virOdhi parihArangaL - 27

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

Please see the previous article at

60. sambandha virOdhi (ஸம்பந்த  விரோதி) - Obstacles in our relationships.

nammAzhwAr declares emperumAn as his mother and father. madhurakavi AzhwAr and ALavandhAr declare nammAzhwAr as their father and mother.

sambandham means relationship. This can occur based on a) bodily connection, b) friendship and c) on a spiritual platform based on AthmA and matters truly related to AthmA. Of these three aspects, we must understand that the third aspect is most important and to be cherished/glorified. Bodily relationship means father, mother, brother, sister and other bodily relatives. These are assumed under a particular cause - based on ones birth in a particular family to a particular father and mother due to ones own karmA. Similarly, based on the karmA of the parents, they beget children who are healthy/unhealthy, good/bad mannered, etc. ANdAL in nAchiyAr thirumozhi, vAraNAmAyiram (6th decad) last pAsuram, explains the phala sruthi (result of reciting the 10 pAsurams) as "thUya thamizh mAlai Irainthum vallavar vAyu nan makkaLaip peRRu magizhvarE" (தூய தமிழ் மாலை ஈரைந்தும் வல்லவர் வாயு நன் மக்களைப் பெற்று மகிழ்வரே - the ones who learn and faithfully follow these 10 pure pAsurams will beget wonderful children and live happily). nammAzhwAr, in thiruvAimozhi 8.10.10 explains similar principle "ivaiyum paththum vallArgaL nalla pathaththAl manai vAzhvar koNda peNdir makkaLE" (இவையும் பத்தும் வல்லார்கள் நல்ல பதத்தால் மனை வாழ்வர் கொண்ட பெண்டிர் மக்களே - Those who understand bhAgavatha kainkaryam and learn/faithfully follow these 10 pAsurams will be blessed with wonderful family life which favourable for devotion towards bhagavAn and bhAgavathas). thirumangai AzhwAr, in thirumozhi 8.2.9 says "kaNapuram kai thozhum piLLaiyai piLLai enReNNap peRuvarE?" (கணபுரம் கை தொழும் பிள்ளையை பிள்ளை என்றெண்ணப் பெறுவரே? - Even if it is ones own child, if the child worships thirukkaNNapuram that child should not be considered as a small child but a great devotee). He also says in thirunedunthANdagam 20 "pErALan pErOthum peNNai maNmEl perunthavaththaL enRallAl pEchalAmE" (பேராளன் பேரோதும் பெண்ணை மண்மேல் பெருந்தவத்தள் என்றல்லால் பேசலாமே - A small girl (ones own child) who glorifies emperumAn should be treated as good as a nithyasUri (eternal resident of paramapadham)).  Even if it is ones own child, if by the grace of emperumAn, that child is very attached to emperumAn, one should not treat such child "as my little child" casually, instead, such child should be treated with great reverence as "sukruthina:" (virtuous). (Translator's note: In the life of parAsara bhattar, this principle is beautifully explained. ANdAL, the dharmapthni/wife of kUrathAzhwAn was considered as a very advanced and realized scholar in our sampradhAyam. parAsara bhattar and vEdha vyAsa bhattar are their sons who were born out srIranganAthan's prasAdham. Among the two, parAsara bhattar was specifically glorified in many ways due to his extreme intelligence and scholarship. ANdAL used to accept bhattar's srIpAdha thIrtham, even though she himself gave birth to him. When asked why she was doing that, she explained, though a sculptor makes a sculpture, once the particular emperumAn manifests in the sculpture, it becomes worshippable even for the scupltor who made it. Similarly, even though, I gave birth to him, as soon as he was blessed by emperumAn and have developed great devotion, he is worshippable for me also. She also cites thirumozhi 8.2.9 pAsuram which is quoted here to establish the same principle.) In this regard, if our bodily relatives are well realized bhAgavathas, such relationships should be greatly appreciated and glorified. It is emphasised that the relationships/friendship that arise through bhagavAn, bhAgavathas and AchArya are to be given higher importance than simple bodily/materialistic relationships. It is also emphasised that giving importance to mere bodily relationships is inappropriate for the jIvAthmA's progress. It was necessary to give a lengthy introduction to clearly grasp the important principles that are explained in this section. With this introduction, we can easily understand the inner essence of this section.

  • Considering dhEha sambandhis (bodily relatives who are materialistic) as relatives and not considering bhagavath sambandhis (one who are surrendered to bhagavaAn) as relatives are obstacles. dhEha sambandham (bodily relationships) arise out of ones own karmA. But bhagavath sambandham arise out svarUpa gyAnam (true realization of the nature of oneself) and so is more glorified.
  • Being a prapanna, having connections with bodily relatives who are materialistic and not having connections with vaishNavas are obstacles. Translator's note: A prapanna means one who is surrendered to bhagavAn through the mercy of an AchArya. For such persons, there is no interest in having connections with materialistic people. Their whole focus is to perform kainkaryam to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas and only engage in such activities.
  • Considering the ones who merely gave the body as mother and father and not considering one who gave knowledge (AchArya) as mother and father are obstacles. In thiruvAimozhi 2.3.2, nammAzhwAr says "aRiyAdhana aRiviththa aththA! nI cheyvana adiyEn aRiyEnE" (அறியாதன அறிவித்த அத்தா! நீ செய்வன அடியேன் அறியேனே) - here AzhwAr glorifies bhagavAn as the one who taught the divine and essential principles like an AchArya would do. AchArya is the one who brings in the realisation of the true self in the sishya. Parents are the ones who are the cause for the body and AchArya is the cause for true realization which is considered as higher birth. Though one should respect ones own parents and treat them with reverence, the knowledge-giving AchArya is to be considered as higher parents as explained by nammAzhwAr in thiruvAimozhi 5.1.8 "mElAth thAy thanthaiyarum avarE iniyAvArE" (மேலாத் தாய் தன்தையரும் அவரே இனியாவாரே) - From now on bhagavAn is my higher mother and father since he made me realize who I am truly is. Translator's note: We can also relate to this important principle in madhurakavi AzhwAr's kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu 4th pAsuram "annaiyAy aththanAy ennai ANdidum thanmaiyAn sadagOpan en nambiyE" (அன்னையாய் அத்தனாய் என்னை ஆண்டிடும் தன்மையான் சடகோபன் என் நம்பியே)  - nammAzhwAr who is full of auspicious qualities has full control over me as mother and father (would have full control over their children). Similar mood is exhibited by ALavandhAr in the most popular thaniyan "mAthA pithA ..." where ALavandhAr declares that nammAzhwAr is his mother, father, etc., everything for him.
  • Considering bodily (materialistic) brothers and sisters as brothers and sisters and not considering the sishyas of ones own AchArya as brothers and sisters are obstacles. Just like anyone born to our parents are considered as brothers and sisters, since AchArya is also called as father and his sishyas are his sons/daughters - they (such sishyas) naturally become brothers and sisters for us.
  • Not considering dhEha sambandham (bodily relatives) as aupAdhika (conditional) and not considering bhagavath sambandham (bhagavAn, bhAgavathas - spiritual relatives) as nirupAdhikam (unconditional) are obstacles. Every one is born into a particular family due to ones own past karmA - so it is conditional. But bhagavath sambandham and AchArya sambandham (relationship with bhagavAn, AchArya and bhAgavathas) is unconditional.
  • Not knowing that achith sambandham (relationship with body and bodily relatives) is annulable (removable) and (thus) temporary and Not knowing that ayana sambandham (relationship with bhagavAn - ayana means place/abode of refuge) is not annulable (removable) and thus permanent are obstacles. The relationship between jIvAthmA and paramAthmA is the one between owned and the owner. bhagavAn is the owner and jIvAthmA is owned by bhagavAn - this relationship is eternal and never ceases to exist. In all conditions, jIvAthmA is a servitor of bhagavAn. This must be properly understood.
  • Not considering achith sambandham (materialistic relationships) is damaging to the nature of jIvAthmA and not considering ayana sambandham (relationship with bhagavAn) will uplift the jIvAthmA from samsAram (material condition) are obstacles. Since the body is made of matter which has 3 qualities - sathva (goodness), rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance), it will always stop jIvAthmA from realizing the true nature. But bhagavAn will help realize the true nature of the jIvAthmA once he surrenders to him. Translator's note: In mANikka mAlai, periyavAchAn piLLai explains this principle beautifully. He beautifully brings out the similarities between achith and Iswara. When we start developing a liking towards worldly pleasures, achith will ensure that we become immersed in such worldly pleasures and stop us from going elsewhere (towards bhagavAn specifically). Similarly, when we start developing a liking towards bhagavAn, bhagavAn will ensure that we become realized in our true nature and have great devotion towards him. He also gives a beautiful example. hiraNya kasipu took shelter of (became addicted to) prakruthi (matter) and opposed bhagavAn - he was destroyed. prahlAdhAzhwAn took shelter of bhagavAn and stayed away from prakruthi - he was uplifted. The more we become attached to matter, we become more ignorant. The more we become attached to bhagavAn, we become more blissful due to the expansion of knowledge. Finally, periyavAchAn piLLai beautifully concludes - If one is not fearful of their body and bodily activities after being established in bhagavath sambandham (through AchArya), such person's knowledge should be doubted/questioned.
  • Not considering that all material aspects are to be used for the service of bhAgavathas and not considering that the connection with srIman nArAyaNan (who is the antharyAmi - in-dwelling super-soul of every thing) is that which sustains us are obstacles. srIman nArAyaNan is omni-present everywhere in every thing. nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.7 "udanmisai uyirenak karanthengum paranthuLan" (உடன்மிசை உயிரெனக் கரந்தெங்கும் பரந்துளன்) - just like the jIvAthmA is spread (through its dharma bhUtha gyAnam - knowledge) throughout the body, bhagavAn is himself spread every where in the whole of existence. In vEdham, it is highlighted that bhagavAn desires to enter into all matter through innumerable jIvAthmAs and thus this universe (and many innumerable universes) comes into existence with many different forms of life.
  • Considering that we are related to materialistic people due to everyone's relationship with bhagavAn (even materialistic people are connected to bhagavAn) and not considering that we have eternal connection with srIvaishNavas who have very pure consciousness  (and actions) are obstacles. Though bodily relatives are to be respected based on basic humanity, it is not the end of everything. One should appreciate srIvaishNavas who are constantly looking out for the welfare of others and serve them. We should also understand that the relationship with such srIvaishNavas is eternal too. Translator's note: ALavandhAr, in his sthOthra rathnam 2nd slOkam itself declares that "nAthAya nAtha munayE athra parathra chApi nithyam yadhIya charaNau saraNam madhIyam" (நாதாய நாத முநயே அத்ர பரத்ர சாபி நித்யம் யதீய சரணௌ சரணம் மதீயம்) - the lotus feet of nAthamunigaL (his grand father) is my eternal refuge both in this world and the other world (paramapadham). 
  • Not considering bhagavAth sambandham (relationship with emperumAn) is common for both bandham (binding in this material world) and mOksham (being relieved from this material world) and not considering AchArya sambandham is only focussed on mOksham are obstacles. In the vyAkyAnam for piLLai lOkAchAryar's srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram 433rd sUthram, mAmunigaL beautifully explains that surrendering to bhagavAn (having such connection through surrender) may either lead to bhagavAn citing our unlimited pApa karmA (vices) and engaging us again in samsAram (for some more time) or bhagavAn mercifully uplifting us (since he is naturally merciful) and relieving us from the miseries of material world. This is due to the fact bhagavAn is nirankusa svathanthran (completely independent and not controllable/questionable by anyone) - it is purely his desire in the end. But AchArya, being an embodiment of compassion, will always seek out to uplift the one who is surrendered unto him. srI mahAlakshmi thAyAr is always compassionate towards jIvAthmAs and try to recommend to bhagavAn for their upliftment - AchAryas are also in similar mood that they are filled with compassion towards others and ensure that the sishyas get uplifted. This is explained in the 447th sUthram - AchArya abhimAnamE uththArgam - AchArya's mercy is the only way for upliftment.
  • Not considering that the relationship with AchArya is that which sustains oneself and considering that such relationship only exists due to AchArya instructing essential principles to sishya. As explained by mAmunigaL in upadhEsa rathina mAlai "AchAryan sishyan Aruyiraip pENumavan" (ஆசார்யன் சிஷ்யன் ஆருயிரைப் பேணுமவன் - AchArya is the one who nurtures the jIvAthmA) - he is not simply an instructor, he must be considered as everything and treated with great reverence, respect and service.

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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