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Re: Santhyavadanam and Gayathri mantra

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Fri Dec 11 1998 - 12:08:16 PST

Dear Members,

I want to apologize for and correct an inadvertent
exaggeration in my previous posting.

I had written:
> In any case, as explained, the inner meaning of the mantra was
> and is far more important than the mantra itself.

Sri Bharat of Bangalore points out the following important
correction, based primarily on Sri Vedanta Desika's 
SaraNAgati gadya bhAshya:

   In his BhAshya on Sri EmberumAnAr's SaranAgati Gadyam
   while explaining the phrase:
   " Dvayam-arthAnusandhAnEna saha.."
   he says:
    "uchhAraNam prAdhAnyEna stOtum, arthAnusandhAne saha Sabdah"
    When there are two words together ,"saha" is added to the
    less important word which will  be in the third declension.
    Here it is added to "arthAnusandhAna" - hence it is less
    important than saying the mantra.So whether you know the
    meaning or not mere saying of the mantra has the full
    But knowing the meaning and thinking about it
    keeps us in the correct wavelength to think about the
    Lord.There is a famous description of Sri MaNavALa MAmuni
    which states how he would all the time be found sitting
    in a corner with closed eyes,with his lips throbbing
    with the Dvaya mantra and with his hairs standing on
    end with joy as he simultaneously meditated on its 
Sri Bharat continues (the translations are mine):
    No Acharya has made a comparison and given them relative
    values.Both the Mantra and its meaning are considered
    equally important.It all depends on the purpose to which
    you put them.
    Otherwise Sri Desikan would not have produced Srimad Rahasya-
    traya -sAram. And Sri pillailokAchAriar and Sri MaNavALa Mamunigal
    would not have said the following in Mumukshup-padi and its gloss:
    MM-"TirumantrattinuDaiya SIrmaikku ppOrumbaDi premattODe
    pENi anusandhikkavENum."
    VY-"ittai anusandhikkumaLavil Sushka-hrudayanA-yirund-anusandhikkai-
    yanRikke,idin vailakshaNya-gjAnamaDiyAga idin pakkal tanakkunDAna
    [Rough translation: 

     Sutra: One should reflect on the tirumantra with respect and love
     as befits its excellence.

     Comm: In meditating on it, one should not have an empty heart; 
     rather, one [should be filled with] respect and love that arises
     from the recognition of its unique excellence. ] 
    Also in the next SUtra:
    "Mantrattilum,mantrattukku uLLIDAna vastuvilum mantra-pradanAna
    AchAryan pakkalilum prEmam ganakka unDAnAl kAryakaramAvadu."

    [ If one has profound love for the mantra, for that to which
      the mantra refers, and for the acharya who imparts the mantra,
      it will have effect.

      ["that to which the mantra refers" is the Lord.] ]
    As to the meaning of the SaranAgati-gadya excerpt I'd given:
    The PradhAnatvam of the mantra is because it is complete in
    itself (nirapEksha) to do its work ,like fire or a medicine
    which will act irrespective of whether you know its composition.
    The Artha is dependent on the mantra (sApeksha) and hence
    apradhAna.The icing cannot exist without the cake.But when
    you have both you have the cake WITH the icing.
    Otherwise Sri EmberumAnAr in his text could have as easily
    said,"dvayArth-AnusandhAnena yAva-chharIra-pAtam".He has used
    the words "dvaya-m" and "vaktA" to emphasise the importance
    of reciting the mantra itself.
These are very important points, and it was my mistake to
have said that the mantra itself was of lesser value. 

What I wrote was driven by statements extolling the greatness
of the tirumantra's inner meaning, and by the fact that our
acharyas generally did not use the mantra itself as a "sAdhana"
in its own right, in spite of its power.  Rather, they 
concentrated on reflecting on its meaning and keeping the Lord
always in mind as the means and the goal.

tirukkacci nambi daasan