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SrI Murali Kadambi's questions on pA'ncarAtra 6 and 7.

From: Narasimhan Krishnamachari (
Date: Mon Dec 18 2000 - 11:09:12 PST

Dear SrI Murali Kadambi:

I have given below the responses to your questions on pA'ncarAtra 6 and
7 to the best of my ability.  I request other learned members from the
list to supplement and correct these responses as needed.  I hope I
have addressed all the questions you raised.  If note, please feel free
to raise them again.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan


Message: 13
   Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 16:46:25 -0000
Subject: Re: pA'ncarAtra - An Overview - Part 7.

Dear SrimAn Krishnamachari swAmin,

As always, your articles are very delectable to read and full of 
information.  I enjoy reading them.

I do have some (dumb) questions, purely resulting from my ignorance.  
So, if you could kindly answer them I would really appreciate that.

In Part 6 of your series you have written the following regarding the 
para aspect of the Lord:
                The three modes are together called
        the Supreme Deity, called variously as vAsudeva,
        nArAyaNa, bhagavAn, AtmA, paramAtmA, vishNu,
        kshetraj~na, etc.  In this para or transcendental
        mode, the Deity is like an ocean of nectar
        altogether devoid of waves, quiet, profound,
        limitless, unfathomable, pure consciousness,
        the abode of the six qualities in fullness,
        altogether non-material in nature, devoid of
        attributes (nirguNa), devoid of aspects
        (nishkala), without discernible forms (nirAkAra,
        nira'nga), an embodiment of Absolute Bliss and
        Peace. VAsudeva is in a plane where knowledge
        and bliss abound unobstructed.


1.  You have said that in the para-vAsudeva form, the Lord is 
essentially not discernible.  Does it mean that he does not have a 
divya-mangaLa vigraha bedecked with infinitely precious jewels, 
weapons, and the like?  Can we infer that this form of the Lord is 
not accessible even to the muktas and nithyas let alone to yOgis?


This just means the effulgence associated with his form is
indescribably great.  SvAmi deSikan describes the Sun's effulgence as
but a small fraction of His effulgence, and His effulgence is the
simultaneous effulgence of thousands of suns at the same time.  

The other significance of this description is that the six guNa-s in
this form are all in their fullness and indistinguishable from each
other, unlike in the vyUha forms.  

abhinna pUrNa shADguNya vibhavena upabRmhitam      |
              bhAbhir sitAdibhir dIptam abhinnAbir nirantaram    ||  
(sAttva samhitA 4.3)

The term "nirguNa" that was used in my write-up, which I took from SrI
Rao's book, should be understood as indicating that no one guNa
predominates the others, but all guNa-s are at their full potency, but
they are not active in the process of creation etc. in this form;  the
processes of creation etc. are given expression through the vyUha

As far as your question on whether there is a form associated with the
transcendental mode, and their accessibility to muktas and nityas, the
following will clarify these points.

>From SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam as translated by SrI SrInivAsa rAghavan:

In the para rUpa or transcendental form, the Lord has a body endowed
with all the six qualities.  He shines with intense brilliance and
luminosity, and has hands and feet all around.  This is called the para
rUpa which is unique, which is the support of all, and which is
all-pervasive.  From this emerge three other forms (SamkarshaNa,
pradyumna, and aniruddha), which are distinguished by the possession of
knowledge and other qualities allotted to each one of them and which
bestow the fruit, namely Beatitude.

He quotes from the sAttvata samhitA, which specifically uses the word

   shAdguNya vigraham devam bhAsvaj-jvalana tejasam  |
   sarvatah pANi pAdam tatů.||
   param etat samAkhyAtam ekam sarvASrayam vibhum   |
   etat pUrvam trayam ca anyat j~nAdyaih bheditam guNaih   ||
   viddhi etat vyUha sam~jnam vai nih: Sreyasa phala apradam   |
   mukhyAnuvRttibhedena yuktam j~nAnAdibhih guNaih   ||

Based on all the above, bhagavAn in His para form is endowed with a
body of Suddha sattva, with intense brilliance, with infinite hands and
feet all around, and with the fullness of all the kalyANa guNa-s
(shAdguNya paripUrNatvam).  


Regarding your question as to whether He is accessible to multas etc.
in this form, please note SrI BhaTTar's following commentary:     

"Para is that form which is not conditioned by any limiting adjuncts
and which is not the effect of another object.  It is endowed with the
six qualities (knowledge, strength, etc.).  It is a great ocean with
surging waves.  It has a world of enjoyment that is boundless and
eternal, and in which it exercises undisputed sovereignty.  That again
is the object of attainment for the released souls".    

Please note the last sentence:  In this form, He is the object of
attainment of the released souls - SrI BhaTTar's own words are: 
muktoasRpyam anupAdhikam avasthAnam. 

Also, from the ahirbudhnya samhitA (9.30)-

nitayir muktair nirAbAdhair nirmalAnanda lakshaNaih    |
sAkshAt paSyadbhih ISAnam nArAyaNam anAmayam    ||

indicating that the nityas and the mukta-s always enjoy this form of

>From SrI Ramachandra Rao's book. P. 107, 

"It is the form assumed by para vAsudeva for being meditated upon by
the yogins (yoginAm dhyAnAlambanArtham bahgavataiva kalpitah)". 

The transcendental and emanatory forms are in the high heavens, known
directly only to the immutable masters (nitya sUris) and emancipated
souls (mukta-s) - vaikunThEsmin para vyUho sadA paSyanti sUrayah).

In Part 7, you have written the following regarding the antaryami 
aspect of the Lord:
                The antaryAmi mode is the extension of
        aniruddha in the hearts of all devotees, WITHOUT
        ASSUMING A SHAPE.  As indicated earlier, not all
        samhitA-s list the arcA and antaryAmi modes as
        separate modes.  The sAttvata samhitA considers
        the para and vyUha as the ones in SrI vaikuNTham,
        and the vibhava as all the forms on this earth.

(NOTE: For clarity, I have taken the liberty of upper-casing the 
relevant text.)

Same as before.  How, then, do yOgis visualize Him in the cave of the 
heart?  In order to appear to yOgis, He must have some form such as 
mAdhava having maces (gada) in all four hands, right?

Clarification:  Here you are just re-iterating the point that I made. 
It is not possible for many of us to meditate on Him in this antaryAmi
form, and this is why He appears in the arcA form, with a arcA tirumeni
having the Sankha, cakra, kirITa, etc.  In fact. Yoga is one of the
a'nga-s of the bhakti mArgam, which is not guaranteed to yield results
in one's lifetime even, because of the difficult and strenuous path of
bhakti.  This is because the a'nga-s of bhakti, including the yoga, are
too difficult for all to practice.  This is the whole basis behind the
superiority of the prapatti mArgam, which is something anyone who is
willing to surrender to Him can do.  So you are correct that it is not
possible for most of us to meditate on Him in the antaryAmi mode.  In
Chapter 12 of the gItA, Lord kRshNa explains in detail how we are
accustomed to associate the body with the soul, and how it is difficult
for most of us to meditate on a soul in the absence of an associated
body.  Because of this constant association of body with the mind, it
is easier for us to meditate on paramAtmA with a tirumeni than to
meditate on the self, the antaryAmi form, etc.

You write the following regarding the vyUha emanations:
        The concept of the vyUha emanations from
        para-vAsudeva is related to the pillar of
        light resplendently located in SrI vaikuNTham,
        and said to be assumed by the Deity for the
        purpose of meditation by the yogi-s. The pillar
        has four nodes, each facing one of the four
        principal directions.  The topmost node is
        altogether bright light, representing vyUha-vAsudeva.


First off it was hard for me to visualize the pillar with four nodes 
"one above the other."  I am assuming that a node is a corner.  Do 
you mean anything else with the word "node?"


SrI Ramachandra Rao has used the samskRt term "parva", and has
translated it into the English word "node".  I think this is the
general accepted English term in descrbing the viSAkha Yupa in other
works as well.  The pillar is imagined as having four nodes (parva)
from top to bottom, each node facing a different direction.  Parva is
given the meaning "a knot, a joint, a limb".  The nodes, which are the
points at which the shoots sprout, are represented by the four vyUha
forms.  The pillar is described as viSAkha because there are no shoots
but only nodes, or because there are shoots all around (vitata).  SrI
Rao does not give a reference to the latter interpretation, vitata, but
 he goes on to describe vyUhAntara and other forms that sprout from the
vyUha forms, and one can imagine that the viSAkha yUpa tree has four
limbs, with sprouts on each of these limbs.  

The idea I take from the description is that the vyUha forms are the
forms that resulted directly from the para form, in the concept of
creation in the pA'ncarAtra.  The vyUha forms precede the vibhava forms
that bhagavAn took in order to become more easily accessible to the
people.  The para form and the vyUha forms are His forms in


Your question:

Secondly, if all the vyUha forms are in Sri-Vaikuntham and these 
forms are responsible for the worldly activities of creation, 
sustenance, and dissoluation, then would it not imply that such 
activities occur "in" (or at least "from") Sri Vaikuntham?  At the 
time of dissolution (praLaya), then, will the nascent forms of the 
jeevas and prakrti be absorbed back into Sri-Vaikuntham?  The reason 
I ask this is because I was under the impression that all worldly 
activities happen "outside" of Vaikuntham.  At the time of praLaya, 
the prakrti and baddha-jeevas are absorbed back into the Lord, but 
these will not "reside" in Vaikuntham.  Vaikuntham has described as 
"rajasah parAke" and "tamasah parastAt" both broadly meaning "beyond 


I do not have any direct quote to respond to this.  So I am going to
give you my best understanding, and request anyone else in the list to
add/change this explanation as needed.  I am giving you two different
answers to the question.

1. The jIva is pure and uncontaminated, and so there is no question of
tamas, rajas, satva, etc. being associated with the jIva.  So there is
no issue of SrIvaikunTham being contaminated with the three guNa-s when
the jIva resides in bhagavAn duriing pralaya.   

2. One mistake that we all commonly make is to apply the laws of the
physical world to bhagavAn's leelA.  He is beyond the laws of Nature as
we know it.  For example, He does not age, He is not born, etc.  He
creats all the Universes that exist by a sheer fraction of His power,
and just by the thought that He wants to create them, He creates them -
samkalpa mAtrENa.   In the ISAvAsya upanishad, there is a mantra which
says that even if we toil to reason out His origin, existence, etc.
through our mind, we will never had made an iota of progress in a whole
life time.  And this is using a mind which is faster than the speed of
light.  What this says is that He can only be realized by meditation,
by actual experience, and not by logic and reasoning.  The question of
whether the creation occurs when bhagavAn is in SrIvaikunTham or
somewhere else, whether He physically is in SrIvaikunTham or on earth
when the jIva-s merge with Him during pralaya, etc., may be in the
category of trying to logically understand His leelA.

Your question:

Also, what is the role of the Lord in the milky ocean (ksheerAbdhi-
nAthan)?  Is He also a vyUha form?


I might have said this in different places before, but to make the
point again:  The vyUha forms are those in SrI vaikunTham, accessible
only to the nitya-s and mukta-s.  It is the form that is meditated upon
by the yogi-s.   bhagavAn took the vibhava and other forms in order to
become more and more accessible to the people.  

The classification of the different forms of bhagavAn as vyUha,
vibhava, etc. differs in the different samhitA-s and in the different
interpretations, as I have mentioned in my write-up.  As I had
indicated before, SrI BhaTTar lists the antaryAmi and arcA as
vibhava-s.  So the distinction between whether a given form is a vyUha
or vibhava is subject to interpretation ins ome cases.

The pA'ncarAtra samhitA-s quoted by SrI Ramachandra Rao in his book
list only the vAsudeva, samkarshaNa, pradyumna and aniruddha forms as
vyUha forms.  There is no explicit reference to bhagavAn's form in the
Milky Ocean that I could find in his book, or in Otto Schrader's book
on ahirbudhnya samhitA as I skimmed through it. 

SrI Sadagopan has submitted a write-up in the list on Jan. 4, 1999,
wherein he quotes the sacred words of SrI pouNDarIkapuram Asramam
ANDavan, listing bhagavAn's form as He reclines in the Milky Ocean as
belonging to vyUha.  SrI Anand Karalapakkam has also referred to this
form as a vyUha form in his article in the list on May 22, 2000.  
Based on the above two references, I would say that in our sampradAyam,
bhagavAn's form as He reclines in the Milky Ocean is a vyUha form
(which is a form that is to be meditated upon by the yogi-s), but not
something easily accessible to the ordinary people (a characteristic of
the vibhava forms at one statge or the other).  

(I can fully understand that the concepts of "inside" and "outside" 
are very vague in such a context, but how else can I express them.)


Thanks very much for your answers.

|| sarvam srI krSNArpaNamastu ||
-adiyen, murali kadambi

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