Saturday, May 31, 2008

BG 8.25

Thirukudanthai, aka Kumbakonam, has a special place in the 40 Chola region Divya desam. It has been praised by Boothathalwar, Peyalwar, Thirumazhisai Alwar, Nammalwar, Perialwar, Sri Andal and Thirumangai Alwar. We are now entering the sannidhi of Sri Sarngapani. Rajagopuram or the Main tower welcomes us. Its height is about 150 feet and beckons devotees even at a distance. Crossing a large mandapam [hall], we come to the sannidhi, which is holding inside the Lord. When we come from Sri Komalavalli Thayar sannidhi in clockwise, we can see this sannidhi of the Lord. This sannidhi is sculpted to appear as a chariot. Sri Komalavalli Thayar was born as the daughter of sage Hema, who was sage Brihu reborn. The Lord descended down to marry Sri Thayar. Since He came down along with His chariot, garbhagruha, artha mandapa and maha mandapa appear as a chariot. It is to be noted that the Lord preached the Amrut [nectar] of Gita from a chariot and we are in the sannidhi -which is also a chariot - of Sri Aravamudhan [or in Sanskrit Sri Apariamrut]. Swami Vedantha Desika in his Tatparya chandrika, which is a commentary on Gita, starts with a mangala [auspicious] sloka:
Upanishadam udaran ugdamanye pandavartham saranamupayadan na: prayate sarngadhanva
God protects us. For the sake of Pandavas, who surrendered unto Him, He gave the essence of Upanishad, as Bhagavat Gita. While naming the Lord, Swami Desika has not used the names such as Sri Krishna or Sri Gitacharya, but Sri Sarngadhanva. So on any aspect, be it the Chariot or Sri Aravamudha or Swami Desika's identifying the preacher as Sri Sarngapani. we can see the strong relationship between Gita and this Kshetram. In the corridor we can see Pathala Srinivasa sannidhi, situated below ground. Sri Srinivasa is gracing here. We saw that the Lord left Vaikuntam and came to Thirumala to marry Sri Padmavati Thayar. Narada who always indulges in actions which will finally yield good results at the end, told where the Lord was to Sri MahaLakshmi at Kolapuri and similarly mentioned to the Lord the whereabouts of Sri Thayar. Both, therefore arrived at this Kshetram. In a game, the Lord hid Himself in the ground before marrying the Sri Thayar as Sri Komalavalli; and that is how this Pathala Srinivasa sannidhi came into existence. We are now seeing the Vaideeka vimanam on the garbhagruha. It is same as the Pranavakara vimanam in Srirangam. It may be remembered that Pranavakara vimanam was gifted by Brahma to Ikshvaku Kings and after the Pattabhishekam of Sri Rama, it was gifted to Vibheeshana, who seeing the beauty of Srirangam, established the vimanam in Srirangam. Pranavam is the seed of the spread out Vedas and so Vaideeka vimanam is the shoot of the Pranavakara vimanam. The Lord desired to rest here, just as in Srirangam. While Srirangam is between Kaveri and Kollidam, Kumbakonam is between Kaveri and Arasalaru. A part of Pranavakara vimanam was planted here as Vaideeka vimanam. The Lord [Moolavar] also is in a reclining pose. What is told in the next sloka of Gita - sloka 24 of Chapter 8 - depicts the present sannidhi. Entrance to this sannidhi is from two gates - Utharayana gate and Dakshinayana gate. The Lord is reclining with the feet stretched to North. The gate near His feet is called Utharayana gate and near this we can see the images of His and Her feet. From Thai to Aani [mid January to mid July] this gate only is opened for entry by devotees. From Aadi to Margazhi, the other gate on the South side -Dakshinayana gate- is opened and Uthrayana gate will remain closed. So by coming via the Uthrayana gate we reach His feet. Utharam means greatness and so now in sloka 24, the Lord is going to tell the greatness of the Uthrayana route [marga]:

agnir jyotir ahah suklah
san-masa uttarayanam
tatra prayata gacchanti
brahma brahma-vido janah

"Those who know the Supreme Brahman attain that Supreme by passing away from the world , crossing the places of light, place of the gods for daytime, waxing phase of moon, utharyanam."

Sri Krishna tells of Archiradhi marg or the no-return [to samsaram] route. This sloka mentions some places. These are the places to be noted in the Archiradhi route. Atman has to depart from this world to Moksham, for which all preparations have all been made. After dying, jeevatman chooses the Sushumna nadi, one of the 101 nerves emanating from the heart and reaching the apex point on the person's head [brahmaranthram] and exits. This is explained in Chandogya Upanishad and in other Upanishads also. Swami Nadathur Ammal, in his Tatva saram, explains very clearly. Atman might have countless births; but once reaches Moksham via this route never is reborn. We all should long to travel in this route on one day. Archit means light and so archiradhi marg means firstly light filled route. That is why Sri Krishna tells jyoti = light. Aha = the place of residence of the god for day time. Sukla = place of the god for shukla paksha or the growing phase of the Moon. Utharayanam = the place of the god for Utharayanam. Thus four places, viz. of light, of Daytime, of Shukla paksh and of Utharayanam are mentioned. In Upanishads in addition the place of Samvatsaram [ god for year], Vayu [air] lok, Surya lok, Chandra lok, Vidyut [lightning] lok, Varuna [rain god] lok, Indra lok and Satya lok [of Brahma] are mentioned. Thus there are 12 places [ Four mentioned in the Gita sloka and eight more mentioned in Upanishads] the atman crosses. Atman travels a very great distance to cross the moola prakruti. Then atman comes across Viraja river. Getting into this river and after a bath atman would reach Vaikuntam and then there is no return for him. Atman lives for ever in the service of the Lord. Tatra prayata = those travelling in this route, brahma vido = desirous of reaching Brahmam, brahma gacchanti = they reach the place of Brahmam, that is Vaikuntam. Now we can realize the connection between this sannidhi and this sloka. In the next sloka Sri Krishna is going to tell about the result of going by Dakshinayana route. Atman travelling by that route goes to other places and returns to Universe. Here in this sannidhi while doing archana to the Lord one Divine name is mentioned. ' Ayana dvisaya utrancha prani moksha pradhayaka'. Two ayanams- Utharyanam and Dakshinayanam, utrancha = exiting, prani = living beings, moksha pradhayaka = grants Moksham.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

BG 8.24

We are at Potramaraikkulam [பொற்றாமரைக் குளம்] or Hema pushkarini in Sri Sarngapani Temple. Sri Thayar is Sri Komalavalli and the Lord is Sri Aravamudhan. Sri Komalavalli Thayar appered in this pushkarini. The Lord enacts so many plays and one of them is His appearance as Sri Srinivasa in Tirupathi hills.
Vaikuntapurasthaya swami pushkarini thate
Ramayaramamanaya venkatesaya mangalam.
When the Lord was in Vaikuntam, many sages performed yagna. Narada appeared at that spot and enquired as to whom the Havis [sacred offering] was going to be offered. All sages discussed and decided that the havis should be offered to the noblest God, Who possessed satva quality. They requested sage Brihu to find the satva quality God. Brihu visited Kailash and Satya loka and found that lord Shiva and lord Brahma were not noticing him and after cursing, he went to see Lord Vishna, Who also did not notice him and so enraged, he kicked the Lord on His chest - the Abode of Sri Lakshmi. She became angry and went to Kolapuri [present Kolhapur, Maharashtra] and started meditation. The Lord also left His place in Vaikuntam and appeared as Sri Srinivasa in the Thirumala hills. He married the daughter of Akasaraja, Sri Padmavati. Meanwhile, Sri Mahalakshmi at Kolapuri, was feeling for having departed the Lord in anger ; and sage Brihu also repented for having acted unbecoming of him and so appered as sage Hema and was meditating in Meru mountains. Then he migrated to this place and started his meditation. Sri Mahalakshmi also came from Kolapuri to this place and meditated, seated on a Thousand petal lotus flower. Even today we can worship Sri Thayar and sage Hema in idol form on the banks of this Pushkarini. Appreciating their devotion the Lord came here on Makara sankaranthi day [Pongal festival day] and married Sri Thayar, Sri komalavalli. Two important festivals are celebrated here. One is on Masi Makha, when the Float festival [தெப்போத்சவம்] is conducted. The second time is on Kanu festival, the day after Pongal festival. All females celebrate that day as their birth houses' [பிறந்தகம்] festival. Similarly, Sri Komalavalli Thayar comes out of Her sannidhi to this place; Sri Vijayavalli Thayar from Sri Chakrapani temple also arrives here; and Sri Sita from Sri Ramaswamy temple also arrives here. All of Them celebrate the kanu festival in the traditional way. This is the pond, where Sri Thayar meditated; which brought the Lord from Vaikuntam; where the Divine marriage of the Lord and Sri Thayar was performed; and where the Masi Makha float festival is conducted. We will now proceed to 23rd sloka. In slokas 20 and 21, the Lord told that kaivalyarti, after attaining his goal, never returns to this Universe. In sloka 22, the Lord told that He was Purushothama, Who can be attained only by constsnt Bhakti; and that He resides in all, as all reside in Him. He remains as the Support for all. In sloka 23, He tells a different aspect. He says who all go to various places like Moksham, Pithru lok and swargam. We are all quite eager to know where this atman goes after leaving this body. In Katopanishad, Nachiketas is a character. As a young son he was witnessing the yagna performed by his father. He saw cows which were to be offered to participants, as dhana [gifts]. All those animals were lean and perhaps had not food for days. We should normally offer good and healthy cows, to realize the result of yagna. He was worried that his father was offering such badly fed cows and lamented. He suddenly asked his father as to whom he was to offer Nachiketas as dhana. This he repeated thrice and this provoked the father and in anger he said that he would offer Nachiketas to god Mruthyu [ god of death - Yama]. Those words did not go false and Nachikeats arrived at the town of lord Yama. Yama was not in town at that time and he arrived only after three days. Nachiketas waited and on arriving Yama inquired as to why Nachiketas had come when it was not due for him. Nachiketas narrated the happenings. Yama asked him to return back to his father and said he would give him boons. Firstly, his father would not be angry with Nachiketas. A sacrificial fire [Agni] would be named after Nachiketas. He promised anything also Nachiketas desired. Nachiketas immediately asked as to where the atman goes after death? Are the atman returning again? Which place would ensure never return to this Universe? Like these he put questions to Yama. Yama after a hesitation replied in detail all the queries. Since Gita is the essence of Upanishads, the Lord explains those details:

yatra kale tv anavrttim
avrttim caiva yoginah
prayata yanti tam kalam
vaksyami bharatarsabha

"O best of the Bharatas, I shall now explain to you the different times at which, passing away from this world, the yogi does or does not come back."

Bharatarsabha = noble one of Bharatha dynasty [Arjuna], yatra = in which, kale = path [here kale does not mean time but the route]. Here the Lord is going to tell the paths by which one attains the non-return Vaikuntam and other places like swarg and pithru lok, from where the atman returns. Anavrittim = no-return [to samsaram] , avrittim = return [back to samsaram],yogina = yogis would attain. Prayata = travelling, yanti = attain, vaksyami = I [Sri Krishna] will tell [Arjuna]. Here yogi means gyani who will seek only the Lord and would attain Him. They will attain a place from where there would be no more return [anavrutti] to this Universe. So only others who do not want to attain the Lord but seek other desires like reaching Satya lok, etc., would return back to this Universe. So both the types of people; one seeking the Lord or yogi and the other desiring wealth or other pleasures, are mentioned here. What is their route and what are their destinations, are told by the Lord. Since He talks of two destinations and only a single word yogi is used, we have to infer that superior yogi seeks the Lord and somewhat ordinary yogi seeks other pleasures. We should seek sayujyam or Moksham.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BG 8.23

Every Sri Rama Navami, Sri Rama along with Sri Sita and Lakshmana comes in procession in the chariot, to grace the devotees. Sri Sita on His right and Lakshmana on the Left, Sri Rama is in procession. Car festival or chariot procession is very important for a temple. All devotees participate in pulling the chariot, with voluntary service. In Surya prabha festival, Sri Rama is decorated as Sri Krishna. What Sri Rama practiced is preached by Sri Krishna. After the festival is over, to remove tiredness the Lord is given a special abhishekam [ vidayatri utsavam விடாயாற்றி உத்சவம் ]. We can see the enchanting beauty of the Lord without the external decorations. On chariot festival, though the chariot starts procession from 6 O’ clock in the morning and returns to the starting point by 2 PM in the afternoon, the Lord remains in the chariot till evening 8 PM to grace all devotees. Sri Rama’s coronation, as well as His birthday, are in the month of Chithirai. Sri Rama navami festival is on Chithirai Punarvasu star. While returning to garbhagruha from the chariot, Sri Rama halts at the idols of Raghunatha Naik and his consort and after all honours are done, the Lord returns to garbhagruha. Four Hundred years back this temple was built by Raghunatha Naik. The Lord never forgets even the smallest service done to Him, at the same time never keeps in His memory the evils done by persons to Him. We should cultivate this type of mind. We will now see the 22nd sloka, where He says that by devotion or bhakti, one can reach Him. We have seen that to enjoy achit is inferior and has to be experienced in this world. Which means rebirths are unavoidable. Enjoying chit means one will have no rebirth and all associated samsaram, hunger, old age, etc. Sri Krishna does not recommend both these. He recommends Isvara anubhavam.

purushah sa parah partha
bhaktya labhyas tv ananyaya
yasyantah-sthani bhutani
yena sarvam idam tatam

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than all, is attainable by unalloyed devotion. Although He is present in His abode, He is all-pervading, and everything is situated within Him."

Para = supreme and the most exalted, purusha = Sriman Narayana, the Lord, labda = is reached or attained. Ananya = not diverted in other things, bhaktya = devoted, labda = attained. Without diverting the mind in other things, the Lord is attained. Here purusha does not mean males only. Our body is called a puram and the Lord resides in the heart and so He is called Purusha. Our heart resembles an inverted lotus bud. He lies in this in very heart. Poornathva possessing all auspicious qualities in total – also implies Purusha. Most ancient –purana- and so Purusha. He is Purusha also because He grants anything desired. Hunter Guha and monkey Hanuman were all able to reach Him, because of undiverted devotion. Yasya = in Him [Sri Krishna], anta sthani = are established inside, bhutani = all living matters. That is He is the supporter of all. We are supported by atman and that is why we are able to stand. The moment atman departs this body, it will simply fall without support. The Lord supports even that atman also. He supports each and every item in this Universe. Yena = by Whom, sarvam idam = all things we see, tatam = are pervaded. That is He is inside all and all are inside Him. Normally, in worldly matters the supporter is external. But here the Lord is supporting both from within and without. Antharbahischa tat sarvam vyapya narayana sthitha: says shastras. Inference of this sloka is that instead of approaching and attaining Him, why all these wealth and atmanubhavam or kaivalyam. Never aspire for pleasure of this body nor this atman; but perform bhakti to reach Him and serve Him for ever and attain everlasting bliss.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BG 8.22

Today's [ 27th May 2008] lecture is from the bedroom of the Lord in Sri Ramaswamy temple, Kumbakonam. During festivals and on special occasions the Lord graces from this location. With so many mirrors we can view a multitude of Sri Rama here. We can see Sri Rama in every direction. On the cieling of this room, incidents of Sri Ramayana are pictured. Outside this mirror room is a mandapam with astonishing sculptures. On a single pillar, at the four corners, Sri Rama, Sri Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are sculpted. In another pillar we can see Lakshmana performing the Coronation for Sugreeva. After going on exile to forests, Sri Rama got performed coronations by Lakshmana and not by Himself. As per the boons of Kaikeyi, Sri Rama was not to enter any town nor enjoy the happiness of town dwelling. That is why Lakshmana was sent into Kishkinda town to coronate Sugreeva. Vibheeshana's coronation [as king of Lanka] was also done by Lakshmana. We can see on another pillar the Lord as Sri Trivikrama. We can also see the Lord as the dwarf Sri Vamana. Nearby king Bali is pouring water from his pot to solemnify his promise. On another two pillars we can see Manmada, the love god and his consort Rathi. Manmada is holding a bow of sugarcane and flowers as arrows. The Lord is called Manmada among manmadas. Thus each pillar speaks of a story and the greatness of Sri Rama. Now we will see 21st sloka of Chapter 8:

avyakto ’kshara ity uktas
tam ahuh paramam gatim
yam prapya na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama

"That which the Vedantists describe as unmanifest and infallible, that which is known as the supreme destination, that place from which, having attained it, one never returns—that is My supreme abode."

Sri Krishna tells about the most supreme place, Moksham. He tells that even the Kaivalyam also is His creation. Some people aspire for kaivalyam and after attaining that they are never reborn. Some desire to have wealth. One might think that those who want wealth are in a different place and those seeking kaivalyam are in yet another place. We should remember that all places - be it in this Universe to enjoy wealth or kaivalyam to enjoy one's own atman or Vaikuntam, the abode of the Lord- are in His reign and in His control. Everything is His jurisdiction; still, why He advises not to go to places like Kaivalyam, means those places are inferior and some are temporary only. But Vaikuntam is the permanent place and so should be aspired for. Kaivalyam also ensures the no-rebirth for atman and these atman are called muktatman. He has got mukti or liberation from rebirths. He is free from karma bondage and is free from taking any body to expend any papa/punya. So unwinding from papa/punya is mukti. Mukti can be in Vaikuntam or in Kaivalyam. Though from both places the person attained is not going to return, kaivalyam is inferior. Sri Krishna tells that even this kaivalyam is granted by the Lord. When one wants to enjoy his own atman, then he has to pray the Lord and get it; because one's atman does not have the power to grant itself. If a property is needed we have to pray the property owner. So also the owner of any atman alone can grant that atman. That is the Lord. He grants both wealth and kaivalyam, just because the person prays for it and not with satisfaction or happiness He provides them. The two syllables in Sri Rama ['ra' and 'ma'] can grant anything including Himself.
He says that the muktatman is praised like this. Avyakta = can not be perceived by the sense organs. Muktatman is not grasped by these sense organs. This atman in kaivalyam does not have either sthoola or sookshma sariram. Aksharam = non- decaying. In this world the intellect possessed varies with person and with time. But the intellect of a muktatman is same as all other muktatman. Our karma bondage changes the quantum of intellect. Muktatman is free from this bondage and so the intellect is same.
Ityukta = like this the muktatman is praised. Tam = reaching that muktatman stage, paramam gathim = a very noble attainment, ahu= so say them [ Sri Krishna excludes Himself from this and says that others recommend this attainment]. In Sri Vishnu sahasrnamam, muktanam paramam gathim is told. For muktas reaching the Lord is the noblest; while it is very ordinary to reach kaivalyam. Swami Parasara Bhatta opines that Bhishma is implying Vaikuntam only in this Divine name. Yam prapya = by reaching which [Kaivalyam ], na nivartante = they do not return back to this samsaram, tad = that, mama = My [Sri Krishna's], dhama paramam = noble creation. He earlier told that all animate and inanimate things are all His properties; all atman are His belongings. So everything is His. This we should realize and once realized we will know that when all are His, why not seek Him and attain the best? Dhama means His administrative control or very bright place. Where is this Kaivalyam? Some opine that it is within this Universe or within the boundaries of the Fourteen worlds including Satya lok. Some others differ and say it is on the other side of Viraja river which separates Vaikuntam and our Prakruthi mandalam. According to them a kaivalyarti, after death takes a sookshma body and bathes in Viraja and remains on the banks of that river without going into Vaikuntam. Those desiring to know more on this maight approach their Acharyas. Bathing in river removes the sookshma sareeram and remains afterwards without a body for ever. That place also is the Lord's domain.

Monday, May 26, 2008

BG 8.21

The name Sri Rama gives us always energy and bhakti. Sri Rama is gracing in Ramaswamy temple in Kumbakonam. Today's [26th May 2008] lecture is from this temple. Here Sri Rama is without the bow and to know why it is so we have to see how the Moolamurthy is. A true painting of the Moolamurthy is there on the walls in the main mandapam. He is seated on a throne in Pattabhishekam or Coronation pose. Valmiki says in the end of the Yuddha kandam in Srimad Ramayana, that Sri Rama's coronation was performed by sage Vasishta. Accordingly in this painting also Sri Rama is seated centrally on the throne with one leg folded and the other stretched. While the left arm is on the throne, right arm is signaling protection. On the same throne Sri Sita is seated along with Sri Rama on His left. This is a rare appearance. To Sri Sita's left is Shatrugna, who is seen serving the Divine couple by fanning with fur.

To the right of Sri Rama is Lakshmana. He is holding his bow as well as the bow of Sri Rama. Next to Lakshmana is Bharatha standing and holding the Royal Umbrella over Sri Rama. Anjaneya is seen holding the tambura [musical instrument] in his right hand and holding Ramayana book in his left hand. 'Yatra yatra raghunatha keerthanam...', wherever Sri Rama's story is read, in those places Anjaneya sits and listens, and tears flow down from Hanuman's eyes in devotion. Though Moolavar is without the bow Kothandam, Utsava moorthy is with the Bow. While this lecture was being recorded it was Sri Rama navami and so the Chariot [தேர் ] festival was there. In the corridors of the temple large number of paintings of Srimad Ramayana can be seen. On the canopy [ vimanam], Garuda is there on all four corners and he graces with four arms which is unique. This temple is called Dakshina [Southern] Ayodhya. Vaikuntam has a name Ayodhya and so it is no exaggeration that by visiting this Dakshina Ayodhya, we get the anandham of reaching Vaikuntam. While sri Rama practiced Dharma, Sri Krishna preached it. We will now see sloka 20. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that apart from Sri Vaikuntam which assures no more return to samsaram or the birth-death cycle, kaivalyam also guarantees no return to this cycle of births and deaths. But unlike the Vaikuntam where one will have the ultimate objective of one's birth of serving the Lord and attaining bliss, one would have to remain in isolation in a different world. In slokas 20 and 21, this kaivalyam is explained. The body which we possess is called perceptible body or sthoola sariram. After death when the atman has to travel to the next place, it resides in a minute or non-perceptible body [sookshma sareeram]. In kaivalyam even this sookshma sareeram will not be there. Atman will be enjoying itself without a body either sthoola or sookshma. Persons who have attained kaivalyam will neither return to prakruthy nor will be able to go to Vaikuntam. Alwars never wanted this and so advised not to attain kaivalyam. Even if one is reborn, at least there is a chance for him to reach Vaikuntam at some time; but if one reaches kaivalyam, one is ever lost to serve the Lord. Kaivalyam is to be avoided, though it also cuts off rebirths. Now sloka 20:

paras tasmat tu bhavo ’nyo
’vyakto ’vyaktat sanatanah
yah sa sarveshu bhutesu
nasyatsu na vinasyati

"Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is."

He tells Arjuna that even when all other things get destroyed [during pralayam] this [kaivalyam] will not be destroyed. Sarvshu bhuteshu = all living and non'living things [both karana or cause and karya or effect], nasyatsu = even when being destroyed, na vinasyati = [kaivalyam attained ones] will never get destroyed. He is muktatman; either in Vaikuntam or in Kaivalyam. Avyakta = moola prakruti [ the first raw material used by the Lord for creation], tasmad avyakta para = this [person in Kaivalyam ] is in a superior or higher place than the prime raw material. Anya bhava = different from all, experience, avyakta = can not be perceived by anyone as to what is [the person who has attained kaivalyam] his experience or how he lives, etc. Sanatana = he will remain ancient. This muktatman who has attained Kaivalyam, will never get destroyed even when all living and non-living things get destroyed, and he will be having an experience which can not be perceived by others and will remain for ever like that. We should never aspire for that even if it is superior to the present samsaram. Because, in this samsaram we can worship the Lord in temples like the present Sri Ramaswamy temple and then reach Vaikuntam where we can serve Him for ever.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BG 8.20

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We are at the sannidhi of Sri Chakrapani. Great Saints and Alwars have always praised the weapons of the Lord as in the famous verse pallandu, pallandu by Perialwar. The Lord graces always with the weapons held by Him. Firstly it guarantees protection to the devotees. During Utharayanam, that is six months starting from Tamil month thai [தை ] and next six months starting from Aadi, it is Dakshinayanam [indicating the transition of the Sun from South to North and North to South, as we see from earth]. In the garbagruha the Lord is gracing with Eight arms, three eyes and raised hair on the head. The feet are well pressed on the peetam. Near Him are Soorya, sage Ahirbudhnya and god Agni are on one side. On the other side lord Brahma is gracing. All these prayed to pardon Soorya and give back Soorya's brilliance. In the right four arms the Lord is holding the discus, a pestle , a goad and a lotus. In the left four arms are held conch, mace, noose and bow with arrow. The Lord's discus has Five parts. Rim with whirling fire is one part. Inner circumference is called meni, is the second part. Third is spokes joining rim and center, aram. Four- center with one side dented is aksham and raised is called kumbham. Five- the Central Force of the Lord is called Purusha. Our mind also is constantly revolving like the discus. Discus, though a weapon, also stands to decorate the Lord. Also Sudarsana identifies the Lord. Chanting the Panchayuda stotram in the morning will relieve us from all fears, sorrows and ills and success will be achieved. Now we will see 19th sloka. We saw that Universe gets created in Brahma's day time and gets destroyed and reaches the original 'raw' form during his night. This cycle continues endlessly. Sudarsanam is sowmyam darsanam - pleasing to look at. Su + darsanam means auspicious direction. He is also called as Nemi, Chakrarajan, Hetirajan, Rathangam, etc. Even 10 Million [koti] Suns' brilliance can not compare with Sudarsana's dazzling. In sloka 16, the Lord told the lifetime of Brahma. In sloka 17, He told that the Universe gets created in Brahma's daytime and destroyed in his night time. These get created from his body during creation and in the destruction they all become one with Brahma's body again and this was explained in sloka 18. Now, sloka 19:

bhuta-gramah sa evayam
bhutva bhutva praliyate
ratry-agamevasah partha
prabhavaty ahar-agame

"Again and again, when Brahma’s day arrives, all living entities come into being, and with the arrival of Brahma’s night they are helplessly annihilated because of karma."

Reading Arjuna's mind the Lord tries to clear a doubt in Arjuna - why should this cycle of creation and destruction happen? Can't the created ones remain for ever? Avasa = because all are bound by karma, they are born and die. Bhutha-grama = all living beings bound by karma, as an entity, avasa = bound by karma, bhutva = get created. By repeating this word it is implied that they get destroyed and re-created, again destroyed and again created, and so on. Praliyate = gets dissolved [to reach the original status], ratry-agame = in the night time [ of Brahma]. We have the present body. Did we have birth before we were born? Will we have birth after death? Many may not believe in rebirths and past janma. Vedas, Itihasa and Purana, elaborately say that rebirths are there. For argument's sake, let us assume there was no birth for any of us earlier and after death there will be no rebirth. Many of us are enjoying or suffering many for no reason in this birth. We see identical people having totally different experience in life. No tangible reasons could be found for this difference. We are living now is the effect. Then it means there should be a cause for the effect. It is common to see wicked people enjoying life and pious persons suffering. This finds explanation in the past birth's good or bad deeds. Similarly, there should be some effect for all our actions in this birth. If we do bad things then there should be punishment for that. Suppose in the midst of a very bad action, one dies suddenly, then should he escape punishment? So, only rebirths answer these questions. Thus past births and rebirths are realities. If we do not agree on this then we can not get answers for experiences in the current life nor will we ever do good things in this life. So subject to karmas all these three worlds - bhu, buva and suva - get created in Brahma's daytime and get dissolved in his night time. So any position in these worlds are never permanent and only the Lord's place is ever present. We will now move on to the next temple in Kumbakonam.

BG 8.19

From Chakkara Theertham we have come to Sri Chakrapani temple and today's [22nd May 2008] lecture is from the main sannidhi. The main entrance has a tall tower and as we cross it we come toa beautiful mandapam. On the right side of the mandapam is Chakkara pushkarini, capable of washing all our sins. As we take bath and sprinkle the water of the on our head and go inside the temple, we first come across the sannidhi of Anjaneya. Then we reach the sannidhi of Sri Chakrapani; and, like in Sri Sarngapani sannidhi, there are two entrances -Utharayana and Dakshinayana. We come around the sannidhi in clockwise direction. We come to Sri Vijayavalli Nachiyar sannidhi. It is a separate sannidhi. This is because alongside of Sri Chakrapani, Sri Sudarsanavalli Thayar is gracing. But Kalyanotsavam of Sri Chakrapani is performed with Sri Vijayavalli Thayar only. She is gracing with the right lower arm showing protection [Abhaya hastham] and left lower arm pointing to Her Divine feet. Upper two arms are holding lotus flowers. True to Her name by worshiping Her, all our efforts will be successful. Swami Koora Narayana jeer had composed 100 verse Sudarsana sathakam. Swami Vedanta Desika had composed Eight verse Sudarsana Ashtakam. They all convey a theme. In Vaikuntam, Sriman Narayana was in conversation with Sri Sridevi. It was opined by the Lord that He could delegate granting powers of some requests of the devotees, to others so that all devotees need not come to Him for those requests. Longevity, health and wealth were, thus delegated to Sri Sudarsana. Sri Chakrapani grants all these and Moksham. With the support of Sri Vijayavalli Thayar, He grants longevity, health and wealth. Just because He can grant we need not worship Them for these earthly benefits ; but consider, worshiping them itself, as a big boon conferred. All other benefits would automatically follow. We will now see sloka 17 of Chapter 8. We saw that the Lord is the Propeller of the Kala chakra, Jagat chakra and Yuga chakra. We also saw the life time of lord Brahma. Thousand chatur yug make one day time and another 1000 chatur yug make one night and thus his one Brahama year consists of 365 such day and night and he lives for such 100 Brahma years. So, one day, even such long life of lord Brahma would end. By reaching the feet of the Lord, however, even this end we need not face. In Thithriya Upanishad, this is explained.
'Bhishasmadvatha pavathe bhishodhethi soorya: |
Bhishasmadhgnischendrascha mrutyur dhavathi panchama: ||
Fearing the Lord's anger, gods like Vayu, Soorya, Agni, Indra, Mrutyu and all, obediently do theier duties. Their tenures are all defined; while the Lord remains for ever. To reach the Lord, should be the single objective of bhagavallabharti. In sloka 18 Sri Krishna brings up yet another aspect. He tells which are the entities that get created at the beginning of the life of Brahma and which all end at the end of Brahma's life. We have to clearly understand these. Earlier, it was told that moola prakruti or avyaktam is responsible for the generation of mahan, which generates ahankaram. Ahankaram is divided into three parts satvika, rajasa and tamasa ahankarams. From these the Five great elements or pancha bhootha, pancha tanmatra, karmendriya and gyanendriya and manas emerge. All these creations are carried out by the Lord Himself and is called samashti srushti. Then the Lord creates lord Brahma, who starts other creations, under his control. These creations are called vyakti srushti. We should remember that what Brahme creates are also with the blessings of the Lord. Now, Sri Krishna tells what are all created in the daytime of Brahma and which all get destroyed in Brahma's night time. Sloka 18:

avyaktad vyaktayah sarvah
prabhavanty ahar-agame
ratry-agame praliyante

"At the beginning of Brahma’s day, all living entities become manifest from the unmanifest state, and thereafter, when the night falls, they are merged into the unmanifest again."

Avyaktad = from Brahma's body [ earlier we saw this word denoted moola prakruti]. Here this sloka describes all those emerging from the body of Brahma. Brahma was the creation of the Lord. Vyaktya = explicit creations like bhoo, bhuva and suva worlds, sarva = and all the contents of these worlds; it includes all the living beings in these three worlds; all experiences in them; all inanimate objects in these worlds. That is all humans, devas, animals, birds, insects, etc. The objects of their senses like what they eat or listen, etc. These are all explicit and so vyaktam. Avyakta is abstract and not perceived by senses. We are able to distinguish all items in vyaktam. Though these emerge from Brahma, these are not perceptible in Brahma's body and so his body is avyaktham. Prabhavanti = all these are created. Ahar-agame = during day time [of Brahma]. All these sense perceived vyaktam get created during the day time of lord Brahma. Brahma controls seven worlds - bhoo, buva, suva, maha, jana, tapa and satya lokas. This is to be split into two groups and we are talking of the first three worlds bhoo, buva and suva. These three are administered by Indra. Brahma is the leader of all gods and Indra is a sub-leader assisting Brahma. Ratri-agame = in the night [of Brahma], praliyante = they get dissolved [ layam means an object attaining its natural status. Mud pot becoming layam means it becomes mud. Karyam or end product, attaining its karana or starting status]. That is, all these three worlds get back into the body of Brahma and lose their vyakta form. Tatraiva = in the same place, avyakta samjyate = which is called avyaktam, Brahma they get dissolved. This is called Naimishtika srushti and naimishtika pralayam. So in one kalpa kalam or in 1000 chatur yug time creations in this Universe are done and in the next kalpam, they are all destroyed and reach their original status in Brahma. Therefore as a corollary, we have to understand that just like us even the lord Brahma has an end; but the Lord is ever remaining and by reaching Him we also will not be subject to these periodical creation and destruction by Brahma.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BG 8.18

We have been drinking the nectar of Gita from various Kshetrams. The Lord at each kshetram is a nectar. All the pasurams on these Kshetrams are also nectar. But the Kshetram from where we are to see Gita in the next few days is connected with nectar [ Amrutham in Sanskrit and Amudham in Tamil]. Yes, we are at the Kshetram of Sri Aravamudhan [Sri Apariamrutham in Sanskrit], also known as Sri Sarngapani. We are at Kumbakonam aka Thirukkudanthai.


The Lord also has a special name Sri Aravamudhazhvan. Sri Sarngapani is holding the bow Sarngam. This Kshetram is called Kumbakonam, Thirukudanthai, Kalyanapuram and Bhaskara Kshetram. We could see all the remaining slokas of Gita from this place itself. Such is its greatness. We have the temples of Sri Sarngapani, Sri Chakrapani and Sri Ramaswamy. Apart from these, there are many temples in this place. Today [21st May 2008] we are at Chakkara Theertham on the banks of river Kaveri. Very near Sri Chakrapani temple. We will visit one by one these temples. To begin with we will see Sri Chakrapani temple. In Chakkara Theertham, Sri Chakrapani appeared. Let us know how this name Kumbakonam came about. It is called Kuda mooku, Kudanthai and Kumbakonam. Once lord Brahma, packed in a pot [ kudam in Tamil and Kumbam in Sanskrit], all necessary seeds and herbs for creation and left the pot up in Himalayas. During pralayam, this pot floating on water moved south wards and with the prayers of all and the blessings of the Lord, it settled at this place and from the pot all the seeds and other contents flowed out. Creation was started. Because the Creation materials came out of the mouth of the pot, it got the name Kudamooku. Kumbakonam means from a corner of the pot, all materials flowed out. So all names are related to the pot. It is also called Bhaskara [The Sun] kshetram. Once Sun out of pride dazzled the earth with more brilliance and heat. People suffered. All prayed to the Lord to humble the Sun. The Lord accepting the prayer sent His duscus Sri Sudarsana and he emerged in this Chakkara Theertham. Lord Brahma installed the Lord Chakrapani's image here itself. This temple is situated North of Sri Sarngapani temple, North of Aswatta tree and in the midst of Kaveri. The bathing gaht is called Chakkara padithurai [சக்கர படித் துறை]. During festival Sri Chakrapani graces the devotees on theerthavari. A bath in Aippasi Amavasya day is believed to erase all our sins. Thirukkudanthai and Thirumazhisai Alwar are connected. He was a great devotee of the Lord and is believed to be the incarnation of the discus of the Lord, Sri Sudarsana. He was born in Thirumazhisai, near Chennai, in the star constellation of Magham. Masi month Magham is connected with this place. He donated his Azhvar title to the Lord and thus the Lord is known as Sri Aravamudha Alwar. Sri Sudarsana emerging with the brilliance of thousands of Suns, humbled the Sun. Sun was given back its brilliance and so this place is Bhaskara Kshetram. In the 17th sloka Sri Krishna tells the period of reign by lord Brahma, the highest of the gods.

ahar yad brahmano viduh
ratrim yuga-sahasrantam
te ’ho-ratra-vido janah

"By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night."

Aho = day, ratra = night, vidu = those who know, jana = people. Those who know clearly, the day and night times, tell these. That is those who know shastras reveal this. Brahmana = lord Brahma. The Four faced Brahma, who is created by the Lord, is indicated here. These pundits tell the time of a day and a night of lord Brahma. Sahasra = thousand, yuga = time of one Chatur yuga, aha = is a day [for lord Brahma]. Yuga = chatur yugs, sahasrantam = thousands of, ratrim = is one night for lord Brahma. These are revealed by these knowledgeable pundits. Thus lord Brahma's life term is very large. Thougfh it is a very long period, it is never permanent or everlasting. One day lord Brahma's life has to end. His world [satya lok] also ends and is destroyed. The Lord's abode has infinite time. We are seeing the cycle of time. Thousand chatur yug is one day and another thousand chatur yug is one night. This is one full day for lord Brahma. In the epic Mahabharatha, it is told that kala chakra, jagat chakra and yuga chakra are Sri Kesava. Kala chakra is the wheel of time. Jagat chakra is the cycle of births a nd deaths. Yuga chakra is the periodic cycle of the four yugs - kritha, thretha, dwapara and kali. It is said that the Lord by His mere sankalpam or determination, administers all these various cycles. Appropriately, we are at Sri Chakrapani's temple. Let us see the time frame. We have 365 days make one year and our life is 100 years. Lord Brahma also has 100 years of life; but the year here is Brahma year and not our years. To know how much is Brahma year, we have to know that one chatur yug has 4,320,000 our years. Thousand such years or 4,320,000,000 years is Brahma;s one day time Therefore two such periods make one full day or 8,640,000,000 years [ Eight billion and six hundred and forty million years] make one complete day for lord Brahma. 365 such days make oneBrahma year and 100 such years completes his life time [100X365X8,640,000,000 human years]. Some say this yug refers to the period in deva lok. Our one human year is one full day for devas. Based on this one can work out one deva year and 4,320,000 deva years make one chatur yug and then calculate lord Brahma's life time. Anyway, the lifetime of the lord of the Seventh upper loka - Satya lok- is surely very, very long compared to ours. Even then one day it is going to fade away. But Sri Vaikuntam will always remain true to its name Nitya vibhoothi. Whoever attains the Lord is not subject to Kala chakra nor Jagat chakra nor Yuga chakra.

Monday, May 19, 2008

BG 8.17

Today's [20th May 2008] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Ranganayaki, the Consort of Sri Ranganatha, at Mandangudi. The Universe is protected by this Divine Couple. When She is there the Lord protects, otherwise He is angry. We should always first worship Thayar and pray for forgiving our sins and then we should go to the sannidhi of the Lord. Because the Alwar sang in praise of the Lord and His Consort in Srirangam, here in this temple also the Divine Couple is gracing the Alwar. In Thondaradipodi Alwar's pasurams we understand the great significance of nama sankeerthanam. By chanting His Divine names our long standing sins are all destroyed. Sri Andal in Her Thiruppavai, in the pasuram 'ungal puzhakkadai...', says 'senkazhneer vai negizhndu ambal vai koomina kann' [செங்கழுநீர் வாய் நெகிழ்ந்து ஆம்பல் வாய் கூம்பின காண்]. The flower senkazhuneer blossoms and at the same time flower aambal closes its petals. Accordingly, in this temple Sri Ranganayaki Thayar holds a fully blossomed flower and in the other a flower with closed petals. This is unique here. With the blessings of the Alwar we will now proceed to sloka 16. As mentioned earlier 14, 15 and 16 slokas explain the greatness of the objective and means to attain the objective of a devotee eager to attain the Lord. In sloka 14 Sri Krishna told that for such devotees He is very easily available. In sloka 15, He explained the difference between aiswaryarti and bhagavallabharti. Aiswaryarti gets again and again the abode of sorrows, and temporary, this world. Bhagavallabharti never returns to such sorrowful places for ever. We are seeing the three types of devotees - aiswaryarti, kaivalyarti and bhagavallabharti. Of these aiswaryarti, even if attains any great position and happiness, has to be born again in this Universe. Kaivalyarti once attained his objective never has rebirth and so never returns to this Universe. He can neither go to Sri Vaikuntam. He has to remain in an isolated place enjoying his own atman, for ever. Since he is experiencing his own atman he does not have a body. He remains bodyless. He will neither have the perceptible body [sthoola sareeram] as we are having currently; nor will he have a very minute body [sookshma sareeram ]. So he can neither return to prakruti, that is our Universe; nor can he go to Vaikuntam, the abode of Sriman Narayana. Alwars and Acharyas pity this devotee as he would not be able to get Vaikuntam ever. Kaivalyanubhavam and Bhagavath anubhavam, both ensure that the atman does not return to this Universe. Arjuna asks why this is so? Why does persons reaching high positions of Indra or of Brahma or the likes, return back to this Universe? Sri Krishna replies this in the 16th sloka:

a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah
punar avartino ’rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again."

Sri Krishna tells why the person who attains Him does not return back to this Universe. As a simple answer we should realize that once we have attained Him, neither we will have a desire to leave that, nor will He wish to leave us. Even if a person gets the Indra position, which tenure extends for many thousands of years, at the end one will feel disgusted or stale and would like to return. This we realize in real life also. All new ventures become stale one day and we feel bored with those sooner or later. It is not so with experience with God. We listen to Srimad Ramayana umpteen times, still every time it appears fresh and new and never we get bored with that. All other things appear stale very early. So getting stale or bored in Vaikuntam can never arise. Therefore return never happens. But the experience in other worlds, will make us bored one day. This sloka does not tell this reason. Sri Krishna tells, a person reaching the world of Brahma or Indra or Pithru, one day will have to return to this Universe. But a person reaching Vaikuntam will never return. Lokah = worlds of, a brahma = starting from Brahma's [satya loka] , bhuvana = all the worlds. The so called 14 worlds [upper seven and lower seven] are all created for the play of the Lord. Punar avartina= one day are bound to be destroyed. Where as the World of the Lord, Sri Vaikuntam, never gets destroyed. This is a reason. If one reaches Satya loka, how long he could remain there? Perhaps till that world lasts. In this world, we are here. Our life time is much shorter than the life of this earth or Universe. Of course we should bear in mind that the atman never gets destroyed and only the body is destroyed. So even after the separation from the current body, one may get newer bodies in future and continue. Even after the pralayam, when all the Universe are destroyed, this atman will continue and be born again when creation takes place. All the worlds are to be destroyed one day. Vaikuntam remains for ever and so it is called Nitya mandalam or Nitya vibhooti. It has other names like Sri Vaikuntam, Aparajita , Ayodhya, etc. It has no end nor depreciation. 'Tad vishno paramam padam sada pasyanti sooraya:', etc., Veda pronouncements speak of the ever lasting nature of Vaikuntam. The Lord's abode Sri Vaikuntam is reached by these devotees and so there is no return for them. Tu =but if, upetya = [this devotee] attains, mam = Me [Sri Krishna], punar janma = re birth, na vidyate = never gets. All the other worlds of Brahma and others are all to end one day as also the Chiefs of those positions. Thondaradipodi Alwar exhibits the same theme in his Thirumalai pasuram, 'membadu..'. Without ego and with humility, we should discard the material and worldly pleasures and seek the Lord's grace by controlling our senses and with uninterrupted devotion. We should learn from this Alwar the greatness of Total Surrender [Saranagathi] and the bestowing power of nama sankeertanam. We should also realize that the dust [podi] of the feet [ adi] of His devotees [thondar] can absolve us from all our sins. Let us so, make a trip to this Kshetram and recieve the blessings of the Alwar. We now move on to thye next Kshetram.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

BG 8.16

Thondaradipodi Alwar lived only to serve Sri Ranganatha. He composed the 45 verses Thirumalai and 10 verses Thiruppaliyezhuchi. In the latter one, the Alwar wakes up the Lord. We are in his birth place Thiru Mandangudi. In his sannidhi, on one side the Lord of Thirumaliruncholai, Sri Azhagar and on other side the Lord of Venkata hills, Sri Srinivasan are gracing. Indicating his ever service to the Lord, the utsava moorthy of the Alwar is with a basket used for gathering flowers and for storing garlands. On both sides of the Alwar, Swami Ramanuja and Swami Manavala Mamunigal are gracing. Sri Ranganatha, Moolavar, is in the standing pose. Normally Sri Ranganatha is seen in the reclining pose only in all other temples. The devotees here mention that here Sri Ranganatha has got up from bed, after listening to Alwar's Thiruppalliyezhuchi! Utsavar is with abhaya mudra in right lower arm and left lower arm holding the mace. Upper arms are holding discus and conch. True to the word satatam in the 14th sloka of Chapter 8, this Alwar remains servant of the Lord, ever. For such devotees He is easily available. This same theme is going to be explained by Sri Krishna in the next slokas 15 and 16 also. This Alwar stands as the best example conveyed in all these slokas. He says in his Thirumalai, that seeing the Lord in the midst of the two rivers in Srirangam, tears flow from his eyes like Kaveri; that seeing the Lord with feet in East, head on West, facing South and back to North, how could he go away from Him. He says after worshiping Him, Alwar is unable to stand and his mind melts. Such is his bhakti and is reflected in all the 45 pasurams. Thirumalai is considered as a stimulator for Nama sankeerthana. He says by constantly chanting His names, the Alwar is not scared of lord Yama nor his messengers and says further that he would tread on their heads. In the famous pasuram, 'pachchaima malai pol meni...', he lauds the sweetness of chanting His names. Sri Krishna told in sloka 14, that he who constantly chants His names and does not divert his thoughts else where, is able to reach Him easily. In sloka 15, He is telling the difference between aiswaryarti and bhagavallabharti:

mam upetya punar janma
duhkhalayam asasvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah
samsiddhim paramam gatah

"After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection."

One who attains Him, will never be born in this Universe, the abode of sorrows, again. Why does He say that? Because, even if one goes to the position of Indra or Chandra or even Brahma, after that tenure, one has to be reborn in this world. Whereas. if one wants to attain Him and attains Him, He will never be reborn; this is the difference between aiswaryarti and bhagavallabharti. Mahatmana = mahatmans. He calls bhagavallabharti alone as mahatman and not the aiswaryarti nor kaivalyarti. In Chapter 7, Sri Krishna told , ' sa mahatma sudurlabha:'. He said that He is unable to find that person, mahatman, who is totally dependent on Him and who can not bear even a moment of separation. Here we have to keenly observe a point. We saw kaivalyarti was superior to aiswaryarti; and bhagavallabharti was superior to kaivalyarti. There are two types of devotees in bhagavallabharti: one assumes that by one's efforts one gets the Lord. The other variety is that the Lord should grace, select and induce bhakti in that devotee and He Himself should grant the final reward of reaching Him. Both the types of devotees reach the Lord and there can be no doubt on that. One assumes one's efforts and actions; while the other leaves everything to His grace. Swami Ramanuja in his Gita bhashyam has explained this, using some shastra quotations. He says that our knowledge about Him or our constant talk about Him, etc,. alone can not reach Him. But if the Lord decides to shower His grace or decides to reward us, nothing can stop Him. So to think that by His grace we get bhakti, it is more sublime level of bhakti. Also it is not correct to think that we performed bhakti and so He granted the rewards. We should think that it is His grace to make one perform bhakti and one's effort is not there. The Lord desired to grant the rewards and not because one performed bhakti. Such a bhakta is mahatman and he performs bhakti for the sake of bhakti. Sam siddhim = supreme level of attaining the Lord [ siddhi = attaining atman and sam siddhi = attaining the Lord]. Paramam = nothing superior to that [sam siddhi]. Upetya = after reaching, mam = Me [Sri Krishna], alayam = abode of, dukha = sorrows, asasvata = temporary or non-permanent, punar janma = re-birth in a body, napnuvanti = [they] will never have. By meditating on the Lord and attaining Him, they are mahatman. They will never be reborn in this sorrow filled and transient body. This is a major difference. Aiswaryarti has to have rebirth in some body and suffer. Bhagavallabharti, on the other hand, once reaches Him, never is reborn and so no more sufferings. He is in a permanent bliss. Thondaradipodi Alwar in his pasuram,' veda nool pirayam..', says that Vedas say that the age for humans is 100 years. If some one is born as a human, none is guaranteed of 100 years. Even if that person has 100 years, 50 years is spent on sleep, provided he does not sleep in the day time also. In the wake up state his time is spent as a child, boy and on hunger, disease and old age. What remains alone can be spent on the Lord. Do we need this suffering? asks Alwar and says no more of rebirths. So, reaching Vaikuntam should be our objective.