View Full Version : Sri Varadaraja: "aham Eva paratatvam"

18 February 2013, 01:48 PM
It may be of interest to Vaishnavites to read about the conversation between Sri Ramanuja and Kanchi Varadaraja (through Thirukkachi Nambi) in which Sri Varadaraja (Sriman Narayana) asserts that "he is the para-tattwam" (Supreme Brahman). This episode is very famous in TamilNadu SriVaishnava community and hence giving it here:

While at a very turbulent time of his life, Srimad Ramanuja is said to have asked Sri Thirukkachi Nambi, another staunch devotee of Sriman Narayana, 6 questions which were then answered by Sri Varadaraja to Thirukkachi Nambi and conveyed to Ramanuja.

Please see here (http://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/ramanuja/archives/nov05/msg00147.html) for the 6 questions asked of Ramanuja and the answers given by Varadaraja.

The detailed explanation for the succinct answers given by the lord are found in the following excerpt: ( www.oocities.org/yatirajadasa/six_assertions.doc )

Assertion 1

aham Eva para tattvam – I alone am the Supreme Being

This represents the answer to the question of “Who is the Ultimate Being?” - In the Vedas, mention is made of numerous deities and we see so many deities that are propitiated through various offerings. As the Lord Himself says in several scriptures like Bhagavad-Gita - the Lord SrImannArAyaNa alone is the ultimate being. The word alone is very important. Many people claim that some other deities are equal or superior to Lord SrImannArAyaNa, and this statement of the Lord conveyed by Thirukkacchinambi negates that argument.

In Sri Bhagavad gIta, Arjuna says the same – “na thvat samasthyabyadhika: kuthOnya:” (11.43); nammAzhvAr says in thiruvAymozhi – “oththAr mikkaarai ilayaaya maamaayaa”, both of which mean that there is nobody equal to or superior to Lord SrImannArAyaNa.

Assertion 2

darsanam bhEda Eva ca - the true religion has differences among the entities

• This is a very important concept in the true religion. The differences that the Lord says are
• Between the Lord (Isvara) and the jIva (cit)
• Between the sentient and insentient beings (cit/acit)
• Between the individual sentient souls
• During rAmAnuja’s time, and even now, many people say that (i) there is only one soul (ii) everything we see and feel are an illusion caused by lack of knowledge (iii) all of things we see are the same as the ultimate soul, and this will be apparent once the illusion is removed through the right learning
• The above position is negated here by saying that in the true religion, there are differences among the tattvas.
• This assertion helped rAmAnuja (and therefore helps us) in understanding the true nature of the tattvas - i.e. there are three tattvas – the chit, acit and Isvara that are different from each other. Once that is known, the question of the relationship among them naturally arises, and per our religion, the cit and acit emanate from Isvara and are completely dependent and subservient to Him; the true state of the cit being complete servitude to the Isvara.
• This sets the foundation for the ultimate nature of a human being – since every living thing is different, the concept of service to other beings arises.
• This answer also helps us in one key practical aspect of our daily lives - our ego. By knowing that the individual soul is NOT the supreme soul, we tend to understand that we are not all-powerful and all knowing, and this helps us in reducing the amount of "self" in us.

Assertion 3

upAyEshu prapattissyAt – The means of attaining salvation is to abstain from taking one’s own effort to attain salvation and be completely dependent on the Lord for it.

• This assertion is the key tenet of the rAmAnuja sampradAya. The only means to attain salvation is to understand that the Lord alone is the goal and the means. Having understood this, one should have complete faith in the Lord, give up all his efforts to attain salvation, and be completely dependent on Him for salvation.
• Through this assertion, we understand that the burden of releasing us from the cycle of birth and death is the Lord’s, not ours. He will release us from this cycle at the appropriate time, without placing any condition on us.

Assertion 4

antima smriti varjanam - remembrance of the Lord at the time of death is not a precondition for salvation

• One of the more prevalent beliefs in rAmAnuja's time, and perhaps even now, is that an essential condition to getting release from the cycle of life and death is remembrance of the Lord at the time of death. This condition in negated this assertion.
• On a practical basis, if there is such a condition, it will lead to tremendous uncertainty and tension for any human being. He (or she) will be preoccupied with worrying whether he will be able to have remembrance of the Lord at the time of death. This worrying will make it difficult for the person to channel his mind onto more productive activities in this life, and instead the mind will always be worrying about the eligibility for salvation if the remembrance is not there.
• The taking away of this condition frees up the mind of the human-being to concentrate on productive tasks like performing service to the devotees of the Lord, instead of worrying about remembrance of Him at the time of death.

Assertion 5

dEhAvasAnE mOksham ca – mOksha will be attained immediately after the soul leaves the body

• This assertion removes any doubts that a person may have regarding the timing of when he will get salvation. In the 3rd assertion, it is conveyed that complete faith in the Lord (as the goal and the means to the goal) would lead to salvation. In the 4th assertion, we are assured not to worry about the common belief at that time as to what will lead to mOksham.
• So, the following question is natural – “OK - I have complete faith in the Lord. My elders have always taught me that if I remember Him at the time of death, I will get mOksha immediately, and now it is conveyed not to worry about that. Then, since I have complete faith in Him, when will I get mOksham? Is it now? Is it after a few years? When?”
• This question by the statement that the salvation will occur immediately after the soul leaves its body.
• Some religions advocate the concept of jeevan muktha, where a person living on this earth can attain salvation in his current state. That concept is negated here by saying that salvation will occur once the soul leaves the current body (i.e. salvation is not possible when the soul is in earthly bodies)

Assertion 6

mahApUrNam samsraya – reach the feet of mahApUrNa (periya nimbi) and learn from Him

• This instruction gives rAmAnuja the name of the right teacher he needs to learn from. rAmAnuja had already learnt from yAdava-prakAsa, but his teachings were not leading him anywhere. So, it was important for him to know who the right teacher was to learn the right religion from, and periya nambi is suggested as the right teacher here.
• This instruction, when applied to us, means that we have to find the right teacher and learn from him.
• The word nambi is important. Nambi is a tamizh word that can used to denote a person in whom one can repose complete faith, and be assured of success. Such faith can be reposed only on someone that is complete, and has no defects. So, the AzhvArs and AchAryas have used that word to denote many divya dEsa perumALs – thiru-k-kurungudi nambi, naRaiyUr ninRa nambi etc.; The same word has been used in the names of great AchAryas in whom the disciples can repose complete faith – mARanEri nambi, thiru-k-koshtiyUr nambi , periya nambi etc. – The Sanskrit word pUrNa is an approximate translation of the completeness of such a person, and hence periya nambi is called mahA pUrNa

Lessons from these 6 assertions for us, in our present day lives are:

1. Believe in Lord srIman nArAyaNa as the ultimate Lord.
2. We are different from the Lord, and are different from insentient beings like stones
3. Our true nature is servitude to the Lord and His devotees.
4. Have complete faith in the Lord, and abstain from self-effort to attain salvation
5. Salvation will occur only after death and it is for the Lord to decide who to liberate.
6. Find a teacher who can teach us the true religion and way of life, and learn from him


31 March 2013, 04:16 AM
Nicely Explained In Detail...
Thank you..