Thursday, July 31, 2008

BG 10.3


We arWe are in the Kshetram Arimeya Vinnagaram. Ari is the Tamil equivalent of Hari, in Sanskrit, and which means snatching. The Lord snatches the minds of His devotees, He snatches the papa of His devotees. The Lord here is Sri Kudamadu Kootthan [ஸ்ரீ குடமாடு கூத்தன்]. This is one of the Thirunangur Kshetrams. This is another Vinnagaram, we are seeing. Ari meya vinnagaram means, Sri Hari always present vinnagaram. Swami Koorathalwan in his Athimanushatvam says that the Lord dramatically concealed Himself from the eyes of Nityasuris and Muktatmas and came to this world as Sri Krishna. In the pasuram 'choottu nan malaigal thooyanavendhi..' [சூட்டு நன் மாலைகள் தூயனவேந்தி] of Thiruviruttham [திரு விருத்தம்]by Nammalwar [in Thiruvaradhanam it is chanted during Thirumanjanam], the Lord by a magic disappeared from Vaikuntam, when the devotees where doing dhooba harathi [தூப ஹாரத்தி][burning incense materials to create smoke with fragrance], and appeared as Sri Krishna and completed the Avatar and returned before the dhooba harathi was over. Corresponding to this pasuram, we are seeing the same Lord, who was earlier in Vaikunta vinnagaram as Sri Vaikuntanatha, now appearing as Sri Krishna in Arimeya vinnagaram. In Sanskrit the Lord is called Sri Ghata Nartaka Bhagavan. Though, as Sri Krishna, the Lord had danced with pots, according to the sthala purana, the Lord here danced with a pot. Long ago, Kashyapa prajapati had two wives Kadru and Vinata. All serpents and cobras were Kadru's children; while Garuda was the son of Vinata. Once Kadru and Vinata were engaged in an argument. Vinata maintained that the divine horse Uchairavas was fully white, while Kadru argued that its tail was black. Since, Vinata was right, Kadru wanted to win the argument by crook and so black serpents in her children went and twisted themselves on the tail of the horse and from a distance the horse appeared to have black tail. As per the promise made in the argument the loser was to work as slave to the winner; and so Vinata worked as slave of Kadru. Once Kadru told Vinata that if she wanted to be freed from the slavery, she should ask her son Garuda to bring the Amrut kalash [pot containing nectar] and give to Kadru. Accordingly Garuda brought the pot and when Vinata was about to give it to Kadru, the Lord suddenly appeared and snatching the pot He started dancing. Therefore, He is Sri Kudamaadu Kootthan or Sri Ghata Nartaka Bhagavan. Moolavar is appearing with one foot on a pot and appearing to dance. Sri Hari is Sri Krishna.

YeYs yesha Narayana sriman ksheerarnavaniketana:

nagnanagaparyanka mudruchya papato mathuram purim.

Sriman Narayana was born as Sri Krishna and remained in Mathura. All Alwars and Sri Andal have praised that Sri Krishna snatches away our papa. Sri Krishna tells in Gita sloka 'sarvadharman parityachha....', that He would drive away all our sins. Such a Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in Chapter 10, that He is going to reveal all His greatness and He will drive away the papa of anyone who understands His noble and great qualities. In sloka the Lord tells that such a person is relieved of all papa. It is said that as soon as we get up from bed in the morning, we have to chant the name hari:, seven times. This would snatch the papa done till then and the papa likely to be done in future. In Srimad Ramayana, Hanuman is deputed to search for Sri Sita. Hanuman locates Her in Ashoka garden. He hides himself behind a tree branch and observes. Sri Sita is surrounded by Rakshasis [female demons]. Early morning they all see the monkey - Hanuman, and cry hari, hari. In Sanskrit hari also means monkey, and in that meaning they all cried. But Valmiki satirically asks who taught these evil persons to chant Sri Hari's name [hari nama sankeerthanam]. Now sloka 3:

yo mam ajam anadim ca
vetti loka-maheshvaram
asammudhah sa martyesu
sarva-papaih pramucyate

"He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginningless, as the Supreme Lord of all the worlds—he only, undeluded among men, is freed from all sins."

Ya = he, who, mam = I [Sri Krishna] am, ajan = without birth or birthless, vetti = understands, anadhi = never born, loka maheswara = regards as the God of entire Universe. He who understands the Lord of the entire Universe as never born. Such a person is, martyeshu = among men, asamooda= not confused or not a fool. Because he is not regarding Sri Hari as equal to anyone else. For him, Sri Hari is unique and all others are below Him and worshiping Him. He has no doubts. To consider the Lord as equal to anyone else is foolish; and this person is devoid of this foolishness. Because he has understood Sri Hari is never born and so has no beginning. Sarva papaihi pramuchyate = [such a person] is relieved of all sins. We can now see the essence of this sloka. To get relieved of all sins there are two ways. One is to repent for every sin committed and perform repenting rites or prayaschittha. No one knows how long and in how many births this could be completed. Also, we may not know which prayaschittha is for which sin. The other alternative is to cling to Sri Hari. For that we should have the true knowledge about Him. Then only, we will surrender unto Him. We may be wondering, how, when our papa are not eliminated by our efforts or by others like lord Brahma even, Sri Hari alone could remove them? We should have the firm belief that Sri Hari is Unique and that He is capable of clearing all our papa. By the first part of the sloka, we understand that Sri Hari is without equals as He is without an origin and birthless. One may wonder how we regard Him as birhless, when He was born as Sri Krishna? This had been answered earlier also. The Lord is not born out of karma, like all of us. He takes a birth out of His will. Excepting Him all others are born out of past karma, be they Rishis or other gods or even lord Brahma. Lord Brahma got his position by meditating on the Lord for many thousands of years. So lord Brahma has a birth, an origin and an end. The Lord does not experience the effects of birth, we all have. Muktatman also are not born. Are they indicated by the word ajan? No, because they had births till they now attained Moksham and now onwards they will have no births. The Lord is anadhim ajan, never born. OK, what about Nityasuris like Adisesha or Garuda? True, they were never born; but they are not Loka Maheswara. The Lord is the Leader of all worlds and Sri Vaikuntam. He appoints even those who are popularly addressed as Iswara; as He is Maheswara. This clear understanding is necessary, to surrender to Him and then all sins are destroyed.

BG 10,2

The Lord of Sri Vaikuntam is far away and it is not that easy to see and worship Him. But He is kind enough to grace every one and is available easily at this Kshetram, Vaikunta Vinnagaram [வைகுந்த விண்ணகரம்] . In the pasuram 'vangamadhu' [வங்கமது], Thirumangai Alwar says, that sages and Devas went to Thirupparkkadal [Milk ocean] and prayed the Lord, after offering flowers, that He should grace them as He was their Leader. Accepting their prayers the Lord is pleasing gracefully at this Kshetram. In this Kshetram, He is seated on Adisesha, whose hoods are like umbrella over the head of the Lord. Right leg is folded and right foot is placed on the serpent, while left leg is folded. Right hand is placed on the folded right knee and left hand is placed on the left lap. On His right is Sri Sridevi, and Sri Bhudevi is to His left. Seated beyond Sri Bhudevi is Sri Vaikuntavalli Nachiyar.What we see here is described in Gita, Chapter 10, slokas 1 and 2, we are to see today. First sloka 1:

sri-bhagavan uvaca
bhuya eva maha-baho
shrinu me paramam vacah
yat te ’ham priyamanaya
vaksyami hita-kamyaya

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Listen again, O mighty-armed Arjuna. Because you are My dear friend, for your benefit I shall speak to you further, giving knowledge that is better than what I have already explained."

Sri Krishna addresses Arjuna as maha baho = Arjuna with great hands. Why does He describe Arjuna as great handed? Swami Vedanta Desika in his Tatparya Chandrika explains. Sri Krishna is going to explain the Chapter 10, because Arjuna is dear to Him. In spite of listening to the greatness of the Lord, Arjuna did not develop any jealousy. He never envied the Lord. In fact, he was listening with love and affection. If this lecture were made to an asura or wicked person, he would develop jealousy and tried to come to kill the Lord. So Arjuna is priyamanaya = dear to the Lord. With such large hands Arjuna has been conquering enemies; but that is not a wonder. He has conquered jealousy for the Lord. So he is priyamanayo mahabaho. So, bhuya eva = again this topic [of the greatness of the Lord], me = about Me [Sri Krishna], paramam vacha = most superior words [ Bhakti yoga], hita kamyaya = for Arjuna's benefit [ as he has to foster Bhakti yoga], shrinu = [so] listen carefully. Aham vakshyami = I [Sri Krishna] am going to tell [Arjuna]. The Lord is going to tell Arjuna, hita or righteous path, so that Bhakti grows in him, those superior words about the Lord, ie. Bhakti yoga. Arjuna is wondering. In Chapter 2, He told about Atman. He told about Atman darshan in Chapters 3,4,5 and 6. This way He told about Atman sakshatkaram. Thereafter, He described Bhakti yoga as a means to have Bhagavat sakshatkaram. This was described in Chapters 7, 8 and 9. So, Arjuna was told about gyana on Atman, karma yoga, gyana yoga and Bhakti yoga. All have been covered and so Arjuna thought the preaching was over. But here Sri Krishna is again starting something and alerts Arjuna to be attentive. Arjuna never requested to preach again. Then why does the Lord start again? The Lord has so much confidence in Arjuna that he would listen. This is the greatness of our Acharyas and Alwars. They do not need any gifts for their preaching; but they want our attention alone. It also shows the great regard the Lord had for Arjuna. That is why even when Arjuna is not asking for more advice, the Lord spontaneously lectures further. Now sloka 2:

na me viduh sura-ganah
prabhavam na maharsayah
aham adir hi devanam
maharsinam ca sarvasah

"Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages."

Here the Lord says He is not accessible to anyone. Why should He tell about His inaccessibility, while preaching Bhakti yoga? Excepting Bhakti, by no other means He can be accessed. It is the only way to reach Him. Bhakti alone will bind Him. Even Vedas declare that they could not understand the Lord. The Lord also does not know Himself fully. But a simple devotee is able to understand Him. A great scholar might not be able to grasp the Lord. But a devotee, though ignorant of studies, might understand the Lord and get the rewards. So, says Alwar. Sura gana = groups of Devas, like Sanaka, Sanatkumara, Indra, Chandra, Brahma, Narada, etc., na me vidhu = may not know Me [Sri Krishna], prabhavan na maharishi = [Sri Krishna's] greatness [is not realized by ] great sages also. Maharishi like Vasishta, Vamadeva, Jabali, Viswamitra, Gautama, Bharadwaja or Valmiki or Veda Vyasa, have not known His greatness. Devanam = to Devas, Maharishinam ca = and to great sages, aham adi = I [ Sri Krishna] am the Cause, sarva sa = by every means. He is the Cause of all the Devas' and great sages' origin, state, prayers and everything. Therefore, they can never understand Him. Arjuna gets a doubt. It is OK that He is the Cause of all. But it is difficult to understand that therefore, they are unable to understand Him. What is the connection between He being the Cause of them and they are unable to realize Him? Because, their power is granted by the Lord and is limited. With limited gyana and power, how can they understand the infinite and unlimited God. Effects can not understand the cause. Present in this Universe or Prakruti mandala, can they attempt to understand the Lord of Sri Vaikuntam? Lord Brahma says that he or lord Shiva or other gods, or sages, do not know where Sri Vaikuntam is. He is beyond the grasp of everyone. None has seen that Vaikuntam nor the Lord of Vaikuntam. Upanishads say that they can never describe the Lord. Only the real devotee understands. Therefore, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that He is going to tell about Bhakti yoga and he should listen to carefully. We will now take leave of this Kshetram.

BG 10.1

Vaikuntethupareloke sriya sardyamjagatpati:

Astevishnuraachintyatma baktai hibhagavatasa:

This sloka describes how the Lord is in Vaikuntam. Along with Sri Sridevi, Sri Bhudevi and Sri Neeladevi, the Lord is seated on the serpent Anantha, and served by Nityasuris like Garuda and Vishvaksena and countless Muktatma. This is called Sri Vaikuntam, which means never the knowledge diminishes. Knowledge or gyana is always bountiful. Our Universe is Leela vibhuti [playing property] of the Lord and is considered as wanting in Gyana. But Sri Vaikuntam is flourishing with knowledge and there is no darkness, old age, death, birth nor any disease. We will on some day, from some where and by some how, see that. Alwar says that everyone born in this Universe will surely reach Vaikuntam one day. But that day is unknown. Now, those eager to visit, can get consolation by visiting certain Vinnagaram [Tamil for Vaikuntam or Sri Vishnu Nagar or Nagar in sky] among the 108 Divyadesams. We saw earlier Thiruvinnagaram or Sri Oppiliyappan koil. We also saw Kazhi SriRama Vinnagaram or Sirkazhi, where we worshiped Sri Thadala Perumal or Sri Trivikrama Narayana Perumal. We are now to worship Sri Vaikunta Nathan in Vaikunta vinnagaram, in Thirunangur Kshetrams. Why should this be named Vaikunta Vinnagar? The Lord here is gracing as He is seen in Vaikuntam. We enter the temple and notice the large open air Mandapam. We go round and find palm grove and gardens. We see the Vimanam - Ananta satya varghata vimanam. Ananta satya – infinite truth. Truth is changeless and permanent. This Universe is always changing. It gets destroyed and created. But Vaikuntam is neither destroyed nor created. So, it is called Nitya mandalam or region. Nityam and satyam mean the same. This vimanam is, therefore, nurturing the everlasting truth. We will pray the Vimanam to bless us Satya. There is a sthala puranam [ temple history]. There lived a King Svethaketu. He belonged to the Ikshvaku Dynasty of Sri Rama. Once he wanted to worship Sri Vaikunta Natha and went to the Vishnu Loka. There are two Vaikuntams. The Main is beyond Viraja river. The other, Karya Vaikuntam [akin to branch office] is on our side of Viraja river. This place can be accessed by even Devas. But the Main Vaikuntam can never be reached by all and those who reach there will never return. But Svetaketu could not find the Lord in Karya Vaikuntam and was very much discouraged. His agony was multiplied by hunger and thirst. He was returning and met sage Narada. He asked the sage the reason why he could not see the Lord there and why he was affected by hunger and thirst. Narada replied that the King did not do his righteous duties properly and so Sri Vaikunta Natha was invisible to the King. Narada advised that the King could go to Gajaranya, and worship the Lord of this Kshetram [Vaikunta vinnagaram], after bathing in the pond there and meditating on the Lord. Svetaketu did accordingly and the Lord appeared as Sri Vaikunta Natha. Similarly, the Lord appeared to Uparicharavasu and Udhanka. We are to see Chapter 10. In this it is told the Lord, as Sri Vaikunta Natha, can not be accessed that easily. But we are fortunate to have the Darshan of the Lord in this Kshetram. We will first see Swami Alavandar's Gitartha Sangraha sloka corresponding to this Chapter.

svakaly¯an.a gun.¯anantya kr. tsna sv¯adh¯ınat¯amatih.
 bhaktyutpatti vivr. ddhyarth¯a vist¯ırn.¯a da´samodit¯a [14

Swami Alavandar also known as Swami Yamunacharya, has condensed the essence of each chapter of Gita in each sloka of his Gitartha Sangraha. Dasamo visthirna = explained in the Tenth Chapter. Which has been explained? Bhakti utpatti = for the originated devotion, vivrudyarta = to grow, sva = Self [Sri Krishna's], kalyana guna = auspicious qualities, anantya = infinite nature, svadhinata = in the control and domain of the Lord, krtsna = everything in this Universe without exception, mathi = knowledge. Bhakti begins and grows by these knowledge of two things about the Lord: One, His infinite auspicious qualities and the other, His command and control over everything in this Universe, without exception. These are explained in Chapter 10. The Lord has spoken in detail about Bhakti, in Chapters 7, 8 and 9. If we want to start that Bhakti or to foster that Bhakti, what are we to do? First we have to listen to His greatness. Once listened, we will get unshakable faith and Bhakti in Him. His auspicious qualities are infinite. Each quality is boundless. Every time we see these qualities, they will appear as fresh and make us awe stricken. Then, we think of His power of control over everything in this Universe. Therefore, Tenth Chapter deals with His abundant auspicious qualities and total control of everything. Thirumangai Alwar has praised the Lord of this Kshetram. He saw the Lord as Sri Narasimha, Who killed Hiranyakasipu, as Sri Krishna, Who protected from lashing rains by lifting the hill as umbrella and as Sri Rama, Who killed Ravana and rescued Sri Sita.

Monday, July 28, 2008

BG 9.37

Sri Thayar of this Kshetram is Sri Purushotthama Nayaki. She is more benevolent than the Lord. The Lord granted asylum to Jatayu, Kakasura and Vibheeshana, no doubt. But that was after they sought. Sri Thayar has been more merciful. After the war was over and Ravana was slained, Hanuman came to Sri Sita to convey the happy ending. At that time he wanted to crush to death all those Rakshasis, who were threatening Sri Sita, Though they never even approached Sri Sita for protection, She, spontaneously on Her own merciful quality, did not permit Hanuman from doing any harm to them. That is why She is the purushakara. That is She recommends to the Lord to accept the saranagathi of devotees. She makes the Lord to listen to their prayers. In Mahabharatha, the war was over after 18 days and Pandavas were returning to their palaces and Sri Krishna was to move to Dwaraka. At that time He saw Mahatma Udhanka, still meditating. Sri Krishna appeared before him and told the war was over. What war, Udhanka asked. The war between Pandavas and Kauravas, Sri Krishna told. Why were they fighting, again asked Udhanka. Sri Krishna told that Kauravas sinned against Pandavas. Udhanka again asked why they sinned. Sri Krishna told that because in the previous birth, Kauravas committed sins. Udhanka, insisted why they did sins in the previous births. Sri Krishna knew that Udhanka was trying to trap Him and so He said that He was proceeding to Dwaraka. Udhanka said that he knew that his questions could not be answered and he knew that Pandavas had the blessings of the Lord, while Kauravas did not have. But he requested that the Lord should bless him also with the Viswaroopam, He exhibited to Arjuna. Sri Krishna accepted his request and showed him the Viswaroopam.
Alwar in the last pasuram of this Kshetram says that by worshiping the Lord here, he redeemed himself [உய்ந்து போனேன்]. He uses the words அண்ணல், சேவடி and உய்ந்து. First word annal indicates tatva [तत्त्व ], second word sevadi demotes hita [हित ] and the last word uyndhu points to purushartham [पुरुशार्थम]. Tatva is the entity, which we have to attain. Hitam shows us the means and purushartha is the final reward we get. Thus by seeking the Divine feet of the Lord, we can redeem ourselves. Gita tells us this concept in 700 slokas, while Alwar tells this in a single pasuram.
Parvati requests lord Shiva to tell her the greatness of Chapter 9 and lord Shiva told her what he heard Sri Narayana telling Sri MahaLakshmi. On the banks of river Narmada there was a town Vagheeshmati and in it lived a noble brahmin, Madhava, who, true to the words in Karma kanda of Vedas, was performing yagnas. Once he desired to reach swarga or heavens and so he wanted to perform a yagna. He brought a goat to be sacrificed in the holy fire. At that time the goat spoke to Madhava and asked the logic of killing it to enable Madhava to reach heaven. Surprised at goat speaking, he requested the goat to advise him. The goat commented he was wasting his learning in pursuing yagna to go to swarga. The goat further said that in its earlier birth it was also a brahmin doing yagna and once tried to sacrifice a goat and that goat cursed that he should be born as goat and experience the same sufferings. The goat was born first as a monkey and to its sorrow, the wife in its earlier birth as brahmin, teased the monkey. Then it was born as a dog and then a horse and now a goat. Surprised at this Madhava asked how he could get rid of these sufferings. Goat narrated a story. In Kurukshetra there lived a brahmin, who wanted to donate gifts during eclipse as in shastras. He prepared an idol of Kalanemi in gold and tried to gift to another. The idol told the brahmin not t o do as if he did, two persons would emerge and kill him. Undaunted by this, the Brahmin made the gift and two persons one male and another female emerged and tried to kill the Brahmin. The Brahmin simply murmured something and the two persons fell down dead. It was known that the Brahmin simply chanted the Chapter 9 and its effect was that he could not be killed. Understanding the greatness of Chapter 9, Madhavan recited the same and attained better levels. With this Chapter 9 ends.

Friday, July 25, 2008

BG 9.36

We have come to the last, 35th sloka of Chapter 9:

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaishyasi yuktvaivam
atmanam mat-parayanah

"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me."

After completing this, we would have finished half of the 18 Chapters of Gita. Out of the total 700 slokas, we are nearing 400 slokas and so sloka-wise we are ahead of 50%. Balance number is smaller. We have studied very important topics so far. Today's [25th July 2008] lecture also is about Bhakti yoga. In the remaining Chapters, the Lord is to reveal very astonishing concepts. He is going to show His Viswaroopam and explain Who He is. We have to, therefore, continue with same interest further study of Gita. By this last sloka of this Chapter, the Lord prescribes Bhakti yoga. In this sloka the Lord tells about Himself as 'I', 'My' and 'Mine' six times. He has so much greatness and so He tells about Himself. Should He boast Himself so much? Swami Ramanuja in his commentary says because He is Purushotthama, He prescribes Bhakti to Him, by such repetitions. Aptly we have also come to this sannidhi of Sri Purushotthama. Thirumangai Alwar has praised the Lord as Sri Rama, Who lived in Ayodhya. Earlier it was told that the Lord in the Eleven Divya desams here had arrived from various other Kshetrams. In this Vanpurushotthamam Kshetram, the Lord had arrived from Ayodhya. Perialwar in one pasuram says that Mathura, Salagram, Vaikuntam, Dwaraka, Ayodhya and Badri are all the living places of Sri Purushotthama. Perhaps, because of this the Lord has arrived here. Sri Rama is considered as the best and so He is Utthama among Purusha and so Sri Purushotthama. Among purusha, there are some very low, some ordinary and some excellent. Swami Periyavacchanpillai has done this categorisation. Lowest category is the person who wants to live himself even at the cost of others. Better category is he, who wants to live and let others live. Highest category is that person who wants others to live even at the cost of himself. Such a person is Purushotthaman. Here Purusha does not denote men but Jeevatman. Our heart is considered as Puram or dwelling place. Since atman resides there, Jeevatman is called Purushotthama. Sri Andal also calls Him as Ongi ulagalanda Utthaman [ஓங்கி உலகளந்த உத்தமன்..]. Thus the father and his Daughter call the Lord as Sri Purushotthama. Sri Rama went to forest relinquishing Kingdom, so that His father's promise was kept up. In North India the Lord Sri Rama is addressed as Maryada Purushottham Ram, because He followed and kept up the conventions and law of the land. So it is necessary that we have to worship Sri Purushotthama here. Alwar worshiped the Lord here and was mesmorised by His beauty. Showing abhayam by his right palm and keeping the left arm on His lap, the Lord graces along with His Two Consorts. Alwar says that lord Shiva was created by lord Brahma, who was created by the Lord in His navel. The Lord is the Cause of all and so Sri Purushotthama. Man mana bhava = have the mind in Me [Sri Krishna], mad bhakta = love, or perform Bhakti in, Me [Sri Krishna], mad yaji = perform aradhana or pooja to Me [Sri Krishna], mam namaskuru = prostrate to Me [Sri Krishna], by doing like this, mam evaishyasi = attain Me [Sri Krishna] alone, evam = thus, atmanam = [Arjuna's] mind, yuktva = is practiced, mat parayana = I [Sri Krishna] am the objective or purushartha or destination. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that by practicing Arjuna's mind to think of the Lord, by loving the Lord, by performing aradhana and pooja to the Lord, by worshiping and prostrating to the Lord alone, Arjuna will attain Him. Swami Ramanuja says that all these actions could be done only if He deserved; but He is Sri Purushotthama and so we have to do these. If we weigh the qualituies of the Lord on one side and all other things on the other, we find His qualities are incomparable. He is the Commander and we are just servants to execute His orders. There is absolutely no blemish in His qualities, while we can never find anyone with such perfect qualities. He is the Only One capable of granting most superior Vaikuntam. His beauty has no comparables. Thus there is wide gulf between Him and the best among ourselves. Thus in every aspect He is superior and so Sri Purushotthama. Then, Who else we can think of? Once we think of Him and His qualities, we love Him; then worship Him and perform pooja to Him. Four types of pooja services we can do: 1) Aupacharikam [ஔபசாரிகம்] - we honour Him with thiruvandhikkappu [திருவந்திக் காப்பு] with camphor lit flame, etc. 2) Samparthikam [ஸாம்பர்திகம்]- presenting flowers, garlands, sandalwood paste, etc. 3) Sandhrhrushtikam [சாந்த்ருஷ்டிகம்] - showing mirror, lamp,etc., and 4) Aapyavaharikam [ஆப்யஹவகாரிகம்] - presenting food and other eatables.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BG 9.35

In the Thirunangur Divyadesams, one Kshetram wholly dedicated to Lord Sri Rama is Vanpurushotthamam. We are at the sannidhi of Sri Vanpurushotthama Perumal. Presently in Balalayam, and the Maha samprokshanam is to take place early.

Rajagopuram [main gate] is attractive in multi colors. Nearby is Vahana mandapam. Crossing this we find a large mandapam. On one side is the sannidhi of Sri Vanpurushotthama and on the other side is the sannidhi of Sri Rama. Today's [24th July 2008] lecture is from this sannidhi. In front of Sri Rama's sannidhi is sannidhi of Anjaneya. When Thirumngai Alwar worshiped Si Rama here, he sang praising Sri Rama and according to him, Sri Rama is Sri Prushtthama. This place is connected with sage Vyagrapadar [Tiger footed]. He was meditating here for a long time. His child was Upamanyu. Once, leaving the child near the temple the sage went for his routines. After he left, the child cried in hunger. Sri Purushotthama Nayaki, Thayar of th temple took pity and consulted the Lord how to help the crying child. They decided to bring the Milk ocean itself here so that the child could be fed. Thus the Pushkarini is called Parkkadal [பாற்க் கடல்] pushkarini. The child was fed and pacified. Alwar has praised this place in ten pasurams. Vimanam here is Sanjeevana Vimanam. Sanjeevana means prolonged longevity or life. Anjaneya lifted the Sanjeevini hill [to rescue Lashmana in the battlefield]. This vimanam is equal to that hill in its greatness. It is said that the Divine name of Sri Rama is capable of stopping a departing soul [ and bring back life]. Similarly, this Vimanam also is capable of giving us longevity. Repair works are going on. We will now see sloka 33. We have heard that with Sri Rama's blessings many have attained Moksham. He blessed sage Vasishta, hunter Guha, hunter woman Sabari, Sugriva, Hanuman, bad characters like Viradha and Kabandha, and He granted moksham to the vulture Jatayu. Thus we learn from Sri Rama and this is brought out in the slokas by Sri Krsihna. Whoever may be, if he performed a selfless and unexpecting any reward Bhakti, then he attains the supreme place. Even people born in so called inferior births could raise to the supreme place by Bhakti, and there is no need to say that people of good characer and origin would also reach the supreme place. Sisupala, abused Sri Krishna so much that others hearing his abuses would close their ears in horror. But even Sisupala attained Moksham. When that is the case we need not enquire the destinations of noble characters like Sanjaya and Vidhura. This is told in sloka 33:

kim punar brahmanah punya
bhakta rajarsayas tatha
anityam asukham lokam
imam prapya bhajasva mam

"How much more this is so of the righteous brahmanas, the devotees and the saintly kings. Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me."

We have to segregate this sloka into two parts. First half is continuation of the previous slokas. The second half is an advice given to Arjuna. When people born out of papa karma could reach the Lord, Arjuna, a Rajarishi should have no problem to reach Him. King Kausika became sage Viswamitra and wanted to get the title Brahmarishi. He did intense meditation and graduated first as a Rishi, then Rajarishi and then Brahmarishi. Kim puna = why talk of, punya = those born of past punya or good deeds, bhakta = those worshiping the Lord, rajarasyas tatha = and those who are Rajarishi. When people of inferior character or birth could reach the Lord why ask about those born out of good deeds or those who are continuously worshiping and Rajarishi, like Arjuna. Here we should note that the classification inferior and superior by birth or other yardsticks, is not created by the Lord; but these groupings are found by people and are in vogue. Swami Pillai Lokacharya, in his Sri Vachana Bhooshanam shows a very valid point. He says that many call others as born in inferior community. But this is an illusion only. He emphatically says that by one's birth one can not be considered inferior or lower. Similarly, regarding some as born in high or superior families is also illusion and is wrong. Really, he says, without Bhakti, that birth is low and inferior. He further says that only Bhakti in the Lord makes one superior. Excepting this all other yardsticks to categorise anyone as superior or inferior is wrong and never real. The Lord is common to all, who are surrendering in devotion. Such people are blessed with Moksham and others will have to go in the cycle of birth and death. In the second half of the sloka Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that he being His cousin would also get that supreme position and he has to follow certain things. Mam bhajasva = worship Me [Sri Krishna], prapya = [those] suffering in, imam =this, lokam =world. Since Arjuna is suffering in this world, he should worship in devotion, the Lord. Why so? Because, this world [or living in this world] is, anityam = not permanent, asukham = uncomfortable. This world or worldly lfe is very transient. Even in ths short period it is full of miseries and sorrow. Never comfortable. So Arjuna and others have to get liberated from this inferior place; and that can be only by worshiping the Lord. Here Sri Krishna prescribes sadhana bhakti. We have earlier seen that bhakti is of two types: sadhana and sadhya. In sadhya bhakti, the person does Bhakti for the sake of bhakti as he finds that itself is pleasing. In sadhana bhakti, one performs Bhakti to reach Moksham. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna to perform Bhakti to reach Him and so it is sadhana bhakti He is recommending. Because till sloka 33 first half, Sri Krishna lectured the greatness of Bhakti and performing it was so pleasing. Arjuna should have responded by telling that he would do Bhakti for the sake of Bhakti. But he did not say so. Therefore, Sri Krishna finding no reaction, thought a reward for Bhakti would be able to induce. Sri Krishna thus tells Arjuna that he should do his karma of fighting in the war and keep up Kshatriya dharma; and then attain atman sakshakaram; perform bhakti and reach the Lord. If we understand the disadvantages of this world - transient, inferior and sorrowfu, then we can devote to the Lord, Who is everlasting, superior and imparting happiness always. We should devote to the Lord Sri Rama seeing Anjaneya as the example.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BG 9.34

Today's [23rd July 2008] lecture is also from Thirumanikkoodam Kshetram. The Lord graces as He protected elephant Gajendra. Utsavar is gracing with four arms. Lower right arm is in abhaya mudra and in the left arm the Lord is holding the mace. Why should the Lord hold the weapons always? It is to avoid any delay in protecting any devotee as he cries for help. Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhoodevi are also gracing along with the Lord. There is no separate sannidhi for Thayar and She, as Sri Thirumamagal Nachiyar, is gracing along with the Lord. Thirumangai Alwar says that since the Devas prayed the Lord, He is Sri Devadirajan. Alwar says that the Lord is appearing as everything and He is controlling all. He is manifesting as sins, virtue, happiness, Moksham, sorrow, anger, blessings, etc. We can observe that the Alwar is mentioning that the Lord is manifesting as qualities that are opposed to each other. How can such opposing qualities be seen in the Lord at the same time? Though it is impossible for us, we have to note that this is the greatness of the Lord. At the same instant, He was soothing to Gajendra and enraging to the crocodile. It is like a lioness would be feeding her little ones and at the same time show anger to the elephant nearby. His eyes are like the Sun and the Moon. That means from one eye He is showing heat and from the other He is showering coolness. The Lord here is same as the Lord of Kanchi. There is nothing like certain people can never reach Moksham. Everyone, irrespective of his origin or community or status, can reach Moksham. The only criteria is Bhakti. We should know that the Lord is the Sarveswara and faith in Him alone is required to reach Vaikuntam. If that Bhakti is there then he holds on to Him specially and attain the supreme status. Now sloka 32:

mam hi partha vyapasritya
ye ’pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaishyas tatha shudras
te ’pi yanti param gatim

"O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me- though they be born due to papa in the past or as woman, vaishyas [merchants] and shudras [workers]—can attain the supreme destination."

They also attain Moksham. Te 'pi = they also, yanti = attain, param gatim = supreme place [Moksham]. Where sage Vasishta went, Vibheeshana also reached the same place. Same place is reached by Vidhura or Sisupala. Our origin and past deeds, even if they were of bad character, are never criteria to reach the Lord. Partha = Arjuna, mam hi = if I [Sri Krishna] am, vyapasritya = taken as shelter specially, ye'pi = anyone, papa yonaya syuhu = having born due to past papa, they willl also reach the supreme place. That is the Lord says that the cause of one's origin, whether due to papa or not, is not considered for attaining Moksham. Striya = women, vaishya = vaishya community, tatha = and, shudras = labour community, everyone can attain the Lord. Why should the Lord mention these categories specifically? There could be wrong propaganda that females and some other communities are not eligible to reach Vaikuntam. In fact today we see special commissions are arranged mainly because of such propaganda. Vedas have placed women at a very high pedestal. Like the rails, both male and female, are reaching the same destination. Vedas have prescribed certain duties for males and females. But both can reach Moksham. Certain disciplines are prescribed in the duties to be performed to reach Moksham, separately for men and women. Breaking these disciplines one can not reach Moksham. But adhering to these disciplines everyone has the right to reach Vaikuntam. Sri Krishna is mentioning these categories not in any inferior context but to remind Arjuna that in the society certain wrong propaganda are done against these categories. There are many instances to prove this point. When Mahabali was trapped to give away all his possessions, even his grandfather Prahalada opposed; but that was pardoned and he got the supreme place. Dharmavyada, a butcher by profession, was considered as a source of reference for enquiries on Dharma as he performed his duty of caring for his parents sincerely. Jatayu was after all a vulture, but it got Moksham. It could not do Karma yoga nor Gyana yoga. Sabari, a woman born in hunter's family, was able to reach Moksham and the Lord Sri Rama consumed the fruits offered by her. Nammalwar says that from Ayodhya everyone, including tiny ants and plants, accompanied Sri Rama to Vaikuntam. Many of the Alwars were not born as Brahmins. So, there is no reason to think even whether a person belonging to any sex or community is eligible to attain Moksham. Bhakti alone is the one and only criteria to qualify for Moksham. There are many born because of past papa karma. But by seeking shelter in the Lord, they also attain Moksham, the supreme place. Here the Lord uses the word specially holding to Him. Mere holding is performing Bhakti yoga. But holding on to Him specially is saranagathi - ultimate surrender. Because Bhakti yoga is possible only for certain people;but to surrender, everyone can do. The finest example for this sloka is Gajendra, the elephant. We will now take leave of this Kshetram.

Monday, July 21, 2008

BG 9.33

We are at Thirumanikkoodam [திரு மணிக் கூடம்], where the Lord graces as Sri Gajendra Varada Perumal. The story of Gajendra is well known. There is sthala puranam [history of the holy place]. We are entering the beautiful main gate. Pushkarini here is called Chandra pushkarini. The Lord allayed the fears of Chandra and appeared before Chandra and so this is called Chandra pushkarini. Chandra was hiding in this pond in fear and the Lord gave protection and got him out. We go round the temple and view the Kanaka vimanam. We are at the sannidhi of the Lord, where sannidhi of Garuda also is there. Garuda and the Lord here are intimately connected. Did He not ride on the Garuda to arrive and protect Gajendra? The Lord churned the miky ocean to get the amrut [nectar]. He took the form of an enchanting damsel, Sri Mohini, and started distributed Amrut to Devas and Asuras. 'She' [the Lord], first pacified the Asuras and distributed Amrut to Devas initially. One Asura named Swarbhanu, who suspected the intention of the Lord and thought that the Lord might distribute the Amrut only to Devas; and so he sat in the line of Devas to recieve the Amrut, in the guise of a Deva. But when his turn came, Surya and Chandra revealed that he was an Asura in disguise. Sri Mohini learning this cut off the Asura's head with the spoon 'She' was using for distribution. From that time Rahu and Kathu planets came about and the Lord was responsible for conferring special positions for him. He was let down by both the Asura camp and by the Devas. When thus let down, he approached the Lord, Who took pity on him and conferred the chhaya [shade] planets status. These planets are not directly visible, but as shadows, would affect the solar system. Not forgetting the harm caused bu Surya and Chandra, he gives them troubles occasionally; and we call these as the two eclipses -solar and lunar. Afraid of this, Surya and Chandra hid themselves in two ponds. When they prayed the Lord, He assured them of protection. Thus He is gracing on the banks of this pond to protect Chandra. We will see on another day, where the Lord gave protection to Surya. Surya or Sun is called Dvimani, jewel in the sky. Similarly Chandra also is a jewel in the sky. Thus this place is called Manikkoodam.



Thirumangai Alwar has composed 10 pasurams on the Lord here. We will see sloka 31:

ksipram bhavati dharmatma
sasvac-chantim nigacchati
kaunteya pratijanihi
na me bhaktah pranasyati

"He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes."

Me bhakta = My [Sri Krishna's] devotee, na pranasyanti = never is destroyed. Once a person surrenders to the Lord, as in the case of Swarbhanu, in spite of his wicked intentions, the Lord protects everyone. Thus a devotee of the Lord, in spite of any misdoings or evil character, is never let down by the Lord. The Lord tries to dispel Arjuna's doubts: 1) how can bahkti spring in an evil person? 2) Even if by the grace of Lord, Bhakti sprouts in that person, it might not eliminate all papa [ as that would instantly grant Moksham] and so some remaining papa would impede Bhakti. Will they not? So, Arjuna's doubts are such wicked persons might not be able to begin Bhakti; and even if they start, they might not be able to continue Bhakti. We can notice that these questions arise in our minds also. We also devote to the Lord some time in our life; but we do not continue like a Prahalada or Vidhura or Sanjaya or Vibheeshana. We commit so many known and unknown sins. Will not these sins obstruct Bhakti? These are answered by the Lord. Ksipram = very soon, dharmatma = bhakta or a great devotee, bhavati = he becomes. Soon he becomes a Bhakta of the Lord. Why the Lord uses the word sooner? Our sins and bad disciplines are so great that they would delay very much. But the moment even a wicked person worships the Lord, he becomes soon a great devotee. We may get a doubt here. In computer we have xls sheet. We have columns in which a formula can be written and for various variables we can get the result. But if we want the result to be applied in the same formula it will not perform. Like this, here the Lord says that with His blessings Bhakti will sprout in a person; and afterwards he would continue with Bhakti. Our concept is that Bhakti comes after papa is eliminated. So, our doubt is, whether Bhakti is after papa elimination? or, does Bhakti eliminate papa? Here we should note that with His blessings we start Bhakti. Having started, this Bhakti would destroy all our remaining papa. As this Bhakti grows, soon it would make this person a great devotee. That is this Bhakti is self sufficient - it will sustain by itself. This Bhakti does not need any other to sustain. We can feel this experience also. Once we start Bhakti, it avoids any eveil doings and so slowly our papa gets reduced. Sasva = for a long time or permanently, chanti = bad character, nigacchati = would be eliminated. So, Bhakti would drive out the sins for ever. For ceratin ailments [ Tamil பித்தம்] milk is a remedy. Once taken, the ailment disappears. Side-by-side, we also develop a taste for milk and we enjoy taking it regularly. So, medicine itself becomes a pleasing drink. But the same milk we might not take when the ailment was there. Similarly, initially, Bhakti is done to eliminate some sins; later, the same Bhakti becomes pleasing task eliminating all our papa. Kaunteya = Arjuna, janehi = understand. Pratijanihi = take vow. What vow? That the devotee of the Lord would never fall into bad character again. Why should Arjuna take vow? Because, though the Lord speaks only the truth, in this Avatar as Sri Krishna, bad propaganda is there that Sri Krishna is a liar. But Arjuna felt that was for reasons attributed to the Lord as a small boy and now He would not cross His own promise and so, He Himself could take that vow. Sri Krishna in reply says that Arjuna might not know that within the next 10 days, He would be breaching His own promise. Gita was preached on the 1st day of the war. Before this, when war was declared, Duryodhana went about seeking support of other Kings. At that time Sri Krishna had made a promise to Duryodhana that He would not fight nor use any weapon in the war. But after the war started, when Arjuna would not be able to slain Bheeshma and Bheeshma would unceasingly hurt Arjuna, Sri Krishna would get angry [false one] and rush to Bheeshma with the discus in the hand to kill him. Bheeshma happily would welcome Sri Krishna as that would satisfy the promise made by Bheeshma that he would compel Sri Krishna to take up weapons in His hands. But the Lord in order to make true the promise of His devotees, He would sacrifice His promises. Knowing that this incident was to happen in the next few days, Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to promise that Bhakti would eliminate all balance papa and His Bhakta would never be ruined.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

BG 9.32

We have come to seek the blesings of Sri Veera Narasimha, in Mangaimadam [மங்கை மடம்] Kshetram. This Kshetram has come into prominence because of Thirumangai Alwar. Here only, Thirumangai Alwar fed 1000 Srivaishnavas daily for one year.
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Sri Veera Narasimha, Moolavar, is showing abhaya by the right hand and beconing us to come near Him by the left arm [ahvahana mudra]. Utsavar, thogh small, is beautiful. His right arm is in abhaya mudra and left arm is in kati hastha mudra [hand on the lap]. His two Consorts are also gracing. Separate sannidhi is there for Sri Senkamalavalli Nachiyar. This Sri Nachiar is very ancient, with right arm in abhaya mudra and left arm is showing Her divine feet. Sculpting of the statue has been done so precisely that we can see holes made in the nose and ears to decorate with ornaments. Alwar and Kumudavalli Nachiar also are gracing in this temple. Nearby is the place Perunthottam [பெருந் தோட்டம்], from where vegetables for the daily feeding of 1000 Srivaishnavas, were gathered. Similarly, from the nearby place Ilaiamudhukoodam [இலை அமுது கூடம்], banana leaves were gathered for the mass feed. Thus this place exemplifies the greatness of annadhanam [free service of food]. Upanishads say that annam [food] should be served to all; not to waste food; honour food; not to insult food. Food is neceassary for all living beings and so is the source of life. Alwar lived to show the importance of feeding guests. It is said in Tamil that even if a single person starves then this world should be destroyed [தனி ஒரு மனிதனுக்கு உணவு இல்லை எனில் இந்த ஜகத்தினை அழித்திடுவோம் -Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati]. This Alwar not only sang in praise of the Lord, but also did social service by feeding on a large scale. We should also learn from the Alwar to feed cows with greens [அகத்திக் கீரை], feeding poor on occasions like marriages, etc. When spending thousands of rupees on such occasions, surely some amount can be spent on the poor and needy. Earlier we visited the Nava Narasimha in Ahobilam, counted among Northern Kshetrams. Now we are fortunate to visit the Pancha Narasimha in Chola region itself.
Nrusimhambheeshanambhadrammrutyumrutyum namamyaham||'
All the Nine Divine names of the Lord Sri Narasimha indicate the Five Narasimha here. Ugram, at Thirukkuraiyalur Sri Ugra Narasimha. Veeram, at Sri Veera Narasimha here in Mangaimadam. Mahavishnum, as Sri Yoga Narsimha in Thirunagari. Jwalantham and Sarvathomukham, as Sri Hiranya Narasimha in Thirunagari. Nrusimham, Bheeshanam and Bhadram, as Sri Lakshmi Narasimha in Thiruvali. Who was responsible for showing us Sri Narasimha? It is Prahalada. He was a child, son of a wicked person and belonged to Asura community. Yet because of his bhakti, he stands much above all. The Lord regarded him above Devas, Rishis and foremost among Bhaktas. This is stated by Sri Krishna in sloka 30:

api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah

"Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination."

Let us assume Bhakti is in a very lowly person. Could the Lord accept the Bhakti of Vibheeshana - a rakshasa, of Prahalada - an Asura child, of Hanuman - a monkey, of Gajendra - an elephant? People might think. This doubt is dispelled by the Lord. Duracharo api = even a bad cultured or evil disciplined person [acharam means daily disciplines or good character]. Cet = if, su = very [ evil charactered person], bhajate = worships, mam = Me [Sri Krishna], ananya bhak = without diverting the mind on anything else. This person does not need anybody else. Prahalada was like this. He requested the Lord to pacify His anger. Accepting, the Lord placed His blood stained hand on the head of Prahalada and asked Prahalada what he wanted from the Lord. When the Lord insisted Prahalada to demand anything, the child Bhakta requested that the Lord should grant him the boon of not demanding anything from Him! He did not want to expect anything from the Lord for the Bhakti. When the Lord further insisted, Prahalada requested that even if he were to have a rebirth as a lowly insect or worm, he should always have unwavering Bhakti in Him. He is ananya-bhak. Sa = such a person, sadhur eva = among devotees, mantavya = will be honoured. Samyak = firmly, vyavasita = determined, sa = he is. Such a person, who, though is uncultured, yet having unshakable devotion to the Lord, is considered among great devotees and is honoured; such a person is having firm loyalty in the Lord. What loyalty? This person was uncultured and having no good discipline; the Lord along with Sri Thayar has blessed him and diverted him to this righteous path. He considers the Lord as his father, mother and all close relatives and has immense faith in Him. The Lord says He forgives all the shortcomings like evil character or bad education or indiscipline or birth in bad surroundings, for the sake of this person's determination. Arjuna gets a doubt. Bhakti does not come easily and papa can not be that easily wiped off. Acharaprabhavo, dharmasya prabhrachyuta. Acharam [ஆசாரம்] is Dharma. And Sri Krishna is the Lord of Dharma. Then how a bad disciplined person could be ranked among sadhus? Also it is said that in so many births by practicing Karma yoga and Gyana yoga continuously, our sins are eliminated and Bhakti springs up. But here Sri Krishna is telling that even a person with sins, is being admitted in the sadhu category. How is that possible? Sri Krishna allays these doubts. To remove our papa there are two methods. One is to do prayaschittam [ repentence] or undergo punishment for the sins. Otherwise, with His blessings eliminate all papa. So this person with all evil character gets his papa eliminated by His blessings and he need not undergo many births to expend the papa. He gets the blessings of the Lord because of his Bhakti. By doing Bhakti, all his evil disciplines will stop. Bhakti has nothing to do with beauty or wealth or education. That person may be born as anything. The Lord says that once a person has become Bhakta, knowledge will grow ans others might draw inspiration. We will now take leave of this Kshetram.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BG 9.31

We are touring Thirunangur Divya desam, part of Chola region Kshetrams and praised by Thirumangai Alwar. In the Pancha Narasimha Kshetrams, we have already seen Sri LakshmiNarasimha at Thiruvali; in Thirunagari we saw Sri Hiranya Narasimha and Sri Yoga Narasimha. We have now come to worship the Fourth Narasimha, Sri Ugra Narasimha, at Thirukkuraiyalur [திருக் குறையலூர்].


It is a very small, yet beautiful sannidhi. Since Thirumangai Alawr was born here, the Lord here is famous as the One, Who gave Alwar to this world. Alwar is called Kuraiyalpiran [குறையல் பிரான்]. Having born as Neelan, he later became the Chief of Aalinadu; became King of Mangai;he resorted to robbery as his requirement for money increased; Monarch of the place under whom Neelan was a King, demanded payment of dues and imprisoned Neelan for default. Once, in prison he was called to collect wealth on the banks of river Vegavathi in Kanchi, by Lord Varadaraja, and after lot of searches, he got the money to repay the Monarch. Finally, as we saw earlier, he was preached the Thirumantram [Ashtaksharam] in Thirumanagkollai, by the Lord Sri Vayalali Manavalan, and became Thirumangai Alwar. He composed Six prabhandams [compilations]. Thus this place is the seed for the history of Alwar. The Lord is a large Idol with lower right arm in abhaya mudra and left lower arm in ahvahana pose. He is welcoming us, as we should not be scared of His image and move away. No doubt He was very angry with Hiranyakasipu, but that should not cause fear in us. How merciful was He with Prahalada? If we carefully see, we can notice anger in one eye and mercy in the other. He has no hatred nor love for anyone. Devotees come near Him. If we are devoted to Him, then we should have no fear to go near Him. The Lord is in Ugra roopam and is seated. As long as we are with Thirumangai Alwar, we need have no fear to go near Him. Why was He angry with Hiranyakasipu? His devotee was tortured by pushing off from a cliff; tried to be crushed by an elephant; tried to be killed by poison; and, poisonous snakes were directed to bite the devotee. Swami Koorathalwan says that the Lord showed the maximum anger to Hiranyakasipu, much more than other demons. Why? Because Hiranyakasipu ill treated His devotee. He shows restraint to those who abuse Him; those who commit unpardonable evils to the Lord. But He can never bear any ill treatment meted out to His devotees. Though He is impartial to all, when it is His devotees, He seems to be greatly inclined to them. From the story of Prahalada, we derive that the Lord has love for some and hatred for others. But sloka 29 might appear to show the exact opposite. He is going to tell that He is impartial to all. That means we have to carefully understand this sloka:

samo ’ham sarva-bhutesu
na me dvesyo ’sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya
mayi te tesu capy aham

"I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him."

Sarva bhutesu = to all living beings, samoham = I [Sri Krishna] am equal or impartial. Na me dvesyo asti = no hatred is there [to anyone], na priya = nor any dear [to Sri Krishna]. The Lord says that he harbours no hatred for any nor shows love to any; He is the same to all. Ye = they, who, bhaktya bhajanti = worship with bhakti or love, mam = Me [Sri Krishna], mayi te = they are in Me [Sri Krishna], ca = and, aham =I [Sri Krishna], tesu = in them. Those who worship the Lord with love and do not expect anything in return, are with the Lord and He is with them, always. First half of sloka syas the Lord is equal to all and He has no special hatred or love f or anyone. Buy Lord Sri Narasimha exhibited hatred for Hiranyakasipu and love for Prahalada. So the word samoham does not mean that He is same for both Hiranyakasipu and Prahalada. So, the Lord implies that He is same to all devotees and those who come to worship Him. Those who surrender to Him are not ditinguished, be he a man or animal or god or asura. He does not imply that He is same for those who worship Him or not. For Him, Prahalada, Vibheeshana, Sugreeva, Hanuman, Guha, Vasishta, Sandeepa or Gopika are all equal, as all of them are His devotees. Among those who worship Him, He does not show partiality to any because of education or wealth or birth or body. Earlier He has said that Gyani are dear to Him, So, there are persons dear to Him. So here the Lord implies that one can not claim His love because of one's birth or status, or anything else, but bhakti alone. He does not hate any just because he belonged to an inferior community or he was poor or he was uneducated. Similarly, He does not show love based on his birth or status. He is impartial to all the devotees. Arjuna then asks the Lord as to whether He showed love to anyone. This is replied in the second half of the sloka. Those who worship Him with bhakti for the sake of bhakti are very intimate to Him. Alwar exhibited this intimacy. Five year old Sri Andal could order that He shall not leave Her unprotected [குற்றேவல் எங்களை கொள்ளாமல் போகாது]. That is intimacy. Prahalada, an asura child, could dare to go near the Ugra Sri Narasimha, when all gods and even Sri MahaLakshmi were scared. The Lord also reciprocates their love as we see His love for Gopikas. Sage Sukha was so overwhelmed that he wanted to be born as the dust under the feet of Gopikas. Did He not show love to Gajendra, an animal or Jatayu, a vulture? We will take leave of this Kshetram.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BG 9.30

We will now see the sloka 28:

subhasubha-phalair evam
moksyase karma-bandhanaih
vimukto mam upaisyasi

"In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me."

Sanyasa = relinquished. Here sanyasa does not mean ascetics who wear safron robes and who have renounced worldly life; but those who have dedicated all their actions, their yagnas, their food, their gifts, etc., in favour of the Lord. Sanyasa yoga = such people, yuktatma = with such minds [always dedicated to the Lord]. These people do their actions, not with any selfish motive, nor for any cheap and inferior rewards, but dedicated to the Lord. They are indicated in the words sanyasa-yoga-yuktatma. Moksyase = [such a person] is liberated, evam = in this way [by dedicating all actions to the Lord], subha = auspicious or happiness, asubha = inauspicious or sorrow, phalai = rewards. Happiness comes out of good deeds or punya; and sorrow emerges from bad actions or papa. Karma bandhanai = bound by karma. That is we are bound by our papa and punya which are the results of our actions. From this bondage he is liberated. So a person in sanyasa yoga gets liberated from samsaram, where he is bonded by his actions. Vimukta = such a liberated person, upaisyasi = attains, mam = Me [Sri Krishna]. What do we understand from this? If we do a karma for an inferior reward and done in favour of a god, the karma will yield the desired result but will make the person to be reborn again after the tenure of the god is over and the person will again get into this cycle in samsaram. But when a karma is done with the knowledge that it is not in favour of the god, but to the god's Antharatman, the Lord Sriman Narayana, and the action and results are dedicated to Him, then lower rewards are not attained nor the consequential papa and punya. Therefore, happiness or sorrow are not experienced and so freed from the bondage of samsaram. After thus getting liberated, the person reaches the Lord. We should note that papa and punya are the impediments to reach the Lord. Every action we do will result in papa and punya. So, if we want to avoid papa and punya, there are two ways: 1. Not to do anything, and 2. Even if any action is done, papa and punya should not affect. Latter is never possible as every action will result in papa/punya. Shall we remain passive? That is also not possible. Because we are born and will have to lead life. We can not remain hungry and lose our life; we have no authority to end our life by suicide, as the soul and body are His properties. Our duty is to serve Him with the body given and not to part the soul from the body. Anything done to end one's own life is against Dharma shastras. So we have to earn honestly and maintain our body and family. For earning we have to do some work; which means, karma, and so papa/punya will result. Thus action is must and papa/punya are inescapable. Does it mean we can never get liberated from this cycle of births and deaths? Here only Sri Krishna replies and shows a method, where even as actions are perforemed, papa/punya will not accrue. Many persons reading Gita will get this doubt. After all, even if we want to be honest, our workplace may not be conducive. Any gain means loss for some one else or vice versa. Here we are advised by Sri Krishna. Yes, we have to do karma to make a living. We should first decide the purpose of our actions. We commit so many sins even unknowingly. When we walk, we might be killing so many insects. Even though we know such casualities would be, we justify saying that killing the insects was not our intention. Similarly, as long as we do the actions to make an honest living and feed our families, these actions will not result in papa. But same action is done to amass wealth, then it yields papa. For a contented living we need not struggle in life and work beyond our capacity. Luxurious living makes us to compromise on many virtues and we start all bad actions. Realizing this, will make us to think of the Lord. We can dedicate our actions to the Lord. This way all our actions will not result in papa/punya. Thirumangai Alwar also robbed persons; we praise him. Today's [17th July 2008] lecture is from a place where the Alwar acted to rob. But in the process he was robbed of his robbery and was refined. This place is called Thirumanangkollai [திருமணங்கொல்லை]. Here the festival of Vedupari [வேடு பறி] is celebrated on the night of Panguni Pooram and lasts till the early hours of Panguni Utthiram. IMG_0656_1_1.JPG


Thirumangai Alwar robbed persons to get money to fulfill his promise to Kumudavalli that he would feed thousand Srivaishnavas daily for one year, after which he could marry her. He also needed money to build many temples; in Srirangam he built a huge compound wall. He had a horse named aadalma [ஆடல் மா]. He would ride this horse and start his robbery. The Marriage festival of the Lord Sri Vayalali Manavalan and Sri Amruthavalli Nachiyar is celebrated. Alwar had four disciples -Neermel nadappan[நீர் மேல் நடப்பான்], Nizhalil odhunguvan [நிழலில் ஒதுங்குவான்], Thaloodhuvan [தாள் ஊதுவான்], Tholavazhakkan [தோலா வழக்கன் ]. They would survey to find any person who could be robbed. They noted the Divine couple coming with lots of ornaments and alerted the Chief, Neelan, which was the original name of the Alwar. Enacting Neelan's arrival on the horse, this place would be witnessing lots of persons carrying torches. [see]. It will be about 1230am in the night and the place would be roaring with noise of the devotees and surrounded by the dust clouds. The Lord and Sri Thayar would be in a covered palanquin. The Thieves would surround them and demand the jewellery. The Lord also acts as though He was afraid, would remove all ornaments and heap them on a cloth. Neela would notice one ornament on the toes and would stoop to remove them by his teeth. Seeing his great strength, the Lord would confer the title kaliyan, meaning strong person. Now Kaliyan tries to lift the bundle and carry it; he finds it was impossible to lift and suspects the newly wed Lord has chanted a special mantra. He demands the Lord to teach him that mantra so that he could lift the bundle, and threatens with his knife. The Lord is waiting for this opportunity only and He preaches that mantra in the right ear of Neelan. It is done under a peepal tree [அரச மரம்]. Instantly, Neelan, listening to the Ashtakshra mantra, becomes Alwar [ pasuram vaadinen vadi - வாடினேன் வாடி of Periya Thirumozhi to refer]. Normally, threatening with knife is evil and gets papa. But here, Alwar did it with dedication to the Lord and so he got Moksham.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BG 9.29


We are to have Darshan of Thirumangai Alwar. We are standing in a place called Neenila mutram [நீணிலா முற்றம்]. [நீள் + நிலா முற்றம் = long + courtyard, in moon light]. Alwar is facing South. Opposite the sannidhi is dwjasthambam. Only Three Alwars - Nammalwar in Alwar Thirunagari, Perialwar in Srivilliputhur and Thirumangai Alwar here -have the previlege of dwajasthambam opposite their sannidhis, like the Lord has. Festivals are also celebrated for them. Though Thirumangai Alwar has composed pasurams on the Lord in many temples [86], he had immense love for the Lord Sri Sowriraja Perumal of Thirukkannapuram. When Swami Somasiyandan says Ramanuja or Emperumanar it would be swee to the ears; when swami Parashara Bhatta says Azhagiya Manavala or Sri Ranganatha, it would be sweet to the ears; Nammalwar, when says, Sri Aravindalochana of Tholaivillimangalam [ Irattai Thiruppathi in Nava Thiruppathi], it would be sweet to the ears; likewise, when Thirumangai Alwar says Sri Sowriraja, it would be sweet to the ears. Thus each devotee has an unique taste for the Lord. Thirumangai Alwar had dedicated the entire 100 songs in 8th Century of Periya Thirumozhi for the Lord in Thirukkannapuram [திருக்கண்ண புரம்]. The first decade of 8th Century starts with the pasuram 'silai ilangu..[சிலை இலங்கு..]. Here the Alwar in the guise of the mother of a girl in deep love with the Lord says that 'her' daughter has seen the Lord of Thirukkannapuram and did not want to see anything else. 'Her' daughter had lost herself to the Lord. The Second decade starts with 'thelliyur devar...[தெள்ளியூர் தேவர்..]. Here also the 'mother' laments and asks the Lord, why He was teasing 'her' daughter like this. The 'mother' decides that if 'her' daughter had to survive then she should not see the Lord; and so decides to keep her away from the sight of the Lord, in a distant place. In the second pasuram of 2nd decade in 8th Century, the Alwar says ' neenila mutrathu minnudhal nokkinaal ...[நீணிலா முற்றத்து மின்னுதல் நோக்கினாள்...]. Though the daughter was kept away from the sight of the Lord of Thirukkannapuram, when the daughter looked South, she could see only the Lord in that long courtyard. She saw the Lord at that far off place. She invited her 'mother' and others to look at the Lord. If the Alwar could see the Lord from such a distance place, what to speak of the love of Alwar for Him or the mercy Lord had for the Alwar!! Thus this neenila mutram has a special status; therefore, in this sannidhi also, as the Alwar is facing South, it is presumed he is looking at the Lord of Thirukkannapuram and so this corridor has become the neenila mutram! This is like Sri Rangantha is facing South to grace Vibheeshana. In Thirunedunthandakam, the Alwar sends a bird as a messenger to the Lord. He tells the bird [pelican = நாரை in Tamil], to tell about 'her' love to the Lord at Thirukkannapuram. Swami Manavala Mamunigal came to this place and just near this sannidhi he was studying Periya Thirumozhi along with his disciples. When he was teaching the meaning of this pasuram [8.2.2], he thought that to understand the Alwar's love for the Lord, Swami Manavala Mamunigal should visit Thirukkannapuram and so immediately he started to go to that place along with his disciples. Though the Lord of Thirukkannapuram is captivating, perhaps the Alwar here is more beautiful.
We can see the handsome Alwar here. Among Alwars, it is Thirumangai Alwar, the most handsome. Among the idols of Acharyas, it is the idol of Swami Ramanuja at Sri Perumbhuthur [ near Madras], most beautiful. We do not have words to describe the beauty of this Alwar. We can see how Swami Manavala Mamunigal has portrayed the beauty of the Alwar:
அணைத்த வேலும், embracing spear
தொழுத கையும், folded hands
அழுந்திய திருநாமமும், well imprinted thiruman
ஓம் என்ற வாயும், mouth always chanting om
உயர்ந்த மூக்கும், long nose
குளிர்ந்த முகம், merciful face
பரந்த விழியும், broad eyes
பதிந்த நெற்றியும், broad forehead
நெறித்த புருவமும், well defined eye brows
சுருண்ட குழலும், curly hair
வடிந்த காதும், shapely ears
அசைந்த காது காப்பும், dangling ear rings
தாழ்ந்த செவியும், ears ready to listen to [mantras from the Lord]
சரிந்த கழுத்தும், flowing neck
அகன்ற மார்பும், broad chest
திரண்ட தோளும், bulging shoulders
நெடிந்த முதுகும், long back
குவிந்த இடையும், narrow stomach
அங்கி கயிறும், robes on stomach
தூக்கிய கருங் கோவையும், beautiful hairstyle
தொங்கல் தனி மாலையும், garlands
மிளிர நிற்கிற நிலையும், standing style
திருத்தண்டையும், ornament on feet
வீரக் கழலும், ornament on ankle
தஞ்சமான கால் இணையும், feet in attention
குந்தியிட்ட கணைக் காலும், slightly raised heels
குளிர வைத்த திருவடி மலரும். lotus feet capable of calming our miseries.
With Kumudavalli Nachiyar as consort, they appear as made for each other. After describing Alwar's beauty, Swami Manavala Mamunigal composed a 'long-live' [வாழித் திரு நாமம்] to ward off any evil effects cast on the Alwar [ ஐயன் அருள் மாரி செய்ய அடியிணைகள் வாழி,,,]. We will see next sloka of Gita later.