Today’s [29th May, 2007] lecture was also recorded by Smt and Sri Vedantham. My grateful thanks to them for this noble service.
Among the Sri Vaishnava Acharyas Swami Ramanuja occupies a great position. History reveals that Swami Ramanuja had lived for sometime in Thiruvellarai. We are at the Swami Ramanuja sannidhi here. Swami Ramanuja is addressed by many names- Udayavar, Sri Bhashyakarar, Yatiraja, Ilayazhwar, Emperumanar, etc. The name Udayavar originated thus: the Lord of Srirangam, Sri Ranganatha, Who possesses the wealth [vibhoothi] of both this universe [Leela Vibhoothi] and Sri Vaikuntam [Nithya Vibhoothi], handed over these wealth in Swami Ramanuja’s charge and so he became the possessor [udayavar in Tamil] of the great wealth. While Swami Ramanuja was living here, his devotees desired to bring him back to Srirangam. They thought he might not agree to return for mere request and so they planned a ploy to bring him. Once one of the Arayars, the devotees who sing Alwar’s hymns and dance in front of the Lord at Srirangam, was deputed to Thiruvellarai. Normally engrossed in the beauty of Sri Pundareekakshan and Sri Kamalavalli Thayar, Swami Ramanuja would have never agreed to depart from this temple. But the Arayar, knowing Swami Ramanuja’s attachment to Thiruvaimozhi of Nammalwar, recited a set of ten hymns to melodious tune and beats, and started journey to Srirangam. Attracted by this Swami Ramanuja followed the Arayar and reached Srirangam. Those songs are starting as innuyirthevan… Such was the greatness of Alwar’s hymns and Swami Ramanuja’s attachment. Swami Ramanuja has recorded an excellent commentary on Gita. After the 44th sloka, Swami Ramanuja raises two questions. The replies to these questions are in 45th and 46th slokas. These questions emerged in Arjuna’s mind at that time at Kurukshetra battlefield and the same question were raised by Swami Ramanuja in our times. What were the questions and what were the replies? In the 42nd, 43rd and 44th slokas it was told that some learn Vedas and argue that swarga or heaven is the ultimate to be attained. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that he should ignore karmas in the Vedas that yield the smaller rewards like swarga and concentrate to attain Moksham or Vaikunta Prapthi. Arjuna asked which are those karmas he should ignore. Sri Krishna intended the karmas like Jyotish Homam, etc. All these karmas yield swarga prapthi or begetting children or destroying enemies and so on. Sri Krishna wants Arjuna to set his objective on the superior Moksham and not on these trivial rewards. Arjuna now asks after all these karmas, which are intended for swarga etc., are also prescribed in Vedas, then how can he ignore them? Vedas have recommended these acts and Vedas will never advocate wrong things. It is said that what good a thousand mothers and fathers cannot do to a person, Vedas do to us. Vedas will never cheat us. So how can we disregard acts or karmas prescribed in Vedas? The second question is, we have to follow all the commands in the Vedas. We are to faithfully follow the instructions in the Shastras and perform the dos and avoid the don’ts. These karmas resulting in swarga are prescribed in shastras and so how can Sri Krishna ask to ignore these karmas? Once we start ignoring such commands of Vedas, soon we will discard all the acts prescribed in the Vedas. Thus the two questions :one Vedas speak only truth and will never divert anyone to wrong path and so how can anyone ignore any commands in Vedas. Second, by saying that one should not do karmas for achieving swarga, though prescribed in the Vedas, will not the defect of disobeying Vedas occur? This also will lead to discrimination and discarding the entire Vedas. These doubts of Arjuna are responded in the 45th and 46th slokas. The 45th sloka is:
"The Vedas prescribe for all the three qualities found in men. O Arjuna, become apart from these three modes. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and preservation, and be established in the self."
Arjuna’s doubt was why at all a prescription is made in the Vedas and then say ‘do not perform that’? Instead the karma could have been well avoided. Imagine a mother having three children. One is very submissive and good mannered. The second is a rough and arrogant. Third one is lazy. The mother is common to all the three. The methods used by the mother to get things done from each child will vary. For example if the first child tries to eat something that should be avoided, a mere warning will do. Whereas for the second child, the mother will allow the child to eat and later on when the child complains of stomach disorder, she would give the advice and correct to avoid such foods. This example is quoted by Pillai Lokacharya and his brother Azhgiya Manavalaperumal Nayanar.Now, the first child cannot complain that the mother was partial and she allowed the other child to eat that avoidable food. So, Vedas being common to all sorts of people, that is, variety of people endowed with satva, rajo and tamo guanas, the Lord cannot ask the same karma to be performed by all. For example, imagine a person having no faith in Vedas. He wanted to get rid of his enemy but could not succeed. He came across a Vedic scholar and he sought the scholar’s advice. He recommended sena yagna. This person though not believing in Vedas, wanted to give that advice a try. His enemy was vanquished. Then he wanted money and this time scholar recommended another karma and after performing that wealth accumulated. Now, this person slowly started having faith in the Vedas. As time passed, his desires also multiplied and every time he resorted to various karmas in the Vedas and sincerely performed and got satisfied. He aspired for swarga and got it. But later found that also was limited and so sought the advice of Vedic scholars for permanent happiness free from all miseries. He realized that Karma yoga or Gyana yoga or Bhakthi yoga would yield Moksham. This method was required to correct a non-believer. This method is not applicable to people like Arjuna who have already surrendered to the Lord. Therefore, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the Vedas are meant for all three types-satva, rajo and tamo- of persons and Arjuna should avoid these three qualities in him.