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Significanc eof number 32 in Sri Vaishnava Philosophy

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Oct 15 1995 - 08:09:09 PDT

Sri Vaishnava  and Vedantic Sampradhayam places a special significance to the
number 32. Examples  of the significance of  32 are :

(1) The Vaishnava philosophy has 32 constituent parts or priniciples: It is made
up of 23 Tattvas from Prithvi to Mahat, 3  principles such as Avyaktam, Aksharam
and Tamas, three  more such as Kalam, Nitya Vibhoothi and Dharma Bhuta Gynam,
and the latter are crowned at the crest with  the triad:
Jeevan, Periya Piratti and Perummal.Together  the 23+ 3+ 3+ 3 make up thus  the
total of 32.

(2) Scriptures: A total of 32 from the combination of  18 chapters of Bhagavad
Gita, 4 Adhyayas of Brahma Sutra and the 10 decads of Nammazhwar"s

(3) 32 Moksha Vidyas described by the Upanishads

(4) 32 Apachaaras during the Aaraadhanaa of Sriman Naryana: These 32 are to be

(5) 32 Chapters of Srimad Rahasya Traya Saara as pointed out to me by Sri
Krishna Kalale during the most  recent celebration of the Birth day of Sri
Vedantha Desikan at the Ranganatha Temple at  Pomona , NY

(6) 32 Chapters of Paadhuka Sahasram, symbolizing the 32 steps the Lord of
Srirangam takes to walk towards HIS disciples as visulaized by Swami Desikan in
the 32 chapters of  his incomparable kavyam.The  Sri Ranganatha Paaduka
symbolizes for us the  Sri Satari that  we  wear on our head to get the
blessings of Nammazhwar, the Prapanna janakootastha. Acharya Ramanuja is said to
be the satari  (foot rest ) of Nammazhwar and the tradition continues all the
way down to our Acharyas at the Andavan Asramam or Ahobila Matam or Parakala

Thus the number 32 seems to have a special significance for the Prapannas and
the Prapatti group.


P.S: Among the thirty  two chapters of the Paadhka Sahasram, the 14th chapter
known as the Nada Paddhati  has the largest number of verses (VIZ); 100 slokas.
Rest of the chapters have 10 to 80 verses . It seems that Swami Desikan heard
the Divine Nada raised by the Paadukas as the Lord took his proverbial 32 steps
toward the Devotees.  Hence, Swami Desikan's Kavyam can be considered to have
been born out of his  Nadhopaasana  on the night that he composed the 1000+
verses of praise to the Lord"s holy Paadukas. 

Nadhopaasana/Nama Sakirtana has helped many Prapannas as an effective  Upasana
Marga to reach the Lord. The foremost among the Prapannas , who used
Nadhopaasana is Saint Thyagaraja, whose compositions house his Cahranagati to
Sri Rama in the classical manner of Prapatti done by a Sri Vaishnava. The
relationship between sama Veda , Nadhopaasana and Prapatti has been referred to
by Saint Thygaraja in many of his Kritis. I will summarize my thoughts on the
above subject in a separate note to focus on another Upasana Method  for
offering one"s Prapatti to Sriman Narayana.

P.P.S: While on the subject,  the name of another Nadhopasaka /Nama sankirtana
practioner  comes into my mind, especially in the context of the recent exchange
of notes on Saivas and Vishanvaas. That Acharya is Bodhendral, one of the
Sankaracharyas of the Kanchipuram line. He gave up his Post as the head pontiff
and retired to a village on the banks of Cauveri in Tanjore district &  preached
the  efficacy of Rama Nama Siddhantha.His delectable verses contained in his
work known as Rama Karnaamruta are a source of great joy to recite. He made
Prapatti to Sri Rama. Adi sankara has made Prapatti to Lord Narasimha in times
of great distress as evidenced by his Lakshmi Nrsimha Karaavalampana Stotram.
Even today, The abode of the Sringeri Acharyas is known as Nrsimha Vanam. Adi
Sankara has devoted a lot of his energy to compose other stotras on Vishnu.
Infact, it is jocularly observed that Adi Sankara is              " Anthar
Saakta:, Bahir Saiva: Vyavahareshu Vaishnava:" According to hagiography, his
travel in the sky over Guruvbayoor was arrested by Lord of that Temple to remind
Adi Sankara as to who is  the strength behind his blessings.Adi Sankara is said
to have  descended down to Earth and offered his worship to UnniKrishna and then
proceed on his way. I think the general regard that Saivas have  for Vishanvism
is a direct  result of Adi Sankara"s teachings emphasizing tolerance  for the
common man thru his stotras and his own practises.

P>P>P>S: Another Prapanna/Nadhopasaka: Oothukkadu Venkatasubba Iyer. In an
earlier note, it was mentioned that he composed Kritis only on Krishna. It is
true that a majority of his Kritis are on Nartana Krishna enshrined at his
village . He also composed kritis on Rama (eg) Kalyana Rama in Raga
Hamsanadam.He has composed the Navavarana Kritis on Kamakshi . Bombay Sisters
have rendered these Kritis beautifully in a tape. He worshipped Krishna as  Sri
Vidya Rajagopalan, a tradition practised in Mannargudi Temple,  a famous temple
close to his village of OOthukkadu. There Sri Rajagopala icon is standing on Sri
Chakram , the Yantram of Worshippers of Sri Lalita Parameswari. Sri Chakram, the
geometric pattern of worship of Sri Vidya is also the Yantram of Sri Devi as one
can see from the coins distributed by the Ahobila Mutt. On one side of the Coin
, you will see the current Acharya  and on the other side the traditional Sri
Chakram. There is  agroup of Upasakas , who worship Krishna as Mohini or Madana
Gopala Sundari. Besides  Oothukkadu Kavi , Leela Sukhar , the author of Krishna
Karaamrutam offered worship to Madana Gopala Sundari carrying the symbols of
Krishna(Flute, Shepard"s stick , Sudarsana, Conch ) and Of Sri lalita(Cane sugar
Bow, Ankusam, Flower arrows and noose). The mantram for this Murthy is made up
of the fusion of Panchadasakshari Mantra and Rajagopala Mantram. This is for
Tantric worshippers.

The last item on Oothukkadu Kavi went to unknown destination in Cyberspace ,
last time I posted. Hence I am repostingit  in the context of this note,. If by
chance, you have recd it earlier, please disregard this section. Thanks.