Srivacanabhusanam, the magnum opus with its authentic commentary exhaustively elucidates the interinisic meanings and teachings of the three Rahasya Mantra of Tirumantra, Dvaya Mantra and Caramasloka. The book explicitly condenses the metaphysical and theological doctrines of the Alvars: dialectical views of Vedantic order; devotional attitudes of Itihasa-purana; and the socio-cultural and linguistic lextures of indigenous literature of the Tamil Country.
Thispolemic work factually elaborate the following religious themes with panoramic outlook; I. Theo-philosophy behind Goddess Sri Laksmi and her intermediate state between the Lord and devotee as purusakara; and countless aesthetic quelities of Lord Sriman Narayana as the means as well as the end in itself for the mukti, the liberation. 2. Prapatti, the complete surrender to the Lord for his redemptive grace where it never considers the limitation like time and place, ceremonial procedure, eligibility but with the object only, i.e., to whom one has to perform it to fulfill his cherished desire; and the necessary qualifications to follow the destined means 3. Routines of the prapanna and the necessities to perform the kainkarya ‘service’ to the Lord 4. Characteristic features and the pleasing conduct between the good teacher and that of the good disciple; and the subjectmatters along with the ways to be taught by the former to the latter. 5. Innate nature of the Lord’s nirhetukakrpa, ‘causeless grace’ within which He without any restrictins and expectations help his devotee for their final emancipation. 6. Need of acarybhimana as the simplest means to attain paramapada, the abode of the Lord.
Apart from these, the esoteric text with its scientific treatments towards varnasramadharma, by giving prime importance to bhakti than status of the birth religiously regulates the mankind towards Universal Brothrhood with the cosmopolitan societal perspectives, within which, all kinds of differences among the individuals and nations would be nullified in the name of God, which in long run makes the humanity as the Unique Globle Spiritual Community.
J. Rangawami (b.1956; Solaiudiyanpatty [Thirumalaipatty]; Namakkal Dt., in Tamilnadu), Associate Professor, School of Philosophy, Tamil University, Thanjavur, India is the rank holder of M.A (1980) and M.Phi (1981) in Pkhilosophy along with Diploma. in Sanskrit (1983); his Ph.D thesis on Bhagavadgita was ‘highly commended’ at the Department of Philosophy, Annamalai University. He has completed 10 Research Projects at School of Philosophy and credited UPC Research Associate (1994-1996) at the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; and Associate of Institute of Advanced Study (196-1998), Shimla. He has assiduously published more than 45 research articles and participated in 85 national and international conferences, seminar and symposia. He completes this book under the scheme (1999-2002) of Major Research Project, financed by UGC, New Delhi. Currently he is indefatigably transating Acarya Hrdaya, the another canonical text of Srivaisnavism with the Commentary of Manavalamamuni into English under the same scheme (2004). Recently, he as Commonwealth Fellow visited the Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University, United Kingdom and completed a project on Samkhya darsana, within which, by criticizing the dualistic Nirisvara Samkhya, authoritatively establishes the existence of third higher spiritual principle within background of British Thinkers. His erudite scholarship on Srivaisnavism fueled with modern trend of Western Philosophy is quite remarkable.
Dr Jaganathan an influential strand of post-Ramanuja Srivaisnavism.
Dr Rangaswami belong to this strand by virtue of birth, it is not mere sentiment that has led him to pursue a study of Lokacary along sympathetic but nevertheless analytic lines. He has understood the need for bringing suchsophisticated theology to a larger, English-speaking audience. He has done an admirable task in this regard.
Lokacarya is significant in this he takes very seriously Ramanuja’s theological commitment to bhakti. But whereas the Master, even while speaking of devotion, nevertheless develops his position with highly intellectual care, Lokacarya presents a wholeheartedly devotional version of Srivaisnava theology. His very sources indicated this: where Ramanjua works out of the Upanisads, the Brahma Sutras and the Gita, Lokacarya draws on the Pancaratra Agamas, the hymns of the Alvars, and the narratives of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. His devotionalist theology, in other words, is entirely consistent with his sources. In this way, he speaks for a form of Srivaisnavism that addresses a wider populaer culture. It may well be that there more intellectually precise, emotionally restrained and philosophically strict interpretations of Srivsnavism, but Lokacarya’s has shown the potential to take in the concern of a larger audience. In Manavalmamuni, he found a commentator who was both deeply in tune with the movement of Srivaisnava devotionalism and committed to an inclusive reading of it.
Dr Rangaswami ably pursues this interpretive heritage, indeed placing Lokacarya and Manavalmamuni in tune with contemporary demands and the urgent need for a more socially aware theology.
Dr Rangawami has been able to carry out s wide range of philosophical work in recent times; he was a Commonwealth Visiting Fellow at my department in 2004, when I had the opportunity to observe him and work with him. I am sure many other serious works of philosophy will be existentially dedicated book to the scholarly reader interested in both Srivaisnava history of thought and modern Hindu theology.
Translating a Srivaisnava canonical treatise with its specific commentary in manipravala style in an articulated English would be a challenging endeavour, rather difficult also. Genuinely, concise and precise terms of the esoteric text certainly may not have the approximately parallel synonyms in English because both the languages much of widely different expressions, factual contents, grammatical structures etc. For instance, to me, though the expressions like ‘avapta samasta kamatva’, ‘purusakaratva’; the Tamil wordings like ‘jnanpurttu. ‘matimankay ittu’; and the manipravala phrases like ‘piramma metattale samskarittar’, ‘atmasvarupattai avalampittirukkum’ may have the respective English expressions as, ‘being filled with all desires’, ‘meditorship,; ‘complete knowledge’, ‘finding faults falsely’; and ‘performed a brahma-medha ritual’, ‘it also depends upon the soul’s essential nature’. But they would be unavoidably absurd, more specifically ludicrous, because, for more accuracy, each and every word, phrase, idiom, etc., of a particular language would be understood along with the regional sensitivity and indigenous faith and believes within their socio-cultural set up. Since Srivacanabhusana is a polemical literature with local imports, obviously the compressed and loaded logical as well as thematic syntax etc., need much stress and strain in translation. Undeniably, since this theo-philosophical text bears religious charm, logical vigour with aesthetic value, the sheer literal translation with its intellectual beauty and thoughtful content would never fulfill the mission. So, with the academic commitment, an honest translator with freedom of using non-literal and precise English rendering with the possible expressiveness of the literal quality could be a reliable solution to this intellectual venture. Therefore, the present translator honestly accepts this course and adopted the modus-operandi. He also somehow believes that scholars with some acquaintance with Vaisnavism may faithfully follow the text along with its inner meaning.
Before beginning with the original translation of the commentary, the Translator truthfully provides a comprehensive ‘Introduction’ about the text, which will guide all the readers to understand the specific tenets of the system. Then, by relying upon the authentic remarks about the author, Pillai Lakacarya, and commentator, Manavalamuni made by the editor Pandit Vidvan B.R. Purusottama Nidu, an erudite Srivaisnava scholar, a short history of them along with their family background is precisely compiled. In it, the importance of this commentary along with its feasibleness is properly noted. Over here, it is to be referred to, that this translation closely follows the holy approach as Manavalamamuni observes, which is briefly noted in the ‘Short Note’ about him, so to say, if a reader grasps it, then, he could, as such understand the cardinal thesis of the text.
In the appendix, a glossary of important technical terms which expresses the basic concept of the Srivaisnavism is annexed. Perhaps, this part does not provide the translation or meanings based on Manier-Williams’ A Sanskrit-English Dictionary or Fabricius’ Tamil and Rnglish Dicitionary, but supply possible definitions, which carry limited meaning of the Srivaisnava literature. At the end, a selected bibliography is added. However, since this work is a translation, the books that directly or indirectly helped to understand the main themes of the text, dictionaries widely used and the primary as well as secondary works related with mainstream of the subject are appropriately listed.
It is my privilege to acknowledge the noted scholars who graced and guided myself for the successful completion of this laborious task. My deep regards are due to late Dr. P.K. Sundaram, former Director of the School of Philosophy Tamil University who in 1988 affectionately suggested me to master the text. Following his advice, I have completed two research projects, submitted to the Tamil University in the years 1994 and 1998. Equally well, I should also remember late Dr. K.N. Misra, former Prrofessor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. When I was there as UGC Visiting Associate during 1994-1996, we along Dr. T. Seenisamy, Former Professor, Department of Literature and Dean, Faculty of Language systematically planned to translate this volunibous text in English as well as I Hindi. However, under the UGC’s direction I alone devotedly engaged with this pleasant task. There are many other scholars who generously contributed their much of time for valuable discussion and needful co-operation. Among them, I should immensely remember Sri Vaishnava Sudarsanar U.V. Puttur Krishnawami Ayyangar, Tiruchirappalli and Dr. S.Kodantaraman, fromer Professor of Sanskrit, Thiruvaiyaru. I strongly felt comfortable that without traditional as modern scholarship, it would not be possible to complete this translation with galore intellectual caliber and religious tempo. Along with them, I also express my honour to Dr. Palani Arangasamy, former Profess and Head, Department of Translation and presently Head of the Department of English, E.V. Periyar Maniammai Engineering College, Thanjavur, who by going through the manuscript, trained me to use the right word with respect to the circumstance and context.
Dr. Raju Kalidos, Senior Professor, Department of Sculpture and Art History, Tamil University was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement, who inspecte and reviewed the final manuscript. But for him this book would not have reached the press, who commended it to Shri B. L. Bansal for publication.
I would be obediently obliged to Dr. e. Sundaramurthi, former Vice Chancellor or Tamil University for his pleasing encouragement and the moral support to complete this assignment successfully. As such sincere tanks are due to Dr. G. Bhaskaran, present Director, School of Philosophy. It is to be recognized, that, without the assistance extended by my Research Scholars, the completion of this Major Research Project would been difficult. I humbly submit my solicitation to the Enlightened Readers of this work, that as, Universal Ethical Code Tirukkual states,
“Kunamnatik kurramum nati avarrul
Mikainati mikka kolal” (504)
“Let (a king) consider (aman’s) good qualities; let him also consider his faults, and let him judge (of his character) by that which prevails’.
If there are flaws and faults in the translation, kindly by omitting the same, understand and realize the poised theories of Srivaisnavism. The Author honestly awaits valid and constructive criticisms for the betterment of this volume. Yet! By experiencing all odds and laboriousness. I do endorse, Dr. Prema Nandakumar, he serious translator and versatile scholar’s following statement on translation. “Be prepared to work very hard. There is no easy way out in this discipline. Close to cent percent, it is a constant struggle, change of phrase, idioms, phrases, the red and blue pencils at work tirelessly, a never-ending honeymoon with dictionaries, lexicons and volumes of grammar. Translation is a job with which one lives whether awake or asleep! (Prema Nandakumar, 1999:16).
If it is revealed the extraordinary circumstances of the birth of Pillai Lokacarya, his significance in the Srivaisnava lore could be better understood. His father, Vatakkutiruppillai though married, lived at Srirangam as brahmacari, without having sexual contact with Sriranganacciya, his wife. Understanding the situation, his mother appropriately complained the matter to his guru, Nampillai. As a result, Nampillai invited Sriranganacciyar to his place and blessed her with a gracious stock at her stomach and ordained her to have a son. By the same time, he also instructed properly Vatakkutiruvitippillai not to renounce family life but to have sexual contact with his wife. In course of time, his wife gave birth to a son who is nobody else but Pillai Lokacarya.
There are two incidents, out of these it may be strongly suggested that Pillai Lokacarya who was scientific and he graciously composed this glorified treaty under the supreme command of the Lord of Kancipuram through the incidents of dreaming of Manalpakkattu Nambi. In that dream, Lord Vradaraja taught him the special meanings of saranagati and order him to go to Srirangam to meet Pillai Lokacarya. He taught the meanings of Srivaisnavism as such to his disciption. In continuation of the meeting of Manalpakkattu Nampi with Pillai Lokacarya, after sometime, Nampi had a dream in which Lord Varadaraja appeared and instructed him to request Pillai Lokacarya to write a treaty on Srivaisnavism ina systematic way. The second incident is discussed in Yatindrapravanaprabhava. It is a well known fact in the Srivaisnava community, that the theo-philosophy and the teachings of the system which through the ages derived from the Veda and Upanisads are not taught to all but to very few eligible intellects because the highest truth has to be guarded much from the malicious persons and underserved fools. After completion of the Srivacanabhusanam, some of the leading members of Srivaisnava community objected to the theme behind the bhagavata, i.e., the devotees of the Lord that have right relationship with the Lord. Pillai Lokacarya argues that the bhagavata certainly transcends caste, creed and colour. He adds that one may be from the lower caste, but if he is a true bhagavata, he should be given the highest honour in the Srivaisnava community and all the other bhagavatas ought to extend their nhagavatasesatva to him without fail. The story goes, his case is taken by his brother Alagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar to Lord Ranganathascami at Srirangam. The Lord through the priest indicated and endorsed the themes of Pillai Lokacarya in the presence of Srivaisnava community.
As such, who followed the foot-steps of the great acaryas like Nadamuni and Sri Yamunacarya, by preserving the secret teachings, they impart them only to a selected few who are all having moral maturity and necessary qualifications to reach the highest goal. But Sri Ramanuja with the thinking that the predecessors were too hard upon the disciples, has broken the tradition and taught the Srivaisnava principles to all, whereas the graciously has felt that if not as such, in due course the whole secret themes would altogether may disappear. Though he preached the teaching to all, he beautifully and carefully has introduced the theistic philosophy in writings, within which the average reader could not fathom the deep meaning of the Srivaisnava philosophy. After Sri Ramanuja, the secret teachings have gained circulation among the wider mass of the community. Thus through the ages after two centuries, another great teacher Pillai Lokacarya, due to the circumstances of the religious set-up, has honestly viewed that all the teaching of the system could be in white and black, if not perhaps quite possibly in due course course all of them may ubdergo undersirable change. So, the highest credit goes to Pillai Lokacarya as the acarya who wote the Rahasya Texts which deal with the meaning and elaration the three esoteric Srivaisnava Mantra i.e., Tirumantra, Dvayamantra anf Caramasloka along their allied secret teachings.
Out of the eighteen works, traditionally well known as Astadasa Rahasya, Srivacanabhusana, Tattvatraya and Mumuksuppati are very important, within which the previous one by all considerations is regarded a magnum opus. The mere name itself shown Sri-great; vacana-sayings of the great teachers; bhusana-an ornament, i.e., an ornament (to be worn by the aspirant for total emancipation) made up of gem like sayings of our great teachers of the Srivaisnava yore. The last acarya of the tradition, Manavlamamuni, has written the extensive commentary upon this great work. So, the whole Text and its Commentary superbly contain all the teachings preached and practiced in the long line of teachers of Srivaisnava fold.
Our tradition scholars followed the custom to teach the above work to a few selected Srivaisanavas and restricted to give the lecture about the subject in public. As such the Text and it commentary were safeguarded as a treasure and preserved the same with utmost care. But in the modern days it is very hard to by-pass the content as the traditional way because the devotees of the system have neither the opportunity nor the time to sit under the gracious feel of a guru to learn the text with the touch of traditional sanctity. There are also other problems to the modern scholars to read and grasp the crux of the Text with its Commentary because of its wordings, scholarly diction, sentence construction and formation and so the style of language. For the sake to help the people who have the real desire to taste the vast ocean of the nectar, Pandita Vidvan B.R. Purusottama Naidu with much care has lucidly translated the originals into modern Tamil without any loss to the vigor and the in-depth meaning with authentic notes on the Author as well as the Commentator. He has also added proper notes upon references and included the necessary appendix.
After a full-fledged analytical study, the central teaching of the Srivacanabhusana could be derived, that, almost at the end, the soul doesn’t need anything but it could understand its essential nature, i.e., eternally performing the pratantriyasesatva ‘dependent subservience’ to the where it has o perform the eternal kainkarya through the mediation of the acarya; whereas gaining even the full-fledged affinities towards acarya i.e., acryabhimana, which in due course fruitfully helps to attain the highest aim, i.e., the moksa.
The book is categorized into six chapters within which almost all the Srivaisnava principles are carefully in-loaded. To have a panoramic perspective of the Text, the important themes discussed could be condensed systematically. As a prelude, the Author before commencing his full-fledges discussions speaks about the pramanas for the subject-matter, which are systematically analysed through the Text. While discussing about the supremacy of the Veda, the Author properly synthesizes the two major divisions of the Veda, its karmakanda with their uparamanas as Dharmasastras and jnankanda with their upapramanas as Sri Ramayana and Sri Mahabharata.
In the discussion, the value of the Veda as the supreme pramana and if doubts arise, the ways to clarify the same are sharply placed. In this part, the Author commends that, though the Vedebhahyas, i.e., aliens like Charvakas, Jains, Buddhist, etc., won’t admit the authority of the Vedas , while the other sectarians like Nyaya- Vaisesikas, Mimamsakas, Vedantins, etc., have inflinching faith in the Vedas as their Supreme pramana along with the pratyaksa ‘perception’,i.e., ocular ‘verifiable by the naked eye’ and the anumana ‘inference’. If there is doubt who admit the sruti as the only authority, they have to resolve them with the help of the smrit, i.e., the upapramanas like Dharmasastras which were compiled by sages like Manu, Atri, Yajnavalky; the Ithihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharata and the Puranas, i.e., the elaborated historic delineation like Brahma, Visnu, Bhagvata, wtc. So, by discussing the above states of Veda, it is authentically stated, that the Text Srivcanabhusana includes the themes which are widely discussed in the upapramanas.
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