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.