Thursday, January 31, 2008


We are in the third temple in Thanjavur. We first saw Sri Neelamega Perumal, followed by Sri Manikkunram Perumal. Today's [1st February 2008] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Thanjaiaali Perumal in the third temple. Just to honour the words of a small boy child, the Lord appeared at dusk as Sri Narasimha from a pillar. He is called here as Sri Veerasinga Perumal, Sri Azhagiyasinga Perumal and Sri Thanjai Aaali Perumal. In a vast garbagruha, the Lord as a large icon is in the seated pose. With the right foot folded and left foot down and with both lower arms on the respective knees He is gracing the devotees. Utsava Moorthy is Sri Narayana in the standing pose. There is yet another Utsava moorthy, Who graces the devotees on various vahanams during festivals. With Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhoodevi Consorts, the Lord is gracing as appeared before Prahalada and with the rage to punish the demon Hiranyakasipu. As already mentioned, all the three forms in this Kshetram, have got transferred from places different from the present locations. The Lord here was once gracing from a place called Singapiran kulam [pond]. During ekadasi of Tamil month Aadi, the Lord is massaged in oil. Brahmotsavam is during Swati in month Chittirai. Swati is the star in which Sri Narasimha appeared. Canopy is calle Vedasundara vimanam. Pushkarini is called as Chakara theertham or Soorya pushkarini or Sri Rama theertham. This pushkarini is situated near His earlier abode Singaperumal kulam. By worshiping Him, one will definiely get the same as Sri Prahalada got. Sri Narasimha is called as Sri Yoga Narasimha and Sri Veera Narasimha. He is associated with yoga. Sri Veera Narasimha means that He killed the demon, who tortured His devotee, with such a bravery. Thirumangai Alwar has praised this Lord as 'thanjai aaliyai pon peyaron nenjam idandhanai..'. Aaali means Sri Narasimha [ AaLL = man, ari = lion, AaLari has transformed to AaLi]. Pon peyaron is Hiranyakasipu [ pon = hiranyam in Sanskrit]. With His blessings we will see 27th sloka. Slokas 27 and 28 explain the steps to reach the bliss a yogi gets. We will explain this in a sketch. Once the steps are understood, anyone interested in yoga could perform yoga. Sloka 27:

prashanta-manasam hy enam
yoginam sukham uttamam
upaiti santa-rajasam
brahma-bhutam akalmasam

"To attain the supreme bliss, the yogi, performs yoga which removes the sins, the rajo and tamo gunas are pacified and gets a serene mind leading atman to its natural quality of supreme bliss."
Here many words are in the second case of accusative in English grammar. Five characteristics are mentioned and sucha a person attains supreme bliss. We will describe the steps as per the meaning and so they will not be in the same order in which they appear in the sloka.

The yogi gets all his papas burnt, and is rid of rajo and tamo gunas, gets serene mind and so the mind thinks of atman alone, which results in atman's natural quality of supreme bliss. This is atmanubhavam. In the sloka the meaning conveyed is yogi who is after supreme bliss, gets it, when his sins are burnt, rajo and tamo qualities are got rid of and mind is pure and serene. We have to reach the first step. We choose a proper place, good seat and with all sense organs controlled, mind has to be directed on atman. That has to be done by going in its own way and by proper commands. For the time we are in yoga we have to ensure that we are not distracted by anything else. That is how Prahalada was. Every time he was subjected to a torture, his mind never drifted away from the Lord. When he was thrown into the flames, he saw the glowing fire as the hue of the Lord and so embraced it. When he was dropped in the ocean, he thought it was the abode of the Lord and searched for Him. When poison was given, he saw the Lord's dark blue colour in that. When poisonous snakes were directed to bite him, he saw them as the bed of the Lord. With such peak level in yoga he was not afraid to face any torture. None appeared as enemies for him. He tells his father Hiranyakasipu that there is nothing like friend or enemy as the Lord resides in all. How such a small boy of just 5 years old could practice yoga, when we find it is so difficult even at advanced age? We must remember Prahalada, Dhruva and others had the blessings of the Lord. But we have to take efforts. So yoginam is the first step and we have to sincerely try to practice yoga. Once we take the first step, there after He will provide all assistance to reach the final step. Because He is waiting to bless us on one pretext or other.


Sri Krishna appeared in this world and has offered the nectar of Gita. He is also gracing from various temples so that devotees could worship Him at all times. Predominantly these temples are 40 in Chola region, 18 in Pandya, 12 in Northern, 13 in Kerala, 2 in Middle [Nadu] and 22 in Thondai regions. Sri Vaikuntam is the last. Of these 106 are in this earth, which can be visited by us. The !07th Kshetram of Thirupparkadal [Milk ocean] can not be seen by us. But the 108th Kshetram of Vaikuntam could be seen by us on some day. Bhagavad Gita tells us the method to reach that place. It also teaches how to make our lives similar to what we could experience in Vaikuntam. Gita shows the good life we can have here; it also shows the route to reach Vaikuntam; and it also shows the eternal bliss there in Vaikuntam. Perhaps, symbolically representing these three, the Lord is present in three forms in this Kshetram! Thirumangai Alwar says that other than the Sri Manikkunram Perumal, he can not praise others. He says the Lord is like a huge mountain made of Gold! So, all gods worship this Lord. Sri Krishna Himself says in Gita that He is Meru among mountains. It is believed that Meru is golden and its peaks are all diamond like. We may not be able to see Meru, but we all can easily see the Lord here. It is said that the Lord was earlier in a place called Salimedu and later He got transferred and is gracing from the present place. We will now proceed to 26th sloka. In 24th and 25th slokas, Sri Krishna explained how to practice yoga. To practice that we have to disregard mamakaram or possessiveness or attachment. If we have attachments, then it is very difficult to withdraw our mind from those materials. Till the mind is withdrawn from them, we can not think of atman. Without thinking of atman, yoga can not be accomplished. Therefore, fundamentally we have to drop out our attachments on worldly matters. This can not be achieved overnight. That is why Sri Krishna tells that slowly, slowly the mind has to be withdrawn from those. How this is to be done is explained in sloka 26:

yato yato niscalati
manas cancalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
atmany eva vasam nayet

"From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self."

Yato yato = in which[ objects], niscalati = [mind] gets involved or is interested. If our organs go after all unwanted things, mind goes after them. Mind has the natural quality of unstablity and always wanders. Mind changes every day and every hour. So it goes after undesirable acts. Cancalam = changing or wandering. Asthiram = unstable. We may think here that cancalam and asthiram convey the same meaning. But Sri Krishna has used the words with a purpose. Cancalam indictes the natural quality of mind vacillating. But asthiram is used to specifically denote its special quality of not involving itself in atman steadily. Mind jumps from one to another and that is its nature. Over and above that, the mind at least for sometime will be stable on some objects; but in case of atman, even that stability is not found. Tatas tata = from all those [objects], niyamyi = withdrawn, atman eva = only on atman, vasam nayet = [the mind] has to be got attracted or engaged. Mind has to be slowly withdrawn from all those objects in which it wanders, and engage the mind in atman. The underlying meaning is that whatever pleasure the mind gets in those objects, would be available in atman. This is the command our intellect has to give to the mind. Let us see some examples. We may be interested in gambling. Swami Vedanta Desika says that there can be two types. One gambling is just for the sport of it and the other is involving betting money. Mere entertainment or play means we may be able to break the game anytime. But once money is involved, our involvement is too severe. This we see in today's sports also. As long as money involvement is nil or small, the game is played with all skills. But when money dominates, we see fights, misunderstandings, scheming, and what not? When a child spends some time in games we welcome it as it is good for health and mind. In the present example, if we want to gamble, then we have to list in our mind all the pros and cons. We have to think how by gambling Yudhishtra suffered and how the Kauravas, even after winning the game, lost their lives. So, at least as a first step we should think to play the game without any wager. Another example is gossiping. We may be interested in gossip and make comments about others. This could happen in our jogging or when meeting friends. Here the mind wants to talk freely about others. If we could devote that time for talking about the Lord, then our desire for gossiping is fulfilled and simultaneously time is spent in eradicating our sins. So we have to command our mind to good things by going its way. Our mind may be interested to see some undesirable dance. At that time we have to give a command to imagine the dances of Sri Krishna in Vraja bhoomi. Therefore, we have to go along the mind and get it engaged in good things and later divert it on atman. With this we will now shift to the third temple of Sri Thanjayali Perumal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Slokas 24 and 25 explain how we have to involve our mind in yoga. For performing yoga, we have to select a place and seat and relax the mind. By relinquishing mamakaram or possessiveness, the yoga flourishes. We are today[30th January 2008] at the sannidhi of Sri Ambujavalli sametha Sri Manikkunra Perumal. The vimanam is Manikkoodam. We do not require a very huge box or vehicle to carry a multi million dollar worth jewel. We can carry it easily in our pocket. God is like that , though He is very valuable, yet He is available for everybody, poor or rich. Such a simple God is available here as Sri Manikkunram Perumal. In the last lecture we interpreted the meaning of mani to indicate lamp and how it dispels darkness. Today we will see it to mean jewel. Like the jewel being invaluable and at the same time could be carried easily, the Lord is so great and yet He is reachable by everyone. In Panguni Uthram we can worship the Lord in theerthavari and as a bonus, we can also visit Srirangam, some 60 kms away and worship Lord Sri Ranganatha and Sri Thayar in serthi or together. Yogam is involvement of mind and by visiting temples we can divert our mind from ordinary things. Today we hear many telling that by doing yoga, mental stress is reduced, health improves, good sleep is obtained, etc. Why this is so? Because, yoga or Dyana or meditation, is thinking of atman, which is natural. All other thoughts are on unnatural aspects. These unnatural things are many in number and we require lots of efforts and time to think each of them. We regard life as a competition and so there is a race to acquire as many material as possible. This causes tension and depression. Contrast to this, thinking about atman is natural, it is singular and it is an embodiment of happiness. This has to be achieved slowly and this is explained in sloka 25:

sanaih sanair uparamed
buddhya dhrti-grhitaya
atma-samstham manah kritva
na kincid api cintayet

"Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the self alone and should think of nothing else."

Na cintayet = not to think of, kincid api = even a small amount. We have to abandon all our thoughts on anything other than atman, not even a small amount. if this could be demonstrated it would be better, but that is not possible. So, let us see how this could be done starting from the previous slokas. Before coming to this sloka, we have to first choose a calm and quite place in our house, mostly it would be our pooja room. We have to schedule a definite time for it and not perform yoga as and when we get time. We have to give importance to this and allot a fixed time. Others also will know that a particular time is for yoga and they may not disturb. We can close the doors of the room, after ensuring proper ventilation. Avoid strong scents in the room and a subtle music might be permissible. Though Sri Krishna has advised to look at the tip of the nose and concentrate, it might be difficult for beginners and so we can have a picture of the Lord for concentrating. Sitting should be comfortable, though padmasan is preferred. As we enter this place for yoga, we should slowly discard all the thoughts on worldly matters. We should release our mind from all things which we think are ours. This is only for the short time we are in yoga and after that through out the rest of the day we are on our usual course only. We have to keep our mind detached from all others. Some people do savasana, when after great race or so the person will simply lie flat and slowly he will relax every part of the body starting from toe to head. When all these parts are released from our control, a sort of lightness and relaxation is felt. In a similar way also yoga could be practiced. Sanaih sanai= slowly and slowly, uparamed = retire from [thinking of all other materials and worldly affairs]. Budhya = intellect, dhrti grihitaya = established by courage. We have to muster courage to relinquish our possession or desire for all these worldly matters. We have to critically examine the numerous problems they created for us, etc. If this courage can grow, then we will realize the unimportance of all the worldly matters and we will conclude that we could live without them. Such a comprehension will slowly divert the mind to atman and its supremacy. Mana = mind, atma samstham = rooted in atman, kritva = done. We abandoned our thoughts on all other matters as we entered the yoga. We examined the disadvantages of those matters. Slowly we released our mind from them. We diverted the mind on atman and set it firmly rooted in atman.This is only for the period we practice yoga. We have to remember that thinking or concentrating our mind on atman is only till Chapter6. From Chapter 7 onwards He is going to tell that all our thoughts should be on God only. Atman chintanam is only the initial step. It may be difficult to think of atman as it is abstract. Whereas God means we can think of His stories like Ramayana, Bhagavatha, and by thinking of His acts, we can try to forget the worldly matters. This is not possible in meditating on atman. We can however, think atman as a body of the Lord and meditate.

Monday, January 28, 2008


MaNikkundra PerumaL kovil

The Lord in this temple is called Sri Manikunram [Sanskrit Mani Parvatham] and the Thayar is Sri Ambujavalli. Moolavar is a large idol in the seated posture. Right palm is abhaya hastam indicating protection and left arm is directing the devotees to His feet. The idols here require oiling periodically and is done in the Tamil month of Aadi [July-Aug]. In the month of Panguni [Mar -April], Theerthavari is done on Uthara star amidst the Brahmotsavam. [Sri Neelmega Perumal has theerthavari in Vaikasi Vishakam.] The temple is on the main road itself and so can not be missed. As already told, three demons were destroyed by the Lord taking three different forms and are gracing in three different temples, though all the three are counted as a single Divya Desam. Nammalwar in Thiruvaimozhi 5.3.1 says, 'masaru sodhi en seyyavai manikunrathai...'. This kshetram has been sung by Bhoodatalwar and Thirumangai Alwar. Though Nammalwar has not mentioned the Kshetram name, he has used the Lord's name Sri Manikunram. Compare this with the popular song pachchai ma malai pol meni of Thondaradipodi Alwar. Imagine emarald stone of the size of a mountain! How beautiful that sight will be? Manikunram can be interpreted as either a heap of pearls or a lamp on the top of a hill. In Thiruvaimozhi, the decade 5.3 is regarded as madal in Tamil grammar. In ancient days madal publishing was a custom followed by Tamils. If a male and a female fall in love, but the love is not approved by the parents and others, then as a last resort, one of the lovers, write about the other lover on palm leaf and publicize it by holding the palm leaf and riding a toy horse. It was believed that this could arouse reconsideration and a probability of acceptance. Here, Nammalwar in the guise of the sweetheart of the Lord, writes the madal. 'She' says that now nothing would prevent 'her' from writing the madal and publicizing 'her' love for the Lord. When her' friend queries whether 'her' Lover was so great, ParankusaNayaki replies in this pasuram. 'She' says that He is 'her' Manikunram with red lips. He has to illuminate like the lamp on hill, and drive the darkness of ignorance in all of us. Legendary Chintamani is said to grant us all our desires. The Lord here is also a large Chintamani wlling to grant us our desires. We may approach Him to bless us with the yoga disclosed in Chapter 6. Now we will see the 24th sloka:
sankalpa-prabhavan kamams
tyaktva sarvan asesatah
viniyamya samantatah
"One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of mental speculation and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind."
Slokas 24 and 25 tell us to control the mind to practice yoga. Sri Krishna tells in these two slokas, that we have to abandon mamakaram or our possessiveness. First we think what are not ours as ours, and so those are to be abandoned. The other is to relinquish even what we consider as ours. To think of what is not ours as ours is illegal. So, there is no scope for that and has to be abandoned. Next, we have to critically examine each of the items we consider as ours and decide our possession on them. We normally consider the present body of us as ours. But we now know that this body is to be departed after death and so can we really claim body as ours? Further, in the innumerous past births, the soul has resided in various bodies, now unknown. Are we to claim our possession on all of them? So, there is nothing which can be claimed as the possession of atman. But, yes, there is one which is atman's. It is the anandam or sukham or eternal bliss. All other worldly materials do not belong to atman and so all of them have to be discarded in toto. Possessiveness or a feeling of possession is an impediment to yoga. Attachment leads to anger and hatred, which induce scheming and therefore, loss of time. When we require time for our plans to acquire materials or protect our so called possessions, we would take away the time reserved for yoga. Because as of today, we regard yoga as our last priority and so we would not be able to practice yoga. That is why Sri Krishna has put great emphasis on discarding mamakaram. Sarvan = all, kaman = desires [on materialistic possession], aseshata =without a residue, tyaktva = abandon. Sri Krishna has categorised our desires for materialistic possession into two. One is what we perceive and the other is what we imagine with our mind. First is called sparsajam and the other is sankalpajam. Our normal desires we experience with our sense organs are sparsajam. Whereas the properties like possessing lands, bank deposits, etc., are all sankalpajam, as we mentally feel the pleasure of them. Both these desires are to be discarded. It may be easier to abandon perceptible desires. But it is more difficult to give up mental desires or sankalpajam. Indriya gramam = the collection of sense organs, samantata viniyamya= to be diverted from all materials, sankalpa prabhavan = mentally imagined. Sri Krishna tells that one should discard all desires on perceptible and imaginary objects, without a trace, and divert the mind on atman. So let us concentrate our mind on this Lord as a Hill and divert our minds from pebbles of cheap desire.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Of the 40 Chola region Divya Desam, we are at Thanjai Mamani koil, near Tanjore. Thirumangai Alwar while singing about the Lord here, says 'thava nerikkor peru neri'. Thava means meditation or yoga, neri means path. He says for practicing yoga, the Lord here is gracing as a peru [big or great] neri [path]. That is for following the yoga path, the Lord remains as the guide. He is like a cloud. Alwars always compare the Lord to the cloud. Firstly, He is also black like the clouds and secondly, like clouds He always gives. Here He has to give us His blessings for us to succeed in yoga. Yoga itself is a path to reach the Lord and to access that path, we have to seek His blessings. He is the destination and to reach that we require His help! This is unique feature different from world, where the path and destination will not be the same. If we regard yoga as a purushartha, then Sri Neelamega Perumal has to bless us to get that. This is what the Alwar prays. Today's [28th January 2008] lecture is from the sannidhi of Swami Vedanta Desikan, also known as Swami Nigamanta Mahadesikan. He is intimately connected with Bhagavat Gita. He lived from 1268 to 1369, and has composed a number of sthotras and has penned a number of philosophical works. He wrote Tatparya Chandrika, an explanatory work on Swami Ramanuja's Gita Bhashyam. These are the basis on which the present lectures are made. Many have praised the lecturer for the novel way of explaining Gita. But it has to be remembered that in the Vaidika tradtion, old sayings and writings are only repeated and nothing new could be told. If ever one thinks one is propounding a new concept, most probably, that would be full of fallacies. So, what is told in these lectures is a repetition of what our Acharyas and ancestors have explained and there is nothing new in these. Let us now see how Swami Desika interprets the 23rd sloka:
tam vidyad duhkha-samyoga-
viyogam yoga-samjnitam
sa niscayena yoktavyo
yogo ’nirvinna-cetasa
" Know that as yoga without mingling of sorrow. One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with determination and with a happy mind"
Sa = therfore, niscayena = definitely, yoktavya = to be perormed, yogo = yoga, anirvinna = without sorrow, cetasa = mind. We have to definitely perform yoga, with a mind or with thoughts full of happiness. We should not do it with grief. We should do it as a pleasant task. Vidyad = know, tam = that. Here the word tam [that] is the answer to the various relative pronouns used in slokas 20, 21 1nd 22, namley, yatra [ sloka 20] = in which[ mind is involved], yat [sloka 21] = that [which is endless pleasure] and yam [sloka 22] = that which [ by acquiring]. All these are related to this word tam in this sloka 23 and so, yoga is the one in which our mind should be involved. Yoga gives endless pleasure and by acquiring yoga, nothing else is to be acquired or all other things are not worth acquiring. Dukha = grief or sorrow, samyoga = mingled, viyogam = without, yoga = yoga, samajnitam = is called. Sri Krishna tells that person who has practiced yoga, is having only happiness without a trace of sorrow. When one started the yoga, one was griefstricken. But after practicing yoga all his grief have vanished and only happiness remains and to indicate this change of state only, Sri Krishna has used the words dukha samyoga viyogam, instead of merely stating sukha as adjective for yoga. We can summarize the four slokas as:
  • Mind involved in yoga, diverting from other activities [sloka 20]
  • Yoga is the ultimate happiness, once accomplished will never slip from that [sloka 21]
  • Yoga is the only valuable accomplishment, all other pleasures and acquisitions would appear trivial and inferior and no grief can shake [sloka 22]
Sloka 23 says these are the greatness of what is called as yoga and it has happiness with no contamination of sorrow. So, yoga has to be definitely practiced with happiness. Sri Krishna is telling the greatness of yogabhyasa, how it is to be done and what benefits accrue; and, this will continue till sloka 28. Yoga can be considered as an approach or yoga itself could be considered as the destination for happiness. While practicing one may encounter certain difficulties, but the supreme objective will nullify those. We will meet next in Sri Manikunram Perumal temple.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The Lord of Thanjai Mamani koil is Sri Neelamega Perumal and His Consort is Sri Senkamalavalli Thayar and today's [25th January 2008] lecture is from Her sannidhi. Convention is to first worship Sri Thayar and empowered by Her recommendation we can worship the Lord. Thirumangai Alwar says he found the Thirumantram in this divine couple in the pasuram ' empiran enthai ennudai chutram...'. Piran means He who helps. Alwar calls Him as his helper, his father, his relatives, his King and his life. He killed the demons and He is gracing in Vembulam solai. After worshiping the Lord and Sri Thayar, one's thought would be full of Them only. But after one gets into the worldly affairs, this thought would go into oblivion till one returns to this Kshetram again. Because one has come to the temple without yoga practice. When visiting temples we shoild avoid cell phones and discussing family or other matters. All these are impediments to yoga. This is what Sri Krishna has been advising that we should divert our mind from worldly matters to atman. In sloka 20 He told that by doing so the yogi gets happiness in atman. In sloka 21 He told that the atmanubhavam and the happiness arising from it is beyond the grasp of our organs and mind and it has to be realized with our intellect only. Now the 22nd sloka:
yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
gurunapi vicalyate
"Established thus, one never departs from the atman, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain and no grave danger could shake him."
Yam labhdva = he who has obtained which, aparam = different, labham = acquisition or accomplishment, tata = more than this, adhikam = more or better, na manyate = not recogonised. After attaining this, he would not regard any other as a better accomplishment. Yasmin = that in which, sthitha = remain without slipping, guruna = very great, api = even, dukhena = sorrow, na vicalyate = will not disturb. Once established in this firmly, he would not be shaken by even very grave or frightening sorrow. This is yet another greatness of atmanubhavam. Does it mean that the person, who has got this atma sukham will not do his routines like eating or going to office for employment, etc. ? No. That person would still be engaged in all the routines but he would do them not for any cheap pleasure but for the objective of atman sukham. In Srimad Ramayana, Lakshmana accompanied Sri Rama to the forests. For Lakshmana, serving Sri Rama was more important than the pleasures of Palace life. Sumitra, mother of Lakshmana, advises her son before he accompanies Sri Rama to the forests. She told to forget his mother, his father Dasaratha and his place Ayodya. She further said that henceforth Sri Sita was his mother, Sri Rama was his father and the forests were Ayodya and so he should enjoy. Can we ever imagine a mother advising her own son to go to forests and be happy? Sumitra said that she regarded Lakshmana's service to Sri Rama as most important and she said that she delivered Lakshmana only to go to forests and serve the Lord. Her priority was service to the Lord and so she considered all others as trivial. Lakshmana also says that he did not want the heaven nor the eternity, but he wanted he should be ordered by Sri Rama and he would do that with greatest happiness. Once Lakshmana got the opportunity to serve Sri Rama, then all other happiness are of no value and no physical difficulties would affect him. This is the same thing in this sloka also. We should note that Sri Krishna never said that sorrows would not be encountered by the yogi. But he would not be affected by them. None can avoid happiness and sorrow in life and by yoga we can prepare ourselves to face with courage. Just like we can not eradicate mosquitos but make ourselves ready to reduce bites. Kulasekara Alwar prays in his Mukunda Mala, that he did not mind his presence anywhere be it naraka even, but he should never forget the Lotus feet of the Lord. He feels that the thought of Him is the most important and all others did not matter. Guha also regarded his association with Sri Rama just for one day as the greatest acquisition and he would not mind any othere suffering.


We are in Thanjavur, one of the Chola region temples. Today’s [24th January 2008] lecture is from the sthala vriksha [temple tree], Magizha maram. This temple is situated on he banks of Vennaru, a tributary of Kaveri. Sometimes it is also called Vinnaru, signifying the Vraja River separating Vaikuntam from our worlds. Vinn in Tamil means sky. The vimanam [canopy] of this temple is called Soundarys vimanam. Pushkarini is called Kannika pushkarini. Alwars have identified this as vambulam solai. The Lord of this temple, Sri Neelamega Perumal was earlier gracing fro the banks of this pond only. This place was in those days called Rajagudi. From here, the Lord moved to the present place. Why the name Thanjai mamani koil? Because of this Lord, Thanjavur got its name. Why the Lord is gracing in three forms here? Three asuras – demons- Thanjakan, Dandakan and Gajamukhan- did thapas [meditation] on lord Shiva and when lord Shiva appeared, they prayed for eternity. Lord Shiva said that was beyond his power, but promised that he would not cause their destruction. Empowered by this promise, the three asuras started harassing all rishis [sages] and spoiled their pooja. In this Kshetram, sage Parasara was doing meditation and so the three asuras started troubling the sage. Sage Parasara prayed the Lord to save him from these demons and Sri Neelamaga Perumal, just like clouds lash the earth with sharp showers, directed missiles and other weapons on the demons. First He destroyed Thanjakan. But before his soul departed, he prayed the Lord to name this Kshetram after him and the Lord agreed. Thus the name Thanjavur got established. The Brahmotsavam of this temple is celebrated annually during Tamil month Vaikasi and on Vishaka star, theerthavari is celebrated. That day happens to be Nammalwar birthday and the sthala vriksham also is Magizha maram, the flowers of which were the garlands for Nammalwar, that is why he is referred to as Vakulabharanan. Theerthavari, group bathing, is done in the Kannika pushkarini, where the other two Lords also arrive. Another unique feature of this place is the 21 Garuda seva on Vaikasi Thiruvonam [Shravan]. That is a very memorable occasion. After destroying Thanjakan, the Lord in the form of Sri Narasinga, killed the next demon, Gajamukha. That is why He is called Sri Veerasinga Perumal or Sri Thanjai Aali. The third demon, Dhandakan, realizing his end was near, prayed for Moksham after his death and the Lord as Sri Manikkunra Perumal finished him and offered Moksham to his soul. Thus the Lord is in three forms, just like A,U and M in pranavam, the three words in Ashtaksharam and the Tatva trayam of chit, achit and Iswara. We will now see the 21st sloka:

sukham atyantikam yat tad
buddhi-grahyam atindriyam
vetti yatra na caivayam
sthitas calati tattvatah

“By the intellect one rejoices the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized by intellect. He then never drifts away from that happiness at anytime”

Person, who attains this atmanubhvam pleasure, will never slip from this. Yat = that which, atyantikam = endless or pure without any alloying of misery, sukham = happiness, buddhi grahyam = can be experienced only by intellect, atindriyam = beyond organs. That is this unique happiness of yoga could be felt only by our intellect and not by any of the sense organs like nose, ear, etc. Yatra = where, vetti = [happiness] is experienced, sthitha = well established, tattvata = from that position, na eva chalati = will never slip. Person, who has experienced atmanubhaavam pleasure in yoga, will never slip from that position, as all other pleasures enjoyed by sense organs in contact with materials will never be equal to that. But there is a catch in this, what is it? This atmanubhavam is not perceptible to the sense organs. If only sense organs could experience that pleasure, all would have immediately tried to experience that. Since, this happiness could be felt only by our intellect, the number of such persons wanting to experience will be very few and initial difficulties have to be overcome. What we experience by our body sense organs is unnatural and so we can never feel at home in them. Atmasukham, on the other hand, is natural and so we would never feel to go away from that and would like to enjoy that continuously. Some efforts are needed to initiate this atmanubhavam and once it is started, none would like to go away from that. Will this pleasure arising out of atmanubhavam, give us the pleasures we get from sense organs? Yes, it will give these pleasures also.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Partha, that is Arjuna is a prapanna - he who has surrendered to the Lord. He prayed the Lord to resolve his confusion. Arjuna was confused because of three wrong concepts. He imagined friendship at the wrong place. He wanted to show mercy to the wrong people. And, he thought Adharma as Dharma. These three confused him and so he sought asylum at the feet of Sri Krishna to resolve his confusion. Thus started the preaching of Gita. Sri Krishna at the beginning of Chapter 2, clarifies three important things. Achit - all the objects and our own bodies, chit - atman in all living beings and Paramatma or Iswara - Sri Krishna. Achit is not everlasting and it is bound to be destroyed. Chit is everlasting. Paramatma possesses all these achit and chit, commands them and He is the Master. So the three things that confused Arjuna were being clarified by the three entities. These three entities originate from the Thirumantram or Ashtakshara mantram - OM NAMO NARAYANAYA. It consists of three words. It is a treasure of meanings and explaining these are books of philosophy. Thirumangai Alwar in the pasuram 'kulam tharum' says the chanting of this mantra can get everything in life here and in the other worlds. The seed for this mantra is OM or also called Pranavam. This can be split into three letters or aksharams - A, U and M. This corresponds to the three words of Ashtaakshara mantra. A denotes Paramatma. M denotes jeevatman or atman and U identifies Sri MahaLakshmi. Vedas proclaim that one has to surrender to the Lord chanting Pranavam. So the Triads are very useful and significantly, we have come to this Kshetram to worship the Lord in three forms. Yes, we are in Tanjore or Thanjavur, where the Lord graces the devotees in three temples - all counted as one Divya Desam - situated within 200 metres radius. Thirumangai Alwar has sung all the three idols of Sri Neelamega Perumal, Sri Manikunra Perumal and Sri Veerasinga Perumal as a single Moorthy only. Long back to fecilitate pilgrims, the temples were brought near to each other. Sri Neelamega Perumal graces in the sitting pose. Right hand depicts protection -Abhaya hastham, and left hand is held welcoming the devotees - Ahvahana mudra. The idol is large wit Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhoodevi on the sides. Utsava Moorthy graces with the scepter [sengol in Tamil], indicating He is the King of the entire Universe. Today's [23rd January 2008] lecture is from the entrance of this temple. This Kshetram is also known as Garudapuri as Viswakarma and Kubera planned the place in Garuda shape. It is believed that Garuda is protecting this Kshetram. We will now proceed to see next sloka in Chapter 6. Slokas 20, 21, 22 and 23, are parts and have to be seen as a single sloka. He tells Arjuna that yoga is not to be considered as a difficult path, but has to be approached as a very valuable possession. Purushartam means thing desired by atman. Here purusha denotes atman and not male alone. Artham means desired one. If we desire for a fruit then fruit is the purushartam. Sri Krishna tells that yoga has to be considered as a purushartam. This is being explained in four slokas. Now the 20th sloka:
yatroparamate cittam
niruddham yoga-sevaya
yatra caivatmanatmanam
pasyann atmani tusyati
"Mind withdrawn from materials and involved on atman. Repeated practice of yoga, mind sees the atman and gets total enjoyment."
After withdrawing his mind from all worldly matters, he directs mind on atman and enjoys it. This can be considered as purushartam. What we desire has to be in agreement with shastras. In other words just because we desire a thing it can not become purushartam, unless it is legal and is bound by decency and will uplift our character. Yatra = where, uparamate = involved, [the answer for this will be in sloka 23 only], cittam = mind or thoughts, niruddham = removed from all senses like smell, taste, etc. Yoga sevaya = by constant practice of yoga, atmana = by mind, atmanam= self or soul, pasyann = viewed, atmani tusyati = enjoys and is satisfied with atman. All these days the person starting to practice yoga, was enjoying the material objects; but once he practices yoga, he finds the pleasure multifold and wants to continue and prolong. He finds all the various sense pleasures are all available with atman.

The temple is located near Thanjavur on the banks of Vennaaru.

Three temples together are considered a divya desam. All three temples are located close to each other. The temples are Thanjai Maamani Koil, Manikundram, Thanjaiali Nagar. The Utsavar's naamam in all three temples is Sriman Narayanan.

Thanjai Maamani Koil
The Moolavar is Neelamega Perumal seen in seated posture facing east.

Thaayaar - Sengamalavalli

Theertham - Amrutha Theertham

The Moolavar is Manikundra Perumal seen in seated posture facing east.

Thaayaar - Ambujavalli

Theertham - Srirama Theertham

Thanjaiali Nagar
The Moolavar is Narasimhan seen in seated posture facing east.

Thaayaar - Thanjai Nayagi

Theertham - Surya Pushkarini, Srirama Theertham

Thirumangaialwar - 953, 1090, 1576
Boodathalwar - 2251
Nammalwar - 3139

Total of 5 Paasurams.

Monday, January 21, 2008


svadharmaj~nAnavairAgyasAdhyabhaktyekagocaraH .
nArAyaNaH paraM brahma giitaashaastre samiiritaH
This is the opening sloka in Gitartha Sangraham by Acharya Swami Alavandar. He says that Sri Krishna is the Paramatma and to reach Him, bhakti [devotion] is the only way and this is evident from Bhagavat Gita. There is none equal to or above Him. Among all tatva [entities], He is the only true entity. Tatva gyana thu moksha laba, so say the great people. That is, a true understanding of tatva will yield moksham. Lack of this knowledge will push us in the cycle of births in samsaram. Tatva means the true entity. If we do not know the truth, we get into this endless cycle of birth and death. So we have to be in search of the truth. In Srimad Bhagavatham, sage Sukhacharya narrates the chorus of the devas. Sri Krishna, to redeem the sufferings of the devas, got into the womb of Devaki. Realizing this the devas praised the Lord and Devaki. At that time they all say of Sri Krishna as the truth in all and He dwells as the truth in all inanimate [achit] matters. He is the truth inside the atman [chit]. He is the cause for all true things we see in this world. He graces in the Paramapadam, that is true, always. "We the devotees surrender unto You, the Truth", say the devas. Upanishads when trying to identify the Lord, say He is Satyam, Gyanam, Anantham. Anantham means endless in space, time or place. He can not be bound by any measurement nor He can be told that He was there in the past only. He is present at all times and at all places in all forms. There is no beginning, no middle and no end. Gyanam means He knows all happenings of the past, present and future, at all places and at all times. He creates just by His knowledge [sankalpam]. Sathyam means permanent or everlasting. It does not undergo any change at any time and at any place. 'Avikaraya suddhaya nityaya paramatmane'. His qualities, forms, etc., will never change. So search of truth is search of God. And, He graces in this Kshetram as Sri Sathya Narayana. Thirumangai Alwar was especially attracted by the Lord here and that is why even while praising the Lord of Thirunarayur [Nachiarkoil] or Nagappattinam or Thirukkannapuram, he mentions this Lord. Brahmam remains illuminating the surroundings like a lamp glowing steadily. Sri Krishna tells in the 19th sloka how a person practicing yoga would be. Sri Krishna uses not the analogy of the hill which is steady, to describe the state of a yogi. Perhaps, a mountain or hill may describe stability but not the glow. Now the 19th sloka:

yatha dipo nivata-stho
nengate sopama smrta
yogino yata-cittasya
yunjato yogam atmanah

"As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent self."

Just like a lamp glows steadily in still air surrounding, the yogi would be seen. Yatha = just like. Yatacittasya = controlled sense organs and mind, yunjata = involved in yoga, yogina = yogi's, atmana = state, sa upamasmrta = that is shown as example. Nivatastho = air-circulationless or still air, dipa = lamp, yatha = just like, nengate = motionless or steady. Atman and its glow is compared to a lamp with glow. If the lamp should not flicker or glow steadily, then there should not be disturbance by air circulation. If, similarly, atman has to glow steadily, it should not be disturbed by the senses that drag the sense organs and these senses are comparable to air. This 'air' will make the atman lamp to flicker and will not allow it to be steady. By controlling the sense organs, the mind is able to meditate steadily on atman. This is the reason why Sri Krishna took for comparison the lamp instead of the hill. Just as to keep the lamp to glow steadily, we provide enclosure, we have to withdraw ourselves from material distractions and remain in an enclosure. Just as periodical addition of oil would ensure the lamp glowing always, we have to do karma yoga periodically and keep the atman glowing. We can imagine the Lord's image in temples as the enclosure for the lamp. Bhakti or devotion is the oil. Atman will glow steadily and always.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Sri Krishna gave us the elixir of Gita, which we have been tasting in various Kshetrams. We are now in Sathya Giri Kshetram, also known as Thirumeyyam. On the top of the hill is the fort and at bottom is the temple. There are two garbagruha in the temple, in one the Lord is reclining and in the other He is standing to grace the devotees. If we want to divert our mind from the worldly matters, then we need to come to these temples and that is why the idols are called Subhasraya Divya mangala vigraham. When we visit the temples, we realize some attraction in these idols. God is everywhere, and so this fort, the pond , the sky, the earth, etc., all should attract us. But they do not. Whereas these idols of the Lord with Discus, Conch, Bow and Sword weapons, many ornaments and garlands and with His Consorts, attract us. That is why the periodical festivals are held. Prasadams are distributed. All these are done to attract the devotees towards Him. By such attraction, the directionless wandering mind is restrained and disciplined. Yogam is directing the mind coherently on the atman. Now the 18th sloka:

yada viniyatam cittam
atmany evavatisthate
nisprhah sarva-kamebhyo
yukta ity ucyate tada

"When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities to think only about atman,he is said to be well qualified to practice yoga and becomes desireless in worldly objects."

Tada =then, yukta = person practicing yoga, ity ucyate = is qualified. When? is the question. It is something like taking a test on-line to see whether one is qualified or not. Sarva =all, kamebhya = from [all] desires, nispraha = desireless. That is one becomes desireless from all in which one had desires. Then one is qualified to start yoga. It may create a fear whether this is possible for us. But let us see further the sloka. This desireless stage has to be reached slowly and steadily, just as we climb a gigantic hill. Yada =when, cittam = mind or thoughts, atmanyeva = towards his atman, vineeyatam = fully involved, avatishtate = exists. So, the person who is starting to practice yoga, has to train his mind to be involved in thoughts about his atman. Such a person qualifies to start yoga. First he has to divert his mind from all objects in which he had desire, towards atman. It may be for a small time, say 15 minutes to start with, and as he progresses, this duration can increase. Let us not forget that the yoga Sri Krishna is telling is not for 24 hours but for specific periods only. In such chosen time, one chooses a proper place and seat and sits erect and with eyes looking at the tip of the nose, starts meditating on atman. It may be for an hour or two. After that he is in his normal routines. We have to agree that atman is different from body and that was explained by the Lord in Chapter 2. To meditate on atman we have to first have a liking for it. Liking will come only if we have understood atman and its superiority. During this meditation naturally, we can not be thinking of other things and that is what Sri Krishna is driving at by saying our thoughts and mind should be directed on atman alone. In other words atman has to order the inanimate mind, which is also identified as an organ of the body, to think only about atman and nothing else. Mind has to be commanded, otherwise it will go its way and drift away. It is like a computer which does not have its own intelligence. We write the programs to be followed by the computer and it obeys all those commands. But sometimes due to bugs in the software, the computer encounters virus and starts malfunctioning. To correct the corrupted software we call experts and get the software cleaned up. Virus in our mind is the age old papa. So we have to remove this 'virus' in our mind. Karma yoga acts as the antivirus here. Once the mind obeys the command of the atman, after it has been debugged, it functions according to the commands and yoga is accomplished. This will make the person desireless. As an example, if a person was living in a hut, with his work, he achieves better salary and goes in for a better accommodation. Then, further progressing in his profession, he goes to a bigger flat and then an independent bungalow. At that time we find him having no desire for the hut or the small flat he used to live in. Because, he has accomplished bigger things and so smaller things no longer attract him or create a desire. Similarly, after enjoying atman, one would become desireless in the transient and cheap desires of worldly objects. Because we are yet to taste atman, we have doubts as to how we can forsake our desires on worldly matters. Once atmanubhavam is experienced, then automatically our desires for worldly matters would vanish. Initially, just like a parent diverts the child's attention from smaller things to better things in life, we have to give commands to the mind and divert it from other matters to atman.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


We are in the Pandya Kshetram Thirumeyyam. Accepting the prayers of Adusesha, the Lord is gracing the devotees in the reclining posture and to the request of sage Satya, He is gracing in the standing pose. His vahanam [vehicle] Garuda is standing near the Lord in the garbagruha. Garuda wanted to end the slavery of his mother, by bringing the Amrut. So, he prayed the Lord to bless him with success. We will now see the 17th sloka:

yukta-cestasya karmasu
yogo bhavati duhkha-ha

"He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system."

Dukha ha= capable of removing the distress, yogo bhavati = yoga is accomplished, yukta = just the sufficient, ahara = food, vihara = [just the sufficient] strolling, yukta = just the sufficient, cestasya karmasu= work in his business, yukta = just sufficient, svapnavabhodasya = sleep and alertness, such a person can accomplish yoga and can vanquish distress. Distress He is talking, is not just the suffering of not getting sleep or uneasiness due to excessive eating or tiredness due to excessive work. Earlier while understanding the word shanti, we saw six oormis or sufferings - asanaya [hunger], pibhasa [thirst], soha [ agony], moha [faint], jara [ aging] and maranam [death]. Yoga removes all these oormis. To accomplish yoga, one should have the required food, sleep, walk and involvement in work. All these are activities of a common man, like us. We can, therefore, have a sigh of relief that Gita is preached for people like us only. First He talks of food we eat. It should be pure so that the effect on our body also is pure. Such food will grow satva quality in us. We eat to live and not live to eat. We have to have balanced diet. Our stomach capacity has to be divided such that we fill half of it with solid food, one quarter for water and the balance one quarter is kept empty for air movement. This will ensure health. We have svasam, vadham and pittham [ according to Ayurveda or Siddha vaidyam]. If all these three are in equal proportion, body is in good health. All medicines are administered to ensure this equal proportion. Healthy body ensures proper functioning of mind. We should not take food that do not agree with our system. We should never consume food that has not been offered to Sri Krishna. All defects in the food are removed when we offer the food to the God. Vihara means some play or walking to digest the food taken. We have to mention here about the importance of observing fast on ekadasi, which occurs every fortnight. It ensures overhauling of the body system. Fasting in a fortnight will not cause any problem. When a patient is admitted in a hospital, he does not eat the normal food for a couple of days and just the saline water drips sustain the system and the patient is quite cheerful. So it is not necessary that we have to have our regular food to keep our systems in proper condition. After all, this fasting is just for a day in 15 days.More than this we also get the satisfaction of following Sri Krishna's advise [ He is going to tell the importance of fasting on ekadasi]. We have to involve ourselves in our work to the extent needed. We have to prioritise our requirements. Look at the Garuda here. He is used for procession for a maximum of 6 days or so in a year. All the other days he is resting only. So we have to have a balanced work schedule. Sufficient amount of sleep is to be there. Moderate food, stroll, work and sleep will make one to accomplish yoga capable of eliminating one's distress. Before going to bed, everyone can draw a balance sheet of that day's papa and punya deeds. Papa is expenditure and punya is revenue. We should at least repent for the papa done and close that account and not prolong it or carry over. We should not repeat such papa deeds. On the other hand, in case of punya deeds instead of patting ourselves for such deeds, we should try to excel them in the ensuing opportunities.

Friday, January 18, 2008


To get salvation the only way is to have devotion in Archa moorthy [Idols] in various temples, says Thirumangai Alwar, who is given a unique position among all Alwars. He is the one, who has composed hymns on maximum number -86- kshetrams of the 108. Also among the 108 Divya Desam, on 47Kshetrams, he alone has praised in his pasurams. On 61 kshetrams he and/or other Alwars have sung. When he visited Thirumeyyam, he offered his composition Thirukkurunthandakam. In the end of it, he says, among others, he who has devotion to this Kshetram, gets salvation. Others do not get salved. Tamil word for salvation is Uyyal and the name of the Thayar of this Kshetram is Sri Uyyavanda Nachiyar or Sri Ujjeevana Nachiar. So it is evident that those who seek asylum at Her feet will be salved. As we enter this temple, on the left is Thayar sannidhi with Her facing the East. Today [17th January 2008] we will pray for Her blessings and with Her recommendation [Purushakaram], we will go to the Lord. On the left the Lord is in reclining pose. Right of Him is the Sri Satyamoorthy, in the standing pose. On further right we can worship the Sri Varaha Perumal on the banks of the Pushkarini. East of all is the temple pond with all over compound walls. All are below the hills and on the top of the hills are fort and other buildings giving a wonderful sight. To preserve this monumental structure Archaeological Survey of India is maintaining all these. Sculptures are quite famous and with Her blessings we will go to sloka 16. In the 10th sloka Sri Krishna told the need to practice yoga. In the 11th and 12th slokas, He told how the external surroundings have to be. In the next two slokas, He told how to concentrate and focus eyes to start yoga. In the next sloka [15], He told that to make meditation successful, we have to think of the suddha satva guna embodiment -subhasrayam- of His image. In the next two slokas -16th and 17th - He is going to tell about another important aid to practice yoga. These two slokas are the most important and other aids are secondary only. Now, the 16th sloka:

naty-asnatastu yogosti
na caikantam anasnatah
na cati-svapna-silasya
jagrato naiva carjuna

"There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough."

By repeating the word 'na', Sri Krishna negates certain things. He says about our food, sleep, movements and our work. Na = no, aty = excessive, asnata = eating, yogo = yoga, asti = can not be. He who eats excessively can not practice yoga. Na ca = and also no, ekantam = continuous or altogetherl, anasyata = fasting or not eating. Person, on the other hand, totally fasting and does not eat altogether also will not be able to practice yoga. Na = no, ati = excessive, svapna silasya = person dreaming [actually this does not talk about dreams, but sleep], jagrato = always awake [ without a wink of sleep] , naiva ca = also not, Arjuna = Arjuna. Persons who are habitual of excessive sleep as also persons with no sleep altogether can not practice yoga. This implies that we have to have moderate food habits and timely and required sleep only. People normally think that yoga is very difficult to perform as it involves fasting and keeping awake for longtime, etc. Sri Krishna allays all these baseless fears and makes yoga practical for all ordinary people like us. It also does not mean that we continue with our bad habits. We have to progress and move forward, by slowly and steadily eliminating our defects. It is like the recurring deposits which fetch us good returns at the end of the term. Similarly, by improving our habits in a small way, we can achieve great results over a period. Vedas never advise wrong things nor advise for our ruin. It says to take ghee to prolong life. But in the modern times doctors advise us to reduce fat by eliminating ghee. These are to be critically examined and we have to alter our food habits to make us healthier and live longer. What use is there for milk without fat? It will be like having a flower without fragrance or diamond without lustre. We have to use the objects for their natural properties. We have to follow the footsteps of our ancestors and take food accordingly and in that moderated way. In sleep also, a person may need 2 to 3 hours of deep sleep. But he needs to have the sleep with dreams as a prelude and so normally one sleeps for 6 hours or so. Sleep is needed to recharge all our organs. According to shastras, during deep sleep our atman is in unison with the Lord and that rejuvenates our entire system. When only our organs remain passive with mind still awake, we get sleep with dreams. When the mind also is passive, then we get the deep sleep and it recharges all our organs including our mind. Deep sleep is also called brahmanubhavam as the atman is in unison with Paramatman. Late going to bed and late raising are not good for health. Waking up at least by 5a.m. is good.