and he's asking for such a minuscule thing. This is an insult. You
must do something." So then Lord Siva opened his third eye, and a tongue of flame came
out towards Bhaktisara. Bhaktisara saw this tongue of flame coming, so he pressed his
foot to the ground, and from where he pressed his foot an even greater flame came out,
devoured that flame from Lord Siva's eye, and started to pursue Lord Siva. Lord Siva
was running around Sri Rangam temple with this fire following him. So he went before
the deity of Ranganath and prayed, "My dear Lord, I have made a great mistake today by
offending your devotee. Please help me." So the Lord instantly conjured a Vaikuntha
cloud, and this was raining a kind of nectar. Because it was a Vaikuntha cloud, within a
very short time the whole area of Sri Rangam was totally flooded. In this way the fire of
Bhaktisara was extinguished, but the whole temple was covered, like a big lake. Then
suddenly Bhaktisara appeared on top of the lake, like a cork. He was just sitting on top of
the water still sewing his clot h. Very quickly the water subsided. Lord Siva appeared
before Bhaktisara and blessed him. He gave him this name. Bhakti means devotion, and
sara means essence. So this name means, "the essence of devotion." Lord Siva said,
"Your attitude and devotion to Lord Visnu is the essence of devotion, because even if
Lord Siva comes, you do not want anything from him, although all the materialists are
desiring." Another time there was a shuktihara, a magician flying through the sky on his
tiger. Bhaktisara was again sitting sewing his cloth. And then when he flew over
Bhaktisara, his tiger couldn't stay in the sky, it fell to the ground. He came down to earth,
and he was wondering, "What is this? Why can't we fly here?" And then he saw
Bhaktisara, and he could understand, "Oh, it must be by the influence of this saintly
person that my magic is rendered is null and void." The magician became pleased,
because he could understand "He is very very advanced. He is so pure that this kind of
mystic jugglery I am doing does not function in his presence." So being very pleased
with him, he wanted to reward him. He took from his shoulders a very very expensive
ornamental cloth that he was wearing. You can just imagine, he's a wizard so he's got to
be dressed really far out. It had gold sewn into it and diamonds and rubies and emeralds
all over it. So he took it off, and he presented it to Bhaktisara, "You please accept this."
As soon as the cloth touched Bhaktisara's hand, it was transformed into an old rag wit h
holes, the type which Bhaktisara was accustomed to wear. Something fit for Bhaktisara
to wear. And then Bhaktisara took his cloth that he had been wearing, and gave it to this
shuktihara, and as soon as the shuktihara took it, the cloth became like molten diamonds,
like a diamond jelly. It was very valuable, and the shuktihara was very pleased to receive
this.
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The fourth Alvar was called Goda. She was an incarnation of Bhu-Laksmi. One day
when Visnucitta was doing his gardening, he heard the cry of a baby from his tulasi
garden. He went in there and under the tulasi plant he found this baby. He took her and
brought her to his home. Up till now, Visnucitta was a naisthika brahmacari and a
babaji. He had no family life. And now there was this small baby, and it was a girl. So
he went around in the village and told the matajis, "Please come and take care of this
child." So they took care of the child. Since his service was gardening and he was
collecting many flowers, her service was making flower garlands. She used to make a
garland, give it to him, and he would take it to the deity. One day when he came back to
the house, he arrived a little early. Usually the garland was ready and was kept in a
basket and take, but today he came ten minutes earlier. And while coming, he just peeped
in through the window to see what was happening with the service, and he saw this
young girl standing in front of the mirror, and she was wearing the flower garland, and
she was smiling. So Visnucitta burst in the door. "What have you done?" he yelled.
"Great offence! This flower is for the enjoyment of Visnu, and you are a jiva, a living
entity. You should not take anything which is not enjoyed by him firsthand, and this has
made a great offence. Now you have become disqualified to do this service any more. I
won't take these garlands f rom you." So then he ran out on to the street, and he was
begging so many other people, "It's time for darsana, and I have to offer a flower
garland. Can you make something?" So then all of them sat together and made a nice
flower garland and he took it, and went into the temple. At the end of the puja he offered
it to the deity but it broke and fell off. Then he had to arrange for another garland to be
made. That also broke. One more was made and that broke too. Then he gave up. H e
laid down and he was crying, "What is happening? " So then the deity came in his dream
and told him, "I will only accept that garland which has already been worn by your
daughter, and other garlands I will not accept." So he went to his daughter and said, "You
please make a flower garland, wear it and then give it to me." Then she said, "But it is
bhoga! I am not supposed to wear it." Visnucitta said, "I am so confused. I don't know.
I have established Visnu as the Supreme Person, and n ow I don't know what this
philosophy is." So then she said, "I was only wearing it to see in the mirror how it will
look on the deity, because I am of the same height as the deity. I am making this garland,
it is thick in here, it is going thinner and thinner, and then there are two lotus flowers at
the end. So I wanted to see how it would look on the Lord's body. That was what I was
checking, but you said I have done offence. What can I do?" Then he said, "This is even
higher philosophy. You please do like this, give it to me and I will offer." This was going
on. And one day he called his daughter and said, "I was taking bath in the well, and I
overheard a neighbour say, 'This babaji has got a daughter from somewhere. She is
already of age and he is not thinking of her marriage.' So I have to get you married to
someone." So she said, "Don't mention human beings! They're ugly, they're not beautiful
people. Who will suit my beauty?" So then he said, "I will describe to you some
beautiful people." Then he gave a description of different deities. When he wa s
describing the beauty of Ranganatha in Sri Rangam she said, "I would marry this
person." So then he said, "Look my dear child, I was just joking. You cannot marry Him,
He is a deity." So she said, "If I can give Him a flower garland, what is the difficulty for
me in marrying Him?" He said, "That is because He is so merciful that somehow He is
accepting your service, because you were only checking that it was all right. But don't
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have this dream. This is against our philosophy, so don't think like th is." Then she said,
"Well if I can't marry Him I won't marry anyone." So the problem continued. And then
one day the priests of the temple came to Visnucitta and said, "We had an instruction in
our dream that from Sri Rangam the deity is sending His priest to carry your daughter
from here, and we are supposed to go, and you should also come because there is a
marriage and the muhurta is at such and such hour, on this day, in this city... " And then
Visnucitta said, "What happened to all of you? Now you are having a dream that she is
marrying the deity in Sri Rangam, and she has been saying this already. Don't tell this to
my daughter, she is already confused. And go away from here." Then they said, "Well
we came here to give you the instruction from the Lord." And somehow he drove them
away. Then he saw there was a big procession coming from Sri Rangam. Palanquins,
camaras, umbrellas, and they were all asking, "Who is Visnucitta? Where is he?" He
went up and said, "I am Visnucitta." They asked him, "Where is your daughter? She
should sit in this palanquin, and you should come. Marriage is coming close."
"Marriage? With whom?" asked Visnucitta. "With Ranganath deity," the priests
answered. "Deity getting married? Who ever heard of that? You're all priests, have you
ever heard of that?" They said, "We know that Ranganath is the Supreme Lord, and He is
saying this, so who are we to argue with Him, "You are a deity so You cannot get
married." We cannot do that. You only just established Him as the Absolute Truth, so
how can you make argument with Him?" "All right then," Visnucitta said. So Goda was
brought to Sri Rangam. On the way she dreamed the marriage, and she was composing
these poems which describe the marriage, and when she was singing these songs
Visnucitta was getting more and more confused. "She's seeing everything, how the
marriage of the Lord will happen." Finally when they arrived they went three times
around the compound wall of the temple, and as they entered she got down from the
palanquin, shook her cloth and cleaned herself. And they told her, "You go pay
obeisances to the Lord." So she walked to pay obeisances, and she kept on walking. So
then Visnucitta started screaming, "Wait! Stop there! You have to pay obeisances there!
No closer!" She kept on walking, and again he said, "Stop!" but still she kept going.
Visnucitta was half-fainting. Then she went inside. There was the coils of the snake on
whic h the Lord was sleeping. She stepped on it, and Visnucitta fainted. Someone was
trying to wake him up, and when he woke up again he saw that she had climbed on the
snake coil, and was sitting on the snake. She had her hands on the feet of Visnu, and she
was giving massage. He fainted again. The next time he woke up there was no Goda.
She had gone back to Godhead.

Kalidvamsa, or Nila, was one of the Alvars. His story is particularly relevant to us,
because his background was very, very fallen before he became a devotee of the Lord.
How he became a devotee is also very interesting. Kalidvamsa means "destroyer of the
influence of Kali." He was known by this name after he became a devotee. But
previously he was known as Nila which referred to his very dark complexion. He was
fifth class, mlleccha. He was of the Dravidan race, a South Indian race which can be
extremely black-skinned and such persons who are very black are considered to be low-
class. But he was also of very strong body, very tall and very muscular. He had learned
in his youth all the arts of fighting. Sword, spear, wrestling, boxing, he was extremely
formidable. And he gat hered around him a crew of particularly dangerous persons, who
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became like his gang. In those days, at the beginning of the Kali-yuga, mystical powers
were a lot more prominent. One of his mates had the ability to hide in his own shadow.
Another one had the ability to pick any kind of lock or defensive mechanism, and he
could do this very quickly. He had the ability to understand, just by looking, how the
mechanism worked, and by a few deft movements of the hand it would come apart. And
he could enter that place, steal whatever he wanted, and upon leaving he could
reassemble the lock so that no-one would know that someone had been there. The third
friend had the ability to silently kill anyone. By secret means, very silently, he could take
a person's life. So these were Nila's friends. They formed a very fearsome crew, and
people were very afraid of them. The king of that region decided that the best policy with
Nila was to employ him. So they engaged him as being the tax-collector for that district,
and he was very effective. No-one dared hold back when Nila and his boys came to
collect taxes for the government. Now, just outside that village where Nila was staying,
there was one bathing tank, one pond and this was a place that was very beautiful, very
special. So special that from time to time damsels from heaven would come down and
also bathe there. So one day one young girl, who had come down with some other ladies
from the heavenly planets, she was left there. One doctor from the village who was
walking by saw this very beautiful young girl. He could immediately understand, due to
her exquisitely beautiful features, that she wasn't from the region, and he asked, "Who are
you?" And she answered," I don't know." Apparently she had suffered some kind of
amnesia, and couldn't return to the heavenly planets. So the doctor asked the little girl to
come with him, and he took her home, and introduced her to his wife, who was
automatically very much taken by the little girl. She said, "Let us raise her as our
daughter." So they kept her at home, and since she was a young lady, she did not go out
of the house. If she wanted to go outside, she would just go up to the roof. That was the
system in those days, because unmarried girls should not mix with society. So one day
she was up on the roof, and Nila happened to come down the street, in front of the house,
on his way somewhere. One point about Nila was that he was very much engaged in
sense gratification, a very rowdy fellow, a boozer and a woman hunter. He was carousing
around on the street below, and when he happened to look up he saw this very beautiful
girl. Immediately he was smitten with love for her, and he knocked on the door of the
doctor's house. The doctor appeared at the door of the house and saw Nila standing there.
"Oh," he said, "what can I do for you?" Nila replied, "I have just seen your beautiful
daughter, and I want to ask her to be my wife." The doctor said, "W ell it's not really in
my power to give her to you as wife." Normally it's the father turning over the daughter
to the would-be husband, but the doctor said, "It's not really up to me, because actually
she's not my daughter. It appears to me that she's come from heaven. But you could ask
her yourself if she would like to become your wife." So he brought the girl down. Her
name was Kemuda, which means, "lotus." Nila proposed to her, "Let me take you as
wife." He began to describe some of his qualifications to the girl. "You see this fist?
This fist can punch and kill 500 people at once." Like this he was praising himself, and
she was giggling shyly to herself, and she said, "I'm not interested in such things. If you
want to marry me, you have to become a Vaisnava." Because Nila was so much taken by
the girl, he said, "Yes yes, no problem. I will become a Vaisnava." He had no idea of
what a Vaisnava was, he had no idea what the word meant, but he just knew vaguely that
a Vaisnava had something to do with the temple. He had never gone to the big temple tha
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t was in that area, he had never had any interest in it, but he'd heard this word Vaisnava
used in connection with the temple. Declaring he would immediately become a Vaisnava,
he ran off in the direction of the temple. He came in, and told the priest, the head
Brahmin, "I want to become a Vaisnava." The Brahmin said, "Ok, so you know that a
Vaisnava is completely surrendered to Lord Visnu." "Yes yes yes," Nila said. "You know
that a Vaisnava is only engaged in s ervice to Visnu and other Vaisnavas?" " Yeah yeah,
no problem," Nila replied. "Well all right," said the Brahmin. "You're sure you want to
be a Vaisnava?" "Of course," Nila said. So then the priest took the garland from the
deity and placed it around Nila's neck, and Nila came back very proudly to the doctor's
house, and showed Kemuda that he wearing the garland from the deity. "Now I am a
Vaisnava," he said. But she said, "It is not enough just to officially be a Vaisnava.You
have to act like one. If you want to marry me, then for one year you have to feed 1000
Vaisnavas every day, wash their feet, and drink the water." "All right," he said. So then
he went and got his mates. "Got a job for you," he said. "Oh great! What is it?" they
said, rubbing their hands in anticipation. And then he explained, "Each day for the next
year I want you to go out and fetch 1000 Vaisnavas, bring them here, and then we'll feed
them. Then you should wash their feet and bring the water to me so I can drink it." His
mates looked at him and said, "Are y ou feeling all right." Nila said, "Well look, if you
don't get into this right now then you're not going to be feeling all right." So then, just as
they were accustomed to do any other job, they did this job in the same fashion. They
went running out onto the street armed with many weapons, and whenever they saw a
Vaisnava they would immediately grab him by the scruff of his neck, and herd him into
Nila's place, shouting, "Come on, let's go! Move it!" And these Vaisnavas would be
sayin g, "What's happen ing?" "Now sit down there in a line," Nila's boys would say.
And then they would come with the pots and slap the prasadam down in front of them.
"Eat!" The Vaisnavas would nervously take prasadam. "Eat more!" They would make
sure all the Vaisnavas were filled up. And then they would come with foot washing
paraphernalia. "Stick out your foot!" And then they would bring a big barrel of
charanamrta to Nila, and he would scull it like a tankard. Pour it down his throat, wipe his
mouth with the back of his hand and throw the barrel. So gradually by performing this
service he began to transform. Actually, saintly qualities began to manifest in his person.
And furthermore, he became very attached to this service to the Vaisnavas. In the end he
did marry Kemuda, but that was no longer his motivation for doing the service, he just
liked to do it. He found it very sweet and enlivening. He became so enthusiastic fo
making arrangements for feeding 1000 Vaisnavas every day. You can just imagine his
service was naturally increasing. The feast was becoming more and more opulent, the
foot bathing ceremony became more and more opulent. In this way he was liberally
spending money, until eventually he was out of cash, and he still hadn't completed his
years service. In any case, he had no intention to stop after a year now. He just wanted
to go on and on. So what to do, he had no more money with which to arrange for the
feasts. But he had recently gathered together tax revenue to give to the king, and that w
as still at his place, a huge sum of money. So he just started to spend that and continued
on with his service. Now, meanwhile the king was expecting the tax money to be brought
to his treasury house and it wasn't coming. So he was asking his ministers, "What's going
on? Why hasn't Nila brought the money?" And then one minister said, "Well we have
heard that this Nila is daily putting on huge feasts for the Vaisnavas, and it's becoming
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quite an opulent affair. M aybe that's where the money's going." The king was
flabbergasted. "What?" And he immediately called for his commander-in-chief
(senapati) the great general of his army, and with some soldiers, the commander-in-chief
went to Nila's village to investigate and if necessary arrest Nila, and recover whatever tax
money had not yet been wasted. So the commander-in-chief came and challenged Nila,
announcing the purpose of his arrival. "I have come to investigate your doings," and he
started to become very official with him. So one thing led to anot her, and there was a
big fight, in which Nila soundly trounced the commander-in-chief and his soldiers.
Because he was now, so to speak, a saintly person, he did not kill them but he gave them
a severe beating. And he told the commander-in-chief as he was running off, "You can
tell your king to come here personally if he likes, and I'll pay him the same tax as I paid
you.!" So the commander-in-chief reported this to the king, and the king very angrily
amassed his whole army and marched on that village. Nila met them in battle, and
defeated the whole army. At the end of the battle Nila was standing on the king's chest,
and the king was laying out on the battlefield. Nila was on his chest looking down at him
saying, "That tax money I took, that was a loan, right?" And the king said, "Right!" But
the king's ministers were there, his Brahmins, and they began to address Nila. "Certainly
you are very powerful. you can defeat the king and his whole army. But that doesn't
make what you are doing right. You have taken funds that were meant for the king's use,
and the king's property is sacred. It is not to be violated by anyone for any purpose. So
because you have done this you have broken the law and you must be punished." So
when the Brahmins were speaking to him in that way, because he had become purified he
surrendered to them. "OK, if I have done wrong then I must be punished. What sort of
punishment should I receive?" The Brahmins said, "You should go in the jail." Nila
submitted. Although b y f orce of arms he could not be captured, simply by logical
argument and sastric evidence he surrendered. So he entered the prison of the king, but
there of course he could no longer perform his service, so he became very, very unhappy
and he prayed to Lord Visnu, "I just want to serve you. I don't see how I can do it here in
jail." So Visnu appeared to him and told him, "You meet with the king and get him to
transport you to Kancipuram, and at the direction of Varadaraja you will find treasure,
and this treasure will be so much that you will be able to pay the king what you owe him,
and use the rest for your service." So then Nila spoke to the king, he got the king's
audience and explained the situation. The king sent him under guard to Kancipuram, and
somehow the deity guided him to a particular spot and when he dug he found a great
mass of treasure. So he brought that back to the king and offered to give what he owed
him, but the king was so amazed that Lord Visnu Himself had shown Nila where the
treasure was, that he said, "Who am I to stand in your way? If Lord Visnu is talking to
you directly, then you must be a great soul." And then he let him go. So then Nila
embarked on a new scheme. "There are so many rich vaisyas," he was saying to his
mates, "They've got so much money. I see them transporting their goods here and there
in caravans. And actually it's their duty to give donations to the service of the Vaisnavas,
but they are not doing this. And here we are, we're having to worry about how to fund
our project of serving the devotees, and these vaisyas are just going here and there, using
their wealth as the they like, so let us get it from them. We will stop these caravans on
lonely stretches of highway in the forest. We'll be nice, we'll ask them first of all if they
would like to give a donation, but if they don't then we'll simply take everything." So
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they began this new scheme, and of course attached vaisyas never give donations
willingly, so they always ended up having to tie them up and plunder the caravan, strip
everything, and that they were utilizing as their wealth for serving the vaisnavas. So one
night they were going to plunder , and down the road came a very big caravan of 30
bullock carts, and at the head of the caravan was a very wonderful looking young
merchant, and also his wife who was very beautiful, and they were dressed in all kinds of
opulent finery, jewellery and crowns. The bullock carts were also being driven by
servants who were equally opulent and wonderful in their appearance. So Nila stepped
out on the road and stopped the whole procession, and he saw the opulence of the
merchant and h is wife and their caravan, and he remarked, "Well my dear sir, you look to
be very very wealthy." And the merchant smiled and said, "Yes, actually all wealth is
mine." So Nila kind of laughed and turned to his mates, "Ha ha ha. We've really got a
live tonight.! Well if all wealth is yours then you won't mind parting with some of it."
And the merchant smiled and said, "Yes, but my wealth is only engaged in Vaisnava-
seva." So then they said, "Well that's very nice because I am a vaisnava. So I'm sure
you'll be happy to give me your wealth." The merchant smiled again and said` "Well, I
won't give you." "So you want to fight?" Nila asked. "No, you just take, said the
merchant. "You are free to take, but I am not going to give." "All right," said Nila, "Let's
go." So they tied them all up, as they normally did, and they stripped the bullock carts,
and not only that but they also took all the finery from the merchant and his wife and
their servants, all the jewe ls, everything. And the wife's foot, on her toe, there was on
ring with a valuable gem in it. So Nila was trying to personally pull this ring off her toe,
but it wouldn't come off. Finally he had to kneel down and bite the ring, to change it's
shape a little bit so it would slip off. And while he was doing that, his consciousness was
flooding with all sorts of wonderful ecstatic realizations. But he was so much absorbed
and determined to get this ring off that he really didn't take much note of it. And then he
finally pulled the ring off, and all the wealth was piled together, and he and his men were
going to carry it off, but they couldn't lift it. It was so heavy. So then he turned to the
merchant and said, "I think you must have some mantra by which you move your wealth
about, because obviously it is somehow charmed that it cannot be moved." And then the
merchant said, "Yes, there is a secret mantra." ""You'd better tell me," Nila demanded.
"All right, just come close," the merchant said. So then he whis pered in Nila's ear, "Om
namo narayanayah." And when Nila heard this mantra he realized that this merchant and
His wife were none other that Laksmi and Narayana, and he saw them in their original
forms. So then he fell down at Their lotus feet, but because he was so furiously engaged
in his devotional service, Nila quickly sprang up and said, "All right, look, we've gotta
go. We'll see you tomorrow, OK" And then They said, "All right, you come here
tomorrow. We can talk further." So then Nila ran off with the wealth, and continued with
his service. The next day he came back to that place in the forest, and Laksmi and
Narayana were there, and he worshipped Them. They were very pleased with him for his
service to the Vaisnavas, but he declared to Them, "I'm always having trouble getting
money to do this service, therefore I'm always having to plunder merchants, and I don't
know where all this is going to lead. So do you have any suggestion where I can get
wealth from?" And Lord Narayana said, "Well actually, there are so many Buddha
temples around, and Buddha is My avatar, but He only came to preach to the atheists.
However, these Buddha temples have become quite opulent. So I don't mind if you
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plunder these Buddhist temples." Nila was very happy. "Well actually I was thinking the
same thing myself. But if I get Your permission, then that's wonderful." "Yes, you have
my permission," the Lord said. So then, when his wealth again ran out, then Nila and his
monks went one night to a huge Buddhist monastery where 1000 monks were living.
And in that temple there was a huge reclining Buddha made out of solid gold. His men
were using their various mystic powers to get them into the temple. Nila was standing
guard just outside the temple door, and his men were in there at work, trying to dislodge
the deity and bring it out. So, while doing this they set off an alarm, and then the
Buddhists came tumbling out of their beds and rushing into the temple courtyard. They
were all armed, and all very expert at martial arts. So what ensued next was like
something from a kung-fu movie. All these Buddhist monks were jumping at Nila, and
he was kicking them back and fighting them off. And he was calling into the temple,
"Hey hurry up! Are you done in there?" But meanwhile his men were having difficulty,
because they found that the murti was charmed, so as soon as they touched it to remove
it, it started to spin, faster and faster like a helicopter propeller, from the middle point,
and a huge heavy golden idol spinning like that, they couldn't get close to it. So then they
were calling out to Nila, "We can't take this because it's spinning. It's charmed." So then
Nila, while he was fighting off these men, he called out, "Well, just pass urine!" So they
passed urine in there, and this broke the spell. The murti stopped, and they could
shoulder it. They were obviously very strong persons, and they ran out with it. Nila was
fighting with the Buddhists, and then they went running through the night with the
Buddhists pursuing them. Nila and his men went to Sri Rangam, a great Visnu temple.
There is a great wall around it like a fortress, and they closed the door so the Buddhists
couldn't enter. The Buddhists then went to the king and complained. The king was again
in a difficult situation having to deal with Nila, so he called Nila in and said, "Nila, we
have a little problem here. These Buddhists have accused you of stealing their murti. I'm
the king here, I have to keep everyone happy. So I'd really appreciate it if you could
return this murti." Some of t he Buddhist leaders were also standing there, looking at
Nila rather intensely. So Nila said, "Don't worry, don't worry. In two weeks I'll return
this murti to you, not less than a finger." Everyone was happy. "All right, we can wait
two weeks." So then two weeks came, and the Buddhists gathered at the meeting place
where Nila was to return the murti, but when they arrived they saw only Nila and his men
there, and no murti. They became a little nervous. "Well, where's our Buddha?" Nila
reached into his pocket and pulled out a finger, a golden finger. "Here it is," he said, "not
less than a finger." The Buddhists became very angry, and there was a big fight. Nila
defeated them and forced them to become Vaisnavas, forcibly converted them. And what
he had done with that golden murti is that he had melted it down and used it t o cover the
dome above Lord Ranganatha. Nowadays you can go to Sri Rangaksetra, and if you talk
to the right people you can go up to a look-out place on top of the temple and see this
very ornate solid gold dome, very huge. This was melted down from the Buddha murti
by Nila. In this way Nila became a very prominent Vaisnava of his time, and by force of
arms if necessary he drove out the influence of Kali-yuga in his area. Everyone had to
become a Vaisnava, he converted everyone. As he used to collect taxes, so wherever he
would go everyone wo uld become a Vaisnava immediately. And when there was a
festival at Sri Rangaksetra, they would take the deity in procession, and Nila would
march in front of the deity with his sword out, he would be looking from left to right at
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everyone. And when he was asked, "What are you doing? You look so fearsome with
your sword out, looking so scrutinizingly at everyone's face," and his answer would be,
"Yes. Any offender I see will be chopped." So it was a rather intense mood in those
festivals. He was the enforcer of Vaisnava-dharma. In spite of the influence of Kali-yuga
which is so powerful to sweep away all proper religious principles, this devotee Nila, in
South India, by the force of his devotion as well as the force of his strong arms and use of
weapons, he instituted Vaisnavism. By pleasing the Vaisnavas, he got the darsana of
Laksmi-Narayana. Actually this pastime when he was plundering their caravan, and in
particular taking the ring from the lotus toe of Laksmi, this is actually where the Laksmi
sampradaya started. Ramanuja later established the Laksmi sampradaya with siddhanta,
Vedantic conclusions, but the devotional line actually starts here with Nila taking the ring
from Laksmi's toe.

There is one incident which happened in Benares about 300 years ago. There was one
Brahmin who used to go take bath in Manikarnika-ghat, a very nice bathing place. So
one day when he was taking bath he saw a young boy sitting on the steps crying. He felt
very compassionate and he went and took the young boy on his lap and asked, "You look
so beautiful, a nice attractive young boy. Why are you crying like this?" "You look at my
back," the boy replied. So when the Brahmin lifted up the young boy's shirt and looked
at his back, he saw so many cuts and blood was running. The man was very angry, and
he asked, "Who did this to you?" The boy said, "I will show you. Come with me." The
man was all wet, he was halfway through taking bath, but he caught hold of the boy's
hand, and the boy was pulling him. They went through the streets and into the village of
Benares, through small alleys and lanes, and they came in front of one small house. The
boy said, "The man who lives in here, he' s the one who did it to me." And as the man
looked, he realized that it was his own house. When he looked back, the boy had gone.
So the Brahmin went inside his house, sat down and began to cry. So his wife came and
asked him, "What happened to you? Why are you crying? You are all wet." And he said,
"I saw this beautiful boy, he was so attractive, but he had cuts all over his back. And he
said that someone from this house did it to him. I don't know who did this. Why did he
say it was someone from this house?" His wife said, "Tomorrow you go to the same
place and maybe he will come again. This could be some god, some Devata." So the
next day he went, and he saw that the same boy was there, and he was still crying. He
went to him and said, "My dear child, you said that the person who did this came from
my house? What did you mean?" The boy replied, "You look in your Bhagavad-gita and
you will find out." And while saying that he disappeared. So the man retu rned to his
house, took out his Bhagavad-gita and began to s tudy it. He had been learning
Bhagavad-gita a few months before, and he had thought some verses were important, and
he was thinking that this place was connected with another place, so he was making
markings on the Bhagavad-gita. And while making the markings sometimes he would
underline something. So then he went to his guru. He told the whole story, and then
asked his teacher to explain what was happening. His guru told him, "My dear student,
how many times have I told you that this Bhagavad-gita is Krsna Himself. It is His own
energy. So why are you cutting and drawing and doing all this on the Bhagavad-gita
verses? In this way you have offended the Lord, and that is why He is teaching you this
lesson." The Brahmin said, "Oh, I am feeling very bad. I will never do this again." and
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he begged for forgiveness. The next day when he came to take bath he saw that the boy
was again sitting there, but he was smiling. He came to the bo y and fell at His feet,
saying, "Oh, I am very sorry I have done this . Although You are a small boy, you have
taught me a great lesson." So then the boy got up and said, "Yes, I am a very small boy,
but you must know that I spoke Bhagavad-gita, and that Gita is mine." And then the boy
disappeared. Soon the man left his study and everything, and according to the people's
conception he became a madman. He was always calling, "Krsna!" and running here and
there, and in this way he ended his life. Nobody knew what happened to him. The house
is still there. You can still see that house, and the book is still there, and you can see the
markings too.

In South-west India in the state known as Kerala, there is a famous Vaisnava temple
situated near the sea-coast. This Guru-vayur temple is very ancient. It was founded by
Lord Parasurama. There was one Brahmin living there, but he was not a Vaisnava. He
was tantric, he had mystic powers. But he was a good man, he used those powers for
helping others. He was also known as a great poet. So one day a relative came to him
with a very terrible disease, and although he had been practically everywhere, no-o ne
could give him help to cure this disease. The Bhattahari tried to treat the disease in every
way he knew, but nothing worked. So finally out of compassion, because he was a good
man, he took the disease upon himself, he transferred it. This much he could do. So in
this way the relative was cured, but now he had the problem. And he was thinking, "By
having this disease in myself I'll definitely be forced to deal with it and I'll arrive at some
kind of cure." But whatever he tried wo uld not work, so he was getting himself into
serious difficulty. He then went to one wise man, a great sage, and implored him, "I have
this disease. I have exhausted all means available to my knowledge how to cure it. So
what can I do?" This wise man replied with a mysterious answer, which the Bhattahari
did not understand. He said, "Start to enjoy from fish." The Bhattahari went away
perplexed, and he was sitting at home thinking, "What does this mean, start to enjoy from
fish?" So one of his friends came to visit. "Have you been to see this wise man?" He
asked. "Yes, have seen him," the Bhattahari replied. "Well, what did he say?" "He said,
'start to enjoy from fish.' I don't know what this means. If this means that I should eat
fish, that I will not do, because I am a Brahmin." His friend thought about it and said,
"No, I don't think he means that. I think he means that you should start to enjoy Krsna's
pastimes, starting with Matsya, th e fish incarnation." So the Bhattahari was thinking,
"Yes, this must be the meaning, but I am not a Vaisnava. I have no taste for this. How
will I do this?" In that state of mind he took rest, and the Lord of Guru-vayur, the deity
who is four-handed, appeared to him in a dream and told him, "I want you to write a nice
poetic composition of 100 verse, and in these 100 verses you describe and glorify these
10 avatars." So he awoke from that dream feeling very happy and ecstatic. The Lord
was personally giving him direction on how to 'start to enjoy from fi sh,' and his dou bts
were cleared away. So then he began his composition, but because he did not have
training as a devotee, he was still perplexed. He was referring to Srimad-Bhagavatam,
but still perplexity would sometimes arise in his mind. So he would go before the deity
in the temple and pray, "My dear Lord, I want to put in my poem exactly how You were
moving when You were fighting with the demon Hiranyakasipu in Your Nrsimha form,
and I cannot pick this up from reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, so how can I describe this ?"
70

The deity then revealed that form to his eyes only, and the Lord was moving in such a
way. The Brahmin was describing as he was seeing. He also wanted to know about
Krsna's breaking the pot and stealing the butter and yoghurt of the older gopis. "With
what were You breaking the pots?" the Bhattahari inquired. "Was it Your flute, or
something else?" So then the Lord showed Himself as Krsna holding a butter-churning
rod. "With this I was breakin g the pot." So he put that all in his poem, all these
specialized details. So the poem, which was called "Narayaniyam", was very beautiful,
and he recited this poem after he finished it before the deity in the temple. The result of
this recitation was that his disease immediately disappeared. And not only that, but the
poem was so pleasing that the temple Brahmins immediately requested, "You please
recite this poem daily, at the first darsana." So they gave him a place to sit, a special
asana, and he would recite there every morning. As a matter of fact, the poem was so
much appreciated that every morning before going to see the deity, the people would
gather in that place before his asana and listen to the recitation. It became the custom that
you could not go to see the deity unless you heard this poem glorifying the pastimes of
the Lord. Then only could one appreciate seeing the form of the Lord. This was the
idea. And at that time in the area of Kerala, there were three kings. Kerala was divided
into three kingdoms, and the Guru-vayur Mandir was the beloved Mandir of all three
kings. So they would come together to have darsana in the morning and they would also
be there to hear the Narayaniyam from the Bhattahari. In this way he became very
important, very much respected as a Vaisnava, and an authority on Krsna-lila.
Unfortunately he also became a little bit proud by this attention that everyone was
paying. There was one farmer named Pundaram, a simple farmer, but he was also a great
devotee of the Lord. So he wrote one book in glorification of the deity of the Guru-vayur
Mandir, and this book was called, in the Malayan language, "A Pot of Knowledge." He
was thinking after he wrote that book, "Let this glorification of the Lord of Guru-vayur
also become well-known. But since I am a simple farmer, not recognized by anyone as a
great scholar, if the Bhattahari himself would write an int roduction to my book then it
would be accepted." So thinking like that, Pundaram came to the Bhattahari, and very
humbly he respectfully approached the Bhattahari. "I very much appreciate your
Narayaniyam, you have very rightly become respected by everyone for you glorification
of the Lord. Now I have also written one book, so will you please read it? And could
you please just write some small introduction?" So the Bhattahari, thinking himself most
important, said, "What language hav e you written this book in?" because he noticed that
Pundaram was addressing him in Malayan, which is simply the local dialect of Kerala.
But in those days, any kind of learned, literary work would only be written in Sanskrit.
All over India that was the standard. Sanskrit was the language of literature, and
educated persons would speak in Sanskrit, whereas farmers and simple people would
speak in local dialects. This farmer Pundaram was speaking to Bhattahari in Malayan, so
he wanted to know, "What language have you written this book in?" A nd the farmer
replied, "In Malayan." "I won't read any book written in this language. You write it in
Sanskrit if you want me to read it. What are you asking?" Pundaram was crushed. He
was thinking, "I am lucky to know Malayan, let alone Sanskrit. This much I can write,"
and he went away feeling very disheartened. "How will I ever get this book rendered into
Sanskrit? It won't be possible. No-one will know it." So the next morning the Bhattahari
was seated on his asana, and the crowd was there, the kings were there. He was just
71

ready to let fly with his Narayaniyam, when one young brahmacari came in through the
entrance of the temple. The brahmacari just walked around the crowd of exalted
personalities, without even looking at the Bhattahari. He walked right up to the deity at
the front of the temple, paid his obeisances and then stood there and took darsana. He
then turned around and again wa lked past the c rowd towards the entrance to make his
way out. The Bhattahari was watching the whole thing, and then as he saw that the
brahmacari was just going to walk right out, he said, "Come here young man!" The
people all insisted that the young man come, so he came and stood before the Bhattahari.
The Bhattahari was giving him advice. "My dear young man," he said. "You are simply
a young brahmacari student. You should show respect for your elders, especially those
who have knowledge to give, and yet I see that you are just coming in this temple, you
are walking around such exalted personalities as even the three Kerala kings, and you're
going straight up to take darsana of the deity, which none of these personalities will do
without hearing me recite my poem. So what kind of behaviour is this?" The brahmacari
then said, "If I want to know about the pastimes of the Lord, I just go see Him, because
He is displaying them eternally. Why should I hear your mista ke-ridden poetry?" The
Bhattahari was shocked! "How can you say my poetry is mistake-ridden? Everyone
here, there are exalted Brahmins, there are learned court panditas, there are the kings
themselves here, and they're all praising my poetry as being the very cream of all poems.
And you're saying it's filled with mistakes! You, little fellow? Not even come out of the
Gurukula yet! So I imagine you are also competent to correct these mistakes, isn't it?"
And the brahmacari said, "Yes." "At least in this way, you will give my poetry a hearing.
So I will recite now. You listen, and if you find some mistake, you can say. Hm!" So the
brahmacari said, "Yes, all right." The Bhattahari began. He recited the first verse, and
everyone was completely silent. He was just ready to go on to the second verse when the
brahmacari spoke up. He pointed out five faults in the first verse, and actually they were
valid criticisms. Somehow or other no-one had noticed these five faults in the first verse,
but he pointed them out with such profound conclusive grammati cal analysis that no-one
could argue. "Well yes, actually he's right. Why didn't we see that?" So the Bhattahari
cleared his throat and then he began to recite the second verse. He was just about to go
on to the third, but the brahmacari pointed out ten faults in the second verse. Everyone
was starting to look at each other doubtfully. The Bhattahari was becoming nervous, but
he gritted his teeth and recited the third verse in which the boy pointed out fifteen f aults.
The fourth verse he pointed out twenty, the fifth verse twenty-five, and the Bhattahari did
not try to recite the sixth verse. He stopped there. The crowd was milling around and
talking to each other. "What is this? Every morning we're listening to this poem, but it's
so filled with mistakes. How can we be so foolish?" Then they just went to see the deity,
and the Bhattahari was just left there. The brahmacari just walked off. As the Bhattahari
was sitting there, he wa s stunned. "What has happened?" And then he felt the disease
coming back. Then he was really disturbed. "What is happening now?" And then he
went before the deity, and he was praying very earnestly, "My dear Lord, how is this
possible? My poem was praised by everyone, and now one young boy has found faults.
And this disease has come back. What does all this mean?" So then the deity spoke to
him. "Whose poem did you say that was?" The Bhattahari answered, "I guess I said it
was my poem." "This is your problem," said the Lord. "First of all, I told you to w rite
that poem, and secondly even when you could not do that, I had to show you Myself what
72

to put in that poem. So if I also come personally in the form of a young brahmacari and
criticize My own poem, is there any harm in that?" The Bhattahari then realized who the
brahmacari was, and he felt very ashamed. "Yes, my Lord. If You want to criticize Your
own poem, Your own poem, You can do that. It's a fact." "Only I can criticize My own
composition," the Lord said. "No-one else can do that." But the Bhattahari was still
confused. "But now this disease has come back. What is the cause of this?" The deity
replied, "Because you are an offender against Vaisnavas, My servants." "Who is that?"
the Bhattahari asked. "The farmer Pundaram. You have dealt with him most arrogantly."
The Bhattahari immediately felt very sorry, and the deity told him, "You go, and bring
him to the temple and have him read h is composition before Me. Just as you are doing
every morning, you have him do this. You arrange this." So the Bhattahari ran like a
flash, found Pundaram and fell at his feet. Pundaram was very surprised. "The
Bhattahari is falling at my feet? What is this?" "Please you come," said the Bhattahari.
"Bring your book, and recite it for the deity." So Pundaram was very happy. They came
to the temple, and Pundaram was going to recite when the other Brahmins, who were also
arrogant, th e pujaris who take care of the deity, they interfered. "Wait a minute, wait a
minute. We can't have some farmer coming in here and just spouting something off in the
presence if the deity." The Bhattahari said, "But the Lord Himself has told me that this
must be." "Well," said the Brahmins, "we won't argue with that, we know you. But this
person, what is his qualification? He must be trained. He cannot just start spewing forth
something. We must see that he is capable of reciting nicely ." So then they decided to
teach him the re citation of Visnu-sahasra-nama. This they were reciting daily for the
deity, this was the standard glorification for the deity in that temple. So they say him
down and began the recitation, and they were having him recite along. They reached the
word "Padmanabhamaram". Padmanabha means "lotus navel." And amaram means
"deathless". So in other words the eternal form of the Lord who has a lotus-like navel is
being praised by this particular name. But when Pundaram pronounced that name, he
muddled it tog ether. "Padmanamomaram." So by pronouncing it like that, other
meanings come out, but not the ones that are traditionally accepted. The Brahmins
immediately stopped the whole thing. "What are you saying? Padmanamomaram! This
is improper pronunciation. Do you know what this means? You are saying that the Lord
is the Lord of the dead, that He's the Lord of the trees or of the mortal human beings. This
is offensive! He is the Lord of Vaikuntha, He has nothing to do with the ignorant beings
of this world. This is very degrading to describe Krsna like this." In this way they were
chastising him. Suddenly the deity spoke aloud, and everyone stopped. "If I am not the
Lord of the dead, If I am not the Lord of the trees, If I am not the Lord of the mortal
human beings, then who is?" The Brahmins had nothing to say. So to this day, when you
visit the Guru-vayur Mandir, the Brahmins are still reciting Visnu-sahasra-nama. But
when they come to that name, they pronounce it as Pundaram pronounced it, because that
pleased the deity. This is an irregular pronunciation, but they also say
"Padmanamomaram", and they all look at the deity just to see that He is satisfied before
they go on. So this Guru-vayur murti, and also Sri Rangam, they came later on to those
places, although they were worshipped from the beginning of creation by Lord Brahma.
Lord Rama gave Bibishana (Vibishana) the deity of Lord Ranganath, and he was taking it
to Sri Lanka to install it there. This was after Ravana had been killed. But the deity,
when it reached that place now known as Trishi where Sri Rangam temple now is, it
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wouldn't go any further. They had to set the deity down and they coul dn't lift Him, so
they had to bu ild a temple right there. And similarly, this land known as Kerala, the sea
coast land where Guru-vayur Mandir is situated was all land that was recovered from the
ocean by Parasurama, after He killed all the ksatriyas. He wanted to go to a peaceful
place, and He wanted to give some land where the Brahmins could live and settle nicely
without disturbance. So He stood at the edge of the land, and He threw His axe Parasu
across the ocean, and as far as the axe went before it dropped into the ocean, this whole
region known as Kerala rose up. He established this deity, and He brought Brahmins
from other regions. Actually it is said that He brought the Brahmins from Bengal. Kerala
is also a very great Vaisnava place. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited these Visnu
temples.

Once there was a devotee called Vipra Narayana. This incident happened 190 years after
the beginning of Kali-yuga. He was a gardener at Sri Rangam, and he was totally
absorbed in gathering flowers and tulasi, making garlands for the deity. He was so
absorbed that his mind was fixed on seeing flowers and tulasi plants; he wouldn't see
anything else. Scientists say there are some living entities who, while looking for food,
tune out everything else apart from the particular thing that they feed. Similarly Vipra
Narayana had this quality. When he was out in the garden looking for tulasi manjaris or
flowers, that was all he could see. If there was a snake between one flower bush and
another flower bush, he would simply go from one bush to the next, look at the snake and
say, "No flowers." He was only interested in flowers. He was flowerive, not fruitive. In
that garden one day, there came a very beautiful prostitute named Devadevi, and her older
sister. This Devadevi was so expert in displaying feminine charms that even kings were
waiting in line to see her with their crowns in their hands. That was the rule she made,
that when kings came they should have no crowns on their head. She was so much in
demand, and of course she was very proud of her beauty and feminine qualities. She was
very expert in all the arts of singing and dancing and entertaining men. She was most
highly developed in all these things. And of course, she was confident that she was the
most beautiful woman in creation, and very proud of her ability to charm men. Devadevi
and her older sister were coming to meet the king. And on the way they came through
this Sri Rangam island, and they saw this beautiful island which was made by Vipra
Narayana. They wanted to take some rest in there. Vipra Narayana came by, picking
flowers and tulasi as usual. He was looking through the bushes selecting, and as he was
going through the bushes he came right up to Devadevi. He looked at her for an instant,
but it didn't register in his consciousness. The y were standing there with full ornaments
and everything on, and when Vipra Narayana saw them he simply said, "No flowers."
And then he just walked one and began to pick flowers from another bush. Devadevi was
somewhat offended by this. "Who is this man? What does he mean by saying 'no
flowers?' He is blind. He has no consciousness." Her sister, who was a little bit older
and wiser, said, "No no, he is Krsna Conscious. That is why he doesn't look at you. This
is Vipra Narayana. He is a great devotee, and we have no business with him. Don't get
involved with him." But Devadevi said, "No, no. I don't care. He may be devotee, he
may be whatever, but I tell you I will make him my slave in nine days." Her sister was
shocked that Devadevi would even think of pursuing such a saintly person, and she said,
"Well, if you want to finish your existence, then you can do it. But it will be a great
74

offence." Devadevi said, "You wait and see. On the ninth day from now, he will be at
my feet. Instead of chanting the name of Ranganath, he will chant my name. And
instead of crying for Ranganath, he will cry for me. And instead of plucking flowers he
will be plucking his sikha." The other girl left the place, not wanting to hear these
atrocities. So then Devadevi went up to Vipra Narayana, and she began to manifest all
different symptoms and postures of feminine attraction. But this had no effect on Vipra
Narayana at all. Again, it was like he just didn't see her or perceive her. She was trying
everything in the book, all the glances, all the different smiles and poses, but it just didn't
register in his consciousness.. "This is a real challenge," she thought, and just became
more enthusiastic. So she went away and dressed herself to look like a vairagini, a
woman who has renounced the world for spiritual life. She tied her hair, and put on very
simple cloth, kanthimala, tilaka and all the symptoms of a vaisnava. And then she came
back to the garden with a vina. She also learned that Vipra Narayana had written some
songs in praise of Lord Ranganath, so she learned these songs as she was very expert in
singing. So she sat in the garden playing the vina, and she was singing Vipra Narayana's
songs to Lord Ranganath. And also because of being very expert in all the feminine arts
she was also crying. She could make herself cry and her voice was quivering in
emotion. It was a very attractive presentation. So this Vipra Narayana couldn't help
noticing, because he was a dev otee. When he heard her singing his songs and when he
looked and saw her displaying symptoms of intense ecstasy and devotion to the Lord, he
became inclined to speak with her. He went over and said, "You are obviously a very
nice devotee of the Lord. What are you doing here?" And she said, "Oh, my position is
very unfortunate. You see, I am born in a family of prostitutes." In those days even the
prostitution was a family business, just like everything else in varnasrama, handed down
in the family. "I am born in a family of prostitutes, and in nine da ys I will have reached
the age where my mother will engage me in prostitution. But I have no interest in this. I
want to become Lord Ranganatha's devotee. So I am heartbroken that in nine days my
mother is going to come and make me into a prostitute. This is such a horrible fate. I
have come here just to take shelter of the devotees, maybe I will get the Lord's mercy
somehow or other." So Vipra Narayana said, "Yes, all right. I don't see that there's any
problem, you ca n stay here. You are a very nice singer, so go on singing these songs in
praise of Lord Ranganatha. When you're not singing you can make some garlands. You
can stay here as long as you like." She was very happy, and in this way they were
associating. Then one day, by the arrangement of the Lord, there was an intense
downpour, and she was just sitting in the garden singing. She used to just sing all day.
This was her service, and once in a while she used to make garlands. When it star ted to
rain, she just stayed in the garden and kept singing. Vipra Narayana was sitting in his
small kutir, out of the rain, but he began to feel guilty because there was this young girl
sitting out in the rain still singing, and this moved his heart. "Such a great devotee is she
that even in the downpour she continues to sing. She is a woman, she is outside in the
rain. What am I doing in my asrama?" So then, feeling guilty, he came out and invited
her, "You please go into my little hut and I will remain outside." She went inside the hut
and kept singing, and he was listening. And then suddenly she stopped singing. Vipra
Narayana was wondering, "What is happening now?" And next moment she was crying.
He thought, "Maybe there is a snake there! There may be some danger, so I will have to
go." So he went in the little hut. He found her and she was crying, weeping, unhappy,
75

putting on a good show. "What's wrong?" he asked. "In just a couple of days," she said,
"mother's going to come and take me away. She's found out that I'm here. Oh, my lot is
so unfortunate, I don't know what's going to happen." And then she began to cry again.
This is the way a woman cracks a man's heart. Vipra Narayana was feeling very sorry for
her, and then she was starting to shiver and sneeze to make out that she had caught a cold
in the rain, and he was feeling even more sorry for her. So then he gave her a change of
clothing, she was wearing his own clothes. And then, after that, she started to turn it on.
"Lo ok at our situation," she said. "Now we're together in your house, and I'm even
wearing your clothes. We're so close, we've become so intimate in our last few days
together, that you might as well take me as your wife. And if you do that, then my
mother can't take me away." Vipra Narayana thought a while, and then said, "Well, yes
all right. As far as I'm concerned, you're a very nice devotee and I like to be with you,
and if this will stop you from crying and feeling unhappy then we can get married." So
then they got married, and then in those few days she just completely roped him down,
took over his heart with all of her charms, and then on the ninth day she left and returned
to her mother's place to continue on being a prostitute. When Vipra Narayana found out
that Devadevi had left, he went mad. He had become her slave. He was beside himself
with all kinds of grief, and he was running around trying to find out where she lived, as
he wanted to see her. Now in the meantime, Lord Ranganatha seeing the condition of his
devo tee and knowing that if Vip ra Narayana goes to Devadevi that she's simply going to
reject him, and then who knows what will happen. There were five pots in front of Lord
Ranganatha for the worship. He took one pot from the middle, a gold pot, and he took
the form of a Brahmin and went to Devadevi's house. He said, "Vipra Narayana has sent
me. My name is Sundaraja." Sundaraja means, "King of beauty." "This is his payment,
so please accept him, and do him some service." So when Devadevi's moth er saw this
gold pot, her mouth opene d. And then some time later Vipra Narayana arrived. "Is
Devadevi here?" he asked. "Who are you?" the mother asked. "She's my wife," Vipra
Narayana said, and then the mother invited him into the house. "Please come in and sit
down. Yes, we received your gold pot." Then she went to get Devadevi. "There's a man,
one of your customers here to see you, Vipra Narayana." "That guy?" said Devadevi.
"He's just a sadhu. I only stayed with him to break h is renunciation, otherwise I have no
interest in him." The mother got on her case. "What do you mean? He sent over this
golden pot. The guy's loaded! Get out there and take care of him." So she went out, and
just because her mother wanted her to, she was putting on a whole act. "Oh, you're here!
Oh well I..." and he was happy. Now in the meantime the priests found out that one of
the pots was missing, and a big alarm was raised at Sri Rangam temple. The king was
brought into the mystery, and the king sent out his men, and just like nowadays when the
police go out to investigate a crime, they always go to a certain section of town where the
criminal types dwell, and that's also the place where the prostitutes are. They were doing
a house to house search there, and when they came to Devadevi's house, they saw the pot.
"How did you get this pot?" And then Devadevi, because she just wanted to get rid of
Vipra Narayana, said, "Oh, he stole it. This so-called sadhu was enjoying with me, and to
pay me off he stole this pot from the deity and sent it o ver here. So you can see the
character of this man who you think is so saintly." So in this way she was really trying to
get him in trouble, but Vipra Narayana was so respected that when they took him to see
the king, the king didn't believe it. Although the evidence was strong, they had found
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Vipra Narayana in the house (a very embarrassing situation) and the pot of the deity was
there, the king didn't believe that Vipra Narayana stole it. So the king went before Lord
Ranganatha and prayed. And Ranganath confirmed, "No, it wasn't Vipra Narayana. It
was me. I sent the gold pot to the house of the prostitute, because my devotee was
indebted to her, so I thought I'd pay off the debt and get him out of trouble. So if you
want to punish someone, you punish me. But you can't punish me, because it is my pot."
When all this was revealed to the king, he had a long talk with Vipra Narayana and
explained the real situation, what had been going on and what this woman had been doing
to him. And then he banished th is prostitute Devadevi from his kingdom. However,
somehow or other by this whole situation she had become reformed in her
consciousness. As soon as the cat was out of the bag and everything was exposed, then
she suddenly had a complete change of heart. She thought, "Well if I'm going to be
banished, then I might as well really take up the life of a renunciate devotee." So then
she made her obeisances to Vipra Narayana, he gave her some inst ructions and then she
went and never returned. So this is a sto ry that Srila Prabhupada mentions to illustrate
that a great devotee may have some accidental fall-down, but he should not be criticized,
because as Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita that such a sadhu remains engaged in his
devotional service, and he will very soon be rectified. So we should know that things
sometimes do happen, but not jump on it and wag out tongues, trying to create a big
scandal, because that will be sadhu-ninda, and will be detrimental to our spiritual life.

There was one king who was so sinful that his body became black. He didn't know what
to do. So he asked his pandita, "What should I do? I have become black. I don't llok
good any more." "It is because you are so sinful," the pandita said. "You have
committed so many sins." The king said, "Yes, but there must be some puja or something
that will make my problem go." The pandita said, "You worship Krsna, depend upon
Krsna and pray to Him, and you will become all right." The king said, "That I am doing ,
but could you do somthing else so that I can quickly get rid of this problem?" The
pandita said, "Yes, we can do it no problem. You make a golden form of male and
female, and I will do a yajna for 18 days. And then I will transform the sinful reactions to
those golden forms. You should then invite a brahmana to take charity, and if you can
find a brahamana who will take the charity, then he will suffer from the sinful reactions
and you will become pure. Because you are the administrator of the land, and you are
ruler of the country, so I can do this especially for you." The king said, "Yes, yes, please
do it." So they made these golden forms and yajna went on for 18 days. And when he
was doing his purnahoti then he took a teaspoon and touched the king's body, and he
touched the golden form with the teaspoon it became black. All the sinful reactions went
in there. So then the king got up and said, "I will give half of my kingdom to any
brahmana who will accept the charity." And immediately all th e brahmanas got up and
left that place, because they saw in fromt of them that the gold had become black, so who
wants to take that? If golden colour becomes tar black, then who will take that charity?
This was not Kali-yuga so in those days the brahmanas were still good. In Kali-yuga
they will take any charity. Then the king said, "Now what? The sinful reactions are in
the golden forms but nobody will take it." The pandita said, "We will wait for one or two
days. Somebody will take it." The news went around the whole city. Then one
brahmana came from another country. "What will I do with your country? You are the
77

king, and you are supposed to protect your citizens. Because you are in a responsible
position, I will help you out and take it. I don't want anything from you." So theh he
received the charity, and thet king poured water on his hand and gave it to him. As soon
as he touched those, two figures came out of the golden forms, one male and one female,
and they looked so ugly. They had cuts all over their bodies, and they looked like ghosts.
Then they began to chase this brahmana. The brahmana was running, and the king was
following behind the whole scene on his horse just to see what was happening. So as
soon as the brahmana came to a small lake, he just jumped in and stood waist-deep, and
he began to chant something. The king was watching, and he saw that from the syllables
that were pronounced in his mouth, four-handed Visnu murtis came out. Not one or two,
bu t they just kept coming with conch, club, disc, and lotus and they filled up the whole
area. They were guarding the lake. And when the ghosts came, some of the Visnu-dutas
looked at them and they immediately got burnt. And then the Visnu-dutas disappeared.
So when the man came out, the king went and touched his feet. He said, "I won't tell
anyone. You please give me this secret mantra that produces these four-handed forms."
But the brahmana said, "I don't know what that mantra is." "You don't know?" the king
said. "No," replied the brahmana, "because when I went to the gurukula, I was so stupid
that my gurukula principal kicked me out. He said, 'You are not fit to be in the gurukula.'
I didn't know what to do at all, so in this way I was just wandering and wandering. One
day I came to a tree, and there was a scholar there. This scholar said, 'Why are you
wasting your life like this? Why don't you learn a verse?' So I said, 'I don't have a brain.
I have no masala, so how can I learn verses?' He said, 'At least learn half a verse.' But I
said, 'I can't, Swamiji. I have no intelligence.' 'Don't worry,' he said, "I will teach you
half a verse. I will see that a fool will learn a verse from me so my education is good. So
you sit here and I will forcibly make you learn this verse. Chant like this, like that, say
like this..' He taught me like this, and I memorised half a verse. He then told me, 'You
go on chanting this only. You don't need anything else.' So I kept on chanting, chanting,
chanting . And one day w hile I was chanting, I found that there was a four-handed figure
in front of me. I thought, 'This is Bhagavan,' so I said, 'Oh Visnu, you have come so
quickly.' And he said, 'Oh no, I am a Visnu-duta.' I asked him, 'Where did you come
from?' 'From the syllables of the verse you were chanting.' I said, 'You came from the
syllables?' He said, 'Yes. If you look now, more are coming.' So I looked and I saw that
these people are coming out, and I was so excit ed. So then I looked at them and asked,
'What should I do? Now that I have this siddhi, what should I do?' They answered, 'Use
it for the welfare of people. Don't commercialize it.' 'Yes yes, I shall use it for the welfare
of people. And I will go and teach everyone.' In this way I have been traveling around,
and whenever I saw anyone in difficulty I chanted this verse and then the Visnu-dutas
came and solved all the problems." The king then asked, "What is that verse? Can you
please teach it to me?" The brahmana replied, "Yes, I can teach you. Sit here, and
exactly as I have learnt I will teach you. I was a fool and I learnt. You are intelligent, so
why should there be any difficulty for you to learn? So here is the verse: Man-mana
bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru." "You don't know the whole verse?" the
king asked. "No, that is the only part I know." So the king said, "If half a verse of Gita is
so good that it c an remove all my sinful reactions, what will happen if I learn the whole
Bhagavad-gita?" So he came back to his country, and when he got back he called his son
and brought him to the throne. "Now sit in this chair," he told his son.
78

The boy sat on the throne, and the king took his crown and put it on the boy's head. "Bye
bye," he said. "I'm going to learn Bhagavad-gita." So he went somewhere and found a
Vaisnava and said, "Please teach me Bhagavad-gita." "For what?" the guru asked.
"Because half a v erse of Gita can produce Visnu-dutas and solve people's problems. If I
know the whole Bhagavad-gita, I want to know what would happen." So then the guru
told him, "If you learn the whole Bhagavad-gita and it's purport, then there will be no
problem at all. You will go to Vaikuntha. You will reach Krsna's place." So in this way
the king learnt Bhagavad-gita. MORAL: These Bhagavad-gita verses are very powerful.
If one knows the meaning, that is more poweful. If one knows the conclusion, it is even
more powerful. And if one knows the goal of that conclusion, which is devotional
service, Bhakti, then how much more powerful is that?

There is the history of a devotee, I think his name was Govinda dasa, a disciple of a great
acarya who was living at Tirupati, Tirumala. Ramanujacarya went to see him and for one
year he learnt Ramayana from that acarya. One of his disciples was this very unusual
disciple. He would always do things that all the other devotees would criticize.
Whenever he made the bed of the guru, he would laydown on the bed first. In the shatsra
it is said that one should never lie on the bed of the guru. So the others would criticize
him, "What kind of a disciple is he, lying on his guru's bed?" Ramanuja heard about this
and in a humble way he went and asked, "Prabhu, people are saying you are lying on the
bed of the guru. I saw this myself. I just wondered. You know that it says in sastra you
could go to hell fior lying on the bed of the guru. Could you explain to me why you are
doing that?" And he said, "I want to give a nice soft bed to my guru. It should be of
proper firmness. How can I know it is proper unless I try it out? If I go to hell, and my
guiru is comfortable, I do not miund going to hell but let my guru be comfortable. That is
my concern." Ramanuja was surprised. "Oh! This is another level! He was not lying on
the bed for his own enjoyment, but he was thinking how the guru would be comfortable."
Oncwe he found that the same devotee putting his finger into a snake's mouth. The snake
was turning and making so many contortions and seemed to be suffering. So Ramanuja
wondered why he was torturing the snake. Later he asked, "You were putting your finger
in the mouth of that cobra. Looked like you were causing suffering, what was the
purpose?" He always asked as a questiuon. He did not chastise, he just asked. The
devotee said, "Oh, that poor snake swallowed some fruit, that stuck in the throat. It was
choking, so I put my finger in to take out the fruit and clear the throat of the snake. I
could not stand to see the poor animal's suffering." Then Ramanuja said, "Why did you
risk your life? It could have bitten you!" He said, "I could not stand to see it suffering."

There was a disciple of Ramanujacarya who was blinded by a Shaivite king. The king
wanted to kill Ramanujacarya, so he sent his soldiers to capture Ramanuja, but this
disciple came and warned him, "You take my grhasta white clothes and I will take your
clothes and will go to represent you. If there is any harm, it will come to me, not you.
You are more important for preaching the movement of Vaishnavism." So they
exchanged clothes, and Ramanuja, dressed in white, was smuggled out of the country to
the forest and mountains. The disciple was captured by the king's men who thought that
he was Ramanuja. They asked him top accept that Siva was the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, the ultimate. But he said that Siva gets his powers from Visnu. They said, "For
79

your inxolence of not accepting that the supreme destroyer Lord Siva as the greatest, we
will blind you." So they blinded that devotee and later the king suffered from some
disease and died. Within a short time, Ramanuija came back and found that devotee iun
the temple of Visnu kanchi (Varadaraja in Kanchipuram). He would regularly be
chanting before Varadaraja Krsna deity. His bhajans were so sweet that the Deity was
pleased and asked him, "Is there anything you want?" He said, "My Lord, please forgive
all those people who have tortured me." He kept doing his devotional service. Again the
Deity asked him, "You can have anything you want." He was such a great devotee that
the Deity would speak to him. Then he agfain asked for forgiveness for some other
devotees who at one time had done somthing against him. Then he went to see
Ramanujacarya. Of course the word got around that the Deity kept offering him to have
whatever he wanted, but he always kept asking things for other devotees, and he never
wanted anything for himself. Then Ramanuja said, "It is very nice you are begging for
everyone's forgiveness, but you have already given your body to the guru in his service.
Now your body is not complete, so it is not able to do the maximum service it could. So
if the Lord ever offers to give you anything you want again, you must say that some
property that you have given to your guru is not able to do all it's services to the guru
because it is incomplete. Therefore it could be completed again so that it could do proper
service. It will be useful in the service of the guru." Like this Ramanuja gave some
instructions. After that, the devotee sang his bhajan and the Deity again asked, "You can
have anything you like." Then he stood up and offered his prayers and said, "I have
given some property to my guru. That property is not complete. That is, my body which I
have given to my guru has lost it's eyesight. My guru's property may be restored to its full
capability of doing service for him.": After getting the advice from RAmanuja, he asked
in that mood. Otherwise he would never ask anything for himself. But now he
understood, "Okay, my body is also my guru's property." MORAL: This consciousness is
called nirmama, or "nothing is mine." (See Bhagavad-gita 3 .30 purport mayi sarvani
karmani) (unknown author)

***********************************************************************
*

Swami Desikan winds up the SAra nishkarsha adhikAram with the following
kArikA in Sanskrit-
“ShAkhAnAm upari stthitEna manunA moolEna labdha Atmaka:
sattA hEtu sakrit japEna sakalam kAlam dvayEna kshipan
VEdOttamsa vihAra sArathitayA gumbhEna visrambhita:
SAragyO yadi kaschit asti bhuvanE nAtha: sa yoothyasya na:”
This sloka expands the respective roles of the three mantras, their
impeccable origins and the immeasurable glory of one who masters their
purport.

The Moola Mantra or the ashtAksharam is to be found in the Atharva


80

ShikOpanishad and endows us with SEshatva gnAnam (reminding us of our


true
credentials as eternal servitors of the Lord). This wisdom makes us
“Born
Again” VaishnavAs, aware of our true stature and role. Sri Tirumazhisai
Piran says that one is really born only when one understands and
appreciates
the true purport of the ashtAsksharam- “andru nAn pirandilEn,
pirandapin
marandilEn”.

The Dvaya Mantra, having its origin in the Upanishad of the Katha
ShAkha, is
to be uttered, with full appreciation of the purport, just once during
the
performance of Prapatti. Thereafter, it is to be recited constantly to
ensure that the significant truths gained through the imbibing of these
mantras stays with us constantly, preventing any slip back to the bad
old
days, when we as good as didn’t exist-“asannEva sa bhavati”. This
mantra and
meditation on its purport should form our way of spending time-”kAlam
dvayEna kshipan”. This is in tune with the Lord’s dictum to Sri
Ramanuja in
the Saranagati Gadyam, mentioned above.

The third Rahasyam, the Charama SlOkam, is enunciated by the Lord


Himself
and incorporates the entire wisdom of the Vedanta Shastra, which forms
the
favourite place of residence for the Lord who displayed His souseelyam
by
accepting the lowly position of a charioteer for Arjuna. The Charama
Sloka
imparts the cast-iron assurance of the Lord to protect all those who
surrender to Him, wiping off the tears of devotees with one hand,
simultaneously extending them an uplifting hand to raise them from the
mundane morass and onto the terra firma of Paramapadam. Though, coming
from
the Lord’s mouth, the Charama sloka should be gospel truth for us, the
Lord
assures us that what He has said is indeed the truth and not some
insincere
promise-“anritam na uktam poorvam mE, na cha vakshyE kadAchana”.

The glory of a person who masters the true purport of the three
esoteric
mantras indicated above is indeed beyond measure and he is counted as
the
Master of the entire clan of PrapannAs.

We are familiar with the PrOkshaNa mantram, “Om Bhoo: Bhuva: and
Suvaha”.
The Mantra drishTa of the fourth Vyaahriti “Suvah”. Is none other than
this
81

“Kutsa” Rishi. The Veda Vakhya in Taittriya Samhita 2.6.5 attests this
fact
thus:
“BrahmavaadinO vadantyatbhir haveemshi proukshee: kenaapa iti
brahmaNEti
brooyaat adbirhyEva haveemshi prOkshati brahmaNaapa:” This occurs in
the
Yaaga prakaraNam in the Vedas as an answer to the question:
”With what do you purify the offerings (havis)?”
‘ By sprinkling water”
“With what do you purify water to be able to impart purity to the
havis”?
“ With mantra”
“What is that mantra?”
“Boo: Bhuva: Suvaha: mantra”

The mantra drishTas of this triad were Atri, Brighu and Kutsa. It is
this
mantra that is the foundation for all lowkeeka and Vaideeka karmas
tirelessly referred to throughout the Vedas and Upanishads. This forms
an
integral part in all Nitya and Naimittika karmas, in Yaagas, in
offering
prayers to Bhagavaan, in all expiatory homas “Sarva Praayas chitta
hOmam, in
the Gaayatri japam, in Arghyam and in PraaNaayaamam. Sage Kutsa is one
of
the three Rishis who discovered this mantra.
The Lord may have a thousand names or more: however, we have to
choose one
for convenience of constant recitation and meditation. The name so
chosen must
be short and sweet, not something long-winded or tongue twisting like
"PraNatArtiharavaradan". It also has to be extremely significant in
purport and
capable of bestowing on us all that is auspicious. We are not talking
here about
mantras-the ashtAkshara, the dwAdasAkshara or the shadakshara,
(respectively
eulogizing Narayana, Vasudeva and Vishnu) but a name for casual and
constant
recitation and meditation. It must be popular too, and not something
little
known and little used. It must have the stamp of approval of Azhwars,
those
ultimate arbiters of Bhagavat guNa anubhavam. It must also satisfy one
of the
prime criteria extremely significant for prapannAs like us-it must
incorporate
the Lord's inseparable connection with Piratti.

This appears to be a tall order, for, while each nama is intended


to portray
82

a particular aspect of Emperuman's glory, to find a tirunAmam which


conforms to
all the aforesaid criteria would appear difficult. Difficult, but not
impossible, for we do stumble upon such a tirunamam- "MAdhava:".
Anybody would
agree that the name selected is indeed short, comprising of just two
syllables.
It is sweet too and sits comfortably on the tongue, not necessitating
verbal
gymnastics in pronunciation. It is one of the most popular names of the
Lord,
judging by how many of our contemporaries carry the name. Azhwars, as
we shall
shortly see, are extremely enamoured with this tirunAmam and use it
whenever the
occasion permits. And the chief purport of the name is to depict the
inseparable
connection of the Lord with His Divine Consort-the Nirukti slOka for
the MAdhava
nAmam reads, "Shriya: shraddhAdi nAmnyAscha pati: MAdhava ishyatE".
"MA" refers
to Sri Mahalakshmi and "Dhava:" to Her Consort and thus the name
literally means
"Mr. Mahalakshmi", in a lighter vain.

The MAdhava nama is thus superior even to the three principal names
(Narayana,
Vasudeva and Vishnu) referred to above, around which the three major
mantras
have been woven, because none of these names explicitly indicates
Piratti. Even
in the ashtAkshara, there is only a cryptic indication thereof, as part
of the
Pranavam.

This (the explicit indication of the Piratti connection) is all right,


but of
what practical significance is it to us?

The significance of Shri or the Divine Consort is immeasurable in our


Sampradaya. Whenever we think of the Lord, we are supposed to think of
Him as
being with His inseparable Companion. If the Lord is like a father to
us, She is
the Divine Mother-"mAtA dEvI tvamasi BhagavAn VAsudEva: pitA mE". When
we
surrender ourselves, when we perform Prapatti, we are supposed to do it
at the
lotus feet of the Divine Couple-the Sharanya Dampati. Sri Lakshmana,
while
83

performing Sharanagati at the feet of Sri Rama and Sri Mythily for a
specific
purpose, indicates this to us-

"Sa bhrAtu: charaNou gAdam nipeedya Raghunandana:

SitAm uvAcha atiyasA RAghavam cha mahAvratam"

And, when we get to perform Kainkaryam or service, as the long-


cherished goal
of our being, we should do it as much to ThAyAr as to the Lord. Here
too, we
look to Lakshmana for guidance, for it he who seeks to perform service
to the
Divine Duo-

"BhavAnstu saha VaidEhyA giri sAnushu ramsyatE

aham sarvam karishyAmi, jAgrata: svapatascha tE"

The Lord is not pleased at being singled out for adulation or


attachment, as
was proved in the case of ShoorpanakhA, who developed a fatal
fascination for
Sri Raghava, to the exclusion of Sri Mythily. Nor is Piratti enamoured
of
attentions from admirers who leave out the Lord, Ravana and KAkAsura
being
examples therefor.

Piratti also adopts the role of the sympathetic intermediary, when we


perform
Prapatti. She tells the Lord, who is angered by our countless
infringements,
major and minor, that there is none in this world who does not err-"na
kaschit
nAparAdhyati". As such, She pleads with Him for forgiving us our sins,
as
behoves the Universal Father. Thus, but for the invaluable intermediary
role of
Piratti, there is no hope of our escaping commensurate punishment for
our
transgressions, which would effectively ensure our rotting in hell or
worse for
all time to come. It is She who recommends tolerance and forbearance to
the
84

Lord, chiding Him for being rule-bound and ensures our liberation from
Samsara
and entitlement to eternal bliss in SriVAikuntam.

When Piratti's role is such a crucial one, should not the Lord's
tirunAmam we
choose for constant consideration reflect Her association with Him?
Viewed in
this light, we find that the MAdhava nAma is perhaps the best of the
Lord's
monikers. Azhwars, especially Sri Nammazhwar, appears to be in perfect
agreement
with this line of thought, as would be evident from an analysis of the
following
pasuram.

Though there is any number of pasurams highlighting the MAdhava nama,


the under
mentioned merits some detailed consideration-

"MAdhavan endru endru Oda valleerEl,

teedu ondrum adayA Edam sArAvE"

Sri Nammazhwar declares that if only we recite the MAdhava nama, all
our sins
would vanish and during the rest of our sojourn in this world, we would
remain
untouched by misdeeds and their malignant consequences. There are
several
beautiful gems of thought hidden in this short pasuram.

"MAdhavan "- Since the context is one of sins being forgiven, the
association of
Piratti is indispensable, as She is the PurushakAram who recommends to
the Lord
our absolution from the innumerable grave and gross misdemeanours.
Hence the use
here of the MAdhava nAma, indicating the eternal presence of Piratti
and Her
inseparability from the Lord.

"MAdhavan endru endru Oda"- While exhorting us to recite the MAdhava


nama,
85

Azhwar could have merely said "MAdhavan endru Oda". The repetition of
the word
"endru" is extremely significant, obviously telling us to meditate on
the
"LakshmI Sambandham" or association with Piratti, twice. This is perhaps
indicative of the Dvaya Mantra's purport that we should perform
Prapatti at the
lotus feet of the Lord accompanied by ShrI as also carry out kainkaryam
to them
both. The replication of the word "endru" is perhaps intended to remind
us of
the two vAkyAs constituting the Dvaya mantra and their two-fold
prescription.

"Oda valleerEl"- The word "Oda" refers to the imbibing from an Acharya,
repeating after him that which is being taught. This is the way in
which Vedas
and Divya Prabandas are supposed to be learnt. The greatness of the
MAdhava
namam is such that it too is to be absorbed in a similar way, through a
Guru,
says Sri Nammazhwar. An interesting alternate interpretation offered by
the
erudite commentators is-even if you don't take recourse to this
tirunAmam by
yourself out of ruchi, at least repeat it when someone prompts you to.

"Teedu ondrum adayA, Edam sArAvE"- The presence of Piratti in this


tirunAmam is
so potent that it destroys all sins amassed so far, prior to
performance of
Prapatti, and even those which are accidentally acquired, after
Sharanagati.
Though "Teedu" and "Edam" are synonymous, the use of these words in
juxtaposition is to denote the ones contracted before and after
Prapatti. This
is as in Sri Andal's sreesookti, "POya pizhayum pugu taruvAn nindranavum
teeyinil doosAgum"

There are other pasurams too highlighting the MAdhava namam. Wherever
the
context is one of performing Prapatti or of sins being destroyed,
Azhwar appeals
to MAdhavan, which is extremely significant, considering the
availability of any
number of other names of the Lord. Here are a few instances, for a
sample-

"KadivAr teeya vinaigaL, nodiyArum aLavai kaN


86

kodiyAvadu puL uyarttha, vadivAr MAdhavanArE"

( If you need your sins to be destroyed in a trice, it is MAdhava you


must
approach).

"MAnEy nOkki madavALai mArbil vaitthAi MAdhava!

KoonE chidaya uNdai vil niratthil teritthAi GovindA!

VAnOr sOdi MaNivaNNA! MadhusUdA nee aruLAi un

TEnE malarum tiruppAdam sErumAru vinayEnE"

(Oh Lord Madhava who has the inseparable Piratti on His chest! Do bless
me such
that I perform Sharanagati at your lotus feet!)

Those who keep the Madhava nama as their constant companion would
conquer
Samsara and the endless cycle of births and deaths, assures Azhwar-

"MAdhavan pAl SatakOpan, teedu avam indri uraittha

Edamil Ayiratthu ippatthu, OdavallAr piravArE"

Wherever the question of destruction of sins and Sharanagati are


involved, it is
only Madhavan who comes to the Azhwar's lips-

"MAdhavan endru adE koNdu...teedu avam kedukkum amudam"

And even at other places, where the Madhava nama is not specifically
mentioned
by Azhwar, it is there by implication, as the association with Piratti
indicates, in the following pasurams-

"agalakillEn irayum endru alar mEl mangai urai MArba!

.un adikkEzh amarndu pugundEnE"

"tarumavarum payanAya TirumagaLAr tani kELvan

perumai udaya PirAnAr irumai vinai kadivArE"


87

"paNdai nALAlE nin tiruvaruLum PankayattAl tiruvaruLum koNdu"

It is also significant that Azhwar confers an exclusive honour on


Madhavan,
which he doesn't on other Emperumans. He calls this Lord "SrI
Madhavan". This
honour is all the more conspicuous, as it is conferred in a context
where the
names of the other Emperumans are also mentioned, without any honorific-

"MAl, ari, Kesavan, NAraNan, SeeMAdhavan, Govindan, Vaikunthan endru


endru

Olamida ennai paNNi vittittu ondrum uruvam suvadum kAttAn

Ela malar kuzhal annaimeerkAL!ennudai tOzhiarkAL en seigEn

KAlam pala chendrum kANbadu ANai ungaLOdu engaL idai illayE"

It is thus clear that the MAdhava nAma is extremely dear to Sri


Nammazhwar's
heart. A bit more of research would definitely disclose that it is so
with the
other Azhwars too. Let us conclude with Swami Desikan's tribute to
MAdhava
Perumal, in his "Panniru TirunAmam"-

"MAdhava nAmamum vAn gadai nAngu maNi niramum

Odu muraippadi Endi uratthilum mElum algi

POdalar mAdudan pundiyil anbAl pugundu aLikkum

Dootanum nAthanum Aya tol atti giri chudarE"

Srimate Sri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka Sri Narayana Yatindra


Mahadesikaya nama:

Dasan, sadagopan

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SUBJECT: [SriRangaSri] GUIDELINES TO CONTRIBUTORS TO "SRI RANGA SRI"
Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 19:24:37 +0000
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Dear Bhagavatas:

THANKS
Thanks to the help and cooperation of -
- the Moderators of our Internet fraternity who have kindly hosted the
Editorials of "Sri Ranga Sri",
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Perarulalan" etc. for having featured our articles and made references to
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- current members who have recommended or suggested new members and
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the membership of "Sri Ranga Sri" has steadily risen to nearly 3000
(including about 2000 Active members and about 1000 members whose mails
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We place on record our heartfelt thanks to all those who helped thus in
building up this database.We also record our thanks to all the contributors who have strived to educate and en
knowledge on our Sampradayam through "Sri Ranga Sri".

We would, however, wish to reiterate the following to remind our


contributors:

COPYCAT VERSIONS:
We are sure that any posting in "Sri Ranga Sri" will ensure adequate
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In fact, we have feedback from many members who are also members in other
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89

For this resaon, several members have preferred to de-subscribe from our
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Many of the members prefer to receive only articles that are EXCLUSIVELY
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You would have noticed that as a matter of policy, we do not copy our
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We request all the contributors to make sure that they post to "Sri Ranga
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professing to educate readers not familiar with these languages will turn
90

them away instantly.

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It should be remembered that we are not seeking to educate scholars who may
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Wherever necessary, the explanations may be given in English and the


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91

It will be clear from the above that quotes from and and views of sources
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92

appeals and also become liable for any potential legal action later on,
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Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
Editor & Publisher
"Sri Ranga Sri"

5. DESIKAMRUTHAM II:
SRIMAD RAHASYA TRAYA SARAM
THE CRITICAL CONCEPT-1
SRI SADAGOPA IYENGAR SWAMIN (OF COIMBATORE),
(SRKARYAM SWAMI OF BOARD OF ADVISORS OF "SRI RANGA SRI")
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Swami Desikan detailed in the second chapter (the SAranishkarsha
adhikAram)
the knowledge which is of the absolute essence, the acquisition of only
which could lead us on to Liberation, all other sources of wisdom being
only
incidental or inessential.

The next chapter, the PradhAna Pratitantra adhikAram, tells us about


the
tenets unique to our VisishtAdvaita siddhAntam. The Pratitantram or
Unique
Selling Point, by definition, is that which is enthusiastically
espoused by
us and, by the same token, is not acceptable to other schools of
thought. It
is thus a doctrine exclusive to our Sampradaya, over which nobody else
can
or wishes to lay a claim. It is the lifeline of our philosophy, on
which is
built the entire citadel of VisishtAdvaita. Remove this, and the entire
93

structure becomes hollow and unstable. Thus an unclouded understanding


of
this Critical Concept is essential for the comprehension of the
forthcoming
matters.

As stated above, we are concerned here about the Primary Principle


unique to
our philosophy. In our SiddhAnta, the Brahmam is a Prime Concept.
However,
since it is accepted by other schools of Vedanta like Dwaita and
Advaita, it
is not Critical to us-it might be "PradhAnam" or primary, but it is not
"Pratitantram" or unique to us. There are other minor matters, which
are
unique to our Sampradaya, which may not be critical enough to merit the
definition, as for instance the concept of "Kainkaryam". It is no doubt
a
"Pratitantram" or unique concept, but not "PradhAnam" or of primacy.
What we
must look for is something, which is both Unique to our school of
thought,
as well as Critical to the very basis of the same-some tenet, which is
both
"PradhAnam" and "Pratitantram".

Outlining the Critical Concept of our philosophy, Swami Desikan


declares it
to be the relationship of Body and Owner of the Body, subsisting
between all
souls, sentient and non-sentient, on the one hand, and the Lord on the
other-the "SharIra-Atma sambandham". In other words, the Lord is the
Universal Atma or Paramatma, while all Jeevatmas, occupying bodies
sentient
and otherwise, form His body. It is this SharIra-SharIri bhAvam, which
is
referred to by Swami Nammazhwar in the very first decad of
Tiruvaimozhi.
Striving to clarify the prime principle of our Sampradaya at the very
beginning of his work, Azhwar says that the Lord is present in every
being
and object as its antaryAmi or inner-dweller, akin to the life-spirit
in all
beings-"udal misai uyir ena karandu engum paranduLan:” Just as it is
difficult for us to see our life spirit or soul, so too the Lord
remains
invisible-"Karandu uLan"-though very much an integral part of ourselves.

Thus the entire system of life consists of three concepts:


- The inert physical body, made up of the basic elements, which
has no spark
of life on its own, is the first of these.
- The second is the Jeevatma or individual soul that inhabits the
body, as a
result of its accumulated baggage of good and bad deeds done over
countless
94

previous janmas. It is this Jeevatma who is the owner of the body,


directing
the body as per its own (Jeevatma's) wishes to walk, run, lie down,
bend
etc. That the Jeevatma is different from the body can be understood
from the
fact that when the life spirit ebbs from the body and the Jeevatma
leaves
its mortal coils to acquire another (much in the fashion of a man
discarding
dirty or worn out clothes in favor of new ones) the body, hitherto a
vibrant
and dynamic mechanism, is reduced to an inert carcass, lifeless,
unmoving
and subject to quick decay and destruction. The body can thus never
survive
without the enlivening spark of the Jeevatma inhabiting it. The
departure of
the Jeevatma spells the end of the body. Thus while the Jeevatma or
individual soul is eternal in nature, hopping from one body to another
depending upon its Karma, the physical body is made of natural elements
and
is perishable in character.
- Just as the body has an inner dweller in the form of the
Jeevatma, the
Jeevatma too has an antaryAmi -the Lord. It is the Lord who enters all
souls
and directs them from within -"anta: pravishta: shAstA janAnAm
sarvAtmA"
says the Aranyaka, clarifying the nature of the third component of the
system of life mentioned above. It would appear that the exact place of
residence of the Paramatma is inside the heart. Considering that the
Lord
dwells within the Jeevatma, it follows that the Jeevatma too resides in
the
heart of the physical body. The Gita confirms this location of the Lord
in
the heart of all beings-"Iswara: sarva bhootAnAm hrit dEsE Arjuna!
Tishthati"

To summarize, the physical body is the sharIram or outer cover for the
Jeevatma, but for whom the body has no separate existence. Similarly,
the
Paramatma resides within the Jeevatma and the latter forms the sharIram
for
the former. We thus have the Jeevatma with the physical body as its
outer
cover and Paramatma, for whom both the Jeevatma and its body are the
outer
cover. Thus both the Jeevatma and the physical body form the sharIram
for
the Paramatma. This, in a nutshell, is our PradhAna Pratitantram or
Critical
Concept, which forms the subject matter of this Chapter.

How do we define a body or sharIram and the sharIri or the owner of the
body?
95

Whatever is supported, whatever is controlled and made to act according


to
another's wishes, and whatever is made use of by another for the
latter's
pleasure, forms the sharIram. The entity which supports the other,
controls
and directs its action or inaction and uses the other for its own
purposes,
is the sharIri or inhabitant of the body

What are the three types of association obtained from this relationship
of
SharIri (owner of the body) and SharIra (the body) subsisting between
the
Lord and us respectively?

These are as follows: -


1) DhArakatvam-
Emperuman forms the source of support for all of us. He is the
universal
support, without whom no being, sentient or otherwise, would continue
to
have an existence. It is the individual soul which supports the
physical
body, as is evident from the fact that the latter turns into decaying
matter
once the former leaves. Similarly, the Paramatma too is the sole
source of
support for all Jeevas, inhabiting sentient and non-sentient objects.
Since
He constitutes the inner dweller and the rest of this world His body,
just
as the body falls down inert when the Jeevatma leaves it, so too this
world
of chEtana (sentient) and achEtana (non-sentient) matter would exist no
more, but for the Lord inhabiting it as the SharIri. Thus the SharIra
Atma
sambandham or the SharIra-SharIri bhavam results in the relationship of
DhArakam (support) and DhAryam (the supported) between the Lord and the
Jeevas respectively.

Conversely, does it follow that whatever is supported would


automatically
form the SharIram for the source of support? For instance, the ground
on
which a pot stands obviously forms the support for the vessel. Does it
mean
that the pot, as the supported item, forms the SharIra or body of the
earth,
which is the supporter? Not so, for the pot may stand on the ground or
on
the shelf or may be held in a hand, which would mean differing sources
of
support at different times, all of which cannot form the body of the
pot.
Thus for an object to form the sharIram of a supporting entity, the
96

supporting source must be of a permanent nature, offering constant


sustenance and not merely occasionally. Also, mere DhArakatvam would
not
presuppose the SharIra-Atma bhavam: Swami Desikan points out that two
additional criteria are required to be satisfied.

2). NiyAmyatvam-
The in-dwelling Paramatma is the controller of the chEtana and achEtana
objects. If we have to move our little finger, it would be possible
only if
He wills it. "avan indri Or aNuvum asayAdu" might be a common man's
saying,
but it has a wealth of meaning and truth in it. The Lord is the
"sUtradhAri"
or puppeteer who makes us dance as mere dolls on strings, to movements
carefully choreographed by Him. He is thus the "niyantA" or controller,
while we form the "niyAmyam" or the controlled.

While the first function of DhArakatvam is done through the physical


support
provided by the Lord to the entire world which forms His body, which He
supports and sustains, the second one of NiyAmyatvam or Controllership
is
done through His divine will or Sankalpam. He wills that such an event
happens, with the aid of such and such people using such and such
objects,
and it happens as He willed.

3). SEshitvam-
Defining a "SEsha", Sri Bhashyakara says "paragata atisaya AdhAna
icchayA
upAdEyatvam Eva yasya svaroopam, sa SEsha: para: SEshI"

Thus one who exists solely for the purpose of somebody's pleasure and
whose
role is to bring some sort of distinction to the other person is a
"SEsha"
and the masterly counterpart, for whose purpose the former exists, is
the
"SEshi". All of us exist and act for the sole use and pleasure of the
Lord.
Just as it is a servant's duty to do all that is required for the
master and
to be of use to the latter in all ways, we too, as the eternal servants
of
the Lord, are bound to be of service to Him in all ways, always-"sarva
kAla,
sarva vidha, sarvAvasthOchita kinkara:"

This Seshatvam is sometimes caused by ephemeral relationships –


We obey our parents and do whatever they tell us to do. An employee
does the
work allotted to him by his master, for remuneration. The wife
ministers to
the needs of her husband and children, while the husband too works hard
to
97

keep his family well cared for. While there is an element of Seshatvam
in
all this, these are but temporary relationships, which would be brought
to
an end by the passing away of a parent or a child or a husband.
Further,
even in the aforesaid relationships, the wife is not a permanent sEshi
or
servitor of her husband and family, because familial roles keep
changing.
Once she becomes an elderly parent, her sons and daughters - in- law
care
for her welfare, in a reversal of roles.

However, there is only one person to whom we are eternal servitors,


irrespective of the body we sport and our social, economic or academic
status. We are "bonded laborers" (albeit bound by a bond of love and
devotion), blessed with the opportunity of eternal servitude to the
Lord,
who is the permanent, unchanging ("nirupAdhika") "SEshI". Since the
Master
is eternal and the servant too a timeless entity, their relationship
too is
permanent and unchanging. While the head of a family could at most
claim his
wife and children as his sEshAs, to the Lord everyone, without
exception, is
a SEsha. He is thus the "nirupAdhika sarva sEshi".

To Continue

In the traditional Vedic form of worship, there are a standard set of


16 steps
observed in worship called Shodasa Upachara .The 6 fold method of
Thiruvaradhanam is structured around these 16 basic steps( there a few
variations to this list) . They are :

a.. Avahanam - invocation


b.. Asanam - offering a seat for the Lord and His eternal consort Sri
c.. Padyam -offering of water to wash the feet of the divine couple
d.. Arghyam -offering of water to wash the hands of the divine couple
e.. Achamaniyam -offering of weater to rinse the mouth
f.. Snanam -the offering of the ceremonial bath
g.. Vastram - offering of clothes
h.. Yajnopavitam -offering of the sacred thread
i.. Gandham - offering of sandalwood pulp scented with camphor and
saffron
strands
j.. Pushpam -fresh fragrant flowers to the recitation of the
namavalis of the
Lord and His eternal consort
k.. Dhupam -incense
l.. Deepam -lamp with ghee wick
m.. Neivedyam -food offering
n.. Thambulam -betel leaves and betel nuts
o.. Neerajanam -mangala aarati
98

p.. Mantrapushpam

Some interesting articles about sri vaishnava sampradayam


Dear bhagavathas,

The following articles were written by Sri Sadagopan iyengar to various email groups in
the recent past which received great appreciation from the members of the group.They
are written in very simple english, brief and for the benefit of bhagavathas who have
missed the regular postings adiyen is attempting to compile them in one place for easy
navigation, of course with the permission of the contributor.

Hope you will enjoy this collection.

adiyen dasan
R.Venkat

A Riot of Colour

The world would indeed be a dull place, if everything were to be in black and white. It is
colours that add spice to our lives- we feel elated when we see a rainbow, a garden alight
with bright blooms, a meadow of green grass topped with sparkling dew, a bright blue
sky with the Sun shining as a yellow ball of fire, and so on. The rising and setting Sun is
indeed beautiful to watch, for its sheer colourfulness. Can you imagine a world bereft of
cheerful colours? It would be as dull and dreary as ditchwater, and make our lives mere
drudgery.
It is interesting to find from our scriptures that the Creator of all colours is Himself
extremely colourful. Let’s see some of the hues that He is said to sport on various
occasions.
To start our colourful journey with the Vedas, the Purusha SUkta describes the Lord as
being the colour of the Sun-
“Aditya varNam tamasa: parastAt”. The reference to Sun-colour is significant. Just as the
Sun is the antithesis of all darkness or evil, so too the Paramatma is verily the abode of all
good qualities, and the antithesis of all that is inauspicious (“akhila hEya pratyanIka,
kalyAnaikatAna”).

Describing the TirumEni of the ParamaPurusha, the ChAndOgya Upanishad has the
following to say-
“Ya EshOntar AdityE hiraNmaya:Purusha:drisyatE
HiraNmaya:smashru:hiranya kEsa:AprNakhAt sarva Eva
suvarNa:”
The Lord is seen in golden splendour amidst the Solar
System, adorned by golden hair with a golden moustache and facial hair to match. From
head to toe, he is all glitter like the Yellow metal.
It is perhaps this wonderful tirumEni that Sri PeyAzhwar was able to witness at
TirukkOilUr on that stormy night, which is evident from his exclamation, “Tiru kaNdEn,
99

PonmEni kandEn, tigazhum arukkan aNi niramum kandEn”.


Though Sri Nammazhwar too endows the Lord with the colour of red gold,(“Sem ponnE
tigazhum tiru moortthiyai”, “ANi sempon mEni endAi” etc.), he himself turns around
later and takes objection to the Lord’s colour being compared to that of a mere metal,
and says that the purest gold cannot match the glitter of the Lord’s tirumEni-“ sutturaittha
nan pon un tirumEni oLi ovvAdu”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Emperuman sports a jet-black colour too, as opposed to
the sparkling golden hue indicated in the Vedas. Especially in Sri KrishnAvatAra, He is a
blackie, as almost all the Azhwars testify-
“KaNNan enum karum deivam”
“Karia mEni misai veLia neeru siridE idum peria kola tadam kaNNan”
“karu mAmugil pOl vaNNan KaNNan”
“kAnagam ellAm tirindu un karia tirumEni vAda”
“kAr tiraL anaya mEni KaNNane unnai” etc.
Thus the Lord is credited with the colour of clouds and the black sea- “kArAr kadal
vaNNan pin pOna nenjamum”(Siriya Tirumadal)
It is significant to note that the very name Krishna denotes one who is black. Perhaps He
was christened with this name, looking to His colour at birth. He is indeed a Black
Diamond, says Sri Nammazhwar- “KaiyAr chakkaratthu en Karu mANickkamE”.

Sri Andal goes a step further and, in a damaging expose, reveals that Sri Krishna’s heart
is as black as His body-
“puram pOl uLLum kariyAnai”.
That the Lord sports the colour of blue-black clouds is evident from Sri Vishnu
Sahasranamam too, the prelude to which says, ‘MEgha shyAmam peetha kousEya
vAsam”. On this black body, the attire of yellow silk sits well.
Not only Sri Krishna, but Sri Rama too sported the colour of black clouds-“RAmam
indIvara syAmam”.

Another colour that the Lord sports is green-a green that is restful to the eyes,says Sri
Tondaradippodi Azhwar-
“Pacchai mA malai pOl mEni”. Sri Nammazhwar concurs in TiruvAsiriam, “Pacchai
mEni miga pagaippa”. Maragatam is a precious stone with a green hue, and several
Azhwars have indicated that Emperuman is of this colour- “VAmanan en maragata
vaNNan” says Sri Nammazhwar.
His colour is compared to that of other gems too-like “Mani”. Azwars are fond of calling
the Lord “MaNivaNNA”-(“ MarutthuvanAi nindra MAmaNivaNNA”, “VaikundA
MaNivaNNanE en pollA tirukkuraLA”, etc.).

Sri Tirumangai Mannan is so perplexed by the galaxy of colours that the Lord sports from
time to time, that he seeks elucidation from Emperuman Himself as to what His true
colours are-
“Munnai vaNNam Palin vaNNam- muzhudum nilai nindra
Pinnai vaNnam koNdal vaNNam- vaNNam eNNum kAl
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Ponnin vaNNam maNiyin vaNNam puraiyum tirumEni


Inna vaNnam endru kAttIr IndaLooreerE”.

Addressing Lord ParimaLa Ranga at Tiruvindalur, Azhwar says,


“You were the colour of milk in Kritha Yuga, You acquired the hues of pure red gold in
the TrEtha Yuga, and in DwApara Yuga You were the colour of a Blue Diamond: Shastras
tell us that your real colour is that of the rain-bearing clouds. I am confused by all these
changing colours- do tell me what your true colours are!”.
Each part of the Lord’s divya mangaLa vigraham is a different colour- His hair is jet
black (“Mai vaNNa narum kunji”), His eyes too black with reddish lines (“KariavAgi
pudai parandu miLirndu sevvariOdi neeNda apperiavAya kaNgaL”), His lips red
(“Kovvai sevvAi”, “SenganivAi”), the Discus He sports is the colour of the blazing Sun,
the Conch Panchajanya a milky white, His palms and feet red like the lotus (“Minnum
sudar malaikku kaN pAdam kai kamalam” “SenthAmarai adigaL”). Around His waist,
He sports a beautiful cloth in Yellow or Red ( “Peethaga Adai PirAnAr”, “PeethAmbara
dhara sragvI”—“arai sivanda Adayin mEl chendradAm en sindayE”).
Taken together, with so many colours competing to adorn His divine form, the Lord is
indeed a riot of colours, and looks like a heavenly garden in full bloom.

Not to be outdone, PirAtti is also colourful. It is noteworthy that Sri Piratti and the Lord
are compatible with each other not only in qualities, divine beauty and powers, (“yat
dharmai: iha dharmiNI viharatE nAnAkrithi: nAyikA”), but also in colour. While the
Purusha Sukta describes Emperuman to be the colour of the Sun (“Aditya varnam
tamasa: parastAt”), the Sri Sukta says that His Consort too is of the same colour (“Aditya
varNE “). While the Lord’s is “pon mEni”, Piratti is also credited with the colour of
beaten gold (“HiraNya varNAm”). A connoisseur would however note that Piratti , with
Her eminently feminine sense of colour, doesn’t take on blue or black hues that the Lord
sports in His avatArAs. It is perhaps a reflection of our society’s predilections for fair-
complexioned females even to this date.
Tempting as it is to continue the saga of colours, adiyen would like to conclude this piece
here, for fear of testing the readers’ patience.
Srimate Sri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra
Mahadesikaya Nama:

------dasan, sadagopan.
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A Saga in Stone

“You do choose the weirdest topics! Whoever would write about stones, of all things!”
commented adiyen’s daughter, glancing at the title. Wistfully recollecting the good old
days when children were supposed to be seen and not heard, adiyen resolved to prove to
her that writing about stones was not “weird”-offbeat, maybe, but definitely not “weird”.
However, even after severely racking adiyen’s brains, not a single complimentary phrase
or idiom in Queen’s English came to adiyen’s mind, concerning stones. “ Heart of Stone”,
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“Stony stare” and other unappealing phrases leapt to the mind but not something
pleasing. The Scriptures came to adiyen’s rescue and saved adiyen from the ignominy of
my daughter being proved right.

There are quite a few references to stones in the Vedas. The Mantra Prasna, dealing with
Veda mantras used in various rituals, auspicious and otherwise, refers to stones twice.
During the Upanayanam ceremony, the boy is made to stand on a stone, while his father
recites the mantra “AtishttEmam asmAnam asmEva tvam stthirO bhava”
(“May the Gods make you as strong and unshakeable as the stone you are standing on!”).
With a minor variation for gender difference, the same mantra is used to bless the bride in
the marriage, (popularly known in Tamil as “ammi miditthal”) wishing her to be stone-
like in firmness. Elsewhere too, there is a blessing to be strong as a stone-“asmA bhava,
pasrasur bhava, hiranyam astrutham bhava”. It is noteworthy that this mantra mentions
the stone ahead of gold among objects of comparison. Similarly, the Chamaka Prasna in
the Fourth Kanda of the Yajus Samhita, which is a prayer to bless one with all the good
things on earth, seeks to be endowed with stone too-“asmA cha mE”.

Turning to Valmiki’s great epic, a moment’s unwitting indiscretion results in Ahalya


being cursed by her husband Goutama Rishi to turn into a stone for thousand long years.
The moment Sri Chakravartthi Tirumagan enters the Goutama Ashrama, Ahalya is
retransformed into the beautiful lady she originally was. Here, though the popular version
has it that it was the touch of Sri Rama’s holy feet that was responsible for this miracle,
there is no mention of this in Sri Valmiki Ramayana, and all that the Maharshi mentions
is that Ahalya regained her original splendour the moment Sri Rama entered the Ashram.
This version must indeed be true, for Chakravarthi Tirumagan would never have shown
disrespect to a Rishipatni by touching her with His feet, even when she was in a stony
shell.

In Sri KrishnAvatAra too, the Lord’s association with stones is indeed close. It couldn’t
be closer, for He is tied inseperably to one.
Sri Krishna’s weakness for dairy products, His inability to distinguish between “meum
and tuum” in this regard, and His annoying habit of leading hordes of young cowherds on
a raid of homes for milk, butter and curds, land Him in trouble, with the long-suffering
Gopis presenting a memorandum to Yasoda on her son’s misdemeanours.The usually
placid Yasoda is inflamed with anger (“mAtaram jAta rOshAm”), as any mother would,
whose ward has been the subject of repeated and factual complaints (“veNNai undAn
ivan endru Esa nindra Emperuman”) from outsiders. She drags the protesting Krishna to
the courtyard and ties Him up to a handy grindstone, telling Him, “ Let me see how you
continue your mischief!” Little does she know that it is no ordinary kid whom she has
tied up, and the tie-up was possible only because He willed it (“sirutthAmbinAl kattuNNa
paNNiya perumAyan”).

Sri Nammazhwar marvels at the soulabhyam, which prompts the Almighty to permit
Himself to be tied-up to a simple stone, by a simple housewife, with a simple rope. He
marvels too at the mock fear and yearning for freedom exhibited by the captive
Emperuman-“et tiram uralinOdu iNaindu irundu Engia eLivE”. It appears that every time
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the securely bound Krishna whimpered, Yasoda would silence Him with a withering look.
Krishna tries to regain freedom by looking at His mother with appealing eyes full of fear,
tears and whatnot, but His attempts are rebuffed by His unmoved mother, who finally
removes herself from the scene, for fear of being unable to preserve her composure any
longer. She is clear that Krishna deserves punishment, but being a doting mother, is
unable to sustain the posture of the strict disciplinarian, in the face of Krishna’s
apparently pitiful state. Left to His own devices, the Lord is on the roll, dragging the
grindstone with him, and passes between two trees (“PuNarA nindra maram irandin
naduvE pOna mudalvAvO”), bringing them down crashing, in the process. The trees turn
into gandharvas, now free from the curse that turned them into trees. Yasoda and others,
who come rushing out of the house, are confronted by the bewildering scene of the
crashed trees around the apparently frightened Krishna, still securely bound to the
grindstone. Krishna is then untied and taken home, with Yasoda too frightened to think of
what could have happened if the trees had come down on her beloved son.

She still doesn’t realise that what she has been blessed with is no ordinary cowherd boy
(“Ayar puttiran allan, arun deivam”).

In Sri NrsimhAvatAra too, it is a stone pillar that the Lord chose for His dramatic
entrance into Hiranyakasipu’s
Darbar. The latter is so confident that Vishnu would not dare to come anywhere near his
palace, that he challenges his son Sri Prahlada to prove the existence of Hari in one of the
pillars of his own palace. Since the stone pillar “gave birth” to Sri Nrsimha, who in turn
is the Creator of all divine beings, Swami Desikan humorously calls the pillar the
Grandmother of dEvAs (“mahAsura grihastOONA pitAmahi abhoot”).

However, it is in the Kali Yuga that the stone has acquired prominence. Almost all the
Emperumans have chosen the medium of the stone for their arcchAvatAra, and we find
the Lord in most of the divya desams (with a few notable exceptions) inhabiting images
of stone lovingly sculpted by ardent devotees. With its divine inhabitant, the stone
miraculously comes alive, but only for those who tend to see in it the omnipresent,
omnipotent Lord, who, in His unmatched soulabhyam, has contracted His divya mangala
vigraha to human proportions, and makes do with the hot, humid atmosphere of the
sanctum sanctorum of temples, forsaking His comfortable abode at SriVaikuntam.
Another form of stone the Lord patronises with His eternal presence is the SALagrAma
shilA, which is a fossilised stone with an insect called “Vajrakeetam” sculpting the Lord’s
signs of chakram, shankha, flag, etc. In this form, Emperuman resides in every
SriVaishnavite home, sharing the inconveniences of the house-holder, and partaking of
the latter’s food, often unsuitable to the likes of the Lord. This is His simplicity, Asrita
vAtsalyam and soulabhyam at play again.
After reading this piece, Adiyen’s daughter has developed a healthy respect for stone,
and gracefully withdrawn her “weird” remark.

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103

A Tale of Two Thieves

Azhwars are enamoured of addressing Emperuman as "KaLvA" (thief). Listen to Sri


Nammazhwar-"Kalva,emmaiyum Ezhulagum ninnuLLE tOtriya Iraiva"
"en pollA karumAnikkamE en KaLvA"
"kaLavEzh veNNai toduvunda kaLvA". etc.
Sri Tirumangai Mannan is not far behind in calling Him names-"kaLLa kuzhavi",
"KaLvA" etc.
And what did the Lord do to earn this sobriquet? His most obvious and endearing
misdemeanour is that of "navaneeta chouryam" or Butter Theft. The gopis of Sri
Gokulam are united in their complaint to Sri Yasodha that ever since Sri Krishna was
born, their milk and butter were not their own, and kept disappearing mysteriously
("karanda nar pAlum tayirum kadaindu uri mEl vaittha veNNai, pirandadu mudalAga
petrariyEn"). And the culprit, adding insult to injury, not only emptied the pots of butter,
but also banged them down, breaking up all the pots. ("VeNNai vizhungi verum kalatthai
verpidai ittu adan Osai kEtkum")
(uruga vaittha kudatthodu veNNai uricchi udaitthittu pOndu nindrAn").("pAlai ….
sAitthu parugiittu pOndu nindrAn").etc. The poor Lord, unused to thievery, gets caught
by the vigilant Gopis, and is roundly cursed ("VeNNai undAn ivan endru Esa nindra
emperumAn") and beaten too ("Ayar kozhundAi avarAl pudai uNNum en mAyappirAn").
And ultimately, when the enchanting thief's exploits become unbearable, He is also tied
to the grinding stone with the aid of a rope, restricting His movement ("Matthuru kadai
veNNai kaLavinil uravidai AppuNdu etthiram uralinOdu iNaindu erindu Engia eLivE").

Itihyam has it that Sri Nammazhwar was so much taken up with this Souseelyam (that
of the Parabrahmam getting tied up by an unlettered cowherdess, and looking to her for
liberation, with appealing eyes full of tears), that he fell unconscious for six months.
Volumes have been and would still be written about navaneeta chouryam, and it is not for
a humble soul like adiyen to add to the lore.

Theft of milk and butter is hardly a matter for serious concern. Sri Satakopa Muni
accuses Him of a much graver offence-that of stealing his soul- and warns others to
beware of this Divine Thief.
"Senchor kavigAl uyir kAtthu Atcheymin-TirumAl irum sOlai
Vanjak kaLvan mAmAyan mAyakkaviyAi vandu- en
Nenjum uyirum uL kalandu nindrAr ariyA vaNNam-en
Nenjum uyirum avai undu tAnE Agi niraindAnE"
And further, "neermayAl nenjam vanjitthu pugundu-ennai
Eermai seidu en uyirAi en uyirundAn"etc.
Emperuman was so enamoured of Azhwar that He could not bear his seperation, and
though Azhwar did not invite Him, He stole Azhwar's body and soul and became one
with him. Here, Azhwar asks Emperuman an embarrassing question- "I have been toiling
in this samsAra for aeons, suffering through several cycles of births and deaths. And
though I have been crying out to You repeatedly, You did not heed me and did little to
grant me liberation. And, in this janmA, when I have done nothing to merit your
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attentions, You are invading me perforce and insist on taking me to SriVaikuntam


(ViNNulagam taruvAnAi viraigindrAn). Pray, tell me the reason for this? ( "indru ennai
poruLAkki tannai ennuL vaitthAn-andru ennai puram pOga puNartthadu en seyvAn").
Emperuman does not have a reply to this question, and stands silent before the Azhwar,
with eyes downcast with shame .The beautiful sreesooktis of Sri Nampillai in the eedu
and Swami Desikan's interpretations of this pasuram are indeed worthwhile perusing.
Tempting as it is to dwell on these excellent panktis, adiyen would like to stick to the
topic.
Summing up the case against His Lordship, one would tend to agree with Azhwar that
there is ample justification for branding Emperuman as a "KaLvan". However, we find
that this thievery, instead of bringing Him disrepute, adds to His glory .His theft of butter,
etc., and His getting punished for the same, highlight the glorious attribute of
Souseelyam, while His stealing our bodies and souls is indicative of His insatiable hunger
for ChEtana lAbham.

This is a tale of two thieves: having seen the machinations of the Divine Thief, who do
you think is the other thief? Please do not take offence if I say that we human beings
collectively form the second class of thieves. Sri Kalian says, "KaLvan AnEn padiru
seidiruppEn" , "vampulAm koondal manaiviyai turandu pirar poruL tAram endru ivattrai
nambinAr" etc. Some of us covet the riches, women and other belongings of others,
rendering us the worst sort of thieves, whether or not we actually carry out the thoughts
of theft into action. As the saying goes, a true SriVaishnava always looks at others' wives
as his own mother, others' riches as mere dust, and treats all other beings as he would be
treated himself.("Matruvat para dArEshu, lOshtavat para dravyEshu, Atmavat sarva
bhootEshu ya:pasyati sa pasyati").

Going back to Sri Parakalan, the theft attributed to him could be classified as sAtvic, as
the proceeds, though ill-gotten, were utilized not for his personal benefit, but for
tadeeyArAdhanam and for building temple towers and compounds. Swami Desikan
justifies such unorthodox methods of fund-raising (as those resorted to by Sri Kalian) in
his (now extinct)work, "StEyAvirOdham".

However, the misdemeanours mentioned above pale into insignificance, when we


consider the other type of theft all of us are guilty of-that of "AtmApahAram". By nature,
the JeevAtma is the eternal slave of the Lord, and exists solely to be of some use to Him.
"dAsa bhootAh:svata:sarvE hi AtmAna:paramAtmana:" says the MantrarAja pada
stOtram. We all, our bodies and souls, are the undisputed property of Emperuman.
However, the age-old shackles of ahankAram and MamakAram make us imagine that we
are independent agents with our own belongings. We delude ourselves that we are
responsible for our own well-being and that of others " dependent" on us. Sri
Nammazhwar puts this state of mind succinctly thus-"YanE ennai ariagilAdE, YanE
entanadE endru irundEn".
Swami Desikan describes this as the worst possible form of theft, from several angles:
1.the value of the stolen item, viz., the Jeevatma, is beyond measure:
2. the person whose property is stolen is none less than the Almighty:
3.even after the Lord, in His infinite mercy, points out to us (through shastrAs and
105

Acharyas) that we are indeed His property, we tend to dispute it (by saying "aham mE"
when He claims "tvam ME").
Now, how do we get out of the mire of ahankArA and mamakArA? Swami Desikan
comes to our rescue with an easy solution- return the stolen article to the rightful owner,
with profound apologies. Since, in this case, the item stolen is the priceless jewel of
jeevatma, we should surrender ourselves, in body and soul, to the Lord, with the
conscious thought of returning to Him what is His by right. This calls for the
realization,in Sri Nammazhwar's words, "yAnE nee, en udaimayum neeyE"(I am indeed
Yours, and all that I consider mine is also Yours). Sri Alavandar puts this beautifully
thus-"mama nAtha yadasti yOsmi aham, sakalam tat hi tavaiva Madhava". In other
words, what is required is Atma SamarpaNam, through an Acharya. The Saranagati thus
performed restores to the soul its lost quality of sEshatvam. While the gravity of the theft
make us liable for maximum punishment, once we perform Prapatti, the Divine Mother
intercedes on our behalf and ensures that we not only get off lightly, but also gain
admittance to the world of eternal bliss, of uninterrupted kainkarya, to the Lord and His
divine consort.

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“AaraavamudhE”

AdiyEn would like to pose a difficult question to Sri VaishnavAs-which


would you
consider the most evocative and most meaningful of the Divya PrabandhA decads?(it
may not be correct or appropriate to comparatively evaluate the emotional outpourings of
various AlwArs,
but one may be excused for undertaking the exercise ,purely for the purpose of
rasAnubhavam.
Just imagine Sriman NarAyanA,in his nAga paryankA,resplendant with his divya
Mahishis and
DivyAyudhAs,listening raptly to the various AlwArs/Nityasooris singing His praise in
any and all
forms,with vEda vinnappam (Etat sAmA gAyannAsthE) on one side,Prabandha
GhOshti(exhorting Him to “Munnindru kEttaruLAi”) on another,and
PoorvAchArya/Desika srisookthis on yet another side, all vying with one another
in their efforts to please UbhayavibhoothinathA with their vAchika/gAyika kainkaryam.
The scene described above would closely resemble the AdhyayanOtsava
GhOsti
At Thirukkudanthai.
Well,don’t you think that,with all his aparimitha gnAnA, emperumAn would be hard put
to choose from among the aforesaid Sreesookthis,in terms of
gAmbhiryam,mAdhuryam,arttha pushkalathvam ,etc.? Yet,as He listens to all these
immeasurably sweet verses ,the Lord does reserve a special,intimate portion of His
attention to the Prapanna Jana Kootasttha ,the one He honoured with the soporific
“NammAzhwAr”. If you were to be blessed with divya shrothras and chakshu: like
106

SanjayA, ,you would also observe that His special attention is riveted on one particular
decad of the blissful ThiruvAimozhi –the fifth- and the patthu in praise of the
Thirukkudanthai kidantha maal-beginning with “AarAvamudhE”. For, it is these ten
pAsurams which are arguably the best of the entire divya prabandAs. If “yet
sArabhootam tat upAdadheeta” were to be applied to the Divine 4000, one would
invariably plump for “ArAvamudhE”.
AdiyEn can almost see the die-hard devotees of Peria
Thirumozhi, PeriAzhwAr Thirumozhi and Choodikkodutha NachiAr’s sri sookthis and
otheres of their ilk rise up in arms in defence of their particular favourites-but please
listen to adiyEn’s words, however unworthy ,untrained and lacking in substance they may
be, before passing final judgement.
But for Sri AarAvamudhAzhwAn blessing Sri Nathamuni with the
good fortune to hear “ArAvamudhE” at His sannidhi, the SampradAyam would have lost
the invaluable PaithAmaham dhanam comprising the divya prabandAs. It was not enough
if Sri Nathamuni heard the pAsurams-Sri ArAvamudAzhwAn saw to it that the AchArya
heard the best ,most evocative, and emotionally appealing Patthu. .HE therefore chose
“ArAvamudhE”,which instantly electrified Sri Nathamuni and galvanized him into
seeking the rest of the divya prabandAs from Sri NammAzhwAr,in his yOga
dasa,through the recitation of “Kanninun SirutthAmbu”. AdiyEn craves the indulgence
of the perusing bhAgavatAs to dwell rather elaborately on the apparent and hidden
treasures one may discover in “ArAvamudhE” . This one Patthu has in it what is to be
found in all the rest of the prabandhAs,and what is not found in it cannot be
found,despite diligent search,in all the other AzhwArs’ sreesookthis.

The test of completeness of any adhyAtma shAstrA,is its ability


to mirror the Arttha Panchakam,which, according to the HAritha SamhitA,is as follows:-
PrApyasya brahmano roopam,prAptuscha pratyagAtmana:
PrAptyupAyam phalamchaiva PrAptivirOdhis tataivacha
Vadanti sakala vEda:sEthihAsa purAnakA:
Or,in sweeter tamil,
Mikka irainilayum meyyam uyirnilaiyum
Thakka neriyum thadayagi thokkiyalum
Oozhvinayum vAzhvinayum (Odhum kurukayarkOn
Yazhinisai vedatthiyal.)
This thanian makes it clear that the entire ThiruvAimozhi is but an
elaboration of the Arttha Panchakam.
Here,Mikka irainilai refers to Parabrahma swaroopam,of which the
following are the lakshanAs-aparimita gnAna aanandatvam,ananta mangala guna
visishtatvam,jagat srishtyAdi vyApAra seelatvam,aprAkruta divya mangala vigraha
visishtatvam,rakshakatvam,etc. Shall we see how these attributes is beautifully
portrayed in “ ArAvamudhE” ?
The very first word of this ThiruvAimozhi is immensely evocative and
appealing.Just utter the word “ArAvamudhE”-don’t you feel like exclaiming with sri
Madhurakavi “Annikkum amudhoorum en nAvukkE”?And is there a better word to
comprehensively describe the Parabrahma swaroopam? Each sambhOdhanam in these
pAsurams is a gem indeed. ”Adhi Moorthi “, for instance instantly indicates Jagat
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Karanatvam . EmperumAn’s Paratvam is eloquently mirrored by


The words “VanOr KomAnE”,

“NedumAlE”,”Amarar Thalaiva””Adip perumoorthy” etc.- at the mere mention of these,


the picture of ParamapathanAthan, in all his unapproachable splendour,is brought before
our eyes.
Similarly, another brahma lakshanam, viz., aprAkrutha Divya mangala vigraha
visishtatvam,is eloquently portrayed by the following passages in this
ThiruvAimozhi-“ErAr kOlam thigazha kidanthAi”
“ EzhilErE” “nAl thOL endAi” “ PorchudarE” “ pavaLak kundrE”
Nemip padayAi” .And the most distinguishing attribute, PundarikAshatvam,is
brought out by the AzhwAr by the inimitable words ‘SendAmarai Kanna”, in a
scintillating translation of the upanishadic description “Yata kapyAsam pundarikamEva
Akshini”.Sri Yamuna Muni too considers this a very important lakshanam, in his
rhetorical question, “Ka:Pundarika nayana:”.
Ananta kalyAna GunAkaratvam is brought out by the lines
“pAr kAnumaLavum sellum keertthiyAi”, “UlappilAnE”, “AmudhE” YazhinisaiyE”
“Arivin payanE” MamAyA ,etc.

The second component of Arttha Panchakam,Atma Swaroopam, is


charecterised by the principal attributes of Bhagawat Paratantryam(which AzhwAr
incorporates in his loving words “Ennai AlwAnE”). Two of the Atma gunAs which flow
from this are Bhagat ananyarha seshatvam and Ananya gatitvam. The former ,glorified by
Sri Bhattar in his immortal words “UkArO ananyArham niyamayati sambandham
ananyO:”., finds expression in the AzhwAr’s sri sookthi as “PiriyA Adimai ennaik
kondai kudanthai thirumAlE” .
Ananya gatitvam shines out from the passages “kalayvAi thunbam kalayAdu
ozhivAi,kalaikan matrilEn” and” UnnAlallal yAvarAlum ondrum kurai vEndEn”

PrAptyupAyam,for the Prapanna jana kootasthA,is naturally Prapatthi,


and in his anxiety to ensure that every Sri VaishnavA adopts this easy path to
liberation,Sri NammAzhwAr makes multiple allusions to the UpAya in this
ThiruvAimozhi .Besides proudly proclaiming himself to be “Kazhalgal avayE saranAga
konda Kurukur Satakopan”,he repeats the Moksha mArgam thrice more ,lest any one
miss it the first time-“un charanam thanthu en sanmam kalayAyE”, “un thAl piditthhE
selakkanE”
“Un thALinai keezh irutthum ammAnE” .The last sentence also glorifies the
SiddhOpAyam.
PrApti VirOdhi, is aptly described by Swami Desikan as”AvidyA karma
vAsanAdi roopamAna Moksha pratibandhaka vargam” of which the principal enemy is
Bhagavannigraham , earned due to continuous disobedience of the Lord’s
command(anAdi AgyA adhilanghanam).This AzhwAr ,who describes Virodhi more
eloquently elsewhere as “thiNNam azhundak katti pala seivinai van kayitrAl punnai
maraya varindu ennai pora vaitthAi puramE”,is rather brief in his references in this
particular Patthu. He just refers to it in passing, as “Thollai vinai”, Thoora kuzhi” and
TheerA vinaigal”.
108

From the way Sri NammAzhwAr describes PrApti Phalam, which is the
incomparable and unparalleled bliss that awaits the muktAtma on his ascension to
SriVaikuntam,it would appear that Sri ArAvamudAzhwAn blessed Azhwar with such
pleasure even in the Leela Vibhuti-for , in a krithagyatA anusandhAnam, he exclaims
“ArAavamudhAi adiyEn aavi agamE thitthippAi”.It is clear that in a “Premiere Show”,so
to say,EmperumAn gave magizh Maran a taste of the unbridled enjoyment in store at Sri
vaikuntam by pervading AzhwAr’s body and soul, and ,true to his thirunAmam
“AparyAptAmruthan”,filled AzhwAr with unending bliss.
BhAgawatAs are now sure to agree with adiyEn that just as the Purusha Sooktham is
considered to be the embodiment of all that is great in the VedAs (“VedEshu Pourusham
Sooktham”), “ArAvamudhE”could well be said to occupy a similar pinnacle among its
peers in Divya Prabandham .This is just the tip of the iceberg, as far as the hidden
treasures of “ArAvamudhE” are concerned, which was evident even to mandamathis like
adiyen,and Sri VaishnavAs are invited to the pleasure of avagAhanam in this
rasAnubhava sAgaram, to come up with gems of their own.

dasan,sadagopan.

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Achamanam

An Achamanam is the simplest of Vaidika karmAs, yet none the less in importance
than an AsvamEdha Yagyam. Its importance can be well realised when we note that it
forms the prelude to all rituals. No vaidika karma can be begun without an Achamanam.

What is the role of this short, simple act? Its main function is to purify the body and
the mind. One may ask: before performing any ritual, we usually bathe well, wear a pure
cloth, and apply TirumaN to the forehead and at eleven other places in the body, and are
as pure as can be. What indeed is the need for another purificatory act, however short or
simple? The answer to this question lies in an analysis of the ritual of Achamanam.

The act consists of sipping water in a cupped palm thrice, to the accompaniment of the
mantras “AchutAya nama:, AnantAya nama: and GovindAya nama:, with the PraNava
preceding these nAmAs, and thereafter touching twelve parts of the body with various
fingers of the right hand and the palm, chanting twelve holy names of the Lord, all the
while keeping the mind fixed on Him. Simple as it may sound, there are many do’s and
don’ts relating to this function, some of which are enumerated here.

Some of the don’ts first-


Achamanam in not to be done standing up, but always in the “KukkutAsanam” or a hen-
like posture, sitting down with the soles of the feet firmly planted on the ground, the
hands between the knees.
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Achamanam is not to be done facing the west or the south, but always facing the east or
the north.
Achamanam should not be done with impure or falling water, as from a tap or rain, but
usually with water from a river or tank, or from a vessel held in the left hand. When
doing this in a river or tank, the left hand should be touching the water.
It should not be performed casually, while speaking to others, wearing a shirt or footwear,
with a covered head, with laughter etc., but with devotion, and with the consciousness
that one is uttering the holy names of the Almighty, which purify and protect.
Nor should it be done while wearing a “Pavithram”. While performing an achamanam,
the pavithram should be kept in the gap between the right ear lobe and the head. This is
perhaps meant to avoid the sharp ends of the pavithram hurting the eyes.

Though an Achamanam generally precedes all karmAs, there are specific mentions in the
Smritis about the occasions that call for one. These are enumerated below:-
Immediately after waking up in the morning
After urination and other forms of excretion
After brushing one’s teeth
Before and after a bath
After wearing clothes
As a preliminary to all nitya and naimittika karmAs (daily and occasional rituals) like
Sandhyavandanam, Brahmayagyam, Adharashakti tarpanam, VedAdhyayanam,
PitrutarpaNam, mantra japam,etc.
Before and after a meal
Speaking with or touching
Unsuitable persons
Before and after giving or accepting alms or donation
After sneezing, shedding tears or blood
Upon association with contact with women, blood, human hair, fire, cows, cats, mice,
refuse, etc.
Before and after crossing a river
The aforesaid are only indicative occasions for Achamanam and not an exhaustive list.

It is not enough that water is sipped with the mantra- it must reach the heart, and not
merely stop with the tongue, mouth or throat. This will be possible only if enough water
is taken in the cupped hand. Smritis lay down that the quantum of water should be such
that the “Masha” rEkhA in the palm is immersed. This water is to be conveyed into the
mouth via the bottom of the palm, known as the “Brahma TIrttham”.

It is a measure of this act’s significance that the mantras accompanying it are acclaimed
to be the holiest.
The tirunAmAs Achyutha, Ananta, and Govinda are a panacea for all ills, and destroy all
disease, however deep-rooted and serious, says Sage Vyasa-
“Achyuta Ananta Govinda nAma ucchAraNa bhEshajAt
nasyanti sakalA: rOgA: satyam satyam vadAmyaham”
These words come from the mouth of one of the most erudite, venerated sages, who was
a master of the Scriptures and the author of the Brahma SutrAs, whose credibility is
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beyond question.
The Achyuta nAmA indicates the Lord’s attachment to His devotees and His promise
never to forsake them, especially in times of distress.
It is significant that this tirumama has the akAra or the letter A at the very beginning,
because the letter alone is considered very auspicious and symbolic of Emperuman
(“akAra: Vishnu vAchaka:” “akArArtthO Vishnu:” etc.)
The Ananta nAma describes Emperuman’s Paratvam or supremacy. He is limitless-
unlimited by time, place or object (“dEsa, kAla, vastu paricchEda rAhityam”). He
pervades all objects, and is present always at all places. Thus this sobriquet declares that
the Lord is capable of protecting His devotees.
The Govinda nAma indicates the Lord’s soulabhyam or accessibility.
The omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Lord took birth in the midst of unlettered
cowherds, sharing fully in their happiness and sorrow, stealing butter like an ordinary
greedy mortal child and getting punished for it, etc. If the Lord were to be only supreme
and inaccessible, He would not be of much succour to us. On the other hand, if He were
to be accessible but not possess omnipotence, He wouldn’t be capable of protecting and
preserving us. This unique combination of Paratvam and Soulabhyam makes Emperuman
both capable of and inclined to rush to the rescue of souls in distress.

What better evidence of the efficacy of the Govinda nAma do we need, than the episode
of the Damsel in Distress-Draupati. When she cried out “Govinda!
PundarIkAksha!Raksha mAm sharanAgatAm” the Lord protected her modesty with bales
of clothing appearing miraculously to overwhelm even the powerful DucchAsana, intent
on disrobing her.
Sri LokAchArya goes to the extent of saying:”Draupadikku Apatthil pudavai surandadu
tirunAmam irE”( it is indeed the Govinda nAma that saved PanchAli’s modesty- by
implication, this denies the credit for this act of protection to the Lord Himself, and
ascribes the same to His tirunAmam). The Acharya says that Emperuman’s holy names
are more powerful than He Himself is, lauding the comparative greatness of the
“Vachaka”( the name) over that of the “VAchyam” ( the possessor of the name). Even
when the Lord is too far away to protect us, His hallowed name, if it is on our tongue,
will protect us immediately (“avan doorastthan AnAlum idu kiiti nindru udavum”).
The combination of the Achyuta, Ananta and Govinda nAmAs has the effect of purifying
us bodily and in spirit, of destroying all disease, whether of the body or the soul, of
affording us constant protection, and washing away all sin, past, present and future.
Thus it is out of their infinite mercy that the Maharshis who authored the various Smritis
prescribed Achamanam as a prelude to and as a concluding act to all vaidika karmAs, and
even to our daily ablutions.

Though there is a wealth of information on Achamanam to be found in the Ahnika


granthAs, especially the one by prakritam Srimad Azhagiasingar, Smritis and their
commentaries, notably the “Smriti MuktAphalam” etc., adiyen stops here, seeking the
Bhagavatas’ permission to cover some other aspects of this important purificatory rite
later.

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:


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Achamanam-2
We have seen the various occasions warranting Achamanam. One of these is eating or
drinking. However, there are occasions too when Achamanam is forbidden; for instance it
is not to be done after the intake of holy water like PerumAl Tirttham (Vishnu
pAdOdakam), Sri PAda tIrttham of bhAgavatAs, madhuparkam, sOmapAnam (after
conclusion of the SomayAga),etc.
The Achamanam in practice during Sandhyavandanam etc., is described in the Smritis.
There is one more prescribed by the Shruti and which is done at the time of Brahma
Yagyam ( done after PrAtah:sandhyAvandanam, in which one prasna from the Veda is
recited daily in sequential order, along with the Purusha Sukta). This Achamanam is
described in the TaittirIya AraNyaka ( 2nd Prasna, 15th panchati) thus-“
tri:AchAmEt,dvi:parimrijya,sakrit u0pasprisya,shira: chakshushee nAsikE shrOtrE
hridayam Alabhya”
As in the ordinary Achamanam, here too, water is sipped thrice, the lips wiped twice.
Then one should touch the head, eyes, two nostrils, two ears and the heart. This
constitutes the Shrouta Achamanam.
The important difference in this type of Achamanam is that it is done without any mantra
being uttered- the intake of water is without the accompaniment of “Achuta Ananta
Govinda” nAmAs. Further, the body parts to be touched are only eight, against twelve in
the SmArta Achamanam. Additionally, even while touching these parts, no mantra is to
be recited (i.e., without the KesavAdi nAmAs).
Perhaps due its peculiarities, and the absence of accompanying Bhagavan nAmAs, this
Achamanam is prescribed only during Brahma Yagya and nowhere else.

There is one more type of Achamanam in vogue. It often happens that though we need to
purify ourselves through Achamanam, no water is available at the time and place. In such
situations, the Smriti prescribes an easy method of purification- that of touching the tip of
one’s nose and then the right ear, uttering the Pranava mantra. This is based on the
Scriptural texts, which say that Agni resides in the Brahmana’s nose tip and holy rivers
like the Ganga in his right ear. Hence touching these two purifies a person immediately.
This is why perhaps the YagyOpaveetam is rolled onto one’s right ear while carrying on
excretory functions. We would have observed elders performing this ShrOtra
Achamanam after letting out a yawn or sneezing.
It is to be noted that this short cut is to be adopted only when the regular Achamanam is
impossible due to circumstances.
Other types of mini-AchamanAs are prescribed by Sri BodhAyana, who says that when
the vastram is worn again after its removal, one should perform Achamanam, and if that
is not possible, touch wet grass, wet earth or wet gOmayam.
The importance attached to Achamanam is evident from the Smriti Chandrika vachanam,
“ya: kriyA kurutE mOhAt anAchamya Eva nAstika:
bhavanti hi vritA tasya kriyA:sarvA na samsaya:”
All karmAs done without Achamanam are doomed to failure and would be futile, warns
the Smriti.
There are many Smritis, which prescribe different types of Achamanam, some mutually
conflicting. Whenever one has a doubt, one should approach elders and BhAgavatAs and
have the matter clarified, as there is nothing that is more authoritative. Adiyen seeks the
112

pardon of BhagavatAs for any errors of commission or omission that might have crept in
the above piece.

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

Achamanam-3

This is an unintended sequel to the earlier two-part posting on the subject, resulting from
the clarifications sought by various BhAgavatAs, which enabled adiyen to research
deeper into the Smritis and Ahnika Granthas, especially the one by Prakritam Srimad
Azhagiasingar.
Is Achamanam prescribed for ladies too? Yes, it is. The difference between the regular
Achamanam and that to be done by ladies is that the latter is to be done without the
pranava and the chaturtthi. That is, the water is to be sipped thrice, once each with
“Achuta, Ananta, and Govinda” only and not “AchyutAya Nama”.etc. Also, only these
three namas are to be uttered and not the other twelve beginning with “Kesavaya Nama:”
How is the water to be sipped? Water is to be taken for Achamanam via the Deva tIrttham
(formed by the joined finger-tips-this is especially when Sandhyavandanam is performed
in rivers or tanks), held in the palm which should be in the form of a cow’s ear, and
sipped via the Brahma Tirttham(that is, via the bottom of the palm).This is indicated by
the Saccharitra Sudhanidhi vachanam “Brahma tIrtthEna nissabdam mAsha magnam
jalam pibEt”. This also implies that the intake of water should be without any sound, as
occasioned by noisy sucking.
This would necessitate the head to be in a slightly raised position, not of course as raised
as for drinking water normally, so that the water comfortably flows down the throat.
Incidentally, an Achamanam is supposed to be complete only when the water sipped
reaches the heart-it is not enough if it stops with the tongue, palate or even the throat.
(“apsu prAptAsu hridayam brAhmaNa; shuddim ApnuyAt”). Though this appears
difficult, it should be possible with practice, correct posture of the head, sipping the
correct quantity of water, etc.
One more clarification sought was whether the practice of Brihaspatis, not to advise
Achamanam at the commencement of various rituals, is correct. Adiyen can only quote
the HArIta Smriti-
“Shrouta SmArtEshu gArhyEshu kritEshu vidhivat budha:
dvirAchAmEt tu sarvatra”
This pramANA enjoins upon all to perform two AchamanAs at the beginning of all rituals
of all descriptions.
A few prescriptions regarding the water used for Achamanam-
Achamanam should not be done using hot water, water with bubbles or froth, mixed with
mud or sand, with a foul-smell, that emanating from dirty sources, discoloured water,
water perfumed with the addition of cardamom, sandalwood paste, etc., water left over
after washing the feet, after Agni kAryam, etc., salty or bitter water, etc.

Nor should Achamanam be done with seawater, because the Shruti prohibits drinking of
the same-“tasmAt samudrasya na pibanti”.
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Why should one touch the various body parts while performing Achamanam? Replies
Sage VyAsa-
All the DevAs are propitiated by the intake of water with the Achuta, Ananta and
Govinda nAmAs. Wiping the lips pleases Ganga and Yamuna, while touching the eyes
pleases SuryA and Chandra. Similarly, the AswinI dEvAs are propitiated by touching of
the nose, Agni and Vayu by the ears. When the heart is touched with the Padmanabha
mantra (which is also the mantra for touching the navel) all the thirty-three crore dEvAs
are pleased and the Paramatma by touching the head.
The importance of Achamanam can be well understood, when we find it prescribed even
as a PrAyaschittam (act of atonement) for all sins. Says Sri BodhAyana in the
PrAyaschitta PrakaraNa,
“AchamanAdEva sarvasmAt pApAt pramuchyatE”

The purpose of this piece is not to list so many do’s and don’ts that people despair of
performing this correctly, but to emphasise the need for due care in this regard, so that
any ritual, to which Achamanam is a prelude, is well-begun. And, as everybody knows,
well begun is half-done.
“Such a simple act, and so many rules for its performance!”
One might wonder: but in view of the apparently boundless benefits to be derived from a
single correctly done Achamanam, it is well worth our while to observe the requirements
to the maximum possible extent.
Srimad InjimEttu Azhagiasingar, the 42nd Pontiff of Sri Ahobila Mutt, renowned for His
erudition and anushttAnam, was reputed to devote great care on every Achamanam He
performed, consuming quite a few minutes for the act. And so have several other MahAns
of different SampradAyAs, highlighting the significance they attached to this simple, but
extremely effective act.

Srimate SriLakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra


Mahadesikaya Nama:
Dasan, sadagopan.

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Akinchanyam

Our PoorvAcharyAs, in their infinite mercy, have shown us an easy and simple path to
salvation- that of Prapatti or absolute surrender to God. Compared to Bhakti and other
upAyAs prescribed in the shAstrAs for mOkshA, prapatti is easy of performance, has to
be done only once, and is expeditious in its results. However, there are certain
prerequisites for a person intending to adopt SaranAgati as the device for liberation, and
the first of these is Akinchanyam. Certain aspects of this virtue are discussed below.
Perhaps no other Sreesookti brings out the essence of Akinchanyam better than Sri
AlavandAr's StOtra Ratna slOkA-
"na dharma nishttOsmi nacha Atma vedi
na bhaktimAn tvat charaNAravindE
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akinchanO ananya gati:sharaNya


tvat pAda moolam sharaNam prapadyE"
In a moving declaration of his inadequacy, Sri Yamuna Muni confesses himself to be
incapable of the performance of Karma YogA and GnAna YogA, and therefore of Bhakti
YogA too.Thus, having no other means of attaining the Lord, he surrenders himself at
His Lotus Feet,in an act of SaraNAgati. This beautiful slOkA thus throws up a
definition of Akinchancyam as "ananya sAdhanatvam" or "sadhanAntara rahitatvam" –
that is, the lack of any means of attaining the desired goal. It is thus clear that the
prerequisite for an intending PrapannA is the lack of capability to adopt any other upAyA
(like Bhakti) for mOkshA. In other words, people who have the knowledge and capacity
to perform Bhakti YogA or anyother means to salvation are, ipso facto, ineligible to
perform SaraNAgati, which is indeed the refuge of the helpless.
The StOtra Ratnam is but the quintessence of the Divya PrabandAs; we hence find a
fitting parallel to the aforesaid slOkA, in the following ThirumAlai pAsuram of Sri
Tondaradippodi AzhwAr-
"KuLitthu moondru analai Ombum kurikoL andaNamai tannai
oLitthittEn: enkaNum illai ninkaNum bhaktan allEn
KaLippadu en kondu nambi kadal vaNNA kadarukindrEn
ALitthu enakku aruL sei kaNdAi aranga mAnagaruLAnE"
Here, Azhwar laments that despite being born a Brahmin, he hasforesaken worship
of the three Holy Fires (GArhapatyAgni, DAkshinAgni, and AhavaneeyAgni) –by
implication, he confesses inability to adopt Karma,GnAna and Bhakti YogAs, as a means
to salvation.
Akinchanyam finds mention in TiruvAimozhi too,(and naturally so, considering Sri
NammAzhwAr's status as the Head of the Prapanna family –"Prapanna Jana
Kootasttha:") when he says, "nOtra nOnbilEn nuNNarivilEn" etc.
Sri Ramanuja too echoes his PrAchAryA in the Sri Vaikunta Gadyam-"anAgata
ananta kAlOpi adrishta santArOpaya:"(Even for aeons to come, I am unable to identify a
means of salvation).
In an allied sense, the term Akinchanyam is also used to denote Poverty, especially of
the soul, and has been admirably employed by Sri Bhattar in Sri Rangaraja Stavam, to
denote his impoverished state, as regards means of liberation-"GnAna KriyA Bhajana
sampat akinchanOham". To quote ThirumAlai again,Akinchanyam is brought out vividly
in the pAsurams
"oorilEn kANi illai uravu matru oruvar illai
pAril nin pAda moolam pattrilEn Paramamoorti
kAroLi vaNNanE KaNNanE kadarugindrEn
AruLar kaLaikaN ammA arangamAnagaruLAnE"

"ManatthilOr tooymai illai, vAyil Or insol illai


sinatthinAl chetram nOkki teeviLi viLivan vAlA
punatthuzhAi mAlayAnE ponnisoozh TiruvarangA
enakkini gati en sollAi ennai Aludaya KovE".

Swami Desikan defines Akinchanyam as "Bhakti nishpAdanE sAmartya


soonyatvam"and again as "Karma YogAdi hEtubhoota guna kriyAdi sampAdana
115

doushkarmyam", and in Srimad RahasyatrayasAram, as "upAyAntarangaLil


ivvadhikAriyinudaya agnAna, asaktigaL".
This Akinchanyam acts as the chief catalyst in producing one of the most important of the
five components of
SaraNAgai, viz., "KarpaNyam". The realisation, that one does not possess any
qualification or ability to adopt any of the prescribed means to salvation, eliminates
pride, creates humility and makes the PrapannA realise his helplessness, thus making him
an ideal receptacle for Emperuman's boundless mercy.

Akinchanyam-clarification

Dear Shri Sudharshan,


Your questions are indeed thought-provoking. Why should anyone choose the long,hard
route, when an easy short-cut is available? And as you put it aptly, why work" harder "by
adopting Bhakti Yoga, while you could work "smarter" and achieve the same result
through Prapatti?
Shastras lay down different paths to moksha ("nAnA shabdAdi bhedAt", says the
Brahma Sutra) for mumukshus to adopt, depending upon their knowledge, capacity,
caste, etc. For instance, while an Upasaka has to be a "traivarNika"(belonging to the first
three of the four castes),Prapatti does not impose any such condition on its votaries. Each
of the Brahma vidyas presupposes certain qualifications. Thus the Prapatti mArgA is
open only to those who possess Akinchanyam. Others, who are not akinchanAs, and have
the requisite gnAnA and capability, have to, perforce, adopt any of the Brahma vidyAs
other than SaranAgati. Thus ,mumukshus endowed with gnAnA and shakti, much as they
might like to adopt the easier NyAsa vidya, are precluded from doing so. Just as the
possession of these virtues ( of gnAnA ,capacity etc.) are a qualification for a Bhakti
Yogi, ipso facto they are a disqualification for an intending PrapannA. Thus Prapatti is
like a concession, extended to an under-privileged class of people, which cannot be
availed of by others. Trust this clarifies.

Akinchanyam

Sri Sudarshan's queries gave adiyen the opportunity to dwell on the differences between
Bhakti and Prapatti as mOkshOpAyAs. Prapatti is of two types- advAraka or direct
Prapatti and SadvAraka or indirect Prapatti. While the former is an independent path to
salvation, the latter forms a component or angA of Bhakti YogA. Thus both the Bhakti
Yogi and an intending PrapannA have to take recourse to Prapatti, for attaining liberation.
It is with this in view that the shAstras lay down, "PrapannAt anyEshAm na disati
MukundO nija padam"(The Lord does not bestow mOkshA on anyone but a PrapannA).
Having said this, however, we must definitely take cognizance of the ocean of
difference between UpAsanA (Bhakti) and NyasA(Prapatti).The former is reserved for
the select few, like Sri BhismAchAryA and Sri VyAsA, who have been blessed with the
requisite GnanA and perseverance to perform Bhakti Yoga. And unlike Prapatti which is a
momentary act, to be performed once only (Sakrit Kartavyam), Bhakti Yoga is to be
continued throughout life, and perhaps through several janmAs, and that too without a
break, like "thaila dhAra".Thus, UpAsanA is for the patient soul, who can wait for
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mOkshA, and is not in a hurry to attain the same, unlike a PrapannA, whose entreaty is
for immediate elevation to Paramapadam,(Arttha Prapatti) or , at the latest, by the end of
the present birth(Etat dEhAvasAnE mAm tvat pAdam prApaya).
As to what prompts a person to choose Prapatti over Bhakti, every individual has to ask
himself whether he possesses the capability, qualifications and patience essential for the
performance of UpAsanA, and if the answer to a realistic self-assessment is negative, has
to plump for Prapatti. And, more than anything else, notwithstanding the apparent
availability of choice, it is after all the ever present AntaryAmi,who guides us through all
our actions,prompts us to decide either way.
However, as a thumb-rule for the Kali YugA, since all the PoorvAchAryas have felt
themselves either inadequate vis-a vis the demands of UpAsanA, or too impatient to wait
for its logical culmination, and have chosen the Prapatti mArgA, we lesser mortals seem
to have little choice in the matter.
And as to whether a Bhakti Yoga nishttA needs Akinchanyam, the answer appears to be a
definite "no", since an UpAsakA posseses GnAnA,is capable of performing Karma
Yoga,and is definitely not helpless. And helplessness is, after all, the yardstick of
Akinchanyam. Swami Desikan clearly says,"IvargaLil VyAsAdigaLai pOlE upAyAntara
samartthan AgaiyAlE akinchananum andrikkE"
The lack of Akinchanyam in an UpAsakA should not by itself result in ahankAram, due
the beneficial effects of Karma Yoga, which teaches the SadhakA to perform all the
ordained karmAs solely for the Lord's pleasure, while GnAna helps him to realize the
true relationship (SEsha Seshi Bhavam) between himself and the ParamAtmA.
Adiyen is not sure as to how far this meets Sri Sudarshan's queries, and would request
other bhagavatas to supplement/correct.
Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Nahadesikaya Nama:
-dasan, sadagopan.

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aaLavandAr aDiyOm paDiyOm ini alvazhakke

This is the last line of the pAsuram in praise of sri aaLavandAr in Sri
GuruparamparA Saram.SwAmi Desikan has a special affinity towards sri aaLavandAr
,which is evident throughout his works,whether philosophical,polemical or otherwise.
This is not to belittle his bhakti towards the other purvAchAryAs-but to emphasise the
special footing on which he treats sri aaLavandAr .In the pAsuram cited above,a rare
compliment is paid to sri Yamuna muni - _SwAmi Desikan says that once we become
the devotees of this AchAryA, we would never again fall victim to unworthy practices. It
must be remembered here that SwAmi Desikan is not very liberal with his accolades,nor
is he given to exaggerations,poetical or otherwise. In this little piece,adiyen would like to
try to fathom the reasons for this special devotion of sri NigamAntha Guru.

The term Alvazhakku is used by sri PeriAzhwAr is his ThiruppallAndu-upon his


admission to the Thondar kulam, and purified by the “kOir pori”,he describes himself
proudly as “Alvazhakkam ondrillA ani kOttiyarkOn”.Similar pride pervades SwAmi
117

Desikan,upon his joining the elite band of devotees of sri aaLavandAr .He proudly
proclaims this in the following AdhikAra Sangraha pAsuram:

NeeLavandhu indru vidhivagayAl ninaivondriya nAm


MeeLavandhu innum vinai udambu ondri vizhundhu uzhalAthu
AlavandAr ena vendru arul thanthu viLangia seer
AlavandAr adiyOm padiyOm ini alvazhakkE.

Swami Desikan’s special attachment to Sri YamunAchAryA is also borne out by the
fact that ,out of the innumerable PoorvachArya stOthras,the only ones(excluding
theGadyAs which cannot strictly be called stothras) that are privileged to have SwAmi
Desikan’s commentary are the Stothra Rathnam and Sri ChathuslOki. The GeethArtha
Sangraha Churukku is another of his tributes to sri Yamuna muni. It is no exaggeration to
say that the Stothra Rathnam has provided considerable inspiration to AchAryAs like Sri
RamAnujA,Sri KooratthAzhwAn,Sri Bhattar and Swami Desikan and the sampradAya
artthas, which are to be found in every sloka of the AlavandAr Stothram and Sri
Chathussloki , are indeed the fountainhead for the elaborations of the subsequent
AchAryAs.

Tathvathrayam,arttha panchakam,paradEvathA pAramArthyam,Sri


Swaroopam,Prapatthi lakshnam and innumerable other topics are dealt with in Sri
AlavandAr’s stothrAs and SwAmi Desikan repeatedly acknowledges his debt of
gratitude in his various stothrAs and rahasya granthAs.

An interesting comparison here:-


SwAmi Desikan,in Daya Sathakam,coins the elegant phrase “Karuna
VarunAlayam”(ocean of mercy)for SrinivAsA,while in Sri EthirAja Saptathi,he talks
about “Yamunam Theerttham” with reference to Sri AlavandAr(vigAhe yamunam
theerttham-sAdhu brindAvanE sthitham-nirastha jihmaga sparse-yethra
Krishna:krithAdhara:). The description of EmberumAn as (kripa)samudram and the
AchArya as a theerttham(punya nadhi or thatAkam),though occurring in different
stothrAs and contexts,is none the less significant. We are able to draw a few inferences
from the analogies;

1.A punya theerttham is much more accessible and lends itself more easily to
avagAhanam(a spiritually and physically invigorating dip) than the deep and dangerous
ocean. Likewise,AchAryas like Sri AlavandAr are infinitely more accessible to baddha
jeevas like us,than EmperumAn ,who,in his Sri Vaikunta,appears as remote and
unreachable to us as is Mount Everest to the lame.
While EmperumAn,for preserving his neutrality and so as not to be accused of
vaishamyam and nairgrinyam,protects only when sincerely appealed to
(RakshApEkshAm prateeskshathE),AchAryAs like sri Yamuna muni ,due to their sahaja
kArunyam,protect us suo motu and without any expectations(payanandrAgilum
pAngalarAgilum seyal nandrAga thirutthi pani kolvAn).
2.Water from the punya theertham is sweet and potable,while that of the samudram is
salty and undrinkable (the Vedas specifically prohibit drinking sea water-“tasmAt
118

samudrasya na pibanti”).
Similarly,for observers of purushAarttha kAshtta(bhAgawata.AchArya
seshathvam,AchArya srisookthis like the Stotra Rathnam are bhogyathama,vis-à-vis
Bhagavatsookthis like sri geetha,which are at best bhogyatara.

3.Punyanadhi snAnam can be done whenever one feels like it,while samudra snAnam is
possible only on parvAs. .Sri AlavandAr and AchAryAs of his lineage are always
available to mortals like us ,while EmperumAn is totally inaccessible to us in his
Para,Vyuha,Vibhava and AntharyAmi avasthas, and is severely restricted by ArchA
SamAdhi.
4.Even in bhagavat kainkaryam,the samudra can be counted only after Yamunam
Theertham. One may recall Samudra Raja’s indifference to Chakravarthi Thirumagan’s
saranAgathi,forcing Him to issue an uncharacteristic threat(sagaram soshaishyAmi
padhbhyAm yAnthu plavangamA;).In contrast,the waters of the Yamuna readily and
obligingly parted to make way for the Krishna sisu on his journey to nanda gokulam, on
that stormy night. Similarly,AchAryAs like sri AlavandAr , by their
beneficial,merciful and constant interaction ,induce us to adopt bhagawat kainkaryam
(which is more than EmperumAn could ever hope to do-that was indeed why He took an
Abhinava DasAvatArA ,through the nitya sUris, as various AzhwArs ,in his attempts to
emancipate mankind.)

it may not be out of place here to mention another analogy ,this time in the reverse
direction .
Sri Bhashyakara, in a prelude to one of his GadyAs,says

YamunArya sudhAmbOdhim avagAhya yathAmathi


AdhAya bhakti yOgakyam ratnam sandharsayAmyaham.

{Having delved deep into the ocean of nectar that is Sri AlavandAr,to the best of my
abilities,I proffer herewith the invaluable diamond of Bhakti yoga).The word
‘yathamati’ denotes that the YAmuna sAgaram is too deep and wide for anyone to have
an idea of its true potential and that one may, at best,access it to the limited extent of
one’s own capabilities,such as they are. Sri RamAnujA liberally borrows,verbatim,
phrases from the Stotra Ratna of Sri AlavandAr,to embellish several passages of the
GadyAs,not because he is at a loss for words,but because no other words but those of Sri
AlavandAr would have fitted the context . Sri EmperumAnAr’s bhakti for sri AlavandAr
does not need to be spoken of,for it pours out ,almost involuntarily,in all his works.”
ThamO YenApAstham sa hi vijayatE” is Sri RamAnujA’s eloquent acknowledgement .
We can now understand very well Swami Desikan’s visEsha pratipatthi towards sri
YamunAchAryA,on two counts.:-
1.Anyone dear to sri RamAnujA is, ipso facto,dearer to SwAmi Desikan.
2.Sri AlavandAr’s invaluable contribution to the SampradAyA makes him a
favourite object for SwAmi Desikan’s unqualified adoration.
One recalls here Sri Valmiki’s immortal words that Sri Sita was dear to Sri
Rama,not only due to Her own sterling qualities,but also because she was the darling of
her fatherinlaw,the venerable dasarathA.
119

Sri InjimEdu Azhagiasingar,in his Sri SarabOdhini,elaborates the term “alvazhakku”


to mean the conduct occasioned by dEhAtma bhramam and swatantrAtma bhramam
,which are the root cause of all the evils that can befall a prapannA.
Though the subject is fit for a doctoral thesis,adiyen would like to end here,for fear
of wasting more of the bhagavatAs’ time. .my apologies once more for being longwinded
and unoriginal.
dasan,sadagopan.

Top , Back to Index

Bhagavat KatAksham

There are looks that heal, looks that wither and looks that even kill. There
are looks of anger, of compassion, of love and of laughter. Lovers often long for a look of
endearment from their beloved. Such a look or the absence of it can make or mar the day
of an ardent suitor.
It is said that Sri DhanurdAsa, before he became a devoted disciple of Sri Ramanuja, was
extremely enamoured of a loving look from his paramour PonnAcchi. It was only after
Sri Ramanjua introduced him to the incomparable delights of a glance from Sri
Ranganatha’s bewitching eyes that he realised that the Lord’s look is more captivating
than any other.

Emperuman’s look or His “KatAksham” destroys all evil and bestows all that is
auspicious: this is brought out by the Tiruppavai lines “angaN irandum kondu engaL mEl
nOkkudiyEl engaL mEl sApam izhindElOr empAvAi”.

It is significant that Sri Andal likens the Lord’s eyes to the Sun and the Moon (“tingaLum
Adityanum ezhundAr pOl”).
It is a fact of nature that the Sun and the Moon are never seen together in the skies, as
they reign over the day and night respectively. However, in the case of the Lord, it
appears as though they are present simultaneously, as one eye, resembling the Sun, shines
out brightly to destroy all sin in the minds of the devotees, while the other eye, cool and
pleasing as the moon, brings them ever-lasting happiness and restfulness.
When Sri Andal compares the Lord’s look to the glittering Sun, She obviously has in
mind the Purusha Sukta vAkya “ChakshO: SuryO ajayata” ascribing the Sun’s origins to
the Lord’s eyes.
The Lord’s look not only destroys evil, but also instils in the devotee all the auspicious
attributes essential in an aspirant to Liberation. Once Emperuman’s kataksham falls on a
bhakta even at birth, it turns him into a SAtvika, a repository of all that is good and an
antithesis to all that is not.
Sri Mahabharata (ShAnti Parva) bears testimony to this;

“JayamAnam hi purusham yam pasyet MadhusUdhana:


SAtvika: sa tu vigyEya: sa vai MokshArttha chintaka:”
120

On the other hand, if one comes under the sway and look of other dEvatAs at birth, he
becomes susceptible to RAjasic or Tamasic influences.
“PasyatEnam jAyamAnam brahma rudro atava puna:
RajasA tamasA chAsya mAnasam samabhiplutam”-

Sri Tondaradippodi Azhwar cries out for a look of vAtsalyam from Aranganagarappan-

“Mazhaikku andru varai mun Endum maindanE madhura ArE


uzhaikkandrE pOla nOkkam udayavar valayuL pattu
uzhaikkindrErkku ennai nOkkadu ozhivadE
unnai andrO azhaikkindrEn Adimoorti ArangamAnagaruLAnE”

Says Azhwar- “Sri Ranganatha! You know full well that I have fallen a slave to
ephemeral pleasures and am ensnared by females with mercenary intent. Even so, is it
fair for You to deny me a look of compassion from Your lotus eyes? All the world knows
that for protecting cows, calves and cowherds, You undertook the arduous task of holding
up with Your little finger the mighty Govardhana Giri for seven days, amidst raging storm
and pelting rain. My requirement is nowhere as demanding or troublesome- I just want a
glance from your eyes. Even if your look were to be one of contempt for my present
travails, I wouldn’t mind, as long as You do look at me! You know too that like GajEndra
of yore, I have no one else to turn to for succour. So I beseech You- do look at me!”

Even a fleeting glance from the Lord’s bewitching lotus eyes can enslave one for life. The
scholarly Rishis of the SvEtadveepa are no more proof to His irresistible charm than the
unlettered Gopis of NandagOkulam, and gladly concede defeat:
“JitamtE PundareekAksha!”
(“Oh Lord of the lotus eyes! Despite ourselves, we have been won over by You!”).
Sri Nammazhwar echoes this in Tiruvaimozhi-“ThOtrOm mada nenjam Emperuman
NAraNarku”.

“Tvat eekshaNa sudha sindhu veechi vikshEpa seekarai:


KaruNya mAruta Aneetai: seetalai: abhishincha mAm”
Prays Sri Tirukkacchi Nambi, beseeching Sri Varadaraja to drench him (Nambi) with the
nectarine waves of His looks, made cooler by the winds of compassion blowing
constantly in His presence.

Sri Ramanuja, prompted by boundless devotion brimming over, and unable to bear the
Lord’s separation, wonders in the Sri Vaikunta Gadyam- “When will I reach Sri
Vaikuntam and be the object of the Lord’s look of love and compassion!”
“KadA mAm BhagavAn svakeeyayA atiseetalaya drisA mAm avalOkya ….”.

We have seen so far the high pedestal on which those who are the object of the Lord’s
glances are placed. At the other end of the spectrum are those who are not so fortunate.
Sri Valmiki says that such people, whom Sri Rama did not make the subject of His sacred
look, and those who were not fortunate enough to have a glance at the Prince of Ayodhya,
were universally detested, and were unable to live with themselves:
121

“Yascha Ramam na pasyEt tu yancha RamO na pasyati


nindita: sa vasEt lOke svAtmapi Enam vigarhatE”.
However high a person’s social status, and however blessed he is otherwise, if Sri Rama
does not see him at least once in his life, his entire sojourn on this earth would be a waste,
and he need not have been born at all. Similar is the fate of a person who is not blessed
enough to see Sri DAsarati’s divya mangala vigraha at least once.

If the Lord’s looks are so uplifting, what about those of His Consort?
But for Sri Mahalakshmi’s looks of compassion, the Universe would never have been
created and countless jeevAtmAs would have lost the opportunity for liberation, says Sri
Alavandar-
“eeshat tvat karuNA nireekshaNa sudha sandhukshaNat rakshyatE, nashtam prAk tat
alAbhata:tribhuvanam sampratyanantOdayam”
Swami Desikan voices the same feelings in a different fashion. After pralayam or the
cosmic wind -down, Jeevatmas, in their sublime state, are inextricably mixed up with
inanimate souls. Sri Daya Devi, casting a glance of compassion at these inert souls, is
filled with sorrow at their plight, and initiates the process of Creation, so that the
unfortunate souls, shackled by karma, could take birth and attempt redemption. Here is
the beautiful sloka from Sri Daya Satakam-
“achit avisishtAn pralayE jantoon avalOkya jAta nirvEda
karaNa kaLEbara yOgam vitarasi VrishasailanAtha KaruNE tvam”.

Sri KoorattAzhwan shares a secret with us in his SriStavam-All of us are under the
impression that Emperuman is an independent agent and performs His jobs of Creation,
Protection and Destruction of His own volition. Not so, says Sri Azhwan. It is from
Piratti’s dictates, conveyed through Her captivating glances out of the corner of Her eyes,
that the Lord takes the cue for going about His onerous tasks.
Whichever way Piratti turns, and whichever place Her beatific glances fall on, riches of
all kinds compete with one another to fill that place. Says Swami Desikan in Sristuti-
“yasyAm yasyAm disi viharatE Devi ! drishti: tvadeeyA:
tasyAm tasyAm aham ahamikAm tanvatE sampadOghA:”

However, there are looks from another source, which are more purifying and uplifting
than Bhagavat KatAksham and LakshmI KatAksham. “Could such a thing be possible?”
adiyen hears you wonder. Yes it is, and it is none other than Acharya KatAksham or
BhAgavata katAksham. The moment the Acharya’s benign glances, full of love and
compassion, fall upon a person, the recipient’s whole life changes for the better. Acharya
bhakti leads to devotion to the Lord, and in stages, culminates in liberation through an
appropriate upAya, as shown by the Acharya.
As adiyen can feel the bhAgavatAs’ looks of exasperation at the length of this piece
boring through me, adiyen shall conclude here with apologies.

SrimateSri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra


Mahadesikaya Nama:

Dasan,sadagopan.
122

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BhAgavata SEshatvam and its Manifestation

The essence of our Sri VisishtAdvaita SampradAyA lies in


Its emphasis on the relationship of SEshA and SEshi , subsisting between the individual
soul and the ParamAtmA respectively..
Defining SEshatvam, Sri BhAshyakarA says" paragata atisaya AdhAna icchhayA
upAdEyatvamEva yasya swaroopam sa sEsha:para:sEshi". Thus, broadly, one who exists
solely for the purposes of being of some use to another, is a SEshA , and the counterpart,
for whose sole benefit he exists, is the SEshi. The very reason for our existence is to be of
service or kainkaryA to the Lord and to Him only. However, full- blown Bhagavat
SEshatvam manifests itself in service not only to the ParamAtmA, but also to His
devotees who are near and dear to Him, viz., BhAgavatAs. Sri Tirumangai Mannan, (who
had the distinction of Sri ashtAkshara upadEsam directly from Sriman NArAyANA),
dwelling on the quintessence of the Moola mantra, says "Uttradum un adiyArkku
adimai", emphasizing the importance of BhAgavata SEshatvam. Sri KulasEkhara
PerumAl too likes to be thought of as the most menial servant of His servants- "tvat
bhritya bhritya parichAraka bhritya bhritya bhrityasya bhritya iti mAm smara". And in an
almost literal translation, Sri NammAzhwAr says, "endai pirAn tanakku adiyAr adiyAr
tam adiyAr adiyAr tamakku adiyAr adiyAr tam adiyAr adiyOngalE". "adiyArkku ennai
Atpaduttha Vimalan" of Sri TiruppANAzhwar, and "PEsuvAr adiyArgaL emtammai
virkavum peruvArgaLe" of Sri Bhattar PirAn, are variations of the same theme of
BhAgavata SEshatvam.

Conversely, any apachArA done to BhAgavatAs ,in word, thought or deed, makes
EmperumAn angry beyond measure- Ambarisha Charitram, Gajendra Moksham,
ChAndili vrittAntam etc. stand testimony to this.

However, the test of true BhAgavata Seshatvam lies in a person's response to unfair
accusations or abuse by another bhAgavatA- how should one respond when a
BhAgavatA harms one by word or deed? Quoting the Lainga PurANa slOkA,
"RookshAksharANi sriNvan vai tatha BhAgavatEritAn
PraNAma poorvakam kshAntyA yO vadEt VaishnaO hi sa:"
Swami Desikan lays down that a blemishless SriVaishnavA, who is the target of
undeserved abuse from another bhAgavatA, should profusely apologise to the abuser,
with prostrations. Thus, even in the face of patently false accusations, a true Sri
VaishnavA does not protest his innocence , much less indulge in counter abuse ( for, that
would lead to the unpardonable sin of bhAgavatApachArA), but meekly accepts the other
bhAgavatA's harsh words, and what is more, apologises abjectly to the accusing
bhAgavatA for having caused offence to the latter.
To quote an instance from Swami Desikan's divya charitram, a few bhagavatas, jealous
of the AchAryA's spreading glory and undisputed mastery over the two schools of
Vedanta, hung their footwear across Sri Desikan's doorstep, so that they would touch
Swami's tirumudi when he came out. When he saw this, Sri Tooppul Pillai , unperturbed
123

by this insult, and true to his own teachings, remarked " some swear by karma yOgA and
others by GnAna yOgA-but I seek refuge only in the PadukAs of Vishnu BhaktAs".
( "Karma avalambakA:kEchit, kEchit gnAna avalambakA:-vayam tu Hari dAsAnAm
pAda rakshA avalambakA? Put to shame by this naichyAnusandanam, the jealous
bhAgavatAs apologized to Swami Desikan.

Once, Sri KandAdai LakshmanAchArya, an AchArya purusha, passed by in his


palanquin, in the street where Swami Desikan had his tirumAligai , at Srirangam.
.Immersed in the Sri Bhashya, Swami did not notice the Acharya's procession, till some
of Sri LakshmnAchArya's sishyAs came into Swami Desikan's house and berated him for
not having paid his respects to the passing AchArya. Immediately,Swami Desikan rushed
to the AcharyA's tirumAligai, apologized to him for the omission and returned with regret
for having occasioned such a response on the part of Sri Lakshmanacharya's disciples.
However, as a result of this dastardly bhAgavatApachArA, Sri Lakshmanacharya's health
began to deteriorate day by day. Suspecting this to be the outcome of some major sin, he
enquired of his sishyAs whether any of them had indulged in unbecoming conduct. One
of them confessed to having abused Swami Desikan verbally and physically, for reasons
indicated above. Immediately, overcome by guilt, Sri Lakshmanacharya rushed to Swami
Desikan ( who, in the meantime, sorrowed by repeated abuses, had moved to
Tirunarayanapuram),prostrated before him and sought his pardon. By imbibing Sri
Vedantacharya's SripAda tirttham, Sri Lakshmanacharya regained his health, and to
remind him eternally of this episode, christened his newborn son, "teerttha piLLai".

Another great AchAryA, Sri Nampillai, (the eminent sishyA of the venerable Sri
Nanjeeyar, and the prasishya of Sri Parasara Bhattar) was also the victim of such
jealousy, and his conduct on the occasion shines as a model .Sri Nampillai's fame as an
acharya had spread far and wide. KandAdai Tozhappar, the great-grandson of Sri
MudaliAndAn, was extremely jealous of Sri Nampillai's vaibhavam, and one day, unable
to contain himself, abused Sri Nampillai with the harshest of words, right in front of Sri
Ranganatha, where the ghOshti had assembled for mangalasasanam. Sri Nampillai,taken
aback by Sri Tozhappar's outburst, silently returned home with tears in his eyes. When Sri
Tozhappar returned home, his erudite wife, who had heard of her husband's unbecoming
conduct, told him in no uncertain terms that he had been guilty of the grossest form of
bhAgavatApachArA, and exhorted him to seek Sri Nampillai's pardon. Sri Tozhappar,
who was a great vidwAn in his own right, realized his grievous folly and set out to Sri
Nampillai's tirumAligai to make amends.. Imagine his surprise when he found the
AchAryA lying across his (Sri Tozhappar's) doorstep. Upon inquiry, it transpired that Sri
Nampillai was grieved at having caused occasion to Sri Tozhappar to be annoyed, and
had lain at Sri Tozhappar's doorstep all night, lacking the courage to go inside, for
apologizing to Sri Tozhappar. Sri Tozhappar was moved beyond measure by the sEshatva
kAshttA displayed by Sri Nampillai, and, lifting him up, embraced him and said "I had
thought so far that you are the Acharya for a few disciples; now I know that you are fit to
be the Acharya for the entire world", and apologized to him profusely for his uncalled for
tirade. Thenceforth Sri Nampillai came to be called "LokAchAryA".

The conduct of AchArya purushAs like Sri Nampillai and Swami Desikan, who had
124

much to be proud of, and yet considered themselves to be the humblest servants of Sri
Vaishnavas, holds many a lesson for people like adiyen , who are ready to take umbrage
at the slightest provocation. Adiyen would like to conclude with a sloka from Srimad
Rahasyatrayasaram, which in turn quotes from Sriranga MAhAtmyam:
"TadAshrayasya AshrayaNyAt tasya tasya cha tasya cha
samsEvanAt narA lOkE pooyantE sarva pAtakai:"

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raghav_hema@vsnl.net
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FROM:
SUBJECT: [SriRangaSri] more video clips
Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 10:44:38 -0700 (PDT)
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Sri:
Srimate Ramanujaya Namaha

Please see,
http://www.oppiliappan.org/video/garudasevai3.mpg

--Can EmperumAnAr's saulabhyam and kAruNyam be any less


than that of PeraruLALan?

Clips from Udayavar Thirunakshatram utsavam at His


avathara-sthalam:
http://www.oppiliappan.org/video/sriperumbudur1.mpg
http://www.oppiliappan.org/video/sriperumbudur2.mpg

adiyen ramanuja dasan,


-Shreyas

PS. Due to resource constraints on the oppiliappan site,


would appreciate it if somone could host these clips
on their private Srivaishnava site (as opposed to geocities,
etc.) for the long-term.

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Dear Bhagavatas:
In deference to the overwhelming requests for the release of the
"GLOSSARIAL INDEX OF SANSKRIT, TAMIL AND OTHER TERMS"
appearing in my book "HINDUISM REDISCOVERED" and the
"TIME-LINE OF IMPORTANT EVENTS"included as Annexures to the said book,
we begin with the "Glossarial Index".

As the Glossary is rather too lengthy, it is proposed to feature it in a


series of postings in the alphabetical order, with one letter at a time.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
Though every effort has been made to be as precise as possible,
we hasten to assure you that the Glossary is neither exhaustive
nor the meanings absolutely error-free.

We implore your patience in going through the same and feel free to
suggest any corrections / improvements through personal mail addressed to
"Ramanbil@hotmail.com"

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

The "TIMELINE" needs a little reformatting. It will be releaed later,


when the reformatting is complete.

Neither of them was released to any lists so far.

Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
126

=============================================================
A
Aabhyavaharika: Honoring with objects of taste, Offering food
Aachamaniya for sipping water
Aacharya Preceptor, Master
Aacharya Nishta Performance done by preceptor on behalf of disciple
Aacharya apachara Disrespect to the Preceptor
Aadhaaratvam Support
Aadheyatvam Being supported
Aadhi boutika Fear from other living beings
Aadhi deivika Ravages of heat, cold etc
Aadhi moolam The Primeval Source
Aadhi Sesha The 1000 headed serpent couch of Lord Vishnu
Aadhi vahikas Prime guides
Aadhy aatmika Afflictions generated by human behaviour
Aadyantika pralaya When the soul gets liberated forever
Aagaami karma Oncoming or future Karma a.k.a Kriyamana Karma
Aagama That which has come down,Sectarian traditions
Aahaara niyamam Dietary Regimen
Aahata Any sound that is audible
Aajna or Aajnakya Yogic nerve center between the eyebrows
Aajna kainkarya Obligatory duties as laid down in the scriptures
Aakaasa Ether, Space
Aakinchanyam Resourceless, Inability to adopt any other course
Aalambana Support, Props
Aamnaaya Learned and Cherished by constant repetition
Aananda Enjoying, Enjoyment
Aanandatva Bliss, Ever joyous
Aanma / Aanmeega Soul, Life, pertaining to life
Aanukulya Sankalpa Resloution to act according to the directives of God
Aapah / Aapas Water
Aaptas Persons who could be trusted to tell the truth
Aaraadhana Formula of worship
Aaranyaka Belonging to the forest
Aarhata A union of Digambara and Swetambara Jain sects
Aarjana dosham Difficulties in earning wealth
Aarjavam Straight forwardness, Honesty
Aarsha (marriage) A token bride price in the form of cow and bull
Aarsha Installed by Rishis
Aartha prapatti Surrender with a request for immediate deliverance
Aarya Noble
Aasana Yogic postures,with concentration of mind, Seat
Aashrama Stage of life
Aashrayatvam Accessibility
Aastika (Darsanas) Orthodox, Those who believe in the Vedas
Aasura (Marriage) Marriage by purchase
127

Aathathayee Perpetrators of heinous crimes


Aatma Soul
Aatma Jnaana Self realization
Aatma nigraham Self restraint
Aatma nikshepa Formal expression of Soul's dependence on the Lord
Aatma nivedanam Self sacrifice, Self surrender
Aatma swarupa Nature of self
Aatura (Sannyasa) One taking to asceticism while one is about to die
Aavaahana Inviting a deity for worship
Aavarana jala Enveloping waters
Aavarana sakti Power of concealment
Aavesa Entering the soul of some living person
Aayur veda Traditional Indian Science of Medicine and
health
Abaadatvam Unconditioned
Abeda sruti Non- differential passages in the Vedas
Abhaya mudra Gesture representing protection from fear
Abhi gamana praying for the day's works to go smoothly
Abhijana Descent
Abhi maana Feeling of ' I ' ness
Abhyaasa Exercise, Practice, Exertion, Frequent meditation
Achalaa Immobile, Unmoving
Achary Upasanam Respect for one's preceptor
Achetana Non- Sentient, Lifeless, Unconscious
ADambatvam Sincerity
Adharma Evil, Vice
Adharvyu One engaged in actual performance of ritual
Adhikaari Person specially found fit for doing ceratain
actions
Adhikara Fitness, Qualifications
Adhikara archa Lakshmi's form manifested in separate temples
Adhikarana Chapter, Section of a book
Adhyaaya Part, Chapter
Adhyayana Utsava Ceremonial honoring of Alwars
Adisil: Cooked white rice
Adiyaar / Adiyen " I, who am at your feet"
Advaita / Advaitin Non- duality, One who believes in Non- duality
Agaatatantra Antidotes
Agatita ghatana Saamartya: Special powers of accomplishing the impossible
Agnana / Agnani Nescience, Ignorance, Ignorant
Agni Fire a.k.a Vahni (cf) Latin Ignis
Agni soma or Agnishtoma: Ritual of offering jointly to Agni and Soma
Ahankaara Deceit, Egoism, Egotism, Individuality,
Ahas Day
Ahimsa Non - Violence
Aikyam Coming together, Unity
128

Aindriyakam Sense perceptions


Airaavatham Indra's elephant
Airammadeeyam Divine tank of immense proportions
Aiswaryam Mastery, Lordship over everything
Ajapa Unuttered
AkhanDa Unceasing, Incessant
Akkaara adisil A special kind of gravy cooked with rice and jaggery
Akshara Syllable, Indestuctible
Akshouhini 17 battalions of Infantry,Cavalry, Chariot,
Elephants
Alankara Aasana Place for dressing and donning the Lord
Alankara Sastra Rhetoric
Alpa saara Of very little value
Alpatvam Meagre, Insufficient
Alwar pronounced Aazhwar:(lit.)Immersed ones, Vaishnavite saints
Amaanava purusha a.k.a Vidyut Purusha: Lord of lightning
Amaanitvam Humility
Amaa Vaasya New Moon Day
Amalatvam Purity, Blemishlessness
Amara (lit) deathless, Immortal, Divine
AmEdhya Not conducive to Intellect
Amitoujas Divine Couch of Lord Vishnu
Amma (Tamil) Mother
Amrutha Nectar of Immortality
Amsa Part, fragment
Amsa avataara Incarnation of aspects
Anaahata That which can only be thought and not articulated
Anabishvangaha Avoiding too much involvement with relations
Anahankaara Absence of self-centered-ness
Ananta (tva) Unlimited by time, space, matter, Endless
Ananya Saranatvam Absolute surrender to God and to none else
Ananya bhakti Exclusive devotion to a particular deity
Ananya gathitvam Without refuge, Absence of interest in other means
Anavasaada Being cheerful in weal and woe
Anga Limb, Part
Anima Becoming small (One of the Siddhis)
Anishta nivritti Removal of undesirable elements
Anjali (mudra) Reverential submission with folded hands
Ankusa Goad used to spur the elephant
Annam Cooked rice, Food generally
Antaadhi The last word of a verse becoming the first of next
Antah karana a.k.a Antar aatma: Conscience
Antar vyaapti, a.k.a. Antar yaami: Immanence, Indwelling,
Anubhava Experience
Anubhava vibhava On the strength of possession or experience
Anudarsa To be free from pride and egotism
129

Anudatta Low key


Anujna kainkarya Auxiliary Services
Anumaana Inference, Logic, Conjecture, Presumption
Anumanta Permitting, Tolerating
Anu pravesa Entering into a body and activating it
Anushtaana Traditional Code of conduct of great teachers
Anushtaana grantha Works on observance of daily chores
Anu vaada Accepting the ' fait accompli', what has happened
Anuvaaka Sections
Anvaya Same as Gotra and Santati
Apaana Excretory, expulsion of impure air from the body
Apa brahmsa (lit) falling away, a dialect in Gujarat and Rajastan
Apa chaaram Discourtesy, disregard, Insult
Aparaa jita (lit) Unconqured, Another name for Vaikunta
Apara brahmam Same as Saguna Brahmam
Aparavidya The 4 vedas; Brahma gnana is Para Vidya
Apaurusheyam Not man made, Authorless-ness, Supernatural origin
Apraakrita 'Sui generis',Unique,Not made of ordinary stuff
Apritaksiddha Peculiarly inseparable relationship
Apsaras Celestial nymphs, waters of the lake
Arattuppaal (Tamil) Belonging to virtuous living
Archa Iconic, Idol, Image
Archaka Priest
Archiraadhi maarga The path of light, the shiny path
Archis Fire
Ardha maagadhi Dialect prevalent in Mauryan Magada
Argya Oblation of water for rinsing hands in purification
Artha Success, Wealth, Prosperity, also object, meaning
Artha panchaka 5 essential truths one should know
Aryaman Guardian of marriages
Asaara Worthless
Asaaratvam Futility
Asakti Detachment
AshTa akshara The 8 lettered Mantra
AshTaanga yoga Bhakti yoga which has 8 parts
AshTa mahasiddhi The 8 great accomplishments
Asthaana Sneha Misplaced sympathy
Astiratvam Impermanence, Exposed to danger of perishing
Asura Demons, Antigods,
Asvins (lit) Horsemen,( cf) Twins of Greek Discouri
Aswattha Pipal tree
Aswa mEdha Horse Sacrifice
Atala One of the nether worlds lying just below the earth
Athithi Guest
Athithi Satkaara Honouring the guest
Atyaatma Jnaana Persistence in knowing the self
130

Avataara Descent of God


Avidya Nescience, Ignorance
Avyabhichara Single minded devotion
Avyakta Undifferentiated, Unmanifest
Ayana Half year
Azhwars: See Alwar (lit) “immersed”, the God intoxicated
Saints
B
Baahya Aaradhana External worship x Manasa Aradhana
Baahya artha Apparent meaning
Baahya bhakti External or unenlightened form of devotion
Baashyam Commentary
Baddas Ever bound
Bahir aakaasa Air outside an enclosed space like a pot
Bahir vyaapti Transcendence
Balam Strength, Supporting everything
Bandha mudra Gesture of locks that regulate the flow of Prana
Beda sruti Statements in Vedas emphasizing differentiation
Bhaagavata Devotee of Bhagavan
Bhaagavata abhimaana Devotion toward devotess of Bhagavan
Bhaagavata apachaara Disrespect towards the devotees of Bhagavan
Bhagavaan The Supreme Lord
Bhagavad apachaara Disrespect to Bhagavan
Bhagavat Adorable Cherisher
Bhajan Group singing of prayer to the Lord
Bhakta Devotee
Bhakti (Yoga) Loving devotion ( Union through)
Bhaojya Aasana Seat for offering food to the Lord
Bhara Nyaasa a.k.a Saranaagathi:(lit) Laying down the burden also
Prapatti
Bhara samarpana: Entrusting to God responsibility for one's
protection
Bharata varsha India that is Bharat
Bhartru / Bhaarya Husband / Wife
Bhoga archa: Lakshmi's form as seated or standing near the
Lord
Bhoga bhumi World of enjoyment
Bhoga staana Place of enjoyment
Bhoga vishaya Objects of pleasure
Bhogi Fit to enjoy life
Bhogyam Enjoyable
Bhogya saadhana Instruments of enjoyment
Bhokta Consumer of pleasure
Bhuh Earth
Bhukti Enjoyment
Bhulokvaikuntam Heaven on Earth, Srirangam
Bhumdevi Mother Earth
Bhuta vidya Demonology
Bhuta yagna Worship of living beings
Bija Seed
Bija akshara Seed letter
Braahmanas Relating to holy performances
Brahma The four faced creator
Brahma (marriage) Marriage by a duly dowered girl
Brahma anda The World egg
131

Brahma anubhava Bliss of integration with Brahman


Brahma chaari (Charya) Celibate, Student, ( Celibacy)
Brahma gandha Divine fragrance
Brahma gnaana (Gnani) Knowledge (Knower) of God, Realized soul
Brahma khanda Works relating to knowledge of Brahman
Brahma maarga Route leading to Brahman
Brahman Great, Impersonal, Absolute
Brahma naadi Same as Sushumna Nadi
Brahma randra: Aperture in the head through which the soul
departs
Brahma rasa Divine flavour
Brahma rishi Brahmin Sage
Brahma srishti Those created by God
Brahma sutra: One of the 3 important works concerning Brahman
Brahma tejas Divine Splendour
Brahma yagna Seer worship
Brahma yasas Divine fame and form
Brahmi: a crudely formed dialect without long vowels etc
Brahmin Priestly class
Brama Illusion, Confusion a.k.a. Maya
Bramara Humming
Brihat jaataka The Great Horoscopy
Bringhi The bee
Buddha: Principle of awakened intellect, Title of a
deceiver
Buddhi Intellect, Discretion, Judgement a.k.a Medha
Buta ganas Group of goblins
Buvah World lying just above the earth
==============================================================
"C" will follow
==============================================================
===============================================================
C
Chaaturyam: Cleverness, Winning over opponents
Chaamaram: Yaktail, fly whisks
Chaaru (Vaaka): Beautiful, Point of view beautifully told
Chakra: Divine discus a.k.a Sudarsana
Chakravarti (Ganas): Emperor (Group of Emperors)
Chala: Mobile
Chandaala: Outcastes, those who handle corpses
Chandana: Sandalwood, Sandalwood paste
Chandas: (lit) desire, will, Meters, Metrical Science, Accents
Chandra: Moon, Moongod
Charama Sloka: The Last verse Mantra
Chatur yuga: The cycle comprising of 4 yuga periods
Chatus shashti kalas: 64 Art forms recognized in the Sastras
Chetana (Chaitanya): Sentient, Spirit, That which has power of Cognition
Chikitsa: Treatment, General Medicine
Chin mudra: Gesture representing transmission of knowledge
Chit: Knowing, Knowledge, Consciousness
Chitta sakti: Power of Wisdom
132

=====================================================
"D" will follow
=====================================================
=============================================================
"D"
=============================================================
Daanam: Donation, Philanthropy, Gifting, Charity
Daanavas: Giants
Daasyus: Slaves, Barbarians
Dadhi annam: Curd (Yogurt) rice
Dagda paTa: Burnt cloth
Dahara: Innermost recesses of the heart
Daityas: Genii
Dakinis: Ogresses
Dakshinaayana: 6-month period when the Sun moves Southward
DanDa (recitation): A mode of recitation of the scriptural texts
Dandam Samarpithal:To prostrate at the feet
DanDa neethi: (lit). rule by the rod, Rule of justice and punishment
Danvantri: Divine Physician
Darsanas: Points of view, Theories, Philosophical systems
Daya: Tender Sympathy, Mercy, Compassion
Dayaa bhaaga: Co-parcenary interest of the heirs of a dead person
Deepa (or Dipa): Lamp
Deergha: Elongated
DEha vritti: Physiology
Deiva or DEva: (lit) Shining one, Divine being
Deiva (marriage): Offer of a girl in marriage to a priest
DEsa: Space, Country
DEva archanam: Worshipping the Lord
DEva baasha: (lit)Language of the Gods, Samskritam
DEva gaNas: Group of divinities
DEvamaana varusha: Divine years
DEva maarga: Shining route, Path of Gods
DEva naagari: The script of the city of Gods
DEvata: God, Deity
DEvataantara: Petty or lower deities a.k.a Kshudra devatas
DEva yagna: Deity worship
Dhaaraka: That which/ who maintains, Supports
DhaaraNa: Becoming one with God through meditation
Dhairyam: Keeping up promises, Bravery, Courage
Dhanur vEda: (lit) Archery, Military Science
Dharani: Mnemonic magic formula
Dharma: Virtue, that which sustains, Duties, Obligations, Law
Dharma buta gnaana: Extrinsic perception
Dharma sastras (Sutras): Texts of law codes and ethics, Societal
Aphorisms
Dharma yuddha: War on righteous lines
Dharmi buta gnaana: Intrinsic Consciousness
Dhaatu: Basic constituents of the body, Root in etymology
Dhauti: Cleanliness
Dhoopa: Incense
Dhr: To sustain, hold together, firmness
Dhumaadhi marga: The smoky path
Dhyaana mudra: Gesture representing meditation
Dig Vijaya: Conquest of the quarters
Dig ambara: Sky clad Jains
133

Dig brama: Not knowing the directions


Din-ilaahi: A hotch potch compromise religion of Akbar
Disa: Space
Divya: Established by Devas, shining, divine
Divya desa: Holy places consecrated by Alwars and Acharyas
Divya prabhanda: 4000 Holy collects of the hymns of Alwars
Draavida baasha: Language of the Dravidians
Draavida veda: The Veda of the Dravidians
Dravya: Substance, Sacrificial materials
Dravya vidya: Medicine and Pharmacology
Dhruthi: Determination, Will power
Duhkam: Sorrow, Buddhist term for Advaita Nirvachaniyam
Duhka misratvam: What is earned being mixed with misery
Duhka mulatvam: Earning only through grievous efforts
Duhkodikartvam: Earnings becoming source of further misery
Dushta: Wicked
Dvaita / Dvaitin: Dualism, Those who believe in Dualism
Dvaya Mantra: The Surrender Mantra
Dveepas (or Dvipas): ( lit) Islands, Continents
Dvija: Twice born
Dwaapara yuga: The 3rd era of each Kalpa (before Kaliyuga)
Dwiteeya para ardham: The second half of Brahma's life
Dyaana (or) Dhyaana: Meditative flow, Concentration
Dyaana sloka (or Dhyaana sloka): Invocatory verse of prayer
Dyaavaa-prithvi: Sky above and the earth below, those between them
=============================================
"E" will follow
======= "E", "F" & "G"
=============================================================
"E"
-------------------------------------------------------------
Echil ( Tamil) or Enjalu (Kannada): Saliva, Spittle
Eesitvam: Lordship, also one of the Siddhis(accomplishments)
Eka akshara: Monosyllable
Ekaanta bhakti: Exclusive devotion to the Lord
Ekaantins: Devotees rendering devotion unmindful of reward
Ekatva: Unity in diversity
Ekodishta: 11th day ceremony after death
Ettuthogai (Tamil): 8 Anthlogies
-------------------------------------------------------------
"F": NIL
-------------------------------------------------------------
"G"
-------------------------------------------------------------
Gaambheeryam: Majesty, Profundity, Greatness
Gaayatri: Mantra which protects one who sings (utters) it
Gadha: Divine Mace a.k.a.Kaumodaki
Gaja: Elephant, Elephantry
Gana (recitation): Recitation back and forth cf 'Ganapadigal'
Gandarva: Celestial musicians
Gandarva (marriage): Marriage by consent solemnized by pledging fidelity
Gandha: Smell
Gandharva veda: Music, Dance and Fine Arts
Garima: Heaviness, One of the Siddhis
GaruDa: Divine falcon Bird vehicle of Lord Vishnu
GhanDam: Near Death Expereience ( NDE)
Ghata aakaasa: Air within a pot
134

Ghataka sruti: Integrators, Passages in Vedas that synchronize


Gnaana / Gnaani: Wisdom, Knowledge, Knower
Gnaana abhyaasa: Discussing with Gurus to gain better understanding
Gnaana khaanda: Knowledge works,a.k.a. Gnaana Mimaamsa
Gnaanatva: Knowledge, Knowingness
GnaanEndriyas: Sense Organs
Gnaatru / Gneya: Knower, known, knowledge
GOkarna mudra: Gesture representing the ear of the cow
GO-maatha: Cow visualized as mother
GOpis: Cowherd girls
GOptrutva varaNa: Formal expression of one's total dependence
Gotra: lineage a. k.a Santati, Anvaya
Granta chatushtaya: 4 holy works to be studied by a Vaishnava
Graasa mudra: Gesture with the right hand Index and little fingers
Grihasta: Home maker, Male head of a household
Grihya sutra: Aphorisms relating to Individual householders
Gritha: Ghee, Clarified butter
GuNa: Characteristics, Quality, Virtue, Strands
GuNa (recitation): A mode of recitation of Scriptural texts
Guru: Elder, Spiritual master, a respectable person
Guru kula: Abodes of Gurus where disciples stay and study
Guru parampara saaram: The lineage of preceptors
Guru-Sishya-Parampara: Generations of Teacher- Pupil relationship
------------------------------------------------------------------
"H"
------------------------------------------------------------------
Haituka: Those demanding reasons and proof for everything
Hala: Plough
Halaahala: Name of a potent poison, a.k.a KaalakooTa
Harijan: Children of God
Hatah: Force
Hata yoga: Forceful union, Physical Exercises
Hatha: 'Killed'
Havis: Offering
Hetu: Assumption of a Cause, Reason, Questioning
Himsa dosha: Unmindfulness to causing pain to others
Hinaa yaana: (lit) the little vehicle, an earlier sect of Buddhists
Hiranya aksha: One with golden colored eyes
Hiranya garbha: Golden embryo
Hita: That which advises what is good for the soul
HOma: Offering in fire
Hota: One who tends Sacrificial fires and recites prayers
Hrasva: Shortened
Hrishikesa: One who rules over the mind and heart
-----------------------------------------------------
To Continue " I"
===============================================================
Ichcha: Desire, Wish
Ichchaa sakti: Power to desire
Ida: One of the nerves moving upwards x Pingala
Ijyaa: Same as Tiruvaradhana
Indra: Lord of the Devas
Indriya niyamanam: Control of one's sense organs
IndriyEshu vairaagyam: Dispassion towards sense objects
Invikta desa sevitvam: Retiring to Solitude
IshTa devata: Chosen, cherished, Preferred, Personal deity
IshT apraapti: Attainment of the desired goal
135

Iswara or Easwara:All sentient Supreme Lord


Iswara swarupa: Nature of the Supreme Lord
Itihaasa: 'Thus indeed it was', Legendary epics, also Historical
===============================================================
"J"
===============================================================
Jaagrata staana: The waking state, Conscious state
Jaati: Caste
Jaati haa: Outcaste
Jaayamaana kadaaksha: Gracious glance of God even at the time of birth
Jagat vyaapaara: The work relating to the creation of the Worlds
Jalpa: Prattlers, Babblers
Janah: One of the Celestial worlds, also living beings
Jananam: Birth
Janma antara: Other than the current life
Janma mrityu jaraa vyadhi Birth, Death, Old age, Disease etc
Japa: Silent recitation or muttering of Lord's names
Japa yoga: Union sought through chanting Mantras
Jatha: Race of pairs
JayatE: Triumphs
Jeeva atma (Jivaatma or Jiva) Individual Soul,
Jeeva atma Svaroopa: Nature of Individual soul
Jeevan mukti: Liberation even while still living
Jeeva srishti: Those created by living beings
Jeeva yagna: A lifelong saga of Sacrifice
Jignaasa: Desire to learn
Jit: Victorious
Jnaanatva: Omniscience
JyOti: Light
JyOtisha: Astrology including Astronomy, Science of light

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------

"K"
=============================================================
Kaakamudra:Gesture of contracting lips like a crow
Kaala: Time, Black colour, Fate, Death
Kalaa: Art form
Kaala kshepa: Spending time in spiritual pursuits
Kaala kuTa: Black poison a.k.a. Halahala
KaalaRudra: Rudra. the black nemesis at the time of the deluge
Kaama: Desire, Hedonic pleasure, Lust, Love
Kaama sutra: Art of love, Science of erotics
Kaamattup paal (Tamil): Works relating to Desire by Sage Tiruvalluvar
Kaamya karma: Optional actions for desired results
Kaarana-tvam: Causation
KaarpaNyam: Same as Aakinchanyam
KaaruNyam: Mercy, Feeling one with others in grief
Kaavya (Grantha): Epic
Kaayam: Body
Kada vuLL (Tamil): On who is transcendent and Indwelling at once, God
Kaivalya: Aloneness, Self enjoyment without Chit and Achit
Kaivarta: Fishermen
Kali yuga: The present age of the age cycle
Kalki: The Apocalyptic redeemer
Kalpa: 14 Manvantaras or 1 day for Brahma
136

Kalpa: Ritual, Also means one of the auxilaries of Veda


KalyaaNa: Practicing Ahimsa, Compassion, Mercy
Kapa: Watery, Mucus, Bronchial
Karaavara: Leather worker
KaraNam (Panchanga):A division of time adopted in the almanac
Karma: Action, Work, Deed also result of action
Kari amudu: Cooked vegetable
Karma bhumi: World of action
Karma khaaNDa: Action works a.k.a Karma Mimaamsa
Karma sanyaasa yoga: Dedication of the fruits of action
Karma vaasana: Latent impressions of the past deeds
Karma yoga: Union through action
KarmEndriyas: Motor Organs
Karpagam: Wish yielding tree a.k.a. Parijatham
Kartaa: Doer
Kartrutva tyaaga: Relinquishment of being agent of doing
KaruNa: Intelligent charity
KaruvilE tiru (Tamil): Gracious glance of God even at the time of birth
Kaumara britya: Paediatrics
Kaustuba: Divine Gem of Vishnu, the treasure of the Ocean
Kavacha: Shield, a protective formula
Kavi taarkika simha: Lion King among poets and rationalist logicians
Kena: By Whom?
Kevala: Exhalation in breath control
Khalinis: Evil spirits that frequent threshholds
KhaaNDas: Cantos
Kharoshti; (lit)Ass lips,written from right to left
Kheechari mudra: Gesture of lengthening the tongue
Kirtana (Keertana): Singing the praise of the Lord
KoumOdaki: Divine Mace of Vishnu (lit) Stupifier of mind,
Koyil (Tamil): Temple of God, Home of the King
Krama mukti: Release by gradation
Krama pada: A mode of recitation of the scriptural texts
KrichraayaNa: An expiating ritual
Krishna paksham: Dark fortnight of the moon
Krishna yajur veda: The ' black' branch of Yajurveda
Krita yuga: The 1st age of the age cycle, The Golden age
Kriti-tvam: Action directed towards uplifting others
Kritjnata (tvam): Gratitude towards even the smallest good acts
Kriya: Activity, Carrying out duties as prescribed in Sastas
Kriyamaana (Varthamaana) Karma:Oncoming or accruing karma
Kriya sakti: Power of action a.k.a Pravritti Sakti
KrOdha: Anger
Kshaanti: Patience
Kshama: Forgiveness
Kshatriyas: Ruling , Princely, Warrior class
Kshaya dosham: Exposure to dangers of wearing away
Ksheeraabdi (Ksheera saagara): Milky Ocean
Kshema: Welfare, Maintaining what has been earned
Kudrishti: Those whose views are distorted
Kula: Family lineage
Kumbaka: (lit) Potting up, Bottling up air inhaled
Kundalini: A serpent supposed to be lying coiled in Mooladhara
Kunjaraha: Elephant
Kunkumam (Crosus Sativus):Red powder prepared with turmeric
Kurma: Tortoise
Kuyukta: Those who misinterpret
137

================================================================
" L"
================================================================
Laghima: Weightlessness
Laghu jaataka: Short Horoscopy
Laghu tiruvaaraadana: Abridged form of worship
Lagna: The confluence of planets under which one is born
Laya archa: Lakshmi's form as seated on the chest of Vishnu
Laya yoga: Union by Consonance
Leela (or Lila): Play, Sport
Leela vibuthi: God's playground
Loba: Miserliness also Greed
Loka: World, Sphere, Realm
Lokaacharya: Universal Preceptor
================================================================
To Continue

In the eleventh paasuram, “kattru karavai” Sri andal talks about the master genius who is
going to spread bhakthi in the hearts of the people. ElaiyAzhvar will be regarded as
“panchAcharya padhAsritha”. He will learn the vedas, vedantha, ethihasa, puranas, divya
prabhandam and other strotra padams from 5 great acharyas and will spread bhakthi
throughout the world. In the meantime, ethirAjar will win over anyone who comes in his
way and make them loose their charm and fame (“chettrAr thiralazhiya”). Sri kOdhai
nAchiyar praises that elaiyAzhvar as “kattru karavai kanagal pala karandhu chettrAr
thiralazhiya sendru seruch cheiyum kuttramondrillAdha kOvalar”.

In the twelfth paasuram, “kanaiththilam kattrerumai” nAchiyar talks about ethirajar the
“narchelvan” (good fortune) to his disciples. There never exists any idol worship for any
religious heads in any other religion. But in all our temples we have the idol of Sri
rAmAnuja. Sri rAmAnuja is seen in the archa roopam as thamarugandha thirumeni
(thirunArAyana puram), thAnugandha thirumEni (sriperumbudoor), thAnAna thirumEni
(Srirangam). Even after the completion of the vibhava avatharam, swamy still remains in
his archa roopam to shower his grace on one and all. Predicting the kind nature of swamy
andal praises him as “narchelvan”.

In the thirteenth paasuram, “pullinvAi keendAnai” Andal talks proudly about the genius
who is going to pick pearls from deep inside the ocean. Ethirajar will immerse himself in
the deep ocean of vedantha, ithihasa puranas and divya prabhandam and bring to light all
the indepth rahasya arthas and give to the world the essence of the same. Predicting the
same, pattarbiran kOdhai in great ecstasy says, “kulla kulira kudaindhu neerAdi”

In the fourteenth paasuram, “ vungal puzhakkadai” Andal talks about what sort of an
138

acharya ethirajar is going to be. As the days pass, due to the effect of kali people will start
going towards materialistic pleasures and live an unworthy life. At that time the birth of
sri rAmAnujar will bring a dramatic change in the world. The nastika vAdhis will loose
their charm, the petals of the flower which flourished under the name of nAstikam will
wither (“Ambal koobinakAn”). Like making Azhvars words “kaliyum kedum kandu
konmin” true the faces of the Asthika vAdhis will enlighten (“senkazhuneer vAi
negizhindhu”) due to the avatharam of ethirajar.

In the fifteenth paasuram, “ellE elankiliyE” Andal calls EmperumAnAr as elankili (young
parrot) as he repeats the words of his poorvAcharyas and follows their divine path.
EmperumAnAr’s way of sticking to poorvAcharya vyakhyanams and at the same time
giving detailed and easy interpretations of the same is extraordinary. That is why andal
admires and says “ellE” (what a wonder!)
NO PRAPATHI NEEDED FOR MOKSHA- IN THENKALAI SAMPRADAAYAM

God will shower His grace without any act of surrender. We are
>already His. That is what Sri Alawandar conveys in stotra ratna
>("mama nAtha yadasti yOsmyaham...).

>If we have to do soemthing, how can His grace be nirhEtukam?

>Prapatti as an act is not there in all thenkalai paramparAs. What I


>mean is, some AchAryas do not include this as a ritual in their
>samASrayaNam. So whoever is belonging to these paramparAs does not
>do something that is considered by others as prapatti.

In the above,
>God will shower His grace without any act of surrender.
I strongly disagree with the above statement due to the absence of
the word "too" at the end. God will shower His grace, without any act
of surrender too. This does not mean that one should take for granted
God will anyway shower His grace, and hence can do whatever he/she
wants. This is not as per our Sampradayam.

>Prapatti as an act is not there in all thenkalai paramparAs.


Prapatti as a "physical" act is not there in all Thenkalai
paramparAs. For any act, the cause is the intent. Whether followed by
act or not, the intent is pretty much the actual karma and not the
physial act. As elders say, for Brahmanas, even a thought of killing
a cow or anything else becomes a papam. Why would they say so? Hence,
if the intent is what is the actual karma(immaterial of whether an
act follows it or not), then realizing prapatti or understanding it
or following it whatever, whether for moksham(means) or as His
kainkaryam, all these things become "our" acts.
139

Iranyan, Sisupalan, Ravanan, pretty much all those asuras who died
out of lord's hands(or weapon) got the moksham. This is what is
Nirhetuka krupai of the lord. He uses His free will. He may choose
anyone at random and give him/her moksham. At the same time, if one
does bhakthi, karma, raja, sankhya yogas etc, then ALSO He would give
moksham(He has promised Himself in Gita). If one "does" prapatti,
then also He would give moksham. If this weren't true, out of 18
chapters, whatever the lord had promised saying one would attain
moksha if he/she does those yogas, would be breached.

Moreover, there are various types of mokshams(Salokyam, Sarupyam,


Sameepyam, Sayujyam, Kaivalyam etc). The moksham attained by Sahetukam
(we doing something for attaining moksham) is not valued as that of
the one attained by Prapatti, is what is my understanding of the
Thennacharya Sampradayam. Note: Sahetukam does not lead to Kaivalyam.
Kaivalyam is a moksham where the atma enjoys itself. Sahetukam "may"
lead to this i.e this Kaivalyam is a trap and hence our Acharyas have
warned us about this. This by no means stops one from following the
Karma, Raja, Bhakthi yogas.

In other yoga margams, one is instructed to do certain things i.e one


must follow certain disciplines in order to attain the results. One
could do prapatti and still live the way one wants to live.
Prapatti is an advanced stage of other yogas. In Prapatti, one
realizes that he/she belongs to Him and hence He is the upayam and
upeyam. The moment we say "He" is the means, then, this too becomes
an effort by us to use Him as a means to attain Him. Whether we go by
markata or marjara nyaya, the point is one puts effort. If a baby
doesn't cry, a mother feeds the baby automatically is what we say. If
the baby is bit by a snake and still doesn't cry, the mother will not
know about this, only to see her baby die. So, we can use these
examples to support individuals views. If we are going to sit like a
baby not doing "anything" assuming he would shower his Nirhetuka
grace, what happens to the world? Is this what our Acharyas told us?
Ok. Assume, you do kainkaryam, instead of sitting idle. Why would you
do kainkaryam? Why not something else? Even then the lord will shower
His grace right? So, why was the concept of Kainkaryam even
introduced/insisted by our Acharyas? Why they introduced the concept
of "change in mindset" which they call as Prapatti? Why did our
Acharyas bring in the tradition of so many things in the name of
kainkaryam, while we could do anything and everything(including what
we call the sinful actions) having realized Prapatti? The only answer
is, when one realizes Prapatti, he/she will automatically tend to
think whatever he/she does as a kainkaryam. So, any act done by a
Prapannan becomes a kainkaryam(and by default, the Prapannan would
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not get into sinful actions). But, for this, one needs to know, how
it is, to realize Prapatti and atma swaroopam. No one can make other,
realize Prapatti, by making them read his/her writings because, one
could realize Prapatti only by the lord's grace(or Acharya's grace
i.e the lord's grace through a person).

What Smt Sumithra said was correct from a different point of view. We
could always bring in statements in support of / against, other's
understandings/views. But we need to understand that these mails or
articles can, in no way enlighten people. These articles can add
value. We could discuss so many other things that add value instead
of discussing these rahasyams which lead to combative articles due to
lack of expressiveness, understanding, interpretations etc. I
apologize to everyone to have written many posts on this subject and
has caused a chaos not realizing that this subject is not for these
kind of internet discussions. This is my last post on this subject
and hence request others not to expect any further reply from me on
this, while they could continue to comment/criticize this post at
their will.

My humble apologies in case of any offense perceived.

Adiyen,
Ramanuja Dasan.
SAALIGRAAMA UPAASANAA
Saligramam upasana is one of the
forms of Yoga i.e. should be done with dedication, faith and consistency
without expectation of any result/benefit. While this may be true generally
in case of Saligrama worship the significance assumes higher criticality
because the mental attitude is extremely important. The entire atmosphere
of the household is involved. The intensity of devoution may be
comparatively less stringent when it comes to general prayers, and routine
worships.

Yes it is true, one has to perform nitya pooja for Saligramam. It cannot
be treated just like any other idol, picture or image worship. It is
somewhat equal to the 'agni' upasana which one is supposed to do until the
last breath, but which most of us cannot for practical reasons keep up.
Extreme physical, external purity is the primary requirement. External
purity in terms of dust, noise, pollution, etc. A dedicated room, if
possible, or a particular spot appropriately sanctified has to be reserved
for the Saligramam. Everyone in the household has to mandatorily be always
aware mentally about the PRESENCE.

Noisy talking, blaring of radio channels, mindless watching of TV etc. are


to be avoided at all costs. In many houses in cities, the noise of the TV
141

signals, channel surfing etc. are common. They may, however, be indulged
with extreme caution and moderation on a need-basis and not as a habit.

Immediately on getting up early morning, preferably the lady of the house


should after/wash abulations but before
consuming tea/coffee, make an offering of raw milk in a small silver cup -
specifically reserved for the Saligramam

In case male members are there in the house, Sandhyavandanam is MUST.


Nothing moves without trikala Sandhi.
Without Sandhyavandanam, it is absolutely incorrect to touch, worship and
involve oneself with the Saligramam.

Water has to be treated with extreme care. If someone can store in a,


preferably silver or gold or copper/brass vessel it would be good. Cover
this with a linen/cotton wet cloth washed nicely, not torn/frayed. The
cloth may be dipped in a mixture of water and turmeric to make it yellow.

The vessels etc. must not be used for regular use, not even for other gods.
It has to be exclusively kept for the Saligramam.

Do do not permit outsiders, non-permenant-living people/relations to even


casually "see" the Saligramam. The Saligramam must be kept in a good box
lined appropriately.

Let every member of the household involve themselves into creatively


thinking about the box/container. If it can be avoided, do not buy these
readymade from the market. Let all be involved in constructing the box.
Hard physical work coupled with a sense of art and beauty and of course,
time and energy/effort has to be spent in LOVINGLY making this box. In
case you are in Bombay, please call up 24026280 and meet Mr Krishnaswamy,
who lives in Matunga area. His kind mother has a small box made out of
cloves joined together. It is painstakingly done and is a beautiful work to
behold. Very delicate, very unique. She was contemplating keeping their
Saligramam inside this box made out of cloves.

Preferably the box may be kept in a closed area (a sort of


mini-mandapam/temple type structure available in many houses/market). In
case someone wants to "see" just for the sake of mental worship, ensure
he/she has thoroughly washed his/her feet, hands, face etc. and is clean.
Do not permit them to touch though.

Preferably one, the eldest or older family member may physically


handle/touch the Saligramam. Everyone should not be permitted. If there are
grandparents in the house, the grandfather may handle. The wife
(grandmother) should if possible always accompany the grandfather.
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After the Saligrama worship do not just begin to go about the routine
activities immediately. Sit and mentally take the Saligrama into the center
of your eyebrows. Store this mentally in your brain and then after
uttering Om Namo Narayana, get up. Be totally absorbed and involved with
the Saligrama. Never consider this a stone.

Even while looking at IT reflect and consider only on the strong feet and
toes of the Lord. See the toes and not the face/body/features in the
structure of the Saligramam

Involving with astrology, jyotisha or horoscope reviews, castings etc.


should be avoided inside the house. If at all these are to be done due to
various reasons, mentally seek the permission of the Saligramam and then
proceed but do these outside. IN HIS PRESENCE no one is permitted to dabble
and intrepret the stars, planetary positions, planetary effects etc.

Invalid, sick, disabled persons, including persons with mental disabilities


who cannot comprehend or very old people bedridden may be informed in their
ears that the "Saligramam" worship is about to begin. Whether they
understand or are capable of hearing or not does not matter. They may be
deaf also. A responsible member has to just "tell" into their ears.

Vishnu sahasranamam should be chanted without fail every evening after the
evening lamps/god's lights are lit.

Literally you are converting the house into a local Tirupati or a Srirangam
sannadhi if one can put it in a nut shell. Last but not the least,
Saligramam upasana is a one-way street. There is no backing. Once you
start, until the end it has to continue for generations together.

Finally,ironical though it may seem, whether you worship or not is of


secondary importance. It may not be mandatory. But performing the
Sandhyavandanam is mandatory. If this is done one may even ask for pardon
for not keeping up the Saligramam worship. Saligramam worship to the best
of the writer's knowledge is not mandated as a nitya by the Vedas, but
Sandhyavandanam is the command of the VEDAS and this cannot be breached
under any circumstances.
There are two books on Salagramam by SrI Ramachandra Rao, edited by Kalpatharu
Research Academy, Bangalore. There is also a Ph.D. research thesis by Alan Shapiro
from Univ. of Columbia. There are also a few other books, e.g., one by M. S.
Krishnamachari, on Salagama-s. These books deal with the subjects raised in the various
postings on Salagramam in great detail.

1. While it is always good to perform rigorous worship for Salagarama-s, it is also


indicated that Salagramam worship is specially adapted in its simplicity of worship
143

requirements. The same rigor that applies to the worship of a deity in the temple, or the
worship of a moorthi of perumal in the form of a vigraham in a house, does not apply to
the worship pf salagramam. While an intentionally careless worship of sAalagrama is not
implied by the above statement, it is also my understanding that even a simple offering
with devotion on a daily basis is accepted as part of the sAalagrama worship. I can
summarizse the scriptural declarations for this from these books if anyone is interested.

2. Both the purchase of a salagrama for a price, and the selling of salagramam for a price,
are forbidden according to the SAstra-s. Ideally, it is best to obtain them for wroship from
a recognized AcArya. Getting them from temples etc., should be done with very great
care. The reason for this is partly that those who deposit sAlagrama-s in the temple may
do so because they may have had a reason to part with the sAlagrama-s in the first
instance (e.g., some bad effects after getting them in the house etc.). This is specifically
mentioned in SrI M. S. Krishnamachari's book.

3. After having read the mUrti lakshaNa-s in some detail from the above books, having
talked to a few vaidika-s who have performed regular ArAdhana for sAlagrama-s in
different houses in India as part of their function as officiating priests, and having seen a
few sAalgrama-s myself, it is my considered opinion that the identification of
sAlagramam mUrti-s is a skill that is attained only by bhagavad and AcArya anugraham,
and no amount of reading of books or write-ups can enable one to identify the mUrti-s. I
am given to understand that there are very few people who have been gifted in this area,
and so resorting to reading the definitions for mUrti-s is just an exercise in learning, but
is not useful in practice. The following site has lots of photographs of actual sAlagrAma-s
from various Hare Krshna devotees, which is an excellent reference who want to look at
actual mUrti-s, with their names identified by these devotees.

http://www.hknet.org.nz/sstp-NEW.html

4. The pronunciation of the word "sAalagrama" or sAligrama" is an interesting area to


study. The tem can be derived based on the SAla vRksha-s which abound in the place
where the sAlagrAma-s were found, the bees (vajra-keeTa-s sa _ aLi - referring to bees)
that are considered as the source of the divine cakra and other inscriptions found in the
sAligrama, sAra-grAva (the sacred stone), and a few other derivations. Again, the
different books advocate different pronunciations. It is best to follow whatever one's
AcArya advises.

Salagrama Sila Puja – a mystical Experience


by Amaraprabhu dasan 2002

When I first came in contact with the Salagram Sila worship I was stuck with the feelings
and individual expressions by the devotees towards that specific Form of the Lord, that I
developed the wish to learn pujas and all things connected with that.
I got good advises from different friends and I started my long trips to India and Nepal
for the purpose of learning and finding my Lord in a Sila Form. Visiting Muktinath and
the Gandaki River, meeting different Pandits of other Vaisnava-schools helped me a lot
144

for finding some answer in that research too .


Finally I got the Lord’s Mercy with 24 Vishesa Salagrama Silas for my Nitya Aradhana
puja along with a beautiful Laxmi Narasimha Deity.
But still I’m baffled with the fantastic and most exiting Darshan where ever I see
Salagrama Sila being worshiped, or kept on the Altar, in Homes etc…!?!

Why???
- Is it because the unique feature and appearance of a Salagrama?

- Or that a great Pandit in Nadi sastra can identify the differences of various Forms of the
Lord by seeing the surface, special marks etc..?

- Is it the adventure and risk one has to take to go so far from hometown, walking long
distances with all kinds of difficulties, and pray for ones Istha Deva* to appear?

- Or finally is it the opposite to find out “is it all truth, and no fake story?”

All of the points mentioned here could be applied to my little self, and I found out many
mystical points regarding Salagram Sila and the cult on it, but still so much knowledge
lies hidden buried in old palm leaf manuscripts. Recently I have found an old manuscript
on the Salagram Ksetra Mahatmya (incomplete) in a Library in south India, with
tremendous input on the appearance of the Ksetra itself (Bhu devi is gloryfying the
Salagrama* place, and that she feels blessed with the appearance of the Ksetra on her
surface etc…).
Nowadays not much is known about that Ksetra, except some scriptural reference in
Mahabharata show the antiquity and richness of ancient knowledge over Salagram Ksetra
and His citizens *.

Thousands of years ago, Tirumangai Alwar went by foot from south India in the most
difficult area of the subcontinent in that time and composed beautifully hymns on
Salagrama Ksetra. Likewise Ramanuja and Madhvacarya did the same. And all of them
brought beautiful Salagram Silas back home. Madhvacarya even got one famous Ugra
Narasimha Sila from his Guru, Vyasadev- who gave it to his brother Visnu Tirtha. Later
on He was kept in a samputa (little box) in the Kukke Subrahmanya Mutt, where it is still
worshipped and not opened up (because of the anger of the Lord he will be invisible and
the box is kept private).
In Kerala Ananta Padmanabha Swamy of Trivandrum is made of 12000 Salagram silas,
and Adi Keshava Perumal is made of 16008!!! Salagram silas affixed with a special paste
of guggul and dust of precious diamonds. Both are huge in size divided in three Altars for
visitors to see.

Even when Gopal Bhatta Goswami visited Muktinath 12 Salagrama silas where jumping
in his Kamandalu* when he took water from the Gandaki River. Few years later one of
these Silas re-manifested the sweet will of the Lord by showing the Tribhanga Krsna
Form in His full majestic appearance. That specific Krsna is world-famous, worshiped in
Vrindavan since than (around 500 years), with the name Sri Radha Raman.
145

There are many self manifested Salagram silas all over India worshiped in temples like
Ahobilam, Melkote or Vedadri.
Seeing all this history and events one will become interested in the mystical worship of
Salagrama and his surroundings!

But what my little self can say to that subject???


May only one sentence I can give trough my observance:
“one feels blessed to worship a Salagrama”

When I got my first Varaha Salagram Sila I was in vrindavan and I had prayed deeply for
some kind of spiritual help in my sadhana and devotional feelings. Both occur when I
went back to Germany with Him. I became one of the priest in the Narasimha temple of
Germany, learned many angles on Pancaratra puja and prathisthas, homas etc… Only by
the Grace of Him.
Later I got in front of the Door of Lord Ranganath in Sri Rangam my lovely
Purushottama Sila. The Nadi sastri who identified the Sila, told me he is a very rare and
powerful sila who combines Lord Rama and Krishna in one. Hearing this I recognized
that many Alwars has sung about Ranganath either as Rama or as Krishna. So in that
sense Lord Ranganath had manifested him as a Salagrama Sila for me. I felt really
blessed!
Few years later I got in Sri Rangam again my favoured Deity in Sila Form, Laxmi
Narasimha Swamy.
Going with friends to Muktinath/Nepal we have founded different silas as Kurma,
Hayagiva, Varaha and Gopal Krishna.
Some we gave as dakshina to different temples in south India or Europe, some we kept.
(View Them HERE)

Now I concentrate my studies to locate the Salagrama Ksetra, and plan a trip to the
Damodar kund near the Tibetan border in Nepal this year. The source of one of the
Gandaki river streams is a lake created by Salagramas it self, and called Damodar Kund.
Any help for further information on that would be welcome and appreciated (please
contact : Malola@gmx.de )
May the Lord reveals more from his mystical site Salagrama to us!
146

Amaraprabhu dasa's shilas

The entire Altar that one sees here is a combination of the Veda Academy in Dresden
(Panchatattwa and Dasa-avataras) only the front line are Amaraprabhu's - close-ups and
details below.

"The pictures I have send right now, are from my Deities on the altar in the Veda
Academy in Dresden (Germany). There are Dasa-avatara vigrahas and Pancatattva
Deitys. The Laxmi Narasimha on his throne are the Ones who are so kind and travel with
me. Only the Laxmi Narasimhas and the salagramas are my Deities, the Dasaavatara set
and the Pancatattva Deities belong to the Veda Academy, where I stayed only for a few
weeks recently. But normally I stay in Berlin and I have my own altar. Beside the Veda
Academy is in Dresden, and I stay in Berlin."
147

This picture with the Goverdhan sila includes also on Tirumangai Alwar and Nammalwar
deities.
148

Laxmi Narasimha with Salagram Viharanam (mala - garland)


and right side a Spatika crystal carved into a three dimensional yantra also.
149

Sudarshana Narasimha deity


150

Dasa-avataras of the Veda Academy


151
152
153

Below Seals and Stamps (namams) used to mark the body of the sadhaka in puja

Salagrama Sila Puja – a mystical experience


154
155

......here is one other picture on my trip to Muktinath with a Mahasudarshana Salagram


sila found in the forbitten kingdom of LO (the area were western people only been
allowed with special visa, going further than Kagbeni....... we went there secretly, without
visa just for finding some precious, rare silas).
Later H was given to the famous Venu gopala Temple in Bangalore for worship.

Search here for individual Sevaks and Deities World-wide.


A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

The Case of the Fabulous Footprint

Shastras stress the importance of adorning our foreheads with Oordhva pundram or
Tiruman. The two upward lines of Tiruman, accompanied by the SriChoornam in the
centre, are what every Srivaishnava is supposed to wear on his forehead always. Such
oordhvapundram is to be worn not only on the forehead, but at eleven other places on the
body too, making a round dozen. The very picture of a Srivaishnava with dvAdasa
(twelve) oordhvapundrams adorning his body evokes in us veneration and devotion.
Though it is ordained upon every vaishnavite to wear these every day, it has now become
the practice to follow this injunction only on special days like marriage, upanayanam,
seemantham, shrAddham etc. While this was the position a few years back, the current
scenario has deteriorated so much that even a single tirumaN is worn only on these
special days. "KEsavam DAmOdaram cha sarvadA na parityajEt" says the Smriti,
underlining the importance of never being without Tiruman, at least those w

Levity apart, why should we apply oordhvapundram at all, whether one or a dozen? What
do we gain therefrom, except the curious glances of some passers-by and derisive
156

comment from the more offensive? What practical benefit do we derive from the practice,
which would encourage its continued performance? What does it stand for and what is
the scriptural authority behind it? Is its continued observance required in this age of
satellites and missiles or is it a mere vestige of anachronistic observances?

We are told by none other than the Lord Himself that He resides along with Piratti on the
foreheads of those wearing Tiruman. The two parallel white lines of Tiruman indicate the
Lord's holy feet, while the red or yellow vertical line in between signifies Piratti's
presence. Here is the BrahmANda PurANa sloka attesting to this, quoted by Swami
Desikan in Saccharitra RakshA

"vimalAni oordhvapundrAni sAntarALAni yO nara:

karOti vimalam tatra mandiram mE karOti sa:

oordhvapundrasya madhyeE tu visAlE ati manOharE

LakshmyA sardham sahAseena:ramEham tatra nirvrita:"

One who wears oordhvapundram provides a temple for the Lord on his own forehead,
says this couplet, pointing out the Lord resides with pleasure in those who wear His
tiruvadi with devotion.

That this practice is hoary and age-old is confirmed by Sri Nammazhwar in the following
pasuram-

"nettriyil nindru ennai ALum niraimalar pAdangaL choodi

kattrai tuzhAi mudi kOla KaNNapirAnai tozhuvAr

ottrai pirai aNindAnum nAnmukhanum indiranum

mattrai amararum ellAm vandu enadu ucchiyuLAnE"

(Though the official explanation for this pasuram is different, it is extremely tempting not
to make use of the words "nettriyil nindru ennai ALum nirai malar pAdangaL", which
157

refer to the Lord's feet residing resplendently on our foreheads).

The word "oordhvam" means "upwards": according to Shastras, Paradise and other
worlds of pleasure, ephemeral and eternal, lie above us, while worlds of pain and
punishment inhabited by sinners lie below us. Hence the wearing of Tiruman in an
upward direction is symbolic of our vertical movement on the spiritual plane.

In our Sampradaya, this adornment on the forehead in known as "tiruman kAppu". The
use of the word "kAppu", referring to protection, is significant, for, it denotes the constant
protection afforded to the wearer. Tiruman thus acts as an effective and inexpensive
shield against all untoward things and as a guard against all evil forces. It is said that
Yama kinkarAs have standing orders not to harass Vishnu bhaktas and to confine their
terrifying tantrums to others, for even Yama's writ doesn't run over devotees of the Lord-
("prabhuraham anya nruNAm na vaishnavAnAm"). It is the Tiruman Kappu that affords
instant identification of the wearer as a staunch votary of Emperuman, thus saving him
from the clutches of the hounds of hell.

Like an Eton tie, a Harvard sweat shirt or a Cambridge Rowing Cap, the Tiruman Kappu
too is a badge of membership, establishing the credentials of the wearer as an ardent
devotee of the Lord and providing instant access to the Old Boys' Club of those who
belong to the Lord.

It was, and still is the practice, to brand our belongings like pots and pans, to facilitate
their identification, should they get mixed up with others'. Some have their initials or
whole names etched on the pots while some put in distinctive marks. Similar to this
practice, the wearing of Tiruman is to identify ourselves as the slaves of the Supreme
Lord and Master, existing solely for His use and pleasure. What better way of inculcating
the spirit of service to Emperuman, than to constantly remind ourselves of His
SwAmitvam (Lordship) and our own status as His belongings, by wearing His holy feet
symbolically on our foreheads? That this SEshatvam of ours is not only towards the Lord
but also towards His Consort, is signified by the Srichoornam.

A word here about the practice of wearing Srichoornam alone: According to Acharyas, it
is the Divine Duo who should be the subject of our adulation, adoration etc. It is no use
espousing only one of them, for neither would be pleased by the rejection of or
indifference towards the other. If proof were needed, we only have to remember what
158

happened to Soorpanakha, who coveted the Lord and tried to do away with Sita Piratti,
and the example of Ravana, who developed an infatuation for Mythily, to the exclusion of
Emperuman. Hence, Tiruman is complete only when worn with Srichoornam and vice-
versa. Tiruman alone is worn only when we contract some Asoucham or theettu,
indicating the importance of Piratti in the whole scheme of things. Similarly, wearing of
Srichoornam alone would definitely not please either the Lord or His Consort, who is His
constant companion. It would be as if we were separating Emperuman and His
inalienable companion, who has vowed never to be apart from the former e

Apart from any other reason, Tiruman serves as an adornment to our foreheads. Readers
would surely agree that the Lord's feet, worn symbolically, considerably enhance our
looks and serve as a distinct decoration to our visages. Worn just right, neither too broad
nor too narrow, with neither too sharp edges nor blatantly blunt ones, occupying just the
right proportion of the forehead and touching the hairline, Tiruman and Srichoornam
serve as effective enhancements of our looks.

With such a plethora of reasons, is it any wonder that our elders scrupulously adhered to
this practice themselves and exhorted us too to follow suit?

We can now see why we should wear Tiruman. However, there is an extremely strange
practice being followed at our temples, irrespective of the Agama or sampradaya to which
they belong, which is quite puzzling.

We find the Lord at all divyadesams and other sannidhis scrupulously wearing Tiruman
and Srichoornam on His own forehead. While many of the Utsava MurthIs sport just a
tilakam on their visages, the Moola bEram is invariably adorned with oordhva pundram.
We are puzzled, because none of the reasons cited above for adopting the practice applies
to Emperuman. If Tiruman indeed signifies the Lord's feet, would not its application to
the Lord's forehead amount to His carrying His own feet on His brow? Would this not
amount to an apachAram or insult to the Lord? And if we wear it to signify our slavery to
the omnipotent Lord, what would be the purport of putting it on the Lord's forehead,
since He is the Matchless Master? If we wear it for our protection ("Kappu"), what
protection does the Lord need and from whom? If Tiruman serves as adornment to our
faces, does it do so for the Lord too, whose beauty and brilliance are unparalleled and
need no enhancement?
159

This question has occurred long back to Sri Koorattazhwan, who queries Sri
DEvAdiRAja of Kanchi as to why He sports an oordhva pundram on His forehead with
pleasure-"oordhva pundra tilakam bahumAnAt kim bibharshi Varada! Sva lalAtE?" It is
not only Sri Devadiraja who subscribes to this practice: Sri Bhattar avers that Sri
Rangaraja too adorns Himself similarly-"KastUrI kalita oordhva pundra tilakam,
karNAnta lOlEkshaNam". Swami Desikan too testifies in Sri Devanayaka Panchasat that
Adiyavarkku Meyyan does wear an oordhva pundram on His beautiful forehead, which
resembles a flash of lightning on His dark forehead, forming a luminous lamp dispelling
the gloom of ignorance from our hearts-

"lAvaNya varshiNi lalAta tatE ghanAbhE

bibhrat tatit guNa visEsham iva oordhva pundram

visvasya nirjharapatE tamasA Avritasya

manyE vibhAvayasi mAngaLika pradeepam"

We thus find that adorning the Lord with an oordhva pundram is quite an old and
accepted practice, eliciting appreciative comment from our Poorvacharyas. However, the
question remains, why? Why should Emperuman do this, which is patently suitable for us
and unsuitable for Him, if the reasons adduced above are correct?

Sri Koorattazhwan, who posed the original question, also provides the answer, with the
key word "BahumAnAt". The Lord is so enamoured of His devotees, that He wishes to
follow them in all their practices. When we love somebody a lot, we tend to follow in
their footsteps, emulating and imitating whatever they do and say. Similar is the state of
Emperuman, who loves us so much that He considers whatever is good for us as good for
Him too, whether or not He needs it. When our two year-old child takes a morsel of baby
food from its own bowl and tries to feed us, would we spurn the proffered food because
we have outgrown the gruel?

When the proud mother is dressing up her child, applying powder to its face and body, if
the child snatches the powder and tries to smear mother's face with it in an attempt at
beautification, does the loving mother wipe off the powder immediately and scold the
toddler for the gesture of love? Similar to all this, Emperuman too accepts with
gratification all that we do for Him in good faith and proudly sports all the adornments
we see fit to decorate Him with. Otherwise, there is little reason for the Lord to have a
ceremonial bath every day, for He is the cleanest of persons, with a tirumEni that never
attracts any impurity or dirt. Nor does He need His teeth to be cleaned, feet to be washed
or to perform Achamanam now and again. Still less does He need to be fed with the
mundane morsels we offer Him.
160

However, like the adult accepting the loving and imperfect ministrations of a child, the
Lord too accepts whatever we offer Him with devotion. He accepts them not half-
heartedly, but with a heart brimming over with gratitude. He accepts them with pride, as
the offerings of His own offspring, however imperfect. It is thus that He sports a
TirumankAppu too, though He has neither the need nor the compulsion therefor. This is
the purport of the term "bahumAnAt" adduced by Sri Azhwan as reason for the Lord's
oordhva pundram.

If His devotees feel He looks better with TirumankAppu, He readily accepts it as His
regular adornment, irrespective of the need or necessity for the same. "Tamar ugandadu
evvuruvam avvuruvam tAnE" says Azhwar, vouching for how Emperuman adopts the
form, posture, demeanour and decorations His devotees wish Him to have. "nenjinAl
ninaippAn evan avan Agum neeL kadal vaNNanE" says Sri Nammazhwar too,
confirming this. These Azhwar sreesootis are again sourced from the Bhagavat Gita sloka
with the same purport-

"YO YO yAm yAm tanum bhakta: shraddhayA arcchitum icchati

tasya tasya achalAm shraddhAm tAm Eva vidadhAmyaham".

When the Lord Himself is prepared to wear TirumaNkAppu for our sake, should we not
do it at least for His sake? Instead of fighting shy of doing something which we ought to
feel proud of, instead of caring for what unconcerned and undiscerning third parties may
think, instead of forgetting our own stature in the spiritual firmament and trying to ape
others who are still on the bottom rung of the ladder, if only we think of adorning
ourselves with oordhva pundram with justifiable pride, if only we do it with the
realisation that it is the Lord's very own tiruvadi that is purifying our forehead, if we
prefer the Tirumankappu to other cosmetic embellishments we currently favour- it would
only be then that the Lord is really pleased with us. We would command new respect if
we turn a blind eye to derisive glances and deaf ears to snide comments. It is well worth
remembering that the world is full of malicious critics who would have little good to say
about us, whichever course we adopt. G

This piece is not an attempt to criticise or reform, much less to pontificate. It is just an
expression of anguish, in search of sympathetic shoulders to lean and cry on.
==============================================================
RATIONAL THINKING???
161

Namo Narayanaya Namah!

Dear Narasimha Raghavan Swamin

Lord Krishna, the most generous ONE, empowers every


one of us to
approach our respective acharyas and question with
respect and keen
interest in learning.

adiyen takes your question regarding Swamy Nammazwar


and Vishwaksenar
and their acharya-sishya relationship, in that spirit
and I am
placing before devareer the following in response and
with the interest
of kindling and conversing with devareer's spiritural
self.

Religion is not a rational science. Not everything can


be explained
to the satisfaction of empirical mind. It is not
possible.
Faith is an imporant component of religion. Either you
believe or you
do not.

adiyen has the same right as everyone else.

There are such things as black holes in this universe.


I have not seen
it. I have heard about it. I do not believe it. But it
is out there.

The earth I am on (which gives me the false pretense


of stability)
is moving at 30000 km per second as part of the solar
system around
the milky way galaxy. Can you or any one rationalize
this given our
understanding.

Uri Geller of Iran can bend spoons, lift iron etc by


mere looks.
I cannot do that. Can it be done. Uri geller did it.
So answer is
obvious.

Tibetan monks and Nepalese monks can stay outside when


the temperatue
is below zero with their thin traditional dress.
American TV shows
have conducted experiments and found that these people
generated more
heat then they took in.

Please visit a Lakshmi Narasimha Sannidhi (Mattapalli)


162

I think.
Where all devotees can take panagam (candy + water)
and pour it into
Swamy. The legend has it that one cannot pour more
than half the amount
taken in. This is magical also. Nature is elusive.

E=mc**2 rather innocuous expression. But, ask the


Japanese they might
give you a vivid story of the implications of this
short expression.

Did you know that most material is mostly void. 90% is


empty space.

And then there is super fluid, super conductors etc.,


space warp,
time warp etc..etc..which we cannot rationalize. And
yet they
happen right in front of us.
Science cannot explain itself.

Avayar said it best. What we know is very little. What


we know that we do
not know is also very little. What we do NOT know that
we do not KNOW
is very very large. What we have learned is very
little. What we have not
learned is very very large in contrast. At the rate
apara vidya is being
generated the gap is widening than ever before.

So behold your curious mind unto Sriman Narayana and


have faith.
SwamY Nammazwar will bless you with great imperishable
wealth.

Choose wisely. There are two groups of thinkers who


ask these questions.
One group is serious and wants to learn. The other
group knows the answer
but want to have the pleasure of asking unanswerable
questions.
Therefore, my sincere request to you swamin is to
choose wisely. How you
spend your time. Time spent on such debates is as
futile as trying to
find which came first chicken or the egg?

In India, in some quarters, some rationalists have


sprung up.
Their purpose in life is to show that the great Indian
way is
a hoax. They might have some legitimate gripe against
a few
sanyasis who misguide people. However, these
rationalists are totally
163

misguided in generalizing, blaming and dismantling an


entire working
social/culture structure in India. They know not what
an effort it
takes to build such a complicated system. Choose
wisely, my dear
devotee! It is not to say every belief, every act
or every custom is not to be questioned, ever.
We must question with the sole intent of encouraging
and including others. To be tolerant etc. To bring out
the best in every SV.
We simply do not ask how Nammazwar lived without
eating
for years. In what way will the answer to this
question
help us or take us near Sriman Narayana or
understanding
our purpose here.

There is no offense meant in my reply here to devareer


or to anyone else.

>
> Sorry if I had asked anything wrong.
>

Please send me an email if you want further


elaboration
or if you are not convinced of the obvious answer to
your question.
Question out of sincere desire to learn is nothing to
be sorry about.

adiyen
anandavalli dasan
=======================================================================