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Sri Ramanujacharya's Tirunakshatram

From: muralidhar rangaswamy (rangaswamy_m_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 08:57:30 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

Srimans Madhavakannan and Sadagopan have paid glowing tributes to 
our Paramacharya, earlier today. In this post we shall focus on a 
few related aspects of Sri Ramanujacharya and discuss his five 
commands to his followers.

We are indebted to this DayaIka 
Sindhu for blessing us with our wonderful Sampradayam. Swami 
Desikan glorifies this aspect of Sri Bhashyakara in the Yatiraja 
Ssapthati. Sri Ramanujacharya handed to us our Sampradayam through 
the 74 SimhasanAdipatis. Swami Desikan acknowledges this fact by  
using 74 exquisite verses in the Yatiraja Sapthati. The Upanyasams 
of H.H. Srimad Andavan Swamigal of Srimad Paundarikapuram Asramam 
on this subject are a delight to hear. In it Swamigal very 
affectionately presents the details of Sri Ramanujacahrya's birth. 
The connections to NammAzhwar and the tamarind tree at Tirukuruhoor 
are brought out with consummate effect. Interestingly, Swamigal 
offers an alternate explanation on the term Ramanuja. Specifically, 
Swamigal raises the question "Ramanuja denotes the younger brother 
of Rama. Can this not be interpreted as the younger brother of 
Balarama and thus is not our Acharya an incarnation of Lord Krishna?"
This series of 7 tapes is an outstanding piece of work by H.H. 
Srimad Andavan Swamigal and is a must buy for anyone interested in 
learning about our Sampradayam.

The final message of Sri Ramanujacharya for his followers is contained 
in the form of five commands. These have the exalted status of 
Divya Ajnyas (divine commands) for Sri Vaishnavas. These five commands 
are referred to not once but twice during the recitation of 
SaRRmuRai. The number five is significant because of its association 
with the Pancha Bhutas, PanchEndriyas, Pancha SamskAras, five 
Divya Dravyas (used in performing Tirumanjanam for the Lord), 
the five forms of Lord Vishnu (Para Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa and 
Antaryami), and the Marut Panchakas (Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and 
Vyana). The Taittriya Upanishad extols the significance of the number 
five as "PanchasvadhikaraNeshu". Recognizing these facts, our 
Paramacharya has blessed us with his message through five gems.
These are listed in descending order of rigour. However, it is 
pointed out that the order when reversed, provides a step-by-step 
process of increasingly challenging duties for those interested in 
mastering Bhagavad Ramanuja Darshanam. This raises the question "what 
are the five commands of our Paramacharya?"

(1) Read the Sri Bhashya
(2) Read Azhwar Prabandham
(3) Engage in constant recitation of the Dvaya Mantram
(4) Take part in Bhagavat Kaimkaryam
(5) Be of assistance to a Sri Vaishnava who follows the five 
    commands.

First it is pointed out that it is imperativce for every Sri Vaishnava 
to follow the five commands laid down by our Acharya. However, an 
appreciation of our Acharya's foresight and compassion for those who 
may not be able to follow one or more of these commands comes through 
when one examines the commands in greater detail.  
Interpreted in the order presented, it becomes clear that these 
commands contain the answers to a number of "what if" scenarios. 
More precisely, mastering the Sri Bhashya (a 
terse and argumentative commentary on the Brahma Sutras) requires 
a great degree of expertise in Shruti and a thorough understanding of 
its intricate meanings. As such this demands a great deal of rigour 
and may not be possible for all to accomplish. Therefore, our 
DayAika Sindhu offers the alternative of reading and understanding 
the Arulicheyals of the Azhwars. Admittedly, this is not easy either. 
However, it is somewhat less demanding compared to reading the 
Sri Bhashya. For those who are unable to do this, our Paramacharya 
has recommended constant recitation of the Dvaya Mantram, which is 
much easier to accomplish. This also requires initiation by an 
Acharya and not many may have the oppurtunity to receive MantrOpadesham. 
For them, the Acharya suggests taking part in 
Bhagavad Kaimkaryam. Examples of this include volunteer 
work in your local Temple, reciting Vedams and Prabandhams, cleaning 
the Temple precincts, participate in preparing food for Tadiaradhanai,
making copies of Stotrams and important texts available to priests 
and devotees, participation in Ttemple construction projects 
either financially or through a labor of love. If this is also 
not possible, the Acharya has recommended that one be of help to a 
Sri Vaishnava who follows our Acharya's commands. If this is hard to
practice, the individual is beyond redemption!

>From the standpint of a starter desirous of gaining a deeper 
understanding of our Sampradayam, one can interpret the commands of 
our Paramacharya in the reverse order. As a first step, when one 
undertakes Bhagavata Kaimkaryam, the Karmic influences naturally 
lead the individual to greater heights. When a beginner is 
associated with a Bhagavata, he is naturally curious about the 
activities of the Bhagavata. For a Bhagavata, there is no greater 
joy than undertaking Kaimkaryam for Bhagavan and his Bhaktas. Thus 
service to the Bhagavata automatically leads the starter to step (4). 
This in turn results in the starter thirsting for MantrOpadesham from 
an Acharya. Step (3) follows as a consequence. Contact with 
the Acharya will inevitably bring out mention of the Azhwar's 
teachings, which could serve as the motivating factor for step (2). 
One who receives Bharanyasam from the Acharya is also advised to 
have Kalakshepam in either the Sri Bhashya or the Rahasyarthas under 
the feet of the Acharya or someone similarly qualified. This may 
in turn point the seeker to step (1). I confess that these are 
purely my own reflections on the commands of our Paramacharyan and 
I seek the forgiveness of learned members of our group for my 
indulgence. 

Lastly, the Bhakti group offers ample opportunities for following the 
commands of our Paramacharyan. A case in point is the Ranganatha 
Perumal Koil construction project. On this note, I wish to pledge 
my support to Srimans Sadagopan and Sri Kanumalla for serving them 
in any desired manner without being a hindrance to the project. I am  
thankful to Sri Mani for providing us the forum for partaking of the 
nectar doled out to us by Srimans Sadagopan, Madhavakannan, Anbil 
Swamin and a host of other devout and learned Bhagavatas.

Sri RamanujArya DivyAjnyam VardhatAm AbivardhatAm.

Acharyan TiruvadigalE SharaNam,

Namo Narayana,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy   


      

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