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.

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