SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:
SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
Let us now look at the 8 qualities and several other auspicious qualities which bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja mentions prior to surrendering to perumAL.
sathyakAma! sathyasankalpa! parabrahmabhUtha! purushOththama! mahAvibhUthE! SrIman! nArAyaNa! SrIvaikuNtanAtha! apArakAruNya sauSeelya vAthsalya oudhArya aiSvarya soundharya mahOdhadhE! anAlOchitha viSEsha aSEshalOka SaraNya! praNathArthihara! ASritha vAthsalyaika jaladhE! anavaratha vidhitha nikhila bhUtha jAtha yAthAthmya! aSEsha charAcharabhUtha nikhila niyamana niratha! aSEsha chidhachidhvasthu SEshibhUtha! nikhila jagadhAdhAra! akhila jagath swAmin! asmath swAmin! sathyakAma! sathyasankalpa! SrIman! nArAyaNa! aSaraNyaSaraNya! ananya SaraNa: thvath pAdhAravindha yugalam SaraNam aham prapadhyEII
The first 4 of the 8 qualities described below are part of bhagavAn’s ability to create the worlds. The next four are part of the path to surrender – that only he can grant us mOksham (SrIvaikuNtam). Again, the terms sathyakAma, sathyasankalpa and parabrahmabhUtha (which are part of the 8 qualities described below) are linked to leelA vibhUthi (materialistic realm or this world that we live in) part of the chUrNai. purushOththama and nArAyaNa are linked to his gUNas (his qualities). mahAvibhUthE and SrI vaikuNtanAtha are linked to nithya vibUthi (spiritual realm or SrIvaikuNtam). SrIman is linked to the chUrNai relating to his consorts. We have already seen the meanings of these 8 words.
sathyakAma – the word kAma has several meanings. It refers to the person who desires something; it also refers to the object of desire. And, it also refers to desire itself. Earlier, SrI rAmAnuja had mentioned this word kAma to refer to the nithya vibhUthi (SrIvaikuNtam). Here he uses it in the context of referring to bhagavAn who owns prakruthi, purusha and kAla and plays with these (as we had seen a few paragraphs back) to fulfil his desire, i.e. there it referred to the objects of desire and here it refers to desire itself. sathya refers to his permanent nature. The objects of creation, AthmAs, the objects of their enjoyments, the equipment through which they enjoy these, the time which determines what and when they will enjoy – all these are playful things for him. We may ask, why something which binds us to this samsAram (materialistic world), which makes it difficult for us to get liberated from, and which hides bhagavAn, should be an object of enjoyment for him. Let us see what will happen if he does not create at all – we will be sticking to his thirumEni (his physical body) along with achith (insentient) for eons, without ever having a hope of reaching his abode, SrIvaikuNtam. Only because he keeps creating the worlds that a vaSishta or a suka or a vAmadhEva or such sages are able to reach SrIvaikuNtam. We can also then hope to, one day, discard this physical body and be blessed by him to reach his SrIvaikuNtam and carry out kainkaryam to his thiruvadi (exalted feet). An agriculturist, despite facing repeated losses due to some reason or the other when he sows seeds, does not stop sowing or cultivating his land. He still keeps doing it in the hope that some crop or the other will bring him benefit, just as he had got a few times. bhagavAn‘s act in repeatedly creating/protecting/destroying the worlds is similar.
sathyasankalpa – his ability to create the objects of enjoyment for his ASrithars (those who surrender to him) to fulfil their desires through his sankalpa (thought or will). The term sathya here refers to his ability never to fail or disappoint his ASrithars. There will be no hurdles in his path to do this. When brahmA (first creation of bhagavAn) created sanaka, sanathkumAra et al, and asked them to help him in creating the world, they refused. brahmA’s creation thus became wasted. Similarly when he lost out vEdhas to aSurars (demons) he fell at the feet of bhagavAn for retrieving the vEdhas. But bhagavAn’s creation doesn’t go waste.
Let us look at the 8 qualities now.
sathyakAma – this term refers to bhagavAn being the owner of all the permanent entities which are the implements or aids for the creation of the world in which jIvAthmAs will take many different physical forms before attaining bhagavAn.
sathyasankalpa – being firm in his will that it will not go waste. Once he decides that a particular jIvAthmA should reach SrIvaikuNtam, no hurdle can impede him in taking his decision to fruition. jIvAthmA has a role to play in this, in that he should have the desire to go to SrIvaikuNtam.
parabrahmabhUtha – he is unimaginably huge. How huge is he? The entire universe, with all its thousands of galaxies forms the body of bhagavAn (also called as brahmam; the term brahmam is not to be confused with brahmA. While brahmA is the creator on bhagavAn‘s direction, brahmam is bhagavAn himself). That is how huge he is. At the time of pralayam (deluge), the entire chith (sentients) and achith (insentients) take refuge in him. At the time of creation he takes a sankalpam (will) saying “let me take multitudinous forms” and starts dividing himself into many different objects that we have seen earlier (prakruthi, purushan, kAlam etc). All these objects still form part of his thirumENi (physical body). That would give an idea about how huge he is.
purushOththama – purushAnAm uththama: i.e. highest among purushas (sentients). There are three types of purusha – purusha:, uthpurusha:, uththara purusha:, and then there is bhagavAn who is uththama purusha:. purusha: are badhdhAthmAs, those who are still bound to this samsAram (materialistic world). uthpurusha: are mukthAthmAs, those who have been released from the samsAram and have reached SrIvaikuNtam. uththara purusha are nithyAthmAs, those who were never born in samsAram and have always been in SrIvaikuNtam (AdhiSEshan, vishvakSEnar, garudan et al). uththama purusha or purushOththama is bhagavAn, the highest among all the purushas. Even though he resides within the three types of chith (the three types are bhadhdha, muktha and nithya jIvAthmAs) and three types of achith entities (sudhdha sathvam or pure goodness, miSra thathvam or mixture of sathvam, rajas and thamas which are the goodness, desire/passion and ignorance respectively and kAla thatvam which is time), their impurities will not affect him. He removes the impurities of his ASrithars (those who surrender to him). Moreover, he pervades us all, he bears us all and he owns us all. He grants us all that we (the three types of purusha) desire. He is purushOththama.
mahAvibhUthE – Owner of vibhUthis (worlds). Earlier itself, his vibhUthis have been clarified. Why then repeat it now? Earlier we had seen who all constitute the vibhUthis. Now he emphasises that he will grant his wealth (we have seen this quality under oudhAryam, earlier). If an Asrithar wants him, bhagavAn grants everything to him, even himself to him. He also stays with the ASrithars throughout, in SrIvaikuNtam, giving kainkarya anubhavam (exalted experience of serving bhagavAn).
SrIman – kainkaryam is done to both bhagavAn and pirAtti. Once the jIvAthmA reaches SrivaikuNtam and becomes a mukthAthmA, he enjoys doing service to both bhagavAn and pirAtti.
nArAyaNa – possessing countless auspicious qualities (already seen) without any fault and granting these qualities to the ASrithars for them to enjoy and carry out kainkaryam. Thus, kainkaryam is carried out to the dhivya dhampathis (divine couple, bhagavAn and pirAtti).
SrIvaikuNtanAtha – lord of SrIvaikuNtam, the place fit for carrying out kainkaryam.
Of the above 8 qualities, the first 4 qualities (sathyakAma, sathyasankalpa, parabrahmabhUtha, purushOththama) extol his abilities for creation (of the universe) and the next 4 (mahAvibhUthE, SrIman, nArAyaNa, SrIvaikuNtanAtha) emphasise that he is the entity that we should approach, and enjoy by carrying out kainkaryam. Thus he is the creator and he is the object of enjoyment. SrI rAmAnuja now mentions 24 further qualities of bhagavAn before surrendering to him. Why another 24 qualities when he has already mentioned so many? We can surrender only to someone who possesses great qualities. If the entity to whom we surrender is devoid of qualities, how can we surrender? It is customary to mention all the qualities before surrendering. Even in dhvaya mahAmanthram (one of rahasya thrayam, the three secret manthrams, that our preceptors taught us down the generations), we say that we surrender to SrIman nArAyaNan, in which the term nArAyaNan means one who has great qualities. Thus it is not out of place to keep mentioning the qualities of bhagavAn repeatedly.
In the next few qualities (apAra kAruNya souSeelya, vAthsalya, oudhArya, aiSvarya soudharya mahOdhadhE), the term “apAra” (great, unlimited) is considered to be added to each of the 6 qualities that follow it.
apAra kAruNya – kAruNya means being merciful – not being able to tolerate others’ sorrow. It becomes apAra kAruNya (great or unlimited) when bhagavAn extends this to persons like rAvaNa (the demon king of SrI lankA who abducted sIthA pirAtti and separated SrI rAma and sIthA pirAtti) – this incident is mentioned in SrI rAmAyaNam when vibhIshaNa crosses the ocean to surrender to SrI rAma. sugrIva, the monkey king and friend of rAma’s, says that rAma should not accept vibhIshaNa as he is a demon and brother of rAvaNa. SrI rAma convinces him by saying that he would accept should rAvaNa himself come for surrendering. Here periyavAchchAn piLLai, the preceptor who wrote vyAkhyAnam (explanation) for gadhyathrayam, mentions that SrI rAmAnuja felt that bhagavAn showered his mercy on him (rAmAnuja) such that even a lowly person like himself was able to compose a work such as gadhyathrayam (this is absolutely untrue, but our preceptors, without exception, considered themselves to be lowly, a quality called as naichyAnusandhAnam, which means imagining oneself to be of lowly nature even though it is not true).
sauSeelya – showing magnanimity when a superior person befriends an inferior. During rAmAvathAram, he became friends with guha, sugrIva and vibhIshaNa. It becomes apAra souseelya when bhagavAn, taking mathsyAvathAram or kUrmAvathAram or varAhAvathAram, befriended fish, tortoises, boars respectively treating himself as one of them.
vAthsalya – the quality of bhagavAn which treats faults in ASrithars as good qualities. apAra vAthsalya here refers to the quality by which he treats even enemies with vAthsalyam. As example, In the case of rAvaNa, bhagavAn killed him in war so that he will not commit further sins – just as a mother will remove hastily a rod that her toddler takes so that the child will not hurt his/her eyes with the rod.
oudhArya – bhagavAn grants the wishes of his ASrithars (those who surrender to him) as per his svarUpa (nature or basic characteristic). apAra oudhArya is when he laments that he has not given anything to his ASrithars even after giving them everything. He did this when he took krishNavathAram and lamented that he did not give anything to dhraupadhi after she surrendered to him when being disrobed in dhritharAshtra’s court. He had sided with her husbands (pancha pANdavas) and got back their kingdom. But still he lamented that he did not help her when she cried out to him.
aiSvarya – having wealth which would enable him to give to ASrithars whatever they want. apAra aiSvarya is giving so much to his ASrithars that they will have enough wealth to give it away to people who ask of them.
soundharyam – being beautiful. apAra soundharyam is possessing such beauty that even an enemy such as sUrpaNakA (rAvaNa’s sister) gets attracted to him (as in rAmAvathAram). When SrI rAma went to various forests to visit rishis (as part of spending 14 years in exile) the rishis felt attracted to his features. That is his beauty. He steals the eyes and thoughts of persons who see him by his sheer beauty.
mahOdhadhE – great ocean. He has these qualities which are bigger than the biggest ocean.
Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.
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