Srivaishnava lakshanam - 4

Our guru paramparai

srimathe ramanujaya nama:
srimad varavaramunaye nama:
sri vaanaachala mahamunaye nama:

In the previous article we discussed the unique relationship between acharya and sishya.

Some will ask - "Why do we need an acharya between us and emperumaan? Has there not been cases where emperumaan directly acknowledging individuals like Gajendraaazhwaan, Guha perumaal, Sabhari, akrUran, thrivakraa (kooni in Krishna avathaaram), maalaa kaaran, etc?".
For this our pUrvaachaaryaas explain that, while emperumaan is svathanthran and he will occassionally choose to pour his mercy on some souls, he is also bound to give results by an individual's karma. This is where an acharya comes into the picture. Emperumaan out of his constant sukrutham for everyone, tirelessly creating opportunities for a jIvaathma to ultimately reach a sadaacharya who will impart the real knowledge and prepare the jivaathma to reach him. Acharya being a recommendation authority like piraati (who is purushakaara bhoothai) ensures to emperumaan that the jIvaathma is ready to give up worldly attachments and is purely depending on emperumaan's mercy to reach him.
It is said that while emperumaan will grant samsaaram or mOksham according to one's own karma, acharya will always ensure that the surrendered jIvaathma gets mOksham. It is also explained that going directly to emperumaan is like trying to reach out to his hands to hold on and going through an acharya is like reaching out to his lotus feet to hold on (since achayas are his thiruvadi nilai - representing his lotus feet). Emperumaan directly acknowledging jIvaathmaas are rare and him accepting jIvaathmaas through an acharyan is the most common/appropriate process as explained by our pUrvaachaaryaas.

Before going in to srivaishnava lakshanam, since we are discussing about acharyas it is very appropriate to understand our own acharya paramparai. This will help us fully appreciate how we got this knowledge down to us from emperumaan. Most of us will probably already know this, but still sharing this since without this acharya paramparai - we would also be like so many other samsaaris in this world today.

Srivaishnavam (also known as sanaathana dharmam) is an eternal sampradhaayam and many great personalities have propagated it throughout the history. Towards the end of dvaapara yugam, azhwars started appearing in southern part of bhaaratha varsham at the banks of various rivers. The last aazhwar appeared in the early part of kali yugam. Vyaasa rishi, in sri bhaagavatham identifies that exalted bhakthas of Sriman Narayanan will appear in the banks of various rivers and will enrich every one with the divine knowledge of emperumaan. Azhwaars are 10 in number - Poigai Azhwaar, bhoothathaazhwaar, peyaazhwaar, thirumazhisai aazhwaar, nammaazhwaar, kulasEkaraazhwaar, periyaazhwaar, thondaradi podi aazhwaar, thirumangai aazhwaar and thiruppaanaazhwaar. Madhurakavi azhwaar is an aaacharya nishtar and Andaal is avathaaram of Bhoomi piraati. Azhwaars (except Andaal) are all jIvaathmaas hand picked by emperumaan from samsaaram. Emperumaan gave the Azhwaars the most perfect knowledge about tattva trayam (chit, achit, isvara) through his own sankalpam and through them he re-established the bhathi/prapaththi maargam when it was lost. He also made them realize past, present and future events fully and clearly. Azhwars sung 4000 divya prabhandham (popularly known as arulicheyal) which were direct outpourings of their bhagavad anubhavam. The essence of arulicheyal is in the divine verses of thiruvaaimozhi which was rendered by nammaazhwaar.

After the time of aazhwaars, acharyas started appearing. Several acharyas such as NAthamuni, Uyyakkondaar, manakkaal nambi, aalavanthaar, periya nambi, periya thirumalai nambi, thirukkOshtiyur nambi, thirumaalai aandaan, azhwar thiruvaranga perumal arayar, emperumaanaar, embaar, koorathaazhwaan, mudhaliaandaan, arulaala perumaal emperumaanaar, thirukkurugai piraan pillan, engalaazhwaan, nadaathur ammaal, bhattar, nanjeeyar, nampillai, vadakku thiruveedhi pillai, periyavaachaan pillai, pillai lOkaachariar, azhagiya manavala perumaal naayanaar, koorakulOthama daasar, thiruvaaimozhi pillai, vedhaanthaachariar, manavaala maamunigal appeared and propagated our sampradhaayam. This acharya paramparai continues through the 74 simhaasanadhipathis and jeeyar mutts (established by emperumaanaar and manvala maamunigal) until today. These acharyas wrote several commentaries on arulicheyal, explaining the meanings of the paasurams in great detail. These commentaries are the great wealth they have left behind to us - for us to read them for ourselves and immerse in the bhagavad anubhavam. The acharyas, by the mercy of the aazhwaars were able to exactly understand the exact message in the paasurams and explain them from different angles.

In upadhEsa rathina maalai, maamunigal explains that we are able to understand these arulicheyal as it is only because of the existence of these commentaries (vyaakyaanamgal). If there were no commentaries, our arulicheyal would have also become like other Tamil literature (which are only learnt by a few elite group of people). Since our pUrvaachaaryaas understood the message, they even made arulicheyal as part of nithyaanusandhanam at both homes and temples. To see it practically, we can visit thiruvallikeNi divya dEsam - during siriya thirumadal gOshti on fridays, we can even see 5 year olds and 6 year olds chanting out louder than the older ones. Also, every one of us knows Thiruppaavai - every where, atleast during maargazhi month we can see even 3 year olds and 4 year olds singing the glorious paasurams of Andaal naachiaar.

This article ended up being another slight deviation from original topic - but again a very important aspect that is to be understood and appreciated clearly.

In the next article, we will continue with the original topic and move on to Pillai lOkaachariar's presentation of the qualities of a vaishnava adhikaari.

azhwaargaL vaazhi, aruLicheyal vaazhi, thaazhvaathumil kuravar thaam vaazhi
அழ்வார்கள் வாழி, அருளிசெயல் வாழி, தாழ்வாதுமில் குரவர் தாம் வாழி

adiyen sarathy ramanuj dasan

1 comment: