Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 13

YatirAjar came to know that KUrathAzhvAr had left along with Periya Nambi donning his ascetic robes and armed with his tridandam and was worried for their welfare. According to the compulsions of NadAthUr AazhvAn, PiLLAn and MudaliAndAn, he wrapped a white dhoti over his saffron robes and unbeknownst to   the King's guards he headed up North. The King's men came to know about this and desired to follow them in order to prevent them from reaching their destination. YatirAjar's disciples warned him about the situation. However fast they tried to walk, it seemed that the King's men were catching up to them. YatirAjar asked his disciples to be brave and took a fistful of sand and uttered the following words:
"Kodumai seiyyum KUttramum en kOladi kurugap pera,
Tadavaraith thOL ChakrapANI SArnga VirchEvaganE".
He then scattered that sand behind him as they continued on their path. When the King's men stepped on that sand, they lost their senses and stood confounded, not knowing which way to go. They understood that it was all the work of the person whom they were attempting to follow and decided that their attempt would be futile. They turned back and YatirAjar continued his journey up North.

There were some hunters living in the NIlagiri valley along PAlaimalai. They were all disciples of NallAn Chakravarti. Once a SrI VaishNavar went past their dwelling in search of Udayavar. The hunters welcomed him warmly and asked him where he was coming from. He replied that he was from SrI Rangam. On hearing that, the hunters enquired about the welfare of Udayavar. The VaishNavaite could not contain his sorrow. He explained that owing to the doing of the ChOLA king, Udayavar had to don a white garb over his saffron robes and run and live in hiding. He explained that he was searching for him as his whereabouts were not known.

The hunters were distraught on hearing this. They did not eat or drink on hearing this news. Thus, six days passed when it started raining. They lit lamps in their houses and were huddled around the fire. RAmAnujar chanced to come there with his disciples. One of them enquired whether there was any path to proceed further. On hearing a Bhrahmin's voice, they invited the party in and asked them where they were coming from and if they knew if RAmAnujar was doing alright. The disciple asked them how they knew about Udayavar to which they explained that they were followers of NallAn Chakravarti who told them in his HitOpadEsam to them that they should all connect with RAmAnujar as their spiritual guide. The disciple was overjoyed on hearing this and revealed RAmAnujar to him. They then broke their fast and served delicious food and welcomed their Guru. The next morning, RAmAnujar send word for SrI Rangam to find out what had happened since he had left.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 12

AarAyirappadi VyAgyAnam

Once RAmAnujar was going over the meaning of the prabandhams in his matam. He was gesturing it out as he was contemplating on the meanings. PiLLAn was watching this fromoutside. He figured out that EmperumAnAr was expounding the meaning of the TiruvAimozhi pAsuram "TirumAlirunjOlai malai endrEn ennui". He asked from outside if he was right. RAmAnujar was surprised and asked if it was PiLLAn who had guessed it correctly. When PiLLAn confirmed, he opened the door to him and asked him inside. Later, in the audience of Periya Nambi and AazhvAn he narrated this incident. He also said that PiLLAn struck him as being very intelligent, respectful of BhAgavatAs and completely capable of receiving the full anugraham of NambigaL. He indicated his wish to adopt him as his "son of enlightenment" or "NyAna Putran". He named him "Tirukkurugai PirAn PiLLAn" from there on.

He then called PiLLAn and asked him to write a 6000 verse commentary on the TiruvAi mozhi. PiLLAn did as asked and submitted it. He did not write a separate MangaLa SOstram for it and adopted the one written for ShrI BhAshyam itself. RAmAnujar was thrilled on reading it and very happy that PiLLAn had proved himself worthy of the name given to him in accordance with ALavandAr's wishes. He blessed his work and said that it should be regarded with equal importance as the ShrI BhAshyam itself for all those who wanted to learn the right way. Periya Nambi and AazhvAn were very happy to se all this unfold.

RAmAnujar also sent word through some ShrI VaishnavAs to PiLLAn's father Periya Tirumalai Nambi that his son had indeed proved to be worthy of the name given to him.

As time passed on, great souls like TirukkOttiyUr Nambi, TirumalaiAndan and Tiruvaranga PerumALarayar departed this earth and went on to be with the merciful ShriyA Pati SrIman NArAyaNA.


AththuzhAi was Periya Tirumalai Nambi's daughter. Once, in her in-laws house, she asked her mother-in-law if she could accompany her to take a bath. Her mother-in-aw rudely retorted that if she had brought as dowry a maid who would assist in such duties, she could take such a non-existent maid with her. AththuzhAi was very upset on hearing this and chanced to convey it to her father. Periya Tirumalai Nambi said that he was helpless in this situation and the only person who could help her was JIyar SwAmigaL himself. Accordingly, she went and complained to RAmAnujar. Immediately RAmAnujar offered up the services of MudaliANdan. AththuzhAi's mother-in-law did not like this, so she complained to Periya Tirumalai Nmabi who again directed her to YatirAjar. YatirAjar said that he was bound to help out his AachAryan's daughter and hence he did the needful. Since MudaliAndAn's presence was not welcome, he called him back. Such was his devotion to his AachAryan.

YatirAjar's Northern visit

The ChOzha king of that reign, by name ChOzhan proved to be quite a dictator. He was a Shaivaite and alongwith his priest, pressurized everyone o accept that Lord ShivA was the ultimate God. They attempted to approach all VaishNavAs and have them sign a palm leaf declaring "SivAt Parataram NAsti" (There is no God greater than ShivA). Some people did so fearing the consequences, some people did so in exchange for monetary benefits and those who refused to do so were subject to severe punishment by the King. NAlUrAn, the King's minister suggested that it was not enough to get a signed declaration from any Tom, Dick or Harry, but that a similar signature from YatirAjar himself, who was regarded as the epitome of VaishNavism, would prove their point beyond doubt. He also extended the test to KUrathAzhvAn. The King sent his men to fetch them from SrI Rangam. When the men arrived at yatirAjar's matam, NadAthUr AazhvAn casually chatted them up to find out the cause for their visit and was horrified when he found out. he immediately told KUrathAzhvAn what he had learned. KurathAzhvAr was thrilled at his devotion, ad praised him. he immediately garbbed BhAshyakArar's saffron robes and staff and rushed off to meet the King along with Periya NambigaL.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 11

He wondered what was the reason for RAmAnujar's sudden effervescence. He had seen him walk off with a certain feel of defeat the previous day, but was exuding confidence presently. He immediately sensed that it must have been some sort of a divine intervention that must have caused this change. As soon as RAmAnujar took his place on the podium, YagnamUrti fell before him and prostrated him. He conceded defaeat and accepted RAmAnujar's footwear on his head. He asked RAmAnujar to accept him as his disciple and teach him the correct ways of life.

RAmAnujar was surprised on seeing this change. He asked YagnamUrti why he was not up for a debate. YagnamUrti replied that he had sensed divine intervention and hence felt the need to back away and do what was right. RAmAnujar then went on to explain his position on VisishtAdvaitam and postulated all important points: accepting that he had no answers for some questions, YagnamUrti broke his Ekadandam and begged RAmAnujar to give him his saffron robes. RAmAnujar did all the needful to initiate him into VisishtAdvaitam formally. He named his "AruLALa PerumAL EmperumAnAr" because it was by the grace of AruLALan (Varadan) that he got him as a disciple and also because one of the elements of the challenge was that YagnamUrti would take on RAmAnujar's name.He then took him to SrI Rangam to get the blessings of RanganAtar after which he took him to his matam and showed him to AruLALar too. He started teaching him all the prabandams beginning from TiruppallAndu.

YatirAjar continued t educate his disciples in SrIRangam s usual, when 2 SrI VaishnavAs came from out of town to visit Him. They approached the locals and asked them where EmperumAnAr's matam was. The locals asked them which EmperumAnAr they wished to visit since there were 2 in town. The out-of-towners asked if they were being ridiculed in any manner since they knew of only one. The locals then explained how there were 2 EmerumAnArs. On finding out that the intent was to visit Udayavar, they directed them accordingly. AruLALa PerumAL EmperumAnAr chanced to overhear this entire conversation and felt very bad for the confusion 2 matams were causing. On that day, he left his matam and moved in with YatirAjar and lived there.

Granting the SrI BhAshyam among other texts

As per his promise to AaLavandAr, RAmAnujar wished to write the commentary for SrI BhAshyam. He appointed KUraththAzhvAn to assist him and said, "Start by writing what I tell you. If you are discontent with any of my views, then you don't have to write it." Accordingly, once as AazhvAn was writing down the commentary, RAmAnujar indicated that the AatmA did not have Bagavath SEshastvam. AazhvAn did not write that down. RAmAnujar commanded him to. When he still did not do so, RAmAnujar got angry and told him that he could finish up all the writing himself. All others watching this, asked AazhvAn if it was right on his part to disappoint the AachAryan like this. Aazhvan was apologetic and agreed to go and ask for forgiveness the next day. Meanwhile Udayavar also thought about AazhvAn's take on the view and concurred that he was right. He called to him the next day and accepted his error. He said that AazhvAn could write it the way he desired and he did so. Thus RAmAnujar fulfilled 1 of 3 of AalavandAr's wishes. He also went on to write VEdAnta SAram, VEdAnta DIpam, VEdArta Sankraham and GItA BhAshyam. Later, he also wrote a text called Nityam for daily anushtAnams. On Panguni Utram, when RanganAtar and TAyAr were in Tirumanjana KOlam together, he came up with SaraNAgati Gatyam, SrIranga Gatyam and SrIVaikunta Gatyam. Thus he gifted us with 9 texts.


According to the wishes of KUrathAzhvAn, NadAthUrAzhvAn and PiLLAn, YatirAjar undertook a tour of divyadEsams while attempting also to convince people of other religions that VisishtAdvaitam was the correct philosophy. He sought the blessings of RanganAtar and first went to Tirukudandai to seek the darshan of AarAvamudAzhvAn. Then he went to PAndyA lands such as TirumAlirunjOlai and TiruppuLLANi. He bathed at Tiruvanai and enjoyed his time there for a while before moving on to AAzhVartirunagari and Tirukkurungudi.

SrI VaishNava Nambi

EmperumAnar was performing his daily anushTAnams with thousands of his disciples one day when the Lord of Tirukkurungudi Divya DEsam Tirukkurungudi Nambi appeared before him as a Vaishnavaite. He asked that RAmAnujar expound to him such a mantram that sought and corrected people who could not be corrected even after the Lord appeared to them in RAma/Krishna avatArams. Udayavar performed samAsrayaNam for him and applied tirumaN KAppu too after naming him SrI VaishNava Nambi. As soon as he received RAmAnujar's graces, the Vaishnavaite disappeared. EmperumAnAr was stunned. He went on to the temple and was astonished to find that the tirumaN KAppu was on the Lord's forehead. he narrated the saraNAgati Gatyam happily before the Lord, sought his blessings and went on to MalinAttu Tirupathis from there.

Getting the name of SrI BhAshyakArar

GOkulam, BrindAvanam, AyOdhyA, Naimi SAraNyam and Badri were the next places on his route. He visited Sarasvati VidhyA PItam. Goddess Sarasvati herself appeared before Him there and blessed him that his sacred text be called SrI BhAshyam, and he the autor be called SrI BHAshyakArar on account of writing it. She placed his SrI BhAshyam on her very head and gave it along with an idol of Lakshmi HayagrIvar that she prayed to. RAmAnujar accepted it happily.

On hearing this incident, the King of the land embraced RAmAnujar and his ways and conferred greatness upon Him. This caused jealousy among some members of the court and they planned to get rid of Him. Accordingly, they performed a AbichAra YAgam, but that became detrimental to them in that they all became insane and started beating one another. Upon heeding to the King's request, YatirAjar cured them and they embraced Him as their teacher. From there, He went to Vada Madurai, bathed in the Ganges, then went to PurushOttamam, SrI KUrmam, SimmAchalam, AhObilam and finally arrived at Tiru VEnkatam.

SrInivAsA accepting sangu chakram

The Shaivaites in Tirumala argued that SrinivAsar was actually SivA and fought with Tirumalai Nambi about it. He showed them in many ways that the Aazhvars had established that he was SrIman NArAyaNA and debated with them. They tried to establish a common ground saying that since he had markings of neither and some common markings, he should be regarded as a God common to both factions. RAmAnujar wanted to settle this right away and suggested "Let us keep a trident and damaru, which is the symbol of ShivA and the sangu chakram which is the symbol of Vishnu at the Lord's altar and lock them in overnight. In the morning, we will see what the Lord has chosen." Both sides agreed to this and after placing the symbols in the altar and ensuring no one else was inside, they meticulously guarded the locked altar overnight. The next morning, after sunrise they went inside to see what had happened, and behold, the Lord stood with his sangu and chakram. The trident and damaru were broken and cast aside. RAmAnujar was filled with ecstasy and he sang numerous praises of the Lord with all emotion. He arranged for all rituals to continue as before. Periya Tirumalai Nambi was very happy too. After finishing up his pigrimage, RAmAnujar came back to SrI Rangam. After swimming in the Lord's darshan from head to toe, he headed back to his matam to grace his disciples and continue imparting knowledge to them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 10

No danger to temple rituals

According to the wishes of Periya PerumAL, Udayavar performed all the temple rituals in an extraordinary manner in which no one else could perform them. He did not allow even a tiny gap or mistake to occur in them. He corrected those who erred in their duties and brought them back to the right track. Some bad souls found an issue with this and went to the extent of wanting to do away with Udayavar. They planned to do this by mixing some poison in the food he was to intake. They befriended a family to whose house YatirAjar went to beg for alms from, everyday. They got the head of the house convinced to carry out this horrendous task. He instructed his wife to carry it out. The wife was very afraid to do something like this and requested her husband to give up the idea since she worried that worst woes would befall upon them on carrying out a sin of this magnitude. But the husband tortured her into carrying out his orders. The wife had no choice but to carry out her husband's orders.

The next day, when YatirAjar came begging to her house for alms, she gathered up the poisoned rice. When she came to serve it to him, she could not control herself. Tears welled up in her eyes, her hands trembled and she dropped the rice in a separate corner of his bowl, away from the food gathered from other houses. She then went back inside after paying respects to him. (It is not customary to fall at the feet of sanyAsIs when they come for bikshai; if someone were to accidentally do so, then the sanyAsI has to throw away all the food collected thus far and fast for the rest of the day). YatirAjar found this behavior to be strange. He wondered why she would do something like this which she had never done before. NOt feeling good about it, he simply took all the food collected for the day and mixed it into the waters of the KAvEri. He dusted his clothes and washed them before sitting under a tree in a pensive mood. While shaking off the clothes, some morsels of poisoned rice had fallen on the ground and a crow who ventured by ate it and died. YatirAjar observed this and kept a strict fast for the next few days.

The love of AachAryAs

Periya Nambi and TirukkOttiyUr Nambi were together when they heard the news of RAmAnujar's assassination attempt. They were distraught and wanted to see him right away and planned a trip to SrI Rangam. On hearing the news of both his AachAryans coming to visit him, RAmAnujar was overjoyed and stepped out to visit them en route before they could make it to his place. While walking alongside the KAvEri river, he caught a glimpse of both of them. He started prostrating and getting up many times on the scorching sands of the river bank all the while walking towards them. There was quite a long distance to be covered and RAmAnujar was suffering from exhaustion. Instead of telling him that he could stop prostrating and be relieved, the AachAryAs let him continue on with the physically grueling ritual. AachAn who was with RAmAnujar at this juncture, could not bear it. Tears welled up in his eyes. "What kind of cruel teacher-stedent test is this? Is it the intent to test him until his death?", he sobbed out as he scooped up RAmAnujar from the scorching sands. Then TirukkOttiyUr Nambi replied, "AachAn, we were doing this o test to see who was truly loyal towards EmperumAnAr. You have proved your loyalty and that you are completely capable of taking care of him. From this day on, it is your duty to see to his physical benefits. I appoint you to cook for him daily and serve him alms". And accordingly, from that day on, KidAmbi AachAn became responsible for cooking and serving RAmAnujar.

AruLALa PerumAL EmperumAnAr

There was an Advaita SanyAsi by the name of YagnamUrti. He was a genius and a well learned scholar. He defeated quite a lot of scholars in debates in KAsi and adopted hundreds of disciples and taught all of them the advaitA philosophy. HE heard about YatirAjar having thousands of disciples in SrI Rangam to whom he was imparting the knowledge of VisishtAdvaitam. He did not want to be surpassed by anyone and decided that he had to take him on in a debate. He grabbed all his literature and proceeded to SrI Rangam. In a few months time, he reached there. He approached RAmAnujar and challenged him to a debate. RAmAnujar gladly accepted and asked him what he would do if he were to lose.

"If I were to lose, I will bear your footwear and also your name. I will renounce advaitam and come and join with you as a disciple after embracing VisishtAdvaitam. What will you do if you lose?", he asked. RAmAnujar said that he woud denounce all his literature were that to happen - he would not read or write books pertaining to the VisishtAdvaita philosophy were he to lose. Both of them agreed to each other's terms and decided to carry on a debate that would span over 18 days. And they went on for the first 16 days. Each one surpassed the other in succeeding arguments and no one had the upper hand, yet. Towards the end of the 17th day, YagnamUrti seemed to have the upper hand. He raised a question that RAmAnujar was supposed to answer. There was only one day left. YatirAjar stood stunned. YagnamUrti saw that and regarded success to be his. He suggested that they come back the following day and continue their arguments.

YatirAjar went back to his matam. He finished up his daily rituals and beseeched his favorite Lord, PEraruLALan who had always helped him in need. With tears flowing from his eyes, he asked the Lord, "This philosophy had been thriving since the beginning of time up until the period of AaLavandAr. What Am I to do if you decide to play a divine game and want this to be defeated in my time? All these days I have been arguing that everything about you is very real. Now you want to establish all that as an illusion by bringing an Advaitan proponent to argue so? What kind of game is this?" So saying he staid in a very pensive mood before the Lord.

That night, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. He said, "Why should you lose heart this way? YagnamUrti is very intelligent, and I have made him your disciple from this point on. Refer to the work of your Guru AaLavandAr, called 'Akanda MAyAvAda Kandanam" and get the points to help you win the argument from that." So saying he disappeared. RAmAnujar woke up the next morning with Hari NAmA on his lips, as usual.He recollected the dream he had the previous night. He picked up the relevant points from AaLavandAr's SrI Sukti. He finished his morning rituals, convinced of his victory. He went to PeraruLALan's sannidi and sought his blessings before leaving.

When YagnamUrti saw the spring in RAmAnujar's step, he was taken aback.
(To be continued ...)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chapter 6 - EmperumAnAr Part 9

Learning from TirumalaiAndAn

According to AachAryan's wishes, YatirAjar went to TirumalaiyAndAn and prayed to him and asked to be taught the meaning of the TiruvAi mozhis. AandAn happily obliged and did the same. The KAlakshEbams took place every day. When he came to the Second centime, third tiru, 3rd pAsuram called "AriyA KAlaththukkuLLE", he explained it thus: You gave the knowledge of relation to knowledge-less muscles and then destroyed the knowledge of birth by relating it to the body." YatirAjar observed that the previous 2 pAsurams were in praise of the Lord, as were the ones following this one. He argued that this explanation of the 3rd pAsuram did not satisfy on those lines. He said that it had to be interpreted in the same tone as the pAsurams before and after it - in a praising manner to the Lord and interpreted it thus: "Even though the knowledge of birth was destroyed by relating it to the body, you then showed me your true love and embraced me - just as how you tricked King MahAbali initially, but then showed him your ViswarUpam and embraced him." On hearing this interpretation, AandAn was overjoyed with this interpretation and conveyed the same to TirukkOttiyUr Nambi and Periya Nambi. They concurred that they had heard the same explanation from AalavandAr too. They were truly convinced that RAmAnujar had the complete blessings of AalavandAr. They all went and blessed him and AandAn completed his knowledge transfer of the meaning of the TiruvAimozhi.

The birth of PiLLAn

Kidambi AachAn (also known as PraNatArtigar) went to Tirumalai to see his aunt - the wife of Periya Tirumalai Nambi. He stayed there awhile. AT that time, a baby boy was born to Periya Tirumalai Nambi and he was named "PiLLai".

In Pilava year, month of Aippasi, in PUrAda star a second son was born to him and he was named "PiLLAn". He was a very different kid - he would not cry or laugh like other kids normally did. He paid concrete attention to Nambi when he would explain the meaning of the pAsurams in the prabandam. This astonished NambigaL. He thought that just like BhUmi PirAtti's son RAmAnujar, this child also had some special gifts. The other elders felt this way too. At the opportune time, they performed AksharAbhyAsam for the child. The child was a fast learner and grasped the meanings of the prabandam pretty well. Kidambi AachAn was thrilled to see this child develop in such an intellectual manner.

Once, a few VaishnavAs from SrI Rangam, went to TirumalA to get a darshan of the Lord. They also went by and inquired on NambigaL after that. While talking to him, they conveyed all the good work that RAmAnujar was doing and Nambi was thrilled that AaLavandAr's blessing were upon him fully. He asked them to narrate all the greatness of RAmAnujar and was very happy to see PiLLAn listening intently and talking about it in all his games with his friends.

AFter a few years, PiLLAn's upanayanam was performed and shortly thereafter he was married also. Kidambi AachAn was waiting to pay a visit to EmperumAnAr and get his blessings - he sought the permission of Nambi and planned a trip to SrI Rangam. He asked him to take PiLLAn along and to convince RAmAnujar to pay a visit to Tirupati. Accordingly, AachAn left with PiLLAn - they first ought the blessings of PEraruLALan and PerundEvi TAyAr. Then AachAn visited his mother who lived there and priceded to Periya KOvil.

Once at SrI Rangam, he first sought the blessings of Periya PerumAL and then went to EmperumAnAr's matam and fell at his feet and refused to get up. Udayavar made him get up and enquired about the happenings in TirumalA.  AachAn introduced him to PiLLAn and Udayavar was very happy to meet him. He blessed him and started teaching all the important texts to AachAn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

VishitAdvaitam Basics - Conclusion

Let us look at JIvAtma swarUpA and ParamAtma swarUpA as per VishishtAdvaitam:

"Satyam nyAnam anatam brahma"

Brahmam - ParamAtmA is always eternal, never changing, full of knowledge, omni present, omni potent, pervasive, pevadive. PiLLai LOkAchAr a famous exponent of VishishtAdvaitam wrote the AashAdasa rahasya grantam. Sri vachana bushanam is the best out of it. Nava vida sammandham is one text which iterates the 9 diff types of relationship that I enjoy with ParamAtmA:

No individual has all 9 relationships to us - we would have come across each in  different people but never all in the same person.

PitAcha rakshakaha sEshi bhartA  gnyEyO ramA pathihi
swamyAdharO mamAtmacha bhoktAchadya manUditaha

Pita-putra BhAva: Parent-child relationship.
Rakshya-rakshaka BhAva: Just because one is a father, it doesn't mean he is also a protector. But ParamAtmA is also a protector and I am the protected. Protector-protected relationship.

PiLLa LOkAchar says: Eesvaranai ozhindavargal rakshagar allure enbadai prapanna paritrAnathilE sonnom.

It means: Except NArAyanA none else can protect you; we commonly believe that a father protects us till we turn 18, then a husband, then maybe a son. He negates all these beliefs. If f anther protects did HiraNyakashipu protect PrahlAdA? If a brother is a protector, did RAvaNA protect VibhIshanA? As a mother, KaikEyi did not protect BharatA. None of these relationships seem to protect. When these people were abandoned by their supposed protectors, SrIman NArAyanA stepped in to protect them. Only the wealth of BhagavAn will protect you.

Sesha-sEshi BhAva - this is important as per RAmAnujar. BhagavAn is sEshi (master) and I am His absolute servant. UnakkE nAm At cheiyvOm. Only objective of JIvAtmA is to serve ParamAtmA. SitA was ordered by Rama to stay in the kingdom. Sita said that cording to manna smrti a man has to perform veridic rites only with his wife, so she insisted on accompanying him to the forest. Same rule was also applicable to UrmilA, LakshmaNA's wife. Then why did she not accompany her husband to the forest? There are 2 types of rules: SAmAnya dharma and VisEsha dharmA.Whenever there is no conflict between a special rule and a common rule, you can follow the common rule; but when there is a dispute, the special rule applies. In LakshmaNA's case, the sAmAnyam was to perform rituals with wife. The VisEsham was to take care of Rama. If UrmiLA came along to the forest, serve to RAmA will be disrupted. LakshmaNA's priority was service to his brother. This RAma-LakshmaNa master-servant relationship is sEsha-sEshi.

Bharta-Bharya BhAva: Narayana is my husband and I am his wife. Irrespective of their sex, All JIvAtmAs are females and only ParamAtmA is PurushOttamA. The only supreme male. We are all married to ParamAtmA. During wedding, in the kannikA dhAnam, the varA is addressed as being Vishnu roopaya thathAmi. He represents Vishnu. All girls are only married to Vishnu. Mangala sutrAm in this case is tiru mantram: Om Namo Narayanaya. It is tied to the neck of the JIvAtmA by the ParamAtmA. JIvAtmA belongs only to ParamAtmA and nobody else. This JIvAtmA is not available for anyone else. Intimacy is thus confirmed. Vaishnavas are often criticized for this reason - we will only worship SrIman NArAyaNA and no one else. We are called narrow minded in our perspective. Will any wife ask why her husband alone is her husband? When a wife says that she has solely one husband, she is a Pati VrtA. When we as Vaishnavaites say that we won't look at anyone other than NArAyaNA, why are we called narrow minded? We need to be praised, not criticized and certainly not asked to consider other Gods as ParamAtmA. This is the husband-wife relationship.

GNyatru - GNYEa BhAva: The JIvAtmA is the knower with knowledge. The ParamAtmA is the known, the realized, the recognized. The guiding light is the shastra. Source of knowledge is shastra. Ramaa patithi  is the sheaf pati BhagavAn realized by me. The knower-known relationship.

Swas-swami BhAva. Owner vs owned relationship. This is not applicable to other 5 relationships. I am His belonging/property. He can use me to any way possible. After sattumorai, prasdam is distributed. It is called KandaruLa pannudal. Somehow it is shared perfectly as per the discretion of the archakar distributing it. Similarly, God can use me as a viniyOga prasAdam however he deems fit.

Swami - Aadhaaraha BhAva: ParamAtmA is the one bearing me and I am the one being borne. if he leaves me, I will fall below. The relationship of the holder vs. the held. The entire universe is borne by ParamAtmA as evident form the Gita verse: vishtabhyaaham idham krthsnam ekaamSena sThitho jagath. KrsnA says "Without missing one small object on this universe, I bear it all. Arjuna, I don't even move an inch to bear it. I don't change/ I am not influenced/ I am unaffected". We are connected to Him like beads are connected by a string. Krishna gives another example of this: "SootrE manigaNa via maya tatam via sarvam". The beads (JIvAtmAs) are connected to to a sutrA string (Brahmam). Many beads are connected to one string, just as many JIvAtmAs are connected to one ParamAtmA. You cannot see the string, but only the beads. Jagat is visible, AtmA is known, but the Bhrammam is invisible. The beads are heavier than the string. We would think the beads are holding the string. But when the string is pulled out, that is when we know the truth.

SharIrAtma BhAva: He is my atma, I am his sharIra. The body-soul relationship.

BhOktAcha manOsita BhAva: He is the enjoyer and I am the enjoyed. He plays with me, toys with me and amuses Himself. Enjoyer vs. enjoyed relationship.

These 9 relationships are inevitable to understand the concept of V.

UpAya swarUpA talks about ways available to reach Him. Saranagati is the preferred method. Other means are too difficult to practice. Bhakti yoga is hard to attain. On Panguni Utram, RAmAnujar performed saranAgati to RanganAta and RanganAyaki since only on this day, they both come together from the North and South Gate and have tirumanjanam. He surrendered to RanganAchiyar first and she led him to RanganAtA. We should all follow saraNAgati too.

VirOdhi SwarUpa: This is a familiar concept. The obstacles that stand in the way of attainment of MOkshA.. KAma krOda lObha mho mada mAtsarya ahankAra and mamakAra. The way to overcome this is to be in the company of bhagavata uttamas always. Jadabharatar and AazhvArs prescribe this. In their company, all our dirt is cleansed. BhAgavata samAgama, Bhakta sangama and Satsanga is the way to remove all our enemies.

Lastly, it is the PrApya SwarUpA: What do you do when you reach the abode of SrIman NArAyaNA? Kainkaryam, what else? PeriyAzhvar in this last song said " PallAndennu pavithirana paramEttiyai sArngamennum villAndaan thannai villiputtur vishnu chittan virumbiya sol". He meant "I would go there and choose the same service and continue it there". The service was singing pallaandu. Whatever you do here, you can do it there. Serivce is same-  whether I am in the company of ParamAtmA or not is the question. Service is hindered here, but there is nothing to stop us there. All obstacles are removed. The moment we have his darshan, all knots tied to us are removed and we beome very clear as the purest water/fire.

Swami says that this needs to be repeated to be retained. He advices us to read PUrvAchAryA commentaries since they are blessed by BhagavAn to guide us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

VishitAdvaitam Basics - Part 2

What do you gain by understanding this relationship? When you address someone as "xyz"; is that "xyz" a qualification for the name or for the soul? It may sound like an insane question, but it is actually very valid. Once the soul leaves a body, the body becomes lifeless. There is no name for the body and it is simply referred to as a corpse. The body has no knowledge of a name attached to it; it is the AtmA that recognizes the name. But the AtmA does not have the capacity to physically turn and respond. That is the nature of the body - to perform the physical act of turning once the AtmA perform the act of recognizing. Thus, the thinking part is the paramAtmA and the executing part is the JIvAtmA. We usually don't have a different name for a body or a soul. Whatever name we call the soul also stands for the body. Because of this intimate relationship, the 2 can be considered as 1. Similarly, when the shAstrA says in AbhEda shruti to see everything as Bhrahmmam; it says so because everything is the body of the Bhrahmmam. Though there is only 1 bhrammam to be realized; it automatically flows down to all its parts. A beautiful quote that is an example of tis is when BrahmA says to RAmA after he defeats the war "Jagat sarvam sharIram tE": The whole world is your body.

VishishtAdvaitam can be interpreted as Vishishta yOgi Advaitam: As a connection to advaitam. Advaitam says that I am one and the same as Bhahmmam. Does that mean I am inseparable? For example, you see man everyday going for a walk with a walking stick. He is never seen without it. For you, the walking stick is a part of his identity and it is inseparable. But in reality, it is a removable component. But when you talk out a white dhoti, the white is an attribute of the dhoti and very different from the cloth itself. But they are in inseparable - in this case, one doesn't exist without another. RAmAnujA illustrates this as "Dandi purushah kundali purushaha. ShuklahA patAhA". JIvatmA and chit is related to ParamAtmA and it cannot be separated. This is the basis of sharIrAtma BhAvA.

This is a simple concept and very tangible. Advaitam on the other hand is difficult to achieve since it claims that everything is an illusion and we should not believe everything we see. An example of this is the following story told about an AAchAryA of advaitam. He finished up his kAlakshEpam in a village and was heading back home with his disciples after preaching that everything is an illusion. They had to cross a forest en route and while doing so, a wild tiger appeared. All the disciples ran helper skelter as did the Guru. When they reconvened, the disciples asked the Guru, "Oh Guru, do you not understand the principle of Advaitam or not practice it? If the tiger was an illusion, why did you get scared and run away?" To this the Guru replied, "I have understood Advaitam, it is you all who have failed to. Just as the tiger was an illusion, so was my running away. In reality, there was no tiger and there was no running away on my part"! Lighter vein apart, this concept is very abstract and questionable.

RAmAnujA on the other hand says that everything is not an illusion, but very true. He gives the following example: You wake up in middle of the night and chance to glance at your dark backyard. You see a pillar there, but mistake it for a thief because it is dark and your eyesight is poor. Is it a pillar or a thief? Is it illusionary or real? There is a trace of truth in that there is indeed something there; it is not an illusion - it is a pillar, mistaken for a thief. In some form or structure, there is a similarity between the two - the pillar is dark, tall and sturdy as a thief could very well be. We need to respect this similarity even when in doubt. After all, you didn't mistake the pillar for something like a telephone or television. You envisioned it to be something close to what it really could be. And in this sense, it is not a case of being illusionary, but just that of a mistaken identity. He also gives an example of a rope mistaken for a snake to really drive the point home.

There are 5 parts in any philosophy - the Artha PanchakA:
1. SwarupA of JIvAtmA
2. SwarUpA of ParamAtmA
3. SwarUpA of UpAyA
4. SwarUpA of PrApyA
5. SwarUpA of VirOdhi

They talk about the nature of the soul who attains, where he attains it to, through what means, for what purpose and the obstacles in doing so.

The Traveller is the JIvAtmA, the destination is the ParamAtmA, the vehicle could be bhakti yoga, nyana yoga, saranagathi, etc; the obstacles in the path of salvation are sarIram, samsAram, ahankAram, etc, enjoyment and final destination could be service to ParamAtmA.

What is all this as per VishishtAdvaitam? The set of these 5 will be totally diff as per Advaitam or Dvaitam. JIvAtmA reaching ParamAtmA wont change, but who the ParamAtmA changes. When I say Shiva is ParamAtmA, it is Shaivism. When I say Kumara is ParamAtmA, it is Kaumaram, Sun as ParamAtmA is Sauram. GAnesha as ParamAtmA is Gaanaapthyam. Shakthi as ParamAtmA is Saaktham. Vishnu as ParamAtmA is Vaishnavam. Thus these are the 6 religions/faiths. When ParamAtmA changes, faith changes. When the 5 basics change, philosophy changes. The philosophy just terms it as para bhrammam, doesn't mention who he is.