With prayers to Thiruppann Alwar, who was born in Urayur we start today’s lecture. In the Alwars’ hierarchy, this Alwar was the 9th Alwar. He was born in the Pann community [community known for singing] and so he imposed restriction on him that he would never set his feet in the Srirangam temple. So, he would sing in praise on Sri Ranganatha, from outside the temple on the banks of the river, in a melodious voice. Once, a Brahmin, Loka Saranga Muni, who was engaged in the sacred work of serving the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum, came to the river to fetch water. There this Alwar was singing. Muni wanted the Alwar to move away so that he could get into the river and take water. But the Alwar was so much involved in the singing that he did not notice Muni and so he kept on singing. Not understanding Alwar’s bhakthi, Muni made gestures and threatened the Alwar and asked him to move away. The Alwar, now coming back to his senses, recognized he was an impediment and quickly moved away. Muni after taking water in the pot reached the temple, but could not open the doors. Frightened at this, the Muni pleaded to the Lord as to what was the blunder he had committed which had caused the Lord to be angry and not letting the doors open. Muni understood that he had insulted the Alwar and was directed by the Lord to bring the Alwar to the sanctum sanctorum. Muni rushed back to the river and falling at the feet of the Alwar requested him to come into the temple. But the Alwar politely refused to enter the temple. Finally, Muni carried the Alwar on his shoulders and brought him near the Lord. Seeing the magnificent halls and towers in the temple the Alwar finally had a feast of view of the Lord at very close quarters. Enamored by the beauty of the Lord, his experience flowed as beautiful hymns, describing the beauty of the Lord from the Feet to the Head. This compilation is called Amalanadhipiran and has ten hymns. These form part of the first thousand songs in the Naalayira Divya Prabhandam [compilation of the sacred four thousand hymns]. Every organ of the Lord is described in boundless beauty. He ends the poem with the words that after seeing the Lord as Sri Krishna, his eyes would see nothing else. This historical picture of Loka Saranga Muni carrying the Alwar on his shoulders can be viewed here. From this Alwar’s sannidhi we will see the 37th sloka.
hato va prapsyasi svargam
jitva va bhoksyase mahim
tasmad uttistha kaunteya
"O son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore get up and fight with determination."
Sri Krishna says either way this fight will benefit Arjuna. If Arjuna loses the battle and is killed, he is certain to get the heavens and enjoy in the other world. In case he wins and gets back the kingdom, then he will enjoy the regal perquisites. and be happy in this world. So by fighting this war enjoyment is guaranteed. On the contrary, by abandoning fight he could go to forests for living, as told by Arjuna earlier. For discarding his people and not fighting for dharma, he will be engulfed in papa or sins. Living in the forests and begging for food is a disgraceful life. If Arjuna starves to avoid begging, he would die soon and after death, he is certain to reach hell or naraka. Thus suffering is assured here as well as in the other world. Sri Krishna enquires whether Arjuna was doubtful about victory if he chose to fight. Arjuna says that he has absolute confidence in his capability and the prowess of his Gandipa. So, then why this hesitation, Sri Krishna asks. By winning, he is sure to establish righteous rule and keep his subjects happy. This also would entitle him heaven or swarga after death. Therefore, Arjuna should get up and get ready to fight. Sri Krishna addresses him as Son of Kunti, His aunt. Kunti, being born as a Kshatriya, has given birth to only noble warriors. Kshatriya mothers, it is said, give birth to dead sons, meaning sons who will not be afraid of facing death in battles. So, by fighting he will add fame to his mother. Our country, in the past, was invaded by the great Alexander and king Purushothama or Porus opposed this invasion but was defeated. When the king Porus in captivity was brought before, Alexander appreciated the bravery of the king. But here both the personalities were good-natured. In the case of Arjuna, it was not so. Similarly, in the Tamil literature, we have seen poetess Avvaiyar was able to halt the fight between two Tamil kings, because both were prepared to heed sensible advice. Even in the case of emperor Asoka, he embraced non-violence after vanquishing his enemy. So, all these point to Arjuna getting ready and fight the war. The word tasmat – therefore- means that Arjuna should not mistake dharma yuddha as adharma and fight. Uthishta means get up with firm feet on the ground. This newfound compassion for his relatives was not seen earlier. The Pandavas were undergoing the agyatha vasam or living incognito for a year in the kingdom of Virata. At that time Karna, Duchasana and others stole away the cattle. War broke between the Kauravas and the Virata king. At that time, Arjuna in the disguise of an eunuch, launched mohini asthram [which will faint the opponents]. Arjuna grabbed all the garments of the fainted opponents and gave them to the Prince of Virata and advised him to tell his father, the King, that he defeated the Kauravas. We may wonder how the same Arjuna did not hesitate to fight then. At that incident, there was no necessity to kill Bheeshma or Drona. It was a war to recover the cattle stolen away; it was not a decisive war as it is now. Arjuna, thus, now hesitates and so Sri Krishna is encouraging him to fight. Tomorrow we will see the 38th sloka, which is the start of the eagerly awaited, karma yoga. Karma yoga has to be followed by every one of us in our daily life, so it is an important topic. .