rangayAthrA dhinE dhinE - nandhana varusha pavithrOtsavam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

kulashEkara AzhwAr  longed to visit srirangam every day. He started his perumAL thirumozhi with glorifying sriranganAthan and his adiyArs. Seeing that, our pUrvAchAryAs also developed this craving for visiting srirangam and living there.

emperumAnAr recited gadhya thrayam (sharanAgathi gadhyam, sri ranga gadhyam and srivaikunta gadhyam) on a panguni uthram day in front of namperumAL and sriranga nAchiAr. He performed a sharaNagathi for the sole purpose of rescuing fallen jIvAthmAs. He requested to emperumAn and pirAtti that anyone who gets connected to the emperumAnAr dharisanam through authorized AchArya paramparai gets the same benediction he himself got - that is parampadha prApthi at the end of one's life. At that time, emperumAn promises to emperumAnAr that he will grant that benediction. emperumAn also instructs emperumAnAr to just stay in srirangam and relish the great meanings of dvaya mahAmanthram. What was said to emperumAnAr is taken as family wealth by all pUrvAchAryas, since every one considered to be part of this thondar kulam (family of servants to emperumAn).

Even if we are not able to go and live there permanently, we can atleast try to visit the holiest of shrines once in a while. adiyen had such bhAgyam to be in srirangam for 3 days and had the chance to participate in pavithrOtsavam this year. Even today, srirangam is one dhivya dhEsam where we can observe great enthusiasm and festivity in the manner every single thing is conducted. Really, if we want to understand who is the real king (rAjA) - we have to go and visually see rangarAjA in srirangam, The way the sripAdham thAngis (the ones who carry emperumAn) bring him out, the way the aruLappAdu is recited for every step/kainkaryam, the way emperumAn is carried around, the way thiruvArAdhanam and all the upachArams are done to him by the archakAs, the way vEdha viNNappam, etc are recited in front of him - it takes us literally to an unimaginable situation - we cant see this kind of setup anywhere else in this world. We really have to be present there to appreciate it all. We can also imagine how it would have been during our pUrvAchAryas times where they had no other life than emperumAn.

What is the use of our life, if it just stops with bhagavadh anubhavam? We should take it to the next level - bhAgavatha anubhavam. Everyday, both in the morning and evening, we can participate in aruLicheyal anubhavam in emperumAnAr sannidhi. NithyAnusandhAnam is recited nicely and we get some wonderful prasAdham as well. Also, on Tuesday (uthrAdam) aruLicheyal anushandhAnam followed by sthOtra rathnam recital happened at nAthamunigaL sannidhi for ALavandhAr. On Wednesday (Shravanam) and Thursday (avittam), aruLicheyal anusandhAnam happened at piLLai lOkAchAryar sannidhi. Also, srivachana bhUshanam and AchArya hrudhayam were wonderfully recited on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. mAmunigaL being the AchAryan of emperumAn himself, is thoroughly enjoying all of these right from his wonderful sannidhi as well.

Our vAnamAmalai jeeyar swamy is observing his chAthur mAsya vratham in srirangam this year. Swamy, even amidst his physical inconveniences, is actively participating in all the activities. ThadhiArAdhanam is being organized and several adiyArs are participating every day. On Wednesday evening, srimAn bhattar khuzhAm (run by Sri U.Ve parasAra bhadhir nArAyaNa bhattar swamy) students enacted the greatness of ponnadikkAl jeeyar (prime disciple of manavALa mAmunigaL and 1st swamy of vAnamAmalai mutt) and varthamAna jeeyar swamy was emotionally very moved by that presentation. On Thursday, swamy gave a mesmerizing lecture in front of many vidhwAns. Swamy spoke about the greatness of aruLicheyal, nammAzhwAr, our svarUpam, our bhAgyam in being born in vaishnava kulam, etc.

Being jnAna sthAnam of our sampradhAyam, several gurukulams are functioning actively there. Many kAlakshEpams are also happening there every day where several adhikAris are giving lectures.

All good things come to an end in this leelA vibhUthi. It was time to leave srirangam, but the memories are there to cherish and share with other bhAgavathas as well.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
archived in http://ponnadi.blogspot.in, also visit http://guruparamparai.wordpress.com

kiLaroLi iLamai - 5 - svarUpa jnAnam - avoiding anya sEshatvam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/kilaroli-ilamai-4-svarupa-jnanam.html) we observed the importance of avoiding sva svAthanthriyam.
Now, we will move on to the next hurdle, anya sEshatvam. anya means "other" and sEshatvam means "being subservient" - so this means "being subservient to some one other than emperumAn".

Every thing that needs to be understood is in Thirumanthram. praNavam which is the first padham (word) in thirumanthram has 3 letters akAram with hidden Aya (a), ukAram (u) and makAram (m). From makAram in praNavam, we have seen that the self is AthmA that is different from dhEham. From "akAram with the hidden Aya" in praNavam, we have seen that the self is not svathanthran. Now we can see from ukAram in praNavam which indicates that jIvAthmA is only subservient to emperumAn and no one else.

In ashtaslOki 4th slOkam, parAsara bhattar explains that, whenever we have doubt about jIvAthmA's anya sEshathvam, we simply have to look at ukAram and we will immediately understand that we are only subservient to emperumAn (and his adiyArs ofcourse which we will see in subsequent articles).

In mumukshupadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that ukAram means emphasis or that which identifies an exclusive aspect. Here, ukAram means jIvAthmA is subservient to emperumAn only and no one else. He also compares jIvAthmA becoming subservient to others (dhEvathAs/samsAris) is like preparing nice bhOgam for a yagyam (fire sacrifice) and giving that to a dog (instead of offering the same to the prescribed dhEvathAs for such sacrifices). 

He also goes on to say that it is more important to avoid anya sEshathvam than serving empeumAn. This is based on the understanding that paramAthmA and jIvAthmA share bharthru-bhAryA (husband-wife) relationship as we have seen in the previous article. This needs to be understood in the proper context and the following example will make it very clear. If there is misunderstanding between a husband and his wife, and the wife does not serve her husband it is bad. But, it is worse, when the wife goes and serves some one else. So, once we understand this relationship and accept emperumAn's supremacy, we should completely be devoid of any connection with other dhEvathAs.

As explained in sAstram, only sriman nArAyaNan is the supreme god. There are many dhEvathAs who are established by emperumAn out of his grace to deal with different kinds of jIvAthmAs. It is better to be a follower of a vaidhIha dharmam which helps upward progress of jIvAthmAs to slowly develop sathva guNam and finally become a vaishnava to get delivered from this samsAram. But once we become a vaishnava we should never look back and have any attachment (even a tiny little bit) towards dhEvathAntharams. While the dhEvathAs have sathva guNam at times, they are mostly either in rajO guNam or thamO guNam - both of which are to be given up by srivaishnavas.

kannan emperumAn in bhagavath gIthai establishes his supremacy in many places. We have seen some of those in the previous article. He also explains that all the demi-gods (anya dhEvathAs) are controlled by him and they are also bound in this samsAram. They can give some benedictions, but those will be temporary since they are benedictions towards the body. In the 7th chapter of gIthai, emperumAn explains that only less intelligent people will worship anya dhEvathAs. He also says that whatever benedictions they give are not directly given by them, but emperumAn being the antharyAmi of those dhEvathAs, he gives those benedictions through them. And also, even when we worship those dhEvathAs we are worshipping emperumAn only - but in a wrong way.

In the upanishads, it is said that "kAranNam thu dhyEya:" - meditate on the kAraNa vasthu (one that is the cause of everything). According to sAstram there are 3 types of causes - upAdhAna kAraNam, nimitha kAraNam and sahakAri kAraNam. EmperumAn is all these 3 causes so he is the only person who can be meditated upon. Let us have a quick understanding of these 3 causes.
  • upAdhAna kAraNam - (raw) material cause - emperumAn has sUkshma (subtle) chEthanam (sentient) and achEthanam (non-sentient) as his body. These during creation becomes sthUla (gross) chEthanam and achEthanam.
  • nimitha kAraNam - instrumental cause - emperumAn is sankalpa visishtan - one who takes the oath that let creation happen and this drives the creation.
  • sahakAri kAraNam - ancillary cause - emperumAn has jnAnam, shakthi, etc which are used by him in the process of creation.

 AzhwArs also identify in many places that we should completely avoid worshipping dhEvathAntharams.
  • MudhalAzhwArs establish the parathvam of emperumAn.  
  • Thirumazhisai AzhwAr who is known as uraiyilidAthavar (one who does not put the sword in its pouch) for his unflinching confidence in emperumAn and avoidance of dhEvathAntharam. He says "thiruvillAth thEvarai thErEnmin thEvu" (திருவில்லாத் தேவரை தேரேன்மின் தேவு) - only sriya:pathi is dhEvan (worshippable deity) and others are not qualified for worship, "maRaNthum puRam thozhA mANthar" (மறந்தும் புறம் தொழா மாந்தர்) - srivaishnavas will never worship anyone other than emperumAn.
  • nammAzhwAr says "dhEvan emperumAnukkallAl pUvum pUchanaiyum thagumE" (தேவன் எம்பெருமானுக்கல்லால் பூவும் பூசனையும் தகுமே) - only sriya:pathi is qualified to be worshipped. He establishes that we should avoid dhEvathAnthara bhajanam in "thIrpArai Amini" padhigam and several other places.
  • kulashEkara AzhwAr did not even think about a moment about any one other than emperumAn and his adiyArs. In his "tharu thuyaram thadAyEl" padhigam he establishes that he is not dependant on any one else other than emperumAn.
  • periyAzhwAr is well known to have established vishnu parathvam in pAndian king's sabhai. 
  • AndAL says "even if there is some discussion happens in srivilliputhUr that I am going to be married to any one other than emperumAn, I will give up my life immediately".
  • Thondaradippodi AzhwAr was utterly focussed on thiruvaranganAthan only. He says he does not care for yama's servants because they have no control over srivaishnavas.
  • ThiruppANAzhwAr was also fully focussed on thiruvaranganAthan only as we understand from his pAsurams.
  • Thirumangai AzhwAr in several places shows the deficiencies in dhEvathAntharam and goes on to say "maRRumOr dheyvam uLadhenRu iruppArOdu uRRilEn" (மற்றுமோர் தெய்வம் உளதென்று இருப்பாரோடு உற்றிலேன்). He says not only he will avoid the association of dhEvathAntharam, but he will also not have any association with those who accept dhEvathAntharam.
Our pUrvAchAryas also completely avoided dhEvathAnthara sambandham as we can see in the following incidents:
  • Once during a purappAdu of namperumAL it starts raining. namperumAL is taken inside a dhEvathAntharam temple (AnaikkAval near srirangam). At that time, emperumAnar is getting drenched in the rain but refuses to go in. When asked, he says "emperumAn is vishwapathi (husband to all), he can go anywhere, but me being his wife, I wont step into some one else's place".
  • kooraththAzhwAn gives up his own eyes when insisted by saiva king to accept and declare shiva parathvam.
  • When piLLai urangAvilli dhAsar's nephews saw a jain temple, they assumed it to be a vishnu temple and worshiped. But learning that it is a jain temple, they immediately lost consciousness out of great mental distress. dhAsar comes running to them and give them sripAdha thULi (dust) of srivaishnavas, they regain consciousness.
There are many such incidents which show that we should completely avoid dhEvathAnthara bhajanam.

In today's scenario though, we can see many srivaishnavas having dhEvathAnthra connections and engaging in such worship. Some even say that it is customary in their family to do that. But as erumbiappA says in vilakshaNa moKsha adhikAri nirNayam we should only follow what is customary for our pUrvAchAryas, not what is followed in the past few generations (things which got introduced into the family out of ignorance). Also, even after giving up all other dhEvathAntharams, some srivaishnavas are attached to vinAyaka and some bAbAs. These are to be completely avoided for the betterment of the jIvAthmA. Nowhere our pUrvAchAryas showed any tinge of attachment to any dhEvathAntharam. We should also have full understanding that when emperumAn is protecting us, no dhEvathAntharam can cause any suffering to us. Infact, even dhEvathAntharams have great respect for srivaishnavas only, as explained by our pUrvAchAryas.

With this understanding, we will move on to svarUpa yAthAthmya jnAnam in the next article.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

kiLaroLi iLamai - 4 - svarUpa jnAnam - avoiding sva svAthanthriyam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/kilaroli-ilamai-3-svarupa-jnanam.html) we observed the importance of avoiding dhEhAthma abhimAnam.
By nature, emperumAn is the only svathanthran (independent) and all the jIvAthmAs are parathanthras (dependent). When in samsAram, emperumAn gives independence to jIvAthmAs to let them choose their destination. Since jIvAthmAs are chEthanas (with knowledge), it is appropriate for them to apply their knowledge to choose what they want to do. When the jIvAthmAs dont use their intelligence and take to emperumAn they are bound in samsAram and when they accept emperumAn's supremacy and realize their pArathanthriyam they get delivered.

EmperumAn being a dhayALu is always looking to help every jIvAthmA - He gives body/senses to AthmAs during shrushti, gives sAstram, comes down himself as avathArams, preaches through AzhwArs/AchAryas, etc. All he expects from the jIvAthmAs is to stop protesting to give them the highest benediction (This expectation fits perfectly with jIvAthma svarUpam - this act of giving up the protest is explained as adhikAri visEshanam or natural quality of jIvAthma. It should not be confused as upAyam since emperumAn is the only upAyam for the true benediction). When the jIvAthmA stops the protest, emperumAn then slowly creates an attachment in the minds of jIvAthmA towards him, develops the ruchi and leads him to sAdhu sangam and finally AchArya  sambandham. Through the AchAryan, the jIvAthmA gets full knowledge and finally gets liberated and performs nithya kainkaryam in parampadham. 

This act of withdrawing the protest can be explained through the following example. When it is raining and we are holding an umbrella, if we want to get wet, all we need to do is to withdraw the umbrella - we dont need to do anything more. The same way if we want to drench ourselves in bhagavath krupai, we just need to accept it instead of rejecting it - nothing more.

EmperumAn's supremacy

In ashta slOki - 4th slOkam, parAsara bhattar explains that "By looking at the 'akAram' with the hidden 'Aya' in praNavam, we understand that emperumAn is the only independent personality and we are all subservient to him". To understand why we should give up sva svAthanthriyam, we have to understand emperumAn's supremacy (parathvam) and the true relationship between emperumAn and jIvAthmAs.

AzhwArs in many place declares  emperumAn's supremacy.
  • Thirumazhisai AzhwAr says "NAnmuganai NArAyanNan padaiththAn, NAnmuganum thAn mukamAy chanGkaranai thAn padaiththAn" ("நான்முகனை நாராயணன் படைத்தான், நான்முகனும் தான் முகமாய் சங்கரனை தான் படைத்தான்").
  • NammAzhwAr says "imaiyOr thalaivA" ("இமையோர் தலைவா"), "ayarvaRum amarargaL adhipathi" ("அயர்வறும் அமரர்கள் அதிபதி"), "oththAr mikkArai ilaiyAya mA mAyA" ( "ஒத்தார் மிக்காரை இலையாய மா மாயா"), "muNNIr nYAlam padaiththa en mugil vanNnNA" ("முந்நீர் ஞாலம் படைத்த என் முகில்வண்ணா"), etc.
  • ThiruppANAzhwAr says "amalan Adhi pirAn" ("அமலன் ஆதி பிரான்")
In bhagavath gIthai, gIthAchAryan declares that he is the supreme and everything depends on him.
  • In 7.7, he says that there is nothing superior to him and everything rests upon him, as pearls are strung on a thread. This pearls/string analogy is a brilliant one by emperumAn as in this case, since the string is invisible, the less intelligent will think that it does not exist. On the other hand, an intelligent person will understand that pearls cannot hold on together without the string. The same way only an intelligent person will undestand that all jIvAthmAs depend on emperumAn for their existence even.
  • In 10.8 - he says that he is the source of everything and everything comes out of him. The intelligent persons who understand this will engage in his serving him.
  • In 10.42 - he says with a small portion of his shakthi he supports this entire material world. 

Our relationship to emperumAn

Next we should understand his relationship with the jIvAthmAs. He is the true bandhu to all jIvAthmAs. All the other relationships such as father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, etc are aupAthikam (came out of our karma and temporary) while relationship between jIvAthma and emperumAn is nirupAthikam (natural and eternal).

piLLai lOkAchAryar, in a rahasya grantham called nava vidha sambandham explains this in an excellent manner. He starts the grantham with a wonderful slOkam which is very simple, should be memorized by everyone of us and to be remembered all the time. 

pithAs cha rakshaka sEshi barthA jnEyO ramApathi:
svAmy adhArO mama AthmA cha bhokthA cha AdhyamanUdhitha:

This wonderful slOkam explains the nine types of relationships (sambandhams) between emperumAn (ramApathi) and jIvAthmA as explained in thirumanthram.
  • Father/Son - emperumAn is considered as the eternal father to each jIvAthmA, since he is the one who is always thinking hitham (goodness) for the jIvAthmA.
  • protector/protected - emperumAn is the only protector and the jIvAthmA is the protected. This is explained by piLLai lOkAchAryar in prapanna parithrANam in a detailed manner.
  • Master/Servant - emperumAn is always the master and jIvAthmA is the servant. 
  • Husband/Wife - just like wife is always dependent on husband, jIvAthmA is dependant on emperumAn.
  • Known/Knower - emperumAn is the object of knowledge for the jIvAthmA. Real knowledge means knowing emperumAn's svarUpam (nature), rUpam (forms), guNam (qualities), vibhavam (avathArams), vibhuUthi (wealth), etc.
  • svAmy/svam - emperumAn is the proprietor and jIvAthmA is the property.
  • AdhAra/AdhEyam - emperumAn is the one who holds every thing and jIvAthmA is held by emperumAn.
  • sarIri/sarIram - just like AthmA is inside body and controls it, emperumAn is inside jIvAthmA and controls him.
  • bhOkthA/bhOgyam - emperumAn is the ultimate enjoyer and jIvAthma is the enjoyed. But when emperumAn enjoys jIvAthmA, since jIvAthmA has knowledge, he also shares that joy.
piLLai lOkAchAryar says in the end that when one who understands these relationships properly, that will lead to jIvAthmAs bliss (which is a natural attribute of the jIvAthmA).

With the proper understanding of emperumAn's supremacy and our relationship with emperumAn, it only makes sense to give up our svAthanthriyam and act according to it. This is what nammAzhwAr also says in thiruvAimozhi 2.9.9:

yAnE ennai aRiyagilAthE (யானே என்னை அறியகிலாதே)
yAnE enthanathE enRiruNthEn (யானே என்தனதே என்றிருந்தேன்)
yAnE NI ennudaimaiyum NIyE (யானே நீ என்னுடைமையும் நீயே)
vAnE Eththum emvAnavarERE (வானே ஏத்தும் எம்வானவரேறே)

Simple translation: AzhwAr says to emperumAn who is hailed by nithyasUris themselves  "Before being blessed with divine knowledge by you, I was thinking that I was independent and I owned everything. But after getting the knowledge, I understand that me and my belongings are yours".

With this understanding, we will move on to the next pitfall to avoid, that is anya sEshathvam, in the next post.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan


kiLaroLi iLamai - 3 - svarUpa jnAnam - avoiding dhEhAthma abhimAnam

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/kilaroli-ilamai-part-2-svarupa-jnanam.html) we observed the basics of svarUpa jnAnam.
Real knowledge about self means understanding the self to be jIvAthma, one who is sEshan to emperumAn. In thiruvAimozhi 8.8.2, "adiyEn uLLAn" pAsuram, an incident from our pUrvAchAryas lives is explained by nampiLLai. A doubt arises in emperumAnAr's kAlakshEpa gOshti - what is the most important quality of jIvAthma? Is it being knowledgable or being subservient to emperumAn. emperumAnAr sends AzhwAn to thirukkOshtiyUr nambi (one of his AchAryas) to find out the answer (he already knows but he wants to establish it through his AchAryan's words). AzhwAn serves nambi for 6 months and finally when nambi asks the reason for his visit, AzhwAn asks the question. For that nambi says "since AzhwAr says adiyen uLLAn, where adiyen represents jIvAthmA here, sEshathvam is the main quality of jIvAthmA". "adiyen" represents subservience to emperumAn - so AzhwAr (who was blessed by emperumAn with divine knowledge) thus establishes the real identification of jIvAthmA.

kannan emperumAn as gIthAchAryan spoke bhagavath gIthai to Arjunan. bhagavath gIthai is very special for us since it was directly spoken by emperumAn himself. That is why emperumAnAr wrote a detailed commentary in gIthA bhAshyam and vedhAnthAchAryar explained it further in his thAthpariya chandhrikai. Arjunan came to the battle field prepared to fight but when he saw his guru (dhrONa), grand father (bhIshma), dhuryOdhan (brother), etc on the opposite side, he got overwhelmed with emotions, thinking that why should he fight against his own relatives?. He starts shivering and his gAndIpam slips from his hands. It is explained by our pUrvAchAryas that arjunan is not a common man - when he saw Urvasi (from heavenly abode who will mesmerize anyone), he calls her Mother - such was his control over senses. But even he started thinking that he should not fight his bodily relatives even when they are involved in adharma. Such is the power of this prakruthi, even great personalities can fall into the trap of confusing between AthmA and dhEham.

Seeing arjunan like this, gIthAchAryan first establishes the permanent nature of jIvAthmAs. In most of the 2nd adhyAyam (chapter) in gIthai, emperumAn talks about the difference between jIvAthmA and dhEham. We must understand that we are not the body - if we get that clarity, our activities will automatically be based on what is good for AthmA (instead of what is good for the body).

In slOkam 2.12, which is where gIthai starts really, emperumAn says that "Never there was a time you, I or the (jIvAthmAs who are in the bodies of these) kings did not exist, nor will there be a time when we wont exist". This slOkam:
This is a very important slOkam (emperumAnAr has done a detailed vyAkyAnam in his gIthA bhAshyam for this slOkam) here emperumAn establishes several things:
  • jIvAthmA is different from paramAthmA - since you and I are used.
  • jIvAthmAs are many and unique - since it talks about arjunan and kings specifically
  • we also can understand that jIvAthmAs take different bodies eternally in samsAram (ofcourse until the individual gets the mOskham)
In the next slOkam, 2.13, gIthAchAryan explains that how an intelligent person will easily understand that AthmA at the time of death will take another body just like it goes through various bodies like a boy, adult, man/woman and aged person.
In the next slOkam 2.14, emperumAn explains to arjunan that when our senses (sound, touch, vision, rasa, smell) interact with the five elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) we feel happiness/distress, heat/cold. We should learn to tolerate such interactions since those are for the (temporary) body only.
In slOkam 2.18, emperumAn instructs arjunan to fight with the understanding that the body which is visible to the eyes is perishable but the AthmA which is inside the body is the one who will enjoy the fruits of the action and that AthmA is permanent.

Finally, in slOkam 2.24, emperumAn explains to arjunan that the AthmA cannot be cut, burnt, dissolved, dried. AthmA is permanent, old (unborn) and he is situated in the heart and spread throughout the body through his dharmabhUtha jnAnam.

Thus, emperumAn clearly establishes the differences between AthmA and dhEham as the first principle for us to understand. If we dont have this understanding and keep thinking that we are this body, our actions will also be not situated properly. For example, if a person is appointed as an Accountant in a company, but if he thinks that he is a Manager and acts according to his thinking, surely he will be doing inappropriate things. Same way, when we have dhEhAthma abhimAnam, i.e., thinking that we are the body and act according to that, the actions will be inappropriate only.

With this understanding, we will move on to the next pitfall to avoid, that is sva svAthanthriyam in the next post.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

kiLaroLi iLamai - 2 - svarUpa jnAnam - basics

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the previous article (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/kilaroli-ilamai-part-1-introduction.html) we observed the importance of reaching out to emperumAn/AchAryan when we are young and active.

In this article, let us try to understand the basics of svarUpa jnAnam.

The first step in reaching out to emperumAn is to understand who we are (svarUpa jnAnam). Without understanding who we are, it is impossible to understand anything else properly.

Ours is a thathva thraya samprAdhAyam - there are 3 thathvas (entities) - chith, achith and Ishvaran. 
  • chith is sentient being - infinite number of entities that have knowledge
  • achith is non-sentient object - matter that has no knowledge
  • Ishvaran is the supreme sentient being who is the single/supreme controller of all chith and achith
In this we fall under the chith category since we all have jnAnam (knowledge). The fact that we are controlled by Ishvaran means that we are subservient all the time. So jnAthruthvam (being with knowledge) and sEshathvam (being subservient) are the two most important attributes of jIvAthmAs - to put it in the words of our pUrvAchAryas - that knowledge which makes us realize we are subservient to emperumAn is the main attribute of jIvAthmA.

Our sidhAntham is called visistAdhvaitham - qualified monism. This means, there is one brahmam (paramAthmA) that has infinite jIvAthmAs and matter as body. This is called sarIra-sarIri bhAvam. Just like the body is controlled by the soul (jIvAthmA) from within, the souls are controlled by the supersoul (paramAthmA) from within. This is also called as apruthak-siddha visEshaNam - which means that paramAthmA is inseparable from jIvAthmAs and matter.

It is explained by pillai lOkAchAriar in thathva thrayam, that chith is different from dhEha (body), indhriya (senses), mana (mind), prANa (life air), etc. This can be understood by the fact that
  • dhEham, etc are seen as objects belonging to the AthmA
  • dhEham, etc as seen as mine and AthmA as I
  • AthmA is always felt, while dhEham, etc are felt at times and not felt otherwise - for example, while sleeping we dont realise anything else but when we wake up, we understand that we slept well (or not so well).
  • dhEham, etc are many but AthmA is one (in relation to each individual) - one person has a child body, later adult body followed by older body - but the person remains the same. Same way there are many senses (touch, vision, etc) but AthmA is only one. 
  • beyond all of these, sAstram says that AthmA is different from dhEham, etc and that is ultimate pramANam for the ones who accept sAstram.
In this context we have to understand the terms ahankAram and mamakAram. A simple phrase from vishnu purANam explains these two - anAthmani Athma budhi, asvE sva budhi.
  • anAthamani  Athma budhi is ahankAram - i.e., considering what is not AthmA (dhEham, etc) as AthmA. This ahankAram is the cause for dhEhAthma abhimAnam - thinking that AthmA and dhEham (body) are non-different and acting according to that.
  • asvE sva budhi is mamakAram - i.e., considering some one else's property as our own. mamakAram is the cause for sva svAthanthriyam - thinking that we (AthmA) are our own (independent) instead of thinking that we are owned by emperumAn and acting according to that.
When we get rid of these two (ahankAram and mamakAram) we will automatically get bhagavadh sAkshAkAram. This is explained very nicely by periyavAchAn pillai in his vyAkyAnam for thirumangai AzhwAr's thirunedunthAndakam - pAsuram 22. In this pAsuram, emperumAn tries to convince parakAla nAyaki, since parakAla nAyaki was taken aback by emperumAn's parathvam. emperumAn sings a special tune (naivaLam) which will mesmerize any one and it did mesmerize parakAla nAyaki. So, parakAla nAyaki says "I no longer sees my  own kaivaLai (bangles) and mEkhalai (belt) but see emperumAn's beauty". Here kaivaLai and mEkhalai are compared to ahankAram and mamakAram which are the causes for bondage in samsAram and once they are rid of, we get bhagavadh sAkshAthkAram.
We will see in the next post more about how to get rid of dhEhAthma abhimAnam from gIthAchAryan's own words.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

kiLaroLi iLamai - 1 - introduction

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

NammAzhwAr who is a parama kAruNikar talks about thirumAlirunchOlai emperumAn who is a parama dhayALu in thiruvAimozhi 2.10. In this padhigam, nammAzhwar explains artha panchakam very nicely. He says that one must understand emperumAn and the real self at an early age, act according to his svarUpa jnAnam (surrender to emperumAn and do kainkaryam in this life), avoid the hurdles and ultimately aim for serving emperumAn permanently in paramapadham.

In thiruAimozhi first padhigam, AzhwAr enjoys emperumAn (svAnumbhavam). Immediately, in the second padhigam, AzhwAr looking at the pitiful state of the samsAris who are full of ignorance, starts doing parOpadhEsam in veedu min muRRavum (1.2) padhigam. There he says - first give up the attachments to everything in this world and hold on to emperumAn immediately. This is AzhwAr's charama slOkam - sarva dharmAn parithyajya mAm (krishna) Ekam charaNam vraja. For AzhwAr, the samsAram is unbearable - while he himself has pure knowledge and enjoying emperumAn in his heart, when he looks at others he becomes very sad. An example is given by our pUrvAchAryas for this - when our neighbour's house is caught on fire, we may be safe, but still we also cry out "fire! fire!" out of fear. The same way, nammAzhwAr understanding the difficulties in samsAram by the grace of emperumAn cries out to save others.

In the kiLaroLi iLamai padhigam, AzhwAr explains that one should attempt to get svarUpa jnAnam at a very young age since this world is very temporary and we cannot predict anything. He follows the words of kannan emperumAn who in gIthai said that this samsAram is dhukkAlayam (place of sorrows) and asAsvatham (impermanent). 

AzhwAr, first starts with upadhEsam to us, saying that we should understand that when we are young and active we can easily reach out to emperumAn, but when we are old,  we will have a lot of difficulties and focussing on emperumAn will be very difficult. To illustrate this, we often hear the following example:
When some one is young and active they are fully engaged in loukIka activities, taking up material pursuits, etc - and  when some one says why dont you engage in kainkaryam, the reply we get is "let me do it after my retirement - I will have all the time for kainkaryam". But when we reach 50, we start having all sorts of physical issues like backpain, knee pain, etc - we wont be able to even sit in aruLicheyal or kAlakshEpam gOshti for even more than half an hour let alone think about doing any kainkaryam. We will also have family commitments (taking care of grand children, etc) which takes up a lot of our time. It is rare for someone to come out of these difficulties/bondage at the later part of their life. That is why AzhwAr says develop the attachment towards kainkaryam at an early age, so it stays forever with us.

In the final pAsuram of this padhigam, AzhwAr says:
poruLenRu ivvulakam padaiththavan pugazh mEl (பொருளென்று இவ்வுலகம் படைத்தவன் புகழ் மேல்)
maruLil vanNkurugUr vanNchatagOpan (மருளில் வண்குருகூர் வண்சடகோபன் )
theruLkoLLachchonna OrAyiraththuL ippaththu (தெருள்கொள்ளச்சொன்ன ஓராயிரத்துள் இப்பத்து)
aruLudayavan thAL anNaivikkum mudiththE (அருளுடயவன் தாள் அணைவிக்கும் முடித்தே)
Simple translation: EmperumAn is repeatedly doing srushti out of his vAtsalyam (pugazh) towards the jIvAthmAs, hoping that some day/some jIvAthmAs will use their body and senses in glorifying emperumAn and reaching him. By understanding what is sung by kurugur chatagOpan who has pure knowledge (without any defects) in 10 songs out of the 1000 to bring clarity in the minds of mumukshus, we will reach paramapadham purely by the grace (aruL) of emperumAn. This pAsuram itself explains artha panchakam:
  • emperumAn is the parmAthmA
  • mumukshu is the jIvAthma who is trying to reach emperumAn
  • emperumAn's aruL is the upAyam 
  • emperumAn's thAL (lotus feet) is the goal
  • our ignorance (maruL) is the virOdhi

AzhwAr also shows that we should develop vairAgyam towards Ishwarya/kaivalyam (wealth and AthmAnubhavam) in oru nAyagamAi padhigam - thiruvAimozhi 4.1 and we should develop vairAgyam towards samsAris in naNNAthAr muruvalippa padhigam - thiruvAimozhi 4.9.

Thirumangai AzhwAr also mentions the same thing in muRRa mUththuk kOl thunNaiyaa (முற்ற  மூத்துக் கோல் துணையா) in periya thirumozhi 1.3. He encourages every one to go and surrender to badhri emperumAn (this we can understand easily since when we are old it is even physically very difficult to go to badharikAshram).

When koorathAzhwAn started instructing thirumanthrArtham, he asked parAsara bhattar and vEdhavyAsa bhattar to leave the kAlakshEpa gOshti since they are direct disciples of embAr. But when they started leaving, AzhwAn called them in again and said that, this world is so temporary and something could happen to both of them in the time they walk to embAr's thirumALigai - so he himself instructed them that knowledge at once.

When it comes to understanding the self, there is svarUpa jnAnam and svarUpa yAthathmya jnAnam, let us see that in the next post.

adiyen is writing this article since one of adiyen's Athma bandhus asked adiyen to write on this topic. Request everyone to ignore the mistakes if any and just take the essence.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Srivaishnava AhAra niyamam - Q & A

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

In the original post (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/07/srivaishnava-aahaara-niyamam_28.html) relating to AhAra niyamam we observed the fundamentals in this topic. One swamy (Sri U.Ve. Sridharan) who is adiyen's Apthar prepared a questionnaire on AhAra niyamam and requested adiyen to fill in the details. adiyen thought it would be better to get the answers from a prAmANikar (authoritative person) instead of adiyen just answering myself. So, adiyen requested Sri U.Ve. Rangarajan swamy to get the answers personally from ThiruppullANi Sri U. Ve. Sundararaja iyengAr swamy (srirangavAsi now) who is a well respected authority in our sampradhAyam. swamy spent some of his valuable time and gave the answers for our queries. This article is an attempt to document those valuable questions and answers.

Words of Caution: This is not an attempt to find fault in anyone or look down upon other's food habbits. It is an effort to document what is mentioned in sAstram in this regard. Every one of us can try to adhere to the principles as much as we can.

There are certain raw materials which we are not clear about - i.e., what they really contain, how they are processed, etc. When in doubt about the raw material or the process involved, it is always better to avoid such food items.

Traditionally, foreign foods (foods that originated from outside India and foods that were produced outside India) are avoided. Most temples, mutts and ThirumALigais dont use anything other than the traditional foods.

Here are the questions we asked swAmy and his answers:

Queries on Temple prasAdham
  • Many times in the temples, some devotees (not from our community) with vessels, give prasAdham to all other devotees who pass by. Can that be accepted and consumed by us? Or should prasAdham be accepted only from the authorized people?
prasAdham should only be accepted from srivaishnavas.
  • Consider the case when we come to the temple after the prasAdha viniyOham is over. If a devotee (not from our community) gives us a bit of that prasAdham, should that be accepted?
  • Can/Should we accept prasAdham from all srivaishnavas (one who had pancha samskAram) irrespective of their age, jnAnam and anushtAnam? 
  • What if the prasAdham during viniyogam falls down from our hands? Is it still edible after picking it up from the temple floor?
  • Is it true that the temple prasAdham (both flowers and food) that we get, can be offered to our (sAlagrama) perumAL at home?
We can do that if we know that the temple (kainkaryaparars) maintains anushtAnam. swAmy said only two divyadhEsams maintain proper anushtAnam nowadays (could not confirm which two divyadhEsams but paramapadham and ksheerAbdhi are probably the safest ones to assume).

Queries on food in general

  • What is the remedy if we have had food at a house where no AchAram has been practiced under some unavoidable circumstances?
One day upavAsam (fasting)

  • Krishnan says in gIthai that if one ‘jAmam’ passes by after making the food, it should not be consumed. Does this hold true for bakshanam’s and pickles?
bakshaNams fried in oil dont fall under this category.

  • Is it true that in srivaishnava sampradayam, the concept of ishta pandhi holds good? So can dhivasa food at any bandhu’s house be consumed?
No. We can only share/consume pithru sEsham of Athma bandhus.
  • A BhOgi should have food only twice a day as per sAstram (yOgi - one meal, bhOgi (enjoyer) - two meals, rOgi (person with disease) - three meals). Do milk, fruits and prasAdha viniyOham make a bhOjanam?
No. Since it is not complete meals, they can be consumed in addition to the two meals.
  • Is it true that on amavsya days evening food should be consumed before sunset?
No. We cannot consume food after sunset on amAvAsyai.
  • What types of food should be avoided at night?
keerai thandu(leafy vegetables), curd, etc..
  • During travels, Can We Consume Fruits that are purchased?
Yes, one can.  One has to wash it with water and then offer it to EmperumAn and then consume. 

Queries on water
  • Is there a rule that when we go to somebody’s house, we should have atleast water in their house and not come on empty stomach?
  • Are the restrictions about eating only for food or also for water? The reason behind this is the story where Krishnan sends Indran to give water to Udhankar Maharishi. Udhankar refuses since Indran comes in the form of a chandalan.
Yes. There are restrictions.
  • Should water also be consumed in the morning only after a bath? (is snAnAthva bhunjItha applicable here?)
Yes. We can consume anything only after thiruvArAdhanam for our home perumAL.

Queries on milk
  • Is it correct that milk should not be consumed in day time?
No. It can be consumed.
  • Is powdered milk permissible?
Don’t know how they make.
  • Is sOya milk permissible?
Don’t know how they make. But since this is sourced generally from outside bhAratha bhUmi, this should not be consumed.

Queries on Permissible/Prohibited fruits/ vegetables /food items:

Are the following food permissible:
Keerai types other than Agathi keerai and molai keerai?
Y (some keerai types are consumable - not all)
Corn / Sweet Corn
Brinjal (white/pink)
Pink  is Ok, No for white

Custard Apple
Water Melon

Food Items
N - If broken at home, it can be consumed.
Maida (finely milled and refined wheat floor)
? process.
Javvarisi (Sago)
Panan kalkandu
N - if broken at home, it can be consumed.
Pori (Puffed Rice) prepared at home
N - yes if roasted at home.
Boiled Rice
N - if prepared from scratch (i.e., boiling itself) at home, it can be consumed.
Panneer (made from milk)
Bajra (pearl millet)
Ragi (finger millet)
cooking soda
baking soda
white sugar
? process, traditionally only brown bulk sugar is used.
"?" indicates doubtful about the raw material or the process involved. When in doubt about the raw material or the process involved, it is always better to avoid such food items. 

We have listed the restricted items here. Those which are not restricted here, it is best for one to enquire and consume them. Thanks to SrI u vE bharathan swamy for additional inputs.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan