Today's [3rd June 2009] lecture is from the sannidhi of Vazhi Emperumanar [வழி எம்பெருமானார்] - Swami Ramanuja in the Route [on the hills to reach the Lord's temple]. What is the speciality of this place? Earlier we saw that Swami Ramanuja studied Srimad Ramayana for one year at Alipiri [or Adipuli], under a tamarind tree. Swami Periya Tirumalai Nambi, who lived in Tirumala and who was the maternal uncle of Swami Ramanuja, lectured on Srimad Ramayana for one year. Why did he go down the hill to teach Swami Ramanuja? Could not Swami Ramanuja climb up and received the teachings? Swami Ramanuja at first thought that Tirumala hills was the Divine body of the Lord and so hesitated to step on the hills! But Swami Tirumalai Nambi was determined to teach Swami Ramanuja. So, he used to come down daily, after serving the Lord with water from Akasha Ganga and teach Swami Ramanuja on Srimad Ramayana, entire day. In the evening he would again go back to the hill top. This routine was followed by Swami Tirumalai Nambi, who was a bit sad that he could not worship the Lord during day time! But the Lord out of compassion, was present at Adipuli during day time. Two imprints of the Divine feet of the Lord appeared, as Swami Tirumalai Nambi was lecturing. Even now we can see those imprints. Our journey up the hill starts from there only. Earlier, before the present steps were not laid, from Alwar Theertham, pilgrims used to come to Gali Gopuram and climb up. Now, people do not come via Alwar Theertham, but directly climb on the steps laid. Earlier, there were no steps laid to make climbing easier. That way, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, popularly known as TTD, has done enormous service for the pilgrims to worship the Lord. They have constructed many choultries, hospitals, Universities, schools, and are administering the crowd of pilgrims, without causing any pollution but with dedication. Steps were laid sometime in the 15th Century. A shepherd started laying steps. Also Swami Kandadai Ramanuja Muni started laying the steps, with difficulty. There are many devotees who walk, nay crawl and prostrate at every step, the entire distance. Such is their utmost dedication and Bhakti! The Lord also blesses them equally! Swami Ramanuja had visited this place Three times. In the First trip, was the lecture on Srimad Ramayanam. That time he had decided not to climb up, as mentioned earlier. Next time he visited to decide whether the Lord there was Sri Vishnu or lord Subhramanya. Earlier, the Lord had deposited His discus and conch with Emperor Thondaman. Since discus and conch were not there, a doubt arose as to whether the idol was of Sri Vishnu or not. To resolve this dispute Swami Ramanuja came and solved the problem. Swami Ramanuja placed the weapons of Lord Sri Vishnu and closed the doors. He waited to see whether the Lord, if the idol was of Him, would carry those weapons and grace or not. When the doors were opened, the Lord was carrying discus and conch. That is why Swami Ramanuja is titled 'appanukku chankazhi alitthavan [அப்பனுக்கு சங்காழி அளித்தவன்]' - presented conch and discus to the Lord! Normally, Acharya only imprints discus and conch on shoulders [during samasrayanam]. Therefore, Swami Ramnauja is the Acharya of Lord Sri Venkatesa! Finally, during his Third trip, Swami Ramanuja established the Periya Jeer Mutt. Swami Ramanuja decided to climb up the hills, as many elders prior to him had climbed up; also, he was convinced that a mother would not mind her child stepping on her body. While climbing he found difficult to climb up, at this place known as muzhangal muricchan [முழங்கால் முறிச்சான்] - knee breaker, where the terrain was very steep. As he was climbing, he and his disciples felt great thirst and hunger. They rested on a rock near this sannidhi. At that time an young Boy came and offered some prasad and a mango fruit to them. But the disciples refused to accept, as they could not accept from anybody, unless the Boy was a disciple of an Acharya! They inquired as to who was the Boy's Acharya? The Boy replied that Swami Anantalwan in Tirumala was His Acharya! He was asked to chant the taniyan [தனியன்] - sloka praising the Acharya! The Boy immediately chanted ' akilatmagunavasam agyana timirapaham asritanam susaranam vande anantarya desikam' - Prostrate Anantaalwan Acharya, who has all good qualities, capable of dispelling the darkness of ignorance, devotees could easily approach him'! Swami Ramanuja's disciples were not impressed with the taniyan, as it did not say about Swami Ramnuja, who was Acharya of Swami Anantalwan! It was customary to mention about Acharya's Acharya in Acharya's taniyan! The Boy instantly, rectified by mentioning another taniyan and said: ' srimat ramanujacharya sri padambhoruha dwayam saduttamanga sandharyam anantaryam aham bhaje' - Prostrate Anantarya who was praised by all and who was like the twin lotus feet of Swami Ramanuja'! The disciples were now satisfied and accepted the prasad and mango fruit. Swami Ramanuja also ate some and the mango seed thrown here grew into a tree and remained for many years. This place needed repairs and so the present Jeer - Srimad Paramahamsedyadi Periya Koil Kelvi Appan Sriranga Ramanuja Jeer - took lots of troubles and with the assistance provided by devotees, to renovate this sannidhi. Therefore, every pilgrim going up the hills, should worship Swami vazhi Emperumanar. To remind Swami Ramanuja's visit here, his foot imprints are on a stone here. It could have been the Lord's foot prints or Swami Ramanuja's. Now we will see sloka 20:
āsurīṃ yonim āpannā mūḍhā janmanijanmani
mām aprāpyaiva kaunteya tato yānty adhamāṃ gatim 16.20
Tata = thereafter, these Asura quality persons attain, adhamam gatim = lower and lower levels. Earlier the Lord mentioned that He Himself pushed them into hell. That is those in samsaram, lowest among humans, cruel minded and lacking any auspiciousness. Okay, what happens to those pushed into hell? Will they be able to come out? Yes, but it is not so easy. Thay are, asurim yonim = with demon like character, janmani janmani = birth after birth, mudha = with no knowledge [about the Lord or about the means to reach Him], aprapyaiva = without getting any knowledge to reach, mam = Me [Sri Krishna], tata = thereafter, adhamam gatim= they attain, even worse than what they already got, levels or births. By this sloka the Lord tells what these Asura quality persons attain. Asura quality persons never accept God and think, out of ego and pride that they were responsible for whatever success they might have attained in life. They never accept that their past Karma and God alone had brought them the present birth and life. They think that they alone are responsible for their life and they needed nobody's help or favour. Such Asura quality persons never try to think about God nor they try to develop any knowledge in that direction. Without this knowledge or efforts, they would never attain Him. But on the contrary, they oppose Him and are envious of Him. Thus without any knowledge about Him, they attain births after births and reach worse and worse levels. Fortunately, we are climbing up in the path treaded by Swami Ramanuja and with Swami Vazhi Emperumanar's blessings we will rise higher and higher.