Srivaishnava lakshanam - 5

Srivaishnava - Internal qualities  
srimathe ramanujaya nama:
srimad varavaramunaye nama:
sri vaanaachala mahamunaye nama:

So far, we have seen the physical appearance of a srivaishnava, pancha samskaaram which begins a srivaishnava's life and the acharya-sishya relationship. Now, we will move on to a very important aspect - the internal qualities that a srivaishnava should aspire to develop to become a qualified srivaishnava. This is explained by our pUrvaachaaryaas in various granthamgal. But the fundamentals are most clearly explained in the 1st sUtram of dvaya prakaranam in Mumukshupadi.

A short introduction to Mumukshupadi and its author:
As part of pancha samskaaram, the acharya explains to the sishya about rahasya thrayam - thirumanthram, dvayam and charamasLOkam. The focus of rahasya thrayam is to explain artha panchakam (5 entities) - paramaathma svarUpam, jIvaathma svarUpam, upaaya svarUpam, pala svarUpam and virOdhi svarUpam. Our pUrvaacharyaas insist based on saastram that real knowledge means artha panchaka jnaanam, everything else is ajnaanam only. This grantham has 3 prakaraNam (parts) - one each for thirumanthram, dvayam and charama slOkam. The flow in mumukshupadi - thirumanthram gives the basic meaning of artha panchakam, dvayam in its two parts mainly explains the nama: and naraayanaaya in detail, which is explained even further in the two parts of charama slOkam. Pillai lOkaachaariar who is an avathaara visEsham of dhEva perumaaL, out of his boundless mercy consolidated this knowledge and explained rahasya thrayam in simple words so that every one can understand this knowledge. Maamunigal understanding the endless glOries of this grantham, gave us a wonderful commentary for this grantham with very detailed explanations.

Qualities of a vaishnava adhikaari:
Out of the rahasya thrayam (3 rahasyas), Thirumanthram is called the manthra rahasyam, dvayam is called anusandhaana rahasyam - that which is practiced/chanted all the time and charama slOkam is called the vidhi rahasyam (that which orders the do's and dont's). Our pUrvaacharyaas have the greatest regard for dvayam and also explained that the whole of Nammaazhwar's thiruvaaimozhi is the full blown explanation of dvayam. It is in the beginning of dvaya prakaranam, pillai lOkaachaariar establishes the qualities that are expected out of a srivaishnava who can do anusandhaanam of dvayam.

Let us discuss it in detail part by part.
  • puRambunNdaana paRRukkaLaiyadaiya vaasanaiyOdE vidugaiyum (புறம்புண்டான பற்றுக்களையடைய வாஸனையோடே விடுகையும்)
We should give up attachments to anything but bhagavat/bhaagavata vishayam including their vaasanaa/ruchi. When we develop attachment towards emperumaan that will automatically lead to detachment towards others. Maamunigal relates this to "sarvadharmaan parithyajya" in charama slOkam where kannan says give up all upaayaantharams.
  • emperumaanaiyE thanYjamenRu paRRugaiyum (எம்பெருமானையே தஞ்ஜமென்று பற்றுகையும்)
One should accept that emperumaan is the only protector and no one else will protect us in any case. Maamunigal relates "maam" padham in charama slOkam which identifies no other chEtanan can protect us, Evakaaram in emperumaanayE relates "Ekam" in charam slOkam, thanjam relates to "saranam" in charama slOkam and paRRugaiyum relates to "vraja" in charama slOkam.
  • pERu thappaathenRu thunNiNthurukkaiyum (பேறு தப்பாதென்று துணிந்துருக்கையும்)
One should have full confidence in the result - that emperumaan will give us mOksham. We could get 3 doubts - a) even for brahmaa, etc he is not attainable, how will we get him? b) how a small prapathi will get him? and c) being very lowly and downtrodden, how will we get the biggest benediction of mOksham? But if we have to simply think about emperumaan as the swamy who wants to take his property (the jIvaatmaa) - with that thought we can be fully confident that he will ensure that he gets his property. Our pUrvaachaaryaas give satisfactory explain to all the 3 points discussed above as in a) brahma, etc are thinking that they are svathathrargal and attaining emperumaan out of their own efforts but prapannas accept that they are parathanthragal to empeumaan and it is emperumaan who is giving the benediction to him. b) Our prapathi is just acknowledging that emperumaan is swamy and we are his property - it is adhikaari visEshanam (a quality of the subservient jIvaathmaa) and is not the upaayam. and c) Even though we are lowly emperumaan is very merciful - if we look at our faults it will be impossible, but if we look at his krupai, everything is possible.
  • pERRukku thvarikkaiyum (பேற்றுக்கு த்வரிக்கையும்)
On the other hand, we should also not be satisfied with the previous statement, and say "let me reach 80, have grand children, enjoy the accumulated wealth and then accept mOksham". Like nammaazhwaar cried out several times "when are you going to take me to paramapadham - every moment is unbearable in this samsaaram", we should also keep thinking about the result every moment.
  • irukkum NaaL ugaNtharuLina NilanGkaLilE pravanNanaay gunNaaNubhava kainGkaryanGkaLE pozhudhupOkkaagugaiyum (இருக்கும் நாள் உகந்தருளின நிலங்களிலே ப்ரவணனாய் குணாநுபவ கைங்கர்யங்களே பொழுதுபோக்காகுகையும்)
Even though we are constantly contemplating about reaching parampadham, while we are here in this samsaaram, we should focus on divyadhEsa emperumaans. ugaNtharuLina NilanGkaL means emperumaan with so much desire comes to samsaaram and stay in several temples, mutts and homes with the hope that he will get a few bhakthas whom he can bring to paramapadham. So, it is very important for us to understand emperumaan's desire, engage in gunaanubhavam of emperumaan. The result of enjoying emperumaan's qualities will lead us to doing kainkaryams for him and bhaagavathaas by mind, words and action. That is what aandaal also mentioned in thiruppaavai 2nd paasuram - vaiyaththu vaazhvIrgaaL - even in this world we can have a wonderful life by engaging on gunaanubhavam and kainkaryam.
  • ippadi irukkum srIvaishnNavargaL ERRamaRiNthu ugaNthirukkaiyum (இப்படி இருக்கும் ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவர்கள் ஏற்றமறிந்து உகந்திருக்கையும்)
Once we understand the above 5 points clearly, we will automatically look out for srivaishnavas who are like that. And when we meet them we should feel so happy - our pUrvaachaaryas say, when we see a srivaishnava we should feel happy as if we saw moon (every one right from childhood has a fascination for moon), mild breeze and sandalwood paste (every one likes the soft nature, coolness and the smell). Also, maamunigal says that we should think that "even in this samsaaram we can meet some one like this" and compares it to seeing a Lotus flourishing in a stove (which is impossible). Maamunigal continues to say, even if we get the first 5 qualities, getting this particular quality is extremely difficult - but all of our pUrvaachaaryas lived such exemplary life glorifying other srivaishnavas.
  • thirumaNthraththilum dhvayaththilum Niyathanaagaiyum (திருமந்த்ரத்திலும் த்வயத்திலும் நியதனாகையும்)
We should understand that - whatever is to be accepted (upaadhEyam) and given up (thyaajam) are clearly explained in rahasya thrayam and have complete faith in it. The common misunderstandings that we have and how it gets cleared by understanding thirumanthram is explained in the 4th slOkam of ashtaslOki by paraasara bhattar:
* By looking at "makaaram" in pranavam, we understand that we are not our body (dhEham), since "ma" stands for chEthanam.
* By looking at the "akaaram" with the hidden "aaya" in pranavam, we understand that emperumaan is the only independent personality and we are subservient to him.
* By looking at the "ukaaram" in pranavam, we understand that we are only subservient to him and no one else.
* By looking at the nama: patham, we understand that only emperumaan can protect us.
* By looking at the naaraayana patham, we understand that emperumaan is only true bandhu for the jIvaathma and every one else in this samsaaram is just aabhaasa bandhu. This is based on the fact naara + ayana - the one who holds every one/thing in him.
* By looking at the aaya patham, we understand that we should give up our attachments to all material things and develop our attachment to emperumaan.
Dvaya mahaamanthram also explains this in further detail - most importantly explicitly mentions that emperumaan is sriya:pathi (which was implicit in thirumanthram).
We should also never think about any other manthrams for our anusandhaanam since dvayam is the most complete manthram which is already given to us our pUrvaachaaryas.
  • aachaarya prEmam ganaththirukkaiyum (ஆசார்ய ப்ரேமம் கனத்திருக்கையும்)
We should consider aacharyan as none other than emperumaan because it is because of his upadhEsam (instructions) we developed faith in the above qualities. Also if we have prEmam (love) for aachaarya it must be manifested towards him by doing loving services to him. It is also said in the saastram that aacharya must be glorified in public - so we should take every opportunity to do that as well.
  • aachaaryan pakkalilum emperumaan pakkalilum kruthajnYanaay pOrugaiyum (ஆசார்யன் பக்கலிலும் எம்பெருமான் பக்கலிலும் க்ருதஜ்ஞனாய் போருகையும்)
We should be grateful to both aachaaryan and emperumaan. aachaaryan is the one who took some one like us who were nithya samsaaris (engaged in material activities since time immemorial), instructed us and brought us close to emperumaan. Emperumaan is the one who keeps trying to do good to us and ultimately establishes the link between us and an aachaaryan. So we should be grateful to both of them.
  • jnYaanamum virakthiyum chaaNthiyum udaiyanaayirukkum parama saathvikanOdE sahavaasam  panNnNugaiyum (ஜ்ஞானமும் விரக்தியும் சாந்தியும் உடையனாயிருக்கும் பரம ஸாத்விகனோடே ஸஹவாஸம்  பண்ணுகையும்)
We should also live with such srivaishnavas who have full knowledge in artha panchakam, have detachment from worldly activities and have no pride that they have such great qualities. Such srivaishnavas will ensure that a) when we get bewildered in samsaaram, they will help us out in identifying what is good and what is bad and b) they will impart their qualities slowly but surely to us as well. maamunigal says this in the upadhEsa rathina maalai in the end as well - if we are attached to good minded people, we will develop those  qualities and like wise if we associate with evil minded people, we will develop those qualities as well.
vaishnavaadhikaarikku avachyaapEkshitham வைஷ்னவாதிகாரிக்கு அவச்யாபேக்ஷிதம்
Finally pillai lOkaachariaar says that these are qualities that are essentially desirable by a vaishnava adhikaari - which means we must develop these qualities.

Without the works of our pUrvaacharyaas it will be impossible to extract such detailed explanations for these matters. Every moment we think about the favours done by our pUrvaachaaryas to us, we should be grateful to them and atleast for their sake, we should try to follow atleast a small percentage of their instructions and their acts.

It is essential for every one us to understand how we should deal with other srivaishanvas and specifically how we should avoid offenses. Our pUrvaacharyaas have discussed the different types of offenses in explicit detail and we will discuss that in the next article.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan