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Question - Ontological status of Sree

From: Murali Kadambi (
Date: Mon Sep 10 2001 - 09:55:41 PDT

Dearest bhaagawataas,

I think this issue has been discussed earlier in this net, but I will 
raise it anyway, since I would like a better understanding on the 
subject.  E-mails may be posted directly to my address or to the e-
mail group depending on whether the moderator feels that this topic 
is a repetition.

Q:  What is the ontological status of Sree (Lakshmi - thaayaar)?

If it be accepted that Sree is another chetana "belonging" to the 
paramaatma category, then we are left with two paramaatmas - the Lord 
Himself and His consort.  If Sree is a special chetana that is 
neither a paramaatma and jeevatma but some other aatma, then we have 
to accept three classes of chetanas, which I am not sure is supported 
by the scriptures.  If we accept that Sree is a jeevaatma, then the 
single-versus-multiple-paramaatma problem is resolved.  But, another 
problem arises -- how can she become the primal reason for the origin 
of the universe (jagat-kaaraNa vastu) and also the primary fruit of 
salvation (siddha-upEya).

I have another theory (may not be original). If anything makes sense, 
it is solely attributed to my aacharyas and all bhaagawatas that have 
influenced me.  The erroneous portions are mine.

Sree and Narayana are not two, but one, in the ontological sense.  
Sree is ever-present with Narayana, just as His other qualities 
reside in Him all the time.  Sree is the most important aspect or 
mode of Narayana, more important than even any of His other 
distinguishing characteristics (swaroopa lakshaNas) such as satyam, 
jnaanam, etc, or his intrinsic nature (swabhaavam - kalyANa gunams) 
such as jnana, bala, aishwarya, sowsheelya, et al, or even the two 
universes He controls: the material world (leela vibhuti) and the 
transcendental world (nithya vibhuti).  Sree is the most important 
distinguishing characteristic (swaroopa-niroopaka-dharmam) of the 
Lord.  Her "sole" purpose is to qualify Narayana, who loses identity 
if she is not present.  In a sense she is more powerful than 
Narayana, since she defines Him.  So, if you ask Narayana: Who are 
you?, he would reply:  "Sri-ah-pathi."  Not "Narayana" or "Sarva-
sheshi" or even "Jagat-kaaraNa" lest we might think that He can be 
without Sree.  All the other epithets and names are only secondary. 
He cannot be without Sree - his most important distinguishing 
attribute -, just as much as Sree cannot be without Him - who else 
would she qualify?  No wonder she is ever present with Him and He 
with Her everywhere.  Remember Ramanuja's theory of all objects 
(dravyas) being vishistha?

Now, comes the question: Is she a chetana or an achetana?  She is a 
chetana, but she is a special chetana whose only purpose is to 
qualify (define) the Lord.  Is she a jeevaatma or a paramaathma?  
Moot point.  Sree, unlike Bhu and NeeLa, is not a jeevaatma.  She is 
not a paramaathma either (at least not all by Herself), but serves 
the most important job of qualifying that paramaatma.  Since Sree 
without Narayana is as real as a hare with horns, when we talk about 
paramaathma, we have to say Sreeman-Narayana.  So, in that sense, 
there is only one paramaathma, albeit "composed" of two chetanas, one 
of whom is the qualifier and the other the qualified.  Is Narayana 
the paramaathma?  Only as long as He is qualified by Sree.  So, 
neither Narayana by Himself - (even if that is possible), nor Sree 
can be individually called paramaathma, but the two together, yes.

Now come the secondary questions:
Is she jagat-kaaraNa vastu?  Yes, in as much as the Lord is, because 
after all, the Lord cannot exist without Sree. Is she is the upEya?  
Same answer as before.  Actually the jagat-kaaraNa vastu is 
Sriyahpati, and so is the upEya.  Is Sree a mother?  Yes, as desired 
by the Lord and Herself.  Will she serve as a mediatrix between the 
salvation-seeking-soul and "Her Lord"?  Yes, again by mutual consent.

Does this analysis - or loud rambling - make sense? Surely, there 
would be hundreds of errors (even in this small a note), but I have 
to admit that I have NOT studied the granthas under sadaacharyas.  I 
request knowledgeable members to shed light on this.

adiyen, murali kadambi.

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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