Dramidopanishat Prabhava Sarvasvam 15

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We will explore more instances in Srimad Bhagavad Gita to experience the influence of the hymns of Azhwars on the works of Swami Ramanuja.  The intention here is to show how the interpretation of Swami Ramanuja is unique due to the influence of Aruliccheyal.

Perumal Koil Azhvars and Acharyas

In the hymn, “caturvidhā bhajante māṁ” , four types of good men are identified.

(1) ārtaḥ,

(2) jijñāśuḥ,

(3) arthārthī and

(4) jñānī.  

The interpretation of the four types of good men who serve Lord Krishna differs among the commentators.

In the seventh chapter, the Lord had taught that surrender to Him alone (ye māmeva prapadyante) is capable of emancipating the soul from the influence of Maya (te mama māyāṁ taranti), which is the wondrous potency of the Lord (daivī māyā).

Azhwar’s complete surrender to the Lotus feet of the Lord

In the current hymn, the Lord explains that there are four kinds of devotees who surrender to Him.  Having said “surrender”prapadyante, the Lord now uses the word bhajante.  Sri Sankara interprets bhajante as sevante or “serve”.  The abstract notions of devotion and surrender find their practical purport in service. The four kinds of good men are the servants of Krishna.

Diverse ways of serving Krishna

 While commenting on this hymn, Sri Sankara writes ārtaḥ taskara-vyāghra-rogādinā abhibhūtaḥ āpannaḥ; jijñāsuḥ – bhagavattattvaṁ jñātumicchati yaḥ, arthārthī – dhanakāmaḥ; jñānī – viṣṇostattvavit.

The four kinds of God-servants differ in what they seek as the end. The first kind is afflicted by thieves, tigers or diseases and seeks to be emancipated from them.  The second kind is the inquisitive one which is interested in learning about Bhagavat-tattva or the principle of Lord Krishna. The third kind is interested in wealth. The fourth kind serves having known well the principle of Lord Vishnu and is rightly called “the enlightened”.

Swami Ramanuja establishes that the purpose of four kinds of god-servants is due to the existence of three principles – matter, souls and

Swami Ramanuja at Thirumalai

The soul seeks matter, itself God – leading to difference in god-servants. In the case of material interest, there are two types depending on whether one seeks what was previously owned and now lost (bhraṣṭaiśvaryakāmaḥ), or a completely new possession (apūrvaiśvaryakāmaḥ). Such a classification cannot be applied to the self and God because the attainment of either kaivalya mokṣa or bhagavat-prāpti mokṣa is eternal and there is no question of losing and regaining.  It can only be sought afresh. Therefore, the four kinds of god-servants are bhraṣṭaiśvaryakāmaḥ, apūrvaiśvaryakāmaḥ, kaivalyakāmaḥ and bhagavatkāmaḥ.

God as taught in the Vedanta. 

How does Swami Ramanuja derive this unique interpretation?

This interpretation is inherited from Thiruppallandu hymns of Swami Periyazhvar who identifies four kinds of devotees. After the first couple of hymns, the rest of the text can be seen in terms of a triad of hymns. Each group of three hymns is dedicated to the four kinds of devotees.


For example, the hymn, “vāzhāṭpaṭṭu” appeals to bhagavatkāmaḥ, “ēḍunilam” to kaivalyakāmaḥ and “aṇḍakkulatthu” to apūrvaiśvaryakāmaḥ and bhraṣṭaiśvaryakāmaḥ. This is explained in the commentary of Swami Periyavachan Pillai, which may be referred to for details.  It is interesting that Swami Periyazhvar appeals to devotees to perform kaiṅkaryam (service) through mangalasasanam (benediction) in Thiruppallandu.

Swami Ramanuja uutilizes the four fold classification from Thiruppallandu to explain a similar classification in the Gita, and enriches the understanding of both texts. It is for such reasons that Swami Manavala Mamunigal regards Swami Ramanuja as “śrībhaṭṭanātha-mukhābja-mitraḥ” or the Sun who brings delight to the lotus-like countenance of Swami Periyazhvar.

adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan

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2 thoughts on “Dramidopanishat Prabhava Sarvasvam 15

  1. Pingback: द्रमिडोपनिषद प्रभाव् सर्वस्वम् 15 | SrIvaishNava granthams in hindi

  2. Pingback: ద్రమిడోపనిషత్ ప్రభావ సర్వస్వం 15 | SrIvaishNava granthams – Telugu

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