Today's [3rd March 2008] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal. Moolavar is in the reclining pose. Sri Adhimoolam is the name. He graces along with two Consorts- Sri Ramamani Nachiyar and Sri Potramarayal. His right hand is near His Head and signals protection, while the left arm is stretched towards the feet to assure that those who surrender at His feet need not be afraid of this samsaram. Utsavar is standing with two of His hind arms holding the Discus and Conch. Right fore arm is hinting protection [abhaya hastham] and left fore arm is on the knees indicating that the ocean of samsaram will be just knee-deep for those devoted to Him. Near Him is Sri Shenbagavalli Thayar. Her merciful eyes are guaranteeing full protection of the Lord. We also see the idol of Thirumazhisai Alwar, whose single pasuram has enabled this Kshetram to be counted among the 108 Divya Desam. In his Nanmugan Thiruvandadi, pasuram 50, has mentioned this Kshetram, and tells that the Lord here is Sri Krishna , Who sermoned the Charama sloka [ sarvadharman parithyajya..] in the battle field. We are at the end of Chapter 6. Our traverse is changing course from now on. The course could be graphically shown:
| | ------>3A. atman sakshatkaram |
|1. Knowledge ) 2. Karma yoga
| about atman )---->with detachment----|----->3B. Paramatman sakshatkaram |
Understanding Atman is essential for starting any yoga. So this is the first step. We have to practice Karma yoga with detachment - not aspiring for the results and not with the feeling of 'I-am-doing' sense. Karma yoga has been mentioned by Sri Krishna, like performing pooja, singing His praise, pranayamam, pilgrimage, etc. Third step is yoga. We have to select a suitable calm place and sitting properly meditate. By continuous meditating on atman, one attains the knowledge that all atman are same and there is no difference. With all karma wiped off and seeing the atman without the body, the gyana is fully matured and sama darshan is accomplished. This finally gets the person, atman prapti or kaivalyam. This is a separate place where the atman is there without a body and no more return to this world. With no papa and punya, no hunger or old age or thirst, atman is enjoying itself. This is called atman anubhavam, the finale. But this path does not talk of bhakti or Vaikuntam or serving the Lord. Where are these? This has been indicated by the Lord in the last sloka of Chapter 6. He is going to explain in detail from Chapter 7, Bhakti yoga. The objective of Bhakti is Paramatman sakshatkaram. If we see the graphical representation, we can note that from the second step of Karma yoga, the route is changing. Atman gyana and Karma yoga are common to both. In the third step, instead of meditating on atman in yoga, Paramatma is meditated. In fact as we meditate on atman, we understand that the ruler of atman, Paramatma is the supreme goal we have to strive for. Millions of persons have enjoyed the meditation on Sri Krishna in the yoga and so we will consider it as secondary to have atman anubhavam. In fact it is very difficult to view an atman as it has no form. So meditating on atman is difficult. Whereas meditating on Paramatman is easier as we can vizualise Sri Krishna and this experience will be very pleasing. This is bahkti, also called Upasanam. Mind is full of Him, and mouth chants His names and hands will be devoted to serve him. This continuous practice is Bhakti or Upasana. As this Bhakti matures, samsaram is reduced and after leaving the body, the atman reaches Sri Vaikuntam, from where there is no more return to this world. In Vaikuntam, the atman enjoys every auspicious quality of the Lord. This will fill the atman with pleasure. This is the path we are to see, henceforth. During this Bhakti yoga this person would be serving the Lord and His devotees. After Vaikunta prapti also, he would continue to serve the Lord and His devotees there and enjoy. We should therefore, avoid the atman prapti which is almost like a dead end and has no experience of company of the Lord or His devotees. But in Sri Vaikuntam, millions and millions of devotees are there and person reaching there will have infinite enjoyment. We can be in the company of Adisesha, Vishvaksena, Garuda, Alwars, Acharyas and so many others and we will mingle in eternal bliss. This is possible only if we change the course here. So, He terms this person who follows the Bhakti marg, as the best. With His indicative words, we will now move on to Chapter 7.