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.
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:
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:
- Superior to body.
- Embodiment of knowledge.
- Understood only by Gyana.
- Result to be attained.
- Residing in heart.