Some important incidents took place here [in Sriperumbudur]. Today's [6th January 2009] lecture is from the pillar, in which Swami Ramanuja's image is sculpted. We can not notice Swami Ramanuja in no other pillar and why only in this pillar? This is the spot where Swami Ramanuja as a young child was initiated into learning [அக்ஷராப்யாசம்]. In that ceremony, the child is taught to read and write alphabets. The child will be seated on its father's lap and will be taught to write on the paddy grains spread on the ground, using its finger [right hand fore finger]. Nearby is the Lord Sri Mannaialainda Perumal [ஸ்ரீ மண் அளைந்த பெருமாள்]. The Lord spread the mud [மண்] on the ground for Swami Ramanuja to write and so He got this name. Moolavar is large. Here there are Two more important sannidhis - of Swami Pillai Lokacharya and Swami Manavala Mamunigal.
Lokacharyaya gurave krushna padasya sunave |
Samsara bhogi sandhashta jeevajeevatame nama: ||
Pillai Lokacharya was born in circa 1205 and lived for about 120 years. Earlier it was told that Swami Ramanuja also was alive for 120 years [ 1017 - 1137]. From circa 1205 to 1328, Pillai Lokacharya was present. Thereafter, from 1371 to 1443, Swami Manavala Mamunigal was present. While Swami Ramanuja was born in Sriperumbudur, Swami Manavala Mamunigal was born in Alwar Tirunagari in South. What was common among these Three? All were Ubhaya Vedanti - proficient in Vedas in Sanskrit and in Tamil Vedas of Alwars. They spread Bhakti marg among people. All the principles enunciated by Swami Ramanuja in Saranagati [surrender] philosophy, were explained by Swami Pillai Lokacharya in 18 works acclaimed as ashtadasa rahasyas [அஷ்டா தச ரகசியங்கள்]. Swami Pillai Lokacharya was born in Aippasi - Thiruvonam [ஐப்பசி - திருவோணம்]. Swami Manavala Mamunigal wrote commentaries on important works of Pillai Lokacharya. Only originals may not reveal the deep meanings. We have to read commentaries to understand the full significance of the original text. Swami Manavala Mamunigal was an expert in writing commentaries, like Swami Ramanuja was. He wrote commentaries on Swami Pillai Lokacharya's Srivachana bhooshanam, Mumukshupadi and Tatvatrayam [ஸ்ரீ வசன பூஷணம், முமுக்ஷுப் படி, தத்வத்ரயம்]. Swami Pillai Lokacharya's brother was Swami Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar, whose Acharya hrudayam [ஆசார்ய ஹ்ருதயம்] also was ably commented upon by Swami Manavala Mamunigal. What Swami Ramanuja thought was wrote by Swami Pillai Lokacharya and these were in detail commented upon by Swami Manavala Mamunigal. Swami Ramanuja graces on the birthdays [திரு நக்ஷத்திரம்] of Swami Manavala Mamunigal [Aippasi- Moolam ஐப்பசி - மூலம்] and Swami Pillai Lokacharya [Aippasi -Thiruvonam ]. That festival will be a treat to the eyes. During that month the Lord, Poigai Alwar, Swami Ramanuja, Swami Pillai Lokacharya and Swami Manavala Mamunigal assemble and it will be a grand sight.
We will summarise Chapter 20: We see the glory of Bhakti in this Chapter. The Lord said in the beginning, that of all other means, Bhakti was the best. Then He told how that Bhakti was to be performed. With mind full of Him, with passion to be with Him and with dedication, if one meditates, one is very, very dear to the Lord. This was told in sloka 2. If one was unable to practice Bhakti like that, was that one to lose? The Lord suggested some easier methods, for those incapable of practicing Bhakti. First He suggested to meditate on His auspicious qualities. Arjuna expressed difficulty, as anything involving mind was not followed by many. He preferred physical labour. The Lord went one step down and suggested service to the Lord, like cleaning temples, decorating the Lord's place, etc. In the olden days Kings used to employ people to maintain temples. But now, with all of us working in business firms, etc., there are not many to maintain temples. Therefore, there is no point in telling that maintenance of temples is poor; but, we should volunteer to take up such activities, at least on week-ends. Without such service there is no point in listening to Gita. We call ourselves as Bhaktas; but the irony is that we do not even qualify to be in the stage of service, which the Lord has placed Two steps below Bhakti! We think it is below our dignity to clean up temples. Calling ourselves as Bhaktas is therefore, contadicting. Arjuna again expressed difficulty in doing service to the Lord, as most people were interested in doing anything for themselves and not for others, not to speak of God. The Lord conceded to that also and suggested to meditate on one's own atman. To get atma sakshatkaram, He prescribed Karma yoga. Karma yoga would purify the mind and would reveal atman. Understanding atman truly, would make us to realize that atman is servant of the Lord. This would make one to do service to the Lord. Serving the Lord would enable one to think of His vast auspicious qualities. Thinking of His qualities would grow Bhakti and Bhakti would enable to reach the Lord. These Four steps were told till sloka 12. To get involved in Karma yoga, what were the qualities one should possess or nurture? was told in Seven slokas from 13 to 19. Avoiding hatred, being friendly, etc., were qualities to be cultivated. This is very well explained by Swami Pillai Lokacharya. Finally, the Lord says that He held His Bhakta as His dearest.
At the end of every Chapter, lord Shiva tells the glory of every Chapter to his consort Parvati. In South, there lived a prince. He used to worship Sri Lakshmi daily. One day She asked him, what he wanted. The Prince told that his father performed Aswameda yaga; and, in that yaga, the sacred horse went away and he could not trace it. So, he requested Sri Lakshmi to help to find the horse. She directed him to an yogi Ishtasiddhi, sitting at the temple entrance. The prince requested the yogi, who after closing his eyes. found that the horse was with Indra. So, he ordered Indra to hand over the horse and the prince got his horse. Prince further requested to bring back to life his father, whose body he had preserved; as, the prince desired, his father to complete the task of Aswameda yaga, he had started. The yogi agreed and brought back to life the King. Puzzled, the prince asked the yogi, how he was able to perform such feats. The yogi replied that he was daily meditating on Chapter 12 of Bhagavad Gita.