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Swami Desika – Master of Analogy - 13 (August 15, 2009)

100 Gems from Srimath Rahasyathraya Saaram
S. Padmalatha, Chennai.

Analogical Gems 61 to 65

61. How the do’s and don’ts in the scriptures, though helpful in reaching limited goals are actually against the ultimate goal of reaching the Lord (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

மோக்ஷ ப்ரதிகூலங்களான ராகாத்யுத்பாதிகளாலே வந்த காம்ய நிஷித்தங்கள் போலே

Some preceptors have held that performing Bhakthi Yoga is actually against the submissive nature of our soul. Swami Desika holds that this was said to emphasise the suitability of Prapathi for people like us (with limited knowledge and skills) with no disrespect towards Bhakthi Yoga. Otherwise it would mean questioning the veracity of the scriptures and the authenticity of great sages who have practised Bhakthi Yoga.

Swami presents various arguments to counter the above statement which if taken literally would mean that Bhakthi Yoga harms the soul. There are various means to be adopted and pitfalls to be avoided which are listed in the scriptures to fulfill one’s desire for health, wealth, long life, good progeny, etc. But these are in effect impediments in reaching the ultimate abode of Sriman Narayana. However, Bhakthi Yoga is a means of attaining the Lord himself and totally unlike these other means which beget merely temporary pleasures (this is a negative analogy given by Swami to differentiate Bhakthi Yoga from other means).

62. How one has to quench his thirst and hunger as long as he resides in a body (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

சரீர ஸம்பந்தமேயடியாக வருகிற க்ஷுத் பிபாஸாதிகளுக்குப் பரிஹாரம் பண்ணுகிற கணக்கிலே

This is a very pertinent and important analogy which answers the question that arises in everyone’s mind. Since the soul and body are different and the soul doesn’t have any characteristics as such and the differences of being a Brahmana, Kshathriya, Vysya, etc. pertain only to the body, why should we perform various Karmas meant for each division of people as per the scriptures?

Swami counters thus: It is commonly seen that as long as a person inhabits a body, he tends to that body and quenches his hunger and thirst in a timely manner. (There are no loving thoughts about the soul when one is hungry or thirsty. The bodily functions take precedence over everything!)

Similarly, he has to adhere to the scriptural commands as per the bodily divisions. He cannot claim intellectual exclusivity for relinquishing his duties. Then he would have to quit eating and drinking water!

63. How scriptures sanction harmful Yagnas under extenuating circumstances (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

அபிசாராதிகளை விதித்த கட்டளையிலே

This is again a negative analogy to condemn the argument that Bhakthi Yoga is untenable. Some say that Bhakthi Yoga is described in the Saasthras just as an example of means to be adopted only by select people under extenuating circumstances just like Yagnas which are done to maim or harm one’s enemies, etc.

Swami rebuts this saying that those Yagnas are harmful because their goal is to harm somebody while the fruition of Bhakthi Yoga is attaining Sriman Narayana Himself.

64. How bathing in rivers etc is prohibited for the ill (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

ஆதுராதிகளுக்கு அவகாஹநாதிகள் போலே

Finally, in this analogy, Swami clarifies what would have been in the minds of those preceptors who held that Bhakthi Yoga was not to be performed. In the interests of their health, people who are ill are advised against taking head-bath, bathing in rivers, etc.

Similarly, to dissuade those who are ill-equipped to perform Bhakthi Yoga from attempting the same, it was said that Bhakthi Yoga was untenable. (It is an example of Swami’s unparalleled magnanimity by which he would defend even opposing points of view by interpreting their true meaning in a non-contradictory way).

65. How even while conducting a big Yagna one has to perform regular daily rituals (Saadhyopaaya Sodhana Adhikaaram):

க்ரத்வந்தராநுஷ்டாநம் பண்ணினவனுக்கு மேலுள்ள நித்ய-நைமித்திகங்கள் போலே

Having established the greatness of Bhakthi Yoga, Swami proceeds to show that as a means Prapathi is even better than Bhakthi Yoga since as per the Vedas and our preceptors, there is nothing left to be done by a Prapanna once he has performed Prapathi. But Bhakthi Yoga has to be continued through the ensuing lives till its fruition.

However, it has to be noted that performance of a big Yagna does not obliterate the need for daily rituals, and the regular Nithya (day-to-day) and Naimiththika (obligated upon a particular happening) rituals are to be performed without fail by the Prapanna. This is to obey the orders of the Lord as given by Him through Saasthras, as these rituals are not part of Prapathi.

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Next in series: Gems 66 to 70, on September 15, 2009.

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