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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_best.com)
Date: Mon Mar 29 1999 - 11:01:40 PST
Dear Sri Jagan: Lakshmi is an inherent, distinctive part of the Godhead according to our sampradAyam. This is based on statements from the Vedas, as well as countless statements from Itihasas, Puranas, Divya Prabandham, etc. It is for this reason that God is known not merely as 'Narayana', but Sriman Narayana or Tiru Narayana. The 'man' in 'Sriman' is known as the 'matup' pratyaya according to Sanskrit grammar. This means that it is an inherent, inseparable relationship that is distinctive. Narayana is God because he has Sri Devi (Lakshmi) as his distinctive attribute. The most important vAkya here is from the uttara-anuvAka of the purusha sUktam, where 'hrI' (am amsa of Lakshmi) and 'lakshmI' are declared to be the 'wives' of the Highest Being, the Parama Purusha. In Srimad Ramayana, it is stated at least twice that Sita can never in reality be separated from Rama, as lustre can never be separated from light. The words used as 'bhAskarena prabhA yathA'. In the Divya Prabandham, when Nammalvar takes refuge in Lord Srinivasa, he describes Lakshmi as residing on the chest of the Lord, saying 'akalaillEn' -- I will never leave this place. Similarly, Andal in the 'kuttu viLakku eriya' paasuram in Tiruppaavai describes Nappinnai (also an amsa of Lakshmi) as 'eththanai Elum pirivaaRRa kilaayaal' -- who cannot be separated from Krishna even for a second. The word used in the pUrvAcArya granthas is 'mithunam'. At all times, whether we seek refuge in God, or are trying to serve God, we must see God as 'Sriman Narayana' -- never Narayana alone, or Lakshmi alone. The view that only one or the other alone is God is described by our acharyas derisively as the 'ekAyana' system. The followers of Ananda Tirtha (Madhva), who espouse the Dvaita philosophy, take this view. Sri Uttamur Swami points out two examples from Srimad Ramayanam which demonstrate the calamity that befalls people who have such an incorrect notion of God. Ravana, who desired Sita alone, not realizing that Lakshmi is inseparably related as 'paratantra' to Narayana, did not achieve his goal and suffered miserably. On the other hand, Surpanakha, who desired Rama alone and wanted to do Sita harm, suffered a nearly terrible fate. So, the important conclusion is that the Godhead is 'Sriman Narayana' -- always 'mithunam', or united. rAmAnuja dAsan, Mani P.S. There are some debates within the tradition as to the actual ontological nature of Lakshmi. These are highly technical and do not affect the nature of the Godhead as being mithunam, as the fact that Lakshmi is related as 'paratantra' to Narayana. We need discuss these details only if absolutely necessary.