SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
It is customary for ācāryas to commence their teaching with prayers to the Lord and the preceptor. Svāmi Rāmānuja commences his book with two such prayers, the first addressed to the Lord and the second to his preceptor, Svāmi Yāmunācārya.
 aśeṣa-ciḍ-acid-vastu-śeṣiṇe śeṣaśāyine |
nirmalānanta-kalyāṇa-nidhaye viṣṇave namaḥ ||
In the first prayer, Svāmi Rāmānuja submits himself to Lord Viṣṇu, who is the core message of the Vedas. Lord Kṛṣṇa asserted this in the Gitā: ”sarvaiḥ vedaiḥ ahameva vedyaḥ” [I, alone, am known through all the Vedas]. Since Lord Viṣṇu is the core message of the Vedas, Svāmi Rāmānuja submits to Him at the outset. By including this submission in his book, he makes all his disciples and readers to submit to Lord Viṣṇu through chanting this prayer. In one stroke, he imparts the essence of the Vedas while also guiding his disciples.
Lord Viṣṇu is characterized in three ways:
He is the Master of all entities, without exception. The entities mastered by Him include those that have consciousness and those that do not have consciousness. He is the Master of the sentient and the non-sentient. We clearly see in our experience that all sentient and non-sentient entities are governed and mastered by certain relations and laws. They are not independent. They obtain their respective states only in accordance to certain laws. So, all sentient and non-sentient entities are subordinate to a Higher Principle. Hence, they are called śeṣabhūtas or mastered-beings. The Independent One who masters them to suit His purpose is called śeṣī.
He reclines on Ādiśeṣa, the divine serpent. Ādiśeṣa is an eternally free devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. On account of his permanent emancipation from the bonds of saṃsāra, he is called nitya-sūri or eternal sage. This characterization reveals that the Lord’s mastery is a true relationship experienced correctly by the eternal sages such as Ādiśeṣa. In this state of emancipation from saṃsāra, the sentient being, Ādiśeṣa, serves the Lord, who is His master. Through this, it is conveyed that in the enlightened state, one realizes one’s relationship to God as His subordinate. The relationship is called śeṣa-śeṣī-saṃbandha.
Through the first characterization, Svāmi Rāmānuja reveals the true relationship between Lord Viṣṇu and all entities as one between Master and sub-ordinate. Through the second characterization, he shows that an enlightened liberated person is one who realizes this relationship.
But would a state of being mastered by another not be a form of suffering? Then, one would like to delay the realization for as long as possible to avoid succumbing to the mastery of another.
The above objection can be partly answered by noting that the relationship is true and hence, it acts even when the individual does not realize it. So, there is no way to escape the relationship. The full answer to the objection is offered by showing that being mastered by God is not a form of suffering, but of limitless bliss. This is explained by Svāmi Rāmānuja through the third characterization.
Lord Viṣṇu is the possessor of pure and endless auspiciousness. In this way, He is unique. Even the eternal sages enjoy permanent bliss only due to Him. Everyone else experiences substandard pleasures and pain. The sentient entity is prone to contamination through association with the force of saṃsāra. But, the Lord is utterly pure. He is never tainted. His incarnations are untainted and divine. He is not only a transcendental being, but also capable of liberating the sentient souls. His possesses limitless auspicious potencies that reveal Him as the liberator. Therefore, it is justified that one submits to Him and attains liberation.
Since He is blemishless and full of auspiciousness and beauty, the experience of Lord Viṣṇu is supremely blissful. By realizing one’s relationship to Lord Viṣṇu and submitting to Him, one experiences bliss. His mastery is of a blissful kind. He does not master by force. Rather, the enlightened souls such as the eternal sages experience the Lord correctly and are filled with intense love due to that experience. Service to God arises from the love kindled through His experience. Therefore, in serving the Lord’s purpose, one attains bliss and fulfillment. Bondage to saṃsāra is transitory and painful. The relationship to Lord Viṣṇu is true and blissful.
His limitless auspiciousness also shows His supreme perfection. He is not imperfect, even in His mastery. He masters perfectly. His laws are not enforced in accordance with His exertion. They are enforced perfectly. In this perfection, lies the hope of redemption and liberation.
He is Lord Viṣṇu. He is not distant and afar. He is omnipresent, which is meaning of the word ‘Viṣṇu’. He pervades everything and is available in all sentient and non-sentient entities. Despite His complete pervasion, He is untainted and transcendent as the rays of the Sun are not dirtied by the mud which is illuminated by them.
We submit to Lord Viṣṇu.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
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