An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 3
Continuing the subject, we have Swami Desika’s impact Prabandham, and the biggest one with 54 Paasurams, Paramatha Bhangam covered in this Note.
5. Paramatha Bhangam
Sri Desika has authored well over 100 treatises extolling the greatness of Bhagavath Ramanuja’s Visishtaadvaita philosophy. Besides scores of esoteric works that were born for the specific purpose, even his hymns (in Sanskrit, Tamil and the lone number in Praakrutham) are interspersed with great deal of the salient tenets of the Sidhdhaantha.
It was an era when an alarming count of religions were not only in vogue but were rampant. Hence, there was a strong need to counter and conquer them to enable our faith thrive. Our illustrious Acharya did precisely that through works like Satha Dhushani, Sankalpa Sooryodhayam, Paramatha Bhangam, etc. at different times.
In the last-named Tamil Prabandham, which, it is believed was composed when Swami Desika resided in Thiruvaheendra Puram, the author ruthlessly shreds to pieces various philosophies, 12 to be precise, while conquering them all. In fact, the condemnation forms the trunk of the work which may generally be classified into three parts.
After a Mangala Sloka on the Lord of Thiruvaheendra Puram, the first segment of 11 Paasurams starts with a prayer to Sudharsana followed by recollection of the great deeds of our Acharyas, the three Truths — Chethana (Sentient), Achethana (Non-sentient) and Iswara (The Supreme Being) — and the use of denouncing other religions, which, it is emphasised that, is to avert the gullible people from falling to the charms of their proponents.
In the central part, Swami Desika takes 12 religions head on and comes down heavily on them as he deals body blow to them. Along with the arguments, the apt, hard-hitting attributes used for the religions, their founders and the ideologies are a great source of enjoyment. Two verses are devoted to each religion, except for the final one (Paasupatha) which has three. It may be noted that the second religion dealt with is Boudhdha and Maadhyamika, Yogachara, Sowthraanthika and Vaibhashika are only the four branches of the same.
The religions accounted for, in that order, are:
1. Charvaaka (Paasuram Nos. 12 & 13),
2A. Maadhyamika (14 & 15),
2B. Yogachara (16 & 17),
2C. Sowthraanthika (18 & 19),
2D. Vaibhashika (20 & 21),
3. Advaitha (22 & 23),
4. Jaina (24 & 25),
5. Bhaskara-Yadhava (26 & 27),
6. Vaiyakarana (28 & 29),
7. Vaiseshika (30 & 31),
8. Gouthama (32 & 33),
9. Meemaamsaka (34 & 35),
10. Saankhaya (36 & 37),
11. Yoga (38 & 39), and
12. Paasupatha, known as Saiva (40, 41 & 42).
The final phase begins with explanation for Sri Paancharaathram, the Saasthra founded by Sriman Narayana Himself (43 & 44) and with that the author completes the conquest.
The Prabandham goes on to say how the Lord’s feet are the means for deliverance, the feasibility and vitality of Prapaththi, the total futility of non-Vedic religions, the importance of treading the elders’ path, the way to go as shown by Veda Vyasa, the reason for the emergence of the Prabandham, before concluding with the glory of the arms of Sri Sudharsana.
It is relevant here to mention an interesting coincidence. Paramatha Bhangam has been taken up for this month’s Note only in the order, and the Samprokshanam of the Temple of Sri Hayagriva in Thiruvaheendra Puram is slated for April 3 (Sunday).
May Lord Devanatha and His Consort Sri Hemabhjavalli, Sri Hayagriva and Swami Desika bestow their choicest of blessings on one and all!
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