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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/virodhi-pariharangal.html.
Please see the previous article at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/11/virodhi-pariharangal-45.html.
81. pathithva virOdhi (பதித்வ விரோதி ) - Obstacles in being a master
As explained in "pathim visvasya" (bhagavAn being the supreme master of every one), considering prajApathi (brahmA), pasupathi (rudhran), bruhaspathi (guru of dhEvas), surapathi (indhran), dhanapathi (kubEran), sEnApathi (skandhan), gaNapathi (ganEsa), etc., as master that contradicts bhagavAn being supreme master is an obstacle.
pathi means swAmy. As established in upanishadh as "pathim visvasya" - srIman nArAyaNan is the only master of all of the universe. Many dhEvathAs have "pathi" in their name. prajApathi - 4 headed brahmA. pasupathi - rudhran. bruhaspathi - teacher of dhEvas, surapathi - indhran who is the leader of all dhEvas. dhanapathi - kubEra who is the master of wealth. sEnApathi - kArthikEyan, the leader of the army of dhEvas. gaNapathi - the elephant headed gaNEsa. To consider these dhEvathas as the master is incorrect.
Translator's note: pathi generally means owner, lord, master, husband, etc. srIman nArAyaNan is explained as "visvapathi" (master of the universe) and "lOkabarthA" (husband of all) by nAyanAr in AchArya hrudhayam 121st chUrNikai. These terms are beautifully coined from nArAyaNa sUktham (pathim visvasya) and srI rAmAyaNam (kausalyA lOkabarthAram slokam) respectively by nAyaNAr. So, bhagavAn is understood as the lord and master of everyone. Whoever is hailed as "pathi" normally otherwise, such honour should be understood as simple glorification but not in the real sense. It should also be understood as the divine grace of bhagavAn which allowed such glorification to these dhEvathAs. ALavandhAr explains this principle beautifully in sthOthra rathnam 11th to 14th slOkams. Especially in 13th slOkam. "vEdhApahAra gurupAthaka dhaithyapIdAthi ApadhvimOchana mahishta palapradhAnai: | kOnya: prajA pasu pathI paripAthi kasya padhOdhakEna sa sivas svasirOdhrudhEna ||" (வேதாபஹார குருபாதக தைத்யபீடாதி ஆபத்விமோசன மஹிஷ்ட பலப்ரதாநை: | கோந்ய: ப்ரஜா பசு பதீ பரிபாதி கஸ்ய பதோதகேந ஸ சிவஸ் ஸ்வசிரோத்ருதேந ||) - Here, ALavandhAr asks srIman nArAyaNan "Who rescued the great dhEvathAs when they faced with adversities such as brahmA losing the vEdhams, rudhran plucking the head of brahmA who is his own father, saving indhran from the troubles of asuras? Who else other than you will protect prajApathi (brahmA) and pasupathi (rudhran)? rudhra became pure by holding the water that was used to wash whose lotus feet?". This slOkam is written based on incidents highlighted in purANams and in a manner where ALavandhAr asks these questions towards emperumAn who is the real protector of everyone. Though brahmA, rudhran, indhran are great dhEvathAs, even they draw their force from bhagavAn who is their antharyAmi and who blessed them with such powers to perform certain tasks. When they faced adverse situations, it was srIman nArAyaNan who saved them. When an asura stole the vEdham from brahmA, it was srIman nArAyaNan who took the form of hayagrIva and retrieved the vEdhams back from the asuras. When rudhran was affected with brahma haththi dhOsham (hurting a brAhmaNa) due to him plucking one of the heads of his father brahmA, the skull became attached to rudhran's hand. He then went and prayed to srIman nArAyaNan who sprinkled the sweat from his chest which broke the skull into pieces and relieved rudhran from his sin. Whenever indhran was attacked by the asuras, he always prays to srIman nArAyaNan who comes to his rescue. When brahmA washed the lotus feet of srIman nArAyaNan with the water from his pot, that water started flowing down as gangA river. When bhagIratha tried to bring the gangA down to the earth, it was rudhran who first held the gangA in his matted hair to control the flow. By holding the holy water coming down from the lotus feet of srIman nArAyaNan, he became pure and was thus called "siva" which means auspicious. Thus, we can understand that srIman nArAyaNan is the supreme lord for everyone and associating such lordship with anyone else is an obstacle.
82. varjanIya virOdhi (வர்ஜநீய விரோதி ) - Obstacles in what shall be excluded
Consuming thAmasa (ignorant nature) AhArams (food) such as alcohol, meat, etc., which are forbidden in sAsthram and giving up sAthvika AhArams (food of good nature), sAthvika sAsthrams (the portion of sAsthram that focusses on goodness) and sAthvika anushtAnams (the activities that are to be followed that will lead to goodness) are obstacles.
varjanIyam - that which needs to be given up. nishidhdham - that which are forbidden. Food is generally classified in to three categories - sAthvika (goodness), rAjasa (passion) and thAmasa (ignorance/darkness). Those foods that develop sathva guNam (favourable attitude) are called sAthvika AhAram. That which leads to Laziness, sleepiness, lethargy, etc., are called thAmasa AhAram. Such food items like alcohol, meat, etc., should be avoided. Same principle is to be observed in other aspects as well.
Translator's note: We have discussed about eating and food habits in
http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/05/virodhi-pariharangal-23.html. Please view detailed discussion on AhAra niyamam at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/07/srivaishnava-aahaara-niyamam_28.html and a Q & A (Question and Answer) related to that at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/08/srivaishnava-ahara-niyamam-q-a.html. Whatever is forbidden in sAsthram, one should try to avoid such foods. On the other hand, what is recommended in sAsthram for the positive development of the jIvAthmA's qualities, that should be pursued and not given up. It is said that both akruthya karaNam (doing that which is forbidden in sAsthram) and kruthya akaraNam (not doing that which is ordained in sAsthram) are condemned. Both of these are to be given up and one should simply try to follow what is explained in sAsthram and recommended by our AchAryas to progress spiritually.
83. avarjanIya virOdhi (அவர்ஜநீய விரோதி ) - Obstacles in what shall not be excluded
avarjanIya - that which shall not be given up - unavoidable. Translator's note: In this final topic, many important aspects on being a mumukshu (one who desires for mOksham - specifically prapannas, the totally surrendered ones) and muktha (the state after attaining liberation) are highlighted.
- Even after being a mumukshu, having desires for material wealth and lust, forgetting that they are inappropriate for the true nature of mumukshu is an obstacle. aprAptha - not fitting/appropriate. It is said that such desires are great dangers for some one being a mumukshu. Translator's note: mumukshu means one who desires mOksham. Especially, the context here is about prapannas - one who are fully surrendered to bhagavAn through an AchArya. Such persons should never forget their true nature of being a servant to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. If one gets attached to wealth and lust (material desires for sensual pleasure, family, friends, etc), that will lead to worldly life and one will fall from the state of being a mumukshu eventually since their desire for worldly pleasures will over take their desire for mOksham. In the first sUthram of thathva thrayam, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that a mumukshu (one who desires for mOksham) to attain mOksham (liberation), he should have full knowledge about thathva thrayam - chith, achith and Iswara. Once that knowledge is fully established, there will be no desires for worldly pleasures. Also, in mumukshuppadi, beginning of dhvaya prakaraNam, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the many essential qualities that are to be found in a srIvaishNava. mAmunigaL has given elaborate commentary for this sUthram. Here, the first quality is to give up the desire for worldly pleasures completely. Subsequently, the importance of having firm faith in the ultimate goal of eternal kainkaryam and the constant craving for such kainkaryam are greatly emphasised. Thus, there is no room for material desires what so ever in the minds of a mumukshu.
- The bhAgavatha apachAram which results from such material desires is an obstacle. Translator's note: When our desire for worldly pleasures increase, we tend to commit offenses towards bhAgavathas by sometimes ignoring/insulting them in pursuit of such pleasures, etc. Similar principle is explained in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram by piLLai lOkAchAryar while explaining the dhinacharya (daily routine) of a prapanna (a srIvaishNava who is totally surrendered to bhagavAn/AchArya). Among other things, he highlights that one should fear for ahankAram (ego), arththam (material wealth) and kAmam (lust), that they will cause 3 types dangers. Ones ego will lead to disrespecting srIvaishNavas in considering them equals and not giving them proper respect/care they deserve. Ones desire for material wealth, will lead to them approaching and pampering samsAris (materialistic people) to obtain the desired wealth. Ones desire for lust will lead one to women, etc., who even ignore/insult them. Such pitfalls should be carefully avoided as all of these will ultimately lead to ignoring/insulting srIvaishNavas.
- Being bewildered considering materialistic aspects as pleasurable is an obstacle. Considering materialistic aspects as pleasurable means one has not developed detachment towards such pleasures. Translator's note: When one understands the true nature of oneself as the true servant of bhagavAn, one would only consider service to bhagavAn as the only enjoyable aspect. pEyAzhwAr explains this in mUnRAm thiruvanthAdhi 14th pAsuram "mARpAl manam suzhippa mangaiyar thOL kaivittu" (மாற்பால் மனம் சுழிப்ப மங்கையர் தோள் கைவிட்டு) - When we develop attachment towards srIman nArAyaNan, our attachment towards women (and other worldly pleasures) will automatically disappear.
- Considering that after reaching parampadham, while serving bhagavAn, oneself will be the enjoyer is an obstacle. One should not consider that, after being liberated and reached parampadham, while serving bhagavAn oneself will be the enjoyer - that is incorrect. This is explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 2.9.4 "thanakkEyAga enaikkoLLumIthE" (தனக்கேயாக எனைக்கொள்ளுமீதே) - you (bhagavAn) should engage me in his kainkaryam for his pleasure only.
- Having the attitude of self-enjoyment which is the reason for such desire to enjoy oneself even in paramapadham is an obstacle. bhOkthruthva budhdhi - considering oneself as the enjoyer. One should hanker to bring joy for emperumAn as explained by ALavandhAr in sthOthra rathnam 46 "praharshayishyAmi" (ப்ரஹர்ஷயிஷ்யாமி) - when am I going to bring the fullest joy to emperumAn. Translator's note: azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr explains in AchArya hrudhayam chUrNikai 21 "sEshathva bhOkthruthvangaL pOlanRE pArathanthriya bhOgyathaigaL" (சேஷத்வ போக்த்ருத்வங்கள் போலன்றே பாரதந்த்ரிய போக்யதைகள்) - pArathanthriyam (total dependence) and bhOgyathaigaL (being the enjoyed) is higher than sEshathvam (servitude) and bhOkthruthvangaL (being the enjoyer). mAmunigaL here beautifully identifies that sEshathvam is like gold brick (valuable yet can only be used after changing the shape/form) and pArathanthriyam is like gold ornament (is in use as it its). One should fully understand that the whole purpose of ones existence is to bring fullest joy to emperumAn. The main principle to understand here is - emperumAn is swAmi (owner - propreitor) and jIvAthmA is svam (owned - property). The property exists purely for the pleasure of the owner only. Since jIvAthmA has consciousness, seeing the full joy of emperumAn, he will simply reciprocate that joy to manifest his consciousness. This is a very deep principle and should be understood from an AchArya through kAlakshEpam method.
- Due to the above mentioned attitude of self-enjoyment, giving up the principle of "enjoyment for bhagavAn only" is an obstacle. bhOgyam - that which is enjoyed. paraika bhOgyathvam - having strong conviction on being enjoyed by bhagavAn only. This attitude should never be lost. Translator's note: This is the highest principle of our sath sampradhAyam called "achithvath pArathanthriyam" - being like achith at the full disposal of bhagavAn yet reciprocating pleasure like jIvAthmA when bhagavAn reveals his joy. This principle (of eradicating self-centered pleasure) is explained in "nama:" in the second part of dhvaya mahA manthram. In perumAL thirumozhi, 4.9, kulasEkara AzhwAr says "padiyAyk kidanthu un pavaLavAy kANbEnE (படியாய்க் கிடந்து உன் பவளவாய் காண்பேனே)" - being a stepping stone, I still want to see and enjoy your beautiful lips (that reveal the happiness). Here, stepping stone at the entrance is achith (matter) which does not have any knowledge. But seeing the happiness in the face can only be done when there is knowledge. periyavAchAn piLLai explains that "padiyAyk kidanthu un pavaLavAy kANbEnE" means achithvath pArathanthriyam - we should have the pArathanthriyam towards emperumAn to be like achith. For example, if we take a desk and move it somewhere else, it will not question us - we should also be like that when emperumAn does anything to us, we should not question him. When he is satisfied with our kainkaryam he shows great satisfaction and joy and we should also reciprocate it, otherwise we will not be any different from a achith. For example, when we lift a child and play with him, if the child responds to our dealings, our joy will be doubled, the same way, when we reciprocate to emperumAn's joy, his joy will be doubled. As seen before, ALavandhAr explains the same principle in his sthOthra rathnam 46 "kadhA ... praharshayishyAmi" (கதா ... ப்ரஹர்ஷயிஷ்யாமி) - longing to bring pleasure for emperumAn. When jIvAthmA reciprocates bhagavAn's pleasure, bhagavAn becomes fully pleased. His pleasure is the sole objective of our kainkaryam.
- In the mukthAthmA (liberated soul) state, as the desire for enjoyment which occurs is triggered by bhagavAn and gives great joy for emperumAn and increases his pleasure, it is no longer an obstacle. As explained in thiruviruththam 33 "agalvisumbum nilanum iruLAr vinaikedach chengOl nadAvuthir" (அகல்விசும்பும் நிலனும் இருளார் வினைகெடச் செங்கோல் நடாவுதிர் - Controlling/Managing the sky and land, destroying the sins which are caused by and filled with ignorance by the grace of your auspicious sudharsana chakram), even in the liberated state, out of bhagavAn's nithya sankalpam (eternal vow), he ensures that the mukthAthmA does not acquire the desire for self-control and self-enjoyment. adhmi - I eat, I enjoy. ahamannam - I am the food (enjoyable aspect) for the supreme lord. aham adhmi - I am eating (enjoying) the one who eats (enjoys). This means, it is most important that bhagavAn enjoys the feast (jIvAthmA). Seeing the joy in bhagavAn's face, the jIvAthmA also feels the joy. paraprEritham - that which is triggered by him. This attitude of little self-enjoyment is occurring in jIvAthmA based on bhagavAn's vow. This is not an obstacle. Translator's note: We have seen this in detail in previous points. It is natural for jIvAthmA to have the attitude of enjoyment. In the liberated state, bhagavAn first enjoys the jIvAthmA and manifests his bliss. Seeing that, jIvAthmA also feels great bliss and manifests the same. A good example is, when the father picks up his child and plays with him, he feels great happiness. Seeing the smile in the face of the father, the child also reciprocates the smile. Seeing that, the father feels even happier than before. Thus, there is never-ending bliss in parampadham (srI vaikuNtam) which is the divine vow of srIman nArAyaNan.
- An alternate explanation is given here for "unavoidable aspects". bhagavath saundharyam (bhagavAn's beauty) which is an obstacle for AchArya kainkaryam (here) is the main obstacle for kainkaryam (service) in both this world (samsAram - material world) and the other world (paramapadham - spiritual word). bhagavAn eliminates that obstacle and accepts kainkaryam from jIvAthmA. The forbidden activities we engage in and the lack of discipline which are results of karmA from many past births are main obstacles. Here, an alternate explanation for "avarjanIya virOdhi" (unavoidable obstacles) is given which is different from previous point. here and there - both in leelA vibhUthi (samsAram - material world) and nithya vibhUthi (paramapadham - spiritual world). "saundharyam antharAyam" (ஸௌந்தர்யம் அந்தராயம் - mumukshuppadi 182 - the divine beauty of his divine forms is an impediment/hindrance). When one sees bhagavAn's divine beautiful form, they will melt out of emotions as explained by nammAzhwAr in periya thiruvanthAdhi 34 "kAlAzhum, nenjazhiyum, kaNsuzhalum" (காலாழும், நெஞ்சழியும், கண்சுழலும் - the legs will shake, the heart will melt and eyes will become dizzy). Due to that they will be unable to engage in kainkarayam (service). Specifically for the ones who are engaged in kainkaryam to bhAgavathas and AchArya, such engagement in bhagavAn's beauty will be a great obstacle. In srI rAmAyaNam, ayOdhyA kANdam 1.1, "chathrugnO nithya sathrugna:" (சத்ருக்நோ நித்ய சத்ருக்ந:) is explained as "sathrugna - who conquered the eternal enemy". Here - what is the eternal enemy? It is srI rAma's divine beauty and qualities which would be an obstacle for him to engage in kainkaryam for bhagavAn. This is explained as avarjanIya virOdhi (unavoidable obstacle). Our defects in our AchAram and anushtAnam (practical aspects which follow every day) that arise unintentionally due to past karmAs are also included here. Translator's note: Here two specific obstacles are addressed. First, bhagavAn's beauty which blocks ones kainkaryam is explained. In mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar highlights this nicely in the end of dhvaya prakaraNam (section explaining dhvaya mahA manthram). Our true goal is to serve the divine couple of srI mahAlakshmi and srIman nArAyaNan for their pleasure. But his own beauty will stop us from engaging in kainkaryam since it mesmerises us and puts us in a trance. mAmunigaL explains in the vyAkyAnam that his beauty steals ones heart and stops all physical action, his beauty is an obstacle for kainkaryam. So, it is bhagavAn who removes that obstacle and let us perform kainkaryam. sathrugna's example is nicely explained here. It is said that he never used to look at srI rAma, since if he looks at him, he will become mesmerised and his constant kainkaryam to bharatha (who is a pure bhAgavatha focussed in kainkaryam to srI rAma) will be at stake. The second aspect explained here is about the sins committed due to past karmA and impressions. periyavAchAn piLLai explains this principle elaborately in his sakala pramANa thAthparyam. Let us see his explanation now on this particular aspect. A prapanna, even after being fully surrendered to emperumAn, may end up performing sinful activities due to past karmA, vAsanA (past impressions) and ruchi (attachment to such sinful activities). These are called uththarAgam (uththara - after, agam - sin). These sins could be of two types - committed intentionally and unintentionally. There is also another categorization - the sins that were atoned for and the sins that were not atoned for. Atonement means feeling sorry for the act and not repeating the same. Sins committed in matters relating to bhagavAn, one should atone for those in front of bhagavAn. Sins committed towards bhAgavathas should be atoned Out of great affection towards the jIvAthmA, bhagavAn removes the sins that were committed unintentionally and those sins that were atoned for in front of the particular bhAgavatha on whom the offense was committed. Not atoning for sins is of 3 types - a) cruel - engaging in those forbidden acts which are condemned in sAsthram and by our pUrvAchAryas. This include indulging in desiring for wives of other men, eating meat, alcohol, etc., and not performing nithya naimiththika karmAnushtAnams such as sandhyA vandhanam, etc., according to ones own varNa and Asrama b) more cruel - those offenses that are committed against bhagavAn. This include considering other dhEvathas at par with srIman nArAyaNan, considering bhagavAn's avathArams as mere mortal beings, etc. c) most cruel - those offenses that are committed against bhAgavathas such as insulting them, not giving them great respect, judging them based on their birth, wealth, knowledge, etc. The consequences of these 3 types of sins which were not atoned will have to be faced by the prapanna. Since a prapanna would only focus on the mercy of bhagavAn, he would conduct himself very carefully and avoid committing any of these three offenses/sins. Ideally, once fully surrendered, one would not engage in any sins. Even if one commits sins by mistake, they would atone immediately - it is impossible to imagine a real prapanna not atoning for the committed sins. Thus, any sins committed unintentionally and sins that were atoned for can be understood to have been ignored by bhagavAn due to his great mercy.