Today’s lecture is from the Sri Kattazhagiya Singar sannidhi on the east of the main temple in Srirangam. The Sri Nrusimha Avatar is special, as it depicted an impossible combination of man and lion. But the Lord brought this impossible in real life to save Sri Prahalada, the child bhaktha or devotee. The main deity Sri LakshmiNarasimha is gracing the devotees in this temple. The idol is a large one here and has four arms, ears pointing to sky, wide open mouth bubbling with rolling laughter, eyebrows reaching head and mouth wide open like a cave. In the upper two arms He is carrying conch and discus. Carrying flower, the right lower arm is blessing the devotees and the left lower arm is hugging Sri Lakshmi, Who is seated on His left lap. She is also blessing the devotees. Why Sri Narasimha is in Srirangam? Wild elephants used to come to this place and causing trouble to the devotees. This is indicated in the Puranas. So, to protect the temple and the devotees, Sri LakshmiNrusimha appeared here. These details of this ancient temple are found in Puranas. Yet another specialty is there about this temple. Swami Pillai Lokacharya, one among the great Sri Vaishnava Acharyas, and who had composed in Tamil eighteen commentaries on Thirumanthram, Dvayam and Charamaslokam, stayed here and propagated the main principles of Sharanagathi or Ultimate Surrender at the feet of the Lord. From such a famous place we will see the 34th sloka. If a person dies, the body is cremated and reduced to handful of ash. He might have been a great person and loved by all. Yet, the body is never preserved. Even in Srimad Ramayana, the body of king Dasaratha was preserved in oil tub, as it took time for Bharatha to arrive at Ayodhya and none else was available to cremate. But, we remember the person who lived all these days. We praise the deceased person’s noble qualities. If his body was only his life, then as we dispose off the body, his life also should have been reduced to dust. Whereas, we kindly remember for many years the person and his good deeds. Even today we fondly remember the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. We remember the Pasurams of Alwars, ithihasa, purana, Gita and many more. The originators of all these are not there today, yet their fame or kirti is always remembered. So, if a person has acquired good name, he should be afraid to lose it and make all efforts to preserve that name. No mean action should be initiated which would erase the good name. But, Arjuna is suffering from a confused thinking. His brave and steadfast qualities have earned him fame all over. None should do any thing that may spoil this reputation. Nammalwar, in the guise of sweetheart [Nayaki bhavam] dispatches a bird as a messenger to the Lord. She [Nammalwar] tells the bird that the bird should convey to the Lord that having deserted her [Nammalwar], the Lord should renounce His name Narayana. Narayana means sarvarakshaka or protector of all. If, she [Nammalwar] is pining for the Lord and He does not come to protect her, how can that name suit Him? Hearing this complaint, the Lord immediately arrives and graces Nammalwar. [Thiruvaimozhi 1.4]. So everyone makes all out effort to retain reputation. But Arjuna seems to be in a trauma. Though Arjuna might have abandoned the war on compassion grounds, the layman and smaller people would gossip that Arjuna out of fear ran away from the war. If great people like Bheeshma and Drona hurl such insults at him, they could be tolerated. But obscure persons, who do not know even to carry a bow, will blame Arjuna’s valor. Hell may be better than such a disgrace. This is the essence of 34th sloka:
akirtim capi bhutani
kathayisyanti te ’vyayam
"Creatures will always speak of your infamy, and for a respectable person, dishonor is worse than death."
Arjuna counters this with another argument. Let anybody talk about him anyway they like. In the same Mahabharatha, at another place it is told that one should strive and somehow live. Then only, there will be opportunities to do good in the future . So, Arjuna is in a quandary. Whether to somehow live or fight to retain reputation, even if in the process, he dies. Sri Krishna replies that saving one’s life is no doubt the priority. But that is for the ordinary people. Whereas, for a person of great repute, with the famous Gandipa bow and as the well known cousin of Sri Krishna, notoriety by running away from fight is not befitting. Death is preferred to such akirti or ill fame. Thus Sri Krishna advises the necessity of valor and wisdom. Sri Krishna is preaching viveka or wisdom and here, we have Sri Nrusimha inducing bravery.