SrIranga gadhyam – 7th chUrNai

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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

Word-by-Word meaning

apAra – boundless
karuNa – merciful
ambudhi – ocean
anAlOchitha – not differentiating
viSEsha – special
aSEsha – without leaving anything
lOka – people
SaraNya – refuge
praNatha – followers
Arthi – grief
hara – removing
ASritha – followers
vAthsalyaika – fond affection only
mahA – great
udhadhi – ocean
anavaratha – incessantly
vidhitha – known
nikhila – entire
bhUthajAtha – all living beings
yAthAthmya – in true states as they are
sathya – nithya (forever)
kAma – desire
sathya – not wasted
sankalpa – will
Apath – danger
sakha – friend
kAkuthstha – one of the many names of SrI rAma
SrIman – pirAtti’s swAmy
nArAyaNa – bhagavAn
purushOththama – supreme among purushas
SriranganAtha – Lord of SrIrangam
mama nAtha – my Lord
namOsthu thE – salutations to you

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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