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AaLavandhAr & his Stotrams: Chathussloki and Stotra Rathnam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Dec 01 1996 - 20:41:29 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

I agreed to share my limited knowledge on
Sri AaLavandhAr's two stotrams at the Buffalo Sathsangam
planned for Dec 28-30 .
I have now changed my mind , since I thought the Stotra Ratnam 
in particular would be of interest to a wider set of our members , 
who could not be at Buffalo for one reason or other. 
Snow permitting , I look forward to participating  in this
sathsangam of Sri VaishNavAs . I hope that  
the postings on Stotra Ratnam( the gem among stotrAs ) 
of ALavadhAr would generate a lot of reflections and  discussions
amongst us , prior to the Vaikunta EkAdasi and Dhanur Maasam
season of this Daathu samvatsaram ..

I will plan on speaking about Swami Desikan's PadhukA Sahasram
at the Buffalo sathsangam instead of on AaLavandhAr's Stotra Ratnam.

The greatnes of ALavandhAr  and his works 

ALavandhAr ( 916-1041 A.D ) was the grandson of 
Nathamuni (C 824-924 A.D ) , who recovered for posterity 
the Naalaaiyra Divya Prabhandham as a result of 
NammaazhwAr's anugraham . ALavandhAr is also known
as Yaamunaa or Yaamunaaccharya . 

YAmunA is the grand -preceptor ( PrAchAryA ) of RaamAnujA.
YAmunA established the principles of VisishtAdhvaitam 
as an expansion of the doctrines housed in his grandfather's
treatises : NyAya TattvA and Yoga RahasyA .He elaborated 
on those doctrines with authoratative scriptures such as
Sruthis, Bhagavadh Gita , AzhwAr's paasurams and 
Selected SaatvikaPurAnAs . 

AaLavandhAr's philosophical works are :Siddhitraya , Aagama
PrAmANya , MahA purusha nirNya and Githaartha Sangraha.
Last year , I had the good fortune of posting a few articles on 
YaamunA's GithArtha Sangraha , which inspired both 
RamAnujA and Swami Desikan to base their commentaries 
along the lines of YaamunA. 

AalavandhAr is also the author of two lyrical master pieces
(stotra GranthAs ) revered  as Chathusloki and Stotra Ratnam
Latter is the forerunner of almost every  stotram composed 
by Acharyas such as  of RamaanujA , Kuresa, Parasara Bhattar, 
Swami Desikan , MaNavALa Maamuni and others. Swami 
Desikan has written c ommentaries for both Chathussloki  
and Stotra Ratnam because of their importance to Sri VaishNava
siddhAntham . 

In Chathussloki ( poem of four verses ) , YaamunA focussed
on the theme of Purushakaara Prapatthi and Eka Seshithvam
principles . He based this work of his on the doctrines outlined 
by Lakshmi Tantram . Eka Seshitvam refers to the practise
of considering both Sri Devi and BhagavAn together as the 
means and the goal (upAyam and Upeyam ) . In this context ,
they are inseparable and hence She is known as VishNu Patnee
and He is known as Sriman NArAyaNan . Dr. S.M.S. Chari in his 
excellent book , "Vaishnavism " describes in detail the relationship
between Sri Devi and her consort .

AaLavandhAr based the four slokAs of Chathussloki on the four
chapters of Brahma Sutram . His purpose was to demonstrate 
that the attributes of BhagavAn saluted by the four chapters 
are shared equally by His consort , Sri Devi. 

The first chapter of Brahma Sutra establishes unequivocally
that Lord is the seshi of the Universe and he is the creator 
of all . The second chapter dwells on His undiminishing 
glories and that those kalyANa guNAs can not be negated or
explained away as nonexistent. The third chapter states that 
he blesses us with all fruits of our endeavours. The final chapter
dealing with mukthi states that he is our Praapyam 
or our  ultimate goal . 

AaLavandhAr in the first verse of Chatussloki , establishes 
the equal status of Sri Devi with Her consort. As Isvari of 
Sarva BhutAs , she enjoys an equal status and rules the 
physical and the transcendental universe.  She possesses
like Her Lord,Svarupam , Rupam, GuNam and Vibhavam .

She shares in equal measure the six auspicious GuNAs of 
Her consort (BhagavAn ):: JnAnam , Bhalam , Sakthi , Iswaryam , 
Veeryam and Tejas . That is why She is known as Bhagavathi or 
ShAtgunya SampoorNai . She is inseparable from Her 
Lord at  all times and states( AnapAyini ). 

This Nitya Sri surpasses in some regards Her Lord a s a result of  
Her motherly qualities such as DayA , KshamA (forgivenness ) ,
Vaatsalya (tender, endearing affection ) just as  a mother has for
her children . Through Her innate UdhAra SvabhAva ( magnanimity ),
She showers us with Her blessings (anugrahams ) an dgrants us 
Aiswaryam , Kaivalyam and Moksham , when we use our 
Anjali mudra to seek these anugrahams. She has in addition
a unique role through Her PurushakAratvam . She intercedes 
with Her Lord on behalf of the sinners and recommends that 
the sinners be forgiven by Her Lord to become the object of His grace. 
In the second slkam of Chathussloki , YaamunA states that 
the Lord Himself is unable to describe completely His
consort's KalyANa guNAs. Periya VaacchAn PiLLai has 
commented with great insight on this and other slokAs 
of YaamunA 's Chathussloki . 

In the third slokam, YaamunA dwells on Sri Devi's power to
bless one  with the Purushaarthams of Aiswaryam , Kaivalyam
and Moksham .The glories of Lakshmi Kataksham are saluted
here. YamunA hints that the Lord has no existence outside Her. 

In the majestic fourth slokam starting with the majestic
assembly of well-chosen words ripe with profound meanings--
"SaanthaanandaMahaa Vibhuthi Paramam Yadh 
Brahma Rupam Hare: --"  and ends dramatically 
with the words " Aahu: svairanurupa rupa vibhavai:
Gaadhopa gutaanidhE ".      

YaamunA asserts here that Sri Devi's Rupams and GuNAs 
are tightly bonded together with that of Her Lord in an 
insepaerable manner. Whenever He assumes Vyuha -Vibhava 
- Haartha-Archaa rupaas , She takes the appropriate rupams 
and is tightly united with Him as AnapAyini .Thus they demonstrate
Eka Seshitvam and become UpAyam and Upeyam to us all .

I will focus on YaamunA's Stotra Ratnam next .

Natha , Yaamuna MunigaL   ThiruvadigaLE saraNam.

Sri VaishNava Daasan,

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan