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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – 1st chUrNai Part 3

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azhwar-thiruvadi-thozhalnammAzhwAr surrendering to SrIranganAtha

Continuing from the previous part, we shall now see how bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja describes what  upAyam (the “means” for reaching bhagavAn) is (starting from thasyaiva and ending with charaNAravindha yugalam) and how In the third and last part  how he surrenders (starting from ananyAthma sanjIvanEna and ending with anuvrajEth).

thasyaiva bhagavathO nArAyaNasya –  thasyaiva – as said; bhagavathObhagavAn; nArAyaNasya – that nArAyaNan. Earlier (in part 2 of this chUrNai), we had seen the terms bhagavantham nArAyanAm. There, we had seen the qualities of bhagavAn which were needed for him to be prApyam (be the fruit of surrendering) as well as the holder of these qualities. Here, the qualities for him to be  prApakam (as means for attaining bhagavAn) and the holder of these qualities are described.

akhilasathva dhayaika sAgarasya – ocean of mercy for all. akhilasathva – considering all living beings, without any distinction. dhayA – not able to bear the sufferings of others, without expecting anything for self. EkasAgarasya – the waters of dhayA form an ocean and take refuge only under bhagavAn, and under no one else. Is it that he (bhagavAn) wishes to confirm that others suffer and then feels sad for them? In other words, does he look at the extent of suffering of others? No….

anAlOchitha guNa aguNa akhaNda jana anukUla amaryAdha Seelavatha: – he has a quality, sauSeelya, by which he does not consider the virtues or faults of others. This quality is unlimited and is shown to all people without any distinction.

anAlOchitha – not examining whether granting refuge to a person (who wishes to surrender) is advantageous or not.

guNa aguNa – Describes qualities which are desired and not desired among ASrithars –  the qualities can be ignorant or knowledgeable; believer or atheist; righteous or unjust; humble or immodest.

akhaNda jana – he does not make a distinction among celestial persons, human beings, animals, plants etc when they approach him as an ASrithar. Here the word jana does not denote people as we commonly understand but any one who has a jani (birth) viz. anyone who is living.

anukUla – he guides the ASrithar to go by the correct path and not take difficult paths.

amaryAdha – here maryAdhA means limit. He does not show any limit when showing his magnanimity to his ASrithars.

Seelavatha: – the quality by which a greater person mingles with lowly persons without feeling proud at his own greatness or feeling contemptuous at the lowliness of the others is called as Seela. Seelavatha: denotes that he has this quality for ever. It may be perfectly acceptable for bhagavAn not to consider the faults or virtues of others. But wouldn’t the others be afraid to approach him? No…

dhEva thiryak manushya Adhi akhila jana hrudhaya Anandhanasya – Without any distinction between the wise and the unwise entities, everyone’s heart will melt out of happiness. What is the basis for such an act? There is a special reason and it is ….

svAbhAvika anavadhika athiSaya guNavaththayA – possessing wondrous quality as his nature, without any boundary. SrI rAmAnuja has described already so many qualities of bhagavAn, right from the beginning. What is this new quality that he is now mentioning? The qualities mentioned all along have been qualities of his AthmA (bhagavAn’s soul). The quality that is being mentioned here is that of his thirumEni (physical form). His AthmA guNas may or may not attract others, but the beauty of his physical form is bound to attract everyone. His radiance and delicate gentleness are the qualities that attract others to him. His beauty attracted even a demonic woman such as sUrpaNakA. Same goes true for vanadhEvathAs (angels in the forest) who were attracted to rAma when he entered forest. His beauty appealed not only to the eyes but also to the hearts of both his devotees and his enemies.
But then, does he not give any special status to his ASrithars (followers)? Or does he remain same to everyone?

ASritha vAthsalyaika jaladhE: – He has the quality of vAthsalyam (treating faults as virtues) towards his ASrithars like an ocean. Who is called as an ASrithar? Is it a person like vashisht or nammAzhwAr? In SrI rAmAyaNam, the rishis (sages) tell SrI rAmA when he enters forest that he is their king whether he is in ayOdhyA or in forest, and they are his citizens and hence he has to protect them. Important to note here is that they are not merely living in the country where he is king, but they accept that he is the ruler and they are citizens. In a similar way, it is  not enough if we live in a dhivya dhEsam but we need to accept the he is the bhagavAn and he has to protect us. Then we can be called his ASrithars. Also, anyone who has performed SaraNAgathi once to him and pirAtti (his consort) is an ASrithar. Included in this category is any person who offers something to him with bhakthi (devotion) – a leaf, flower, fruit or water. The leaf need not be thuLasi (basil plant) but even a dried leaf picked up from the street corner, offered with devotion, is enough, says bhagavAn in bhagavadh gIthai. vAthsalya is the quality exhibited by a cow that removes all the dirt from the body of its calf at the time when the calf is born. It does not clean the dirt if the calf comes dirty after 10 or 15 days. In the same way, bhagavAn removes all our past sins on the day when we carry out SaraNAgathi. But if we commit pApa (sinful act) even after performing SaraNAgathi and go to him for forgiving us, he is not going to oblige. Is there any proof that he forgives the sins when we go to him for taking refuge? Again, in SrI rAmAyaNam, when vibhIshNa comes to thiruppullANi shore, SrI rAma says that if a person comes to him with a friendly mind, he will accept him and not let him down, even if the person comes with faults. Eka jaladhE: – bhagavAn is the only shelter to such ASrithars.

Is it that he only gives to his ASrithars? Isn’t there anything in it for him?

bhakthajana samSlEshaika bhOgasyabhakthajana – those who are his devotees, who are friendly towards him; samSlEsham – to be together; Eka – only;  bhOgasya – fit for enjoyment.

bhakthajanabhakthi is carrying out service with affection (friendliness). bhakthajana is anyone who does this.

samSlEshaika bhOgasya – He enjoys being together with such bakthajana. He can not withstand separation from them even for a moment. Just as nammAzhwAr considered thirukkOLUr perumAn as his dhAraka, pOshaka, bhOgyam (that which is essential for life, for growth and for enjoyment respectively), for bhagavAN, his ASrithar becomes his dhAraka, pOshaka and bhOgyam.

nithya gyAna kriya aiSvaryAdhi bhOga sAmagrI samrudhdhasyasAmagri – implements. In order to enjoy anything, one should have gyNa, kriyA and aiSvaryam as implements.

gyAna is knowledge about the bhOga vasthu (that which is to be enjoyed), its svarUpa, rUpa, guNa, chEshtA (activity), prayOjana kAla (when it should be enjoyed).

kriyA is the actual act of enjoying the bhOga vasthu.

aiSvarya – wealth (owning the bhOga vasthu).

sAmagrI is the combination of gyAna, kriya, aiSvarya.

samrudhdhasya – this enjoyment is not something finite or small but huge or plenty.
Even if bhOga vasthu and bhOga sAmagrI are available, wouldn’t one need a bhOgasthAnam (place to enjoy) in order to enjoy the bhOga vasthu?

mahAvibhUthE:maha – huge; vibhUthE – wealth. Here this refers to his SrIvaikuNtam which is three times as large as the entire cosmos (thousands and thousands of aNda katAkam (galaxy)). In order to enjoy the bhOga vasthus, he has a location which is endless and full of happiness. In such a place where he is going  to enjoy the materials (vasthu), does he enjoy singly, like a brahmachAri (bachelor)?

SrImatha: SrImahAlakshmi (his consort); matha: – with. In the river of enjoyment, in order to see the shore and assist him, he has lakshmi (periya pirAtti, his consort) with him. If periya pirAtti is not there, does it mean that he can  not enjoy the material? In what way does she assist him?He is known to be avApthasamasthakAman (one who does not have any unfulfilled desire). Will this term become invalid if she is not there? To understand this, we should understand what is bhagavAn’s bhOgam (enjoyment). It is the ujjIvanam (total sustenance) of all jIvAthmAs (all living beings in materialistic realm, leelA vibhUthi). pirAtti‘s role (or assistance) in this is to be a purushakAra bhUthai (one who recommends the jIvAthmA to bhagavAn for giving mOksham). Do we hold on to such a person himself? No…his

charaNAravindha yugalamtwo lotus-like feet. His exalted feet are our natural goal to attain, source of wondrous enjoyment and they take in everyone who approaches them. Why should we hold on to them?

ananyAthma sanjIvanEnaananya – without substitute; Athma – soul; sanjIvanEna – total sustenance. There is no other path available for the sustenance of jIvAthmA.

thath gatha sarva bhAvEnathath – that; gatha – reach; sarva – all; bhAvEna – manner. Holding on the two exalted feet in all manner (that they will protect, that they will provide enjoyment, that they will purify us etc). What is to be done with these thoughts?

SaraNam anuvrajEth – SaraNam – to surrender; anuvrajEth – to hold on firmly. jIvAthmA has to hold on to his exalted feet as the path to reach him, with firmness in mind. It should also be done with the thought that his feet are to be held firmly, all the time. 

This brings us to the end of 1st chUrNai. Let us move on to the 2nd.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – 1st chUrNai Part 2

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namperumal-thiruvadi

We have seen how the auspicious qualities of bhagavAn come as waves from a great ocean, in the previous part. We shall continue from there.

Who is that entity, having such svarUpa rUpa guNas? He is …

paramapurusham bhagavantham nArAyaNam – He is nArAyaNan. What sort of an entity is he? He is..

paramapurusham – superior entity. The word “purusha” is common to both jIvAthmA and ISvaran. In order to point out to the correct entity, the adjective “parama” has been added to purusha. “parO mA asmAdhithi parama:” – there is no one superior to him, hence he is paramapurushan.

Is there any name for this most wondrous entity?

bhagavantham – One who has the 6 primary qualities of gyAna bala aiSvarya vIrya Sakthi thEja: (we have seen the meanings of these terms several times) and who is responsible for the creation, protection and destruction of universe is called as bhagavAn. But then, we know of several personalities who are called as bhagavAn such as vyAsa  bhagavAn (vyAsa, who wrote the epic, mahAbhAratham and various other profound works such as brahma sUthram), nAradha bhagavAn, a muni (sage) and son of brahmA, and several self-styled bhagavAns. The title “bhagavAn” to these people has been given as a mark of respect and not in real sense of the term.  However the term fits only one entity and not these persons. To make things clear, now he says…

nArAyaNam – He is nArAyaNan, who has no one superior to him, as mentioned in vEdham (nArAyaNAdhbrahmA jAyathE (brahmA was born out of nArAyaNa), nArAyaNAdhrudhrO jAyAthE (rudhra was born out of nArAyaNa)). nArAyaNa is responsible for the creation of brahmA, rudhra et al. He is paramapurushan, bhagavAn, possessing the 6 primary auspicious qualities (gyAna, bhala, aiSvarya, vIrya, Sakthi, thEja:). Usage of the two terms nArAyaNam and paramapurusham is from purusha sUktham. The term bhagavAn has been taken from rahasya AmnAyam which says that pavithram vAsudhEvO bhagavAn, sankarshaNO bhagavAn, pradhyumnO bhagavAn, anirudhdhO bhagavAn, implying the 6 most auspicious qualities of bhagavAn (sankarshaNan, pradhyumnan and anirudhdhan are forms of vyUha vAsudhEva (bhagavAn in thiruppARkadal or kshIrAbdhinAthan). Of them, sankarshaNan is the God for destruction, pradhyumnan for creation and anirudhdhan for protection and each of these three Gods takes 2 qualities from the 6 mentioned earlier; sankarshaNan has as major qualities gyAna and bala, pradhyumnan has aisvarya and vIrya while anirudhdhan has Sakthi and thEjas). Taken together, all these would conclusively affirm that the vEdhams refer only to nArAyaNan in the beginning, middle and end.

Until now the superiority of the entity that we attain (on surrendering) has been described. From here, the prayer that SrI rAmAnuja offers for carrying kainkaryam (service to bhagavAn) is described.

swAmithvEna guruthvEna suhruthvEna cha parigruhya – the larger meanings of the word nArAyaNa are explained in these terms. There are four main qualities associated with the entity nArAyaNaswAmithva (owner or master), saulabhya (easy to access), sauseelya (not seeing any difference between self and ASrithars (followers) and moving in a friendly manner with them) and vAthsalya (treating faults as virtues in ASrithars). swAmithvEna directly refers to his quality of swAmithvam (he is the Lord). guruthvEna refers to his quality of saulabhya as he came down from SrIvaikuNtam to become the first AchAryan (guru or teacher). saulabhyam is associated with teacher as teacher comes down to the level of student to explain difficult terms. suhruthvEna refers to sauseelyam as suhruth means a person with a good heart (feels for the difficulties of others) and sauseelyam as a quality means being friendly with people without looking at the difference in levels (level could be one of wealth or intellect or practices). The fourth quality vAthsalya is referred to in the term “cha” in the above mentioned verse. There is another interpretation given by vyAkhyAthA (commentator) periyavAchchAn piLLai. Initially there were three terms, paramapurusham, bhagavantham, nArAyaNam. Now there are three terms, swAmithvEna, guruthvEna, suhruthvEna. He now compares each of the terms in the first set with each of the terms in the seconod set, in the same order. Thus paramapurusham is compared with swAmithvEna, bhagavantham with guruthvEna and nArAyaNam with suhruthvEna. In purusha sUktham (one of five sUkthams which were mentioned in vEdhams to glorify SrIman nArAyaNa and his consorts, SrI, bhU and neeLAdhEvi), the term purusham denotes bhagavAn being a swAmy; thus there is correlation between the terms paramapurusham and svAmithvEna. In the treatise rahasya AmnAyam, sankarshaNa is referred to as sankarshaNO bhagavAn (please see the term nArAyaNam above where this has been explained in detail). Since sankarshaNan possesses gyAna as prime quality, it is tantamount to saying that he is guru as only guru teaches gyAna. Since sankarshaNan is called bhagavAn, we can infer that there is direct correlation between bhagavAn and guru and hence we can see that guruthvEna is the equivalent of bhagavantham. In nArAyaNa anuvAkam (nArAyaNa sUktham), it is said “anthar bahiScha thath sarvam vyApya nArAyaNa: sthitha:” which means that nArAyaNan pervades both inside and outside throughout. Thus he is antharyAmi (one who resides inside). Since he resides inside the heart (hrudhaya), he is suhruth. And since he is nArAyaNan, we can say that nArAyaNan is suhruth. Thus we establish correlation between nArAyaNam and suhruthvEna. The vyAkhyAthA gives a third interpretation to bring out the equivalents between the two sets of terms. We are discussing SaraNAgathi (surrendering). swAmithvEna brings the context of sva-swAmy relationship (sva means property,  the possession and swAmy means Lord, the possessor). guruthvEna brings out the Sishya-AchArya (student-teacher) relationship. suhruthvEna refers to friendly relationship as in SaraNam suhruth gathir nArAyaNa: (from subAlOpanishadh). Hence suhruthvEna corresponds well to nArAyaNam. Thus we have seen correlation among the two sets of terms, paramapurusham, bhagavantham, nArAyaNam and swAmithvEna, guruthvEna, suhruthvEna.

parigruhya – to hold on firmly. Instead of only one  person (bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja) holding on to him, here the reference is to all the people living in samsAram (materialistic realm) who are holding firmly onto him. Another  interpretation is – holding on to him in all ways (as mentioned in SAsthrAs, as tutored by AchAryas and as practiced by bhagavAn himself). Once he thought about the swAmithvam of bhagavan, SrI rAmAnuja thinks about the kainkaryam to be performed to bhagavAn which is the quality of a servitor.

aikAnthika Athyanthika thath pAdhAmbhuja dhvaya paricharyaika manOratha:aikAnthika – with single focus; Athyanthika – without end; thath – that; pAdha – exalted feet; ambhuja – lotus like; dhvaya – two of them; paricharyA – to carry out kainkaryam; Eka – only; manOratha – desire of mind.

aikAnthikaEkAntha sambhandhi (only bhagavAn and servitor; no one else). This word can join with ‘thath‘ or with ‘thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya” or with ‘paricharyai‘. When it joins with ‘thath‘ (that bhagavAn), i.e. thath aikAnthika, it refers to the close relationship with bhagavAn, without any cause or reason. If it is taken together with ‘thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya‘, i.e. thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya aikAnthika, it refers to the deep love that the servitor has towards the exalted feet of the master and this is said to be in keeping with the svarUpam of the servitor.

thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya – kainkaryam always means carrying out service to bhagavAn‘s two exalted feet. His feet secrete honey just like the secretion of a lotus flower. ambhuja (lotus) is brought in as a simile to indicate that the enjoyment for the servitor will be sweet and desirous.

dhvaya refers to two feet which are the path (means) for reaching bhagavAn. Also, as purushArtham (fruit of attaining bhagavAn) it refers to perumAL (bhagavAn) and pirAtti (his consort) together for whom the kainkaryam is carried out.

paricharyAcharyA – history or carrying out or kainkaryam. Here the meaning to be considered is kainkaryamparicharyA – all types of kainkaryam. Another meaning for paricharyA is to keep circling (whether to have dharSan of bhagavAn or circum-ambulating the garbhagruham (sanctum sanctorum) of bhagavAn) repeatedly to do kainkaryam.

EkamanOratha: – leaving out all the other prayOjanam (benefits of attaining bhagavAn), focusing only on carrying out kainkaryam to bhagavAn, with devotion and determination.

thath prApthayE – to attain that manOratham (desire of mind) of doing kainkaryam.

cha – also. Is there anything else to be attained and along with that, attain kainkaryam too? Why is he mentioning ‘cha‘ here which would indicate that there is more than one prApyam (fruit of surrendering)? The vyAkyAthA comes up with a very beautiful explanation here: What is the meaning of “thath pAdha” in the words “thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya paricharyaika manOratha:“? It is nothing but ASrithar (follower). This is because it is the ASrithar who is bhagavAn‘s exalted feet. Hence SrI rAmAnuja is praying for doing kainkaryam not only to bhagavAn but also to his ASrithar or bhAgavathar. This is brought out by thiruppANAzhwAr‘s first pAsuram “adiyArkku ennai Atpaduththa vimalan” (the faultless bhagavAn engaged me in carrying out kainkaryam to his ASrithars). Another interpretation given for “cha” is that bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja is not only having the desire for carrying out kainkaryam but he also wants to carry out that kainkaryam. Thus it is one thing to have desire for kainkaryam and the other thing is to carry out that kainkaryam. Hence the word “cha” has been added.

Up to now, he has described upEya svarUpam (the true nature of carrying out kainkaryam to bhagavAn). Now he describes the upAya nishkarsham (the certainty of the path to reach bhagavAn) and its anushtAna prakAram (the method of carrying out SaraNAgathi). He divides this into three parts. Starting with thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya prapaththE: and ending with manvAna: he ascertains the path to reach bhagavAn. Then, starting from thasya and ending with charaNAravindha he describes how the path (upAyam) will be. Finally, starting with ananyAthma and ending with anuvarajEth he describes how he surrendered.

thath pAdhambhujadhvaya prapaththE:thath – that; pAdha – foot; ambhuja – lotus like; dhvaya – two of them; prapaththE: – hold on to firmly or surrender. Earlier we had seen these same terms in thath pAdhAmbhujadhvaya paricharyaika manOratha: wherein he had described how the two exalted lotus-like feet were readily available for carrying  out kainkaryam (this is called as upEyam or prApyam – the fruit of surrendering). Here he says that he is holding on to the two feet as upAyam (path to reach bhagavAn). This is also referred to by another term, prApakam. Thus we see that prApyam is also prApakam (both being attained through the two exalted feet of bhagavAn). This is also confirmed in dhvaya mahAmanthram where, in the first line, we hold on to SrIman nArAyaNan‘s two feet for reaching him (upAyam or prApakam) and in the second line, we carry out kainkaryam to SrIman nArAyaNan (to his feet) which is upEyam or prApyam.

anyanna mE kalpakOti sahasrENApi sAdhanam asthi ithi manvAna:anyath – other; na – not; mE – to me; kalpakOti sahasrENApi – for very long time; sAdhanam – means (path); asthi – available; ithi – like this; manvAna: – in thought. Roughly translated this means that: “As far as my thoughts go, there is no means available for reaching bhagavAn, other than his exalted feet, even if one were to search for such means for thousands of crores of kapla” (one kalpa is a period in brahmA’s life time, which is equivalent of 1000 times 43,72,000 years of our time).

anyath – other (means for attaining bhagavAn). The “means” other than prapaththi (surrender). Included in this list are bhakthi, gyAna, karma etc which are mentioned in SAsthram. If mentioned in SAsthram, wouldn’t these qualify to be means for attaining bhagavAn?

na mE asthi – not available for me. These may be adopted as means by those who have the will power to practice them – rishis, yOgis et al may adopt these means. SrI rAmAnuja says that he has been born in this samsAram for thousands of times and he is agyan (ignorant), aSakthan (without any ability. It is true that in all these births, he had been unable to attain bhagavAn, but in this birth or in the coming births, he would surely find the means for attaining bhagavAn….

kalpakOti sahasrENApi – Would a cobweb, immersed in water for thousands of days, ever germinate? In the same way, even if he were to take thousands of crores of births, he would never be  able to find the means other than this, for reaching bhagavAn, says SrI rAmAnuja.

sAdhanam nAsthi – there is no other means that he could fathom out. Even if he were to carry out bhakthi at some point of time, the benefit of that would go only towards wiping out some of the sins that he had committed in earlier births and not for reaching bhagavAn.

ithi manvAna: – This is affirmed -that it is  not possible to find another means to reach bhagavAn (other than prapaththi or SaraNAgathi) even if he were to go around looking for such means for thousands and thousands of years.

We shall see the remaining portion of this chUrNai in the next part.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

archived in http://divyaprabandham.koyil.org

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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – 1st chUrNai Part 1

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parampadhanathan-art

avathArikai (Introduction)

Starting with svAdhIna thrividha chEthana and ending with nArAyaNam, this chUrNai describes the superiority of bhagavAn over the svarUpam (basic nature) of chEthana (sentient) and achEthana (insentient) entities and his qualities aligned to his svarUpam.

svAdhIna thrividha chEthanAchEthana svarUpa sthithi pravruththi bhEdham,
klESa karmAdhyaSEsha dhOshAsamsprushtam,
svAbhAvikAnavadhikAthiSaya gyAnabhalaiSvarya vIrya Sakthi thEja:prabhruthi
asankhyEya kalyANa guNAgaNougha mahArNavam,
paramapurusham, bhagavantham, nArAyaNam,
swAmithvEna guruthvEna suhruthvEna cha
parigruhya aikAnthika (Athyanthika) thathpAdhAmbhujadhvaya paricharyaika manOratha:,
thathprApthyE cha thathpAdhAmbhujadhvaya prapaththE:
anyanna mE kalpa kOti sahasrENApi sAdhanamasthIthi manvAna:,
thasyaiva bhagavathO nArAyaNasya akhila sathvadhayaika sAgarasya
anAlOchitha guNAguNa akhaNdajanAnukUla amaryAdhaSeelavatha:,
svAbikAnavadhikAthiSaya guNavaththayA (thu)
dhEvathiryangmanushyAdhyakhilajana hrudhayAnandhanasya,
ASritha vAthsalyaika jaladhE:, bhakthajana samSlEshaika bhOgasya,
nithyagyAnakriyaiSvaryAdhi bhOga sAmagrIsamrudhdhasya,
mahAvibhUthE: SrImatha: charaNAravindhayugalam
ananyAthma sanjIvanEna thadhgatha sarvabhAvEna SaraNam anuvrajEth ||

Explanatory Notes

svAdhIna – Unlike chEthana and achEthana entities who are dependent on bhagavAn and are controlled by him, bhagavAn is completely independent and is under his own control and nobody else’s. As mentioned in the palaSruthi (hymns listing the benefits) of vishNu sahasranAmam (1000 names of vishNu), jagadhvaSE varthathEdham krishNasya sacharAcharam – all the entities in the universe, apart from himself, are under the control of krishNa.

What are these entities?

thrividha chEthanAchEthana – three types of AthmAs, namely bhadhdha (those who are still bound to samsAram (materialistic realm)), muktha (those who were in samsAram earlier but who have now been liberated and are in SrIvaikuNtam) and nithya (those who have had no connection with samsAram and who have always been in SrIvaikuNtam). These are the three types of chEthana entities. The three types of achEthana entities are: prAkrutha, aprAkrutha and kAla rUpa.  prAkrutha entities are those which are composed of achith (insentient) entities which exist in prakruthi (materialistic realm); aprAkrutha entities are those achith entities which exist in SrIvaikuNtam (such as lakes, tanks, steps leading to these water bodies, gardens etc). prAkrutha entities are composed of mixed saththvam (sudhdha sathvam, rAjasam and thAmasam). aprAkrutha entities are composed of sudhdha saththvam only (pure good). kAla rUpam is time dimension.

Are only these six (bhadhdha, muktha, nithya AthmAs and prAkrutha, aprAkrutha and kAla rUpa achEthana) the dependent entities? For knowing this, we have to consider their

svarUpa sthithi pravruththi bhEdham – the bhEdham (difference) in their svarUpa (basic nature), sthithi (life or sustenance) and pravruththi (their activities). SrI periyavAchchAn piLLai introduces three terms here to explain these three terms: dharmi svarUpam (basic nature of the entity), dharma svabhAvam (qualities of the entity) and vyApAram (activities of the entity). Thus bhagavAn has under his control, the svarUpam, svabhAvam (qualities) and vyApAram (activities) of the six chEthana and achEthana entities. We shall now look at the bhEdham (difference) in svarUpam, svabhAvam and vyAparam of these entities.
For chEthana entities, the difference in their svarUpam is caused by difference in levels of happiness and sadness that they possess. Difference in their svabhAvam is due to difference in the level of their knowledge, ability to carry out tasks (doing physical kainkaryam to bhagavAn is a measure of this), their level of enjoyment (one may eat once in a day while another may eat 4 times a day), longevity (number of years that the AthmAs live in each birth) etc. Difference in pravruththi (activity) is on account of difference in knowledge, desire and effort taken in attaining an objective.
For achEthana entities, difference in svarUpam is due to various manifestations such as prakruthi (primordial matter), mahAn (the great state), ahankAram (individualisation), thanmAthra (subtle elements) etc. When it comes to kAlam (time), the difference in svarUpam is on account of various measures of time such as kalA, kAshtA, muhUrtham etc (these were the units used by our forefathers centuries ago and are still in use in vaidhIka time measurements; today we have seconds, minutes, hours, day, week etc). Difference in svabhAvam for achEthana entities is their being lifeless, constantly changing nature, being permanent (an achEthana entity will change its form from one to another, but it can not be destroyed; it exists in some form or another – for example a tree can exist as a tree, as a furniture, as a stick, as charcoal etc, but it still exists), always existing for the sake of others (like a fruit or sandalwood paste etc), being composed of sAthvic, rAjasic and thAmasic entities. Difference in pravruththi (activity) is its being the initiator for various actions (for example the body which an AthmA takes when it is born in samsAram, due to which the AthmA carries out various activities, thus earning pApa or puNya), being the raw material for fabrication of various articles (wood being used to make various types of furniture, door, window etc; gold being used to make different types of jewels; cotton being used to make different types of cloth), its ability to hide bhagavAn’s svarUpam (just as dust hides the radiance of a gem when it covers the gem, the body of jIvAthmA hides his as well as bhagavAn’s true nature since it is composed of saththvam, rajas and thamas), its non-radiant nature (it cannot emit any radiance on its own and when someone looks at it, the person will not get any knowledge).

One may ask, is it only bhagavAn who controls these chEthana and achEthana entities? Even the king of a country or the head of a family (in a limited way) has control over chEthana and achEthana entities. Then what is the difference between bhagavAn and others?

klESa karmAdhyaSEsha dhOshAsamsprushtam – A king or head of a family is affected by faults in him (faults such as klESam, karmam etc) whereas bhagavAn is not affected by faults such as these. There is a pAthanjala sUthram which says “klESa karma vipAkASayair aparAmsrushta: purushaviSEsha ISwara”. klESa is defined as “rAgadhvEsha abhinivESA: klESa:“. rAga – desire; dhvEsha – hatred; abhinivESa – greed. These are called as klESa (suffering). There are two other faults which are clubbed to these three – avidhya (ignorance) and asmitha (ego) to form pancha klESa: (five sufferings). bhagavAn is not affected by this klEsakarma is defined as activities resulting from and resulting in puNya (good deed or virtue) and pApa (bad deed or sin). karma does not touch bhagavAn. vipAka is the resultant of one’s jAthi (species which they belong to), Ayush (life expectancy) and bhOga (enjoyment or experience). These will be different for different AthmAs. bhagavAn is not affected by vipAka. ASaya is vAsanA (impressions left in the mind due to repeated births, which induce certain actions in the jIvAthmA). This is also not applicable to bhagavAn. Thus bhagavAn is not afflicted with any fault.

Is he just the opposite of all faults? No, he is also the repository of all auspicious qualities.

svAbhAvikAnavadhikAthiSaya gyAnabhalaiSvaryavIryaSakthithEja:
svAbhAvika – natural to bhagavAn. He did not get these auspicious qualities by doing any penance or as a gift from any celestial (demi) god or for any limited period of time. These qualities are present in bhagavAn as a part of his nature. Are these qualities limited in their measure?
anavadhika athiSaya– without any limit. Nobody knows the limit of his qualities – not even he nor his consorts know the limit of his auspicious qualities. periyavAchchAn piLLai cites certain references here such as yathO vAchO nivarthanthE aprApya manasA saha (not possible to state either by words or by thoughts), uyarvaRa uyarnalam udayavan evan avan (his greatness is so high that the greatness of those that we know in this word would appear infinitesimal when compared to bhagavAn – thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1) to prove that there is no limit to his qualities. What are these qualities?

gyAna bala aiSvarya vIrya Sakthi thEja: prabhruthi asankhyEya kalyANa guNa gaNougha
mahArNavamgyAna – bhagavAn’s ability to see right in front of his eyes all the events that (a) have occurred, (b) are occurring and (c) will occur, at all places. bala – ability to bear entire universe on a small part of his body. aiSvarya – ability to control all chEthana and achEthana entities and direct their activities. vIrya – when he carries the universe on himself, he does not show any distortion in his features or does not sweat. Sakthi – ability to protect all entities with no one to oppose him or cause any hurdle in his path. thEja: – his radiance is such that his opponents will shiver, just by hearing  his name. Also, thEja: denotes his ability to carry out any activity without any effort.

Are there only these 6 qualities? No, there are others too…

prabhruthi – starting from this. While there are many qualities, the above-mentioned six are the primary qualities.

If there are many others, is there any count for these qualities, just as we say ashtOththara (108) or sahasranAma (1000)?

asankhyEya – countless. If a person were granted the lifetime of brahmA and also the thousands of tongues that AdhiSEsha has, he can not complete one in 10000 of his auspicious qualities.

If they are countless, do they also include any dhOsha guNas (faults)? No, he has only…

kalyANa – auspicious. He has only auspicious qualities and does not have any faults in him. Neither his auspicious qualities nor his faults can be counted. Since there are innumerable auspicious qualities, they can not be counted. Since he does not have even one fault, this also can not counted.

guNagaNougha

guNa – type of qualities is such that when one hears them, (s)he will not have to close (her) his ears. On hearing the qualities, one’s heart will melt. We have seen that his qualities are countless.

Can these qualities be grouped and counted?

gaNa – bundles. His qualities are innumerable and even if they are bundled into different groups, they can not be counted. Here, SrI periyavAchchAn piLLai lists a few of these bundles to describe his qualities.

  • First in this list is his swAmithvam (qualities which will confirm that he is the swAmy or master or owner). To be called a swAmy, he needs to have qualities such as Souryam (ability to create panic among opponents even if the opponent’s army is huge), vIryam (ability to annihilate opponents without any effort), parAkramam (making even the opponents believe that he is their leader), chAthuryam (smartness/cleverness), sthairyam (standing like a rock in the face of difficulties), dhairyam (not intimidated by opponents) and so on.
  • Next in the list is soulabhyam (simple; easy to access); following qualities are necessary to be a saulabhyan: bhavyathai (submissive), krupai (merciful), aparAdhasahathvam (putting up with faults), klESasahishNuvathvam (putting up with sufferings when it comes to self and not putting up with sufferings of ASrithars (followers)), vAthsalyam (treating faults of ASrithars as virtues), prathyupakAra nairapEkshyam (not expecting anything good in return) and so on.
  • The third bundle of qualities in the list is souseelyam (moving easily with ASrithars, unmindful of differences between self and ASrithars), for which the following qualities are a must: sva vaibhava gyAnam (knowing well about his position/status), parakIya hEyAgyAnam (knowledge about the faults of others), akrithrimathvam (being honest; synergy among thought, speech and action) and so on.
  • The fourth group of qualities comes under the category of vAthsalyam (treating faults in ASrithars as virtues) with following qualities: pakshapAtham (showing bias towards ASrithars), upakAranairapEkshyam (not expecting anything in return) and so on.
  • The 5th bundle of qualities comes under the term santhOsham (happiness) with qualities such as priya, mOdha, pramOdha, Anandha (these are different levels of happiness). Thus, there is no limit to the qualities that bhagavAn possesses.

Are these qualities shown one at a time?

Ogha – wave. These qualities come like waves continuously and not one at a time. Where are these waves?

mahArNavam – great ocean. His qualities are like a great ocean and the qualities come towards his ASrithars like waves from the ocean.

We shall see more of this chUrNai in the next part.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – pravESam

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paramapadhanathan

Let us now look at SrI periyavAchchAn piLLai‘s pravESam (introduction) for SrIvaikuNta gadhyam.

bhAshyakArar (another name of SrI rAmAnuja which means the author of SrI bhAshyam which is a detailed commentary for vEdha vyAsa’s brahma sUthram) feels that the meanings that sprang from his heart should not remain as the shadow of a palm tree (the shadow of a palm tree would give shelter only to the palm trunk and not to anyone else) but should be useful to humanity-at-large like the shadow of a kalpakatharu (a type of tree whose shadow covers a wide area and fulfills the wishes of those who pray under it). Hence, he acts as a pravarthakar (one who engages in doing something) to show the path as well as the fruit of attaining the path in SrIvaikuNta gadhyam. In SaraNAgathi gadhyam he prays to bhagavAn in general (not to any particular form of bhagavAn) about his wishes. In SrIranga gadhyam, he prays to SrIrangam periya perumAL who is the epitome of saulabhyam (easy to approach and attain) about his wishes. In SrIvaikuNta gadhyam, he discourses about SrIvaikuNtanAthan (lord of SrIvaikuNtam) to others.

periyavAchchAn piLLai digresses a bit at this stage to explain why SrI rAmAnuja emphasised on bhakthi mArgam (path of devotion) to attain bhagavAn in his SrIbhAshyam whereas he emphasises on SaraNagathi (surrendering) in gadhya thrayam. When bhagavadh rAmAnuja wrote SrIbhAshyam, there were many branches of sanAthana dharmam (traditional customs), each with its own followers. There was a sect which said that there is nothing called as vEdha (the four vEdhas, rig, yajur, sAma and atharvaNa) and not practicing any dharmam is the path to attain liberation (this sect is called as chAruvAka matham, a belief of smart talking). There was another sect which said that dhEvathAntharOpAsanam (worshipping other demi-Gods such as indhra, chandra, brahmA, Siva et al) is the path to attain liberation. Yet another sect preached that doing karma (following all the activities mentioned in vEdha), forgetting about God and demi-Gods, would liberate us (this sect was called as mImAmsaka matham). Another said that gyAna (knowledge) is the path to liberation. Another said that the combination of karma and gyAna is the path. All these people twisted the teachings of vEdha to suit their own ends. They were called as vEdha bhAhyA (not accepting vEdha) and vEdha kudhushti (twisting meanings of vEdha). SrI rAmAnuja had to counter these sects and he said that whatever they were saying was not correct and that bhakthi, aided by karma and gyAna (devotion supported by deed and knowledge) was the path to attain mOksham (liberation). He cited reasons and various pramANams (proofs) to support his arguments. SaraNAgathi has always been  cited in vEdha to attain mOksham. Yet SrI rAmAnuja cited bhakthi yOgam as the path. Why did he do this and not cite SaraNAgathi itself? We should consider the time (period) when all these were happening.  That was the age when people believed that they had to do something on their own to attain mOksham. If he had to say that there was no need to do anything and all that one had to do was to surrender to bhagavAn, no one would have taken his words since this did not involve doing something which was physical in nature. Hence he had to point out to one of the two paths mentioned in vEdha (bhakthi and prapaththi or SaraNAgathi). Once they were convinced that bhakthi would set them free, they started understanding it better. And, they also found that it was not easy to practice as it had several conditions (karma and gyAna should be attained in full prior to practicing bhakthi; all hurdles in the path of bhakthi had to be removed). Also, it would take many, many births before one could start practicing bhakthi. And at the last moment, one had to think of bhagavAn.  All these posed great difficulties. It was then that he told them that there was another path available and mentioned about prapaththi (or SaraNAgathi) in SaraNAgathi gadhyam. This is called as charama upAyam (ultimate path) and is suited for practicing bhakthi, not as a means for attaining mOksham but for enjoying various qualities of bhagavAn) and for attaining bhagavAn’s exalted feet and carrying out kainkaryam to him. He mentioned in SrIranga gadhyam that prapaththi is the prerequisite for carrying out bhakthi; but at the same time prapaththi does not expect anything else for yielding fruit, it is our svarUpam (aligns with our nature) and it is easy to perform. Now that clarity has been obtained on the path to be taken for getting liberated he mentions about the place that one would reach on getting liberated; the lord, bhagavAn, of the place (SrIvaikuNtanAthan), experiencing that bhagavAn; and carrying out kainkaryam, born out of that experience. He does all these so that those who hear this would get interested in carrying out all these and in the end he also blesses them. He mentions very briefly about the path (prapaththi) but mentions more expansively about the place (SrIvaikuNtam).

There are 6 chUrNais in SrivaikuNta gadhyam. In the 1st chUrNai, he describes the svarUpam (basic nature), rUpam (form) and vibhUthi (wealth) of bhagavAn as well as chEthnan‘s (sentient entity) faults; for such a chEthanan, prapaththi is the only path to reach bhagavAn who is the repository of all auspicious qualities such as souSeelya (simplicity personified) etc. In the 2nd chUrNai, he affirms that while reciting dhvayam once is sufficient to reach bhagavAn, the chEthanan will recite it everyday to ward off worries and to pass time purposefully. In the 3rd chUrNai, he mentions about the path that the chEthanan will take on getting liberated (archirAdhi mArgam or the path of radiance) including crossing the prakruthi boundary (materialistic realm); the greatness of nithya vibhUthi (SrIvaikuNtam) that he enters; its qualities; the decorations in that place; the resplendence with which bhagavAn gives dharSan (audience) there with his consorts (SrIdhEvi, bhUdhEvi and neeLAdhEvi); the elegance of bhagavAn with all exalted bodily features which are experienced by his consorts; the beauty of various decorative jewels that adorn bhagavAn, fitting to a nicety; the weaponry that protect all these; the nithyaSuris and mukthAthmAs who experience all these, taking various forms, and carrying out kainkaryam born out of love from that experience; the exalted seating of bhagavAn who is being served by these nithyAthmAs and mukthAthmAs without any break; the thought of chEthanan on seeing all these, wondering when he would get an opportunity to serve bhagavAn like this, and on attaining SrIvaikuNtam, praying to bhagavAn for granting him kainkaryam and offering himself to bhagavAn. In the 4th chUrNai, he mentions that bhagavAn grants chEthanan his wish and chEthanan starts carrying out kainkaryam. In the 5th chUrNai, he mentions about the chEthanan constantly having dharshan (vision) of bhagavAn, without batting an eyelid, to compensate for what he had lost all these years that he had missed. The 6th chUrNai describes how bhagavAn welcomes him, inquires him and blesses him by placing his exalted feet on the head of chEthanan who exults as a servitor in SrIvaikuNtam.

Let us next see the first chUrNai.

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Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – thaniyan

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alavandharALavandhAr (yAmunAchAryar)kAttu mannAr kOyil

yAmunArya sudhAmbhOdhim avagAhya yathAmathi
AdhAya bhakthiyOgAkhyam rathnam sandharSayAmyaham II

Explanatory Notes:

yAmunAryayAmunAcharya (ALavandhAr, one of the principal preceptors in our SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam, who was the grandson of nAthamunigaL and the AchAryar for all 5 AchAryas of rAmAnujar)

sudhA – nectar
ambhOdhim – in the ocean
avagAhya – take a deep dive
yathAmathi – to the extent that there is knowledge (or intelligence)
AdhAya – to bring
bhakthi – devotion
yOgAkhyam – called (or named) as bhakthi yOgam
rathnam – ruby
sandharSayAmyaham – aham – I; sandharSayAmi – show. I show to you.

Since it says in the end that “I show it to you”, it is possible that bhagavadh SrI rAmAnujar himself would have compiled this thaniyan. Or it is possible that one of his disciples would have written this, in the way that SrI rAmAnujar himself would have compiled it.

From where did he get this ruby? It was obtained from the ocean which is the nectar like bhakthi of yAmunAcharyar (SrI ALavandhAr). He (SrI rAmAnuja) had taken a deep dive into the ocean of bhakthi of SrI yAmunAchAryar and brought out this ruby which is called as bhakthi yOgam (devotional attachment). And, he goes to explain this to us to the extent that he has knowledge about it. This would sound strange coming from such a great and knowledgeable person like SrI rAmAnuja. Here “yathAmathi” (to the extent that there is knowledge) would apply to us who have limited knowledge to absorb what he says.

We are discussing about gadhyathrayam, in which the principal path shown is SaraNAgathi (surrendering). bhakthiyOgam is meant for capable people (such as rishis and sages like vAlmiki, vaSishta, suka et al) and not for us. Why is bhakthi yOgam now being shown to us? SrI vEdhAnthachAryar says in his comment on gadhya thrayam that here bhakthi yOgam refers to thinking about bhagavAn and not as a path to reach bhagavAn. The path defined for us is only SaraNAgathi.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIvaikuNta gadhyam

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paramapadhanathanparamapadhanAthan – paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam)

ramanuja-srirangam SrI rAmAnuja – SrIrangam

periyavachan-pillaiperiyavAchchAn piLLai

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After SrIranga gadhyam, bhagavath rAmAnuja continues to recite SrIvaikuNta gadhyam in glorification of paramapadhanAthan and his divine abode paramapadham (SrIvaikuNtam) . Let us enjoy this treatise now.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan

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SrIranga gadhyam – 7th chUrNai

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periyaperumAL-udayavar

avathArikai (Introduction)

SrI rAmAnuja now lists all the auspicious qualities of bhagavAn. He has been praying all along that he has nothing in himself, but he has the desire to carry out kainkaryam. bhagavAn asks him how he can grant him his wish if he has nothing. To which, SrI rAmAnuja says that bhagavAn has all the qualities in him to grant him his wish and starts reeling out his qualities. Let’s go through the chUrNai:

apAra karuNAmbudhE! anAlOchitha viSEsha – aSEsha
lOkaSaraNya! praNathArthihara! ASritha vAthsalyaika
mahOdhadhE! anavaratha vidhitha nikhila bhUthajAtha yAthAthmya!
sathyakAma! sathyasankalpa! Apathsaka! kAkuthstha! SrIman!
nArAyaNa! purushOththama! SrIranganAtha! mamanAtha!
namOsthu thE II

Explanatory Notes

apAra karuNAmbudhEapAra – boundless; karuNa – merciful; ambudhi – ocean. bhagavAn is like an ocean of mercy which has no shores. What is this mercy? It is that quality which will make him feel sad (he can not endure) when his ASrithars (followers) are in trouble or sorrow. Since this quality is boundless, SrI rAmAnuja equates it to an ocean. When does this quality become boundless? He shows this quality even to those who are not his ASrithars. It reflects on common man too. Hence you have to show this quality towards me who is also a common man, says SrI rAmAnuja.

anAlOchitha viSEsha aSEsha lOka SaraNyaanAlOchitha – not differentiating; viSEsha – special; aSEsha – without leaving anything; lOka – people; SaraNya – refuge. bhagavAn does not see if a person is of a high or low birth; he does not see if the person has high or low level of knowledge; and he does not see if he is a good or poor practitioner of religious rites. He does not make a distinction among people based on their birth or knowledge or practice. Without leaving anyone, he is the SaraNyan (refuge) to all the persons living in this samsAram (materialistic realm). Taken with the previous words (apAra karuNAmbudhE) this confirms that the person who is merciful is also the only one to whom people can go, to take refuge.

praNathArthiharapraNatha – followers; Arthi – grief; hara – removing. Since he has mercy in abundance and he is also the refuge for the entire world, he removes the grief of those who take refuge in his exalted feet.

ASritha vAthsalyaika mahOdhadhEASritha – followers; vAthsalyaika – fond affection only; mahA – great; udhadhi – ocean. Just as a cow licks off all the dirt from the body of a calf that it had given birth to, bhagavAn removes the faults in his ASrithars. His affection towards his followers is like a great ocean and he forgives the faults of his ASrithars as his svabhAvam (his character). In the first line of this chUrNai, he had mentioned bhagavAn’s mercy as a boundless ocean (apAra karuNAmbhudhE). Now he terms his vAthsalyam (the quality of bhagavAn which treats the faults in ASrithars as virtues) as a great ocean (mahOdhadhE). His vAthsalyam towards his ASrithars is greater than the mercy that he shows towards them [A word of caution here is in order. Just because he is willing to overlook our faults, it should not be taken to mean that we can knowingly go in the wrong way (doing something forbidden by SAsthram or not doing something ordained by it), even after taking refuge under him. He has kept us in a high position and expects us to do only good things. If we slip and go to him for forgiving us, it will certainly create a bad taste in him about us. Hence we should not give way for such an eventuality and be ultra careful in our activities].

anavaratha vidhitha nikhila bhUthajAtha yAthAthmyaanavaratha – incessantly; vidhitha – known; nikhila – entire; bhUthajAtha – all living beings; yAthAthmya – in true states as they are. bhagavAn knows the true state of all the living beings, at all times. The inference here is that SrI rAmAnuja tells bhagavAn, since you know the truth about everyone, do I need to speak about my lowliness to you? You know it already and you should protect me.

sathyakAmasathya – nithya (forever); kAma – desire. bhagavAn is known as avAptha samastha kAman (one whose desires have all been fulfilled). Since he has no unfulfilled desire, he fulfills the desires of his ASrithars (followers).

sathyasankalpasathya – not wasted; sankalpa – will. If he wants to take a chEthana (sentient) from samsAram and keep him in SrIvaikuNtam, no one can come in his way. His will (vow) always prevails.

ApathsakhaApath – danger; sakha – friend. When there is any danger to his follower, he stands by his ASrithar. If a danger comes from someone, he will help. But if the danger comes from bhagavAn himself, his ASrithars can still approach him for relief. This appears strange to bhagavAn and he queries SrI rAmAnuja as to why he is saying this. Is there any incident like this wherein a person approaches him for relief when he himself is after him. SrI rAmAnuja replies…..

kAkuthstha – one of the many names of SrI rAma. When kAkAsura (a demon) wronged sIthA pirAtti (in SrI rAmAyaNam), SrI rAmA sent a dharbham (type of grass) after uttering brahmAsthra (a powerful manthram, hymn) after kAkAsura to destroy him. When kAkAsura fell at his feet after trying various refuges, SrI rAmA forgave him and spared his life.

SrIman – pirAtti’s swAmy (mahAlakshmi‘s consort). When SrI rAmA protected kAkAsura, sIthA pirAtti was sitting next to him. Thus, even if bhagavAn does not favour sparing someone, pirAtti pleads with him for the sake of the jIvAthmA and makes him protect the jIvAthmA. In the same incident involving kAkAsura, it was sIthA pirAtti who changed the position of the asura (demon) who fell with his feet touching SrI rAmA’s exalted feet and instead, made his head touch SrI rAmA’s thiruvadi (exalted feet).

nArAyaNa – even if pirAtti complains about ASrithars, he does not support her, but supports his ASrithars. SrI rAmAnuja subtly hints to bhagavAn that he and bhagavAn are connected by strong relationship (9 types of relationship between paramAthmA and jIvAthmA, such as husband-wife, father-son, owner-owned, master-servant etc) and bhagavAn has to protect him.

purushOththama – supreme among purushas (badhdha, muktha, nithya jIvAthmAs). bhagavAn gives to all living beings whatever they wish for, but still calls them as ‘generous’ because, if they do not ask him, how can he give and earn the name ‘generous’ for himself? Since he is so generous, he should protect me, says SrI rAmAnuja.

SriranganAtha – Lord of SrIrangam. If all the auspicious qualities described above had been manifested in some place where we can not see or approach bhagavAn, of what use would these qualities be to us? But instead of that, bhagavAn has manifested himself as SrIranganAtha, lying on AdhiSEsha, in SrIrangam, where we can all go and have dharshan (vision) of  him.

mama nAtha – my Lord. He is not only Lord of SrIrangam, but he is my Lord too. This is emphasised to bring out the relationship between bhagavAn and SrI rAmAnuja (Lord-servant).

namOsthu thE – salutations to you. Since the relationship is very clear, SrI rAmAnuja beseeches bhagavAn to grant  him his svarUpam (of being a servant to bhagavAn) and to enjoy him as an entity.

With this, we come to the end of SrIranga gadhyam. Our preceptors have included gadhya thrayam as part of nithyAnusandhAnam (to be recited every day along with other treatises such as select verses of 4000 dhivya prabhandham, upadhEsa rathinamAlai etc). If we fall short of time and are unable to recite SaraNAgathi gadhyam, we should find time to recite SrIranga gadhyam as emperumAn feels happy to hear us reciting this wonderful treatise.

SrIranganAthanSrIranga nAchchiyAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
emperumAnAr thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
periyavAchchAn piLLai thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
jIyar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIranga gadhyam – 6th chUrNai

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avathArikai (Introduction)

After SrI rAmAnuja had recited the 4th and 5th chUrNais (quoting from ithihAsam (epic)), bhagavAn wants to know whether he has the true knowledge of the ultimate fruit of surrendering (prApyam) and whether he has the desire for it. bhagavadh rAmAnuja says that bhagavAn himself has to shower the grace on him so that he gets firm belief and devotion in the true meaning of kainkaryam. bhagavAn wants to know why he should grant him this, and SrI rAmAnuja says that this is because he has recited the verse from ithihAsam. First, the chUrNai:

EvambhUtha thathvayAthAthmyAvabhOdha thadhichchArahithasyApi
EthadhuchchAraNa mAthrAvalambanEna uchyamAnArtha paramArtha
nishtam mE mana: thvamEva adhyaiyva kAraya II

Explanatory Notes:

EvambhUtha thathvayAthAthmyAvabhOdha thadhichchArahithasyApi  – EvambhUtha – like this; thathva – truth; yAthAthmya – true nature; avabhOdha – perception or knowledge; thath – that; ichchA – desire; rahitha – deprived of; api – also. Simple meaning: Even if I do not have the perception of true nature of truth. What is the truth that he is referring to? What is the svarUpam (basic nature) of jIvAthmA (soul), the svarUpam of paramAthmA (bhagavAn); what is the fruit of surrendering (kainkaryam) . Not only do I not know the true meaning of these; I do not have the desire in knowing it.

EthadhuchchAraNa mAthrAvalambanEna – Ethath – this; uchchAraNa – utterance; mAthra – merely; avalambanEna – holding onto in this manner. Simple meaning: Holding on to the mere utterance of the SlOkam which is to be recited. I did not know the inner meanings of the words in the SlOkam. I do not even have the desire to know it. But I merely uttered it. Since I uttered it, you should……

uchyamAnArtha paramArtha nishtam mE mana: uchyamAnArtham – meaning of the words uttered; paramArtham – deep meaning; nishtam – to be devoted; mE – my; mana: – mind. My mind should be fully immersed in the meaning of the words that I uttered. Not the mere superficial meaning, but the inner, deep meaning of the words. And, that should be told to my mind, which is always wandering from one thing to another, without any hold. bhagavAn wonders if this is possible…..

thvamEva adhyaiyva kAraya  – thvamEva – only you;  adhyaiva – this moment; kAraya – make it happen. SrI rAmAnuja says that bhagavAn should make it happen. bhagavAn says that rAmAnuja has requested him just now. I shall consider it after a few days. But SrI rAmAjuna does not want to wait. He says, do it now itself, without any delay. He says that bhagavAn doesn’t expect help from anyone else to carry out any task. SrI rAmAnuja says that he does not qualify to receive such a grace from bhagavAn and he is not going to get qualified a few days from now. Since neither bhagavAn expects support from anyone nor is rAmAnuja going to get qualified to receive his grace, why delay it? Please shower your mercy on me now itself so that I will be able to devote myself to the deep meanings of all the things stated above (true nature of his own svarUpam, bhagavAn’s svarUpam, benefit that he would get on surrendering to bhagavAn etc).

We shall next understand the 7th and last chUrNai in this gadhyam.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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SrIranga gadhyam – 4th and 5th chUrNais

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avathArikai (Introduction)

In the previous chUrNai, bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja had prayed for kainkaryam, with his own words. He wonders whether bhagavAn will hear a non-entity that he is and grant him his wish. Hence he prays using previously stated SlOkams (hymns), from ithihAsam (epics such as SrI rAmAyaNam and mahAbhAratham) recited by great people (rishis). He quotes them since he is not sure as to for what bhagavAn would show consideration and also because he has strong urge and craving for carrying out kainkaryam. Since these are SlOkams, we shall see both chUrNai 4 and chUrNai 5 in this part itself. First, the 4th chUrNai:

thavAnubhUthi sambhUtha prIthikAritha dhAsathAm!
dhEhi mE krupayA nAtha! na jAnE gathimanyathA II

Explanatory Notes

thavAnubhUthi sambhUtha prIthikAritha dhAsathAm dhEhi thava – your; anubhUthi – experience; sambhUtha – proceeding from; prIthi – love; kAritha – caused by; dhAsathAm – servitude; dhEhi – give. Please give the dhAsyarasam (the flavour of servitude) that has been brought about by the love which, in turn, was obtained from experiencing you.

mE – to me, who has nothing other than desire for carrying out kainkaryam.

krupayA nAthakrupaya – please; nAtha – master or protector. I am in a deep state of distress; hence you have to show mercy on me. Also, there is an inevitable (unbreakable) relationship between us – you are the master and protector and I am your subject. All the more reason that you must grant me my wish.

na jAnE gathimanyathA – na jAnE – do not know; gathi – path; anyathA – other. I do not know any other means for reaching you and carrying out kainkaryam to you. Hence you have to give me.

Let us now move on to the 5th chUrNai

sarvAvasthOchithASEsha SEshathaikarathis thava I
bhavEyam puNdarIkAksha! thvamEvaivam kurushva mAm II

sarvAvasthOchithASEsha SEshathaikarathis thava – sarva – all; avasthA – states; uchitha – proper; aSEsha – without leaving anything; SEshathaika – only serving; rathi – desire; thava – your.
You have to enable me to have the desire, for carrying out all kainkaryams, without leaving anything, in all states.

bhavEyam puNdarIkAksha –  bhava – happen; iyam – this; puNadIkAksha – lotus-eyed. Oh lotus-eyed bhagavAn, make this (creating desire in me for carrying out kainkaryam to you) happen. By your mere glance, you have to make me have this desire.

thvamEvaivam kurushva mAm thvam – you; Evam – only; ivam – this; kurushva – make; mAm – to me.

I do not have anything in me and look up to you for having my desires fulfilled. Hence you have to grant me the desire to carry out kainkaryam to you.

We shall now move on to the 6th chUrNai.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnuja dhAsan.

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Sriranga gadhyam – 3rd chUrNai

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avathArikai (Introduction)

Having surrendered to bhagavAn in the previous chUrNai, bhagavadh SrI rAmAnuja, now prays to him for granting kainkaryam (dhAsyarasam). But he had already prayed for kainkaryam in the first chUrNai (nithya kinkarO bhavAni). In the second chUrNai, in order to get that kainkaryam, he had surrendered to him (SaraNam aham prapadhyE). Why then pray for kainkaryam yet again? He feels that he has nothing in his hand and what he has asked for is so humongous. However, he has deep faith (mahAviSvAsam) in bhagavAn that he would grant him his wish. Keeping that deep faith in him, he prays for kainkaryam since he has merely mentioned that he has surrendered to bhagavAn (without knowing its full meaning). First the chUrNai:

Evam avasthithsayApi arthithva mAthrENa parama kAruNikO
bhagavAn svAnubhava prIthyA upanItha – aikAnthikAthyanthika nithya
kainkaryaikarathirUpa nithyadhAsyam dhAsyathIthi viSvAsa
pUrvakam bhagavantham nithya kinkarathAm prArthayE II

Explanatory Notes

Evam avasthithasyApiEvam – thus; avasthithasyApi – even if obeying or following. SrI rAmAnuja says that he has merely mentioned that he has surrendered, without knowing the deeper meanings of the action. Even for such a person…..

arthithva mAthrENaarththva – having prayed for; mAthrENa – only. SrI rAmAnuja further says that he has yet not overcome desires in those which are hurdles in reaching bhagavAn (here the reference is to the five sensory perceptions) and he does not have the strong urge in carrying out kainkaryam to bhagavAn. But he merely has desire for kainkaryam and prays for it.

parama kAruNikO bhagavAnparama – very highly; kAruNikO – with mercy; bhagavAn – lord. bhagavAn looks at the mundane (worldly) sufferings of SrI rAmAnuja. Not only does he have mercy towards his ASrithars (followers), he also has the gyAna, Sakthi etc (knowledge, strength etc) to remove the sadness in his ASrithars. Since he has parama karuNai (he is full of mercy) and he is bhagavAn (having gyAna, bala, aiSvarya, vIrya, Sakthi, thEjas) he has all the qualities to provide succour to the suffering jIvAthmA. Hence SrI rAmAnuja prays to him for ……

svAnubhava prIthyOpanItha aikAnthika Athyanthika nithya kainkarya rathi rUpasva – self; anubhava – experience; prIthi – love; upanItha – initiated ; aikAnthika – of one end ; Athyanthika – without an end; nithya – permanent; kainkarya – service; rathi – affection; rUpa – form.  SrI rAmAnuja prays for a unique form. What is this form? With the love that has been initiated in him after experiencing bhagavAn, he wants that love to propel him into carrying out highly focused, endless, permanent kainkaryam. This love should take a form of desire to do kainkaryam and he wants that desire to be his form.

nithya dhAsyam dhAsyathIthinithya – forever; dhAsyam – servitude; dhAsyathIthi – to grant. He prays to bhagavAn to grant him kainkaryam till his AthmA lasts (i.e. for ever).

viSvAsa pUrvakamviSvAsa – strong belief; pUrvakam – as prelude. SrI rAmAnuja affirms that he has very strong belief in bhagavAn, and with that belief as prelude, he is praying for…..

bhagavantham nithya kinkarathAm prArththayE – bhagavantham – to bhagavAn; nithya kinkarathAm – permanent kainkaryam; prArthayE – pray for. SrI rAmAnuja affirms his belief in bhagavAn and prays to him to grant him permanent kainkaryam. He is calling him bhagavAn because he has all the qualities required of bhagavAn (gyAna, bala, aiSvarya, vIrya, Sakthi, thEjas) and since he is bhagavAn, he can grant him his wish.

That brings us to the end of the third chUrNai. We shall now proceed to the 4th and 5th chUrNais.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnujadhAsan.

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