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Prelude to Ishvara Gita - Part V: Jabala Upanishad

The final prelude is the Jabala Upanishad, which is another Upanishad that focuses mainly on Jivātma-Upāsaṇa. The purpose of these five preludes is to enable the readers to be acquainted with Jnāna-Yoga, which makes the understanding of the Ishvara Gita easier.
A word about this Upanishad. We have not commented on it fully. Because the second half of the Upanishad describing the state of sannyAsis is of disputed authenticity – we are not sure as to whether the present version of the Upanishad is authentic in entirety. In shata dUShaNI, Shri Vedanta Desikan does seem to hint that some shrutis have been interpolated and tampered with, in matters related to sannyAsa Ashrama.
In addition, even if this Upanishad was authentic in its entirety, the aspects of sannyasa such as ekadandin vs tridandin, wearing the sacred thread vs not wearing it --- which are the subjects of debate between advaitins and vishishtadvaitins --  is beyond the scope of this blog. It is not necessary to our agenda here and so we are not going to bother with it. Leave it to the pūrvācāryās to resolve such matters in works like Yati-Dharma-Samucchaya and Sata-Dhushani.
So, let us begin.
oṃ bṛhaspatiruvāca yājñavalkyaṃ yadanu kurukṣetraṃ devānāṃ devayajanaṃ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ brahmasadanam ।
Meaning: Brihaspati asked Yajnavalkya, “Which according to you, is the (nature of the) body that is the abode of the senses (kurukṣetraṃ), where the senses (devānāṃ) perform actions of the self (devayajanaṃ) , which is the seat of the individual self (Brahman) in all beings?”
kurukṣetra” – The body is called “kshetra” in the Gita. Thus, “kurukṣetra” means “the abode of cruel people”, ie, “the body that houses the senses that trouble us”.
devānāṃ devayajanaṃ” – “devānāṃ” refers to the senses which shine out external objects to the self. “devayajanaṃ” refers to actions of the self which shines out and hence is called “deva”.
brahma” – The individual self is called this on account of it being great with all pervasive knowledge. It is identical in nature everywhere, residing in bodies of man, deva, etc.
The question posed by Brihaspati is this – “Explain to me the nature of the body in which the self abides, so that I may attain the knowledge of discrimination between the body and the self”.
avimuktaṃ vai kurukṣetraṃ devānāṃ devayajanaṃ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ brahmasadanam । tasmādyatra kvacana gacchati tadeva manyeta tadavimuktameva । idaṃ vai kurukṣetraṃ devānāṃ devayajanaṃ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ brahmasadanam ॥atra hi jantoḥ prāṇeṣūtkramamāṇeṣu rudrastārakaṃ brahma vyācaṣṭe yenāsāvamṛtī bhūtvā mokṣī bhavati tasmādavimuktameva niṣeveta avimuktaṃ na vimuñcedevamevaitadyājñavalkyaḥ ॥ 1॥
Meaning: (Yajnavalkya replied:) “That individual self which is undiminished in its’ pure state (avimukta) is (inseparably associated with) the body, where the senses (devAnA.n) perform actions of the self (devayajanaṃ), which is the seat of the individual self (Brahman) in all beings.
On that account, whichever body one attains (kvacana gacchati), one shall regard that itself as the self (avimukta).
This is the (nature of the) body that is the abode of the senses (kurukṣetra), where the senses (devānāṃ) perform actions of the self (devayajanaṃ), which is the seat of the individual self (Brahman) in all beings.
There (in that knowledge), indeed, when the vital airs depart the living being at the time of death, Rudra imparts the (knowledge of) praṇava (tārakaṃ brahma), by which one becoming (united with) the imperishable self, attains freedom from the distress of samsAra such as old age, hunger, thirst etc.
On account of this, one shall pursue or abide in (the meditation of) the self (avimukta), one shall not leave (the meditation of) the self (avimukta).
(Brihaspati said:) “It is even so as you have said, revered Yajnavalkya.”
avimukta” refers to the individual self. The phrase “avimuktaṃ vai kurukṣetraṃ” – “The self is verily the body” is not a statement of identity. It means, the self is inseparably associated with the body in samsAra and thus, by aprthak-siddhi, it is called the body.
On account of such inseparable association, beings become deluded by dehātma bhrama in whatever body they go to in every birth, thinking “the self is verily the body itself” each time. So if they are born as man, they identify themselves as man, if they are born as a deva, they identify themselves as deva – in this manner, they are deluded, not knowing that the self is distinct from the characteristics of man, deva etc (tasmādyatra kvacana gacchati tadeva manyeta tadavimuktameva).
Such is the nature of the body which causes delusion or dehātma bhrama. In this manner, to such a one who is situated in that knowledge of the distinction between the body and the self, Rudra imparts the knowledge of the praṇava. This is on account of the fact that Rudra is the bestower of knowledge, according to the following pramāṇās:
  1. puruṣasya vidmahe sahasrākṣasya mahādevasya dhīmahi । tanno rudraḥ pracodayāt - To know that Purusha Narayana, I meditate on that omniscient Mahadeva. May that Rudra invigorate or impel us.

  1. Omityevam sadā viprāh padatvam dhyāta keśavam” – O Brahmanas! Always keep chanting “OM”. Meditate on Keshava” – These are the words of Shiva himself in the Mahabharata.
The praṇava is the knowledge of the Lord, who is meditated upon to attain the similar state of the individual self.
As it causes relief from the distress of samsAra, yajnavAlkya emphasizes that one must never leave the meditation of the self.
atha hainamatriḥ papraccha yājñavalkyaṃ ya eṣo'nanto'vyakta ātmā taṃ kathamahaṃ vijānīyāmiti ॥
Meaning: Thereafter, Atri, asked Yajnavalkya, “How am I to know (meditate on) this Self which is distinct from the perishable body (ananta), beyond the range of the senses (avyakta)?
The body is called “anta” because it is subject the death. The self is “ananta” as it is distinct from it.
The question of Atri is explained thus  – “does the embodied self undergo any changes in its’ essential nature due to such association with the body? How am I to meditate on it?” To that Yajnavalkya answers:
sa hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ so'vimukta upāsyo ya eṣo'nanto'vyakta ātmā so'vimukte pratiṣṭhita iti ॥
Meaning: To this, Yajnavalkya replied: “That self which is undiminished in its’ pure state (avimukta) is meditated, (as) that which is this (embodied self) distinct from the perishable body (ananta), beyond the range of the senses (avyakta). That (embodied condition) is established in the pure self (avimukta).
The various embodied forms such as man, deva etc are but effects of the Self which is the cause. So, the condition of being embodied is said to be established in the pure self. The teaching is that, the self which is embodied does not undergo any changes in its’ essential nature and is identical to the self in the pure state devoid of karmas.
In the next mantra, Yajnavalkya explains how to fix oneself in meditation on the self.
so'vimuktaḥ kasminpratiṣṭhita iti । varaṇāyāṃ nāśyāṃ ca madhye pratiṣṭhita iti ॥ kā vai varaṇā kā ca nāśīti ।
Meaning: What is that in which the self (avimukta) is established in? It is established in between “varaṇā” and “nāśi”. What is varaṇā and What is nāśi?
The self is established – meaning, the knowledge of meditation on the self is attained by the description below.
sarvānindriyakṛtāndoṣānvārayatīti tena varaṇā bhavati ॥ sarvānindriyakṛtānpāpānnāśayatīti tena nāśī bhavatīti ॥
Meaning: Those (actions constituting karma yoga) which checks the sense-enjoyments that constitute the defects gained (by the actions of) the senses are called varaṇā. That (Jnāna-Yoga) which destroys the sins of (all the actions) performed by the senses is called nāśi.
“doṣās” refer to desire for the fruits of actions caused by the wayward senses. Karma Yoga or desireless action with the knowledge that the body is distinct from the self, checks or prevents this desire.
Karma Yoga leads to Jnāna-Yoga which is meditation on the self. Such meditation destroys all sins acquired by past actions, which were obstructing a vision of the self.
katamaṃ cāsya sthānaṃ bhavatīti । bhruvorghrāṇasya ca yaḥ sandhiḥ sa eṣa dyaurlokasya parasya ca sandhirbhavatīti । etadvai sandhiṃ sandhyāṃ brahmavida upāsata iti । so'vimukta upāsya iti। so'vimuktaṃ jñānamācaṣṭe । yo vaitadevaṃ vedeti ॥ 2॥
Meaning: Which is also the place of that (contemplation known as Jnāna-Yoga)?  It is said to be that which is the boundary (tip) of the nose. That (spot) is the co-existence of the eye which shines out external objects (dyaurloka) and that which is other to it, ie, not seeing that (para). The knowers of the self meditate on this co-existence (of fixing the gaze and not seeing it) as the meditation on the self. That self (avimukta) is to be meditated (in this manner).  He who knows (this meditation) in this manner, declares the knowledge pertaining to the self (avimukta) to others (ie, he becomes a teacher well-versed in jivātma-jnāna).
Gita 6.14 says that the Jnāna Yogi desiring to meditate on the self needs to fix his gaze on the tip of the nose to refrain from seeing other objects. While this can be done by closing one’s eyes, this is not recommended as one may fall asleep in that state.
At the same time, it is important that only gaze is fixed there; his mind is engaged in meditation of the self. So, though he is gazing at that spot, he is not really looking at it as he is meditating on the self. Hence, there is a meeting point (Sandhi) between sight of the tip of the nose and not really looking at it. Such a state of meditation is glorified as meditation of the self itself on account of its’ importance.
atha hainaṃ brahmacāriṇa ūcuḥ kiṃ japyenāmṛtatvaṃ brūhīti ॥ sa hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ । śatarudriyeṇetyetānyeva ha vā amṛtasya nāmāni ॥ etairha vā amṛto bhavatīti evamevaitadyājñavalkyaḥ ॥ 3॥
Meaning: Then the brahmacharins asked Yajnavalkya, “Tell us, by recitation of which, does one obtain the state of the individual self (amṛtatvaṃ)? Yajnavalkya said, “By the Satarudriya, which comprises the names indicating the auspicious attributes of Brahman who is nectar (amṛta). By (reciting this), one attains the individual self that is immortal (amṛta)”.
“It is even as you said, Yajnavalkya”.
The last mantra said to fix one’s gaze on the tip of the nose and engage the mind in meditation. But the mind always strays towards sense objects and this is difficult. So the students asked, “how can we control the mind (and senses) to attain “amṛtatvaṃ” or the state of the individual self which is imperishable?”
To that, Yajnavalkya replied that recitation of the Satarudriya curbs the senses and mind, by weaning them away from sense objects and focusing them on Brahman. It contains the names, which are indicative of the auspicious attributes of Brahman that are delectable (yāni nāmāni gaunāni), and so he is nectar (amṛta). Thus by meditating on Brahman, one attains the individual self (amṛta).
Once again, the Satarudriya is praised as an accessory to Jnāna-Yoga. This should remove any misconception that it is a praise of Rudra or any god other than Narayana.
The rest of the Upanishad will not be commented upon by us as mentioned earlier. We will conclude our series of preludes here. The key takeaways from this series are as follows:
  1. A number of adjectives usually used to describe Paramātma are used in the Shastra to describe the Jivātma as well.

  1. A simplification of Jivātma- Upāsaṇa into three steps is this – controlling the senses, fixing the mind and senses on Brahman, meditating on Brahman via the Praṇava to attain the similar state of the individual self.

  1. The first step, viz., control of the senses can be achieved by the chanting of the Satarudriyam which is specifically intended to wean senses away from sense-objects and focus them on Brahman according to the Satapata Brahmana.

  1. On account of the importance of the Satarudriyam in controlling the senses, it is glorified wherever Jivātma- Upāsaṇa is described

  1. Thus, wherever it is said that SatarudiIyam confers immortality, it refers to kaivalya mukti (attaining the Jivātma) eventually. Just as Hari-Nama is said to confer liberation in the sense of leading to bhakti-yoga and then gaining moksha by virtue of it, the Satarudriyam confers kaivalya mukti in the sense of leading to control of senses and proceeding to Jnāna-Yoga.

  1. On account of the above, it is clearly established that the Satarudriyam has no connection to the worship of Shiva as described in the Tāmasa Purāṇās.
Hope the readers found these prelude articles interesting.

11 comments :

  1. With the conclusion of these preludes, we will be posting the translation of the Ishvara Gita shortly on the blog. In between, we may also post certain other unrelated articles on other topics, since the Ishvara Gita is quite a long exercise.

    If readers have any doubts over the articles or the meanings, they are free to contact us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a question. I have some knowledge of advaita. I never heard of jIvAtma upAsana in advaita. Is what you are calling jIvAtma upAsana, taken as paramAtma upAsana by advaitins?

      One more question. JnAna in advaita leads to moksha. If I understand your posts correctly, you seem to be implying that there is something higher than jnAna. Did I read you correctly?

      Further, I understand that you consider Shiva as a jnAna yogi, but not as brahman. But if you look at this statement from the perspective of advaita, Shiva is as good as brahman, because in advaita, jnAni is verily brahman. Or are you saying that Shiva is brahman but he is not Ishwara? I am confused. Are we mixing up advaita and vishishTha-advaita here?

      Delete
    2. Namaste.

      Our interpretations are according to the pUrvAcAryas of our school i.e. vishiShTAdvaita.

      Somehow you misunderstood thinking we are explaining advaita here.

      Delete
    3. //Is what you are calling jIvAtma upAsana, taken as paramAtma upAsana by advaitins?//

      In Vishishtadvaita, the jIvAtma is jnAnAndamaya like Brahman and hence it is an object that can be realized and meditated upon to experience bliss. The bliss is limited as compared to BrahmAnanda. In this school, there are a group of people who are disgusted with samsAra and yet, have not developed a taste for Brahman. These people thus meditate on the jIvaTma (themselves) which is higher than prakrti/samsAra but inferior to Brahman. Krishna refers to this group as "jignyAsus" and distinguishes them from his bhaktas who are jnAnIs in the gIta (chaturvidha bhajantE mAm..)

      In advaita, jIva is verily Brahman. Hence, advaitins take references to jIvAtma upAsaNa as referring to nirguNa brahman. However, this is contradicted by the fact that the shrutis ascribe specific qualities for meditation and hence it cannot refer to an attributeless entity.

      In dvaita, there are 3 types of jIvAs - sAttvika, rAjasika and tAmasIka. Hence, dvaitins do not recognize jIvAtma upAsaNa and take all references to this upAsaNa as pertaining to Vishnu only.

      //JnAna in advaita leads to moksha. If I understand your posts correctly, you seem to be implying that there is something higher than jnAna//

      We were interpreting everythimg as per Vishishtadvaita. In this school, jnana is taken as "upAsaNa" which is jnAna visheshana. Meditation on Brahman is bhakti rUpa jnAna (bhakti yoga) while meditation on jIvAtma involves no bhakti and hence is merely jnAna yoga.

      //Further, I understand that you consider Shiva as a jnAna yogi, but not as brahman. But if you look at this statement from the perspective of advaita, Shiva is as good as brahman, because in advaita, jnAni is verily brahman. Or are you saying that Shiva is brahman but he is not Ishwara? I am confused. Are we mixing up advaita and vishishTha-advaita here?//

      As HBB said, you are getting mixed up.

      According to advaita, Shiva is a jnAni and is indeed as good as Brahman. However, he is not meditated upon as saguNa brahman, in the same way Adi Shankara despite being a jnAni for them is not saguNa brahman.

      In Vishishtadvaita, Shiva is a jIvAtma and is the best of bhakti-yogis. However, he is not a guru for those following prapatti marga.

      For dvaitins, Shiva is mano abhimAni devata and is worshipped to gain hari-bhakti.

      Hope this clarifies. We will be dealing with jIvAtmOpAsaNa a lot in the Ishvara Gita, so please wait for that write-up if you require more clarification.

      Delete
    4. //In Vishishtadvaita, the jIvAtma is jnAnAndamaya like Brahman and hence it is an object that can be realized and meditated upon to experience bliss.//


      If you permit a digression from the main topic, I want to add a question here. The problem of who is affected by avidya is IMO irresolvable in advaita. I thought vishishTAdvaita has a solution since jIva and brahman are not same, so jIva must be the one affected. However if jIva, like brahman is jnAnAnandamaya, how can the jIva suffer misery? How can there be samsAra?

      Delete
    5. Dear Anonymous,

      Because though jIva's essential nature is unchanged, its' dharma-bhUta-jnAna (attributive knowledge) expands or contracts based on associatiom with karmas.

      In moksha, this dharma-bhUta-jnAna, when free of karmas, expands infinitely and the jIva is omniscient.

      The analogy is like gem and its lustre. The luster of a gem is hidden by dirt. But such dirt does not affect its essential nature. When the dirt (karmas) is cleaned, the gem's (jiva's) luster (dharma bhUta jnAna) shines out.

      The jIva knows itself as "I" through svarUpa jnAna. The DBJ reveals external things to the jIva. Since DBJ can only reveal things to the jIva and not yo itself, it is insentient. Knowledge is thus both a substance and attribute, which are different and inseparable.

      Brahman also has dharma bhUta jnAna but as he is not affected by karmas, his DBJ is ever infinitely expanded.

      No more on this. We have explained this concept fully in the article "Criticism of Vishishtadvaita Visleshana Vivechanam" with pramANAs. Please read that article to understand more.

      Delete
    6. Dear Sri Aaryamaa

      Thank you for the explanation provided.

      Delete
  2. Forgot to add one thing. As one can see from the valid shAstrAs such as the Kaivalya Upanishad, Jabala Upanishad and Ishvara Gita, the recitation of the Shatarudriyam has one and only one fruit - complete control of the senses. Keep in mind that no other fruit is permitted by such recitation.

    This proves that the sections in the Mahabharata where Krishna and Arjuna supposedly chant the Shatarudriyam to get the Pashupatastra from Shiva, as well as the other Drona Parva/Anushasana Parva sections on the same, are interpolated by some Shaivite who didn't understand the purpose of the Rudram. Because the Rudram by nature cannot be used for gaining other things such as the favor of Shiva, or the Pashupatastra -- the vedic portion has a specific fruit of indrIya nigraha according to valid shAstrAs and no other.

    With that in mind, on this occasion, we would like to request those Vaishnavas (such as Madhwas, Gaudiyas and Vaishnava Smartas who are aware of their true tradition) who observe Shivaratri and worship Rudra as a bhakta of Hari, to recite the Shatarudriyam by meditating on the auspicious attributes of Narasimha alone. That is the Vaidika path and will please Rudra devata as well. Shaivites can do what they wish.

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  3. Double Addendum: And to show that the Rudram only refers to Narasimha, which we have proven countless times, I refer you to the Narada Purana, which has a section explaining how to worship Narasimha for several fruits. I'd like to see any vishNu-dvEshi attempting to refute this:

    dhyānabhedānatho vakṣye sarvasiddhipradāyakān / śrīkāmaḥ satataṃ dhyāyetpūrvoktaṃ nṛhariṃ sitam // NarP_1,71.50 //

    Meaning: I shall explain the different types of meditation for attainment of all siddhis. One who desires prosperity shall meditate on the pure Narasimha as previously described.

    vāmāṅkasthitayā lakṣmyāliṅgataṃ padmahastayā / viṣamṛtyūparogādisarvopadravanāśanam // NarP_1,71.51 //

    Meaning: On his right side, he is embraced by Lakshmi, who has a lotus in her hand. Poison, death, other minor ailments are all destroyed by him.

    cont'd...

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  4. Cont'd from above...

    narasiṃhaṃ mahābhīmaṃ kālānala samaprabham / āntramālādharaṃ raudraṃ kaṇṭhahāreṇa bhūṣitam // NarP_1,71.52 //

    Meaning: Narasimha is very formidable to the asuras (mahābhīmaṃ), has the effulgence of the fire of dissolution (kālānala samaprabham). He wears a garland of intestines (āntramālādharaṃ), is terrible in appearance to the wicked (raudraṃ) and is ornamented by a necklace around his neck (kaṇṭhahāreṇa bhūṣitam).

    nāgayajñopavītaṃ ca pañcānanasuśobhitam / candramauliṃ nīlakaṇṭhaṃ prativaktraṃ trinetrakam // NarP_1,71.53 //

    Meaning: He has Adi Sesha as his sacred thread (nāgayajñopavītaṃ). He has five faces shining brightly (pañcānanasuśobhitam). His hair is lustrous like the moon (candramauliṃ), his wide-open throat is black like a cave (nīlakaṇṭhaṃ) and he has three eyes on each of his five faces (prativaktraṃ trinetrakam).

    (The five faced form is assumed by Narasimha for meditation to attain certain alpa-puruShArthAs. One can also meditate on him out of love, of course, no issues).

    cont'd...

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  5. cont'd from above...

    bhujaiḥ parighasaṃkāśairddaśabhiścopaśobhitam / akṣasūtraṃ gadāpadmaṃ śaṅkhaṃ gokṣīrasannibham // NarP_1,71.54 //

    dhanuśca muśalaṃ caiva bibhrāṇaṃ cakrasuttamam / khaḍgaṃ śūlaṃ ca bāṇaṃ ca nṛhariṃ rudrarūpiṇam // NarP_1,71.55 //

    Meaning: His arms are shining resembling ten iron maces (with) string of beads, the Kaumodaki mace, the lotus, the conch which resembles a cow’s milk (in whiteness), bow, club, bearing the excellent sudarshana chakra, the Nandaki sword, trident and the arrow. Narasimha has this form that bestows good (rudrarūpiṇam).

    Rudrarūpiṇam - Rudam dadaati iti Rudrah – the form that bestows good.

    indragopābhanīlābhaṃ candrābhaṃ svarṇasannibham / pūrvādi cottaraṃ yāvadūddhvārsyaṃ sarvavarṇakam // NarP_1,71.56 //

    Meaning: He is of blue color, resembling the insect (in terms of color). His luster is like the moon and he resembles gold (in terms of being desirable like gold). He has every color, beginning from the first part and the end, as well as the folds (of his body).

    evaṃ dhyātvā japenmantrī sarvavyādhivimuktaye / sarvamṛtyuharaṃ divya smaraṇātsarvasiddhidam // NarP_1,71.57 //

    Meaning: Meditating in this manner on the divine form that destroys all forms of death and bestows siddhis by rememberance, the one who recites mantras shall perform japa for liberation from all diseases.

    saṃspṛśan dakṣiṇaṃ bāhuṃ śarabhasya manuṃ japet / praṇavo hṛcchivāryanti mahate śarabhāya ca // NarP_1,71.112 //

    vahnipriyānto mantrastu rakṣārthe samudāhṛtaḥ / athavā rāmamantrānte paraṃ kṣadvitayaṃ paṭhet //

    Meaning: Touching the right arm, one shall perform japa of the Sharabha mantra – (do japa thus) – the praNava (om), the self designated as “hrt” (nama), Sivāya, Mahate, Sarabhā. The mantra ends with “svaha”. It is declared to be for protection. Alternatively, after the end of the rAma mantra, repeat “kshaum” twice.

    The mantra is “Om namaḥ śivāya mahate śarabhāya svāha”. The name “Sharabha” occurs in the sahasranAma and means the destroyer of those like hiranyakasipu who violate dharma.

    The final few shlokas are as follows:

    tato dhyāyeddhṛdi vibhuṃ nṛsiṃhaṃ candraśekharam // NarP_1,71.133 //

    Meaning: Then, one shall meditate in the heart, on the all-pervading Narasimha, who shines brilliantly at the peak of the Veda, ie, the Upanishads (Candraśekharam).

    śrīmannṛkesaritano jagadekabaṃndho śrīnīlakaṇṭha karuṇārṇave sāmarāja / vahnīndutīvrakaranetra pinākapāṇe śītāṃśuśekhara rameśvara pāhi viṣṇo // NarP_1,71.134 //

    Meaning: One who has the beautiful body of half-man, half-lion (śrīmannṛkesaritano)! One who is the sole (true) relative of the Universe (jagadekabaṃndho)! One who has a beautiful wide open black throat (śrīnīlakaṇṭha)! One who is the ocean of compassion (karuṇārṇave)! One who is the King of the Samans as they sing his praises (sāmarāja)! One whose eyes are like fire and moon showing anger and grace, whose hands have sharp nails (vahnīndutīvrakaranetra)! One who wields the abode (the conch Panchajanya) that abounds in bliss as it is always bathed in the nectar of his lips (pinākapāṇe)! He who has cool rays emanating from the gem studded crown (śītāṃśuśekhara)! The Master of Rama (Lakshmi)! O Vishnu, Protect me!

    With this proof, along with others we have provided, does anyone dare to contest the parama-vaidika darshana of Sri Vaishnavas?

    Happy Shivaratri to all.

    ReplyDelete

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