SrIvaikuNta gadhyam – 1st chUrNai Part 1

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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 ||

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
prabhruthi – starting from this
asankhyEya – countless
kalyANa – auspicious
guNa – type of qualities
gaNa – bundles
Ogha – wave
mahArNavam – great ocean
paramapurusham – superior entity
bhagavantham – One who has the 6 primary qualities of gyAna bala aiSvarya vIrya Sakthi thEja:
nArAyaNam – He is nArAyaNan, who has no one superior to him
swAmithva – owner or master
suhruthvEna – suhruth means a person with a good heart
guruthvEna – refers to his quality of saulabhya as he came down from SrIvaikuNtam to become the first AchAryan
parigruhya – to hold on firmly
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
thath prApthayE – to attain that manOratham (desire of mind) of doing kainkaryam.
cha – also
thath – that
pAdha – foot
ambhuja – lotus like
dhvaya – two of them
prapaththE: – hold on to firmly or surrender
anyath – other
na – not
mE – to me
kalpakOti sahasrENApi – for very long time
sAdhanam – means (path)
asthi – available
ithi – like this
manvAna: – in thought
thasyaiva – as said
bhagavathO – bhagavAn
nArAyaNasya – that nArAyaNan
akhilasathva dhayaika sAgarasya – ocean of mercy for all
anAlOchitha – not examining whether granting refuge to a person (who wishes to surrender) is advantageous or not
guNa aguNa – qualities which are desired and not desired among ASrithars
akhaNda jana – he does not make a distinction among celestial persons, human beings, animals, plants etc when they approach him as an ASrithar. jana: Anyone born.
anukUla – he guides the ASrithar to go by the correct path and not take difficult paths
amaryAdha – here maryAdhA means limit. So, no limit.
Seelavatha: –
dhEva – devas
thiryak – animals
manushya – humans
Adhi – starting with
akhila jana – every living
hrudhaya Anandhanasya
– melts heart with happiness.
svAbhAvika – of basic nature
anavadhika – without any limit
adhiSaya – wondrous, exalted
guNavaththayA –
ASritha – his followers.
vAthsalyaika –
treating faults as virtues
jaladhE: – ocean
bhakthajana – those who are his devotees, who are friendly towards him
samSlEsham – to be together
Eka – only
bhOgasya – fit for enjoyment
nithya – completely
gyAna – knowledge about the bhOga vasthu
kriya – actual act of enjoying the bhOga vasthu
aiSvaryAdhi – wealth (owning the bhOga vasthu)
bhOga –
sAmagrI – implements
– this enjoyment is not something finite or small but huge or plenty
maha – huge
vibhUthE – wealth
SrI – mahAlakshmi (his consort)
matha: – with
charaNAravindha yugalam – two lotus-like feet
ananya – without substitute
Athma – soul
sanjIvanEna – total sustenance
thath – that
gatha – reach
sarva – all
bhAvEna – manner
SaraNam – to surrender
anuvrajEth – to hold on firmly

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.


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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