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Ishvara Gita - Srivaishnava Commentary - Chapter 4: Ishvara Yoga - The Yoga of the Supreme Ruler

NOTE: Prior to reading this article, we request you to read the preludes to comprehend the concepts discussed here clearly --- [1][2][3][4][5]
Previous Chapters of the Ishvara Gita can be accessed here: [Ch. 1], [Ch. 2], [Ch. 3]
The fourth and fifth chapters describe the nature and attributes of Ishvara, the Supreme Ruler. In this chapter, Shiva explains the first question of the rishis - “kiṃ kāraṇamidaṃ kṛtsnaṃ- What is the Cause of all this (Creation)?”
By “who”, it is meant, “how do we meditate on the Cause or what is it’s nature”? For the identity of the Cause as Nārāyaṇa is well-known.
Why is there a discussion of the Supreme Brahman when the topic of Ishvara Gita is attainment of the individual self? Because, the kaivalyārti, or one who aspires to attain a vision of the self, needs to meditate on Brahman. The true nature of the individual self is similar to the nature of Brahman, and thus meditating on Brahman as the means, one attains the similar nature of the self.
Throughout this chapter, Shiva describes Ishvara, the Supreme Brahman, as his innerself. This is because he keeps the object of the discourse in mind, namely, to teach the attainment of the individual self. If one knows Brahman as one’s innerself, that provides the knowledge of the individual self as well. Furthermore, understanding Brahman as the indweller of all (sarvāntaryāmin) leads to realization of the individual self which is also similarly the indweller of all bodies like man, deva etc (sarvāntaryāmin).
Thus, keeping all this in mind, Shiva begins the discourse on the Supreme Brahman.
Īśvara uvāca
vakṣye samāhitā yūyaṃśṛṇudhvaṃ brahmavādinaḥ māhātmyaṃ devadevasya yenedaṃ saṃpravartate (1)
Meaning:  O expounders of the Veda! Listen to me attentively. I will tell you about the greatness of Narayana, the God of Gods, from whom everything proceeds.
devadeva” – The devas are beings who surpass birds, reptiles, men, etc in possessing many auspicious attributes. Nārāyaṇa is the god, who not only possesses all the auspicious attributes of the devas, but also surpasses them by possessing countless attributes they do not possess. He is thus “devadeva”.
māhātmyaṃ” – “greatness” refers to his vibhūtīs namely, his auspicious attributes, the creation, the individual selves and the gods which are all properties under his control. “I shall speak of his vibhūtīs, which clearly show that he is the Supreme Controller of all”.
saṃpravartate” – Not only has he created everything, but the functions of the vibhūtīs depend on him. Everything proceeds from him.
nāhaṃ tapobhirvividhairna dānena na cejyayā śakyo hi puruṣairjñātumṛte bhaktimanuttamām (2)
Meaning: I cannot be realized by different types of penances, by charity or by sacrifices. Without unsurpassing bhakti as it brings about the direct perception of Brahman, it is not possible to know me.
“bhaktimanuttamām” – Ishvara can only be known via bhakti. It is not ordinary bhakti but “anuttamām” in the sense that it involves exclusive devotion to the Lord with no thought or regard for its’ fruits.  Gita 11.54 reteirates this as “ananyayā bhaktyā tu”
The sages now have a query. “O Mahadeva! We are aware that you are a jīva and Nārāyaṇa alone is paramātma. So how is it possible that you are claiming yourself to be attained by bhakti which should be directed towards the Supreme?”
To that query, Shiva responds below.
ahaṃ hi sarvabhāvānāmantastiṣṭhāmi sarvagaḥ māṃ sarvasākṣiṇaṃ loko na jānāti munīśvarāḥ (3)
Meaning: O best among munis! I (my indweller), indeed abide inside all effects (like me), I am (my indweller is) everywhere (on that account). I am (my indweller is) the witness of all (as  sarvāntaryāmin), but the world does not know me (ie, my indweller) as they cannot perceive me (ie, my indweller) through the senses.
In the concluding verses of last chapter, Rudra had explained the śarīrātma bhāva through the words “so 'haṃ sarvatragaḥ śānto jñānātmā parameśvaraḥ”.  He uses this logic to explain to the rishis as follows:
“O Best among Munis! The term “aham” denotes my indweller, Nārāyaṇa only by sāmānādhikaraṇya which was explained earlier by me. I am his body and he is my indweller. Not only that, this same relationship exists between him and other entities (sarva-bhāvanam). Thus, it can be said that I am everywhere, ie, the paramātma in me denoted by “I”, is the same paramAtma in all entities. So, all terms denote him in the ultimate connotation only and he is to be meditated as the innerself of entities like me. This is what I meant.”
The term “hi” in the above shloka is significant. It implies that Rudra is clarifying their doubt and dispelling the idea that he himself is paramātma. “hi” meaning, “certainly”, “indeed” implies the following – “I, that is to say my indweller, is indeed in all effects --- hence, he is referred to by the term “I”.
Furthermore, the reference to the fact that none perceive the indwelling Lord also shows that the subject of discussion is Rudra’s antaryāmin to clarify the statement he made earlier.
In the next shloka, he goes on to offer a further clarification below to remove all doubts.
yasyāntarā sarvamidaṃ yo hi sarvāntaraḥ paraḥ so 'handhātā vidhātā ca kālo 'gnirviśvatomukha (4)
Meaning: In whom (Nārāyaṇa) all this abides, who indeed is inside all, who is other than prakrti and the individual selves (paraḥ), I am that (Nārāyaṇa) who is the creator of everything including chaturmukha brahma (dhātā), the protector of the Brahmānda even before Brahma was born (vidhātā), who draws himself to everyone by his auspicious attributes (kāla), who leads the jīvās out of samsāra (agni), who alone is attained by all (viśvatomukha).
“yah” denotes that Being who is very well known in shāstra, hence referring to the Supreme Brahman, Nārāyaṇa.
Note the reference to “sarvāntaraḥ yo hi…” Again, Rudra is not claiming himself to be the Supreme. In the vein of the Atharvasiras, he is saying, “That Nārāyaṇa who is in everyone, I am him, ie, he is my indweller as well”. This is nothing but the body-self relationship.
This shloka is also very similar to Indra’s statement in the Shruti and Prahlada’s statement in the Viśṇu Purāṇa:
(Indra said:) 'I am prāna, the intelligent Self (prajnatma). Meditate upon me of such nature as life and immortality (~Kaushitaki Upanishad 3.1-2)
yatra sarvaṃ yataḥ sarvaṃ yaḥ sarvaṃ sarvataś ca yaḥ // sarvagatvād anantasya sa evāham avasthitaḥ /mattaḥ sarvam ahaṃ sarvaṃ mayi sarvaṃ sanātane // (Viśṇu Purāṇa ~ 19.84-865)
“(Prahlada Said:) To that being to whom all returns, from whom all proceeds; who is all, and in whom all are: to him whom I also am; for he is every where; and through whom all things are from me. I am all things: all things are in me, who am eternal”.
Note that Prahlada says “sarvagatvād anantasya sa evāham” as he is everywhere, I am him. The precondition of Paramātma being everywhere as the innerself of all is added before Prahlada claims that he is that Paramātma. Arjuna too tells Krishna in the Gita –  “sarvam samapnosi tato 'si sarvah” – “You pervade everything and therefore you are everything” (~Gita 11.40).
In a similar manner, Rudra says “yo hi sarvāntaraḥ…so’ham” – He who is indeed in all, that Being I am. This precondition implies śarirātma-bhāva. It is no different to what Indra and Prahlada have said.
Besides all this, the Ishvara Gita itself acknowledges this tattva in the 5th chapter where it is said “rudranārāyaṇātmakam”(Ishvara Gita 5.18) which leaves no room for doubt. With this knowledge, let us move on.
viśvatomukha” – The term “mukham” means mouth or in a sense, a general opening or passage. “viśva” means all. Thus, it means, “One who is approached by all people through all paths”. He alone is the true object of attainment through the innumerable means, and for innumerable people.
Thus, Rudra has clarified to the munis that only Nārāyaṇa as the indweller of rudra is the object of bhakti yoga. With this understanding, we proceed to understand the rest of the chapter as being addressed to rudra-śarīraka-paramātma wherever Rudra uses “aham”, “mām” etc in the vein of ahamgrahopāsaṇa (Meditation on Brahman as “I”, the innerself).
na māṃ paśyanti munayaḥ sarve 'pi tridivaukasaḥ brahmā ca manavaḥ śakro ye cānye prathitaujasaḥ (5)
Meaning: I am not perceived even by the sages or the dwellers of the higher worlds. Nor am I known by those with celebrated prowess such as Brahma, the Manus, Indra and other Gods (as I am their source).
From this shloka onwards, the greatness of paramātma that was mentioned as “māhātmya” in the first shloka is expounded.
This is similar to “na me viduḥ sura gaṇāḥ..” (gIta 10.2). The implication according to shrI rāmānuja is that however great the knowledge of the gods and wise rishis may be, they cannot comprehend the Lord’s powers. They do not know his name, actions, nature and attributes because he is the source in every way of these gods and great seers, and the source of their nature and knowledge, power etc. The knowledge that was given to them by him according to their puṇya became the cause of their being gods, the great rishis etc. That knowledge is limited and so they do not know the real nature of the Lord.
Brahma and Indra are mentioned, but why is Rudra not mentioned here as not knowing paramātma? ShrI periyavAchan pillai has clarified this in another context – When a person who is the first (Brahma) and a person who is third in line (Indra), is mentioned, then the person who is second in the order (Rudra) is implicit in the mention by default. So, Rudra is also included in the beings who do not know paramātma.
If the Supreme Being cannot be perceived, how is he to be known? Answer is below.
gṛṇanti satataṃ vedā māmekaṃ parameśvaram yajanti vividhairagniṃ brāhmaṇā vaidikairmakhaiḥ (6)
Meaning: The Vedas perpetually extol me as the Supreme Ruler (Parameśvara). The Brāhmaṇās worship me with various kinds of fire-offerings and vedic sacrifices (like Ashwamedha, Jyotishtoma, etc).  
This is an echo of the Vishnu Purāṇa verse:
paramātmā ca sarveśām ādhāra: parameśvara:    । viśṇurnāma sarva-vedeśu vedānteśu ca gīyate ॥ (~ Vishnu Purāṇa 6.4.10)
“The Supreme Ruler (parameśvara), the Supreme Self (paramātmā) who is the supporter of every being, is sung by all vedas and vedantas by the name of Vishnu.”
He is to be known by the Vedas and propitiated by the methods recommended by the śāstrās. “agni” refers to offerings which are carried by fire to the Lord.
Is he only worshipped by the brāhmaṇās? Are others ineligible to worship him? No. That is clarified below.
sarve lokā namasyanti brahmā lokapitāmahaḥ dhyāyanti yogino devaṃ bhūtādhipatimīśvaram (7)
Meaning: All the worlds, Brahma the grandsire of the Universe, bow before me. The Yogis meditate on me, the effulgent Lord of Sri (devam) who is the Lord of all beings and the Ruler.
As he is the Lord of all Beings, he is worshipped by all the worlds from Brahma down to the humans, and not just by the gods only.
“dhyāyanti yogino devaṃ bhūtādhipatimīśvaram” is a direct upabrahmana of the Nārāyaṇa Sūkta –sahasrasīrśaṃ devaṃ, patiṃ viśvasyaetc.”
Gita 10.15also  refers to the Lord as “bhūtabhāvana bhūtesa”. Here, “bhūtādhipati” corresponds to “bhūtabhāvana” and “īśvaram” corresponds to “bhūtesa”. Thus, it is Krishna alone who is the Ishvara described here.
Rudra next goes on to clarify that as Bhagavān is the Lord of all Beings, he is also the enjoyer of all sacrifices and the dispenser of fruits.
ahaṃ hi sarvahaviṣāṃ bhoktā caiva phalapradaḥ sarvadevatanurbhūtvā sarvātmā sarvasaṃsthitaḥ (8)
Meaning: I am indeed the enjoyer of all the havis offered in sacrifices and the dispenser of the fruits. I become the innerself of all the devas who are my bodies (for enjoying the sacrifices), I am the innerself of all and situated in everything.
sarvadevatanurbhūtvā” – “tanu” means subtle or minute and refers to the Lord as the subtle innerself of the devas. This implies that the devas are his body and thus refers to the body-self relationship.
There are two gIta shlokas that are parallel to this: aham hi sarva-yajnāna m bhokta ca prabhur eva ca ~ gIta 9.24 and yo yo yāṃ yāṃ tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitumicchati~ gIta 7.21
The śarirātma-bhāva is well established in both gIta 7.21 and the current Ishvara gIta shloka by the usage of the word “tanu” which means body.
Again, how can Rudra say he is the innerself of the devas when it is Bhagavān who is the innerself? The idea is that, Bhagavān is present in everything as the Atma, and is also present in these devatas including Rudra who are his bodies. Thus, Rudra says “I (my innerself) is the innerself of the devas, I (my innerself) is the self of all (including me) -- hence I can say so on account of the sarvāntaryāmitvam of the Lord”.
This again goes to show that Rudra is not referring to himself as Supreme in this chapter.
Any worship performed to the body, is only accepted by the self inside the body, which is the Lord. Hence he enjoys all the offerings made to other gods who are his bodies.
So anyone who thinks Rudra or these other devatas are independent or referring to themselves is supreme is worshipping them in the wrong manner (avidhi-pūrvakaṃ). Just as the adornment of a body is only enjoyed by the self in that body, the worship of other gods is only enjoyed by Shri Krishna, the self of those gods  who are his bodies.
This establishes the body-self relationship that is the foundation of this Ishvara Gita chapter very succinctly.
Now a question arises - Why does Bhagavān make us his bodies and exist in us physically as our self? He could control us like a body without having to literally dwell in it. The next shloka explains this.
māṃ paśyantīha vidvāṃśo dhārmikā vedavādinaḥ teṣāṃ sannihito nityaṃ ye bhaktyā māmupāsate (9)
Meaning: The bhakti-yogis who meditate on the Lord (vidvāṃśo), the karma-yogis who perform duties prescribed in the shāstra without desire for fruits (dhārmikā) and those Jnāna-Yogis expounding the knowledge of the self (vedavādinaḥ), see me here (as their innerself). I am always present in close proximity to they who worship me with devotion.
This shloka explains the reason Bhagavān physically dwells in us. While it is true that he could control us like a body without dwelling in us, he nonetheless chooses to literally abide in us, to be close to us.
His close proximity facilitates upāsaṇa and makes it easy to meditate on him. Thus karma-yogis, jnāna-yogis and bhakti-yogis feel his presence everywhere and rejoice in it. It is an example of his great affection for us (vātsalya guṇa).
This shloka refutes the idea that śarirātma-bhāva is metaphorical. While it being metaphorical would not deny any of the implications arising from it, such as sāmānādhikaraṇya, sarvaśabda-vācyatva and seśa-seśi bhāva, it is still a literal, physical thing because of this reason, and because the shAstras declare it to be so.
How does Bhagavān favor his devotees? This is described in the next shloka.
brāhmaṇāḥ kṣatriyā vaiśyā dhārmikā māmupāsate teṣāṃ dadāmi tat sthānamānandaṃ paramaṃ padam (10)
Meaning: The virtuous brāhmaṇās, kṣatriyās and vaiśyās worship me selflessly (through the duties described in the Vedas). I bestow them that Supreme Abode (Sri Vaikuntha), which is the highest state of bliss.
These three castes are eligible for performing the duties prescribed by the Vedas though the vaishya is barred from a rite called “sātra yaga”. Thus they are mentioned together. “
However, the gIta however clubs vaishyas with sudras and women separately on account of the disqualification of the Vaishya from sātra yaga. There is no contradiction, merely a difference in classification.
dhārmikā” means they perform their nitya-naimittika karmas as an act of selfless worship without seeking fruits.
What about other devotees who are ineligible for vaidika karmas? As below.
anye 'pi ye vikarmasthāḥ śūdrādyā nīcajātayaḥ bhaktimantaḥ pramucyante kālena mayi saṃgatāḥ (11)
Meaning: Even for those others who are engaged in prohibited actions, śudrās, those of low birth such as women, etc who are endowed with devotion are liberated and become united with me in due course of time.
Women are mentioned to be of low birth because they do not have vedādhikāra. It does not mean they are inferior in qualities to men as the śāstrās extol the virtues of women greatly.
Rudra said even those devotees of Bhagavān who engage in prohibited actions get liberated. How is this possible? The next shloka answers this.
na madbhaktā vinaśyanti madbhaktā vītakalmaṣāḥ ādāvetat pratijñātaṃ na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati (12)
Meaning: My devotees are never destroyed. My devotees are without sins. It has been vowed by me at the very outset that my devotee will not be lost.
This is an echo of the gIta 9.31. The implication is that one who has performed some misdeeds, but however has begun to worship Shri Krishna will not perish. On account of his devotion to the Lord, he annihilates the entire host of sins. After obtaining an eternal state of freedom from obstacles, he quickly obtains perfect bhakti.
The Lord himself corrects the sins of his devotees. He ignores their sins and even relishes them as an opportunity to bestow his grace to correct them. Thus, his devotees will never be lost in samsāra.
Should we criticize these devotees who may commit a few offenses? The next shloka dismisses this notion.
 yo vai nindati taṃ mūḍho devadevaṃ sa nindati yo hi taṃ pūjayed bhaktyā sa pūjayati māṃ sadā (13)
Meaning: He who abuses the devotees, in reality abuses Nārāyaṇa, the God of Gods (devadevam). He who worships these devotees with devotion, worships me (ie, my indweller) always.
Let us not forget, this entire section is addressing rudra-śarīraka-paramātma, Sriman Nārāyaṇa and not Rudra. The latter is speaking from the position of a Yogi who has realized his śarīrātma bhāva and seśa-seśi sambandha with the Lord.
So far, it has been described that the Lord is to be worshipped and his devotees are flawless. Is such worship of the Lord difficult? As below.
patraṃ puṣpaṃ phalaṃ toyaṃ madārādhanakāraṇāt yo me dadāti niyataḥ sa me bhaktaḥ priyo mataḥ (14)
Meaning: If any devotee of mine offers to me strictly (with the intention of serving me) a leaf, or a flower, or a fruit or water, which can be easily obtained, for the purpose of worshipping me, he is dear to me.
This is verbatim gIta 9.26. “niyataḥ” signifies offering it with a heart made pure by the fact that it is only offered for the sake of worship with no other purpose than serving him and such a devotee cannot sustain himself without making such an offering.
Is making such offerings regularly a tiresome chore? The Lord is so kind to anticipate our laziness that he specifies in particular those items (leaf, flower, fruit or water) which is easily available and can be offered to him regularly. No exertion is required to fetch these simple items!
All he requests is that the offering should be made selflessly.
Why should he alone be worshipped? Why can’t we also worship Brahma, Rudra, Indra and others? Answer is below.
ahaṃ hi jagatāmādau brahmāṇaṃ parameṣṭhinam vidhāya dattavān vedānaśeṣānātmaniḥ sṛtān ahameva hi sarveṣāṃ yogināṃ gururavyayaḥ dhārmikāṇāṃ ca goptāhaṃ nihantā vedavidviṣām (15-16)
Meaning: I, indeed, at the beginning of the Universe (ie, creation), established (created) Brahma (parameṣṭhinam) and gave him all the Vedas which spread out of my mind. I alone am the inexhaustible preceptor of all the Yogīs, I am also the protector of the virtuous and the slayer of those who hate the knowers of the Veda.
As the Svetāsvatāra Upanishad says, “yo brahmānam vidhadhāti pūrvam, yo vai vedāmsca prahiṇoti tasmai…saranam ahaṃ prapadye”. Bhagavān created Brahma and bestowed on him the knowledge of the Veda, and hence we must surrender to him alone and not to created beings.
Brahma is called “parameṣṭhi” because it means  “parame sthāne tiśtati” – He who is situated in Satya Loka, the highest abode in the Universe.
He is “gururavyayaH” because as a preceptor, his knowledge is undiminishing unlike the others such as Brahma and Rudra who are sometimes in sattva and sometimes in tamas. He is the foremost of preceptors since he is the one who gave the Vedas to Brahma, who then is the source of the veda-s to the rest of the world
The sahasranAma contains the name “gurur-guru-tamah” - The foremost among the preceptors. We also have the pramāṇā - guruh ka iti ।  guruh sākśād-ādinārāyaṇah" - The ultimate guru is nārāyaṇa, who is the Means (ādi)  (~tripādvibhūti mahānārāyaṇopaniśat – 8.15, Quoted by śrī parāśara bhattar).
If Bhagavān created the Universe which keeps us in bondage, then is he also the liberator from this Universe? That is clarified below.
ahaṃ vai sarvasaṃsārānmocako yogināmiha saṃsāraheturevāhaṃ arvasaṃsāravarjitaḥ (17)
Meaning: I am the one who liberates the Yogīs from all the shackles of bondage. I alone am also the cause of this samsāra although I am free of worldly ties, remaining indifferent.
This shloka is similar to Gita 9.8 and 9.9. Bhagavān in these shlokas clarifies that though he is one who causes bondage and liberation, he is not responsible for the inequalities seen among living beings.  As such inequalities are caused by karma, he remains indifferent.
This is also an echo of the following verse:
bandhako bhava paṣena bhava-paṣac ca mocakah
kaivalyadah param brahma viṣnur eva sanatanah (~skanda purANa)
“He binds the souls with the ropes of birth and death. He unties the ropes of birth and death that bind the souls. The supreme Brahman, eternal Lord Vishnu alone (vishnur eva) is the bestower of Mukti (kaivalya).”
The same is reteirated in the Satarudriyam as “namO bhavāya ca rudrāya ca” – It is a celebration of his agatitagaṭana sāmarthyaṃ – being able to reconcile contradictory attributes of being both the one who binds us and the one who liberates us from samsAra.
Now, it is known that he both binds and liberates. How does he bind the selves, and how does he liberate them? Rudra answers below.
ahameva hi saṃhartā straṣṭāhaṃ paripālakaḥ māyāvī māmīkā śaktirmāyā lokavimohinī (18)
Meaning: I am the destroyer, creator and the protector. I am the possessor of prakrti known as “Māyā”. This Māyā is my power (sakti) which deludes the world.
Sakti” means capability. It is what bhagavAn uses to act, and so is called as such
The purvācāryās say that Bhagavān is called Paśupati. The jīvās are Paśus. Māyā which is prakrti is the pāśa. Bhagavān binds the Paśus with the ropes of this pāśa which is Māyā or prakrti.
Māyā does not mean unreality as the advaitins think. It refers to the fact that prakrti is capable of deluding in wondrous ways, which is explained by the shloka itself via the word “lokavimohinī”.
So he binds the selves with prakrti. How does he liberate them? Vide the next shOka.
mamaiva ca parā śaktiryā sā vidyeti gīyate nāśayāmi tayā māyāṃ yogināṃ hṛdi saṃsthitaḥ (19)
Meaning: What is called as “Vidya” or knowledge that confers release is my other power. I destroy the bonds of prakrti (Māyā) which bewilder, stationed in the hearts of Yogīs.
He liberates those who meditate on him with his power called “vidya”. The sahasranāma contains the  name “vaidyah”. Bhattar’s commentary is that he knows the vidya of releasing his devotees from the cycle of rebirth, and so he is Vaidya. As usual, Bhattar’s interpretation alone fits the context.
Now, Rudra summarizes these qualities of Bhagavān in the next verse..
ahaṃ hi sarvaśaktīnāṃ pravartakanivartakaḥ ādhārabhūtaḥ sarvāsāṃ nidhānamamṛtasya ca (20)
Meaning: I indeed, am the one who effects as well as restrains all the jīvās who are “śaktis” as they are capable of action. I am the support of all the jīvās as their innerself and the repository of auspicious attributes.
Saktī” – That which is capable of action. “sarvaśaktīnāṃ” refers to all sentients who act.  
nidhānamamṛtasya ca” – Despite being the support of jīvās who have karma and despite being the possessor of impure prakrti as their innerself, the Lord is always the repository of auspicious attributes which are like nectar. He is “akhilaheya pratyanīka samastha kalyāṇa guṇātmaka”.
But don’t we have the trimūrti – brahma, viśṇu and śiva – who are independently creating, preserving and destroying the Universe? How can it be said that Bhagavān alone is the Cause and support of the jīvās? Rudra now beings to elaborate the nature of the trimūrti to clarify that Brahman alone is the Cause.
ekā sarvāntarā śaktiḥ karoti vividhaṃ jagat āsthāya brahmāṇo rūpaṃ manmayī madadhiṣṭhitā (21)
Meaning: One power or capability (Aniruddha), in whom is all (the Universe), creates the manifold Universe employing Brahma who is his body (brahmāṇo rūpaṃ), absorbed in me, under my direction.
Sakti” here refers to the Vyūha avatārās of Bhagavān. Since Bhagavān functions through the form of these Vyūhās to perform activities related to functioning of the Universe, they are called his “Sakti”.
brahmāṇo rūpaṃ” – Aniruddha uses Brahma, who is his body, to create. śarīrātma bhāva is brought out by use of “rūpaṃ” (form or body) and this shows that Brahma is a jīva, not identical to Bhagavān.
sarvāntarā” – The entire brahmānda is in Brahma or subject to him.
manmayī madadhiṣṭhitā” –Brahma is absorbed in meditation on the Lord (manmayī) and acts as per his supervision.  
Note that “manmayī madadhiṣṭhitā” does not mean “My Sakti, Aniruddha is absorbed in me, abides by me”. Because Aniruddha is verily the Lord himself. By sāmānādhikaraṇya, it means, “Brahma, who has Aniruddha as his innerself, is absorbed in me, abides by me”. And of course, by “me”, Rudra is referring to his own indweller, Nārāyaṇa.
anyā ca śaktirvipulā saṃsthāpayati me jagat bhūtvā nārāyaṇo 'nanto jagannātho jaganmayaḥ (22)
Meaning: And another great power or capability of mine (Pradyumna) becoming Nārāyaṇa, the infinite, Lord of the Universe, who has the Universe as his body, sustains the Universe.
Note that there is nothing like “vaiśnava rūpaṃhere unlike the case of Brahma, rather it is said that one Sakti (Pradyumna) becomes (bhūtvā) Nārāyaṇa. This is because Nārāyaṇa or Vishnu, the preserver, is verily Pradyumna and not a jīva.  
In contrast, brahma is a jīva, a body of Aniruddha and not identical to Aniruddha.
jaganmayaḥ” – He who has the Universe as his body.
Note also the various adjectives of Supremacy used to describe the Lord, unlike brahma and rudra (whom we will see below).
tṛtīyā mahatī śaktirnihanti sakalaṃ jagat tāmasī me samākhyātā kālākhyā rudrarūpiṇī (23)
Meaning: My third great power or capability (Sankarshana), having Rudra as his body (rudrarūpiṇī),  called the reckoner of lives (kālā), tāmasī (possessor of tamo guṇa), destroys the Universe.
Note that unlike Narayana, Rudra is also mentioned to be a body of the Lord by the usage of “rudrarūpiṇī”. This shows that Rudra is also a jīva, a body of Sankarshana and not identical to Sankarshana.
These 3 shlokas should also show very clearly that Rudra is not talking about himself as the Supreme, but referring to his antaryāmin in the Ishvara gIta.
Bhagavan assumes tamas while having Rudra as his body. It is Rudra who possesses tamas, but Bhagavān is called so on account of sāmānādhikaraṇya due to śarīrātma bhāva.
So now, Rudra has clarified that Nārāyaṇa is the Cause as opposed to Brahma and Rudra (himself). This śāstras say that this Cause is to be meditated on. So, how can we meditate on him? The next shloka answers this.
dhyānena māṃ prapaśyanti kecijjñānena cāpare apare bhaktiyogena karmayogena cāpare (24)   
Meaning: Some perceive me through Prapatti which is a mental act of contemplation of one’s true nature (dhyāna), some through jnāna-yoga or meditation on the self which is my inseparable attribute, thus leading to my realization (jnāna). Others perceive me through bhakti-yoga, and still others through karma-yoga which is selfless worship of me that enables them to attain knowledge of the self as a “sesha” or “servant” of mine.
Prapatti is merely a mental contemplation of the fact that the Lord is the seshi and the self is the sesha. Thus, it is referred to as “dhyāna”.
Though jnāna-yoga is an accessory to bhakti-yoga and has the individual self as its’ goal, it does involve meditation on Paramātma to attain the self which is similar to him.
Bhakti-Yoga involves meditation on him to attain him, while karma-yoga, despite being an accessory to bhakti-yoga, involves performing desireless action with a motive to only please him via selfless worship that leads to knowledge of him as the master.
Having described how Bhagavān is to be meditated, Rudra proceeds to describe the types of devotees who meditate on the Lord.
sarveṣāmeva bhaktānāmiṣṭaḥ priyataro mama yo hi jñānena māṃ nityamārādhayati nānyathā (25)
Meaning: Among the devotees, he who is ever worshipping me by loving contemplation which is of the nature of knowledge and not otherwise, is dearest to me.
Gita 7.18 refers to 4 types of devotees. Of those, the jnāni who worships the Lord with no motive is the superiormost.
“jñānahere refers to worship of the Lord with the knowledge that one is a “sesha” by his essential nature and his true happiness is to serve bhagavān who is the “seshi”. He also considers the Lord alone as the ultimate goal and not other things like material objects, the vision of the self etc.
anye ca ye trayo bhaktā madārādhanakāṅkṣiṇaḥ te 'pi māṃ prāpnuvantyeva nāvartante ca vai punaḥ (26)
Meaning: There are three other types of devotees who yearn to worship me (for other goals). They also attain me only and do not get rebirth again.
The three other types of devotees are the arta who seeks new wealth, the artārtin who is  seeking to regain lost wealth and the jignyāsu or kaivalyārti who seeks the experience of the self. They resort to Bhagavān for these ends. Since they resort to the Lord only and not to other gods, the Lord eventually fosters a desire to know him in them, and they abandon their petty desires to finally attain mukti.
Bhagavān refers to all these as “udāraḥ” in gIta 7.18 as they are magnanimous in resorting to him alone.
Here, “eva” in “they attain me only” implies that these people, being corrected by the grace of the Lord, lose interest in other petty desires and eventually attain the Lord.
Thus Rudra has described the types of people who worship Bhagavān. Now, he proceeds to elaborate the knowledge with which they should meditate on Bhagavān in the next few shlokas.
mayā tatamidaṃ kṛtsanaṃ pradhānapuruṣātmakam mayyeva saṃsthitaṃ viśvaṃ mayā saṃpreryate jagat (27)
Meaning: This entire universe composed of Pradhana (matter) and Purusha (the class of bound selves), is pervaded by me. The entire Universe of sentients and insentients is situated in me alone (ie, it is dependent on me). By me, is the Universe impelled or operated.
mayā saṃpreryate jagat” – The Lord operates prakrti, developing it eightfold and sends forth this fourfold aggregate of beings - gods, animals, men and inanimate things - time after time. This is what shrI rAmAnuja says under gIta 9.8
And again Rudra seeks to clarify that by such activity of making the Universe variegated or diverse, the Lord is not tainted by their inequalities below.
nāhaṃ prerayitā viprāḥ paramaṃ yogamāśritaḥ prerayāmi jagatkṛtsnametadyo veda so 'mṛtaḥ (28)
Meaning: O Brāhmaṇās! I am not the director (of differences and inequalities). Situated in my Supreme Will, I impel or operate the entire Universe. He who knows this, becomes immortal.
As in Gita 9.9, it is clarified that though the Lord develops the Universe into different gross forms, he is not responsible for the differences. It is caused by the karmas of the jīvās.
paramaṃ yogamāśritaḥ” – the term “yoga” means “dhyāna” which also means “thought” or “will”. By his Supreme Will, nārāyaṇadevelops the subtle Universe into gross forms while remaining indifferent to the differences caused by karma. That this refers to his will is made clear in Gita 9.10 where it is said –
mayā'dhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaramhetunā'nena kaunteya jagadviparivartate (~Gita 9.10)
Meaning: In accordance with the karmas of he individual selves, I decide the manner in which prakrti should manifest and bestow my glance at prakrti. My resolve always being true, Prakrti, looked at by me, manifests itself as the body of a deva, a manushya, etc. Dissolution is also due to my glance, in accordance with the karmas of the individual selves. The non-sentient prakrti manifests itself in variegated ways, only because of my will which is always true.
Another slap on the faces of those who try to interpret “yoga” in the anugita (yoga-yukta) as anything other than “Will”.
This is emphasized further in the next shloka.
paśyāmyaśeṣamevedaṃ vartamānaṃ svabhāvataḥ karoti kālo bhagavān mahāyogeśvaraḥ svayam (29)
Meaning: I look all this (variegated Universe), ie, through my will, abiding in its’ innate condition (of karmas). Time, in which prakrti is present, (bhagavān kālā), that is the great powerful ruler (mahāyogeśvaraḥ) itself produces (these differences).
This is the same as Gita 9.10. “paśyām” refers to his will, as his mere glance implies his will to evolve prakrti into gross forms of mobile and immobile beings dictated by karmas, which comprise its’ “svabhāva” or intrinsic state that causes differences. While karmas cause differences, Time is used as a tool by the lord to make these differences manifest.
As seen earlier in Chapter 3, Time is the Great Powerful Ruler of all (mahāyogeśvaraḥ).“yoga” means great, astonishing power here. That is because prakrti is present in, ie, dependent on, Time for its’ functioning, which is why Time is denoted as “Bhagavān”. The definition of “bhagavān” as “bhago prakrti vidyate yasmin iti bhagavān” - “That in which prakrti is present (controlled by it)” is provided in the Siva Purāṇa.
An alternative to the above explanation is also to take “kālo bhagavān” as Vāsudeva (bhagavān) who is the innerself of Time (kāla), the latter being his body. Thus it is Vishnu who acts as the innerself of Time. The Vishnu Purāṇa says that “bhagavān” specifically refers to only Vāsudeva when used in the context of supremacy.
Moving on. If Bhagavān is not of the nature of deliberately or maliciously causing differences and inequalities, how are we to understand him to be? As below.
yogaḥ saṃprocyate yogī māyā śāstreṣu sūribhiḥ yogeśvaro 'sau bhagavān mahādevo mahān prabhuḥ (30)
Meaning: One who is described in the Vedas (śāstreṣu) and the wise (sūribhiḥ) as the means to liberation (yogaḥ), the One who unites contradictory attributes (yogī), who is possessed of the wonderful power of enchantment (māyā), that is the Lord of infinitely auspicious attributes (yogeśvara), who is Vāsudeva with the six primary attributes (bhagavān), the Great Lord of the Gods such as brahma, rudra, indra etc (mahādeva) and the great giver of moksha (mahān prabhuḥ)
“mahān prabhuḥ” – “prabhu” means” phalapradaḥ” – the “phala” here is of the form of moksha since the word “mahān” is used along with it – “mahāphalarūpa mokśapradaḥ sa eva”. This is the meaning given by shrI ranga rāmānuja muni.
yogī - “yujyate anena iti yoga” – One who unites a number of contradictory attributes that normally do not go together is “yogī”. In present context, he is both the impeller of the variegated Universe, yet not responsible for its’ differences. He is the one who binds the jīva in samsārā, and also liberates it. Thus, he possesses many such contradictory attributes.
māyā” – Corresponds to the name “mahā-māya” in the Sahasranāma. Bhattar declares that he is called so because he conceals himself from those who are not devoted to him through his power of enchantment. Those fools who do not know this truth of the Lord being the cause of the Universe, look upon him as human. So, he conceals himself, and it is very natural for him to do so as he is usually not visible to the senses (avajānanti māṃ mūḍhā…~ Gita 9.11).
“Bhagavān” - The term exclusively denotes Vāsudeva according to the Vishnu Purāṇa as mentioned earlier.
Why is the Lord full of such great attributes and untainted despite associating with prakrti and bound selves? The snswer is below.
mahattvaṃ sarvatattvānāṃ paratvāt parameṣṭhinaḥ procyate bhagavān brahmā mahān brahmamayo 'malaḥ (31)
Meaning: The greatness of Nārāyaṇa who resides in Sri Vaikunta (parameṣṭhinaḥ) is because of him being superior to all realities like sentients and insentients. It is said that Bhagavān of six attributes, who has chaturmukha brahma as his body, who is great on account of that (mahAn), is characterized by all auspicious attributes and is free of all blemishes.
parameṣṭhin” – “parame sthāne tiśtati iti parameśthi” – One who resides in the Supreme Abode, Sri Vaikunta.
brahmā” – He is called “brahmā” because he has brahmā as his body, thus brahmā is implied to be subservient to him here.
mahān” – As even the self-born brahmā, the Creator of all living things is subservient to him, he is the greatest. This is inferred by the sahasranāma under “brahma-krt-brahmā” by Bhattar.
brahmamaya” – The term “brahmā” refers to prakrt i which constitutes his body; hence he is “brahmamaya”. Not just brahmā, but everyone is subservient to him as they are his body.
amalaḥ” –Despite having prakrti as his body, he is free of impurities as body is distinct from the self; and he being devoid of karmas is not affected by changes to his body .Thus, he is “ubhayalinga” – possessing all auspicious attributes and being free of all blemishes.
Yo māmevaṃ vijānāti mahāyogeśvareśvaram So 'vikalpena yogena yujyate nātra saṃśayaḥ (32)
Meaning:  One who perceives me (ie, my innerself) in this manner (as described above), who is the Great Master of those like me who are masters of yoga (mahāyogeśvareśvaram), become united with the Lord through yoga which involves contemplation of his auspicious attributes of the Lord. There is no doubt in this.
“Understand my indwelling Lord to be in this manner, the Cause of the Universe and Possessor of Countless Vibhūtīs” --  this is the teaching here.
“māmevaṃ vijānāti” – “mām” refers to the innerself of Rudra. Understand my innerself who is Nārāyaṇa having me (Rudra) as his body.
mahāyogeśvareśvaram” –  Rudra is a “yogeśvara” as he is a master of yoga which is meditation on Brahman. Since the Lord leads such great practitioners of yoga to their goal, he is the Great Master of those like Rudra who are masters of yoga. This is similar to “yogavidām neta” in the sahasranāma.
Again, to dispel any doubts as to whether Rudra is referring to himself as the Supreme Being, or to his indweller, he describes his own nature in the next shloka.
So ‘haṃ prerayitā devaḥ paramānandamāśritaḥ nṛtyāmi yogi satataṃ yastad veda sa vedavit (33)   
Meaning: I am the God who directs (the minds of beings towards Brahman). Taking refuge in the Lord Nārāyaṇa who is the embodiment of supreme bliss, I, the Yogi, who is united with the auspicious attributes of the Lord in meditation, dance constantly (in devotion). He who knows this, is a knower of the Veda.  
To clarify that he meant his innerself so far, Rudra declares his abrahmatva and vaishnavatva in this shloka.
Rudra is described as “ishvaras sarvadehinām” – Thus, he impels or directs all beings towards Brahman. In otherwords, he is only a giver of knowledge and not the Supreme Lord.
“paramānandamāśritaḥ” – Rudra takes refuge in the Lord who is the Supreme Bliss beyond description or imagination, who is the highest object of attainment. In his yoga, meditating on the nectarine auspicious attributes of the Lord who is paramānanda or the Supreme Bliss, Rudra dances in ecstasy and teaches the knowledge of Brahman to others.
In the harivamsha, Shiva declares that he provides knowledge of Vishnu as follows:
upāsyo'haṃ sadā viprā upāyo'smi hare smritau (~Harivamsha Purana 3-89-14)
Meaning: The wise always worship me (Rudra), understanding me as the means to attain Hari.
Shiva dances to please Hari and in contemplation of the latter’s auspicious attributes. That is mentioned in the Vishnu Dharmottara as follows:
“(Vishnu Tells Lakshmi:) O Auspicious One, people with devotion will worship me with the Nrtta. O Goddess! In the Nritta, the imitation of the three worlds is established. After speaking thus to her (Lakshmi), the Lord (Vishnu) spoke these words to Brahma. Brahma received it and gave it to Rudra.
Taking the Nrtta, Rudra constantly pleased Kesava, the Lord of the Gods who loves his devotees. O King! Vasudeva created Nritta in this way, long ago, when in this world, the movable and immovable things were destroyed.
Henceforth, Shankara, the Lord of the Gods, and the doer of auspicious things for men, worships the Lord holding the Chakra and Gada, by performing Nrtta. Thus he got the title “Nrittesvara” and pleased Madhusudhana. That Hara, also becomes satisfied when worshipped well with Nritta.”
(~ Vishnu Dharmottara Purana, Third Khanda, Adhyaya Thirty-Four).
With these qualities, it is understood that Rudra is subservient to the Lord.
iti guhyatamaṃ jñānaṃ sarvavedeṣu niṣṭhitam prasannacetase deyaṃ dhārmikāyāhitāgnaye (34)
Meaning: This knowledge, which is the greatest secret enshrined in the Vedas. This should be imparted to those with clarity of mind, the virtuous (dhārmikā) and to ones who maintain the sacrificial fires (regularly).
Those who perform the nitya-naimittika karmas, those who abide by the rules of the shāstrās and those with a clarity of mind – ie, those who know that sriman nArAyaNa is the supreme being to be worshipped – are to be imparted this knowledge.
Thus, the fourth chapter is concluded.
We had quoted a Harivamsha shloka to show Rudra is worshipped to attain Vishnu as follows:
upāsyo'haṃ sadā viprā upāyo'smi hare smritau (~Harivamsha Purana 3-89-14)
Meaning: The wise always worship me (Rudra), understanding me as the means to attain Hari.
Interestingly, the current recension of the Harivamsha is different. The shloka there is as follows:
upāsyo'haṃ sadā viprā upāsyo'smin harau smritaḥ
Note that “upāyo'smi hare smritau” has been changed to “upāsyo'smin harau smritaḥ”.  No doubt, this was done by some crafty interpolator who wanted to change it to look like Shiva is asking himself to be worshipped as the supreme and not as a means to attain Hari.
How can we say our version is right? Because our version is the one which has been quoted in the Tatparya Dipika of Sudarshana Suri, which is a gloss on Bhagavad Ramanuja’s Vedartha Sangraha. Thus, the version quoted by ancient Vedantins alone is correct. Besides, it also agrees with the Ishvara Gita and various other statements to the same effect in the shāstra.
The Harivamsha shows signs of tampering in this section in quite some places, including a one line insert on Vishnu obtaining his Chakra from Shiva. The very fact that the current recension differs from Sudarshana Suri’s quotation of the same section in a manner as to deny Hari Sarvottama shows that interpolations have occurred.


  1. The 4th chapter of Ishvara Gita is now up on the blog.

    The next few chapters are quite engaging as they describe the Supreme Being whose attributes are infinitely more enjoyable than the individual self.

  2. The Srimad Bhagavata contains the following shloka:

    mumukṣavo ghora-rūpān hitvā bhūta-patīn atha
    nārāyaṇa-kalāḥ śāntā bhajanti hy anasūyavaḥ (Bhagavatam 1.2.27)

    Meaning: Those with a predominance of sattva (mumukṣavo), reject devatas such as Rudra and others who are presiding over tamo guNa (ghora-rūpān hitvā bhūta-patīn), worship the avatArAs of Narayana who are propagators of suddha sattva without any ill-will (anasūyavaḥ).

    Srimad Veeraghavacharya explains this shloka as follows – Mumukkshus are those who have a preponderance of Sattva. Since sattva is opposed to tamas, they avoid the worship of Rudra and other such gods (Skanda, Vinayaka, Durga, etc) who are associated with tamo guNa, which is denoted by “ghorarUpa bhUta patIn” . These gods offer petty boons that are perishable and often are prone to tamo guNa themselves.

    They worship Sriman Narayana in the form of his pUrNAvatArAs which produce sattva in other beings, propagate sAttvic shAstra, and whose divine bodies are made of suddha-sattva, hence being subhAshraya or conducive for meditation.

    Note that "ghora" does not mean fierce forms -- for even fierce forms of Vishnu exist such as Narasimha, Sankarshana, VishvarUpa etc. Here, the "ghoratvam" refers to an abundance of tamo guNa in those gods, which is absent in Vishnu.

    Finally, one must note that this shloka says “anasūyavaḥ”- They worship Vishnu without harboring envy or ill-will. Why is it necessary to state this? Srimad Veeraraghavachaya explains – “The worshippers of Vishnu do not have envy or ill-will towards the worshippers of the other gods. Whereas the worshippers of other gods do have ill-will/envy towards the worshippers of Vishnu. This factual reality is implied by this statement”.

    Is this true? Obviously so.


  3. Cont'd from above...

    The Vaishnavas are aware that Vishnu alone has validated the worship of other gods for people with those tendencies. Furthermore, there exists nothing that Vishnu cannot grant. Hence, they are without envy or ill-will as they see these people essentially following Vishnu in the form of those gods.

    Whereas, the worshippers of anya-devata are hampered by the fact that shAstra clearly declares that their gods have flaws, that they are not supreme etc. Furthermore, the tAmasa shAstra that promotes these gods as supreme always seek to do so by only belittling Vishnu as follows:

    māyayā mohitaḥ śaṃbhos tasthau saṃvignamānasaḥ // LiP_1,17.47 //

    Meaning: He (Vishnu) was deluded by the illusion of Shiva and hence mentally dejected.

    The de facto method of proving the supremacy of Rudra, Devi and other gods by the tAmasa purANAs is to show that they are superior to Vishnu. Whereas, Vishnu is mentioned to be Supreme in the sAttvic purANAs independent of belittling other gods.

    The tAmasa shAstra is also insecure about the supremacy of its’ own god and hence seeks to repeatedly remind the seeker that their god is supreme by hammering it in every line. The Shiva Purana, while describing the war involving bAnAsura ,does this as follows:

    tataḥ sudarśanenāśu kṛṣṇo bāṇabhujānbahūn। ciccheda bhagavāñśambhuśāsanātparavīrahā॥ 30

    Then lord Krsna, the destroyer of heroic armies, at the bidding of Siva, suddenly cut off many arms of Banasura, with the Sudarsana cakra.

    avaśiṣṭā bhujāstasya catvāro'tīva sundarāḥ। gatavyatho babhūvāśu śaṅkarasya prasādataḥ॥ 31॥

    By the grace of Siva, only four beautiful arms were left out and soon his misery was over.

    Notice how desperately the purANa randomly inserts "shambhushAsana" and "shankarasya prasAdataH" in each line while describing the event. It is nothing but a desperate attempt to hide the true nature of Krishna and preserve the delusion of Shiva as Supreme that the purANa has to specify in every line "This happened by Shiva's grace....that also happened by Shiva's order... and that!!"

    It is the insecurity stemming from the fact that Shiva is not supreme, that the purANa chooses to constantly remind that everything happened due to Shiva. Note also the absurdity of Shiva being defeated by the grace of Shiva!

    In contrast, do you see statements always reminding us that Narayana helped Shiva to destroy Tripuras in the Mahabharata or Sattvika Puranas in this manner despite it being factual reality? Apart from a line stating that Bhagavan helped Shiva as the Antaryamin, which elegantly establishes the truth, these texts don't see a need to hammer it into our heads out of insecurity in every line. They focus more on Shiva, the bhakta and praise Shiva as a parama-jnAni, with even Bhagavan generously praising Shiva, Indra etc for killing Tripura, Vritra etc despite him helping them greatly.

    Thus, the Bhagavata shloka on non-envy of Vaishnavas stands validated.

  4. Thank you swamin for all the wonderful articles, if i may ask you, so i could worship lord shiva to attain lord vishnu, is it because they say that rudra is easliy pleased and therefore you can attsin lord vishnu quickly, where as when we worship lord vishnu directley we have to try hard to attain him?"

    1. Nothing like that. It is Vishnu who is easily pleased by worship, whereas Rudra is quick to grant material boons. There is a difference in this -- being easily pleased is not the same as giving all sorts of boons quickly, and giving all sorts of boons quickly is not the same as being easily pleased.

      According to Shri Ramanuja, Rudra can be worshipped by bhakti yogis for gaining knowledge of Brahman. But his worship is not recommended for prapannas since Rudra himself is not a practitioner of prapatti yoga and hence cannot be a guru for them.

      According to Advaitins, Madhvas and Gaudiyas, Rudra must be worshipped to gain Hari Bhakti and knowledge, so if you want to follow their principles, by all means worship him.

  5. Dandvat Pranams,

    This is my first post on your site which I have been following for almost 2 years now. I must thank HBB and you for increasing my knowledge and clarifying some doubts.

    In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 10.63.43 (found in chapter on Lord Sri Krishna - Banasura fight) Sri Rudra says:

    SB 10.63.43:
    ahaṁ brahmātha vibudhā munayaś cāmalāśayāḥ
    sarvātmanā prapannās tvām ātmānaṁ preṣṭham īśvaram

    "I, Lord Brahmā, the other demigods and the pure-minded sages have all surrendered wholeheartedly unto You, our dearmost Self and Lord."

    This is Iskcon translation, feel free to give yours. Sri Rudra is calling himself, Brahma deva, pure minded sages etc prapannas who have whole heartedly (sarvātmanā) surrendered (prapannās) to Lord Narayana. So why are they not accepted as prapanna ?

    1. Prapatti is of two types - Anga prapatti and svatantara prapatti. A bhakti yogi, prior to commencing bhakti yoga, is required to perform prapatti in which he invokes the Lord to cleanse his sins obstructing the commencement of yoga. Then they undertake yoga proper.

      It is in this sense that Rudra declares the devas and rishis as prapannas. It is an accessory to bhakti yoga. It is not svatantara prapatti done as a mokshopAya.

      Any objections to prapatti being both an accessory to bhakti and also an independent path have been answered in works like Nikshepa Raksha, so I will leave it at this.

      In addition to this, one can also perform prapatti for a specific aim other than moksha-- for e.g.., Indra is a bhakti yogi, but performed prapatti to the Lord on the spot for killing Vritra.

      The very inclusion of prapatti in other upayas compulsorily is just a gentle nudge by the shAstras in the right direction asking the bhakti yogis to even give up bhakti yoga and resort to prapatti. But not everyone has the will to do that.

  6. Aaryamaa thanks so much for your prompt answer. I do find this strange that likes of Sri Rudra, Sri Brahma wouldn't be able to grasp concept of prapatti yoga when some mortals on earth can. They have had face to face interactions with Sriman Narayana many times and are his direct disciple (Sri Brahma), greatest Vaishnava (Sri Rudra - vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ SB 12.13.16). I have other questions as well. To take my understanding deeper on this topic I have ordered following books from Haristore:

    Philosophy of Saddhana in Visistadvaita by Dr. N.S. Anantha Rangacharya
    Essence Of Srimad Rahasyatraya Saram by Dr. N.S. Anantha Rangacharya
    Saranagati Yoga by T.K. Sribhashyam, Alamelu Sheshadri

    I am unable to find Nikshepa Raksha in English. I know deep discussions on this topic will be out of scope of this blog but can you let me know an appropriate forum to further discuss my doubts and get answers to my questions.

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    1. << I do find this strange that likes of Sri Rudra, Sri Brahma wouldn't be able to grasp concept of prapatti yoga when some mortals on earth can. They have had face to face interactions with Sriman Narayana many times and are his direct disciple (Sri Brahma), greatest Vaishnava (Sri Rudra - vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ SB 12.13.16).>>

      They have the perfect understanding of prapatti, maybe even better than us. However, they do not have the desire to pursue it.

      Let me give you an example. You have an unqualified person and a very qualified person who want a job. The unqualified person gains the recommendation of an influential person to get the job. The qualified person also has access to this influential person, but is too proud of his own skill and thus chooses not to take his help in getting the job.

      Now, that example only takes you so far. When the "influential person" is the Lord to whom you are a slave, then the pride you have in your own skill becomes a dosha. When he is willing to do everything for you, how can you prefer to use your own effort? And thus, bhakti yoga is a path for those who are sAttvikas well aware of prapatti, but lack the desire to pursue it as it would involve giving up their own prowess.

      Likes of Vyasa, Rudra, Brahma etc are so powerful. They delight in their own prowess at meditation and accessing bhagavad kalyana gunas. They are not willing to forsake their strength and rely completely on the Lord, though they appreciate the greatness of that path.

      The shloka saying Rudra is the highest Vaishnava refers to him being the best among bhakti yogis. It does not include the class of prapannas.


    2. Cont'd from above...

      To understand the mindset of Bhakti Yogis like Vyasa, Rudra etc, I will reproduce an anecdote from Mumukkshupadi as follows (source:

      uyyakkoNdAr vishayamAga udaiyavar aruLic seydha vArththaiyai smarippadhu.

      Sri PBA Swami's Sarartha Deepikai:

      An episode is shown here that shows the difficulty in a chetana gaining a taste for this (prapatti).

      During Ramanuja's time, there was a devotee called Uyyakkondar who was following the path of bhakti. Ramanuja taught him the meaning of the Carama Shloka in order to make him follow the path of prapatti. Uyyakkondar then told Ramanuja "These meanings are indeed very beautiful. But I don't have the liking to give up on that (bhakti) and seek this (prapatti)". Ramanuja replied "Because you have knowledge, you accepted the meaning. But, as you don't have the grace of the Lord, you did not get the liking for it".

      This is the same mindset as that of the devas. They are highly knowledgeable and appreciate the greatness of prapatti. But as they are delighting in their own strength to accomplish bhakti and understand the Lord, they lack the ruchi (inclination) to understand it.

      Even the most revered Vyasa, the author of the Brahma Sutras, is not exempt from this flaw. The Vishvaksena Samhita of the Pancharatra thus refers to Vyasa and Rudra as possessing ego and hence not worshippable for prapannas. Yet, this same Vyasa accords the Vedic status to Pancharatra in his Brahma Sutras as he is well aware of the truth and appreciates it, even if he can't follow it!

  7. You can post other questions if you want btw. We will allow constructive discussions so long as it would help others to understand our interpretation of shAstras.

    As it is, there are already too many idiots claiming "Sri Vaishnavas don't even worship Shiva as a bhakta of Narayana, they are shiva-dveshis" without understanding the philosophy of Bhakti and prapatti in our tradition, so in a way these questions are related to the content on the blog.

  8. Well said aaryamaa, thank yoo for you clear explanations. I have a question regarding prappati. Is the mantra ratna dvayam , the ultimate relief or help for a prappana? Does the chanting of dvayam cultivate more prappati/saranagati ?

    1. Prapatti or Sharanagati is a one time event. It is not "cultivated" by the 3 Rahasya mantras, rather they just help us to understand the nature of the upAya. For that matter, tirumantra is also useful for bhakti yogis.


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