Celebrating the Azhwars and the Divya Desams of Lord Sriman Narayana!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why this name ?

People familiar with Nammazhwar's famous verse on Lord Sarangapani of Kumbakonam (formally known as Thirukkudanthai) will know exactly how to pronounce the name of this blog.

"Aravamudham", as I have spelt it, is actually pronounced "Aaraavamudham". It means sweetness than can never cloy. Nammazhwar describes Lord Sarangapani as Aa-raa-amudhan".
I wanted a really sweet name for my blog, and what better choice than this ?

Also, the word "AaraavamudhE" has a great significance in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. A few centuries after the lifetimes of the Azhwars, knowledge of the Divya Prabandham was lost among people. A few people scattered here and there knew a few pAasurams. Not all the pAsurams were known to mankind. Sri nAthamuni, one of the AchAryas in the Sri Vaishnava AchArya lineage happened to hear the decad of pAsurams that starts with "ArAvamudhE". In the concluding pAsuram of this decad, Sri NammAzhwar mentions of this decad being one of the thousand (AyirathuL ivai pathum..) of his outpourings. This stimulated the thinking of Sri nAthamuni. If this pAsuram was one of a thousand, where were the rest ? He started enquiring around, and with unrelenting effort and the Grace of Sri nammAzhwAr, recovered the Divya Prabandham for the benefit of Sri Vaishnavas. So, it was the word "ArAvamudhE" that triggered the rediscovery of the nAlAyira Divya Prabandham.

Ramblings on the Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is part of the Mahabharatha, which is the longest poetical workin the world and is one of the two classical epics of India. In a nutshell, the Mahabharatais the story of the internecine conflict between two sets of cousins in a royal family.The Mahabharata culminates in a war of epic proportions between the feuding cousinsand the good guys win, ultimately. Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu stands by and guides thegood folks to their justified victory.
Just as the two sides are on the brink of war, Arjuna, one of the good guys and a stalwartin war, gets stricken by guilt and remorse. His conscience begins to work overtime, and he starts wondering what the heck he is doing fighting with his own cousins and uncles. Krishna,who is his guide-cum-charioteer, talks to him about war, life and philosophy. At the end of question and answer session that probably lasted around three hours, Arjuna is raring to goin for the kill. The war begins.
Familiar people will recognize that the preceding two paragraphs represent a very superficial(in fact, bordering on the flippant) summary of the Mahabharatha and the Gita. The Gita is notmerely an incitement to war, not is it the motivational pitch a general would use to get his soldiers going. It is detailed philosophical discussion about how to percieve life and work.And it is much more..
Since the Bhagavad Gita is a discussion about perspectives of life, it is quite natural thatit is subject to subjective interpretation. Indeed, various philosphers and thinkers have interpreted or commented on the Bhagavad Gita from their respective perspectives. And the veryfact that there are so many interpretations means that there is no universal agreement!
The Bhagavad Gita is divided into eighteen chapters. Krishna talks to Arjuna about variouspractices like Karma Yoga, Bhakti, etc etc, which very frankly, I don't understand. In the finalchapter, however, Lord Krishna makes a telling statement -"Surrender everything unto me, and don't worry".
Is this the crux of the message of the Gita - letting go..?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Lord's Transgressions of Dharma

Reading through C.Rajaji’s Ramayana, Adiyen happenedto think of the Vali Vadham episode and wish to share some of my ramblings on this topic with this august forum of venerable Sri Vaishnavites.There are numerous occasions wherein the Lord has, uninhibitedly and brazenly flouted “dharma” to uphold the interests of His Devotees. Straightaway, Adiyen can think of three instances (doubtless, there are many more):

1. Depriving the Asuras of Amrutam, to confine it to the Devas, even though the Asuras had participated equally in the churning of the ocean and hence had an equal right to the spoils.

2. Killing Vaali, while remaining hidden, and that toowhen He had no personal score to settle with Vaali.

3. Protecting Saatyaki from certain death, by getting Arjuna to sever the hand of Bhurisravas in theKurukshetra war, though Arjuna was in no way involved in the Saatyaki-Bhurisravas duel. (I am not sure why the other such episodes are discussed as much as Vaali Vadham) Aren’t these open and flagrant violations of so-called Dharma ? No – because from the Lord’s perspective, the first and foremost Dharma is the protection of HisDevotees. Everything else (i.e conventional considerations of Dharma) are set aside when a Devotee’s well-being is at stake, just as the police are armed with special powers in the event of an Emergency. Thiruvalluvar says in the Thirukkural –“Udukkai izhanthavan kai pola Angae iDukkaN kaLaivadhAm natpu”. Just as a man’s hand instinctively clutches at his waist cloth when he senses that it is slipping, a man’s true friend rushes to his succour at the time of peril. If even a human friend can do this, what to speak of the Lord, when His devotee is in peril ? This is illustrated by EmperumAn’s speed in rushing to Gajendra’s aid – a speed so tremendous that it had the Lord waiting for Sri Sudarsana to catch up.( “Senru, ninru, Azhi thottaanai” – Thirumangai Azhwar describing the Lord of Triplicane) Now, what is “Dharma” and what is “Adharma” ? As is repeatedly pointed out in the Mahabharatha, the way of Dharma is extremely intricate and even great men are often perplexed at what is right and what is not. Thisis why the Lord says “Sarva DharmAn Parithyajtha; mAmekam saranam vraja”. For, what really is Dharma is not what we think it to be, it is what the Lord thinks it to be. (“AchAra prabhavo dharma, dharmasya prabhurachyutah” – says the phala sruthi of the Vishnu Sahasranama) Hence the Lord simplifies our task by saying, “You do not worry about Dharma (with your infinitesimal intellect !) .You just surrender unto me”. The same sentiment is echoed in a line in the Bible – “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Names’ sake”. ( If I remember right, it is the twenty-third psalm) Let’s consider another thing. We commit innumerable sins and acquire an enormous heritage of Dush-Karma. But still, we pray to the Lord, and He cheerfully reduces our gravest and most heinous sins (“sediyaayaval vinaigaL”) to ashes.(poya pizhaiyum puku tharuvAnninranavum theeyinil thoosaakum). Thus He allows us to get away without paying fully for our misdeeds.Strictly speaking, is this also not a transgression ofthe laws of karma and dharma ? And if the Lord were to strictly apply the yardstick of dharma while judging us, what would be our plight ? Such trivial considerations of karma and dharma are cast aside when the Lord’s Grace attends on us, isn’t it ?Doubtless, everything of the above must be something that readers have known/realized already, but stillthe Lord’s Daya cannot be over emphasized. I am surprised at my own temerity in placing these thoughts in this elite forum. I regret any errors in the form or substance of this message. Adiyen

Thursday, August 9, 2007

First Post

This blog will be a collection of aDiyaen's ramblings on the wonderful philosophy that is Sri Vaishnavism. Whether I am competent enough to blog on such a great subject is entirely questionable. However, there is no question about my interest and sincerity of purpose!