Srivaishnava lakshanam - 9

Understanding the greatness of Srivaishnavas (part 2)

srimathe ramanujaya nama:
srimad varavaramunaye nama:
sri vaanaachala mahamunaye nama:

In the previous article ( we observed from pillai lOkaachaarya's works (that were based on the azhwars/purvaachaaryas thiruvullam), a srivaishnava is not considered to be great or not based on his birth. But it is purely his jnaanam and bhakthi towards emperumaan which was respected by our acharyas.

Azhagiya manavaaLa perumaaL naayanaar, younger brother of Pillai lOkaachaaryar is one of the greatest acharyas our sampradhaayam has seen. Pillai lOkaacharyar and Azhagiya manavaaLa perumaal naayanaar are the children of Vadakku thiruveedhi pillai (who is one of the prime disciples of Nampillai). Both were walking in the streets of srirangam right from their childhood like perumaaL and iLaya perumaal (in ayOdhya) and balaraaman and krishnan (in gOkulam). While Pillai lOkaachaaryar was born out of the mercy of Nampillai, naayanaar was born out of the mercy of NamperumaaL. Both the brothers took the vow of naishtika brahmacharyam (not marrying anyone ever) - committing themselves for the sampradhaayam. While Pillai lOkaachaaryar mainly wrote astaadhasa rahasyangal (18 rahasya granthams), naayanaar wrote excellent and detailed commentaries for Thiruppaavai, kanninun chiruthaambu, amalan aadhi piraan, etc. He also wrote acharya hrudhayam (supporting work for srivachana bhUshanam) and aruLicheyal rahasyam (excellent composition of rahasya thraya meanings fully using aazhwaar paasurams).

The history of the advent of acharya hrudhayam (aachaarya = nammaazhwaar, hrudhayam = heart/thiruvullam) is to be understood properly as explained in yathIndra pravaNa prabhaavam (a document going back more than 500 years ago - giving the life history of acharyas after Nampillai to Manavaala maamunigal). While pillai lOkaachaaryar completed and started teaching srivachana bhushanam which gives the essence of thiruvaaimozhi, some people in srirangam who could not tolerate such glories for pillai lOkaacharyar, went and complained to namperumaaL. Hearing that namperumaaL sends his representatives to bring pillai lOkaachaaryar to his sannidhi - since pillai lOkaacharyar had gone for his bathing, naayanaar arrives on behalf of him at the temple. When namperumaaL enquires about the issue to naayanaar, naayanaar starts reciting acharya hrudhayam (just like thondaradipodi azhwar recited thirumaalai infront of periya perumaal) - which further consolidates the meanings that were in srivachana bhUshanam. Hearing this emperumaan became so ecstatic and ordered naayanaar to be carried in brahma ratham to his thirumaaLigai. Pillai lOkaacharyar hearing what happened at the temple also feels very happy that emperumaan not only enjoyed the meanings directly and also acknowledged the absolute validtity of the granthams. When NamperumaaL acknowledges the validity of something who else can change that?

In this wonderful grantham acharya hrudhayam, in the 85th chUrnikai, naayanaar explains who will properly understand the greatness of srivaishnavas. The chUrnikai is framed in such a way that several incidents are highlighted and naayanaar says that the ones who understands the essence of those incidents will understand the real greatness of srivaishnavas (i.e., what uthkrushta/high janma/birth or apakrushta/low janma/birth). The following incidents are explained:
* Emperumaan says that eight qualities are expected in his real bhakthas and if we see even a mlEchan (one who is out of varnaashrama dharmam) who has those eight qualities we should accept him and treat him just like emperumaan himself - i.e., worship him, accept his sri paadha thIrtham and sEsha prasaadham. The eight qualities are: 1) unconditional love for bhakthas of emperumaan, 2) enjoying (others) worship of emperumaan, 3) worshipping emperumaan him/herself, 4) being without any pride, 5) having attachment in listening about emperumaan, 6) having bodily changes (like goose bumps, etc) when hearing/thinking/speaking about emperumaan, 7) always thinking about emperumaan, 8) not asking material benefits in return for worshipping emperumaan. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* Nampaaduvaan (who sung kaisika raagam for malai nambi in thirukkurungudi and so compared to thondaradipodi azhwar and periyaazhwar who both sung thiruppaliyezhuchi for emperumaan) who is not born in high birth, removed the curse of the brahma rakshas (a braahmana due to his improper chanting of mantrams during a yaagam became a raakshas) by the fruits of his songs. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* Guhan who was born in hunter family but very attached to perumaaL (raama) doubted ilaya perumaaL (lakshmana) when perumaaL was sleeping in the night. So guha kept awake and watched lakshmana all night. Also, when bharatha (who is well aware of raama's and lakshmana's qualities) come to meet guha, guha explains the greatness of lakshmana to bharatha as if he does not know about it - but bharatha hearing this feels so happy to hear this from guha and just like raama, he also accepts guha as one of his brother. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* perumaaL accepting and eating fruits from sabhari (who is born in a hunter's family) but very attached to raama and an acharya nishtai; krishnan eating at sri vidhurar's home instead of bhIshma, dhrOna, etc; perumaaL embracing hanumaan (who is an animal) after hearing his meeting with piraati. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* dharmaputhran giving the first mariyaadhai to krishnan (who is not born in a braahmana family), perumbuliyUr adigal giving the first mariyaadhai to thirumazhisai azhwar who was raised by a wood cutter. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* dharmaputhran doing charama kainkaryam for sri vidhurar; perumaaL doing charama kainkaryam for jataayu; periya nambi doing charama kainkaryam for maaranEri nambi. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* In pushpa mandapam (thirumalai) thiruvEnkatmuduyaan accepted clay flowers from kurumbaruththa nambi who was worshipped by thondaimaan chakkaravarthi; In thyaaga mandapam (kanchipuram) pEraruLaLan accepted fan kainkaryam from thirukkachi nambi who was worshipped by emperumaanaar; In bhOga mandapam (srirangam) periya perumaaL accepted veenai kainkaryam from thiruppaanaazhwar who was worshipped by lOkasaaranga munivar. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.
* Emperumaanaar used to touch pillai urangaavilli dhaasar during thiruvaaraadhanam to have purity; Nampillai asks pillai yEru thiruvudaiyaar dhaasar to touch the prasaadham before consuming that; Naduvil thiruveedhi pillai bhattar asked pillai vaanamaamalai dhaasar to walk around his newly constructed home to purify that. The one who understands this properly will know what is high/low birth.

Based on the above examples, naayanaar establishes that when one has jnaanam, pure bhakthi and anushtaanam, then that person should be respected/treated highly irrespective of their birth. While we can translate the words of naayanaar to English, the chUrnikai in Tamil is an absolute delight for us to read and understand.

When we look at the history of our pUrvaachaaryas (even going back to 150-200 years ago) - we can see that the standards were very high. And it is not just theoretical - all of these were put in practice by them as we can clearly see from the several examples/incidents that were discussed in their granthams. So, for us also it will be possible to follow atleast to some extent if we have the desire. It is also always a two-way street. It is not that one group of people (varna) dominated the other varna or anything like that. There was no such incidents recorded anywhere in our pUrvaachaarya granthas. Every one knew their place and they were mutually respected by each other. And if only we can also develop the same etiquette amongst srivaishnavas we will have a better future together definitely. All we can do is to cry and pray at the feet of sriya:pathi, azhwars and acharyas for that to happen.

Now that we have seen various aspects we will move on to another important aspect - srivaishnava dhinacharya. How does a srivaishnava conducts his/her life everyday? That will be discussed in the next article.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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