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Re: dhyana

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Mon Aug 31 1998 - 12:15:18 PDT

Sri Chandarasekar wrote...
> >nAdhamuni being a great yOgi; I read in that article that he had 
> >a vision of nammAzhwAr through his yOgic powers and devotion.
> >Has nAdhamuni delivered any ideas on this subject in his works?

SrI nAthamuni wrote a work called yoga-rahasya, which 
contained the essence of his method of bhakti-yoga. 
Unfortunately, this work got lost over the years and
is no longer available.

The particular method of bhakti-yoga that was cultivated
by nAthamuni was passed on to a select few disciples. In
those days, some of the more esoteric disciplines were
only imparted to a few who were considered capable of
executing them properly.  In the time of SrI yAmunAcArya
(ALavandAr), two generations after nAthamuni, the nAthamuni's
yoga was being practiced only by one of his aged disciplies,
tirukkurukai kAvalappan.  tirukkurukai kAvalappan would 
regularly engage in sustained dhyAna on bhagavAn, and would 
be unaware of the world outside, much as a lover is unaware
of anything else when embraced by his or her beloved 
(as the Upanishad says).

A time was appointed for ALavandAr to learn the secret
of yoga from tirukkurukai kAvalappan.  However, ALavandAr
became heavily involved in the kainkarya for the Lord at
a divya-desam in Kerala, and forgot about the appointment
and missed it.  Shortly thereafter, tirukkurukai kAvalappan
passed away and attained the Lord, and the particulars of 
yoga as practiced by nAthamuni were therefore lost.

This story is mentioned in the 6000 guru paramparA prabhAvam.
Sri Kazhiyur Narayanan wrote:
> in fact Srivaishnava acharyas have not given any impotance to things 
> like dhayana,yoga etc.

I think that there is some terminological confusion here.  
In the Sri Vaishnava sampradAya, true yoga is the same as 
bhakti-yoga, which is the discipline described by Ramanuja 
in the Sribhashya and Gitabhashya. Bhakti is not divorced 
from yoga; however, what has been generally abandoned after
nAthamuni is adopting bhakti-yoga by itself as a _means_
for attaining the Lord.  SaraNAgati is seen as being more
appropriate and fulfilling for people these days.  There is
also a viewpoint held by some acharyas that paripUrNa 
SaraNAgati is more in line with the inherent nature of 
the individual.

However, this does not mean that dhyAna / yoga is to be
completely abandoned.  It is merely used now to experience
God in this life itself, as part of His service.  Ideally,
we should see His kalyANa-guNas everyday in every aspect
of life.  We should begin and end the day meditating on
Him.  This is what I mean by "dhyAna". In fact, Ramanuja
uses the word dhyAna countless times in his "nitya-grantha",
as contemplation is a very important part of tiru-ArAdhanam,
the daily worship of the Lord.

My question was aimed at how to focus my mind even for
a few minutes, during mantra-japam.  This is only the first
step to true "dhyAna" as described by Ramanuja (and recently
mentioned by Sri M.A. Alwar of Melkote on this list).

> to my small mind, all this only lead to a state of
> "i am performing this" attitude inspite of one'e best effort to think of 
> Sriman Narayana on such a mission.
> this thought itself goes against a srivaishnava's swarupam who should 
> always do anything either for his preethi or he beleives that whatever 
> happens is
> his divine work(alagila vilaiyattudai-refer kamber on his opening verse 
> on Sri Ramayana.)

I agree 100% that the ego should be sublated and this
is one of the problems we face in day-to-day life, even
during contemplation.  But is bhagavad-guNa-anubhavam,
which was practiced by all our Alvars and acharyas,
necessarily indicative of ego? Or, to restate the question,
what does bhagavad-guNa-anubhavam mean if it does not
mean "dhyAna"?