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Re: Archa thirunakshatram

From: Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan (
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 08:27:00 PDT

Dear BhavatOttamAs:

I would like to thank Mani for the well thought out clarifications provided 
on pancharAtra doctrine on vyuhAs.

On stahla purAnams another point that may strengthen the line of reasoning 
may be the following.  Eventhough, Lord Rama and Krishna are worshipped in 
archa forms, still they are considered as 'VibhavavatArams'.  Also in Daya 
Satakam Swami Desikan does not seem to refer to any of the stahala purAnams 
associated with Tirupati (pointing to the fact that thaey are of recent 


Buffalo, NY

>From: Mani Varadarajan <>
>Reply-To: Mani Varadarajan <>
>Subject: Re: Archa thirunakshatram
>Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 14:07:54 -0700 (PDT)
>Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan writes:
> > Eventhough Shri Sadagopan Swamin had answered this question, still it 
> > some more matters to be clarified.  For example, if you read the sthala
> > puranam of Tirupati etc., all these archa-murthys seem to have been once
> > vibhava avatArams.
>Dear Vijayaraghavan,
>I think it becomes patently obvious as one researches
>the various sthala-purANas that they are of relatively
>recent date, concocted by patrons or priests of a
>particular shrine to enhance its antiquity and ancestry
>in the eyes of the believing public.  The sthala-purANas
>usually are an amalgamation of local legend and pure
>fantasy.  Many were probably not intended as serious
>histories of the deity or temple at all. An example
>of how easy it is to devise an interesting story about
>a temple is the "legend" behind the Chicago Balaji
>Temple, written by Sri R. Raghavan. Little did we know
>that there were rishis and deva-s actively involved in
>Chicago as well!
>S.K. Ramachandra Rao discusses the Tirupati sthala-purANa
>in his interesting book on that shrine.  He points out how
>the entire story of Vishnu coming down after a tiff with
>Lakshmi, eventually settling at Tirumalai to settle
>a debt with Kubera is actually of very recent origin,
>say the 16th century or so.  In addition, the legend
>of 'varAha-svAmi' being the actual, original deity
>of the Venkatam Hill really has no basis in fact. One way
>of getting at the true history of a temple such as this is
>to look at solid textual evidence such as the Divya Prabandham,
>Silppadikaaram, etc., as well as inscriptional evidence at
>upper and lower Tirupati.
> > Also I am also confused about the vyuha forms.  From whatever little I 
> > PancharAtrA doesn't refer to 'TirupArkadal'.  Para Vasudeva to
> > Vasudeva-Sankarshana-Pradyumna-Aniruddha are the vyuha forms according 
> > pAncharAtrA.  May be our achAryAs have tried to reconcile the different
> > purAnic description of these forms to derive a cogent perspective for 
> > understanding.
>The vyUhas have many interpretations. One of them is that the vyUhas
>represent Vishnu's emanations for the purpose of creation. This matches
>quite well with the theology of Vishnu reposing in kshIrAbdhi in
>yOga-nidra, contemplating his work of creation. I cannot say
>for certain without doing a little more research, but I am pretty
>sure the idea of kshIrAbdhi does exist in the pAncarAtra.
>Another idea behind the vyUhas is that they represent different
>forms of Vishnu that rule over the different states of consciousness.
>Along these lines is the idea that the sAnkhyan evolutes of
>buddhi, manas, ahankAra, etc., have these different vyUha forms of
>Vishnu as their overlord.  This is why the pAncarAtra says
>in one samhita "sankarshaNo nAma jIvo jAyate" -- "Sankarshana is
>born as the jIva".
>In these various ways, the vyUha forms play a central role
>in meditation and the yogic process according to the pAncarAtra.
>Not being schooled very well in the pAncarAtra metaphysics,
>I cannot say much more, but one is supposed to progressively
>meditate on the various vyUha forms, each of which keep two
>of the six principle attributes of Vishnu at the forefront.
>The idea is that trying to meditate on all the six attributes
>(the "SADguNya" of jnAna, bala, aiSvarya, vIrya, Sakti, tejas --
>knowledge, strength, lordship, steadfastness, power, and
>splendor) is too difficult, and that the aspirant should proceed
>in stages. An aid to this progression of meditation is metaphorically
>described as a "sacrificial pillar" (viSAkha-yUpa) standing in
>Vaikuntha. Each level of this pillar has one of the vyUha forms
>manifesting two of these six divine attributes. One progresses in
>one's contemplation from the lower levels to the higher levels,
>culminating in para-vAsudeva.
>It is interesting to note that Adi Sankaracharya Bhagavatpada
>also subscribed to this six-fold description of divine attributes.
>In his gItA-bhAshya avatArikA, he described Narayana as being
>eternally endowed (sadA-sampanna) with these six guNa-s.
>Unfortunately, it is my understanding that most of the yogic/
>meditational ideas in the pAncarAtra have lost currency over
>the years. Virtually no one in the Sri Vaishnava tradition
>studies or practices yOga, especially along pAncarAtrika lines.
>While other Agama traditions (SAkta, Saiva) remain well-developed
>in their meditational aspects, the Vaishnava one seems to have
>suffered over the years.
>aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,

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