Friday, January 30, 2009

BG 13.18

We are visiting all Kshetrams associated with Swami Ramanuja, in the Gita lecture program, in Kannanin Aaramudhu. We visited Swami Ramnuja's birth place Sriperumbudur, Maduramangalam, birth place of his cousin and disciple Swami Embar, Kooram, the birth place of another great disciple Swami Koorattalwan and Poovirundavalli, birth place of his Acharya Swami Thirukkacchi Nambi. At present we have arrived at an important Kshetram. Swami Ramanuja's sister was Naichiyar Amman [நாச்சியார் அம்மன்]. To her and her husband Ananta Dikshitar was born a son. He was called Dasarati [தாசரதி]. Later he became Swami Mudaliyandan [முதலியாண்டான்] in Sri Vaishnava sampradhayam. We are at the birthplace of Swami Mudalaiyandan - Pettai [பேட்டை]. It was called Varadarajapuram and Purushamangalam in the olden days. It is situated between Thirumazhisai and Poovirundavalli [Poonamalle]. The Lord here is Sri Pacchai Vaarana Perumal [ஸ்ரீ பச்சை வாரண பெருமாள்] or Sri Haritha Vaarana [श्री हारिथा वारण] in Sanskrit. We first see Anjaneya sannidhi. From there if we go via sannidhi street, we see the tall gopuram, renovation of which is being carried. All are requested to participate in this noble work. Nearby is the pond Dharma pushkarini [தர்ம புஷ்கரிணி]. It is large like Dharma. We now proceed to the sannidhi of the Lord. We see Dharma vimanam. Pacchai varanam means green elephant. Why did the Lord here appear in green coclor? We find the pushkarini and vimanam named Dharma. Yudhishtra, of the Pandavas was called Dharmaputra. This Kshetram is associated with Dharmaputra. He was performing Rajasuya yaga [ராஜசூய யாகம்]. Many Rakshasas tried to spoil the Yaga. Heeding the prayers of Dharmaputra, the Lord took the form of a green elephant and protected the Yaga. Accepting the prayers of Yudishtra, the Lord remained here and even now is gracing as Sri Pacchai Vaarana Perumal. Sri Moolavar is in sitting pose, with left leg folded and right leg stretched. Right hand is showing abhaya and left arm is in ahvahana [welcoming] mudra. Sri Utsavar is in statnding pose. The Lord graces with Four arms, the right ones are holding the discus and showing abhaya, while the left arms are holding conch and pointing to His divine feet. He graces along with Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhudevi. The Lord and elephant are comparable: like elephant, the Lord makes people to see repeatedly; Like elephant, the Lord also can not be contolled by others; like elephant's movement is restricted by the mahout, He restricts Himself as the Bhakta desires; Like elephant carrying the chain for tieing it, the Lord also hands over Bhakti to devotee to be bound! Now we will see sloka 18. The Lord has been describing the nature of atman and how it is different from body. In this sloka 18, the Lord summarises all those He spoke about atman. Sloka 18:

iti kshetram tatha jnanam
jneyam coktam samasatah
mad-bhakta etad vijnaya

"Thus the field of activities [the body], knowledge and the knowable have been summarily described by Me. Only My devotees can understand this thoroughly and thus attain to My nature."

Mad bhava = My [Sri Krishna's] nature, upapadyate = tries to attain, mad-bhakta = My [Sri Krishna's] devotee. The Lord says that His devotee attains His state. The Lord is Paramatma and the Most Supreme God. The devotee does not reach that state nor he becomes Paramatma. The devotee will attain that state of the Lord, of total detachment from samsaram; no longer the devotee will have birth-death cycle, an effect of past karma. This is what the Lord has been lecturing in the past 17 slokas. Iti = thus [as told in the last 17 slokas], kshetram = body [as told in slokas 5 and 6], thatha gyanam = and [then] Gyana [about attaining atman told in slokas 7 to 11, that is the 20 qualities to be acquired], jneyam = matter to be understood [atman, told in slokas 12 to 17] by Gyana. We have understood that atman is free from sorrow and happiness, residing in a body due to past karma, unaffected by satva-rajo-tamo qualities, much superior to all matters, etc. So body, the means to attain atman and atman were all told by the Lord. Etad = all these [about body, atman and means], vijnaya = having understood, His devotees try to reach His nature of free from samsaram. It may appear to us that this sloka is about those wanting to be like God. But actually it is not so. Here atman sakshatkaram is intended to be the target. That is the result and it is implied by the word Gyeyam. For this result, one does Bhakti or devotion. Is it not that one did Bhakti to attain Him? We should remember some aspects mentioned in Chapters 7,8 and 9. There He mentioned Four categories of devotees: those who desire wealth, those who desire kaivalyam and those who desire to be with Him forever. Considering these, all these devotees want to have atman sakshatkaram. But after Bhakti, if they desire to have kaivalyam or wealth, the Lord grants them, though they will lower their impressions in the Lord. This sloka deals with atman sakshatkaram alone. By attaining the state of the Lord means they avoid birth cycles and suffereings in samsaram. Attaining atman is also like the Lord having no contacts with samsaram. An atman reaching Vaikuntam and an atman having kaivalyam, have the same state that they do not have any more contacts with samsaram and are free from rebirths. This is the same state as the Lord's. Bhaddha atman has to have rebirths and suffer in this samsaram. But Mukta atman do not have this. Mukta atman are of Two types: One, attains liberation or Mukti and remains in Vaikuntam for ever serving the Lord; the other, after liberation enjoys one's own atman and remains, without going to Vaikuntam and without any more entry into samsaram. The latter is Kaivalyam and is considered inferior to reaching Vaikuntam. Here also atman is like Paramatma's nature, in the sense that this atman also does not have rebirths. We will worship Sri Pacchai Varana Perumal and Sri Amrutavalli Thayar and get their blessings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BG 13.17

Lakshminatha samarambham natha yamuna madyamam |
asmad acharya paryantam vande guru paramparam ||
We are at present in the birth place of Swami Embar, considered next to Swami Ramanuja in the Sri Vaishnava guru parampara. We worshiped Lord Sri Vaikunta Perumal and Sri Kamalavalli Nacchiyar in the temple. Today's [29th January 2009] lecture is from the avatara mandapam, about One mile away from the temple. It is surrounded by fields, lotus pond and greenary.

Avatara mandapam - outside-2

If we keenly observe Swami Embar's life, we could see humanitarian behaviour. This is widely talked about in this place, with an incident. It is widely believed here that snake bites will not poison and cause death. It is because Swami Embar had helped a snake. Once a snake was suffering because of a thorn in its mouth. Swami Embar rescued the snake by removing the thorn. All others were unhappy, as he had rescued a poisonous snake. They questioned him as to why he helped a harmful creature. Swami Embar replied that the snake also was a living being like them; same Lord was antaratma in the snake as in all of them. It was their duty to relieve the pains of fellow creatures. Also, it was His creation and He had planted poison in the fangs of the snake. We accuse Kali yug; but we forget Kali yug is His creation. Likewise, poison is inplanted in these creatures by God and so how are we justified in accusing them? All living beings are same in the sense atman is common to all. Thus he practiced the fact body and atman were different. He had acquired atma gyana; the substance of the Lord's preaching to Arjuna in the slokas we have been studying. Swami Embar had practiced in his life what he learnt. Swami Ramanuja wanted to observe once, the actions of Swami Embar. Swami Embar was arranging bed for Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi. After preparing the bed, Swami Embar laid in the bed and rolled. Normally, it is considered improper to lie down in one's Acharya's bed. Here, Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi was the Acharya of Swami Embar's Acharya and so much greater respects and formalities were to be observed. Seeing this Swami Ramanuja enquired why Swami Embar did like that and whether he was aware of the consequences. Swami Embar replied that he was aware that what he did was not a good practice and he was bound to go to hell for this violation of procedure; but, he did not mind that, as what he did was to ensure that the Acharya should have a comfortable bed. This behaviour is similar to what Swami Ramanuja exhibited in Thirukkoshtiyur! Swami Ramanuja did not mind going to hell by preaching Ashtaksharam to all, if all will be eligible to go to Vaikuntam. In another incident Swami Ramanuja had gone to Tirumala to learn Srimad Ramayana from Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi. Swami Ramanuja had gone to Tirumala, Three times. Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi's nephew was Swami Embar. Swami Ramanuja prayed Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi to depute Swami Embar with him to Srirangam. Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi agreed and ordered Swami Embar to go with Swami Ramanuja. But Swami Embar, though obeyed Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi's order, was not at all happy to go and so he accompanied Swami Ramanuja unwillingly. Seeing the plight of Swami Embar, Swami Ramanuja told Swami Embar that he could return back to Swami Thirumalai Nambi. Immediately, like a calf returning to its mother cow, Swami Embar was delighted and ran back to Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi! But Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi refused to accept him and said " vitta mattirkku pul iduvaar ingu yarum illai [விற்ற மாட்டிற்கு புல் இடுவார் இங்கு யாரும் இல்லை!]" - there was none to feed a sold cow! He asked him to go back to Swami Ramanuja. That was the relationship between an Acharya and disciple; an Acharya's order was implicitly carried out! Once Swami Embar was praised by many, for his commentaries and explanations. Swami Embar accepted the accolades without any reservation. Swami Ramanuja was amused as to how he accepted such praises and without the decency or courtesey to say, at least, that such praises belonged to Swami Ramanuja! Swami Embar submissively replied that if he had denied the praises, it would have meant bringing bad repuatation to Swami Ramanuja and so he accepted them! Such was his respect for his Acharya. That is why Swami Embar is considered as shadow at the feet of Swami Ramanuja and he was a reflexion of his Master! We will now worship Swami Embar:

avatara mandapam inside-2embar-RamanujaEmbar-2

We can notice that Swami Embar as a replica of Swami Ramanuja with the same folded hands and merciful appearance. We can notice a 'satari [சடாரி]' in front of Swami Embar. Actually it is not satari; because satari refers to Nammalwar. In fron of the Lord is Satari. Similarly, what is in front of Nammalwar is called Madurakavi; what is in front of Swami Ramanuja is called Mudaliyandan; and what is in front of Swami Embar is called [Prasara] Bhattar. Swami Prasara Bhattar was the elder son of Swami Koorattalwan [and his brother was Swami Vedavyasa Bhattar]. Now we will proceed to sloka 17:

jyotisam api taj jyotis
tamasah param ucyate
jnanam jneyam jnana-gamyam
hridi sarvasya visthitam

"He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone’s heart."

Again Lord Krishna tells the greatness of atman, which is different from body. He tells that atman is more luminous than other luminous objects like Sun, Moon, fire,etc. Tad = that [atman], jyotisam api = even [lends] luminescence to, jyoti = luminous objects [like Sun, fire, etc.]. Here we should understsnd that literally Moon or Sun do not get luminescence from atman; but, we recognoze such luminous objects because of atman. To put it in other words, atman recognizes all objects including Sun, etc., by its Gyana. Therefore, it is more luminiscent than these objects like Sun, fire, etc. Param = superior to, Tamas = [here it is not to be taken as darkness, but] moola prakruti [primordial matter]. Jneyam = [atman] has to be understood, jnanam = as [embodiment of] Gyana or knowledge, jnana-gamyam = attainable knowledge or Gyana. Gyanam means the 20 qualities explained earlier and is the means to understand atman and attain atman. Sarvasya = all atman, hridi = in hearts, vishtitam = is existing. Atman is residing in the hearts of living beings. Our heart is like an inverted lotus bud. In that atman is in a micro form. Same atman is not present in all hearts; but every individual living being has individual atman and each resides in the heart of every individual. An elephant's atman will be residing in that elephant's heart; a cat's atman will reside in that cat's heart; etc. Atman is brighter than luminous objects. Why so? Is not the Sun or Moon. illuminating all objects to know? But if we realize that in spite of brightness of those luminous objects like Sun and Moon, a body without soul or atman, can never recognize anything, then we will realze the superiority of atman. A body with atman alone with Gyana can recognize all objects. Those bright objects simply dispel darkness and only the atman with the help of a body recognizes any object. Atman alone has the knowledge to recognize. Incidentally, all those having problems in eyesight, could visit this Kshetram and worship. It is believed that their problems are all solved. Atman is superior to Primordial matter or moola prakruti. We had seen earlier that Universe, as also our bodies, are all created from this Moola prakruti. Body is just a tool for atman to percieve this Universe. Therefore atman is:

  • Brighter.
  • Superior to body.
  • Embodiment of knowledge.
  • Understood only by Gyana.
  • Result to be attained.
  • Residing in heart.
In one more sloka the Lord is going to describe about atman. For the present we will now take leave of this Kshetram.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BG 13.16

We have been enjoying the study of Gita in this program Kannanin Aaramudu [கண்ணனின் ஆரமுது], by visiting various Kshetrams. At present we are in Kshetrams around Sriperumbudur in Thondai mandalam. We are at the birth place of Swami Embar aka Govinda Perumal. Presently this place is called Maduramangalam. We are welcomed by the Raja gopuram. Outside the gopuram is Garuda pushkarini. It was created by Garuda. We can take bath in the pond and then enter the temple.

As we enter we are wlcomed by Sri Gitacharya idol. As we go round, we come to Sri Thayar sannidhi. We also see Sri Vaikunta Perumal sannidhi. The Lord is in standing pose.
Maduramangalam divyadampathi

One arm is in abhaya mudra and the left arm is kati hastham. Utsavar, though small is very beautiful. He is exact replica of Moolavar. The Lord is gracing with Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhudevi. It is a wonder that Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal is standing here. We come around the temple and see the Veda Aamoda vimanam.

Whoever chants Vedas, they will experience aamoda, pramoda and sammoda [ஆமோதம், பிரமோதம், சம்மோதம்]. Modam means delight. It is delight, more delight and most delightful. By worshiping this vimanam we will also get delighted. Now we are at Sri Kamalavalli Thayar sannidhi. We can see the youthful face of Sri Thayar. In some other Kshetrams, Sri Thayar would appear gracefully as an aged woman [தீர்க்க சுமங்கலி]. In some other places She would appear as just married Girl. Here She appears like a just married Bride! She is gracing all, with abhaya and varada hastham [arms]. We find beautiful garden around the temple. Sapta Rishis [great Seven sages] came here to meditate. At the same time King Suparna also meditated on the Lord. He performed a Yagna. Some persons tried to spoil the yagna; and, the Lord deputed Garuda to go and ensure the yagna was performed without any obstructions. Garuda came here and got the yagna completed. For avabruda snanam [அவப்ருத ஸ்நானம்- after yagna all take holy bath], Garuda pushkarini was there. All took holy bath. Then to bless Garuda, King and Sapta rishi, the Lord appeared as Sri Vaikunta Nathan. Being one of the most prominent Nityasuri [others being Adisesha and Vishvaksena], Garuda brought the Lord to this place. Swami Embar was the incarnation of Garuda.
Embar during his visit to kandoor (a village near maduramangalam)

It was already told that Swami Embar was one of the prominent disciples of Swami Ramanuja and ascended the Acharya peetam [throne] after Swami Ramanuja. He was also a brother [cousin] of Swami Ramanuja. He was greatly attracted by Alwars' pasurams. He used to lucidly explain Alwars' pasurams. We will just taste one sample. In Srirangam, Arayar seva [அரையர் சேவை] is very important. Adyayana utsavam, during Vaikunta Ekadasi, is celebrated for 21 days [pagal patthu -10 days, irappatthu - 10 days and Iyarpa - 1 day]. During that festival Arayar seva would be performed. Arayars [அரையர்] are known as vinnappam seivar [விண்ணப்பம் செய்வார்] would sing and enact each pasuram of Alwar, by various gestures [signs or mudras] as in a dance. This way they would please the Lord. Swami Nathamuni's descendents are previlleged to perform this. Even now this is practiced. During Swami Ramanuja's time also this was practiced. Once Arayar was dancing to the pasuram of Perialwar [mecchudi sangamidatthan மெச்சூது சங்கம் இடத்தான் - Periyalwar Thirumozhi 2.1]. Swami Ramanuja was seated in the front seeing the performanc. All other disciples were behind Swami Ramanuja. He did not notice Swami Embar sitting behind. In this pasuram, appoocchi kaatuginran [அப்பூச்சி காட்டுகின்றான்] words come. It means while children play, one child tries to playfully frighten another by turning the eyelid, so that the red color frightens. Arayar was performing to depict this scene - Child Sri Krishna was trying to frighten another child. But seeing this Swami Embar thought that the depiction was incorrect. He thought such frightening could be done by mortal children; but the Lord would not do that way; and, so he thought the Lord Child would rather show His conch and discus and frighten His friends! Therefore, Swami Embar signalled to the Arayar who was dancing to show conch and discus. Arayar grasping that signal, in the next instance when appoocchi was mentioned showed signs of conch and discus held by the Lord. Immediately, Swami Ramanuja, observing the change in the gesture, quipped without turning back 'has Embar arrived?' [எம்பாரே! இருந்தீரோ? embare! irundheero? ]! He could percieve that this great interpretation could be possible only by Swami Embar! Swami Embar thus showed his deep interest in Alwars' pasurams. Thus it is the interpretation of such great Acharyas, which help in our understanding. Now we will see sloka 16:

avibhaktam ca bhutesu
vibhaktam iva ca sthitam
bhuta-bhartr ca taj jneyam
grasisnu prabhavishnu ca

"Although the Supersoul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. He is situated as one. Although He is the maintainer of every living entity, it is to be understood that He devours and develops all."

Sri Krishna tells Arjuna some more points to show atman is different from body. Body is inferior and destroyable; while atman is superior and everlasting. Bhutesu = by [being resident of] bodies of various species [like Deva or human or animal or bird, etc], avibhaktam = not different. Atman resides in various bodies in each birth. If it is in a lion's body, atman is not lion atman; nor, being in human form, it is human atman. Atman remains the same irrespective of the body it is residing. Atman is neither lion nor Deva, etc. Body only assumes various forms like lion or Deva or human,etc. All the infinite atman are same and no difference in them. An atman with Gyana understands that he is like any other atman in any other body. Atman are different from each other, but their nature and qualities are identical. Thus atman with Gyana knows that he is not different but same as any other atman. Without this knowledge, atman thinks vibhaktam sthitam = [he is] difference exists [ from other atman residing in other bodies]. Without proper Gyana, one thinks he is different from others; and, this he bases on the bodies. If we do not see all atman are same, then we have not matured and do not possess proper Gyana about atman. Earlier, Sri Krishna told Arjuna that scholars have sama darsana - same view, that all atman are identical and without any difference. Irrespective of the body in which residing, an atman acquires the Gyana to know that all atman are same and without any difference. Without this Gyana, an atman thinks that every atman is different from others. Atman has to understand and body is the matter to be understood. Body is also the cultivable land or field or kshetram. If atman gets this knowledge he is Kshetragya. Sri Krishna tells further, some more examples and shows that body does not do them and so atman is different from body. Tad = that atman, jneyam = is to be understood [as different from body], because , bhuta-bnartr = supports body. Bhuta means bodies made of the Five great elements. This is practically seen, that when atman or soul departs, the body falls down and can not sit nor stand. Grasisnu = absorbs. Here it means eating the food, which is Achit. Here we may have a doubt. Who is eating? Is it atman or body? Though atman as such does not eat, body without atman can never eat. So we have to assume that atman eats with the aid of a body. Atman inside a body eats to perform its actions. Prabhavishnu = and manifestation thereafter [such food becomes, after digestion,sperm or semen and after residing in womb is born as an infant,etc.]. Neither the sperm nor the womb is atman. But atman is different from all these. Thus atman is different from body, because of:

  • supporter of body.
  • eating food.
  • present in various manifestations of food.
This can be understood by a person having all the Twenty qualities and acquiring atma gyana. Without this, we are likely to presume body as atman and behave. To understand that atman is different from body, we have to emulate and follow great Acharyas like Swami Embar.

Monday, January 26, 2009

BG 13.15

Ramanuja padachhayaa govindahnapayini |
tata yatta swaroopasa jeeyan math visra mathsali ||
This sloka tells the greatness of Swami Embar [எம்பார்] aka Govinda Perumal. He was an important disciple of Swami Ramanuja and in the Sri Vaishnava Guru parampara, he succeeded Swami Ramanuja. The name Emperumanar was shortened as Embar and became title for Swami Embar. Swami Ramanuja and Swami Embar were very closely connected. He is called 'Padacchya' [ पद छाया shadow at feet] of Swami Ramanuja. Swami Ramanuja was born in 1017 in Chittirai - Thiruvadirai [சித்திரை திருவாதிரை]; Swami Embar was born in 1021 in Thai - Punarvasu [தை புனர்வசு]. He is considered as incarnation of Garuda. He was born in Maduramangalam [மதுரமங்கலம்], known as Mazhalai mangalam [மழலைமங்கலம்] in the ancient days. Even before Swami Embar was born, Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal and Sri Kamalavalli Thayar have been gracing this place, along with Garuda pushkarini and Vedaamodha [வேத ஆமோத] vimanam. He appeared to the Sapta Rishis. To grace King Suparna, the Lord came here. Today's [27th January 2009] lecture is from Maduramangalam. Earlier we had visited the birth place of Swami Thirukkacchi Nambi, Acharya of Swami Ramanuja. We also visited Kooram, birth place of Swami Koorattalwan, a disciple of Swami Ramanuja. Now we are in the birth place of Swami Embar. We will be visiting the birth place of Swami Mudalaiyandan. Who are these? What is the connection with Swami Ramanuja? To answer these and to understand the Poorvacharya Guruparampara, a table is displayed:
  1. SRIMAN NARAYANA. He is Supreme Being, Sriyapathi and considred as the First Acharya. From Him the hereditary of Acharyas start.
  2. SRI MAHALAKSHMI. Sri Sridevi Nacchiyaar.
  3. VISHVAKSENA. Commander, who holds a stick and administers the Universe.
  4. NAMMALWAR. The head of all Alwars.
  5. SWAMI NATHAMUNI. He appeared much later than Nammalwar. It was about 9th Century.
  6. SWAMI UYYAKKONDAN [உய்யக்கொண்டான்].
  7. SWAMI MANAKKAL NAMBI [மணக்கால் நம்பி].
  8. SWAMI ALAVANDAR. He was known as Yamunacharya and was the grandson of Swami Nathamuni. He had many disciples. Prominent among them were:
  9. SWAMI PERIYA NAMBI, SWAMI PERIYA THIRUMALAI NAMBI, SWAMI THIRUKKOSHTIYUR NAMBI, SWAMI THIRUMAALAI ANDAAN [திருமாலையாண்டான்] and AZHVAR THIRUVARANGA PERUMAL ARAIYAR. Along with SWAMI THIRUKKACCHI NAMBI, all these Six were disciples of Swami Alavandar. Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi, was stationed in Tirumala and was doing the service of supplying water to the temple [தீர்த்த கைங்கர்யம்].
Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi had Two sisters - Bhoomidevi and Sridevi. To Bhoomidevi and Asoori Kesava Somayaji was born Swami Ramanuja in Sriperumbudur. To Sridevi and Kamalanayana Bhattar was born Govinda Bhattar [Swami Embar]. Thus Swami Periya Thirumalai Nambi was the uncle of Swami Ramanuja and Swami Embar and Swami Ramanuja and Swami Embar were First cousins.
After Swami Alavandar, Swami Periya Nambi is considered as Acharya in the guru parampara.
After him, Swami Ramanuja was the Acharya. After Swami Ramnuja, Swami Embar became the Acharya. Swami Embar's disciple was Swami Parasara Bhattar. Swami Ramanuja had a sister and was married to Ananta Dikshitar. To them was born Swami Mudaliyandan [முதலியாண்டான்], aka Dasarathi. This Acharya hereditary is to be remembered. What is the use of remembering this? All the explanations we are seeing and enjoying are all due to them. They had deeply studied Gita, Alwars' works, etc., and had explained lucidly.
Now we will see sloka 15. From sloka 12, Sri Krishna is explaining the nature of Atman. Atman is different from body. Atman is very minute. Atman is pervading all by Gyana. Atman is without a beginning and end. Atman is ever servant of the Lord. Atman has Two stages: one, in this Universe as Bhaddha atman. The other is liberated Mukta atman. In Mukta state, Gyana of atman is fully enlarged and is able to do all by vast Gyana. Mukta atman does not need organs, body or any implements. If desired Mukta atman can reside ina body, to serve the Lord. Now sloka 15:

bahir antas ca bhutanam
acaram caram eva ca
suksmatvat tad avijneyam
dura-stham cantike ca tat

"The Supreme Truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and the nonmoving. Because He is subtle, He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all."

Tat = that atman, bhutanam = Five great elements [pancha bhuta - space, air, fire, water and earth], bahi = outside, antas ca = and inside. Atman is outside the Five elements and inside them also. That is in the liberated state, Mukta atman is beyond Prakruti, consisting of the Five elements, and crosses over Viraja river; and so, atman is outside the Five elements. But in the bonded state of Bhaddha, atman is inside a body made up of the Five elements. So atman is inside the Five elements. Thus Bhaddha atman is inside the Five elements and same atman in Mukta state is outside the Five elements. Acaram = still or stationary, caram eva ca = also moving. When residing in a body, atman moves about. In the Mukta state, if without a body, then atman is still or statioanary. Mukta atman can also reside in a body, if desired. Then Mukta atman will move as the body moves. If same Mukta atman prefers not to have a body, atman will remain still. But in Bhaddha state, atman can only move; because in Prakruti, atman has to necessarily have a body. Sukshmatvat = [atman is] very minute. In some philosophies, size of the atman is equal to the body it is residing. This suffers from the defect of change of size of atman, which is contrary to the definition that atman is 'nirvikara' or changeless. If atman size varies, does it mean that atman has growth or decaying nature? The Gyana of atman varies, but atman never differs in size. Vedas say that the size of atman is one hundredth of one hundredth fraction of the tip of paddy [நெல்]. Tad avijneyam = and so not understood. Atman is inside our body, yet we do not know about it, because it is so minute. Bramham or the Lord is understood to some extent and we worship in temples; but atman has no image nor are there any temples! Durastham = [atman is] very farther away. It was mentioned earlier [slokas 7 to 11] about 20 qualities one should possess to understand atman. Without these, atman appears to be very far off. But if these qualities are acquired then one would find atman very close to one. Antike ca = and very nearby. Alwar says that he is not able to understand himself; meaning that atman is so minute that we can not know about it. Thus atman is:

  • inside and outside pancha bhuta,
  • moving and still,
  • minute,
  • unable to be understood, and
  • far away and closeby.
Thus the atman with such superior qualities is being bonded in this cheap and filthy body and so we have to strive to free the atman to attain its natural state in Vaikuntam.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BG 13.14

If we want to know meygyanam [மெய்ஞானம் - truth about life], then we have to learn Gita. So explicitly Gita was told by Thirumazhisai Alwar in his pasurams. We are at present in his birth place. In Maheesara Kshetram, that is Thirumazhisai, we are at the garden and the mandapam in it, which are nearby Sri Jagannatha Perumal and Thirumazhisai Alwar sannidhis. The mandapam is surrounded by natural beauty. Picture of Thirumazhisai Alwar in the sannidhi, is drawn here.

The platform on which Alwar appeared is also there. We can see Sudarsana Chakra in the background. This is because Alwar was the incarnation of Sudarsana Chakra. He is apeearing with folded hands. If we carefully see, we can notice a third eye on the Alwar's toe. We will see the significance of this later. Utsavar of Alwar is also with folded hands. He appears with crown and smiling face. Eyes shower mercy. This Alwar lived in this World for 4,700 years. He has sung two compliations [prabhandam பிரபந்தம்] - Thirucchanda viruttham [திருச்சந்தவிருத்தம் ] and Nanmugan Thiruvandadi [நான்முகன் திருவந்தாதி]. Former consists of 120 verses and latter has 96 pasurams. Let us glance his history, in a summarised form. Earlier it was mentioned that many sages had meditated here. It was because it was the best Kshetram. Sage Bhargava aka Brighu came here. He was performing Dheerga satra yagna. He then started meditation. All the beautiful damsels of heaven, like Rambha, Urvasi, etc., tried to spoil that meditation, but in vain. Then came Kanakangi [கனகாங்கி]and the sage married her and they got a child, Thirumazhisai Alwar. When he was born he was lifeless. But inside the body Bhakti for the Lord was alive. Leaving aside that body the sage and Kanakangi left the place. At that time Sri Jagannatha Perumal and Sri Thirumangai Thayar acted as Parents and brought the child back to life. Alwar is known as Bhaktisara, christened by lord Parama Shiva and Parvati. Since he was deeply in devotion [Bhakti] of the Lord, he got this name. After Brighu Rishi had abandoned, the child was brought up by Thiruvalan [திருவாளன்], a person who made his living by caning baskets, etc. He and his wife Pankayachelvi [பங்கயச்செல்வி] carefully brought up the child. Since Alwar had two parents - one at the time of birth and another to bring up - it is like Two births in the same birth! It is like Lord Sri Krishna was born to Vasudeva and Devaki, while grew up under Nandagopa and Yasoda. Alwar grew up and ultimately became an excellent devotee of the Lord. He has tried various religions, in his life span of 4,700 years. This, Alwar himself says in his pasurams. Finally, he became a Vaishnava, devotee of the Lord. Once he was seated in a place. Appreciating his devotion, lord Shiva and Parvati came to him to grant boons. Alwar did not care to notice them. Lord Shiva was infuriated and asked how Alwar could remain indifferent to Shiva. Alwar replied that he needed nothing from lord Shiva and so did not care to look at them. Then lord Shiva said that he had come to grant him boons and he could ask any help Alwar needed. Alwar asked whether Shiva could grant him immortality; Shiva replied in the negative. Again he asked whether Shiva could help him to reach Vaikuntam; lord Shiva replied this also in the negative. Ridiculing lord Shiva's incapability, Alwar told that in that case lord Shiva could help in threading the needle he was busy with! Lord Shiva was angered and he opened his Third eye on his forehead to reduce Alwar to ashes. Immediately, Alwar opened the eye at his toe, and from it emerged another fire, which encountered the fire from the Third eye of lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then calmed down and appreciated Alwar's devotion to the Lord and gave him the title Bhaktisara. Such was the eminence of Thirumazhisai Alwar. We had seen earlier that the Alwar ahd visited Sri Aravamuda Perumal in Kumbakonam. There, it was mentioned that the Lord gave His part of the name 'Piran' to this Alwar and attached the 'Alwar' title to Him! Thus the Lord became Sri Aravamuda Azhvan and the Alwar, Thirumazhisai Piran! The Alwar had the power of yoga siddhi. One Vyagrapada, came and demonstrated his yoga power and brought from nowhere pearls and jewels. Alwar easily matched all these magics. Then he offered gold to Alwar, who scoffed at him and produced gold from the dust on his body! Because, he never cared for any materialistic acquisition and was devoted only to the Lord. With the blessings of the Alwar, we will now see sloka 14. Lord Sri Krishna further explains the nature of atman:

asaktam sarva-bhrc caiva
nirgunam guna-bhoktr ca

"The Supersoul is the original source of all senses, yet He is without senses. He is unattached, although He is the maintainer of all living beings. He transcends the modes of nature, and at the same time He is the master of all the modes of material nature."

In this sloka, again we have to understand the Two stages of atman: one is Bhaddha atman, bonded in this Universe or samsaram. The other is its liberated state or Mukta atman. Same atman can have both these Two stages. In the last sloka we saw that a Mukta atman was able to see without eyes, smell without nose, hear without ears, etc. Sarva = all, indriya = organs', guna = actions, abhasam = carried out [in Bhaddha stage]. Atman in this Universe is able to carry out all activities of senses through the organs of a body in which atman is residing. Atman as such has no body and so no organs. But atman resides in a body in accordance with past papa/punya karma. If atman wanted to see or hear, etc., then it had to be assisted by the organs of the body in which it is residing. But this limitation is in this Universe or in Bhaddha stage. In this samsaram, without a body and its associated organs, atman can not do the actions like seeing, etc. Sarvendriya = all organs are, vivarjitam = left out or abandoned. That is without any organs, he is active, in liberated or in Mukta stage. That is in the liberated state, same atman, now called Mukta atman, is able to perfrom all actions, which it was able to do with organs in Bhaddha state, without such organs. Mukta atman will see without eyes; will hear without ears; etc. Shastras say that atman in Mukta state eats, sees, etc. All these actions are done without mouth, eyes, etc. In the liberated sate Mukta atman is able to do all these by the enlarged Gyana. Asaktam = not bound by any body [in Mukta state], sarva = all [bodies], bhric' caiva = are also supported [in Bhaddha state]. It means not that atman is supporting all in this Universe; that is possible only by the Lord. But what is implied is that when born in samsaram, the atman takes various bodies in each birth and so it is said that it supports all bodies. When in a body it supports that body; or, atman is the foundation [ஆதாரம்] for that body to sustain. In Mukta state it does not need a body. Nirgunam = without [satva, rajas and tamas] qualities [in Mukta state], guna-bhoktr ca = and enjoys all [satva, rajas and tamas] qualities [in Bhaddha state]. In samsaram or in this Universe, atman is subject to all the qualities like satva, rajas and tamas. But, the same atman, once liberated and is in Mukta stae, is not subject to these Three qualities. Thus we notice Three characteristics: 1) perception with organs 2) supporting a body 3) subject to Three qualities. Atman requires the organs here to perceive in this Universe; but does not need them in Vaikuntam. Atman supports a body in this Universe; but does not need a body in Vaikuntam. Atman experiences satva, rajo and tamo qualities in this Universe; but does not have to experience these in Vaikuntam. This differentiation is alright, but a small rider has to be added. This is important. In the liberated state, as Mukta atman, perceptions could be with or without organs, as desired by the atman. Mukta atman can see without eyes; but if necessary can also see with eyes. Mukta atman can hear without ears; but if necessary can also hear with ears, etc. He need not have a body in Mukta state; but can support any body desired. It is not to support a body but with the body the Mukta atman wants to serve the Lord in Vaikuntam. Thus while in this Universe or in Bhaddha state, atman has these Three divisions only, a Mukta atman can have Six divisions. Mukta atman can perceive with or without organs; can remain with or without a body; and, can experience the Three qualities of satva-rajo-tamas or be away from them. In Bhaddha state atman can perceive only through organs; has to have a body to support; and, has to undergo a blend of satva, rajo and tamo qualities. In liberated state same atmen has choice. When atman crosses Viraja river and reaches Moksham, it gets a shuddha satva [100% pure satva quality] body, without the defects of body, atman can have in this Universe. It is aprakruta [அப்ராக்ருதம்] body. Prakruti or Universe stops on this side of Viraja river. The experience in Vaikuntam is unique. Thus the difference between the place here and in Vaikuntam is indicated in this sloka. We will now take leave of this Kshetram. Being near to Chennai, all are requested to visit this Kshetram to recieve the blessings of Lord Sri Jagannatha, Sri Thirumangai Thayar and Thirumazhisai Alwar.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BG 13.13

Chayayam parijatasya hema simhasonopari |
aseenam ambuda shyamam ayathaksham alankrutam ||
Chandrananam chaturbhahum shreevatsankita vakshasam |
rukmini sathyabhamabhyam sahitam krishnamasraye ||
We can see the connection between this sloka and Thirumazhisai. This sloka is mentioned while chanting dyana slokas in Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Parayanam. In the same dyana slokas we see the words 'tasya loka pradhanasya jagannathasya bhoopate
vishnor nama sahasram me shrunu papa bhayapaham'
- Bheeshma tells Yudhishtra " Bhoopate [King]! please listen to what I say! The thousand Divine names of Sri Vishnu will eliminate your papa and fears". He tells that those are the Thousand Divine names of Sri Jagannatha. In Thirumazhisai, Lord Sri Jagannatha is gracing the devotees, in seated pose. Thirumazhisai is prime among the World - loka pradhanasya. The Lord Sri Jagannatha is Prime in Thirumazhisai! Along with Him, gracing are Sri Rukmini and Sri Sathyabhama. Today's [23rd January 2009] lecture is from the separate sannidhi of Sri Thayar - Sri Thirumangai Nacchiyar [ஸ்ரீ திருமங்கை நாச்சியார்]. This Kshetram is known as Maheesaram in Sanskrit. But in Tamil we add 'Thiru' to Mazhiasai and this is because of Sri Thayar here! Sri Thayar has blessed Thirumazhisai Alwar, who was born here. When he was born, there was none to feed him and the child was crying. The Divine couple comforted the child and suppressed its hunger. Sri Jagannatha and Sri Thirumangai Nacchiyar are thus the Parents for every soul. In Tamil literature, a woman's various stages of growth are indicated by seven names: pedai, pedumbai, arivai, therivai, mangai, madanthai and perilampen [பேதை,பெதும்பை, அரிவை, தெரிவை, மங்கை, மடந்தை, பேரிளம்பெண்]. Mangai indicates that the girl is just ready for marriage. But this Sri Thirumangai, will never become older! She is always youthful. She is embodiment of all auspicious things. She is showing abhaya by Her right arm and the left arm is pointing to Her Divine feet.

She amplifies the Auspicious qualities of the Lord. Thirumazhisai Alwar emphatically states that He is the Supreme God, Who is the Consort of Sri Maha Lakshmi. He says that all others are the servants of the Lord.
Now we will see sloka 13:

sarvatah pani-padam tat
sarvato ’ksi-siro-mukham
sarvatah shrutimal loke
sarvam avrtya tishthati

"Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes, heads and faces, and He has ears everywhere. In this way the Supersoul exists, pervading everything."

In this sloka also the Lord further describes the nature of Jeevatman. Atman is categorized as Bhaddha, Mukta and Nitya atman. For Bhaddha atman, the Gyana or intellect will be very much diminished or shrunk. Whereas for Mukta atman, Gyana will be fully enlarged. Such fully enlarged Gyana is the nature of atman. Shrunk Gyna is unnatural. Because atman is resident in a body, its Gyana or intellect is in the shrunk state. Papa and punya influence the atman and its intellect is shrunk. But the natural state of atman, in Mukta stage is fully enlarged and is not deficient in knowledge. Just as the Gyana of Brahmam or the Lord, is without any deficiency, the Gyana of Mukta atman has no deficiency, whatsoever. We are at present fiding all our defeciencies in our knowledge. Even our eyes are not able to see beyond a distance. We are unable to lift weighty objects. But the Lord has no such limitations. Nothing is impeding Him. For us the body imposes many limitations. The capacity and strength of our organs are very much limited. But the capacity of atman is very large. Its capacity is limited by the organs of the body. But when the atman reaches the Mukta stage, its powers are enlarged and reaches its natural state. In this sloka we can notice the difference between the atman in its artificial state and in its natural state. By seeing this sloka one may aspire to gain such capacity. Sri Krishna tells that in this Universe, the atman needs the organs of a body to do any action. It needs eyes to see; ears to listen; hands to lift; and, feet to move. But an atman in Mukta state or shuddha atma swaroopam, does not need these organs, to act. A Mukta atman will see without eyes; will listen without ears; will lift without hands; and, will move without feet. How is it possible? A Mukta atman will see everything without eyes; much more than what the same atman could see very limited through eyes in the Bhaddha state. Mukta atman will lift much more without hands. Because the Power of Mukta atman is much, much larger. Its natural power and Gyana are greatly reduced by the body in Bhaddha state. In Mukta state, atman does all activities like seeing, hearing,etc., by the power of Gyana it possesses. The Lord craetes the Universe. He does not need hands and other implements to do that. By His mere will power or sankalpam, He creates. Pani = by hands, sarvata = whatever actions could be done [are done by the atman in Mukta state without hands]. Padam = by feet, sarvata = whatever movements are possible, [are made by atman in Mukta state without feet]. Aksi = eyes, sira = head, mukham = mouth, sarvato = whatever could do [are all done without those organs, by atman in Mukta state]. Sarvata = everywhere, shruti = whatever could be heard [ are heard without ears by atman in Mukta state]. Loke = in this Universe, avrutya = surrounding, sarvam = all, tishtati = [atman] exists. In the last sloka the Lord indicated atman by the word Brahmam. How can the minute atman be indicated by the word Brahmam, which means large and which denotes the Lord? Now the Lord says that atman will surround everything. Is not atman at one place? Yes, atman continues to be at one place only; but its intellect or Gyana surrounds everything and everywhere. Also in many births atman was resident in many bodies and so we can say that atman surround all. We will also get some of the qualities of Bramham. After leaving this body atman reaches mokasham and there it is Mukta atman. It is pure and has no limitations imposed by the body. There, atman gets equality with the Lord in eight qualities like: hungerless, thirstless, birthless, deathless, oldageless, unaffected by papa, success of all efforts, etc. Atman in Mukta stage will travel wherever the Lord goes, and assume appropriate forms. Just like the Lord takes many forms simultaneously, Mukta atman also can take such multiple forms. All these because of the atman is fully enlarged in its natural state. Thirumazhiai Alwar says that the Lord takes Single form as Sri Para Vasudeva; Three forms in Vyuha as Sri Sankarshana, Sri Pradyumna and Sri Aniruddha; Fourth as Antayami; and in infinite Forms. Similarly atman in Mukta state takes various forms. These are not possible in our present state. Then why should Sri Krishna tell about something which is much beyond? We have to understand that instead of being in that state, our atman is in this reduced state with limitations. We have to regret for undergoing all these turmoils in this body. We should realize that this is unnatural and we should strive to reach the natural state. When somebody dies we say he attained nature. Everytime that atman undergoes this ordeal, we mention that. But how untrue it is? Only when the atman reaches Moksham and never returns, can we say that the person attained nature! Upanishads say that Brahmam hears without ears, runs without feet, eats without mouth, etc. Same state is attained by atman in Mukta stage.

BG 13.12

We now worship Thirumazhisai Alwar, fourth among the Ten

Alwars. He was born at the end of Dwapara yug. He is considered as the incarnation of Sudarsana, discus held by the Lord and was born in Thai - Magam [அசடு], in Thirumazhisai also known as Maheesara Kshetram. We are in Thirumazhisai, situated on the way from Chennai to Sriperumbudur, in Thondai mandalam [region]. A very beautiful temple pond. The Lord is Sri Jagannathan. Pushkarini is called Jagannatha pushkarini. From there we proceed to the sannidhi. A very beautiful Raja gopuram. It welcomes us to see Thirumazhisai Alwar, who spelt out an important message. We go further inside and come to Dwajasthambam. Then we come across Maha mandapam, Ardha mandapam and Garbhagruham. The Lord Sri Jagannatha is in seated pose. Right arm is in abhaya mudra and left arm is in ahvahana [beckoning] mudra. We can get the clue for His beckoning, by observing the name of this Kshetram. Thirumazhisai is known as Maheesara Kshetram in Sanskrit. Maheesara has got transformed into Mazhisai in Tamil. Mahi means World and saram is best. This is the best Kshetram in the World. It is also known as Dakshina [South] Jagannatha Kshetram. Utthara Jagannatha Kshetram is Puri, in Orissa state. Many sages meditated there and requested lord Brahma to select for them a very good place. He called the celestial carpenter and asked him to balance [select] all Kshetrams. Swami Thirukacchi Nambi had mentioned in his verse that this Maheesara Kshetram was a little better then all other Kshetrams.Lord Brahma then decided that this was the best place for the sages to meditate. Sages Vasisht, Atri, Brighu, etc., came here to meditate. The same Lord, Who appeared to them is here even now. In the Garbhagruha, Brighu and Markandeya are worshiping the Lord. On His sides are Sri Rukmini and Sri Satyabhama. Utsavar is very beautiful. By His right hand He seem to proclaim that He is the Lord [Natha] of Universe [Jagam]; His left hand is placed on His left lap. With the blessings of the Lord and when the sages performed Yagna, Thirumazhisai Alwar emerged. He was born to sage Brighu and an Apsara Kanakangi. His birth spot is nearby. Now we will see sloka 12 of Chapter 13. Earlier the Lord told about the nature of body in some slokas. Then from sloka 7 to sloka 11, the Lord mentioned the qualities we ought to develop to have atma gyana. Now from sloka 12 to sloka 18, in Seven slokas, the Lord describes the nature of atman. After mentioning the nature of body, the Lord describes the nature of the soul; but in between He had stated the qualities we are to cultivate to acquire atma gyana. Swami Vedanta Desika in his Tatparya Chandrika poses the question: should not the nature of atman be mentioned before mentioning the qualities for acquiring atma gyana? He confirms that the order is perfectly correct, as we have to have those qualities to understand atman. The matter the Lord is going to tell is very important and so, great attention has to be shown. Atman is very minute and so we also have to pay sharp attention. Body is perceptible and so understanding it, is easier.

Now to sloka 12:

jneyam yat tat pravaksyami
yaj jnatvamritam asnute
anadi mat-param brahma
na sat tan nasad ucyate

"I shall now explain the knowable, knowing which you will taste the eternal. Brahman, the spirit, beginningless and subordinate to Me, lies beyond the cause and effect of this material world."

Yat jnatva = that by understanding which, amrutam = atma sakshatkaram or visualization of soul, asnute = attained. By understanding that, one attains amrutam. Mrutam means death and amrutam means deathless. That is attaining atman. It is also called atma prapti. The Lord tells Arjuna that He would tell about that, the atman, which should be understood. Jneyam = to be understood, tat = that matter or entity, pravaksyami = will be explained clearly. That, which has to be learnt and learning which would make one reach never death [amrutatvam], is going to be explained thoroughly by the Lord to Arjuna. Gyanam is knowledge, gyata is knower and gyeyam is the matter to be known. Knower knows gyeyam or that to be known. Here atman is gyeyam. Once that knowledge is acquired, one attains atma prapti. Atma prapti will enable to acquire Bhagavat prapti also. How is that atman? Anadi = beginningless or never born or never created. Once it has no birth, consequently it has no death either. So, atman is birthless, deathless, beginningless and endless. Mat-param = holds Me [Sri Krishna] as the Supreme or the Leader. That is atman is the property of the Lord; subservient to the Lord; and, obeys the command of the Lord. This is emphasized so that by knowing this superior nature of atman, one should not misunderstand that one is independent, and lead to ahankaram. Atman is always subservient to the Lord. Atman can never exist without depending on the Lord. Brahma = very large. Here we may have doubt: is atman minute or very large? Is not the Lord, Brahmam? Yes, atman in size is very minute and not large. But by the knowledge it has, it is spread all over. Therefore, it is large. Na sat = it is neither sat, na asat = nor asat, ucyate = described. Atman is not indicated by the word sat nor by asat. Normally, we indicate fools or ignorants as asat [அசடு]. In that meaning it is not mentioned in this sloka. Sat means those perceptible by name and image. It is 'effect' stage. Asat is non-perceptible and without a name or image. It is the 'cause' stage. We see the world with all objects and living beings. We are able to identify them by names and images. We are able to perceive. This is sthoola stage. But after pralayam, all these objects are in subtle or sookshma stage. In that condition, we can not identify them by name or image. Sat is thus effect and asat is cause. Atman is neither cause nor effect. Atman can not be indicated by sat and asat. We have seen earlier that atman is neither born nor dies. Upanishad says na jayate mriyateva vipakshitu. Na jayate – never born, na mriyate – never dies. But we speak of birth and death in our normal speech, what is it? Atman is neither created nor destroyed. To expend the karma it had acquired, an atman takes up a body and we call it birth. When after completing certain karma, it departs a body, we call it death. Perse atman neither dies nor be born. Like God, atman also is anadi. It is always dependent on the Lord. Atman though is minute, its knowledge is very large. When atman attains mukti or Moksham, its knowledge is equal to the Lord's. Some yogis have the capability of appearing simultaneously in more than one body. That is their gyana will appear in many bodies, though atman will be at one place only. It is like, though lamp is single, its light is seen at many places. That is why He calls atman as Bramham. As mentioned in Upanishads, atman gains knowledge equal to the Lord – never same as the Lord – in Moksham stage. To understand such an Atman we need to possess the qualities mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BG 13.11

Today's [21st January 2009] lecture is from Anjaneya sannidhi in Sriperumbudur. We worshiped Sri Rama, Sri Sita and Lakshmana in Swami Ramanuja's sannidhi earlier. Exactly opposite to that sannidhi is Anjaneya's sannidhi. On Masi [மாசி] Amavasya [New moon day], an elaborate festival is celebrated for Anjaneya. That day Sri Adi Kesava Perumal arrives here and then graces in procession with Anjaneya. Just like Anjaneya devoted himself totally to Sri Rama, Swami Ramanuja devoted himself to Sri Ranganatha. Thus to Swami Ramanuja and Anjaneya, Sri Ranganatha, worshiped by Sri Rama, was the God. Swami Ramanuja had many names and by chanting them our sins are eliminated. Ilaiyazhvar [இளையாழ்வார்] was the name christened to him by his parents. After he adopted priesthood [sanyasasrama], Lord Sri Varadaraja and Swami Periya Nambi, christened him as Ramanuja, in Kanchi. His other names were Udaiyavar, Emperumanar, Sri Bhashyakara and Godagraja, etc. Udaiyavar name was given by Lord Sri Ranganatha, and it signifies possessing Ubhaya [both] Vibhutis - Leela vibhuti [this Universe] and Nitya vibhuti [Vaikuntam]. Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was one of the Acharyas of Swami Ramanuja. He decorated him with the name Emperumanar [எம்பெருமானார்]. Swami Ramanuja had travelled Eighteen times from Srirangam to Thirukoshtiyur, to learn the significance of Thirumantram [Ashtaksharam] and Charama sloka [of Gita]. Now, we can reach Thirukoshtiyur from Srirangam in One and Half hours by a vehicle. But in those days they had to walk the distance. Every time Swami Ramanuja went to Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi, he was sent back saying that he had not matured [to learn and grasp the meaning]. On the 18th visit, Swami Ramanuja was taught the significance of Thirumantram and Charama sloka. Further, Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi ordered Swami Ramanuja that he should not preach what he learnt to others unless he was satisfied that the person learning was tested, as done by Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi on Swami Ramanuja! Swami Ramanuja agreed, but did not act accordingly. In Thirukoshtiyur temple is Ashtanga vimanam, which we saw Two years back. Sitting on the vimanam and setting aside his promise to Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi, he preached Thirumantram and Charama sloka! On hearing this, Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi, living in the same street, came to Swami Ramanuja and asked as to why he violated his promise. Swami Ramanuja pleaded guilty and agreed that he would reach hell only for the violation. But, Swami Ramanuja said that by doing as he did, only he would go to hell, while all those listening would reach Vaikuntam! Thus his broadmindedness and humane nature were seen by Swami Thirukoshtiyur Nambi and was very much pleased and praised him. He then gave him the title Emperumanar. Swami Ramanuja made a detailed commentary, Sri Bhashyam, on Veda Vyasa's Brahma sootram. This got him the title Sri Bhashyakara [ஸ்ரீ பாஷ்யகாரர்]. Sri Andal regarded Swami Ramanuja as Her elder brother. In this place also in the month of Aadi, Sri Andal festival is celebrated when along with Swami Ramanuja, She comes in procession.

nam irAmanusan with perumal and Andal.jpg
Sri Andal in Her Nacchiyar Thirumozhi, had sung offering to the Lord of Thirumaliruncholai [Azhagar koil near Madurai] Hundred thada [large vessel] of akkara adisil [preparation of rice, milk and jaggery] and Hundred thada of butter! This verse was sung many centuries before Swami Ramanuja was born. While studying this pasuram of Sri Andal, Swami Ramanuja wanted to fulfill Her desire. So he went with his entourage to Thirumaliruncholai, and got prepared the akkara adisil and butter in the quantity mentioned by Sri Andal and offered them to the Lord! He then came to Srivilliputhur and reported to Sri Andal that he had fulfilled Her ambition! She was delighted and addressed him as 'Anna [elder brother]'! Thus he became Her agraja or elder brother. So Swami Ramanuja had many titles. We will now see sloka 11 of Chapter 13. This is the last of the Five slokas, wherein the Lord lists Twenty qualities necessary for atma gyana. Now sloka 11:
etaj jnanam iti proktam
ajnanam yad ato ’nyatha
"accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth—all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance."

The Lord tells the last two qualities to Arjuna. By bringing into practice these Twenty qualities, will enable to acquire atma gyana. All others will not help to acquire atma gyana.
19. Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam = always in thoughts about atman.
20. Tattva-jnanartha-darshanam = trying to understand the knowledge about truth. We should always strive to understand truth.
Etaj jnanam = this knowledge, iti proktam = what was told, anyatha = others are, ajnanam = ignorance. We will recapitulate the Twenty qualities:
  1. Respect elders.
  2. Never donate for publicity.
  3. Never hurt.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Be honest.
  6. Serve Acharyas.
  7. Be clean [in action, words and thoughts].
  8. Be steadfast.
  9. Control mind.
  10. Avoid sense pleasures.
  11. Understand atman and body are not same.
  12. Remember life is sorrowful with births, deaths, oldage, diseases and misries.
  13. Be indifferent to all, except atman.
  14. Avoid excessive attachment to kith and kin.
  15. Have balanced mind in desirables and undesirables.
  16. Devote only to the Lord Sri Krishna.
  17. Prefer solitude.
  18. Dislike crowds.
  19. Always ponder over atman. And,
  20. Pursue truth.
All these alone would help in atma gyana; other than these, are not useful for atma gyana. In the beginning of the Chapter the Lord started to explain the nature of body and soul. We had seen the nature of the body: assembly of organs, composed of the Five elements, a residence for atman to enjoy and suffer, etc. The Lord is going to tell about atman. But before that one has to acquire atman gyana, and these Twenty qulaities are necessary for that. Swami Ramanuja, who was born here, practiced all these Twenty qualities in his life. Hanuman also exhibited thses qualities. Thus these are not mere theoretical lessons; but have been practiced in actual life. We will now take leave of this Kshetram. We should remember that Swami Ramanuja was Jagadacharya, King aming ascetics [yatiraja], humanitarian, author of Nine works, preacher of bhakti on Sri Ranganatha, server in all temples, establisher of 74 Simhasanadipatis, teacher of saranagati for all to attain Moksham, propagator that all could attain moksham, etc. In the next 8 or 9 years we are to celebrate his millennium birthday. Before that let us strive to bring into practice his noble qualities.