panguni uthram and emperumAnAr

srImathE satakOpAya nama:
srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:
srI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

panguni uthram is a very special day for srIvaishNavas for many reasons.
  • It is the day when perumAL (srI rAman) married sIthA pirAtti.

  • ANdAL thirukkalyANam in srIvilliputhUr

But beyond all of these, this is the most auspicious day for srIvaishNavas since emperumAnAr recited gadhya thrayam (sharaNAgathi gadhyam, srI ranga gadhyam, srI vaikunta gadhyam) in front of the dhiyva dhampathi (divine couple) on this day. Once, during a panguni uthram day, when namperumAL and nAchiyAr were together in the panguni uthra mahA mandapam, emperumAnAr arrives there. Being anguished at the cruel nature of samsAram and wanting to reveal the upAyam which is most dear to his heart, he started reciting the 3 gadhyams and performed sharaNAgathi in front of the divine couple. sharaNAgathi literally means accepting emperumAn as upAyam to accomplish the ultimate goal (kainkarya prApthi in our case).

gadhya thrayam is generally explained as the commentary of dhvaya mahA manthram. It is made of three gadhyams:
  • sharaNAgathi gadhyam
    • emperumAnAr accepts srI ranganAyaki as purushakAram and first glorifies her
    • he then glorifies emperumAn's divine and most auspicious qualities, forms, eternal servitors, etc
    • he performs sharaNAgathi to emperumAn

  • srI ranga gadhyam
    • In this, emperumAnAr fully enjoys emperumAn's presence in srI rangam as srI ranganAthan.
    • Since, in this world, the meaning of dhvaya mahA manthram is fully manifested in dhivya dhEsams as archAvathAra emperumAns, our pUrvAchAryas usually were fully focussed on dhivya dhEsa emperumAns. saulabhyam (easy accessibilty) is the most adorable quality of emperumAn and is fully revealed in archAvathAram. emperumAnAr enjoys this auspicious quality of saulabhyam in this gadhyam.

  • srI vaikunta gadhyam
    • In this, emperumAnAr beautifully describes the variegated nature of paramapadham and glorifies the same.
    • Here bhagavAn's parathvam (supremacy) is fully enjoyed.
    • The ultimate result of serving in parampadham is established in this gadhyam. 

Let us delve into the beautiful meanings that are revealed in periyavAchAn piLLai's vyAkyAna avathArikai (introduction to commentary) for gadhya thrayam.

periyavAchAn piLLai explains the purpose for emperumAnAr's gIthA bhAshyam and gadhya thrayam. 
  • the purpose of gIthA bhAshyam is to establish (karma/gyAnam based) bhakthi yOgam as upAyam and to defeat kudhrushtis (one who interpret vEdha/vEdhAntham wrongly). the purpose of gadhya thrayam is to establish prapathi (emperumAn) as upAyam.
  • Since vEdhAntham focusses on (gyAnam based) bhakthi, in gIthA bhAshyam, emperumanAr focussed on the same to establish vEdhAntham. Since AzhwArs/AchAryas focussed on prapathi (emperumAn) as the only upAyam, emperumAnAr revealed that principle which is very dear to his heart in gadhyams.
  • Just like vEdham cannot be taught to avaidhihas, emperumAnAr did not reveal the most confidential prapathi to the ones who are mis-interpreting vEdham. He defeated them and established the validity of vEdham using gyAnam/bhakthi which are acceptable to them. But he reveals his own sidhAntham of prapathi through gadhya thrayam .
emperumAnAr performed sharaNAgathi in front of the dhivya dhampathi, established the glories of prapathi and also showed to us that emperumAn is the upAyam for us. Both bhakthi and prapathi are established upAyams (means) to reach emperumAn. But our pUrvAchAryas have always accepted emperumAn as the upAyam and did not consider anything else other than emperumAn as upAyam. 

Let us quickly see the differences between bhakthi and prapathi as shown by periyavAchAn piLLai in sharaNAgathi gadhya pravEsam (introduction).

bhakthi yOgam prapathi (emperumAn)
Only brAmaNa, kshathriya, vaishya are eligible for bhakthi yOgam (Note: bhakthi/devotion is different from bhakthi yOgam - anyone can do bhakthi, but bhakthi yOgam as shown in sAsthram as an upAyam to reach emperumAn has strict principles to follow). Every one can surrender to emperumAn - emperumAn is common upAyam to all
bhakthi yOgam is very difficult to do, since it involves proper karma yOgam and has to be done with proper gyAnam Once prapathi is done, everything is taken care by emperumAn and we just have to do all our actions (according to sAsthram) as kainkaryam
The ultimate goal is accomplished potentially after many more births. The ultimate goal is accomplished at the end of this birth itself.
There is potential for us to falter in our actions. Once surrendered, emperumAn will ensure that we dont falter.
The process/means (bhakthi yOgam) needs to be accomplished by our action (of bhakthi yOgam). The process/means (emperumAn) is already established.
bhakthi yOgam does not fit the svarUpam of jIvAthmA. Since jIvAthmA is naturally subservient to bhagavAn, jIvAthmA independently performing some action to accomplish emperumAn does not fit the svarUpam. Since emperumAn is the upAyam, and accepting that emperumAn is upAyam is just a natural attribute of jIvAthmA, this is perfectly fitting for the jIvAthma svarUpam.
Compared to the result that is accomplished (emperumAn), the bhakthi yOgam performed by the jIvAthmA is insignificant. Since emperumAn is both upAyam (means) and upEyam (goal), prapathi is perfectly situated

vEdhAntham also categorically declares prapathi as the top most upAyam. prapathi is considered as the best upAyam by our pUrvAchAryas as well. And, since sAsthram itself says "dharmagya samayam pramANam, vEdhAs cha" (ApasthambasUthram) meaning "True scholar's conclusion is the main authority, vEdham is also an authority" - here the conclusion of our pUrvAchAryas take precedence even over sAsthram. Thus, since our pUrvAchAryas have accepted emperumAn as the upAyam we can also easily accept the same. 

emperumAnAr reveals this most confidential upAyam to ensure that his followers (who are fully situated in sathva guNam) should understand this most valuable information in detail. Out of his unlimited grace, he reveals this glorious gadhya thrayam for the benefit of his own followers.

periyavAchAn piLLai himself brings up an important question. emperumAnAr already performed sharaNAgathi while under-going samAsrayaNam from periya nambi long ago - so why is he doing this sharaNAgathi again? perumAL (srI rAman) himself said "sakruthEva" (only once) revealing his thiruvuLLam (divine heart) while speaking rAma charama slOkam. 

sakruthEva prapannAya thavAsmIthi cha yAchathE
abhayam sarva bhUthEbhyO dhadhAm yE thadh vratham mama

For the ones who surrender unto me only once, I will bestow them fearlessness from all beings. This is my vow.

periyavAchAn piLLai further says, a sharaNAgathan should be fully satisfied with the first prapathi and be like 
  • sIthA pirAtti who said "thath thasya sadhrusam bhavEth" - Let srI rAman come and rescue me from lankA when he desires since he is my master
  • nammAzhwAr who said to emperumAn "kaLaivAi thunbam kaLaiyAthozhivAi kaLaikaN maRRilEn" - if you remove my sorrows thats fine, otherwise its fine as well - I wont do anything.
So, why is emperumAnAr performing sharaNAgathi again?

periyavAchan piLLai himself beautifully explains that since emperumAnAr is unable to bear the sorrows of samsAram, out of great Arthi (anguish), he is again performing sharaNAgathi here. AzhwArs showed this in their pAsurams. For example, nammAzhwAr performed sharaNAgathi repeatedly since he was unable to bear the separation from emperumAn. In thiruvAimozhi, nORRa nOnbilEn (5.7), ArAvamuthE (5.8), mAnE nOkku (5.9), piRanthavARum (5.10) and ulagamuNda peru vAyA (6.10) are all AzhwAr's padhigams where he performs sharaNAgathi. Since our pUrvAchAryas follow our AzhwArs fully, they also follow suit. When they realise the cruel nature of this samsAram and the divine anubhavam that is waiting in paramapadham, AzhwArs/AchAryas perform sharaNAgathi so many times (not just once or twice). Our pUrvAchAryas established that emperumAn is the upAyam and our sharaNAgathi is just accepting that he is the upAyam.

Since emperumAnAr is declared as udayavar/swAmy (the master for both nithya vibhUthi and leelA vibhUthi) by emperumAn himself, we are also most fortunate to have the divine kainkarya prApthi at the end of this sarIram (body) itself due to our relationship with emperumAnAr through our guru paramparai.

Let us always meditate on the divine lotus feet of emperumAnAr and be uplifted. 

Thus, in this article, we have seen
  • the significance of panguni uthram
  • the three gadhyams and their focus
  • the differences between gIthA bhAshyam and gadhya thrayam
  • the differences between bhakthi and prapathi
  • emperumAnAr's unlimited grace   
  • the reason for emperumAnAr's sharaNAgathi during panguni uthram day
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Sources: periyavAchAn piLLai's gadhya thraya vyAkyAnam

thathva thrayam - Iswara - Who is God?

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

So far, we have observed the nature of chith ( and achith (

This article can be viewed as a presentation by clicking

Understanding the Iswara thathvam (God) through the teachings of the wise men

We are continuing our journey in understanding the three entities (chith, achith, Iswara) through the divine grantham "thathva thrayam" (tattva trayam) of piLLai lOkAchAryar with the help of maNavALa mAmunigaL's beautiful commentary.


First emperumAn's svarUpam (distinct nature) is explained in detail. That, he is completely different from all other entities, is established right upfront.

svarUpam - true nature

  • By nature, Iswaran is
    • not the abode for any inauspicious qualities (meaning abode for all auspicious qualities)
    • unbounded by 
      • time - existence in past, present and future, 
      • place - everywhere in both spiritual and material worlds - all pervading nature and 
      • object - he is the in-dwelling soul of all objects
    • abode of full knowledge and unlimited bliss
    • abode of many auspicious qualities such as knowledge, strength,  etc
    • the one who fully manages creation, sustenance and dissolution
    • the one who is the refuge for the 4 types of seekers (as identified in bhagavath gIthai 7.16 by kaNNan emperumAn himself)
      • Artha: - the distressed
      • arthArthi - the one who is looking for new wealth
      • jigyAsur - the one who is looking for kaivalyam
      • gyAni - the true devotee
    • the who can bestow the four purushArthams (goals) - dharma, artha, kAma, mOksha
    • the one who has many divine forms
    • the one who is the dear lord of srI mahAlakshmi, bhUdhEvi and neeLA dhEvi
  • Him being the in-dwelling (controlling) soul of all entities does not affect him in any way, just like jIvAthmA (soul) does not get affected by the changing bodies.

His Auspicious qualities

  • His most divine auspicious qualities are
    • eternal - they always exist
    • countless - there are so many auspicious qualities
    • boundless - even one of the qualities cannot be comprehended fully
    • causeless - his divine qualities does not manifest due to external inducing, they naturally exist
    • defectless
    • unparallel - since emperumAn does not have any one equal or greater, his qualities also does not have anything equal or greater
  • Three  categories of his auspicious qualities
    • Focussed on the ones who are favourable towards him and his devotees
      • vAthsalyam - motherly forbearance
thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn is often glorified for his vAthsalyam
      • sauseelyam - magnanimity

 srI rAman is glorified for his sauseelyam - for mixing freely with guha, hanumAn, etc
      • saulabhyam - easy accessibility

 kaNNan emperumAn is glorified for his saulabhyam
      • mArdhavam - tenderness (of heart and body)
      • Arjavam - honesty, etc
    • Focussed on the ones who are unfavourable towards him and his devotees
      • sauryam - valour/bravery
      • vIrya - strength/power, etc
    • Common for everyone
      • gyAna - knowing about everything fully
      • shakthi - strength
      • bala - ability to support everything
      • Iswarya - controlling capacity
      • vIrya - Even while managing everything, having no change in self (avikAra)
      • thEjas - ability to handle everything individually
  • Auspicious Qualities and the target of those qualities
    • His gyAnam (knowledge) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be ignorant
    • His shakthi (strength) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be meek/humble
    • His kshamai (forgiveness) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be commiting offenses
    • His krupai (mercy) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be suffering
    • His vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance) is to help the ones who consider themselves to to at fault
    • His seelam (magnanimity) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be downtrodden
    • His Arjavam (honesty) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be dishonest
    • His sauhArdham (good-heartedness) is to help the ones who consider themselves to be not so good
    • His mArdhavam (tender-heartedness) is to help the ones who cannot bear the separation from bhagavAn
    • His saulabhyam (easy accessibility) is to help the ones who desire to see him
    • and so on
  • Manifestation of his qualities
    • He shows great concern towards the suffering jIvAthmAs (souls) and is constantly looking for the well-being of them.
    • He constantly tries to help them when they are in distress.
    • For the ones who surrender unto him, 
      • He does not look at their defects which arise out of their birth, knowledge, actions, etc.
      • He protects them when neither they themselves cannot protect them nor others can protect them.
      • He performs miraculous activities to please them as he (kaNNan emperumAn) did in the case of sAndhIpani muni (bringing back his dead son) and the brAhmaNa (bring back his sons who were taken away by srI mahAlakshmi to paramapadham to have the divine vision of krishNan in paramapadham).
      • He makes himself fully available for them.
      • He feels self satisfied after helping them as if his own personal task was accomplished.
      • Without considering the favours done by him, he looks out for the minimum virtues done by the surrendered ones and helps them forget the taste for material aspirations that is present in them since time immemorial.
      • He ignores their mistakes like a man who ignores the mistakes of his dear wife and children.
      • Even if srI mahAlakshmi points out the defects of the surrendered person, he simply diregards them.
      • He consumes their defects with great love, just like a man in love would like the sweat, etc., of his woman.
      • In separation, he feels greater distress compared to the surrendered ones.
      • Just like a cow that kicks out and pushes away the older calves when a new calf is born out of great attachment and concern, emperumAn pushes away srI mahAlakshmi and nithyasUris when a new jIvAthmA (soul) surrenders to him.

His kAraNathvam - Him being the primordial cause

 brahmA (the first progenitor) being born from the navel of srI mahAvishNu
  • bhagavAn is the cause of all the worlds.
  • Some say that atom (lowest particle) is the primordial cause.
  • Since this is contradictory to plain perception and sAsthram, they cannot be accepted as the primordial cause.
  • Others say matter is the primordial cause. 
  • Since matter does not have knowledge and  does not transform on its own without the intervention of bhagavAn, matter cannot be the primordial cause.
  • badhdha chEthanas (jIvAthmA- individual soul) like brahmA, rudhran, etc cannot be the primordial cause.
  • Since they are bound by karmA and go through sufferings, they cannot be the primordial cause.
  • Thus Iswaran is the only primordial cause.
  • He is being the cause not due to ignorance, karmA, others orders, etc but out of his own desire and will.
  • Since creation, sustenance and dissolution happen out of his own desire, there is no suffering in these for him. 
  • The whole process is only for his pastime. 
  • But would his pastime be interrupted in samhAram (dissolution)? Since samhAram is also part of his pastime, there is no interruption. mAmunigaL beautifully shows a practical example - When children play with sand castles, at the end of their play they knock down the castle as a part of the pastime with full joy. Similarly, dissolution is also a pastime in bhagavAn's activities.
  • Since he transforms his own body into this material world, he is the material cause. Note: There are 3 causes: upAdhAna kAraNam (material cause), nimiththa kAraNam (instrumental cause) and sahakAri kAraNam (supporting cause). For example, in making a pot, sand and clay are the material cause, the potter is the instrumental cause, his stick and wheel are the supporting cause.
  • But since there is no changes to his svarUpam he is called nirvikAra (unchangeable).
  • It is only his body (chith and achith) that gets transformed. Spider makes a web from its own saliva and then it consumes it again. If a spider can do this, why cant Iswaran who is omnipotent (capable of doing anything) do the same.

srushti, sthithi, samhAram

He is the full controller of  all these activities. samashti srushti (upto the creation of pancha bhUthas) are done by bhagavAn himself directly and vyashti srushti (various beings, manifestations, etc) are done indirectly by bhagavAn being the antharyAmi of other beings.

srushti (creation)

  • srushti involves
    • transforming subtle matter into gross matter
    • providing body and senses to jIvAthmAs
    • expanding the knowledge of jIvAthmA
  • srushti is done through brahmA, prajApathis, time and all beings by being present as their in-dwelling soul.
  • sruhti is done in rajO guNam (the mode of passion).

sthithi (sustenance)

  • sthithi involves
    • Just like water sustaining the crop in a rice/paddy field, he sustains jIvAthmAs by being present within them with favourable intentions and help them in all different situations.
  • sthithi is done by 
    • descending as many incarnations starting with vishNu (which is the first incarnation in the material world)
    • establishing sAsthram by manu, rishis, etc
    • guiding the jIvAthmAs in good path
    • being antharyAmi of time and all beings
  • sthithi is done in sathva guNam (the mode of goodness).

samhAram (dissolution)

  • samhAram involves
    • pulling back the jIvAthmAs into a subtle state to minimize their attachment to material aspirations. This is similar to keeping ones own uncontrollable son under arrest for the well-being of the son.
  • samhAram is done by being the antharyAmi of rudhran, agni, time and all beings.
  • samhAram is done in thamO guNam (the mode of ignorance).

bhagavAn's supreme quality during srushti

  • If some are joyful and others are in distress, would that not reflect partiality and cruelty in bhagavAn's part?
  • Not at all - since everyone gets their body based on their karmA, and all actions are done to reform/uplift the jIvAthmA slowly into a higher state, there is no partiality or cruelty in bhagavAn's part.
  • bhagavAn performs srushti, sthithi, samhAram with a divine form as said by nammAzhwAr in 3.2.1.

bhagavAn's various forms

  • emperumAn's forms are
    • more enjoyable than in his svarUpam (nature), guNam (quality), etc.
    • eternal - always with a form
    • Uniform - without the effects of old age, etc
    • made of auspicious matter which is in the mode of pure goodness
    • Unlike material body which covers the soul's knowledge, his divine forms fully reveal his true nature.
    • Eternally glowing
    • abode of all divine qualities like beauty, softness, etc
    • one that is meditated upon by all yOgis
    • that which will cease our attachment to everything else
    • that is enjoyed by nithyasUris and mukthAthmAs
    • that which remove all pains
    • source of all incarnations
    • refuge for everyone
    • abode for everything
    • decorated with divine weapons (conch, discus, etc) and ornaments (garlands, necklaces, etc)
  • bhagavAn's svarUpam is attached with 5 different categories of forms namely
    • parathvam - form in paramapadham
    • vyUham - forms in vyUha state which is primarily focussed on the material worlds
    • vibhavam - innumerable incarnations of emperumAn
    • antharyAmi - in-dwelling soul in all jIvAthmAs (souls) and achEthanams (matter)
    • archai - innumerable deity forms which are worshipped at temples, mutts, homes, etc
    • These are briefly discussed at


  • paramapadham is described as the place of endless bliss and innumerable auspicious qualities and where kAlam (time) is not the controller. In samsAram time is the controller - whether we want or not, time automatically transforms every thing.
  • everything is spiritual in paramapadham.
  • He along with his divine consorts srI mahAlakshmi, bhU dhEvi and neeLA dhEvi are the prime focus.
  • He exists there for the full enjoyment of nithya sUris (eternally free souls) and mukthAthmAs (the souls who were bound in samsAram before but free now in paramapadham).
  • His auspicious qualities such as knowledge, strength, etc are fully manifested in paramapadham.


kShirAbdhi nAthan is a representative of vyUha forms
  • forms that are accepted by bhagavAn
    • for the purpose of maintaining order (thru srushti, sthithi, samhAram) in the material worlds,
    • to guide/nourish the jIvAthmAs in samsAram and
    • to be the object of meditation for the meditators.
  • para vAsudhEvan first expands himself in to vyUha vAsudhEvan.
  • vyUha vAsudhEvan expands himself in to 3 more forms - sankarshaNa, pradhuymna and anirudhdha.
  • sankarshaNa
    • gyAnam (knowlege), balam (ability to support everything) are predominant in him.
    • He presides over the jIva thathvam (soul) and distinguishes between soul and matter, and initiates the process of giving names and forms to them.
    • He is responsible for establishing sAsthram (vEdham, vEdhAntham, etc) and samhAram (dissolution).
    • He subsequently expands into pradhyumna form.
  • pradhyumna
    • Ishwarya (controlling ability/wealth), vIrya (power) are predominant in him.
    • He presides over the manas thathvam (mind).
    • He is responsible for 
      • instructing on the righteous principles, 
      • the creation of human beings and cAthur varNams (four categories - brAmaNa, kshathriya, vaisya, shUdhra)
      • the creation of all who are situated in the mode of goodness (which ultimately leads to bhagavAn)
  • anirudhdha
    • shakthi (strength) and thEjas (ability to handle anything individually) are predominant in him.
    • He is responsible for
      • giving true knowledge
      • creation of time and all entities that in the mixed mode of goodness, passion and ignorance.


dhasAvathAram - the 10 main incarnations
  • there are innumerable incarnations of bhagavAn.
  • his incarnations are categorised into
    • mukya avathArams 
      • these are considered most important and worshippable for mumukshus (one who desires for mOksham)
      • bhagavAn himself descends in many divine forms such as mathsya, kUrma, varAha, etc
      • the forms are made of divine matter (just like in paramapadham).
      • he carries all his auspicious qualities in full into these forms just like in paramapadham.
      • just like a lamp which is lit with a match stick glows more than the match stick, his incarnations glow more than his form in paramapadham.
    • gauNa avathArams
      • gauNam means giving his svarUpam (nature) or shakthi (strength) to jIvAthmAs to fulfill specific goals.
      • these are considered less important and not worshippable for mumukshus, because the purpose of these avathArams is to fulfill specific tasks only.
      • two categories
        • svarUpa AvEsam - bhagavAn giving his divine svarUpam (nature) to jIvAthmAs and descend with his divine form. Examples: parasurAma, etc.
        • shakthi AvEsam - bhagavAn giving his powers alone to jIvAthmAs for specific purpose. Examples: brahmA, rudhran, vyAsa, etc.
  • he descends into various incarnations purely by his divine desire.
  • the goal of these incarnations is explained by bhagavAn himself in bhagavath gIthai 4.8 as 
    • parithrANAya sAdhUnAm - protecting his devotees (the virtuous)
    • vinAsAya cha dhushkruthAm - annihilating the evil-minded
    • dharma samsthApanArtham - establishing the righteous principles
  • Though at times it is said that bhagavAn incarnates due to rishi's curse, etc, those are only pretext (false reason) and the real reason is his desire only.


  • antharyAmi means being all pervaded and fully controlling all entities from within.
  • Wherever jIvAthmAs go bhagavAn also accompanies them to guide them.
  • For the ones who want to meditate on bhagavAn, he mercifully appears with a divine form and his divine consorts within their hearts.
  • He is constantly protecting the jIvAthmAs by being with them within their heart.


 108 dhivya dhEsams - the ones that are glorified by AzhwArs
  • this is explained as the epitome of all the different forms of bhagavAn.
  • As poigai AzhwAr identified in mudhal thiruvanthAdhi 44th pAsuram, emperumAn happily accepts the form that is desired by his devotees.
  • archAvathAram is present at all places and at all times to everyone unlike other forms (param, vyUham, etc) which are limited to 
    • certain dhEsam (place like paramapadham, kshIrAbdhi, etc) 
    • certain kAlam (time like thrEthA yugam, dhvApara yugam, etc),
    • certain adhikAris (persons like dhasrathan during rAmAvathAram, etc)
  • He ignores the faults/mistakes of his worshippers due to his causeless mercy.
  • He fully depends on his worshippers for all of his actvities (like bathing, eating, sleeping, etc).
  • He descends into many temples (dhivya dhEsams, abhimAna kshEthrams, village temples, etc - everywhere irrespective of city, country, continent, planet, etc), mutts and our own homes.
  • Complete nature of archAvathAram
    • He creates the taste and attachment towards him through his archAvathAram.
    • He is the abode of all auspicious qualities - all his qualities such as sauseelyam (magnanimity), saulabhyam (easy accessibility), vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance), etc are fully manifested and visible here. These qualities are subdued in paramapadham, since everyone is pure and fully realised in paramapadham.
    • He is the refuge for everyone irrespective of their birth, knowledge, etc.
    • He is the most enjoyable as explained fully by AzhwArs and AchAryas. We have already enjoyed AzhwAr/AchAryas archAvathAra anubhavam in
  • His magnanimous nature in archAvathAram
    • Even though he is the master and everyone else are dependent on him, he manifests himself as the dependent and fully depend on his devotees.
    • Being in a deity form, he presents himself to be 
      • ignorant - since he understands everything through his devotees
      • incapable - since he waits for his devotees for all of his actions like bathing, eating, dressing, sleeping, etc
      • fully dependent on his devotees as explained above
    • Still, out of his causeless and unlimted mercy, attachment and compassion towards his devotees, he fulfills all their desires without expecting anything back, thus manifesting his great quality called vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance)


Thus we have seen the 3 entities namely chith, achith and Iswara in good detail. This is one of the most difficult subject matters since it involves many technical and in-depth aspects. We have seen the tip of the iceberg - there is so much more relishable explanations in mAmunigaL's vyAkyAnam for this divine grantham thathva thrayam of piLLai lOkAchAryar which is called kutti bhAshyam (the essence of emperumAnAr's srI bhAshyam). Let us glorify our srIman nArAyaNan, AzhwArs and AchAryas for providing us with these great literature which are more valuable than anything else for us.

piLLai lOkAchAryar, maNavALa mAmunigaL - srIperumbUthUr

adiyen is grateful to Sri U.Ve. P B Sampath swamy who taught thathva thrayam (both the text and meanings) to adiyen.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Sources: thathva thrayam

thathva thrayam - achith - What is matter?

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

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Understanding the achith (matter) thathvam through the teachings of the wise men


  • achith (insentient) is devoid of knowledge and is abode for change/transformation.
  • Since, achith is devoid of knowledge, it purely exists for the enjoyment of others.
  • Unlike chith (sentient - Soul), which is unchangeable (does not change its nature), achith undergoes changes.
  • There are three types of achith, namely
    • sudhdha sathvam - pure goodness devoid of any rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance)
    • misra sathvam - combination of sathvam (goodness), rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance)
    • sathva sUnyam (kAlam) - The principle of time which is devoid of  any guNam (sathvam, rajas, thamas)

sudhdha sathvam (pure goodness)

paramapadham - spiritual abode of srIman nArAyaNan which is full of mandapams, gardens, etc., which are made of divine matter

  • This is pure goodness devoid of any rajas and thamas. This is mainly focussed on all achith (insentients) in paramapadham. 
  • By nature, this
    • is eternal 
    • is source of knowledge and joy 
    • manifests as vimAnams/gOpurams (towers), mandapams (halls), etc by the divine desire of bhagavAn instead of being created by the desire of a jIvAthmA induced by his karmA. 
    • is in an unlimited brilliantly shining form 
    • cannot be quantified/fully comprehended  by nithyas (eternally free from samsAram), mukthas (one who became free from samsAram) and bhagavAn himself. mAmunigaL raises a doubt and clarifies it himself - if bhagavAn cannot quantify/fully comprehend this, would it not affect his sarvagyathvam - omniscience (knower of everything)? He beautifully explains that knower of everything means knowing the true nature of everything - so, bhagavAn knows that sudhdha sathvam is unlimited which is its true nature and that is true omniscience. 
    • is exceedingly marvellous 
  • Some say that, this is luminous  and others say that is this is non-luminous. There are two opinions about it.   
  • But there is more weightage for the view that it is luminous. In such case, it will reveal itself to nithyas, mukthas and bhagavAn. But samsAris will be unable to perceive it. 
  • It is different from the soul since
    •  it does not realize itself
    •  it transforms into many forms
  • It is different from knowledge since 
    • it manifests into different forms (knowledge does not take any gross form) without the help of others
    • unlike knowledge which grasps thanmAthras (objects of senses - sound, touch, form, taste and smell), this is abode of the subtle elements.

misra sathvam (impure goodness)

  • By nature, this is 
    • a mixture of sathvam, rajas and thamas
    • a veil which blocks the jIvAthmA from realising full knowledge and bliss
    • the source of perverse knowledge for the jIvAthmAs
    • eternal
    • an instrument for Ishwaran in his pastimes
    • at times indifferent from each other and at other times different from each other depending on state (avyaktha - unmanifested state vs vyaktha - manifested state) and time (srushti - creation vs samhAram - destruction time)
    • popularly known as
      • prakruthi - since it is the source of all changes
      • avidhya - since it is tangential to true knowledge
      • mAyA - since the outcome of it is marvellous and full of different varieties 
  • As identified by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 10.7.10, there are 24 elements of matter, namely
    • pancha thanmAthras - 5 objects of senses - shabdha (sound), sparsa (touch), rUpa (form), rasa (taste), gandha (smell)
    • pancha gyAnEndhriyas - 5 sense organs of knowledge -srOthra (ears), thvak (skin), chakshur (eyes), jihvA (tongue), grAhNa (nose) 
    • pancha karmEndhriyas - 5 sense organs of actions - vAk (mouth), pANi (hands), pAdha (legs), pAyu (excretory organs), upastha (organs for procreation) 
    • pancha bhUthas - 5 great elements - AkAsa (ether), vAyu(air), agni (fire), Apa/jala (water), prthvi (earth)
    • manas - mind
    • ahankAram - ego
    • mahAn - manifested state of matter 
    • mUla prakruthi - unmanifested state of matter

  • Of these, mUla prakruthi is the primordial matter which manifests itself into various states due to the mixture of guNams (attributes)
  • guNams are of three categories - sathvam (goodness), rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance)
  • sathvam is the inducer/source of happiness and pleasure
  • rajas is the inducer/source of attachment and thirst for material aspirations
  • thamas is the inducer/source of perverse knowledge, forgetfulness, lethargy/laziness and sleep
  • When the 3 guNams are equally distributed, that results in unmanifested state of matter.
  • When they are inequally distributed, that results in manifested state of matter. 
  • mahAn is the first state of manifested matter.
  • ahankAram comes into existence from mahAn.
  • Subsequently all the other elements (thanmAthras, gyAna indhriyas, karma indhriyas, etc) manifest from mahAn and ahankAram.
  • pancha thanmAthras (objects of senses) are the subtle state of pancha bhUthas (gross elements) 
  • bhagavAn creates the manifested universes by mixing these different elements.
  • bhagavAn creates the universes (effect) and their cause. i.e.,transforms the unmanifested mUla prakruthi into the manifested state of elements by his sankalpam (effortlessly).
  • All entities which live in the universes are created by bhagavAn through other living entities such as brahmA, prajApathi, etc (by guiding them being their antharyAmi - in-dwelling super-soul)
  • Innumerable universes exist.
  • They are created simultaneously and effortlessly by bhagavAn just by his sankalpam.
  • Each universe has 14 layers. mAmunigaL explains in great detail about the structure of the universe based on various pramANams. 
 Structure of leela vibhUthi (samsAram - material world)
  • 7 bottom layers
    • From the top, they are named - athalam, vithalam, nithalam, kapasthimath (thalAthalam), mahAthalam, suthalam and pAthALam 
    • these are occupied by demoniac people, snakes, birds, etc
    • there are many beautiful towers, palaces, etc which are more enjoyable than even svarga lOkam
  • 7 top layers
    • bhU lOkam - where humans, animals, birds, etc live. Split into 7 large dhvIpams (islands). We are living in jambhUdhvIpam.
    • bhuvar lOkam - where gandharvas (celestial singers) live
    • svarga lOkam - where indhran (a post which is to manage the activities of bhUlOkam, bhuvar lOkam and svarga lOkam) and his associates live
    • mahar lOkam - where the retired indhrans and the ones who desire/waiting to be indhran live
    • janar lOkam - where many great sages like brahmA's 4 sons sanaka, sanakAdhika, sanAthana and sanandhana, etc live
    • thapa lOkam - where prajApathis (primordial progenitors) live
    • sathya lOkam - where brahmA, vishNu and shiva and their devotees live
  • Each universe (made of 14 layers) is surrounded by 7 layers of protection - water, fire, air, ether, ahankAram, mahAn and finally by mUla prakruthi.
  • gyAnEndhriyas acquire knowledge about subtle and gross elements. karmEndhriyas
    are used in performing various physical actions. Mind is common to all and helps in
    every aspect.
  • panchIkaraNam is the process by which bhagavAn mixes the various elements and leads to the manifestation of the universe as we see it now.

sathva sUnyam - kAlam (time)


  • By nature, time
    • acts like a catalyst in the tranformation of matter (from unmanifested state to manifested state and subsequently as well).
    • manifests in different scales of measurement (like day, week, fortnight, etc).
    • is eternal - meaning there is no beginning or end for time
    • helps Ishwaran in his pastimes
    • is also a form (body) of emperumAn himself
  • mAmunigaL quotes naduvil thiruvEdhip piLLai bhattar who explained classification of time into many parts.
    • nimEsham (moment, winking of the eye - equal to a second) is the lowest unit of time
    • 15 nimEshams = 1 kAshta
    • 30 kAshta = 1 kalai
    • 30 kalais = 1 muhurtham
    • 30 muhurthams = 1 dhivasam (1 day)
    • 30 dhivasams = 2 pakshams (fortnights) = 1 mAsam (month)
    • 2 mAsams = 1 ruthu (season)
    • 3 ruthus = 1 ayanam (6 months - uttarAyaNam and dhakshiNAyaNam)
    • 2 ayanams = 1 samvathsaram (year)
    • 360 human samvathsaram = 1 dhEva samvathsaram
  • Other two achith thathvams (sudhdha sathvam and misra sathvam) are the enjoyable items, abode of enjoyment and instrument of enjoyment.
  • sudhdha sathvam (divine matter) is boundless at the top/sides and bounded at the bottom (it is fully present in paramapadham - the higher/spiritual universes)
  • misra sathvam (matter) is boundless at the bottom/sides and bounded at the top (it is fully present in samsAram - the lower/material universes)
  • kAla thathvam is present everywhere (both in paramapadham and samsAram).
  • It is said that time is permanent/eternal in paramapadham and temporary/transient in samsAram. mAmunigaL quotes periyavAchAn piLLai's explaination - "time is of uniform (eternal) nature in both paramapadham and samsAram" in his thathva thraya vivaraNam (a grantham which is not to be found these days). So, that is considered as the ultimate authority. But since some AchAryas have explained the difference in nature of time between paramapadham and samsAram - it has to be understood that because of its ever changing nature in samsAram, it is considered as temporary here.
  • Some say time does not exist. But since it defies logic and sAsthram, that cannot be accepted.


Thus we have seen a bit about the achith (matter) thathvam which falls under 3 categories (sudhdha sathvam - divine matter in paramapadham, misra sathvam - matter in this samsAram and sathva sUnyam - time). As said before, this subject matter is very complex and this article is aimed at creating interest to hear this subject matter under an AchAryan in the form of kAlakshEpam.

While this gives a good introduction to the achith prakaraNam (section) of the divine grantham named thathva thrayam, it is highly recommended to the readers to hear kAlakshEpam of this grantham under an AchAryan, which will be truly enlightening.

rahasya thathvathrayathaya vivruthyA lOkarakshinE
vAkbOshA kalparachanA prakalpAyAsthu mangaLam

srImathE ramyajAmAthru munIndhrAya mahAthmanE
srIrangavAsinE bhUyAth nithyasrI nithya mangaLAm

mangaLAsAsana parair madhAchArya purOgamai
sarvaischa pUrvair AchAryai satkruthAyAsthu mangaLam

Up next,  We will see in detail about Iswara thathvam (God).

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

Sources: thathva thrayam

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