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Editor's Note - 75 (August 1, 2014)

Sacred, Vital And Final — The Esoteric Triad

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

In the previous note, a brief account of the first of the two most important Triads in our philosophy — 'The Triad of Reality' (Thathva-thrayam) was given. Let us continue with it and take a look at the other one — 'The Esoteric Triad' or 'Rahasya-thrayam' as it is famously known.

The components of the group are the Moola Manthra, Dhvaya Manthra and Charama Sloka. Swami Desika has assigned one chapter each (No. 27 to 29) for them in his Rahasya-thraya Saaram. It should be remembered that these Manthras require formal initiation by an Acharya. The import of these Rahasyas is vast and a fair amount of etymological dissection is involved therein, making it too complex for the purpose here. Hence, some of the essential theological connotations are provided.

Moola Manthra (also known as Thiru Manthra and Ashtaakshara):

The first one is called 'Moola Manthra' as it is the fundamental formula which encompasses the distinctive features of Jivaathma and Paramaathma (Sriman Narayana) and their relationship. Owing to its sacredness, it is known as 'Thiru Manthra' and because it comprises eight syllables, it is referred to as 'Ashtaakshara'. These three names are used interchangeably and denote one Manthra only.

Om Namo Narayanaya

(ஓம் நமோ நாராயணாய)

The actual Manthra (Narayana) is prefixed by the Pranavam (Om) and Salutation (Nama:). In all there are three words consisting of eight syllables (1+2+5). This Manthra inculcates in the Jivaathma, the wish to attain salvation and prompts him to learn the means to do that.

This Manthra is the essence of the Vedas and chanting the same will bestow all benedictions. It is capable of dispelling doubts and providing clarity. It can eradicate all miseries by showing the right path. It can be chanted by all and only in the case of women and a section of the four Varnas, the Pranavam has to be eschewed. Women are to substitute it with 'am' (அம்).

The Azhwars and Acharyas have extensively quoted the Manthra in their works. In fact, Thirumangai Azhwar was initiated into the Manthra by the Lord Himself (Nambi of Thirunaraiyur) and he has composed an exclusive decad — the first one of Periya Thirumozhi — extolling the greatness of the 'Narayana' Naama. Swami Desika has enumerated the benefits arising out of the Manthra, in the Paasuram starting with 'எட்டு மா மூர்த்தி எண் கண்ணன்' (Adhikaara Sangraham - 45).

Dhvaya Manthra:

Sriman Narayana Charanou Saranam Prapadhye; Srimathe Narayanaya Nama:
(ஸ்ரீமந் நாராயண சரணௌ சரணம் ப்ரபத்யே; ஸ்ரீமதே நாராயணாய நம:)

This is the central part of the treble and considered as the most vital Manthra. This was imparted to Sri (Mahalakshmi) by the Lord Himself, and is an extension of Moola Manthra. It may be seen that it has two segments — the former dealing with the means (Upaaya) and the latter with the goal or Purushaarththam (Upeya). Hence, it is called 'Dhvayam' (twosome). Sri Ramanuja's Saranaagathi Gadhyam is an elaboration of this Manthra.

The Manthra highlights Sesha-Seshi (Servant-Master) relationship between Jivaathma and Paramaathma and implies that the Jiva is forever subservient to the Supreme Lord. The uniqueness of the Dhvaya Manthra is that it can be chanted by anyone, at any time, without any discrimination or restriction whatsoever. The desire which the Moola Manthra ignited develops with the knowledge and chanting of Dhvayam. It enables one to be fully convinced of the statuses of Paramaathma and himself and thus firmly be in the service of the Lord.

This Manthra is explicit about the stature of Sri and that She is inseparable from Narayana. It says that Narayana, together with Sri is the absolute Lord. Sri dons the role of 'Purushakaaram', that is, an act of recommending to Her Consort, on behalf of the Jiva, during the time of Prapaththi and after. The congenial couple they are, the Lord automatically accedes to the representation and ignores the shortcomings and blemishes of the Jiva and grants him Moksha.

There are six different meanings for the word 'Sri' based on Her functioning. They are:

  1. Sreeyathe: (She is) attained (by all who seek deliverance).
  2. Srayathe: (She) attains (Narayana for the sake of all Jivaathmas).
  3. Srunothi: (She) listens (to the prayers of Jivaathmas).
  4. Sraavayathi: (She) makes Him listen (to her prayers on behalf of Jivaathmas).
  5. Srunaathi: (She) gets rid of (the obstacles in practising the means of Prapaththi).
  6. Sreenaathi: (She) grants poise and maturity (to those who attain Her).

Charama Sloka:

Sarva Dharmaan Parithyajya Maam Ekam SaranNam Vraja!
Aham Thvaa Sarva Paapebyo Mokshayishyaami Maa chucha:!!
ஸர்வ தர்மாந் பரித்யஜ்ய மாம் ஏகம் சரணம் வ்ரஜ!
அஹம் த்வா ஸர்வ பாபேப்யோ மோக்ஷயிஷ்யாமி மா சுச:!!

Arjuna was a confused man besieged with doubts, misconceptions, diffidence and grief at the battlefield of the Kurukshethra war. After His efforts to drive home various philosophical tenets like Karma Yoga, Jnaana Yoga and Bhakthi Yoga to Arjuna ended in futility, Lord Krishna came up with His final word — The Charama Sloka. It is a commandment from the Lord to all Jivas to resort to Him as also an assurance by the Lord that He will grant Moksha. Though it was addressed to Arjuna, it is a statement in finality to one and all.

The meaning of the Sloka is: "Give up all the Dharmas (in quest of liberation) and surrender unto Me only. I shall relieve you from all your sins and grant you Moksham. Do not worry!"

The Sloka puts in perspective several underlying points. The Jiva is constrained for knowledge, ability and time. So he is ill-equipped and impatient to undertake the circuitous Bhakthi Yoga to attain Moksha. The Lord is all compassion and waiting to redeem him, if only the Jiva seeks (only) His help. Saranaagathi is the way out. Once it is done, the Lord takes up the whole responsibility of granting him salvation by cleaning up all the sins of the Jiva. This being the case, there is no reason for the Jiva to be despondent.

Finally, the sum and substance, objective and the logical destination of all the three Manthras is performing Saranaagathi. Hope those who are not yet fortunate enough to have done it, get the message.

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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