Sunday, April 29, 2007


Today’s lecture is from the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam. We had a brief tour of Thirukkannapuram, Thirkkannamangai, Thirukkannankudi and Sirupuliyur and we are back at Srirangam. This temple has a number of sannidhis. Today we are at the temple pond called Theppakkulam on the western side of the temple. A great Acharya called Sriman Koora Narayana Jeer, who lived in the 12th century, installed this pond. Earlier, the float festival of the temple used to be done on the River Kaveri. During one such festival, the float was washed away by the river floods and at that time Sri Koora Narayana Jeer dug this pond and from that time the festival is performed here. This float festival, called Theppam in Tamil, is performed in the Tamil month of Masi [Feb-March]. That day the Lord graces the devotees by riding the Horse vahanam [vehicle]. During the float festival there will be pandha katchi or illumination by hand held torches and it would be a feast to the eyes.

After mentioning the perishable nature of body and the eternal nature of the soul, Sri Krishna feels that Arjuna has still doubts remaining. How to distinguish soul from the body? Let us take this pond itself as body. The float is the soul or atman and the Lord Namperumal is in the float just as He is in our souls. Even if the pond goes dry, the float continues to be there just as atman is there even when the body perishes. The float floats on the water in the tank but does not get immersed in the tank. This is similar to soul is in the body at the same time it is not a part of the body. With this analogy one can visualize the soul in the body. Now we will go to the 26th sloka:

atha cainam nitya-jatam
nityam va manyase mrtam
tathapi tvam maha-baho
nainam socitum arhasi

"If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] is always born and dies forever, you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed."

Till now Sri Krishna tried to impress on Arjuna that the body and soul are separate. Now he adopts another type of argument called anuvadam. In this you argue your point agreeing with the point what your opponent is imagining. So, Sri Krishna argues assuming that the body and soul are same, as thought by Arjuna. If both are same also Arjuna should not mourn at the killing of Bheeshma or Drona. Because, as the body falls, the soul also dies according to the assumption of Arjuna. He should not now worry where the soul is going, to hell or heaven, as the soul is no longer there after the body is slain. Sri Ramanuja and Desika give wonderful explanations. We witness our bodies changing, from child to youth to old age. We see trees blossom at the appropriate time and yield fruits at another time. These happen as a routine. We never lament over these changes. But consider these as habitual. Arjuna says that after death one is separated from others whereas in these changes one sees, the one is not separated. Sri Krishna smiles and replies. Either way there is no cause for worry. If body and soul are same, both will end at the killing. If the soul is separate, it is not going to be annihilated. When elders are there in our house we feel secure as they have experience to advise and guide us. Otherwise even for petty reasons we may get drowned in worries. Experienced doctors never get perturbed at seeing the disease of patients, because they know what is the remedy. Whereas the patient feels insecure because he neither knows what his disease is nor the remedy. So, ignorance causes fear and insecurity. Routines also can remove fears. If one gets fever periodically and it vanishes after a day or so, one will not get unduly perturbed when one gets fever as by experience one knows the fever would vanish shortly. Arjuna not fully convinced, says that while the body is witnessing the changes happening on the body, can the same soul know when death occurs to the body? Can the soul know where it is going to dwell after leaving this body after death? Sri Krishna tells that it is good that atman did not remember its old dwellings. For, the soul has existed for so many centuries and has had countless births and deaths. If the atman were to remember all the antecedents and people associated in the past births, then the present life would be spent only in remembering all those and nothing else. Fortunately, there are saints and yogis capable of knowing the past history of a soul and we can follow their advice.

The Lecturer then mentioned of a tour being arrange in September this year to visit all places connected with Sri Krishna, like Mathura, Gokul, Govardan, Brindavan, etc. and those interested in participating could contact him for details.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


On this day [27th April, 2007] also the lecture was from the Sri Sowriraja Perumal temple at Thirukkannapuram. We saw how atman cannot be cut or burnt or dissolved. We can remember one story connected with Janaka, father of Sri Sita. Sage Yagnavalkya had many disciples and the King of Mythila, Janaka, was one among them. Yagnavalkya never started the lessons before Janaka arrived. The disciples grudged that their master was giving too much importance for Janaka and they thought that because Janaka was the king, their master was giving undue importance. Yagnavalkya understanding the other disciples’ bitterness wanted to show what type of disciple Janaka was. So, one day as the class was going on, out of his yogic power, Yagnavalkya made the city of Mythila appearing to be on fire. When the disciples heard that the city was on fire, they all, except Janaka, got up from their class and rushed to city to see whether their belongings were in tact or not. When they realized that it was a false alarm, they returned to the ashram to resume the classes. Yagnavalkya enquired why they went and what belongings of them were all in danger. One disciple said he was afraid his kamandal [a pot was keeping water] would have been destroyed. Another feared the loss of his cloth, etc. All these were very useless articles. Finally, the teacher asked the king, why he did not rush to see whether his properties were protected or not, when his properties were so valuable and precious. Janaka replied that the lesson he learnt all these days was that he owned no property and all the materials possessed by him were all destructible and only his atman was imperishable. Therefore, there was no use for him to go. Even if Mythila was burnt his soul would never be burnt The other disciples then only realized what a great person the king was and how he sincerely followed what he learnt.

Alwars in their hymns mention that their souls are melting and are tormented at the thought of any separation from the Lord. This may surprise us that how these great bhakthas can ever think of soul being melting down, when they know the eternity of souls? We should understand that the Alwars know the true nature of body and soul and it is only out of extreme devotion they mention that their souls are melted etc.

Now we shall see the 25th sloka:

avyakto ’yam acintyo ’yam
avikaryo ’yam ucyate
tasmad evam viditvainam
nanusocitum arhasi

"It is said that the soul is inexplicable, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body."

Here again, Sri Krishna tells the permanent nature of the soul and Arjuna should never have a doubt that he can ever harm the soul and so he should get ready to fight. Shatras say that there are three primary sources of knowledge. One is called prathyaksham or first hand knowledge. What we see or smell or hear is all first hand experience of an object. By these we recognize the object. The second source is by inference. Elsewhere we saw smoke when there was s a fire. So, whenever we see smoke, we conclude by our past experience, that there must be fire, even though we have not seen the fire. This is called Anumanam. Third source of knowledge is shabdam or ‘heard’. This is the Veda, which is learnt by hearing and reciting. Avyaktham means not explicit or hiding. The true nature of atman cannot be understood from these sources of knowledge. Atman is not subject to the prathyaksham as it is invisible, cannot be felt, cannot be heard and so on. Inference or anumanam also fails to distinguish atman. When a lamp is burning, the flame at the tip of the wick is constantly changing though for the eyes,only a single flame appears. The reducing oil and the burnt wick prove the sequence of one flame after another. This type of inference is impossible to understand atman Vedas also do not fully describe atman. We cannot imagine how atman will look like and so it is unthinkable. We have already seen that while body undergoes changes, atman is static and immutable.

So Sri Krishna encourages Arjuna to not to grieve over the body and start fighting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


It is stated that the Lord along with His consort Sri Mahalakshmi Thayar protects us always. In this place Thirukkannapuram, we are now in the Thayar sannidhi and invoking Her blessings we will today see the two slokas 23 and 24 together. We have already seen that the atman is the tiniest and so cannot be destroyed. The slokas we are to see are going to offer further explanation on this quality of atman:

nainam chindanti shastrani
nainam dahati pavakah
na cainam kledayanty apo
na sosayati marutah

"The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor dried by the wind."

acchedyo ’yam adahyo ’yam
akledyo ’sosya eva ca
nityah sarva-gatah sthanur
acalo ’yam sanatanah

"This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same."

Though the two slokas appear to be repetitive, the 23rd sloka talks of implements, if any, to destroy atman and the next sloka says the atman is indestructible. It is our experience in our schools also that important points are reiterated by teachers so that they are remembered always. Here, Sri Krishna also a Teacher par excellence, wants Arjuna to remember these noble qualities of atman, and so reiterates. This will clear any doubts Arjuna has. In the first place, He says that no weapons are there to cut the atman. Fire cannot burn it. Water cannot wet it. Here it should be understood that the atman couldn’t be dissolved by water. Air cannot dry it.

In the next sloka Sri Krishna says about the everlasting nature of atman, which we had seen earlier. But, in addition He makes another statement that atman is pervading or permeating all over. We have heard that only Paramatma or God only is all pervading and omni present. How, then, atman can have this quality? The interpretation by elders is that when an atman is in a body, by its power of wisdom or knowledge it is pervading in the entire body without a gap. Same atman when takes another body as its residence, pervades that body fully. Like this many bodies are fully pervaded by the atman, at different times. This is a major difference between the Paramatma and the Jeevatma. While, the former permeates all bodies always and simultaneously, the latter occupies different bodies at different times. It is said that certain yogis have that power to have their atman present in more than one body at the same time. Normally, atman is present in one body only. Arjuna accepts that it is all right the atman cannot be dissolved by water or burnt by fire and so on, but it is possible, he doubts, that the atman might fade on its own and disappear. Sri Krishna says that the eternalness is natural to atman. Still not convinced, Arjuna feels that the atman may change its characters with time. He wants to know whether atman’s swabhavam or characteristics undergo change. Sri Krishna says that the swabhavam of atman is gyana or intellect. In other words it is gyana swaroopy, a personification of wisdom. This never changes. A fresh doubt comes in the mind of Arjuna. We find knowledge is neither uniform nor complete and we take efforts to develop. So how it is justified to say that the knowledge of soul is not changing? Our elders have explained this. All atman have total wisdom but when in a body, the knowledge exhibited is limited by the past karmas. So the brightness is reduced by the karmas. We dig the earth at a place for water. Water gushes out. Water was already present there and by digging at the right place the water sprang up. Similarly, the gyana or knowledge is already in the soul and by our efforts we try to bring out and become more knowledgeable. Like Sunshine being reduced by the clouds or the umbrella. So, the atman’s gyana is also permanent.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Thirumangai Alwar assumed the Lord’s sweetheart and was attracted by Sri Sowriraja Perumal and totally surrenders to His unimaginable beauty. The Alwar in the guise of the sweetheart’s mother complains that her daughter is becoming weaker and pining for the Lord. Today’s lecture is from this Alwar’s sannidhi. Just in front of the main Gopuram [Tower] there is the pushkarini or temple pond. It has nine snan ghats or bathing places. It is believed and practiced that couples wanting to be blessed with children, bathe in all these nine ghats and worship the Lord of Thirukkannapuram and they are blessed with good children. The same Lord as Sri Krishna sermonizes to Arjuna the reality of soul and body. Arjuna seems to be having a doubt. Though he is convinced that the soul is eternal and the body is perishable, that one has to get accustomed to some discomforts to achieve great objectives, yet there is a small hitch in his mind. In our daily life, when we have to vacate a house we resided for some years and move to another town or a bigger house, we are sad to leave the old place. As we take a last look at the old house, we go back in our memory lane and are taken over by emotion. This is the case where we lived in that house for a very short duration. Therefore, when an atman has to depart a body it had occupied for 70 or 80 years, how one can overcome grief and emotion? This is the doubt haunting Arjuna. This was the body by which one got knowledge, one visited so many sacred places, one was blessed by great people and one was fondled by one’s parents. So one was lucky to have had this body and so it is but natural to feel sorry to leave this body. As a reply to Arjuna’s this query, that one should grieve at departing a body, the 22nd sloka is framed:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro ’parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi

"As a person puts on new garments, giving up used up ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones."

Here the body is compared to apparel. It is our practice that we cast away old and worn out dress. This body also wears out with time passing. Knee joints pain, vision becomes dimmer and hearing diminishes. Should not, therefore, atman seek a new body and cast aside this body, just as we choose new attire? In fact on festival days like Deepavali and Pongal, we are happy to put on new dresses. We celebrate such events. We take sweets and seek blessings of elders on those days. So, these are days for merry making. Similarly, when a soul departs a body and enters a new one, should we not celebrate? Sri Krishna points out the second error committed by Arjuna. The first one was mourning for the perishable body. Now, as a second error, Arjuna instead of being happy is feeling sorry. This is a greater error. The soul has got a new body and so the playful child times can be re-enacted. The Vedas describe the happiness of human beings. In Thaithriya Upanishad, youthfulness is taken as the scale to describe the happiness one can get. In youth one has a very good capacity to eat anything and digest. An old person has many excuses to deny eatables after particular time in the day. Whereas, a youth eats whenever he finds food. He has the capacity to do what many persons can jointly do. He is able to run, jump, climb and what not. All these happiness is possible only in the youth. Therefore, the soul also takes a youthful body to enjoy. Arjuna raises another doubt. It is right to be happy, if the atman is going to take a better body and enjoy. If one had a worn-out dress, it is correct for that one to cast that dress away and put on a better clothe. But if the new apparel is torn or is made of rags, why should one throw away the old clothes? Similarly, if the atman is sure of getting a better body, one can agree with the statement that one should be happy at the atman being born in a new body. Because of the past karma, what if the atman is going to take the body of a mouse or cat or a sickly person? How can we rejoice? None is sure of the new body the atman is going to get. In the case of apparels, surely we will only purchase new and better dress only. One was living in an old palace, which required repairs and refurnishing. Suppose, the one is offered a brand new multi crore worth prison to live, will that one accept? Therefore, if one is assured of a better and higher level body, one can be happy. But with the karmas, the atman does not know its destination. How, then we can feel happy at the departure of a soul from the body? Sri Krishna allays that fear also. After all Arjuna is fighting righteously and for a just cause. In case he gets killed, he is assured of swarga or the heaven, where happiness will be much more. On the other hand, if the Pandavas win, they are going to reign righteously and with the blessings of the subjects they will reach heaven only after their death. So anyway, Arjuna is assured of a better life after death and so the fear he has is baseless.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Today’s lecture is from Thirumangai Alwar sannidhi in Thirukkannapuram temple. This Alwar was so much devoted to the Sri SowriRaja Perumal here, that he sang 100 songs or one entire 8th decade in his Peria Thirumozhi was devoted to this Kshetram. This Alwar also made another collection of hymns and that is Thiru Nedunthandakam. With the aid of this collection, we will try to examine the 21st sloka of chapter 2 of Gita. In ThiruNedunthandakam, in the first hymn, the Alwar while describing Paramatma, jeevatma and achit, he employs three words in Tamil. They are Munnuru, Pinnuru and Ponnuru. Munnuru represents all the inanimate –achit- objects, like the body, we see. Pinnuru is the jeevatma that is latent in these achit entities. Ponnuru means the Paramatma hidden in the atman. We have seen that the achit perishes while the atman is eternal. This Alwar also says that the atman is unborn, unchangeable and imperishable. The achit are all created, modified and perish. Alwar says he wants to surrender unto Him Who pervades this atman. Earlier we told that the atman is the tiniest entity. Some may raise doubts here. When atman is atomic in size, how it is logical or sensible that Paramatma can be tinier than atman? In the primary classes we were educated that atom was the smallest matter. But later on in higher studies we were told that the atom consists of protons, electrons and neutrons. Similarly, though atman is the tiniest entity, as we research and reason, we conclude that the Paramatma resides in the atman. So, we should understand that Paramatma is fully dwelling in the soul. The soul with his intellect is fully present in the body it is occupying. This relationship among the three entities has to be borne in mind and we pass on to the 21st sloka:

vedavinasinam nityam
ya enam ajam avyayam
katham sa purushah partha
kam ghatayati hanti kam

"O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or encourage anyone to kill?"

Here, Sri Krishna says that he, who realizes that the atman cannot be destroyed, neither tries to destroy atman nor persuades others to destroy atman. Will anyone do that? If I know that I cannot break this pillar by my head, I will not try to do that. Similarly, if it is realized that the atman is imperishable, nobody will ever try to annihilate the atman nor induces anyone else to do that. Sri Krishna says this because if Arjuna realizes that he cannot destroy atman, he will know he cannot kill Bheeshma or Drona, nor he will think that he could possibly ask Bhima or other friendly kings to kill. So He reiterates that how he, who realizes that the atman is ajam-unborn, avyayam- unchangeable and avinasanam- indestructible and nityam- eternal, can ever think of killing anyone or induce others to kill anyone. This soul is in this body and experiences the pleasures and pains and after this is over, atman gets released from that body. So only the body is destroyed. Sri Krishna uses three adjectives to describe jeevatma unborn, immutable and imperishable. This does not cause boredom, as the soul is gyana swaroopy- embodiment of knowledge and ananda swaroopy- repository of happiness. Here, we have to know two types of entities. One is called paradarsam and the other is pratyadarsam. All objects we see such as this pillar, watch, etc., are all paradarsam. Jeevatma, on the other hand is pratyadarsam. The difference is atman knows it is atman while other objects will not know what they are. Souls do not require an external agency to know who they are. But all the inanimate objects require identification by another entity. Atman is always awake. As an example, we nowadays see clock in cars. Let us say we drive the car and reach a place at say 4p.m We switch off the engine in the car and all are closed including the clock. After an hour we again get into the vehicle and start the engine. The clock panel also gets illuminated and shows the time, now as 5p.m. Even though the car engine was shut, the battery in the clock keeps it ticking during the engine-off period also. This can be noticed in the computers also. Similarly, the atman in our body is always alive as he is an ocean of knowledge and that knowledge is refreshed always. A person with this knowledge knows that that atman is everlasting and cannot be killed. There is an episode in the Mahabharatha called Yaksha Prasnam. The Pandavas when in forest in exile, one day feel thirsty. Sahadev first goes to a pond to drink and fetch water for others. An Yaksha asks him to answer his questions before taking water. Sahadev is indifferent to that and tries to take water and he swoons and falls down. Later, other brothers come one by one and they also do not care to answer the Yaksha and meet the same fate. Finally, Yudhishtra comes and encounters the same question from the Yaksha. But true to his humble nature, he tries to answer the questions. One of the questions was whish is surprising in this world. Yudhishtra replied that the surprise is, in spite of the nine holes in the body, the soul does not leave the body. Such a tiny atman does not escape even when the holes are wide open. If in a cage, the door is open, it will be a surprise if the bird in the cage does not fly out. Then another question posed was which is most surprising? Yudhishtra replied that while we see so many dead, we still think that we will live for ever. Humorously it is told that when a dead body is cremated or carried by professionals hired for that purpose, they will be praying that more such dead bodies they should cremate or carry so that they could live happily for ever with the money so earned. So it is very difficult to come to that realization that the atman is everlasting and the body only perishes.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The 17th sloka dealt with the reasoning that since there is not a smaller entity than the atman, it is indestructible. In the 18th sloka, since the body was a composite of the five elements and since it was growing and waning, it is destroyable. In the 19th sloka, it was told that he, who does not understand this true nature of atman and body, is not a wise man. Having stated so, now in the 20th sloka, Sri Krishna establishes that atman does not undergo any changes whatsoever.

na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ’yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire

"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He was not born at the time of kalpa, does not disappear at the end of kalpa. He is unborn, eternal, unchanging and very ancient. He is not slain when the body is slain."

Anything that is eternal is unchanging and anything that is changeless is everlasting. All materials we see like flower and mud pots change as the time passes and so get destroyed. Earlier when He said atman is not born or die, Arjuna had a doubt that atman might not have been born now, but at the beginning of some centuries ago he could have been born. As a reply to that, Sri Krishna says kadacin- at anytime the atman was neither born nor will die at anytime. Because birth and death are related to the body. If atman and body were one, as the body changes from youth to old age, atman also should have been different. In reality, the same atman is in the changed body and so atman never undergoes any change. Human age is estimated to be about 100 years. Six months period from mid January – beginning of Tamil month Thai- is Utharayanam and the balance six months from mid July [corresponding to Tamil month Adi beginning] is Dakshinayanam. To the heavenly gods –Devas- each six-month period is a day or night. Thus our one-year is their one-day. So their age is 365X100 years of earthly human beings. They die at the end of this period. Even here also, the atman never dies. The god for creation, the four-faced Brahma, has much longer life. There are four yugas- Kritha, Thretha, Dwapara and Kali. The total period of the four yugas – one chatur yuga- is 4,320,000 years on earth. If 1000 chatur yugas pass it is one-day time for Brahma. So, one can calculate the Brahma’s life span! Even this atman of Brahma does not die or born. So the atman is eternal like the Paramatma. Such is the glorious nature of our souls. This does not mean our souls and Paramatma are same. If we develop our wisdom or gyana then we can have the knowledge of the Paramatma and also have the same degree of happiness. The great deluge [pralayam] is called kalpa. At the start of the kalpa, Brahma creates everything in this Universe. At that time also the atman is not created. Nor the atmans perish at the end of a kalpa. When a child is born, at that time an atman chooses that body and is born. Atman is there in everything. It is in this plant and in that pillar. One may wonder how atman can be in those inanimate objects. But if we examine closely, even our body is inanimate and we know atman is there. So, there is atman in all materials also. The only difference is that the atman in our body can develop his knowledge while, the atman in the pillar has no scope for wisdom. The atman in that pillar is there to expend the karma he had acquired and the moment that is over, that atman will depart that pillar and reside in another body. The magnitude of the wisdom of the atman in any body is determined by its past karma. If the wisdom is, let us say, 0%, it resides in an inanimate body like pillar. A slightly higher intellectual makes the soul to take a bird’s body or animal’s body. More wisdom makes the soul to take bodies of human beings or devas or even a Brahma. So the ranking of the knowledge decides the body that soul will be residing. The up and down in gyana or wisdom is only found in atmans. Once, the soul has taken a body, he tries to develop his wisdom and seek a higher level and ultimately, resides in the Sri Vaikuntam or His abode from where there is no more return for the atman to lower planes like this earth. Thus atman is eternal and never undergoes any change. Sri Krishna calls atman as purana. Pura api navaha puranaha is the Sanskrit meaning for the word purana. It means to say that it is very ancient and at the same time fresh or novel. Atman also is ancient but appears fresh everyday. It is common knowledge that we seek changes so as to avoid monotonous, which can be boring and dull. We rearrange our surroundings. We change our dress. So Arjuna feels that an unchanging and static atman might cause boredom. Sri Krishna allays such thoughts and says that atman is fresh everyday with more and better knowledge. This is a greatness of atman that though he is changeless, he appears afresh every time. Like Sri Aravamudan of Thirukkudanthai [Kumbakonam], Alwar says, every time he visits Him, he finds Him revealing Himself differently. We listen to Sri Ramayana. But every time we listen it refreshes our knowledge. So He now tells Arjuna that by killing Bheeshma, he will not kill the atman of Bheeshma.

Friday, April 20, 2007


In the last two slokas we saw the eternal nature of soul and the perishable nature of the body. But we see the body decaying and so it may be unnecessary to give so many reasons to prove body is decayable. However, it is not so and there are reasons to make this much of effort to say. Firstly, atman is not perishable like Him, the Paramatma. This is affirmative comparison. In a negative comparison, the atman is not like the body, which perishes. So, to establish the superiority of atman, destructible body is compared. Just as we come across dos and don’ts in our daily life, two types of examples were needed to show the indestructible quality of atman and so comparison with body was necessary. Another benefit also was found that by telling Arjuna that the body is perishable, his notion that he is going to kill Bheeshma and Drona would be changed. Though, in the fight he may destroy the bodies of these people, those bodies are anyway going to perish. Just by Arjuna not fighting, those bodies are not going to be everlasting. There can be many more factors to destroy those bodies. Also, by describing the decaying nature of the body, the impression of some that nourishments and tonics can keep this body eternal, can be cleared. Also, only if the perishable nature of body is understood, many persons who are suffering will at least derive peace that the ailments, which cause sufferings, will end with the perishing of the body. Since this body is going to perish, why bother so much about it? Some people also will derive this type of feeling. We may not spend money and time on unnecessary makeup to decorate this body. Lastly, we should get a balanced view about the body and not to think the body and soul are one and the same. These are the reasons why Sri Krishna took pains to explain the nature of the body and the soul. Having told this, He moves to the next sloka where He says that a person who does not understand the nature of soul and body is a fool:

ya enam vetti hantaram
yas cainam manyate hatam
ubhau tau na vijanito
nayam hanti na hanyate

“The two types of people, who think there are objects to destroy this [soul] and who think that this [soul] is destroyable, have not understood the nature [of the soul]”

Hantaram means objects or entities, which can kill. The first line means knowing that there are objects, which can kill a soul. Hatam manyate means believing as having been destroyed or killed. So the second line states that also believing that the soul as having been killed. Na vijanito means not understood. So these two categories of people, one thinking there are objects to destroy atman and the other who believe that the atman is destroyed, have not understood. Because, in the fourth line, it is stated that the atman is neither killed nor there are any objects capable of destroying the atman. Here objects means another soul as well as things causing destruction such as sword, arrow or bullet, etc. Therefore, the 19th sloka clearly says that there is nothing which can annihilate atman nor the atman ever gets annihilated.

Here another doubt may arise. This appears to be in contrast with some Veda sentences. Veda says ‘na himsyat sarvan bhoothani’. Do not be brutal [cause himsa] to any living creatures. The same Sri Krishna, Who gave the shastras asking us not to harm other living creatures, here, is advocating Arjuna that one cannot kill a soul. There seems to be contradiction. We may think, perhaps the shastras only ask us not to kill the bodies of other creatures. When Veda says cow slaughter should be avoided, does it mean the body of the cow should not be hurt? This is also not correct. Because, when someone dies, the body is cremated by igniting fire to the body. None calls this as himsa or hurting. So the shastras instruct us not to harm a body which is living or when the soul is inside. Therefore, the implication is that one should not cause maranam [death]. Maranam means mruth prana thyagena. That is separation of atman from the body and the Vedas advise us not to do this separation. So, the correct interpretation of the shastras is that, we are not authorized to separate the soul from the body. In fact, these words are similar to the words used in Katavalli Upanishad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Brindaranya nivasaya balaramanujaya cha rukmini prananathaya partha sarathy mangalam”. This is the mangala slokam of the Husband of Sri Rukmini and Chariot Driver of Arjuna. He assumed the position of Acharya and taught the Gita. As Sri Gitacharya, as Sri Parthasarathy and as Sri VenkataKrishnan, He is gracing the devotees in Thiruvallikkeni [Triplicane, Madras]. He is same present here in Thirukkannankudi as Sri Damodara Narayana and Sri Shyamala Meni Perumal. Today the lecture is from the Sri Aravinda Nayaki Thayar sannidhi. Prostrating to the Divya Dhampathi, we will now see the 18th sloka. In the 17th sloka to prove that the atman is eternal, He gave one reason; atman is tiny and no other is tinier than the atman to destroy atman. Here, Acharya Sri Vedanta Desika poses a question in his Thathparya Chandrika, a treatise on the Gita. It is true that atman is indestructible as no other entity is smaller than that, except one. That one is Paramatma described as Antharayami. The Upanishads describe Him as ‘anor aniyan mahato maheeyan’ [atomic in atom and larger than the largest]. So can He destroy an atman? This is the question Desika poses. This is an interesting question. Earlier we gave an example of the mobile phone. As such an Rs.30,000 worth set will not work unless a tiny SIM card was placed in it. But this also is not enough, as we require the electro magnetic spectrum spread out for the mobile phone to have connectivity. This is provided by the towers [BT] erected in the area. Similarly if the atman [SIM card] in the body [Mobile handset] has to work, a towering personality –Paramatma [BT]- is needed. We can see another example also. Injection is needed to cure an illness. The medicine was administered using an injection syringe fitted with a needle. The illness got cured. Now, was it the piercing of needle into the patient cured the body? Though, needle piercing was necessary, that alone could not cure the illness and we require the medicine to be sent through the needle. So if we imagine the atman as a needle, the medicine is Paramatma. Thus God is present in each and every atman. Alwar says ‘udalmisai uyirena karandhengum parandulan’. So Sriman Narayana dwells within the soul. Then, He should be able to destroy the soul, is it not? The reply to this in the normal way, can put us in tight spot. If one says that atman is indestructible, we find Paramtma is tinier than that. If we still maintain that atman cannot be destroyed, then the All Powerful quality of God is disproved, as He cannot destroy atman. On the other hand, if we say Paramtma can destroy atman by accepting His all Powerful quality, then it means atman is destructible and what was told earlier as the everlasting quality is not there for the atman. Here, Desika gives an amazing answer to the question. It is most important to accept that God possesses the omnipotent quality and has the capacity to annihilate any atman. But out of sheer love for His darling atman, He has taken an oath as not to destroy any atman. So, it is His unwillingness to destroy an atman, makes the atman as eternal. It is similar to a case where, a door is locked and the only key is with a single person, who alone can open that door. If that person is away some 1000 miles away, we normally say, this door cannot be opened. What we imply is in the normal way it cannot be opened, unless the person comes with the key. So also, the atman can be destroyed only by a single Entity, but that Entity has vowed not to destroy and thus the atman is everlasting. One may wonder how far this assurance can be relied as Sri Krishna is famous for His tricks and cheats. Those are the playful deeds of the Lord as a cowherd and in a serious sermon He speaks only the truth and so His pledge not to destroy the atman is dependable. Now we can go to the 18th sloka:

antavanta ime deha
nityasyoktah saririnah
anasino ’prameyasya
tasmad yudhyasva bharata

"The material body, of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity [atman] is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata."

Sri Krishna says to Arjuna,’ therefore you can fight’. ‘Why?’ asks Arjuna. ‘Because the body is perishable’, replies Sri Krishna. The body anyhow is going to perish and to establish this, three reasons are given. Anasi means never perishable. Prama is budhhi or wisdom. Prameyam means things we recognize using our wisdom. Aprameyam means that which is different from the prameyam or from the objects understood by wisdom. In other words aprameya means the knowledgeable atman. So, that atman which is imperishable and which has the power of knowledge is eternal and this atman is using the body to clear the karma or effect of past deeds. Once the karma is over, this body gets destroyed. In this sloka three important words are to be seen: ime, deha and saririnah. Ime implies the body we see. This is made of a combination of the five elements: prithvy, appu, vayu, agni and akash. We gave earlier the analogy of upma, an eatable. As such sooji, water and salt do not get spoiled, but a combination of these, which make upma, gets spoiled quickly. So our body also, a combination of the five elements, gets perished. Against this atman is pure and made only of wisdom or gyana. Next, deha means that which grows and decays. That which has organs or components will grow and decay. Like a building built of so many components, our body is made of various limbs, and so faces destruction. On the contrary, atman is without limbs and so no growth or decay. Sareeram means body and sareeri means atman, residing inside the sareeram. The atman is in a body to expend the punya or past good deeds by merry making and drain the papa or past misdeeds by sorrowing. So as the atman spends away the karma i.e. papa and punya, the body it has made as its abode, has to perish. We can tabulate these as below:


1. Combination of five elements Pure Gyana only

2. Possesses organs No organs or limbs

3. A vehicle to perform karma Beneficiary of the karma.

Because of the above three reasons, the body is perishable and the atman is ever enduring. Thus in the preceding two slokas, Sri Krishna establishes the eternity of atman and perishability of body by four reasons, viz. tiniest nature of atman, combination of elements, possession of organs and growth and decay of body with karma.


We start with the 1st sloka of Swami Desikan’s Sri Gopala Vimsathi: ‘vande brindavanacharam vallabhi jana vallabam jayanthi sambavam dhama vyjayanthi vibhooshanam’ Brindavan was a forest full of thorns and Sri Krishna converted it into grazing field for the cows. He traversed the entire place. He was the darling of all gopikas and captivated all His devotees. The same Sri Krishna is dwelling in this Thirukkannankudi as Sri Damodara Narayanan. He is also called Sri Shyamala Meni Perumal. Shyam is dark green color. That is why He is described as ‘pachchai maa malai meni’ and ‘kannan ennum karundeivam’. We mentioned about the four humorous old sayings about this place. Thirumangai Alwar, we mentioned earlier, hid the gold in a field. Next day morning the landowner came to plough the land and at that time a dispute arose as to whom the land belonged to. While the owner claimed it was his and showed records, Alwar refuted it and said his records were in Srirangam and wanted time to show the same. The owner agreed and Alwar took away his gold and went to Srirangam but never returned to settle the dispute and so it still remains a thola [unsettled] vazhakku [dispute]. The Alwar saw a well and requested the woman, who was drawing water from the well, to give him water to drink. But the lady having seen the dispute with the farmer of the land, thought Alwar might claim the well and the drawing pot, and so refused. Alwar cursed that all water in this place to go saline and so even now the water in this place is not drinkable. So the saying ‘oora [not springing ] kinaru [well]’. Here, only in the temple well one gets fresh water. These are all incidences narrated for humor. The same Sri Damodara Narayana Perumal as Sri Krishna is telling Arjuna. In the 16th sloka He told about the everlasing nature of the soul and the fleeting nature of the body. In the 17th sloka He gives the reason for the eternity of the soul and in the 18th sloka the reasons for the perishable quality of body. The 17th sloka is:

avinasi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idam tatam
vinasam avyayasyasya
na kascit kartum arhati

"That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul."

Atman is all pervading in the matter we are able to perceive. Here, atman is in singular form, but means every atman it occupies the respective body. Sri Krishna says that if one knows that the atman is indestructible, then one can conclude that there is nothing to destroy the atman. This means no living or nonliving entities can destroy atman. In other words another atman also cannot negate an atman. No materials also can ever annihilate an atman. This indestructibility is natural to atman and so it cannot be wiped out. Just as the fragrance, which is, natural character of a flower cannot be removed. The atman in a body is pervading or spread out in the entire body, just like a glow of a lamp illuminates the entire room it is in. Atman is atomic in size and the body it is residing is much bigger. Scientifically, many atoms form all materials we recogonise. But the atman is smaller than the atom and there is nothing smaller than the atman. Here, Sri Krishna postulates a very important law. Only a smaller object can destroy a bigger object. Let us explain this. When an arrow is fired at a body, the tip of the arrow is minute and so it is able to hurt the bigger body. Similarly, the bullets fired from a rifle destroy the target, as the bullet is smaller than the target. That is, only sookshmam [minute] will destroy sthoolam [enormity] and as a corollary sthoolam can never destroy sookshmam. Since atman is the tiniest and there is nothing else smaller than atman, it cannot be destroyed. Let us examine the veracity of this Law. A stout rod destroys a small earthen pot. Apparently,it is contrary to the law mentioned now in that the bigger rod destroyed the smaller pot. But actually, the enormity has not destroyed the pot. If that was true then a big bundle of cotton if thrown on the pot should have broken the pot. Similarly, if the rod were just kept on the pot, the pot remains without breaking. So a massive rod alone is not responsible for breaking the pot. Even a throw cannot break the pot as we saw throwing cotton bundle could not break it. So it is seen that a rod and a force are needed to break the pot. This is also not enough. If the pot were at one place and if we swipe the rod with force at another place, the pot will not break. Because a contact between the rod and pot is essential to break the pot. So, we can now conclude that to break a pot, a mass, a force and a contact are needed. Science tells that mass and velocity [or acceleration] produce force or power and this in a minute form acts at the contact point to destroy. We can remember the famous equation E [energy]= m [mass] Xc*2 [velocity]. Thus the law is observed to be true. An invisible minute power destroyed the pot. That is why Sri Krishna says that atman without a smaller entity being available, can never be destroyed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Of the five Sri Krishna Kshetrams, Thirukkannankudi is one. Here, Sri Damodara Narayana Perumal is gracing the devotees. Thirumangai Alwar has composed ten songs on this Perumal. In one of the hymns, the Alwar narrates an incidence from the Mahabharatha. Sri Krishna is sent as emissary to plead, at least, for five villages. When He was to come the next day, Dhridarashtra, Duryodana and Sakuni confer to plan and get Sri Krishna on the side of Kauravas. Sri Krishna was not to be lured by anything except bhakthi. Wise persons like Sanjaya and Vidura, counseled them not to adopt such mean ways. They did not heed such advice. They schemed to trap Sri Krishna. So, they constructed a false floor in the assembly. Beneath this floor, wrestlers were housed in a chamber. The scheme was that Sri Krshna as He arrived in the assembly, would be asked to take a decorated golden seat kept on the false floor and the moment he sat, the floor will give way and Sri Krishna will fall inside the underneath chamber, where the wrestlers will pounce on Him and keep Him bound. Duryodana had also given strict orders that no one should get up from their seats when Sri Krishna entered the assembly. But when Sri Krishna entered, the first to get up was Duryodana! Sri Krishna gracefully entered making enquiries with the seated lords there. Duryodana requested Sri Krishna to sit on the specially erected golden chair. Sri Krishna declined saying that ordinary seat was enough as He had come as an ambassador. Duryodana insisted on Sri Krishna taking that seat only, he had cunningly erected. It is usual for anyone to suspect if one is offered a particular seat. Sri Krishna also grew suspicious, but decided to sit on that same chair. Having been brought up with rich nourishment, Sri Krishna was well built and so when He sat on the chair, the floor caved in due to the weight. Immediately, He took His Viswaroopam and His physical form stretched from far beneath to high up in skies. Duryodana’s plans were shattered to dust. Earlier He was a cowherd and now a gigantic figure. Sri Damodara Narayana Perumal also signifies the same. Damodara indicates the smaller cowherd obedient to His mother Yasoda. Narayana signifies the Great Figure Who encompasses the entire Universe. Damodara shows His simplicity and kindness to His devotees, while Narayana implies the boundless and unimaginable nature in Him. In the battlefield now, He is showing Him so simple and to patiently clear each and every doubt Arjuna has. Now, He says in the 16th sloka:

nasato vidyate bhavo
nabhavo vidyate satah
ubhayor api drsto ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darshibhih

"Those great gyanis and philosophers have concluded that of the material body there is no endurance and of the the soul there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both."

He says that Arjuna should not think that these are only His findings; but these are the conclusions by great thinkers too. Here. Sri Krishna uses four words: sat –asat and bhava-abhava. Sat points to atman. Asat indicates body. Bhava signifies eternal imperishable nature, while abhavam means transient and perishable nature. Atman has the eternal imperishable quality and body has the transient perishable nature. Sri Krishna says ‘body [asat] does not have permanent imperishable quality. Soul [sat] does not have the perishable nature’. Instead of saying directly that atman is permanent and body is perishable, He says the quality of one is not found in the other. Atman will never have the nature of body and the body will never have the quality of atman. The character of both these are thus resolved with finality, by great gyanis and wise men. This sloka comes after the 15th one wherein it was told that those with high objectives would have to bear the twin pleasure and pain. An athlete bears the difficulties to win. So also Arjuna should train himself to bear the injuries in a fight. Does not a woman bear all the inconveniences for ten months so that she can fondle and play with her child? So one has to learn to bear the sufferings. By not fighting, can Arjuna avoid being hurt? One fears air travel saying it is risky. Next day while walking one gets tripped and becomes lame. So injury is inevitable. If one catches common cold he is advised that whether he takes any medicine or not the problem would remain for three days or so. One takes still a medicine as a safeguard and as a psychological need. So all these are migrants on our body and have to be regarded so. In the 11th sloka He mentioned ‘gatasun agatasums ca
nanusocanti panditah
’ [learned persons knowing the nature of body and soul will not brood] and now He reiterates this. A natural character of soul is permanency and that of body is changing. The only quality that is not changing in body is the ever-changing nature only! Atman never changes and body is ever changing. That is why some call this body as false. It is not to imply it does not exist like a rabbit horn or horse horn. But it means it has a false appearance and it is continuously changing. Nammalwar says in his Thiruvaimozhi “minnin nilayila mannuyir aakkaigal..” the body is not having the stability of lightning. How this is possible? After all lightning lasts only for a few seconds, while most of the people are alive for more than fifty years. Then, why Nammalwar says like this? Even a child will tell that a lightning will last only for a few seconds. But no one can for definite say that a person will live so many years. Thus there is always uncertainty about the body.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Today [16thApril, 2007] also the lecture is from the Thirukkannankudi temple. For the sake of Vijaya [Arjuna] Sri Krishna came as a chariot driver and for the sake of the Universe at large, many invaluable doctrines were delivered. We are listening to the lecture from the banks of the temple pond sravana pushkarini. Sravanam means listening. By just hearing about this pond all our sins are washed away. One side of this pond is Sri Damodara Narayana and on the other side is Sri Veetrirundha Perumal, Who was the ruling Deity here. Even before Sri Damodara Perumal came running from Sage Vasishta and resided here, Sri Veetrirundha Perumal has been making this place as His abode. All are requested to visit this place where the innermost essence of Gita is residing here and worshipping Him, all can get blessings. In the 14th sloka, we saw that the connection with organs and elements creates sorrow or happy feelings. Every doubt expressed here is on behalf of us by Arjuna. He asks why should one bear these twins, happy and sorrow or cold and heat? By getting hurt in this fight, if we are to get any benefits we can bear that pain. Or, if it promises a better world after death also we can tolerate this pain. But the pain is unbearable here and by killing relatives and teachers only hell is assured, so this fight appears to be avoidable, says Arjuna. In reply is the 15th sloka:

yam hi na vyathayanty ete
purusham purusharsabha
sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram
so ’mrtatvaya kalpate

"O best among men [Arjuna], the person who takes in the same manner happiness and distress and is brave in both is certainly eligible for liberation."

Here, Sri Krishna mentions dheeram, which in normal connotation means bravery. But, where the surroundings are creating distress and one does not get worried, one is dheera. Where circumstances compel one to glee over but that one does not rejoice, that one is dheera. Winter or summer, if one takes alike, one is dheera. This is a difficult suggestion. Sitting in Himalayas one should not shiver and in a desert one should not ask for cool air. But a person of such temperament is a karma yogi. This is what Swami Vivekananda preached in foreign lands. If one can experience peace and silence in a very busy market area or the other way, he is karma yogi. Sri Krishna does not say all these sufferings will not be there but one should get accustomed to it and bear them. So a person who takes alike comfort and discomfort, qualifies for liberation. Here the word Amrutham is used and it means the place where there is no more death [and so rebirth]. In other words it means Sri Vaikuntam, the abode of Sriman Narayana. This temperament is also sometimes regarded as ‘seeing’ one’s own atman. But earlier Arjuna was telling that he may not get even heaven, one may ask. Here the Moksham or Sri Vaikuntam, is much beyond and superior to heaven and hell. This is because if one has to attain heaven, he should have performed good deeds or punya. Similarly, if one’s destination is hell one must have committed sins or papa. But what Sri Krishna says does not confine one to papa or punya and shuttle between this world and heaven or hell. In our lives we see both pleasure and pain. Marriages are celebrated and we are happy. Someone dies or some things are lost and we feel sorry. It should be kept in mind that when we are happy, some portion of our punya we had accumulated is being spent. Similarly, sorrow expends the gathered papa. Then, just think, should one be happy or mourning? If, as an example, grieving for ten minutes is going to reduce 100 papa units and similarly, if ten minutes’ rejoice is going to reduce our punyam by 100 punya units, surely, everyone will choose to grieve and exhaust the papa as quickly as possible. So, if we realize that to clear papa we are grieving, the grief will be pleasant, on the other hand, punya is spent by rejoicing, happy incidents will look bitter. So we should understand that it is natural in life to have both happiness and sorrow. In fact it is practical that, what was bitter sometimes back is pleasant now and vice versa. A shawl in summer is uncomfortable while the same shawl in winter is soothing. Bitter gourd was hated in our younger days but now after knowing the medicinal value it is sweet to us. So the objective of a good health makes us to choose what was abhorred as bitter in the past. So, He advises Arjuna that for the grand objective of maintaining Dharma, he should fight. During Indian Independence struggle, many took the physical torture inflicted on them with a smile, because, objective was noble. Those are all dheera. We are able to undergo minor surgeries after administering local anesthetic. We refuse to bear that pain without local anesthetic. But the freedom strugglers, for the sake of a higher target, took upon themselves pain with a smile. So it is only our habit and practice will make us dheera. The word purusham does not mean male, but atman. Our body is called puri and the one who is dwelling in that puri is purusha. The soul is not different for males and females.


In the second Chapter, Sri Krishna commends the greatness of the soul and importance of Karma yoga. On this day [13th, April, 2007] we are under the Magizhampoo tree, in Thirukkannankudi. About this place, there is an old saying. The saying is ‘oorakinaru, kaya magizha maram, uranga puli, thola vazhakku Thirukkannankudi’. It is humorous one connected with Thirumangai Alwar. This Alwar was building the great boundary walls for the Srirangam temple. He collected gold from nearby Nagappattinam, and was passing by this place to go to Srirangam. Here, in the night he kept the gold buried under the ground and slept requesting the nearby tamarind tree to look after the gold from thieves till he got up in the morning. The tree obeyed Alwar's request and guarded the gold without sleeping. So, the tree got the name uranga puli [tamarind]. Afterwards, the Alwar felt tired and hungry and rested under the Magizhampoo maram. God sent food for him and both his hunger and mental desire were quenched by worshiping the Lord Sri Damodara Narayana Perumal. He was so happy that he blessed this tree to be ever alive without bearing any fruits. Was it a boon or a curse? Normally, when the tree starts bearing fruits, it means ageing and so this tree is always fresh and green. Similarly, our souls also, do not age and are always eternal. [The lecturer did not elaborate on the other two sayings]. In the last sloka we saw that just as a soul watches the various changes happening on the body it is residing, it changes its residence from one body to another. Arjuna then had a doubt. He could see the changes in the body like from childhood to youth to middle age and to old age. Similarly, if he were to see the soul going from one body to another, then there could not be any doubts about what Sri Krishna told and he could believe what He said. But this is not so and so all sorrow death. Sri Krishna told that though one does not see his rebirth, others are seeing and explains further. We see the Sun in the day and after it sets, we see it only in the next morning. Can we say the Sun disappeared during the nighttime? But everyone knows that because of the Earth’s revolution, though the Sun is not visible for a person at a place, the Sun is visible to persons on other parts of the world. So just because one did not see the Sun, one cannot conclude that there was no Sun in the night. Thus we believe others in the other part of the world saying that the Sun is still shining. So, He asks Arjuna, 'you believe others but why not what I said about the Atman?'. This is a difficult suggestion. But only when we have this unshakable faith in Him that what He told is the truth and correct, we can be regarded as Bhakthas. This appears to be illogical. There are many yogis and saints, who have seen the atman going from one body to another. They are able to tell what was the previous birth and what the future birth would be. If one cultivates one’s knowledge, one can also know all these abstract happenings. So Sri Krishna says that just because Arjuna did not know the traverse from one body to another, he cannot deny that phenomenon. We will now see the 14th sloka. Arjuna says that granting what He said was accepted, why still one should fight and suffer? Even if the body and all matters are momentary, all feel the pain and why should we suffer? Sri Krishna says that when objectives are exalted, one has to bear these pains and says:

matra-sparshas tu kaunteya
agamapayino ’nityas
tams titiksasva bharata

"O son of Kunti, the cold and heat and happiness and distress, are transient. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed."

Sri Krishna says ‘ Hey! Bharatha- one emerged in the Bharath dynasty- you should bear these’. Which? Cold and heat and happiness and sorrow should be tolerated. Which are responsible for these feelings? Sri Krishna mentions mathra and contact. Mathra denotes the pancha thanmathra or the five basic feelings related to the five basic elements. The five elements are earth, water, fire, air and space [prithvi, appu, agni, vayu and akasam]. Each of these has a unique characteristic. These characteristics are called the thanmathras. Smell or gandham is earth’s feature. Taste or rasam is of water. Appearance or roopam is of fire. Touch or sparsam is of air and sound or shabdam is of space. Each of these thanmathras are felt by specific organs in our body, nose for smell, tongue for taste, eyes for vision, ears for hearing and skin for touch.


Earth *********smell or scent********* nose

Water********* taste***************** tongue

Fire************vision or sight ********eyes

Air ************touch****************skin

Space********** sound**************** ear

When there is a contact between the elements and the organs, we get that feeling which is responsible for happiness or sorrow. If this contact or connection was not there, we will not feel. So Sri Krishna says that this sparsam or connectivity between the organs and the matter [composed of the five elements] happiness, sorrow, heat and cold are felt. This cannot be avoided and inevitable. Similarly, in a fight such pains are inevitable and with that knowledge Arjuna is advised to bear the sufferings.

Saturday, April 14, 2007




Today’s [12thApril, 2007] lecture is under the Magizham poo [flower] tree in the temple at Thirukkannankudi, one of the five Sri Krishna kshetrams. We have seen that Bramham, Chit and Achit as the thatvathrayam and their relationship and differences. Sri Krishna tries to clear the doubt in Arjuna’s mind and tells that Atman is eternal and cannot be destroyed. Body is required and we have to take care of it to the extent possible and the perishable nature of it has to be kept in mind. Atman is pure and superior to body. We are now in Thirukkannankudi and here the Moolavar is known as Sri Lokanathan[Shyamala Meni] Perumal and the Uthsavar is known as Damodara Narayanan. Sri Thayar is known as Sri Lokanayaki [uthsavar Sri Aravindavalli]. Legend says that Vasishta out of his yogic powers used to prepare a Sri Krishna idol out of butter and it would never melt till his meditation was over. Once Sri Krishna in the form of a child came and swallowed all the butter and Vasishta chased the child to reprimand. But the child ran away and came to this place. Here lots of yogis were meditating and they knew the Child was Sri Krishna and they bound Him out of their yogic power. Sri Krishna then granted their desire to remain here with the name Sri Damodara Narayana. This is yet another instance that God listens to bhakthas [devotees] and none else. Koorathalwar, a great Acharya, says He can be tied only by Bhakthi [devotion]. Near the Sravana Pushkarini [temple pond] we will see what He says in the 13th sloka.

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A brave person is not concerned by such a change."

Sri Krishna says a brave man will not brood and lament. We see deaths and births. The great philosopher Adi Sankara says ‘punarabi jananam punarabi maranam…’It is a cycle, with births and deaths repeating. A soul can get released from this cycle only by uttering Sri Govinda’s name, says Adi Sankara. Atman as such is not born. When it contacts and resides in a body we call it birth. When the same atman departs from the body it was residing, we call it death. But atman never dies. In this sloka, atman is referred as dehi. A person is born as a child; he becomes a boy, then a lad and then old man. These changes pertain to body only and not to the soul. Sri Krishna calls him who understands this true nature of the soul a dheera or brave man. When a person becomes a boy after being a child but never laments that he lost his childhood. Similarly an old man does not mourn for the lost youth. On the contrary, we celebrate every stage in our life, like marriages, fatherhood, etc. The soul in the body- I - has been watching all these changes happening on the body. It is able to remember when the body was of a child and then of youth, etc. We remember when we started learning cycling and similar details. Another great philosopher Madhavcharya, says, we should lament when child becomes youth. Whereas we are happy and celebrate. We should realize that we are going from one phase to another. A worm while moving from one leaf to another, clings to the new leaf and leaves the earlier one. Same thing happening to body also and so there should be no room for worry and concern. A person with such attitude is called dheera.


On this day [11th April, 2007] we start with a sloka in the Gita where Sri Krishna states that Arjuna had many births and the Lord also had many incarnations [avatars]. In all the soul has remained everlasting. In the 12th sloka it was told that the entities are Iswara, Chit and Achit. Iswara is also referred to as Bramham in Upanishads. We saw the differences among all these. We have to imagine the soul without the perishable body. If we do that we can notice all souls or jeevatma are all the same. In that case, is the jeevatma one or are there many? Sri Krishna clarifies this by saying ‘ime jana..’ that is all these [Arjuna and others]are all eternal souls. There are some who believe that atman is only one and there are some others who believe that atman are many. Those who think that atman is only one argue that though there are many of us existing, the single soul is the only truth and all others are mere images, which the single soul has declared to be seen. If we can remove this seeming plurality of souls then it can be realized that atman is only one, they argue. Others who think that atmans are many say that though there are are many souls, there is no difference among them and so they can be grouped into a single category. In our daily life also, when, for example, we see jasmine flowers are heaped in the market or garden, we exclaim and say ‘only jasmine!’ [orey malligaipoo!]. Here, the observer does not mean a single jasmine flower. But, because they all look same and are white and spread the same fragrance, it was told ‘only jasmine’. Similarly, all souls are of same minute and same intelligence and are all slaves to the Paramatma and so they all come under the same category of jeevatma. Jeevatma is different from the Paramatma but among them, all jeevatmas are same with no difference whatsoever. Instead of saying ‘we’ to indicate Himself and Arjuna, He clearly makes a difference and says ‘I [Aham]’ and ‘you [tvam]’. Thus difference is there and we have to understand this. Because our philosophy is this difference. We should not believe if someone says ‘ I am God’. We are always His servants and He is the Proprietor, Commander and Leader. The One Who determines who should do what is God. We see a garden and we conclude there must be a gardener. We see ornaments and decide there must be a goldsmith. We see dress materials and infer there must have been a weaver. So for every creativity, we can definitely conclude that there must be a creator. This is logical, even if we do not see the architect of that creation by our sensual organs. This is similar to concluding there is fire by seeing only the smoke. This is inference or deduction. So by seeing all the various creations in the world, we can deduce that there must be a Creator and He is God. But our ancestors and learned men do not rely on inference or logic or deduction to conclude the existence of God. Philosophers classify the bedam or difference into three categories. We are in the garden of Thirukkannapuram temple and we will try to explain the bedam in Chit, Achit and Iswara, as conceived by our elders. There is a jasmine plant. There is another one at another place. The two are same but different. Same, as both are jasmine plants and different as they are physically apart. This is called sajatiya bedam or difference in the same class. There is a pillar. It is different from the jasmine plant in the group itself. This is called vijatiya bedam or difference in groupings. Within the jasmine plant, we find leaves and flowers. These constitute swagata bedam. Paramatma and jeevatma both have intelligence or gyana, but the jeevatma’s intelligence is limited by the body it resides. So, here we see sajatiya bedam. Bramham or Paramatma has wisdom and the objects and materials we see do not possess any intellect. This is vijatiya bedam. As God cannot be worshipped if there was no form or He did not possess qualities like mercy, Bramham has forms and qualities and so here the swagata bedam is exhibited. So Bramham has all the three types of bedam.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Alavandar, a great Acharya, in his Sthothra Rathnam, says that God can be realized only by bhakthi or devotion. With these opening remarks the lecture is started today [10th April, 2007]. The intimacy between God and His devotees cannot be described. We are in Thirukkannapuram temple Muniyodharar sannidhi. Muniyodharar was a great devotee of Sri Sowri Perumal. He was serving the king of that locality. He used to take his food or any eatable only after offering them to Sri Sowri Perumal, in His sannidhi. One day, due to official work, he got delayed and so when he went to the temple to offer the pongal [a rice preparation], the temple doors were closed and so he offered the preparation mentally with utmost devotion and after eating he went asleep. What a wonder? When the temple doors were opened,next day, pongal that was prepared in Muniyodharar ’s house was scattered all over the temple giving the appearance the Lord had eaten the Pongal offering. What was offered from a devotee’s house was taken by the Lord to show His great love for the devotee. Even now this type of preparation called Muniyodharar pongal is offered to the Lord daily. This is prepared using rice, moong dal and ghee in the ratio of 5:3:2. This shows His concern for the devotee and He will resolve the doubts in the minds of devotee. That is the reason Sri Krishna preaches Arjuna that soul never perishes. We can see in Sri Vaishnava sanyasins carry tridhandam or three sticks bundled together. This is to indicate the thatvathrayam. We find that Chit is there to enjoy all Achits. ‘I ‘ is there to enjoy the sweet drink or the sandal fragrance. Then, where is the need for a third entity, Iswara or God? This doubt could have been haunting in many of our minds. We shall answer this logically. Let us assume A is a person and he has to take food exactly at 8am daily as per medical advice. So A who has procured the food materials and got the food prepared is at the dining table and food has already been served for A to eat. Just then, an outsider comes and starts conversation. He mentions so many relatives’ names and nothing is familiar to A. Nearly ten minutes are over and A asks the intruder as whom he wanted to say. He replies that he came in search of B. A says he was not B and after sending the intruder, A sits to eat. Just then a phone call comes and the person at the other end enquires so many things that are all strange to A and finally it is discovered it was a wrong number. Another ten minutes delayed and overall twenty minutes delay. When now A sits to eat, his wife refuses to serve and demands an explanation for the delay and A is unable to. One can call it accidental, incidental or coincidental, but it is an unexplained reason and some other force beyond one’s control is acting. This is the third entity we call Iswara. So in this world we have Achit and Chit, who enjoys Achit. Then there is the third force that controls both Chit and Achit, and we call that as Iswara or God. We will see the differences in these three entities. Achit is unintelligent and is subject to change in its form, though undestroyable. Chits are many in number and are not subject to changes and are very minute. Here, we all observe that everyone is happy sometimes and sorrow sometimes. Since it is the soul, which has the intelligence, it only can enjoy or suffer. Does it not mean that soul also is subject to changes? We should clearly note here that the contact between achit and chit brings about the feeling of happiness or sorrow. That is when the soul resides in a body, it feels sorry or delightful for various reasons. But if the soul is away from the body, then it is having an eternal bliss only. Therefore, the real nature of soul is happiness only and when in contact with a body, mixed feelings are felt. So, while change is natural to Achit, the changes felt when in contact with a body is unnatural to the soul or chit. Iswara or Paramathma on the other hand is never subject to any change, natural or artificial, temporary or permanent. That is why in Sri Vishnu sahasranama it is said “ avikaraya sudhdhaya nithyaya paramathmane..” This is a fundamental principle to be always kept in mind.


On this day [9th April, 2007], the lecture was from the Thirukkannapuram temple. Normally, the Lord is decorated with Diamond studded Gold crowns. But here the Lord Sri Sowri Perumal is decorated with a wig. This has background story. There was an archaka [poojari] who performed poojas for the Lord. One night, his sweetheart came to the temple and after the pooja was over, the archaka gave the last remaining flower garland to the lady, who left for her home. Before he could draw shutters in the temple, the king of that place visited the temple. As per the tradition, the king was to be honoured with a garland of the Lord; but the garland was already given away to that lady. So the archaka, to avoid disappointment to the king, sent word and got back the garland from his sweetheart. Later, the king was garlanded with the same garland and the king also took the garland as a prasad [valuable gift] and went to his palace. There, the king found a long hair in the garland. Apparently, the archaka’s sweetheart’s hair got entangled in the garland. But the king was puzzled how hair could be found in a garland meant and used for the Lord and so he was angry and ordered the archaka be brought to him for enquiry. When archaka was asked by the king how hair was found in garland of the Lord, the Archaka to escape from the ordeal bluffed that in the Lord’s idol Itself, hair is there and so the same was found in the garland. The king could not believe it and wanted to satisfy himself by seeing the idol. So he got the temple opened and went to the idol. The Lord wanted to save His devotee from the wrath of the king and so there was really hair on the idol’s head and the king tested it to be true by pulling! From that time the Lord is called Sowri [Wig] Perumal. Such a devotee-caring Lord as Sri Krishna is preaching Arjuna. He says that all of us are eternal and we have been present now, then and in the future. A puzzled Arjuna says that while the perpetuality of Sri Krishna was not questioned, how Arjuna could have been eternal. Here Sri Krishna points to Arjuna that He meant the soul to be permanent and not the body. So in this sloka Sri Krishna postulates an important feature of the philosophy and is the foundation for all the remaining slokas in Gita. Everything in this universe could be grouped in three categories- Iswara, Chit and Achit. Achit are all those materials we see or hear or smell or taste or feel. Achit means without the intellect. The tombs of temples or the trees and plants or our limbs are all in this category as none of them have the intelligence. But all these are indestructible. One may wonder how this is true? We see tombs crumbling and trees are burnt. Here we should realize that only the form changes, but the matter remains in a different form. Gold might have become a ring or necklace but it remains as gold. Similarly, mud is made into a pot or plate etc. It can be made into mud again or in some other form but can never be annihilated. So an important point we should know about Achit is that it has no intelligence, but constantly changes its form and can never be drstroyed.
The second category is Chit, which means that which has the intelligence. It is also called Jeevatma or sometimes Atman. It is recognized by the ‘I’ in us. With that intelligence only we recognize various things around us. That is Chit recognizes Achit. So a Jeevatma using his intelligence understands Achit. This is the difference and relationship between the two. Apart from these two, a third is there and is called Iswara. Sri Krishna brings out all these three entities in the 12th sloka. He mentions about Him as “I” [aham] and Arjuna as “you’ and others by “they”. Sri Krishna represents Paramatma and He is unique. Jeevatma are many and are represented by Arjuna and all others. All materials are Achit. The Thatvatrayam is thus indicated in this sloka.

Friday, April 6, 2007


In the 11th sloka, Sri Krishna told Arjuna that Pundits or Learned, never worry about the soul or the body. They know the nature of both – the body is perishable and the soul never dies. They also know that the soul is superior to the body. With this sloka we can say the introductory part of the Gita is over and from the 12th sloka the sermonizing starts. The 12th sloka is:

na tv evaham jatu nasam
na tvam neme janadhipah
na caiva na bhavisyamah
sarve vayam atah param

"Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be."

Sri Krishna wants to tell that the souls are permanent and everlasting. So He says that neither He was not there in the past, nor Arjuna was not there in the past nor these kings were not there in the past. He is here now, Arjuna is here now and all these kings are here now. Neither Sri Krishna will not be there tomorrow, nor Arjuna will not be there tomorrow, nor all these kings will not be there tomorrow. The words of Sri Krishna appear to be confusing. Instead of saying He is there, He says that it is not that He is not there. Double negative is used to bring home a point. Such use of two negatives gives unambiguousness. For example, in a village, if one asks who was educated there and if the reply was that so and so was educated, it can mean that there were many educated persons in that village and that the so and so also was educated. On the other hand, if the reply was that excepting the so and so, no other was educated, it means that the person in question alone was educated. The latter form of reply gives certainty and emphasizes the fact forcefully. So by saying that not that He was not there in the past, He emphasizes He was there in the past. Similarly, by saying that nor Arjuna was not there in the past, it is meant that Arjuna was there in the past. Similarly about all others. That is, Sri Krishna tells that all of them [Sri Krishna, Arjuna and all those kings and warriors] were there in the past, are there in the present and will be there in the future. In this, Arjuna appears to have no doubt about the present position as it is being felt. Only for the statements regarding the past and future proof was needed. Because the past and future are not perceivable. But Sri Krishna hints that when Arjuna feels he perceives the present, he is thinking of the body that is visible. Whereas, Sri Krishna is referring to the soul or atman. Therefore, Sri Krishna when mentions ‘I’, He is meaning His soul, which was, is and will be there. Similarly Arjuna’s soul was, is and will be there always. Equally true is the statement that all those, the innumerous souls, were, are and will be there always. So Sri Krishna’s words point to Atman only and not to the body, which cannot be told that it was, is and will be there. The body constantly changes and once the soul departs the body, it perishes. As a sort of example, when a person complains of chest pain, people enquire ‘was he taken to the hospital?’ But if unfortunately, the person dies in the hospital, people ask ‘is it [the body] taken to the cremation ground?’ That is suddenly there is a change in the value given to the body can be seen. Earlier people referred to the body as ‘he’ and after death, the same body is referred to as ‘it’. As long as soul is in the body, it is given due respect and after the soul departs, the body is treated like any other inanimate objects. This applies to all we so dearly love. So Sri Krishna refers only to atman and He makes Arjuna to infer that souls are permanent and they reside in various bodies at different times. Sri Krishna employs amazing words in this sloka. He refers to Himself as ‘aham’ or ‘I’. Normally, if we want to explain something by citing an example, the example should be easily understood. If the illustration itself is complicated or abstract, then we will not succeed in explaining. In Srimad Ramayana, at one place Lakshmana says to Sri Rama that just as Sri Sita cannot remain without Sri Rama, Lakshmana also cannot be separated from Him. Why should Lakshmana draw the analogy of Sri Sita? Because, entire world knows that Sri Sita will not remain if separated from Sri Rama and so this example is able to explain Lakshmana’s point that he cannot remain without serving Sri Rama. A well-known fact is used to explain. Here Arjuna is having a wrong concept that soul and body are same. To make him understand that soul is never perishable, He cites His soul as illustration. Because everyone knows that God is always there in the past, present and future. So when He says His soul and Arjuna's soul have the same nature of permanency, Arjuna is able to understand. There is no difference in the everlasting being of all souls, including that of God, though there are other differences between the Soul of God and our souls. Here, He also refers to all these people, which means all in both sides of the battlefield. So Arjuna is driven to understand that jus as his soul is imperishable so also the souls of the Kauravas. Arjuna will then conclude that with his arrows he can only destroy the bodies and not the souls. This way an abstact concept is explained using a well-known fact that Sri Krishna is God and He is everlasting. That is why in Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, at the beginning itself He is named as Bhootha Bavya Bhavath Prabhu. Here bhootha means past, bavya is present and bhavat means future. So He is the Lord [Prabhu] of all those in the past, present and future. Everything in this universe is subject to time or place or appearance. God is the Only One that is not limited by all these. God is beyond all past, present and future. He is omnipresent. And, He cannot be limited to a particular appearance only. We appear only as what we are, and we cannot appear as a third person. Whereas He cannot be comprehended in any particular form only. One more great concept is brought out here. He says, ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘they’. This brings out that the Soul of God, soul of Arjuna and the souls of all others are all different. That is God, Paramathman is One and He is different from the Jeevatman, which are many. This is called the thatvathraya or the triple entity philosophy, which will be explained later.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Today’s lecture also is on the 11th sloka and from the Thirukkannamangai temple in Tanjore district. Arjuna requests Sri Krishna for guidance. Because He is the protector as declared in the Vedas. Sri Devi sametha Sri Bhaktharaavi Perumal protects all souls and with this thought we can remain without fear. In this sacred place, there lived an Acharya called Thirukkannamangai Aandan. He lived in the 9th century and was a disciple of Sri Nathamunigal, another great Acharya of Sri Vaishnava Parampara [lineage]. There is a garden where his statue is erected. He used to serve the Divine couple in this Kshetram. The Thayar was daily performed Abhishekam [Holy Bath] with the water brought from the Dharsana Pushkarini [temple tank] and so the name Sri Abhishekavalli Thayar. Once, he saw two dogs fighting and after sometime the masters of the dogs came. When they saw their dogs were fighting, they started quarrelling among them and it became severe with each drawing swords to finish off the other. Thirukkannamangai Aandan, watching this became thoughtful. When the owners of the dogs could care so much for their dependent dogs, the truth dawned on him as to how much care will the God take on us who are all His dependents. So he surrendered at the Lord’s feet and became fearless. Exactly with that attitude Arjuna also took shelter at the Feet of Sri Krishna as evident from the 11th sloka. Deha and Atman are different entities. But who actually enjoys or suffers? We should clearly understand that the body with its organs as such does not feel the pain when one is hurt. Our bodies and other materials like trees, etc. do not possess the intelligence or gyana and only the souls are having this property. Here also, depending on the karma [performance] in the previous births, the extent of intellect varies. This is similar to the Sun’s brightness on earth varying according to the clouds covering the rays. Karma covers the intelligence of the souls and full gyana is not understood. When the clouds are cleared the full brightness of the Sun is felt and so also when karma is removed Atman’s full Gyana can be felt. We see with our eyes and hear with the ears and so on. If atman is the one that understands seeing or hearing, etc., where does the atman reside to realize these feelings? Does it reside in the eyes to realize seeing? Does it reside in the ears to feel hearing? If we are hurt at any part of the body, we feel the pain. Does it mean the soul or atman is present through out the body to feel the pain? Similarly, when one is smeared with sandalwood paste, the cool comfort is felt wherever the paste was applied. So, where is the atman to feel these pains and pleasures? We have already mentioned that soul or atman is resident as a very minute entity in the heart. So, how residing at a remote place, does a soul understands all these feelings? If we ignite a lamp at a corner the light rays reach all over the room. Similarly, the soul’s intelligence is spread all over the body. This is called dharma bhootha gyanam. We can compare the body to a mobile phone. One purchases this at Rs.2000 or pays even Rs.35, 000. As such this electronic marvel does not work and remains a mere showpiece. But if we equip it with a Rs.100 or so priced SIM card, it is activated and used. Same thing happens with a microscopic soul activating the body. Without soul this body is nothing. That is why Thondaradipodi Alwar in his collection Thirumalai tells that this body is a building with lots of holes. Thirumalai is a collection of 45 verses and it is told that ‘Thirumalai ariyadhar Thirumalai ariyadhar’. This means that a person not knowing these poems in Thirumalai will not understand Thirumal [Sriman Narayana]. If we list the properties of the soul, we can say it understands, it is minute, it is intelligent, it has no organs and enjoys [or suffers] the effect of karma. Body, on the other hand, is having the opposite properties. It does not understand, it is big, it is dumb, it has organs and it does not realize the effects of karma.