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Archiradhi of Sri Pillai Lokacharya - Part 1

From: Venkatesh K. Elayavalli (vke_at_cypress.com)
Date: Fri Nov 26 1999 - 08:32:50 PST

Dear Members

Archiradhi is one of the 18 rahasyas of Sri Pillai Lokacharya. This text
describes the path to Vaikunth taken by a muktatma. This written in
Manipravala Style and grouped in four prakaranas (or chapters). The
first chapter address the typed of world and the longings of the soul to
reach paramapadam. The second chapter describes the path the soul takes
to reach paramapadam. The third chapter gives a detailed account of the
Vaikunthanatha starting with the thirumeni all the way down to the toe
nails. The final chapter describes a sample conversation between the
muktatma and Perumal, before the atma is admitted into Vaikuntham.

The translation presented here is from Ms.M. S. Ramesh's book on Divya
Desams published by TTD.

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Sri Pillai Lokacharya wrote 18 rahasyas i.e. books expounding the
fundamental vaishnavite philosophy and shastras. The Archiradhi is one
such rahasya, written in manipravala style i.e.  a mixture of Sanskrit
and Tamil. It is believed that there are four ways or paths to attain
moksha. They are:

   1.Garbhagathi
   2.Yama gathi
   3.Dhooma gathi
   4.Archiradhi gathi

The first three are for ordinary, sinful mortals where the soul has o go
through Narakanubhavam i.e. hell before attaining moksha, if at all it
is blessed as to attain moksha. Archiradhi gathi however describes the
path to moksha exclusively reserved for mumukshus i.e. great souls.
Archiradhi means  a praiseworthy, gathi means path to paramapada.
Archiradhi gathi has four prakaranas (chapters). This describes the path
taken by a muktatma (gnani) while ataining moksha. More or less the
description given here of the route to Vaikuntha compares with what
Nammalwar described in Soozh visumbu adi.

Chapter 1:

Lakshminayakan, the rahasya says is the master of the entire world.  The
world consists of nitya vibhooti and leela vibhooti. Nitya vibhooti is
Paramapada. The rest of the world is leela vibhooti. The people living
in the nitya vibhooti are also referred to as those residing in Bogha
vibhooti that is to say, they are staying in Paramapada enjoying the
company of Baghavan. They are under the suzeranity of Baghavan Who rules
them seated under a white umbrella. That is to say God is the sole
monarch in Paramapada. He is the ultimate and only master. The use of
the words "Ekatha pathram" i.e. a white umbrella is used to denote the
usual insignia of a king. In other words, it refers to Eka
Chatradhipatyam or sweta chatradhipatyam.

Those who are staying in leela vibhooti are in direct contrast to the
lucky residents of Paramapada.  Unlike the people in Paramapada those
living in leela vibhooti are not accustomed to implicit obedience of
orders. While those in Paramapada would bend their heads out of respect
before the sincere devotees of Perumal, those in leela vibhooti will
behave in the exact opposite manner and will show scant respect for the
pious devotees. Instead each and everyone of them claim that they are
the master. Having made the tall claim that they are the masters, they
think that all the things in the world belong to them. While those in
Paramapada worship only one God i.e. Narayana as the Supreme Lord, in
sharp contrast those living in leela vibhooti sing the praises of any
number of gods. In short, people in Leela vibhooti suffer from
"aharnkara" and "mamakara" i.e. from the illnesses of arrogance and
attachment.

It is said that the behaviour of the people in leela vibhooti will be as
follows:

Unlike the people in Paramapada these residents will lay claim to fame
or name. They are not intelligent. Unlike those in Paramapada whose body
has a shining glow of purity, those living in leela vibhooti have a
sinful body.  While those in Paramapada will be praised by the devas as
great souls and will always have the sole objective of doing kainkarya
i.e. service to God, not so much to please themselves as to please Him,
those in leela vibhooti do not know what it is to render service to God.
Instead, they become the slaves of Manmadha and run behind sensual
pleasures. They do not realise that God is the one and only whole truth.
They do not bow down before the Perumal who holds the chakra and the
shanku in His hand. Instead they follow the path dictated by their
bodily pleasures. Instead of saying that their sole objective and
purpose in life is to attain God, they find various methods to get
separated from God and to go far away from God. They escape the long
reach of the benign helpful hands of Bhagavan. They get lost in the
evanascent pleasures of the world and go far away from the grace of the
God.

The above is the description of the people residing in the leela
vibhooti as given by Sri Pillai Lokacharya in his book. It is painful
and amazing that this description of the world given so long ago should
hold good even today.