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Reflections of the week of January 13 , 1997

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Jan 18 1997 - 06:56:07 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

This was indeed a busy week with a lot of soul-searching 
postings on topics that  deeply concern us as members of 
" the diaspora" . The only difference between our diaspora and the 
other historical one is that we left on our own and we can go back ,
if and when we want to listen to our AcharyAs and charge our spiritual
batteries . The trip report of Sri Kalale is a case in point. To some extent ,
 we seem to have the best of both worlds and some times it looks that we never 
" left " home . It is delightful that we can help our Acharyas and traditions
from here 
and be united through the Cyber-sathsangam and be sensitized to 
the diverse traditions that we  are heir to . Most of the time , I feel 
comfortable writing about our Kula Dhanams and learning from others
rather than get on to the slippery slopes of  "nirNyam" and navigate
my way . There are some brilliant people in our group with razor-sharp
minds and they are complimented well with the other set of people
with astonishing depth of faith and desire to learn . The postings 
of erudite scholars like Sri Anbil Ramaswamy  gives us the points
of references on the ardous personal journey to reconcile 
the happenings in one's personal life and the society  in which we are 
finding a home away from home . 

I will continue to write during the weekends on topics that I hope  will
be of interest to all of us . I would like to concentrate on some of the 
brilliant works of  "Acharyas of Srirangam " to understand their 
Bhakthi-laden contributions and to learn from fellow bhakthAs 
raised in this tradition . It was a wonderful sight to see the picture of  
the VanamAmalai Jeeyar and the Ahobila Matam Jeeyar together in 
the last issue of Nrusimha PriyA journal . What struck me as thoughtful
step taken by the Uttamur Swamigal Centenary committe officials is 
their efforts to arrange the participation by five different groups of 
AcharyAs representing Sri Bhagavadh RamAnuja SiddhAntham 
from the states of KarnAtakA , AndhrA Pradesh and Tamil Naadu .

During this week I came across very meaningful insights on the topics
of this week's discussion on VarnAsrama Dharmam, Guru paramparA
and SaraNAgathi  (the moving poems of Adi SankarA on Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan 
and Sri RamachandrA as testaments to His Bhakthi for Sriman NarAyaNa) .
These  source literature are : 

1. Anna PughaZh Mudumbai Azahagiya ManavALa PerumAL NayanAr's
     extraordinarily terse and insightful work revered as Acharya Hrudhayam
      written in aphoristic (SutrA )  form . He has a lot to say on " the Karma
NishtAs and 
      Kaimkarya NishtAs ". He describes the first group as AnthaNar , marayOr
      the second group as " AdhiyArs and Thondars ". He traces their respective
      to Parasara , BodhAyana in the case of anthaNars  and Parrankusa ,
      (Nammazhwaar and Thirumangai ) for the Kaimkarya NisshtAs or Thondars .
      These are covered in the 34th and the 35th sutrams of the first prakaraNam
      Acharya Hrudhayam. There are many more references to this subject
      elsewhere in this work of Azhagiya MaNavALa perumAL NaayanAr , the brother
      of Sri PiLLai LokAcharyar and the son of Vadakku Thiruveedhi PiLLai of
Srirangam .

2 . Upadesa Ratna Maalai and Thiruvaimozhi NurrandhAdhi by the Visadha Vaak
      SikhAmaNi ManavALa Maamunigal . It is such a pleasure to read together the

      Dramidopanishad , Tatparya RatnAvaLi and Divya Prabhandha Surukku of 
      Swami Desikan and Acharya Hrudhayam to develop an appreciation for their
      use of the Naalyira Divya Prabhandham of AzhwArs as their daily
nourishment .

3. I have had the good fortune to study the great sthothra works and PrakaraNa
    of the giant Adi SankarA . The new sthothrAs in the context of the Bhakthi
    discussion that I reread this week are : (a) SriramabhujangaprayAta
    (29 verses) written in the most beautiful Bujanga PrayAtha Metre . To give
     example of the exquisite taste of this mesmerizing sound effects of this
    on the sacred Subject of "Ramatvam " , I quote the 17th verse :
                    pavithram charithram vichitram tvadheeyam
                       narA yeh smaranthyanvaham  Ramachandra I
                    bhavantham bhavAntham bharantham bhajanthO
                       labhanteh kruthAntham na pasyanthythOanteh II

(meaning) : O Lord RamachandrA! Those who meditate  and 
reflect daily  on your sacred and wonderful charitram immortalized by
Sage Valmiki and offer their salutations to You as the sole rakshakan
(saviour ) attain fredom from the bonds of SamsArA ; they esccape the cycles 
of births and deaths and attain moksham  . Thus they escape from 
the snares of the God of Deathat the end of their life on earth .

The other two sthothrams of Adi sankarA that I had the good fortune to read 
this week are Sri lakshmi Nrusimha KarAvalampana Sthotram and 
the Shatpadhee Sthothram . I will quote the first and the fourteenth 
slokams of the first sthothram to illustrate the joy that Adhi SankarA 
had in visualizing the majestic and beautiful form of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan:

Verse 1 : SrimathpayOnidhinikethana chakrapANeh
                     bhogheendhra bhogamaNi ranjitha punyamurthE I
                 yogeesa saasvatha SaraNya bhavAbdhipotha 
                     Lakshminrusimha mama dehi KarAvalampam II

Verse 14 : ekEna chakramaparENa karENa sankham
                        anyEna sindhutanayAmavalampya thishTan I
                   vamEtarENa varadhAbaya padmachinha 
                        Lakshminrusimha maam dehi karAvalampam 

In the 17 verses of this sthothram , Adhi SankarA , who Himself is 
an incarnation of SankarA ,  the Lord of Kailaasam prays to the auspicious
Lakshmi  Nrusimhan to quench the fires of SamasAram that is 
scorching His body .  

The third sthothram of Adhi SankarA that I had the good fortune to come 
across this week in the context of the week's discussion is the Shatpadhee 
sthothram composed in the simple AryA metre with profound SabdhAlankaarams
and arthAlankaarams . There are 7 slokams in this sthothram , which
has been recognized as a PrakaraNa grantham (i-e) .,a work anootating the 
meaning of SaasthrAs . Adhi SankarA covers the meanings of some of the sAsthrAs
in the first six verses ( Six-legged like a bee hovering around the flower of
MahA VishNu)
and in the seventh  verse houses His prayerful appeal to the Lord of Lakshmi 

The first verse is a moving one . Here the AcharyA prays for five boons 
from the Lord : removal of ego( the aasura sampath )  , control of the mind ,
vairAghyam to remove the taste for vishaya ruchis , bhootha daya ( compassion
all living beings ) and moksham ( na punaraagamanam ) .The verse is as 
follows :

avinayamapanaya VishNO , Damaya mana: samaya vishayarasatrushNAm I
bhoothadhayAm visthAraya , taaraya samsArasAgaratha : II

The seventh prayerful verse is another moving one :

NaarayaNa karuNAmaya , saranam karavANi tAvakou charanou I
ithi shadpathee madheeyE , vadanasarojE sadhA vasathu II

(Meaning ) O most merciful Lod NArAyaNA ! I offer my SaraNAgathi at 
both of your sacred feet .May this sthothram of mine offering such 
SaraNAgathi through the six verses reside permanently in my lotus 
face . 

Here Adhi Sankara Compares his face to a Lotus in the context of the 
six-versed shatpadhee sthothram seving as a six-legged bee . He 
saluted the six Taatparya Lingams starting with "Upakramam , UpasamhAram"
to have proof (NirupaNam ) for the svarupam of ParamAthma and chose the name
of Shatpadhee for this sthothram . It has also been pointed out that the six
padhams --nArAyaNa , karuNAmaya , saraNam , karavANi , taavkou and 
charaNou --found in the seventh verse are the shatpadhee (six Legs ) 
of the sthothram . The echo of Mantra Ratnam , Dhvayam , is heard 
here in the AchAryA's appeal to Sriman nArAyanA .

In conclusion , During 1996 , I have made  promises to number of 
our dear members to cover specific topics of interest to them in my postings as 
material for discussion and contemplation for us .Some of them to 
the best of my recollection are :

1. Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Sthotram by the 44th Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt
     (for Sri Sudarshan of Bahrain/Madras ) . I am waiting for a sanskrit text
here .

2. SaraNAgathi Gadhyam of Sri RamAnujA (For Dr. Murali Rangaswamy ) 

3. Achyuth Sathakam ( My own promise to thank Mrs. Nagu satyan for her 
much appreciated help in all Kaimkaryams . The name " Satyan " and 
"Achyuthan " are the names of the Lord of Thiruvaheendrapuram 
celebrated by Swami Desikan in his Achyutha satakam written in 
Praakritham , an old form of Sanskrit influenced by Maraatti language 
according to scholars ).

4. Sandhya Vandhanam and Vedic paasages for a dear member form 
Philadelphia studying for his doctorate in Computer Science based 
on reasoning/logic .

5. A promise to Sri Mohan Sagar to cover YathirAja Vimsathi 
of Sri ManavALa MaamunigaL and other  works of 
MaNavALa MaamunigaL  .

6. Please remind me of any other promises made that I may have 
forgotten to add to the above list . The response to htese promises 
will fortunately keep me busy for quite a while .

7. Rest of my energy and time , I will devote to the 108 Divya Desam 
CD ROM Project , which thanks to Sri Dileepan's effort is moving along 
nicely . I pray to Bhumi Devi sametha Sri Oppiliappan to bless us
with strength and energy to complete this unique project in 1997 
as a SamarpaNam from the Bhakthi/Prqapatthi group to the world of 
SrivaishNavAs .

I want to remind our dear members that what I am attempting to do
throught these postings is NOT an execise in display of knowledge or
wisdom or ego (Dampam ) , BUT a NishkAma Kaimkaryam to our 
traditions in a spirit of sathsangam  . That is all ! 

AzhwAr , AchAryAL , Divya DampathigaL thiruvadigalE SaraNam ,
Subhamasthu .
Oppiklaippan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan