Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Thirucherai is an important Divya Desam of the 40 Kshetrams of Chola region. From Kumbakonam on route to Thiruvarur, this place is at the 14th KM. It is praised as the Panchasara Kshetram. Sara Pushkarini gives importance to this place. Mother Kaveri meditated on the Lord, on the banks of this pond only. There are Nine theertham or sacred ponds in this place and Sarapushkarini is the most important of them. There is a sannidhi for Kaveri Thayar at the Pushkarini. She is also in the garba gruha, worshiping the Lord. Why this place is called SaraKshetram and Thirucherai? When the great deluge -pralayam - happened, Four faced Brahma wanted to save the Vedas, Puranas, etc., in a mud pot and preserve them. When the mud of all other places were not suitable for making the pot, mud from this place alone was found suitable and the pot was made. All the Vedas, Puranas, seeds, etc., were gathered and stored in the pot. Tamil word for gathering is serthal and so this place was called Thirucherai. Since the essence - saram - of all vedas and others were stored here, it became Sara Kshetram. When the pot was made, this place became the belly of the pot and Kudavasal [colloquiially called kodavasal] became the mouth and the bottom of the kumba - pot = became Kumbakonam. We will now see the 2nd sloka of Chapter 7. Earlier He told Arjuna that He would teach that knowledge, by knowing which Arjuna would understand Bhakti yoga fully and without any doubt. He continues further:

jnanam te ’ham sa-vijnanam
idam vaksyamy asesatah
yaj jnatva neha bhuyo ’nyaj
jnatavyam avasisyate

"I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both basic and extraordinary. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know."

Aham =I [Sri Krishna], te = to you [Arjuna], vaksyami = will tell, asesata = without any remainder [ completely], jnanam = knowldge, sa vijnanam = in addition to special knowledge, idam = now. Yaj jnatva = by knowing which, na iha bhuya = no more learning , jnatavyam avasisyate = any other knowledge. He says that in Bhakti yoga, He would teach knowledge and special knowledge, completely, so that no other learning of any other knowledge would be necessary. Gyanam is the basic knowledge about God or Paramatma, Vigyanam means the extraordinary knowledge about His special qualities. Let us see what is the basic knowledge about the Lord. In the history of this place, it was told that Kaveri meditated and the Lord appeared as an infant, then in Viswaroopam and then as Sri Vaikuntapathy. Kaveri could not understand the Lord as the Supreme God when she saw the infant and only somewhat in the Viswaroopam. Only when He appeared as Sri Vaikuntapathy, she could understand His greatness and supremacy. So our knowledge also on a subject grows and matures. This gyana matures into Bhakti. So basic knowledge is needed for Bhakti. Basic knowledge about God is sathyam, gyanam, anantham and Brahmam. Sathyam means He is always there. He is not bound by time or place or matter. He is embodiment of knowledge and bliss and He is endless. Normally, we respect another only if that person is greater in some respects. That is why in the beginning of Bhakti yoga, Sri Krishna tells about His greatness first, so that Arjuna - and also we- will respect Him and learn the Bhakti yoga. We were asked to attend lectures on Him or visit temples, in our young days, as we should first know the greatness of the Lord. They are not mere stories, but instances to kindle our interest and increase our urge to know more about Him. We are bound by time and we exist for a definite period only. But the Lord is there forever. Sri Vishnu sahasranamam says Bhootha Bhavya Bhavat Prabhu - Leader in the past, present and future. We remain in one space only, while He surrounds everything and every where. He pervades everything without exception. He surrounds the Universe; at the same time He is within atman also. We have a definite form at a given time. But the Lord assumes all and every form. We can never say this alone is His image or form. He appeared as an Infant , in a Gigantic Viswaroopam and as Sri Vaiuntapathy. How all these qualities are basic, we may wonder. Bur Swami Ramanuja and Swami Vedantha Desika have determined thus only. He then mentions vigyana or special knowledge about the Lord. This special knowledge is that we should understand He is entirely different from us. We should know that we are commanded by Him; we are dependents on Him; He is the Proprietor and we are His property. We are born and die; our knowledge expands and shrinks; we have hunger, old age and diseases; we are governed by karma; we possess unfulfilled desires; we are His creations; we are ruled and He is the ruler. Thus there is total difference between Him and us. This is Vigyanam. It is deeper than mere gyanam. Why should He tell about Himself? True, His devotees could tell great things about Him. But we should understand He is not telling these for publicity or diverting our minds. He does not need anything from us. He wants everyone to be His Bhakta and peace should prevail. In Sahasranamam He is called Suhrud, meaning He desires the welfare of all. By knowing this gyanam and vigyanam, we do not need to know anything else.

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