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Re: amalanAthipirAn - 5

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Wed Sep 27 2000 - 23:45:27 PDT

Venkatesan Ananth writes:
> AzhvAR used the "pAramAya" first denoting a heavy
> burden and followed it with "pazhavinai" denoting
> ancient karmAs. [...] Our AcharyAs talk about these vinai being 
> without origin ("anAthi") and that they will last 
> till the end. He may remove them, but they tend to
> come back to us or that we tend to go back to them
> (having tasted them).

> AzhvAr is stating next that He has removed even such vinai for
> him ("paRRaRuththu") - not just removed them, but removed
> AzhvAr's attachment to them.

Sri Venkatesan's explanation is very appropriate and follows
the interpretation of our pUrvAcAryas.  If I may indulge in
an explanation which may clarify the idea: in Indian philosophy
a distinction is drawn between an actual act -- the "karma",
if you will -- and the latent mental impressions, the "vAsana",
which both cause one to commit an act in the first place, and 
which are furthermore reinforced by the act itself.

Here, Alvar is saying that not only has the Lord removed the 
effect of an action in the form of reward or punishment,
he has also totally wiped out the latent impressions that would 
cause the Alvar to once again fall back into the pit of selfish 
action. Without the removal of the latter, Alvar would not be
in much better shape than before.

In his comments on this line, svAmi SrI periya-vAccAn piLLai (PVP)
uses the phrase 'sa-vAsanamAka-pOkki', meaning both the karmic
effects along with their impressions were totally uprooted by
the Lord. SrI azhagiya maNavALa perumAL nAyanAr and Sri Vedanta 
Desika further wax eloquently in their elaborations on this point.


With respect to the uprooting of this karma, Alvar says in this 
that he "knows not what terrible and great penance has been done 
to achieve this result" ( gOra-mA-tavam ceyda nan kol ariyEn ).
There are two beautiful anubhavams of this line. Sri Venkatesan
has mentioned the first one, as expressed by Swamis PVP and nAyanAr,
and which I reproduce here:

   Alvar wonders, to attain this great a prize, did
   he perform phenomenal penance for a long time?
   In order to regain what has been lost for a long
   time, did he do a severe penance on ranganAtha?

The Alvar cannot think of anything that he has done that could
accomplish such a tremendous feat.  This is the first anubhavam.

There is another anubhavam here that is mentioned by Swamis 
PVP and nAyanAr, and whcih Sri Desika elaborates on beautifully.
The subject of the penance in this interpretation is not the
Alvar but the Lord himself:

   Did the Lord, who is beyond the sway of karma, of His own accord
   leave sacred Ayodhya, the place of His divine descent -- not to
   visit Lanka, the city of his beloved devotee [Vibhishana] -- 
   but to do a terrible and great penance amidst the purified waters 
   of the Kaveri, simply to obtain this thing [the Alvar] which had
   been lost from time immemorial? 

   I know not.  

Who knows how long the Lord has worked to obtain a single jIvAtmA?
This is the idea behind this anubhavam.

Lest some people mistake this to mean that the Lord *actually* 
needs to do penance to accomplish anything, Sri Desika immediately
writes that this idea is an expression of beautiful poetic imagination.
What is actually to be conveyed is that the Lord has taken an
eternal vow to protect any and all who turn in His direction,
and is waiting for each soul to do so. This is expressed by 
the Lord's own declaration in the Gita carama-Sloka -- "I will
release you from all sins" (mOkshayiSyAmi).


I eagerly await more installments in Sri Venkatesan's enlightening
series.

tiruppANAzhvAr tiruvaDigaLE SaraNam!

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani


  


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