SrIranga gadhyam – 1st chUrNai Part 1

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avathArikai (Introduction):

In the first chUrNai, bhagavadh rAmAnuja expresses his desire for paramapurushArtham (highest objective to be attained through surrendering) which is kainkaryam to bhagavAn  SrIman nArAyaNa. There are several meanings for the word nArAyaNa – one who owns both nithya vibhUthi (SrIvaikuNtam) and leelA vibhUthi (materialistic realm); opposite of all faults; repository of all auspicious qualities and many more. Of these SrI rAmAnuja takes up the first, owning both vibhUthis, in this chUrNai.

Let us first look at the chUrNai.

svAdhIna thrividha chEthnAchEthanasvarUpa sthithi pravruththi bhEdham,
klESa karmAdhyaSEsha dhOshAsamsprushtam,
svAbhAvikAnavadhikAthiSaya gyAnabalaiSvarya vIrya
Sakthi thEjas sauSeelya vAthsalya mArdhavArjava
sauhArdha sAmya kAruNya mAdhurya gAmbhIryaudhArya
chAthurya sthairya dhairya Saurya parAkrama sathyakAma
sathyasankalpa kruthithva kruthagyAdhyasankhyEya
kalyANa guNagaNougha mahArNavam, parabrahmabhUtham,
purushOththamam, SrIranga SAyinam, asmath swAminam,
prabudhdha nithya niyAmya nithya dhAsyaikarasAthma svabhAvOham,
thadhEkAnubhava: thadhEkapriya:, paripUrNam
bhagavantham viSadhathamAnubhavEna nirantharamanubhUya, thadhanubhava janitha –
anavadhikAthiSaya prIthikAritha – aSEshavasthOchitha
aSEsha SEshathaikarathirUpa nithya kinkarO bhavAni II

Word-by-Word meaning

sva – self
adhIna – control
thrividha – three types
chEthana – sentient entity
achEthana – insentient entity
svarUpa – basic nature
sthithi – sustenance (that through which it sustains itself)
pravruththi – activity
bhEdham – difference
klESa – suffering
karma – past deeds
Adhi – starting with these
aSEsha – without leaving anything
dOsha – fault
asamprushtam – not touching
svAbhAvika – of basic nature
anavadhika – without any limit
adhiSaya – wondrous, exalted
gyAna – knowledge
bala – strength
aiSvarya – control
vIrya – valour
Sakthi – energy
thEjas – radiance
sauSeelya – simplicity
vAthsalya – treating the fault in followers as a virtue
mArdhava – soft
Arjava – honesty
sauhArdha – thinking good for all
sAmya – equal to all and treating everyone equally
kAruNya – without expecting anything for self, feeling sad for those who are in distress
mAdhurya – graceful and charming in his svarUpamrUpamguNa and vibhUthi
gAmbhIrya – deep
audhArya – Fulfilling the expectations of his followers
chAthurya – Hiding the faults of his followers from pirAtti herself
sthairya – will not step back
dhairya – daring
Saurya – the feeling that one would get when, on piercing the enemy’s vyUha (battle formation)
parAkrama – literally means courage/valour/enterprise/heroism/strength etc.
sathya – true
kAma – desire
sathyasankalpa – Whatever he vows, will happen
kruthithva – When he gives something to his ASrithars and they get it, bhagavAn feels as if he himself has got it and feels happy
kruthagyathA – to be thankful
Adhi – similar such qualities
asankhyEya – countless
kalyANa – auspicious
guNa – qualities
gaNa – bundles of such qualities
augha – flood or wave
mahArNavam – great ocean
parama – supreme
brahmam – absolute
bhUtham – being (entity)
purushOththamam – supreme among purushas (jIvAthmA, mukthAthmA, nithyAthmA).
SrIrangaSAyinam – comes to SrIrangam and lies on the bed of AdhiSEsha
asmathswAminam – my swAmy
prabhudhdha – high level of knowledge
nithya – for ever
niyAmya – controlled by bhagavAn
dhAsyaika – like a servant
rasa – being a servant is sweet too
Athma – soul
svabhAva – basic nature
aham – I
thath – that
Eka – one
anubhava: – experience
thadhEkapriya:– making bhagavAn’s experience as a matter for bhakthi (devotion).
paripUrNam – fully, completely
bhagavantham – to bhagavan
viSadhathama – very clearly
anubhavEna – that experience
nirantharam – without hurdles
anubhUya – having experienced
thath – that
anubhava – experience
janitha – born out of
anavadhika – without limit
athiSaya – exalted
prIthikAritha – induced by love
aSEsha – without leaving anything
avastha – state
uchitha – appropriate
aSEsha SEshathaika – carrying out service without leaving anything
rathi rUpa – full of desire or love
nithya kinkarO bhava – make me a servitor forever

Explanatory Notes:

svAdhIna thrividha chEthnAchEthanasvarUpa sthithi pravruththi bhEdham

sva – self; adhIna – control; thrividha – three types; chEthana – sentient entity; achEthana – insentient entity; svarUpa – basic nature; sthithi – sustenance (that through which it sustains itself); pravruththi – activity; bhEdham – difference. A simplified meaning is that bhagavAn controls the three types of chEthana and three types of achEthana entities, which are different in their basic nature, their sustenance and their activities.
The three types of chEthana entity are bhadhdha, muktha and nithya AthmAs – people still bound in this materialistic realm, people who were once in this world but who are now liberated and have reached SrIvaikuNtam, and people who are eternally in SrIvaikuNtam, without taking birth in materialistic realm due to past deeds, respectively.
The three types of achEthana entity are Sudhdha sathva (pure goodness), miSra sathva (mixture of sathva or goodness, rajas or passion and thamas or ignorance) and kAla thathvam (time).
For these two major entities, chEthana and achEthana, we need to look at their svarUpam, sthithi and pravruththi. svarUpam is basic identity or basic nature; sthithi is sustenance (how it survives) and pravruththi is activity.

First let us look at bhadhdhAthmA, among the chEthanas (sentient entity). bhadhdhAthmA’s svarUpam is that his gyAna (knowledge) is restrained. His sthithi (sustenance) is experiencing the fruit of pApa (sin) or puNya (virtue), which is either sadness or happiness. His pravruththi (activity) is doing karma (deed) which will end as either pApa or puNya.
For mukthAthmA, due to the causeless mercy of bhagavAn, losing the connection with physical body, which is the reason for cramping of knowledge, and being liberated, is its svarUpam. His sthithi is experiencing happiness by carrying out kainkaryam to bhagavAn. His pravruththi is experiencing bhagavAn’s auspicious qualities as well as constantly praying to bhagavAn by singing sAma gAnam (singing hymns from sAma vEdham) and doing physical kainkaryam too.
For nithyAthmA, the svarUpam is not having any contact with samsAram (materialistic realm). His sthithi is experiencing happiness by carrying out endless, multifarious kainkaryam. His pravruththi is having constant dharSan (vision) of bhagavAn, constantly offering salutation to bhagavAn and constantly praying to him (saying nama: (adiyEn belongs to you) and singing sAma gAnam).
Next we look at the svarUpa, sthithi and pravruththi for achEthana entities. The three major classifications of achAEthanas are sudhdha sathvam, miSra sathvam and kAla thathvam.
miSra sathvam
 (also known as prakruthi, the priomordial matter) is composed of three entities, sathva, rajas and thamas (goodness, passion and ignorance respectively). It keeps changing constantly. This is its svarUpam.  Its sthithi (sustenance) is to provide a body to jIvAthmA so that jIvAthmA can experience sadness or happiness when carrying out pApa or puNya activities based on its karma. Its pravruththi (activity) is to hide the nature of (a) jIvAthmA itself (b) bhagavAn (c) goal (reaching bhagavAn and carrying out kainkaryam) (d) path to reach bhagavAn (could be karma yOgam, gyAna yOgam, bhakthi yOgam or SaraNAgathi) and (e) relationship between jIvAthmA and bhagavAn (there are 9 different types of relationship between bhagavAn and jIvAthmA such as father-child, protector-protected, master-servitor, husband-wife etc). Not only does it hide all the good things, but it also highlights the enemy to reach bhagavAn so that jIvAthmA can enjoy all the forbidden activities and forget all about bhagavAn!
sudhdha sathvam (pure goodness), composed of five upanishaths, is devoid of rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance/laziness). All the achEthana entities in SrIvaikuNtam are composed of sudhdha sathvam. Its svarUpam (basic nature) is that its rUpam (physical form) is constant (unlike achEthana entities in our world which keep changing form constantly). Its sthithi (sustenance) is (a) to be a tool for mukthAthmAs and nithyAthmAs to carry out kainkaryam (such as flower, garland, sandal paste, thiruvArAdhana vessel etc), (b) to be the physical form for bhagavAn when he descends to thiruppARkadal (kshIrAbdhi) or takes avathAram (incarnation) in leelA vibhUthi such as masthsya, kUrma, rAma, krishNa et al. Its pravruththi (activity) is to enlighten at all places it is present in, to induce kainkaryam among those present near it.
kAla thathvam (also called as sathva SUnyam) is different from prakruthi (primordial matter). Its svarUpam (basic nature) is that it does not change. In other words it can not be converted to anything else. It is composed of measures such a nimisham, kAshtA, nAzhigai, muhUrtham etc (these are measures of time such as second, minute, hour that we are familiar with). Its sthithi (sustenance) is controlling prAkrutha (achith) entities and jIvAthmAs. Their activities are determined by kAla thathvam. Its pravruththi (activity) is to be a factor for beginning and ending of all achEthana entities (for example, when will milk change into curd once it is set, or when will a jIvAthmA be born or when the jIvAthmA will leave the physical body taken).

bhagavAn controls all the six chEAthana and achEthana entities by being their antharAthmA (in-dwelling AthmA). He controls their svarUpam, sthithi and pravruththi. This also implies the fact that bhagavAn is the soul (SarIri) and we are all part of his physical body (SarIram).

klESa karmAdhyaSEsha dhOshAsamsprushtam

klESa – suffering ; karma – past deeds; Adhi – starting with these; aSEsha – without leaving anything; dOsha – fault; asamprushtam – not touching. Simplified meaning is that the suffering and past deeds of jIvAthmA will not affect bhagavAn who is dwelling inside the AthmA as its antharAthmA. Let us look at this in more detail.

At the end of the previous sentence, we have seen that bhagavAn is the SarIri (soul) and jIvAthmA is the SarIram (body). In that case, will not the faults of the body affect the soul? bhagavadh rAmAnuja says that these faults will not touch him. What are these faults? He mentions a few of them as given above, meanings of which are explained in more detail below:
klEsa – There are five kinds of suffering: 1) avidhyA (ignorance), 2) asmithA (ego), 3) abhinivESa (greed), 4) rAga (liking) and 5) dhvEsha (disliking or hatred).
karma – the above faults are the cause and effect of pApa and puNya (sin and virtue) arising out of bad and good deeds.
Adhi – many other faults such as vipAka – changes which take place when an AthmA takes various types of forms such as dhEva (heavenly), manushya (human), thiryak (animal) and sthAvara (plant) forms,  ASayam  – differences in the intellectual levels among these species, and many other such faults.
aSEsha – without leaving anything.
dOsha – All these faults
asamprushtam – He is not touched, right from the beginning, by any of these faults.

svAbhAvikAnavadhikAthiSaya gyAnabalaiSvarya vIrya Sakthi thEjas – Next, SrI rAmAnuja lists out various guNas (qualities) of bhagavAn, which are displayed as his svabhAvam (basic nature). Of these, the first 6 are of general nature which he exhibits to all people; the next 12 are exhibited only to his  ASrithars (followers) and the last 3, only to his enemies.  First in this set are the 6 characteristics that he displays to all:
svAbhAvika – of basic nature; anavadhika – without any limit; adhiSaya – wondrous, exalted; gyAna – knowledge; bala – strength; aiSvarya – control; vIrya – valour; Sakthi – energy; thEjas – radiance.
gyAna – bhagavAn’s ability to see all the entities which are present at various points of time, all at the same time right in front of his eyes. He sees the differences in the svarUpam of all the AthmAs, the differences in their karma, not only of the jIvAthmAs whch have currently taken birth and living in leelA vibhUthi (materialistic realm) but also of those which existed in leelA vibhUthi in the past and those which will take birth in future, all at the same time right in front of him.
bala – ability to bear the entire universe on his body through his sankalpam (will or vow)
aiSvarya – ability to control all the AthmAs and direct them.
vIrya – not displaying any change in his demeanour despite bearing the entire universe.
Sakthi – a) providing energy to all jIvAthmAs to carry out their tasks as per their karma. b) Also his ability to bind together things which can not be bound at all. For example, he can enter the smallest of objects (the Athma is of a size less than one hundredth of one hundredth of the sharp end of a paddy grain) as well as the largest of objects (large empty space that we call as sky). c) He is the reason for the creation of the universe (by his vow). This is also due to his Sakthi.
thEjas – ability to win over enemies effortlessly.

We shall now see the 12 guNas that he exhibits only to his ASrithars (followers).

sauSeelya vAthsalya mArdhavArjava sauhArdha sAmya kAruNya mAdhurya gAmbhIryaudhArya chAthurya sthairya 
sauSeelya – simplicity. He does not see difference between himself and others; even though he is much superior to all the others, he still moves as equals. He does this as his svabhAvam (basic nature).
vAthsalya – treating the fault in followers as a virtue.  The meaning of this is that he removes the fault and gives his good quality to the follower, just as a cow licks the dirt off its calf’s body with its tongue. Cow removes only the dirt, but bhagavAn removes the faults and gives his quality.
mArdhava – soft. But this is normally related to bodily (physical) feature. Here, the reference is to bhagavAn’s Athma guNa (quality of AthmA). Hence the meaning here is that his softness towards his followers is such that if the followers leave him, he feels sad. That’s how soft he is.
Arjava – honesty. He keeps his mind, speech and action focused in order to keep his followers with him. If there are any shortcomings in his followers, he makes up for that.
sauhArdha – thinking good for all. Whether his follower comes to his sannidhi (temple) or not, he thinks only good for them.
sAmya – equal to all and treating everyone equally. Not looking at the differences in caste/quality/activity of his followers and treating them equally.
kAruNya – without expecting anything for self, feeling sad for those who are in distress.
mAdhurya – graceful and charming in his svarUpam (basic nature), rUpam (physical being), guNa (qualities) and vibhUthi (wealth). Even if a person comes to kill him, that person feels the grace of bhagavAn.
gAmbhIrya – deep. If bhagavAn decides to help someone, no one can determine how much he will give or what he will give. He does not consider the lowliness of the receiver or his greatness to give. Even after giving everything, he keeps wondering whether he has done anything.
audhArya – Fulfilling the expectations of his followers. He calls his followers as donors because if they had not asked for, how could he give and  be called as a donor, he says.
chAthurya – Hiding the faults of his followers from pirAtti herself. If his follower has any doubt in his ability to protect him, removing that doubt is also chAthuryam. An example is the way he removed SugrIva’s doubt when SugrIva had doubt in his ability to take on vAli.
sthairya – If he has made up his mind to protect his follower, he will not step back even if a thousand hurdles come in his way. When many of his followers, starting with SugrIva wanted him not to grant protection to vibhIshaNa, he did not change his mind. Rather, he changed their opinions of vibhIshaNa and made them accept him.

With this we have completed the 12 virtues of bhagavAn that he exhibits towards his followers. We shall see the remainder of this chUrNai in the next part.

Translation by krishNa rAmAnujadhAsan.

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