virOdhi parihArangaL - 41

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

72. thathva virOdhi (தத்வ  விரோதி ) - Obstacles in understanding of the truth/reality - Part 2

We are continuing with thathva virOdhi from previous article. 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 knowing that all changes/transformations of matter both within our aNdam (universe) and other aNdams (universes) outside ours, happen due to the will of a chEthana (sentient) is an obstacle. All achith (matter) inside our universe and other universes outside this universe (put together all these material universes are called leelA vibhUthi - samsAram) transforms/changes based on the will of parama chEthanan (bhagavAn - srIman nArAyaNan). chAndhOgya upanishadh says "thadhaikshatha - bahusyAm prajAyEyEthi" (ததைக்ஷத - பஹுஸ்யாம் ப்ரஜாயேயேதி) - let me see my variegated manifestation. Translator's note: srushti (creation) happens per the sankalpam (will) of bhagavAn who is the top-most chEthanan (knowledgable person). sruthi says, "nithyO nithyAnAm chEthanas chEthanAnAm" (நித்யோ நித்யாநாம் சேதநஸ் சேதநாநாம்) - The most eternal among the eternal ones and the most knowledgeable among th knowledgable ones. In many other places "bahu syAm" is referred and srushti is established as the outcome of the sankalpam (divine will) of bhagavAn. In thiruvAimozhi 3.2.1, nammAzhwAr says "munnIr gyAlam padaiththa em mugilvaNNanE..." (முந்நீர் ஞாலம் படைத்த எம் முகில்வண்ணனே...)  - One who is like cloud (dark complexion and merciful nature)!  - You have created this universe which contains 3 types of water. Here nampiLLai brings out the divine emotions of nammAzhwAr. He says that AzhwAr is thankful for emperumAn to have created this universe, so all jIvAthmAs including himself, will have suitable bodies, senses, etc., with which they can progress spiritually and finally be uplifted. But yet, AzhwAr highlights that such opportunity is wasted, since the body is simply used to satisfy material desires. From this, we can understand the divine will of bhagavAn which facilitates the upliftment of all jIvAthmAs through this creation.
  • Not knowing that jagath (universe) pariNAmam (transformation) is adhvAraka bhagavadh sankalpa adhInam (under the direct control of bhagavAn's divine will) is an obstacle. Translator's note: As explained previously, there are two types of srushti (creation) - adhvAraka srushti and sadhvAraka srushti. adhvAraka srushti is the first step of transforming subtle matter into gross matter (upto the creation of universes) and this is done directly by bhagavAn. Subsequent creation of variegated forms/species are created by bhagavAn through brahmA, etc. Similarly, even during samhAram (destruction), first bhagavAn destroys the variegated forms/species in the universe indirectly through rudhran, agni (fire dhEvathA), etc. In the end, he himself directly consumes all gross matter and transforms them in subtle matter. This cycle goes on and on.
  • Not knowing that all entities are bhagavadhAthmakam (pervaded by bhagavAn as  their in-dwelling super-soul) is an obstacle. This is clear from nArAyaNa sUktham - "anthar bahischa thathsarvam vyApya nArAyaNasthitha:" (அந்தர் பஹிஸ்ச தத்ஸர்வம் வ்யாப்ய நாராயணஸ்தித:) - nArAyaNa is pervaded inside and outside of everything and holding everything together, "sarvabhUthAntharAthmA" (ஸர்வபூதாந்தராத்மா) the in-dwelling soul of all entities. Translator's note: brahmam (bhagavAn) is the in-dwelling soul of everything that exists. bhUtha is derived from the root "bhU saththAyAm" (பூ ஸத்தாயாம்) - that which exists. Anything that exists is held by bhagavAn. It is by his presence as antharyAmi that makes the object exist. sAsthram says "yasya AthmA sarIram, yasya pruthvi sarIram, ..." (யஸ்ய ஆத்மா சரீரம், யஸ்ய ப்ருத்வி சரீரம், ...) - jIvAthmA is body for brahmam, earth is body for brahmam, etc. Same principle is explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.10 "parandha thaN paravaiyuL nIr thoRum parandhuLan parandha aNdam idhena nila visumbu ozhivaRa karandha sil idam thoRum idam thigazh poruL thoRum karandhengum parandhuLan ivai uNda karanE" (பரந்த தண் பரவையுள் நீர் தொறும் பரந்துளன் பரந்த அண்டம் இதென நில விசும்பு ஒழிவற கரந்த சில் இடம் தொறும் இடம் திகழ் பொருள் தொறும் கரந்தெங்கும் பரந்துளன் இவை உண்ட கரனே) - bhagavAn exists in small drops of cool water of the ocean as comfortably as living in a huge universe all by himself. 
  • Not knowing that all entities are favourable since they are pervaded by bhagavAn. As all things (sentient and insentient) are pervaded by bhagavAn, they are favourable only. 
  • Not knowing that certain objects are seemingly unfavourable due to us confusing the body with the self is an obstacle. It is only due to our ignorance of considering the body as soul leads to thinking about anything as unfavourable. Translator's note: This and the previous point are very related. Let us understand this a little bit. One who is truly realized about the nature of jIvAthmA will know that jIvAthmA is naturally blissful. This principle is beautifully explained by piLLai lOkAchAryar in thathva thrayam sUthrams 73 to 76 and elaborately explained by mAmunigaL in his vyAkyAnam. In sUthram 73, he says bliss is the happiness resulting from full expansion of true knowledge which is favourable for the true nature of jIvAthmA. In the next sUthram, he explains that poison, weapons, etc., seem unfavourable due to ones confusion of body with the soul, etc. mAmunigaL explains that one is scared of poison, etc., due to three factors - a) considering that the body and the self are same and something affects the body means it affects the self too; b) ones own karmA which influences the thought process (that associates the fear factor in poison, weapons, etc) and c) not having true knowledge that even poison, weapons, etc., are pervaded by the same bhagavAn who pervades the self and the body. In the next sUthram, he explains that since all objects are pervaded by bhagavAn, they are naturally favourable only and the concept of them being unfavourable is accidental. mAmunigaL quotes various pramANams (we have already seen some of them) to establish this principle. Finally, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this principle with nice examples. In 74th sUthram, he says "If there is any other reason for objects being favourable (other than them being pervaded by bhagavAn), the same sandalwood paste, flowers, etc., which are favourable for a person in a particular time is unfavourable for the same person in some other time/place as well as unfavourable for another person in same time/place - this should not be the case". mAmunigaL explains it nicely. For a person, sandalwood paste is favourable during hot conditions. But for the same person, when it is cold, the same sandalwood paste is unfavourable. Similarly, for a healthy person in a hot conditions, sandalwood paste is favourable but in the same condition, if another person is suffering from fever, that same sandalwood paste is unfavourable. So, the cool nature of sandalwood paste by itself does not determine whether it is favourable or not - but it is assumed by the bodily condition of the person applying it. So, the real favourable nature is due it being pervaded by sandalwood and the assumed favourable nature is based on one associating himself/herself with the body. And when one has that true understanding of everything being body of bhagavAn - they will be naturally blissful in whatever bodily situation they are in.
  • Not knowing that nithya vibhUthi (eternal spiritual world) is nithyam (eternal) due to the nithya ichchai (eternal desire) of nithya brahmam (eternal bhagavAn) is an obstacle. nithya vibhUthi means spiritual world - srI vaikuNtam.  Unlike leelA vibhUthi which is created and destroyed contantly as part of material activities, as this is eternally existing without any material change, this is called nithyam (eternal). The fundamental reason for this is bhagavAn's sankalpam (desire). Translator's note: The nature of spiritual world - paramapadham is explained in various literature. vishNu sUktham says "thadh vishNOr paramam padham sadhA pasyanthi sUraya:" (தத் விஷ்ணோர் பரமம் பதம் ஸதா பச்யந்தி ஸூரய:) - In that supreme abode of vishNu, he is constantly seen by the nithyasUris. linga purANam says "vaikuNtEthu parE lOkE ... AsthE vishNurachinthyAthmA" (வைகுண்டேது பரே லோகே ... ஆஸ்தே விஷ்ணுரசிந்த்யாத்மா) - srIman nArAyaNan along with his consorts is served by many devotees in vaikuNtam. ALavandhAr explained the beauty of srI vaikuNtam in sthOthra rathnam. emperumAnAr explained the same in srIvaikuNta gadhyam. This paramapadham is explained as the eternal and spiritual abode of srIman nArAyaNan.
  • Not knowing that the transformations of the aprAkrutha achith (divine matter) is purely happening out bhagavAn's desire is an obstacle. The achith (matter) that is seen in paramapadham is not the same as we see in our material world. It is divine matter that is sudhdha sathvam (pure goodness). Based on the desire of bhagavAn, it assumes various forms. Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar explains these principles about paramapadham in great detail in thathva thrayam. It would be good to study that under proper guidance.
  • Not knowing that the divine matter does not have sUkshma (subtle) and sthUla (gross) state as in the five elements of material world is an obstacle. This divine matter is said to be made of pancha upanishadh (unlike the matter in material world made of 5 elements - earth, water, fire, air, ether). So, they are not the same as matter seen in material world. Translator's note: It is explained that matter in material world covers the true nature of jIvAthmA and stimulates ignorance in jIvAthmA. But the divine matter of paramapadham facilitates knowledge and brings out more bliss for jIvAthmAs who are there.
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn's divine forms are made of this divine matter (which is made of pancha upanishadh) is an obstacle. Translator's note: bhagavAn's divine forms are usually explained under 5 categories -  para, vyUha, vibhava, archai, antharyAmi. This is explained in detail in In all these cases, wherever there is a form for bhagavAn, we need to understand that it is made of divine matter. Starting with this point, the focus shifts to understanding Iswara thathvam (bhagavAn), his forms and divine attributes.
  • Not knowing that such forms of bhagavAn reveal his 6 main qualities is an obstacle. These divine forms made of divine matter will reveal the true nature/qualities of bhagavAn and enhance our knowledge. The six main qualities are gyAnam (knowledge), balam (strength), vIryam (valour), aiswaryam (wealth, ability to control everyone), sakthi (power), thEjas (beauty/radiance). All other qualities of bhagavAn originate from these fundamental qualities. Translator's note: bhagavAn literally means one who has six qualities (as explained before) in full. Thus, srIman nArAyaNan, the possessor of these six qualities in full is the only one qualified to be called as bhagavAn. Any other personality who is called bhagavAn (such as parAsara bhagavAn, vyAsa bhagavAn, etc) it is only said as a complimentary praise - not in the real sense - because no one else possesses these qualities in full. The divine forms of bhagavAn truly manifest his underlying qualities.
  • Not knowing that though bhagavAn and nithyasUris are of the same class (eternally free AthmAs), bhagavAn's forms are categorically extraordinay due to the radiant nature of the same is an obstacle. ananthan, garudAzhwAr, vishwaksEnar, etc., are eternally free personalities. There is no difference amongst them as seen in material world by varNam, etc. Their forms are extraordinary too. Since their bodies/forms are made of divine matter, they will be variegated based on the kainkaryam (service) they perform. For example, ananthan assumes the form of a serpent, garudan assumes the form of a bird and vishwaksEnar assumes the form of a human. There is also gajamuka (elephant-headed person), simhamuka (lion-headed person), Male servants, Female servants, etc. But one should note that there is no male-female relationships (focussed on bodily attraction, etc) in paramapadham as seen here in samsAram. Translator's note: For specific kainkaryams, nithyasUris can and will assume different forms. As we have already seen before all "matter" in paramapadham is divine and is very much unlike "matter" that is seen in samsAram. Also, one should understand that nithyasUris are distinct from bhagavAn - while nithyasUris are jIvAthmAs, bhagavAn is paramAthmA. It is by the divine will of bhagavAn, nithyasUris are eternally free. bhagavAn's form is explained in chAndhOgya upanishadh as glowing most radiantly and a wonderful golden form.
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn's forms during his avathArams (varAha, narasimha, srI rAma, krishNa, etc) are also made of divine matter (as in paramapadham), not knowing that siva, etc., acquired their (material) forms/bodies based on bhagavAn's divine will and considering bhagavAn's divine forms as made of "normal matter" are obstacles. His archAvathAram forms are called ichchgruhItha aprAkrutha dhivya mangaLa vigrahams - those divine auspicious forms that were assumed by him out of his desire. Though these forms look human-like, they are not made of the same matter. Translator's note: In the 4th chapter of bhagavadh gIthA, we have already seen bhagavAn revealing his avathAra rahasyam in many slOkams. He himself says in bhagavath gIthA 4.9 - "janma karma cha mE dhivyam" (ஜந்ம கர்ம ச மே திவ்யம்) - my birth and activities are divine.  bhagavAn himself says in gIthA 9.11 "avajAnanthi mAm mUdA..." (அவஜாநந்தி மாம் மூடா) - foolish men who dont understand my supremacy consider me human (during my avathArams) and insult me.  piLLai lOkAchAryar, in his srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, explains bhagavath apachAram in detail in sUthrams 303 and 304. Among those, considering bhagavAn's avathArams are mere mortal forms is explained as an apachAram. While bhagavAn assumes these divine forms purely based on his will and desire, other dhEvathAs like brahmA, rudhran, indhran, etc., are posts that are assumed by jIvAthmAs who have performed many virtuous activities. So, it is based on their karmA and bhagavAn's will that allows jIvAthmAs to take up such powerful positions in the material world.
  • Not knowing that all chith (jIvAthmAs - souls) and achith (matter) make up bhagavAn's body is an obstacle. As explained in "sarvam vishNumayam jagath" (ஸர்வம் விஷ்ணுமயம் ஜகத்) - everything in universe is pervaded by vishNu, whatever we see/hear, bhagavAn is the antharAthmA - so everything is the body of srIman nArAyaNan. Translator's note: We have seen this already from nArAyaNa sUktham "anthar bahischa thath sarvam vyApya nArAyaNa sthitha: (அந்தர் பஹிஸ்ச தத்ஸர்வம் வ்யாப்ய நாராயணஸ்தித:) and srI rAmAyaNa slOkam  "jagath sarvam sarIram thE" (ஜகத் ஸர்வம் சரீரம் தே). vishNu means one who pervades every where - so srIman nArAyaNan is the in-dwelling super-soul of all entities.

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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