archAvathAra anubhavam - introduction

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

sriman nArAyaNan is the controller of both nithya vibhUthi and leelA vibhUthi. He is in paramapadham with his dhivya mahishIs (divine consorts) sridhEvi, bhUdhEvi and neeLA dhEvi and is constantly served by the nithyasUris like ananthan, garudan, vishwaksEnar, etc and mukthAthmAs. He is blemishless and full of good qualities like jnAnam, Anandham, shakthi, etc. He enjoys unlimited bliss in the paramapadham with all the jIvAthmAs (nithyas and mukthas).

paramapadhanAthan - paramapadham

But at the same time, he is also constantly thinking about the jIvAthmAs who are in the samsAram (leelA vibhUthi) who are engaged in materialistic activities and are losing out on all of these anubhavams in paramapadham. Imagine a father who has 2 sons of which one is being very good natured and well behaved and the other is being very immature and ill behaved. While the father will be happy for the well behaved son, he will also try to help out the ill behaved son. Just like that, emperumAn being the father of all jIvAthmAs, is sad to see that while some jIvAthmAs (nithyas and mukthas) are engaged in nithya kainkaryam, there are others (samsAris) who are fully engaged in materialistic activities.

It is explained by our pUrvAchAryas that emperumAn manifests himself in five different modes. This is explained as "parathvAdhi panchakam (பரத்வாதி பஞ்சகம்)". The five different modes are:
  • parathvam - emperumAn as he is seen in paramapadham. He is present there as para vAsudhEvan with his dhivya mahishIs, nithya sUris and mukthAthmAs.
  • vyUham - emperumAn's different manifestations of vAsudhEva, sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudha to take care of srushti (creation), sthithi (sustainance/protection), samhAram (destruction).
  • vibhavam - emperumAn's unlimited number of avathArams in the leelA vibhUthi. This is further classified in to:
    • mukya avathArams - where emperumAn himself appears as in mathsya, kUrma, varAha, narasimha, vAmana, sri rAma, krishna, etc.
    • AvEsha (gauNa) avathArams - where emperumAn gives his specific shakthi to jIvAthmAs to fulfill a particular task. Examples are parasurAma, brahmA, shiva, kArthavIryArjuna, etc. These AvEsha avathArams are generally not worshippable by srivaishnavas. In this also, there are two further classification:
      • svarUpa AvEsham - where emperumAn also brings in his svayam thirumEni on the particular jIvAthmA. Example: parasurAman.
      • shakthi AvEsham - where emperumAn brings in his abilities at necessary times to accomplish a particular task. Examples: brahmA, shiva, etc.
  • antharyAmi - where emperumAn exists in each and every jIvAthmA and achEthanam as well. He is fully omnipresent everywhere.
  • archai - emperumAn out of his unlimited mercy taking up the forms that are desired by his bhakthas so that anyone can worship him irrespective of time, place and qualification. He fully submits himself in the hands of his worshipper (archakar) and stays in temples, mutts, homes, etc.
It is through this archAvathAram, emperumAn attracts everyone in samsAram, reforms them and guides them to take shelter of them. It is also through archAvathAram, emperumAn enters into the hearts of AzhwArs and AchAryas, conquer them and get them to bring more and more jIvAthmAs to him.

sriranganAthan - srirangam

emperumAn is full of great qualities like vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance), souseelyam (magnanimity), soulabhyam (easy accessibility), kshamA (forgiving others mistakes), etc. In paramapadham, every one is pure. So, he has no opportunity to show any of these qualities there. But when he descends to the leelA vibhUthi, its filled with different kinds of people who have all kinds of defects in them. So, it is here in samsAram through his archAvathArams only he fully manifests all of  these great qualities.  For example, as an archAvathAra mUrthy, even if the archakar is committing a mistake, he kindly accepts that. If the archakar is offering bhOgam only once a day, emperumAn happily accepts that. If the archakar only performs thirumanjanam once a week, he accepts that as well. This way, the supreme independent being makes himself completely dependent on some one else out of his love towards that person. This quality is appreciated by AzhwArs and AchAryas as the greatest quality of emperumAn and is only manifested fully in archAvathAram.

Our pUrvAchAryas show that AzhwArs are specifically hand picked by emperumAn from samsAram. He selected 10 jIvAthmAs and gave them divine knowledge and made them AzhwArs. AzhwArs themselves show in their pAsurams how they were completely reformed by emperumAn.

  • poigai AzhwAr, bhUdhath AzhwAr and peyAzhwAr are mainly focussed on paramapadha nAthan and emperumAn's parathvam (thrivikraman charithram is often discussed by them)
  • thirumazhisai AzhwAr is mainly focussed on antharyAmi emperumAn
  • nammAzhwAr, kulasEkara AzhwAr and periAzhwAr are focussed on vibhavAvathAram (sri rAman, krishnan, etc)
  • thirumangai AzhwAr is focussed on all archAvathArams
  • thondaradi podi AzhwAr and thiruppANAzhwAr are focussed on sriranga nAthan exclusively
madhurakavi AzhwAr and ANdAL are also considered as AzhwArs (making them 12) and both are situated in AchArya nishtai. While madhurakavi AzhwAr was completely focussed on nammAzhwAr alone, ANdAL (who is bhUdhEvi herself) was completely surrendered to periAzhwAr though she did enjoy vibhavAvathAram and archAvathAram as well through her divine pAsurams.

Even though AzhwArs have generally sung pAsurams on different manifestations of emperumAn, they were unanimously focussed on archAvathAram. Every AzhwAr sung on archAvathAra emperumAns and based on their mangaLAsAsanam, 108 kshEthrams became to be famously known as dhivyadhEsams. It is also seen that AzhwArs surrendered to archAvathAra emperumAn in many of their pAsurams. Because of AzhwArs' proximity and attachment to archAvathAra emperumAns, these dhivyadhEsams have become the core focus of the AchAryas who appeared subsequently. kOil (srirangam), thirumalai (thiuvEnkatam), perumAL kOil (kAnchipuram), etc were flocked by the AchAryas and were the centers of bhagavath anubhavam and kainkaryam.

Our AzhwArs and AchAryas have immersed themselves in archAvathAra anubhavam and kainkaryam. We see so many incidents in the life of our AzhwArs and AchAryas where they have done everything for archAvathAra emperumAn. Let us begin a truly divine journey of understanding the greatness of the archAvathAra emperumAn through our AzhwAr/AchAryas dhivya srisUkthis.

We need to understand the greatness of archAvathAra emperumAns as explained by our pUrvAchAryas. Once we understand that, we can fully commit ourselves to many dhivyadhEsams, mutts, AchArya thirumALigais and our own homes where emperumAn has arrived and waiting to accept us with so much love. If we understand his love, we can also try to reciprocate it atleast to some extent.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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