thiruvAimozhi – 4.10 – onRum dhEvum

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Full series >> Fourth Centum

Previous Decad


Highlights from thirukkurukaippirAn piLLAn‘s introduction

AzhwAr, after thinking “it is better to die than being amidst avaishNavas”, asks emperumAn “you mercifully finish me”, and as he did not oblige, AzhwAr thought “since I have no means to give up my association with them, let me convert them as vaishNavas and live with them” and instructed to them about the supreme lordship and easily approachable nature of emperumAn and instructs them “You take shelter of such emperumAn”. In the perspective of AzhwAr who is seeing and being together with emperumAn and being blissful due to such union, and being compassionate towards the AthmAs (souls) who are missing out on emperumAn, he mercifully instructs them “you take shelter of emperumAn”.

Highlights from nanjIyar‘s introduction

See nampiLLai‘s introduction.

Highlights from vAdhi kEsari azhagiya maNavALa jIyar‘s introduction

In tenth decad – AzhwAr, previously prayed attainment of bhagavAn after meditating upon the faults of this material realm, and [now] has become satisfied having seen the goal, i.e., the supreme state of emperumAn as manifested by him and thought “the samsAris (materialistic people) cannot miss out on this supremacy of emperumAn” and highlights the following aspects, setting out to instruct his supremacy which is the ultimate goal:

  1. his being the cause of all, which helps him establish his supremacy
  2. his being with eternal auspicious qualities which matches his being the cause of all
  3. his protection of the created entities highlighting his supremacy
  4. his supremacy which is well revealed
  5. the revelation of his great simplicity which well explains his supremacy
  6. the ability to control the material world
  7. his having garuda as flas mast, which well reveals his supremacy
  8. his being the power-giver for all the other dhEvathAs
  9. his divine abode being the target of knowledge for those who are seeking upliftment
  10. that the service rendered at the divine feet of emperumAn who is sarvaSarIrI (having everything as his body), is the desired goal

Meditating upon these aspects, AzhwAr concludes by explaining how emperumAn‘s pleasure is the only goal for this AthmA, due to emperumAn being the ultimate goal, and his ultimate enjoyable nature.

Highlights from periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s introduction

See nampiLLai‘s introduction.

Highlights from nampiLLai‘s introduction

As in a land, when one side is barren and other side is fertile, while the nithyavibhUthi (paramapadham – spiritual realm) and nithsasUris (eternally free souls in paramapadham) are fully engaged in bhagavath anubhavam (enjoying bhagavAn), the residents of this desert like samsAram (material realm) are attached to sensual pleasures and having such gains and losses as joy and sorrow and being distressed turning away from bhagavAn – meditating upon this, AzhwAr decides to reform them and is thinking “why should we worry when sarvESvaran exists?”, prays at the divine feet of emperumAn “While your highness is present, can you let these AthmAs suffer? you should reform them too and bring them into the ideal path” and emperumAn replies “this is not my fault; they are not achith (insentient entities) where I can use them as I desire, and they are chEthanas (sentient entities) and should have the attachment towards me to attain irrevocable liberation; I too like you, tried my best and returned with teary eyes, being unable to uplift them”. AzhwAr then asks “Though they don’t have the attachment, and since desire is the only expectation to attain the [ultimate] benefit, why can’t you yourself create such desire in them?” and forces emperumAn like udhanga did. After the mahAbhAratha battle ended, when krishNa arrived after helping pANdavas defeat dhuryOdhana and his army, udhanga, being partial towards dhuryOdhana and his brothers, asked krishNa “While you are commonly related to both pANdavas and kauravas, you were partial towards pANdavas and destroyed dhuryOdhana et al”, krishNa replied “I tried to mediate as best as possible, but dhuryOdhana et al said ‘we will not live if pANdavas lived happily’ and only then I destroyed them”. udhanga further asked “as you are the controller of all, why did you not create the desire in them to live peacefully?”. emperumAn replied to AzhwAr “As they are chEthanas, I have to bestow the benefit only based on their desire; let that be; there is no loss for you; you see the divine abode where I am going to carry you and place you” and showed him paramapadham and AzhwAr became grateful seeing that – this is what happened in previous decad; further, in this decad, due to his great compassion, he tries to reform the samsAram which was even given up by sarvESvara.

AzhwAr desired to uproot the samsAram [materialistic existence]; the root for samsAram is two fold – attachment towards other dhEvathAs and lack of knowledge in supremacy of bhagavAn; for that, AzhwAr is instructing about supremacy of bhagavAn. [Is there any use of such instructions?] embAr, having learned all vEdha SAsthrams, still unable to determine “who is supreme”, thought “is there any knife that cannot cut a root vegetable, is there anyone who is not worshippable by me?” and bowed in front of any one he saw; and [the Acharyas] will mercifully explain “among emperumAnAr‘s followers, even those ladies who have not taken up formal education, will consider dhEvathAntharams (other dhEvathAs) as a stone which is part of building stove in the kitchen, due to knowing the principle explained in this decad” [As SAsthrams explain the glories of SrIman nArAyaNan as well as other dhEvathAs, they could lead to confusion even for great scholars. But as thiruvAimozhi simply explains the glories of SrIman nArAyaNa, the principle is very clear for everyone to understand]. embAr [subsequently] said “thruNikrutha virnchAdhi” [In comparison to taking shelter of SrI rAmAnuja‘s divine feet, even [the post of] brahmA et al are considered as grass only”. [nampiLLai explaining the attitude of materialistic people who refuse to accept bhagavAn’s supremacy] kArthavIryArjuna, a great king, while ruling over his kingdom, if anyone thinks about engaging in sinful activities, he would right away appear in front of them with his bow and arrow and avert such sinful acts – scholars of vEdham would agree to this fact; while chEthanas (sentient beings) accept whatever is done by a lowly human king, they will question if it is attributed to sarvEsvara who is omnipotent, omnipresent, will pervade everywhere and protect everyone. These people will agree if it is said “jAthi vyakthithORum parisamApya varthikkum” (the category/species of an entity pervades all through the entity) and will say “yes, it is reasonable for an achith entity (jAthi which is an insentient aspect) to pervade all through the body” but when it is said “the supreme lord will pervade everywhere”, they will doubt that principle and refuse to agree.

In the first thiruvAimozhi (decad) 1.1, for his own experience, AzhwAr meditated upon emperumAn‘s supremacy which was revealed by emperumAn himself and explained it as mentioned in Sruthi (vEdham) as in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.7 “uLan sudar migu suruthiyuL” (bhagavAn is present in the radiant vEdham); realising that his own experience could be useful to others, he thought “since they are chEthanas, this is enough for them [to be reformed]” and explained emperumAn’s supremacy as done in ithihAsams and purANams in thiNNan vIdu, 2.2 decad; but since they did not get reformed even by that, AzhwAr thought “let me instruct emperumAn’s supremacy to them [again]”, and as part of that, in this decad, AzhwAr eliminates any doubt on any other dhEvathA having supremacy and establishes bhagavAn’s supremacy.

In the first thiruvAimozhi (decad) 1.1, AzhwAr mercifully explained bhagavAn‘s supremacy in paramapadham; but that was beyond the reach of samsAris [worldly people of this material realm]; so, he then mercifully explained bhagavAn’s supremacy in his incarnations in 2,2thiNNan vIdu” decad; even that was beyond the reach of those who are living subsequent to those ancient times; those two were difficult to reach due to gap in dhESa (place) and kAla (time); to eliminate those shortcomings. as said in thirunedunthANdagam 10 “pinnAnAr vaNangum sOdhi” (the radiant form which is worshipped by future [all] times), here AzhwAr is mercifully explaining emperumAn‘s supremacy in archAvathAram which is easy to behold for people of all times.

Now, what is the method pursued by AzhwAr to reform them? While everyone desires to have joy and be free from sorrow, but as one does not acquire the desired joy and gets the undesired sorrow, it is to be admitted that “there is a controller who makes people go through these joy and sorrow at specific times”. Why is that needed? Why can’t we just say that puNya (virtues) and pApa (vices) are the causes for joy and sorrow respectively, and they themselves could control these? When we look at the nature of those puNya and pApa karmas, they are achEthana (insentient) and as they are different types of activities, they will be finished when the action is completed; when it comes to wood carving, without the carpenter, as the machines and tools are of no use, even for these puNya and pApa, without the presence of a sentient being, they themselves cannot give the fruit of the actions; now, more than imagining a principle called “apUrvam” and saying “this invisible component will bestow the result based on one’s action”, it would be better to say “after a paramachEthana (supreme sentient being) contemplates about the actions, the results are bestowed based on his condemnation or mercy”.

Now, who is that paramachEthana (supreme lord)? What are his nature and characteristics? What are his activities? These should be known through pramANams (authentic sources of knowledge). Among the pramANams, since prathyaksham (perception) is limited to our senses and cannot reach beyond our senses, it cannot be considered as a pramANam (fool proof source of knowledge); can we consider Agama texts as pramANams? No, since they have the faults based on being error prone (such as deception etc) due to being conceived by individuals’ intellects; so, vEdham which is considered as primary among 14 types of sources of knowledge, and which is nithya (eternal), apaurushEya (not created by any individual), being free from errors such as deception, explained by sAthvika purANams (purANams that are in the mode of goodness), must be the pramANam (authentic source of knowledge). Why is their special mention of “sAthvika purANams” instead of just “purANams”? The compilers of purANams learned a few things from brahmA and then compiled their respective purANams; as said in svEthAsvathara upanishath “yO brahmANam vidhadhAthi pUrvam yOvaivEdhAmScha prahiNOthi thasmai“ (first, bhagavAn created brahmA and then bhagavAn instructed him the vEdham), though that brahmA was created by sarvESvara himself, while he was explaining the rishis (sages) as in SrIvishNu purANam 1.2.10 “prushta:prOvAcha bhagavAnabhjayOni: pithAma:” (brahmA who was born in the divine navel of SrIman nArAyaNa and who taught the great sages), he instructed them “I am bound by the three types of qualities [sathva (goodness), rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance)]; you leave aside what I said when my passion and ignorance were more, and pursue what I said while my goodness was more”; this is explained in mAthsya purANam “agnESSivasya mAhAthmyam thAmasEshu prakIrthayathE | rAjasEShucha mAhAthmyam adhikam brahmaNOvidhu: | sAthvikEshvadhakalpEshu mAhAthmyam adhikam harE:” (When I am in mode of ignorance, I speak the glories of agni (fire god) and Siva; when I am in the mode of passion, I speak the glories of myself; when I am in the mode of goodness, I speak the glories of SrI hari (vishNu)”; thus, through the guNa bhEdham (difference of qualities), one can understand the different individuals who are glorified and through these, the gradations in the purANams can be understood; thus, vEdham which is explained through sAthvika purANams is considered as the authentic source of knowledge.

Though vEdham does not have the fault caused by the three qualities [sathvam, rajas, thamas], as it set out to explain bhagavAn who is with spiritual/material realms, as said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 2.45thraiguNya vishayA vEdhA:” (are focussed on the well-being of the ones having the three qualities (sathva, rajas, thamas)), since vEdhams are focussed on the chEthanas (sentient beings) who have the three qualities, vEdhams will give advise based on the qualities of each type of individual. Though vEdhams are advising in this manner, one is not forced to accept everything as a thirsty person will drink as much water as required to quench his thirst, even though the river may be flooded as said in SrI bhagavath gIthA 2.46yAvAn artha udhapAnE sarvatha: sampluthOdhakE | thAvAn sarvEshu vEdhEshu brAhmaNasya vijAnatha: ||”  (For the one who desires to use some water, only that much is accepted from a reservoir which is filled with water in all sides. Similarly, For a wise mumukshu (one who is desirous of mOksham), though being a vaidhika [follower of vEdhas], in all of vEdhams, only that which is required (as means for mOksham) is pursued [Implies that all aspects of vEdhas need not be pursued by mumukshus]); so, a mumukshu (one who desires liberation) shall only absorb what is required for him/her. This vEdham is considered to be two parts, namely pUrva bhAgam (former part) and uththara bhAgam (latter part); in this, pUrva bhAgam elaborately explains the method of worship, and explains the goals such as svarga (heaven in this material realm) and the means to attain them; uththara bhAgam explains in great detail about sarvESvaran’s svarUpa (nature), rUpa (form), guNa (qualities) etc.

Now, what is the object/target of worship/meditation? The kAraNa vAkhyams (the aphorisms which identify the cause) establish that one should worship the cause of the world and other creations in the world. How so? Explaining in thaiththirya upanishath bruguvalli “yathO vA imAni bhUthAni jAyanthE … thadhvijigyAsasva thadhbrahma” (From which, the universe is created, on which, the universe is sustained, in which the universe dissolves, that is to be known and that is brahma), eliminating the scope of worship for other entities, established the worshippable nature of jagath kAraNa vasthu (that which is the cause of the world); it is said in chAndhOgya upanishath “kAraNam thu dhyEya:” (the object of meditation is that which is the cause of everything). That dhyEya vasthu (object of meditation) is explained by the word “sath” as in chAndhOgya upanishath “sadhEva sOmya idham agra AsIth” (Oh SvEthakEthu who is qualified to drink sOma juice! before creation, sath only existed) [first, eternity/permanence is established]; in another SAkhA (branch of vEdham), it is explained by the word “AthmA” in aitharEya upanishath “AthmAvA idhamEva agra AsIth” (before creation, the world existed as the soul) [then, its sentient nature is explained]; since that could be confusing, it is referred to by the word “brahma” in vAjasnEya “brahmavA idham agra AsIth” (before creation, the world existed as the brahma, the great)  [then, its huge/great nature is explained]; since brahma could have many meanings, it is explained by the word “nArAyaNa” in mahOpanishath “EkOhavai nArAyaNa AsIth” (only nArAyaNa existed before creation); but, vEdham also explains rudhra et al being the cause and worshippable as in svEthAsvathara upanishath “nasannasAchasachchiva Eva kEvala:” (neither sath (sentient entities) existed; nor asath (insentient entities) existed; only Siva existed) and in svEthAsvathara upanishath “Sambu: AkASa madhyE dhyEya:“(meditate upon Sambu who is amidst the ether); what is the purpose of those? Though they are indicated in this manner, by having purity and the ability to bestow joy, those names will only indicate nArAyaNa who is the viSEshya (substratum) [for those entities who are viSEshaNa (forms, attributes)]. Alright, if names like Sambu, Siva can be attributed to nArAyaNa, why can’t nArAyaNa name/form be attributed to one who is called Sambu, Siva etc? While Sambu, Siva names can be attributed to nArAyaNa by guNa yOgam [nArAyaNa having those specific qualities indicated in those names, i.e., Siva means pure, and nArAyaNa is obviously the source of all purity and so the name Siva can be attributed to nArAyaNa], name nArAyaNa cannot be indicated to any one else due to indicating nArAyaNa only by yOga rUdi (etymology/root and common prevalence). How is that certain names which commonly indicate certain personalities, are attributed to some other personalities? Words like indhra, prANa, AkASa do not just stop explaining the gross object and will go up to the underlying personality. Now, name indhra does not stop with indhra and will lead up to sarvESvara [who is the in-dwelling super soul of indhra and all]; similarly the word prANa does not stop with the five types vital air in the body but leads up to the one who sustains that prANa; similarly, the word AkASa does not stop with the great element space, but leads up to sarvESvara who sustains that space; similarly, the names Sambu, Siva et al will not stop short of indicating sarvESvara. In the same manner, as the words indicating prakAra (mode) will lead up to the prakAri (substratum), it will not stop short of indicating the prakAri [bhagavAn who is the prakAri of all].

Now, how can we explain what is explained in “thathOyath uththaratharam” [Others explain this as, there is purusha [nArAyaNa], but there is Siva, who is purushOththama. But our AchAryas explain this as, emperumAn who is greater than all individuals]? [Others ask] Having previously said sarvESvara using the word “purusha” and uththaratharam indicates “purushOththama”. How can this be explained? But since it is said in “yasmAthparamnAparamasthikinchith” (there is no one who is equal or greater than the supreme lord), the one who speaks like this [saying Siva is greater than sarvESvara] is speaking out of ignorance. He is speaking without studying the SAsthram properly first. When it says in “thasmin yadhanthasth upAithavyam” (that which is inside that bhagavAn should be meditated upon), it is stating that “just like him, his qualities [which rest on him] are also to be meditated upon”.

Now, bhagavAn who is the cause of the world and the object of meditation, should be present at all times. While explaining this in the context of samhAram (deluge), it explains “EkOhavai nArAyaNa AsIth” (Only nArAyaNa existed) and explains that others did not exist saying “nabrahmAnESAna:” (brahmA did not exist; rudhra did not exist). Now, to clear our doubt “do they have any greatness in comparison to others?”, it considers them equal to other entities as in “nEmEdhyAvApruthivI na nakshathrANi” (Sky did not exist, earth did not exist, stars did not exist). Even while explaining creation, it treats everyone equally as seen in thiruvAimozhi 7.5.4 “nanmaip punal paNNi nAnmuganaip paNNi” (emperumAn created the water and then created brahmA).

In this manner, AzhwAr mercifully removes any doubt in our mind about any supremacy of other dhEvathAs and tells “sarvESvaran who is greater than all, the creator of all, who is the abode of all auspicious qualities, the protector of all, in-dwelling supersoul of all, who is indicated by the name ‘nArAyaNa’, has descended along with all his greatness in AzhwAr]thirunagari to be visible for everyone; all of you enjoy him and be grateful to him”.

Each pAsuram is discussed subsequently.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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