srImathE rAmAnujAya 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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/virodhi-pariharangal.html.
Please see the previous article at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/04/virodhi-pariharangal-20.html.
52. gruha virOdhi (க்ருஹ விரோதி) - Obstacles in place of residence
emperumAnAr visiting parutthik kollai ammAL's residence and blessing her his own prapanna pAkai (cloth covering his head) observing that she is feeling shy to come out with torn clothes. During his thiruvEnkata yAthrai, emperumAnAr himself blesses a visit to her residence knowing her wonderful sAthvika qualities - this incident is identified in rAmAnujArya dhivya charithai written by piLLai lOkam jIyar
In this section, the nature of the residence of prapannas/srIvaishNavas is explained in detail. Translator's note: In general, our pUrvAchAryas have focussed on living in dhivya dhEsams, abhimAna sthalams, AzhwAr/AchArya avathAra sthalams, etc. In periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 5.1.3, periyAzhwAr explains that "un kOyilil vAzhum vaittaNavan ennum vanmai kaNdAyE" (உன் கோயிலில் வாழும் வைட்டணவன் என்னும் வன்மை கண்டாயே) - the ultimate goal is to be a vaishNava who lives in a place which is dear to you (bhagavAn) and engaging in kainkaryam to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. dhivya dhEsams are glorified as "ugantharuLina nilangaL" (உகந்தருளின நிலங்கள்) - place which are blessed by bhagavAn with great desire. The purpose of living in dhivya dhEsams, etc., is to have constant engagement in developing ones knowledge in bhagavath vishayam through regular interactions with learned srIvaishNavas and to constantly engage in kainkaryam to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. By being surrounded with bhAgavathas, we also automatically eliminate the need to mix with samsAris (materially minded people). This principle is greatly emphasised in this section in detail.
- Having residence in a place which is condemned due to its relationship with dhEvathAntharams (other dhEvathas such as brahmA, rudhran, etc) is an obstacle.
- Living in the streets where pAshaNdis (bhAhyas - ones who does not accept vEdham and kudhrushtis - ones who accept vEdham but misinterpret the meanings) is an obstacle.
- Living in a residence which is neighboured (lived) by samsAris (materially minded people) is an obstacle.
- Living in a residence which does not manifest the divine symbols of bhagavAn such as thirumaN kAppu (Urdhva puNdram), sangam (conch), chakram (disc), etc., is an obstacle. Here the necessity of marking/identifying srIvaishNava residences with thirumaN kAppu, etc., clearly.
- Living in a residence which is owned by or dear to materially minded people is an obstacle.
- Living in a residence which is not dear to ones own AchArya is an obstacle. Translator's note: It is to be understood that, when a house is constructed, it must be offered to our AchArya and on his approval and with his blessing use that residence with great care. It is still seen that during gruha pravEsam ceremony, AchArya is invited and requested to bestow his blessing on the new residence. In AchArya hrudhayam, a beautiful incident is identified in 85th chUrNikai which starts with "mlEchchanum bhakthan AnAl" (ம்லேச்சனும் பக்தன் ஆனால்). When explaining the glories of bhAgavathas, azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr highlights that when naduvil thiruvIdhi piLLai bhattar constructed a new residence, to purify the place, he simply requested piLLai vAnamAmalai dhAsar to step in to the newly constructed house and place his lotus feet in all the rooms. That by itself was sufficient to purify the new residence instead of having to do elaborate yagyams, etc.
- Living in a residence which is not totally free for bhAgavathas to enter and stay at any time is an obstacle. Translator's note: Ones residence should be maintained in such a manner that any bhAgavatha can enter any time freely (as the owner of the house will do) and stay for as many days he wishes. In periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.4 padhigam (decad), periyAzhwAr greatly glorifies the residents of thirukkOshtiyUr as experts in welcoming srIvaishNava guests and caring for them during their visits.
- Living in a residence which is often visited by blood-relatives who are too focussed on material aspects. vaduga nambi broke his existing pots/vessels after some relatives visit him and gets pots that are used by mudhaliyANdAn. Translator's note: In guru paramparA prabhAvam 6000 padi, vaduga nambi's glories are explained. In that the following incident is also highlighted. Once vaduga nambi’s relatives (who are not srIvaishNavas) come to visit him. After they leave, vaduga nambi destroys all the pots and fully purifies the place. He then goes to mudhaliyANdAn‘s thirumALigai, picks up the pots that were discarded by him and starts using them. Thus he establishes that for the ones who have pure AchArya sambhandham, everything related to them (even discarded ones) are fully pure and acceptable to us and anything touched by samsAris is to be relinquished at once.
- Living in a residence where archAvathAra emperumAn (sALagrAma srI mUrthy, vigraha emperumAn, etc) in a separate kOyil AzhwAr (thiruvArAdhana room) is not present is an obstacle. Translator's note: As part of pancha samskAram, one learns from the AchArya how to perform thiruvArAdhanam. After learning that, one must properly worship the archAvathAra emperumAn who have descended mercifully into the residence of such srIvaishNava. gruhArchai (archAvathAra emperumAn in homes/residences) is greatly glorified by our pUrvAchAryas. A detailed article on srIvaishNava thiruvArAdhanam can be seen at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/07/srivaishnava-thiruvaaraadhanam.html.
- Living in a residence where the entrance has sangu (conch) prominently is an obstacle. Though sangu (conch) is emperumAn's divine weapon and symbol, as it is independently used by others (other than srIvaishNavas), just using sangu along prominently is condemned here.
- Living in a residence where AchArya srIpAdha thIrtham (charaNAmrutham) is not present is an obstacle. It is explained by our pUrvAchAryas that in every residence AchArya srIpAdha thIrtham and thIrtha emperumAn (sALagrAma srI mUrthy) thIrtham (sanctified water) must be present. It is common practice that kumkum or saffron paste is applied on AchArya's lotus feet, that imprint is taken in a cloth and kept at home with reverence. Sometimes, sandals worn by AchArya is also kept at home. srIpAdha thIrtham can be prepared from either one of these - cloth with the imprint of AchArya's lotus feet or his sandals. There is also another way to prepare srIpAdha thIrtham - the soil under thuLasi plant is mixed with srIpAdha thIrtham of AchArya (collected once) and a solid block is prepared. When dried this is called as "thIrthavadi" - by sanctifying plain water using this block, srIpAdha thIrtham can be prepared. In any case, srIpAdha thIrtham must be accepted by sishyas every day.
- Living in a residence where there is no bag/box which carries Urdhva puNdram (thirumaN and srIchUrNam) and a basket that carries alms (or bhagavAn's prasAdham) is an obstacle. Translator's note: These objects are necessary for day-to-day routines of srIvaishNavas.
- Living in a residence where japa mAlA (beads that are used to count the manthras while chanting) is hanging is an obstacle. If ever we need to keep count of our manthra recitation, we can simply use the lines in the hands/fingers. Translator's note: Unlike other sampradhAyams which advocate reciting manthrams, our sampradhAyam is fully focussed on meditating the meanings of the manthrams (thirumanthram, dhvayam, etc). There is no recommendation of systematic chanting of certain numbers of any manthrams in our sampradhAyam other than the gAyathri manthram recitation which is part of sandhyA vandhanam for the first 3 varNas (brAhmaNa, kshathriya, vaisya).
- Living in a residence which is close to dogs, wolves, foxes, pAshaNdis (we have already seen this before), etc is an obstacle.
- Living in a residence that keeps the literature of saiva, baudhdha, jaina, chArvAka (bhAhya and kudhrushti) sampradhAyams is an obstacle. thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr says "kANbarO kEtparO thAm" (காண்பரோ கேட்பரோ தாம் - will they ever see or listen to other sampradhAyam literature) in his thirumAlai pAsuram 7. In the pAsura vyAkyAnam, periyavAchAn piLLai explains how kUrathAzhwAn's father chastised/punished him for listening to such discoourses when he was very young.
- Living in residences which are cleaned/sanctified using cow-dung only on friday, amAvAsyai, etc (special days) is an obstacle. It is to be understood that everyday, ones residence must be sanctified and kept nicely. Similar principle is explained in Arjana virOdhi also (towards the end while talking about accepting alms from homes which are cleaned only on fridays, etc). Translator's note: As emperumAn resides in every srIvaishNava home, it must be kept as clean and sacred as possible considering the residence as emperumAn's temple.
- Living in a residence where the kitchen or the place where cooked food is kept is visible from outside to commoners is an obstacle. Translator's note: Once cooked, the food cannot be seen/smelt/tasted by any one else before they are offered to emperumAn for his pleasure. So, the cooked food is to be generally covered by lid or cloth and kept safely. This is why, we usually observe that bhOgam which is carried to emperumAn for offering is always kept fully covered. This practice must be followed at residences also.
- Living in a residence where lots of ashes are spilled all over the place is an obstacle. Ashes are generally applied by saiva's on their forehead and is totally inappropriate for srIvaishNavas to touch. Translator's note: Again, this point relates to cleanliness and maintaining the sanctity of the residence properly.
- Living in a residence where stale (cooked) rice is kept in a pot in a corner is an obstacle. This is usually kept in IsAnya (north-east) mUlai (corner). Translator's note: When cooked rice is not exhausted on a particular day, it is commonly kept in a pot with water added into it in the night. This preserves the rice to some extent and is suppose to be a healthy food in the next morning. In the olden days (even 15 years ago), many families (even srIvaishNava families) used to preserve rice like this and eat that in the next morning as it is as a porridge or mixing with curd (yoghurt) and eat it like curd-rice. This type of practice is condemned here. kaNNan emperumAn explains in bhagavath gIthA that one should not eat food that is cooked in the previous session as such foods becomes stale and is not good for our sAthvika nature. But nowadays, people do not value food, so any leftovers are simply thrown out - which is equally bad as sAsthram specifically says "annam na nindhyAth" (do not waste food). So, either we should prepare as much as necessary without wasting food or when there is excess food, find some one who is needy of food and give the left-over prasAdham to them instead of wasting the prasAdham.
- Living in a residence, sleeping with protective threads/bands in hands, legs, etc. Translator's note: It has almost become a fashion even amongst srIvaishNavas to wear black/red threads in hands, legs, neck, etc., which are often related to dhEvathAntharams. Some times people claim it to be from thiruvadi (hanuman), srInivAsan emperumAn, etc. Whatever may be the case, it is completely against our sampradhAyam to wear such colored threads, bands, etc. For srIvaishNas, the main protection is their Urdhva puNdram (also known thirumaN kAppu in thamizh, where kAppu means protection). Generally, the threads/bands that can be worn by srIvaishNavas are:
- For brAhmaNas, kshathriyas and vaisyas - yagyOpavitham (also known as janEu, pUNUl, etc) is allowed.
- aRai nAN kayiRu (kati sUthram) - waist band (mandatory for everyone) - this is essential since kaupInam (kOvaNam - loin cloth - traditional under garment) must be tied in this.
- rakshAbandhanam - protective thread/band which is worn during yAgams, dhIkshais (special vaidhIka ceremonies such as upanayanam), etc - usually white or yellow in color.
- Living in a residence where the pots and pans that are used in thiruvArAdhanam, etc., lack Urdhva puNdram (thirumaN kAppu). All objects must be decorated with bhagavAn's symbols. Translator's note: periyAzhwAr identifies in periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 5.4.1 "ennaiyum en udaimaiyaiyum un chakkarap poRi oRRikkoNdu" (என்னையும் என் உடைமையையும் உன் சக்கரப் பொறி ஒற்றிக்கொண்டு) - apply your symbol of chakram on me (AthmA) and my properties (body, wealth, etc). It is the duty of every srIvaishNava to put the mark of bhagavAn in all objects of interest.
- Living in a residence which is not yet purified by the foot-steps of bhAgavathas is an obstacle. Translator's note: We have already seen the example of naduvil thiruvIdhi piLLai bhattar and piLLai vAnamAmalai dhAsar - no need to explain further.
- Living in a residence which is not purified after the visit of pAshaNdis (one who oppose the superiority of bhagavAn and sAsthram) is an obstacle. After visits of pAshaNdis, the place should be fully cleaned and purified.
- Living in a residence where the cattle are marked with symbols of other dhEvathAs is an obstacle. Identifying cattle through special marks is a common practice in villages. It must be ensured that there is no symbol of dhEvathAntharam in such marks.
- Living in residence where the residents are engaged in congregational reciting of slOkams, etc., which are not recited by our pUrvAchAryas is an obstacle. Translator's note: Our sampradhAyam is called as sath sampradhAyam or sudhdha sampradhAyam. Our pUrvAchAryas focussed on AzhwArs' pAsurams, pUrvAchAryas sthOthrams, vyAkyAnams and rahasya granthams - all of these are fully devoid of any dhEvathAnthara bhajanam (glorifying other dhEvathas), upAyAnthara nishtai (accepting any other upAyam other than bhagavAn himself), etc. Anything outside what is accept by our pUrvAchAryas may or may not be in line with our AzhwArs/AchAryas works. So, it is better to avoid engaging in such recitals.
- Living in residence where thuLasi (thiru thuzhAy) is not grown is an obstacle. For gruhArchchai (home perumAL) thiruvArAdhanam, it is ideal if we can grow our own thuLasi at home.
- Living in residence where the sound vibration of dhivya prabhandham is not heard is an obstacle. Translator's note: At home too, we must engage in reciting dhivya prabhandhams, sthOthra pAtams, rahasya granthams, etc on a regular routine. This way, there is opportunity for all the members of the family to engage in bhagavath guNa anubhavam and kainkaryam.
53. kshEthra virOdhi (க்ஷேத்ரவிரோதி) - Obstacles in land that is owned
This can be seen as continuation of previous topic. In gruha virOdhi, the matters dealing with once place of residence is explained. This topic can be considered in relation to the land on which the house is built. Translator's note: kshEthra generally means cultivatable land. It can also mean any land or property which is used for agricultural, farming or other business purposes. Usually, in pUrvAchArya granthas gruha and kshEthra are discussed together since both are considered to be some sort of bondage. Let us see the points in detail.
- Holding on to a land that is owned/controlled by dhEvathAntharams is an obstacle. Translator's note: Some lands may be owned by other dhEvathas and their temples. It is inappropriate for srIvaishNavas to live/use such lands for their purposes.
- Holding on to a land that has the symbols of dhEvathAntharams is an obstacle. Translator's note: dhEvathAntharams have many significant symbols like thriyak puNdram (horizontal symbol on the forehead), sUlam (trident), etc. It is better to avoid dealing with lands that have such symbols.
- Having lands in a place which is not dear to bhagavAn is an obstacle. Translator's note: As seen before, dhivya dhEsams, AzhwAr/AchArya avathAra sthalams, etc are dear to bhagavAn and thus we ought to have lands only in such places.
- Holding on to lands that are stolen/grabbed from bhagavAn is an obstacle. Translator's note: Some people engage in stealing/overtaking temple lands, etc. It is better to avoid such lands as that is not good for our svarUpam to be associated with such stolen lands.
- Holding on to lands that are stolen/grabbed from others is an obstacle.
- Holding on to land considering that its "My land" is an obstacle. Translator's note: We must understand that everything is owned by bhagavAn and we are simply given an opportunity to utilize his property.
- Holding on to lands that are not used in the service of AchAryan. Translator's note: In nanjIyar's life history a very nice incident is shown. Once when bhattar along with his family was in kUrakulOththaman (a village), some damage happens to nanjIyar's garden by bhattar's family members. The EkAngis (servants) of nanjIyar become upset and say some harsh words towards them. Hearing this nanjIyar becomes very upset and explains to his servants that the garden is there for the whole purpose of bhattar's satisfaction and not for namperumAL (i.e., AchArya kainkaryam is more important). From this we can understand that our properties should be put in use for AchArya kainkaryam.
- Holding on to lands that are not at total disposal of bhagavAn, bhAgavathas and AchArya is an obstacle. Translator's note: Similar to previous point. We can also recollect ananthAzhwAn's wonderful dedication in creating a pond and a beautiful garden in thirumalA for thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn's kainkaryam on the orders of emperumAnAr.
We will continue with the next section in the next article.