Tuesday, January 6, 2009

BG 13.1

Yonityamaschyuta padambhuja yugmarugma
vyamohatas tatitarani tranayamene |
Asmad guror bagavatosya dayaika sindho
ramanujasya charanau sharanam prabadye ||
We seek refuge at the feet of Swami Ramanuja. Swami Ramanuja regarded the golden and soft like lotus flower Divine feet of the Lord as the only wealth we should possess; all other wealth are worthless. This sloka states that Swami Ramanuja's divine feet are the only wealth and all others are worthless. This sloka was composed by Swami Koorattalwan [கூரத்தாழ்வான்], whose sannidhi is opposite Swami Ramanuja's sannidhi in Sriperumbudur. Today's [7th January 2009] lecture is from this sannidhi. Swami Koorattalwan was born Eight years earlier and so was elder than Swami Ramanuja. Swami Ramanuja was born in 1017, while Swami Koorattalwan was born in 1009; thus, a millennium is being completed. The lesson we learn from his life is vairagyam or aversion to worldly matters. He was totally detached with everything except the Lord and Swami Ramanuja. We have no words to describe his greatness. He overcame Three types of ego:
  • Ego arising out of being born in high class family.
  • Ego arising out of high education.
  • Ego arising out of wealth.
[In Tamil it is called mukkurumbu முக்குறும்பு]. These ego make a person to move like a mad elephant. Swami Koorattalwan was devoid of all these Three egos. He was born in a place called Kooram [which we will be visiting later], which is about 10 Miles away from Kanchipuram, on the road to Arakkonam. He was born in Thai - hastam [தை ஹஸ்தம்]. He was very rich and was well learned. In his house daily Hundreds of persons used to be fed. At about midnight when the huge gates of his house were closed, the silver bells in the gate would jingle loudly and the noise would be heard in Kanchipuram! Hearing this Sri Perundevi Thayar would comment to Her Consort that a rich person was living nearby! Such was his wealth. But after hearing about Swami Ramanuja, Swami Koorattalwan, forsook all his wealth and regarded his wealth as worthless, and left Kooram to join Swami Ramanuja. He, along with his wife, was proceeding to reach Swami Ramanuja. While they were crossing a forest it was night and his wife said she was afraid and wanted to continue journey in the day. Swami Koorattalwan then commented that since she was afraid, it meant that she had something to be afraid of and asked her whether she was carrying any property. She confirmed that she was carrying the golden bowl in which Swami Koorattalwan used to take food! Swami Koorattalwan said that when they had given up everything, why carry even a bowl and took that from her and threw it away. He said now she need not be afraid of anything! This incident is sculpted above the sannidhi of Swami Koorattalwan, here. He considered Swami Ramanuja's feet as gold, silver and every valuable one would like to possess! Swami Ramanuja dictated Sri Bhashyam -commentary on Brahma sootram, and it was recorded by Swami Koorattalwan. This incident also can be seen here. To write such an elaborate commentary, Swami Ramanuja needed the original text -Bodayana Vritti or Brahma sootram. It was available in a library in Kashmir. Swami Ramanuja and Swami Koorattalwan, went to Kashmir to procure the text. Sarada Devi gave them that text. They were returning with the original text. Within a few days, when Swami Ramanuja and Swami Koorattalwan were half way, the authorities of the Library, came after them and took away the text! When Swami Ramanuja was shocked and did not know how to go about his task, Swami Koorattalwan consoled him and said that he had memorized entire text from the First letter to the last and so if Swami Ramanuja permitted he could reproduce everything. Swami Ramanuja was relieved and was delighted. Swami Koorattalwan, while Swami Ramanuja was asleep, read the entire text and memorized every letter in that text! Such was his brain power and his dedication to Swami Ramanuja. He wrote Pancha stavam, and we will see more about him when we visit Kooram.
We will now start Chapter 13. Till now, we have completed Two Sixes [shadkam षड्कम]. We have to see the Third Six of the Eighteen Chapters in Gita. Two years back, when we started this lecture series it was mentioned that we have to see Gita into three parts of Six Chapters in each part - Pratama shadkam, madyama shatkam and Charama shadkam. Swami Alavandar had composed one sloka on each shadkam to bring out the absract or essence. He composed Gitarta sangraha consisting of 32 slokas to bring out the essence of Gita. We will have to see how the shadkam we are to see is connected with the previous two shadkams. We have crossed Two Thirds of Gita. Though we have seen the important portions of Gita, we are yet to see very precious parts and also see the last but very important sloka - sarvadharman paridyscha- in the last Chapter. Commenting on the First Six chapters Swami Alavandar wrote one sloka as follows:

j˜n¯anakarm¯atmike nis.t.he yogalaks.ye susam.skr. te
atm¯anubh¯utisiddhyarthe p¯urvas.at.kena codite (2)

In the first Six Chapters, Gyana yoga and Karma yoga were stated. To realize atma sakshatkaram, Gyana and Karma yoga were elaborated. Thus, in the First Six Chapters, understanding atman was explained. In those Six Chapters, the First Two state some thing and the rest Four Chapters stae something else. In the First Two Chapters, Arjuna's worries, Sri Krishna's consolation were told, and the seed, atman and body were different, was sown. While body was perishable, atman was everlasting and so one should not mistake body to be soul. This nature of atman was explained by Sri Krishna in the first Two Chapters. Now, the interest to realize atman was aroused. In the next Four Chapters, Sri Krishna explained the way to realize atman and elaborated on Karma yoga and Gyana yoga.

madhyame bhagavattattvay¯ath¯atmy¯av¯aptisiddhaye
j˜n¯anakarm¯abhinirvartyo bhaktiyogah.prak¯ırtitah. (3)

In the next Six Chapters, Bhakti yoga was explained. When atman was understood, its dependence on Paramatma, the Lord, was explained and Bhakti was the means to reach the Lord was also stated. Chapters 7,8 and 9 mentioned Bhakti yoga. The remaining Three Chapters detailed the methods to nurture Bhakti was explained. Thus the middle or madyama shadkam was completed. Now, we are to see the last or charama shadkam:

pradh¯ana purus.avyakta sarve´svara vivecanam
karmadh¯ırbhaktirity¯adih.p¯urva´ses.o 0ntimoditah. (4)

This sloka in Swami Alavandar's Gitarta sangraha, condenses the substance in the last Six Chapters. Pradhana = prakruti or achit or matter, purusa = atman or chit, vyakta = perceptible Universe [combination of chit and achit], sarvesvara = the Ruler [the Lord] of all, karmadhi = Karma and Gyana yoga, bhakti = Bhakti yoga, purva = [all those explained in the] previous [Twelve Chapters], sesha = and the left out, antimodita = [are explained in] the last [Six Chapters]. Thus in the last Six Chapters the Lord Sri Krishna tells about atman, matter, Universe, Himself, Karma -Gyana - Bhakti yoga and about ultimate surrender or saranagati. Atman and Arma sakshatkaram were detailed in First Six Chapters, along with Karma and Gyana yoga to realize atman. In the next Six Chapters, about the Lord and the means Bhakti yoga were explained. In the last Six Chapters chit, achit, Universe we percieve, the Lord, all the Three yoga to be adopted to reach Him, all subjects not mentioned in the earlier Chapters and their details, are to be explained. In this last Shadkam, we are to see the First Chapter, Chapter 13. This has been condensed by Swami Alavandar as:

bandhaheturviveka´sca trayoda´sa ud¯ıryate (17)

Trayodasaudiryate = in Thirteenth Chapter all these are explained. Deahasvarupam = the nature of body and soul, atmaaptihatu = means to attain atman, atma visodanam = insight into atman, bandha hetu = bondage of atman in the body, viveka = wisdom [to know that atman is different from body]. All these Five topics are dealt in Chapter 13.
  1. Nature of body and soul,
  2. Means to realize atman,
  3. Probing into atman,
  4. Bondage of atman in body and
  5. Vivekam or the rationale of atman and body are different.
We might get a doubt as to why the same topics we had seen earlier are repeated here. The difference will be known as we study every sloka. There the perception was different from what we are to see in this Chapter. Besides, many difficult subjects have to be repeated to be understood properly.
As mentioned in the beginning, the completion of Thousand years, since Swami Koorattalwan was born, is being celebrated in a grand way on 10th January, 2009, at Kooram, between 12PM and 3PM. All are requested to participate.

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