virOdhi parihArangaL - 45

srI:
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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/virodhi-pariharangal.html.



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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/01/virodhi-pariharangal-10.html

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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/08/virodhi-pariharangal-34.html. 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 (http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/01/virodhi-pariharangal-10.html).

Translator's note: thiruvArAdhanam is the process of worshipping emperumAn. This is explained in detail in http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/07/srivaishnava-thiruvaaraadhanam.html. The obstacles in worshipping emperumAn is explained in detail in http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/03/virodhi-pariharangal-16.html.
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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2014/05/virodhi-pariharangal-23.html.


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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan




pramEyam (goal) - http://koyil.org
pramANam (scriptures) -
http://srivaishnavagranthams.wordpress.com
pramAthA (preceptors) -
http://guruparamparai.wordpress.com
srIvaishNava education/kids portal - http://pillai.koyil.org

virOdhi parihArangaL - 44

srI:
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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/virodhi-pariharangal.html.

74. anthima dhasA virOdhi (அந்திம தசா விரோதி ) - Obstacles in final moments



varAha perumAL (as seen in thiruvidaventhai) - one who promised to carry his devotees to redemption


anthima dhasA means final moments in the death-bed. When death approaches, many people will lose their consciousness. Many may be fully aware and conscious of their last moments as well. Our AchAryas have highlighted two important aspects in "'pERu thappAthu' enRu thuNinthirukkaiyum, pERRukkuth thvarikkaiyum srIvaishNavAdhikArikku avasyApEkshitham" ('பேறு தப்பாது' என்று துணிந்திருக்கையும், பேற்றுக்குத் த்வரிக்கையும் ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவாதிகாரிக்கு அவச்யாபேக்ஷிதம்) - A qualified srIvaishNava should be fully faithful in achieving the ultimate goal (and thus be relaxed about it) and at the same time should be greatly craving/longing for the ultimate goal. This whole topic is based on these two important aspects. Here pERu (பேறு) - ultimate goal is to reach srIvaikuNtam (paramapadham) and engage in eternal kainklaryam for his pleasure. Translator's note: In sAsthram, generally, anthima smruthi is greatly emphasised. In bhagavath gIthA 8.6, kaNNan emperumAn says "yam yam vApi smaraN bhAvam thyajathi anthE kaLEvaram tham tham Eva ithi kauNthEya sadhA thadh bhAva bhAvitha:" (யம் யம் வாபி ஸ்மரண் பாவம் த்யஜதி அந்தே களேவரம் தம் தம் ஏவ இதி கௌந்தேய ஸதா தத் பாவ பாவித:) - Oh son of kunthi! whatever one meditates on during the last moments, that AthmA will attain that form in the next life always. This is why meditating on bhagavAn's names, forms and leelAs are greatly emphasised. But depending on ones condition at the final moments, it may be possible. If one is completely unconscious, they may not be able to meditate on bhagavAn at that time. Also, due to ones own material attachments, one may easily start thinking about materialistic aspects during the last moments. Even the great saintly king bharatha who had mastered gyAna yOga fell trap to attachment towards a deer and started meditating on that deer. As a result he was born as a deer in his next birth. But all of these are specific for upAsakas or karma/gyAna/bhakthi yOga nishtas. For prapannas, this requirement is not there. As a totally surrendered soul is under the full control and responsibility of bhagavAn, whether he is able to meditate on bhagavAn or not, he is sure to attain paramapadham without fail. When emperumAnAr wanted to clarify certain doubts, he went to thirukkachi nambi (kAnchi pUrNa) who was performing confidential kainkaryam to dhEva perumAL and requested him to get  dhEva perumAL's advice on those doubts. thirukkachi nambi requests dhEva perumAL about emperumAnAr's situation and dhEva perumAL blesses thirukkachi nambi with 6 vArththaigaL (words/phrases) which are aimed at clarifying emperumAnAr's dilemmas. It is noteworthy that emperumAnAr did not disclose his doubts to thirukkachi nambi and dhEva perumAL did not ask thirukkachi nambi about those doubts either. dhEva perumAL knowing the inner heart of emperumAnAr, directly revealed the answers to thirukkachi nambi. Those 6 points are - "I, srIman nArAyaNan is the supreme", "Duality is the real truth", "prapaththi (total surrender) is the means", "No need for anthima smruthi (meditation on bhagavAn)", "prapannas get liberation at the end of this life itself" and finally "accept periya nambi (pUrNAchArya) as AchArya". Here he specifically negates the need for anthima smruthi (meditating on bhagavAn on the final moments) for a prapanna. This is also the main purport of varAha charama slOkam - where varAha perumAL specifically mentions that for the ones who are very devoted to him (which means who are fully surrendered to him), even if they are totally unconscious, he will take remember them at that time and carry them to paramapadham. We can actually observe in the lives of our pUrvAchAryas that, during the last moments, most of our AchAryas meditated on their own AchArya instead of meditating on bhagavAn specifically. Let us now move on to the topic itself.

  • Being worried due to attachment towards house, lands, children, wife, bodily wealth that are being left behind after death is an obstacle. prAvaNyam - attachment. One may start crying about the things that are being left behind such as home, cultivable lands, wife and children, etc. This happens due to ignorance. Translator's note: periyAzhwAr gives a detailed account of the individual's state of mind during the last moments in the death bed in his periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.10 padhigam (decad) which starts with "thuppudaiyArai ..." (துப்புடையாரை ...). In this padhigam, he first informs emperumAn that he may not have the stable mind to meditate on emperumAn and requests emperumAn to remember his current fully surrendered state and redeem him at the end of his life (when his mind may not be stable). In the 10 pAsurams, he explains in great detail the amount of suffering one goes through at the final moments. The person in the death-bed will be surrounded by many of his relatives who may be crying loudly increasing his own fear. They may also be looking to grab as much wealth from him as possible before he leaves his body. In spite of all of these, one will feel great pity on oneself for leaving behind ones own children, wife, wealth, properties, etc. But when one is fully realized that they are jIvAthmAs (souls) and they are simply discarding their body, they will not go through all these troubles. Such realization is the natural quality of prapannas (ones who are fully surrendered to bhagavAn). It is said that prapannas anxiously wait for the mrthyu dhEva (death) just like one will wait for a dear guest to arrive at their home. It is because, for such prapannas, after death, they are directly carried by bhagavAn to the banks of virajA river (which runs between paramapadham and samsAram). They go through the archirAdhi mArgam, cross the virajA river and finally reach the divine abode srIman nArAyaNa where he is welcomed by the nithyasUris and mukthAtmAs. He then climbs the sEsha paryankam (throne) where bhagavAn is seated and embraces bhagavAn. After that, bhagavAn grants him eternal kainkaryam and he happily lives ever-after. Thus, looking at the glorious life after death, prapannas are not worried about leaving their body ever. But common men and women who lack such firm philosophical understanding will have great difficulty coping up with death.
  • As explained in "kshEthrANi mithrANi", such attachments should be seen as unfavourable aspecets. Not being so is an obstacle by itself. kshEthrANi, mithrANi - attachments such as my properties, my friends. These are causes for bondage and are hurdles to reach paramapadham and thus these are highlighted as prathikUlam (unfavourable). Translator's note: emperumAnAr quotes this purANa slOkam in saraNAgathi gadhyam. Here is the slOkam and its meaning. "pitharam mAtharam dhArAn puthrAn bandhUn sakIn gurUn, rathnAni dhanadhAnyAni kshEthrANi cha gruhANi cha, sarvadharmAn cha samthyajya sarvakAmAn cha sAksharAn, lOkavikrAnthacharaNau charaNam thE vrajam vibhO!" (பிதரம் மாதரம் தாராந் புத்ராந் பந்தூந் ஸகீந் குரூந், ரத்நாநி தநதாந்யாநி க்ஷேத்ராணி ச க்ருஹாணி ச, ஸர்வதர்மாந் ச ஸம்த்யஜ்ய ஸர்வகாமாந் ச ஸாக்ஷராந், லோகவிக்ராந்தசரணௌ சரணம் தே வ்ரஜம் விபோ) - Dear emperumAn (vibhO)! I have given up all attachments towards my father, mother, wife, children, relatives, friends, teachers, precious stones, wealth, stock of grains, cultivable fields, houses, all other means to attain you, all other goals with even the slightest desires towards them and surrendered unto your lotus feet which measured the worlds. This slOkam is greatly glorified for it clearly establishing that bhagavAn's lotus feet is the only means for our upliftment after rejecting the attachments towards everything else. 
  • Not having attachment towards the ultimate abode as mentioned in "mAga vaikuntham kANbathaRku enmanam EkameNNum" (மாக வைகுந்தம் காண்பதற்கு என்மனம் ஏகமெண்ணும் - thiruvAimozhi 9.4.7) is an obstacle. One must have a great desire to reach paramapadham and see emperumAn there. thirumAlai ANdAn says "in thiruvAimozhi 2.3.3, AzhwAr reveals his disappointment for keeping him in this material world". Translator's note: nampiLLai's eedu vyakyAnam for this thiruvAimozhi 9.4.7 pAsuram is very crisp and beautiful. He explains nammAzhwAr's state where AzhwAr is constantly meditating on srIvaikuNtam which is the eternal residence of narasimha. AzhwAr says my mind is thinking about paramapadham irrespective of it being day or night. nampiLLai highlights that for common people, the activities is different in day and night - but for AzhwAr it is the same - always thinking about emperumAn
  • Not hating this material world which is to be given up as mentioned in "koduvulagam kAttElE" (கொடுவுலகம் காட்டேலே - thiruvAimozhi 4.9.7) is an obstacle. nammAzhwAr sees the existence in this material world amidst samsAris (materialistic people) as "koduvulagam" - cruel world and says "I dont want to see this anymore". Translator's note: As soon as true knowledge about oneself dawns, the jIvAthmA would start feeling very comfortable in this world which is not fit for engaging in eternal kainkaryam. nammAzhwAr manifests great sorrow right in the first pAsuram of his first prabandham - thiruviruththam 1 - "poy ninRa gyAnamum ... iniyAm uRAmai" (பொய் நின்ற ஞானமும் ... இனியாம் உறாமை) - I am unable to bear the existence in this world which is filled with ignorance. For AzhwArs, being in this world is like sanding barefoot on hot sand - that cannot even tolerated for a few moments. Unless one develops such distaste in this material world, it will be very difficult to give up the attachment here during the final moments.
  • Not looking forward to giving up the body with great desire as mentioned in "pinnumAkkai vidumpozhutheNNE" (பின்னுமாக்கை விடும்பொழுதெண்ணே - thiruvAimozhi 1.2.9) is an obstacle. One should look forward to shedding this mortal body. As explained in thiruvAimozhi 6.9.9 "kUvikkoLLum kAlam innum kuRugAthO?" (கூவிக்கொள்ளும் காலம் இன்னும் குறுகாதோ?), one should eagerly await the day of death so that we will reach the divine abode. Translator's note: In AchArya hrudhayam, azhagiya maNavaLa perumAL nAyanAr explains in chUrNikai 229 that bhagavAn waited for nammAzhwAr to call out desperately to bhagavAn 20 times throughout his 4 prabandhams to bless him the divine abode of paramapadham. nAyanAr explains that emperumAn waited for so long for many reasons but most importantly to increase nammAzhwAr's desire to reach paramapadham to the highest extreme possible and thereby having him fully qualified to be called a mumukshu (one who is desirous of mOksham). mAmunigaL beautifully lists out the 20 places where nammAzhwAr calls out to emperumAn and explains in the vyAkyAnam that one who is surrendered should have the greatest desire to be with emperumAn eternally in paramapadham and such great desire completes the surrender fully - otherwise the surrender will be deemed incomplete and superficial.
  • Able to sustain oneself without seeing emperumAn in paramapadham as mentioned in "unnai ennAL vandhu kUduvan" (உன்னை என்னாள் வந்து கூடுவன் - thiruvAimozhi 10.10.9) after having the desire to be with emperumAn fully matured is an obstacle. When will I come and see the most unique divine form of emperumAn in paramapahdam? When will I experience such emperumAn personally? These are nammAzhwAr's emotional experience in his heart which was as good as real experience. This is the stage where ones desires are fully attached to parathva form of emperumAn in paramapadham. This well matured state of bhakthi is known as parama bhakthi. Translator's note: As mentioned in previous point, ones attachment to emperumAn should mature into the ultimate state. The 3 stages in bhakthi are para bhakthi, para gyAnam and parama bhakthi. para bhakthi is the state of full knowledge about emperumAn - at this stage being together with emperumAn gives happiness and being separated from bhagavAn gives sorrow. parama gyAnam is the state of fully visualizing bhagavAn's nature, name, form, etc. parama bhakthi is the state of ultimate emotions for bhagavAn and not able to sustain oneself in the absence of bhagavAn. nAyanAr highlights these in chUrNikai 233 of AchArya hrudhayam, mAmunigaL explains them beautifully in sufficient detail.
  • Having attachment to archAvathAra emperumAn as mentioned in "maruLozhi nI" (மருளொழி நீ - thiruvAimozhi 10.6.1) is an obstacle. In 10.6.1, nammAzhwAr states that bhagavAn blesses us the ultimate abode of paramapadham based on our desire. And he stimulates the desire towards experiencing emperumAn in paramapadham over archAvathAra emperumAn of this world which we are so attached to until now. So, here when he is at the end of thiruvAimozhi when getting close to paramapadham, he says "maruL" (misunderstanding) for archAvathAra emperumAn since this archAvathAra anubhavam is in this material world. But the same AzhwAr, in the sUzhvisumbaNimugil padhigam (10.9) where he is experiencing the archirAdhi mArgam (the bright path leading upto paramapadham), he shows his attachment to Aravamudhan emperumAn of thirukkudanthai by saying "kudanthai en kOvalan kudiyadiyArkkE" (குடந்தை என் கோவலன் குடியடியார்க்கே). So, we can understand that attachment towards archAvathAram is not against our nature. thirumangai AzhwAr too, during his last moments when singing thirunedunthANdagam, in the 29th pAsuram, highlights "thaNkudanthaik kidantha mAlai nediyAnai adinAyEn ninainthittEnE" (தண்குடந்தைக் கிடந்த மாலை நெடியானை அடிநாயேன் நினைந்திட்டேனே). Translator's note: Attachment to archAvathAra emperumAn is natural for srIvaishNavas. Since they spend their whole live serving archAvathAra emperumAns, they cannot imaging anything outside them. We even hear, parAsara bhattar saying during his last moments "If I dont see srIranganAthan in paramapadham, I will tear a hole in the wall of paramapadham and jump back to srIrangam". Yet, one should give up that attachment to go and serve emperumAn in paramapadham eternally. For srIvaishNavas, while there is no difference in their experience in dhivya dhEsams here and paramapadham, the technical difference is - in dhivya dhEsams of this world, there is break in kainkaryam - no matter what, the temple is closed and devotees go home and take rest. But in paramapadham, there is continuous kainkaryam without the effect of old-age, disease, etc. So, srIvaishNavas need to give up the attachment towards archAvathAram in this world and prepare themselves to ascend to paramapadham when the time comes.
  • Thinking "what is my refuge now?" at the last moments and not knowing that giving up the thought of "our surrender to bhagavAn as the refuge" is the real refuge are obstacles. As explained in periya thirumozhi 2.7.1 "un manaththAl en ninainthirunthAy" (உன் மனத்தால் என் நினைந்திருந்தாய்) - How are you thinking to protect me?, our redemption is bhagavAn's responsibility and desire. Such desire is in bhagavAn's heart always. So, one should never think oneself as the protector and act with independence. Thinking with independence "how am I going to redeem myself now?" is said to be an obstacle. In srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, 69th sUthram "'anthima kAlaththukku thanjam, ippOthu thanjamen engiRa ninaivu kulaigai' enRu jIyar aruLichcheyvar" ('அந்திம காலத்துக்கு தஞ்சம், இப்போது தஞ்சமென் என்கிற நினைவு குலைகை' என்று ஜீயர் அருளிச்செய்வர்) - nanjIyar says, our refuge for the final moments is "giving up the attitude of protecting oneself now (and forever) and accepting bhagavAn's refuge fully". Translator's note: In the second prakaraNam of srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the glories of prapaththi (total surrender to bhagavAn). In this section, starting with 60th sUthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that even the prapaththi - ones act of surrender is not the upAyam (means) and bhagavAn alone is the upAyam. He establishes that ones act of surrender is a natural manifestation of ones dependence on bhagavAn. In sUthram 63, he explains that when bhagavAn protects the jIvAthmAs, the only thing he expects from the jIvAthmA is to let him protect the jIvAthmA. mAmunigaL explains in the vyAkyAnam that jIvAthmA having the desire to be protected by emperumAn is indicative to bhagavAn that the jIvAthmA is letting him to protect him. In sUthram 66, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that bhagavAn's desire is the key for jIvAthmA's protection. In the next sUthram, he says that bhagavAn is always desiring and attempting to protect the jIvAthmA. In sUthram 68, he says that such protection will materialize when the jIvAthmA's desire changes. mAmunigaL beautifully highlights here that "change in desire" means "change in attitude from protecting oneself on ones own to being fully dependent on bhagavAn". This is established in the 69th sUthram by piLLai lOkAchAryar through the words of nanjIyar. In this sUthram, nanjIyar explains to a srIvaishNava who was ill and asks nanjIyar what is the refuge for him at the moment. nanjIyar says that giving up ones own independence and efforts to protect oneself and accepting bhagavAn as the total refuge is the only way. Thus, we can understand that jIvAthmA's natural attitude of letting bhagavAn protect him and being subservient to bhagavAn's desires is explained as "adhikAri visEshaNam" - natural quality of a surrendered person and it never becomes the upAyam (means) for his redemption. More on these principles are best heard under the guidance of learned vidhwAns.
  • Not being like a stone or a piece of wood without manifestation of consciousness/knowledge is an obstacle. As explained by varAha perumAL in "thathastham mriyamANanthu kAshtapAshANa sannibam, aham smarAmi madh bhaktham" (ததஸ்தம் ம்ரியமாணந்து காஷ்டபாஷாண ஸந்நிபம், அஹம் ஸ்மராமி மத் பக்தம்), one should be like a stone or a piece of wood, devoid of any interest in protecting oneself independently. For such persons who are fully dependent on me, I will think about them at that final moment and will uplift them. Translator's note: In srIvaishNava sampradhAyam, 3 charama slOkams are greatly glorified. charama slOkam means that slOkam which reveals the ultimate principles. There is varAha charama slOkam which starts with "sthithE manasi ...". There is srI rAma charama slOkam which starts with "sakruthEva prapannAya ...". There is krishNa charama slOkam which starts with "sarvadharmAn parithyajya ...". All these slOkams reveal bhagavAn's vow in being the ultimate protector for his devotees. Our responsibility is to fully accept bhagavAn's protection and abide by his desires too.
  • Not knowing that any specific requirement during final moments for ones redemption will disrupt ones complete faith in sidhdha sAdhanam (bhagavAn) as the protector is an obstacle. sidhdha sAdhana nishtai means having full faith in bhagavAn being the upAyam (means) and upEyam (goal). Any requirement which depends on self-effort will disrupt such deep faith. Translator's note: When there is specific requirement for ones thought process in the final moments, that will make one think independently and act independently to contemplate on certain things. But such behaviours of manifesting ones independence is contrary to the true nature of jIvAthmA who should always be fully dependent on bhagavAn. Thus, such principles are discarded for prapannas who are fully realized of their true nature. But for bhakthi yOga nishtas and other upAsakas, such conditions on final moments exist as explained in bhagavath gIthA, etc., and their next life is driven by such conditions.
  • Not knowing that any auspicious thoughts which arise in ones mind during the last moments which brings happiness in bhagavAn's face are part of goal (instead of means) is an obstacle. We are continuing with this section which emphasises on bhagavAn's desire for ones redemption and any other self-effort is a hurdle. One should know that any unskippable thoughts on bhagavAn which arise out of ones true nature (of being engaged in bhagavath vishayam forever) becomes part of the ultimate result. Translator's note: Ofcourse a true prapanna, when he is conscious will contemplate on bhagavAn during his last moments. These are not be misunderstood as means to achieve something else. They are simply the result of constant engagement in bhagavath vishayam (spiritual matters) and the divine desire of bhagavAn himself. We see in the lives of our pUrvAchAryas where the AchAryas during the last moments are most blissful due to bhagavAn's full manifestation in their heart. Our AchAryas also fully meditate on their AchAryas during the last moments and feel great bliss. These are all part of the ultimate result of eternal kainkaryam to bhagavAn in paramapadham.
  • Thinking that at that stage one should compulsorily contemplate on the names of AchAryan is an obstacle. Starting this point, AchAryas' importance is emphasised. One should not think that Acharya's names should be contemplated as sAdhanam (means) during the last moments. Translator's note: Whatever happens by the grace of bhagavAn, one should simply accept at that stage. This goes back to saying there is nothing which is to be done as upAyam (means).
  • Not knowing that any natural thoughts on ones AchArya due to constant past engagement is useful during the journey to paramapadham and thus essential is an obstacle. It is good if one remembers ones AchArya. prayANapAdhEyam - when people go on long journeys, they carry some food to sustain themselves. Similarly for ones journey through archirAdhi mArgam to paramapadham, thoughts on  ones AchArya are the food to sustain themselves. Translator's note: It is generally said that "pAdhEyam puNdarikAksha nAma sankIrthanam" (பாதேயம் புண்டரிகாக்ஷ நாம ஸங்கீர்த்தனம்) - ones food for sustenance during travels is bhagavan nAma sankIrthanam. Similarly, here, glorifying AchArya is emphasised as the sustenance during our final journey.
  • Considering such thoughts on AchArya which occurred to previous engagement as an upAyam (means) is an obstacle. This does not become upAyam (means) to achieve anything. Translator's note: This as explained before is simple coincidence due to previous engagement and should be treated as part of the ultimate result.
  • Not knowing that "He" who is the true well-wisher is the one who leads us in this journey is an obstacle. We should know that AchArya who is our true well-wisher who will lead us in this journey. Translator's note: bhagavAn is generally glorified as "mArgabandhu" - one who is a true companion during travels. Here it can be said about AchArya as well. This principle applies to both bhagavAn and AchArya. kALamEga perumAL of thirumOgUr is glorified as vazhith thuNai/mArga bandhu (வழித் துணை/மார்க்க பந்து) perumAL. emperumAnAr (srI rAmAnuja) is glorified as "srI vishNulOka maNimaNdapa mArgadhAyi" (ஸ்ரீ விஷ்ணுலோக மணிமண்டப மார்கதாயி) - one who gives us the path to paramapadham. So, it is applicable to both bhagavAn and AchArya who are both well-wishers for us.
  • Considering anishta nivruththi (removal of unwanted aspects - ignorance, etc) and ishta prApthi (attaining the desired - going in archirAdhi mArgam, reaching paramapadham, etc) as ones own result are obstacles. avidhyA (ignorance) means the contraction of knowledge due to bondage in bodily aspects in material world. When material body is gone, ignorance is removed and knowledge fully expands. This is the state of muktha (liberated AthmA). archirAdhi gathi is the path that starts with archis (light) and ends at paramapadham. These are not to be considered as a result for oneself which occurred due to ones own effort.
  • Not knowing that bhagavAn who destroys such hurdles and who blesses all benedictions is the true benefactor of any such results. Translator's note: This is a very important principle. It is said that "chEthana lAbam Iswaranukku" (சேதன லாபம் ஈச்வரனுக்கு) - when a bound soul is purified and liberated, he reaches paramapadham and starts serving bhagavAn eternally. So, bhagavAn is explained as the ultimate benefactor in liberating jIvAthmAs from bondage. Though jIvAthmA's true nature is to be eternally serving bhagavAn, he only becomes uplifted by the full and unconditional grace of bhagavAn. Thus, bhagavAn being the propreitor of everyone is the ultimate benefactor as well. This is explained by piLLai lOkAchAryar in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram 70th sUthram "prApthAvum prApakanum prApthikku ugappAnum avanE" (ப்ராப்தாவும் ப்ராபகனும் ப்ராப்திக்கு உகப்பானும் அவனே) - bhagavAn is the only one who pursues, one who blesses and one who feels happy for the ultimate result. mAmunigaL vyAkyAnam (commentary) is a classic for this sUthram. He explains the principles with pramANams and concludes that since bhagavAn is prApthA and prApakan - the jIvAthmA does not have any engagement in self-effort and since bhagavAn is the one who feels happy for the ultimate result - the jIvAthmA does not have any engagement in self-enjoyment.
  • Having self-affiliation in likes and dislikes is an obstacle. Since bhagavAn is the in-dwelling super-soul, it is upto him to decide what is favourable and unfavourable for the jIvAthmA. Translator's note: When we accept bhagavAn as the ultimate means and goal, our actions should be driven by that underlying principle. We should sincerely follow what is explained in sAsthram (scriptures) and sistAchAram (what is done by our AchAryas) in our lives. Favourable and unfavourable aspects should be determined by sAsthram and AchArya's instructions instead of our own whims. Many a times, people would say "I am fully surrendered and my conduct is bhagavAn's responsibility". But their actions would totally contradict sAsthram and sistAchAram - basically its an easy route of escapism for not following any rules and regulations yet they present themselves as most faithful and knowledgable. Such attitude is detimental for the ones who are desiring to progress spiritually.
  • Not knowing that such likes and dislikes are really apt for bhagavAn who is the only one explained in "aham" is an obstacle. Translator's note: As bhagavAn proclaimed "aham thvA sarvapAbEpyO mOkshayishyAmi" in gIthA charama slOkam - aham means "I" which can be boldly proclaimed by bhagavAn only. We should always say "adiyEn", "dhAsan", etc., which manifest dependence towards bhagavAn and bhAgavathas. Since he is the only true proprietor, only he can have likes and dislikes. Our likes and dislikes should simply follow his. For example, he likes gyAnis - ones who are greatly knowledgable and devoted to him as he declared in gIthA. And he dislikes ones who ignore his instructions that are in sAsthram and follow adharmam. We too should align our lives so that we serve such gyAnis and avoid engaging in adharmam.
  • Not having full confidence that the eternal master who blesses the true knowledge is also the one who blesses liberation is an obstacle. AchArya is the one who imparts true knowledge for the seekers. bhagavAn himself appears as AchArya and accepts us into his fold. So he is the eternal master and the one who blesses liberation. Translator's note:  bhagavAn is called mukundha - one who gives liberation. Liberation means eternal kainkaryam in paramapadham. For such liberation, first one should have true knowledge about oneself (chith), achith (matter) and bhagavAn - thathva thrayam. Such knowledge is imparted by AchArya to the sishya. Once there is true knowledge, naturally, one will desire for relief from bondage and to serve bhagavAn eternally in paramapadham. Such relief from samsAram and eternal kainkarayam is blessed by bhagavAn.

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan


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virOdhi parihArangaL - 43

srI:
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 http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/p/virodhi-pariharangal.html.


73. pumsthva virOdhi (பும்ஸ்த்வ விரோதி ) - Obstacles in masculinity 


perumaL (srI rAma - mariyAdhA purushOththama - ideal supreme man) with sIthA pirAtti and iLaya perumAL - srIperumbUthUr

pumsthvam means masculinity/manliness - being a man. In dhivya prabandham vyAkyAnams (commentaries), based on ones bodily situation, males are called as "mOvAyezhunthAr" (மோவாயெழுந்தார்) - Ones who have raised chin or lower-jaw indicating bearded area and females are called as "mulaiyezhunthAr" (முலையெழுந்தார்) - Ones who have raised breasts. These are only external/bodily attributes which are an outcome of ones past karmA. As explained in bhagavadh gIthA as "uththama: purusha:" (உத்தம: புருஷ: - The real/best man) is emperumAn who is the supreme male. As explained in the pramANam "sthrI prAyam itharam jagath" (ஸ்த்ரீ ப்ராயம் இதரம் ஜகத்) - all others in the universe(s) are of female category only whatever body (male/female) they may have acquired. Important aspects of femininity includes being totally dependent, submissiveness, shyness, etc. jIvAthmA is also internally identified as totally dependent on paramAthmA. Let us move on to the commentary now. Translator's note: bhagavAn is highlighted as the meaning of "a" in praNavam. parAsara bhattar starts the first slOkam of his wonderful ashta slOki (a composition of eight brilliant and beautiful slOkams which comprehensively reveal the meanings of rahasya thrayam - thirumanthram, dhvayam and charama slOkam) as "akArArthO vishNu:" (அகாரார்த்தோ விஷ்ணு:) resonating "akAram" as bhagavAn. One of the main explanations of akAram is rakshakathvam. rakshakathvam means removing the unwanted aspects and providing the desired aspects. Only srIman nArAyaNan is the ultimate independent person and every one else is fully dependent on him. We can recollect an interesting incident from the lives of our pUrvAchAryas. periyavAchAn piLLai highlights this incident in the vyAkyAnam for thirunedunthANdagam 3rd pAsuram. parAsara bhattar was explaining the incident of churning of milk-ocean. He explains that when srI mahAlakshmi came out of the milk-ocean, she directly goes to srIman nArAyaNan, climbs his chest (which is her permanent abode) and accepts him as his husband. At this time, nanjIyar asks bhattar "there were so many dhEvas - being a woman, should she not have felt shy to reach out to a man in public like that?". bhattar cleverly replies "While engaging with husband, should the wife feels shy seeing her girl-friends who carry decorative items, gifts, etc.?".  This means, all the jIvAthmAs (dhEvas and asuras) who were present there were of feminine nature, even though they have male bodies. Thus, this aspect of supreme independence is associated with manliness and the contrary is associated with femininity.
  • Considering oneself (who is in the category of females) as male instead of understanding that supreme bhagavAn who is garuda vAhanan (one who rides on garudAzhwAr) and purushOththaman (the best among males) is an obstacle. purushOththaman is the only person who is qualified to be highlighted as male. All other jIvAthmAs are in the category of female. Just considering oneself based on male body is ignorance. It is also a default. Translator's note: garuda vAhanathvam is indicated as an important quality of supreme brahman. garuda is called vEdhAthmA - one who is the soul of vEdham. bhagavAn riding on garudAzhwAr and garudAzhwAr pointing his fingers towards bhagavAn is a clear indication of supremacy of srIman nArAyaNan. Also, srIman nArAyaNan is called as purushOththama - the best among men. So, manliness is only associated with srIman nArAyaNan.
  • Considering dhEvathAs like brahma, rudhra, etc., as males due to them having male bodies is an obstacle. As explained before, this principle applies for dhEvathAs too. When compared with purushOththama - all other dhEvathAs are only his female counter parts though they may have male bodies. Considering otherwise is ignorance.
  • Not knowing that the feminine nature we have is the natural quality which is being counterpart for his natural masculine nature is an obstacle. Our true nature is to be fully dependent on him and fulfill his total independence.
  • Not knowing that the male body we have is something which we acquired due to our karmA and temporary is an obstacle. This external appearance of manly body is acquired based on ones past karmA. We should know that we will get different bodies one after other, based on our karmA. Translator's note: In bhagavath gIthA, krishNa explains this principle of changing bodies in great detail in 2nd chapter. He explains just like a old cloth is thrown when it is unusable and a new cloth is acquired, when one body becomes unfit for the jIvAthmA, that body is given up and a new body is acquired. He also explains giving another example - just like an AthmA is going through a toddler's body, child's body, adult's body and old-aged body, when the karmA is completed for that particular body, that body is given up and a new body is acquired. Thus we can easily understand that we acquire bodies life after life and each of these bodies are temporary of nature.
  • Not knowing that the male and female bodies which were acquired since anAdhi kAlam (time-immemorial) are impermanent is an obstacle. We have been in samsAram (material world) eternally and have been acquiring different bodies based on the results of our karmA. So, none of that is permanent. This is self-evident.
  • Not knowing that being totally dependent on bhagavAn is the eternal nature of jIvAthmA is an obstacle. bhagavath pArathanthriyam (being fully dependent on bhagavAn) is the eternal and underlying nature of jIvAthmA. pArathanthriyam means being fully controllable by the owner (bhagavAn in this case). Translator's note: We have previously seen the pramANam "svathvam Athmani sanjAtham svAmithvam brahmaNi sthitham" (ஸ்வத்வம் ஆத்மநி ஸஞ்ஜாதம் ஸ்வாமித்வம் ப்ரஹ்மணி ஸ்திதம்) - jIvAthmA's nature is to be a property of bhagavAn and bhagavAn's nature is to be the proprietor. From this we can understand that the nature of jIvAthmA is to be dependent on bhagavAn.
  • Having tinge of independence and considering oneself as male simply because of the bodily situation even after acquiring knowledge about our total dependence on bhagavAn is an obstacle. Once we acquire the true knowledge of pArathanthriyam (total dependence), there is no question of considering oneself as male and having the tinge of independence which is natural for males. Translator's note:  The fundamental issue goes back to dhEhAthma abhimAnam (considering the soul and body as the same). Even after hearing so many kAlakshEpams and understanding the principles, we still consider confuse AthmA with the dhEham (body). There is no other way than repeatedly meditating on this importantant/fundamental difference between body and soul and constantly trying to apply this in our day to day life.
  • Being a female oneself by nature fully dependent on bhagavAn, seeking out for other females (for bodily pleasure) is an obstacle. After understanding oneself as a female (jIvAthmA) who is dependent on bhagavAn (the singular and supreme male), seeking out for another female for oneself happens only due to ignorance (that one associates oneself with the body instead of soul). It is not appropriate. We need to remember srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, sUthram 101 "vihitha vishaya nivruththi thannERRam" in this context. Translator's note: In sUthrams 99, 100 and 101, piLLai lOkAchAryar discusses the aspect of detachment from sensual pleasures and controlling ones senses fully. Previously, he stated that this detachment from worldly pleasures is the fundamental qualification for spiritual progress. mAmunigaL explains the sUthrams in the most beautiful manner with eloquent reference to pramANams. In 99th sUthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that this detachment is required for the persons seeking material wealth, etc., persons who are engaged in bhakthi yOgam and finally for prapannas (persons who are fully surrendered to bhagavAn). mAmunigaL explains that even for persons seeking great material wealth/control, during the process of achieving it, they need to fully control their senses. For upAsakas (bhakthi yOga nishtas) and prapannas obviously they should have full control of their senses and have total detachment from worldly pleasures. In the 100th sUthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar says, among the 3 categories, for prapannas, such control of senses is most important. mAmunigaL beautifully and crisply highlights that piLLai lOkAchAryar included the other 2 categories only to highlight the importance of such detachment for prapannas. In the 101st sUthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar says, for the ones seeking material wealth and for the upAsakas, one should have detachment in what is forbidden in sAsthram. But for prapannas, one should have detachment to what is even allowed in sAsthram since it is svarUpa virOdham (contradictory to the nature of jIvAthmA). Sensual pleasures with in the boundary of marriage is allowed in sAsthram, though there are many conditions exist on when and how physical relationship can happen. Here, for prapannas, piLLai lOkAchAryar highlights that one should even show detachment towards ones own wife. mAmunigaL wonderfully explains this point in great detail in his vyAkyAnam. It is best to hear this under the guidance of an AchArya. This point relates to ones clear understanding of oneself being a female who is naturally subservient to bhagavAn and thus not seek out the subservience of another female even in the pretext of marriage.
  • Not having the understanding that every one is a female when seen in context of bhagavAn is an obstacle. One should know that when looked at from the paramapurusha's perspective, all jIvAthmA's are feminine by nature.
  • Not being sub-servient along with ones own wife who was accepted for the purpose of serving bhagavAn and bhAgavathas is an obstacle. gruhasthAsramam - living with a wife. As stated in srI rAmAyaNam "sahapathnyA visAlAkshyA nArAyaNamupAkamath" (ஸஹபத்ந்யா விசாலாக்ஷ்யா நாராயணமுபாகமத்), srI rAma himself married sIthA and served periya perumAL (srI ranganAthan). This is the gruahasthAsrama dharmam. Even though there is husband-wife relationship, infront of bhagavAn, both man and woman are of feminine nature and both are subserivient to him only. Translator's note: Among the 4 Asramams (brahmacharyam, gruhasthAsramam, vAnaprastham and sannyAsam), gruhasthAsramam is the Asramam that is fully focussed on serving others. As a brahmachAri, one is focussed on learning and have no scope for earning. A vAnaprastha is a forest-dweller and focusses on meditation. A sannyAsi is focussed on preaching and cannot hold any wealth. Only gruhastha can manage wealth for the purpose of serving and taking care of brahmachAris and sannyAsis. Also, any yAthrIkas (travelling pilgrims) depend on gruhasthas living locally to support them during their pilgrimage. Thus gruhasthAsramam is fully focussed on bhagavAn (in ones own thiruvArAdhanam and at the temple) and bhAgavathas (brahmachAris, sannyAsis and yAthrIkas). So, instead of focussing on sensual pleasures with ones own wife, one should seriously focus on serving emperumAn and srIvaishNavas.
  • Considering oneself as a male servant is an obstacle. It is already explained that one should not consider oneself as a male. Translator's note: One should always consider oneself as a female servant of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas.
  • After acquiring this knowledge, instead of lying along with the wife (like another woman), trying to engage with her physically being forgetful of ones true nature is an obstacle. Just like the wife submits herself to her husband, we should submit ourselves to bhagavAn. Even when we have male body, we should not have any tinge of independent thoughts. Translator's note: Here the emphasis is on understanding ones true nature. One should come to the stage where even when lying down with ones own wife, one feels like a woman lying down with another woman where there is no question of sexual engagement. That is, one has absolutely no sensual feelings towards ones wife and one is totally detached from such thoughts even during close proximity. Specifically the topic mentions about bramam (confusion on ones true nature) and rAgam (attachment for sensual pleasures) - even when either one exists, the man and woman will start engaging in physical relationship.
  • AzhwArs were born in male bodies, yet, they assumed feminine mood and longed for the divine forms of bhagavAn. Even after learning such pAsurams and understanding their meanings, due to confusions from previous experiences, etc., having attachments towards bodily aspects which are to be given up and longing for such bodily pleasures are obstacles. AzhwArs, specifically nammAzhwAr and thirumangai AzhwAr have sung many pAsurams in nAyaki bhAvam (the mood of a woman longing for her man) towards emperumAn's divine forms. They have greatly poured out their suffering in separation from bhagavAn in their pAsurams. Even after hearing the internal and external meanings of such pAsurams, one should not go back to thinking that "I am a Man" and so on and crave for sensual pleasures which are to be given up. Please see thirumangai AzhwAr's thirumohi 1.1.2 "AviyE amudhE ena ninainthurugi avaravar paNaimulai thuNaiyA pAviyEnuNarAthu eththanai pagalum pazhuthu pOyozhinthana nALgaL" (ஆவியே அமுதே என நினைந்துருகி அவரவர் பணைமுலை துணையா பாவியேனுணராது எத்தனை பகலும் பழுது போயொழிந்தன நாள்கள்) - I am a sinner who without knowing, wasted so many of my days simply thinking about the women with well developed breasts and calling them out as "my life! my nectar!". He subsequently highlights that by the grace of srIman nArAyaNan he was relieved of such miseries.
  • Being given up by the AchArya for being Asthika-nAsthika is an obstacle. Generally, Asthika-nAsthika is identified with ones who accept the existence of God but does not have firm faith and does not follow any principles. For further understanding, please see upadhEsa raththina mAlai 68th pAsuram "nAththigarum nanneRichErAththigarum AththiganAththigarumAmivarai Orththu nenjE! munnavarum pinnavarum mUrkkarena vittu naduchchonnavarai nALum thodar" (நாத்திகரும் நன்னெறிசேராத்திகரும் ஆத்திகனாத்திகருமாமிவரை ஓர்த்து நெஞ்சே! முன்னவரும் பின்னவரும் மூர்க்கரென விட்டு நடுச்சொன்னவரை நாளும் தொடர்). Translator's note: Asthika means one who accepts vEdha sAsthram as pramANam (authentic proof/source). sAsthram is the pramANam through which we can understand bhagavAn who is the pramEyam. Here vEdha sAsthram includes upanishadhs, smruthi, ithihAsams, purANams, pAncharAthram, etc. dhivya prabandham, pUrvAchArya sthOthrams and vyAkyAnams are also greatly revered by our AchAryas due to them revealing the essence of sAsthram. nAsthika is the opposite of Asthika. It means one who does not accept vEdha sAsthram as pramANam. There is the 3rd category which is Asthika-nAsthika. Asthika-nAsthika means one who accepts vEdha sAsthram as pramANam but disregards the same while applying in ones own life. In this pAsura vyAkyAnam, piLLai lOkam jIyar explains these in detail quoting mAmunigaL's own words. The most important aspect in this pAsuram is - this pAsuram ultimately focusses on being fully surrendered to AchArya. The highest aspect of Asthika, nAsthika and Asthika-nAsthika needs to be understood from this context - i.e., being fully faithful and surrendered to AchArya, not having any faith in AchArya and having faith but not following AchArya respectively. If ones own AchArya gives up on his sishya due to the sishya being an Asthika-nAsthika, there is no other hope for such sishya. gyAnam (knowledge) and anushtAnam (practice) are two important aspects. mAmunigaL himself highlights these 2 as the important qualities of an AchArya in this same upadhEsa raththina mAlai prabandham. It also applies to all srIvaishNavas.
  • Being condemned by learned scholars/elders due to not distinguishing between sAram (essence) and asAram (extraneous) aspects is an obstacle. Translator's note: The purpose of approaching an AchArya is to acquire vivEka gyAnam (ability to discriminate between the essence and extraneous). Swan is usually glorified for its ability to separate milk and water. Our pUrvAchAryas are glorified as swans for being able to highlight the essence and discard the extraneous aspects even with in sAsthram. Following in the foot steps of our pUrvAchAryas, and learning from elders, one should develop the ability to distinguish between the essence and extraneous aspects. What is essence should be retained and the extraneous aspects should be disregarded. Not doing that and being too attached to extraneous aspects will lead to condemnation by learned scholars. For example, even after learning under scholars, if one holds on to bodily pleasures, etc., and has no focus on spirtiual progress, such persons will be condemned by the great teachers.


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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan



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