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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,

2 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

3 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. ===================================================

4 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

_______________________________________________________________________ _ _______________________________________________________________________ _ 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

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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” ============================================================ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ============================================================ 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 apaatakaani // 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. =========================================================== xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx =========================================================== 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.

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V.Y. YEGNARAMAN Trustee ============================================================ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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 the baddha jIvAtmAs propagates vedAs and allied sAstrAs, which are the only way through which they can 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

13 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. selfrealization. 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.

14 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

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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

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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

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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

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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

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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 &

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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

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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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http://www.geocities.com/krk1961 http://gitajyoticurrentweek.tripod.com 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)

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=========================================================== 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

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(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”!

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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) could ANDAL shows how the Lord whose greatness, even the VEdas

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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) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) Who is “Paraman”? (PaarkaDaluL paiyatuyinra paraman) How to approach Him? (Thoo malar toovi tozhudu,Vaayinaal paaDi, manathinaal sindikka) How to approach Him in a congregation? (KooDi irundu kuLirndu) How to pray to Him in His august presence? (POtri, POtri) What to ask Him? (UntannODu utrOmE aavOm) 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.

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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!

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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. -----------------------------------------------

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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

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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)

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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

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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 // =========================================================== xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx =========================================================== 2. "VEDA NOOL PIRAYAM NOORU" Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami of Coimbatore ----------------------------------------------------------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

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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 mantra1. "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".

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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"-

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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

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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.

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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. =========================================================== Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx =========================================================== 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 complexionedwith 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!

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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

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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

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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

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the overflowing kalyaaNa gunaas of emperumaanaar. Iraamaanusa nooRRanthAthi: Verse 84 of

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-

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"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-

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"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".

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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

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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

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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.

61 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

62 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 lowclass. 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

63 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

64 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

65 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

66 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 Vaisnavaseva." 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

67 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

68 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

69 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

73 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

76 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)

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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 longcherished 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

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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,

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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

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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"

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"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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THANKS Thanks to the help and cooperation of - the Moderators of our Internet fraternity who have kindly hosted the Editorials of "Sri Ranga Sri", - Administrators of Religious monthlies in India like "Sri Hayagriva Priya", "Sri Ranganatha Paduka", "Sri Desika Seva", "Sri Nrisimhapriya " from Hyderabad, "Sri Kaanchi Perarulalan" etc. for having featured our articles and made references to "Sri Ranga Sri" in their journals, - current members who have recommended or suggested new members and - the enthusiasm of new members themselves joining on their own volition the membership of "Sri Ranga Sri" has steadily risen to nearly 3000 (including about 2000 Active members and about 1000 members whose mails bounced temporarily due to the limited capacity of their mail boxes). More than 95% of members of other Srivaishnava groups are already members of "Sri Ranga Sri". 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 limelight and publicity everywhere. All Bhagavatas will stand informed sufficiently without repetitions in the other lists. In fact, we have feedback from many members who are also members in other groups saying that the same postings received repeatedly from multiple groups are annoying, necessitating time and effort to delete the excessive ones on a daily basis. This is to avoid cluttering of the limited storage space in their mail boxes and other consequential problems. This happens because some of the Internet providers strictly restrict the capacity allowed to the users.

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For this resaon, several members have preferred to de-subscribe from our group or opt out for "No Email" preference, despite their appreciation of the quality of articles featured in the "Regular Issues". But for these de-subscriptions depleting our mailing list, the fast and steady growth of our membership would have exceeded at least 4000 by now. Many of the members prefer to receive only articles that are EXCLUSIVELY featured in "Sri Ranga Sri" and are NOT COPYCAT VERSIONS of the same messages appearing elsewhere. You would have noticed that as a matter of policy, we do not copy our messages to other lists, except the EDITORIALS for the information of all. We request all the contributors to make sure that they post to "Sri Ranga Sri" ONLY articles meant "EXCLUSIVELY", we repeat "EXCLUSIVELY", for being featured in "Sri Ranga Sri". We will regretfully disapprove postings that are found marked simultaneously to several other lists. LENGTH OF ARTICLES: It is our experience that readers tend to skip long articles. It would be desirable if they are limited to a maximum of say, 2 pages, so that we can accommodate more contributors. This is also due to the fact that some Internet providers ruthlessly truncate matter half-way, if it exceeds certain limits imposed by them on the length of postings. That is why, our "Regular Issues" are limited to about 10 pages per Isssue, even if it entails releasing more issues at more frequent intervals. EDITING AND MODERATION: Articles for publication in the "Regular Issues" will be released after minimal editing and moderation. LANGUAGE: Our membership is drawn from a cross section of population belonging to various linguistic groups(Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Gujarati etc), regional groups (Punjab to Kerala and Maharashtra to West Bengal etc) and religious groups(Srivaishnavas and other Non- Srivaishnavas of different hues) and with different backgrounds not only from India but also from the world over, but who are nevertheless eager to learn about our Sampradayam. This includes youngsters born and /or brought up outside our environment and either not exposed to our Sampradayam or with different levels of exposure. The employment of too much clitche-ridden expressions peculiar to our Sampradayam and technical jargon (paribaashai in Tamil and Sanskrit), while professing to educate readers not familiar with these languages will turn

90 them away instantly. To make ourselves understood and be useful to these segments also, it is necessary to speak to them the language they can easily understand and refer to episodes they can readly relate to. Otherwise, it will defeat the very purpose of educating them through our postings but will be seen only as an attempt to show off one's professed erudition! It should be remembered that we are not seeking to educate scholars who may perhaps appreciate our Paribashai, though they may not need our instructions anyway! Wherever necessary, the explanations may be given in English and the linguistic expressions provided in paranthesis.This will probably satisfy both the segments. It will be our policy to reject postings contrary to these guidelines. SPELL CHECKING AND LENGTH OF LINES: Please have your work spell checked before posting. Also, please make sure that the right margin is set to accommodate not more than 60 characters per line. This is because, due perhaps to technical reasons, some providers bifurcate and truncate the lines making it difficult to read. DIACRITICAL NOTATIONS: As far as possible, please use the diacritical marks accepted in standard dictionaries, while transliterating Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi and other Indian language terms into English. An attempt at an unnatural and artificial mix up of contrived notations, may appear as novel experiment but would only create more problems in reading than in solving! PRAMANAMS: Wherever any views are expressed, they should be based on appropriate authority (PramaaNams) from the Srisooktis of Acharyas of Bhagavad Ramanuja - Swami Desika Satsampradayam. Your attention is invited to the mission statement of "Sri Ranga Sri" copied below: "This is a group of "Swami Desika Darsana Satsangam" (SDDS) for studying Srivaishnava - Visishtadvaita philosophy and practices as laid down by Azwars and as clarified by Acharyas of Bhagavad Ramanuja - Swami Desika Sath Sampradayam. Articles and discussions are welcome subject to the general norms of tolerance and mutual respect within the realms of the above philosophy and practices"

91 It will be clear from the above that quotes from and and views of sources such as Naastikas, Maayavaadins, Iskcon, Gaudiyas, Gaurangas,Saibabas, Goswamis, Ramaanandas, KaruNaamaayi, Amritananda Maayi, Mahesh Yogi, and such other religioous teachers outside the SrivaishNava Satsampradaayam cannot find a place in "Sri Ranga Sri". PERSONAL OPINIONS: Often, it is seen that personal opinions and speculations are projected on many issues, leading to never ending arguments and counter arguments that divert the focus. It may please be ensured that any viewpoint presented is supported by appropriate authority (PramaaNams) preferably with ACTUAL QUOTES. DISCUSSIONS: We would like to reiterate that "Sri Ranga Sri" is *PRIMARILY A JOURNAL* and *NOT* a general discussion group. However, discussions relevant to the topics featured in the "Regular Issues" and which are not repugnant to the objectives of the Journal (as detailed in the preamble) are welcome. This is intended to encourage "Reader- participation". REFERENCE TO ORIGINAL MESSAGES: While replying to points raised by another Bhagavata, please take care to delete the "Original message" in your reply, IF the original message had appeared already in the "Sri Ranga Sri" message board. If necessary, the "Subject" of the original message may be "cited" or the Message number in our archive is provided, instead of allowing the entire message to appear again in your reply. APPEALS FOR FUNDS: Complaints have been received regarding irregularities in the utilzation of funds collected in the name of worthy projects. Therefore, Appeals for funds for various kainkaryams may be posted ONLY AFTER MAKING SURE of the genuineness of the prime movers / administrators and after providing an assurance of personal responsibility for having done this. Before posting any such appeals, it may be ensured that proper arrangements exist for (i) Officially acknowledging receipt of contributions (ii) Utilization of the funds fully and precisely for the purposes for which they are proposed to be mobilized through these appeals and (iii) Adequate audit and accounting to the entire satisfaction of the donors. Otherwise, we will be seen as encouraging indiscriminate fund-raising

92 appeals and also become liable for any potential legal action later on, given the conduct of numerous trusts that have mushroomed and disappeared with the collections.

Therefore, in the absence of the above precautions being specifically incorporated, we will be compelled to re appeals. EXCEPTIONS: - Special announcements of Tele-Upanyasams, Tele-Stotram classes. Availability of books, Cassettes, CDs etc. and such other "time-sensitive" matters are welcome for the information of members. - The Moderator reserves the right to allow postings of exceptional quality, with the permission of the authors. Moderators of other lists may likewise feel free to repeat any messages appearing in "Sri Ranga Sri", if they are found fit to be published in their sites. - Further exceptions will be announced based on experience and as needed. Thank you for your understanding and co-operation. 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

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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

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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?

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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) DhArakatvamEmperuman 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

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supporting sustenance not presuppose additional source must be of a permanent nature, offering constant and not merely occasionally. Also, mere DhArakatvam would the SharIra-Atma bhavam: Swami Desikan points out that two criteria are required to be satisfied.

2). NiyAmyatvamThe 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). SEshitvamDefining 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

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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

100 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 faircomplexioned 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. Top , Back to Index 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”,

101 “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 stonelike 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

102 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. Top , Back to Index

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

104 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. Top , Back to Index “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

107 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. Top , Back to Index 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 firstAchamanam in not to be done standing up, but always in the “KukkutAsanam” or a henlike posture, sitting down with the soles of the feet firmly planted on the ground, the hands between the knees.

109 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

110 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 limitlessunlimited 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:

111 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 AchamanamAchamanam 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”.

113 Why should one touch the various body parts while performing Achamanam? Replies Sage VyAsaAll 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. Top , Back to Index 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

114 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

116 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. Top , Back to Index 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 Top , Back to Index 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:" Top , Back to Index raghav_hema@vsnl.net
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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. __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!?

125 The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo. http://search.yahoo.com ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~--> Get A Free Psychic Reading! Your Online Answer To Life's Important Questions. http://us.click.yahoo.com/Lj3uPC/Me7FAA/uetFAA/VkWolB/TM ---------------------------------------------------------------------~-> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: Srirangasri-unsubscribe@egroups.com

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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================================================================ " 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.

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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

140 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!

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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."

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

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Laxmi Narasimha with Salagram Viharanam (mala - garland) and right side a Spatika crystal carved into a three dimensional yantra also.

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Sudarshana Narasimha deity

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Dasa-avataras of the Veda Academy

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

Salagrama Sila Puja – a mystical experience

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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.

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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 viceversa. 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.

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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 halfheartedly, 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???

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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)

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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

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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 =======================================================================