virOdhi parihArangaL - 30

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

64. sakya virOdhi (ஸக்ய விரோதி ) - Obstacles in our friendship

kUrathAzhwAn is greatly glorified for his compassion towards all

sakyam means friendship/acquaintance. Friendship means looking after each other's welfare. Not showing enemity is the first step in friendship. One should aspire to have both friendship and reverence towards sAthvikas (bhAgavathas - devotees of srIman nArAyaNan) and the ones who are filled with divine knowledge and also practically applying the wisdom in daily activities. One should understand that real friendship is something sacred. srI rAma's friendship with srI guha perumAL (guha) is to be understood as spiritual friendship. His friendship with sugrIva mahAraja is also like that. Translator's note: There are two types of friendship. One is on the bodily platform - we develop friendship with who ever treats our body nicely and whoever does favours to our body. For example, some one may help us stand up when we fall down and we may develop friendship with them. Or we may have a class-mate who study with us and we develop friendship with them. Then there is friendship at the spiritual platform - i.e., understanding that all oneself is a servitor of bhagavAn and bhAgavathas, and developing friendship with such bhAgavathas who are situated in same mind set. These bhAgavathas are called Athma-bandhus (those who are related to the soul). True bhAgavathas always engage in discussing bhagavath vishayam, sharing wonderful anubhavams of emperumAn/AzhwArs/AchAryas, etc. Friendship with such bhAgavathas should be relished since they will be the companions for us in this world until our last breath here. And friendship with materialistic people are to be given up since they will try to pull us along in to samsAram and engage in materialistic activities. With this introduction, let us move on to the actual section.

  • Mixing with lowly materialistic people is an obstacle. These are the ones who are behind food, shelter and clothing always. They are always looking to engage in materialistic activities and mixing with them will simply lead to waste of time and will not help us in our spiritual progress in any way.
  • Having friendship with great bhAgavathas considering them in an equal level to us is an obstacle. One should never consider other srIvaishNavas as equal to oneself - they should always be revered and kept in a higher platform. Yet, one should have pleasing friendship with them. Translator's note: In srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, in sUthrams 222 to 225, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains how one should treat a bhAgavatha. One should consider bhAgavathas to be equal to their AchArya and greater than oneself and bhagavAn himself. Not having such reverence towards bhAgavathas by itself is considered as an apachAram (mistake).
  • Having friendship with bhAgavathas and yet finding fault in them is an obstacle. Translator's note: In srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar have explained this in exquisite detail. One should generally not find fault with anyone (even samsAris). One should always think about oneself as the cause of all faults. In thiruppAvai, ANdAL says in 15th pAsuram "nAnE thAn Ayiduga" (நானே தான் ஆயிடுக - let all faults be mine). In srI rAmAyaNam, when bharathAzhwAn returns to ayOdhya and finds out that perumAL (srI rAma) has left ayOdhya to go to the forest and dhasaratha is dead, he goes to kaikEyi. He first blames dhasaratha, kaikEyi, mantharA (kUni), etc., for the whole incident but finally says "It is my own sins that brought me to this state of being separated from perumAL". Such attitude is very difficult to develop, but our pUrvAchAryas have laid the path for us and we too can aspire to get such attitude.
  • Considering that everything/everyone is bhagavAn's property/servitor, one should be friendly with every one. Not doing so is an obstacle. Translator's note: bhagavAn's is the owner of both nithya vibhUthi (spiritual world - paramapadham) and leelA vibhUthi (material world). And every single AthmA is either directly or indirectly serving bhagavAn only. If an AthmA is realized of his true nature, he will serve bhagavAn directly being situated in the natural position. If an AthmA is not realized of his true nature, he will serve bhagavAn indirectly through others (like dhEvathantharams, parents, friends, relatives, ones own body, etc). Understanding this, a realized srIvaishNava should always show natural compassion and try to help others in spiritual matters.
  • Having enemity towards other jIvAthmAs who all are also sarIram (body) of emperumAn is an obstacle. One should see that everything/everyone is pervaded by bhagavAn as antharyAmi - such person who can have that vision is a great gyAni. Thus, one should always show friendship to all and not have enemity towards any one. Translator's note: bhagavAn pervades everything/everyone as antharyAmi (in-dwelling super-soul). Both chith (jIvAthmAs) and achith (achEthanam - matter) are pervaded by bhagavAn - this is explained as bhagavAn's sarva vyApakathvam (omni-presence). sarIram means body and sarIri means the one who has the sarIram (i.e., AthmA). sAsthram says, "yasya AthmA sarIram, yasya pruthvi sarIram, ..." (AthmA is his body, earth is his body, etc). Similar to the presence of jIvAthmA within a body, bhagavAn is present with in  the jIvAthmA. Thus, having understood that everything/everyone is body of bhagavAn one should not have enemity towards others. bhagavAn himself says in gIthA "sukrutham sarva bhUthAnAm" (I am the friend of all). Our AchAryas too showed great compassion towards everyone and spread the divine message of bhagavAn to all who showed even a little interest in such matters. 
  • Having friendship with srIvaishNavas yet harming/cheating them is an obstacle. Translator's note: Some may externally look very friendly, but internally they may have hatred towards others. And such hatred may be revealed consciously or unconsciously at times. Such behaviour is condemned here.
  • Having friendship with some expectations is an obstacle. Translator's note: If one makes friendship with others in expectation of certain favours, such behaviour is considered as very lowly. Friendship should be based on love and affection without expecting any favour in return.
  • Not considering others faults as good qualities is an obstacle. With close friends, even their faults will be considered as good qualities. Translator's note: piLLai lOkAchAryar explains the three thathvams (chith - jIvAthmA, achith - matter, Iswara - bhagavAn) in thathva thrayam in great detail. In Iswara prakaraNam (section), upto sUthram 150, bhagavAn's many wonderful qualities are beautifully explained. In sUthram 151, it is explained that due to these most auspicious qualities, that too vAthsalyam (motherly forbearance), bhagavAn shows great friendship and attachment towards his newer devotees (ones who perform saraNAgathi towards him more recently) than his own divine consort srI mahAlakshmi and nithya sUris. In that section, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains that just like a mother cow will push away an existing calf with her horns but lovingly take care of a new born calf, bhagavAn too shows greater affection towards those who surrender unto him. aruLALa perumAL emperumAnAr explains in gyAna sAram pAsuram 25, "eRRE than kanRin udambin vazhuvanRO kAdhalippadhu anRadhanai InRugandha A" (எற்றே தன் கன்றின் உடம்பின் வழுவன்றோ காதலிப்பது அன்றதனை ஈன்றுகந்த ஆ) - When a cow gives birth to a calf, it cleans the dirt on the body of the calf using its tongue. piLLai lOkAchAryar also gives another great example - he says just like a male-lover would love the sweat of his female-counterpart (even though sweat is generally not preferred), bhagavAn will like the faults of such surrendered devotees. mAmunigaL beautifully explains this section with many examples in his commentary. Similarly, our AchAryas too appreciated good qualities in other srIvaishNavas and even if there are some minor faults in them, they always viewed them positively and moved on instead of harping on such faults.
  • Showing affection towards the ones who show affection towards us and showing anger to the ones who show anger towards us are obstacles. Translator's note:  One should be equipoised and affectionate towards all instead of discriminating based on how one deals with them.
  • Having relationship towards the ones who show enemity towards ones AchArya is an obstacle. Translator's note: Though one should be compassionate towards all, one should also carefully avoid dealing with enemies of bhagavAn and AchArya. AchArya is the one who kindles our relationship with the jIvAthmA and paramAthmA. He is greatly glorified as doing favours for both jIvAthmA and paramAthmA. For the jIvAthmA, he helps him realize his true nature of being a servitor of bhagavAn. For paramAthmA, he is bringing his own property (jIvAthmA) to him by properly educating the jIvAthmA about his true nature. This is beautifully explained by piLLai lOkAchAryar in srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram.
  • Not having friendly relationship with the disciples/devotees of ones AchArya is an obstacle. Translator's note: Towards the end of srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains in sUthram 451 that, for AchArya nishtars (ones who are fully focussed on AchArya), other such AchArya nishtars are the most favourable ones to have sambandham (relationship). mAmunigaL explains in the commentary that, through their relationship, ones AchArya nishtA will improve and thus one should have friendship with such adhikAris only.
We will continue with the next section in the next article. 

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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