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Panguni Uttaram

From: muralidhar rangaswamy (rangaswamy_m_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Apr 10 1998 - 07:36:02 PDT

Dear Friends, 

On this most sacred Panguni Uttaram day, I wish to share a few 
thoughts on the Divince Couple of Srirangam. Panguni Uttaram is 
the Tirunakshatram of Sri Ranganayaki Thayar. The month of Panguni 
is sacred since the Tirunakshatram of Lord Ranganatha, Lord Rama 
and Sri Ranganayaki Thayar occur during this month. A number of 
important events transpired on this day. The marriage of Lord Rama 
to Sita Piratti was solemnized by sage Vashishta at Mithila on 
this day. Some accounts of the Ramayana state that Hanuman returned 
from Lanka on this day and provided the glad tidings of locating 
Sita to Lord Rama. It is also believed that Lord Rama on this very day 
offered prayers to his Kula Dhanam (Lord Ranganatha) and began his 
campaign to destroy Ravana. This is the only day on which the Divya 
Dampatis of Srirangam are seen together in Utsavam. The Utsavam 
takes place at the royal court located at the western entrance of 
the great Temple of Lord Ranganatha. Interestingly, this is the only 
entrance which does not have a Rajagopuram. It is incredible that 
Sri Ramanujacharya chose this blessed day for delivering the Gadya 
Trayam. Perhaps our Paramacharya was greatly influenced by the 
extreme sacredness of this day to bless us with the cardinal 
doctrine of unconditional surrender to the Lotus feet of the Lord 
and derive the bliss of eternal Kaimkaryam to the Divine Couple.

Sri Ramanujacharya returned from Tirunarayanapuram to Srirangam. 
On the blessed Panguni Uttaram day, he gathered his disciples and 
visited the great Temple of Lord Ranganatha. Our Paramacharya was 
greatly moved by the majestic sight of the Divya Dampatis beautifully 
decorated in Utsavam at the Royal Court of Lord Ranganatha. As a 
result of this Anubhavam, Sri Ramanujacharya poured out his heart 
in an extremely soulful, highly intimate, and deeply intense 
SharaNagati in the Sharanagati Gadyam and the Sri Ranganatha Gadyam. 
As a result, he was blessed with an exquisite vision of Sri Vaikuntam 
which he brilliantly described in the Sri Vaikunta Gadyam. The Gadya 
trayam is our Paramacharya's Svanishtai Prapatti at the feet of the 
Divine couple. Sri Madhava Kannan provided a brilliant translation 
of the Gadya Trayam in the SharaNagati journal. Repeated reading of 
these excellent works of our Paramacharyan only serves to increase 
one's desire for an Anubhavam of the Acharya and reinforce one's 
faith (MahavisvAsam) based on the Lord's assurance to our Paramacharyan.

The Gadyam form of salutation is a prose-poem eulogy in which long 
strings of adjectives and epithets are interspersed with shorter 
strings to provide a mesmerizing effect on the both the listener and 
the person rendering it. This form of salutation is unique to 
the Srivaishnava tradition. Besides the Gadya Trayam, I am familiar 
with the Raghuveera Gadyam by Swami Desikan, the Srinivasa Gadyam 
and Narasimha Gadyam. Gadyam when recited along traditional lines 
with carefully selected stopping points tends to create a lilting
effect on the ear. Examples of such salutations are 
"TadanubhavajanitAnava dhikAtishaya PrItikAritAsheshAvastOchita 
SheshAsheshataikarati Rupa 
Nitya KinkarO Bhavani" of the Sri Ranganatha Gadyam, "Tanutara Vishika 
VithAdana ViGhataita VisharAru SharAru TatakA TatakEya" of the 
Raghuveera Gadyam, "Sheshachala Garudachala, Vrishabhachala 
Narayanachala Anjanachaladrishikari MAlAkulasya" of the Srinivasa 
Gadyam and "BheeshaNa Bhadra Simha Jaya Simha Roopa Simha, RaNa Simha 
Veera Simha" of the Narasimha Gadyam.

The SharaNagati Gadyam and Sri Ranganatha Gadyam are unparalleled in 
establishing the primordial doctrine of SharNagati, fundamental to 
Bhagavad Ramanuja Darshanam. Several references from Shruti can 
be associated with salutations contained in the Gadya Trayam. For 
example, the salutation "Sthairya" denoting the eternal and permanent 
nature of the Lord is reflective of the Narayana Sooktam Rk
"Patim VishvasyAtmeshvaragam Shashvatagam Shivamachyutam". The ultimacy 
of Lord Narayana declared in the Gadya Trayam arises from 
the Narayana Sooktam salutation "Narayana Param Brahma Tatvam Narayana 
Para:" and the Narayana Upanishad salutation "NishkaLo NiranjanO 
NirvikalpO NirAkyatha: Shuddho Deva Eko Narayana: Na DvitiyOsti 
Kaschit". The eulogy "Evam Bhoota  Bhumi NeeLa Nayaka" can be 
related to the Purusha Sooktam Rk "HrIscha TE LakshmIscha Patnyou" 
The Shuddha Satva permeating Sri Vaikuntam glorified in the Sri 
Vaikunta Gadyam is reflective of the Purusha Sooktam Rk "Tamasa: 
ParastAt". The act of unconditional surrender to the lotus feet of 
the Lord is described in the Narayana Upanishad as "Narayana 
SayujyamavApnOti Narayana SayujyamavApnOti". As a result of 
attaining the Lotus feet of the Lord one is blessed with the eternal 
bliss of Bhagavad and Bhagavata Kaimkaryam serving at the pleasure 
and for the pleasure of the Lord. This is described in the Vishnu 
Sooktam salutation "TadvishNoh Paramam Padagam SadA Pashyanti 
Soorayaha" and the Taittriya Upanishad salutation "Sa YekO 
BrahmaNanandA" The Saama Vedam greatly glorifies this aspect of the 
Lord. 

H.H. Swami Rangapriya Mahadesikan of Bangalore gave an excellent 
Pravachana Seva on Gadya Trayam during Adiyen's visit to his Asramam 
last year. One key point of note from Swami's Pravachana Seva was 
the disctinction between service rendered as a servant and service 
rendered as a slave. Swami said "A servant is one who works for 
wages. He has a separate existence, separate life, home, and family
from his master. He only pleases his master for earning money and 
and asks "Kim Kuru Kim Kuru?". However, one who has surrendered to 
Lord Narayana is eternally bound to the Lord like a slave. He has 
no separate existence, home, life or family from his master and most 
importantly does not desire or receive wages for his Kaimkaryam. 
He serves exclusively for the pleasure and at the pleasure of the Lord." 
One can see this from Sri Ramanujacharya's desire for eternal 
Kaimakaryam in the Sri Ranganatha Gadyam salutation 
"Nitya KaimkaryaikaratirUpa Nitya DAsyam DAsyatIti VishvAsapUrvakam 
Bhagavantam Nitya KinkaratAm PrArthayE". 

The most detailed exposition and commentary on the Gadya Trayam was 
undertaken by Sri Periya VacchAn PiLLai in Sanskrit. Our Bhakti list 
archives and the SharaNagati journal contain fairly detailed 
translations of the Gadya Trayam. Therefore, I shall briefly outline the 
salient aspects of the three Gadyams in this note. The SharaNagati 
Gadyam commences with a eulogy of Sri Ranganayaki Thayar. In it 
our Paramacharya seeks the blessings, support and grace of Thayar 
for his Svanishtai Prapatti to the Lord of Srirangam. The salutation 
Akhila Jagan Mataram Asman Mataram is noteworthy because, prior 
to seeking the favour of his father (PitAsi Lokasya), the Acharya 
points out that it is imperative to obtain the blessings and support 
of the Supreme Mother of the Universe. This also points to the exalted 
role of Mahalakshmi Thayar in the process of granting Prapatti. The 
process of granting SharaNagati is a Yajna performed by the Lord. In 
this Yajna, Thayar offers her help and support to the Lord as 
VishNu Patni. Her merciful glances filled with Vatsalyam urge the 
Lord to rush to the succour of the Baddha JivAtma. It is this blessing 
that Sri Ramanujacharya seeks of Thayar in the opening salutation 
of the SharaNagati Gadyam. 

Having successfully received Thayar's Anugraham, our Acharyan proceeds 
to glorify the Lord splendidly. Our Acharya extols the Lord's limitless 
auspicious attributes, various ornaments and jewels which  adorn his 
Tirumeni (Kaustubha, PitAmbara, KarNa Kundala, MuktAdamodara). The Divya 
Ayudhas (Shanka, Chakra, Gada, Saranga, and Nandaka) are exquisitely 
praised. This is followed by NaichyanusandAnam on the part of the 
Acharya in which he confesses all of his shortcomings and traces it to 
his inextricable association with Karma on account of being immersed in 
the endless ocean of Samsara. He also admits to commiting Bhagavad 
Apacharam, Bhagavata Apacharam and 
Nanavida Apacharam and seeks the Lord's forgiveness for all his sins.
The Acharya then requests the Lord for Para Bhakti, Para JnAna and 
Parama Bhakti and glorifies the Dvaya Mantram as he formally surrenders 
to the Lord's Lotus feet. The Acharya's 
request for Para Bhakti, Para JnAna and Parama Bhakti was granted when 
the Lord of Srirangam broke his Archa Samadhi and addressed the 
Acharya thus "DvayamArthAnusandhanEna  Saha Sadaivam VaktA YavatSharira 
PatamAtraIva SrirangE SukhamAsva" (Remain in Srirangam 
engaged in constant recitation of the Dvaya Mantram until thy body 
falls to the earth). It is extremely heartening to see Sri Madhava 
Kannan Swamin's post encouraging us to constantly recite this blessed 
Mantram. The conclusion of the SharaNagati Gadyam contains important 
salutations from the Ramayana (Ramo DvirnAbhi BhashatE)and Srimad 
Bhagavad Gita (Charma Shlokam). These are meant to reinforce 
MahAvisvAsam in all his ShishyAs. 

As a result of this Anubhavam and the Lord's command, our Paramcharya 
derived supreme bliss. He then craves for more of the same.  Fearful of 
being disturbed from this esctatic state, the Acharya seeks a method for 
continued Bhagavad Anubhavam. He resolves that the best 
way of continued Anubhavam is by being of exalted service to the Lord 
at all times in all forms under all circumstances (Tadanubhava 
JanitAnavadhikAtishaya PreetikAritAsheshAvastOchitAsheshAsheshataikarati 
Rupa). Accordingly, 
he requests this of the Lord in the Sri Ranganatha Gadyam. 
The structure of the Sri Ranganatha Gadyam is similar to the 
SharaNagati Gadyam in that it commences with a eulogy of the Lord 
and his limitless auspicious attributes, followed by a confession of 
shortcomings on account of association with SamsAra in a mood of 
intense Naichyanusandanam (the salutations Tila Tailavat Daru 
Vandivat and SamastAtma Guna Viheena: reflect this), as a prelude to 
the formal SharaNagati to the Lord's Lotus feet at the conclusion of the 
Gadyam. As a result of this, the Acharya was blessed with a 
beautiful vision of Sri Vaikuntam which is brilliantly described 
in the Sri Vaikunta Gadyam.

The Vaikunta Gadyam is a description of Sri Vaikuntam through the 
eyes of a liberated one (Mukta Jivan). In it is contained the 
important message that Surrender to Lord Narayana's Lotus feet 
(Narayana Sayujyam) results in SAlOkyam (attaining the abode of 
Lord Narayana), SarUpyam (Shuddha Satvam) and Sameepyam (remaining 
close to the Lord). These aspects are brought out by our 
Paramacharyan with consummate effect. The eternal Kaimkaryam 
performed by Nityasooris like Ananta, Garuda, Vishvaksena and the 
Dwara Palakas to Sri Vaikuntam is most delightful.  

Everything correctly stated in this note is entirely due to the 
grace and Anugraham of my Acharyan, H.H. Srimad Andavan Swamigal of 
Srimad Paundarikapuram Asramam, and my mentor, Sri Rangapriya 
Mahadesikan Swami, of Bangalore. All errors and shortcomings are 
mine alone.

Namo Narayana,

Sri Ranganayika Sametha Sri Ranganatha ParabrahmaNe Namaha,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy     
  
    

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