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Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

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This piece gives the interpretation of Bhagavadgita according to Ramanuja and is an excerpt from the book, Ramanuja's Teachings in his own words. The Sanskrit verses were appended by me the author (Veeraswamy Krishnaraj) for the reader's benefit. Only twenty-eight verses were selected for Ramanuja's interpretation.  

मत्तः परतरं नान्यत्किंचिदस्ति धनंजय ।

मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव ॥७- ७॥

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiṁcid asti dhanaṁjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ sūtre maṇigaṇā iva 7.7

mattaḥ1  parataram2 na3 anyat4A  kiṁcit4B asti5 dhana˝jaya6
mayi8 sarvam9 idam10 protam11 sūtre12 maṇigaṇāḥ13 iva14   7.7

asti5 = There is;  na3 = no; anyat4A  = other; kiṁcit4B = thing ; parataram2 = higher;  mattaḥ1  = than Me; dhana˝jaya6 = O Dhannjaya.   sarvam9 = All;  idam10 = this [universe]  protam11 = is strung mayi8 = on Me; iva14  = like; maṇigaṇāḥ13 = pearls; sūtre12 = on a thread.   7.7 

7.7:   There is nothing higher than Me, O Arjuna. All that is here (universe) is strung on Me, as a row of gems on a thread.  

Ramanuja explains sāmānādhikaraṇya as the rule which expresses the inseparable relation existing between substance and attribute or the invariable co-existence of subject and Predicate , (Gita. Bh. VII. 7)

"All things thus are predicative to or modes of, ParamaPuruṣa : hence Paramapuruṣa alone exists (the substance) adjectivated by everything else. All terms are thus connotations of Him by the rule of Sāmāndhikaranya or the rule which expresses the inseparable relation existing between substance and attribute or the invariable co-existence of subject and predicate.ö  (Ramanujaĺs Teachings in his own words, page 68-69.) 

Ramanuja, page 84  RAMANUJAĺS TEACHINGS IN HlS OWN WORDS . The Lord himself says, "I am the origin of all, everything proceeds from me; knowing this the wise worship me with love. To the ever devoted worshipping in love, I give that means of wisdom by which they attain to me. In mercy only to them, dwelling in their hearts, do I destroy the darkness born of ignorance, with the brilliant light of knowledge (Gītā Bhaṣya X.10-11) (S. Bh. II. 3.41).

तेषां सततयुक्तानां भजतां प्रीतिपूर्वकम् ।

ददामि बुद्धियोगं तं येन मामुपयान्ति ते ॥१०- १०॥

teṣāṁ satatayuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prītipūrvakam
dadāmi buddhiyogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te 10.10

teṣām1 satata-yuktānām2 bhajatām3 prīti-pūrvakam4
dadāmi5 buddhi-yogam6 tam7 yena8 mām9 upayānti10 te11 10.10

 

teṣām1 = To them; satata-yuktānām2  = who are continuously devoted; [and] bhajatām3 = worship; [Me] prīti-pūrvakam4 = with eternal love; dadāmi5 = I give; buddhi-yogam6  = Yoga of Intelligence; tam7 = that; yena8 = by which;  te11 = they; upayānti10 = come; mām9 = to Me. 10.10  

10.10:   To them who are continuously devoted, and worship Me with eternal love, I give Buddhi Yogam (Yoga of intelligence), by which they come to Me.  

 

 

तेषामेवानुकम्पार्थमहमज्ञानजं तमः ।

नाशयाम्यात्मभावस्थो ज्ञानदीपेन भास्वता ॥१०- ११॥

teṣām evānukampārtham aham aj˝ānajaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātmabhāvastho j˝ānadīpena bhāsvatā 10.11

teṣām1 eva2 anukampā-artham3 aham4 aj˝ānajam5 tamaḥ6
nāśayāmi7 ātma-bhāva-sthaḥ8 j˝āna-dīpena9 bhāsvatā10 10.11

 

anukampā-artham3  = Out of compassion; teṣām1 = for them; eva2 = alone; aham4 = I; ātma-bhāva-sthaḥ8 = abiding in their self; nāśayāmi7 = destroy; tamaḥ6 = darkness; aj˝ānajam5 = born of ignorance;  bhāsvatā10 = with the shining; j˝āna-dīpena9  = lamp of wisdom. 10.11


10.11:  Out of compassion  for them alone, I destroy their ignorance and darkness by abiding in their self with the shining lamp of wisdom.

 

Śruti moreover declares the individual soul to be a part of the Highest person, an eternal part of Myself becomes the individual soul (Jiva) in the world of life (Bh. Gi, XV.7) For this reason also the soul must be held to be a part of Brahman.  

The individual soul is a part of the highest self, as the light issuing, from a luminous thing such as fire or the sun is a part of that body 

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः ।

मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥१५- ७॥

mamaivāṁśo jīvaloke jīvabhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati 15.7
mama1 eva2 aṁśaḥ3 jīva-loke4 jīva-bhūtaḥ5 sanātanaḥ6
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhāni7 indriyāṇi8 prakṛti-sthāni9 karṣati10 15.7
 

aṁśaḥ3 = A fragment of; mama1 = My own Self; eva2 = indeed; [becomes] sanātanaḥ6 = the eternal; jīva-bhūtaḥ5  = Jivatmas [embodied souls]; jīva-loke4  = in the world of Jivas; karṣati10 = drawing;  indriyāṇi8 = the sense organs; [with] manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhāni7 = the mind as the sixth sense; [and] prakṛti-sthāni9 = abiding in Nature. 15.7
 15.7:  A fragment of My own Self becomes the eternal living soul in this world of Jivas and draws the senses of material nature (Prakrti), of which the mind is the sixth.  

 

 

भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च ।

अहंकार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा ॥७- ४॥

bhūmir āponalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṁkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā 7.4

bhūmiḥ1 āpaḥ2 analaḥ3 vāyu4 kham5 manaḥ6 buddhiḥ7 eva8 ca9
ahaṅkāraḥ10 iti11 iyam12 me13 bhinnā14 prakṛtiḥ15 aṣṭadhā16   7.4

 

bhūmiḥ1 = Earth; āpaḥ2 = water; analaḥ3 = fire; vāyu4 = air; kham5 = ether; manaḥ6 = mind'; buddhiḥ7 = Buddhi; eva8 = in truth;  ca9= and; ahaṅkāraḥ10 = ego;  me13 = of Mine; iti11 = thus;  [are]  aṣṭadhā16  = eightfold; bhinnā14 = divisions; [of] iyam12 = this; prakṛtiḥ15 = Prakriti, (MAyA power of the Lord).   7.4 

7.4:   Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, certainly ego, all together are the eightfold division of my nature (Prakriti).

 

 

 

 

अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् ।

जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् ॥७- ५॥

apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīvabhūtāṁ mahābāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat 7.5

aparā1  iyam2  itaḥ3  tu4  anyām5  prakṛtim6  viddhi7  me8  parām9
jīva-bhūtām10  mahābāho11  yayā12   idam13  dhāryate14  jagat15  7.5

 

 tu4  = However; itaḥ3  = besides; iyam2  = this; aparā1  = lower; prakṛtim6  = Prakrti [Material Nature]; viddhi7  = know; me8  = My; anyām5  = other;   parām9 = Superior [Nature]; mahābāho11  = O Might-armed One:   jīva-bhūtām10  = the Life-Being [the Universal soul];  yayā12 = by which;  idam13  = this;  jagat15  = world; dhāryate14  = is maintained.  7.5 

7.5:  Besides this lower prakriti, understand My other higher nature, O Mighty-armed one, the Life-Being (Jīva-Bhūta or Purusa) which sustains this universe (jagat).   

 

"Thus eightfold is my nature divided, Lower is this nature: other than this and higher know that Nature of Mine which constitutes the individual soul, by which this world is supported" (Gītā Bhaṣya VII. 4,5) "All beings at the end of a kalpa return into My nature and again at the beginning of kalpa do I send them forth. Resting on my own Nature again and again do I send them forth. This entire body of beings, which has no power of its own, being subject to the power of Nature" (Bha- Gita IX 7-8) -With Me as supervisor Nature brings forth the movable and the immovable and for this reason the world ever moves round." (Bh. Gi, IX, 10). "The great Brahman is my womb, in which I place the embryo and thence there is the origin of all beings" (XIV.3) "This last passage means the womb of the world is the great Brahman, i.e., non- intelligent matter in its subtle state, commonly called prakrti: With this I connect the embryo i.e, the intelligent principle. From this contact of the non-intelligent and the intelligent due to My will there ensues the origination of  beings from Gods down to lifeless things (S. Bh, L 1.1)"

सर्वभूतानि कौन्तेय प्रकृतिं यान्ति मामिकाम् ।

कल्पक्षये पुनस्तानि कल्पादौ विसृजाम्यहम् ॥९- ७॥

sarvabhūtāni kaunteya prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām
kalpakṣaye punas tāni kalpādau visṛjāmy aham 9.7

sarva-bhūtāni1 kaunteya2 prakṛtim3 yānti4 māmikām5
kalpak-kṣaye6 punaḥ7 tāni8 kalpādau9 visṛjāmi10 aham11 9.7

 

sarva-bhūtāni1 = All beings; kaunteya2 = O son of Kunti; yānti4 = enter; māmikām5 = My; prakṛtim3 = Nature;  kalpak-kṣaye6  = at the end of the Kalpa. punaḥ7 = Again; aham11 = I; visṛjāmi10 = create; tāni8 = the beings; kalpādau9 = in the beginning of the Kalpa.   9.7 

9.7:  All beings, O son of Kunti, enter into My nature at the end of a cosmic cycle (kalpa). Again, I create them in the beginning of the cosmic cycle.  

 

प्रकृतिं स्वामवष्टभ्य विसृजामि पुनः पुनः ।

भूतग्राममिमं कृत्स्नमवशं प्रकृतेर्वशात् ॥९- ८॥

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ
bhūtagrāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt 9.8

prakṛtim1 svām2 avaṣṭabhya3 visṛjāmi4 punaḥ punaḥ5
bhūtagrāmam6 imam7 kṛtsnam8 avaśam9 prakṛteḥ10 vaśāt11  9.8

 

avaṣṭabhya3 = Controlling; svām2 = My own; prakṛtim1 = Prakrti; [I]  visṛjāmi4 = create; punaḥ punaḥ5  = again and again;  imam7 = this; kṛtsnam8 = entire; bhūtagrāmam6 = multitude of beings; [who are] avaśam9 = powerless, helpless [loosing control]; [owing to] vaśāt11  = the sway;  prakṛteḥ10 = of their own nature. 9.8   

9.8:  Using Prakrti of My own Self, I send forth again and again the entire multitude of beings, which are helpless under the influence of [their own] Prakrti.  

 

मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम् ।

हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥९- १०॥

mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram
hetunānena kaunteya jagad viparivartate 9.10

mayā1 adhyakṣeṇa2 prakṛtiḥ3 sūyate4 sa5 cara-acaram6
hetunā7 anena8 kaunteya9 jagat10 viparivartate11 9.10

 

mayā1 = Under My; adhyakṣeṇa2 = supervision; prakṛtiḥ3 = Prakrti, nature; sūyate4 = gives rise; [to] sa5 = both; cara-acaram6  = mobile and immobile things.  hetunā7 = Because of this reason; kaunteya9 = O son of Kunti; anena8 = this;  jagat10 = world; viparivartate11 = spins or revolves. 9.10 

9.10: Under My supervision, Prakrti gives rise to both moving and unmoving. By this, O son of Kunti, the world turns or revolves.

 

मम योनिर्महद्ब्रह्म तस्मिन्गर्भं दधाम्यहम् ।

संभवः सर्वभूतानां ततो भवति भारत ॥१४- ३॥

mama yonir mahad brahma tasmin garbhaṁ dadhāmy aham
saṁbhavaḥ sarvabhūtānāṁ tato bhavati bhārata 14.3

mama1 yoniḥ2 mahat brahma3 tasmin4 garbham5 dadhāmi6 aham7
sambhavaḥ8 sarva-bhūtānām9 tataḥ10 bhavati11 bhārata12 14.3
 

mahat brahma3  = The Great Brahman; [is] mama1 = My; yoniḥ2 = Womb;  tasmin4 = in it [in the Womb]; aham7= I; dadhāmi6 = induce [place]; garbham5 = pregnancy;  tataḥ10 = thereafter;  sambhavaḥ8 = birth; sarva-bhūtānām9 = of all beings;bhavati11 = occurs; bhārata12 O Scion of Bharata. 14.3

 

14.3:   The great Brahman is My womb, in which I induce pregnancy. From that, all living beings are born, O Bharata.

 

The protection that God offers to the individual soul takes also the form of a promise of rescuing him from the sense of fear (abhaya pradāna): The Vaiṣnava teachers refer lovingly to the words of Sri Rama in the Rāmāyana where he says that it is his sacred resolve to rescue all, beings from fear (Abhayam sarva bhṛtebhyo dadāmi etad vratam mama). God has pledged himself to save all souls, even the erring ones. As the Bhagavad Gita says 'I am disposed equally towards all creatures, there is not anyone specially hateful, any specially beloved, to Me." (Bh, Gi. IX.29). 'He is the protector of the whole world, bhuvanasya goptā.'  

Here Ramanuja introduces the idea of the modus operandi of the grace of God (anugraha or kṛiPa) which plays such an important part in the act of the redemption of souls. He writes (11.2.5) "The divine supreme person, whose wishes are eternally fulfilled, who is all-knowing and the ruler of all, whose every purpose is immediately realized, having engaged in sport befitting his might and greatness and having settled that work is of a two-fold nature, such and such works being good and such and such being evil, and having bestowed on all individual souls, bodies and sense-organs capacitating them for entering on such work and power of ruling those bodies and organs: and having himself entered into those souls as their inner Self abides within them, controlling them as an animating 

समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रियः ।

ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या मयि ते तेषु चाप्यहम् ॥९- २९॥

samohaṁ sarvabhūteṣu na me dveṣyosti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy aham 9.29

samaḥ1 aham2 sarva-bhūteṣu3 na4 me5 dveṣyaḥ6 asti7 na8 priyaḥ9
ye10 bhajanti11 tu12 mām13 bhaktyā14 mayi15 te16 teṣu17 ca18 api19 aham20 9.29

 

aham2 = I; [am] samaḥ1 = same;  sarva-bhūteṣu3  = to all living beings; na4 = no one;  asti7 = is; dveṣyaḥ6 = execrable or detestable; na8 = nor; priyaḥ9 = dear; me5 = to me; tu12 = but; ye10 = those who; bhajanti11 = worship;  mām13 = Me; bhaktyā14 = with devotion; te16 = they; [are] mayi15 = in Me; ca18 = and; aham20 = I; [am]; api19 = indeed; teṣu17 = in them. 9.29 
9.29:  I am the same to all living beings. No one is despicable or dear to Me. They, who worship Me with devotion, are in Me, and I am certainly in them.

 

Ramanuja dwells lovingly on the two characteristics of the Lord as the redeemer of souls. They are Saulabhya or easy accessibility and Sausilya or graciousness, God steps down from his throne to reach the soul struggling in Samsāra and even becomes one like Him (Sajātiya), suffers with him, endures pain with him and leads him by the hand like a friend or comrade, like a lover or guide. He thus leads the individual soul to the realization of its inherent high estate which had been obscured by the influence Karma.  Ramanuja describes this in the form of a parable quoted earlier of the King's son being restored to his father.  

In this parable the fully trustworthy person is the Acharya or guru or the mediator between God and man, according to Ramanuja's vaiśṇava tradition. The 'he' who then takes steps to recover his son is the Lord himself who incarnates himself as the redeemer age after age. The redeemer is so condescending to his beloved devotee that he says in the Glta (lX. 2): "I reckon that when to a loving devotee .. .I deliver my own self entirely, even that is no sufficient compensation for the love he has borne (for me). I reckon too, that even when I have given my Own self to him I have done little or nothing for him. That is how I think of my beloved lovers" Jnānī tvatmaiva me matam' The Jnāni is to be known as my very soul.' Commenting on Gita VIl. 18: Ramanuja says: "As for the Jnānī l deem him as my own self that is, my very life depends on him. If it be asked how, the reason is that in the same manner that he cannot live without me-his highest goal-I cannot live without him". Beautiful reciprocity, indeed, between the redeemer and redeemed, the Raksaka and the Rakśya.    

राजविद्या राजगुह्यं पवित्रमिदमुत्तमम् ।

प्रत्यक्षावगमं धर्म्यं सुसुखं कर्तुमव्ययम् ॥९- २॥

rājavidyā rājaguhyaṁ pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ susukhaṁ kartum avyayam 9.2

rāja-vidyā1 rāja-guhyam2 pavitram3 idam4 uttamam5

pratyakṣa6 avagamam7 dharmyam8 susukham9 kartum10 avyayam11 9.2

 

idam4 = This; [is] rāja-vidyā1 = Sovereign Knowledge; rāja-guhyam2  = Sovereign Secret; pavitram3 = the purest; [and] uttamam5 = the best; [realized by] pratyakṣa6 = direct; avagamam7 = comprehension. [It is] dharmyam8 = righteous;  susukham9 = easy; [to] kartum10 = practice; [and] avyayam11 = imperishable. 9.2
9.2:  This is the royal knowledge, the royal secret, the purest, and the supreme, known by direct experience. It is in conformity with dharma, comfortable (easy) to practice, and imperishable.  

 

उदाराः सर्व एवैते ज्ञानी त्वात्मैव मे मतम् ।

आस्थितः स हि युक्तात्मा मामेवानुत्तमां गतिम् ॥७- १८॥

udārāḥ sarva evaite j˝ānī tv ātmaiva me matam
āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā mām evānuttamāṁ gatim  7.18

udārāḥ1 sarve2  eva3 ete4 j˝ānī5 tu6 ātma7 eva8 me9 matam10
āsthitaḥ11 saḥ12 hi13 yuktātmā14 mām15 eva16 anuttamām17 gatim18  7.18

 

sarve2  ete4 = All2  these4 [aforementioned four];  [are] eva3 = indeed; udārāḥ1 = noble, exalted; tu6 = but;   j˝ānī5 = Jnani [the seeker of knowledge];  [is]  ātma7  eva8 = verily8 Myself7.  [This is] me9 = My; matam10 = opinion;  hi13 = for; saḥ12 = he; [whose] yuktātmā14 = mind is engaged; [and] āsthitaḥ11 = abiding; mām15 eva16 = in Me15 alone16; [has Me as] anuttamām17 = the unsurpassed; gatim18  = goal. 7.18 

7.18:  All these (four kinds of people) are noble, but the Jnāni, I consider, as truly My Self. In my opinion, he whose mind abides in Me alone  has Me as the unsurpassed Goal.

 

 

 

"The whole matter may be summarily stated as follows :- Some texts declare a distinction of Nature between non-intelligent matter, intelligent beings and Brahman, in so far as matter is the object of enjoyment, the souls the enjoying subjects, and Brahman the ruling principle."  

Smṛiti expresses itself similarly, says he, and quotes the following passages from the Gita with his explanation."With me as supervisor, Nature brings forth the movable and the immovable" (Bh. Gi. IX. 10) "The great Brahman is my womb, in which I place the embryo, and thence there is the origin of all beings (XIV. 3)" This last passage means-the womb of the world is the great Brahman, i. e. non-intelligent matter in its subtle state, commonly called Prakrti : with this I connect the Embryo i. e. the intelligent principle. From this contact of the non-intelligent and the intelligent, due to my will, there ensues the origination of all beings from Gods to lifeless things. In his examination of Sāṅkhya philosophy  

मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम् ।

हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥९- १०॥

mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram
hetunānena kaunteya jagad viparivartate 9.10

mayā1 adhyakṣeṇa2 prakṛtiḥ3 sūyate4 sa5 cara-acaram6
hetunā7 anena8 kaunteya9 jagat10 viparivartate11 9.10

 

mayā1 = Under My; adhyakṣeṇa2 = supervision; prakṛtiḥ3 = Prakrti, nature; sūyate4 = gives rise; [to] sa5 = both; cara-acaram6  = mobile and immobile things.  hetunā7 = Because of this reason; kaunteya9 = O son of Kunti; anena8 = this;  jagat10 = world; viparivartate11 = spins or revolves. 9.10 

9.10: Under My supervision, Prakrti gives rise to both moving and unmoving. By this, O son of Kunti, the world turns or revolves.  

 

 

मम योनिर्महद्ब्रह्म तस्मिन्गर्भं दधाम्यहम् ।

संभवः सर्वभूतानां ततो भवति भारत ॥१४- ३॥

mama yonir mahad brahma tasmin garbhaṁ dadhāmy aham
saṁbhavaḥ sarvabhūtānāṁ tato bhavati bhārata 14.3

mama1 yoniḥ2 mahat brahma3 tasmin4 garbham5 dadhāmi6 aham7
sambhavaḥ8 sarva-bhūtānām9 tataḥ10 bhavati11 bhārata12 14.3

 

mahat brahma3  = The Great Brahman; [is] mama1 = My; yoniḥ2 = Womb;  tasmin4 = in it [in the Womb]; aham7= I; dadhāmi6 = induce [place]; garbham5 = pregnancy;  tataḥ10 = thereafter;  sambhavaḥ8 = birth; sarva-bhūtānām9 = of all beings;bhavati11 = occurs; bhārata12 O Scion of Bharata. 14.3 

14.3:   The great Brahman is My womb, in which I induce pregnancy. From that, all living beings are born, O Bharata.  

 

The Jīva is the finite self of the individual soul. It is distinct from the body (deha, the sense organs (indriya),  mind (manas) and vital breath (prāna). The Jīva is as eternal (nitya) as Brahman. When we speak of Brahman creating the Jīvas what is meant is that they are projected into manifestation. The Jīva, prior to this manifestation, lies inactive like a bird whose wings have not yet grown. God awakens it from its torpidity and sets it on a career of creative activity. While commenting on the verse in the Bhagavadgīta III. 10. Ramanuja writes:  

"In the past, this Prajāpati, the Bhagavān intently reflected at the time of creation on the entities (cit), entangled in matter (acit) from an immemorial past, They were destitute of a name, of a form and of a distinction, and embosomed in Him. They were fit for fulfilling great aims but were lying latent like inert or unintelligent substances. Prajāpati, out of infinite mercy looked on them and wishing to work out their deliverance, created them or projected them into manifestation."  

Ramanuja asserts the reality of individual souls and their distinctness from Brahman. In commenting on the 12th verse in the second chapter of the Gita he makes Krishna mean "As for me, the universal Lord (Sarvesvara), there is never 'nay' to my having been in all the eternity anterior to the present. I always was. So is thyself and all these in thy front :- All souls are under my control (iśitavyaḥ) and informers of bodies (kshetrag˝as). Nor are all of us--myself thyself and all--not going to be in the futureů. As indubitably ever-existent am I.-the Universal Lord, the supreme spirit (Paramātmā) so also should you all, the matter-informing souls, be understood  as ever existent." On the basis of this scriptural authority Ramanuja says "It is thus evident that (1) the fact of the soul being distinct from Bhagavān (Sarveśvara or God), and (2) the fact of the multiplicity of souls, have been declared by Bhagavān Himself. For this is an occasion when eternal truths are imparted to one with the object of removing the cover of all his ignorance. And on such an occasion, the distinctions of I, thou, we, etc, are made (thus showing that souls are many and they are different from God)." (Gitā Bhaṣya).  

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः ।

अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक् ॥३- १०॥

sahayaj˝āḥ prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā purovāca prajāpatiḥ
anena prasaviṣyadhvam eṣa vostv iṣṭakāmadhuk 3.10

saha1 yaj˝āḥ2 prajāḥ3 sṛṣṭvā4 purā5 uvāca6 prajāpatiḥ7
anena
8 prasaviṣyadhvam9 eṣaḥ10 vaḥ11 astu12 iṣṭa-kāma-dhuk13 3.10

 

purā5 = Long time ago; prajāpatiḥ7= the sovereign of beings; sṛṣṭvā4 = having done the creation; [of] prajāḥ3 = people; saha1  = along with; yaj˝āḥ2 = sacrifices; uvāca6 = said; anena8 = by this [sacrifice]; prasaviṣyadhvam9 = carry on procreation. eṣaḥ10 astu12 = Let12 this10 [sacrifice] be; vaḥ11 = your;  iṣṭa-kāma-dhuk13  = Giver of desired objects [desired-objects of desire-yielder] kāma-dhuk is a cow of plenty. 3.10  

3.10: Once upon a time (Time of creation) the lord of creatures, created men along with sacrifices and said, by this you bring forth more and more and let it  be the giver of your desires. 

 

 

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः ।

न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ॥२- १२॥ 2.12

na tv evā ĺhaṁ jātu nā ĺsaṁ na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na cai ĺva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayam ataḥ param 2.12

na1 tu2 eva3 aham4 jātu5 na6 āsam7 na8 tvam9 na10 ime11 janādhipāḥ12
na13 ca14 eva15 na16 bhaviṣyāmaḥ17 sarve18 vayam19 ataḥ20 param21

   

na1 tu2 eva3 = never was there; jātu5 = at any time; aham4 = I; na6 āsam7 = did not exist, did not live (in actuality, I did exist); na8 tvam9 = neither did you (assuredly you existed in the past); na10 ime11 = nor these; jana-adhipāḥ12 = rulers of people (they did exist before); na13 ca14 eva15 = never also assuredly; vayam19  sarve18 = all of us; na16 bhaviṣyāmaḥ17 = shall cease to exist; ataḥ20 param21  = after this, after the death of the physical body. 2.12 

2.12: Never was there a time that neither I, nor you, nor those kings did not exist and nor will all of us stop to exist from now on.          

 

 

 

Pillai Lokāchryā, a follower of Ramanuja in the thirteenth century comments beautifully on this in the following words: "Even the all-Ioving father, the Great Īṣvara does not force His presence on the soul, not yet ripe to receive Him. With infinite patience He waits and watches the struggle of the soul in Samsāra since the struggle is necessary for the unfoldment (vikāsa) of the faculties of the soul,"

The foregoing will not be complete without a discussion of the relation of Karma and Kṛpā or individual soul's action and the role of dvine grace in the working out of the salvation of man. Ramanuja bases his idea of divine grace on the text in Kaṭhopaniṣad (II. 23) which says, "that Self cannot be gained by the study of the Veda (reflection) not by thought (meditation nor by hearing). Whom the self chooses, by him it may be gained: to him the self reveals its being" (S. Bh I.I.I).  ĹBy him it may be gained' has led to a dual_interpretation of divine grace idea with the consequence that it later led to a Doctrinal split of the Tengalai (southern) School and the Vadagalai (Northern) School. The two views have come to be known as the 'monkey and young one argument' (markaṭa kiśora nyāya), and the 'Cat and kitten Argument' (Mārjāla Kiśora Nyāya). The former view maintains that some effort is necessary on the part of the individual soul to evoke divine grace and the latter view holds that the entire initiative lies with God and the individual effort counts for very little: The latter view is also called nirhetuka kṛpā or spontaneous grace of God. So far as the Sribhāṣya is concerned, Ramanuja seems to favour the former view though in his commentary on the Gitā and Gadya Traya wherever the idea of prapatti or absolute unqualified self-surrender to God is stressed, he seems to be inclined to the latter view. To Ramanuja the Law of karma and the operation of divine grace are not inconsistent. He refers to the 'tender regard to man's welfare,' of the scripture which enjoins on the individual soul the discipline of righteous conduct which tends to "produce and help to perfect the knowledge of Brahman." This itself is an evidence of divine grace. He writes: "When a man reaches knowledge, the non-clinging and destruction of all sins may be through the power of knowledge." Further "Texts such as 'he who has not turned away from evil conduct' (Ka. Up. l. 2. 29) teach that meditation, becoming more perfect day after day cannot be accomplished without the devotee having previously broken himself off from evil conduct" (IV. I. 13) He renders the verse in the Gita (IV. 13) thus: "It is only to one who is entirely cleansed of all his sins that it becomes the object of love. It is only such a person who would converge all the strength of his intellect (buddhi) to Me as his sole aim" (XII. 11.).

Again, commenting on the Gita verse (IX. 29) Ramanuja seems to refer to the operation of spontaneous and irresistible grace of God which demands nothing else from the individual than the act of complete surrender (prapatti) and laying the entire burden of its salvation on God himself (bhara nyāsa).

समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रियः ।

ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या मयि ते तेषु चाप्यहम् ॥९- २९॥

samohaṁ sarvabhūteṣu na me dveṣyosti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy aham 9.29

samaḥ1 aham2 sarva-bhūteṣu3 na4 me5 dveṣyaḥ6 asti7 na8 priyaḥ9
ye10 bhajanti11 tu12 mām13 bhaktyā14 mayi15 te16 teṣu17 ca18 api19 aham20 9.29
 

aham2 = I; [am] samaḥ1 = same;  sarva-bhūteṣu3  = to all living beings; na4 = no one;  asti7 = is; dveṣyaḥ6 = execrable or detestable; na8 = nor; priyaḥ9 = dear; me5 = to me; tu12 = but; ye10 = those who; bhajanti11 = worship;  mām13 = Me; bhaktyā14 = with devotion; te16 = they; [are] mayi15 = in Me; ca18 = and; aham20 = I; [am]; api19 = indeed; teṣu17 = in them. 9.29 
9.29:  I am the same to all living beings. No one is despicable or dear to Me. They, who worship Me with devotion, are in Me, and I am certainly in them.
 

His comment on the verse (9.29) referred to reads as follows:  

"Be it the divine, the human, the animal, of the stationary kingdoms, be they high or low, in point of kind or caste, in point of look (colour etc.) in point of nature (character etc.) or in point of enlightenment, as refuge to all, independent of such distinctions, I am equal. Inferiority as regards kind (caste) look, nature or understanding in any person does not, because of it, warrant that he is not dear to me or fit to be rejected as unworthy to come to Me as refuge. No one on the other hand claiming superiority of caste etc, is because of it specially entitled to claim Me as his refuge or has warrant to be particularly dear to me. Save the ground that he elects me as his refuge, not any qualifications (as caste, colour etc.) will constitute a claim for my acceptance of him (IX. 29).  END 

अपि चेत्सुदुराचारो भजते मामनन्यभाक् ।

साधुरेव स मन्तव्यः सम्यग्व्यवसितो हि सः ॥९- ३०॥

api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananyabhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ samyag vyavasito hi saḥ 9.30

api cet1 su-durācāraḥ2 bhajate3 mām4 ananyabhāk5
sādhuḥ6 eva7 saḥ8 mantavyaḥ9 samyak10 vyavasitaḥ11 hi12 saḥ13 9.30
 

api cet1 = Even if; su-durācāraḥ2  = one of sinful acts; bhajate3 = worships; mām4 = Me; ananyabhāk5 = with exclusive devotion; eva7 = indeed; saḥ8 = he; mantavyaḥ9 = is thought of; [as] sādhuḥ6 = a holy man; [and] saḥ13 = he; [is] samyak10 = rightly; vyavasitaḥ11 = resolved; hi12 = indeed. 9.30 

9.30:  Even the one, who commits the most sinful acts, worships with exclusive devotion to Me, is thought of as a sadhu, because he has rightly resolved.  

Further commenting on the next verse, (IX. 30), Ramanuja writes: "People are born of several castes, each caste having its own rules of conduct..... Even if they should transgress those law, they are deserving of being accounted as righteous if in the manner aforesaid they do but worship me with a worship exclusively devoted to me.  God's grace manifests itself in this manner that silently and unobtrusively the Lord supplements the self-effort of the individual soul which consists in his turning Godward and filling his heart and soul with intense love and devotion to God. His own feeble efforts are now supplemented by God taking upon himself the burden of prospering the devoteeĺs onward march towards him. Ramanuja explains the meaning of the Gita verse (VIII.14) thus: He refers to the Lord as saying ôI am again happily accessible to him (i.e. the yogi) this wise-I, on my part would not be able to bear separation of them (my lovers) from me: and therefore I myself elect him; I carry to fruition the meditation he adopts for reaching me; I ward off from him the obstacles which may hamper him in his progress in meditation; I generate in him the intense love and affection for me".  

अनन्यचेताः सततं यो मां स्मरति नित्यशः ।

तस्याहं सुलभः पार्थ नित्ययुक्तस्य योगिनः ॥८- १४॥

ananyacetāḥ satataṁ yo māṁ smarati nityaśaḥ
tasyāhaṁ sulabhaḥ pārtha nityayuktasya yoginaḥ 8.14

ananya-cetāḥ1  satatam2  yaḥ3  mām4  smarati5  nityaśaḥ6
tasya7  aham8  sulabhaḥ9  pārtha10  nitya-yuktasya11  yoginaḥ12   8.14
 

yaḥ3  = He who; smarati5  = remembers; mām4  = Me;  satatam2  = constantly; [and] nityaśaḥ6 = regularly; ananya-cetāḥ1 = without extraneous thoughts;  aham8  = I; [am] sulabhaḥ9  = easy of access; tasya7 yoginaḥ12  = to that Yogi; nitya-yuktasya11 = with perpetual concentration; pārtha10  = O Partha.   8.14

8.14:  He, who remembers Me constantly lacking extraneous thoughts and is absorbed in Me constantly, O Partha, is a Yogin to whom I am easily accessible.    

The meaning of Gita is explained thus: "Let Him, the prime Purusa alone be sought as the refuge-He from whom the old will is derived". This is interpreted to mean, "By the mere step taken viz., of having taken Him as refuge, all those instincts of old will awaken in him. Instincts or impulses which are means to dispel all ignorance, etc. They are called old because they are the instincts of the ancient Mokṣa seekers (Mumukṣus), for they of old sought Me alone as their asylum and became released from bondage". The next stanza, (XV. 5) is said to mean "To those who claim Me as their saviour (or protector) all the several stages of the aforesaid character-forming are effected through My sole agency, These states are so easily traversed till perfection is reached". This idea of God's irresistible spontaneous grace (nirhetuka kṛpā) is accentuated in Ramanuja's śaraṇāgati Gadya "here the Lord is made to say Ĺhaving through My mere grace alone fully overcome, with its cause, the obstacles to the attainment of high devotion thou shalt become my eternal servant."

The individual soul is thus characterised by the power of knowing, feeling, and willing. It is, in addition to being a knower (j˝ātā) an agent (kartā) and an enjoyer of experiences (bhoktā). The one attribute however which constitutes the unique attribute of the individual soul is the dependence on God (Śeṣatva) without which it ceases to be itself. The attainment of its own intrinsic glory consists in realising its dependence (pāratantrya) on God who lone is independent (Swatantra). The independence that is enjoyed by the soul and conceded to it by the Paramātman is only relative independence.  

The Jnāna mārgā or the way of knowledge becomes redeeming only when it is coupled with moral endeavour which consists in self control or the restraints of sensuous life. The Gita says (IV. 38-39) "There is naught that purifies like knowledge, he that is perfected in control himself In due time finds that in his self. Single-hearted man of faith, with sense in check, gains knowledge." Ramanuja considers that true knowledge is impossible without morality, without sacrifice and worship.

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते ।

तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति ॥४-३८॥

na hi j˝ānena sadṛśaṁ pavitram iha vidyate
tat svayaṁ yogasaṁsiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati 4.38

na1 hi2 j˝ānena3 sadṛśam4 pavitram5 iha6 vidyate7
tat8 svayam9 yoga10 saṁsiddhaḥ11 kālena12 ātmani13 vindati14  4.38
 

na1 = Nothing; hi2 = indeed; vidyate7= exists;  iha6 = in this world; [as] sadṛśam4 = comparison; j˝ānena3 = to knowledge;  pavitram5 = the purifying [agent].  yoga10 saṁsiddhaḥ11 = One who has become perfect in yoga; kālena12 = in passage of time; vindati14 = attains; tat8 = that [knowledge]; svayam9 = by himself; ātmani13 = in his own self.   4.38

4.38: Nothing exists in this world for comparison, when it comes to knowledge as the purifier. He, who has been perfect in yoga of knowledge for a long time, finds it in his own self in due course of time.    

 

 

 

श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः ।

ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति ॥४-३९॥

śraddhāvāṁl labhate j˝ānaṁ tatparaḥ saṁyatendriyaḥ
j˝ānaṁ labdhvā parāṁ śāntim acireṇādhigacchati 4.39

śraddhāvān1 labhate2 j˝ānam3 tatparaḥ4 saṁyata5 indriyaḥ6
j˝ānam7 labdhvā8 parām9 śāntim10 acireṇa11 adhigacchati12   4.39
 

śraddhāvān1 = A man of faith; labhate2 = attains; j˝ānam3 = Knowledge; tatparaḥ4 = devoted to; saṁyata5 -indriyaḥ6 = control over the sense organs.  labdhvā8 = Having achieved; j˝ānam7 = Knowledge; adhigacchati12  = one attains; parām9 = supreme; śāntim10 = peace; acireṇa11 = without delay.   4.39 

4.39: With control of the senses and single-minded devotion, a man of  faith gains wisdom. Having achieved that, he gains supreme peace soon.    

 

In his commentary on the related Gita verses in 8.7, 9.27, 9.34, 9.14 Ramanuja writes respectively as follows: "Do the work that is before thee, and all other sruti and Smriti-enjoined works, such as the daily (nitya) and occasional (naimittika) duties apportioned to the several castes (varnas), and orders (āsramas) that while discharging them I may be in thy memory daily. This is the most expedient method by which thou canst succeed in keeping thy manas and buddhi set on me, and thus remembering me at the last moment."  

'Neither by the Vedas nor by gifts. nor by austerities, by sacrifice can I be so seen as thou hast seen me. But by devotion exclusive I may in this form be known and seen in truth, O Arjuna, and also be entered into. (Bh. Gi, XI. 53. 54): That highest person, O Partha, may be obtained by exclusive devotion' (VIII.22)" (S. Bh. I. 1.1.)

नाहं वेदैर्न तपसा न दानेन न चेज्यया ।

शक्य एवंविधो द्रष्टुं दृष्टवानसि मां यथा ॥११- ५३॥

nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā
śakya evaṁvidho draṣṭuṁ dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā 11.53

na1 aham2 vedaiḥ3 na tapasā4 na dānena5 na ca ijyayā6
śakyaḥ7 evam-vidhaḥ8 draṣṭum9 dṛṣṭavān10 asi11m12 yathā13 11.53
 

na1 vedaiḥ3 = Neither by the Vedas; na tapasā4  = nor by Tapas or austerity; na dānena5  = nor by charity; na ca ijyayā6  = and nor by worship; śakyaḥ7 = can; aham2 = I;  dṛṣṭavān10 = be seen; evam-vidhaḥ8 = in this manner; yathā13 = as; asi11 = you have; draṣṭum9 = seen;  m12 = Me. 11.53   

11.53:  Neither by the study of Vedas, nor by austerity, nor by charity, nor by sacrifices, is it possible to see Me, as you are seeing Me.

 

 

 

भक्त्या त्वनन्यया शक्य अहमेवंविधोऽर्जुन ।

ज्ञातुं द्रष्टुं च तत्त्वेन प्रवेष्टुं च परंतप ॥११- ५४॥

bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya aham evaṁvidhorjuna
j˝ātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena praveṣṭuṁ ca paraṁtapa 11.54

bhaktyā1 tu2 ananyayā3 śakya4 aham5 evamvidhaḥ6 arjuna7
j˝ātum8 draṣṭum9 ca10 tattvena11 praveṣṭum12 ca13 parantapa14 11.54
 

tu2 = But; bhaktyā1 = by devotion; ananyayā3 = rendered to me exclusively; arjuna7 = O Arjuna; aham5 = I; [make it] śakya4 = possible; evamvidhaḥ6 = in this manner; [for you] j˝ātum8 = to know; ca10 = and; draṣṭum9 = to see;  tattvena11 = in truth;  ca13 = and; praveṣṭum12 = to merge with Me; parantapa14 =  O Parantapa. 11.54 

11.54:  But by devotion rendered to Me exclusively, O Arjuna, I make it possible for you to know, see, and in fact to enter (Me), O Parantapa.    

 

 

 

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।

अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥१८- ६६॥

sarvadharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣyayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ 18.66

sarva-dharmān1 parityajya2 mām3 ekam4 śaraṇam vraja5
aham6 tvām7 sarva-pāpebhyaḥ8 mokṣyayiṣyāmi9 ma10 śucaḥ11 18.66
 

parityajya2 = abandoning; sarva-dharmān1 = all duties; śaraṇam vraja5  = take refuge; mām3 = in Me; ekam4 = only/alone .  aham6 = I; mokṣyayiṣyāmi9 = shall deliver; tvā7 = you; sarva-pāpebhyaḥ8 = from all sins.  ma10 = do not; śucaḥ11 = worry.18.66 

18.66:  Abandoning all duties, surrender unto Me only. I shall deliver you from all sins. Do not lament.  

Ramanuja looks upon the verse in the eighteenth chapter (BG18.66) of the Gita 'Sarvadharmān parityajya' as the final reassuring message of the Lord to man (carama sloka), In that sloka we find the word saraṇa occurring. It also points to us the way of self-surrender (Śaraṇāgati) which supersedes all other devious and difficult ways to God (sarva dharmān parityajya) by which the individual undergoes struggle and tries to save himself whereas here the responsibility of saving is "transferred to the Saviour himself. He resigns himself to the Lord and is content to wear himself out in loving service to Him and to all that belongs to Him. The eighteenth chapter of the Gita has been called by Ramanuja as the Mokṣopadeśa Yoga.  The words 'Sannyāsa' and 'Tyāga' in this chapter are taken to mean Saranāgati or prapatti. 'Tameva śaraṇam gaccha' with all thy soul, seek Him as thy refuge, says one of the verses in this chapter  'sarabhāvena Bhārata'. This strikes the keynote of Saranāgati. The next verse says that this is the highest wisdom taught and is the mystery of mysteries. Arjuna, and through him, all men are asked to reflect on it all and act as they choose

The Yatiīndramata Dīpikā, a manual of Ramanuja's philosophy, sums up the characteristics of a prapanna in the following words: "The prapanna is one who has resorted to God and God alone, being helpless and devoid of any other refuge. He is also of two kinds, one who seeks the three ends of life (Dharma, Artha and Kāma) and the other who seeks- final liberation (Moksa). The one who seeks final liberation learns from the company of good souls to distinguish between what is eternal and what non-eternal. This engenders in him a spirit of detachment from things worldly which will lead to the desire for liberation. He then resorts to a teacher who possesses the excellences of a good preceptor, who leads him to Sri, the Lady of Mercy who acts as the mediator between him and the Lord. His only means for liberation now becomes the holy feet of Narayana. This way to the Lord is open to all in the world despite caste or creed."  

The ārta prapanna is one who longs for immediate liberation and he also is not free from discharging his social and moral obligations. This idea is brought out clearly in the following passage of Yatindramata Dīpikā:  

"The arta prapanna is one who after accepting prapatti as the means continues to perform all nitya and naimittika duties as ends in themselves on account of their being consecrated to the Lord. He avoids doing anything which would offend the Lord and His devotees."