virOdhi parihArangaL - 13

srImathE satagOpAya nama:
srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:

srImadh varavaramunayE nama:
srI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

emperumAnAr explains to vangi puratthu nambi the obstacles that are faced by srIvaishNavas in various aspects of day-to-day life. vangi puratthu nambi documents these instructions in a wonderful grantham with commentary named virOdhi parihArangaL (removal of obstacles). We are now viewing the English translation of this grantham with the help of the explanations given by srI U. vE. V V Ramanujam swamy. The whole series can be viewed at

Please see the previous article at

 dhivya dhEsa archAvathAra emperumAns - target of dhivya prabhandham

 nammAzhwAr, emperumAnAr, mAmunigaL - The main propagators of dhivya prabhandham

44. sankIrthana virOdhi (ஸங்கீர்த்தன விரோதி) - Obstacles in singing and speaking (the glories of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas)

sankIrthanam means singing or speaking or reciting. It generally refers to vAchika (words) kainkaryam (Translator's note: kainkaryam can be done through mind, words/speech and body).

  • Speaking bhagavAn's supremacy while discussing his simplicity is an obstacle. guNa kIrthanam - remebering emperumAn's glorious attributes and speaking about the same. emperumAn has 2 unique qualities (which no one else has) - full in auspicious qualities and devoid of inauspicious qualities. Of the auspicious qualities, there are 2 categories - those qualities that focus on bhagavAn's parathvam (supremacy) and those qualities that focus on bhagavAn's saulabhyam (simplicity). We can recollect nammAzhwAr's thiruvAimozhi pAsuram 1.3.4 "yArumOr nilaimaiyanena aRivariya emperumAn yArumOr nilaimaiyanena aRiveLiya emperumAn" (யாருமோர் நிலைமையனென அறிவரிய எம்பெருமான் யாருமோர் நிலைமையனென அறிவெளிய எம்பெருமான்) - emperumAn remains such that he (his parathvam (supremacy)) cannot be comprehended easily and he (his saulabhyam (simplicity)) can be easily comprehended. There is no upper limit for his supremacy and there is no lower limit for his simplicity (i.e., he makes  himself available very easily for his devotees). His simplicity can be seen in two of his attributes: saulabhyam (easy accessibility/approachability) and sausIlyam (mixing freely with others disregarding his supremacy). Though he descends into various incarnations with all his auspicious and supreme qualities, he shines radiantly due to his simplicity. It is this simplicity which melts the hearts of his devotees. nammAzhwAr says "eLivarumiyalvinan" (எளிவருமியல்வினன் - naturally simple) in thiruvAimozhi 1.3.2. In thiruvAimozhi 1.3.1, AzhwAr remembers krishNan being bound by yasOdhA for stealing butter saying "eththiRam! uralinOdu iNainthirunthu Engiya eLivE!" (How is it possible? what simplicity in being bound to the mortar and manifesting helpless nature (even after being the supreme)?) and faints for a long period as explained in history. In thiruppAvai, ANdAL nAchiyAr explains that gOvindhan (cow herd - one who tends the cows) is the biggest and dearest name for krishNan (which explains his simplicity). The name "nArAyaNan" (which speaks about his supremacy) is said to be a small name. The gOpis say "chiRupErazhaiththanavum chIRi aruLAthE em iRaivA" (சிறுபேரழைத்தனவும் சீறி அருளாதே எம் இறைவா) - Dear Lord! If we call you by your small name, please do not become angry on us. guNavAn (One of the qualities explained for srI rAma in srI rAmAyaNam by vAlmIkI) explains srI rAma as the one with abundance of saulabhyam (easy accessibility) and sausIlyam (mixing freely with everyone). Thus, while speaking about the qualities that are focussed on simplicity, one should not discuss his supremacy - that is never desirable.
  • bhagavAn should be glorified as svayam prayOjanam (glorifying emperumAn in itself is the goal - it is not done expecting something from bhagavAn in return). Glorifying bhagavAn to receive some wealth, benefit or fame is an obstacle. bhagavAn's auspicious qualities are to be sung/spoken in a blissful manner for both the speaker and listener.
  • Glorifying incomplete/defective personalities is an obstacle. This is to be understood as instructing us to avoid dhEvathAntharams. Translator's note: emperumAn is explained as the abode of all auspicious qualities and directly opposite to inauspicious qualities. srIvaishNavas who are fully devoted to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas are also fully eligible for our glorification. But other dhEvathas such as rudhran, brahmA, indhran, skandhan, dhurgA, etc., are all bound souls in this samsAram. While they are empowered by bhagavAn to perform certain aspects in this samsAram, they are still limited in so many ways and are in the modes of rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance) many times. So, they dont truly deserve to be glorified by srIvaishNavas.
  • Disregarding glorification of bhagavAn citing that the language is not samskritham. bhagavAn can be glorified in any language.  Translator's note: samskritham is hailed as dhEva bhAshA (divine language). vEdham is in samskritham language and is full of glorification for emperumAn. But in many other languages there are many literature that glorify emperumAn. azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr (the divine brother of piLLai lOkAchAryar) compiled a wonderful prabhandham (prose) named AchArya hrudhayam which is a collection of sUthrams in thamizh. In this prabhandam, he establishes that, irrespective of their birth, AzhwArs' glories are unlimited because they were directly blessed by emperumAn and thus were fully surrendered to him; irrespective of the language in which they are written (thamizh), 4000 dhivya prabhandhams are glorious since they are the essence of four vEdhams and fully glorify emperumAn alone. Thus he establishes the glories of AzhwArs and their dhivya prabhandhams and prove that they are to be pursued fully by srIvaishNavas.
  • Glorifying other materially minded persons (who may be wealthy, politically powerful, etc) and dhEvathAntharams with the tongue/mouth that is given specifically to glorify emperumAn in an obstacle.  nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 3.9.1 "ennAvil inkavi yAn oruvarkkum kodukkilEn, ennappan emperumAn uLanAgavE" (என்னாவில் இன்கவி யான் ஒருவர்க்கும் கொடுக்கிலேன், என்னப்பன் எம்பெருமான் உளனாகவே) - my tongue will not glorify any one other than emperumAn who sustains himself by hearing my sweet glorification.
  • Considering what is sarvAdhikAram (eligible for everyone) for reciting as adhikrudhAdhikAram (eligible for qualified persons). For example, vEdhams can be learnt and recited only by thraivarNikas (first 3 varNas - brahmaNa, kshathriya, vaisya). But reciting dhivya prabhandhams and performing mangaLAsAsanam can be done by everyone. Translator's note:  The same principle is explained by
    azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr in AchArya hrudhayam chUrNikai 73 - mruth gatam pOlanRE poRkudam (ம்ருத்கடம் போலன்றே பொற்குடம்) - A clay pot is not like a golden pot. Gold is naturally pure. It can be touched by anyone at any time. Clay pots have many regulations, only certain persons can touch them and only certain times - if touched by unauthorized persons or during unauthorized times, it becomes unusable for any auspicious activities. Golden pots have no such regulations. Similarly, AzhwArs' pAsurams are pure and can be pursued by any one
  • After becoming a srIvaishNava (with proper understanding of sath sampradhAyam principles), reciting pAsurams that are not written by AzhwArs and AchAryas is an obstacle. Translator's note: AzhwArs were divinely blessed with blemishless knowledge by emperumAn. Our purvAchAryas were divinely blessed by AzhwArs. Whatever written by them are totally pure without any self-motivation. So, we strictly recite and follow what is written by our AzhwArs and AchAryas. In case of other persons (even devotees of emperumAn but not following our sudhdha sampradhAya AchArya paramparai), depending on their own nishtai and understanding, there may be mix of upAyAntharam (considering karma, gyAna, bhakthi, etc., as upAyam), prayOjanAntharam (looking for benefits other selfless kainkaryam to srIman nArAyaNan) and dhEvathAntharam (independent glorification of other dhEvathas). Thus, it is better to avoid such literature as we ourselves may not fully be able to distinguish between pure and mixed literature.
  • Such literature of AzhwArs and AchAryas should be learnt under a proper AchAryan. Learning it on our own by studying them independently or learning it through un-authorized persons is an obstacle.
  • bhagavAn's nAma sankIrthanam must be done joyfully not just as a purificatory process. Doing so is an obstacle. Reciting bhagavAn's name leads to pure bliss. madhurakavi AzhwAr says in kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu 1 "kurugUr nambi enRakkAl aNNikkum amudhURum ennAvukkE" (குருகூர் நம்பி என்றக்கால் அண்ணிக்கும் அமுதூறும் என்னாவுக்கே) - when I recite nammAzhwAr's name, I can taste pure nectar in my tongue. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 7.9.11 "enganE sollilum inbam payakkumE" (எங்னே சொல்லிலும் இன்பம் பயக்குமே) - however I say emperumAn's glories, it leads to bliss. Translator's note: thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr brings out the full glories of nAma sankIrthanam in his thirumAlai. periyavAchAn piLLai brings out the wonderful meanings of this prabhandham in his detailed vyAkyAnam (commentary). In the first pAsuram, nAma sankIrthanam's pAvanathvam (its own purity and ability to purify the reciter) is highlighted. In the second pAsuram, the bhOgyathvam (sweet and most enjoyable nature) of nAma sankIrthanam is highlighted. Both aspects are important. periyavAchAn piLLai beautifully explains the reason for presenting pAvanathvam (purity) before bhOgyathvam (bliss) - that is, once we are purified by nAma sankIrthanam we can feel the full bliss properly.
  • Independently reciting bhagavAn's names without reciting bhAgavathas names is an obstacle. Both bhagavan nAma sankIrthanam and bhAgavatha nAma sankIrthanam are equally glorious (infact bhAgavatha nAma sankIrthanam - glorifying bhAgavathas is even greater). So, both should be done. We can recollect the verse from previous point - madhurakavi AzhwAr says in kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu 1 "kurugUr nambi enRakkAl aNNikkum amudhURum ennAvukkE" (குருகூர் நம்பி என்றக்கால் அண்ணிக்கும் அமுதூறும் என்னாவுக்கே) - when I recite nammAzhwAr's name, I can taste pure nectar in my tongue.
  • Independently starting to recite/speak in front of the AchAryan without receiving his approval and not reciting when he orders to do so are obstacles. Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in the end of his "arththa panchakam" that a srIvaishNava (who has understood the five essential principles) should manifest certain qualities in front of certain personalities. In that, he says, in front of bhagavAn one should manifest humility/meekness, in front of AchAryan one should manifest ignorance (i.e., wanting to learn everything from him instead of showing off ones own intelligence) and in front of materially minded persons one should manifest that the distinct nature (that one is a srIvaishNava) from them. Also, AchAryas will feel great pleasure, when they see their sishyas speak about bhagavath/bhAgavatha vishayam - so when the AchArya instructs one to speak one should not refuse at that time - one should humbly speak the glories of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas at that time.
  • When in gOshti (collective/congregational recital), independently starting to recite is an obstacle. Usually, there will be a leader for the gOshti who first starts with "sAthiththaruLa" (ஸாதித்தருள) meaning - kindly begin the recital. Only after that, we should start reciting. This is the proper etiquette.
  • Not reciting subsequent part after the leader starts recital is an obstacle. Translator's note: Out of ego, one may always want to show that he is the leader and he only begins the recital. Such persons, may keep their mouth shut in gOshti when some one else leads. This is not at all good etiquette (behaviour).
  • Hesitating to recite the second part of pAsurams. Translator's note: In gOshti, usually, learned/senior adhyApakas recite the first part of the pAsuram and others (juniors, etc) recite the second part of the pAsuram. This method allows seamless recitation and facilitates proper rest between recitals so that recitals can be done for long durations. This is the standard practice in dhivya prabhandha sEvAkAlam (recital). Given a situation, any one should be ready to recite the second part without any hesitation.
  • Reciting in such a fast manner that some letters/words are missed is an obstacle. Translator's note: dhivya prabhandham must be recited in a reasonable pace, so that every one can follow, recite and understand what is being recited. It should not be done so fast that words are missed, etc., to fit ones own convenience and urgency.
  • When a srIvaishNava in the gOshti recites something wrongly, he should not be laughed at and made fun of. Nor that person should be corrected publicly. Privately he may be informed humbly about the misses.
  • First and last pAsurams of each prabhandham and each padhigam (decads) are recited twice. Not doing so is an obstacle. There are some exceptions (Translator's note: such as recitals during charama kainkaryams - final rites, etc - all pAsurams are recited only once) - please enquire from elders for further details.
  • Not performing anjali (namaskAram - salutations with joined hands) when hearing sadagOpan is an obstacle. During the last pAsuram of the prabhandham/padhigam, nammAzhwAr's name is usually recited (as part of the pAsuram). At that time, it is customary that we turn towards south direction (AzhwAr thirunagari is located in deep south of bhAratha dhEsam) and perform an anjali. Translator's note: This is applicable for other AzhwArs too. azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr highlights this principle in kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu vyAkyAnam as well as AchArya hrudhayam - that it is mandatory for srIvaishNavas to perform anjali towards south direction immediately on hearing nammAzhwAr's name showing our gratitude towards his great favours for us. It is a pity that, even learned persons do not perform anjali on hearing nammAzhwAr's name during sEvAkAlam. While this is said for nammAzhwAr here, the same principle can be applicable for all AzhwArs.
  • Not performing sARRumuRai (proper completion) for dhivya prabhandham recitals is an obstacle. Whenever dhivya prabhandham is recited, there is a proper process to follow. We start with common thanians, then recite the particular prabhandhams in sequence and finally perform sARRumuRai properly according to the practice in particular temple, mutt, thirumALigai (residence), etc. Just dhivya prabhandham recital without the proper routine is not proper.
  • When teaching dhivya prabhandham to others, one should not expect any material/monetary benefits in return. Translator's note: dhivya prabhandham is fully focussed on kainkaryam and mangaLAsAsanam for emperumAn. So, the purpose of teaching dhivya prabhandham is to induce others in performing mangaLAsAsanam to emperumAn. That is the only goal - there is no place for any other expectation in that.
  • One should not recite dhivya prabhandham in return for money. Selling AzhwArs' dhivya prabhandhams for a price or reciting dhivya prabhandhams as a paid-job is a great sin. It is OK to accept if there was voluntary sambhAvanai (offerings) from some one for reciting dhivya prabhandham - but there should not be any demand from the reciter.
  • One should not participate in dhivya prabhandham recitals at the homes of persons who are engaged in dhEvathAnthara worship. This will affect the svarUpam of such reciter. This is like performing nithya karmAnushtAnam at a ghat where materially minded persons take bath - it only pollutes others who are pure. It is said that, in front of a dhEvathAntharam temple, even when hearing nammAzhwAr's name, we do not need to perform anjali (since it could be mistaken for performing anjali to the dhEvathAntharam).
  • Reciting vishNu saharanAmam, Ezhai Ethalan (thirumozhi 5.8), Azhiyezha (thiruvAimozhi 7.4) pAsurams to cure oneself from diseases is an obstacle. It is generally explained that reciting sahasranAmam and the pAsurams mentioned here relieve oneself from diseases. But since we should not be looking out for the body in any manner, it is improper to recite this to cure ourselves. It may be OK to recite to cure others.
  • Reciting glories of bhagavAn without reciting glories of AchAryan is an obstacle. Usually thanians are recited before reciting the prabhandhams. We can recollect mudhaliyANdAn's declaration "Reciting dhvayam without guruparamparA manthram is similar to worshipping dhEvathAntharams". Translator's note: We can observe in many pUrvAchArya sthOthra granthams such ALavandhAr's sthOthra rathnam, AzhwAn's sthavams, bhattar's srI rangarAja sthavam, etc., first several slOkams glorify guru paramparai, AzhwArs and AchAryas and subsequently the actual sthOthram will begin. piLLai lOkAchAryar highlights the same principle in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram sUthram 274 "japthavyam guru paramparaiyum dhvayamum" (ஜப்தவ்யம் குரு பரம்பரையும் த்வயமும்) - one should constantly recite guru paramparA manthram (asmath gurubhyO nama:....srIdharyAya nama:) and dhvaya mahA manthram - mAmunigaL in his commentary explains that guru paramparai means starting from ones own AchAryan upto srIman nArAyaNan (who is the first AchAryan for every one) and dhvayam is the prasAdham of such guruparamparai received from ones own AchAryan.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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