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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 14:22:43 PDT
Sri Sudarsan Parthasarathy wrote: > Adiyen's intention is not keep on asking elementary questions, > but develop a deeper understanding on this topic from > Bhagavathaas like Devarir. Please forgive me for committing > Apachaarams. Dear Sri Sudarsan, You are asking very good questions and they are not easy to answer. I will reply to best of my ability, and I ask others to do so as well. First of all, and this is general advice to everyone, we are all friends -- there is no need to apologize for asking questions, and please don't think you are committing apachArams by doing so. We need not be worried about this on our mailing list. I think you have distilled your doubt down to this: > But still why should we even seek a Post Office or > address their name, and think of Sriman Naarayanan, > when we can directly invoke our Supreme/Compassionate > Sriman Naarayanan. Mantra Ratnam, Dvayam and > Charama Slokam should be sufficient, and other > Shruthi's relevant to Nitya Karmas containing only > reference to Sriman Naarayanan should be practiced. This is an excellent question. However, I think it is based on a faulty premise. You are making the assumption that the various names we use -- Siva, Gayatri, Indra, Rudra, Sudarsan, Mani, etc. -- refer to entities other than the paramAtmA Sriman Narayana. In truth, all names, though they conventionally denote different individuals or objects, in reality only refer to the Supreme Self (paramAtmA). Since all things are simply modes of the Self, insofar as they constitute His body and are controlled by Him, all names truly refer directly to the Self and nothing else, since the Self is what imparts reality to these other things. This is the position of Ramanuja. Just as when we say "Sudarsan", we conventionally refer to your body, but we actually refer to your unique selfhood, those who are acquainted with Vedanta know that "Sudarsan" is just another reference to the Supreme Self, since it is He in reality who pervades your very essence. This is how we appreciate the fact that the Supreme Self manifests itself as all the various powers of nature and as creation itself. This immanence of God is described by Arjuna in the Gita, among many texts: sarvam samAnoshi tato'si sarvaH | You pervade everything, therefore you are everything! The very pervasiveness of the Self is the reason that all names refer truly to the Self. This principle is clarified by Nammalvar in many paasurams. I will cite one here and request others to supply more: thida visumbu, eri, vaLi, neer, nilam ivai misai padar poruL muzhuvadhum aay avai avai thoRum, udal misai uyirena karandhu, engum parandhuLan sudarmiku suruthiyuL ivaiyunda suranE. Being the vast sky, fire, air, water, and fire, Being all things made of these, Hidden within, he pervades, like life in a body, He is the God of the glorious Vedas. (tvm 1.1.7) This establishes that all things *are* the Self because of His pervasion. Now, using this principle, look at the hymns of the Vedas. All the various names used refer to manifestations of the Self alone, so all names only refer to Narayana. Whether we refer to Gayatri, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Surya, or Savitr, or on a more mundane level, Sudarsan, or Mani, we are truly referring only to Narayana. (This is also the only way of making sense of Nammalvar's exclaiming "muniyE, naanmukanE, mukkaNNappA", all in the same breath). So, we are not using a "different" post office -- we only need realize that all names address only One Entity, the Supreme Self, Narayana. Let's specifically apply this to sandhyAvandanam. [*] As explained before, sandhyAvandanam is a form of Vedic worship, in which the sun and the gayatri mantram are used for meditation. Are we worshipping entities other than the Self? Only if *we* think so. The true Vedantin will see all things as referring to the Self, so his worship will be different. Based on the principles above, the true Vedantin realizes that in no way can he worship the sun, or gayatri, by themselves, as different from the Supreme Self. (He also has no *need* to do so, but this is a separate issue). Desika clarifies this, citing a sloka from the Mahabharata: ye yajanti pitRRn devAn brAhmaNAn sahutASanAn sarvabhUtAntarAtmAnam vishNum eva yajanti Those who worship the ancestors, the gods, brahmins, or the fires, in truth only worship Vishnu, who is the inner Self of all things. (Santi Parva 355.41, quoted in RTS, kRta-kRtya-adhikAram) This is a beautiful sloka, because it encapsulates all the above principles in a single statement. In all worship, who is really worshipped? "vishNum eva", Vishnu alone. Why? Because He is "sarvabhUta antarAtmAnam", the Self of All. Whether it is a SrAddham (devasam), nitya-karma, or homa, the Vedantin performs these because they are the command of the Lord, and realizes that such worship is directed only to Him. Those untutored in Vedanta think that they worship independent beings, without realizing that the Self of all, Vishnu, is the actual recipient of all worship. So, when you say, > Mantra Ratnam, Dvayam and Charama Slokam should be > sufficient, and other Shruthi's relevant to Nitya > Karmas containing only reference to Sriman > Naarayanan should be practiced. I hope you now can see how this question fades off into irrelevancy, since nitya-karmas already refer directly to Sriman Narayana. You just have to turn your mind in that direction. We practice them as kainkaryam because it is ordained that we do so. The question of sufficiency should also not arise; nitya-karmas (or any other worship) should not be done to achieve results. Now, it is my turn to apologize. I did further research, and the slokas you cited in your previous post are indeed part of the gAyatrI dhyAnam for some Sri Vaishnavas. Sri Gopala Desikan of Tirukkudandai (18th century, munitraya sampradaya founder) cites these in his "Ahnikam" (manual of worship): prAtar dhyAyAmi gAyatrIm, ravimaNDala-madhyagAm Rg-vedam uccArayantIm raktavarNAm kumArikAm akshamAlAkarAm brahmadevatyAm hamsavAhanAm madhyandine tu sAvitrIm ravimaNDalamadhyagAm yajur-vedam vyAharantIm SvetAm SulakarAm SivAm yuvatim rudradevatyAm dhyAyAmi vRshavAhanAm sAyam sarasvatIm SyAmAm ravimaNDalamdhyagAm sAma-vedam vyAharantIm cakrAyudhadharAm SubhAm dhyAyAmi vishNudevatyAm vRddhAm garuDavAhanAm (These are not part of the sandhyAvandana krama, as taught to me by my father, so I was ignorant of them.) Basically, Gayatri Devi is pictured as sitting within the sun at each time of the day. In the morning, she is pictured as the consort of Brahma, a girl of reddish color reciting the Rg Veda. At noon, she is called "sAvitrI" and is seen as the consort of Rudra, a young woman of white color reciting the Yajur Veda. In the evening, she is called "sarasvatI", and is seen as the consort of Vishnu, an old woman of dark color reciting the Sama Veda. By the way, these are all slokas from smRti texts, not Veda mantras. These slokas are typical of serious meditational practice. Clearly, Gayatri is pictured as growing through the day and associated with Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu at various times for meditational purposes. I can't say more than this; more knowledgable scholars in India should be consulted. However, I am certain that even these slokas, if one wishes to recite them, have to be understood with the idea that Gayatri Devi is a manifestation of the Supreme Self based on the principles explained above. I suppose the basic conclusion is this: all names and forms -- Siva, Brahma, Gayatri, Sarasvati, Ganapati, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Sudarsan, Mani, stone, tree, etc., find their philosophical and emotional conclusion in the Supreme Self, who is known by the proper name Narayana. Mani [*] It should be understood that among the many Vedic rituals, Sri Vaishnavas perform only the "AjnA karmas", those that the Lord has commanded. We do not do any Vedic ritual for our own benefit (the so-called "kAmya karmas"), so we eschew yajnas and the like which others may do for personal gain.