Sunday, September 30, 2007


Today [1st October 2007] we are at Gokulam, near Brindavan. Gokulam means herds of cows and their calves. As a mark of His souseelyam or simplicity, He came down on this earth and mingled with ordinary people as a cowherd. He was reported to be stealing butter from other houses. This is difficult to believe. Great persons say that not realising that our atman belongs to Him, we behave as though we are independent. Are we not the greater thieves? Even great yogis find it difficult to see and so they are in constant search. Sucn a Person, descends on this earth and is searched by the Gopikas for having stolen their stock of butter! Once He was caught 'red handed' by a Gopika and she brought Him before Yasoda for punishing Him. Yasoda, embarrased at His action, wanted to bind Him to a stone grinder. We are at a place about 300 feet from Nanda bhavan or the house of Nandagopa. At about 200 feet on the other side, is the place where He killed demon Puthana, by drinking the poisoned milk from her breasts. On another side. He killed Chakatasura. Here when Yasoda wanted to bind Him, He teased her by enlarging His body and so the rope she brought was insufficient. She ordered for extra rope. Joining the two ropes she tried to bind Him and found the rope was short by two inches, says Sukhacharya in Srimad Bhagavatham. Again she demands a third rope and together the rope is again short by two inches. This process goes on and Yasoda is tired. Pitying her, the Lord allows Him to be bound. This place is called Ukalbandh vanam. We can see the stone grinder and His feet impressions on another stone. He acted in this drama superbly by pretending to cry!! Swami Desikan says in his Gopla Vimsathi sloka vrajayoshi.. Alwar wonders how simple He was to have been tied to the grinder. Tied to the grinder He dragged the stone and went in between two trees. The grinder got entangled between the trees and so Sri Krishna tries with a jerk to get it off the trees. But the two trees fell down with a great bang and the two Gandarvas who were cursed to be trees, got back their previous forms and flew away. Thus He took whatever forms the people of Gokulam desired and blessed them. This is reflected in the next 11th sloka:

ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manushyah partha sarvasah

"As all desire to worship Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone contemplates on My actions in all respects, O son of Pritha."

Manushya = all people, mama = My [Sri Krishna's], vartma = actions and pranks, anuvartante = contemplate again and again, and enjoy. Sarvasa = by all means, that is they enjoy by all their senses, they enjoy all actions and forms of the Lord. Here in Gokulam, the Lord is worshiped by changing the adornments every five minutes. They offer fresh eatables every five minutes and enjoy. What is the use of this, Arjuna seem to ask. In the last sloka itself He told that the reminiscence of His actions and pranks, relieve them of the birth cycle. Ye = the one who has no capability of practicing Bhakti yoga, yata = whichever way, prapadyante = think, mam = of Me [Sri Krishna], tam = that person, tataiva = in the same way, aham = I [Sri Krishna], bhajam= adapt. That is if a person wants to worship me in a form, the Lord adapts Himself to suit that person's imagination. This is not merely true during His avatar times, but even now when we go to various temples to worship Him. His beauty is like a river and it flows everywhere. Here itself in hundreds of places they show the spots of His pranks. This is what Alwar also says in the verse thamarugandadu evvuruvam. Persons who find it difficult to meditate on Him, find this type of worship easier and He adapts Himself to suit every person's wish.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Vande brindavana charam vallabhi jana vallabam. This is the starting sloka of Swami Vedantha Desika's Gopala vimsathi. He salutes Sri Krishna who walked and ran in the earth of Brindavan. From today [28th September 2007] we will be fortunate to listen to the lectures from Mathura, Brindavan and Gokulam which are closely connected with the avatar of Sri Krishna. We are studying Gita but it is only a step to reach the feet of Sri Krishna. Now we are at the place where His feet were felt. Today we are at the river Yamuna. This river had the privilege of Sri Krishna bathing and playing in it. It is as sacred as Ganga. It mingles with Ganga at Triveni near Allahabad. It is said that a bath in this river will bless prosperity. The river is the daughter of the Sun and sister of Yama. Like Sri Krishna Yamuna also is black. We are at the Bramhanda ghat where Sri Krishna opened His mouth to His mother to show that He had not stolen butter. At that time His mother Yasoda saw the entire universe and fainted. He walked all over this place and it is our fortune to adore our head with this place's sand. It is a great coincidence that as we are studying His avatara rahasya, we have come to the very same place where His avatar happened. Sri Krishna told that the person who truly understands the significance of His birth and His actions would get released from the cycle of births and reach Vaikuntam. Swami Koorathalwar says that he was not fortunate to have been born when Sri Krishna avatar happened, but he is fortunate at least to have the feel of that place. Now we see the 10th sloka:

man-maya mam upasritah
bahavo jnana-tapasa
puta mad-bhavam agatah

"Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me."

Jnana tapasa = meditating again and again Gyana or knowledge, puta = cleansed [ their minds]. The knowledge Sri Krishna tells here is the knowledge about His avatara rahasya. Tapas means repeatedly meditating on a subject. All our japa, yagna, yagam, etc. are all for repeating a mantra or His name. By repeatedly thinking of His birth and actions, all dirt and blemish in our mind are washed and mind becomes clean. Bahava = many persons [ have practiced this tapas like Vasishta, Vamadeva, Prahlada, etc.]. Vita = got removed, raga = desire, bhaya = fear, krodha = anger. Our desires for the materialistic things in this world, create undue fear and anger on the impediments in attaining those desires. All these will get removed if we meditate on the avatara rahasya. Man maya = remembering only me [Sri Krishna, like Kuchela or Uddhava]. In this place the people always chant His name as Radheshyam or Hare Krishna. The entire mind is full of His name only. Mam upasrita = meditating only on me [Sri Krishna], mad bhavam = like me [Sri Krishna], agata = they become. That is though such persons do not become God, they get the eight Characters God has. So we have to understand the implication of His birth and actions and repeatedly thinking on that will drive away our sins. The present people of this place are descendants of those who played with Sri Krishna. The trees and vegetation have links with those flourished during His avatar. By constantly remembering Him in each person and objects we can get rid of the sins we have accumulated.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Viewing the Vimanam above the Garbagraha in a temple will wash off all our sins. Today [27th September 2007] we are in the shadow of the Vimanam of Sri Ninra Narayana Perumal at Thiruthangal. It has three kalash on it and is called Sarat Chandra Vimanam. It has the brilliance of the Sun but is cool like the Moon and we can feel that we are at the feet of the Lord. We will now see further in the same 9th sloka. Sri Krishna stated that one who understands the true implication of His birth and pranks and other actions, will reach His feet in the current birth itself and will have no more births. We have to see in what circumstances Sri Krishna was born. When Devaki and Vasudeva got married, her brother Kamsa took them on a procession in his chariot and he himself drove it. Then a loud message was given from sky calling Kamsa as fool and instructing that he would be killed by the eighth child of Devaki. Kamsa got angry and drawing his sword wanted to kill Devaki then and there. But Vasudeva pleaded and argued that since her child only was to kill Kamsa, she could be spared and promised to deliver every child born to Kamsa. Agreeing, however, he put them in jail. All the first six children were given to Kamsa, who dashed to death each of them against a rock. When she was carrying the seventh child, the Lord ordered Yoga Maya or His sankalpa power personified as a woman, to transfer the child in Devaki's womb to that of Rohini another wife of Vasudeva and living on the other side of river Yamuna at Gokulam. He further ordered that Yoga Maya should enter at a later date in the womb of Yasoda wife of Nandagopa in Gokulam. The Lord would enter the garba or womb of Devaki as the eighth child and on delivery Yasoda's child will be swapped with Devaki's child, Sri Krishna. This made Kamsa to feel that the 7th child of Devaki was aborted, but actually it became the child of Rohini and was called Balarama. When Devaki was pregnant again, it was the eighth child expected. The Lord was born at midnight on an ashtami day. He was born with four arms with all ornaments and dress as in Vaikuntam. Vasudeva and Devaki got afraid that this may signal danger to the child and requested to be like a normal child. The Lord accepting their request, ordered that He be carried across the Yamuna river to Gokulam and be exchanged with the girl child born to Yasoda same time but in Navami. Vasudeva did as instructed. His fetters and chains automatically got snapped and he carried the Lord as a Child on his head and crossed the river. The river was overflowing as it was rainy season, and the depth was much. But as Vasudeva entered the river and when he started slowly going down, the river water steadily raised and the moment it touched the feet of the Lord, the level of the river subsided and Vasudeva crossed the river with knee deep water. He went to Gokulam and exchanged the children as planned and returned to the jail at Mathutra. The fetters and chains rejoined as before and the female child now in Devaki's arms cried loud. Kamsa was wondering how a female child could kill him; but not taking any risk, snatched the child from Devaki and went ahead to kill the child. But suddenly the child escaped from the clutches of Kamsa and flew up and warning him that his real enemy was flourishing in Gokulam. Such was the birth of the Lord and all Alwars and Acharyas have dealt on this enormously. Just as the fetters of Vasudeva got released when He was born, our fetters of rebirths and the associated sufferings would get released if we meditate on His birth. This is what this sloka tells. One Alwar says that when the Lord was in Vaikuntam, He wanted to redeem all by taking Sri Krishna avatar, but all there declined. As they were performing pooja and offering the sambharani, which gives that fragrant smoke, He used the smoke as a screen and escaped to the earth and performed all He wanted to do in Sri Krishna avatar. After completing that He returned back, but the pooja is still going on, not knowing that He had finished the Sri Krishna avatar!! [Sootu nan malaigal.. verse can be remembered]. If we meditate on His drinking milk from His mother's breasts , we will have no more such situation, that is no more births for us. If we meditate on the bind in which He was tied by His mother, our bonds in this world will vanish, that is we will have no rebirths. If we meditate on His stealing butter, our sins will be stolen and we would be freed from birth cycle. This is the import of the 9th sloka. Kulasekara Alwar imagines him to be Devaki and yearns for all those pranks she missed but were enjoyed by Yasoda. The birth of the Lord can not be compared with the births we see in our life. This is the Avatara rahasya.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


We are at the sannidhi of Sri Ninra Narayanan, who is in the garbha graha in many colors. It is said that the Lord appears in different colors in different yugs. White in Kritha yug, red in Thretha yug, tender leaf green in Dwapara yug and black in Kali yug. The Lord stands along with five Consorts, Sri Jambavati being one. She was the daughter of Jambavan of Ramayana fame. While fighting with Sri Krishna, Jambavan realised that Sri Krishna was none other than his hero Sri Rama and he offered his daughter for marriage with Sri Krishna. It was earlier mentioned that the Lord came to stay here for the marriage of His grandson [ son of Pradyumna] Anirudha with Ushai, daughter of Banasura. Anirudha once appeared in the dream of Ushai and with the help of her friend Chitralekha, Ushai recognised him as the prince of Dwaraka and Chitralekha abducted Anirudha and brought him to Ushai. They fell in love and lived in her palace. Disagreeable to this her father Banasura imprisoned both of them. Sri Krishna realising the situation of His grandson, invaded Banasura, who had 1000 hands. Defeating all Banasura's supporters and chopping off 998 limbs, got Anirudh and Ushai released and celebrated their marriage here. We may be wondering at the feats of the Lord and this is what is told in the next 9th sloka. In the last four slokas, Sri Krishna replied that His avatar is real and not an imaginary or illusion, that He takes His avatar with His greatness undiminished, that in every avatar He takes a body made of suddha satvam appropriate to His greatness and it is a sacred one unlike other's bodies made of the five elements, that He takes birth at His will and not by karma, that His birth is whenever Dharma is afflicted and evil is on the rise and finally that the purpose of His birth is to protect the good, destroy the evil and establish Dharma. This is avatara rahasya or secret of His birth and a person realising this truly, reaches the feet of the Lord and he has no rebirth. Now the ninth sloka:

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna."

Me = My [Sri Krishna's], divya = glorified, much different from the nature of this world, janma = birth, karma = [My] actions, far different from the actions of various persons in the world. He says that both His birth and actions as He grew, are all glorious and can not be equated with the normal ones we see everyday in this world. Evam = one who, vetti = understands, tatvata = the real significance or purpose. When He was born as a cowherd, we should not treat Him as a cowherd we come across but understand His greatness and realise that He has come to redeem us. When we see His actions like stealing butter or flirting with the women folk, we have to understand the greatness in Him and not equate them with our actions in this world. Sa = that great person [ who understands the real significance], tyakta deham = casts away his body, punar janma = again a birth [ rebirth ], naity = never takes, mam eti = and reaches Me [Sri Krishna]. That is a person, who understands the avatara rahasya that His birth and actions are real, that they can not be compared with our births and actions,that all such births and actions are for the good of all and that they [ births and actions ] have no blemish, would have understood the significance of the avatar of the Lord. Such a person attains Moksham in that birth itself. This is a great boon to us and can be noted as His anugraha or blessings. We have passed many births and we seem to be not knowing when we will be relieved of this arduous cycle and now the Lord declares that if in the process of our devotion we understand His avatara secret, then we will be relieved of this birth cycle in this birth itself and after death we will reach the Lord's feet and attain Moksham.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Today [25th September,2007] also we are at Thiruthangal, near Sivakasi and situated on a hillock, called Thangala malai. In the cave temple Sri Ranganatha also is gracing the devotees. The pushkarini is called Papavinasini, opposite to this sannidhi. Emperor Pururuva, son of Budha, came here and meditated and requested the Lord to grace devotees from here. So an idol for Pururuva is installed here. He is also one of the ancestors of Sri Rama. On the second and upper tier of this temple, Sri Ninra Narayanan, the Deity of this Kshetram is present. The name Thangala malai for this hillock comes from the word thangum [residing] + ala ilai [banyan tree leaf]. Since the Lord as a child appears reclining on a tender banyan leaf, once there was an argument between the leaf and Adisesha as to who was His favourite bed .The Lord ordered the banyan leaf to be present here as a hillock and then He would reside in that for ever. Thus the mount got this name. Now He replies the last question as to what is the result of His avatar, in the 8th sloka:

paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskritam
sambhavami yuge yuge

"To protect the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of Dharma, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium."

Yuge yuge = every yug, sambhavami = I [Sri Krishna] am born, sadhunam = for the noble persons', paritranayam= strong protection, vinasaya = total destruction of, duskritam = evil persons, samsthapanarthaya = well establishment of, dharma = righteousness. In the last sloka He said He is born whenever Dharma suffers and here He says He is born every yug. That means there is no fixed time or period after which He is born, but anytime when the Dharma suffers and as frequently as the situation demands. We are born and the result is to expend the accumulated papa/ punya. In that process more papa/ punya are accumulated resulting in rebirths. But the Lord is not born because of past karma nor He is born to expend any karma. In the Krishnavatara He has stolen and uttered lies, which are normally considered as papa. But these are not papa as far as He is concerned as He is the Lord. Only in our lives the law maker is bound by the laws he made. For the Lord these laws do not apply. It does not mean He does not care for these laws and reigns a rule of terror. On the contrary the people live happiest in His rule. Thus there is a great difference between His birth and ours. Who are sadhus? Sadhu also means a simple person. But here it is not that meaning. Here it means a person who follows Vedas, who respects His devotees and who leads a righteous life for the sake of others. He will not distinguish between himself and his enemies. That is he has no enemies and all are lovable. He is sadhu, who can not remain a moment separated from the Lord. The Lord protects such persons. He has no enemies as no one is equal to Him in power. But He considers them as enemies , who hurt and oppress noble people. Such people are destroyed. When good people are protected and bad people are destroyed, Dharma gets reestablished. Swami Ramanuja says, to destroy evil persons He need not get born here and He can as well send His weapons and destroy them. For establishment of Dharma also He need not take avatars. But for the protection of sadhus, He has to necessarily descend on this earth. In the story of Gajendra, He could have commanded the Chakra to kill the crocodile and saved the elephant, without having to be present at the venue. But He had to heed the prayer of the elephant and accept the offering and this was possible only by appearing on the scene.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Today [24th September,2007] we are at one of the Pandya Kshetra, Thiruthangal near Srivilliputhur. The Lord here is known as Sri NinraNarayanan. He, as Sri Krishna, wanted to get His son Anirudha, married to Ushai, the daughter of Banasura. So He camped here with all His consorts. Thayar Sri Lakshmi, known in Tamil as Thiru stayed [ in Tamil Thangudal] along with the Lord and so this place is called Thiruthangal. Boodhathalwar and Thirumangai Alwar have sung in praise of this Kshetram. Every Friday the Thayar has sacred bath [Thirumanjanam] in the mandapam opposite to Her Sannidhi. A unique feature here is the Thayar is in standing pose unlike most other Kshetrams where She graces devotees in the seated posture. It appears as though She is praying the Lord to get their son Anirudha married to Ushai. The consorts of the Lord here are Sridevi, Bhoodeve, Neeladevi, Jambavati and Senkamala Thayar. Senkamala Thayar is in separate sannidhi. We will now see the 7th sloka of Chapter 4. Arjuna asks when do you get born? Sri Krishna replies:

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in Dharma, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of adharma—at that time I descend Myself."

Yada yada = whenever, Dharmasya = dharma's, glani = ordeal or suffering, bhavati = happens, adharmasya = adharma, abhyutthanam = flourishes, tada = that time, , aham = I [Sri Krishna], srijami = create, atmanam = myself. Here we can not interpret atman as jeevatma as atman can never be created as it has no end. Also in the context He is not talking about other atman but about Himself and His birth. So we have to understand atman here refers to Himself. Srijami means creating. This is not the creation in the usual sense but His avatar, like Matsya or Koorma or Narsimha, etc,. Also, this Avatar He Himself decides and no other is involved. Thus, whenever righteousness has a suffering and unrighteousness flourishes, the Lord takes an avatar on Himself and descends to save dharma. It should be noted that He does not say He will appear when Dharma is destroyed but when suffering starts. Dharma is following the dos and don'ts of Vedas; and adharma is opposite. There is an interesting conversation between a Vishnu messenger and an Yama messenger in the story of Ajamilan. Though Ajamilan had accumulated papa or sins in his life, at the time of death he called his last child Narayana by that boy's name and those became his last words. So Vishnu messengers said that Ajamilan was to be taken to the world of Vishnu, while Yama messengers disputed saying that for the sins he committed he had to be taken to hell or Narak only. Yama's messengers say that whatever is agreed to by Vedas are all Dharma and whatever discarded by Vedas are all adharma. Dharma protects the world. If we protect Dharma it will in turn protect us. Our culture and tradition is sanathana or very ancient Dharma. Speak truth, help others, be not selfish, atman is different from body, rebirth is there, believe in God and be devoted, etc., are all ancient Dharma, we have been following. Whenever this Dharma is harassed the Lord appears. We can remember the avatars like Sri Narasimha, Sri Thrivikrama and the story of Gajendra. In the first case the devotee was made to suffer. In the next, another's property was grabbed. In the last He had to appear to save a devotee who staunchly believed that he would be rescued by the Lord.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


In his Upadesa Rathnamalai, Swami Manavala Mamunigal says that while all the Alwars had care and devotion for the Lord, Perialwar had outpouring care and so he is called Perialwar. He was born in the Tamil month Aani and in star Swathi. We are today in the house of his descendants called Vedapiran Battar. They do lots of service in the temple. Sri Andal arrives at this house once a year. It is called Pachai Parappudal, which can be translated as spreading Green. Since She was the daughter of Perialwar, She is the girl of the house of Vedapiran Battar. In the Tamil month Margazhi, during the Adyayanotsavam festival, on the first day She arrives along with Sri Rangamannar at this house, situated in the sannidhi street. They are welcomed by the elders of the house. On the platform at the entrance, green vegetables are kept spread. The Divine Couple is given all the honours and She graces the vegetables spread out and this is called Pachai Parappudal. Normally the Lord of any temple is not offered the Prasadams prepared in a house, but here dal and condensed milk [ thirattuppal] are prepared in the kitchen in the house and offered. Afterwards, accepting the honours, the Divine Couple depart for the temple. Similarly on the Panguni Uthiram day which is Sri Andal's wedding day, the father Perialwar comes to this house and with the present descendants in Vedapiran Battar house, all proceed to the temple with Poornakumbam [Pot filled with sacred water] and coconuts and reach sannidhi of Swami Manavala Mamunigal. There the Lord is present alone. All the people there propose the marriage of Sri Andal with the Lord and pray to bless them with all good things. Accepting the honours the Lord conveys His nod for the marriage through the Archakas. Then the marriage function takes place. During marraige, it is customary to mention the antecedents of the bride. Here they will mention that She was the great grand daughter of LakshmiNarayana, grand daughter of Mukunda Battar and daughter of Vishnuchittar or Perialwar. This is a great previlege to the Vedapiran Battar family.
Arjuna asked six questions. First was, whether His birth was real or not, and the Lord in the 5th sloka confirmed it as real. Next was whether His greatness remained in tact or not and He confirmed the greatness remaining fully in every birth, in the first half of 6th sloka. For the 3rd question He replied that He takes appropriate body made of Sudha Satva mayam, in the same sloka. Now the fourth question whether He is also born out of karma or not. The Lord replies in the negative and says sambhavamy atma-mayaya. That is He says He is born out of His maya. Here the word atma mayaya has to be split into atmanaha + mayaya. The meaning of this is " My [Sri Krishna's] maya". Maya in normal course means magic or illusion. This will not fit here as He does not say He is born as an illusion. Here as per Sanskrit grammar, maya means a wonderful Gyana or unique knowledge. This is also called self determination or swayam sankalpam. This is not a simple knowledge but a unique and wonderful knowledge, which God possesses. Shastras say the mayaya praninam sobhaasubham vethi. It means that the Lord knows by His Maya which are good and bad for all living beings. Here maya can not mean false or illusion. It means the unique knowledge He possesses. Therefore He determines when and where to be born and not out of karma. He takes birth to redeem us who are at the bottom and do not know how to come up. This quality of the Lord is also called souseelyam. Such a great person He is, mingles with us to redeem us. In the start of the sloka He said ajaha, which means He is not born. Here He says sambavami, which means He is born. That is a birth less He is born. He has no birth to expend any karma but He is born at His will to redeem. He also says avyayatma, which means He has no end or death. But He is born. So He has no end on account of karma but He departs at His will and reappears at His will. He has no hunger or thirst, yet He does all these in His avatars just to please us. He chooses the time, place and parents to appear. Thus His birth is not like ours.


In Ramanuja Nootrandhadi [part of 4000 Divya Prabandham], in the verse poomannu porundiya marbhan, it is stated that the Lord has Sri Mahalakshmi on His chest. Nammalwar has sung about this Lord in his Thiruvaimozhi. Swami Ramanuja follows the footsteps of Nammalwar. Such is this relationship and today [20th September,2007] we are at the sannidhi of Nammalwar and Swami Ramanuja , in Srivilliputhur. Since answers for three questions are in the 6th sloka, we will see the second answer also in the same sloka. The Lord said that His greatness does not get diminished as He is born in this world. He is not born by karma nor dies because of karma. He commands every livingbeing in this universe without exception. Alwar addresses Sri Koorma, the Tortoise as Kesava. Kesava means beautiful and curly hair on the head. While this may be alright to address Sri Rama or Sri Krishna, how can the Alwar address a Tortoise as Kesava? But we should remember that in every avatar He is Kesava only and none of His beauty is less in any avatar. Swami Koorathalvan says that He is having the six qualities - Gyana, Bala, Aiswarya, Veerya, Shakthi and Tejas- and so He is called Bhagavan. According to Vedas all these six qualities are in the Para Vasudeva form. Same Vedas say that in the next three forms viz. Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, two qualities are exhibited in each form. Does it mean that in these forms His qualities are reduced? Swami Koorathalwan says that He pretends to show reduced qualities for the sake of the devotees and His qualities all remain in tact in every form. Sri Rama lost His wife Sri Sita and asks for the route where She was captivated. At the same time, He was able to guide the vulture Jatayu to Vaikuntam! So He pretends and enacts a drama. Even before crossing the ocean to reach Ravana's Lanka, before even meeting Ravana, He crowns Vibheeshana as the King of Lanka on this side of the ocean! So even if He wanted to show His greatness reduced, on many occasions it emerges spontaneously and shows the greatness in Him.
Now He answers whether His body is like ours. Our body is made of the five elements - earth, water, fire, air and space and they have the three gunas -satva, rajo and tamo. Sri Krishna tells that His body is not like ours. We call His body as Thirumeni. We also call His form as Divya Mangala Vigraham. Ours is with three qualities while His body is Suddha Satva mayam or only satva quality. That, when seen reduces our ignorance and increases our knowledge, can be said to be of satva quality. That is why when we see the Lord in Temples we get this feeling. So Sri Krishna says prakritim svam adhisthaya.
Svam = suiting my greatness, prakitim= body, adhishtaya = I [ Sri Krishna] take, sambhavami = birth. When He decides to descend and be born, He takes a body to suit the situation without in anyway diminishing His greatness. Though as Sri Rama and as Sri Krishna, He is reported to have died, we can never find any reference as to what was done with the body after death. So when He departs to Vaikuntam, the Body He chose also goes to Vaikuntam. In our case when death occurs, the body is cast away and it has to be burnt or buried. He has a body or form but that is not like ours or what we see in ordinary living beings. Shastras say the Body of the Lord has a lightning radiance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In Srivilliputhur, during Thiruadipooram festival, on the 5th day, Sri Andal gets a sacred bath [Thirumanjanam] in this mandapam only. Five Lords of various temples assemble on that day. They all bless the devotees from this mandapam, seated on Garuda vahanam. Sri Andal is considered as the shadow of Sridevi or Sri Lakshmi. Srivilliputhur is in Malli country [kingdom] and Sri Andal as the peahen of Malli , decorates the Chest of the Lord. Sri Andal is on the right of Sri Rangamannar. He appears placing His left hand on the Garuda to His left. In the right hand He holds the scepter. Sri Andal is holding a parrot in Her left hand. In one of Her verses, She tells a cuckoo bird to coo so that the Lord appears and She promises the cuckoo bird that She will make the bird friendship with the parrot in Her hand. During the Margazhi festival all the 30 days this parrot and the garlands She adored are all sent daily to Sri Venkatachalapathy of Thirumala- Thirupathi. Mangalasasanam is praying the Lord to bless all with all good things. In the festival, the Lords of Thiruthangal [Sri Appan], Thiruannamalai [Sri Srinivasan] and Thirumalirunsolai [Sri Azhagar] assemble here. Also the Lords of the local temple Sri Vatapathra Sayi and Sri Rangamannar join them. All the five Lords are greeted by Perialwar and Mangalasasanam is done. This happens around 930 and 1100 a.m. In the night around 1100 p.m. Garuda sevai will be performed. This is similar to the Garuda sevai at the Nava Thiruppathi vis-a-vis Nammalwar [9 garudas] and at Thirunangoor vis-a-vis Thirumangai Alwar [11 garudas]. We are able to worship and get blessings with ease in these places. Swami Koorathalwan says that the Lord with such Supremacy and greatness, is available in so many Kshetrams for people like us to worship and get blessings. He has two qualities Greatness and Simplicity. Only greatness will make us far away from Him. Only simplicity will not make us fall at His feet. So a combination of these makes Him the Lord approachable and get His blessings. Arjuna had a doubt whether the lord comes on this earth with His greatness or not. Even a brilliant jewel if falls in dust will not radiate its luminescence. So Arjuna also feels the Lord might not have His greatness when born in this world along with us. We collect the metals for the Lord's idol and we make the idol, perform pooja, etc. Is He then in our command? Now Sri Krishna clarifies this and other points in the next 6th sloka:

ajo ’pi sann avyayatma
bhutanam isvaro ’pi san
prakritim svam adhisthaya
sambhavamy atma-mayaya

"Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form."

This sloka replies three doubts of Arjuna. We will first see the answer to his second question. Sri Krishna emphatically states that He is born with all the greatness He has wherever He is born. Just as fire reduces in the same way sacred materials or unwanted materials, the Lord is same whether He is in Vaikuntam or in this world. Ajopi sann = without being born, avvyayatmapi sann = without death, bhuthanam = in all bodies [of all living and non-living beings], isvara = as commander, api sann = remain. Isa means the art or science of commanding. Iswara means commander. We also at times command some to obey our orders, but that is temporary and subject to so many limitations. The Lord however, commands everyone without exception and at all places and and at all times. This answers the question whether He is born with the same powers and the reply confirms that He is born with full greatness. When Sri Krishna tells that He is not born, is He telling a lie? Arjuna knows where and when He was born and all the actions of Him uptil now. Then why He tells He is not born? The interpretation is that though He is born, He is not born like us or Arjuna, bound by past karma. In Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, Sri Narasimha is addressed as ajaha, as He came out of a pillar. One can take that as a birth or not, as unlike us He was born out of an inanimate object. Similarly He never dies as our deaths are after a karma is over. He departs when He feels He has to return to Vaikuntam. We have to infer that He is born with all His greatness in tact. Here He also tells that He is greater than achit [inanimate objects], baddha [ordinary beings like us], muktha [ those who have already reached Vaikuntam] and nithya [ the ever remaining and serving Garuda, Adisesha and the like]. Achit, that is the objects we see and use are all ever changing and get destroyed. God never changes and so He is greater than these. Baddha or atman like us are not changing, but according to the body it resides, atman have changing pleasures and sorrows. A muktha on the other hand enjoys unlimited pleasures but in the past he was also an atman. Nithya suris like Garuda had no past birth as atman, but they are subject to the commands of the Lord. We can thus see a graded greatness in all these but the Lord has the greatest powers and qualities which none of the others have.


In the Tamil month of Aadi and in star Pooram, Sri Andal appeared on this earth and so every year this day is celebrated in Srivilliputhur with the Car [Chariot] festival and is very famous like the Gopuram [Tower] of the temple. Though the car will start on the Aadi Pooram, there are occasions when the Car had taken about two months to come back to the starting point. During such times, all daily pooja and naivedyam [offering of Prasadam] would be done where the Car is parked. Perhaps, the Lord likes to remain in the Chariot and even the Gita was preached from a Chariot only! We will see the 5th sloka of fourth Chapter. In this and the next three slokas, Sri Krishna replies and answers six questions emanating from Arjuna. Swami Vedanta Desika in his Tatparya Chandrika condenses all the replies in a single sloka. Let us examine all the questions. He is replying all the six questions in four slokas, the first answered in 5th sloka, the next three answers are in sloka 6, the fifth question answer in sloka 7 and the last answer is in sloka 8.
a) Is His avatar or birth true or false? He is in this world just as we are or Arjuna was there. Is His birth real like ours or is it a magic or illusion? Sri Krishna tells His avatar is true.
b) Is He born with His greatness and Power or without? Swami Desika says He is born with ajahatswaswabhavatha. Jahat means relinquish or without. So ajahat is with or fully equipped. In every avatar He is with full powers and with none of His greatness wanting.
c) Is He born like us with blood and bone, that is with the five elements which have the three qualities of satva, rajo and tamo gunas? Sri Krishna tells that unlike our bodies, His body is full of satva quality alone and is called suddha satva mayam. That is it is not contaminated by rajo/tamo qualities.
d) Is He born because of karma as in our case? No says Sri Krishna and continues that His birth is at His will and determination [sankalpa]. No one else including karma can decide His avatar.
e) Who determines His time of birth? In our case as our papa/punya ripen our births are timed. Sri Krishna tells that His birth happens whenever there is danger to Dharma[righteousness] and Adharma flourishes.
f) What is the purpose of His birth? In our case, we are born to expend the papa and punya acquired in various births. By suffering we spend away our papa and by enjoying we spend our acquired punya. The Lord also in many avatars appears to have suffered and enjoyed. Sri Krishna replies that He is born to protect sadhus or good people , to destroy evil and wicked persons and to establish and maintain Dharma.
These six replies form the secret or rahasya of His avatar. Though He also appeared on this earth like us and played and cried, He is much above and we can never think He and we are same.
We will see sloka 5:

sri-bhagavan uvaca
bahuni me vyatitani
janmani tava carjuna
tany aham veda sarvani
na tvam vettha parantapa

"The Personality of Godhead said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!"

Paranthapa = destroyer of enemies [Arjuna], bahuni = many, janmani = births, vyatitani = have happened or passed [to Sri Krishna], tava ca = like you [have spent so many births], Arjuna. That is just as Arjuna thinks his birth now and his births earlier are all true, Sri Krishna's many avatars are all true. Tani sarvani = [but] all the births [of Arjuna and of Sri Krishna], aham =I [Sri Krishna], veda = am aware or knowing, tvam = [but] you [Arjuna], na vettha = do not know or unaware. Thus similarity between the Lord's birth and ours is, just as our births are true, so also the Lord's avatars are all true. Just as we had so many births, He also had many births. But, we do not know our past births. The Lord not only knows His past, He is fully aware of everybody else past, present and future births. Instead of a mere answer to Arjuna's question, that His birth is true, Sri Krishna tells that just like Arjuna's birth His birth is true. Because, everyone knows Arjuna and so keeping him as example, Sri Krishna tries to explain His birth. We should also remember that since the reply says that His births are many, we should never think that His avatars are only ten and All avatars are true.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Swami Ramanuja is intimately connected with the sannidhi of Sri Andal in Srivilliputhur. He is considered as the elder brother of Sri Andal by Herself. Today [17th September,2007] we are at the Irappathu [Ten nights] mandapam. During this festival, Sri Vatapathra Sayi along with His Consorts, Sri Andal and Sri Rangamannar and all the Alwars assemble to listen to the Arayar's rendering of Thiruvaimozhi. These festivals were all started by Swami Ramanuja and other Acharyas. In Srirangam Swami Ramanuja was studying Nalayira Divya Prabhandam. While on Nachiar Thirumozhi in the verse Narumalar solai malirumsolai.. Sri Andal imagines offering the Sri Sundararaja Perumal of Thirumalirum Solai near Madurai, 100 thada of butter and 100 thada of Akkara adisil. Thada is a huge vessel. Akkara adisil is a sweet dish prepared with cooked rice, milk and jaggery[candy]. Swami Ramanuja felt that Sri Andal when composed this song might have been a very small girl and could not have offered these in reality. So he thought it was his duty to offer these in the same quantity to the Lord, and satisfy Her wish. He went to the Thirumalirum Solai temple and offered these items. After this Swami Ramanuja returned to Srivilliputhur and worshiped Sri Andal. She was so pleased that She addressed him as 'My elder Brother'. In the tradition he is considered as the elder brother of Sri Andal and Swami Ramanuja was deeply in love with Her Thiruppavai. So he was also known as Thiruppavai Jeer. Since he also made commentary on the Gita we can conclusively infer that Gita Bhashyam would be based on Thiruppavai. In the 4th sloka Arjuna raised a question. Sri Krishna said He preached Karma yoga 28 chatur yug ago and now also to Arjuna. This is unbelievable. Then also He must have had a body as now, since He says He preached. Does it mean He was and is born, just as Arjuna was born? Let us go in detail the question. Swami Ramanuja says the Lord is the repository of all good qualities. There is not an iota of blemish. He has countless good qualities. Sri Andal says kuraionrumillda Govinda. So the questions arise are 1) If He were without any blemish why should He also be born like us who have all defects?2) He is Sarveshwaran, which means He is leader and commander of everyone. Then why should He be born like us who are commanded? 3) He is sarvagya, which means He knows all at all times, including past and future. Why then He is born like us with extremely limited knowledge? 4) He is considered as satya sankalpa, that is He knows what is right and wrong or full rational knowledge. Is He born by mistake in this world? 5) We are born to fulfill our karma. Is He also born to fulfill anything? But He is avapta samasta kaman, which means that He has no desire to be fulfilled as He has the happiness of all desires and more.
Swami Desika says some more questions arise in Arjuna's mind. a)Is His avatar or birth real or false? b)Is He born with all His powers or without them? Just as a jewel's radiance is hidden by the dust, does His power get diminished, born in this samsaram or earth? c) Our bodies are made by the five elements. Is His body also similar or different? d) Is He born like us bound by past karma? e) Who determines the time of His birth? In our case our karmas decide the timing of our births. f) We are born to expend our karma. To expend what is He born? or, what is the purpose of His birth?
Sri Krishna replies Arjuna in the next four slokas. In another 5th sloka He says that one who clearly understood His secret of avatar will get salvation.