virOdhi parihArangaL - 31

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

65. samarpaNa virOdhi (ஸமர்ப்பண விரோதி ) - Obstacles in our offering

arpaNam means submitting/offering. Usually, offering to great personalities like emperumAn, AchArya, etc., is said as "samarpaNam". It is commonly seen in vaidhIka ceremonies that when we offer something to srIvaishNavas, we say "srIvaishNavEbhyO sampradhathE - na mama". This means "it is given to srIvaishNavas now and is no longer mine". In this section,  Athma samarpaNam is discussed in detail and clarified precisely. Athma samarpaNam means offering oneself at the lotus feet of emperumAn.  In thiruvAimozhi 2.3.4, nammAzhwAr says "enadhAvi thanthozhinthEn ... ini mILvathenbathuNdE" (எனதாவி தன்தொழிந்தேன் ... இனி மீள்வதென்பதுண்டே - I have offered myself ... there is no returning back) and offers himself to bhagavAn. Following AzhwAr's footsteps, ALavandhAr also says in sthOthra rathnam 52nd slOkam "thadhayam thava pAdha padhmayO: aham adhyaiva mayA samarpitha:" (ததயம் தவ பாத பத்மயோ: அஹம் அத்யைவ மயா ஸமர்ப்பித:) and offers himself at the lotus feet of emperumAn. Translator's note: In kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu 5th pAsuram, madhurakavi AzhwAr says "nambinEn piRar nanporuL thannaiyum" (நம்பினேன் பிறர் நன்பொருள் தன்னையும்) - I was attached to myself (nanporuL - AthmA) which is the property of bhagavAn (that is why it is said "piRar nanporuL" where piRar indicates bhagavAn here). jIvAthmA, to start with, is a property of bhagavAn. bhagavAn is swAmy (owner) and jIvAthmA is swam (property). If that is the case, how can the jIvAthmA offer himself to bhagavAn (who already owns him). Our pUrvAchAryas explain this act as stealing a beautiful ornament from emperumAn in the night and in the morning going back to emperumAn and offering the same with great pomp as if we have offered something which is owned by us and not owned by him. Yet, this is done by AzhwArs and AchAryas. This is beautifully explained by our pUrvAchAryas. In thiruvAimozhi 2.3.4, though first AzhwAr offers himself to bhagavAn, in the later part of the pAsuram he immediately realises his mistake and says to emperumAn "enadhAviyAr? yAn Ar? thandha nI koNdAkkinaiyE" (எனதாவியார்? யான் ஆர்? தந்த நீ கொண்டாக்கினையே) - Who am I? I am already owned by you. You have accepted your own property now. In the vyAkyAnam, nampiLLai explains that if there is no samarpaNam, that will lead to sarva mukthi prasangam (emperumAn will have to bring everyone to paramapadham since no one is needed to perform saraNAgathi). But if we perform Athma samarpaNam then that means offering bhagavAn's own property to himself. nampiLLai gives an explanation that - Looking at samsAram, prapannas sometime feel very fearful, so they emphasis that they are indeed surrendered to emperumAn by offering themselves to emperumAn - this is explained as bewildered/confused state (looking at samsAram and being fearful). But, when they look at bhagavAn, their fear completely disappears - since they are reminded that they are property of bhagavAn and he is fully capable of protecting all his subjects, so they realize that they have committed a great mistake by offering bhagavAn's own property to himself (this is called clear state of mind - understanding ones true nature and looking at bhagavAn and being fearless) and thus repents for ones own mistake of Athma samarpaNam. This happens continuously as long as they are in samsAram - since they are seeing both samsAram and bhagavAn repeatedly. The same principle is demonstrated by ALavandhAr too - in 52nd slOkam he offers himself but then in 53rd slOkam he asks bhagavAn "athavA kim nu samarpayAmi" (அதவா கிம் நு ஸமர்ப்பயாமி) - Alas! Who am I? What am I offering to you? I have no independence to offer anything to you who already fully own me. This explanation given by periyavAchAn piLLai in his vyAkyAnam for this slOkam. Thus, we can see that Athma samarpaNam is actually not an appropriate action for jIvAthmA, yet it is done due to fear/ignorance and is repented once there is true realization about the nature of jIvAthmA as the property of bhagavAn. With this introduction let us read the section.
  • ahankAram (considering dhEham/body as AthmA/soul) and mamakAram (considering bhagavAn's property as mine) which are stopping jIvAthmA from offering oneself and ones properties to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas since time immemorial are obstacles. Considering oneself as independent is a great sin. Real truth is "Everything/Everyone is owned by bhagavAn". nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 2.9.9 "yAnE ennai aRiyagilAthE yAnE enthanathE enRirunthEn" (யானே என்னை அறியகிலாதே யானே என்தனதே என்றிருந்தேன்) - I did not know who I was before and was thinking that I was independent - this is the state before acquiring true knowledge about jIvAthmA. He then says in the same pAsuram "yAnE nI ennudaimaiyum nIyE" (யானே நீ என்னுடைமையும் நீயே) - I am your property and my body is your property too - this is the state after realizing the true nature of jIvAthmA. nammAzhwAr's first instruction to everyone in thiruvAimozhi is in 1.2.2 "nIr numathu enRivai vEr muthal mAyththu" (நீர் நுமது என்றிவை வேர் முதல் மாய்த்து) - One must completely eradicate ahankAram and mamakAram. Translator's note: The first lesson to be learnt in spiritual journey is to clearly understand that AthmA (soul) is different from dhEham (body). We are eternal souls and we are different from our bodies. Most people simply do not distinguish between the soul and body and end up working on bodily platform always. Secondly, we have to understand that bhagavAn is the supremely independent person and he owns everything (all souls and all matter). There is nothing that we own in the entire creation. If there is proper understanding of these two principles, we will naturally act/work for the pleasure of bhagavAn who is the master of all. These two (ahankAram and mamakAram) are the biggest obstacles in our spiritual progress. kaNNan emperumAn explains this clearly in bhagavath gIthA when he starts explaining the divine knowledge of self realization to arjuna. In 2.12, he starts explaining that AthmA is different from dhEham, there are many (innumerable) AthmAs, each AthmA is different from others and bhagavAn (he himself) is supreme. Even after performing saraNAgathi through an AchArya, we could be bewildered often by these two obstacles. We have to constantly remember that we are jIvAthmAs that are different from the bodies and we are dependent on bhagavAn. With this constant reinforcement, we can conduct ourselves in a proper manner.
  • Holding on to some thing considering its ones own, even after realizing that one is a servant of bhagavAn is an obstacle. Once there is realization about ones true nature as a servant of bhagavAn, naturally everything that belongs to oneself belongs to bhagavAn only. So, naturally, everything should be offered to bhagavAn at once without hesitation.
  • Offering to bhagavAn with the thinking that we are the owners is an obstacle. Everything owned by bhagavAn is the real truth. Considering ourselves to be the owners is bewildered state of mind and considering everything to be owned by bhagavAn is the clear state of mind. Translator's note:  Already explained in the introduction section in detail.
  • Not knowing that our previous ignorant state of stealing bhagavAn's property (using AthmA and dhEham for ones own pleasure) is the same as offering them to bhagavAn as if we own them is an obstacle. Offering oneself to bhagavAn is compared to stealing a precious ornament from the temple in the night and offering the same to bhagavAn in the morning. Translator's note: It is explained in sAsthram that the biggest theft/sin is considering oneself (AthmA) as independent and acting according to that - this is explained in mahAbhAratham as "kim thEna na krutham pApam chOrENa AthmApahAriNA" (கிம் தேந ந க்ருதம் பாபம் சோரேண ஆத்மாபஹாரிணா) - the one who considers the AthmA (which is bhagavAn's property) to be ones own is considered to have done all kinds of stealing/sins. Whether it is before offering or at the time of offering, if there is the thought that AthmA is owned by oneself, that is considered as inappropriate.
  • Not offering oneself thinking that "Its his property already, how can I offer myself to him?" even though our pUrvAchAryas have offered themselves. Athma samarpaNam was done by our pUrvAchAryas. ALavandhAr said "aham adhyaiva mayA samarpitha:" (ததயம் தவ பாத பத்மயோ: அஹம் அத்யைவ மயா ஸமர்ப்பித:). Though, AthmA is owned by bhagavAn we ought to offer ourselves to him. But he himself repents for that in the next slOkam saying "athavA kim nu samarpayAmi" (அதவா கிம் நு ஸமர்ப்பயாமி). Here, he says, once I realize that I am fully owned by you, how can I offer myself to you? nammAzhwAr also performs Athma samarpaNam first and then repents in thiruvAimozhi 2.3.4 - "enadhAvi thanthozhinthEn ... ini mILvathenbathuNdE" (எனதாவி தன்தொழிந்தேன் ... இனி மீள்வதென்பதுண்டே" and then says "enadhAviyAr? yAn Ar? thandha nI koNdAkkinaiyE" (எனதாவியார்? யான் ஆர்? தன்த நீ கொண்டாக்கினையே). In this connection, vyAkyAna chakkaravarthy periyavAchAn piLLai explains in sthOthra rathna vyAkyAnam "samsAra bhIthiyAl samarppikkaiyum, svarUpa yAdhAthma gyAnaththAl anusayikkaiyum. iraNdum yAvanmOksham anuvarththikkak kadavathu" (ஸம்ஸார பீதியால் ஸமர்ப்பிக்கையும், ஸ்வரூப யாதாத்ம ஞானத்தால் அநுசயிக்கையும். இரண்டும் யாவந்மோக்ஷம் அநுவர்த்திக்கக் கடவது) - offering oneself to bhagavAn due to fear of samsAram and repenting for that realizing ones true nature (of being owned by bhagavAn already) will happen until one becomes freed from samsAram - this is unavoidable. In srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram, piLLai lOkAchAryar explains considering prapathi as upAyam and defects in such principle in detail in sidhOpAya nishta prakaraNam. In sUthram 146, he explains that even performing "prapathi as upAyam" is inappropriate since bhagavAn is the only upAyam. mAmunigaL quotes gadhya thrayam where emperumAnAr performs prapathi first and subsequently begs forgiveness from emperumAn for his previous act - so from all our pUrvAchArya works, we can see the act of offering oneself to emperumAn and repenting for the same.
  • Not understanding that he is accepting his own property is an obstacle. As bhagavAn is the owner of everything, he is simply accepting his own property - not having such proper understanding is an obstacle.
  • Offering him what is considered as "mine" by oneself or other is an obstacle. As said before, everything is owned by bhagavAn. Thinking that oneself is the owner and offering as if we are offering our own property to him is inappropriate. Yet one should offer oneself to emperumAn with love. In bhagavath gIthA, he says whatever is offered to me with love, I accept that with great joy. So, what we offer should be tainted with love not pride of us offering something to him. Such contamination of assuming ownership of anything is not favourable for jIvAthmA's nature and is thus condemned here.
  • Considering that bhagavAn is not already fully-satisfied and self-sufficient and offering him thinking that he is wanting something from us is an obstacle. bhagavAn is called avAptha samastha kAman (ones whose desires are already fulfilled). Yet, whatever is offered to him with love by his devotee, he accepts them graciously with great joy.
  • Considering that we are offering something he does not have is an obstacle. We should not think that "He does not have this object, I am offering it so that he becomes an owner of that object". 
  • Not thinking that He is already full in everything and he only accepts our offering to fulfill our service and uplift us is an obstacle. One should not think "dhEhimE - dhadhAmi thE" (I give you something and you give me something else back) - this state of mind is confusion/bewilderment. When people are in trouble/suffering, they pray to bhagavAn that "Please relieve me of this suffering, I will do this in return" - this is what is commonly known as prArthanA/vENduthal in samskritham/thamizh. But he only expects that we accept his protection and we perform pure devotion towards him. Yet, we should offer within our capacity (based on what is given to us by him) out of love to him.  Translator's note: This kind of materialistic prayer to solve material problems is not appropriate for the true nature of jIvAthmA. We must always pray for eternal kainkaryam (service) to bhagavAn and bhAgavathas since that is what fits the true nature of jIvAthmA. Any other prayer for material motives is a big pitfall in our spiritual progress.
  • Considering that we are offering something to bhagavAn in return for the favours/benedictions given by him. Translator's note: As explained previously, bhagavAn is called bhakthi uzhavan (bhakthi farmer). He plants the seed of devotion in the jIvAthmA, provides the field of action, provides sAsthram as guidance, shows the AchArya, provides bhAgavatha sambandham, removes the obstacles, etc., and nurtures the jIvAthmA and finally brings the jIvAthmA into paramapadham. jIvAthmA can never return such great favour in any possible way. So, jIvAthmA can only always wonder how he is going to pay-back the favours done by emperumAn.
  • Not being worried about not being able to pay-back to emperumAn for the favours done by him. madhurakavi AzhwAr says in kaNNinuN chiRu thAmbu 10th pAsuram "muyalginREn unthan moykazhaRkanbayE" (முயல்கின்றேன் உன்தன் மொய்கழற்கன்பயே) - I am trying to do some little loving service to your lotus feet but am unable to do anything matching your favours - thus he is so worried that he is not able to do anything in return for nammAzhwAr's prayers.  nammAzhwAr too manifests such divine emotions towards bhagavAn in thiruvAimozhi 2.3.4 "enadhAvi uL kalantha perunalluthavik kaimmARu" (எனதாவி உள் கலந்த பெருநல்லுதவிக் கைம்மாறு) - You came and mingled with me with great affection but how am I going pay back for such great favour. 
  • While performing Athma samarpaNam, considering that AthmA is owned by oneself is an obstacle. Translator's note: We have already discussed this in detail, AthmA is fully owned by emperumAn and emperumAn himself is accepting his own property.

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

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

pramEyam (goal) -
pramANam (scriptures) -
pramAthA (preceptors) -