virOdhi parihArangaL - 45

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

srI pArthasArathy emperumAn along with srI dhEvi, bhU dhEvi and ANdAL nAchiyAr- the most trustworthy and most worshippable

75. avisvAsa virOdhi (அவிச்வாஸ விரோதி ) - Obstacles in distrust

avisvAsa virOdhi means trusting the untrustworthy samsAris (materialistic people), dhEvathAntharams and sAmAnya sAsthrams.

visvAsam means trust, faith. Here, the aspects that should not be trusted and when we trust them, it is explained as obstacles. sAmAnya sAsthram - common injunctions in scriptures. Though these should be followed, for a prapanna, if there are certain deficiencies in common scriptures while engaging in visEsha dharmam (confidential service to bhagavAn/bhAgavathas), it is not considered as a defect. 

Translator's note: We have discussed these in great detail previously. Here trust in 3 aspects - samsAris (materialistic people), dhEvathAntharams (dhEvathAs other than srIman nArAyaNan) and sAmAnya sAsthram are highlighted as obstacles. 
  • When we are focussed on materialistic aspects, we will end up trusting materialistic people to accomplish such favours. And by engaging in such acts our bondage in samsAram increases more. Thus it is better to avoid trusting samsAris. 
  • As for as dhEvathAntharams are concerned, it relates to all dhEvathAs starting with brahmA, rudhran, etc. They too are bound souls. While we engage in honoring the dhEvathAs as part of vaidhIka karmAs, there is no specific importance given to them beyond that. nampiLLai explains this beautifully in an incident when questioned about why srIvaishNavas engage in worshipping dhEvathAs in vaidhIka karmAs but not in separate temples. nampiLLai explains that as part of injunctions in sAsthram, we worship srIman nArAyaNan as the antharyAmi of such dhEvathAs in yagyas, sandhyA vandhanam, etc. But, on their own, since they too are bound souls who manifest independence and also fight with srIman nArAyaNan even after knowing his supremacy clearly, they are totally shunned.
  • sAsthram is classified into sAmAnya sAsthram (common aspects) and visEsha sAsthram (special aspects). sAmAnya sAsthram is that which focusses on body and common daily anushtAnams which are based on varNAsrama dharmam. These are essential. visEsha sAsthram is that which focusses on AthmA and its eternal relationship with bhagavAn. These are the confidential services that are done to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. periyAzhwAr explains this as "aththANich chEvakam" in thiruppallANdu. In AchArya hrudhayam, azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr explains in chUrNikai 31 - "aththANi chEvagaththil podhuvAnathu nazhuvum" (அத்தாணிச் சேவகத்தில் பொதுவானது நழுவும்). mAmunigaL explains in the vyAkyAnam that when we are engaged in bhagavath/bhAgavatha kainkaryam, sAmAnya kainkaryam takes back seat and can be delayed/skipped. More of this is discussed in

76. sanga virOdhi (ஸங்க விரோதி ) - Obstacles in association

One who has acquired bhagavath gyAnam (knowledge about bhagavAn) having relationship with followers of others such as saivas, etc.

sangam means friendship, relationship. bhagavath gyAnam means true knowledge about srIman nArAyaNan's supremacy.

Translator's note: True knowledge about bhagavAn means understanding fully that he is the supreme lord and we are his eternal servants. Once this true knowledge is acquired, there will be a natural transformation in our attitude. Anyone who rejects bhagavAn's supremacy or insults bhagavAn, we will naturally be unable to have friendship with such persons. True knowledge is acquired by the blessing of AchArya and bhagavAn. For others who do not have true knowledge, they will not be able to accept bhagavAn's supremacy. For us, it is better not to engage with such persons. Here it is important to understand that as a srIvaishNava, it is our duty to educate the favourable persons (one who is inclined to know about bhagavAn) irrespective of their background since this sharing of true knowledge is the greatest help that can be done for any one in realising their own true nature.

77. santhAna virOdhi (ஸந்தாந விரோதி ) - Obstacles in offsprings

Even ones own son, if one is hating/disrespecting bhagavAn, bhAgavathas and AchArya, it is an obstacle to not give up such son as explained in varAha purANam:

mAjanishta sa nO vamsEjAthO vAthrAkvisrujyathAm
AjAnmamaraNam yasya vAsudhEvO nadhaivatham

மாஜநிஷ்ட ஸ நோ வம்ஸேஜாதோ வாத்ராக்விஸ்ருஜ்யதாம்
ஆஜாந்மமரணம் யஸ்ய வாஸுதேவோ நதைவதம்

santhAnam - ones own children. Even though ones own child, when he/she engages in apachArams (offenses) towards bhagavAn, bhAgavathas or AchArya, one should be given up. Such relationship should be cut off.

Translator's note: For a prapanna, it is very important to ensure that he mixes/mingles with other favourable prapannas only. Even ones own children or close relative, any act of arrogance against bhagavAn and bhAgavathas cannot be tolerated. One should ofcourse try to educate the children, etc., and try to guide them properly. But when such efforts fail, there cannot be a relationship. We can see this from a few examples.
  • prahlAdhAzhwAn is a great devotee of srIman nArAyaNan. His grand-son mahAbali inherited such devotion towards srIman nArAyaNa from him. But due to his greed, he took over the wealth of indhran and also was offensive towards srIman nArAyaNan. Seeing that, prahlAdhAzhwAn tries to instruct him but since it only fell on deaf years, he himself cursed him that all his wealth will be lost eventually.
  • When srI rAma was sent to vanavAsam (forest-dwelling) on the request of kaikEyi, bharathAzhwAn was not there. On his return he finds out it was kaikEyi who sent srI rAma to the forest and at once disowns her.
  • When rAvaNa abducted sIthA pirAtti, vibhIshaNAzhwAn instructed his elder brother to return her to srI rAma. But rAvaNa never listened to vibhIshaNAzhwAn. After repeated efforts vibhIshaNAzhwAn became perplexed and finally completely gave up on rAvaNa, left him, reached srI rAma and surrendered unto him fully. He eventually helps srI rAma vanquish his own brother rAvaNa. 

78. varNa virOdhi (வர்ண விரோதி ) - Obstacles in varNam related aspects

Performing activities that are contradictory to ones varNam is an obstacle.

varNam is the classification of men as in brAhmaNa, kshathriya, vaisya and sUdhra. Each person should perform the activities that are ordained in sAsthram for them. One cannot perform activities that are contradictory to their own varNam.

Translator's note: This topic is already discussed in great detail in Each varNam has certain responsibilities.
The main activities of different varNams are:
  • For a brAhmaNa, 6 main activities are identified. adhyayanam (study of vEdhas), adhyApanam (teaching vEdhas to others), yajanam (performing yagya for self), yAjanam (performing yagya for others), dhAnam (giving charity), parigraham (receiving charity). 
  • For kshathriyas, adhyayanam (study of vEdhas), yajanam (performing yagya for self) and dhAnam (giving charity) are only applicable - teaching vEdhas to others, performing yagya for others and accepting charity are not applicable. But in place of those, they have to handle weapons, protect the citizens and administer the nation.
  • For vaisyas too, adhyayanam (study of vEdhas), yajanam (performing yagya for self) and dhAnam (giving charity) are only applicable - teaching vEdhas to others, performing yagya for others and accepting charity are not applicable. But in place of those, they have to engage in farming, tending of cows, businesses, etc.
  • For sUdhras, they simply assist the other 3 classes of people in their activities.
piLLai lOkAchAryar explains about kainkaryam (servitude) in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, sUthrams 276, 277 and 278. First in sUthram 276, he says "kainkaryam is of two categories". In sUthram 276, he says "They are performing what is favourable and avoiding what is unfavaourable". In sUthram 277, he says "favourable and unfavourable are based on ones own varNam, Asramam and true nature as jIvAthmA". mAmunigaL gives detailed explanation for this sUthram. He explains that one should perform all kainkaryams (nithya, naimiththika karmAnushtAnams and direct kainkaryams to bhagavAn/bhAgavathas) with selfless attitude to serve bhagavAn. Even following varNAsrama dharmam should be done as a kainkaryam to bhagavAn and all our activities should be in harmony with the divine desire of bhagavAn as learnt from sAsthram and our AchAryas.

79. japa virOdhi (ஜப விரோதி ) - Obstacles in recitation 

It is an obstacle to contemplate on material favours and other dhEvathAs while reciting mUla manthram (thirumanthram), etc instead of focussing on srIman nArAyaNan who is dhEvathA for such manthrams.

mUla manthram - srI ashtAkshara mahAmanthram. manthAram thrAyathi ithi manthra: - that which protects the one who contemplates on it is called manthram. One should know about the dhEvathA for the manthram and contemplate on him. srIman nArAyaNan is the dhEvathA for the asthAkshara manthram. Contemplating on any one else or any other benefits other than kainkaryam to him will not yield the results of the manthram.

Translator's note: Each manthram will have 3 important aspects - chandhas (the meter), rishi (the one who is the propagator of the manthram) and dhEvathA (the object of meditation of the manthram). In mumukshuppadi, piLLai lOkAchAryar highlights in sUthram 4 – manthraththilum manthraththukku uLLidAna vasthuvilum manthra pradhanAna AchAryan pakkalilum prEmam ganakka uNdAnAl kAryakaramAvathu (மந்த்ரத்திலும் மந்த்ரத்துக்கு உள்ளீடான வஸ்துவிலும் மந்த்ர ப்ரதனான ஆசார்யன் பக்கலிலும் ப்ரேமம் கனக்க உண்டானால் கார்யகரமாவது).  mAmunigaL beautifully explains that the sishya should have great faith in the manthram (which is explained), bhagavAn (who is the object of the manthram) and AchAryan (who has full control over the manthram)  and should develop great attachment towards all the three. He also beautifully quotes an equivalent samskritha slOkam revealing the same principle – manthrE thath dhEvathAyAncha thathA manthrapradhE gurau, thrishu bakthis sadhAkAryA sA hi pradhama sAdhanam (மந்த்ரே தத் தேவதாயாஞ்ச ததா மந்த்ரப்ரதே குரௌ, த்ரிஷு பக்திஸ் ஸதாகார்யா ஸா ஹி ப்ரதம ஸாதநம்). Thus chanting the manthram with proper understanding of all these aspects will be highly beneficial. dhvaya mahA manthram is supposed to recited all the time while meditating on the meanings of thiruvAimozhi which explains the dhvaya mahA manthram. We can see eRumbi appA identifying in his pUrva dhinachAryA that mAmunigaL is constantly reciting dhvaya mahA manthram and is meditating on the meanings of thiruvAimozhi. This can be seen in slOkam 9 "manthra rathna anusandhAna ..." (மந்த்ர ரத்ந அநுஸந்தாந...). It is also highlighted by piLLai lOkAchAryar in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram sUthram 274 "japthavyam guruparamparaiyum dhvayamum" (ஜப்தவ்யம் குரு பரம்பரையும் த்வயமும்) - guruparamparai manthram and dhvaya mahA manthram should always be recited.

80. ArAdhana virOdhi (ஆராதந விரோதி ) - Obstacles in recitation 

Having materialistic/extraneous desires as a result of thiruvArAdhanam instead of doing it with selfless motive simply to fulfill our true nature,  offering materials that are defective by jAthi (birth/nature), Asraya (owner/possessor), nimiththam (current situation), and offering meat, alcohol, etc which are refrained in sAsthram to be used in thiruvArAdhanam are obstacles.

emperumAn must be worshipped properly without any expectation during thiruvArAdhanam. The result of worshipping emperumAn is the blissful worship itself (nothing else). This is a common and well-known rule - "yadhanna: purushObhavathi thadhannas thasya dhEvathA" (யதந்ந: புருஷோபவதி ததந்நஸ் தஸ்ய தேவதா) - Whatever one can consume according to sAsthram, that needs to be first offered to his worshippable deity (and then consumed by oneself). For example, a sannyAsi who is forbidden from consuming betel leaves/nuts cannot offer it in his thiruvArAdhanam. We can recollect many aspects that are discussed in anushtAna virOdhi (

Translator's note: thiruvArAdhanam is the process of worshipping emperumAn. This is explained in detail in The obstacles in worshipping emperumAn is explained in detail in
When it comes to food items, 3 types of limitations arise in consuming them - jAthi dhushtam (food items that are unfit to be considered by nature - onion, garlic, etc), Asraya dhushtam (sAthvika food items that have come in contact with avaishNavas) and nimiththa dhushtam (food items that are spoilt, etc).These are explained in detail in

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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