Brahmasrii Dr K C Varadachari
ALVAR SATHAKOPA’S VISION OF GOD
1. Has the effulgence of Thine face expanded as the effulgence of Thine crown?
Has the effulgence of Thine feet pervaded Thine lotus – seat1
Has the effulgence of Thine waist mixed with the effulgence of Thine yellow garment and ornaments ?
O Mal, Speak Thou ?
2. O Mal! Supermest Light! Speaking (truly) the lotus is not equal either to Thine eyes or feet or hands
1 The Lord stands on the Lotus. The effulgence of the lotus does not add beauty to the Lord’s feet rather the effulgence of His feet casts its radiance on the lotus and makes it shine
Even the purified gold cannot equal the effulgence of Thine divine body.
To praise Thee with analogous drawn from the world, being mere word will express faults alone.
3. Thou art the supremest light which is transcendent. Because there is not one other equal light, art Thou called the Incomparable Light transcendent. O Thou of transcendent Light, who through Thy will hast created the universes, have revealed Thy Form to me. Govinda! I cannot verily describe Thy nature.
4. When it was incapable of keeping Thine flower-like treasure-form in whose navel-lotus this great universe has its source, then Thou gavest an intellect to various philosophies incapable of attaining Thee. If Thou keepest mind in the blossomed tulasi, will not the great (vast) universe suffer?
5. How can I speak fully Thy qualities who art attained without effort (but who is) to be got with difficult tapas, who have an effulgent body with
rays of light spreading all round, who have knowledge without effort, who pervade all objects without limit, who is the knower-destiner (determiner) of the past, present and the future, and who protect the universe in a uniform manner.2
6. Since the Vedic hymnist’s hymns and all its different branches in all the worlds, greatly, Thine qualities describe, but cannot go beyond, O Spouse of Sri, how can I with what speech praise Thee, who have Thine head adorned with red hued Tulasi on thy flowery head, and have Sri who has abandoned the lotus and taken abode in Thy chest?
7. There be many praisers! Out of Thy will Thou hast brought forth first Brahma to create all the water girt worlds.
2 The world is governed impartially and according to Rta, the One Law, the law of truth, satya. That is why the world is a cosmos not a chaos. There is one law-giver and one supreme Law whose expressions are the many laws pertaining to the several planes of existence and worlds.
If the increasing knowledged Hara and other gods who are immortal joined together and praised Thee, will Thine innate qualities be exhausted3
8. Oh Thou of faultless radiant form, neither, increasing nor decreasing, without any uncertainly and other faults, conscient, being all things and controlling all!
When the taintless superconscient head of the gods begins to praise Thee, does the light of Thine perfect lotus-feet become tarnished ?
9. Having in Thine beautiful left hand the disc of unbluntable points, hast Thou not shone by going with Garuda to save Thy service-loving elephant?
If Thou shewest mercy to Thy devotees in the world that is within Thy navel lotus that is caused
3 The qualities are not exhausted either because they are inexhaustible in number or because of their infinite depth and significance. The qualities may not be falsified or distorted by being praised by finite though immortal souls even.
by Thy illimitable knowledge alone, wilt Thine supreme effulgent light not get enshrouded?
10. Thou who art the effulgent light, flower light enjoyable inner meaning of the four Vedas that veil! O Thou who creating all this universe, separated, eaten up, revealed and measured it! knowing Thy lordship(causality), is it a wonder that the moon-crested matted haired (Hara) and the four faced (Brahma) and Indra are standing (before Thee) for the sake of singing Thine lauds?
11. These ten verses out of the Thousand composed without any doubt as the devoted slave by Sathakopa of the big Kurukur, where dwell in joy men who have won knowledge etc., on the wonder producing qualities and deeds and on that real-knowledge granting Veda-expounded Lord, who is other than the wonderful, will, emancipating those who are on this earth of the three kinds of loud-sounding waters, cut off birth (in samsara)
THE FIVE FORMS OF SRINIVASA
Every temple has more than one murti of the Divine. Some have two or three four or five murtis. The temple of Srinivasa on the Tirumalai has five forms. The number of forms varies with the importance of the temple or the Agama which it follows. The five forms of the Lord on the Hills are, according to the Vaikhanasa Agama which is followed, Mulavar (dhruva), the Ugra (snapana), Utsava (malayappan), the Bali (koluvu) and the Kautuka (bhogar). These five forms are stated to be analogically the part of the Brahmavriksa, the root, is the Mulavar, the stem is the Bali, the Utsava and Ugra are the leaves and the Kautuka is the flower. These five forms have different uses (functions) in the temple worship. The Mulavar is the most important. All worship really is of Him through the worship of the other murtis. The Kautuka is intended for all abhisekas including the sahasrakalasabhisekam and also for the sayana (Night). The Mulavar on the Hills has abhisekas on Fridays only. The Utsava murti is for all festivals and all
adornments. Excepting on one occasion when the Ugra murti is taken out of the temple, on every other occasion the Utsava murti is taken out into the streets of Tirumalai so that He could be worshipped by all. The Ugra murti is taken out on the early morning before sunrise on the Kaisika Dvadasi day. He is also worshipped inside the temple specially dvadasaradhana on the Sri Jayanti day (Sri Krishna’s Birthday) The Bali murti is daily to hold Court in front of the Main Grha Mantapam and hear the recitation of the daily stellar time-table and accounts.
In the Pancharatra worship followed at other places, there are recognized usually the Vishnu, Purusa, Satya, Acyuta and Aniruddha corresponding to the Mulavar, Kautaka, Utsava, Ugra and Bali forms of the Lord. The philosophy of Pancaratra upholds the theory of Vyuhas of the Lord to be four, namely, Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, the last three forms having the pairs of auspicious qualities of Satya-jnana, Virya-tejas, and Sakti and bala, respectively.
The Lord as avatara has five forms such as the para, vyuha, vibhava, arca and harda. The representation of these five forms in the icons in the temples is much more important than the four vyuha forms. The Mulavar corresponds to the Para, the transcendent, the Immutable. The Ugra corresponds to the Vyuha, or the Aniruddha, the cosmic creator-sustainer-destroyer who has all the six auspicious qualities, the Utsavar corresponds to the Vibhava or the avatars, and the Kautuka corresponds to the Arca form. The Bali form corresponds to the Antaryami or the Harda. The aim of the ancient teachers of the path of worship both of the Vaikhanasa and Pancaratra systems seems to be to represent correspondentially at first the various levels of the Divine Nature and Form both within the world and beyond. To provide for their worship in the five times (Kalas) is the aim of proper worship. On the Tirumalai the worship is conducted in the five times reckoned as the five bells of the day.
Sri Ramanuja emphasized the fact that Vaikhanasa and the Pancaratra are in fact one sastra or one agama in so far as they conformed to the
worship of the five forms in the five times. Sri Venkatanatha expounded this occult correspondence between the five times and the five forms in his famous Pancaratra raksa. This is a matter for contemplation and meditation of the corresponding form of the Lord in the respective forms. All the forms of the Lord are emanations of the One Transcendent Form, out of Grace to the devotees and creation. According to the Agamas to see difference between these five forms is not only wrong but also delusive. Every man must worship each form as the Supreme who has condescended to appear to the devotee suitable for the preservation of cosmic destiny and purpose, individual enjoyment and service, social welfare and dharma, individual enjoyment and service, social welfare and dharma, and for the grating of knowledge and liberation. To one who has awakened to a sense of the Supreme in His heart and has realized the Antaryami, is open the experience of the five forms in undivided and indivisible glory and puissance.
SRINIVASA AND VEDANTA DESIKA
It is very well known that Sri Vedanta Desika or Venkatanatha was one of the most illustrious teachers of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. It is also acknowledged that he was only second to Sri Ramanuja in every respect. During his own life-time he was considered to be an incarnation of the temple-bell of Sri Venkateswara or Srinivasa of Tirumalai; so effectively did he announce the good-tidings to the world of the ever-present Grace descended on the holy Hill of Tirumalai. Thus Sri Venkatanatha represented the entire tradition of the Tirumalai which from hoary times was the meeting-place of two distinctive and complementary cultural-patterns namely, the Northern Vedic and Southern prabandhaic. He was even acclaimed as the very incarnation of Srinivasa who had taken the wonderful role, even like Sri Rama, to go and meet His devotees through the length and breadth of South India and even the North, and bring them back to
Him the centre of spiritual life and light, and the eternal Archavatar.
Sri Venkatanatha wrote an illustrious poem on Lord Srinivasa entitled, the Dayasataka, of 108 verses on Mercy which he considered was the supreme quality differentiating Srinivasa from other descents (avataras). Every lover of Srinivasa must contemplate and meditate on that work of spiritual excellence, for Sri Venkatanatha has a unique way of presenting the truths of theology inconsonance with the sruti, smrti, itihasa, purana and anubhava.
The work begins with the surrender to the enchanting Hills, serpentine and imposing and above all shining with golden lustre as the Sun plays on it. To Sri Desika it almost looks like the sugar-juice of Divine Lover of Srinivasa which has become the sweet sugar-candy mountain enjoyable within and without, from afar and near.
Then he salutes all the former sages and teachers who have been sent to teach the greatness of the Lord.
The Lord’s nature is not merely to have created the world but to make men reach Him, by sending messengers or messiahs who will bear witness to the glory and grace of God. So splendid is the vision of the descents of the acharyas and alvars, so tremendous and yet so difficult the task imposed on them to make God near to men, that it is purely of the sweet grace of God which made it possible. The ultimate teacher is God along with Sri, His inseparable spouse, and this fact Sri Desika reminds us has always to be borne in mind. The Mother indeed is worshipped next, for the Lord on the Hills is Srinivasa, the abode of Sri also. This feature reconciles the philosophic and theosophic conceptions that the transcendent Being is a divinity, is a couple, divyadampati. The Mother is conceived not as Sakti, power supreme, but as Sreyasi, and Karuna of Srinivasa: Srinivasasya karunam iva rupini. What makes God the loveable and adorable and redeeming person is His love, His sympathy, which grants all knowledge and sustenance, even as a mother does. She is the mother of all. The Karuna indeed is accompanied with the two other personas of the Mother, Bhudevi known as Kshama, and Nila who
prevents the Lord from perceiving the faults of the devotees or those who seek refuge at His feet. Thus is the Lord on the Hills governed by, (or shall we say expresses?) the triple superb qualities which are necessary for saving the souls, of karuna, ksama, and blindness to the faults of devotees, for these faults are natural to men. Thus Srinivasa’s Hill is the ocean of Mercy and on that Love Hill is established the Lord Himself in direct self-descent. It has been also recognized that the Lord because of His mercy, grants all the caturvidha-purusarthas of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa: to every seeker according to his need and fitness and what is ultimately good for him. There have been many who have attained their desires of artha, kama, dharma and moksa or final release. Yogis have realized Him as their inner self and as the Supreme and all. None need be afraid of not getting what he wants, protection from great fear and sin even when he has reviled God. Surrender is the swiftest way and easiest path to get the grace of God. Thus the Lord is addressed as Daya throughout, almost suggesting that we know the Lord only through this attribute.
Though God has other superb and transcendental qualities such as jnana, sakti, virya-bala, aisvarya-tejas, (bodha-balaisvarya-virya-sakti-mukhah), in Lord Srinivasa all these are subordinate to His supreme Daya. Indeed they all are made ‘holy’ by being so subordinate to Daya. None of them by itself or in conjunction can give an adequate description of God nor can they be said to be godly qualities, for they can become arbitrary and tyrannical and so on. That is the reason why Sri Desika clinches the whole theology of Sri Vaishnavism by pointing out that the real differentiating quality which makes Sri Venkatesvara, the God of Gods, devo devatanam, (amararkal adipati) is the transcendent Daya, incomparable Love, supported by knowledge and power, light and ability lordship and verve, (energy) and patience and tolerance. Not even at the time of supreme wrath does the Lord depart from the code of Daya, for it is His very nature (v.98). To His very enemies (to those who hate him) verily He bears love, for even by the punishment given to them they becomes bettered in their natures. Sri Desika shows in one of the most oft-quoted verses how His Mercy is so very powerful that it can make the
greatest sinner (full-sinner) even fall at the feet of the all-saving Lord.
Aham asmy aparadha cakravarti,
Karune tvam ca gunesu sarvabhaumi |
Vidusi sthitim Idrsim svayam mam
Vrsasailesvara padasat kuru tvam ||
“I am the emperor of sinners. And Thou art the Empress of adorable qualities. Thou who knowest this status (of both), do thyself place me at the feet of the Lord of Vrishagiri”.
How wonderful is the conception that Lord’s Love can itself abolish the faults without remainder, faults and sins of every kind, physical, mental, vital and who knows even the spiritual? The Love and Mercy of God knows ways and means by which all faults can be removed without remainder.
The great alvars and teachers of the past and all souls which have felt and experienced the glory and grace of Srinivasa have sought to be born at Tirupati. Alvar Kulasekhara sang and even today the Kulasekharappadi at the Tirumalai Shrine bears witness to that longing desire to feel the wafts of grace-breezes from the personality of the Divine Lord. Sri Desika
echoes and prays for this consummation. Birth at Tirumalai is itself a first step of Grace, in whatever form, it might be. If it be not had, at least residence.
Sri Vedanta Desika’s enjoyment and adoration of the activities of God’s Mercy or Love (Daya) thus run from step to step with increasing tempo so much that every activity of good is referred to Her. Even the final remembrance is something done by God’s Daya, the daily yoga-ksema is something looked after by Her, and indeed every movement of God is impelled by His love. Creation sustention, and destruction or withdrawal of the world as well as the granting of the wealth and enjoyment here of this world and the supreme bliss of freedom in the hereafter are all the activities of Daya-impelled Srinivasa. “Slowly Thou grantest the taste of God to all and gently sublimatest their desires till they desire the Lord alone”, says Desika, for in contrast with the Saccidananda nature of the Divine all these appear mere trifle and of the size of a cow foot. Sri Venkatesvara is, because of this Grace-nature, the great transmutor of human nature and the maker of divine nature. It is because of His Grace all gods and
men enjoy happiness, but so sublimated too do they become at the end that they no longer seek the lower pleasures or artha and kama but the interminable undiminishing enjoyment and service of God alone. Sri Venkatesvara is the same Purna Purusha and Purana Purusha who had incarnated or taken avatars well-known as the dasavataras and Sri Desika shows that all these are out of love and are acts of Grace (verses 82-88). He is also to be the Kalki. Kalau Venkatanayaka: in Kali, Venkatanayaka is the Saviour.
Concluding this masterly prayer to Daya, Sri Venkatesvara’s inimitable attribute, Sri Desika makes his bhara samarpana seeking complete protection from all faults. Even as a Mother He should condone all faults and take the child back. The great idea is that Sri Venkatanatha (Desika) had absolutely no doubt that the Lord on the Hills of Tirumalai is verily the Supreme Absolute, God-head who is easily accessible and adorable, who only can save and redeem and transform all souls without partiality for
SPIRITUAL Healing has been indeed one of the most important achievements of god-knowers. Every religious man is presumed to have the power to heal and men have recourse to them for cures. Spiritual Cure is however much different from the general curative properties of the religious consciousness or spiritual touch. All the world over the faith in the curative properties of the spiritual consciousness has persisted. Buddha healed souls; Christ healed both the bodies and the souls. Formerly priests were both votaries of God and doctors of the bodies. Medicine men were firstly spiritual men. Then, thanks to the growth of knowledge of herbs and surgery, other persons also took to this profession of medicine men. It is clear however that the process of how the cure works is not known to the religious man, whereas the process of cure is capable of being explained by the ordinary
scientist on the basis of the proprieties of the herbs and knowledge of the physiology of the body. Ayurveda as well as Allopathy, Homeopathy as well as the siddha and surgery, are based on the knowledge of causes and effects. Little, however, is known to the religious man who just blesses the patient, and the cure is affected (so it is held). This is however a partial truth.
Yogis have, it is claimed, a psychological insight into the nature of the psychic causes which have led to the manifestation of the disease. Being aware of the psychonic system, the yogi who undertakes to effect cures tries to rectify the mistakes of the psychonic forces, in the several nadis Ida, Pingala and Sushumna and others, and these rectifications effect the cure or restoration of the health in the body. The real cause of mistakes in the psycho-physical system is the individual karma. Karma or the result of former actions is the cause of disease, just as much as it is the cause of disasters and the cycle of birth and death, ignorance and suffering. Disease is the physical manifestation of the maladjustment due to improper karma. The treatment of Karma is thus a primary concern for the seer whereas the treatment of the effects of karma is
the concern of the medical man and even the yogi siddha. Indian Yogins however knew that the treatment of causes is the more necessary in cases of radical diseases such as leprosy, deformations in the limbs, deafness and dumbness, blindness, crookedness of the spine, & etc. The technique of relieving suffering from diseases however calls for explanation. Some persons presume that the religious man or seer who seeks to cure the patient can abolish it straight away by giving medicated prasadam (cloves, leaves, fruit or water). This process would be identical with the ordinary medical man who administers counter substances or salts or herbs. The formula of medication by mantras is rather obscure but it has the sanction of long usage, not always trustworthy perhaps. The second method which is accepted by the seer is rather more serious. It is almost similar to the process of ‘transference’ in psychoanalysis. The psycho-analytic meanings of ‘transference’ are many, and in this instance the meaning is that ‘to cure the patient, to utilize intensive suggestive rapport’ which transfers the patient’s original fixation to the physician. Freud claimed that this transference occurs in every treatment of a neurosis,
although this is neither desired nor induced by either party. (cf. Basic writings of Sigmund Freud p. 936). The same is the case with the religious approach. The patient transfers his love, loyalty and faith to the doctor. The doctor becomes the object, and the transference here is unique. It is the business of the doctor then to abolish this transference through pointing out the causes of this transference, to the patient. The seer is the person to whom one goes to escape from or get relief from the distress. The seer takes over the whole disease on himself for the disease is a karmic acquisition and its results must work themselves out. No action can be abolished nor its fruits once it has started. The sancita karma or prarabda karma cannot be abolished or stemmed. The seer takes it over on himself in order to relieve the individual patient. Then he seeks to transfer this to the Cosmic Sprit who alone can rectify this misdirection. The process is through rapport with the patient or rather psychic mutual rapport. The disease is taken over by the doctor and by his knowledge he expels it out of himself. This process needs lot of sympathy and universal love on the part of the seer or doctor, and is fraught with great dangers to
the seer himself. Most psychic curists undertake this process of transference of diseases of the patients on to themselves and then try to expel them from out of themselves. This is dangerous and many great religious men have paid the penalty of having had to suffer for the sins of their followers. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said that the cancer in his throat was due to his having taken over the sins of the disciples. Nityagopal, another Bengali saint and contemporary of Sri Ramakrishna, also made the statement that he suffered from diabetes at the end because he effected the cure of a dire disease of a devout disciple’s son. The acharyas of the Sri Ramanuja School who were empowered to perform the bhara-nyasa, the process of transference made by the disciple and accepted by the acharya as mediator of one’s burden of sin etc., realised that this process of transference is fraught with danger. Accordingly one school taught the modification of the principle of transference or bhara-nyasa by which the individual is directly asked to surrender to the Divine Lord by his own speech under the guidance of the acharya rather than the more complicated process of transference first to the acharya who in turn has to
transfer it to the Divine Lord. We can also clearly see that some very great men who have attained siddhi could not escape from this transference of karma on to themselves which had led to their suffering from diseases though they had destroyed their own karma and their results. I may suggest that this is likely to be the explanation of the cancer of Sri Ramana and the renal trouble of Sri Aurobindo. On no other account could their diseases be explained nor their passing away. It is well known that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had undertaken the psychic or spiritual cures of many persons which included major difficulties and diseases.
Om Tat Sat