virOdhi parihArangaL - 14

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

emperumAnAr with his kAlakshEpa (lecture) gOshti

45. sravaNa virOdhi (ச்ரவண விரோதி) - Obstacles in hearing (the glories of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas)

sravaNam means listening/hearing. In this section, what to be heard and what not to be heard are explained. Translator's note: In srI bhAgavatham, prahlAdhAzhwAn explains that there are 9 processes of bhakthi - sravaNam kIrthanam vishNO: smaraNam pAdha sEvanam archanam vandhanam dhAsyam sakhyam Athma nivEdhanam (ச்ரவணம் கீர்த்தனம் விஷ்ணோ: ஸ்மரணம் பாத ஸேவநம் அர்ச்சநம் வந்தநம் தாஸ்யம் ஸக்யம் ஆத்ம நிவேதநம்) - Hearing, singing, remembering srIman nArAyaNan, serving his lotus feet, worshipping him, glorifying him, serving him, befriending him and offering oneself to him are the nine ways to engage in devotion towards emperumAn. Of these, sravaNam is highlighted first as it is the most important aspect. Let us see about that now.

  • Gossiping where bhagavath vishayam is discussed, should be condemned. Not doing so is an obstacle. Though, if one is fully situated in bhagavath vishayam (matters relating to emperumAn), whatever they speak will naturally become bhagavath vishayam. In gyAna sAram pAsuram 40, it is said that "anbar chollumavidu churuthiyAm" (அன்பர் சொல்லுமவிடு சுருதியாம்) - Even casual talks of bhagavAn's dear devotees who are fully realized, will become pramANam (authentic). Translator's note: In varavaramuni uththara dhinacharyai, eRumbi appA prays to mAmunigaL that "Dear swamy! please bless me that all my thoughts are focussed on you, all my words are in glorification of you, all my acts of my body are in service/glorification for you, anything I have not mentioned here -  let all of that be done for your joy" - this is the state of true srIvaishNavas - they always look out for the pleasure of emperumAn and Acharyan - so whatever they do naturally becomes pleasing to emperumAn and AchAryan.
  • Not having full concentration on the subject matter while hearing is an obstacle. Mind should be fully focussed on the particular subject matter. It should not be heard casually and to say that "I also listened to bhagavath vishayam" without understanding the full importance.
  • While listening to bhagavath vishayam, focussing on something else is a great hurdle.
  • When hearing about a particular topic which one is not familiar with, one should carefully listen to the same and try to understand it properly. One should not simply nod the head and say "Yes, that is correct", etc and pretend that it is already known.
  • When a learned scholar is explaining some principles nicely, one should not boast ones own knowledge and interrupt to show off the same. It is also not proper to find faults in what is being explained properly.
  • Being jealous on hearing some one explaining bhagavath visahayam nicely is an obstacle. One should not show ones jealousy on seeing others shine in bhagavath vishayam. Translator's note:  In Arthi prabhandham, mAmunigaL speaks about himself in pAsuram 55 "piRar minukkam poRAmai illAp perumaiyum peRROmE" (பிறர் மினுக்கம் பொறாமை இல்லாப் பெருமையும் பெற்றோமே)  -  I have no jealousy absolutely when seeing others shine. This is a great quality and indeed very difficult to achieve - but this is what is desired from srIvaishNavas - one must feel naturally happy about other srIvaishNavas being glorified.
  • Not appreciating when hearing good words of bhagavath vishayam is an obstacle. It is good to be courteous and appreciate others whole heartedly when some good words are said and good deeds are done.
  • Being jealous of sabrahmachAris (class-mates) who are more intelligent than oneself and manifesting such jealousy are great hurdles. Translator's note: A srIvaishNava should naturally feel joy when seeing other srIvaishNavas shine and feel sorrow when other srIvaishNavas suffer. This is the true quality of a realized person. It is said that when good things happen to other srIvaishNavas we should be joyful as if some good things happened to our own children (naturally every one will be delighted to see their children shine and be happy).
  • Ones heart should melt on hearing bhagavAn's divine attributes such as saulabhyam (easy accessibility), sausIlyam (mixing freely with all), etc. Not doing so is an obstacle. We can recollect nammAzhwAr losing conscious for 6 months after remembering the supreme lord in the form of kaNNan emperumAn being in a helpless state after being bound to the mortar.
  • bhagavath vishayam (matters relating to emperumAn) should be heart with great devotion. Hearing them casually devoid of any devotion is an obstacle.
  • Not having bodily changes out of divine emotions is an obstacle. "AhlAdhasItha nEthrAmbu: pulakIkrutha gAthravAn" (ஆஹ்லாதசீத நேத்ராம்பு: புலகீக்ருத காத்ரவாந்) - With tears of joy and bodily changes out of emotions (goose bumps, hair standing erect, etc) when hearing the names of emperumAn. Translator's note: These aspects are explained by bhagavAn himself in garuda purANam while explaining the eight qualities of his bhaktha - one such quality is having divine emotions while hearing about him. He says "My bhakthas essentially have the following eight qualities - 1) unconditional love for bhakthas of emperumAn, 2) enjoying (others) worship of emperumAn, 3) worshipping emperumAn him/herself, 4) being without any pride, 5) having attachment in listening about emperumAn, 6) having bodily changes (like goose bumps, etc) when hearing/thinking/speaking about emperumAn, 7) always thinking about emperumAn, 8) not asking material benefits in return for worshipping emperumAn. Such bhakthas even if they are mlEchchas, they are worshippable at par with my own self by leaders of brAhmaNas, the meditators, the ones involved in kainkaryam and even sannyAsis and scholars. They are also eligible to give and accept knowledge from such scholars". 
  • After hearing the principles of our sath sampradhAyam, one should follow it fully. Not doing so is an obstacle. In nAchiyAr thirumozhi, ANdAL nAchiyAr says in 11.10 "meymmaip peruvArththai vittuchiththar kEttiruppar" (மெய்ம்மைப் பெருவார்த்தை விட்டுசித்தர் கேட்டிருப்பர்) - periyAzhwAr (my father) heard the charama slOkam and lived exactly according to that. This is Asthika lakshaNam (the real meaning of being a believer of sAsthram). Not following the principles is truly damaging to the true nature of the self.
  • Not hearing from a sadhAchAryan (true AchAryan) is an obstacle. sadhAchAryan means the one who heard from elders (authentic AchAryas) properly, contemplate on the meanings and explain the same to others. One who learns the etiquette of our pUrvAchAryas. Only such great personalities are called sadhAchAryan. This is what mAmunigaL explains in upadhEsa rathina mAlai pAsuram 61 as "gyAnam anushtAnam ivai nanRAgavE udaiyanAna guru" (ஞானம் அனுஷ்டானம் இவை நன்றாகவே உடையனான குரு) - the AchAryan who is properly situated in knowledge as well as following the principles effectively.
  • After learning valuable knowledge from sadhAchAryan, teaching the same to unqualified persons is an obstacle. The real qualification is the desire to learn and having faith in such true knowledge.
  • Hearing bhagavath vishayam from avaishNavas is an obstacle. avaishNavas mean one who have dhEvathAnthara sambandham - relationship with other dhEvathAs like rudhran, dhurgA, brahmA, indhran, skandhan, etc. Translator's note: thirumangai AzhwAr explains in periya thirumozhi that we should not have any relationship with persons who are associated with dhEvathAntharams. periya thirumozhi - 8.10.3 - maRRumOr dheyvam uLadhenRu iruppArOdu uRRilEn (மற்றுமோர் தெய்வம் உளதென்று இருப்பாரோடு உற்றிலேன்) - I will not associate with the ones who accept other dhEvathAs. Such persons, even if they present bhagavath vishayam, there may be a tinge of their personal interests related to their favourite dhEvathAs - thus it is better to avoid hearing from them. Whether it is bhAhyas (persons outside vaidhIka system) or kudhrushtis (persons who accept vaidhIka system but misinterpret the meanings) - whatever they explain will always be contrary to sath sampradhAyam principles - so one have to be careful with such persons and not hear from them.
  • One should not hear anything outside the sath sampradhAyam matters. One should hear from scholars who are properly trained in sath sampradhAyam only. Translator's note: Similar to previous point - when we hear from scholars who are not trained in the proper principles, there may be room for confusion and mis-representation of the real principles. Thus it is better to avoid such persons. In thirumAlai 7th pAsuram thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr says "kalaiyaRak kaRRa mAnthar kANbarO kEtparO thAm" (கலையறக் கற்ற மாந்தர் காண்பரோ கேட்பரோ தாம்) - will the well learned persons listen to other avaidhIka (non-vEdhic) matters. In the vyAkyAnam periyavAchAn piLLai highlights an incident where kUrathAzhwAn in his young age hears some budhist text and returns home late. kUrathAzhwAr (AzhwAn's father) becomes upset with such behaviour, gives him srIpAdha thIrtham to purify AzhwAn and then only accepts him inside the home.
  • When hearing about the glories of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas one should feel blissful. Similary when some one insults bhagavAn and bhAgavathas (like sisupAlan did) one should at once close the ears and leave the place. Not doing so is an obstacle.
  • charamArththam (Ultimate principles) such as thirumanthram, dhvayam and charama slOkam should be well understood and implemented in daily life.  charamArththam can also mean charama slOkam. Translator's note: charamArththam can also mean ultimately accepting AchAryan as the means and goal. aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr explains the same principle in gyAna sAram and pramEya sAram prabhandhams. In srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar concluded that AchArya's mercy is the ultimate means to uplift us. viLAnchOlai piLLai explained the same principle in his saptha kAthai in 7 pAsurams. mAmunigaL explained the same principle in an elegant manner in the end of upadhEsa rathina mAlai.
  • While discussing bhagavath vishayam one should not bring in matters relating to other dhEvathas such as rudhran, brahmA, indhran, etc.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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