virOdhi parihArangaL - 20

srImathE satagOpAya 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

Please see the previous article at

vaiththamAnidhi (The great wealth) - thirukkOLur - the real wealth for us

51. Arjana virOdhi (ஆர்ஜந விரோதி) - Obstacles in earning wealth 

Arjanam means earning wealth. This section is very lengthy. There are certain aspects which are not clear. Even after enquiring from elders, I (V V Ramanujam swamy) did not get satisfactory answers. I (V V Ramanujam swamy) have written as much as I understood. Generally, earning must be within the boundaries of dharma mArgam (righteous path). One should earn without crossing the limits of ones varNam and Asramam. As said in old thamizh proverb "pOthumenRa manamE pon cheyyum marunthu" (போதுமென்ற மனமே பொன் செய்யும் மருந்து), being satisfied with only as much as required is the best medicine, one should prepare ones own mind to be content with what is present. All illegal methods should be avoided. Money earned by cheating others, by lying, by extortion, etc., should be completely avoided. Greed must be completely avoided. Trying to earn money through short cuts, sinful methods, doing against ones own conscience, etc., seems to have been present even in the olden days. I (V V Ramanujam swamy) assess that the amount of corruption we are seeing in politics and other commercial places would not have been present in the olden days. These should be kept in mind. Let us now see the obstacles now. Translator's note: The general principle seen across the various points is to not earn money/wealth by demanding remuneration for any services rendered. Anything voluntarily given must be accepted with satisfaction and one should not be greedy in earning money/wealth that is more than necessary to take care of basic bodily needs. Also, the real wealth for srIvaishNavas is emperumAn's lotus feet. ALavandhAr declares in his sthOthra rathnam "dhanam madhIyam thava pAdha pankajam" (தநம் மதீயம் தவ பாத பங்கஜம்) - your lotus feet are my wealth. kainkarya srI (service to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas) is also glorified as great wealth. Our AzhwArs and AchAryas have been totally detached from mundane wealth and fully focussed on serving bhagavAn and bhAgavathas only. So, we too should focus on the real wealth instead of earning mundane wealth.

  • Earning by accepting donations even after being a vaishNava is an obstacle. Generally for brAhmaNas, both giving donations/gifts and receiving the same are allowed in dharma sAsthram. Here we have to understand that accumulating such donations/gifts and hoarding it is condemned. When one receives donations/gifts it must be distributed to others who are in need.
  • Advising people to give donations/gifts to atone for certain mistakes that were committed and being the benefactor of such donations. Translator's note: Nowadays, it is seen that some people offer advice/suggestions to perform parihAram (remedies) to relieve people from difficulties they may be undergoing. Some times such persons who advice also be the recipient of monetary benefits. Such acts are to be definitely avoided. Our emperumAn, AzhwArs and AchAryas are not waiting to remove and provide remedy for ones material sufferings. The reason for their presence is to relieve oneself from the material bondage. One should fully understand that and suggest others to simply worship emperumAn/AzhwArs/AchAryas and be surrendered to them.
  • Accepting wealth from others given via dhAnam (charity) with water is an obstacle. Generally, when any charity is given, the giver pours water into the hands of the taker and firmly confirms that the wealth/material that was given to the taker full belongs to him. This is explained in thamizh as dhArai vArththuk koduththal (தாரை வார்த்துக் கொடுத்தல்). In vaidhIka karmAs, charity is given reciting "srOthriyAya srIvaishNavAya sampradhathE namama" (ச்ரோத்ரியாய ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவாய ஸம்ப்ரததே நமம) declaring that the item no longer belongs to the giver. emperumAn descended as vAmanan (dwarf) and accepted charity from mahAbali - this incident is greatly glorified by AzhwArs in many pAsurams. He enacted this to protect his devotees at the cost of even seemingly diminishing his greatness (yet it only increases his greatness further more). This is the most selfless act of emperumAn. But it is said that we should not accept charity like this for selfish motives.
  • Accepting charity from persons who are breathing their last moments is an obstacle. kAladhAnam - charity which are given while a person is leaving the body to atone for his/her sins.  Some people give grains, gold, etc., in charity. But one should not accept such charity out of greed. That will destroy ones true nature of being a srIvaishNava.
  • Accumulating wealth by eating in SrAdhdham is an obstacle. SrAdhdham means the vaidhIka karmA that is done on the anniversary of the death of father, mother, etc. That which is done towards SradhdhA (faith/conviction) towards the pithrus (ancestors/forefathers) is also known as SrAdhdham. As part of this routine, the person performing the karmA invites 3 brAhmaNas to assume the position of pithru (for whom the srAdhdham is performed), visvadhEvar and vishNu, feed them sumptuously with different varieties of food and finally provide them sambhAvanai (charity) and thAmbUlam (betel leaves/nuts, coconut, etc). In the olden days, when some one is given nimanthraNam (invitation for assuming such positions listed before), srIvaishNavas would accommodate such request and fulfill the vaidhIka karmA. It was also a practice back then to invite the most trustworthy srIvaishNavas for nimanthraNam. But nowadays we see that many people are making a livelihood by eating in SrAdhdham and earning money out of it. It is easily understood that such activities are most abominable.
  • Earning by suggesting certain rituals for others is an obstacle. Giving advice to ignorant/innocent people to perform certain rituals for health, wealth, etc., and earning out of that is clearly an act of cheating and is to be avoided.
  • Earning by giving astrological advice relating to ones house, etc is an obstacle.
  • Earning by being the village head (in mundane administration, dispute resolution, etc) is an obstacle. In srI rAmAyaNam uththara gANtam, 69th sargam an incident is explained. A brAhmaNa hurts a dog out of anger. The dog with blood oozing from its body arrives at the assembly of srI rAma and complains to him about the incident. srI rAma invites the brAhmaNa to the assembly and enquires the matter from him. The brAhmaNa says "I was too hungry, was begging for food and so terribly tired. Since the dog bothered me at that time, I reacted with anger and hurt the dog. I will accept whatever punishment that is given to me". srI rAma then turns to the dog and tells it to give the appropriate punishment. The dog requests the brAhmAna to be made the head of a village and srI rAma orders as such. He then asks the dog why that punishment was given? The dog replies "In my previous birth, I was the head of a village. As far as I am aware, I treated everyone equal, behaved with utmost discipline and took care of the needs of the village people. Yet I have taken birth as this very lowly creature. I could have committed injustice without my knowledge. Or my assistants could have made some mistakes. Due to that I am in this current situation". Thus we can understand that being a village head by itself is a difficult position and should be avoided. Translator's note: It is to be remembered that the king of the country gets part of the sins committed by the citizens. Similar principle can be understood for being village head as well. As such, it is better to avoid indulging in any mundane profession that is focussed on earning money/wealth.
  • Earning by teaching children basic education is an obstacle. Again, one should not focus on making money out of education - if the students voluntarily offer guru dhakshiNA (offerings to the teacher), that can be accepted gladly and the teacher should be content with whatever that was offered as such.
  • Earning by boasting ones pANdithyam (knowledge/wisdom) is an obstacle. Translator's note: It is said that "vidhyA dhadhAthi vinaya:" (வித்யா ததாதி விநய:) - wisdom nurtures humility. When one is wise, he/she should not boast their knowledge to earn money out of that. Rather they will become most humble and help others learn through their selfless teachings and practical examples.
  • Earning by praising others is an obstacle. In thiruvAimozhi 3.9 padhigam "chonnAl virOdham" (சொன்னால் விரோதம்), in the first pAsuram itself, nammAzhwAr says "en nAvilinkavi yAn oruvarkkum kodukkilEn" (என் நாவிலின்கவி யான் ஒருவர்க்கும் கொடுக்கிலேன்) - I will not give my sweet poems of glorification to any one (other than bhagavAn). nammAzhwAr goes on to advise the poets not to praise wealthy people, earn money and thus become fallen. Translator's note: In olden days, poets where very poor and they would go to the king or any other wealthy person and praise them with poems which carry many exaggerations. Being pleased on hearing about themselves, the king/wealthy persons will offer many gifts to the poets. In the modern day also, many people simply spend their life glorifying wealthy people, getting many favours done by them and thus becoming totally attached to worldly matters. This kind of attitude is severely condemned by our AzhwArs and AchAryas since such attitude is directly opposite to our true identity/nature as the servants of bhagavAn.
  • Earning by stealing others wealth/property is an obstacle.
  • Earning by cheating others is an obstacle.
  • Earning by robbing others while they are travelling is an obstacle.
  • Earning by bad-mouthing others is an obstacle. ANdAL says "thIkkuRaLaich chenROthOm" (தீக்குறளைச் சென்றோதோம்) in thiruppAvai second pAsuram which means "We will not speak ill of others at any cost). Translator's note: In the vyAkyAnam, periyavAchAn piLLai and azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr highlight sIthA pirAtti's greatness where she did not mention even a single word to srI rAma about the tortures done by the rAkshasis when she was at asOkavanam. Ay jananyAchAryar beautifully highlights that one should not even consider the faults of srIvaishNavas in their heart since emperumAn is present in the heart as antharyAmi - by taking into the heart, bhagavAn will come to know of that - so even contemplating on others faults should be avoided
  • Earning by making others believe that one is a great personality and thus they should be submissive to him/her and offer money, wealth, etc is an obstacle. Translator's note: Some people boast their connection with great personalities, etc., and make others believe that they are very powerful. When people believe like that, the ones who are inclined to get favours from such persons will automatically manifest humility towards them and also offer money, wealth, etc., in return for material benefits. Such attitude is condemned here.
  • Earning by reading purANams and giving lectures on purANams. As such reading purANam and giving lectures are not wrong. It is to expect remuneration for the same is an obstacle. Translator's note: As explained before in other cases, it is not wrong to accept whatever was given voluntarily by the listeners.
  • Earning by stealing books is an obstacle. In the olden days, literature was documented in palm leaves. They are all hand-written which involves great effort and pain. They are invaluable treasures. It is a great sin to steal these and sell them. Translator's note: In present day scenario, we can relate to people who steal others works, publish them, earn money and not give due credits/remuneration of the original author can be equated to this aspect.
  • Earning by lifting earrings is an obstacle. The meaning of this point is not clear.
  • Earning by boasting on one's birth in high family/clan. kulAdhikam - AbijAthyam - Being born in high family/clan. We can see people tactically arranging others to say  "this person is born in a great family, you worship/respect him and offer him wealth" and receiving such money/wealth. Such attitude is condemned. Translator's note: We can recollect kUrathAzhwAn's glories - he is glorified as "mukkuRumbu aRuththavar" (முக்குறும்பு அறுத்தவர்) - one who is fully free from 3 types of defects, i.e., thinking oneself as being born in great family, thinking oneself is being most wealthy, thinking oneself as being most knowledgable - though AzhwAn was born in a great family, though he was most wealthy and though he was most knowledgable in sAsthram, he never ever boasted his greatness - that is the ideal nature of a srIvaishNava.
  • Boasting ones orthodox nature of following scriptural injunctions and earning out of that is an obstacle.
  • Making everyone believe that "aham brahma" and earning out of it. "aham brahma" is an adhvaitha principle. It is interpreted by adhvaithis (kudhrushtis - one who have defective vision) as jIvAthmA is the same as brahmam. This principle is directly opposite to emperumAnAr dharsanam. It can also be understood as "I am great" and earn out of such teachings/propagation. Such acts are condemned here.
  • Earning by boasting ones knowledge in sAsthram, etc., is an obstacle. One should not engage in self-advertisement in show casing ones own knowledge and make money out of such acts.
  • Earning by boasting ones valour/bravery is an obstacle. Presenting oneself having great strength, valour, etc., and earning is wrong. In current days we see Dons, etc., who are doing this.
  • Earning by performing magic, etc., is an obstacle.
  • Attracting ignorant people towards oneself to earn money is an obstacle. manthram, anjanam (kind of dark paste), attracting others through mesmerizing with ones eyes, etc., are used to extort money from others. Such acts are condemned here.
  • Earning by being a doctor is an obstacle. Medical profession must be done with the intent to help others and not to make money.
  • Earning by promising to show treasures is an obstacle.
  • Earning by working for lowly persons (samsAris - ones who are totally attached to worldly pleasures).
  • Earning by being an alchemist. Alchemy is the principle of converting iron, copper, etc., into gold. This is not possible to accomplish these days. But making others believe that this can be done and cheating them is an obstacle.
  • Earning by boasting close proximity towards the king/emperor/ruler is an obstacle.This need not be explained further as this is quite common in politics these days.
  • Earning by presenting worldly news, etc is an obstacle. Some people survive simply by gossiping about others - such attitude is condemned.
  • Earning by being an expert in curing poison attacks by various creatures. Snake, scorpion, certain types of insects, etc could bite and spread poison into the victim's body. It is curable using specific manthrams and medication. Yet this should be done with the intent of helping others and not as a business.
  • Earning by teaching bhagavath vishayam. Though thiruvAimozhi and its vyAkyAnams collectively are called bhagavath vishayam it is a general term to indicate any matters regarding bhagavAn. It should be taught to others with the intent of enlightening others and not for monetary favours.
  • Earning by boasting ones devotion towards emperumAn is an obstacle. Ones devotion towards bhagavAn should be done without any external motivation. It need not be advertised.
  • Earning by reciting dhivya prabandhams is an obstacle. One should not demand monetary favours for reciting aruLicheyal (dhivya prabandham). 
  • Earning by glorifying others and glorifying oneself are obstacles. Translator's note: AzhwArs condemn the aspect of glorifying worldly persons in look out for monetary benefifts. They firmly establish that our tongue is given to us to glorify bhagavAn and bhAgavathas only and should not be used for any other purpose. 
  • Earning by boasting one's renunciation is an obstacle. It is commonly seen that some people say "no" when offered money verbally, but their hands are wide open to accept the same - such behaviour is condemned here.
  • Earning by pretending to be faithful/friendly to others is an obstacle. 
  • Earning by showing ones helpless situation is an obstacle.
  • Earning by pretending to have no other refuge is an obstacle.
  • Earning in the name of performing kainkaryam to bhagavAn/AchAryan and using such monetary favours for ones personal situations is an obstacle.
  • Earning by pretending to be a sannyAsi (mendicant) is an obstacle.
  • Earning by pretending to be maintaining flower gardens, etc., for emperumAn is an obstacle.
  • Earning by pretending to offer flower garlands to emperumAn is an obstacle.
  • Earning by pretending to help dhivya dhEsams such as thirumalai (thiruppathi), etc is an obstacle. This is commonly seen now where people raise money in the guise of performing kainkaryams in dhivya dhEsams, etc. Such behaviour is condemned here.
  • Earning by pretending to make arrangements for srIvaishNavas to stay, to eat, etc., during uthsavams is an obstacle.
  • Earning by committing to perform special offerings, etc., during uthsavams is an obstacle. It is commonly seen that during uthsavams, when certain pAsurams such as "poliga poliga" (thiruvAimozhi 5.2), "ulagamuNda peruvAyA" (thiruvAimozhi 6.10), "kangulum pagalum" (thiruvAimozhi 7.2), "nARu naRum pozhil" (nAchiyar thirumozhi), etc., are recited, special bhOgams (food preparations) are offered to emperumAn. It is also commonly seen that when sthala pAsuram (prabhandham/pAsuram related to the particular dhivya dhEsam where the uthsavam is happening), special offerings are made. One should not take advantage of such situations and earn money through such situations.
  • Earning by committing to perform sARRumuRai (grand conclusion) of dhivya prabhandham recital/learning is an obstacle. 
  • Earning by committing to perform thiruvadhyayanam is an obstacle. thiruvadhyayanam can mean both ubhaya vEdha pArAyaNam (recital of samskritha vEdham and dhrAvida vEdham) and also pithru kainkaryams (SrAdhdham).
  • Earning by performing thiruvArAdhanam to emperumAn is an obstacle. Nowadays, it is seen that people appoint others to perform thiruvArAdhanam for personal emperumAns. It is not proper attitude at all. One should perform thiruvArAdhanam to ones own emperumAns without fail. Just like one has to perform ones own sandhyA vandhanam, one also has to perform ones own emperumAn's thiruvArAdhanam - there is no escaping from that.
  • Earning by physically toiling in the fields, etc., are obstacles. Depending on ones own varNam and Asramam, one has to see what is fitting to them and engage in such activities only.
Starting with this point there is quite a bit of discussion about mushti kUdai (fist basket). Since a lot of these are not in vogue for a long time, some of these are not discussed in detail by elders also. I am writing based on my (Sri VV Ramanujam swamy) understanding. There may be defects in some of these understandings. In these points of discussion, there are various usage of "mushti", "mushti pugurugai", "mushti kUdai", "maushtika vyAvruththi", etc. mushti generally means fist - mainly focussed on a handful of rice, etc. We can recollect vEdhAnthAchAryar's srIsUkthi (divine words) "yO saudhayAlu: purAdhAnA mushtimuchE kuchElamunayE dhaththEsma" (யோ ஸௌதயாலு: புராதாநா முஷ்டிமுசே குசேலமுநயே தத்தேஸ்ம) - by his natural compassion, bhagavAn long ago bestowed great wealth to kuchEla in reciprocation to kuchEla giving a handful of broken rice. This aspect of begging for alms is part of brAmaNas varNa dharmam. After completing their morning anushtAnams, they have to go to a selected few houses, recite emperumAn's names and beg for alms saying "bhavathi bikshAm dhEhi". By collecting a few handful of rice grains they should conduct their livelihood. It is seen in mahAbhAratham that when pANdava princes were disguised as brAhmaNas when persecuted, they begged for alms and lived off that. kUrathAzhwAn who was a very rich administrator, gave up all his wealth, reached srIrangam, took shelter of srI rAmAnuja and begged for alms to conduct his livelihood. Once, on a rainy day, when he could not go out for his alms, he was lying at his home. At that time, ANdAL (his dharmapathni) was severely pained see her husband's hunger and prayed to srIranganAthan. srIranganAthan, at once sends his aravaNai prasAdham which bestows AzhwAn/ANdAL couple with the divine children who become to be parAsara bhattar and vEdha vyAsa bhattar. From these following points, we understand a lot of important details. bikshai (begging for alms) is identified as "mushti" here. bikshA pAthram (container which is used for begging) is called as "mushti kUdai". Everyday one should beg a few handful of alms and live with that. One should use that to perform emperumAn's thiruvArAdhanam, taking care of the srIvaishNava guests, etc., using that alms and finally accept prasAdham. brAhmaNas should never accumulate funds for future. There were many such restrictions like that and they were strictly followed in the olden days. 
  • periyAzhwAr says in periyAzhwAr thirumozhi 4.6.3 "pichchai pukkAgilum empirAn thirunAmamE nachchumin" - Even if you were to beg, please remember my dear lord srIman nArAyaNan's name with love - but still, begging by shouting bhagavAn's name and earning is an obstacle. Here, we can understand this as "begging by forcefully insisting some one to provide alms" and that should be avoided. Translator's note: This pAsuram is part of "kAsum kaRaiyudai" padhigam. mAmunigaL explains in the commentary that AzhwAr encourages everyone to name their children with bhagavAn's names even one has to earn their livelihood by begging instead of meaningless materialistic names. By naming their children with bhagavAn's names, they can constantly relish bhagavAn's name by calling them out all the time. Also, by naming the children with bhagavAn's names, the mother of the child can also be saved from entering hellish regions. In this 3nd pAsuram specifically, an incident is highlighted by mAmunigaL as quoted by thiruvAimozhi piLLai who quotes nAlUrAchAn piLLai. Once a brAhmaNa's wife gave birth to a child. He wants to name his child with the name of a dhEvathA that will bring prosperity. One person suggests vaisravaNan (name of kubEra who is the dhEvathA for wealth). An Asthika who was there said "Dont give such meaningless names. Name him with srIman nArAyaNan's name - even if he was to beg for his livelihood that is fine". mAmunigaL explains that when the child is named with emperumAn's name, emperumAn will ensure that he is protected and nurtured so that he does not have to beg for his livelihood - one must simply have faith in emperumAn that he will protect us. Moreover, though the following section mostly talks about begging for alms (which is the prime method of earning the livelihood for brAhmaNas), this can be easily correlated to any money/wealth we get as donations, gifts, etc.
  • Being a vaishNava hesitating to beg for alms is an obstacle. It is also fitting for ones own varNAsrama dharmam (for brAhmaNas/brahmachAris/sannyAsis) to beg for alms. Translator's note: We can recollect kUrathAzhwAn who begged for alms. Also, srI rAmAnuja, being a sannyAsi, himself begged for alms until some miscreants tried to poison him and kill him. Based on thirukkOshtiyUr nambi's order, kidAmbi AchAn was appointed as the one to take care of  emperumAnAr's bikshai (prasAdham). In the olden days, it was quite common for brahmachAris to beg for alms, gather the raw materials and present the same to their gurus (teachers) during gurukulam (schooling).
  • Begging for alms to simply fill ones stomach and to accumulate money through that are obstacles. It should be done purely for taking care of the basic needs and to facilitate the kainkaryams.
  • Begging for alms should be done with the understanding that the activity is fitting for ones nature (varNAsramam). Not having such understanding is an obstacle. This is similar to previous points of discussion.
  • Begging for alms should be done with the understanding that our pUrvAchAryas have done this and this is the apt method to take care of the bodily needs. Not having such understanding is an obstacle. 
  • Not being satisfied with what was given as alms in the fist basket/container and feeling upset for receiving less alms are obstacles. One should beg only at certain places and certain times and be content with what was given.
  • Being over-joyous when receiving more alms is also an obstacle. One must consider that it was the divine arrangement of bhagavAn that we got more alms today and such alms should be distributed on the same day itself to needy persons. Translator's note:  In bhagavadh gIthA, 2.14, emperumAn says "mAthra sparsas thu kaunthEya sIthOshNa suka dhukka dha: AgamApAyinO nithyas thAm thithikshava bhAratha" (மாத்ர ச்பர்சஸ் து கௌந்தேய சீதோஷ்ண ஸுக துக்க த: ஆகமாபாயினோ நித்யஸ் தாம் திதிக்ஷவ பாரத) - Oh kaunthEya (kunthI's son - arjuna), One must not be disturbed by heat/cold, happiness/sorrow, etc., which are perceived by the senses. Oh bhAratha (descendant of bharatha), you must learn to tolerate such distinctions and rise above them". So, temporary pleasures and pains must be tolerated/controlled at all times.
  • Similar to previous points. One must be satisfied with a particular quantity of alms every day - one should not be greedy to get more and more.
  • One must loudly recite the names of bhagavAn like "gOvindha! gOvindha!" so that the ones giving alms will hear bhagavAn's names. Not doing so is an obstacle.
  • Reciting bhagavAn's names is done as per sistAchAram (practice of elders) and it should be done with that mentality only.
  • One should not think that reciting bhagavAn's names is the means to get alms. Related to previous point - it is only indicate our arrival not to force people to give alms.
  • Begging alms at houses where anya dhEvathathAs (dhEvathAntharams - other than bhagavAn and AzhwArs/AchAryas) are worshipped is an obstacle. One should also not accept alms from such persons who have dhEvathAntharam connection.
  • One should not beg alms from houses where bhagavath thiruvArAdhanam is looked down. 
  • Accepting alms from houses where the floor is mopped (cleaned) on Fridays. It can be seen as condemning people who are only cleaning the house on fridays instead of every day. Translator's note: It is possible that there is injunctions in sAsthram to not mop the floor in friday.
  • Accepting alms from the house where the residents dont feel happy hearing bhagavAn's names is an obstacle.
  • Accepting alms from the house where bhagavAn/bhAgavathas are insulted is an obstacle.
  • Accepting alms from the house where the residents do not understand that begging for alms is a proper srIvaishNava activity and insult such srIvaishNavas is an obstacle. bikshai (begging) is proper srIvaishNava dharmAnushtAnam - it should not be looked down.
  • Going to a village/town which is dear to dhEvathAntharams or which is filled with such people who worship dhEvathAntharams is an obstacle. Translator's note: There are many towns which are specifically popular for dhEvathAntharams - srIvaishNavas should avoid going to such towns altogether.
  • Accepting alms from towns where there are no temples for srIman nArAyaNan is an obstacle.
  • One should not beg alms from houses where bhagavath thiruvArAdhanam is not performed regularly.
  • Being a prapanna, reciting dhivya prabhandham only on specific festive days while going for alms is an obstacle. dhivya prabhandham must be recited and the meanings to be remembered every day - its not something which is done only on special occassions.
  • When there is free time, one should engage oneself in reciting dhivya prabhandham and remembering the meanings. Our valuable time should not be wasted in discussing mundane matters. nammAzhwAr wonders in periya thiruvanthAdhi "How people would spend their time without thinking about emperumAn and his auspicious qualities?"
  • Speaking out rahasya manthrams/granthams in public is an obstacle. rahasya (confidential) meanings should be heard from an AchAryan and should not be casually discussed.
  • Having bad associations is an obstacle. Bad association means associating with evil-minded people, ignorant fools, one who do not understand their true nature, etc. upanishadh declares that "asannEva sa bhavathi - asath brahmEdhi vEdhachEth" - one who does not realize the existence of God is as good as asath (matter) only.
  • Not taking the eyes of worldly pleasures is an obstacle. One should be focussed on bhagavath/bhAgavatha matters and avoid mundane matters such as women, politics, etc. thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr severely condemns such attitude of being addicted to worldly pleasures in his thirumAlai.
  • One should watch ones step carefully and focus fully on the ultimate goal. Not doing so is an obstacle.
  • Not being peaceful while going for alms is an obstacle.
  • Not serving the AchAryan by accepting the amudhu padi kUdai (container/basket for collecting alms) from him is an obstacle.
  • Such basket should be carried on ones head and should be considered as crown with great joy. It is not a demeaning act to carry the alms basket/container. Not doing so is an obstacle.
  • One should constantly recite/remember dhvaya mahA manthram while going for alms. For srIvaishNavas, constant recital of dhvayam is natural. Reciting dhvayam must be accompanied by remembering the deep meanings of dhvayam. srIranganAthan orders to emperumAnAr to stay in srIrangam with constant remembrance of dhvayam - "dhvayam arththAnusandhEna saha yAvachcharIra pAdham athraiva srIrangE sukamAsva" (த்வயம் அர்த்தாநுஸந்தேந ஸஹ யாவச்சரீர பாதம் அத்ரைவ ஸ்ரீரங்கே ஸுகமாஸ்வ) - with constant recital of dhvayam and remembrance of its meanings, stay here until the end of life in this srIrangam happily.
  • Accepting alms from the ones who have not undergone pancha samskAram. pancha samskAram is the process that initiates a person in to srIvaishNava sath sampradhAyam. Until one undergoes such process, we cannot accept anything from him/her.
  • Accepting alms from the ones who wear earrings in the shape of snakes. Usually srIvaishNavas wear simple earrings or the ones that have bhagavAn's sangu (conch) and chakram (disc).
  • Accepting alms from the ones who are filled with ego and prideful attitude. One should consider themselves as dhAsan, adiyEn, etc., which indicate servitorship.
  • While accepting alms, a portion should be accepted for AchAryan, another portion for srIvaishNavas and yet another portion for bhagavAn. Simply accepting alms to fulfill ones own personal needs is not correct.
  • Any alms collected should be brought to AchAryan and only after his confirmation the portion required for oneself should be carried home.
  • Alms (raw-materials) collected should not be shown to public. It should be taken home in a closed container, cooked properly, offered to emperumAn and be eaten later as prasAdham.
  • Alms should not be collected by praising samsAris (materially minded people).
  • One should not compel/force srIvaishNavas while earning anything. 
  • Earning by stealing the property/wealth of AchAryan is a great sin.
  • Earning by stealing the property/wealth of bhagavAn. Temple wealth, properties, etc., should not be siphoned/stolen and such acts are considered as great sins.
  • Earning by begging from people who steal bhagavAn's property/wealth. Translator's note: In srIvachana bhUshaNam, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the different types of apachAram - bhagavath apachAram, bhAgavatha apachAram and asahya apachAram. He explains this aspect of stealing bhagavAn's property/wealth as bhagavath apachAram. Not only that, helping others steal bhagavAn's property/wealth and accepting such wealth by begging or when given voluntarily are also identified as bhagavath apachAram - thus it is better to avoid such activities altogether.
Translator's note: To conclude this lengthy section, it is important to be very careful while earning money. We are into a very difficult situation in the present scenario where the overall system itself is quite distorted from the ideals presented in sAsthram. There is so much of money in circulation that is earned in direct contradiction with sAsthram. This is yet another indication for us to totally minimize our needs and most importantly, constantly pray to emperumAn to protect us from being entangled in this mundane thinking and life-style.

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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