Five Principles or Truths of Śrī Vaishnavism

Arthapańchakam By Śrī Pillai Lōkāchāriyār as presented by Śrī A. Govindacarya Swamin.

 Modified and condensed by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

Arthapanchaka Jńāam should dawn in a Samsāri Sēthanan (Householder). The five principles or truths are Svasvarūpa1, Parasvarūpa2, Puruārthasvarūpa3, Upāsvarūpa4, Virōdhisvarūpa5.   (1. Nature of Soul, 2. Nature of God, 3. Nature of Goal, 4. Nature of Means, 5. Nature of Impediments, obstruction or hostile acts)

1.    Svasvarūpa1  These have Ātma-svarūpam: Nityar, Muktar, Bhakthar, Kēvalar, Mumuku.

2.    Parasvarūpa2 He has the Īsvara-svarūpam: Paratvam, Vyūkam, Vibhavam, Antaryāmitvam, and Archa-avatāram.

3.    Puruārthasvarūpa3 He is the Purua with five functions: Dharma, Artha, Kāma, Ātmānubhava, Bhagavathanubhava.

4.    Upāsvarūpa4 The five modes or ways: Karma, Jńāna, Bhakthi, Prapatti, Ācāryanubhava.

5.    Virōdhisvarūpa5  Five elements: Svarūpavirōdhi, Parathvavirōdhi, Puruārthavirōdhi, Upāyavirōdhi, Prāpthivirōdhi.

Arthapanchakam = Five Truths

1.    Sva-svarūpa = Own self or Soul

2.    Para-svarūpa =  Supreme Soul, Highest Self, the God, or the Universal Soul.

3.    Purusārtha-svarūpa = The meaning of man, Goal of man.

4.    Upāya -svarūpa = Means to attain the Goal.

5.    Virōdhi-svarūpa = The antithesis to these.

Arthapańchakam By Śrī Pillai Lōkāchāriyār as presented by Śrī A. Govindacarya Swamin.


1. Sva-sorūpa means Principle or Nature.  We think in terms I-Mine;You-Thine-It-That-They. Five principles rule the soul of the ‘I-Mine’ paradigm:

1.    The Nityas, eternally free soul

2.    The Mukta, recently freed soul

3.    The Baddha, the bound impure soul

4.    The Kēvala, Freedom from Rebirth

5.    The Mumukshu, the prospective free soul


1. The Nityas are permanent blessed souls, who are in the company of God himself: Vishnu’s Consorts, Visvaksēna, Ananta, Garuda and more.  

2. The Muktas are recently liberated pure souls living in Vaikuntam, never ever to return to material existence in a body. 

3. The Baddhas: They are the bound souls with a body and ignorance, living on this earth.  

4. The Kēvalars are Soul realized but not God-realized. They still hold Sattva-Rajas-Tamas Gunas. They are not cleansed of Rajas and Tamas and so cannot enter Vaikuntam.

5. The Mumuksus are the prospective free souls of three kinds: The Upāsakās or the strivers, the Prapannas or the one who accepts God as his sole refuge. The Upāsakās think that liberation is one's effort and concern, while the Prapannas is at the mercy of God and thinks it is God’s concern to liberate them.

2. Para-Svarūpa or God Principle

2.1 The para, the Supreme 2.2 The Vyūha: Vasudeva, Sāmkarshana, Pradyumna, Anirudha. 2.3 Vibhava: The Avatars, 2.4 Antaryāmi: The Indweller and Inner Controller. 2.5 The Archa: The image form.

1. The para form is transcendent, noumenal, Beyond the beyond, the Supreme, The Super Supreme (Ne Plus Supra).

2. Vyūha. Progeny of the Supreme: Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Samkarshana…of multifarious functions on earth and cosmos.

3. Vibhava: The Avatārs: Rama, Krishna…

4. Antaryāmi: A. The Inner Soul of souls B. The Mother-Father principle.

5. The Archa form: The Ishta Devatas.

3. Pururushārtha Svarūpa or the Goal of Man principle

3.1 Dharma = Duty

3.2 Artha = Wealth

3.3 Kāma = Pleasures

3.4 Ātmānubhava = Soul Experience of Bliss  (Kaivalyam =  ātma-sākşātkāra, equable resolution of Punyam and Papam, supreme happiness, self-realization

3.5 Bhagavad-anubhava = God Experience of Bliss  Brahma- or bhagavat-sākşātkāra = God realization

1.    Dharma: Duty towards sentient beings. Dharma is unifying, while Adharma is divisive.

2.    Artha: Material wealth combined with charity in the service of gods, Pitrs or forefathers, and all other creatures.

3.    Kāma: Mundane and Ultra-mundane pleasures. Mundane pleasures are the joys of the world: Sensual pleasures derived from all the senses. The ultra-mundane pleasures are dwelling in heaven devoid of hunger, thirst, grief, passion, age, and death and enjoying nectar, company of celestials… which will come to an end one day.

4.    Ātma-anubhavam: Soul Bliss or Mōka or liberation from rebirth, sorrow, and bondage; and restitution of the natural state of the soul implying no contact with objects (Kaivalyam = Splendid Isolation but not a Divine association).

5. Bhagavad-anubhava: Divine or God Bliss. Release from metempsychosis and acquisition of God-Bliss, Ultima Thule.  Release from all bonds and physical constraints of six kinds: Conception, delivery, Change, Growth, Decline, and Death, which are associated with three major miseries:Ādhiātmica, Ādhibautica and Ādhidaivica which hide God from the soul and is the stuff of Samsāra.  The soul released from all these obstructionists and Samsāra passes through Susumna Nādi, bursts out of the Brahma Randhra, takes the Arcirārdi path (Path of Light) and the sun, wades through Viraja River cleansed of material remnants and the triad of Gunas and attains absolute purity by the touch of Amanavan (presiding incorporeal deity of Viraja River and Mānasa lake). His very touch soothes and placates the pain and misery from contact with matter. The liberated soul shines with light and glory. The soul gains knowledge, Bliss, exclusive service to God, radiance, spirituality and divinity and taken in a procession to beatific presence of God with Sri, Bhu, Nīla and other divine hosts. The God is Vaikuntha Nātha.

4. Upāya Svarūpam = Means

4.1 Karma – Works

4.2 Jńāna – Knowledge

4.3 Bhakti – Devotion

4.4 Parapatti – Surrender

4.5 Acārya-abhimāna – Faith in the mediator

1. Karma or Works, are those disciplined activities, that  mortify the body to kill sin. Their performance is called Karma-yōga. It consists of sacrifice (yajna), charity (dāna), austerities (tapas), meditation (dhyāna), prayers (sandhyā-vandana), the five great sacrifices (panca-mahāyājna), fire-sacrifice (agnihōtra), holy pilgrimage (tīrtha-yātra), holy residence (punya-ksētra-vāsa), expiatory and purificatory rites (krcchara and cāndrāyana), holy river bathings (punya-nadī-snāna), vows (vrata), the quarterly sessions (cāturmāsya), living on fruits and roots (phala-mūla-s'ana), study of holy works (sāstrābhyāsya), holy feeding (samārādhana), silent holy repetitions (japa), oblations to ancestors (tarpana), etc. These constant occupations for the organs of sense and the organs of action prevent the senses from worldly  contacts, and consciousness is thus weaned from their contemplation. The consciousness streaming out through the senses to the worldly objects when prevented from sensuous experiences, stands in need of engagements otherwise, and these are afforded in the soul itself. In other words, consciousness is turned away from the Objective, and turned inwards to dwell on the Subjective - a process entitled inhibition and introspection. This process is divided into the eightfold stages yama, niyama, Asana, prānāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhyāna, dhārna, and samādhi. This eightfold process is specifically called yōga. This yōga part of Karma-yōga may be conceived as the transition between karma-yōga proper and jnāna-yōga proper. This karma-yōga is auxiliary to āna-yōga, and is the chief means of acquiring material prosperity (ais'varya), i.e. artha and kāna.  Excerpt.

5. Virōdhi-Svarūpa or Hostile or obstructionist principle under five principles.

5.1 Svarūpa Virōdhi = Antipathy to soul

5.2 Paratva Virōdhi = Antipathy to God

5.3 Purushārtha Virōdhi = Antipathy to man’s goal

5.4 Upāya Virōdhi = Antipathy to the means

5.5 Prāpti Virōdhi = Antipathy to gain

Svarūpa Virōdhi = Antipathy to soul is identification of the soul with the body,  allegiance to many gods and an attitude of independence of the soul.

Paratva Virōdhi. Antipathy to God is the mistaken belief that the lesser gods are equal to the Supreme God, Krishna and Rama are human, and images of the Greatest God are inert and powerless.

Purushārtha Virōdhi. Antipathy to man’s goal is desire for fruits and ends. other than God.

Upāya Virōdhi. Hostility to true means and ways. Having doubt about the means, its efficiency and attainment should be discarded.

Prāpti Virōdhi. Antipathy to gain. All self-defeating acts.

Conclusion. The aspirant will live a life of moderation until death, showing gratitude to his teacher, acknowledging humility towards God, observing obedience and service to Sri Vaishnavas, staying away from distraction to liberation, forgoing love of his body, remaining alive to his spiritual nature and adoration of his mediator. By observing these, he will ever be near Sriman Narayana.