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Re: Abhivadhanam during Sandhyavandhanam & Pithru tharpanam

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 12:08:06 PDT

> It is said that we should not perform abhivadhanam after 
> prostrations (Seviththal) before Perumal. Why is that so ?
> But we also perform abhivadhanam in Sandhyavandhanam and in Pithru tharpanam.

Dear Sri Venkatanathan,

I asked Sri Rangapriya Swami this question the last
time I had an audience with him.  You are correct that
abhivAdanam should not be done to perumAL (God). One should
also avoid doing it to sannyAsis.  The reason as explained
by Swami is that the act of abhivAdanam is a way of 
formally notifying another of one's name and form
in the phenomenal universe, which is a product of 
name and form (nAma-rUpa-vikAra). God and sannyAsis, however,
are in the absolute state (brAhmi-sthiti), beyond 
empirical name and form, and as such abhivAdanam is
illegitimate when done to them.

As you ask above, a question arises when looking at our
daily and occasional vaidika practices such as sandhyAvandanam.
After the conclusion of gAyatri-japam, the sandhyAvandanam
includes two abhivAdanam-s.  Curiously enough, Sri Vedanta Desika 
writes in 'SrI-pAncarAtra-rakshA' that after the gAyatri-japam
and upasthAnam "one should do abhivAdanam to God" (bhagavantam
abhivAdayEt). How do we reconcile this with the well-established
prohibition of doing abhivAdanam to God?

Sri Rangapriya Swami answered that the abhivAdanam in 
sandhyAvandanam are done to the dig-dEvatA-s, the gods of
the various directions. Since perumAL is the antaryAmin
(inner controller) of dig-dEvatA-s, in truth we are doing
it to God Himself, but *as embodied by the dig-dEvatA-s*,
so there is no contradiction.  In other words, when we
are told not to do abhivAdanam to God, this applies to 
situations when we are approaching Him directly, such
as when He is present in a temple with a Suddha-sattva-SarIra 
which is inherently His own, not of any other minor deity, or
when we are fortunate enough to be blessed with a vision
of Him.

Desika's statement about doing "abhivAdanam to God" in
the sandhyA and other vaidika karma-s should be understood
as doing abhivAdanam as prescribed to the dig-dEvatA-s,
but with the understanding that actually perumAL is the 
antaryAmin; it is to Him (with these dEvatA-s as His
body) that our thoughts and prayers should actually be directed.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

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