SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
Different experiences of pleasantness
The ninth hymn of the tenth chapter of Bhagavad Gita says
“maccittā madgataprāṇā bodhayantaḥ parasparam |
kathayantaśca māṃ nityaṃ tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca ||”
The simple translation is “Those who bear Me in their thoughts, whose lives are tied to Me, (spiritually) awaken one another. They speak of Me always, and attain satisfaction and happiness.”
The hymn clearly indicates the mutual exchange between bhāgavatas and their positive influence on one another resulting in satisfying and happy lives. The need to associate with enlightened bhāgavatas is advised by several teachers and the importance of satsaṅgam are well discoursed and emphasized.
Swami Manavala Mamunigal, towards the close of UpadesaRattinamalai, indicates that one imbibes the character of one’s company. We are taught to keep the company of enlightened people.
However, it is also in hymns like these where the quality of Swami Ramanuja’s commentary comes to the fore.
The last part of this Gita hymn – tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca – is interesting. Translating ordinarily as satisfaction and happiness, there is not really much to tell these words apart.
What is the value added by two words that could not be served in one?
Sri Sankara explains “tuṣyanti – paritoṣam-upayānti, ramanti – ratiṃ ca prāpnuvanti, priyasaṅgatyā iva” [ tuṣyanti is the attainment of happiness. ramanti is the attainment of the desired object. ] It is not elaborated how the happiness or desired object is achieved.
Sri Madhva does not provide any detailed commentary for these verses.
The explanation of Swami Ramanuja is unique and provides an explanation for these words which is consistent with the meaning of the Gita hymn itself. The commentary of Swami is
vaktāraḥ tadvacanena ananyaprayojanena tuṣyanti |
śrotāraśca tacchraveṇena anavadhikātiśayapriyeṇa ramante |
The person who speaks becomes satisfied by speaking about the Lord and for no other purpose. The person who listens attains the happiness through unsurpassable joy that arises from listening about the Lord.
This explanation is beautiful because it sits well with the words in the hymn. Krishna had said
“bodhayantaḥ parasparam” –
they mutually awaken each other (about Me). He had also said
“māṃ nityaṃ kathayantaḥ” –
they speak of Me always. In this discourse of mutual enlightenment, one plays the role of listener and the other plays the role of speaker. They keep switching these roles. As a result, the same people experience the joy of speaking about Him in one role and also experience the joy of listening about Him in another role. Swami Vedanta Desika explains it in Tatparya Candrika as
“kathanaśravaṇayoḥ ekasminneva kālabhedena saṃbhāvitatvāt”
both speaking and listening are functions of the same person in different times.
While this explanation can be easily attributed to the genius of Swami Ramanuja in analyzing the Gita hymns, it is pertinent to ask what provided the legitimacy to the commentator to settle for this interpretation.
The legitimacy for this interpretation is provided by the direct experience of Azhvar Thirumazhisaippiran. The azhwar says in Nanmugan Thiruvandadi,
“theritthezhudhi vāsiththum kēṭṭum … pōkkinen pōdhu”.
“therikkai” means “therivikkai” or to speak about – tuṣyanti. “kēṭṭum” means to listen – ramante. “pōkkinen pōdhu” shows that this was his nitya vyāpāra – continuous indulgence – māṃ nityaṃ kathayantaḥ. In the same hymn, the azhvar says “thariththirundhēnāgavē” – I survived by doing this – maccittā madgataprāṇāḥ. Swami Ramanuja interprets madgataprāṇāḥ as mayā vinā ātmadhāraṇam-alabhamānāḥ – those who cannot sustain themselves without Me.
In this manner, the hymn of Thirumazhisai Azhwar provides the ground for interpretation of Swami Ramanuja for the Gita hymn. The meaning of the Gita hymn is “My devotees (like Thirumazhisai Azhwar) cannot sustain themselves without Me and hence I am forever in their thought. Such devotees mutually enlighten one another by constantly talking about Me. The speaker derives the joy of speaking and the listener attains the joy of listening.”
That this beautiful interpretation occurred only to Swami Ramanuja because of his constant remembrance of the words of Azhwars.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
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