virOdhi parihArangaL - 38

srImathE satakOpAya 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

71. sidhdhAntha virOdhi (ஸித்தாந்த விரோதி ) - Obstacles in understanding of the doctrine  - part 2

 emperumAnAr (srI rAmAnuja) - srIperumbUthUr - one who systematically propagated our sidhdhAntham

We are continuing with this topic now. Most of these subjects require deep knowledge which is acquired through systematic study of sAsthram. To have full and in-depth understanding, it is best to learn these principles with the guidance of scholars.
  • Per sAmAnAdhikaraNyam (which explains one visEshyam/substance with multiple visEshaNam/attributes), ignoring the attributes and just accepting the underlying substance is an obstacle. sukla pata: means white cloth. Here substance is the cloth. whiteness is the inseparable attribute of that cloth. Such inseparable attribute is called visEshaNam. Translator's note: sAmAnAdhikaraNyam is defined as "binna pravruththi nimiththAnAm sabdhAnAm Ekasmin
    arthE vruththi:" (பிந்ந ப்ரவ்ருத்தி நிமித்தாநாம் சப்தாநாம் ஏகஸ்மின் அர்த்தே வ்ருத்தி:
    ) - identifying the same substance with respect to multiple words (and attributes/meanings). For example, in the case of white cloth - both whiteness (being white) and clothness (being a cloth) are attributes of the cloth. So, multiple aspects pointing to a single substance is called sAmAnAdhikaraNyam. This is a very important principle to understand. This is one of the most important principles for our visishtAdhvaitha sidhdhAntham. brahmam is the visEshya (substance) and it is the AdhAra (support/base). chith (souls) and achith (matter) are visEshaNa (attributes) and AdhEya (supported). Substance and attributes are inseparable. Here some sidhdhAnthams ignore the chith and
    achith and simply focus on brahmam. But that is not valid. In vEdhArtha sangraham these principles are beautifully expounded in detail by
    emperumAnAr. These must be heard as kAlakshEpam under proper AchArya to get full understanding.
  • Not knowing that such highlighting of the single brahmam (with attributes) is only to emphasis the unique nature of brahmam (and not to make souls and matter invalid/illusory) is an obstacle. EkavisEshaNa visishta aikyArththa param - About a singular substance attached to its attribute. sruthi says "sa brahmA, sasiva: sEndhra:" (ஸ ப்ரஹ்மா, ஸசிவ: ஸேந்த்ர:). sa - "He" indicating "that supreme purusha". He is brahmA, He is siva, He is indhra. Here this means, brahmA, siva, indhra are the sarIra/visEshaNa (body, attribute) and srIman nArAyaNa is the sarIrI/visEshya (soul/substance). Translator's note:  There are usually 3 parts identified in vEdham - bhEdha sruthi (that which speaks about distinct entities), abhEdha sruthi (that which speaks about singular brahmam) and gataka sruthi (that which links brahmam and other entities (chith/achith). While other sidhdhAnthams may focus on bhEdha or abhEdha, visishtAdhvaitha sidhdhAntham harmonizes the bhEdha and abhEdha sruthis using gataka sruthi. Where there is emphasis on the singular brahmam, it is to be understood in context of gataka sruthi which highlights the sarIra/sarIrI relationship and visEshaNa/visEshya relationship between chith/achith and brahmam. In these two points, mainly mAyAvAdham (the principle of accepting brahmam only and declaring that everything else is illusory) is rejected. nammAzhwAr explains this in thiruvAimozhi 8.8.8 - "kUdiRRAgil nalluRaippu" (கூடிற்றாகில் நல்லுறைப்பு) pAsuram. In all the vyAkyAnams, similar principle is explained. There is no way jIvAthmA is the same as brahmam (and there is nothing else). Because one object cannot become another ever - jIvAthmA will be jIvAthmA and paramAthmA will be paramAthmA.
  • Not knowing that the rejection of manifoldness is to establish that there is nothing that is independent of brahmam is an obstacle. nAnAthva nishEdham - Negation of manifoldness. "EkamEva adhvidhIyam, nEhanAnAsthi kinchana:" (ஏகமேவ அத்விதீயம், நேஹநாநாஸ்தி கிஞ்சந:) is present in sruthi. There is only one - no second entity. nAnA - many are not there. Here manifoldness is rejected.  But this rejection is for entities that exist indpendent of brahmam. Since brahmam is the antharAthmA (in-dwelling soul) of everything, everything is pervaded by brahmam (sarvam brahmAthmakam). There is nothing that is not pervaded by brahmam.
  • Not knowing that negation of chith and achith during samhAram (annihilation) is to indicate their subtle existence is an obstacle. samhAram is the third aspect of the general activities related to the universe(s). srushti (creation), sthithi (sustenance) and samhAram (annihilation) are the 3 aspects. During the samhAram, chith (souls) and achith (matter) do not get completely destroyed. They are eternal entities. They change from the gross state to a subtle state and are consumed by supreme brahmam. During srushti (creation), they again are given gross form by bhagavAn. Translator's note: This principle is nicely explained by thiruvarangaththu amudhanAr in rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi 69th pAsuram. "chinthaiyinOdu karaNangaL yAvum chithainthu munnAL anthamuRRAzhnthathu" (சிந்தையினோடு கரணங்கள் யாவும் சிதைந்து முன்னாள் அந்தமுற்றாழ்ந்தது) - During samhAram manas (mind), senses and body - all assume the subtle state and become one with mUla prakruthi (primordial matter). During that state, chith (souls) that are naturally subtle and achith (matter) which have assumed subtle state, become indistinguishable. Still they exist. All three thathvams - chith (souls), achith (matter) and Iswara (God) are eternal. chith (souls) have svabhAva vikAram (change in attributes such as knowledge expanding and contracting). achith (matter) have svarUpa vikAram (change in its nature itself such as from gross to subtle and also assuming different gross forms). Iswara is devoid of any vikAram (change).
  • Not knowing that negation of qualities in sOdhaka vAkyams are intended towards negation of inauspicious qualities is an obstacle. There are certain vAkyams (phrases) that explain brahmam as nirguNam (devoid of qualities). They are meant to say that brahmam is devoid of bad/inauspicious qualities. Since brahmam is already established as "akila hEya prathipata kalyANa guNaika thAna" (அகில ஹேய ப்ரதிபட கல்யாண குணைக தாந) - that which is devoid of all bad qualities and abode of all auspicious qualities only. Translator's note: brahmam is described in two types of vAkyams - kAraNa vAkyams (those phrases that talk about brahmam being the cause of everything) and sOdhaka vAkyams (those phrases that talk about the distinct qualities of brahmam). "yathO vA imANi bhUthANi jAyanthE, yENa jAthANi jIvaNthi, yathprayaNthi abhisamvichaNthi, thath vijijnYAsasva, thath brahmEthi" (யதோ வா இமாநி பூதாநி ஜாயன்தே, யேந ஜாதாநி ஜீவந்தி, யத்ப்ரயந்தி அபிஸம்விசந்தி, தத் விஜிஜ்ஞாஸஸ்வ, தத் ப்ரஹ்மேதி) is an example for kAraNa vAkyam. This explains that - That from which this whole universe and the beings are created, on which the whole universe is sustained, in which it merges during destruction, where the beings reach upon attaining mOksham, know that and know that to brahmam. Thus jagath kAraNathva (being the cause of the universe), mumukshu upAsyathva (being the object of the worship for the ones who desire to get mOksham) and mOksha pradhathva (having the ability to benedict mOksham to a jIvAthmA) are identified as the most important qualities of the supreme being. "sathyam gyAnam anantham brahma" is an example for sOdhaka vAkyam. This explains that brahmam is eternal, full of knowledge and boundless (by time, place and material). Thus sOdhaka vAkyams need to be understood properly.
  • Turning a blind eye on vAkyams that exhibit the auspicious qualities of brahmam is an obstacle. As explained in "ya: sathyakAma: sathya sankalpa:" (ய: ஸத்யகாம: ஸத்ய ஸங்கல்ப:) - he is full of auspicious qualities. Ignoring those are obstacles. Translator's note: nammAzhwAr begins thiruvAimozhi with "uyarvaRa uyar nalam udaiyavan yavan" (உயர்வற உயர் நலம் உடையவன் யவன்) - One who is full of auspicious qualities. kUrathAzhwAn explains to his sishya piLLai piLLai AzhwAn that nammAzhwAr starts with proclaiming the auspicious qualities and thereby directly attacking the lifeline of kudhrushtis (ones who misinterpret vEdham) who constantly speak about brahmam being devoid of qualities.
  • Not understanding that negation of form for brahmam indicates that brahmam does not acquire a form due to past karmA (instead brahmam acquires form due to the desire) is an obstacle. "nathE rUpam nachAkAra:" (நதே ரூபம் நசாகார:) - He has no form, no stature, etc., are focussed on material body which is acquired through ones karmA. One should understand that bhagavAn assumes variegated forms due to his desire.
  • Turning a blind eye towards vAkyams that highlight bhagavAn with form is an obstacle. One should have full faith that paramapurusha (supreme lord) has most beautiful form. There is a well-known phrase in chAndhOgya upanishadh "antharAdhithyE hiraNmaya: purushOdhrusyathE - thasyayathA kapyAsam punNdarIkamEvamakshiNI" (அந்தராதித்யே ஹிரண்மய: புருஷோத்ருச்யதே - தஸ்யயதா கப்யாஸம் புண்டரீகமேவமக்ஷிணீ) - In the middle of the sun planet, a person who is shining like a radiant sun is seen. His two eyes resemble a lotus flower that is bloomed by the sun. Not knowing such matters is an obstacle. Translator's note: rig vEdham declares "sa u srEyAn bhavathi jAyamAna:" (ஸ உ ச்ரேயான் பவதி ஜாயமாந:) - bhagavAn becomes more praiseworthy when he appears in this world. In bhagavadh gIthA 4th chapter, kaNNan emperumAn reveals his avathAra rahasyam (the confidential details about his birth/appearance). In the 5th slOkam he explains to arjuna "both me and you have been born many many times. While you do not know about your previous births, I know all of mine". In the next slOkam he says "Though I am unborn, not liable to change/destruction and the lord of all, I take birth again and again out of my own sankalpa (desire)". In the next slOkam, he says "Whenever dharmam suffers and adharmam raises, I bring myself to appear during those times". In the next slOkam he declares "I appear in many different forms time after time to protect virtuous people, to annihilate miscreants and to establish dharmam". Finally in the 9th slOkam, he says to arjuna "One who meditates on my divine birth (forms) and my divine activities with the true understanding of them, he will be relieved from samsAram (cycle of birth and death) at the end of his present life and reach me". From these we can understand that brahmam has many divine forms which are not bound by karmA.
  • Not knowing that brahmam that is identified as ubhaya linga visishtan (one who has two unique identities), vilakshaNa vigraha visishtan (one who has unique form), sriya: pathi (divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi), akAra vAchyan (one who is known by "a") is the most supreme lord (over everyone else) is an obstacle. akAra vAchyan - praNavam (Om) is the essence of all of vEdham. It is the combination of "a", "u" and "ma". In this, akAram (a) represents srIman nArAyaNan who is the supreme lord. sarvasmAthparan - He is the one who has no one equal or higher to him. ubhaya linga visishtan - one who has 2 unique identities namely akila hEya prathyanIkan (one who is opposite to all inauspicious qualities) and kalyANa guNa pUrNan (one who is filled with auspicious qualities). He is most pure and also has the ability to purify others. He has both parathvam (supremacy) and saulabhyam (simplicity/easy approachability). akAram mainly emphasises on kAraNathvam (being the cause of everything) and rakshakathvam (being the protector for everyone).
  • Not knowing that srIman nArAyaNan is the jagathkAraNan (cause of everything) is an obstacle. In chAndhOgya upanishadh it is explained that "sadhEva sOmya! idhamagra AsIth, EkamEva, adhvidhIyam". The same brahmam is explained in subhAla upanishadh as "EkOhavai nArAyaNa AsIth, nabrahmA, nEsAna:". From this, it is clear that nArAyaNan is the supreme cause. Translator's note: First, in the chAndhOgya upanishadh, udhdhAlakar explains to his child that - (before srushti) sath only existed, only that, nothing else. Here, the 3 different emphasis (sadhEva, EkamEva, adhivdhIyam) of negation of everything else other than brahmam is explained as the three different kAraNams (causes) namely upAdhAna kAraNam (material cause), nimiththa kAraNam (efficient cause), sahakArikA kAraNam (ancillary cause). For example, to make a pot, soil is the upAdhAna kAraNam, potter (and his desire to make the pot) is the nimiththa kAraNam and stick, wheel, etc are the sahakArikA kAraNam. For srushti, chith (souls) and achith (matter) are the upAdhAnam - these are sarIra (body) for brahmam. brahmam's sankalpam (desire/will) is the nimiththam. brahmam's gyAnam, sakthi, etc are the sahakArikA. The same principle is explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 2.8.10 pAsuram as "vEr mudhalAy viththAy" (வேர் முதலாய் வித்தாய்) - vEr (root) is the sahakAri, mudhal (the urge to grow) is the nimiththam and viththu (seed) is the upAdhAnam. Here bhagavAn himself is identified as all 3 causes. This same brahmam is identified in subhAla upanishadh as nArAyaNa. There it explains that nArAyaNa only existed and there was no brahmA, siva, etc. From these, we can understand that nArAyaNa is the supreme cause of everything.
  • Being confused with principles that highlight pradhAnam (matter), paramANu (atomic particle) as primordial causes is an obstacle. pradhAnam is prakruthi that is achith (matter). Soil cannot become a pot by itself. Matter by itself cannot be an independent and primordial cause. paramANu (atomic particle) being the cause is presented by kaNAdha. This can also be not accepted. sarvEsvaran srIman nArAyaNan who is the all-pervading antharyAmi of all universes  is the only cause as seen in "vEr mudhalAy viththAy". There should be no doubt about this. Translator's note:  piLLai lOkAchAryar, in thathva thrayam sUthrams 153 to 156 reject the concept of pradhAnam and paramANu being the cause. mAmunigaL has given beautiful explanation for these sUthrams. paramANu (atomic particle) being the cause is putforth by baudhdha, jaina and vaisEshikas. pradhAnam (prakruthi - achith - matter) being the cause is putforth by kapila. Since these principles are contrary to sruthi and are beyond logic they cannot be accepted. 
  • Considering brahmA, siva, etc (who are created by nArAyaNa) having parathva (supremacy), kAraNathva (being the cause of everything) is an obstacle. thirumazhisai AzhwAr explains in nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi 1st pAsuram "nAnmuganai nArAyaNan padaiththAn, nAnmuganum thAnmugamAi sankaranaith thAn padaiththAn" (நான்முகனை நாராயணன் படைத்தான், நான்முகனும் தான்முகமாய்ச் சங்கரனைத் தான் படைத்தான்) - nArAyaNa created brahmA, brahmA in turn created sankara. As seen here, brahmA, rudhra, etc., dhEvathAs are created by srIman nArAyaNa. There is no question of supremacy or them being the cause.
  • Considering brahmA, vishNu and rudhra as equals is an obstacle. brahmA, vishNu, rudhra are famously known as thrimUrthy (three deities). As explained by poigai AzhwAr in mudhal thiruvanthAdhi 15th pAsuram "mudhalAvAr mUvarE - ammUvaruLLum mudhalAvAn mUri nIr vaNNan" (முதலாவார் மூவரே - அம்மூவருள்ளும் முதலாவான் மூரி நீர் வண்ணன்) - Eliminating all other dhEvathAs, there are 3 primary dhEvathAs. Among those, the one whose body colour resembles blue colour of sea water, is the supreme/primary one. As explained in this pAsuram, among brahmA (who is responsible for creation), vishNu (who is responsible for sustenance) and siva (who is responsible for annihilation), vishNu is the primary deity. All 3 of them are not equal and not at the same level. Translator's note: nampiLLai highlights the reason for focussing on 3 of them in the vyAkyAnam for this pAsuram. He says that AzhwAr speaks about these 3 dhEvathAs (instead of focussing on the many many dhEvathAs) so that it is easy to reject just the two of them and highlight vishNu alone as supreme. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains different types of apachArams (offenses/mistakes) in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram. While explaining bhagavath apachAram, in sUthram 303, he starts with considering dhEvathAntharams at par with bhagavAn srIman nArAyaNa as the first offense. nammAzhwAr also says in thiruvAimozhi 2.3.2 "oththAr mikkArai ilaiyAya mA mAyA" (ஒத்தார் மிக்காரை இலையாய மா மாயா) - The great lord who has none equal or higher to him. This follows svEthasthara upanishadh vAkyam "na thath samascha abhyadhikascha dhrusyathE" (ந தத் ஸமச்ச அப்யதிகச்ச த்ருச்யதே).
  • Considering any one other than sarva rakshaka (protector/deliverer for the all - srIman nArAyaNa) as the rakshaka (protector/deliverer) is an obstacle. srIman nArAyaNa who is akAra vAchyan (meaning of "a") is the rakshaka for all. One who can bless all benedictions. dhEvathAntharams does not have this glory. Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar has written a specific rahasya grantham named prapanna parithrANam. In this grantham he establishes that srIman nArAyaNa is the only protector and nothing/no one else can protect/deliver us. In mumukshuppadi 36th sUthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the meaning of rakshakam. He explains that rakshakam means removing the obstacles and fulfilling the desires. In the subsequent sUthrams, he explains that obstacles and desires will vary depending on the type of jIvAthmA. For samsAri (materialist), enemies, disease, etc are obstacles and nice food, material pleasures, etc are the desires (goal). For mumukshu (one who desires for mOksham), the existence in samsAram is the obstacle and reaching paramapadham to perform eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn is the desire. For mukthas (liberated) and nithyas (eternally free), any break in kainkaryam is obstacle and increase in kainkaryam is the desire. He then explains in sUthram 39 that "I have already explained 'There is no other deliverer than srIman nArAyaNa' in prapanna parithrANam". Thus whatever the obstacles, it is only bhagavAn who removes it and whatever the desires, it is only bhagavAn who benedicts that. Even when lesser intelligent persons approach dhEvathAntharams for benedictions, it is bhagavAn who is situated as the antharyAmi (in-dwelling soul) is the one who fulfills those desires through the particular dhEvathAntharam.
  • Considering any one other than srIman nArAyaNa as the master is an obstacle. srIman nArAyaNa, who is the divine consort of srI mahAlakshmi is the only master of both paramapadham (nithya vibhUthi - eternal world) and samsAram (leelA vibhUthi - material world). sEshi means master, proprietor, owner. Considering any one else as Iswara (controller) is wrong. Translator's note: We have already seen this through thirumazhisai AzhwAr's words in nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi pAsuram 53 "thiruvillAth thEvarai thEREnmin dhEvu" (திருவில்லாத் தேவரை தேறேன்மின் தேவு) - I will not treat such dhEvathas who lack connection with mahAlakshmi as dhEvathA ever. In mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar further explains in the section of bhagavAn's rakshakathvam (continuing previous point) that bhagavAn is always with srI mahAlakshmi while delivering/protecting others.
  • Considering that there is something other than parabrahmam srIman nArAyaNa who is to be worshipped is an obstacle. mumukshu is the one who desires for mOksham (liberation - eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham). mOksham is benedicted by srIman nArAyaNan only. No one else can do that. Thus, such mumukshu should be fully confident that he/she must meditate only on srIman nArAyaNa. Translator's note: chAndhOgya upanishadh says "kAraNam thu dhyEya:" (காரணம் து த்யேய:) - supreme cause is to be meditated upon. It is important to understand that, this statement establishes the object of meditation - but it does not define who is supreme cause. We have already seen that the supreme cause is srIman nArAyaNa alone. By linking these two, the sidhdhAntham is established - i.e., one must meditate on the supreme cause and that supreme cause is srIman nArAyaNa. So, one must constantly meditate on srIman nArAyaNa. It is also important to note that srIman nArAyaNa is well known as "mukundha" which means one who benedicts liberation.
  • Not knowing that other than purushOththaman (who is the benedictor of mOksha), there is no other person who can fulfill the desires of anyone is an obstacle. sarva abhimatha pala pradhan - one who can fulfill all types of expectations/desires. dhEvathAntharams can only give material benedictions. But kEsava who is parama purusha (supreme lord) can benedict all desires including mOksham.
  • Worshipping kshudhra dhEvathAs is an obstacle. kshudhram - small/insignificant. Translator's note: dhEvathAntharams, as indicated previously, can only give material benedictions. But for a prapanna, the goal is to be freed from material desires and be situated in eternal kainkaryam to srIman nArAyaNa. In bhagavadh gIthA, 7th chapter, bhagavAn explains the limited nature of anya dhEvathAs (other dhEvathAs) and the benedictions given by them. He clearly rejects any worshipping of dhEvathAntharams as such worshipping lead to repeated birth/death in this samsAram only. 
  • Having desire for temporary/insignificant aspects is an obstacle. Translator's note: Similar to previous point. Being a prapanna, one should shed the interest towards temporary and insignificant aspects and focus on eternal kainkarayam to bhagavAn in paramapadham.

We will continue with the next part of this section in the next article. 

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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  1. Dear Sarathy Swamy,

    Thank you very much for the detailed article with lots of fantastic explanations.

    adiyen wanted to clarify a topic with devareer regarding sAmAnAdhikaraNyam which is discussed by Devareer above.

    In Githai 10th chapter, Kannan takes lots of categories and tells that He is the owner or controller for those. For example, among Adityas, I am Vishnu, among big mountains, I am Himalaya, of rivers, I am Ganges etc.

    Kannan also says, I am the taste of water etc.

    As per sAmAnAdhikaraNyam, it is perfect that Bhagavan is the sariri for all the achit entities like Himalaya, water, rivers, and everything is His body and He pervades all of them and all these reside on Him and are inseparable from Him.

    But when Kannan says I am taste of water, is the taste experienced while drinking water directly Brahmam? Or we can say that the taste of water is created by Bhagavan and the taste of water is experienced because Bhagavan pervades the taste and controls and the taste of water exists as inseparable from Him?

    It is explained that all words which pertain to body reaches the soul in-dwelling in it, similarly, Himalayas, or taste of water or mango, or Brahma/Siva or clouds etc anything is Body of Brahmam and so they reach Brahmam as well.

    But, does this mean that these entities are directly Brahmam or thoroughly pervaded/sustained/nourished/supported by Brahmam?

    Can devareer please give some clarification on this topic??

    Thanking you,

    1. Dear sudharsan swamy,
      Many thanks for the keen observation. Starting with rasOham apsu kaunthEya (7.8), kaNNan talks about himself being prApyam.

      rasam is the main aspect that makes water being prApyam (desired as something to be attained). rasam is a prakAram (mode) of water (the substance). Water itself is prakAram of bhagavAn. So, rasam is also prakAram of bhagavAn. Such rasam becomes the prakAram of water due to bhagavAn's mercy. Similarly, all other aspects are explained in this section (like gandham for bhUmi, etc). So, here the emphasis is on him being the one who gives the likable aspects for the different subjects discussed in the section. These are nicely explained by puthUr krishNamAchAryar swamy in his gIthA bhAshyam translation.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

    2. ultimately - since he is the one who gives the particular aspects for the objects - that makes the objects desirable, it is to be understood that, he is the real prApyam (goal to be attained) for everyone.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

    3. Dear Sarathy Swamy,

      Thank you very much Swamy for providing the explanations. It has really cleared the mind to a great extent.
      adiyen will further meditate on it and learn more and understand better.

      Thanking you,

    4. Thanks swamy. Credit goes to vELukkudi krishNan swamy who gave kAlakshEpam of gIthA bhAshyam and puthur swamy for this simple explanation of such complex subjects.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan