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The Last Words-3

From: sadagopan iyengar (sadagopaniyengar_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Sun Dec 09 2001 - 20:33:38 PST

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra
Mahadesikaya Nama:

                    The     Last      Words  -3
                 _______________________

  The 74 SimhAsanAdhipatis appointed by Sri Ramanuja
to protect and propagate the Visishtadvaita Sampradaya
were listening intently to Sri Yatiraja’s final words
of wisdom, with the sinking feeling that this was
perhaps the last occasion they would be hearing the
great master, before he left for his divine abode. And
the Acharya’s pain in leaving such disciples was
almost equal to the latter’s despair, for who could
equal Sri KooratAzhwan (who had preceded his master to
Paramapadam), Sri Tirukkurugai Piran PiLLan, Sri
Bhattar, Sri Kidambi AcchAn, Sri Embar, Sri
MudaliAndAn, Sri Nadadur Azhwan, Sri Vatukanambi, Sri
EngalAzhwan, and countless others who were unrivalled
in GnAnA, anushttAnA, and Acharya bhakti. Yet,his
life’s mission was accomplished.Impregnable fortresses
like Sri Bhashyam, Sri Gita Bhashyam,  Deepam,  Saram,
Vedartha Sangraham, Gadyatrayam and nityam, has been
erected for the protection of the Sampradaya. An
enviable second line of erudite Acharyas had been
created, who would ensure passing on of the treasure
trove of Sampradayic knowledge to posterity. And with
Emperuman and nitya sooris impatiently awaiting his
arrival (“viNNulagam taruvAnAi viraigindrAn”), Sri
Ramanuja had decided that six score years in this
world was enough. 
  Having told the listeners about the different types
of kainkarya that prapannas should perform, depending
on their capability and aptitude, Sri Ramanuja went on
to classify the three categories of people (anukoolar,
pratikoolar and anubhayar) that a prapanna encounters
in this world, and the standard of behaviour that he
should adopt towards each of them. 
 Elaborating, the master said that all Sri
Vaishnavites came under the category of “anukoolar”.
At the sight of such bhagavatas, a prapanna should
rejoice as at the cooling touch of sandal paste,
fragrant flowers, full moon and balmy breeze.
(“anukoolarai kandAl chandana kusumAdigaL pOlavum
nilavu tendral pOlavum abhimata vishayangaL pOlavum
ugandu vartthippAn”). Fortifying the Acharya’s words,
Sri Desikan points out, quoting the Chandilya Smriti,
that the Lord is not pleased with those who do not
favour His bhaktas –“anarchita tadbhaktam Bhagawan
nAbhinandati”.

Exactly the opposite type of behaviour was recommended
by the Yatiraja towards the second category of people-
the Pratikoolar or enemies of the Lord and His
devotees. These should be shunned as if they were
venomous snakes or a raging fire. The Mahabharata
emphasizes this thus-
 “yE dvishanti mahAtmAnam na smaranti cha Kesavam
   na tEshAm puNya teertthEshu gati: samsargiNAmapi.”
 Bathing in the holiest of rivers would not benefit
those who have hate for the Lord in their minds. The
same fate awaits people who are cohorts of such
sinners. The company of such people destroys what
little love we have for God.( “pratikoola samsargam
bhagavat preEmatthai azhikkum”).
 
The third type of people, “anubhayar”, are those who
have neither love nor hate for the Lord, and are just
indifferent, engaged in their pursuit of mundane
pleasures, with little time to spare for the Creator.
A prapanna should treat such people as if they were
worthless inanimate objects like pieces of wood or
rubbish. (“anubhayarai kaNdAl kAshta lOshtAdigaLai
kandAl pole triNavatkarippAn”).If they display a
positive attitude, the prapanna should try to help
them to acquire spiritual knowledge, and if they
don’t, he should pity them for being beyond
redemption. This is brought out by this beautiful
sloka, quoted by Swami Desikan-
  “adya prabhruti hE lOkA! Yooyum yooyum vayam vayam
   arttha kAma parA yooyum nArAyaNaparA vayam
   nAsti sangati:asmAkam yushmAkam cha parasparam
   vayam tu kinkarA VishnO:yooyum indriya kinkara:”

Oh residents of this material world! You hanker after
material riches and other mundane pleasures, while we
crave only for the Lord’s mercy. You are slaves of
your indriyAs, while we are the Lord’s slaves. Hence
there is  absolutely no meeting point between us.(“And
never shall the twain meet”, as Kipling said.).

Having laid down the kainkaryas to be performed and
the type of behaviour to adopt towards various types
of people, Sri Ramanuja also warned disciples of the
impediments in the way of rightful conduct- indulgence
in materialistic pleasures. If a prapanna were to
disregard Sri Vaishnavas on materialistic grounds, he
would surely incur the Lord’s displeasure, just as
indifferent conduct towards the Crown Prince would
anger the King.  If one were to befriend
“pratikoolars” for ephemeral benefits, it would be
akin to the Queen of a vast kingdom seeking alms like
a common beggar, while her husband is the all-powerful
King, with vast riches at his command.  If, for
material benefits, one were to cohort with
“anubhayar”(who are indfferent to the Lord) the Lord
would surely disregard such a prapanna, for he knows
not how to discern a precious diamond from a worthless
stone. 
 
 As he neared the end of rather long monologue, Sri
Ramanuja seemed to tire, and his face lit up with a
glow, as he perceived Emperuman, concerned at the
delay, beckoning to him, come personally to escort him
to Sri Vaikuntam. He looked at the disciples in
leave-taking, with a glance full of love and
compassion, and exhorted them again not to even think
of taking their lives upon his passing. Tears in their
eyes at the unbearable separation, the eminent sishyas
controlled their sobs, consoling themselves with the
thought of the unending bliss their Acharya was
destined for. Sri Ramanuja fixed his thoughts on Sri
Alavandar, was served the Acharya’s Sri pada teerttham
by disciples, and attained the Acharya’s lotus feet.
The disciples, who had seen much ranting and raving by
ordinary mortals in the throes of death, were not
surprised by the Sri Ramanuja’s effortless passing on,
for they remembered Emperuman’s promise made to the
Acharya on that Panguni Utthiram day-“Thou shalt leave
these mortal coils as easily as one discards old
clothes, (“sukhEna imAm prakritim stoola sookshma
roopAm visrijya”) and shalt, at the time of passing,
have full consciousness of decades of samskArA thou
hast acquired, and shalt have thine eyes fixeds on Me
(“MamEva avalOkayan, aprachyutha poorva samskAra
manOratha:”).

Thus ended a golden era in the annals of Sri
Vaishanvism. It was also the beginning of another era,
for, the master’s disciples were cast in his own
mould, and, despite minor differences in
interpretation, stuck to the common thread of the
Great Saint’s thoughts, with the torch of Sri
Vaishanvism and all it stands for, held aloft and
growing brighter with every change in the holding
hands. Though a thousand years have passed, Sri
Ramanuja’s Last Words still ring in our ears, and are
as good a guide to us now, as they were to his
disciples then.
 “Ramanujarya divyAgyA prativAsaram ujvalA
  diganta vyApinI bhooyAt sA hi lOka hitaishiNee”

Srimate Sri LaksmiNrsimha divya paduka sevaka Sri
vanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama;
          -dasan,sadagopan.


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