virOdhi parihArangaL - 39

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 3 (concluding part)

srI rAmAnuja at AzhwAr thirunagari, srIperumbUthUr, srIrangam and thirunArAyaNapuram

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.
  • Not having desire for mOksham that leads to boundless eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham is an obstacle. In the previous point, we saw the need for giving up attachment towards temporary insignificant worldly pleasures. Here, mOksham is explained as anantha (boundless) sthira (permanent/eternal) result. Not having desire for such goal is an obstacle. As explained in "mukthir mOksha: mahAnandha:" (முக்திர் மோக்ஷ: மஹாநந்த:), mOksham is boundless and eternal bliss. For the one who was liberated, there is no rebirth. Translator's note: chAndhOgya upanishadh declares "na cha punar AvarthathE, na cha punar AvarthathE" (ந ச புநர் ஆவர்த்ததே, ந ச புநர் ஆவர்த்ததே)  - there is no returning back. Saying it twice is to emphasise/re-inforce the principle strongly. kaNNan emperumAn also explains in gIthA 8.16 "A brahma bhuvanAth lOkA: ..." (ஆ ப்ரஹ்ம புவநாத் லோகா:) - from brahma lOka - the top most location to the lowest location there is repeated birth/death, but one who reaches him, there is no re-birth in (returning back to) the material world. This is the unique nature paramapadham - once some one reaches there, the jIvAthmA is fully purified and the knowledge is fully expanded. So, there is no possibility of returning to samsAram. One continues to serve bhagavAn in paramapadham in various ways assuming various forms. This is explained in chAndhOgya upanishadh "sa EkathA bhavathi, thrithA bhavathi, ..." (ஸ ஏகதா பவதி, த்ரிதா பவதி, ...) - He can take one form, 3 forms, etc. There is no end for this bliss and thus there is no real possibility of the jIvAthmA returning to the material world after having tasted such bliss which is natural for him. bhagavAn also would not send the jIvAthmA back to samsAram having himself made so much effort to bring him over to paramapadham. So, one should desire for this eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn in paramapadham.
  • Being a mumukshu, not having jihAsA (distaste) for samsAram (material world) is an obstacle. mumukshu means one who desires for mOksham. As demonstrated by nammAzhwAr in thiruviruththam 1st pAsuram "inninRa nIrmai iniyAm uRAmai" (இந்நின்ற நீர்மை இனியாம் உறாமை) - I cannot withstand my current situation of being caught in this samsAram, one should have great dislike for the life in this material world. To overcome that, one should have great desire to reach paramapadham. This is explained as "samsAraththil adikkodhippu" (ஸம்ஸாரத்தில் அடிக்கொதிப்பு) - being in material world is like walking on burning hot sand. Translator's note: When one is caught walking on sand, he/she will look for shade in great hurry. samsAram is compared to burning hot sand and paramapadham is explained as cool shade. bhagavAn himself is also explained as "vAsudhEva tharu chAyA" (வாஸுதேவ தருச் சாயா) - vAsudhEva, the shade giving tree. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains srIvaishNava lakshaNam in mumukshuppadi sUthram 116 (first sUthram of dhvaya prakaraNam). In there, among several qualities, he identifies that a vaishNava should be fully confident of reaching paramapadham to perform eternal kainkaryam. At the same time, he should also greatly crave/long for that goal as well constantly. One should not be simply satisfied in whatever situation one is in and happily leading his/her life. Rather there should be constant desire to be relieved from suffering in this material world and to be situated in paramapadham to be serving bhagavAn there eternally. Not having such intention is an obstacle.
  • Without understanding that anything achieved through ones karmA will be temporary and insignificant and not desiring to learn about brahmam being positive is an obstacle. karma sAdhya palam - whatever is accomplished through yAgam, yagyams, etc., such as wordly wealth, pleasures in svargam (heaven), etc. These are temporary - will end once the puNyam (virtue) is exhausted. They are not eternal. When compared to the eternal blissful kainkaryam in paramapadham, these are insignificant. It is a pitiful state for the ones who do not seek out for bhagavadh kainkaryam even after understanding the limitations of such worldly pleasures. Translator's note: In bhagavadh gIthA 8.15, kaNNan emperumAn explains "mAmupEthya punarjanma dhukkAlayam asAsvatham ..." (மாமுபேத்ய புநர்ஜந்ம துக்காலயம் அசாச்வதம் ...) - Ones who attain the highest result of reaching me (to perform eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham) will be fully relieved from this material body (in material world) which is the abode of all sorrows (dhukkAlayam) and temporary (asAsvatham). Any where in this material world, from pAthALa lOkam (the lowest of planets) to the brahma lOkam (the highest of planets), the problem of janma (birth), mruthyu (death), jarA (Old-age), vyAdhi (disease) exists. With the existence of these 4 main problems, there is always the possibility for sorrow. Thus, one should give up the attachment towards insignificant material aspects and aim for eternal blissful kainkaryam (service) to bhagavAn in paramapadham.
  • Not knowing that nArAyaNa who is revealed in nArAyaNa anuvAkam (sUktham) is the one who is indicated by the word "brahma" is an obstacle. In nArAyaNa sUktham, we see "nArAyaNa param brahma thathvam nArAyaNa: para: nArAyaNa parOjyOthi: AthmA nArAyaNa: para:" (நாராயண பரம் ப்ரஹ்ம தத்வம் நாராயண: பர: நாராயந பரோஜ்யோதி: ஆத்மா நாராயண: பர:). Here it is declared in sruthi that the supreme lord who is known as nArAyaNa is the parabrahmam (supreme brahmam) who has none equal to him. This is to learnt and understood by everyone.
  • Not knowing that karma bhAgam of sAsthram is established by bhagavAn himself to be followed by everyone is an obstacle. vEdham is divided into 2 parts. karma bhAgam explains about the yAgam (sacrifice), yagyam (worship), etc. karmAs are of two types. AgyA karmams - nithya (daily), naimiththika  (periodic) karmams. These (nithya/naimiththika) karmams have to be done. akaraNE prathyavAyam - when such karmam is not performed it leads to sins. There is also another type of karmam called kAmya karmam - these are optional and focussed on material benefits generally. We perform our daily karmams with the sankalpam "srI bhagavadh AgyA bhagavath kainkaryam rUpam" - karmam ordained by bhagavAn and is part of bhagavath kainkaryam. Translator's note: mAmunigaL explains the principle of division of vEdham into two parts - pUrva (first) bhAgam and uththara (subsequent) bhAgam in his commentary for 1st sUthram of piLLai lOkAchAryar's srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram. He highlights that pUrva mImAsA (jaimini sUthram) with "athAthO dharma jijnAsa" and uththara mImAmsA (vEdha vyAsa's brahma sUthram) starts with "athAthO brahma jijnAsa". So, pUrva bhAgam is focussed on explaining the method of worshipping brahmam through karmAnushtAnams and uththara bhAgam is focussed on explaining the qualities of such brahmam which is worshipped. He also highlights thaithriaya upanishadh "sa AthmA, angAnyanyA dhEvathA:" to establish that all dhEvathas are bodies of bhagavAn and are sustained by bhagavAn. Knowing this, learned scholars will engage in karmAnushtAnams purely as worshipping of bhagavAn (as ordained by bhagavAn himself). His commentary for this section is really detailed and lengthy - but it is a wonderful analysis/presentation of the fundamental principles of our sath sampradhAyam which is to be studied under the proper guidance of learned scholars.
  • Not knowing that brahma bhAgam of vEdham explains in detail his svarUpa (true nature), rUpa (forms), guNa (qualities), vibhava (avathArams), etc., and completes with attaining him fully is an obstacle. brahma bhAgam - upanishadhs. These explains the supreme lord srIman nArAyaNan's true nature, forms, qualities, avathArams, etc. svarUpam means true nature - supremacy, omni-presence, etc. rUpam means beauty of his divine form, tender nature, etc. guNam includes all of his most auspicious qualities - qualities that highlight his supremacy such as gyAnam, sakthi, etc., and qualities that highlight his simplicity such as easy appraoachability, mixing freely with everyone, motherly forbearance towards others, etc. vibhavam, etc., includes his avathArams, unlimited wealth, etc. Once a person understands these (svarUpa, rUpa, guNa, vibhava, etc), he/she will develop the desire to attain him and will investigate about the means to attain him. Translator's note: Here brahma bhAgam includes upanishadhs and brahma(vEdhAntha) sUthram. vEdhAntha sUthram is one of the most important literature that establishes the qualities of brahmam clearly. bOdhAyana rishi originally wrote a commentary for brahma sUthram which was preserved in kashmir. srI rAmAnuja vowed to write a detailed commentary for the same to establish the visishtAdhvaitha philosophy per the desire of ALavandhAr (yAmunAchAryar). To fulfill that vow, he traveled all the way to kashmir along with kUrathAzhwAn, acquired the bOdhAyana vruththi grantham and begun his journey back to srIrangam. Some miscreants heard about this, they tracked down srI rAmAnuja and took the vruththi grantham away. srI rAmAnuja was filled with grief and sorrow, but kUrathAzhwAn reveals to srI rAmAnuja that he has already memorized the whole grantham during the time srI rAmAnuja was resting. They return to srIrangam and srI rAmAnuja completes the srI bhAshyam (detailed commentary for brahma sUthram) with the help of kUrathAzhwAn. srI rAmAnuja then returns to kashmir and saraswathi dhEvi welcomes him with great joy at shAradhA pItam. She accepts the bhAshyam from him and glances through the same. Overjoyed with the great clarity of the literature, she honors srI rAmAnuja with the title "srI bhAshyakAra". For upanishadhs, srI rAmAnuja did not write any separate commentary. He lectured vEdhArtha sangraham in front of srInivAsa (thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn) spontaneously. In this vEdhArtha sangraham, he specifically addresses the aspects of upanishadhs that are mis-interpreted by adhvaithis. Phrases such as thathvamasi, aham brahmAsi, etc., which are mis-interpreted by adhvaithis and such phrases are clearly explained with proper context in relation to various other pramANams by srI rAmAnuja in vEdhArtha sangraham. Thus, we can understand the wonderful aspects of brahmam through these great works of srI rAmAnuja in a pristine manner without an iota of doubt/confusion.
  • Not understanding that kainkaryam (in parampadham) is the ultimate goal is an obstacle.  To reach srIman nArAyaNan is the parama purushArtham (supreme goal). bhagavadh anubhavam (bliss of experiencing bhagavAn) is the first step in this goal. Such experience leads to prIthi (love towards bhagavAn) knowing his wonderful qualities. Such love will lead us to kainkarayam (serving him) for his pleasure. Translator's note: As said in "akinchithkarasya sEshathva anupapaththi:" (அகிஞ்சித்கரஸ்ய சேஷத்வ அநுபபத்தி:) - ones true nature of servitude can only be sustained by engaging in (atleast) small kainkaryams (devotional service). vEdhAntham explains liberation as becoming situated in ones proper svarUpam of servitude. sEshathvam is the main quality of AthmA. That sEshathvam must lead to selfless kainkarayam purely for the pleasure of bhagavAn. Any other understanding about the ultimate goal is simply a misunderstanding.
  • Not knowing that sAmyApaththi (jIvAthmA attaining an equal level of brahmam) is only indicated in the sense of sAmarasyam (having equal joy) is an obstacle. In sruthi, mOksham (liberation) is explained as "paramam sAmyamupaithi" (பரமம் ஸாம்யமுபைதி), "sOsnuthE sarvAnkAmAn sahabrahmaNA" (ஸோச்நுதே ஸர்வாந்காமாந் ஸஹப்ரஹ்மணா), etc. Specifically, there will be equality in gyAnam (knowledge) and Anandham (bliss) among bhagavAn, nithyasUris (eternally free souls) and mukthAthmAs (liberated souls). Still, bhagavAn is the swAmy (owner) and all other jIvAthmAs (souls) are his servants. Translator's note: The real benediction for the jIvAthmA is to reach emperumAn. For the ones who reach him, he blesses him with sAmyApaththi mOksham as identified by thirumangai AzhwAr in periya thirumozhi 11.3.5 - "thammaiyE okka aruL cheyvar" (தம்மையே ஒக்க அருள் செய்வர் - bhagavAn will bless the mukthAthmA to have his qualities). sAmyApaththi mOksham means mukthAthmA acquiring eight qualities by the grace of bhagavAn. These qualities are present in bhagavAn fully. But beyond these eight qualities there are certain qualities like sriya:pathithvam (being the husband of srI mahAlakshmi), sEsha sAyithvam (the one lying on Adhi sEshan), ubhaya vibhUthi nAthathvam (being the controller of both nithya vibhUthi and leelA vibhUthi), etc., which are unique to bhagavAn alone.
    The eight qualities are:  apahathapApmA - being free from any sins, vijara: - being free from old age, vimruthyu: - being free from death, visOka: - being free from sorrows, vijigathsa: - being free from hunger, apipAsa: - being free from thirst, sathyakAma: - able to fulfill all desires, sathyasankalpa: - able to complete any task.
  • Assuming svarUpa aikyam (merging of paramAthmA and jIvAthmA) is an obstacle. As explained in previous point, the principle of jIvAthmA becoming brahmam that is put forward by adhvaithis is merely an illusion. 
  • Not knowing that one can/will assume many different forms to perform kainkaryam for bhagavAn after liberation and being in illusion that there is no form/body after liberation are obstacles. We should understand that kainkaryam is the ultimate goal for the mukthAthmA. To perform kainkaryam, jIvAthmA needs a physical form/body. poigai AzhwAr explains in mudhal thiruvanthAdhi 53rd pAsuram "chenRAl kudaiyAm irunthAl chingAchanamAm ninRAl maravadiyAm ..." (சென்றால் குடையாம் இருந்தால் சிங்காசனமாம் நின்றால் மரவடியாம் ...) - When bhagavAn walks Adhi sEshan assumes the form of an umbrella, when bhagavAn sits Adhi sEshan becomes the throne, when bhagavAn stands Adhi sEshan becomes the sandals, etc. So Adhi sEshan (who is a nithyasUri - eternally free jIvAthmA) assumses the forms of umbrella, sandals, throne, bed, etc., and performs many kainkaryams. Similarly, mukthAthmAs (liberated souls) too engage in many kainkaryams assuming different forms. How can one perform kainkaryam without a body? Translator's note: In the vyAkyAnam for this pAsuram, nampiLLai beautifully identifies that Adhi sEshan will take any form to please srI mahAlakshmi and srIman nArAyaNan. He also goes on to highlight that though only Adhi sEshan is mentioned in this pAsuram, it is done as upalakshaNam (analogy/example) for all jIvAthmAs in paramapadham. We have already seen the pramANam from chAndhOgya upanishadh "sa EkathA bhavathi, thrithA bhavathi, ..." (ஸ ஏகதா பவதி, த்ரிதா பவதி, ....). 
  • Not knowing that liberation means travelling via archirAdhi mArgam (the route which starts with archis) that ultimately leads to paramapadham and being illusioned with jIvan mukthi (being liberated in the current life and in this samsAram itself) is an obstacle. Real mukthi/mOksham (liberation) means being relieved from the cycle of birth/death in this samsAram, reaching paramapadham, experiencing paravAsudhEvan emperumAn and serving him eternally, all the time without any blemish for his full pleasure. jIvAthmA (one who is to be liberated) leaves his body at the time of death, and travels through archirAdhi mArgam which is a brightly lit/shining route being assisted by bhagavAn himself and reaches paramapadham.  This end state is called as "mukthir mOksha: mahAnandha:" - blissful liberation. In sankara's adhvaitha philosophy, learning the meaning of phrases in vEdhAntham such as "thathvamasi" and understanding that "the self is bhramam only" is considered as liberation. In this life itself, one becomes liberated according to adhvaitha philosophy. But such understanding is confusing and simply hallucination. Translator's note: archirAdhi mArgam is explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 10.9 padhigam (decad) - "sUzhvisumbaNimugil". archirAdhi mArgam and the blissful experience in paramapadham is explained in detail by piLLai lOkAchAryar in a rahasya grantham called "archirAdhi". piLLai lOkAchAryar himself highlights in mumukshuppadi 27th sUthram that the ultimate result of serving bhagavAn in paramapadham is explained in pramEya sEkaram and archirAdhi gathi (two amongst his 18 rahasya granthams). nAyanAr reveals nammAzhwAr's divine emotions towards thirumOgUr Apthan emperumAn as the one who accompanies the jIvAthmA through the archirAdhi gathi - the route that leads the jIvAthmA to the mOksha bhUmi (paramapadham - the land of liberated souls). Apthan means trustworthy person - he is to be trusted that he will lead us to paramapadham safely.
  • Not knowing that even though ones karmAs are extinguished at the end of this life as a prapanna, the sUkshma sarIram (the subtle body) will travel along with the jIvAthmA and that will only be ridden after dipping in virajA river and having any doubts in that is an obstacle. Though by the grace of bhagavAn one's karmAs (virtues/vices) are eradicated at the end of his/her life and travels through the archirAdhi gathi, the jIvAthmAs connection to achith (matter) is not completely eradicated since the sUkshma sarIram (subtle body) is still attached to the jIvAthmA. This according to the sankalpam of bhagavAn. At the border of parampadham (separating paramapadham and samsAram), there is a divine river called virajA. The jIvAthmA takes a dip in this river and bhagavAn in the form of "amAnavan" holds the hands of jIvAthmA and lifts him up. It is by this merciful touch, the subtle material body is also completely cut off - until then there is connection to material world. According to "total eradication of material aspects will lead to full removal of ignorance", the jIvAthmA will have his knowledge full expanded at that time. Translator's note: sthUla sarIram (gross body) - made of pancha bhUtham (five elements - earth, water, air, fire, space). sUkshma sarIram (subtle body) - mind, vAsanA/ruchi (traces/taste) from previous experiences. mAmunigaL explains this point beautifully in the vyAkyAnam for AchArya hrudhayam 104th chUrNikai. This chUrNikai beautifully establishes how bhagavAn puts in so many efforts in bringing a jIvAthmA who is engrossed in samsAram to fully serve him in paramapadham. In this chUrNikai, nAyanAr uses the example of a farmer who works hard in the field to get the harvest he wants. One of the points in this chUrNikai explains "sUkshmavottum nIrilE kazhuvi" (ஸூக்ஷ்மவொட்டும் நீரிலே கழுவி) - here nAyanAr uses the example of "paddy being washed in water to remove the subtle dirt" to explain how jIvAthmA is washed in virajA river's sacred water to remove the subtle body. Here mAmunigaL raises a wonderful question - when jIvAthmA's karmA is fully eliminated, why is there a need for the subtle body consisting of vAsanA (traces of material desires), etc? He himself answers that it was bhagavAn's sankalpam to carry the subtle body upto virajA river since for a jIvAthmA to travel (any action for that matter), a body is required. So, the subtle body is retained  by bhagavAn until the jIvAthmA reaches viarjA river. mAmunigaL quotes previous AchAryas words to firmly establish this principle also. Once the jIvAthmA dips in the virajA, this subtle body is washed away and he is given a spiritual body by the touch of amAnavan (this is also explained by nAyanAr in the same chUrNikai). Here it is important for us to recollect eRumbi appA's pAsuram of "mannuyirgAL ingE maNavALa mAmunivan ponnadiyAm sengamalap pOdhugaLai unnich chiraththAlE thINdil amAnavanum nammaik karaththAlE thINdal kadan" (மன்னுயிர்காள் இங்கே மணவாள மாமுனிவன் பொன்னடியாம் செங்கமலப் போதுகளை உன்னிச் சிரத்தாலே தீண்டில் அமானவனும் நம்மைக் கரத்தாலே தீண்டல் கடன்) - Oh, the ones who are firmly placed here! for the ones who faithfully touch the lotus feet of maNavALa mAmunigaL with their head, amAnavan will be duty-bound to touch us (to elevate us to paramapadham). This pAsuram is recited at the end of mAmunigaL's upadhEsa raththina mAlai.
  • Being in awe of bhakthi yOgam which is explained as a means for reaching bhagavAn after being relieved from samsAram and not knowing that prapaththi is the real means to reach bhagavAn is an obstacle. There are many means explained in sAsthram for liberation (eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham). It is explained in gIthA that bhakthi yOgam which is ordained in sAsthram as a superior means to reach emperumAn. But since this bhakthi yOgam is fundamentally dependent on the jIvAthmA's self effort, it is contrary to the true nature of jIvAthmA's natural qualities of sEshathvam (full servitude) and pArathanthriyam (total dependence). Thus our AzhwArs and AchAryas rejected bhakthi yOgam as a upAyam and only considered prapaththi (full surrender) which is natural for the jIvAthmA as the upAyam. It is apt for us to follow in the foot steps of our pUrvAchAryas.
  • Not firmly clarifying/understanding that the word prapaththi directly indicates bhagavAn himself is an obstacle. prapaththi is saraNAgathi (surrender) - surrendering unto bhagavAn and accepting him as the refuge. Though it looks like "we" are holding on to him, that is not the truth. The real meaning of saraNAgathi is "thvamEva upAya bhUthO mE bhava - ithi prArthanA mathi:" (த்வமேவ உபாய பூதோ மே பவ  இதி ப்ரார்த்தநா மதி:) - it is that mental state of praying "you only become my upAyam (means)". That is, in place prapaththi, bhagavAn (who is surrendered unto) himself becomes the upAyam. Since he is the upAyam, our (confused) thinking of "I am surrendering" is not upAyam (means).  He is the only upAyam (means) and the only upEyam (goal). Thus it can be said that prapaththi itself indicates bhagavAn only. Translator's note: In gIthA charama slOkam, bhagavAn orders arjuna to give up all dharmams and surrender unto him only and he will free arjuna of all worries. piLLai lOkAchAryar beautifully explains this charama slOkam in mumukshuppadi. Here krishNa says "mAm Ekam saraNam" - Accept me as the only upAyam. piLLai lOkAchAryar gives elaborate explanation for the "Eka" word. Here he identifies that this "Eka" establishes that even the act of surrendering is not the upAyam and bhagavAn only is upAyam. This principle is most important to understand to get the fine principle of our sath sampradhAyam. In many sUthrams, Eka is explained in detail. One should listen to mumukshuppadi kAlakshEpam with mAmunigaL's beautiful vyAkyAnam to understand these principles clearly.
  • Considering the act of surrender which is adhikAri visEshaNam (an attribute of a qualified person) as upAyam is an obstacle. As explained in previous point, the act of surrender is merely a quality of the person who desires mOksham - nothing more. Confusing it to upAyam is not appropriate. Translator's note: adhikAri visEshaNam means that attribute which identifies the person uniquely. Here adhikAri is the one who "desires" for mOksham - for such jIvAthmA, the act of surrender is truly natural since being surrendered to bhagavAn is the true nature of jIvAthmA. In mumukshuppadi sUthram 55, piLLai lOkAchAryar declares "sEshathvamE AthmAvukku svarUpam" (சேஷத்வமே ஆத்மாவுக்கு ஸ்வரூபம்) - being subservient to bhagavAn is the only true nature of jIvAthmA. mAmunigaL establishes that the jIvAthmA is a servant and srI hari is the master using many pramANams beautifully. In the next sUthram, he says "sEshathvamillAdhapOdhu svarUpamillai" (சேஷத்வமில்லாதபோது ஸ்வரூபமில்லை) - when there is no sEshathvam, that true nature is lost. So, according to the true nature of the jIvAthmA, surrendering to bhagavAn is only a natural activity - it cannot be considered as specific means. Here is a good example heard in kAlakshEpams to explain this principle. A philanthropist is distributing food freely in his home. Some one comes there he wants to eat. Here the upAyam (means) for the food is philanthropist's compassionate gesture of feeding all. But for the one who wants to eat there, he must have "hunger" - this hunger is adhikAri visEshaNam - without the hunger, he will not be able to really eat the food that is distributed. But this hunger is not the upAyam (means) - it is only an intrinsic attribute of any one wanting to eat.
  • Surrendering without purushakAram is an obstacle. purushakAram generally means recommendation. It is the act of convincing bhagavAn to be the upAyam for our upliftment. Since we are filled with kruthya akaraNam (not fulfilling commandments of sAsthram), akruthya karaNam (engaging in activities that are prohibited in sAsthram), bhagavadhapachAram (offenses towards bhagavAn), bhAgavatha apachAram (offenses towards his devotees), etc., bhagavAn may reject us. The divine mother srI mahAlakshmi convinces him to accept us inspite of our defects and facilitates his protection towards us. This is the main meaning of purushakAram. It can be said that any surrender without the purushakAram is doomed to fail. Translator's note: srI mahAlakshmi thAyAr's role as purushakAram is explained in detail by our pUrvAchAryas. In his saraNAgathi gadhyam, emperumAnAr first approaches thAyAr and then surrenders to emperumAn. dhvaya mahA manthram is greatly glorified in our sath sampradhAyam since it highlights the role of thAyAr fully. In the first part of dhvayam, it is explained that srIman nArAyaNan should be surrendered with the purushakAram (recommendation) of thAyAr and he alone should be accepted as upAyam. In the second part, it is explained that the divine couple should be served together, purely for bhagavAn's pleasure. In mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the role of thAyAr and her purushakAram nicely. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in 135th sUthra that, her presence with srI rAma greatly helped kAkAsura who hurt her with ill-intentions and kAkAsura was ultimately saved due to her recommendation. But on the other hand, rAvaNa was killed by srI rAma since she was not accompanying srI rAma at that time. So, while surrendering to bhagavAn, her presence ensures that the jIvAthmA is fully accepted by bhagavAn and ignoring her purushakAram will lead to undesired results.
  • While considering the AchArya, thinking about him simply as a purushakAram (recommendation authority) instead of svathanthra upAyam (independent means) is an obstacle. AchArya is generally explained as an assistant/servitor of thAyAr. AchArya too like thAyAr, is kind hearted, compassionate towards all without any interest in discarding any one. But, as explained in rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi 95th pAsuram, "viNNin thalai ninRu vIdaLippAn emmirAmAnusan" (விண்ணின் தலை நின்று வீடளிப்பான் எம்மிராமானுசன்) - Having descended from paramapadham into this world, our mAster rAmAnuja benedicts liberation (independently), the AchArya can be an independent upAyam (means) as well. This is the essence of srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram as highlighted in sUthram 447 "AchArya abhimAnamE uththArakam" (ஆசார்ய அபிமானமே உத்தாரகம்) - AchArya's mercy is the ultimate benediction for our upliftment. Translator's note: AchArya is explained as an incarnation of bhagavAn himself. Please see for full details on this topic. piLLai lOkAchArya explains in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram 427th sUthram that approaching bhagavAn directly is like asking for his help holding his hands and approaching bhagavAn through AchArya is like asking for his help holding his lotus feet. AchAryas are considered as bhagavAn's lotus feet. Just like bhagavAn's lotus feet, AchAryas also have great compassion. Thus, they are considered as independent upAyam.
  • Considering upAyam and upEyam as two different entities is an obstacle. Ultimate goal is to reach emperumAn in paramapadham and serve him eternally for his pleasure. To achieve this ultimate goal, he alone is the means. Thus, upAyam and upEyam is bhagavAn only.
  • Having attachment towards persons belonging to different schools of philosophy which do not accept bhagavAn's jagath sarIrathvam (being the in-dwelling super-soul of all universes), etc., is an obstacle. nammAzhwAr explains in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.7 "udanmisai uyirenak karanthengum paranthuLan" (உடன்மிசை உயிரெனக் கரந்தெங்கும் பரந்துளன்) - just like the AthmA is spread throughout the body (through his gyAnam), bhagavAn (himself) is spread/present everywhere. Here emperumAn is present in every single entity in all the universes and everything is his body - this is visishtAdhvaitha sidhdhAntham. brahmA glorifies srI rAma greatly after rAvaNa's vanquishing. He firmly establishes srI rAma's supremacy by saying "sIthA lakshmI bhavAn vishNu:" (ஸீதா லக்ஷ்மீ பவாந் விஷ்ணு) - sIthA is srI mahAlakshmi and you are vishNu and "jagath sarvam sarIram thE" (ஜகத் ஸர்வம் சரீரம் தே) - the whole universe is your body. But kudhrushtis (ones who misinterpret sAsthram) do not accept these principles. Thus, we should not have friendship towards such persons. Translator's note: vishNu means one who is omni-present. vAsudhEva means one who lives everywhere. nArAyaNa means one who is the abode of everything and one who exists is everything as well. These 3 names of bhagavAn indicate his omni-presence. Him being the soul of everything establishes his jagath sarIrathvam. This is a very simple concept. Just like the AthmA, the soul has a body, paramAthmA has everything (that exists) as his body. The only difference in this analogy is - AthmA exists in one particular part of the body and is spread throughout the body through its knowledge (i.e., AthmA is not physically present in each and every part of the body) - this is because AthmA is aNu (miniscule) in nature. But paramAthmA is vibhu (great/all-pervading) - so he physically exist in each and every particle in this universe. This principle of vEdhAntham is not accepted by scholars of different schools and friendship with such persons might influence us adversely if we are not strong in the fundamentals ourselves. Thus it is recommended to avoid friendship with such persons.
We will continue with the next section in the next article. 

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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  1. Dear Sarathy Swamy,

    Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah,

    Thank you Swamy very much for this detailed elaborate and fantastic article.

    Devareer has written in one of the above points as follows : "Not knowing that brahma bhAgam of vEdham explains in detail his svarUpa (true nature), rUpa (forms), guNa (qualities), vibhava (avathArams), etc., and completes with attaining him fully is an obstacle. brahma bhAgam - upanishadhs."

    Swamy, does the veda and vedantam talk about the vibhava avatarams of Bhagavan like Kannan, Ramar, Narasimhar and so on? Is there any specific mention of their leelai or their roopam or anything related to the same. adiyen had heard that vedantam speak of Para-vasudevam or VaikunthaNathan and His paratvam. Whereas the ithihasa, puranam and azhwar-pasurams give more detailed expositions of vibhava avatarams, their roopa, guna, pastimes etc ?

    Swamy as a side question, in Githai Kannan mentions about 'janma-karma-me-divyam' , one who meditates on Kannan's birth, His pastimes and His form, will not have next birth and reach Sri-vaikuntam at end of the same birth. Swamy, in the upasanas mentioned in upanishads, does any upasana teach to meditate or concentrate on vibhava avatara form of Bhagavan and His pastimes and forms?

    Swamy, adiyen is very ignorant of above matters. Please, forgive adiyen if there are any blunders or offences in these questions. Please enlighten on these topics.

    Thanking you,

    1. Dear swamy,
      Thanks for the feedback. Very nice points being raised.

      Regarding vibhava (avathArams) in brahma bhAgam - as explained in srIvachana bhUshaNam - brahma bhAgam is fully understood with the help of ithihAsams and purANams. adiyen is not sure if there is specific reference to avathArams in upanishadhs. adiyen thought it should have been vibhUthi (wealth) instead of vibhavam - VVR Swamy also explained it as wealth (which is included in the translation in the same point) - but since vibhavam was mentioned in the source, adiyen translated that literally to avathArams.

      Reg upAsanA on avathArams - adiyen heard there are several types of vidhyAs (upAsanAs) during vEdhArtha sangraham kAlakshEpam - dhahara vidhyA, bhauma vidhyA, etc - each one focussing on different aspects of brahmam. But again, adiyen is not sure of any particular upAsanA that focusses on avathArams. bhakthi yOgam is highlighted as upAsanA in this case.

      Reg - janma karma cha mE dhivyam - there this question of prArabhdha karmA is raised. For upAsaka, only after prArabhdha karmA is exhausted, he gets mOksham - if it takes more janmas, they have no other choice than going through the same. So, how is kaNNan saying he will be liberated at the end of this life itself? For that, it is explained that in addition to bhakthi (not necessarily bhakthi yOgam, even just plain devotion since kaNNan is talking about all, not just thraivarNikAs who are qualified for bhakthi yOgam), when one has absolute knowledge of bhagavAn's birth and activities, that avathAra rahasya gyAnam will facilitate the elimination of prArabhdha karmA - since avathAra rahasya gyAnam is explained as a separate upAyam.

      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan