Friday, April 25, 2008

Decade on Prapatti - Based on Desika Prabhandam "Adaikkala Patthu)"

Decade on Prapatti (Adaikkala Patthu) - An exquisite poem from Swamy Vedanta Desikan. This is a translation from Swamy Desika Prabhandam, which is an exquisite pasuram explaining the doctrines of prapatti.

This is also a transliteration in making an effort to bring the Pasurams as English Poems. Please bear with the standard of the language in this post, which is not so good when compared to other posts. ( Source )

Eligibility for surrender is ineligibility on other means

Devotion and others for me * never resulted in reach of God *
Wandered around and fell * like a feeble crow with no guard *
Higher among holy seven * Kacchi that rewards the heaven *
Mercy of Lord is huge * at Hastigiri I appealed for my refuge *

Like Devotion (Bhakthi), many means (Upaayam) are available to attain the Lord (Moksham). But none of them bear any fruit for me. I tried in vain like the crow (Kaka asuran) in all directions without any protector (Rakshakan), lost the energy, finally came and fell on Your feet. Seven holy places acclaim the title of “gateway to heaven” (moksham) and among them Kanchi (Kancheepuram) is the primary. Lord Perarullalar (Lord of great compassion and blessings) who resides in a small hill (Hastigri hill) in the town of Kanchi, I take Your feet as the only refuge (saranagathi) for me.

Eligibility for surrender is harbor less

Rank and riches of dreadheaded, * four faced deity and others *
Realize how ephemeral are they * when vanished by past deeds *
Never separated, Lord of Kacchi * from fragrant flowered Sree *
Resides at Hastigri * at His two feet, I reached out on my knee *

Power and wealth of Siva, Brahma and other deities (Other devadas) are limited in time and scope due to their past deeds (karma) and are evaporated accordingly. I realized when their position itself is shaky, what can they offer me? Lord at Kacchi who is never separated from pleasantly smelling garlanded Sri (Goddess Maha Lakshmi) is residing at Hastigiri. I reached His two lotus feet and surrendered (prapatti). Note: First two lines indicates that no other refuge (ananya gathithvam) is necessary.

Everyone is qualified for surrender

Those aware of the distinction * and not try other means *
Pursue prescribed rules of scripts * and elders’ wise words *
Lord at Hastigiri blesses * anyone surrenders, without bias *
None other than His divine attributes * I will praise in pious *

Surrenders who understand the intricate differences between devotion (Bhakthi yoga) and total surrender (prapatti) are determined not to try any other way (uppaayam) to attain the Lord, and those who follow the prescribed according to their birth right (varnaasrama dharmam), follow holy scripts (saastrams includes Vedas, smrithis, ithikasa and puranas) and learned people’s writings – guru (Alzwar, Aacharya writings) are blessed without any discrimination. Whoever surrenders to the Lord with the above mentioned practice of rituals, they will certainly attain the supreme abode (Moksham) at the end of this birth. I will not even look at anything else (Pray), other than that Hastigri Lord’s divine attributes which provides everything for the surrenders.

Surrender awards all fruits

Crow, noble demon, wife to five * and Kshethra bhandu *
Serpent, son, his son * and other angels in lower heaven *
You blessed them all * with enjoyment and elevated place *
Hastigiri Lord, inspired I * surrender at Your feet of grace *

Crow (Kakasura), noble demon (Vibeeshana from the raakshasa family), wife to five (Draupathi), Kshethra Bhandu, Serpent (Kaaliyan), Son (Brahmma), his son (Siva), and to other angels, Lord You have showered them with earthly pleasures and heavenly home (Moksham). Inspired on this, I have come to You, Hastigiri Lord; I surrender at Your lotus feet. Note: One of the difficult components in total surrender (Prappati angam) is unshakeable faith (Maha viswaasam). To strengthen that thought, several examples are shown.

Components of surrender

Perform to Your penchants * and abstain from any aversions *
Recognize relation and attributes * keep faith with no reversions *
You, be my supporter, I beg * unfit for other means or refuge *
With this fortitude I surrender squarely * to Kacchi Lord clearly * (5)

Five required components of total surrender has been mentioned here
Do what is pleasing to the Lord – Aanukulya sangalpam
Abstain from aversions – Praathikulya varjanam
Faith with no reversions – Maha viswaasam
Pray to be my supporter – Goptrutva varnamam
No oher means or none else as refuge – Kaarpanyam
With these five parts, I surrender my soul (Athma samarppanam) to the Lord at Kacchi.

Four types of surrender (Nishtai )

Realized and wise do themselves * recite after gurus are some *
Blessed and learned are included * nicely in their gurus’ in sum *
Those like to return the stolen * are in by a devotee of the cluster *
Whoever reaches His feet * Hastigiri Lord bless them with luster * (6)

Total surrender can be performed in one of the four ways
Self surrender (sva nishtai) -- Understand the componets of surrender and perform by reciting the mantras by themselves. ( This is one of the rarest nishtais and Swamy Nammazhwar was an example, who performed Sva Nishtai. Extremely difficult to follow )
By Acharyas (Ukthi nishtai) -- When one does not not have intricate knowledge on the components of surrender, but has a firm faith on the Lord and His protection attributes, he then accesses an Acharya and seeks their blessings. During the procedure, they repeat the mantras as told by Acharyas.
Within Acharyas (Aacharya nishtai) -- When Acharya does the surrender, all followers are included within that that request. ( This is the one which is followed in 99% of cases of Prapatti)
Thorough Devotee (Bhaagavatha nishtai) – Anyone who understands the body-soul relation and and aer willing to stop the act of stealing Atma from the Lord, he then approaches to a true devotee and is included in the group (Sri Vaishanva bhagavavathas) as one among them and is contained within the surrender of that devotee. ( Eg, This is followed in Abroad as accessing an Acharya isnt easy Abroad )

Lord of mercy at Kanchi, accepts anyone of these four surrenders and bless all. The fruit is equal in all these cases, and we need to follow our respective Acharya's to learn about the same.

Surrender done only once for only one effect

For those, at one time said surrender * and reached Your lotus feet *
Revealed asylum by hand sign * approving, for results that is complete *
Offered everything Yours and Yourself * You prosper still with splendor *
Luminescent Lord of Grace * I take refuge at Your feet and surrender * (7)

In the past, when the bhagawathas surrendered to You by enchanting required mantras, You with Your big heart accepted it as sufficient and sanctioned them with moksham. You have exposed the approval through Abahya mudra. For those who have surrendered, You gave everything you own and not being satisfied, gave Yourself to them. After giving out everything, You still look dazzling with your radiance. Such wonderful, God of mercy at Hastigiri, I surrender at Your lotus feet.
Conduct after surrender (Post Prapatti)

Not to slack on trust * for wisdom and devotion to grow robust *
Not to forget truth on past deeds * to know reality and its thrust *
Not to give up on humility * to act cool, patient for deliverance *
Forget not merciful Lord’s text * generous scripts and essence * (8)

How the surrendered should act in their rest of their life is explained here. Surrendered (Prappaannan) should always explore on Lord’s great words (Bhagawath Geeth and Pancharatra Sastra) and scripts (Vedas, Upanishad and rahasyas). In addition, he should pray the Lord ONLY for the following.

I pray to You Lord for
· Not to get diluted on my unshakeable faith on You and Your assurance
· To grow my knowledge (Gnjanam) stronger and complete
· Not to forget about truth due to my antecedents (Karma).
· To understand better the realities (Thathvam) and its powerful importance.
· Not to move away from my humble status (Adiyen)
· To award calm and cool nature on worldly matters and
· Patience for deliverance until You make the decision for the right time.

We should only pray for bhakti and jnanam, as other wordly things are immaterial and impermanent. The lord has awarded us with Supreme everlasting gift, which he shall confer without fail at the end of this life, as was requested by Acharyas during Prapatti

Duties after surrender

Holy words of audacious * who knew scripts and memory well *
Learned and found refuge * on enticing words of wise gurus *
With prudence on reality * implored and cut off the ignorance *
To sun and moon eyed Lord * I surrender without any reluctance * (9)

The duties of the surrendered are explained in this stanza. People who are audacious (Alzwars and others) who knew scripts (vedas), memorised (smruthis) very well and gave holy words (Naalayira Prabhamadham etc.). I found great happiness and refuge under the thought provoking ideas of gurus (Aachryas like Bhagawath Ramanuja, Swami Desikan). With the understanding of realities (Thathava threyam), I have removed ignorance (Agnjnam). With all those ideas imprinted in my mind, I pray to Lord at Hastigiri who has Sun and moon as His eyes.

Surrender – Dedication of the soul

He has Sree and His form is divine * is astute and easy to attain *
Endows all the eternal links * and rules the infinite domain *
Action to close, continue and create * He does with no alarm *
I fall like an arrow on target * of the graceful Lord with charm * (10)

Lord is not separated from his beloved consort Sri. He is easily accessible (Saulabya) to His devotees and is extremely knowledgeable (gjnam). He is always ready to shower his divine blessings to all. Everything in this universe is related to Him in an endless fashion. His empire spans everywhere and there is nothing outside of it. He is responsible for the duties like creation, operation and destruction. Such a Lord is analluring target. I fell like an arrow released from a bow into the target, merciful God.

Concluding Verse from Desika Prabhandam

Route and result are alike * for all enriched devotees of God *
Route and result are like * done once and enjoy many times *
Route and result are these * found on Hastigiri Lord’s feet *
Told these flawless ten with traits * shiny forever and sweet * (11)

All His devotees understand that the means (Uppayam) and ends (upaeyam) to reach the Lord and to enjoy Him are not different. Amazing feature in that is that the means are carried only once and for one purpose, whereas the enjoyment is many times and for ever. I have explored everywhere and found that this means (prapaati) and ends (moksham) are the only plausible solution in my life. With that conclusion, on Lord of Grace at Kacchi, these ten, error-free, with divine attributes stanzas had been written. They are faultless, sweet and they will shine for ever.

Sri Nigamantha Maha Desika TiruvadigalE SharaNam

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nitya Karmanushtanams - A glimpse

Nithya Karmanushtanams

(This post is an extract from the book “Hinduism Rediscovered” by Shri U.Ve Anbil Swamy.My sincere thanks and gratitude to Shri Anbil Swamy for enlightening us on this topic )

The principles underlying what we now know as acupuncture and acupressure were developed by our ancestors as acutouch, dispensing with the painful `puncture' and `pressure'. By mere `acutouch' of the various parts of the body with appropriate Mantras, the same effects could be secured, though our ancestors did not spell them out in a way understandable to the so called modern scientific mind.

Modern Computer is activated by soft feather touch of the keys in the keyboard. Similarly, our physical body with the nerve endings would respond to mere soft 'acutouch" provided the touch is administered in conjunction with the appropriate 'Mantras". No puncture or pressure would be needed to activate these nerve endings and the mere touch would do the magic.

Our body is held together by Pranas or life force which moves through meridians - a kind of electrical pathways. These connect various organs and glands with endings in our hands, chest, neck, forehead, stomach, back of neck as also feet, knee joints etc. Just as the arteries carry blood, these meridians carry the life-force energy throughout the body. This system has switches and junction points, which could be activated to regulate supply of life- force to the various parts of the body.

When the flow is interrupted for any reason, disease sets in. The remedy lies in switching on the current by applying a stimulant by a gentle touch at the appropriate end points as aforesaid. This relaxes muscular tension, promotes blood circulation and ensures flow of life force energy to the affected parts by releasing pain killers like endorphins, neuro chemicals etc. and they stimulate an alpha wave response in the brain and pituitary glands thus increasing our energy stock and facilitates diaphragmatic breathing and relieves knuckles - all without our ever noticing it.

During Sandya Vandana, we sprinkle water on these nerve endings and touch them with appropriate `Mantras' and earlier to that, we apply the `Sacred marks' with white clay (TirumaNN) and powdered saffron (SrichurNam) at the appropriate places which suck the impurities invisibly. These have been integrated in our daily chores as an in-built discipline?

(From Chapter 16 Section 3 Karma Yoga of "Hinduism Rediscovered" by Anbil Ramaswamy)

Red or yellow? Why?
Both Red and yellow are mentioned.Srisuktham which has Vedic authority along with Purusha Suktham mentions in Slokam 4 Padma VarNaam which means lotus colored. Though lotus comes in several colors (e.g.) white one on which Goddess Saraswati is found seated, generally it is associated with color red.

There are several references to the use of yellow. A few are as follows: -
The same Sri Suktham Slokam 13 and 14 lend authority for this since they describe Mahaalakshmi as PingaLaam which means tawny-colored or brownish yellow and HirNmayeem which means of golden form. And, we know gold is yellow in color.

Swami Desika in his Sri Sthuthi Slokam 11 uses the expression Taptha jaambhoonadha aabhaa which means “One who shines like melted gold” to refer to the color of PiraaTTi. He says that this golden hue of Thaayaar heightens the beauty of the color of the Lord” Hari marakathE” which means emerald colored (and we know emerald is green in color).

Therefore, Paramaikanthins who worship PerumaaL and PiraaTTi as the divine couple as the means and the end of meditation use yellow to represent Thaayaar while wearing the Sacred marks along with ThrumaNN to represent PerumaaL. (The above is as per the inputs at Kaalakshepams of Acharyas on AnushTaanams, while in India)

What if only white or red/yellow alone is worn?
White alone:
We know what happened to Soorpanaka who tried to separate the Lord from His spouse. Those who wear only white are considered to belong to Soorpanaka party and face the consequences! Further it is worn alone only for apara karyam (ceremonies related with death)
Red/Yellow alone:
We know similarly what happened to Ravana who abducted Sri Sita away from her Lord. Those who wear only Red/Yellow are considered to belong to Ravana‟s party and face consequences, which Ravana faced!
What if nothing is worn?
A forehead without the sacred marks is compared to a barren land especially a Smasaanam?, a cremation ground!
Can we rub it off?
It used to be said that Wearing is like putting up a temple and rubbing it off like pulling down a temple. We know that it is PuNyam to construct a temple while it is sinful to demolish a temple. Of course, it can be rubbed off, if faded in part or full accidentally or only one is visible or both are not visible by such fading. We are advised to wear them again immediately after such rubbing off. This is like renovation (JeerNOddhaaraNam) of a temple.

It has to be noted that Urdhwa pundram represents temple itself, as the Lord has declared that PerumaL and PiraTTi themselves stay in the temple of Urdhwa pundrams.

(The above is as per the inputs at Kaalakshepams of Acharyas on AnushTaanams, while in India)
Sarvam Sri Krishnarpanamastu

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lord's Six Principal Qualities

Six Principal Qualities
(Translated from Srimad Azhagiya Singar’s Arulmozhi)

Sharanagati Gadyam is a conversation that took place between the Lord of the universe, Lakshmipathi, and the Lord of the sages, Yathipathi Sri Ramanuja. Both are oceans of compassion. On a Panguni Uttiram day, with Sri Ranga Nacchiyar and Sri Ranganatha in each other’s company, Bagavad Ramanuja performed Sharanagati. At that time, motivated by the wish to encourage future generations to also perform Sharanagati he rendered three poems, Sharanagati Gadyam, Sri Ranga Gadyam, and Sri Vaikunta Gadyam. Foremost among the three is Sharanagati Gadyam.

According to our Poorvacharyas, Sharanagati Gadyam serves as a commentary for Dvaya Mantram. The Dvaya Mantram begins with the word, Srimad. The long sentence at the start of Sharanagati Gadyam, beginning with, “Bhagavan Narayana abimada”, serves as the explanation for Srimad. Then, with the section beginning with “akilaheya pratyaneeka”, Bagavad Ramanuja explains the meaning of the word Narayana.

Starting with the Dhivya Athma Swaroopam (Divine Spiritual Identity) of the Lord, Bagavad Ramanuja continues to describe the Dhivya Thirumeni (divine body), the divine auspicious qualities of Dhivya Athma Swaroopam, Dhivya Aparanam (divine ornaments), Dhivya Ayudham (divine weapons), Dhivya Mahishi (divine consort), and much more. Then come the divine auspicious qualities.

The passage that narrates this is as follows.

Nowhere else can we enjoy the divine auspicious qualities all at once in a divine collection like this.

Among these, the six qualities, Jnyana, Bala, Aiswarya, Veerya, Shakti, Tejas, reveal the Supremeness of Bhagavan. These qualities are natural for our Lord. They are not a result of avidya (ignorance); neither are they a result of someone else’s will. The qualities of Nithyasoories are a result of our Lord’s will. There are no other qualities greater than these.

Jnaanam – omnicience - universal or complete knowledge.
Balam - ability to support everything without any effort.
Aishvaryam - ability to command everyone starting with Brahma and Rudran or Shivan, without any hindrance whatsoever.
Veeryam - not undergoing any change that may otherwise result from being the primordial cause, support, and commander for everything.
Shakti - ability to control all except Himself, that is, being the Upaadana Kaaranam (material cause) for everything.
Tejas - to perform a task, not needing the help of anything that is not under his control.

When making pots and pans, a potter requires the assistance of clay, potter’s wheel, etc. But, the Lord requires no such assistance during creation. Even though the Lord creates the universe using Prakruti (matter) and kalam (time) these are completely under His control.

This is clear from Swami Sri Desikan’s explanation of the term Tejas as Asvadheena sahkaryanpekshatvam. Shashtras define Tejas as, tejaStu Anyaanadheenata. Thus, the quality Tejas refers to, not requiring the assistance of others. Further, the Lord Himself says,

(To perform any task, I don’t need the assistance of anything else. The wise refer to this as Tejas, the sixth quality.)

Tejas can be defined in another way. Some may think it is sufficient to understand a concept in just one way. This is wrong. Since this is about the auspicious qualities of our Lord, it is useful to describe them in many different ways.

Tejas is the ability to subdue others. Our Lord subdues the luster of everything else with His brilliance. Upanishad declares,
( In His presence nothing shines, not even, the sun, the moon, the stars, or the lightening, not to mention fire. )

Everyone seated in Duryodhanan’s court were shining with radiance. The moment Lord Krishna entered this court everyone lost their radiance and became dull. Who can shine in the presence of Sri Krishna Paramatma?
What the Upanishad said earlier is reaffirmed here in Mahabaratha as follows.
Holding Sri Viduran by one divine hand and Sathyagi with the other, with great brilliance Kannan entered the court filled with kings. Immediately, all the kings in Duryodhana’s court lost their luster like the moon and the stars lose their luster in the presence of the sun. This nature of instantaneously drowning out the greatness of others is called Tejas.

Swami Sri Desikan in his commentary Rahasya Rakshai explains the significance of the order in which Bagavad Ramanuja lists the six principal qualities. Like the Lord, the Jivas also possess the six qualities, Jnyana, Bala, Aiswarya, Veerya, Shakti, Tejas. But there is a difference. Consider a wealthy man sleeping. In the state of sleep he will not be aware of his wealth. While asleep everyone will have the same state of mind, without regard to whether they are wealthy or poor, learned or illiterate, noble or plebian.

A wealthy man will be completely unaware of his possessions while he is asleep. Even if he is bestowed with the ability to be aware of his wealth, he will not be able to safeguard or support it. Even if he starts out with a tight grip around his purse, soon after slumber sets in, his hold will loosen. Even if he is able to maintain a tight grip, he will not be able to command it. Even if he is able to support and command his wealth, he will soon feel the fatigue. Even if he is able to command his possessions without getting affected by fatigue, he cannot be the cause for its sustenance. Even if he is able to sustain his possessions, he will be able to do so only with the assistance of others who are not under his control. But our Lord is not like this.

There is no sleep for our Lord. Even if he falls asleep, he has the ability to be aware of his possessions (Jnanan), be supportive of them (Balam), be able to command them (Aishvaryam) , without change in his brilliance (Veeryam), and be the cause of its sustinance (Shakti) without the assistance of anything that is not under his control (Tejas).

Thus, let us also celebrate these six principal qualities of Bhagavan in the same order in which Bagavad Ramanuja enjoyed, Jnyana, Bala, Aiswarya, Veerya, Shakti, Tejas.

(Translated from “Erar Gunamum Ezhiluruvum” by Srimad Azhagiya Singar. Published by Sri Ahobila Matam, Vrusha Year, Karthikai Uttirattadi, (November 2001), pp 1 – 13.

Sarvam SriKrishnarpaNamastu

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thiruppavai and Sharanaagati

Thiruppavai and Sharanaagati

( Courtesy Shri. Nelvoy Madabhushi Sowmyanarayanachariar, Mumbai, India )

What is the yardstick for branding a hymn as great?

There are three measures - either its author should be famous (Vaktru vailakshanyam); or the composition should be par-excellent (Grantha vailakshanyam); or the subject matter should be The Supreme (Vishaya vailakshanyam).

Thiruppavai fits into all the categories. Let us elaborate how on each count it stands out. Sri Andal is the incarnation of Sri Bhu Devi (Saakshaat kshamam), who in turn is the chip (Amsa) of Sri Devi Herself (Karunaya kamalamivanyaam). She is also known as Goda and Neela Devi.

What do these names signify?
While Neela is the name prevalent in Vedas, Goda has many connotations such as one who is presented by the earth; one who bestows knowledge (even to Devi Saraswathi); one who set the grammer of composing poems; one who has total control of the senses and so on. This name when taken as a Tamil word Kothai denotes a garland (Poomaalai), which not only pleases the senses but also brings joy to the heart. If you ask Manmatha, the God of Love, garland is the symbol of bondage between two love-stricken souls. Acharya Parasara Bhattar, in His Tanian to Thiruppavai, says thus – Goda enjoyed Lord Krishna by tying Him forcibly with Her musical poems, as She did with garland (Sraji nigalitham ya balaathkrthya bhungte).

In Tamil, the word Andal signifies, one who prevailed over Paramapurusha. It can be taken as the changed form of the word Aazhntaal which means, one who got Herself immersed (Aazhntaal) into the love (Bhakthi) with Lord or as one who makes us take a dip into the Divine (Aazhthupaval). Sri Alavandar in his Chathusloki, after His lavish praise of Sri Devi, concludes saying thus “your name ‘Sri’ itself is selfexplanatory of your greatness (Sririthyeva cha nama te bhagavati broomaha katham tvaam vayam)”. I dare to extend this to Andal thus, “Godetyeva cha nama te bhagavathi.”

Let Her be great, How does it help us?

Here comes Her role of an Acharya. Sriman Narayana Himself tried in many ways, to advise us the souls, the methods and means to get out of the miseries of the world and attain salvation.

Alas! No one listened to Him or followed it. He then realized that He can carry the message only when He preaches as or through a preceptor/Acharya. His first disciple is Sri Devi Herself. She preached us in all Her incarnations. Sri Devi, in the form of Sita, advised Demon Ravana to surrender himself to Lord Rama, in case he wanted to be alive. As Bhu Devi, when Sriman Narayana saved Her during Varaaha Avatara by destroying the demons and relieved Her of ‘the burden’ (Bhoo Bhara), She requested Him to reveal the secret of Prapatti the total surrender and thus Varaaha Charama Slokam was born. But for such preaching, we would remain immersed in perennial darkness (Agjnaana). More so, as Neela Devi, She propagated the significance of chanting the names of The Almighty with devotion and love (Naama Sankirtanam) and the means through which it could bring salvation.

Apart from this, when we, the sinners, approach The Lord, She mesmerizes Him by Her charm, so that He remains unmindful of our sins (Nisaamayatu Maam Neela yadbhoga patalyrdhruvam, Bhaavitam Srinivaasasya Bhakta (Dosheshvadarsanam). Could there be a better support to us!

Enough of Her praise for the present; let us turn to see the greatness of Her composition, Tiruppavai. It is laid down that a great composition should possess the following traits:

1. Beginning through the end, it should speak on the same subject.
2. It should emphasize the subject, by repeatedly saying so.
3. It should tell something new and for the first time.
4. The resultant benefit to the reader should be clearly laid down.
5. The ‘subject matter’ should be lavishly praised.
6. Logics should be freely used. (It is prescribed thus -Upakrama Upasamharo bhyaasah Apoorvataa Phalam; Arthavaada Upapatti cha Lingam Taatparya Nirnaye)
7. In addition, it should be quoted often by the subsequent authors and have many commentaries and similar compositions, to its credit.

How best these traits fit into Tiruppavai? (In seriatum)

1. In the first verse ‘Margazhi Tingal,’ Andal summons all, to join Her in taking a dip (which symbolizes the starting of the holy ritual ‘Paavai Nonbu’) so that The Lord is pleased and in return bestows all that we aspire (Naarayanane Namakke Parai Taruvaan). This is repeated in ‘Vangakkadal’, the concluding verse as well – ‘By the grace of God, we all would be enjoying the eternal Bliss,’ (Tirumaalaal Engum Tiruvaul Petru Inburuvar).
2. In order to secure His grace, it is said; we should perform oral service (Vaachika Kainkaryam) in praise of the Almighty. This has been emphasized more than adequately in as many as 14 verses (Paraman Adi Paadi . . .Un tannai
Paadi.) Remaining verses also indirectly advocate the same. Is it not said that ‘in the age of Kali, the only way to attain salvation is by singing the praise of The Lord’! (Kalow Sankirtya Kesavam).
3. The style adopted in the composition – each stanza containing 8 lines, by which Sri Andal considers Herself as one of the shepherds – Gopikaas, emulates their ritual- Nonbu, and invites everyone to join Her in singing the glory of God – is unique and one of the firsts in Tamil Prabandham literature.
4. The fruit of the ‘Nonbu’ is clear as crystal and assured– Securing the benign blessing of Sri Devi and beget pure and endless joy by the sheer grace of God. (Tirumaalaal Engum Tiruvarul Petru Inburuvar).
5. Paramapurusha, who is the Hero of the composition, is in for an absolute adoration throughout.
6. The triple-logics listed in every stanza from 6 to 14 to convince Her colleagues that it is dawn time (Pullum silambina. Sengazhunir vaay negizhndu Aambal vai koombina) and the apt simile in the 2nd stanza, ‘Vaiyam’ –‘Our sins would turn into ashes without identity as a dust does when put on fire, when we perform the
Nonbu’ (teeyinil tusaakum), - to quote a few picks of logics which are strewn all over the composition craft fully.

Moreover, the impulse of every author to quote with ease from Tiruppavai (so that he is considered as learned!) and the innumerous commentaries to this work in many Indian languages, are testimonies of universal popularity and adoption of this lyrics. The title of Tiruppavai Jeer to Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja is a proof in question, as to how he engrossed himself in these hymns over others.

Let us now turn to the third, most interesting and important aspect – the subject matter. In
Tiruppavai, the subject chosen is, The Supreme Lord Himself. What is unique in Him? He is all-pervading and allencompassing. His name Narayana itself signifies that He is the soul (Aatma) of all other things. As a corollary, these things remain as His body, thus solely dependent on Him for their existence. It is this relationship – as soul and body (Sareera Atma Bhava Sambandham) – which stands out as the quintessence of and fundamental to Sri Bhagavat Ramanuja’s philosophy. Now, do we agree that there cannot be a better Hero than Him for any poet/poetess?

‘How useful is this Hero to us?’- Is it not the common query in everybody’s mind? A chain of questions and answers would unfold and lead to the ethical and logical conclusion, thus:

How do we describe our state or status in life?

We lead a life, full of sorrow or misery. For some or sometimes, life may taste joyful but still mixed with sorrow. Nothing in this world is an unmixed blessing.

What is the reason or who is responsible for this? This joy-sorrow mixture in life is the result of our previous ‘Karma’ or deeds. And we ourselves are the masters or culprits of our deeds

Can we hope to be different and better in our next or future births or avoid birth once for all? No; an emphatic never. We are born because of our Karma and during our lifetime we continue to do such actions, which beget successive births, thereby worse sufferings. It is a never-ending cycle.

Is there not a way out? Can there be a situation or location, which provides limitless joy and nothing, but joy?

Yes, There is. Before explaining the way out, let us hear a short story.

There was an assembly of sculptors. One elderly man showed a piece of stone and asked them, ‘how to make an elephant out of the stone?’ One by one everybody explained at length, where they would start; what is the process; which are the implements they would use; how they would finish and so on. No one’s explanation satisfied the old man. There was a long silence and anguish among the crowd. By then, a small boy was passing through. He butt in and asked, ‘what is the issue?’ The old man repeated the problem. Instantly the boy said, ‘Sir, it is very simple. Remove what is not elephant, from that piece of stone. You would have now made an elephant’. The old man grinned with satisfaction and said, “ Yah! This is the solution.”

Nice break-story. But what is its relevance here and where is the answer to our question - Is there not a way out? Recall the Old man’s question – How to make an elephant out of the stone; Our query is ‘how to enjoy unmixed and endless joy’. The boy’s answer is – remove that portion of the stone which is not elephant. Answer to our anxiety is, ‘Shed what is not becoming of us; You become what you are and get what you deserve –a total and ever lasting joy.” Fantastic. What is not becoming of us that we should shed?

Our status is like this. We are as immortal as God Himself, but subservient to Him. Our Knowledge, by nature, knows no limits, we are entitled and duty-bound to serve God, at par with Nithyasuris. But alas! We had hither- to acted in ways, which were against His dictum. The Lord imposes penalty on us, in the form of birth and sufferings. Birth in this world darkens us with ignorance; Influenced by this ignorance, we again derelict our duty and commit more acts which make us even more ignorant and so goes the chain. Hence, it is clear that, this abandonment of our birth-right to serve God is unbecoming of us.

What shall we do now?
First, we should realize our mistake; then we must apologize and surrender to God. Next we should pray to Him, to award us no more birth; instead give us berth in His place – Sri Vaikuntam, where we stay put forever after, in joy and peace.

How do we get to know all these facts and doctrines? Who could guide us?
Here comes the role of our God-sent Acharyas. They empathize with us, advise suo-motto what is beneficial to us; and once we submit ourselves to them, take the brief for us to The Lord and recommend salvation. Hence in gratitude, we should have devout respect for our Acharyas, who are our only guides.

Will The Almighty go by their recommendation?
Undoubtedly. God’s words may even go a waste but Acharyas’ words never. Sri Alavandaar presents himself to the Lord as the disciple of his grandfather Sriman Nathamunigal and pleads not to mind his own deeds while awarding His grace. (Pitaamaham Nathamunim Vilokya Praseeda Mad vrttam achintayitva)

Why should we surrender? Is it not enough that we realize our mistakes, so that He is pleased to place us in his aboard?
Not enough. Sriman Narayana himself has declared that ‘no one can reach His place without following either Bhakti or Prapatti (Surrender). Acharyas have shown that as compared to Bhakti, the path of Prapatti is easier, faster and could be followed by anyone

Could we know more details about Prapatti?
Sure. As explained earlier, we are not only the body to the soul- Sriman Narayana; we are also his beloved children. Even though we have angered Him by disobeying His directions, there is a way out to cool him down – that is, FALLING AT HIS FEET. This is in short, Prapatti as enunciated in Dwaya Mantra. Specifically this method is advocated by Lord Krishna Himself, for the benefit of people like us, who are incompetent to do Bhakti or who could not brook the delay in securing Moksha. In other words, Prapatti is a
perfect substitute, more than a substitute, to Bhakti.

It needs no other qualifications except repentance; no preliminaries; no time or place specification; no gender discrimination, no long drawn process; and no repetition. Our Acharyas would guide us to perform this Prapatti (Ukti Nishthai) or do it themselves on our behalf (Acharya Nishthai)

Now, are we not very clear that, Sharanaagati indeed, is the only path describing the transition, by the Almighty, of the CURSED as BLESSED?

To summarize what was discussed as questionand- answer, “Reaching Almighty is the only way to get rid of all our sufferings; He is the path and also shows us the path, which once followed, is sure to secure us a seat in Sri Vaikuntam – the place for eternal joy”. This is the essence of all Vedas, Upanishads, Puraanaas, Stotras and Divya Prabandhams. Amongst this list, Tiruppavai stands tall, the entirety of which advocates Prapatti only. Let us now substantiate this. For fear of elaboration, I confine to wading through only the initial stanza of Tiruppavai – ‘Margazhi Tingal’ and leave the rest to the fertile imagination of the readers:

Through this stanza, Sri Andal taking the role of an Acharya, advises us “to follow Prapatti path and beget endless joy”. (First I give the simple and apparent meaning of the Stanza. For the purpose of prose order, the sequence of words in the verse have been interchanged).

Selva chirumirkaal
Oh! Service-rich youngsters
Seer malgum Ayppadi
who are possessed of all good traits
It is only Sriman Narayana, who is
Koorvel kodum Thozhilan Nandagopan Kumaran
The son of Nandagopa, who wears sharp spear and ruthless attitude towards His enemies,
Eraardakanni Yasodai Ilamsingam
beautiful-eyed Yasoda, to whom He behaves a lion cub, and
Kaarmeni Chengann kadir madium Pol mukattaan
who has a body like the color of a cloud and eyes like lotus and burning sun & pleasing moon
Namakke parai taruvaan
who would fulfill our wishes
Paaror pukazha
as may be hailed by mortals and even Nithyasuris.
Hence, Jewel-attired colleagues,
Madi nirainda nun naalaal
on this auspicious day
Margazhi Tingal
during the month of holy Margazhi Niraada poduvir let us take a dip (to perform Nonbu)
Padintu Podumino
with absolute sincerity
Now we turn to the latent meaning ( Swapadesham or Hidden Meaning )

Seer malgum Ayppadi
Oh! You wealthy souls of this world!
Selva chirumeerkaal
Even though immature, you are fortunate to beget the rich guidance of Great Acharyas.
Kaar pol Meni Sengkan Naaraayanane
Almighty, who is all pervasive & dictative and has the body resembling clouds, eyes fully blossomed
Kadir Koorvel kodum Thozhilan Nandagopan mugattaan
either thro’ the scorching and insurmountable passage of Bhakti, that is hidden in Vedas or
Kumaran Madiam (mugattaan)
thro’ the easy-do route –Saranaagati – which is enunciated in Upanishads; and
Eraardakanni Yasodai mugattaan
by leading us to solicit the support and recommendation of His concert SriDevi, who brings us fame
Namakke taruvaan
rewards us, (who by nature, are otherwise incompetent and incapable to perform these)
Paaror pukazha Parai
eternal and sans recourse joy, as hailed by Nithyasuris (Ref. the 10 stanzas ‘soozh visumbu’, the penaultimate Tiruvaimozhi)
Nerizhaiyir nannaalaal
Hence, those of us who have taken this direct route of Prapatti this day, which bestowed this pious (Saatvik) thinking,
Madi nirainda Margazhi tingal Ilam singam
fully appreciative that, Prapatti method, is only a thought process coupled with a petty action as ordered by Lord Krishna (the latest Avataara) in the Charama Sloka,
Neeraada Poduvir
shall choose and immerse ourselves in it; thereby
Podumino padintu
become accomplished (Krtakrtyan); and remain after-wards at the Service of The Lord forever, by which we stay blessed (Krtarthan) Swami Nigamanta Maha Desika is emphatic in saying that ‘should we desire liberation we should understand clearly the tri-doctrines of Sri Ramanuja Sampradaaya, (Muttikku Arul Sooda Moondrai teli) namely, REALITY - ROUTE – RESULT (Tatva-Hita-Purushartha)’. He got the cue and inspiration as narrated by Sri Andal in this Stanza.

Let us refer to elucidations given above.
1-3 talk about Tatva; 4 -6 advocate the route and 7 -8 conclude with the end-result. In 9 – 12, as the preceptor, Sri Andal preaches Prapatti.

Millions of salutations to Sri Andal, for the advice of Prapatti Rahasya!
Long live the name and fame of Goda!
Long live Sri Ramanuja Siddhanta!
Sarva SriKrishnarpaNamastu

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja – As a Student and as a Teacher

Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja – As a Student and as a Teacher

In Srivaishnava Sampradayam, Acharyan is equal to Perumal. The foremost Acharya is Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja who reestablished the Visishtaadhvaitha principle and spread Srivaishnavism all over India. Sri Ramanujar had undergone training from all of the five famous disciples of Alavandaar – Periya Nambi, Periya Thirumalai Nambi, Thirukottiyur Nambi, ThirumalaiAandaan and Thiruvaranga Perumalaraiyar. Alavandaar had split all his knowledge into five parts and taught each of his disciples one part. All that knowledge, once again came to be concentrated in one person, Sri Ramanujar.

Sri Ramanujar showed us the path (Prapatti) to salvation. He taught us many things and also practiced them Himself. One of the important lessons that He taught was to shed our ego, especially when serving our Acharya. The following anecdote shows how He practiced it when He was a student and how He taught that idea to His students.

One day Sri Ramanuja’s disciple, Koorathazhvan, asked what the inner meaning of the Charama Slokam (Bhagavad Gita 18.66) was. Sri Ramanuja replied that according to his Acharya, Thirukottiyur Nambi, he could explain the meaning only to the person that serves his Acharya for one year without any anger and controlling their senses. When Koorathazhvan replied that since life was uncertain and that he may not live one year, Yathirajar (Sri Ramanuja) suggested an alternative. He told Koorathazhvan that if he were to beg everyday for a month and made a living that way, he would satisfy his requirements. Begging for a month or even for a day would mean that one has to give up his ego. To understand the meaning of that great slokam it is necessary for one to shed one’s ego.

Kooranthazhvan listened to his Acharya and started begging. After a month making a living by begging, Koorathazhvan understood the inner meaning of the slokam. At another time, another disciple, Mudaliandan, asked Yathirajar the inner meaning of the same slokam. Yathirajar told him that since Mudaliandan was His relative, He could not see any of his faults. Hence He suggested that Mudaliandan should go to his guru, Thirukottiyur Nambi, to learn the meaning of the slokam. Ramanujar was concerned that since Mudaliandan was a very learned person, he may have a lot of ego. As instructed, Mudaliandan went to stay with Thirukottiyur Nambi. Unfortunately the great Acharyar did not pay any attention to Mudaliandan for nearly six months.

Finally one day he told Mudaliandan that he knew that he was his relative and a very knowledgeable person. However, knowledge, high family background and wealth would only give rise to ego in a person with fickle mind. But for a person who behaves in a righteous way, the same qualities could lead one to control their senses and form the basis for good personal qualities. Thirukottiyur Nambi suggested to Mudaliandan that he should understand this very well and go back to his Acharyar to learn the inner meaning of the slokam.

One day, back in Ramanujar’s place Periya Nambi’s daughter, Atthuzhai, came complaining about her plight in her in-laws home. She said that she had to walk great distances every morning and evening over tough terrain to get water for cooking. When she said that to her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law scolded her and told her to ask her father to arrange for a permanent cook. Ramanujar consoled her and said that He would send somebody with her to do the cooking. He looked at Mudaliandan who immediately understood his Acharya’s wish and accompanied Atthuzhai back to her house to work as a cook. Six months time passed.

One day a learned Srivaishnava came to their house and was giving a discourse on a Veda manthram. The learned man made many mistakes in his explanation and the poor folks assembled were listening to his explanation. Mudaliandan, who was listening to all this could not keep quiet any longer. He spoke up and refuted and corrected the Srivaishnava’s explanations. The latter, who got very angry at first thinking that he was a mere cook, fell at Mudaliandan’s feet when he heard the lucid explanation of Mudaliandan. He then explained to everyone present that he was there as a cook at the behest of his Acharya, Ramanuja.

The assembled folks went to Sri Ramanuja and told him the whole story and said that his disciple, Mudaliandan, did not even have an iota of ego and should return back to Sri Ramanujar’s place. Mudaliandan, even though a great scholar himself, served his Acharya by doing a cook’s job at someone’s house just because it was commanded by his Acharya. Ramanujar took him back and educated him on the inner meanings of the slokams in Bhagavad Gita.

When Sri Ramanujar was a student of Thiruvaranga Perumalaraiyar and learning the Dharma Rahasyangal from him, Araiyar used to sing the pasurams set to music and dance in front of Arangan and lie down tired. Ramanujar would then massage Araiyar’s feet and spread turmeric powder all over his body to relieve his pain and suffering.

Ramanujar would heat up milk at night and give it to Araiyar. After nearly six months, Araiyar finally acknowledged the presence of Ramanujar. He knew very well about Ramanujar’s knowledge and high intellect and how He is serving without any ego. One day, as Ramanujar was massaging his feet, Araiyar said that he knew why Ramanujar was serving him. He said that he would be very happy to teach Ramanujar all the secret meaning of Divya Prabhandam. He also told Ramanujar that the service he was doing was man’s highest goal. He told him that an Acharya is Parabrahmam itself, is wealth, is the highest item that one would want to own, is the most protected place to reach, is the incarnation of knowledge, is one’s salvation, and is the person who gives one knowledge. Hence there is nobody greater than him, he is the path to reach Perumal and he is Paraman himself. This concept was later given by Swamy Desikan in Srimadh Rahasya Thrayasaram.

Thus, Sri Ramanujar taught us how important an Acharya is for us and to gain knowledge from them we must serve our Acharya without any ego. He not only preached this, but he also practiced it.

We can only hope and pray that we can serve our Acharyan some time in our life, without any ego and without expecting anything in return other than gaining an infinitesimal amount of His knowledge.

Sri Ramanujar’s guideline for us to follow that would assure us the grace of Sriman NaarAyaNA
1) Read SriBhashya and teach it to others
2) If that is above your level, read Thiruvaimozhi and make others read it
3) If that is beyond your level, build a hut in any holy land and live there
4) If that is impracticable, do service in a temple
5) If that is inconvenient, chant Dwaya Mantra
6) If that is also difficult, serve a devotee of Sriman Narayana

( Courtesy Sri Nrishimhapriya Trust, Chennai )

Oru Sutram - A fine “sutram”

Oru Sutram - Commentary by HH Srimad Azhagiya Singar

By Srimad Azhagiya Singar ( Translated into English from Tamizh)

The Tamil word "sutram" literally means the one who surrounds. This word is normally used to refer to one’s family members. One is surrounded by family, and hence, the family is one’s "sutram". Our incomparable Lord who protects us at all times without forsaking us is also "sutram". Much like our family, the Lord also stands around us and therefore He is "sutram".
However, there is an important difference between the family members surrounding us and the Lord surrounding us. We think the family surrounds us out of love. But the Lord surrounds us due to greater love. There is a selfish reason for the family to be near us. The Lord does not have any selfish motive. Due to His infinite compassion He surrounds us to protect us. But, there is an interesting selfish motive for the Lord also to protect us. Shasthras proclaim that it is for His own pleasure He protects Jivas.

Take for example a great king feeding fruits and milk to his pet parrot. Why does he do it? He takes pleasure when he sees his pet enjoying. Our Lord stands guard around us and protects us for the same reason. It grieves our Lord to see us suffer from the misery of worldly life. Take the case of a son who disobeys his father and as a consequence suffers. If the son regrets his mistake, the father will eliminate the suffering and rejoice at his son’s joy. Having ignored the enjoined rites commanded by our Lord, described in Sruti (Vedas) and Smrithi, we get enslaved in the worldly life and suffer. The Lord is saddened to see this. If we surrender to Him through a bona fide Acharya, the Lord will take that as a pretext and protect us at all times by standing guard around us. In the end, we attain joyous union with the Lord. This gives a great deal of delight to the Lord. This is a golden truth of shasthras conveyed to us by our past Acharyas.

So, like the family members, there is a selfish motive even for the Lord to be around us. Then, what is the difference between family members and the Lord? We must understand the answer to this question very carefully. The selfishness of family members result in only their benefit, there is nothing in it for the Jiva. However, the selfishness of the Lord surrounding us brings great benefit to us.

Periazhvar describes this in the verse 4.5.3 of Periazhvar Thirumozhi

How the family members will surround one in his death bed cajoling him to reveal the location of any wealth he may have hid. If one has wealth there will be many surrounding him to share in its enjoyment. Some hide their wealth to protect it from these parasites. So, when he is in the throes of death, the relatives form a close circle around him for fear of missing out any information the dying man may give about any hidden wealth. They are unconcerned about losing a close member of their family. All they are interested in is their share of the money. What good is this selfishness to the dying man?

The Lord is also encircling this dying man. The Lord wishes to take him to Parama Padam where all his sorrow will be eradicated. There, he can enjoy exquisite pleasures. This is pleasing to the Lord and will make Him happy.
The Lord’s self interest brings great joy to the Jiva. Even when his own close family members forsake him, the Lord stays close to him out of divine compassion. Lying in the death-bed like a peace of wood or stone when even the closest relatives turn away with repulsion, the Lord stays very close and bestows only good things. He is indeed a fine "Sutram".

In Sri Sahasranamam, the Lord’s 931st name is "Paryavasthita". Sri Bhattar says, in his Sri Sahasranamam commentary, this name means the Lord is a fine "Sutram" for everyone. This is explained with the episode when the Lord saved the elephant king Sri Gajendran. Here is what Sri Bhattar says in the commentary.

vaTsLyat! gajendram Pari - Parita: Avasthitha: Paryavasthitha:

When the elephant king went to a pond brimming with cool water to quench his thirst he was bitten by a crocodile. The Lord of all lords came rushing to release Sri Gajendran from his distress. Sri Gajendran’s distress was no ordinary distress. It was not like the distress ordinary beings may feel. Ordinary beings may call out to the Lord only to get released from the jaws of the evil crocodile. But Sri Gajendran was not worried about that. The pressing jaws of the crocodile did not bother him. He was distressed that the Lord is now facing a danger because of his carelessness while taking a drink of water. What if the Lord does not appear? Won’t the foolish world lose faith in the Lord? This is what was going on in Sri Gajendran’s mind.

If the Lord does not answer the remorseful cries of the elephant king, won’t the general public conclude there is no Lord. People will start preaching against the very existence of God. Foolish masses will conclude there is no use surrendering to the Lord. This is what distressed Sri Gajendran, not the pangs of pain from the pressing jaws of the crocodile. So, when the Lord appeared and saved Sri Gajendran, the Lord was in fact saving Himself from this ignominy. The danger Sri Gajendran faced was in fact a danger to the Lord. When the Lord saved Sri Gajendran, He was actually saving Himself. Only our early Acharyas have been able to offer such an interesting and enjoyable twist to the story of Sri Gajendran.

Thus, in the case of Sri Sri Gajendran, when the Lord acted on His self interest and saved Sri Gajendran, it benefited not just the Lord, not just Sri Gajendran, but everyone as well by illustrating the assurance of Lord’s promise to protect a surrendered soul.

(This is a translation of a portion of Srimad Azhagiya Singar’s article which appeared during the Masi (February 2004) issue of Sri Nrisimha Priya, pp. 7 – 16 )

Dasharathi Dasan
Sarvam SriKrishnarpaNamastu

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bhagavad Ramanuja

Bhagavad Ramanuja - The Acharya Unparalelled
Sri Ramanuja is known as the greatest exponent of Visistadvaita Vedanta. He appeared around 1017 A.D in a pious brahmana family. He became the formost Acarya in the Sri Sampradaya and was reputed to be the incarnation of Sri Laksmana, the younger brother of Lord Sri Rama.
He was a boy of extraordinary intelligence and placed himself under the charge of Yadavacarya, a renown Sankarite scholar. His guru was struck by his marvellous intellect and became very uncomfortable on account of his firm faith in Bhakti.
One day while taking a massage, Yadavacarya was explaining to ramanuja a sutra "tasya yatha kapyasam pundarikamevamaksini"(Chandogya 1.6.7), saying that according to Sri Sankara, the two eyes of Pundariksa are like two lotuses which are red like the nates of a monkey. On hearing this interpretation with the unbecoming and low simile, Ramanuja's soft heart, tender by nature and softened by devotion, melted and as he was massaging, tears rolled down from the corners of his eyes like flames of fire and fell on the thigh of Yadava. Looking up at the touch of the hot tears, Yadava understood that something troubled his disciple.
Ramanuja explained his dismay at hearing such an unbecoming explaination from his guru. He thought it sinful to compare with the posterior of a monkey the eyes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead - who is endowed with all gracious qualities and who is the repository of all the beauty of the universe. Yadava was angry at the boy's audacity and told him to explain the verse if he could. Ramanuja analysed the word kapyasam to mean `blossomed by the sun' and the verse to mean "The eyes of that Golden Purusa are as lovely as lotuses blossomed by the rays of the sun."

After a few more such incidents when Ramanuja corrected his guru, Yadavacarya thought him to be a threat to the Sankarite line and plotted to kill him. Later it came to pass that Yadavacarya was to become the disciple of Sri Ramanuja.

Yamunacarya the formost exponant of Vaisnava philosophy of the time, knowing of his extraordinary ability and purity, called for Sri Ramanuja with the intent of placing him in charge of the mission after his disappearance. Ramanuja was on his way to see Yamunacarya when he received the news of Yamunacarya's departure from the world. Arriving at Srirangam, Ramanuja went to have his last darshana of that great soul. There he noticed three of Yamunacarya's fingers were clenched.

Ramanuja then made three vows:
He would make the people surrender to God and initiate them by the pancasamskara.
He would write a commentary on the Vedantasutra which was later called Sri Bhashya.
He would also write what is like an encyclopedia on the Puranas and would name one greatly learned Vaisnava after Parasara Muni who wrote the gem among the Puranas, the Visnu Purana.

Later Sri Ramanuja took sannyasa and travelled throughout India vigorously defeating atheists and impersonalists by preaching the Vasistadvaita doctrine. He never failed to win over a rival in spiritual disputations.

Sri Ramanuja's Teachings:

His philosophy is Visistadvaita. Brahman is Narayana - (cit-acit-isvara), Narayana with Laksmi - (transcendental form), Four Vyuha forms, Vaibhava forms. The qualities of Brahman are both nirguna and saguna. The soul is real, eternal, individual, not omnipresent, not independent of Isvara but part. Isvara is the efficient cause of creation. It is from His will out of delight. The cause of bondage is beginningless karma. The process of release is Bhakti based on Pancaratra and Visnu purana followed by det ached karma that brings jnana - Prapatti. The goal is to attain the same nature of Isvara and companionship with Him. He does not return and has no power of creation, etc.

The essence of his teachings are best summarized by his own prayer at the beginning of his Sri Bhashya:

"May knowledge transformed into intense love directed to Sri Narayana (VISHNU), the highest Brahman, become mine, the Being to whom the creation, preservation and dissolution of the Universe is mere play, whose main resolve is to offer protection to all those who approach Him in all humility and sincerity, and Who shines out like the beacon light out of the pages of the Scripture (Vedas)".

Lord Lakshmi Hayagreeva


Generally vidyaarmbam among sri vaishnavas begins with a prayer to Lord Sri Hayagreeva, preceded by obeisance to our Acharyaas. Even today Vijayadasami and Sarsvathi pooja are celebrated in Srivaishnavas homes with the recitation of Sri Hayagreeva sthOthram. (in our home at least!). The Parakala Matham, situated in Mysore, is one the most ancient and premier Srivaishnava religious institutions in the country that came into being for the specific purpose of propagating Sri Ramanujam's Visishtadvaita philosophy. Sri Lakshmi Hayagreeva (the Lord with the horse's face) Haya-horse: greeva-neck: this Lord is the presiding deity for all knowledge - 'Aadhaaram sarvavidhyaanaaam Hayagrivam upaasmahe'- is the principal deity of the Parakala Matham, the icon being one of the most beautiful ever adorning the Matham. Sri Hayagreevar Divya MangaLa vigraham is also the president deity for Sri Poundareekapuram Andavan Ashramam and also greatly revered by Sri Ahobila Matham and Andavan Ashram.

Sri Hayagriva Avataram

The avataram of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to Brahma. Emperumaan had taught BrahmA the Creation through His breath of VedAs. Then, Brahma could understand how various kalpams had begun due to Emperumaan's vEdOpasEam. He became extremely proud and head strong of his position as the creator and about his powers/jnAnam. Sriman Narayana as usual wanted to teach him and decided to remove his (Brahma's) pride. A couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha; Due to Bhgawath sankalpam, one (kaitapan) was of thamO guNA and the other (madhu) was of rajO guNA. They stole the Vedas from Brahma. Emperumaan smiled.

Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma rushed to the Lord and pleaded the Lord Narayana for mercy and saving Vedas. BrahmA prostrated to the Lord and said:

"Vedas alone are my eyes; they are my wealth; They are my Lord. The whole world is surrounded by darkness due to the absence of Vedas. How am I to proceed on my creation without the Vedas ? Please arise from the Yoga nithrA and help me Lord! Please give me back my eyes which have been blinded by my own pride."

"veda: mE paramam sakshI: veda: mE paramam paramveda: mE paramam dharma, veda: mE brahma sOtthamam"

Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva, appeared as the white Horse faced, faultless sphatika hued form, satva mUrthy, with Divya tEjas, and lustrous form and destroyed the Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma.
This avtaaram was made on a AvaNi month, sravaNa nakshthram paurNami thithi. With a lovely long nose, like the heaven surrounded by white bright stars, the asva siras (head of horse) illumined the whole world. The upper world and the lower world became His ears. The rays of Sun's brightest lustres are His hairs at the nape of His neck (pidari). BhUmi became His forhead; Ganga and Saraswathi became two lovely eyebrows; Chandra Sooryar (The Moon and the Sun) became His two eyes; SandhyA dEvathai became His nostrils; Pithru devathAs became His teeth; GolOkam and Brahma lOkam became His two lips; kalaraathri became His neck; The Divya tEjas Sathva mUrthy Sri Hayagreevan thus, in a grandest beautiful manner appeared. He rushed to PaathaaLa lOkam and raised His "uthGitham" in samavEdha swaram and terrified Madhukaitapa asurAs; They hid the VedhAs (which were in the form of babies) and ran away from the scene.
Sri Hayagreevar handed over the Vedas to BrahmA and went back. Madhukaitapar searched for the sound which terrified them earlier but found the Vedas missing. They rushed to BrahmA who in turn was terribly scared and sought the help of Sriman Narayanan. Sri Hayagreevar fought with asurAs and killed them. BrahmA continued his work of creation.

This avataara is described in VishNu puraaNam as "mathsya kUrma varaaha ashva simha rUpaathibhi:". In BrahmANda purANam during maheshwara-naradha samvaadham, Naradha describes this avthaar. Even when naradha praises Sri rangan in this PurANam, he says "ashva sirasE namah:". That is why the Lord is called Madhusoodhanan. (for having killed madhu and kaitabhar). Sri Paraasara Bhattar in his Sri Rangarajasthavam (utthara sathakam-52 nd slOka) says "Sri ranganAthA! You, as Hayagreeva rUpI, removed the hurdles of madhu, kaitapar to BrahmA and recovered the VedhAs and saved the whole world!". In MahAbharatham, Shanthi parvam, hayasira upaakhyaanam details Hayagreeva avathaaram. Srimadh Bhagawatham, too, describes Hayagreeva avtaara.

There is another version of this avtaar and killing of asurAs. When paraLayam was about to end, Bhagawaan out of His dirt from the ear drum made two small solid balls and dropped on the Lotus leaf and BrahmA activated the PrANa vaayu, which gave life to these two, as madhu and kaitabhar. These asurAs appeared and grew up.

BrahmA started off his creation and Vedhas were snatched away by these two asurAs. When the most compassionate Lord, Parama kaaruNikO Bhagawaan wished to please the asurAs, without killing them, asked them as to what they want as a boon. These two asurAs said "we can give You what You want". That is it! The Lord decided to kill them. They said "Can You kill us only where there is no cover for the sky?". The Lord immediately took Hyagreeva avtaar and removed His cloth on the Thighs, put them on His thighs and killed them. Bhagawaan's legs house the Earth and the space/sky. Since the Lord removed the cloth from His thighs and killed them, He still complied with what they challenged Him. What they thought was impossible to happen, He could make it happen with no effort. He, thus saved the Vedas and saves the world. The moral is: thamas, rajas guNAs are to be destroyed to reach Him.

There is yet another interesting "different" version in BrahmANda PuraaNam- Sri Devi Bhagawatham. There was a asurA, by name Hayagreeva (with horse face) who did his severe penance/ tapas on Parvathi Devi. Parvathi, pleased with his tapas, appeared in his front and the asurA asked for "no death". She said "Impossible-can not be granted". Then the asurA amended the request and said "Except for a horse faced one, no one else can kill me". (thinking that it can never happen!). She consented. He became tremendously proud of his achievement and started harassing every deva and rishi. He troubles all three worlds. He snatched away the Vedas from BrahmA and disappeared. Then is the history. The Lord appeared as Hayagreevar and killed the asurA to save the world and bring back the Vedas.

There is yet another puraaNic narration on Hayagreevar. At Kanchi, Agasthya muni was on severe penance on Sriman Narayanan and the Lord appeared as Hayagreevar and was immensely pleased with his tapas. He blessed the muni with Devi mahaathmyam. This is described in BrahmANda puraaNam Sri Hayagreeva agasthya samvaadham.

During Tripura samhaaram to entice the asurAs, the Lord appeared as "other religious" saint (buddhism?) and appeared as Hayagreevar to mislead the asurAs from the Veda maargham (from the path of Vediv traditions and sayings). Thus, He made them lose their ability to get saved and the Lord won. (As also claimed and reported in Buddhism in a web site as follows: Like Mahakala, Hayagriva is one of the Eight Great Protectors of Buddhism, a guardian and a destroyer of obstacles to enlightenment(!). He is a popular personal, or tutelary, deity among the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism.
Hayagriva's crown of skulls is surmounted by Hayagriva's attribute, a horse's head, alluding to his origin as a horse-headed Hindu god. The terrific neigh that emanates from this horse's head is said to pierce through the illusory nature of reality. Although he was also popular in Tibet and China, Hayagriva's association with the horse may have had a particular appeal to the Mongols. (This, I read in the Net in some buddhism web site!) Swami Desikan in his "navarathna maalai" says " puRamuyarttha asurargatku puRam uRaittha poyyinaan". (to explain the Lord thus, misleading the asurAs by taking non-vedic religion (Buddhism)).
Scriptures on Hayagreeva (Madhusoodhana)

Since, Lord Hayagreevar killed the asurAs, madhu and kaitapar, He is referred to as Madhusoodhanan.

In BrahmANda puraaNam, Sri RangarajamahAthmyam, Om namO VishnavE Deva MadhussodhanathE Namah: refers to Madhusoodhanan Sri Hayagreevan.
Srimad Valmiki RamayaNam BalakaaNdam 76th sargam, 17th slOkam Parasuraama says to Rama "akshayam madhuhanthaaram jaanaami tvaam surOtthamam". I realise that You are the DevaadhiDevan, immortal, MahAVishNu, the One who killed madhu,kaitapar.

Also, when Rama (before proceeding for His PattabhishEkham), gets up in the wee hours, in Brahma muhUrtham, He performs His anushtaanam and pays obeisance to Lord Hayagreevan "dhushtaava praNadhaischaiva sirasaa madhsoodhanam" (6th sargam-7th slokam).
In Kishkinthaa kaanDam, Vaali tells Sri Rama "Even if that rAvaNan hids SitA in PaathaaLa lOkam, no problem. You could have just told me so. I world have brought SitA back from anywhere wheresoever like Sri Hayagreevar brought the Vedas killing Madhukaitapar. (17th sargam-49th slOkam)

When Hanumaan went in search of sanjeevini, and other aushadhaas, he saw the pleace where chathurmukhan (brahmA) performed thiruvaaraadhanam for Lord Hayagreevar. Commentators, are reported to have praised this slOkam as "hayaananam, hayagreeva araadhana sthaanam", and "hayaananam - BhagawathO Hayagreevasya sthaanam".
Sri MahAbhAratham, Santhi parvam mentions Haygreeva avataar.

Sri HayagreevOpanishad, naturally elaborates the greatness of Haygreevar.
In Rk vEdam, "vaagham bruNi sookhtham", "apradhiratham", Yajur vEdham, "yajnya prakaraNam", Saama vEdham, udgItam, AdharvaNa vEdham, Shanthikam, Bhaushtikam are all referring to the greatness of Lord Hayagreevar.

Periya Thirumozhi 7-8-2, by Thirumangai AzhwAr says "munivvEzhu ulaghum iruL maNdiyuNNa munivarOdu ??parimukhanaay aLittha paramanai kaaNmin".. maeaning: "See the Lord who appeared as the white horse faced Lord to recover the VedhAs when the whole world was pitch dark due to the absence of four Vedas"

Thiruvaaymozhi 2-7-6 NammAzhwAr says "madhusoodhananai anRi maRRilEn.." There is NONE but Madhusoodhanan only? which refers to Lord Hayagreevan. (eeadu vyAkhyaanam also explicitly refers to Lord Hayagreevan)

Also Thiruvaaymozhi 2-8-5 "maavaaghi, amaiyaay, meenaaghi, maanidamaay." Commentators say that maavaaghi refers to Lord Hayagrrevan. Upanishad bhAshyakaaarar Sri Rangaraamanuja Swami. HayO bhUthvaa, HayagrIvO bhUthvaa? - is referred to in 9000 padi Bhagavath Vishayam. Says Saakshaath Swami or Periya Parakaala Swami. He refers the padham "maavaaghi to Lord Hayagreevan only.

PeriyAzhwAr pAsuram 1-9-10 "thunniya pEriruL soozhndhu ulaghai mooda, manniya naan maRai muRRUm maRaindhida?." Refers to Sri Hayagreevan.

Our AchAryAs on Sri Hayagreeva

Alavandhaar (Yamuna muni) while praises his Grandfather (his Guru's Guru), says "madhu jithangri sarOja thatva jnAna anuraag.." . He (Nathamuni) became a great jnAni/bhakthA at the Feet of Madhsoodhanan (Hayagreevan). YamunAchArya also refers in his SthoThra Rathnam 13th slOka to Haygreevan for which Periyavaacchaan PiLLai comments that it narrates about the recovery of Vedas by Lord Hayagreeva and handing over to BrahmA. That makes us realise Alavandhaar's involvement on Lord Hayagreevan. He also requests the Lord Madhusoodhanan (in 57th slOkam) to mercifully remove all non-vedic thoughts in the world and traditions existing in the world to save us as He did earlier as Haygreevan by killing madhukaitapar to establish/recover Vedas.

SvEthAsvara upanishad, "yO BrahmANam vidhadhaadhi poorvam. Mumukshuvai saraNamaham prapdhyE.." means: adiyEn who is interested only in mOksham, a mumukshu, surrenders to the Paramapurushan, who did parama upakaaram by recovering Vedas from madhukaitapar and handed over to BrahmA to save the world"- i.e Lord Hayagreevan." BhAshyakaarar Sri Ramaujar took this manthrA in his Saranaagathi Gadhyam and surrenders to the Lord.

Here asvam in svEthAsvara upanishad refers to the Lord Hayagreevan (White Horse faced Lord)and that is why Swami Desikan refers Lord Haygreevan in Rahasyathraya saaram as "veLLai parimukhar". (Swami Desikan's bhakti for Hayagreevan needs no elaboration to this Group)

Sri Kooratthaazhwaan in his "sundharabaahusthavam" 84th slOkam highlights Sri Hayagreeva avataar.
In 121st slOkam also, Kuresa says "Do not think that there are only 10 avataars of the Lord. Even Hamsa, hayagreeva, NaranaraayaNa avataars are also His only are equally grand and great.

In 58th slOkam of Sri Vaikunta sthavam of Kooratthaazhwaan, it is said "Adhyaathma saasthraas are established by Emperumaan in Hayagrreva avtaar by recovering vedas and saving the world.

Swami Desikan in his last pAsuram of Sri RTS, says "It is the white horse faced Lord who wrote in my mind and I have written that on the palm leaves.

Lakshmi Hayagriva Bhagavan is the Archa Murthy of both Srimad Paundarikapuram Ashramam as well as Sri Parakala Matam.


Bhagavan Ramanuja re-established the Visishtadvaita siddhaantham and commented on Brahma sUthram in his Bhashyam. This excellent, unambiguous vyAkhyaanam was completed by Yathiraajaa and fulfilled his "maanasika guru" Yamaunaacharya's wish (manOratham). Ramanuja "officially" released the commentary at the grand gathering of all sanskrit scholars and Vedic scholars at Saraswathi Peetham in Kashmir, in front of Saraswathi Devi. Goddess Saraswathi, immenslely satisfied at the excellent commentary and the truthful presentation of Brahma sUthram, she honoured the commentary by confering a award calling it "SRI BHAASHYAM". Also, she was extremely happy with Yathiraajaa, she presented to him a Divya mangaLa vigraham of Sri Lakshmi Hayagreevan. Since the, Yathiraaja was performing Thiruvaaraadhanam for Sri Kalshmi Hayagreeva Vigraham daily.

This vigraham, through Thirukurugai piraan, through our AchAryAs, came to Sri Vedanta Desikan. Afetr Swami Desikan's period, this is passed on to Sri Brahma tantra Swami and is now with Mysore Parakala Matham Swami. Even today, the Thiruvaaraadhanam is being performed on this Divya MangaLa vigraham of Lord Sri Lakshmi Hayagreevan. If one has a close loving glance at the Lord Hayagreevan's vigraham, He has four hands, and has a beuatiful Horse face, sitting on a white Lotus. His Lotus Feet wears "salaghai" (paayal). His upper two hands hold Sankhu and ChakrA. His lower right hand offers jnAnOpadEsam to us, bhakthAs. Other hand hold Japamaalaa. Also, it appears as if He is granting us boons. VishNu DharmOttharam, VaishNava Moorthanya DharaNi part describes Hayagreeva Thiruvuruvam (form). There it details eight hands for Hayagreevan, where four hands hold Vedas (four children) and other four hold Sanghu, ChakrA, GadhA, and Padmam. Afterwards, He is blessing us with four hands as detailed above.

Even Sri VishNu puraaNam, details Sun as the Horse faced one for upadEsam. Hayagreeva avtaaram is for VedOpadEsam and granting us jnAnam. (Swami Desikan was initiated into the Great Hayagreeva Manthram). Once Swami Desikan wished to stay at ThiruvaheendraPuram and was proceeding from Kanchi. On the way he stayed at some remote place (that belonged to a grain merchant). There lot of grains were stored and piled in sacks.

There Swami Desikan did not have anything to offer to his Sri Hayagreeva vigraham and hence, offered just water and he also went to sleep, without eating anything (just by drinking few drops of water that he had offered to the Lord). Midnight, the merchant noticed a very big, beautiful white Horse which started eating those grains from a sack. The merchant, thinking that it belongs to Swami Desikan, immediately woke him up to tie the white horse. Swami Desikan has tears rolling down his cheeks, and prostrated to the Lord (who had come as the White Horse) and explained to the merchant and asked him to bring a pot of milk. The excited merchant and others brought milk which the Lord drank happily and disappeared.

Next day morning the merchant chased Swami Desikan, (who had actually started off his journey to Thiruvaheendrapuram) and informed that the whole sack (from which the white horse ate) is full of Gold coins! Swami Desikan smiled and was overwhelmed with joy for His mercy and leelA. That place is called "pon viLaintha kaLampudhoor".

Other sampradaya AchAryAs on Hayagreeva

In Dwaita sampradaayam, Gururajar, (also called Vathirajar) in 15th century A.D, adorned the Madhva Matham as a Peetadhipathi. He calls his nithya thiruvaaraadhana prasadham as "Haygreeva Pandi", that is made of kadalai, (Dhal), vellam (saccharin), coconut etc and taste like Sakkarai pongal. Guru rajar used to offer to the Lord, by keeping the Prasadham on a big plate and raise it above his head with both of his hands. Sri Hayagreevan, used to gracefully appear as a real horse and keep His front two legs on Gururajar's shoulders and eat ("sweegari"cchufy) the Prasadham. (What a scene it should have been!). What remains used to be Gururaja's only food always!

Also Sri Hayagreeva upasakas are: Aanghirasar, Adharvaa, Vasishtar, Adhi Sankarar, Panditha rajar, and so on.

Adhi Sankara, who established the Adavita Siddhantham, is also called BhagawathpaadaaL. In his VishNu sahsranaama bhAshyam, for the name "theerthagara" (691st name per sankara paadam), he write the commentary as " Hayagreeva rUpENa madhukaitabhoU hathvaa virinjaaya saakhaaruthou sarvaa sruthi adhyaasa cha upaadhisat"? Means: The knowledge (jnAnam) is like an unbounded and limitless waters. There are dangerous steps in that pond, where we may tend to slip down. There are also lovley, non-dangerous, most enjoyable steps, where we can blissfully take bath. There are about 14 (or 18) such steps, namely four vedas, sikshai, vyAkharaNam, chandha, niruktham, jyOthisham, kalpam,(they are all vEdhanthams), mImAmsam, nyAyam, (DarshanangaL), dharma saasthrAs, purANam, are the 14 VidhyA sthAnams. In addition, there are Ayur vEdam, Gandharvam, Artha saasthram, Dhanur vEdham that add to a total of 18. If one include the "dangerous" non-vedic steps of Buddhism, Jainism, also there are even 20.

Who is the Lord of all Vishyasthaanam? Was the question and Sri Bhagawadh PaadhAL in his vyAkhyAnam says: the One who killed madhu, kaitabhar and brough back the Vedas to the world and saved the world, Sri Hayagreevan is the ONLY ANSWER. (daivatham Devathaanaam). All VidhyAs pay obeisance to Him, Sri Lakshmi Hayagreevan with folded hands and He blesses them.
Panditha Rajar, in his rasagangaadhara kOsam, says Sri Hayagreevar hasgot sakala VidhyA srEshtathvam.

Works on Sri Hayagreeva

Sri Vedanta Desikan: Sri Haygreeva SthOthram
Sri KrishNa Brahmatantra Swathantra Jeeyar- Sri Lakshmi Hayavadhana PrabhOdhika sthuthi
Sri Lakshmi Hayavadhana PadukA sEvaki- Sri Lakshmi Hayavadhana Rathna maalaa SthOthram
Srimad Abhinava RanganAtha Parakaala Jeeyar - Sri Hayagreeva Ashtakam and Sri Haygreeva panjara SthOthram (that houses Sri Hayagreevaaushtu manthram)
Srinivasa kavi- Sri Hayagreeva ashtakam
Varadhakavi Sri Venkataachaarya Swami- Sri Hayagreeva ashtakam, Sri Haygreeva ashtOthram
Sri Sevaa Swami- Kalaakalana maalikA.

Greatness of Lord Sri Hayagreevan

Swami Desikan in his Hayagreeva SthOthram, says: "Even DhakshiNA moorthy (Sivan) and Saraswathi pay obeisance to Hayagreevan and are blessed with VidhyA Sakthi by Lord Haygreevan's grace. (DhAkshiNya ramyaa girisasya mUrthi: Devi sarOjaasana dharma pathnI..). Also he says: the followers of Sri Haygreevan shall chant this stotram and benefit with the blessings of Lord Hayagreevaa ("paThata hayagrIva ?) "Read the haygrIva stotram with bhakti", for attaining fluency over words and true knowledge about the Truth and to attain true knowledge about the siddhAntam.

In Paraasara puraaNam, agasthya naaradha samvaadham, Sri Hayagreeva ashtOthra sadhanaama stHothram blesses us a palasruthi, ("naama naamshtOththarasatham hayagreevasya patEth?avaapya sakalaan bhOgaannithE hari padham vrajEth?") BhakthAs of Sri Hayagreevan, will be blessed with sakala Vedha saasthra jnAnam and be blessed with truthful knowledge. They will also live very happily in this world with their spouse and children with sakala sowbhAgyam and REACH THE LOTUS FEET OF SRI HARI for sure.

Thursday, April 17, 2008



Srivaishnavism aims at God-realisation within the framework of our normal wordly activities. The term Vaishnavism denotes the system developed by Sri Ramanuja where Vishnu & his consort Godess Sri(Lakshmi) are accepted as Supreme Being. Godess Lakshmi is the mother of the entire creation, being the consort of Lord Vishnu. Being inseparable from Him(Nityanapetam Sriyam), she acts as the mediatrix(purushakara) between man & God . She is also reckoned to be an Acharya or teacher in this tradition. This system of Sri Ramanuja is also therefore known as Sri Sampradaya. It is for reasons such as these that the system of Sri Ramanuja is called Srivaishnavism.

Sri Ramanuja is the systematiser of Srivaishnavism as it is followed today. Srivaishnavism is as old as Vedas. In the introductory verse of Sri Bhasya(the commentary on Brahma Sutras), Sri Ramanuja traces this philosophy to the Upanishads. It is believed that sage Vyasa, Bhodayana, Guhadeva & others have brought out this philosophy but their writings are not available except for the references by Sri Ramanuja.

Srivaishnavism denotes the religious aspect whereas Visitadvaita refers to the philosophy followed by this school. In this school, the first teacher is the Lord Narayana himself & his student was his consort Godess Lakshmi who communicated the same to the commander-in-chief Visvaksena. From him it was handed over to a series of teachers headed by Sathakopa(Nammalwar). Then came the lineage of Acharyas led by Sri Nathamuni who was bestowed upon with knowledge by Sri Nammalwar. His grandson Yamunacharya(Alavandhar) was next to follow with his disciple Sri Ramnuja & series of Acharyas like Sri Kuresa, Sri Nadadur Alvan, Sri Kidambi Accan, Tirukkurugaippiran Pillan who were followed by a hierarchy of Acharyas as listed in the Guruparampara.

The Sanskrit verse by Kurattalvan establishes link between the mortals and Sriman Narayana "Lakshminatha Samrambham nathayamunamadhyamam, asmadacharya-paryantham vande guruparamaparam"

The Alwars or Saints were more emotional in nature than metaphysical. They were the great devotees of Lord Vishnu(Nityas or Lords attendants) who left behind the knowledge of the absolute by propagating Visistadvaita in their songs(which is the collection of 4000 hymns popularly known as Divya Prabhandham). To succeed the Alwars were the Acharyas who were orthodox Brahmanas well versed in Sanskrit & Tamil. Apart from preaching & establishing Visitadvaita they also laid down the rules for the proper observance of festivals, fasts, vows & customs. These acharayas date back to days of Alwars with Nathamuni(824-924 AD) being the first of them. The reference to the Guruparamparai would list the succeding Acharyas with due mention to Sri Ramanuja(1017 - 1137 AD) who is referred to as the Paramacharya. It is well known that Sri Ramanuja synthesised and explained the various truths contained in the Brahmasutras in accordance to the spirit of the Vedas, Upanishads, Agamas, Itihasas, Puranas and the Divys Prabhandas. For this reason he is deemed to be the foremost propounder of the Visistadvaitha school which is therefore called "Ramanuja Darshanam', even though the philosophy was expounded during the times of his ancesstors like Sri Nathamuni and Sri Alavandhar. Sri Ramanuja with a vision then appointed seventy four Simhasanadhipathis (Heads) to carry the message of Visistadvaita

SriVaishnavam philosophy - Vishistadvaita

Any account of the history of Srivaishnavism should be deemed incomplete without a description of its philosophical tenets. It is now understood that this philosophy is much older than Sri Ramanuja, who only systematized it. This philosophy of Visitadvaitha is also referred to as "Ubahya Vedanta" since it accepts both the Sanskrit Prasthanatraya & Tamil Prabhandham.

In SriVaishnavam, appearing as an ordinary God in the Rg Veda, the earliest of Vedas and as one of the several deities, Lord Vishnu attained pre-eminence and came to be recognised as the Supreme Being by the time if the Itihasas and the Puranas.

This transformation of Lord Vishnu to be the Supreme can be traced in the following way :

  1. Rg Veda : In the Rg Veda, Lord Vishnu is described as a young and most powerful god guiding Indra in his many wars against the Asuras and evil forces. The following epithets testify to His importance :
    His highest abode is said to be fixed "like an eye in the sky" and always seen by the wise Nitya-Suries(Tad Visnoh paramam padam, sada pasyanti surayah) This means that NityaSurees keep their eye fixed on Vishnu forever
    There is a spring of honey in his abode(Vishnoh pade parame madhva utsah)
    He measured the entire universe with three great strides(Idam Visnuh Vichakrame, tredha nidadhe padam, samudhamasya pagum sure)
    Although not expressed in so many words, the above statements signify, according to scholars, the supremacy of Lord Vishnu; for the spring of Honey is nothing but divine nectar or Amritha, which indicates that Vishnu’s abode is the place of immortality and His place is fixed(dhruva).

  2. Yajur Veda : In the Krisha Yajurveda, Vishnu is described as the creator, protector and destroyer of everything in this universe. He is said to protect the sacrifices which came to occupy an important place in the ancient Bharata(India). In the Sukla Yajurveda, he is said to preside over the sacrifices. "Lord Vishnu has his abode in the orb of the Sun" says the Veda. Vishnu’s lifting of the earth as a Great Boar(Varaha Avataram) is referred to here : "Kolavaraha monrai Nilam Kotidai Konda Yandai". It is also stated that all other Gods like Agni, Vayu remain alert and discharge their duties due to the fear of Lord Vishnu "Bhisa asmad Vatah pavate bhisodeti Suryah bhisasmad Agnisca Indrasca Mrtyur-dhavati Pancama iti"

  3. The Purusha Sukta: Here there is a description of a cosmic purusa, who by performing a sacrifice, became the cosmos itself. His consorts are Godess Hri(Bhudevi) and Godess Sri(Sridevi).
    "Tat Purushasya Vishvam ajaanamagre, Hrischa te lakshmischa patnayau"
    The Brahmanas: In the Aitareya Bhahmana, it is said that Agni is the lowest and Vishnu is highest among Gods :Agnir avamo devatanam Vishnuh Paramah. The Satapatha Brahmana refers to a Divinity called "Narayana" who perfromed a sacrifice for five days and nights and became great. The Taittiriya Aranyaka contains a reference to Lord Narasimha and Lord Vamana, the two important avataras of Lord Vishnu.

  4. The Upanishads: The Upanishads(the final portion of the Vedas) contains references such as "Only Narayana existed in the beginning of the creation, neither Brahma or Shiva existed then".
  5. The Ithihasas (Epics):
    The Ramayana :
    The first of the two epics, Ramayana contains many references to Sri Rama, the hero of the epic being none other than Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Being, who has his abode in Sri Vaikuntha. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama, after heeding to the appeals of the celestials to destroy the demon King Ravana who was harassing the entire universe by his misdeeds and wild strength. Though born of human parents and thinking and behaving like a human being(atmanam manusam manye Ramam Dasarathatmajam "I consider myself a man, son of Dasharatha), Sri Rama(avatara of Vishnu) established the supremacy of Lord Vishnu by the following actions"
    In the duel between Vishnu and Siva, as narrated by Parasurama, the former made the latter motionless by a mere ‘humkara’(frowning).
    He sends Jatayu, the Vulture King to the supreme heaven and says "My friend, I permit you to go to the Upper regions("gaccha lokan anuttaman")
    He pierces seven huge Sala trees with a single arrow, and with his toe tosses the hillock-like skeletal remains of demon Dundubhi, and also fells Vali, the victor of Ravana himself with just one arrow.
    He grants Moksha to Sabari, the tribal women who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu who retained her life only for a glimpse of Him in his avatara as Sri Rama.
    The Mahabharata : The second epic, Mahabharata has several instances where the supremacy of Lord Vishnu in his avatara as Sri Krishna is established.
    Sri Krishna is born to Devaki, in His celestial form with four arms, Conch, Disc, et al and later on only, assumes the human form.
    The soul of Sisupala, whose head was severed by Sri Krishna, enters the person of Sri Krishna, in the presence of all assembled kings.
    Sri Krishna shows His cosmic form in the court of Dhritarasthra, when evil Duryodhana and his cohorts decide to bind Sri Krishna with a rope; the entire assembly with the exception of Bhimshma, Vidura and few others faint at this sight.
    Sri Krishna saves Draupadi from being dishonoured, by giving his "Akshaya Vastra" when she was being disrobed by Dushyasana.
    Sri Krishna shows His cosmic form to Arjuna in the battle field; expounds "Bhagavad Gita"(the essence of Upanishads) to him.
    In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna declares himself as the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the entire universe. In particular, in Chapter X & XI, Sri Krishna shows that the entire universe is but a fraction of His unbounded splendour and that everything amanates from Him and merges in His cosmic from.
    Sri Krishna declares unequivocally that He is the goal of all existance and advises Souls to surrender to Him(Chapter XVIII.66). This is the summum bonum of all teachings and is called "Charmasloka" in the Srivaishnava Sampradayam " "Sarva Dharmaan Parityajya Maam Ekam Sharanam Vraja, Aham tva Sarva Papebyo Moksha Isyaami maa Sucha"
  6. The puranas: The Vishnu Purana: Sri Parasara, the author of the Vishnu purana establishes that Vishnu is the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of this universe. This purana also states that all these activities are His play(Lila or Krida) and Vishnu is superior to the other Gods of the Trinity; Brahma and Shiva.
    The Bhagavata Purana: In Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Krishna is declared to be Purna-Avatara- "Krishnastu Bhagavan Swayam", while the earlier Avataras are treated as Vibhava Avataras. He is said to possess all the six supreme qualities of perfection, "Bhaga" such as Jnana(Supreme Knowledge), Sakti(Supreme Potency), Bala(Supreme Strength), Aisvarya(Supreme Lordship), Virya(Supreme Virility) and Tejas(Supreme Splendour). As a avatara of Lord Vishnu, Sri Krishna establishes the twin qualities of Paratva.(transcendental character or Supremacy) and Saulabhya(easy accessibility) to a remarkable degree. Much more than in Ramayana, Bhagavatam contains numerous episodes testifying to Sri Vishnu’s Supremacy. Viz. Divine adventurous stories of Dhruva, Prahlada, Gajendra, Krishna’s sport with Gopi’s at Brindavan, the slaying of demoness Putana, Sakatasura, poisonous serpent Kaliya, Demon-King Kamsa, Emperor Naraka and others.

SRI and Vaishnavam philosophy - the link of this school with Sri

The Lord's consort Sri is regarded as the Mother of the Universe, also acts as a mediatrix(purushakara as referred in Sri Pillai Lokacharya’s Srivachanabhusanam) between man and God bringing man close to God and thirdly she is mentioned as the teacher(acharya) in the transmission of this tradition. This school of thought recently systematised by Sri Ramanuja Godess Sri occupies a important place.

In the Vishnu Purana, the author Sri Parasara glorifies Lord Vishnu who is the Supreme being always associated with Sri or Lakshmi as mutually inseparable, Whatever form the Lord may take, Sri joins him is a suitable form. In the Ramayana, Laksmi becomes Sita; in days of Sri Krishna avatara(Dwapara Yuga), Sri becomes Rukmini as understood in the couplet below :

"raghavatve abhavat sita, rukmini krishna janmani anyesu ca avataresu visnoresanapayini"

According to tradition, Sri has several connotations:

Srnati (nikhilan dosan)
She removes all sins.
Srinati (ca gunair jagat)
She nourishes the world by her virtues.
Sriyate (ca akhilair nityam)
She is resorted to by all beings forever.
Srayate (paramampadam)
She stays in the Highest abode.
She hears the petitions.
She makes the Lord hear.

In the Purusha Sukta, Lakshmi(Sri) and Bhudevi(Hri) are described as two consorts of Lord Vishnu "Hrishcha te Lakshmischa Patnyau..."

In the Sri Suktha, she is described as Godess of plenty, Charm and golden complexion, seated in the Lord’s Chest, hearing the cries od humanity, having a charitable disposition and keeping the Lord always in good humour to forgive the sins of men.

In the Chatuhsloki, a hymn composed by Yamunacharya(Sri Alavandhar), describes Sri as Godess of plenty, prosperity, compassion and supreme authority, all other Gods & Godesses as subordinate to Her, She stays in the Vaikuntha (Nitya-Vibhuti) along with Her Lord Vishnu, She is so great that even She Herself or the Lord does not know Her greatness in full. Without Her grace, none can aspire for any welfare in any of the world. She as an Acharya can even grant liberation through Her grace.

Many other Acharyas have sung hymns in praise of Lakshmi - Sriistava by Sri Kuresa, Sri Gunaratnakosa by Sri Parasara Bhattar and more. In the Saranagathi Gadya, Sri Ramanuja refers to Lakshmi as follows :
Akhila Jaganmaataram
- Mother of the whole world
- Refuge of all the helpless
- Never separated from the Lord Asankheya-Kalyana
- Possessor of innumerable auspicious qualities

It is to Her that Sri Ramanuja makes Sharanagathi(Surrender) first requesting Her to bless him in his effforts to perform Saranagathi at the feet of the Lord, thus confirming Her role as the Purusakara(Meidatrix).

Sri Sita, who is none other than Godess Lakshmi, intercedes with Sri Rama and saves Kakasura (the deamon crow) from sure death even though the latter had grievously hurt her. Another instance is that when Hanuman wanted to kill the Raksasis who were tormenting and torturing Sri Sita in Ravana’s Asokavana, Sri Sita pleads to Hanuman and protects them from Hanuman’s wrath, She tells Hanuman that "a noble person must be kind even to the most abominable sinners, there is none in this world who does not err (na Kascin-naparadhyati)"

It has to be understood that periya piraTTi not just serves as purushakara, but also is the one who grants moksha to all along with NarayaNa. The divine couple together grant salvation, and the daya of the Lord arrives from Sri. PerumaL can get angry sometimes, but Sri isnt aware of Anger, and is filled completely of Daya and karuNe on the jivas.