virOdhi parihArangaL - 42

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 3

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. 

 srIman nArAyaNan with srI mahAlakshmi, bhU dhEvi, nILA dhEvi and nithyasUris - paramapadham (srI vaikuNtam)

  • Among chith and achith which are sarIram (body) for bhagavAn, considering chith (jIvAthmA - soul) as dhEham (body), indhriyam (senses), etc., is an obstacle. As said in sruthi "jIvadhvArA anupravisya" (ஜீவத்வாரா அநுப்ரவிச்ய - having entered into through a jIvAthmA), bhagavAn exists in achith (innumerable insentient objects) through jIvAthmAs. As said in "dhEhEndhriya mana: prANadhIbyO anya:" (தேஹேந்த்ரிய மந: ப்ராணதீப்யோ அந்ய:) - jIvAthmA being different from dhEham (body), indhriya (senses), manas (mind), prANa (vital air/breath), dhI (buddhi - intellect), etc., is common knowledge. Translator's note: Starting with this point, jIvAthma thathvam is explained in detail. In thathva thrayam, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this point in great detail in the first section of chith prakaraNam (section). With mAmunigaL's elaborate vyAkyAnam, we can understand this point clearly. In sUthram 6, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains many differences between AthmA  and dhEham, etc. Primarily, AthmA is seen as "I" and dhEham, etc., are seen as mine. AthmA for oneself always feel singular ("I" - the only one) but for the same self dhEham, etc feels many (i.e,  there is body, senses, mind, etc). From these we can understand that AthmA is different from dhEham, etc. In sUthram 7, he highlights a very important aspect. Even these points can be negated by intelligent arguments, one should understand that AthmA is different from dhEham, etc., as explained in sAsthram. mAmunigaL explains this nicely. He says it is very difficult to negate these points - yet if some one is more intelligent and presents an argument which negates the difference between I and mine, one can easily establish the principle from sAsthram that AthmA is different from dhEham, etc. He goes on to quote many pramANams in his vyAkyAnam to establish the point. mAmunigaL finally says that piLLai lOkAchAryar very confidently establishes AthmA's distinct nature based on sAsthram since it cannot be denied by any intelligent argument.
  • Considering AthmA as gyAnam alone and being bewildered that AthmA's gyAnam is incidental addition are obstacles. It is known from sAsthram that AthmA is gyAna svarUpan (made fully of gyAnam). But AthmA should also be known as the abode of gyAnam. AthmA is both gyAnam (knowledge) and gyAnaguNakan (one who has knowledge). Translator's note: There is dharmi gyAnam (AthmA being gyAnam itself) and dharma bhUtha gyAnam (AthmA being abode of gyAnam). dharmi gyAnam is the one which constantly reminds about ones own existence. dharma bhUtha gyAnam is the one through which external aspects are grasped. There are some philosophies (like baudhdha philosophy) where AthmA is explained as gyAna mAthram (knowledge only) and any other attributes are negated. But such principles are contrary to sAsthram which explains that AthmA has gyAnam also. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this principle in thathva thrayam sUthrams 26, 27 and 28. Let us understand this with mAmunigaL's beautiful vykAyAnam (commentary). In sUthram 26, he says AthmA is the abode of gyAnam. mAmunigaL explains this with a nice example. Just like both dhIpa (flame) and prabhA (luster) are a product of thEjas (light), dhIpa is the abode for prabhA. Similarly, both dharmi gyAnam and dharma bhUtha gyAnam are gyAnam, dharmi gyAnam (AthmA) is the abode of dharma bhUtha gyAnam. He explains this with many pramANams which highlight AthmA being the abode of gyAnam also. In sUthrams 27 and 28, piLLai lOkAchAryar says "If AthmA is gyAnam only without being abode of gyAnam, one should always say I am knowledge and never say I know". mAmunigaL says "knowing about something" is an indication that one has gyAnam and this can be easily understood by prathyaksham (perception) itself. He also quotes bhattar to establish the same principle. Thus mAmunigaL establishes this principle through sAsthram, pUrvAchArya words and prathyaksham.
  • Considering the naturally dependent jIvAthmA as independent is an obstacle. Though being gyAnam and having gyAnam are nature of jIvAthmA, bhagavath sEshathvam (servitude towards bhagavAn) and pArathantharyam (total dependence) are the most confidential aspects of jIvAthmA. jIvAthmA considering oneself as independent is the biggest sin. Transalator's note: It is explained in sAsthram that the biggest theft/sin is considering oneself (AthmA) as independent and acting according to that - this is explained in mahAbhAratham as "kim thEna na krutham pApam chOrENa AthmApahAriNA" (கிம் தேந ந க்ருதம் பாபம் சோரேண ஆத்மாபஹாரிணா) - the one who considers the AthmA (which is bhagavAn's property) to be ones own is considered to have done all kinds of stealing/sins. Real knowledge about self means understanding the self to be jIvAthmA, one who is sEshan to emperumAn. In thiruvAimozhi 8.8.2, "adiyEn uLLAn" (அடியேன் உள்ளான்) pAsuram, an incident from our pUrvAchAryas lives is explained by nampiLLai. A doubt arises in emperumAnAr's kAlakshEpa gOshti - what is the most important quality of jIvAthmA? Is it being knowledgable or being subservient to emperumAn. emperumAnAr sends kUrathAzhwAn to thirukkOshtiyUr nambi (one of his AchAryas) to find out the answer. AzhwAn serves nambi for 6 months and finally when nambi asks the reason for his visit, AzhwAn asks the question. For that nambi says "since AzhwAr says adiyEn uLLAn, where adiyEn represents jIvAthmA here, sEshathvam is the main quality of jIvAthmA". "adiyEn" represents subservience to emperumAn - so nammAzhwAr (who was blessed by emperumAn with divine knowledge) thus establishes the real identification of jIvAthmA.
  • Considering jIvAthmA who is a servitor of bhagavAn as a servitor of others  is an obstacle. jIvAthmA by nature is a servitor of bhagavAn only. Considering himself to be a servitor of other is an obstacle. Here others do not include his divine consorts and his dear devotees. Translator's note: bhagavAn is the only master and everyone else is his servitors. dhEvathAntharams mean other dhEvathAs. There are many dhEvathAs starting with brahmA in this material world. These dhEvathAs are bound in the cycle of karmA, birth/death just like us. But due to the pious karmA some jIvAthmAs have ascended to the position of these dhEvathAs. Yet, as kaNNan emperumAn says in gIthA slOkam 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. So, for mumukshus (one who desires for mOksham), it is advised that they worship/serve bhagavAn (who is the benefactor of mOksham) directly instead of these dhEvathAs. In mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this in detail while explaining ukAram (u) in praNavam. ukAram emphasises the exclusive servitude of jIvAthmA towards bhagavAn. Here, in sUthram 61, he highlights the importance of eliminating any servitorship for others. In sUthram 62, he explains this with an example. He says jIvAthmA manifesting servitude towards others is like presenting the offering that is kept for dhEvas in a yagya to a dog (which should neither be seen nor touched). In sUthram 63, he says eliminating servitude towards others is more important than manifesting servitude towards bhagavAn. In sUthram 64, he highlights thirumazhisai AzhwAr's nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi 68th pAsuram that srIvaishNavas would never worship dhEvathAntharams - "thiruvadi than nAmam maRanthum puRam thozhA mAnthar" (திருவடி தன் நாமம் மறந்தும் புறம் தொழா மாந்தர்) - srIvaishNavas are the ones who could event forget bhagavAn's names but would never worship anyone other than bhagavAn. Finally, in sUthram 65, he says this ukAram establishes that jIvAthmA is not subservient to oneself and others - he is only subservient to bhagavAn. Here, bhagavAn's consorts and bhAgavathas are natural masters due to their totally surrendered nature to bhagavAn. Any one who is fully surrendered to bhagavAn, should be considered as our master too.
  • Not knowing that the jIvAthmA is subservient to the divine couple is an obstacle. srI mahAlakshmi is the main consort of srIman nArAyaNan. mithunam - couple. Here bhagavAn and thAyAr are the divine couple. Translator's note: Among the rahaysa thrayam, dhvaya mahA manthram is glorified most by pUrvAchAryas. This is due to the fact that srI mahAlakshmi's role is clearly and explicitly identified in this. In the first part, srI mahAlakshmi is explained as the purushakAra bhUthai (recommendation authority), who ensures that bhagavAn accepts jIvAthmA's surrender. In the second part, it is explained, kainkaryam is performed by jIvAthmA to both srIman nArAyaNan and srI mahAlakshmi. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this in mumukshuppadi sUthram 166 that when bhagavAn is upAyam (means), she will be purushakAram (in first part) and when bhagavAn is prApyam (goal), she will be both goal as well as the one who enhances the kainkaryam of jIvAthmA. mAmunigaL explains that when jIvAthmA performs kainkaryam to them, she will highlight it to bhagavAn in manifolds and bring more happiness to bhagavAn. piLLai lOkAchAryar further explains in sUthram 168 that iLaya perumAL (lakshmaNa) performed kainkaryam to both sIthA pirAtti and srI rAma together. In sUthram 169, he says such kainkaryam will occur and be joyful only when bhagavAn and thAyAr are together. mAmunigaL beautifully quotes how lakshmaNan surrendered to srI rAma with sIthA pirAtti's recommendation and how he served them nicely. He also explains with a practical example - when a son serves his parents (mother and father) together, that is most apt - similarly jIvAthmA serving the divine father and mother is most apt for his nature.
  • Not understanding that the jIvAthmA is subservient to bhagavAn's devotees. Translator's note: jIvAthmA's natural state is bhagavath dhAsyathvam (to be a servitor of bhagavAn) and to be fully at the disposal of emperumAn. Even more important - svarUpa yAthAthmyam (essence of true nature) - bhAgavatha sEshathvam (to be a servitor of bhAgavathas). In periya thirumozhi 8.10.3, thirumangai AzhwAr announced the essence of thirumanthram (ashtAkshari) to emperumAn himself as "nin thiruvettezhuththum kaRRu nAn uRRathum unnadiyArkkadimai kaNNapuraththuRaiyammAnE" (நின் திருவெட்டெழுத்தும் கற்று நான் உற்றதும் உன்னடியார்க்கடிமை கண்ணபுரத்துறையம்மானே - Dear lord of thirukkaNNapuram! After learning the essence of thirumanthram I understood that I am a servitor of your devotees). thirumazhisai AzhwAr highlights in nAnmugan thiruvanthAdhi 18th pAsuram "EththiyiruppArai vellumE maRRavaraich chAththiyiruppAr thavam" (ஏத்தியிருப்பாரை வெல்லுமே மற்றவரைச் சாத்தியிருப்பார் தவம் - the devotion towards devotees is greater than devotion to bhagavAn himself). Eththiyiruppavar - bhagavath sEsha bhUthar - one who is surrendered to bhagavAn. The state of those who are surrendered to such devotees is much greater. In srI rAmAyaNam, lakshmaNan and bharathan were fully surrendered to srI rAma. shathrugnAzhwAn had bharathan as everything for him. It is said in srI rAmAyaNam that "chathrugnO nithyachathrugna:" (சத்ருக்நோ நித்யசத்ருக்ந: - one who has conquered the eternal obstacle). Our pUrvAchAryas have explained that "shathrugnAzhwAn conquered/ignored srI rAma's beauty and auspicious qualities and was fully serving bharathan". In thiruvAimozhi 8.10.3, nammAzhwAr says "avanadiyAr siRumAmanisarAy ennaiyANdAr" (அவனடியார் சிறுமாமனிசராய் என்னையாண்டார்). siRumAmanisar - ones who are fully surrendered to emperumAn, who are small in size but great in knowledge and practice. nammAzhwAr declares such devotees are his masters. When such devotees exist how can one ignore them and serve the lotus feet of emperumAn? For the true nature of jIvAthmA, bhAgavatha kainkaryam is more apt than bhagavath kainkaryam. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in mumukshuppadi sUthram 89, "uRRathum un adiyArkkadimai" engiRapadiyE ithilE bhAgavatha sEshathvamum aNusaNdhEyam ("உற்றதும் உன் அடியார்க்கடிமை" என்கிறபடியே இதிலே பாகவத ஸேஷத்வமும் அநுஸந்தேயம்) - Since thirumangai AzhwAr says after learning thirumanthram, I understand that I am the servant of your (srIman nArAyaNan's) servants, nama: padham reflects bhAgavatha sEshathvam (being the servants of bhAgavathas).
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn who is the sarvasarIri (antharAthmA - in-dwelling soul of everything) is the sarvEsvaran (supreme controller for everyone) is an obstcle. This has already been explained. Translator's note: sarIri is AthmA and sarIram is body. Body is controlled by the soul - we can easily understand this through prathyaksham (perception) itself. Body is active only till the controlling AthmA is present inside it. Once the controlling AthmA leaves, the body becomes dead and inactive. bhagavAn is the antharAthmA (in-dwelling supersoul) for all entities - sentients and insentients. Him being the AthmA of everything naturally means him being the controller of everything. antharyamithvam (being the in-dwelling soul) and niyanthruthvam/Iswarathvam (being the controller) goes hand-in-hand.
  • Not knowing that  bhagavAn is supremely independent by nature, his manifestation dependence on his devotees is out of his supreme independence and such dependence on his devotees is eternal are obstacles. bhagavAn is known to be sathyakAman (able to fulfill all desires), sathya sankalapan (able to complete any task), nirankusa svathanthran (uncontrollably independent), etc. Yet, he is Asritha pakshapAdhi (one who favours his devotees). He fully commits himself to the ones who are totally surrendered to him and love him. Since this is an act of his desire (not by force), this is a result of his independence. This is eternal and is greatly revealed in avathArams. Translator's note: bhagavAn is supremely independent. Yet, he puts himself in a state which is dependent on his devotees. He became the messenger for pANdavas during mahAbhAratham war. He also served as the charioteer for arjuna. These are his acts of love towards pANdavas who were greatly devoted to him. It is out of his supreme desire that he takes a subservient/dependent position towards his devotees. This quality is manifested even more clearly in archAvathAram. He takes a vow that he will be totally dependent on his archaka (one who worships him) for his food, bathing, clothing, decorations, etc. Our pUrvAchAryas explain that this the ultimate manifestation of his saulabhyam (simplicity).
  • Not knowing that such dependence on his devotees is a result of his great love (towards his devotees) is an obstacle. praNayithvam - having great love/attachment. When there is great love towards something, one would not care too much about the status of oneself and the person being loved. Translator's note: Though bhagavAn is supreme and jIvAthmA is miniscule, it is due to his great compassion and love towards his devotees, he does not care about the miniscule nature of the jIvAthmA. He only sees the love in the jIvAthmA and accepts the jIvAthmA himself with great attachment. This quality of mixing freely with some one who is lower in position than oneself is called sausIlyam.
  • Not knowing that such love towards his devotees is due to his great love/attachment towards srI mahAlakshmi who is the mother of every one is an obstacle. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 10.10.7 "kOlamalarp pAvaikkanbAgiya en anbEyO" (கோலமலர்ப் பாவைக்கன்பாகிய என் அன்பேயோ) - nammAzhwAr calls out to bhagavAn as the one who is very dear to him due to him being a servant of srI mahAlakshmi who is most dear to you. Translator's note: Starting this point, srI mahAlakshmi's nature is explained. bhagavAn is supremely independent. srI mahAlakshmi is the divine consort of bhagavAn and is totally dependent on him. It is due to her purushakAram (recommendation), bhagavAn acknowledges and accepts the ones who are surrendered to him. Since, the person who is surrendering may have unlimited pApams (sins), bhagavAn usually hesitates to accept such persons. But thAyAr ensures that bhagavAn's compassion/mercy takes precedence over his independence and she ensures that bhagavAn accepts the jIvAthmA. bhagavAn too, out of great love for thAyAr, accepts the jIvAthmA and cares for such jIvAthmA with full attention.
  • Not knowing that srI mahAlakshmi is most dear to bhagavAn, is equally beautiful, is the one through whom he is identified, who is never separated from him, who is totally subservient to him, divine queen for him and the mother of every one else is an obstacle. Here pirAtti's nature is established. She is abhimathai - one who is very to dear to him; anurUpai - at par with him in beautiful bodily features; nirUpakai - part of his identity - he is identified as sriya:pathi (husband of srI mahAlakshmi); nithyAnapAyini - one who is eternally inseparable; sEshabhUthai - totally subservient to bhagavAn; mahishi - bhagavAn's chief queen/consort - sruthi says "asyEsAnA jagathO vishNu pathnI" (She is the master of the universe and the wife of vishNu) - Due to her being the wife of the singular master srIman nArAyaNan, she also becomes the master of the universe; jagan mAthA - mother of the universe - as bhagavAn is the father of entire universe, his wife is obviously the mother of entire universe. Translator's note: Here srI mahAlakshmi is explained as master. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this principle beatifully in mumukshuppadi sUthram 44. When some one is hired to be a servant in a home, a contract will be made between the master (man) of the home and the servant. But in reality, since the husband will be away during the day, the servant will only be following the orders of the wife of the master. So, naturally, servants of the man also become the servants of his wife. srIman nArAyaNan is the divine master and srI mahAlakshmi is his divine consort. All jIvAthmAs are servitors of srIman nArAyaNan. thAyAr being his divine and prime consort, all jIvAthmAs are naturally servants of her too.
  • Not knowing that even though she is a jIvAthmA, she is different from nithyasUris (eternally free jIvAthmAs), mukthAthAmAs (liberated jIvAthmAs) and badhdhAthmAs (bound jIvAthmAs) is an obstacle. All jIvAthmAs are of same substance - but due to their situation they are categorized into nithya (eternally free), muktha (liberated) and badhdha (bound). badhdha - the ones like us who are bound in this material world; muktha - ones who were freed by bhagavAn's mercy from this material world and reached paramapadham (spiritual world); nithya - ones who are eternally serving bhagavAn in paramapadham. Though pirAtti is part of the nithya category, she is still different from nithyas since she is the divine consort of bhagavAn. Translator's note: srI mahAlakshmi is generally part of the nithyasUri category. Yet, due to her being the divine consort of bhagavAn, she is considered as the top-most of all jIvAthmAs. Even bhU dhEvi, nILA dhEvi and other innumerable consorts of bhagavAn are subservient to srI mahAlakshmi. All other nithasUris like anantha, garuda, vishwaksEna, etc., and mukthAthmAs are all subservient to srI mahAlakshmi. ALavandhAr explains in the first slOkam of his chathu: slOki that srI mahAlakshmi is served by everyone in paramapadham and also the dhEvathas of this world like brahmA, rudhran, indhran, etc - all of these is because she is the most beloved wife of srIman nArAyaNan.
  • Saying that srI mahAlakshmi is sarvEsvari (master of all - independently) when Isvarathvam (controlling nature) cannot be present in more than one person and saying that she has kAraNathvam (being the cause of everything) which is the nature of brahmam alone are obstacles. For srImahAlakshmi, being the master is not a natural quality - but it is an acquired quality based on her being the divine wife of srIman nArAyaNan. Similarly kAraNathvam (being the cause of everything) is a unique quality of parama purusha (parabrahmam) only and is not applicable for her. kAraNathvam means having direct involvement in jagath vyApAram - srushti (creation), sthithi (sustenance), samhAram (annihilation), etc. Translator's note: There can never be two supreme entities. There is only one brahmam and that is srIman nArAyaNan. pirAtti is the dearest among all jIvAthmAs to bhagavAn since she is his divine consort.
  • Saying that srI mahAlakshmi and srIman nArAyaNan are not different by nature and only differ by their form and saying bhagavath svarUpam is in two forms (in the form of bhagavAn and pirAtti) are obstacles. Since pirAtti belongs to the jIvAthmA category, she is different from paramAthmA by nature. To say otherwise is contradictory to truth. 
  • Saying that srI mahAlakshmi is bhagavAn himself and not a separate entity is an obstacle. Translator's note: srI mahAlakshmi is part of jIvAthmAs category and also the divine consort of bhagavAn. So naturally, she is different from bhagavAn in many ways - foremost of all - she is totally dependent on bhagavAn for everything. Thus, there is no question of associating srI mahAlakshmi with Isvarathvam, kAraNathvam, etc., which we have already seen in previous points.
  • Saying that she is just a quality/attribute while in reality she is a jIvAthmA with many beautiful attributes/qualities is an obstacle. 
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn is the aham (parama purushan) and she is the ahanthA (the aspect which uniquely identifies bhagavAn) is an obstacle. Translator's note: As discussed before, bhagavAn is uniquely identified by being the husband of srI mahAlakshmi
  • Not knowing that srI mahAlakshmi who is aNu svarUpam (miniscule in nature) will always be attached with bhagavAn who is vibhu svarUpam (great - all pervading in nature) is an obstacle. Since pirAtti is a jIvAthmA, she is miniscule in nature. Yet, since she is anapAyini (inseparable) from bhagavAn, she will always be attached to bhagavAn. This is a special capability of bhagavAn - it can be considered as unimaginable-yet-possible capability of him. Translator's note: In thiruvAimozhi 6.10.10, nammAzhwAr says "agalagillEn iRaiyum enRu alarmEl mangai uRai mArbA" (அகலகில்லேன் இறையும் என்று அலர்மேல் மங்கை உறை மார்பா). Here nammAzhwAr quotes pirAtti saying "agalagillEn iRaiyum" - I will never leave your chest even for a micro-moment. In purANams, it is said that whenever srIman nArAyaNan descends into many different species (dhEva - godly, manushya - human, thiryak - animal/bird, sthAvara - plants) she accompanies him in appropriate forms. So, whatever form/state bhagavAn is,  pirAtti will also be present with him always.
  • Not knowing that just like rasam (taste) is spread all over kshIrAbdhi (milk-ocean), pirAtti will be spread all over bhagavAn. Similar to our salt-oceans being pervaded with salt, milk-ocean is pervaded with divine taste. Similarly, where bhagavAn is present, pirAtti will also be present along with him. Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in mumukshuppadi sUthram 46 that bhagavAn is like sun and pirAtti is like the rays of sun and bhagavAn is like flower and pirAtti is like the fragrance of that flower. mAmunigaL, quotes bhattar and explains that just like flower and fragrance always exist together and are inseparable, bhagavAn and pirAtti are inseparable too.
  • Not knowing that the purpose of such co-existence with bhagavAn is to help jIvAthmAs in recommending them to bhagavAn at all the time is an obstacle. srI mahAlakshmi always stays with bhagavAn to faciliate bhagavAn's acceptance of jIvAthmAs who approach him at any time/place. Translator's note: This principle is explained in dhvaya mahA manthram beautifully. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains this mumukshuppadi that "srI" means one who listens to jIvAthmAs and convey their request to bhagavAn. He further explains that jIvAthmAs may approach bhagavAn any time. And if she was not there with him at that time, he may reject the jIvAthmAs citing their innumerable sins. To avoid such situation, srI mahAlakshmi stays with srIman nArAyaNan always without ever separating from him. In the previously quoted "agalagillEn" pAsuram this is explained elaborately. nampiLLai beatifully says that "Just like sIthA pirAtti never returned to her parents home after marriage and just like a mukthAthmA never returns to material world", she also never contemplates leaving bhagavAn.
  • Not knowing that such srI mahAlakshmi is to be used to establish bhagavath svarUpam (nature of bhagavAn) as "sriya:pathi" (husband of srI mahAlakshmi) is an obstacle. Just like srI mahAlashmi is uniquely identified as "vishNu pathnI" (consort of vishNu), srIman nArAyaNan should be uniquely identified as "sriya:pathi" (husband of srI mahAlakshmi) - this must be firmly understood.
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn is naturally filled with knowledge and bliss, the destroyer of all defects, abode of all auspicious qualities, not controlled by 3 types of limitations (by time, place and object), being vibhu (great - all pervading), enjoying through endless cycle of creation, sustenance and annihilation though he has no unfulfilled desires and does not expect anything from anyone are obstacles. Starting with this point, bhagavath svarUpam (nature of bhagavAn) is explained in detail. As explained in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.2 by nammAzhwAr, bhagavath svarUpam (nature) is uNarnalam. uNar - gyAnam - knowledge and nalam - Anandham - bliss. His is opposite to all defects/blemishes and also the destroyer of such blemishes in others. He is filled with many auspicious qualities. He is not controlled by place, time and object. This means is present everywhere (not controlled by place), always (not controlled by time) and in all forms/aspects (not controlled by specific objects). He is pervading everywhere through his true nature - this quality is called "vibhu". He is avApthasamasthakAman - one with all desires fulfilled and nothing to be accomplished newly by him. Such bhagavAn who is full in everything is engaged in creation, sustenance and annihilation as a sport. nammAzhwAr says "inbuRum ivviLaiyAttudaiyAn" (இன்புறும் இவ்விளையாட்டுடையான்) in thiruvAimozhi 3.10.7 highlighting that everything is a sport for him. 
  • bhagavAn stays in nithya vibhUthi (paramapadham/srIvaikuNtam) inside the thirumAmaNi maNdapam (jewel-studded assembly hall) on a divine throne on Adhi sEshan. He is seated there with his divine consorts who along with bhagavAn are most radiantly shining. He rules everything in nithya vibhUthi (paramapadham) and leelA vibhUthi (samsAram) from there. He is enjoying the service of nithya sUris like anantha, garuda, vishwaksEna, etc., blissfully there as explained in "sOshNuthE sarvAn kAmAn" (blissfully enjoying all types of activities). Yet, to help the suffering souls in samsAram and satisfy/bless the ones who meditate on him, he descends from parampadham into kshIrAbdhi as vyUha vAsudhEva. Translator's note: Starting here, bhagavAn's five different forms (parathvAdhi panchakam - are explained in detail. These are explained elaborately by piLLai lOkAchAryar in thathva thrayam grantham which can be studied with the commentary of mAmunigaL. This point explains about bhagavAn's parathva form that is seen in para vAsudhEvan in paramapadham. parampadham is an abode filled with sudhdha sathvam (divine matter) which manifests as maNdapa (hall), gOpura (towers), etc. We have already seen about this in previous articles. The whole of paramapadham is filled with bliss and bhagavAn is the ultimate enjoyer and all nithyas (eternally free souls) and mukthas (liberated souls) fully understand this and act according to that. From para vAsudhEvan, the next stage of vyUha vAsudhEvan appears. Three more forms - sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudhdha appear from vyUha vAsudhEva. kshIrAbdhi is generally attributed as the place of vishNu in vyUha form. Here bhagavAn stays with the intent of helping his devotees. All dhEvas starting with brahmA visit here to have any of their troubles relieved. 
  • To uplift the samsAri jIvAthmAs (bound souls) who are covered by ignorance, he himself accepts many differnt forms such as human, etc., and goes through difficulties as a normal human would do. Beyond param and vyUha forms, starting with this point, vibhavam (avathArams/incarnations), archai (deity forms) and antharyAmi are explained further. kshIrAbdhinAthan (vyUha form) descends into different lOkams in different forms to accomplish different goals such as sAdhu parithrANam (protecting righteous people), dharma samsthApanam (establishing dharmA) and destroying the evil. Since time immemorial, jIvAthmAs in samsAram suffering in the cycle of birth/death - this is called sleep (state of ignorance). He awakes them and stimulates them by accepting various forms like srI rAma, krishNa, etc. While being born in human forms, just like normal humans, he too goes through joy and sorrow during his time in such forms. Translator's note: vibhavam - avathAram. avathAram means descending - lowering oneself. bhagavAn is not bound by time, place and object. But while descending as various incarnations, he himself makes him bound within a particular time (like srI rAma lived in thrEthA yugam), within a particular place (like srI rAma is now in ayOdhyA) and within a particular object (bhagavAn is in the form of srI rAma). This aspect of him lowering his own greatness is greatly appreciated by AzhwArs and AchAryas. Here avathArams are classified in to two main categories - mukyAvathArams - bhagavAn himself appearing in different forms and gauNAvathArams - bhagavAn giving his specific qualities/power to other jIvAthmAs to accomplish specific tasks. While mukyAvathArams are greatly worshippable by mumukshus (ones desiring for mOksham), gauNAvathArams are not worshippable by mumukshus.
  • Seeing that no one is following him, out of great desire, he plans to hide himself as antharyAmi (in-dwelling supersoul) within everyone as the unseen one. As explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.10 "karanthasilidanthoRum idanthigazh poruL thoRum karanthengum paranthuLan" (கரந்தசிலிடந்தொறும் இடந்திகழ் பொருள் தொறும் கரந்தெங்கும் பரந்துளன் - one who is pervaded everywhere) and in thiruvAimozhi 7.2.2 "katkilI" (one who is not visible to our eyes) - bhagavAn assumes the antharyAmi role. Translator's note: antharyAmi is the aspect of bhagavAn existing in every atomic particle and controlling the activities of such particles. Both sentients and insentients are pervaded by bhagavAn and controlled by him.
  • Not knowing that such supreme bhagavAn is the one who assumes archA (deity) forms and stay in dhivya dhEsams and other temples in different postures such as standing, sitting, lying down, etc., like a king resting in a garden and fully being served by his servitors is an obstacle. Here just like to capture one thief, the whole area will be surrounded by police, bhagavAn assumes so many different forms across many temples, to capture the heart of the jIvAthmAs. Also, archAvathAra emperumAns fully depend on the archakas for their eating, bathing, clothing, sleeping, etc. Translator's note: dhivya dhEsams are called as "uganthu aruLina nilangaL" (உகந்து அருளின நிலங்கள்) - places that were occupied by bhagavAn due to intense desire to uplift jIvAthmAs. archAvathAra emperumAns in such dhivya dhEsams, abhimAna sthalams (those temples which are dear to our pUrvAchAryas), village/city temples, mutts, homes, etc., are the manifestation of bhagavAn's ultimate saulabhyam (simplicity). He descends to a place which is easily accessible by every one, shows his beauty and attracts eveyone towards him. Those who are fortunate, realize his glories and their faith in him develops into unflinching confidence in the ultimate goal of eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn.
  • Not knowing that parathvam (para vAsudhEvan form) is for the pleasure of nithyas (and mukthas) and avathArams (vibhavam and archA) are for the pleasure of all categories of jIvAthmAs - nithya, muktha and badhdha. bhagavAn in paramapadham can only be seen and enjoyed by nithyasUris and mukthAthmAs. But vibhava and archAvathArams in this world can be seen by everyone and enjoyed by all. Translator's note: It is an interesting aspect to see that archAvathAra emperumAns is enjoyed and served by nithyasUris as well. For example, in ozhivil kAlam padhigam (thiruvAimozhi 3.3), nammAzhwAr highlights that even nithyasUris come down from parampadham and serve thiruvEnkatamudaiyAn (srInivAsan). But any one bound in this samsAram (even dhEvathas, rishis, humans, etc) cannot even imaging entering into paramapadham with this material body and while being attached to materialistic things - only by the grace of bhagavAn one can enter into paramapadham after being relieved fully from all attachment to materialistic pleasures.
  • Considering mukyAvathArams as mere mortal beings of the particular species in which bhagavAn has appeared is an obstacle. In mukyAvathArams, bhagavAn's supremacy is fully manifested. One should not consider bhagavAn as mere fish (mathsyAvathAram), tortoise (kUrmAvathAram), pig (varAhAvathAram), human (vAmanan, srI rAma, krishNa), etc. Even while assuming such forms, he maintains his supremacy and his supreme qualities like puNdarikAkshathvam (having beautiful lotus like eyes), etc., are manifested all the time. Translator's note: Just because bhagavAn assumes a form which resembles animals, humans, etc., does not mean that he is also mortal. Whatever his form is, it is still divine and different from materialistic bodies/forms. piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram that such assumption of bodily limitations to bhagavAn is in itself a bhagavath apachAram (offense).
  • Considering gauNAvathAram as worshippable is an obstacle. gauNAvathAram includes AvEsa avathArams (super imposing bhagavAn's power on some jIvAthmA) such as parasurAma, kArthavIryArjuna, etc. These avathArams are not worshippable by mumukshus. They should simply be respected as an incarnation of bhagavAn. Please see vyAkyAnam for rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi pAsuram 56 "kOkkula mannarai mUvezhukAl" (கோக்குல மன்னரை மூவெழுகால்). Translator's note: Because bhagavAn simply gives his power to certain jIvAthmAs to accomplish certain tasks and such jIvAthmAs may not be fully sAthvika (pure goodness) in nature, mumukshus should not worship them. mAmunigaL raises this question in the vyAkyAnam and explains that Such incarnations should be respected for the task they accomplished but no more worshipping beyond that. He also highlights pAsurams of other AzhwArs who have similarly glorified parasurAma in their pAsurams.
  • Considering archAvathAra emperumAn as incapable is an obstacle. bhagavAn who is present in various sannidhis in archA form has taken a vow that he would fully depend on his archaka (worshipper). That vow cannot be considered as his incapability. Our AchAryas have explained that bhagavAn's supremacy is fully present in his archAvathAram forms too. Translator's note: We have already seen that it is bhagavAn's supreme will/desire to be present in archA form to uplift everyone. Just because he does not directly interact with every one and command his desires physically, one cannot think that he is incapable. There are several instances where archAvathAra emperumAns speaking to great mahAns/devotees. dhEva perumAL conversing regularly with thirukkachi nambi is a well-known fact based on history.
  • Not having full faith in AchArya as full incarnation of bhagavAn is an obstacle. As said in "AchAryas sa hari: sAkshAth" (ஆசார்யஸ் ஸ ஹரி: ஸாக்ஷாத்), one should have full faith that AchArya is an incarnation of bhagavAn himself. On top of the 5 prakArams (forms) of bhagavAn, AchArya form is considered as the 6th form. Translator's note: Please see anthimOpAya nishtai (  for full understanding on this topic.
  • Not knowing that avathArams (incarnations) are higher than parathvam (para vAsudhEvan in paramapadham) is an obstacle. In paramapadham, only his supremacy will be greatly visible. But when  bhagavAn descends as srI rAma, krishNa, etc., all his auspicious qualities shine radiantly. Thus we should understand the greatness of avathArams over parathvam. Translator's note: bhagavAn takes birth in this samsAram out of his causeless mercy to help the suffering jIvAthmAs. That is why it is said in rg vEdham that "sa u srEyAn bhavathi jAyamAna:" (ஸ உ ச்ரேயான் பவதி ஜாயமாந:) - bhagavAn becomes more praiseworthy when he appears in this world. Also, when he descends from paramapadham in to samsAram, he does not minimize any of his auspicious qualities and appears with the same divine form (unlike the material body made of matter for jIvAthmAs). This principle is beautifully explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 5.3.5 - "Adhiyam chOthi uruvai angu vaiththu ingup piRanthu" (ஆதியம் சோதி உருவை அங்கு வைத்து இங்குப் பிறந்து) - bhagavAn who is eternal, appears in this world with his most enchanting and divine form that is seen in parampadham.
  • Considering the divine body/form of AchArya to be material though he is explained as an incarnation of bhagavAn is an obstacle. Translator's note: One should understand that AchArya is the one who helps the sishya reach bhagavAn. It is out of great compassion, AchAryas explain the true knowledge to everyone both by his preaching and conduct. Such AchArya should be greatly respected and glorified by sishyas.

We will continue with the next section in the next article. 

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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  1. excellent excellent article...great! Jai Srimannarayana...adiyen Ramanuja daasa,

  2. Dear Sarathy Swamy,

    Srimathe ramanujaya Namah,

    Thank you Swamy devareer for the excellent explanation of so many important points. It is a beautiful knowledge treasure for future reference.

    Swamy, in the final points devareer has mentioned -> "Not knowing that avathArams (incarnations) are higher than parathvam (para vAsudhEvan in paramapadham) is an obstacle. In paramapadham, only his supremacy will be greatly visible. But when bhagavAn descends as srI rAma, krishNa, etc., all his auspicious qualities shine radiantly. Thus we should understand the greatness of avathArams over parathvam. "

    adiyen has asked devareer about this in a similar manner before as well. As it has been explained that Bhagavan displays His soulabhyam in incarnations like Kannan emperumaan, being bound by Yashoda, being a cowherd and being extremely simplistic and completely hiding His absolute supremacy. Similarly in archa avatarams, Bhagavan displays complete dependence and fully allows Himself in control of His devotees.

    When Kannan lifts the Govardana Giri, many gopa-kumaragal ask whether He is a god or some super power etc, He says that He is one amongst all of them. Kannan took a resolution that He wont display His supremacy in His activities so that He can relish loving exchanges with Yashodi, gopakumaras and gopika-stris.

    So, when these excellent qualities which Bhagavan displays in Archai and Vibhavam, so when it is parama-padham, Bhagavan's paratvam is radiantly visible and all muktatmas and Nityas serve Him like a king etc, does this mean that Bhagavan's saulabhya nature and His extremely simplistic nature as in Kannan avataram or archai does not manifest?
    Does this mean in parama-padham, Bhagavan only displays Supreme nature? Will nityas & muktas exchange emotions with Bhagavan in same manner as in Krishna avataram, i.e Bhagavan in some pastimes in Parama-padham will hide His supreme nature and reciprocate with muktas in manner similar to Kannan's pastimes?

    This is sure that the Saulabya nature of Bhagavan is manifested in samsaram as all baddhas are so much engrossed in materialistic activities and are full of papams, whereas in nitya-vibhuti, this karma or lowly nature is not there. All muktas are already full shining with full knowledge of seshatvam and full auspicious qualities. But then, the saulabya nature which is extremely relished in this samsaram by all our acharyas and azhwars will not manifest in Parama-padham seems to be disturbing to adiyen's mind.

    Similar mood is displayed by great bhagavathas like Hanuman ( wanting to serve Sita-rama forever in samsaram(or atleast this kalpam of Brahma)) in form of Sita-Ramachandra, many bhagavathas wanting to be born again and again in gokulam as a devotees of gopika-stris, Naradar wanting to always broadcast glories of Bhagavan ever in samsaram, Desikar never wanting Sri-Vaikuntam when service & closeness with Varadar is ever present. So, from all these examples it is indicated that when Bhagavan's such close affection and sulabha nature is manifested, one does not even want Sri-vaikuntam for serving parama-pada-nathar.

    Can devareer please provide some replies and clarifications on the above points.

    Thanking you,
    adiyen ramanuja dasan

    1. dear swamy
      very nice question.

      all qualities of bhagavAn exist in all forms. paramapadham is vaikuNtam - where there is no blemish or defect. So, all types of bhagavadh anubhavam is possible there.

      the main difference between samsAram and paramapadham is here saulabhyam, sauseelyam, etc are shining radiantly since the entire place is covered with the darkness of ignorance. Just like a lamp has more value/meaning in darkness - bhagavAn's saulabhyam, sauseelyam, etc are more meaningful for samsAris who desperately need such qualities of bhagavAn to be attracted towards him. But in paramapadham, already everyone is fully attracted towards him - so such qualities does not specifically get highlighted.

      but his parathvam and him being served by everyone is more shining in paramapadham since everyone is situated with fully blossomed knowledge of sEshathvam and pArathanthriyam.

      reg - azhwars/acharyas who have shown attachment towards different archAvathAra emperumAns, all of those anyway reached paramapadham only. It was out of great attachment towards archAvathAra emperumAn, they sung those pAsurams and showed such emotions. Yet, when it comes to the ultimate destination, they all reached paramapadham only as seen in their charithrams. thiruvadi (hanumAn) is certainly a special category ofcourse.

      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

  3. Dear SarathySwamy

    nirUkapai - part of his identity - he is identified as sriya:pathi (husband of srI mahAlakshmi); adiyen reckons nirUkapai should be spelled as nirUpakai here.nirUkapai - part of his identity - he is identified as sriya:pathi (husband of srI mahAlakshmi);

    All other nithasUris like anantha, garuda, vishwaksEna, etc., and muthAthmAs are all subservient to srI mahAlakshmi.
    Here Mukthathma is misspelled.

    adiyen ramanujadasan

    1. thanks for point out the typos swamy. corrections are applied.
      adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

  4. Wonderful article i have ever read....very nice really feeling peaceful.....