SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
Thiruvarangaththamudhanār celebrates Swāmi Rāmānuja as
‘chūḍikkoduththavaḷ thollaruḷāl vāzhgiṇḍra vaḷḷal’
Swāmi Rāmānuja lives due to the natural grace of Āṇḍāḷ. He is also celebrated as Thiruppāvai Jīyar owing to an episode connected to the eighteenth hymn of Thiruppāvai.
Is it possible to witness the effect of Thiruppāvai on Swāmi?
Here is one example. In the third chapter, Lord Kṛṣṇa insists on engaging in action and in that context, He utters the following verse,
“yad-yad-ācarati śreṣṭhaḥ tat-tad-evetaro janaḥ |
sa yat-pramāṇaṃ kurute lokas-tad-anuvartate || 3-21”
At first sight, this appears to be a very simple verse. The verse brings out the importance of discipline in people who are deemed good. Those well versed in Sanskrit can make out the meaning of the verse easily.
While explaining the meaning of the later half of the verse, Śrī Saṅkara says,
“saḥ śreṣṭhaḥ yat pramāṇaṃ kurute – laukikaṃ vaidikaṃ vā, lokaḥ tat anuvartate –
In both spiritual and worldly matters, the common man follows the authority that which is deemed valid by great men.
Śrī Ānanda Tīrtha explains it as
“yad-vākyādikaṃ pramāṇīkurute – yadukta-prakāreṇā tiṣṭhatīty-arthaḥ”.
People live according to the words that are attested by great men. In both the explanations, the part “yat-pramāṇam” is split into two as “yat” and “pramāṇam”.
However, Swāmi Rāmānuja offers a unique explanation in his bhāṣya. He treats yatpramāṇam as a single compound bahuvrīhi word. Before getting into the details, let us understand Swāmi’s commentary for this verse.
śreṣṭhaḥ – kṛtsnaśāstrajñātṛtayā anuṣṭhātṛtayā ca prathitaḥ
A śreṣṭha or great person is one who is well known for being thoroughly versed in the scriptures and for having impeccable discipline.
yadyadācarati tattadeva akṛtsnavij-janā api ācarati
The common folk, who are not as well versed in scriptures, follow the practice of this great person.
anuṣṭhīyamānam-api karma śreṣṭho, yat-pramāṇaṃ – yad-aṅgayuktam anutiṣṭhati, tad-aṅgayuktam-eva akṛṭsnavil-loko~nutiṣṭhati |
In the actions so practised, ordinary people only practise those parts of the discipline that are practised by great men.
The difference in the explanations for yat-pramāṇam is obvious. The meaning taught by Swāmi is not only unique but also appropriate. In the context where the Lord teaches the importance of individual action, it is sufficient to emphasize that the action and the content of the action are important. It is not very meaningful to suggest that the authority deemed correct by a great person is followed by others. This is due to the reason that no discussion on adhering to correct authority is presented in this chapter of Gītā. There is no question of which authority is admissible to Arjuna. There is only the question of action. Therefore, Swāmi Rāmānuja interprets yat-pramāṇam to signify the content of the action. Arjuna, being a person that people might look up to, must be mindful not only of his action but also the content of his action. The world would not only do as he does, but also in the way that he does.
It must be noted that Swāmi provides this meaning from Thiruppāvai. In the twenty sixth hymn of Thiruppāvai, Āṇḍāḷ says
“mēlaiyār seyvanakaḷ vēṇḍuvana kēṭṭiyēl”.
The word vēṇḍuvana correlates with the interpretation of yat-pramāṇam provided by Swāmi.
There are several disciplines prescribed by the scriptures, which are considered valid authorities. Yet, learned people would not practise everything mentioned in the scriptures. They would only practise those actions that are mandatory, by not performing which there is scope for harm.
The principle followed is
“kriyamāṇaṃ na kasmaicit yad-arthāya prakalpate |
akriyāvadanarthāya tattu karma samācaret ||”
They do not perform those aspects of action that are prescribed for gain. They perform only that which leads to harm when left unperformed.
A renunciant would not be found kindling the flames of Aśvamedha.
Whether in Thiruppāvai or in Gītā, the intent is to the convey that actions in both general and particular terms are relevant to the people of the world as great men conduct them. Therefore, the conduct of great people, who are versed in scripture and steadfast in discipline, is important.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
archived in https://srivaishnavagranthams.wordpress.com/
pramEyam (goal) – http://koyil.org
pramANam (scriptures) – http://granthams.koyil.org
pramAthA (preceptors) – https://guruparamparai.wordpress.com
SrIvaishNava Education/Kids Portal – http://pillai.koyil.org