Saturday, February 28, 2009

BG 14.2

We have come to Ghatikachalam, to worship Sri Narasimha. From the sannidhi of Hanuman, we can see the Big hill and Sri Yoga Narasimhaswamy sannidhi. After worshiping Sri Narasimha, we will come to the sannidhi of Hanuman. Moolavar Hanuman is sitting with Four arms. Upper arms are holding the discus and conch given by Sri Narasimha. The palms of the lower arms, are in japa or meditating style. While the right fingers are holding the japa malai [ஜப மாலை beaded necklace], the left hand fingers are counting the meditation of the Divine names completed. On his crown is carved Sri Rama Pattabhishekam. Next we see Utsavar Hanuman. He is in standing pose with upper arms holding discus and conch and the lower arms holding japa malai and counting. Every Sunday he graces Thirumanjanam or holy bath. In Ghatikachalam, month of Karthigai, Pournami [full moon] and Sundays are very famous. Thousands worship. Normally Hanumat Jayanti is celebrated in Margazhi [December- January] - Moolam; but here, on Karthigai [November- december] - Bharani it is celebrated. It is the day on which Hanuman arrived here. Chakra theertham is also known as Sri Rama theerthem and Hanumat Theertham. Sage Vamadeva used to come on Sundays and on Pournami to worship the Lord. We had already seen that the Lord had made Hanuman equal to Him, by giving discus and conch. The Lord is also going to tell Arjuna that He would make His devotees equal to Him [and not same as Him]. To bless Vamadeva, lord Sun named the pond as Hanumat theertham. While returning from Lanka, after killing Ravana, Sri Rama, to bless Hanuman, came here and bathed in this pond; and so this pond got the name Sri Rama theerthem. Hanuman had blessed sage Aisakya, by dipping the discus in this pond. We can also see the sannidhis of Sri Ranganatha and Sri Rama. Hanuman, has kept his long tail coiled on his head. Now we will see sloka 1 of Chapter 14. Because of the Three qualities - satvam, rajas and tamas - atman is bonded in a body and in samsaram. Reason for repeating this, by Sri Krishna is that rajo quality induces desire and tamo quality develops sleep and laziness. To attain the desired ones, we adopt wrong means; while laziness makes us to violate shastras. Both violations of shastras enable us to acquire papa. Swami Vedanta Desikan answers a doubt. It is okay that rajo and tamo qualities enable us to accumulate papa; but why satvam quality, which is recommended even by Alwars, is to be avoided? Imagine a person having only sufferings all the seven days in a week. Then he might get frustrated and try to get rid of this samsaram by seeking Moksham, On the other hand, if a person has substantial happiness and some sufferings only, then he might wait for happiness to recur and so may like to continue in samsaram. Thus the happiness camaflouges the sufferings and people think samsaram is happy. Thus satva quality, responsible for happiness, induces desire to continue in samsaram. All the three qualities push us into samsaram. Sloka 1:

sri-bhagavan uvaca
param bhuyah pravaksyami
jnananam jnanam uttamam
yaj jnatva munayah sarve
param siddhim ito gatah

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Again I shall declare to you this supreme wisdom, the best of all knowledge, knowing which all the sages have attained the supreme perfection."

Sri Krishna tells Arjuna about the glory of the Gyana, He was to preach. Sri Krishna is a good orator and knows the techniques to attract audience! Pravakshyami = [I, Sri Krishna] will tell [you, Arjuna], bhuya = again, param = in a different way [about the difference between atman and body]. In Chapter 13, the Lord told so many things, important being how to distinguish atman from body. This is going to be further explained. That is, how atman is bonded in a body, by the three qualities, is going to be elaborated. The knowledge He was to deliver would make Arjuna a great expert. In Chapter 13, He had taught to some extent. Jnananam = among knowledge [to be acqui,red], utamam jnanam = most superior knowledge [is this, the Lord is about to teach]. Among the knowledge on prakruti and purusha or body and soul, this knowledge would be most superior. Swami Desika raises a doubt that normally Brahma Gyana or knowledge about God, is considered as the most supreme. But since the topic here is about atman, is the knowledge about atman, superior even to Brahma Gyana? It is not so. So, the Lord is going to teach most superior among all knowledge, excepting Brahma Gyana. Yaj jnatva = by knowing which, sarva munaya = all sages, ito = from this samsaram bondage, gata = attained, param siddhim = supreme level of atman prapti. The Lord is going to teach that knowledge, learning which, even great sages were able to escape from smsaram bondage and attain atman prapti. All other knowledge would not enable us to discard this samsaram and avoid rebirths, and reach Moksham. Muni means continuous meditating like Hanuman. They are great sages

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BG 14.1

We will start Chapter 14 with relevant sloka of Gitarta Sangraha, by Swami Alavandar:
gun.abandhavidh¯a tes.¯am.kartr. tvam.tannivartanam |
gatitrayasvam¯ulatvam.caturda´sa ud¯ıryate || (18)
These are told in Chapter 14. Which? 1. Guna bandhavidha = we are bound by the Three qualities -Satvam, rajas and tamas- in this samsaram or Universe. Is it not the same told in Chapter 13? Yes, it is one of the Five points told in Chapter 13. This is being explained here. 2.Tesam kartrtvam = these gunas only impel us into action. Atman is without gunas and so is actionless as such. Body, on the other hand is associated with the three qualities and so acts. This bondage between body and soul results in action. Thus gunas induce us into action. 3.Tan nivartanam = how to get rid of these actions, so that we can avoid acquiring more papa/punya? 4.Gati trayasva = the three acquisitions - wealth, kaivalyam and Bhagavadanubhavam, mulatvam = cause. That is whatever be our desire, whether to acquire wealth or be in atmanubhavam for ever, that is kaivalyam, or Vaikuntam, where one is serving the Lord for ever, we have to pray and worship the Lord only. Indradyumna did that only. These Four are described in this Chapter.

BG 13.36

Today's [25th February 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Anjaneya Swamy, in Chinna malai. Chakkara theertham [சக்கர தீர்த்தம்] there, is very famous. Anjaneya graces with Four arms, holding discus and conch and seated in Yoga style.
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The water of Chakkara theertham is capable of eliminating our papa. We saw that the seven sages prayed King Indradyumna to protect them from demons. Alone, Indradyumna could not destroy the demons. Sri Yoga Narasimha, gave His discus and conch to Hanuman, who was already meditating here. Hanuman, then assisted Indradyumna and killed all the demons. There was blood stains on the discus and the stains were washed in this pond, which got the name Chakkara theertham. When Hanuman returned the discus and conch, the Lord said that He was not in the habit of withdrawing what had been granted and so Hanuman was permanently blessed with discus and conch. Anjaneya is seated facing East and Sri Narasimha is facing West! Thus the Lord and His famous disciple, the Leader and the servant are looking at each other. We can see Sri Narasimha temple from Hanuman sannidhi without any obstruction. Hanuman was meditating from here, to obtain the status of lord Brahma. But present lord Brahma, afraid that his position would be disturbed, came here and after bath in Brahma Theertham, requested the Lord not to cause any disturbance to him and to grant Hanuman, better status of being present here and blessing the devotees of the Lord. Are we to first worship Hanuman before worshiping Lord Sri Narasimha or the other way? We should First worship the Lord and with His recommendation, when we go to Hanuman, he fulfills our desires! It appears eyes of Hanuman and the feet of the Lord are in the same level! We see monkeys bathing in the pond and perhaps they will later worship Hanuman. Now we shall see the final summary of Chapter 13. In Gitartha sangraham, Swami Alavandar mentioned Five important points to be noted in Chapter 13: Deha swaroopam [true nature of body and atman], atma apti hetu [means to attain atman - most important, explained as 20 qualities], atma visodanam [detailed explanations on the nature of atman in Five slokas], bandha hetu [Reason, why atman is bonded in a body. Why suffer in this body? By worshiping Hanuman, all difficulties faced are wiped out. A Bhakta or devotee should be devoid of fear. We have to be afraid that we do not have adequate devotion; for any other thing we should not have fear. We have the support of the Lord and Hanuman; so why be afraid of anything? As long as we have devotion, what else is needed? asks Alwar. We are bonded in this Universe because of the three qualities -satva, rajas and tamas- surrounding us and the desire in the consequent pleasures and pains.] and vivekam [Analytical knowledge that atman and body are separate entities. This topic has been discussed repeatedly for more than two years in this program. The one point we have to remember is that body and soul are different. Body is perishable, atman is everlasting. body is changing, soul is constant; body has organs, soul is alone without organs; body requires support and soul supports; our aim should be only to attain atman.].

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BG 13.35

Who is meant by Sri Bhaktochita? The Lord graces as Sri Bhaktochita, the darling of devotees. The Lord is very beautiful. Sri Bhaktochita is in standing pose.
akkAra-k-kani emperumAnSaTakOpam

Right hand is in abhaya mudra and left hand is in ahvahana mudra, beckoning all devotees. After welcoming devotees, He protects them. His face is enchantingly beautiful. His forehead with Tilakam, nose, eyes and the ripe fruit like lips, and every organ of the Lord is Divinely beautuiful. The Lord is accompanied by Ubhaya Nacchiyar - Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhudevi. Unique feature is that His Consorts are showing ahvahana mudra! One hand of Each of Them is in ahvahana mudra and the other hand is stretched down! Because of the renovation works the Lord is atop the hill, instead of His usual place in Sholingapuram. Padmapuram, earlier known as Padmavatipuram, nearby, had a temple, which can be seen even now, was the house of the Lord long back. In circa 1588, Swami Doddayacharya, after all struggles were over, shifted the Lord to a sannidhi in Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Sholingapuram. The temple in Padmapuram is empty and no pooja is performed there. We should be greatly indebted to Swami Doddayacharya for this great help for devotees. There are many small and big idols along with Sri Bhaktochita. Thirumangai Alwar has praised all of them in his Periya Thirumozhi in the last verses of 8th Centum. Alwar says he attained and got redeemed [adaindu, uyndu ponen அடைந்து உய்ந்து போனேன்]. Instantly he was redeemed after reaching! The Lord graced him as Mikkaan [மிக்கான்], meaning better than anybody else; as Maraiyaan [மறையான் ], meaning praised by all Vedas; as Virindha [விரிந்த] meaning boundless and Vilakkai [விளக்கை], meaning luminous, like we explained that Sun illumintes all objects we see. A lamp when illuminated, shows its presence as well as shows all objects around it. If atman is lamp, Paramatman is more luminous lamp! Finally Alwar says ennul Pukkaanai [என்னுள் புக்கானை], meaning the Lord is in him, who is somewhere, insignificant! Thus here the Lord graces in Three forms: Maraiyaai virindha vilakku, Ennul pukkaan and Mikkaan. All of Them grace as Thakkan [தக்கான்], meaning He is gracing as the embodiment of compassion for all. There is a sloka about the Lord:
Vandeham ghatikadreesam srinidhim karunanidhim
Vadulakula daivatam tatam anavadim nidhim ||
Takkan means Karunanidhi! We can also see Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan, Garuda, Sudarsana, Sri Krishna, etc., gracing the devotees. The Lord in so many forms is gracing below Hemakoti Vimanam [ஹேமகொடி விமானம் ]. Presently, this vimanam is being gold plated. Work also is going on for Golden chariot for Sri Thayar. All are requested to participate in these noble services. The Lord is illuminated by Vedas and He explains the last sloka of Chapter 13 to Arjuna. We can see the connection between the Lord as Lamp we saw and the lamp noted in the sloka. Now sloka 34:

kshetra-kshetrajnayor evam
antaram jnana-caksusa
bhuta-prakriti-moksham ca
ye vidur yanti te param

"Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and the knower of the body, and can also understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal."

Ye = they, vidu = understand [and practice], param = supreme [Moksham or atman prapti], yanti = attain. The Lord tells Arjuna that the viveka gyana will give the power of vision. Jnana-caksusa = with the eyes of Gyana, difference between body and soul is well understood; and, by pracicing this knowledge attain atma prapti or attaining atman is reached, by them. These are the people who possess the 20 qualities the Lord mentioned earlier. These qualities are the means to reach Moksham. Such persons, when, with eyes of Gyana, clearly ditinguish atman and body, they reach supreme level. For this Chapter 13 has to be thoroughly understood. This Gyana acts as the lamp, with which body and soul are seen as separate entities. Without a lamp, in darkness we will not see obstacles like pillars in a hall and get hurt. Thirumangai Alwar says the Lord is the Lamp, and with that Gyana we will be able to see the difference between soul and body. Antaram = [this] difference between, ksetram = body, the cultivable land, and, kshetrajna = soul, the cultivator. Difference between soul and body, or the everlasting and perishable, or cultivator and the land, or supporter and the supported, is to be understood properly, by Gyana. Bhuta = the Five great elements [panchabhuta], prakruti = Universe. That is prakruti with inherent panchabhuta is transformed to body of us. Moksham ca = till moksham. That is he who understands the means for liberation from this body unto Moksham, or the Twenty qualities mentioned earlier, and practices, attains Moksham. Here we should note that this person understands the means to attain Moksham. Not merely understands but also practices them. Mere knowledge of Bhakti can not get Moksham; it should be practiced. Viveka Gyana or the analytical knowledge is the main substance. This knowledge will make one to see the inferiority of body in this Universe. One will seek Moksham. This will make one to practice those 20 qualities and finally attain Moksham. This can be blessed only by Sri Bhaktochita and the Lord is welcoming us to bless us.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

BG 13.34

For the sake of Prahalada, Hiranyaksipu was killed by Sri Narasimha. Thereafter, the Lord was on His way up in the sky. Great sages were meditating in Ghatikachalam. The Lord desired to grace them; the sages desired thst the Lord should not grace with that frightening image; but, they prayed that the Lord should remain at Ghatikachalam, with a pleasant image. Conceding, the Lord accepted to be present with a calm, yoga pose. Today's [23rd February 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Yoga Narasimhaswamy. Due to renovation works, all devotees are able to worship only Sri Utsavar. We can worship Sri Moolavar in picture.
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Beautiful seated pose! The Lord is seated with the legs folded in Yoga, with the lower arms on the respective knees. Upper two arms are holding discus and conch. With four shoulders the Lord graces the devotees with compassion. Alwars praise the Lord as Sri Akkarakkani [அழகியான் அழகியான் கனி]. Contrary to populr belief, the Lord does not show frightening image and has a band on His knees and we can notice Dasavatara. Alwar says that if we are able to grow sugar as such into a tree and then get a fruit, it will be so sweet! The Lord is compared to that fruit by mentioning Akkaram [sugar] + kani [fruit]! Such a tree does not exist and this type of comparison is called abhuthopama [imaginary comparison]. Alwar feels that since nothing which exists in the World is below comparison for Him, he had to create an imaginary plant and fruit! So sweet is the Lord, says Thirumangai Alwar and Nammalwar. In Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam immediately after the Divine name Narasimha, comes the name Sriman. Alwar says 'azhagiyanthane ariyuruvan thane!' [ அழகியான் தானே, அரியுருவம் தானே!]. If we worsship the Lord with Bhakti, He presents a pleasing image. There was a King Indradyumna, ruling from Mathura in North India. Once he was hunting deers. One deer asked the King that how being a Vaishnava and devotee of the Lord Sri Vishnu, he was harming any living being like deers. The King was stunned to get this advice from deer! He became more dedicated in worshiping Sri Vishnu. Once he met lord Shiva and Parvati and prayed for Mukti; They guided him to go to Ghatikachalam, where the Lord would grant him Mukti. The King came here, where the Seven sages were meditating. They requested the King to protect them from demons who were disturbing their meditation. The King prayed the Lord and He gave His discus and conch to Hanuman seated in the Chinna malai, and asked Hanuman to protect the sages from the demons. Thus, Hanuman got Four arms and he destroyed all the demons. This is the place where the Lord appeared to King Indradyumna. Sage Viswamitra worshiped the Lord here and got the title Brahmarishi. We know how much Viswamitra struggled to get him accepted by sage Vasishta as Brahmarishi! After meditation here by Viswamitra, sage Vasishta recognized Viswamitra as Brahmarishi! Now we have to see sloka 33. Sri Krishna has been explaining the rationality, to view body and soul as separate entities, which is viveke gyana. To view so, we should know the nature of both. In Akkarakkani, there are two items, akkaram [sugar] and kani [fruit]. Both have different properties and both are obtained in different ways. Fruit can be squeezed and it gets spoiled in a few days. Fruits have skin which can be peeled off. Sugar is obtained from sugarcane after an elaborate process. Fruits are naturally avvailable. Thus we see different properties for both. Similarly, atman and body have entirely different properties. In sloka 33, Sri Krishna cites another example to distinguish atman from body. Body has organs, while atman is without organs. In the last sloka the Lord compared atman to space -akasam- for the subtility, which made atman and space unaffected by the entity in which they were present. Now sloka 33:

yatha prakasayaty ekah
krtsnam lokam imam ravih
kshetram ksetri tatha krtsnam
prakasayati bharata

"O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness."

Bharata = descendent of Bharata dynasty [Arjuna], yatha = just as, ravih = the Sun, ekah = being single, imam lokam = all these [objects] seen, krtsnam = without exception, prakasayaty = are illuminated. The single Sun, is able to illuminate any and every object seen on this earth, without exception by its rays. Our atman is now compared to Sun and all our organs are comared to the objects on earth and the Gyana is compared to the rays fom Sun. Orgnas and objects are many. Gyana and rays are in abundance. But Sun and atman are single. Kshetram = body [and associated organs], ksetri = atman [inside body], tatha =similarly, kritsnam = without exception, prakasayati = is able to perceive. Here we should not misunderstand that a single atman is understanding all bodies, but atman is able to perceive all organs in the body in which it is resident. Atman is able to know about all the parts and their activities, in the body in which it is resident. Could this sloka mean, that just as Sun illuminates all objects we see, an atman is illuminating all organs? But this is not the topic the Lord has been telling Arjuna all along. We should understand that just as the luminous Sun is different from the illuminated world, similarly, knowledgeable atman is different from the body to be known. Knower is atman and object of knowing is body. Atman is without organs and body is with organs. Another point also we should understand is that one atman is not knowing all bodies but each atman knows about each body, in which it resides. How such minute atman, residing in one corner of our heart is able to know about the entire body, which has innumerous parts? Like the radiance of the Sun, it is the Gyana of atman which is able to know all. This Gyana tells that all parts are belonging to atman, when we say, 'my hand, my head, my foot, etc.'. Thus we know the difference between body and soul. In fact it is Sri Narasimha, Who teaches us unity in diversity. He possesses Lion's head and human body; yet, He is One. This is His capability.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BG 13.33

We had already completed half the steps to climb the hill. While climbing the remaining half, we come across the old sannidhi of Sri Thayar. Earlier Sri Amrutaphalavalli Thayar [ஸ்ரீ அம்ருதபலவல்லி தாயார்] aks Sri Sudhavalli Thayar [ஸ்ரீ சுதாவல்லி தாயார்] was worshiped in this place only. But Swami Doddayacharya, felt that Sri Thayar should be near the Lord, atop the hill and so established a sannidhi on the top of the hill, for Sri Thayar. We should remember that on the top of the hill, Sri Moolavar, Sri Yoga Narasimha Swamy is always there. Also, on the top of the hill Sri Moolavar and Sri Utsavar of Sri Amrutaphalavalli Thayar are always there. Sri Utsavar of the Lord is known as Sri Bhaktochita [ஸ்ரீ பக்தோசிதன்]. He is always at the foot of the hill in the town, Cholasimhapuram. Many times Sri Bhaktochita arrives at the top of the hill. There are days like Navaratri, when Sri Thayar arrives at the foot of the hill. She graces the devotees for some more days and then returns to the hill top. Today's [20th February 2009] lecture is from Sri Thayar's sannidhi on hill top.
Sri Yoga Anjaneyar

Renovation works are going on and so devotees are blessed with luck. Sri Bhaktochita normally arrives at the top of the hill for Panguni Utthiram festival. At that time we can worship the Lord and Sri Thayar on the same platform. But because of renovation works, Sri Utsavar Lord is on the top of the hill for the past more than an year, along with Sri Thayar! Sri Thayar is seated with right hand in abhaya mudra and left arm in varada hastha pointing to Her divine feet. Her name is derived from amrutam meaning immortal nectar and valli means creep. She is like a creep, granting amruta phala or fruits of amrutam, meaning She grants what we desire and much more! Acharyas have composed 100 verses poem on Her. Sri Moolavar is Sri Amrutaphalavalli and Sri Utsavar is Sri Sudhavalli. Sudha also means amrutam! Milk ocean was churned to get amrut. But the main purpose of the churning was for the Lord to get back His Sri Thayar, to adore His chest! It appears She emerged from the Milk ocean and arrived here near Lakshmi Theertham. In the last sloka we saw that atman resides in the body, but is different from the body, unaffected by body's nature. Chalam - body - is always changing and achalam - atman - is always constant and changeless. Atomic and everlasting is atman; while peceptible and destroyable is body. Atman is imperceptible. Atman does not have any of satva, rajo and tamo qualities. Therefore, atman is actionless, unlike body which is full of action because of the influence of satva, rajo and tamo qualities. This was told by the Lord as atman is nirgunatvat. But He also told that atman is na lipyate - not affected or influenced by the body. This may create a doubt. After all atman is associated with one body or the other for infinite time, how it can remain without the influence of body? If a rod or stick is kept in salt for long time, we have seen those objects taste salty, against their nature! We know the thread used to tie jasmine flowers, also get that scent. Thus association will surely have influence. Therefore, will not the disadvantages of body, influence atman? This doubt is answered by the Lord in sloka 32! Sri Krishna emphatically denies any influence of body on atman. He explains this with an illustration. Now sloka 32:

yatha sarva-gatam sauksmyad
akasam nopalipyate
sarvatravasthito dehe
tathatma nopalipyate

"The sky, due to its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, although it is all-pervading. Similarly, the soul situated in Brahman vision does not mix with the body, though situated in that body."

Sri Krishna cites an example. Space is spread everywhere. But is it influenced by any? Space is in air, water and in the sky. Space is in our body. But space in an object is not affected by the object. Space in water is never wet! Space in an elephant does not behave like an elephant! Thus space -akash- is never influenced by the object in which it is there! Why it is so? Because of the imperceptible nature -sookshmam - of space. If a thread carries the scent of the flower, which is tied with, it is because thread is perceptible. It has a surface area on which flower is able to pass on its scent. Space has no dimensions and so no surface, and can never be perceived! Therefore, no other object can influence on space any characteristic. On the same analogy, atman is also imperceptible and so can never be influenced by the body in which atman is resident, in spite of infinite time of association. Yatha = just as, sarva-ghatam = every where present, akasam = space, sauksmyat = being imperceptible or atomic, nopalipyate = is not affected or influenced [by the objects in which space exists], tatha = similarly, sarvatra = in every, vastitho = object, deha = of bodies, atma = soul or atman, nopalipyate = is not influenced [by the body's nature]. Atman is inside body; but body's nature has no effect on the atman or soul. Because atman is imperceptible, like space. We can perceive and understand atman only by shastras. Amrutam is atman as it is never destroyable. Sri Thayar presents one amrutam - our atman - to another Amrutam - the Lord - as fruits of our devotion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BG 13.32

Just as He appeared to Prahalada to bless him, even now He is appearing on this hill top as Sri Yoga Narasimha, as Sri Prahalada Varada, as Sri Narasimha, as Sri Nruhari and as Sri Aalari. We have come to that hill, where stay for a ghatika or nazhikai [நாழிகை] [roughly 24 minutes], will wipe out all our sins. It is Ghatikachalam [கடிகாசலம் घटिकाचालम]. There are two hills - Periya malai [big hill பெரிய மலை] and Chinna malai [small hill சின்ன மலை]. Sri Narasimha and Hanuman are gracing the devotees from these hills. Kshetrams of Thondai nadu are 22. We have come here after visiting Thiruallikkeni. This place is also known as Cholasimhapuram [சோளசிம்ஹபுரம்]. There are 14 peaks in this mountain range. We first enter the town.

There is temple inside the town. From there in about 2 to 2.5 miles is Kondapalayam [கொண்டபாளையம்]. Here only, these hills are there. Before we start our journey, we worship Anjaneya to give physical mental strength.

Anjaneya statue is about 30Feet tall. We are welcomed by long and steep foot steps leading to the top of the hill.

Place is bountiful with natural habitat. We see ponds here and there. We try to climb the hill and at the entrance is Prahalada, for whom Sri Narasimha avatar took place. Though he was an asura child, he remains a witness that good people can be spotted in any community.

For the benefit of devotees, the entire foot steps are covered by shelter, making it easy for them to climb even during broad day light. In earlier times to avoid scorching heat, devotees used to climb very early morning and return quickly. Now it is possible to climb up and down any time. Big hill has 1305 steps. The Lord is atop the hill at a height of 750 Feet. Lots of monkeys are there. Perhaps, they are there because their leader Hanuman is there! These monkeys help us by taking away our belongings! Help? Yes, when we are deprived of what we are holding, we seek His help! Monkeys help us in remembering the Lord! This hill is called Ghatikachalam or Ghatikadri or Thirukkadigai [திருக்கடிகை] in Tamil. Ghatikachalam means our sins are wiped off in one ghatika, if we stay in the hills. Chalam means moving or changing; while achalam means statioanary or constant. Our body changes while atman and the Lord remain constant. Therefore, our body which is not constant even for a period of one ghatika, should not be seen but the ever constant and everlasting atman and the Lord. This is the lesson we get from this hill. In Krita yug, this hill was golden; in Treta yug, it was silvery; in Dwapara yug, it was of copper; and, now in Kali yug, it is of stone. It is also said that the Lord appeared here for Seven sages - Atri, Kashyapa, Vasishta, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadwaja,etc., for about a ghatika time. We are now at about 600 steps from the ground. There is a small mandapam, where we can see the Lord and the seven sages. We have to still climb another 700 steps to worship the Lord Sri Narasimha. We have to necessarily remember one great Acharya of this place. He is Swami Vadoola Srinivasa, popularly known as Swami Doddayacharya. He lived here for 65 years from 1543 to 1607, and established the temple for Sri Utsavar and renovated this temple. Today we are able to enjoy all festivals, which were all started by that noble person. His descendents are still doing great service as Acharyas in this place. We will see more about the place in due course of time. We will now see sloka 31. Sri Krishna has been telling to see chalam [body] and achalam [atman] are different and achalam is superior. That is atman is superior to body, which changes. In Tamil, we call chalippu [சலிப்பு] for boredom! This body is doing the same thing and so gets bored. If we see the unchanging atman, then this monotonous boredom will vanish. But normally, we are interested to see things changing and such changes kindle interest. Here we have to note that the changing nature of body, never changes! Our Universe is changing continuously and this nature never changes! Atman, even though never changes, is showing its superiority. By looking at atman and superior Paramatman, we look at achalam, changeless. They are able to attract us. We have so far seen that atman is everlasting, always constant and is not doing any actions [akartha]. Body is opposite of all these qualities. We are fortunate to further see the nature of achalam [atman] from Ghatikachalam. Now sloka 31:

anaditvan nirgunatvat
paramatmayam avyayah
sarira-stho ’pi kaunteya
na karoti na lipyate

"Those with the vision of eternity can see that the imperishable soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled."

This atman is praised as paramatman. Here in this sloka, paramatman does not denote the Lord, but the superior [param] atman, that is jeevatman. Ayam = this, paramatma = jeevatman, sarira-stho'pi = in spite of being in this body, avyaya = everlasting or indestructible or unchanging. Anaditvan = without a beginning. That is atman is never created any time; it is existing for ever, without a beginning and end. Nirgunatvat = without the Three qualities of satvam, rajas and tamas. Nirgunam does not mean without any Gyana. It means those qualities satvam, rajas and tamas, which are considered as blemishes are not in jeevatman. Na karoti = [absence of these qualities make atman] actionless. Body only acts and atman does not act. Body has all these three qualities satvam, rajas and tamas and so acts. Because from prakruti, body is made. Satvam, rajas and tamas qualities are inherent in prakruti. Without these three qualities, we will be actionless. Satvam makes us to acquire knowledge, rajas makes us to work for earning and tamas makes us to sleep, etc. Therefore, atman without these qualities is actionless. Na lipyate = [atman is] not affected by body's nature. Body has no influence on atman, in spite of residing in the body. Body has many components, like for example it is the product of intercourse of two [male and female] bodies, it is having three - vata [air], kapam and pittham [according to ayurveda], it is made of four - consuming by drinking, licking, chewing and swallowing, etc. But on the other hand, atman is single and always constant. By visiting Ghatikachalam, we can understand this principle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BG 13.31

In Upadesa Ratnamalai, Swami Manavala Mamunigal praises Sri Andal in the pasuram 'anjukudikkoru sandhatiyai...[அஞ்சுக்குடிக்கொரு சந்ததியாய்...]'. Sri Andal appeared in this World and sang Thirty pasurams of Thiruppavai [திருப்பாவை]. She is also known as Sri Godha. It is said that Her Thirty pasurams will remove all our sins and show the Divine feet of the Lord [பாதகங்கள் தீர்க்கும், பரமனடி காட்டும்..வேதமனைத்துக்கும் வித்து.. ]; they are the seeds of Vedas. Vedas are like a tree. From the tree, we get seeds. Thus all the essence of Vedas can be found in Thiruppavai. In Thiruallikkeni, a separate sannidhi is there for Sri Andal, in Sri Parthasarathy temple. Today's [18th February 2009] lecture is from Her sannidhi. Her Thiruppavai is like a Upanishad and is based on Bhagavad Gita, which can also be considered as another upanishad! Thus Godapanishad [Thiruppavai] is based on Gitopanishad [Bhagavad Gita]! Gita's substance is explained in Thiruppavai.
ThiruvAdipooram-Andal during Veedhi purappadu2-another view.JPGSri Andal and Parthasarathi closeup shot.JPGSri Andal and Sri Parthasarathi on ThiruvAdipooram Day.JPG

In Thiruallikkeni, Two important festivals are celebrated for Sri Andal. One is the Thiru aadi pooram utsavam. It is a Ten day festival and on all these days, Sri Andal graces the devotees along with the Lord. On the last day of the festival, Lord Sri Parthasarathy, arrives at Her sannidhi. On that day, without Ubhaya Nacchiyars, the Lord and Sri Andal alone grace procession. We are fortunate to view the Divine Couple together, Who gave to us Two Upanishads - Gitopanishad in Sanskrit by Sri Parthasarathy and Godapanishad or Thiruppavai in Southern language by Sri Andal! The other festival is in Margazhi, which reminds us Sri Andal! In the last Ten days, that is from 21st day of Margazhi till Bhogi festival, Sri Andal graces Neerattam [நீராட்டம்] or holy bath. It is a sight to see Her, in procession in the day time,and then gracing the Neerattam. On the last day, that is on Bhogi festival day, in Thiruvaimozhi Mandapam, She and Sri Parthasarathy, exchange garlands [மாலை மாற்றுதல்] as in a Marriage. Sri Moolavar, Sri Venkatakrishna adores a long velvette 'kapai' [over coat] on all the Thirty days of Margazhi and each day's pasuram is inscribed on the kapai! Sri Parthasarathy, yearly once, graces 'thirukkaitthala sevai [திருக் கைத்தல சேவை ]'. Normally, the Lord is in procession in a palanquin or raised platform or a vahanam. But on this day the Lord rests on the mere hands of the Archakas! This is on Swami Manavala Mamuni birth day, Aippasi - Moolam. This is great honor done to this great Acharya! Another very famous incident is on the final day of Sri Parthasarathy's Brahmotsavam. On this day, called Dwadasa Aradhana, the Lord from all sannidhis - Sri Parthasarathy, Sri Telliyasingar, Sri Gajendra Varada, Sri Mannatha and Sri Rama - as also all Azhvars and Acharyas, assemble in the same mandapam and grace Thirumanjanam [holy bath]. It is a rare sight and makes it easy to worship the Lord of all sannidhis simultaneously. We can show out gratitude to the Lord for such rare feats, by understanding Gita and following it in practice. The Lord expects this alone from us. We have to know the Lord, His devotees, difference between atman and body, try to reach sublime level and be content with what is blessed by the Lord to us. This is the preaching and advice of all Alwars and Acharyas! Let us now see sloka 30:

yada bhuta-prithag-bhavam
eka-stham anupasyati
tata eva ca vistaram
brahma sampadyate tada

"When a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies and he sees how beings are expanded everywhere, he attains to the Brahman conception."

Brahma sampadyate = attains atma anubhavam [experiences soul]. Brahma here denotes atman. Yada = when, bhuta = living beings such as Deva, men, women, animals, trees, etc. Each of them has a soul inside. Thus the association of soul and body or prakruti and prusha, is denoted by bhuta. Prithag = difference, bhava = nature. Each of these living beings, is different, like short and tall, black and white, male and female, etc. Which is displaying this difference, in every living being, which is an association of soul and body? Is it atman? Or, body? Or, the association? Sri Krishna tells that this differencs is not exhibited by atman. Nor by the association. But only by the body. Eka-stham anupasyati = sees [the difference] only in body. Tata eva = because of that, vistaram = expansion [of family with young ones, sons, daughters, grand children and so on]. That is even the expansion of the species or families, with new borns like sons, daghters, grand children, great grand children, etc., is because of body; and not due to atman or tha association of atman and body. Thus we should first understand that we see differences among all living beings, which are the combination of separate pair of body and soul. These differences are not due to soul but only due to body. Next, from the body, younger ones emerge, and the family grows. This is also because of body only and never due to soul. These Two principles - cause for differences and expansion - are to be remembered. When we say we are tall, the word 'we' does not indicate atman but the body. If we say we are young, again the word 'we' pertains to body. That is atman 'we' is in body that has grown tall or which is young. Atman is neither tall nor young. If a person has grown from child to boy to old man, atman is constant without any change, but the body has undergone change from child body to boy's body to old man's body. In spite of both atman and body being together all along, only the body undergoes change and never the soul. Similarly, when one says he is Deva or elephant or mosquito, the perception of difference is on the body and not on the soul. Atman is neither Deva nor elephant nor mosquito. It remains always same as atman. Thus body made from prakruti undergoes changes and this difference is perceived by us. This body only is the cause for other products such as children and grand children, etc., and is the cause for expansion of family and living beings. Tada = then, that is when this knowledge dawns, that person attains atmanubhavam, or experiences soul. If we take the meaning for brahma as the Almighty, then this sloka tells about the person undrstanding these two principles, attaining oneness with Almighty or equal to Him. That is he attains all the qualities of the Lord. Or, reaches Moksham. But the theme of this Chapter is not about reaching the Lord or getting Moksham. The theme is atman sakshatkaram or atma prapti or attaining soul to experience its nature. Therefore, brahma is to be interpreted as atman and the person knowing these two principles, attains atma prapti or mukta atma swaroopam or nature of a liberated soul. These are very difficult to understand but our elders have toiled to make them easier to understand. We should be grateful to Sri Gitacharya, for having explained these concepts. We will now take leave of this Kshetram.

Brindaranya nivasaya balaramanujaya ca rukmini prana nathaya partha sarathe mangalam.

Monday, February 16, 2009

BG 13.30

Swami Ramanuja appeared in this World and explained Vedanta to his followers. In Sriperumbudur, we elaborately saw his life history. We had already seen birth, incidents in his life and various philosophical works done by him. But, we should know what was the cause for Swami Ramanuja's appearance. His parents were Kesava Somayaji and Kantimati Ammal. They did not have any child for a long time and worriedly they came to Thiruallikkeni. They prayed Lord Sri Venkatakrishna on the shores of Kairava pushkarini, to bless them with a child. We can see a portarit, in which Kesava Somayaji performs putrakameshti yagna, and when the Lord appeared he prayed for a child, like the Lord. Since there was none like the Lord, the Lord decided that He would be born to them as their child. Thus to them Lord Sri Parthasarathy was born as their child Swami Ramanuja. Today's [17th February 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Swami Ramanuja near the sannidhi of Sri Parthasarathy. Swami Ramanuja has rendered commentary on Gita, delivered by Sri Parthasarathy. Our lecture is based on Gita Bhashyam by Swami Ramanuja. To show that Sri Parthasarathy is Swami Ramanuja, one incident takes place. Swami Ramanuja's birthday falling on Chittirai - Tiruvadirai [சித்திரை திருவாதிரை] is celebrated in a grand manner. Normally, in such Alwars' and Acharyas' birthday celebrations, on the final day - sattumurai [சாற்றுமுறை] day- the Lord arrives and completes the festival. But here on that day Sri Parthasarathy does not arrive for the festival. When enquired, it is said that when Swami Ramanuja himself is Sri Parthasarathy, there is no need for Sri Parthasarathy to come for sattumurai!

In pallakku.JPGSri udaiyavar.JPGsesha vahanam.JPGyathipathi.JPG

On the right of his sannidhi is Swami Manavala Mamunigal sannidhi. On left is Swami Vedantacharya's sannidhi. Further left is the sannidhi of Swami Thirukkacchi Nambi. All these Four sannidhis are adjacent to each other. By worshiping Swami Ramanuja, satva quality, Gyana and Bhakti would develop; ignorance would decline. The name Ramnuja also means younger brother of Sri [Bala] Rama, that is Sri Krishna aka Sri Parthasarathy! Thus there is a name similarity for the Lord and the Acharya! So the Lord is Seshi [Lord] Ramanuja and the Acharya is Sesha [servant] Ramanuja!
upacharams to parathasarathi before thirumanjanamkattiyam being rendered to parthasarathiSarathi adorning tulasi garlandsahasradArai thirumanjanam
There is an unique feature in Sri Parthasarathy idol. During thirumanjanam [திருமஞ்சனம் holy bath], thousands of devotees gather to witness, when the beauty of the idol can be seen fully. He is bathed in milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water and of course with fresh scented water. As the thirumanjanam proceeds, we can see the copper color radiating image of the Lord. But after a couple of hours after thirumanjanam is over, we can notice the face of the Lord changed to dark blue! Alwar says that the Lord is white in Krita yug, then changes to red color in Treta yug, to mango green color in Dwapara yug and to black color in Kali yug! We can see this practically in Sri Parthasarathy! Thus it is not just an idol but has all the powers of the Lord. We will now proceed to the next sloka and see how Swami Ramanuja interprets it. Sloka 29:

prakrityaiva ca karmani
kriyamanani sarvasah
yah pasyati tathatmanam
akartaram sa pasyati

"One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees."

In this sloka also the Lord describes how one has to distinguish atman from body. We do many actions, like eating, walking or sleeping. If we do actions permited by shastras, we get punya. That is by performing an yagna allowed by shastras, we get punya. By injuring another and not conforming to shastras we acquire papa. Every action we do, is with the conscience that we are doing. But are we doing? Here the word 'we' or 'I' indicates atman and atman by itself can not do yagna nor injure others. So if atman acts means it is with association of a body. Without a body atman can never act. So in this sloka the Lord derives the point that for all the actions [kriya in Sanskrit] atman is not responsible. So atman has to be understood as akartha or non-performer [of actions]. But atman in a body does actions because of past Karma. Atman by itself never does anything. Past Karma is stuck to atman. We do not know when those Karma have stuck to atman. It is there without a beginning and Karma ia always associated with atman. This Karma makes atman to be born with a body. Because of association with a body, it acts appropriate to that body. Atman, by itself does not perform any actions. We have seen the natural characteristic of atman is when it is liberated or a muktatman is in its natural state. Actions arise because of association with body. Why should atman be associated with a body? Because of effects of past Karma, done in infinite births. This Karma accumulated over infinite births, is being expended in every birth, by performing actions appropriate to the body in which atman resides in that birth! This truth that atman by itself is akartha or non-performer is to be understood. This is another difference between atman and body, explained by the Lord. Body is meant for performing actions. Atman is non-performer. Prakritiyaiva = by prakruti [related body] alone, sarvasa karmani = all actions [like eating, walking, seeing,etc], kriyamanani = are being performed. Body is made of prakruti and it does all the actions. Can body by itself perform? No. Only when an atman is inside the body, body performs actions. Atman with the past Karma indulges in actions through the body. As long as past Karma is there, atman will reside in one body or the other. A Karma-less atman does not need a body made of prakruti. So instead of saying he does, we should say he [representing an atman] does, because of past Karma, by being inside a body! By saying we do or did it, all the results of the action will stick to atman. The papa/punya of every action, we claim to have done, will also be ours, that is, they will stick to atman. Therefore, we should slowly understand that since actions' results stick to atman, we should refrain from doing actions. If one thinks himself to be a Deva, he wants to enjoy the company of damsels like Rambha, Oorvasi, Menaka, etc. But the same one, if he thinks himself to be an atman and not a Deva, then atman never will want the company of these women, nor atman would want to do anything. If atman in a lion's body thinks it is lion, it starts running after deer to eat. Atman in a human body, thinks it is a man [or woman] and runs after earning. All these actions, like desiring company of women or running after a prey or struggling to earn, occured because atman thought it was Deva or lion or human being. Atman in lion's body does not think of doing human's actions. Nor vice-versa! If this thought that atman and the body it is residing are same, is discarded, then atman will not perform actions. Yah pasyati = [like this] when sees, tatha = in that way, atmanam = atman or soul as, akartaram = non-performer, pasyati = is the [proper] viewer [perceptor or has vivekam].

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BG 13.29

Aapadamapahartaram dataram sarvasampatam |
Lokabiramam sriramam bhuyobhuyo namayaham ||
Sriramarameti ramerame manorame |
Sahasranama tat tulyam rama namam varanane ||
These slokas stste the greatness of Sri Ramachandra. Sri Rama rescues those in distress. He grants all types of wealth to us. Sri Rama, Sri Sitarama, blesses the World with happiness. We shall prostrate to Sri Rama, repeatedly. Parvati Devi asked lord Shiva as to, when Lord Sriman Narayana has many names and when Bhishma mentioned 1000 names and which could take time to utter, which single name would be equivalent to those 1000 names, in granting comfort. Lord Shiva replied that the name Sri Rama is equal to the 1000 names, in granting boons. This Divine name is like the nectar granting immortality, and would even stop the soul from departing. Rama - this two syllable word would make the person uttering, to experience immeasurable bliss. Today's [16th February 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Sri Rama, in Sri Parthasarathy temple in Thiruallikkeni. We have already worshiped Sri Parthasarathy in standing pose, Sri Mannatha aka Sri Ranganatha, in reclining pose, Sri Telliya Singam in sitting pose and Sri Gajendra Varada, in swiftly arriving pose. Sri Ramachandra is in standing pose. As we enter the temple, this sannidhi is on the right side. Just opposite this sannidhi is the sannidhi of His devoted servant Anjaneya. We can see Sri Rama along with Sri Sita, Bharata, Lakshmana, Shatrugna and Hanuman.

Sri Rama Navami Utsavam - Thiruvallikeni -Sri Chakravarthi thirumagan in Anna vAhanam2.jpgIMG_0014.jpgIMG_0007.jpgSri Rama Navami Utsavam - Thiruvallikeni -Divyaprabanda goshti.jpg

Thirumangai Alwar says Sri Rama is standing with Sri Sita and Lakshmana, and with Bharata and Shatrugna. Alwar divides the accompanying persons into Two groups: Sri Sita and Lakshmana, ans Bharata and Shatrugna. Why did not Alwar group all Four in a single group or why not in Four groups? Alwars' pasurams are pregnent with many subtle and deep inner meanings. Here, Sri Sita and Lakshmana, went along with Sri Rama to the forest; while Bharata and Shatrugna remained in the country and looked after the Kingdom. Sri Rama graces every Punarvasu star, procession. In Panguni month Punarvasu time, Sri Rama graces Ten day festival. During dhavanotsavam festival, on one day Lord Sri Rama is taken on procession. Sri Ramachandra is famous for His walk [நடை அழகு]. He walked majestically, like a lion coming out of its den! Sri Rama lived, what Sri Gitacharya preached! We are seeing slokas in which difference between atman and body are described. While body has many forms and shapes, atman remains same in all living beings. He is said to have seen, who is able to distinguish atman and body separately and see atman is same in all. Sri Rama is surrounded by His brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna, and the hunter chief Guha, monkey King Sugreeva and enemy Ravana's rakshasa brother Vibheeshana. He considered all of them as His own brothers, irrespective of their origin or family background. This si precisely the substance of the slokas we have been seeing. If we see atman and body together, we would notice monkey or hunter or rakshasa. Sri Rama on the other hand, viewed atman of all of them and so He could consider all of them as equal. This practical behaviour of Sri Rama has been preached by Sri Krishna in Gita! In fact this principle we can see in every sannidhi in this temple. In Sri Rama's sannidhi we understand that we have to view all as equal. In Sri Narasimha's sannidhi, we understand that the Lord appears even to a child, for his devotion. In Sri Varada's sannidhi, we understand that the Lord is the rescuer. All these are preached by Sri Parthasarathy. We are now to see sloka 28. We have to understand all atman are identical and we should not be disillusioned by the body appearance and think atman are different from each other. Such a person who sees atman as uniform, does good to himself. On the contrary person who thinks atman and body are same, does great harm to himself. Now, sloka 28:

samam pasyan hi sarvatra
samavasthitam ishvaram
na hinasty atmanatmanam
tato yati param gatim

"One who sees the Supersoul equally present everywhere, in every living being, does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus he approaches the transcendental destination."

Na hinasty = [he] does not harm, atmana = by mind, atmanam = to the soul. That is he does not harm the atman or soul by samsaram. Not only that, param gatim = the supreme place or passage, tato yati = [he] attains that. He does not struggle again in samsaram and so he does not harm the soul. He attains atman sakshatkaram and experiences atmanubhavam. He relinquishes samsaram and so does not have rebirth and suffer. This is attained by that person, who sees the atman in every living being is same. Sarvatra = everywhere, that is irrespective of the species like Devas, humans, movables and non-movables, etc. Samavasthitam = living same or equal, ishvaram = leader or commander, that is atman. Every atman is the commander of the body it is residing. The Lord is the commander for all the bodies, while individual atman is the commander for the individual body it is residing. Here, in this sloka, ishvara denotes atman in a body and not the Lord. This atman could reside in any body, irrespective of the species, and is same as any other atman in any other body. Atman's swaroopa and swabhava - appearance and characteristic- are identical with those of any other atman. Such a person, who sees atman and body are different and who sees all atman are identical, does not harm his atman by mind. Mind is our companion. He could be freindly or be an enemy. This depends on our thoughts. Let us consider A as a person. If A thinks he is A and he has these physical measurements and these qualities; then A thinks A's body and mind are one. This way A's mind does harm to A. If A thinks that atman and body are different and thinks that atman in any body is same, A's mind is freindly and does not harm A. Here harm is samsaram. By not doing harm means, prevents sufferings in samsaram. By misunderstanding atman and body are same, mind does harm to the body. It is like wrongly understsnding the question and answeing in an examination. The result will, naturally, be bad. Similarly, by wrongly understanding atman and body are one and the same, result will be bad. That is continuing in the birth-death cycle. A person, let us say A, declaring himself as A, everytime, confuses the unintelligent body and his intelligent soul as one. It is as good as calling himself a fool. But this is repeated by all without any thinking. But a person who sees the difference between body and soul and who sees souls in all living bodies as same, attains atman prapti or enlightenment and reaches the supreme path. He has no more rebirths. Vivekam is the requirement for attaining this.