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Re: Santhyavadanam and Gayathri mantra

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Tue Dec 08 1998 - 12:52:07 PST

Sri Ram Gopalaswamy wrote:

> "Sathyanarayanan K" <> writes:

> > I hope that I could get a good response to my above queries
> > from this elited forum, as all members are following the foot
> > prints of SRI RAMANUJA, who by himself pronounced the(esoteric)
> > mantra of SriMan Narayanan from a high temple tower. As you may
> > be knowing, he did so mainly to benefit all people and to
> > emphasize that the Lord is common to all, from a begger to a
> > king.

> Contrary to the popular belief, SrI rAmAnujAcArya only spoke about the 
> glories of the mantra-s to inspire ardent devotees (mumukshu-s) to approach 
> sadAcArya-s and to get samASrayaNam, kAlakshEpam and prapatti so
> SrIman-nArAyaNa would grant them mOksham. 

Dear Ram:

Actually, Sathya's opinion is closer to Ramanuja's
intent, according to the traditional biographies of
Ramanuja, and acharyas' works that I have heard and

While there is no doubt that Sri Ramanuja emphasized
the need of the grace of an acharya and the relevant
samskaaras such as samASrayaNam, etc., Ramanuja's 
revolutionary act of broadcasting the secret teaching
of Tirukottiyur Nambi to others was intended to 
directly and immediately take them to the highest
of all states.  Such was the unbounded compassion of    
Ramanuja for the common person.

Let me first quote from the oldest biography (13th
century), Pinpazhagiya Perumal Jiyar's "aaraayirappadi" 
(6000) guru paramparaa prabhaavam.  This passage is so 
inspiring that it is worth quoting in full.

Ramanuja approached Tirukkottiyur Nambi 18 times to learn
the most esoteric teachings of Sri Vaishnavism.  When
Tirukkottiyur Nambi was finally convinced that Ramanuja
was deserving of this teaching, and that Ramanuja would
further keep this teaching in confidence, Jiyar writes: 

   Tirukkottiyur Nambi, out of supreme compassion,
   graciously imparted the inner meaning of the 
   great and most sacred of mantras, which gives
   everything good, as described in the verses:

      praNava (OmkAra) first, "namas" in the middle,
      the word "nArAyaNa" at the end -- one should
      know this mantra of eight-syllables which confers
      all gifts to people.

      This mantra gives wisdom and liberation, and
      should be constantly chanted by those desiring
      liberation; it promotes devotion and knowledge
      and should be constantly chanted by Vaishnavas.  

                                    [Prasna Samhita?]
   This mantra of eight holy letters, consisting of three words, 
   is recommended for daily meditation by Sri Vaishnavas
   who desire liberation because it generates knowledge,
   wisdom, and dispassion in them. 

   Ramanuja, having gotten what he desired, went the very
   next day to the temple [thiruvOlakkam?] of Terkaazhvaan,
   the PerumaaL of that town, and gave that very meaning
   of the highest of esoteric mantras to many Sri Vaishnavas. 

   Having heard what Udaiyavar [Ramanuja] had done, Nambi summoned him
   and said, "Didn't I tell you to keep the inner meaning
   of the highest mantra to yourself, and not to tell a single
   soul? I heard that you forgot this instruction of mine
   and repeated the meaning to many Sri Vaishnavas."

   "It is true; keeping Your holy feet in mind, I told
    them", replied Udaiyavar.

   "Wasn't it my order that you not repeat
   this to anyone else? What do you think your fate is
   for having ignored this and told others?", asked Nambi.

   "For someone such as myself who ignored the command
   of his acharya, Hell alone is the result," replied Ramanuja.
   "But will I not be the only one to enter Hell? 
*   I repeated your teaching to others with your sacred
*   feet in mind, and because of that, all these tens of 
*   millions of individuals will flourish [attain moksha] 
*   through connection with those sacred feet.  This is why I said it."

   Overjoyed at Ramanuja's compassion for his fellow
   beings, Nambi exclaimed, "Oh my, this sort of compassion
   I simply do not have! O 'Emberumaanaar' [one greater
   that the Lord]! Please come here!" Embracing and 
   lifting him, Nambi went on, "Are You the Lord Himself? 
   Until now this system of thought was known as Parama 
   Vaidika Siddhantam, the Supreme Vedic Philosophy.  
   From now on, let it be known as the Philosophy of
   Emberumaanaar [Ramanuja]." Thus Nambi instructed

Jiyar goes on to record that Nambi was so impressed with
Ramanuja's unbounded compassion that he taught him the 
meaning of the carama sloka (Bhagavad Gita 18.66) as

With respect to this, Sri Manavala Mamunigal writes:

   It is very hard to to find those who are qualified
   for [receiving the inner meaning of the carama sloka].  
   For this reason, and because of the venerable importance 
   of its meaning, Ramanuja's predecessors had kept it a 
   secret, without making it public.
   But Ramanuja's overwhelming compassion made him unable
   to bear seeing the distress of those in samsaara.  Thus,
   regardless of the preciousness of the carama sloka's meaning,
   when he saw their suffering, he publicized it.

                            [Translation of the Introduction to
                             Mamunigal "carama sloka adhikaaram",
                             Mumukshuppadi, by Patricia Mumme.
                             Unfortunately, I do not have the

It is clear from the writing of these two acharyas
that Ramanuja wished to broaden the net to encompass
essentially all those within earshot.  To say otherwise
would be to undo what he quite clearly did, and make
Ramanuja's legacy no different in this regard from the
acharyas before him.

[Note I am not making a comment here on Gayatri or 
Sandhavandanam -- that will have to be discussed later

emberumaanaar thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

thirukkacci nambi dhaasan


[Original from 6000 guru paramparaa prabhaavam]

... [thirukkOttiyUr nambi] paramakrupaiyaalE 

   praNavAdyam namo madhyam nArAyaNapadAntimam |
   mantram ashTAksharam vidyAt sarvasiddhikaram nRNAm ||

   mumukshUNAm sadA japyam buddhimuktiphalapradam |
   vaishNavANAm sadA japyam bhaktijnAna pravartanam ||

engiRapadiyE ettuth thiruvaksharamaay padhathrayamaathmakamaay,
jnaanabhakthi vairaagya janakamaakaiyaalE mumukshukkaLaana
SrIvaishNavargaLukku "naaththaazhumpezha sadhaa anusandhEyamaay"
nalantharum collaana periya thirumanthraarththaththai
prasaadhiththaruLinaar.  iraamaan^usanum kruthaarththaraay,
adhin maRRainaaL avvUril emberumaanaana theRkaazhvaar
thiruvOlakkaththilE an^Ekam SrIvaishNavargaLukku ap
paramarahasyaarththaththai aruLicceydharuLinaar.

icceydhiyai nambi kEttaruLi udaiyavarai azhaiththu,
"indhap paramarahasyaarththaththai vERoruvarkkum collaadhE
koLLum enRanRO naam umakkuc connOm; aththai maRuththu
neer an^Ekam SrIvaishNavargaLukkuc conneerenRu kEttOm"
enRu kEttaruLa, 

udaiyavarum, "uLLadhu; dhevareer thiruvadigaLai
munnittukkoNdu connEn" enRu viNNappam ceyya,

nambiyum, "oruvarkkum collavENdaavenRu niyamiththanRO
connOm; aththai maRuththuc conna umakkup phalam Edhu?"
enRu kEttaruLa,

udaiyavarum, "aacaarya niyaman^aththai maRuththa enakku
narakamE phalam" enRu aruLicceyya, iraamaan^usanum "
adiyEn oruvanEyanRo narakam puguvadu? dhEvareer thiruvadigaLai
munnittukkondu collukaiyaalE ivv aathmakOtigaLellaam
dhEvareer thiruvadi sambandhaththaalE ujjIvipparkaL enRu
connEn", enRu viNNappam ceyya

nambiyum, "indhap parasamrudhdhi namakkuk koodiRRillaiyE!"
enRu ivar parasamrudhdhikkuppOra ugandharuLi, "emberumaanaarE!
vaarum", enRu eduththu aNaiththukkondu, "avarO neer?" enRu
aruLicceydhu, "idhu varaiyil idh dharSanam paramavaidhika
sidhdhaantham enRirundhadhu; inRu mudhal 'emberumaanaar
dharSanam' ennungoL" enRu ellaarkkum aruLicceydhadhu.