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Bhagavad RAmAnujA & AshtAksharam

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (
Date: Sat Jun 27 1998 - 17:18:25 PDT

                                  Sri :
             Srimate  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Para Brahmane Namaha

             Srimate Sri Lakshmi - Nrusimha Divya PAdukA Sevaka - 
         Srivan  Shatagopa  Sri NArAyana Yateendra MahAdesikAya Namaha      

     Dear  bhaktAs of Sriman NArAyanA,
     Namo NArAyanA . kindly accept adiyen's pranAmams. 

    Adiyen would like to discuss about the much propagated episode of
Bhagavad RAmAnujA shouting AshtAksharam  :
    First of all Bhagavad RAmAnujA didn't violate any of the sAstrAs in
the episode of preaching to Sri VaishnavAs. It is wrong to say that
Udayavar shouted the "thirumantram" (ie. AshtAksharam ) openly . Somehow
or other this thing has spread widely .

  Sri Krishna KalAle quoted the verse from SeshA samhitA (14.50) which is 
in turn from Srimad Rahasya Traya SArA (SRTS) :

    "  The wise man should reveal (the greatness of) his guru & guard the
mantra with GREAT CARE. By the omission to reveal the former & the
omission to guard the latter ,a person's wealth (material & spiritual) &
term of life suffer diminution ".

    There is a very strong sAstric injunction "mantram yathnena gopayeth".
The mantrAs should be revealed by the AchAryA on an ear to ear basis ie.
other than the ears of the AchAryA & the disciple , no one would hear it.   
 For instance , during Brahmopadesam in Upanayanam , the father acts as
the AchAryA & the son as a disciple in receiving the GAyatri Mantram. Both
of them are covered by the vastram & the upadesam is performed on an
ear-to-ear basis. 
("kAdoda kAdA sollu" is a general usage also ) .

  PramAnam from SaranAgati Gadyam on the recital of Dvaya mantram in mind
itself was also given earlier.

   There are many more pramAnams which echo the same point . AshtAksharam
being a Supreme mantrA of all mantrAs , the restriction is much more
(rahasyA) .

     A very well known quote from VishnuDharmA(6.31) in which Sriman
NArAyanA Himself says very strongly :

   "Sruthi & SmruthIs are indeed My commands. He who transgresses them
violates My commands. He is My dhrohi. Though he may be devoted to me , he
shouldn't be called a VaishnavA "

   So, obviously Bhagavad RAmAnujA didn't violate any sAstric
injunction.Previously , the _meanings_ of AshtAksharam , Dvayam & charama
slokam were highly guarded ,apart from the mantrAs themselves , since they
are the topmost cream of knowledge . One should sincerely strive for
it without any doubts in mind , having full devotion to Sriman NArAyanA &
AchAryAs etc etc ( so many constraints ) have to be met out for one to be 
eligible to know about rahasya meanings. Even Bhagavad RAmAnujA was
considered as unqualified for a while by Peria NambigaL. 

     The gist of the rahasyAs are  our seshatvam to Sriman NArAyanA & the
esoteric doctrine of prapatti . Udayavar called upon the fellow Sri
VaishnavAs ( had samAsrayanam ) & did a upanyAsam (discourse) on the
rahasya mantrAs. Ofcourse , the Sri VaishnavAs were highly dedicated &
sincere . Their devotion to Sriman NArAyanA & AchAryAs were already
exemplary . Bhagavad RAmAnujA could easily see that all of them were
qualified , for they were already dedicated in their kainkaryams.

     The qualification expected by peria NambigaL was too high. But 
Bhagavad RAmAnujA , the ocean of mercy , gauged the minimal qualification
(samAsrayanam ie. becoming a Sri VaishnavA ,which itself shows lot of
sincerity to follow Sri Vaishnavam ) & propagated the most esoteric
doctrine of prapatti , by which one is sure to reach Sri Vaikuntam . 

This was a huge drastic step taken by Bhagavad RAmAnujA &  everyone
started eulogizing Udayavar for his ocean of mercy ( If prapatti wasn't
revealed to the Sri VaishnavAs that time , hardly any one would have
managed to go to Sri Vaikuntam till today) . All the Sri VaishnavAs were
overjoyed for they have got the ultimate solution for their release from
repeated births & deaths, & thereby serve Sriman NArAyanA eternally
without any hinderance , eventhough they can't do Bhakti YogA ie. UpAsanA
through AshtAnga YogA . The greatness of prapatti is beyond words . It is
a pitiable thing that such a great diamond is taken very lightly these
days by many .

     In later days , AchAryAs like SwAmi Desikan made the esoteric
meanings of rahasyAs available as a granthA , so that the future Sri
VaishnavAs needn't suffer . 

   Anyway , the point is that Bhagavad RAmAnujA didn't violate any sAstric
injunctions & didn't do  some act just like that out of his whims &
fancies . Udayavar just made an UpanyAsam on the rahasyAs for the Sri
VaishnavAs & made them understand the esoteric doctrine of prapatti. An
AchAryA becomes highly adorable only because he strictly adheres to the
sAstrAs , the divine commands of Sriman NArAyanA . We reject the
preachings of X,Y, & Z who doesn't adhere to sAstrAs.

     If someone says that Udayavar shouted the AshtAksharam openly , it is
only a great insult to Bhagavad RAmAnujA & doesn't  glorify the AchAryA. 
Anyway , this episode of shouting AshtAksharam is somehow told to
exemplify Udayavar's dayA . AchAryAs in adiyen's GuruparamparA have
unanimously said the above . 

              EmperumAnAr thiruvadigaLe saranam 

   Namo NArAyanA


   Anantha PadmanAbha dAsan  

                      Sarvam  Sri KrishnArpanamastu