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Bhagavata Seshatvam and its manifestations

From: sadagopan iyengar (
Date: Tue Aug 21 2001 - 09:30:44 PDT

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedantadesika Yatindra
Mahadesikaya Nama:

BhAgavata SEshatvam and its Manifestation

 The essence of our Sri VisishtAdvaita SampradAyA lies
 Its emphasis on the relationship of SEshA and SEshi ,
subsisting between the individual soul and the
ParamAtmA respectively..
Defining SEshatvam, Sri BhAshyakarA says" paragata
atisaya AdhAna icchhayA upAdEyatvamEva yasya swaroopam
sa sEsha:para:sEshi". Thus, broadly, one who exists
solely for the purposes of being of some use to
another, is a SEshA , and the counterpart, for whose
sole benefit he exists, is the SEshi. The very reason
for our existence is to be of service or kainkaryA to
the Lord and to Him only. However, full- blown
Bhagavat SEshatvam manifests itself in service not
only to the ParamAtmA, but also to His devotees who
are near and dear to Him, viz., BhAgavatAs. Sri
Tirumangai Mannan, (who had the distinction of Sri
ashtAkshara upadEsam directly from Sriman NArAyANA),
dwelling on the quintessence of the Moola mantra, says
"Uttradum un adiyArkku adimai", emphasizing the
importance of BhAgavata SEshatvam. Sri KulasEkhara
PerumAl too likes to be thought of as the most menial
servant of His servants- "tvat bhritya bhritya
parichAraka bhritya bhritya bhrityasya bhritya iti mAm
smara". And in an almost literal translation, Sri
NammAzhwAr says, "endai pirAn tanakku adiyAr adiyAr
tam adiyAr adiyAr tamakku adiyAr adiyAr tam adiyAr
adiyOngalE".    "adiyArkku ennai Atpaduttha Vimalan"
of Sri TiruppANAzhwar, and "PEsuvAr adiyArgaL emtammai
virkavum peruvArgaLe" of Sri Bhattar PirAn, are
variations of the same theme of BhAgavata SEshatvam.

Conversely, any apachArA  done to BhAgavatAs ,in word,
thought or deed, makes EmperumAn angry beyond measure-
Ambarisha Charitram, Gajendra Moksham, ChAndili
vrittAntam etc. stand testimony to this.

However, the test of true BhAgavata Seshatvam lies in
a person's response to unfair accusations or abuse by
another bhAgavatA- how should one respond  when a
BhAgavatA harms one by word or deed?   Quoting the
Lainga PurANa slOkA, "RookshAksharANi sriNvan vai
tatha BhAgavatEritAn
            PraNAma poorvakam kshAntyA yO vadEt
VaishnaO hi sa:"
   Swami Desikan lays down that a blemishless
SriVaishnavA,  who is the target of undeserved abuse
from another bhAgavatA, should profusely apologise to
the abuser, with prostrations. Thus, even in the face
of patently false accusations, a true Sri VaishnavA
does not protest his innocence , much less indulge in
counter abuse ( for, that would lead to the
unpardonable sin of bhAgavatApachArA), but meekly
accepts the other bhAgavatA's harsh words, and what is
more, apologises abjectly to the accusing bhAgavatA
for having caused offence to the latter.
  To quote an instance from Swami Desikan's divya
charitram, a few bhagavatas, jealous of the AchAryA's
spreading glory and undisputed mastery over the two
schools of Vedanta, hung their footwear across Sri
Desikan's doorstep, so that they would touch Swami's
tirumudi when he came out. When he saw this, Sri
Tooppul Pillai , unperturbed by this insult, and true
to his own teachings, remarked " some swear by karma
yOgA and others by GnAna yOgA-but I seek refuge only
in the PadukAs of Vishnu BhaktAs". ( "Karma
avalambakA:kEchit, kEchit gnAna avalambakA:-vayam tu
Hari dAsAnAm pAda rakshA avalambakAJ Put to shame by
this naichyAnusandanam, the jealous bhAgavatAs
apologized to Swami Desikan.

 Once, Sri KandAdai LakshmanAchArya, an AchArya
purusha, passed by in his palanquin, in the street
where Swami Desikan had his tirumAligai , at
Srirangam. .Immersed in the Sri Bhashya, Swami did not
notice the Acharya's procession, till some of Sri
LakshmnAchArya's sishyAs came into Swami Desikan's
house and berated him for not having paid his respects
to the passing AchArya. Immediately,Swami Desikan
rushed to the AcharyA's tirumAligai, apologized to him
for the omission and returned with regret for having
occasioned such a response on the part of Sri
Lakshmanacharya's disciples. However, as a result of
this dastardly bhAgavatApachArA, Sri Lakshmanacharya's
health began to deteriorate day by day. Suspecting
this to be the outcome of some major sin, he enquired
of his sishyAs whether any of them had indulged in
unbecoming conduct. One of them confessed to having
abused Swami Desikan verbally and physically, for
reasons indicated above. Immediately, overcome by
guilt, Sri Lakshmanacharya rushed to Swami Desikan (
who, in the meantime, sorrowed by repeated abuses, had
moved to Tirunarayanapuram),prostrated before him and
sought his pardon. By imbibing Sri Vedantacharya's
SripAda tirttham, Sri Lakshmanacharya regained his
health, and to remind him eternally of this episode,
christened his newborn son, "teerttha piLLai".  

Another great AchAryA, Sri Nampillai, (the eminent
sishyA of the venerable Sri Nanjeeyar, and the
prasishya of Sri Parasara Bhattar) was also the victim
of such jealousy, and his conduct on the occasion
shines as a model .Sri Nampillai's fame as an acharya
had spread far and wide. KandAdai Tozhappar, the
great-grandson of Sri MudaliAndAn, was extremely
jealous of Sri Nampillai's vaibhavam, and one day,
unable to contain himself, abused Sri Nampillai with
the harshest of words, right in front of Sri
Ranganatha, where the ghOshti had assembled for
mangalasasanam. Sri Nampillai,taken aback by Sri
Tozhappar's outburst, silently returned home with
tears in his eyes. When Sri Tozhappar returned home,
his erudite wife, who had heard of her husband's
unbecoming conduct, told him in no uncertain terms
that he had been guilty of the grossest form of
bhAgavatApachArA, and exhorted him to seek Sri
Nampillai's pardon. Sri Tozhappar, who was a great
vidwAn in his own right, realized his grievous folly
and set out to Sri Nampillai's tirumAligai to make
amends.. Imagine his surprise when he found the
AchAryA lying across his (Sri Tozhappar's) doorstep.
Upon inquiry, it transpired that Sri Nampillai was
grieved at having caused occasion to Sri Tozhappar to
be annoyed, and had lain at Sri Tozhappar's doorstep
all night, lacking the courage to go inside, for
apologizing to Sri Tozhappar. Sri Tozhappar was moved
beyond measure by the sEshatva kAshttA displayed by
Sri Nampillai, and, lifting him up, embraced him and
said "I had thought so far that you are the Acharya
for a few disciples; now I know that you are fit to be
the Acharya for the entire world", and apologized to
him profusely for his uncalled for tirade. Thenceforth
Sri Nampillai came to be called "LokAchAryA".
The conduct of AchArya purushAs like Sri Nampillai and
Swami Desikan, who had much to be proud of, and yet
considered themselves to be the humblest servants of
Sri Vaishnavas, holds many a lesson for people like
adiyen , who are ready to take umbrage at the
slightest provocation. Adiyen would like to conclude
with a sloka from Srimad Rahasyatrayasaram, which in
turn quotes from Sriranga MAhAtmyam:
"TadAshrayasya AshrayaNyAt tasya tasya cha tasya cha
 samsEvanAt narA lOkE pooyantE sarva pAtakai:"
Srimate SriLakshmiNrsimha divya padukasevaka Srimate
SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya
                                -dasan, sadagopan.

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