Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BG 12.16


Among the various works of Swami Ramanuja, Gadyatrayam [गद्यत्रयम] is very important. He has very clearly explained that we have to approach the Lord, through Sri Maha Lakshmi. In that he says that finding no other refuge, he was surrendering at Her feet, to surrender unto the Lord. Today's [1st January 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Thayar in Sriperumbudur. As we come out of Swami Ramanuja's sannidhi and turn right to go round, we find, after a long mandapam, Sri Thayar's sannidhi. She is called Sri Yatirajanathavalli Thayar [ஸ்ரீ யதிராஜநாதவல்லி தாயார் ]. She is seated as Sri Gajalakshmi, with one hand showing abhaya and the other pointing to Her divine feet for all of us to prostrate and get redeemed. She assures us that She would recommend to the Lord to rescue us and not to consider our sins. With Her blessings we will go through the literary works of Swami Ramanuja. Swami Ramanuja is a great philosopher and was born in Sriperumbudur. To study under Swami Yadavaprakasa, he went to Thirupputkuzhi and Kanchipuram. We had visited these Two Kshetrams earlier. He learnt all subjects and with the blessings of Swami Alavandar, he obtained necessary skills. To make people to understand Vedas properly, Swami Ramanuja wrote Nine literary works. These are called Navaratna [Nine gems]. We should necessarily remember these works. All the works are in Sanskrit. But we can find now all in Tamil scripts and with Tamil translations. Swami Ramanuja regarded Swami Alavandar as his Acharya. But he could not study directly under Swami Alavandar. We had seen earlier that when Swami Ramanuja came to Srirangam to learn under Swami Alavandar, the latter had died. With disappointment that he could not learn under Swami Alavandar, Swami Ramanuja returned to Kanchipuram. To satisfy the desire of Swami Alavandar, Swami Ramanuja wrote Sri Bhashyam, a very important commentary on Brahma sootram [ब्रह्म सूत्रं] of Veda Vyasa. Braham sootram is collection of aphorisms on the essence of Vedanta [Upanishads]. These contained very few words but were containing ocean of interpretations. The First sootram is 'athato brahma jingyasa' [अथातो ब्रह्म जिज्ञास]. Each sootram had to be elaborately commented upon. Were they not commented by others earlier? Was Swami Ramanuja needed to interpret afresh? Swami Ramanuja never commented anything new. He explained in detail whatever was alraedy told in Vedanta. In Dwapara yug, Vyasa had composed Brahma sootram. Many sages like Tranka, Dramida, Bhodayana, etc., had already made available good commentaries. But there was no detailed commentary available. To compensate this deficiency, Swami Ramanuja wrote Sri Bhashyam. In the invocation Mangala sloka for Sri Bhashyam, Swami Ramanuja states that the true meanings of Vedanta were wrongly interpreted by many in their own way. Swami Ramanuja tried to expose the correct interpretation to the World, in a simple manner. He further states that Bodhayana and others had done enough, but unfortunately, in the grip of short sighted persons, its significance was lost. Swami Ramanuja attempted to restore its glory. In that process he simplified the interpretation. All mean philosophies, which never accepted the supremacy of Vedas, had to be condemned logically and establish philosophy based on Vedas. Some had accepted Vedas but gave wrong interpretations; and, they were also refuted. Thus Swami Ramanuja re-established Visishtadvaita as the correct philosophy based on Vedas. His commentary was acclaimed by Sri Sharada Devi [Sri Saraswati Devi] and gave it the name Sri Bhashyam. She praised it as the correct interpreation as envisaged by Veda Vyasa. In fact, we are having these lectures on Bhagavad Gita, based on Gita Bhashyam, another literary work of Swami Ramanuja. The Nine works of Swami Ramanuja are:
  1. Sri Bhashyam,
  2. Vedanta saram,
  3. Vedanta deepam,
  4. Gita Bhashyam,
  5. Saranagati gatyam,
  6. Sriranga gatyam,
  7. Vaikunta gatyam,
  8. Nityam [daily rituals we have to follow] and
  9. Vedarta sangraham.
This is one aspect of Swami Ramanuja. Other aspects were organizing services in temples in various Kshetrams and Social service. Today we have just glanced his philosophical works. Today being New year we might like to take New year resolutions. Resolving to study all his works might be a difficult task. But emulating him in some aspects might be possible. We will now see the sloka 18. From soka 13, Sri Krishna has been listing the good habits we have to nurture and cultivate. Now sloka 18:
samah satrau ca mitre ca
tatha manapamanayoh
samah sanga-vivarjitah

"One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy"
Sangha = attachment, vivarjita = cut-off, that is without any attachment or totally detached from [பற்று]. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that His devotee is detached from all, excepting in Him. How is he? Sama = [he regards as] equal,
  • satrau = enemies, ca mitre = and friends. He is not showing too much affection to a friend nor shows hatered for enemies. He treats both equal.
  • mana = honour, apamana = dishonour. He behaves in the same way whether he is honoured or chided.
  • sita = cold, usna = heat. He regards both heat and cold with the same feeling.
  • sukha = comforts and happiness, dukhe = discomforts and distress. Both are inevitable in everyones life, but to be regarded in stride.
Arjuna feels that though it was very pleasing to hear this type of behaviour, was it possible for anyone to put to practice? The Lord replies that it was possible, provided one was detached. All our activities originate from attachments. If a child is born to someone, not known to us, are we celebrating by distributing sweets? We do it only if that happy occasion occurs in our family or friends! This word 'our' or 'my' indicates attachment. We do not grieve the death of somebody; unless that somebody is our kith and kin. Therefore, attachment is the root cause for happiness or sorrow. When someone ridicules us we get angry; when we are praised we feel great. Can we consider both equally? We see children playing. They fight among themselves and forget their disputes and play again together. Because for them pride and prejudice are not there and so they are able to forget disputes and be friendly. As we grow we forget this and we regard honour and pride as important. So, these qualities are not something we can not practice, as we are observing these in our daily life. Prejudice develops as we grow. Chidren behave without any ego or pride; but we can not say the same about grownups. Detachment will make us to regard all these opposite qualities same. Such detachment will endure peace and tranquility in the World. This quality of detachment is very important to a Karma yogi. Swami Ramanuja practiced this and tried hard to preach that everyone was eligible to attain Moksham.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BG 12.15

Srisailesa dayapatram deepaktyadi gunarnavam |
Yatindra pravanam vande ramyajamataram munim ||
This sloka was presented by the Lord Sri Ranganatha Himself, in praise of Vishadavak Sikhamani Swami Manavala Mamuni. As already mentioned, Swami Manavala Mamunigal is considered as the last Acharya in Sri Vaishnava Guru parampara. He was a sanyasi. Swami Nampillai made a wonderful commentary on Nammalwar's Thiruvaimozhi. It is known as 'Eedu [ஈடு]'. Swami Manavala Mamunigal lectured on Eedu for one year in Srirangam in the sannidhi of Sri Ranganatha. The Lord listened to this lecture and regarded Swami Manavala Mamunigal as His Acharya; and, in token of gratitude, He presented this sloka. The sloka mentions Srisailesa, Swami Thiruvaimozhipillai, who was the Acharya of Swami Manavala Mamunigal. It further says that Swami Manavala Mamunigal recieved the grace of his teacher, and he was the repository of qualities like gyana, bhakti, etc.; and, he was deeply devoted to Yatindra [Swami Ramanuja]. Swami Manavala Mamunigal is considered as re-incarnation of Swami Ramanuja - both are incarnation of Adisesha. Swami Manavala Mamunigal visited Sriperumbudur and worshiped Swami Ramanuja here. He reamined here for sometime, during which, he taught Sri Bhashyam - commentary on Brahma sootram, by Swami Ramanuja - to his disciples and made them to appreciate the precious contents. Today's [31st December 2008] lecture is from the place, inside the sannidhi of Sri Adi Kesava Perumal, where he taught Sri Bhashyam. Just above this place is a picture depicting Swami Manavala Mamunigal lecturing, his many disciples and the Lord in the guise of a Young Boy, attentively listening! Like Swami Ramanuja, Swami Manavala Mamunigal also was interested in writing commentaries, rather than composing originals. Swami Manavala Mamunigal wrote commentaries on the works of Swami Pillai Lokacharya. Like Swami Ramanuja, he also never hurt others' feelings. Even when refuting others' arguments, both deployed very descent words. He never displayed ego or authority and lived a very humble and simple life. Swami Manavala Mamunigal presented Two works on Swami Ramanuja : Yatiraja vimsati in Sanskrit, consisting of Twenty slokas; and, Arthi prabhandam [ஆர்த்தி பிரபந்தம்] in Tamil. Arthi means passion or interest, in reaching moksham. In Yatiraja vimsati, he says that though he was unfit to place his head at the feet of Swami Ramanuja, he clung at his feet as Swami Ramanuja was connected with Nammalwar and then to the Lord. He says that whoever fell at the feet of Swami Ramanuja, were devoid of kama, krodha and such bad qualities and became eligible to develop all the good qualities Sri Krishna has been advising Arjuna in Chapter 12. Therefore, we also have to come to Sriperumbudur and worship Swami Ramanuja, so that all our bad habits are destroyed and develop good ones. Just like we remove weeds so that cultivation of crops improve, we have to first destroy our bad habits. As we go round the temple we find on one side Alwars' sannidhi and on other side Sri Andal's sannidhi. We will now see sloka 17 of Chapter 12. Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the good habits we have to cultivate. Sloka 17:

yo na hrsyati na dvesti
na socati na kanksati
bhaktiman yah sa me priyah

"One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things—such a devotee is very dear to Me."

Sri Krishna mentions some more qualities, which make His devotee dear to Him. Yo = who, na hrsyati = is not rejoicing, na dvesti = is not hating, na socati = is not sorrowing, na kanksati = is not expecting or desireless. These are Four qualities - never happy, never hate, never sorrow and never anticipate. Subha = good deeds or punya, asubha = bed deeds or papa, parityagi = abandoned, bhaktiman = devotee, is dear to Him. Such a person is Karma yogi. He has renounced good and bad deeds. Are these practical? We have to qualify all these with some more words. We will see with proper interpretations:

  1. Never happy means not rejoicing just because we recieved something pleasing to us. Is it not natural? What Sri Krishna tells is that if we are to rejoice for something pleasing to us, we must be prepared to grieve if we do not get that. What is wrong in that? Then, our time will be spent only in this rejoice and grief. Where is the time for devotion to the Lord? There will not be time to ponder over atman or the Lord. If we avoid worldly pleasures and sorrows, then we can find time for our atman and the Lord. We can rejoice if we are able to have His grace; otherwise feel sorry. The Worldly pleasures are transient and the pleasure lasts for very small time. So, we should not rejoice for worldly pleasures and take them in stride.
  2. Never hating means not hating others just because we did not get what we desired.
Swami Ramanuja in his life has never hated anyone. Great people [மகான் महान] have suffered in many ways. Just because they were great people, we can not say that they never experienced hardships. They are regarded as great people, because they never brooded over when they suffered nor the hated the perpetuators. They did not rejoiced and danced when happy events were encountered. When Swami Ramanuja brought in certain reforms, some tried to kill him by poisoning. That never dicouraged Swami Ramanuja and he continued with his reforms. He deployed Swami Kidambi Acchan [கிடாம்பி ஆச்சான்] and avoided recurrence. Similarly, his teacher Swami Yadavaprakasa tried to finish him and he escaped. But he never showed any hatred for his erstwhile teacher. A King tried to harm him and he escaped to Melkote near Mysore. He remained there for many years. Yet, never Swami Ramanuja hated him or prayed for King's death. Thus great people do not care for any harm done to them. Of course, if their disciples are harmed, they grieve.
3. Never grieving, means not brooding over any loss or injury.
4. Never expects means, they do not do anything with any expectation.
5. Subhaasubha parityagi means that they do not do any good deed to get punya or for some pleasure. They never indulge in such acts to prevent occurance of grief. They do all acts as they are mandates of shastras or they do not do some acts, as they are forbidden in shastras.
These are the characteristics of a Karma yogi and such person is dear to the Lord.

Monday, December 29, 2008

BG 12.14

We are at the entrance to Sri Perumal sannidhi.

Pillars of the mandapam are carved with sculptures. We can see many dancers and musicians in the sculptures. On one side of the Mandapam, the Lord Sri Adi Kesava Perumal is gracing with His Ubhaya Nacchiyars. With the blessings of Sri Kesava Perumal, Swami Ramanuja was born here. The Lord here gave the World, Swami Ramanuja. Let us see why this place got this name and how the Lord arrived here. This place is called Sriperumbudur or Bhutapuri. This place was built by Bhuta ganas [group of Bhuta பூத கணங்கள்] and so it got the name. These Bhutas were the servants of lord Shiva. Once when lord Shiva was dancing, for some reason the Bhutas giggled, making lord Shiva angry and curse them. To absolve from the curse, they prayed the Lord, Who asked them to come to this place and meditate after bathing in Anantasaras pond. Bhutas did accordingly. Pleased with their behaviour, the Lord asked lord Shiva to come to this place and pardon his Bhuta ganas. Lord Shiva pardoned them and accepted them in his troupe. The Lord was later requested by all, to grace in this place and so He appeared as Sri Kesava here. Since Sri Thayar also graces here, this place is called Sriperumbudur. Singing the name of Sri Kesava, all our sins are washed away, says Nammalwar in the Tenth Century of Thiruvaimozhi. Even if we chant the name Sri Kesava once, we will not have to visit hell. It seems lord Yama says that by not even chanting once the Divine name Sri Kesava, which would hardly take a second to utter, one wastes one's entire life. When this lecture was recorded it was Vana bhojanam [ வன போஜனம், eating in forest, something like picnic!] day and so the Lord was in a relaxed appearance without the crown [savarik kondai சவரிக் கொண்டை ]. The Lord arrives at a garden and after Thirumanjanam, He graces all offerings and returns in the evening. The abhaya mudra in His right hand appears to tell that we need have no fears as Swami Ramanuja had arrived to redeem all! Left hand is beckoning all to arrive at Sriperumbudur, to worship His favourite devotee Swami Ramanuja! Moksham is sure to all those who are connected with Swami Ramanuja. This is stated by the Lord in Srirangam, Tirumala and Kanchipuram. Whoever is recommended by Swami Ramanuja, Moksham is certain. In this world, by uttering the name Ramanuja, one gets all comforts like wealth, health and knowledge. Not merely that, after life here, the Lord accepts them in Vaikuntam to give them the eternal bliss. Once a milkmaid was supplying milk ti Sri Ramanuja mutt, when Swami Ramanuja was alive. After supplying for about a month, the mutt managers wanted to compensate for her services. But she refused to take, instead demanded a letter of recommendation from Swami Ramanuja, which she would show at Tirumala to the Lord and go to Vaikuntam! Such was his fame. In this Mandapam, on one side we see Sri Adi Kesava Perumal sannidhi. We also see the sannidhi of Swami Ramanuja. We also see the sannidhi of Swami Thirukkacchi Nambi [திருக்கச்சி நம்பிகள்] and Swami Nampillai [நம்பிள்ளை]. Then we see Swami Alavandar sannidhi. We also see the sannidhi of Swami Vedantacharya [Desika]. In Yatiraja saptati, Swami Vedanta Desika says that Swami Ramanuja is like the precious pendent in the middle of a jewel necklace. On one side are Acharyas before him starting from the Lord and on the other side Acharyas after him. He is the centre-piece! Thus both the sides are drawing fame from Swami Ramanuja. Now we will see sloka 16:

anapeksah sucir daksha
udasino gata-vyathah
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah

"My devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me."

We would have noticed a feature in these slokas; that in each sloka the Lord says 'sa me priyah' - 'he is dear to Me [Sri Krishna]'. That should induce us to do what the Lord desires. Anapeksa = [excepting atman] desires or needs nothing, suci = pure [in food]. To have the atman pure, our body, and so our food habits, should be pure. We can not take every type of food and expect the body and atman to be pure. A Karma yogi will have strict control over the food he takes. Daksa = skilled [in following shastras], udasina = indifferent [to all not recommended by shastras], gata = tolerate, vyata = sufferings [ in following shastras permitted activities]. For example, shastras say that on Ekadasi day to remain fasting. One should tolerate that suffering by starving on Ekadasi. There are many having untold miseries. The Lord also does not ask people to suffer very much; just a fasting once in a fortnight, etc. The Lord expects our sincerity and earnestness to follow His advice. The Lord only grants us the skill and capacity to follow shastras, as well as to tolerate any sufferings, thereon. Sarvarambha = starting of all, parityagi = discarded. Whatever is not mentioned or barred by shastras, he never even begins to follow. We need not start what is not recommended by shastras. We can list out our daily activities and see which are acceptable or recommended by shastras. We should examine every action of ours, as to whether they ar as per Vedas or are they doing good to atman. If we get a positive 'yes' as the answer, we could follow tham. We should ensure at least some, nay, at least one, to be in agreement with shastras. In Thiruvaimozhi, while praising the Lord of Thirumaliruncholai, Nammalwar says that there was no use in saying one did so many activities; but were any of them useful? many of our mannerisms are like that. Even while waiting at a place, it would be useful to reflect the Divine images of the Lord or chant His Divine names; instead of chit-chatting with others. Such a devotee is dear to the Lord. The list of qualities here mentioned are:

  1. Control of food taken.
  2. No desire in matters other than atman.
  3. Capacity to follow activities recommended by shastras.
  4. Disinterest in activities not mentioned by shastras.
  5. Endure any sufferings arising out of following shastras.
  6. Never begin any action not recommended by shastras.
Person with such qulities is liked by the Lord. Swami Ramanuja in his life followed these and we will examine them in the ensuing lectures.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

BG 12.13

In Ramanuja Nootrandadi [இராமுனுச நூற்றந்தாதி], Swami Thiruvarangathamudanar [திருவரங்கத்து அமுதனார்], repeats the name of Swami Ramanuja in all pasurams and praises him. In that name 'Ra', 'ma' 'nu' and 'ja' - Four letters [as in Sanskrit] are there; similarly, in the Lord's name 'Narayana', Four letters are there. Our elders asked a question as between these Two Four lettered names, which was more useful to us? Only Ramanuja name will be beneficial to us, they say. Though Lord's name Narayana is beneficial, commentators say that all had a complaint against Him. Though we are all born as per our past Karma, the Lord, if He so desired, could have redeemed us and made us to avoid birth and enjoy eternal bliss; but He is allowing to be born and suffer. That is He is responsible for our sufferings and He is also responsible for our redemption, if we surrender unto Him. But Swami Ramanuja, toiled to get us Moksham alone. He is not responsible for our sufferings in samsaram. Thus the name Ramanuja will yield only benefits and so it is superior to the name of the Lord! The Lord helps those who qualify to reach Him; while Swami Ramanuja has paved the way for all to reach Moksham! Without any qualification for Moksham, by sheer surrender to Swami Ramanuja, we are sure of Moksham! Thus Swami Ramanuja is an embodiment of mercy and compassion. This is what the author says in Ramanuja Nootrandadi. It is no wonder, therefore, that Thousands of devotees come to Sriperumbudur, every Thiruvadirai star! They witness the Thirumanjanam of the great Acharya.The splendour of it can be felt only by a visit to Sriperumbudur. We will now enter the temple and see the tall Dwajasthambam. In Krta yug, the Lord was served by Adisesha, the leader of serpents. As in the pasuram 'senral kudaiyam.. [சென்றால் குடையாம், இருந்தால் சிங்காசனமாம் ...]', Adisesha serves the Lord in His various activities: as umbrella, when the Lord goes out; as throne, when He is seated; as sandals, when He is standing; as bed, when He is reclining; etc. In Treta yug, he served the Lord as Ramanuja, that is the younger brother of Sri Rama - Lakshmana. When the Lord was in exile in forests for Fourteen years, the Lord and Sri Sita slept, but Lakshmana was always vigil and served without a wink of sleep! In Dwapara yug, he served the Lord as Balarama. In Kali yug, Adisesha was born as Swami Ramanuja. His original name, christened by his parents, was Ilayazhvar [இளையாழ்வார்]. Unlike the Lord, Who had a dark complexion like rain bearing cloud, Swami Ramanuja was very fair. In Chapter 12, the Lord has mentioned the many desirable qualities for His devotee, and it appears each one of such qualities, was exhibited by Adisesha in his many incarnations. We have to see sloka 15 of Chapter 12:

yasman nodvijate loko
lokan nodvijate ca yah
mukto yah sa ca me priyah

"He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me."

Yasman = at whom, loko = the World, na advijate = is not afraid. The Lord says that He likes that person, at whom, the World is not afraid. His activities threaten none. It is not that a son is not afraid of his father; but a totally stranger he is and he causes no fear in anybody. People of scared of certain persons, as they might harm them. The devotee of the Lord is liked by everyone and his activities enthuse others. Lokan = at the World, na advijate ca = also not afraid. The Lord likes that person, who is not afraid of the World. Because this person, the Lord's devotee, pleases the World. He is also not afraid of the World; or to put it in other words, the World does not do anything to scare him. If we do harm to others, then others scheme to take revenge and so we are scared of others. These Two qualities - we like the world and the world likes us - have to be developed. Our talks and deeds should be friendly and helpful. We should never harm others with our words or by actions. Karmayogi will desire peace only. We are afraid of the world, if we are greedy or commit undesirable acts. By greed we might have amassed wealth. Then we try to preserve them by illegal methods. All these will make us afraid of the World. Either we are not greedy or if we have accumulated wealth legally, we should distribute and lessen our burden, which will keep us in peace and happiness. We should be greedy in acquiring knowledge, Bhakti and other superior qualities. No one would ever steal them away. We have to amass those which would not cause us worries. Harsa = happiness, amarsa = sorrow, or anger out of sorrow, bhaya = fear, udvega = any such urges, mukto yah = whoever is free from. This person, whom the Lord likes, does not jump with happiness nor brood in a corner or shouts in anger and is not in fear. When we are to get huge money we feel happy; and feel sorry or angry, if that is halted or delayed ; also we are in fear in anticipation, etc. Sa me priya = he is liked by Me [Sri Krishna]. Person without these qualities, is liked by the Lord. Swami Ramanuja lived like that. He was a leader among sanyasins. Without likes and dislikes, he redeemed everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

BG 12.12

[with the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna, with the blessings of Sri Mukkur Swami and with the blessings of Sri Velukkudi Swami, I have been able to complete 500 lectures. I earnesly thank all the readers of this Blog for their support and encouragement]
Swami Ramanuja occupies a very important place in the Srivaishnava Guru parampara [heirarchy of Acharyas]. Called Jagadacharya, he wrote many works, so that the true meaning of Vedas and Upanishads are explained to the World. We are at present in his birth place, Sriperumbudur. Today's [26th December 2008] lecture is from the mandapam at the place where he was born.
21-Sriperumbudur Samprokshanam 2008.New Kal Mandapam built in front of Swami Sannidhi.JPG
We enter the temple from the sannidhi street. We can see the gopuram and mandapam.


Swami Ramanuja's sannidhi is just opposite the main entrance. There is a large avatar mandapam. Here, Swami Ramanuja was born some 1000 years back. His year of birth is 1017, corresponding to Tamil year Pingala, Chitthirai, Shukla Panchami, on a Thursday in the star Thiruvadirai [பிங்கள, சித்திரை, சுக்ல பஞ்சமி, வியாழக் கிழமை] . His parents were Asoori Kesava Somayajiyar [ஆசூரி கேசவ சொமயாஜியார்] and Kanthimati Ammangar [காந்திமதி அம்மங்கார்]. His parnents, before the birth of Swami Ramanuja, visited Sri Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Chennai, and prayed for a child like the Lord. Since there is none like Him, He Himself was born to them as Swami Ramanuja! The Sun drives away the darkness outside us; but the darkness of ignorance in us, can not that easily be eliminated. To eliminate this inside darkness, Swami Ramanuja appeared as Divakara [Sun] and spread Bhakti in Him. We are in that sacred place, where he was born. Inside the temple we can see many sculptures, as reliefs on walls. We can see Sri Adikesava Perumal prominantly among them. On one side we can see the sculptures af all Alwars. On another side we can see the large sculpture of Swami Ramanuja, with safron robe and holding Tridanda [த்ரிதண்டம்]. On his sides we can see Swami Koorattalwan and Swami Mudaliyandan. We can also note the 74 Simhasanadhipatis, who were appointed by Swami Ramanuja to spread the philosophy and perform pancha samskara [पंचसंस्कार] to all devotees. All the pillars in the mandapam are sculpted beautifully. We can see the Lord as Sri Matsya, Sri Koorma, Sri Varaha and Sri Narasimha. We can see the sculpture in which Arjuna very submissively listens to Sri Krishna, Who is preaching Gita. An ancient picture of Swami Ramanuja can be seen. In Ramanuja nootrandadi, Swami Thiruvarangathamudhanar [திருவரங்கத்து அமுதனார்] says in the verse 'man misai yonigal thorum pirandu..மண் மிசை யோனிகள் தோறும் பிறந்து.. ', that Swami Ramanuja alone could correct the people, who could not be corrected by the Lord in spite of many Avatars! Swami Manavala Mamunigal says that one might forget the birth days of the Avatars of the Lord or even of Alwars, but never one should forget Swami Ramanuja's birth day! Thiruvadirai is known in Sanskrit as Ardra, which also means wet. Swami Ramanuja also exhibited that 'wet' or merciful heart [ஈர நெஞ்சம்] to all. He had the compassion that all should be redeemed. It is difficult to say whether Swami Ramanuja lived as preached in Gita or the Lord preached in Gita, Swami Ramanuja's qualities. Sri Krishna lists some more good habits we have to cultivate in us, in sloka 14:
santustah satatam yogi
yatatma drdha-niscayah
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
"Always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me."
The Lord says His bahkta is very dear to Him. We should aspire for this previlege! If Sri Krishna appears before us and says that we were His dear ones, what else we have to achieve? This is what the Lord says in 'yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah'. We may like to be the favourite of the Lord; then, we should know what efforts we have to take to be included in that favourite list. But all obstacles are seen in our efforts. This desire can be achieved if we have the determination. We should not misunderstand this as mad [வெறி] but determination [உறுதி]. We will list the desired qualities: (continued from the last list)
8. Santushta = contented [not to be misunderstood as happy]. We have to be satisfied with what the Lord has bestowed on us.
9. satatam =always, yogi = meditating about atman.
10. Yatatma = well controlled mind. Controlled mind will give satisfaction and satisfaction will control the mind. Thinking about atman, will pacify and control mind. Once the mind is controlled all thoughts will be after atman. Thus all these three are inter related.
11. Drda nischaya = determined belief or confident. We have to firmly believe that it is beacause of His grace that we have this life and facilities. The Lord is our goal and we have to attain Him only. This firm belief should never be cahnged in any circumstance.
12. Mayy = in Me [Sri Krishna], arpita = entrusted, mano-buddhi = mind and intellect. That is we have to regard every action of ours as devoted to Him. We have to do every work dedicated to Him. In such actions both mind and intellect have to be entrusted. Mind is an instrument to think; while buddhi is dharma bhuta gyana. Our intellect is buddhi, and with its help we use the mind to think. Thus both the mind and the thought propelling intellect, have to be dedicated to the Lord.
Such a Bhakta is the favourite of the Lord or he is liked by the Lord. Swami Ramanuja tells whom the Lord likes. We have to be liked by Him, by practically following the qualities listed in the Seven slokas. To get that liking we have to sincerely do the prescribed duties for us and do them with the attitude that the Lord Himself is doing and dedicate the results to Him. That will make us endear to the Lord. To cultivate these, we have to be contented with what we have and never be greedy; we should never be complaining about our health or wealth; but be happy with what we have. No doubt, there will be scope for improvement in all our activities. These should not be in amssing wealth, but in Bhakti in Him. Normally, rich people never get contentment in life; poor are satisfied with what they have. Swami Ramanuja stands tall to be emulated by us.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

BG 12.11

We have come to a very important Kshetram. All the great interpretations of Bhagavad Gita, which we are listening to [for the past more than Eighteen months], were gifted by Swami amanuja and we have come to his birth place - Sri Perumbhutur [ஸ்ரீ பெரும்பூதூர்].
Click to view full size image

It is about 30 Miles from Chennai city. Sri Adi Kesava Perumal [ஸ்ரீ ஆதி கேசவ பெருமாள்] is gracing here. In Sanskrit, this place is called Bhutapuri [भूतपुरी]. We will see in due course of time the history of Swami Ramanuja in this place. Swami Ramanuja was born in Thiruvadirai [திருவாதிரை] star in Chittirai [சித்திரை] month. The recording of today's [25th december 2008] lecture was also done on Thiruvadirai star! We will see, listen to and experience Swami Ramanuja from various angles. We first visit the temple pond called Ananta saras. It was built by Adisesha -Ananta [அனந்தன்], and so Ananta saras. Swami Ramanuja is the incarnation of Adisesha. Ambarisha was a King in the Ikshvaku dynasty. We understand the greatness of observing Ekadasi-Dwadasi, through the history of Ambarisha. In his family was Haritha. Once when he went to forests to hunt wild animals and protect his subjects, he heard the help call from a cow, which was about to be hunted by a tiger. To save the cow, Haritha shot an arrow from his bow on the tiger. Before the arrow could hit the tiger, the tiger pounced on the cow, which got killed. The arrow also hit the tiger, which also got killed. Haritha felt sorry as he could not save the cow. He thought the sin of go-hatham [घो हथ] would befall on him. Cow is sacred and killing a cow is considered as a grave sin. He prayed the Lord, Who asked him to go to Bhutapuri and after bathing in the pushkarini, to perform Pooja to Sri Adikesava Perumal. Haritha did accordingly and got absolved of go-hatthi dosha. It is , therefore, believed that by bathing in this pushkarini, all our sins would be eliminated. We will now see sloka 13. Till now, in Four slokas, the Lord suggested alternatives to get Bhakti in Him. He started from a very difficult method and suggested easier alternatives. He asked Arjuna to choose anyone method and try to reach Him. He first suggested the superior Bhakti marg. Arjuna found it difficult to follow. Then, the Lord asked him to meditste on His auspicious qualities. Arjuna felt that thinking was not habitual for many and so wanted any method involving physical labour. The Lord then suggested activities in service of God. Arjuna felt that most of the people were not used to serving others, and so serving God might be diificult;perhaps, service involving self would be better. Then the Lord suggeted to do dhyanam or meditation on one's own atman. By doing so one could realize that atman was a servant of the Lord. That would induce service to Him. Service to God would make one to appreciate His great qualities. Thinking about His qualities, one would get Bhakti in Him. Thus, in Four stages - Bhakti, otherwise meditating on His auspicious qualities, otherwise kainkaryam, otherwise atman dhyanam and Karma yoga, the Lord advised Arjuna to practice Bhakti in Him. Now, from sloka 13 to sloka 19, in 7 slokas, the Lord lists all the good qualities a Karma yogi should possess. These Seven slokas are very important. We have to bring into our life, every quality listed. Living such life is beneficial to us. Guide to practical life is explained. It is a wonder that we are going to study all these in the place, where Swami Ramnuja was born and lived practicing all the qualities listed by the Lord. Therefore, we have the list and the history of a person who practiced them; we have to just emulate that person. Our life is very simple, but we are making it complex. Aspiring for too much, we miss what is to be really achieved. The Lord lists the qualities to be cultivated in us to redeem from samsaram. Each sloka lists a few qualities. It is recommended that these qualities may be noted separately to be followed practically in our lives. Now sloka 13:
advesta sarva-bhutanam
maitrah karuna eva ca
nirmamo nirahankarah
sama-duhkha-sukhah ksami
One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant.

We will list serially all these.
  1. Advesta = not hating, sarvabhutanam = any living being. It is no use in not showing hatred to those whom we like; but even to our so called enemies. To those whom we consider as having done harm to us, we should not show hatred. Here we may have the doubt as to how we can not show hatred, when someone blatantly accuses us or hurts us physically? We should think that such insult or injury, was to be experienced by us and so that person was used as a tool by the Lord and so he is not to be blamed. This type of behaviour is very, very difficult to practice. We should think that because of our past karma we are experiecing such hardships and so it is not others' fault.
  2. Maitra = be friendly to all. Even those who cause hardships to us to be regarded as friends.
  3. Karuna eva ca = also to show mercy. Even if one does harm to us, we should pity one and show mercy. We should show pity, because by harming us, that person might be committing a sin and so we should worry about the consequences. If someone blamed us, we might suffer because of our past karma; but, by blaming us, that person would incur papa and we have to pity that person for that.
  4. Nir mama = without mamakaram. We should not reagrd anything as ours. Even our body is not ours. The Lord has given us a birth and as such we own nothing, should be the attitude.
  5. Nir ahankara = without ahankaram or ego. We should never regard the body as us. It is said that the poisonous tree samsaram is grown from two seeds: ahankara and mamakara.
  6. Sama -dukha-sukha = considering sorrow and happiness equally. Is it possible? We jump with joy when we are happy and brood over when sorrow strikes us. Whether happiness or grief, it would last for a few days. Then they would be forgotten. Have we not seen many such happy and sorrowful occasions? We do not even remember many. So, why did we jump with joy or cry, when those occasions happened?
  7. Ksami = tolerent to everything happening. We should not lament over the natural happenings like torrential rain or scorching summer. The Lord advises to bear such things with a smile. Are not others showing tolerance on us? We shoukd be able to take in stride happenings.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BG 12.10

Behind Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal sannidhi, in Thiruninravur, is the sannidhi of Sri Yerikattha Raman [ஸ்ரீ ஏரிகாத்த இராமன்]. Sri Yerikattha Raman is gracing in Madurantakam, as well as here. Large lake is catering to the needs of all in and around Thiruninravur. Just like the lake is filled with water, mercy is filled in Sri Yerikattha Rama! His mercy is seen in Srimad Ramayana and in His eyes. Today's [24th December 2008] lecture is in Sri Rama sannidhi. Here, as Moolavar, Sri Rama is standing majestically. To His right is Sri Sita and to His left is Lakshmana. Out side this, in a mandapam, we can see Hanuman, in an unique posture. In a fighting pose Hanuman is holding mace in one hand and shield in another. He is carrying on his shoulders Sri Rama and Lakshmana. Under his feet, a demon is getting killed! Thus Hanuman, simultaneously, displays valour by killing rakshasa and service to the Lord, by carrying Sri Rama and Lakshmana. Since this sannidhi is slightle isolated, Utsava Murthy of the Lord, Sri Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are in the temple of Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal. Sri Rama, as the Son of Emperor [ஸ்ரீ சக்கரவர்த்தி திருமகன்] is standing in Utsavar form. On His side is His brother, who acted as a shield, Lakshmana. On the other side is Sri Sita, Universal Mother, daughter of Janaka and dughter-in-law of Dasaratha. Anjaneya is ready to carry out the the orders of his Master, Sri Rama. With the blessings of Sri Rama, we will now proceed to study sloka 12 of Chapter 12. It is possible that Sri Rama is here in this temple from a very long time and, it was Sri Rama who saved this place from flooding of the lake. Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal, on the First day of the Panguni Brahmotsavam, arrives at the sannidhi of Sri Rama and Theerthavari also is conducted in the lake behind. During Sri Rama Navami, Ten day festival is conducted elaborately. More pilgrims should visit this Kshetram and recieve the blessings of the Lord. After all, the Lord is waiting for the devotees to come to Him! In sloka 8, the Lord asked Arjuna to meditate on Him and concentrate buddhi firmly in Him. Arjuna should have Bhakti in Him, with the determination that He was the objective to be attained. When it was felt that such Bhakti would be difficult to practice, the Lord suggested an easier way of meditating on His auspicious qualities. Continuous meditation would induce happiness. This was told in sloka 9 and it is called abhyasa yoga. When doubts arose about the inability of such meditation, the Lord suggested easier way in sloka 10. He advised Arjuna to perform service to the Lord. Thinking that normal persons are not accustomed to service of the Lord, but are habitual of serving themselves, Arjuna had doubts about performing service to the Lord. The Lord, in sloka 11, suggested another much easier method deploying our habits. He advised Arjuna to perform Karma yoga, by doing his duties, but sacrificing the result and not yearning for inferior results. This is what Swami Yamunacharya [Swami Alavandar] in his Gitarta sangraha says, 'asakthasya atma nishtatha'. That is incapable of doing service to the God, duties are performed to get atman sakshatkaram. Here, there are two routes possible. We saw in Chapters 7 and 8 Akshara yogam. That is, to attain Kaivalyam one performs yoga. To attain Kaivalyam, atman sakashatkaram is necessary. He remains for ever enjoying his own atman. This - meditating on atman, atman sakshatkaram, experiencing atman, remaining for ever in enjoying atman and never thinking of reaching Vaikuntam and serving the Lord- is one route. The other route is to understand atman, knowing atman's true nature, realizing atman is servant to the Lord, so serving the Lord, performing Bhakti and reaching Vaikuntam and enjoying the company of the Lord. Sri Krishna tells about the path to reach Vaikuntam, for which one need to practice Bhakti, and in case this was not possible, to do atman sakshatkaram. Therefore, Sri Krishna does not advocate the path to Kaivalyam. So here, the Lord is telling Arjuna to practice Karma yoga so as to result in Bhakti yoga. So here it is Karma yoga, then Gyana yoga, then atman sakshatkaram, then understanding the true nature of atman that atman is always servant of the Lord, then devotion to God resulting in Bhakti. So Kaivalyam or Akshara yoga is not preached by the Lord here. With the Lord easening the efforts of us, we might get a guilty feeling, that since we had expressed our inability in various methods suggested by the Lord for attaining Him and the Lord accepting our position and suggesting easier ways, will the result be in any way lesser than the objective? Since the Lord was compromising on our inabilities, will the final result also be compromised? Assuaging such doubts, the Lord tells in sloka 12:

sreyo hi jnanam abhyasaj
jnanad dhyanam visisyate
dhyanat karma-phala-tyagas
tyagac chantir anantaram

"If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind."

Sreyosi = Is is not better? Jnanam = Gyana [atman sakshatkaram attained by knowledge, is better than ] abhyasa = exercise [of meditating continuously His auspicious qualities, mentioned in sloka 9]. Meditating on the qualities of the Lord is good. But if that was not possible, it is better to do atman sakshatkaram, which is the window for abhyasa yoga. By atman sakshatkaram, one understands the true nature of atman. This understanding will pave way to appreaciate the auspicious qualities of the Lord. We can climb from lower step only to a higher step. So, instead of lamenting that we are unable to reach the final step, access the step below. That is, atman sakshatkaram is to be realized. Dhyanam = meditation [of atman, is better than], jnanad = Gyana [knowledge to get atman sakshatkaram]. So, meditating on His auspicious qualities is good; if that was not possible, better to have atman sakshatkaram; if that also was not possible, better to contiuously meditate on atman. If that is also not possible? Karma-phala-tyaga = performing Karma yoga renunciating desire for result or aspiring for inferior objectives [is better than], dhyanat = meditation [on atman]. Here the steps in descending order are:

  1. Pondering over His auspicious qualities.
  2. Atman sakshatkaram.
  3. Dhyanam on atman.
  4. Karma yoga.
Here each lower step is recommended as better to reach the next higher step. This is like teaching a child. Tyaga = by doing Karma yoga, that is detached from the results of doing one's Karma, shanti = peace, anantaram = is attained. By doing Karma yoga, abandoning the desire for results and not doing for lower results, we avoid rajo/tamo qualities. By doing any action for a result, we develop rajo/tamo qualities. Once rajo/tamo qualities are not there, raga [passion] and dwesha [hatred] qualities are avoided. This makes mind peaceful. Peaceful mind is capable of dhyanam or meditation. A disturbed mind, due to attachment for results, can never do meditation. Meditation will result in atman sakshatkaram opening the way to appreciate the auspicious qualities of the Lord, resulting in determined Bhakti. We will now take leave of this Kshetram after thanking H.H. Periya Jeer of Thirumala, for permiting to use the temple as venue for Gita lectures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

BG 12.9

At present we are in the temple of Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal in Thiruninravur, in Thondainadu. We can see the beautiful pushkarini - Varuna pushkarini - here. When lord Brahma came to pray and request Sri Ennaipetra Thayar to return, he was accomapnied by other Devas like Varuna and Samudrarajan. We now enter the temple Raja gopuram.
Picturesque divyadesam ThiruninravurThiru Nindravur Sannidhi RajaGopuram.JPG

The Gopuram welcomes us to experience the treasure inside! We go round the temple which has broad corridors. We look up to see Srinivasa vimanam. Sri =Thiru in Tamil and nivasa = residing or staying [in Tamil ninra], and so Srinivasa vimanam. Near by we see a large godown for vahanams. We can see the Garuda vahanam of the Lord.
Sundara Vadhana BakthaVatsalan.JPG

Thirumangai Alwar came to this Kshetram. He used to compose 10, 20, 30 and more pasurams in many Kshetrams he had visited. But, when he came here, the Lord was busy with Sri Ennaipetra Thayar and did not notice the Alwar. Alwar thought that the Lord was not there and so left for the next Kshetram, Thirukadalmallai [Mahabalipuram]! Sri Thayar noting the departure of the Alwar, reminded the Lord that if Alwar did not compose any verse on the Kshetram, it would not qualify to become a Divya desam and so urged Him to go to Alwar and get verses composed on the Kshetram! Alawr wqs at Thirukadalmallai and praising Sri Stalasayana Perumal. Standing befoer the Alwar, Sri Battharavi Perumal [ஸ்ரீ பத்தராவி பெருமாள் another name of the Lord of Thiruninravur], asked the Alwar about pasuram on Thiruninravur. Immediately Alwar composed and sang. He says that in Sthalasayanam, he saw 'ninravur nitthila thotthai [நின்றவூர் நித்திலா தொத்தை]'. Thus this Kshetram name got included. Happily, the Lord returned to Thiruninravur and showed Sri Thayar, the new pasuram of Thirumangai Alwar. While appreciating the pasuram, Sri Thayar felt that more verses could have been obtained from the Alwar. The Lord again came to Alwar, using the opportunity to be with Alwar once more. But by that time Alwar had reached Thirukkannamangai [திருக்கண்ணமங்கை] in Chola region. Feeling some what shy to ask for more verses in another temple, the Lord Sri Bhaktavatsala, stood at a corner to have a glimpse of the Alwar! Alwar was singing in praise of the Lord of Thirukkannamangai; but at one point he noticed the Lord of Thiruninravur, and so introduced that Kshetram in a pasuram on Thirukkannamangai! He said that he saw 'ninravur nitthila thotthinai [நின்றவூர் நித்திலா தொத்தினை]' in Thirukkannamangai! Both the pasurams are engraved on stone panels. His sannidhi also is there, where the Alwar is holding sword. Alwar says that the Lord gives His devotees all comforts here, as well as, amushmika [ஆமுஷ்மிக] benefits like Moksham. The Lord has such vast capacity. We will now see sloka 11. In sloka 8, the Lord advised Arjuna to practice Bhakti with determination. If that was not possible, the Lord suggested an alternative of meditating on His auspicious qualities, in sloka 9. If that were also difficult, the Lord commended yet another alternative of involving in His service. But, though the Lord tried to suggest easier methods, all were in respect of the Lord. We are not used to do anything around the Lord, but everything pertaining to us alone. Our activities are all centered on us. We say about a person that he has interest in temples or Godly matters. When we say someone is interested in reading or playing or listening to music, books, games and music are different from oneself. This is justified. But we can not say similarly that one is interested in God or temple. Because God is not different from us. He is residing in our body and atman. We live because of Him. Instead of realizing this, we see God as different from us. Arjuna's seemingly question was on this basis. Arjuna seemed to ask that since he was not used to think about the Lord, but always about himself, he desired to have suggestion pertaining to activities he was accustomed to. Sri Krishna, sensing this, suggests another method. He asks Arjuna to do karma yoga with three types of sacrifices [tyagam]. He, thus returns to the place in Chapter 1! The Lord is interested in inducing Arjuna to action, which Arjuna tried to avoid. Arjuna should do his duty of upholding Kshatriya dharma and fight in the war. He should find ways for Moksham, through Karma yoga. Sri Krishna told, that was the only way to atman sakshatkaram. Therefore, the Lord repeats and asks Arjuna to do Karma yoga. Is Karma yoga concerning us? Yes, Karma yoga is performed to get atman sakshatkaram, to realize atman. Karma yoga will lead to Gyana yoga, then atman sakshatkaram. Therefore, Arjuna should perform Karma yoga, which concerns him and attain atman sakshatkaram. This will result in realizing the true nature of atman. That is we will understand atman is not independent. Atman is dependent on the Lord. Ignorance of this only makes Arjuna to differentiate between him and the Lord. Once he realizes that atman is servant of the Lord, Arjuna would know that he has to live for Him. This, the Lord very cleverly teaches Arjuna. He is asking Arjuna to do Karma yoga to get atman sakshatkaram. Attaining that he would realize that everything is the Lord only. He would realize that he had to live for the Lord and not for himself. Then he would try to serve the Lord. Service to the Lord would make Him to appreciate the auspicious qualities of the Lord. That way he would meditate on those qualities. This would induce confidence in the Lord. With such resolute mind, Arjuna would practice Bhakti. Bahkti would result in siddhi or final goal. Now sloka 11:

athaitad apy asakto ’si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan

"If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness of Me, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated."

Yata atmavan = controlling the mind, controlling senses, kuru = do, sarva'karma'phala-tyagam = sacrificing results of all actions. We have seen this sacrifice of results earlier. Kartrutva buddhi tyagam, manasa tyagam and phalatyagam - avoiding the thought that we were doing tha action, action is oursattitude and the thought we are doing the action for an inferior result should all be abandoned. Do only to realize atman sakshatkaram. What the Lord told earlier is now termed as srva karma phala tyagam. It means, with this determination, doing karma yoga is Karma yoga anushtanam. Atha =if, tad = that [service to God - mad karma in sloka 10], apy = even, asakto'si = is not capable of , kartum = doing, mad-yogam =Bhakti yoga in Me [Sri Krishna], asrita = attain. That means, person, incapable of doing even the initial actions like going to temples, singing His names, etc., meant for the very beginning of Bhakti yoga, should indulge in Karma yoga, to realize atman, with Bhakti in Him, and then the Lord. We should be careful here. The Lord says that with devotion to Lord, one should do Karma yoga. Because, if the person does Karma yoga only for atman sakshatkaram, then it would lead him to Kaivalyam or experiencing self atman. The Lord's objective is not that. He wants Arjuna to have Him as the objective. He wants Karma yoga to be praciced with Bhakti in Him. That is Karma yoga, then Atman sakshatkaram, then atman's true nature, then service to the Lord, then meditating on His aurpicious qualities, then confidence in Him and then finally realization of Him. Now, Arjuna seems to have another doubt: whether easening of efforts would also result in lesser benefits? The Lord assuages that doubt also in sloka 12.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BG 12'8

Sri Bakthavatsalan in Garuda sevai



We are at Thiruninravur, one of the Kshetrams of Thondainadu. The Lord here is Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal [ஸ்ரீ பக்தவத்சல பெருமாள்]. He, Who shows vatsalyam at Bhaktas, is Sri Bhaktavatsalan. Vatsalyam is the noble quality of acknowledging devotees' faults as qualities. Swami Arulala Paerumal Emperumanar says that it is just like a cow licks and cleans its calf. A mother does not look at her child's mistakes. Even when, as an infant, the child excretes, she cleans the child with a smile and again fondles it. Like this great quality of a mother, the Lord Sri Bhaktavatsala shows compassion to His devotees. Alwars also pray the Lord to regard their mistakes as qualities and pardon them. One may ask that this quality is predominant in females only; and, so how the Lord exhibits this quality? But since the Divine Mother, Sri Ennaipetra Thayar is there, the Lord also would show the same traits. Thus the Divine Couple blesses devotees in this Kshetram. The famous Swami Periya Jeer [பெரிய ஜீயர் சுவாமி] of Thirumala, is managing this Kshetram. Present Jeer is the 43rd in succession, in this Mutt established by Swami Ramanuja. The Lord graces magnificently. Moolavar is large and in standing pose with Four arms. With abhaya hastam, He is holding discus, conch and mace in the other hands. He is accompanied by Sri Ubhya Nachiyar [ஸ்ரீ உபய நாச்சிமார்கள்]. Utsavar is identical in appearance. The Lord displays Kaustuba precious stone [கௌஸ்துப மணி] on His chest. Sri Thayar also is on His chest. Swami Bhattar says that Sri Thayar always displays a medal with the Lord engraved in it; just as He sports a medal with Sri Thayar in it! Both of Them always remember the devotees. This Divya desam has been praised by Thirumangai Alwar in Two pasurams - once while praising Thirukkannamangai Kshetram and the other while praising Thirukkadalmallai Kshetram. We will see more about them on another day; but we will now see the next sloka in Gita, with the blessings of the Lord here. The qualities of the Lord are infinite [asankeyam]. Even we can not thoroughly ponder on any one quality. The Lord is like a great treasure. Alwar says the Lord here is nithilachothu [நித்திலாச் சொத்து]; a treasure buried under, which never gets exhausted. The Lord said that by meditating on any quality of the Lord, Arjuna would get a firm faith in Him. By observing the beauty we see in the world, we could divert that taste in admiring the beauty of the Lord. The enchanting eyes of the Lord or His black locks, etc. By rememebering His victory over Ravana, Kumbakarna, Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksha and any amount of warriors, we can appreciate His qualities of souryam, veeryam and parakramam. Those qualities will infuse confidence in us that He would destroy our enemies also and get firmness in our Bhakti. Like this His many qualities can be pondered over and we can get resolute Bhakti. But Arjuna has another doubt in his mind. Is it possible to ponder over the qualities of the Lord, even if we wish? We are all used to some habits. We are more familiar with actions involving our body, rather than using our mind to think about. If in a temple volunteers were called for preparing garlands, at least 50 persons might appear; but, if we say that people were welcomed to listen to a lecture on His qualities, very few will turn up. That is because there are many to get involved in physical activities; but very few to give exercise for mind. It is easier to do manual labour. It is very difficult to sit and think of the Lord. This is what Arjuna felt. To pracice thinking on His auspicious qualities, as advised by the Lord in sloka 9, is very difficult. Our system is not tuned to such mental exercise. Realizing this doubt in Arjuna, the Lord gives the next alternative. If mental exercise was not possible, the Lord suggests activities serving the Lord. If we can dedicate our actions to Him, then, over a time, they would make us to think about His auspicioua qualiteis. Mental exercise [abyasa], will bring in the firmness in Bhakti. That would lead to Bhakti in Him. Thus all methods would lead to Bhakti. Resolute Bhakti is a definite requirement. If we can not reach that direct, the Lord suggests other means. Each suggestion is a progressive suggestion to get resolute Bhakti. In sloka 10, the Lord advises Arjuna to serve the Lord physically:

abhyase ’py asamartho ’si
mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi

"If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage."

Siddhim = siddhi, avapyasi = attain. Attaining siddhi means, by means of Bhakti yoga attaining Moksham; attaining Bhakti yoga; attaining the practice of thinking about His auspicious qualities. To get this Arjuna is asked to perform service to the Lord. By doing so, progressively he would attain various results. The real siddhi is to perform Bhakti yoga and attain Moksham. By suggesting an alternative, Arjuna or we should not think that the alternative would take to a different destination, other than His divine feet. All His alternative suggestions have the same objective. Efforts are made easier, but the objective remains as such. Asamartho'si = incapable of, abhyase 'pi = to do [mental] exercise [ of thinking about the Lord's auspicious qualities] even, mat-karma-paramo = superior activities related to Me [Sri Krishna], bhava = may be done. What type of activities? Making garlands, preparing sandal wood paste, offering flowers, cleaning up, doing pooja [aradhana], singing His names and in praise of Him, prostrating, dancing to songs on Him, etc. All these involve manual labour. We are all accustomed to do things involving direct perception. Thinking of unseen qualities is difficult to practice. Therefore, the Lord suggests easier course. We can go to the temple and go around, collect flowers, make garlands, etc. Like this if we do, then, mad-artham = towrads Me [Sri Krishna], karmani = activities, kurvan api = even if done, siddhim avapsyasi = [Arjuna] would attain siddhi. In the last sloka the Lord told that by meditating on His qualities, one could attain siddhi. Here, He says even activities related to His service also would make one to attain siddhi. So, whether thinking of His qualities or serving physically the Lord, one could choose the path suited to oneself. So, as in 5th pasuram of Thiruppavai, singing His glory or thinking of Him or offering flowers, any method will eventually take us to Bhakti yoga and lead to Moksham. Doing activities related to the Lord would take one to abhyasa yoga. This will tend to think of His auspicious qualities. This will firm up buddhi, with which one should get the mind involved in Him. Thus slokas 8 ,9 and 10 are steps, in which they are in descending order in difficulty to perform. Arjuna, now seem to think that suppose he was not able to do these activities also in the service of God, what then? So far He had advised Bhakti, meditation and physical action, all in respect of the Lord. But we are more accustomed to serving ourselves. He seems to think that suggesting easier methods but related to Him were not useful. Sensing this the Lord suggests further easy method. We will pray the Divine Couple to make us to understand Gita clearly.