5 Questions of Sri Ramanujacharya | Guru Paramparai Prabhavam- Part 1
Sri Ramanujacharya had a set of 5 questions which intend to teach man key lessons of spirituality.
The 1st question was: “What is the highest principle?”
Some of the Vedic Scriptures in Sanatana Dharma state that Brahman and the Jiva are non-different. Some others opine that Brahman and Jiva are different. The astonishing thing is that both these statements are extracted from the Vedic Literature.
Sri Ramanujacharya decided to post the same query as his 2nd question: “Are Bhagawan and Jiva similar?”
The 3rd question was “Which is the most elevated and yet simple means to attain Liberation?”.
In his 4th question, Sri Ramanujacharya wanted to clarify from the Lord – “Is it compulsory for one to remember the Lord at the time of death?”
The 5th question was a personal one. He wanted to know as to “Which Guru should he surrender to?”
Who was Kanchipurna Swamigal?
Sri Ramanujacharya wanted to attain Diksha or spiritual initiation from the great Vaishnava Sage Yamunacharya. But, it was too late because Sage Yamunacharya had already departed to the Spiritual World. He took help from a fellow devotee named Sri Kanchipurna Swamigal to find answers to his questions. The Supreme Deity of the Dhama Kanchipuram, used to converse with Sri Kanchipurna Swamigal.
Kanchipuram is in modern day Tamil Nadu.
Thus, Sri Ramanujacharya decided to consult Sri Kanchipurna Swamigal as he became the mediator between him and the Lord. The Lord of Kanchipuram is Sriman Varadaraja Perumal. The deity answered all these 5 questions put by Sri Kanchipurna Swamigal on behalf of Sri Ramanujacharya.
Vardharaja Perumal Answers the 5 questions
To the first question as to “What is the highest principle?” the Lord replied, “I am the highest principle.”
The Lord explains: “Other than me, the Supreme Principle, all others are living entities or Jivas. Celestial beings, Devatas and other living entities fall within the Jiva category.
The Lord reveals to Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita that He is the Supreme Principle. All other principles emerge out of Him. He does not require any other force to operate as He is the cause of all causes. The Lord, Sriman Varadaraja revealed to Sri Kanchipurna Swamigal that there is a yawning gap between the Jiva and Brahman. He further adds that they are distinct in all respects. Jiva cannot ascend to the platform of Brahman.
Are Jiva and Bhagawan the same?
A Jiva is granted the four handed form and appearance similar to that of Bhagawan, once he ascends to the abode Vaikuntha. Yet the Jiva is never equal to the Lord for many reasons.
Although, all bodily features of the liberated Jiva is similar to that of the Lord, here are 6 major differences.
1) Only the Lord shall have Lord Sheshanaga as the couch. Other Jivas can never even come close to Lord Sheshanaga.
2) Mother Laxmi shall always be at the side of the Lord. How can the Jiva even come close to their Divine Mother, in the mood of the Lord?
3) The Kaustubha gem only exists at the heart of the Lord. The liberated Jiva does not have this invaluable gem. The Kaustubha gem does not have a loop through which a string could be strung. Yet the gem sticks directly to the chest of the Lord, without any support.
Even if the Lord’s Pitambara (covering cloth) comes in the way, the gem appears on top of the cloth and remains ever visible.
4) The Lord’s chest bears the mark of Sage Bhrigu’s footprints. A Jiva does not have that symbol.
5) On the right chest of the Lord, there are some golden curls called the Srivatsa. It represents Mother Mahalaxmi in a symbolic form. A Jiva residing in Vaikuntha does not have that feature.
6) The Supreme Lord Creates, Maintains and Destroys the universe. These activities are impossible for a Jiva to carry out.
Story of the Kaustubha gem?
The Kaustubha gem had surfaced at the time of the churning of the ocean, undertaken by the Devatas and Asuras. They wished to extract Amrita or nectar that grants immortality. Numerous articles emerged from the ocean. But, when the Kausthubha gem appeared, neither the Devatas nor the Asuras could lift it. The gem would not move an inch, although they exercised their full power.
When Sri Narayana appeared on the scene, the Kaustubha gem automatically rose and stuck onto the chest of the Lord.
There is a great secret, significance of the Kaustubha gem. Sri Parashara Maharishi has divulged this in the Vishnu Purana. He says: “The gem is in fact, the sum total of the spiritual forms of all the living entities from the infinite multiverses spread far and wide. Thus, only the Lord is capable of bearing the weight of the Jivas and no one else.
What is the right way to approach Bhagawan?
The Lord says that the easiest way to attain Him is Prappati (प्रपत्ति complete surrender). He says that a Jiva must finally surrender, at His feet. All of man’s work and desires shall be offered at His lotus feet. This is the highest kind of surrender. Although there are many forms of Yoga such as Upasana, Jnana Yoga or Bhakti Yoga, Prappati is considered the most superior form of attaining the Lord. Sharanagati is another name for Prappati.
Though, Sri Krishna delivered the Bhagavad Gita, describing the various forms of Yoga to attain liberation, Arjun remained dissatisfied. To this the Lord revealed: ” Arjuna, whatever I revealed was secret knowledge but now I shall share the secret of all secrets which immediately liberates a sincere seeker.” The secret was Sharanagati. The Lord instructed Arjun to focus his mind completely on Him and nothing else. He was ordered by the Lord to declutch from everything else and have faith on His instructions.
The Lord said “Arjun, you have performed so many sins that you stand incapable of clearing them all. Thus, I shall take responsibility for them. You need not worry.” This promise can be compared to the state a convict struggling in Session’s court, High Court and Supreme Court. But, with just one signature of the President, the convict is absolved of his crime, if the President so wishes. Such is the power of the Lord with respect to the affairs of the world.
Power of Sharanagati or Prappati
Once a person surrenders or performs Prappati to the Lord, the Lord never abandons the Jiva. All other forms of Spiritual practices such as Karma , Jnana and Bhakti Yoga have to be done many times. But, Prappati is done only once with a sincere and truthful heart. Bhakti Yoga liberates only if you remember the Lord at the end of your lifetime. However, Sharanagati or Prappati does not mandate remembrance of the Lord at the time of leaving the body.
Sharanagati bears fruit even if you are unaware of the lord’s powers, then what to speak of surrendering with full knowledge. This is the greatness of Sharanagati. Such is it’s potency. Thus Kanchipurna Swamigal was informed by the Lord about the greatness of Prappati or Sharanagati. The Lord never deserts the Sharanagat (शरणागत Surrendered soul).
Why is Lord Bhakta Vatsal? (शरणागत वत्सल)
The calf is known as Vats (वत्स) in the Sanskrit language. The Cow’s love towards the calf is the purest and untainted form of love available on this material platform. The Lord takes the position of the Cow towards the surrendered soul. The soul assumes the position of an innocent calf and totally depends on the Mother Cow. The Cow licks all the muck from the its calf’s body, though it is smeared with dung and urine.
Similarly, the Supreme Lord attains the mood of the Cow towards His surrendered devotee. He rids him of all types of sins accumulated during the course of millions of lifetimes. The Lord is hence known as Bhakta Vatsal. He protects His devotee just as a loving Cow feels for its calf. This, is the mercy of the Supreme Lord.
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