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Manyu Suktam -- A Sri Vaishnava commentary

MANYU SUKTAM

(contributed by our Srivaishnava bandhu Shri Narayanan. This essay was posted in parts in the "Sri Ramanuja" Yahoo group.)


Introduction

Sri Manyu Sukta is one of the more important suktams occurring the Rg Veda. The rishi is known as tApasa manyu, the devatA is srI Lakshmi narasimha (Manyu) and the meter is trishtup/jagatI.

There is a common misconception that some particular devas like Indra are mentioned several times in the veda, whereas Vishnu is mentioned relatively less number of times. To dispel this illusion, a reading of this suktam will help. The truth is that, ALL the suktams are talking about srI hari only. When the veda says, “Bhagavan Indra, the Slayer of Vrtra”, it does not refer to the deva known as Indra who killed the asura vrtra. Rather, it refers to parabrahman sriman nArAyaNa, who is known as Indra, which has the meaning of “foremost/excellent/best) and who is the slayer of the covering (vrtra) called prakrti/ajnana/andhakAra”

Similarly, Agni Suktam talks about nArAyaNa who is known as Agni which means “one who leads” (Agra nEtha), Rudra suktam talks about nArAyaNa known as Rudra (explained already in this site), Brahmanaspati Suktam talks about nArAyaNa, the Lord of Brahma (Brahmanaspati – Pati or Lord of Brahma) and so on. Vishnu Suktam talks about nArAyaNa, the all-pervading one (Vishnu).

So, the manyu suktA refers to nArAyaNa in his angered form as Narasimha. And this is the Vishishtadvaita commentary that explains the meanings of this suktam.

SRI MANYU SUKTAM

yaste manyo.avidhad vajra sāyaka saha oja puyati viśvamānuak |
sāhyāma dāsamārya tvayā yujā sahasktenasahasā sahasvatā || 1 ||

yaH - who; tE - you; manyO – Angered One/Sacrifice; avidhad - who worships you (he); vajra - Pillar/Unchanging svarUpa; sāyaka - hurled like an arrow/like an arrow; saha - mighty/capable; Oja = the strength, that is natural; puyati - blossoms and progresses; viśvaM - fully; ānuak - uninterruptedly ; sāhyāma - we will conquer; dāsam - the enemies; ārya - friends; tvayā - with you; yujā - engaged in yoga; sahasktena - mental strength (jnAna yoga) by discharge of duty (karma yoga); sahasā - immediately; sahasvatā - sahasvatAH - overcoming the feeling of belonging to myself (I-ness).

Meaning: O Bhagavan Lakshmi Narasimha, who is angry (OR) who acts for the benefit of his devotees, who burst out of that pillar like an arrow (OR) who has an unchanging svarUpam and attacks like an arrow! One who is mighty, with the strength that is innate and natural!  The one who worships you uninterruptedly by engaging in bhakti yoga, immediately brought about by jnAna yoga and karma yoga (as ancillaries) and overcoming his ahaMkaram, ie, feeling of belonging to oneself (sAttvika tyAga), will blossom and progress fully (in knowledge and other qualities). We will conquer our enemies and friends (papa and punya karmas).

Here, the first rk talks about the tattva, hita and purushArtham very succinctly.

The “tattvam” is obviously the Being known as manyu. The most common meaning for manyu is Angry One. Obviously, BhagavAn exhibited great anger as srI lakshmi narasimha, and most traditionsequate Manyu with SrI narasimha only.

SrI nigamAnta mahA desikan, in his yAdavabhyudayam, gives the meaning for manyu as ‘sacrifice’. Swami, in this work, refers to Indra as ‘Shatamanyu’, ie, one of a hundred sacrifices. Thus, manyu is synonymous with yajna.

In the sahasranAma bhAshya (for yajna ijyO mahE jyascha), Bhattar interprets ‘yajna’ as ‘One who performs acts solely for his devotees and hence, is yajna’. It is well known that the narasimha avatAram was solely for the sake of PrahlAda. Hence, narasimhA is manyu.

‘Vajra’ is explained by SrI varAhamihira in his work ‘brihaT samhitA’ as referring to an 8 sided pillar, in the section on architecture. Hence, we can take this as a pillar and ‘sAyakam’ refers to his emergence from the pillar like an arrow or lightening for the sake of his devotee

Another interpretation of ‘Vajra’ is that it refers to bhagavad svarUpam as unchanging in its nature. Since vajra implies an adamant, hard substance, which can resist changes or defects, it is comparable to bhagavad svarUpam, described as ‘avikAra’. This meaning is also very appropriate since the context of the rk is upAsaNam on bhagavAn, which involves meditation on his essential nature.

Vajra can also simply the indestructible force that was BhagavAn’s thirumEni in his narasimha rUpi. 

Vajra is also a name of bhagavAn himself as per srI VV Ramanujam swamy. In addition, “vajra sAyaka” can be taken as “One with lightening like sharp nails”. So, many meanings exist for these terms.
Ojas refers to strength which is innate and natural. This is the meaning given by Bhattar in his sahasranAma bhAshya (Ojas tejO dyuti dharaH..).

The rk now declares the “hitam” - the state of continuous and unceasing meditation (bhakti yoga) on this narasimhA, after the performance of karma yoga and jnAna yoga. The term ‘yujA’ is often used in the sense of yoga. It refers to bhakti yOga. In the term “SahaskrtEna”, SahaH refers to mental strength which is jnAna yoga, as the mastery over the mind is nothing but attaining vairAgya by understanding the nature of the self freed from matter. krtEna simply refers to doing acts, which is the karma yoga, ie, performance of duties sanctioned by the shAstrA. This leads to sAttvika tyAga, ie, foregoing the sense of ownership referred to by sahasvatA, which is split as sahaH (overcoming) and svatA (ownership/sense of ‘I’). This is  the sAttvika tyAga brought on by karma and jnAna yogas. Thus, this bhakti yoga is done with the knowledge of seshatvam. 

Alternatively, sahaskrtEna could simply refer to karma yoga, which is performed with knowledge as its component. As the karma yOgI performs desireless action, knowledge aspect (sahaH) is a part of karma yOgA (krtEna) itself. Since action is performed without desiring results, it results in the sAttvika tyAga, ie, lack of ownership and leads to perfect knowledge of the self. Thus, it is also possible for the karma yOgI to skip the step of jnAna yOga completely and proceed to bhakti yOga. Both meanings are hinted by the rk.

The “purushArtham” is declared to be twofold – Firstly, the blossoming (pushyati) of jnAnam to its fullest capacity (visvaM). This alludes to the expansion of dharma bhUta jnAnA to infinity, conferring omniscience. The omniscience is used by the jivA to perform unlimited kaimkaryams and perceive the infinite kalyAna gunams of bhagavAn in moksha. In addition, ‘visvaM’ implies that the jivA acquires the nature of Brahman to the highest possible extent, ie, omniscience and the 8 fold qualities beginning with apahatapApma, vishoka, etc. Secondly, the rk states that this confers victory over friends and enemies (Arya-dasyu) which simply implies freedom from punya and pApa karmas. Punya is a friend and Papa is an enemy, but both need to be cancelled out.
We will conquer the punya and papa karmas. Here “we” refers to the combined efforts of the upAsaka and the indirect upAyatvam of perumAl needed for bhakti yOga to succeed.

This rk, thus, is explained by the following Upanishad vAkyams - “tada vidvan punya-pape vidhuya. niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti” and “brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati”.

Here, a question can be raised. After all, is it not true that we attain moksha leading to kaimkaryam and bhagavad gunAnubhavam only after the freedom from punya pApa karmas? So why mention these two separately? The answer is given by srI soumyajAmatru yOgi, a sri vaishnava acharya, in his work known as AchArya Hrudyam that because all jivAs have two desires – 1) may I be happy always (sukhIbhavEyam), 2) May I not suffer (dukhImabhUyam).

***

manyurindro manyurevāsa devo manyurhotā varuojātavedā |
manyu viśa īate mānuīryā pāhi nomanyo tapasā sajoā ||2||

manyuH = Narasimha; iMdraH = the first/best/excellent; manyuH Eva = Narasimha alone; asa = he is; dEvaH = filled with vAtsalya guna, manyuH = the Narasimha, hOtA= he who is the actual performer of the sacrifice; varuNaH= He who envelops the three worlds, jAta + vEdAH =The omniscient One, manyuM = Narasimha; vishaH ILatE mAnuShiH = class of knowledgeable people (ie, azhwars/prapannAs) praise, yAH = those ; pAhi = protect; manyO = Narasimha; tapasA = by your tapas, of the nature of knowledge to guide, sa + jOShAH = loving us equally.

Meaning: Manyu is the foremost One (Indra). Manyu alone is the only one filled with vAtsalya guNam (dEva). Manyu is the actual doer and the upAyam (hOtA). Such a Manyu surrounds the three worlds (and therby protects). Manyu is the omniscient One. The prapannAs praise him constantly (thus).  O Manyu! By your tapas, which is of the form of knowledge to guide the chEtanas out of samsArA and by the fact that you possess equal love for all of us without distinction, please protect us.

There is a special meaning for this rk. In the previous mantra, the veda purushan had categorically stated that bhakti yOga, with jnAna and karma yOga as ancillaries, was the upAyam for moksha. 

The mood of the second rk is this. The veda purushan described bhakti yOga in the first rk, is now feeling that his elaboration of “hitam, the upAyam, was incomplete. His line of thinking is thus – “Is it not true that the sAstras declare the parama purushan to be the sole upAyam for mOksha? Being immersed in sAdhaNAnushtAnams, have I not undermined his greatness by stating bhakti to be the upAyam? The immense love narasimhan had for prahlAda was due to nirhEtuka krupa only. This bhakti is only for certain varna-s. Also, it is against the nature of the AtmA. Therefore, I will clarify my stand properly now”.

So, the veda puruShan proceeds to elaborate the kalyAna gunams of SrI narasimhan relevant to mumukkshus. Note that “Manyu” occurs 3 times in the first line and can be interpreted in context.

Firstly, he is the best, or the most excellent or the foremost One among upAyams (Indra). Or, it could be interpreted as the foremost among gods and hence, the supreme resort. Here, the term Manyu in conjunction to Indra must be taken to mean “Angry One”. His anger was the reason PrahlAda was saved. His anger was also the reason Hiranyakasipu was destroyed. Furthermore, he did all this without violating the boons given to the asura by Brahma. Also, NarasimhA’s anger could not be quelled by anyone – even the gods like Brahma and Rudra were afraid. This also shows he is the foremost One. So, Manyu here properly refers to his anger.

He is also the one who is endowed with vAtsalya guNam.The term dEvAH refers to this guNam particularly only everywhere in sAstras. In the bAnAsura charithram of harivamSha purAnam, there are two instances where this is mentioned:

ahamasurakulapramAthinAtripurahareNahareNanirmitaH|
raNashirasivinirjitastvayAprabhurasi deva tavAsmiki~NkaraH ||

Meaning: I was created by Haran, the destroyer of TripurA. Now I have been conquered by you. You, DevA, are now my prabhu and I am your kaimkaryapArar!

The siva jvAra, while performing saranAgati to Krishna and atoning for his offences, uses the word dEvA, which is nothing but a reference to his vAtsalyam. The context of saranAgati establishes that.

The second reference is made by the yAdavAs to krishNa as an appeal to save aniruddha from banAsurA:

kimevaM chintayAviShTo na ki~nchidapi bhAshase ||chintAM kartuM vR^ithA
deva na tvamarhasi mAdhavA

MEANING: Why are you so silent, immersed in your own thoughts? Hey DevA, you do not ever think in vain. Do not be like this, mAdhavA!

PerumAl broke his silence and acceded to the request of the yAdavas only after this appeal was made. The term mAdhava shows that thAyar is resorted to as purushakAra bhUtai. Secondly, her purushakAram makes his quality of vAtsalyam surface, which is referenced by the term ‘dEvA’.

Thus, the rk talks about his vAtsalyam and indirectly, him being lakshmipathi as well. The words “ManyUr eva” shows that he alone possesses vAtsalyam and can protect us, since his relationship with us is very natural. “Manyu” here can mean “Narasimha” only, as this avatAram in particular exhibhited his vAtsalyam. He is therefore known as prahlAda varadhan. Or, it means only bhagavAn has vAtsalyam innate to him due to pirAtti sambandham and our relationship with him.

The third guNam is that Manyu is the hOtA. “HotA” means sacrificer and indicates his upAyatvam, ie, he is the sAdhana for the prapanna. Thus, calling bhagavAn as “hOtA” refers to the fact that prapannAs consider emperumAn to be the actual doer, ie the upayam in the sacrifice known as sharanAgati dharmam. In any vedic rite performed by 4 priests, the hotr priest alone among these 4 performs the sacrifice for a person and hence is considered the principal. Similarly, BhagavAn stands as the upAyam for a prapannA and the efforts of bhagavAn stand as a substitute for the efforts of the chEtanan in prapatti, thereby making bhagavAn the actual doer.

So, the veda puruShan says that whatever upAyam we undertake, is not actually an upAyam; he alone is the upAyam and the doership is his only. Even bhakti yOgam requires his grace and endeavours for its completion. “Manyu” here must be interpreted as “yajna” as per srI vedAntAchArya. As mentioned before, “yajna” is interpreted by bhattar as “One who performs acts for his devotees” and thus, this is appropriate in this context. SrI narasimha is also known as Adi PuruSha in this respect.

The rk further states that srI Lakshmi narasimhan is ‘varuNa’. The meaning for ‘varuNa’ is given by Bhattar in his sahasranAma bhAshya as – One who envelops the three worlds. Thus, he is the protector of the three worlds. He is mAlOlan, who loves Lakshmi (Ma). We can take the ‘mA’ as referring to jivAtmA, in which case he is the lover of the jivAs and protects them. 

How can we be sure he never leaves us? The rk says that he is “JaTavedA” – this is interpreted by srI ranga rAmAnuja muni as One who is omniscient and knows all who are born. Srimad rAmAyaNam says that srI rAghavan suffers when others suffer and is happy when others are happy. Thus, he understands our needs and we do not need to perform any sAdhaNam to attract his attention. Thus, he is omniscient, as he knows everything.

He never left prahlAda and thirukurugai kAvalappar, who were both engaged in yOga. Swami Pillai LokAcHAryar says that his thoughts are always with us in srI vachana bhUshanam. All we need to do is realise that he is our seshI and that we are seshAs. This rk reflects that thought.

Here is now the special part. The rk says, “the class of jnAnIs (perfected people) praise you in this way”. Who are these jnAnIs? They are none other than the prapannas. The thinking of the veda purushan is thus, “By declaring bhakti yOga as the upAyam in the first mantra, I had forgotten the glorious second path of prapatti in the pancha siddhAntha sAstra which praises bhagavAn himself as the upAyam. You are the underlying upAyam for even bhakti yOgIs for that matter.”

There is no doubt that the words “viShAH IlatE mAnuShiH” is a reference to the prapannas, who are a separate category of mumukkshus (jivAs desiring moksha).

The last line simply indicates that this manyu bhagavAn possesses the guNam of tapas. The interpretation of mahat tapaH by Bhattar in sahasranAmA is that he has the knowledge required to lead chEtanas out of samsArA. MundakOpanishad gives this meaning of knowledge to tapas - “yasya ~jnAnamayam tapah”. The rk also finishes by saying he loves everyone equally. This affirms the fact that his innate love and the ability to save chEtanas from samsArA is enough – there is no need for upAyAntarams.

***

The 3rd and 4th mantras dwell on the greatness of narasimha and his ability to protect us.

abhIhi manyo tavasastavIyAn tapasA yujA jahi satrUn|
amitrahA vRtrahA dasyuhA ca visvA vasUnyA bharAtvaM naH ||3||
abhI – fearlessness; hi - on account of; manyO - narasimha; tavasastavIyAn - stronger than the strongest; tapasA - by his rulership, he being the controller of all; yujA - being connected in yOga; vi jahi - conquer completely; shatrUn - enemies; amitrahA - kill the unfriendly ones (Adhibautika); vRtrahA - kill the coverer who causes grief (adhyAtmika); dasyuhA ca - also kill the enemies in the form of natural calamities caused by gods (adhidaivaka); vishvA - all; vasUni - wealth; Abhara - to fetch; tvaM - you; naH - for us, the jivAs.

Meaning: Fearlessness is attained on account of being connected by yOga with manyu (narasimha), who is stronger than the strongest by virtue of being the controller of all. Therefore, you fetch us, the baddha jivAs, all wealth (of the form of bhagavad kaimkaryam) for us after completely conquering our enemies of the form of adhibautika, adhyAtmika and adhidaivaka as well.

Having clarified the nature of perumAl as the upAyam for relief from samsArA in the previous rk, the veda purushan now gives further assurance of his prowess.

PrahlAda is the prime example of this fearlessness. Constantly meditating on singaperumAl, he never exhibited any anxiety for his own safety. He performed upadEsams to hiranyakasipu that bhagavAn was indeed the stronger than the strongest and the One who should be resorted to by all. The sahasranAma refers to him as bhayanAshaNan (destroyer of fear).

The meaning of “tapasA” is explained by Bhattar to denote his supreme rulership. He is the supreme director, issuing orders and decrees to all. The purusha sukta says “yO devEbhya Adhapathi:” – he radiates his conquering powers for the sake of the Gods. As he controls everyone, it is natural that he is stronger than all. Ahobilam is actually a variant of “aho balam”. The strength of prahlAda varadhan is astounding. Refer Gita as well: balam balavatAm cAham (~ Gita 7-11).

Owing to such yOga and devotion, as well as firm conviction in his strength, he will fetch us the “purushArtham/wealth” (vishvAvasUni) as stated by andAl. This wealth is nothing but service to bhagavAn at all times, all states and in all places as Lakshmana desired to perform for Sita-Rama. Bhagavad Kaimkaryam is the supreme wealth (lakshmanO lakshmi sampanna:, says vAlmiki, calling Lakshmana’s service as a “Lakshmi”, ie, wealth). “VishvA” refers to entirety of kaimkaryams at all places, all times and at all states as lakshmana wanted.

In order to give us this “wealth”, he being supremely strong, is the upAyam for us to destroy our troubles, indicated by the word “shatrUn”. These enemies are three-fold. Adhibautika is the suffering caused by others and is indicated as “amitra”. AdhyAtmika is suffering of body and mind, which could be disease of body as well as lack of true knowledge in the mind about paramAtma. This is indicated as “vrtra”, which means “covering”. This covering is nothing but mAyA or prakrti, which has encased us in a body where we suffer both disease and ignorance. The third enemy is adhidaivaka, the troubles caused by gods, such as natural calamities and others. The term “dasyu” indicates the natural calamities caused by gods. Alternatively, the gods trouble us due to our own papa karma and the term “dasyu” may indicate the papa karmas as well which are the cause of adhidaivaka troubles.

Thus, these are the tApatraya. This very fact is stated by srI vedAnta desikan in his kAmAshikAshtakam as follows,

Thapane  indhwagni nayana ThapAn apachinothu na,
ThapanIyas rahasyanAm sara Kama shikhA hari

This kAmAshika Hari, who is the essence of the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad, will remove our tApatrayam (three-fold sufferings) by his three eyes (Sun, Moon, Agni).

Thus, Manyu here is the Narasimha of the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad. It should be noted that the Upanishad is called tApanIya because he is the remover of the tApams.

SrI Lakshmi NarasimhA will thus, kill, ie, eliminate these threefold troubles and give us bhagavad kaimkaryam. He will fetch this wealth of the form of jnAnam (kaimkaryam/seshatva jnAnam) and vairAgyam for us, ie, he is the upAyam.

“yujA” referring to yOga here need not merely specify bhakti yOga, but also svayam prayOjana bhakti of prapannas. yOga is a sAdhana for bhaktas but used as a way to pass time in samsArA by prapannAs like the azhwars.

***

tvaM hi manyo abhibhUtyojAh svayambhUrbhAmoabhimAtisAhaH|
vishvacarSanIH sahuriH sahAvAnasmAsvojaH pRtanAsu dhehi||4||

tvaM hi - You are certainly; manyO - angry god (Narasimha); abhibhUtyOjAH - One of superior strength/luster, svayambhUrbhAmoabhimAtisAhaH - One who manifests himself at will due to wrath; abhimAtisAhaH - He who subdued the enemy (hiranyakasipu); vishvacarSanIH - omniscient; sahuriH - mighty; sahAvAn - Equally shared by all (sousIlyam/soulabhyam); asmAsu - in us (jivAs); ojaH - ability (to overcome); pRtanasu - hostile army (of samsArA); dhEhi - give.

Meaning: You are verily that angry Narasimha who possessed of immense strength/brilliance, manifested himself at the time of his will (out of the pillar) and subdued the enemy (hiranyakasipu). You are omniscient, so you know our sufferings very well. Being mighty, ie, omnipotent, you have the power to remove our sufferings as well. Furthermore, you are equally shared by all, ie, everyone has the right to resort to you, and you do not heed their doShas. Therefore, give us, the baddha jivAs, the ability to withstand this hostile army that is samsAra (prakrti mandalam).

In the previous rk, narasimha’s ability to give us kaimkarya sAmrAjyam by eliminating tApatrayam was emphasised. The veda purushan now brings up the episode of him killing hiranyakasipu to stress the fact that he does indeed possess this ability due to his innate omniscience and omnipotence.

The incident of his manifestation to kill hiranyakasipu is mentioned to highlight the fact that he is very capable of protecting us. After all, he came instantaneously to prahlAda’s aid. The Upanishads refer to narasimha as ‘sadyojAta’, ie, one who manifested himself at the time of his will. Dwelling on srI jwAla narasimhan, who burns with anger, the vedA asks that just as he exhibited both omniscience and omnipotence in understanding prahlAda’s needs and killing hiranyakasipu respectively, he must come to the aid of the baddha jivAtma as well.

He is sahAvAn as he provides adaikkalam to everyone, both noble as well as sinful. SrI rAman was ready to even accept rAvanan if he feigned to surrender to bhagavAn (yadi vA rAvana svayam).

It is samsArA that is referred to as the hostile army. This samsArA consisting of prakrti mandalam with all its objects of enjoyment, relatives/friends/enemies who cause attachment and the punya-papa karmas is like an army of enemies designed to cause avidya.

 ***

abhAgaH sannapa parEtosmi tava kratvA taviSasyaprachEtaH|
tam tvA manyO akraturjijIlAhaM svA tanUrbaladeyAya mehi ||5||

abhAgaH san - having no share; apaparA, itaH asmi - I moved away losing the bliss; tava - your (grace); kratvA - which performs (ie, the cause); taviShasya - that which is the supreme abode (bhagavAn); prachEtaH - Acutely intelligent one; taM - that; tvA - you ; manyO - O yajnA (One who performs acts for his devotees); akraturjihilA - foolishly moved away rejecting; ahaM - I ; sva - own, atanu - self (nature), baladEyAya - for giving strength to experience; you mA - for me ; Aihi - approach

Meaning: O Manyu, One who performs acts only for his devotees! I moved away, rejecting your grace, which is the cause for all sukRtams and the sole upAyam, and in consequence, forsaking my rightful share, which is the supreme bliss (of kaimkaryam), which is the supreme abode (bhagavAn/sri vaikuntam).  I foolishly moved away rejecting my own (essential) self (nature) of seshatvam and pAratantriyam. O acutely intelligent One! Approach me for giving me the strength (ie, to experience you).

In this rk, the veda puruShan refers to bhagavAn as “Manyu” which must be taken as “the form of yajnA” which has been explained to mean that he acts for his devotees. 

After accepting bhagavAn as the upAyam rather than one’s own efforts in mantra 2 and substantiating bhagavAn’s prowess in helping us in mantras 3 and 4, the compassionate vedA puruShan now elaborates on our own helplessness and doShams to drive home the fact that only bhagavAn is the upAyam so that we can understand our situation fully.

tava kratvA refers to his nirhEtuka krupa. Since “kratvA” refers to action, ie, doing, it refers to his causeless grace (tava) which is constantly operating as the cause of all the good things that happen to the jivA. 
The term “abhAgaH” refers to not partaking of the rightful share. This share is nothing but bhagavad kaimkaryam and bhagavad prApti as indicated by “parA” which refers to supreme bliss that is kaimkaryam and “taviSa” which indicates either srI vaikuntA or bhagavAn himself.

Kaimkaryam is referred to as a share because all jivAs have the eligibity for it. The nityAs and muktAs are partaking of it; we, the baddhas, have lost it.

“svA tanUr” is split as “sva + atanU”. Since tanU means body, atanU means the Self, which when combined with “sva” refers to the essential nature of the jivAtmA, which is seshatvam and pAratantriyam. ”akratu” means foolish.

“bala dEyAya” – Give me strength to experience you. The balam referred to here is not ordinary strength, but associated with knowledge. Swami mudaliAndan is referred to as “sirumAmanisar”, ie, one who has short stature, but is very large (in knowledge). Similarly, in vAlmiki rAmAyaNam, srI rAma is taught “balam” and “ati balam” mantrAs to overcome the distress of the indriyAs by vishvAmitrA. Futhermore, the prowess of the divine mace kaumOdaki is associated with knowledge. 

SrI ranga rAmAnuja muni interprets this word, which occurs in the mahAnarayaNa upanishad as “give me strength to experience you” Hence, balam here only refers to the strength needed to experience bhagavad kalyAna gunams.

BhagavAn is called prachEtah. This means “prakrShta buddhishAlinaH” as per srI ranga rAmAnuja muni. He is very intelligent and can understand the sorrows of the chEtana. And being intelligent, he provides jnAnam to the chEtana (baladeEyAya).

***

Ayam tE asmyupa mehyarvAm practIcInaH sahurE vishvadhAyaH |
manyO vajrinnabhi mAmA vavRtsva hanAva dasyUnrutabodhyApeH ||6||

AyaM tE asmi - I am yours; upamA Aihi - approach me; arvAm - being in front; pratIcInaH - turned towards; sahurE - victorious; vishva dhAyaH - possessing auspicious attributes to the brim; manyO - Of the form of sacrifice, ie, doing acts for chEtana; vajrinnabhi - one who holds the lightening like sudarshana chakra;  mAm - me; AvavRtsva - be my protection; hanAva - killing off; dasyUn - the enemies; rta - afflicted by; bOdhyApeH - withdrawal (concealment) of that which is to be known.

Meaning: O Manyu (One who performs acts for his devotees)! One who possesses infinite auspicious attributes! Holder of the sudarshaNa chakra! One who is victorious! I am yours. Approach me, being in front, turned towards me (in compassion), protect me, afflicted by concealment of that which is to be known (artha pAnchaka jnAnA) and kill off my enemies (who are responsible).

Reading the meaning of the previous rk raises a few questions - Why do all jivAs have equal share of kaimkaryam? Why does bhagavAn possess nirhEtuka krupa? Why should he help us? What is our essential nature referred to as “svAtanU”? These questions are answered very succinctly in this rk as “ayam tE asmi”, ie, “I am yours”. This single sentence silences all questions. 

Here, the veda puruShan gives the acceptable answer that all jivAs are emperumAn’s property; therefore, he is duty bound to help them.

BhagavAn is hailed as the bearer of the sudarshana chakra, which protects the chEtana from all dangers. He is Manyu, as he works for the good of the devotees. He is filled with auspicious attributes which attract the jivA and hence, is always victorious, ie, the wayward jivA, losing to his beauty and perfection, always performs mangalAsAsaNams like ‘jitantE pundarikAksha’, ‘pAllAndu’ and ‘tOtrom’. Thus, the jivA admits that he belongs to him (ayam tE asmi).

BhagavAn is requested to be in front. In the praNava, he is “akAra” and is in front of the jivA, who is “mA”. He is known as “agrEvadhA” in the Satarudriyam, which means, “One who kills those in front”, or “One who kills while staying in front”. This refers to how narasimha killed kiranyakasipu or how srI rAghavan faced the kara-dhUshanAdhigal. His face is turned towards the jivA in compassion. 

Swami Desikan refers to this guNam of being in front in srI paramArtha stuti.

“dAsyun” refer to the pApa karmas that contract the dharma bhUta jnAna of the jivA. These enemies prevent the jiva from knowing what needs to be known, as signified by “rta bOdhyApEh”. Here, “rta” refers to the state of being afflicted by and “bOdhyApEh” when split as “bodhya + apeH” refers to “withdrawal of that which is to be known”. This is nothing but the artha pAnchaka jnAna – knowledge of paramAtma svarUpam, jivAtma svarUpam, upAya svarUpam, virOdhi svarUpam and purushArtha svarUpam.

These karmas are our enemies and only by their destruction will our knowledge blossom.

***

Abhi prehi dakShinato bhavA mE adhA vrtrANi jaNghanAvabhUri|
juhomI tE dharuNaM madhvo aghramubhA upAMsuprathamA pibAva||7||

abhi - on account of; prehi - come very near ; dakShinato – worthiest/expert/pleasing One; bhavA – remain; mE - mine adhA - therefore; vRutrAni - enemies that cover (samsArA); jaNghanAva - inanimate matter, darkness; bhUri - greatly; juhOm - will sacrifice/offer; tE - your/unto you; dharuNaM - supporter; madhvaH - honey (shAstra); agraM - goal; ubhA - both; upAMsu - secret mantra/nearness that is the essence/in secret; prathamA - being the first ones; pibAva - we shall drink (experience).

Meaning: On account of the enemies that cover (prakruti mandala) which is inanimate matter, of the nature of a great darkness (ajnAnA), come very near to me and remain with me, O worthiest One. I will offer myself unto you, the supporter and we, being the first ones (ie, above the effects of matter and unborn) shall drink (experience) the secret mantra/the essence of our relationship that is the goal (sArataraM) of the honey (shAstras).

This rk, being the 7th, is a summation of what was mentioned previously.

vRutrAni refers to the objects in samsArA, namely the prakrti mandala and the coverings of the body which are described as inanimate, extremely dark, ie, causing avidyA to a great extent (bhUri). To counteract the effects of prakrti, bhagavAn is asked to be very near to the jivA at all times (prehi). In other words, the vedA asks bhagavAn to ensure that the jivA is always thinking of bhagavAn and meditating on his kalyAna gunAs. As such a condition of always dwelling on bhagavAn is possible only by his nirhEtuka krupa, the request is made to bhagavAn.

SamsArA cannot touch a person whose thoughts are always on bhagavAn.

Atma samarpaNam is to be performed with the word “juhOm” to the One who is always supporting the jivA. The word “dharuNam” indicates that he alone is the supporter and hence, saranAgati is most appropriate him.

“madhvA” refers to the shAstra, ie, the veda. The shAstra, as it imparts sweet meanings, is often likened to milk or honey. “agraM” refers to the best part, ie, the goal of the shAstra. Since the vedas talk about many things classified as “asAram”, “alpasAram”, “sAram” and “sArataraM”, we need to discard the first 3 and take the sArataraM, just as we separate water from milk.

Both jivA and paramAtma are prathamA, ie, above matter. The defects of matter do not affect the svarUpa of jivA and the svarUpa as well as svabhAva of paramAtma. The jivA is unborn as it has no beginning; it is only being born in different bodies due to karma. ParamAtma is unborn in the sense that he is untouched by karma.

Thus, the jivA and paramAtma, shall together (ubhau) experience the sAratamaM of the shAstra, which is mentioned as “upAmSu”. The word can be interpreted in the following 3 ways to get the same meaning nonetheless. 

Firstly ,the satapatha brAhmaNa refers to upAmSu thus – “upa” means close and ”amSu” refers to the stalk of the sOma plant. The stalks are the essence of the sOma plant as the sOma juice is obtained only by pressing the stalks. Thus, “upAmSu” means “nearness that is the essence” which is nothing but the nava-vidhA-sambandham between jivA and paramAtmA. 

Or, “upAmSu” also refers to a method of pronounciation in which a mantra is muttered in such a way that no sound can be heard, ie, the mantra can only be known to oneself. If this interpretation is taken, “upAmSu” refers to the thirumantrA “Om namO nArAyaNa”, that is the sArataraM of the shAstra (As per achArya hrudayam) and that which must be secretly imparted (hence, the description of upAmSu suits the thirumantram). And since the essence of the thirumantrA is nothing but nava-vidhA-sambandham, we arrive at the same meaning as the previous interpretation. 

UpAmSu can also mean “secret/isolation”. This also means that the jivA and paratAtma experience their relationship as master and servant in moksha in secret/isolation. It is mentioned as secret and isolated because the jivA has no other master in moksha (ananyAdhipatiH). In this respect, the Taittiriya Upanishad describes the mukta jivA as sovereign, ie, having no other master but paramAtma.

The purushArtham of the mysterious Vedas is quite simple - we experience anandam by seeing BhagavAn’s anandam. His anandam arises from seeing us gain our true nature of servitude towards him, so this repeats in a loop ad infinitum – thus we are both experiencing the essence of the shAstra. Note that this doesn’t negate statements that he is self-satisfied; all this is purely due to his kalyAna gunam.

 *** *** ***

SUKTA 2

The first 7 rks of the manyu suktA described how bhakti yoga and prapatti is to be performed, the nature of Isvaran and chEtanan and the puruShartham. In the next 7 rks, the veda puruShan describes the prapatti mArgam in more vivid detail and also personally performs prapatti to srI narasimha.

The reason why these 7 rks are dedicated to glorifying prapatti alone is because of the greatness of this upAyam. The 2nd rk of sukta 1 mentioned that azhwars praise the gunams of bhagavAn relevant to prapatti. The 7th rk showed how to perform prapatti by the word “juhOm”. Now, all this was just jnAnam; it is now going to be explored in more detail and translated into anuShtAnam, starting with the following rk. 

tvayA manyo sarathamArujanto harSamAnAso dhRSItAmarutvaH|
tighmeSava AyudhA samSiSAnA abhi pra yantunaro agnirUpAH ||8||

tvayA - with you; manyO - Narasimha; sarathaM - same chariot (the body); Arujanto - move ahead; harshamAnAsO - being happy in mind; dhRSitA - brave; marutvA - Master of nitya sUrIs; tigmESava – bearing sharp arrow like nails; AyudhA - weapons; saMSiSAnA - sharpening; abhi - for, prayaMtu - despatch certainly; narO agni rUpAH - as vaisvAnarAgni in all living beings.

Meaning: O Manyu (Narasimha)! You stand as vaisvAnarAgni of many forms, ie, in all living beings! Master of Nitya Suris! One with sharp arrow like nails, sharpening weapons for despatch (at my enemies)! I will move ahead (ie, progress in sAdhaNa) with you in the same body, being brave and happy in mind (because of this).

The theme of this and the succeeding rks is prapatti. In order to ensure mahAviswAsam in prapatti, the glories of the antaryAmi perumAl are described in this rk first. This is because the presence of the antaryAmin is both indicative of his rakshagatvam (watching us constantly) and vAtsalyam (travelling with us in the same filthy body). These are two important gunams for prapatti.

sAstra often compares the body to the chariot. Thus, “in the same chariot” signifies to the antaryAmitvam of narasimhan, who adheres with the jivAtmA. “Moving ahead” refers to either progressing in yOga, or travelling in samsArA, as the jivA acquires different bodies and travels to different worlds based on its karma.

The jivAtmA is accompanied by the antaryAmin everywhere. SrI vedAnta desikan states that the antaryAmin is the personification of vAtsalya guNam in the vadarAja panchAsath, as he tolerates the filth of our body and patiently watches the jivA, always together with the jivA, waiting for the jivA to turn towards him. The specific characteristics of the antaryAmin are given here – he is narasimha, who was the antaryAmin of prahlAda and protected him thus.

He is the vaisvAnarAgni in all living beings. The plurality of living beings is indicated by the term “rUpAH”. The term “vaisvAnarA” is explained by achArya rAmAnuja in sri bhAshya as denoting his quality of ruling all beings. With the name of “vaisvAnara”, GitAcHAryan states is also present within the intestinal fire, digesting all food (aham vaisvAnarO bhUtvA ~ Gita 15.14). Referring to bhagavAn as vaisvAnarAgnI in all living beings, this rk establishes him as the inner controller of all.

The interpretation of “narO agni rUpAH” as “vaisvAnara” is given by srI U.Ve sthalasayanAchAriar swamy.

“marutvA” refers to him being the ruler of nitya sUrIs, who are referred to as “maruts” here. Since the nityas are always ready to help him in his endeavors to protect the baddha jivAs, they are mentioned here.

He has sharp arrow like nails and is sharpening his weapons because he is always alert, to remove the obstacles of the chEtanan, as his arrow did for samudra rAjA. His weapons also remove ajnAnam.  

Having described his rakshagatvam and vAtsalyam in being antaryAmin, the succeeding rks now begin to elaborate on prapatti yoga.

***

Agniriva manyo tviSitaH sahasva senAnIrnaH sahure hUtaedhi |
hatvAya satrUn vi bhajasva veda ojo mimAno vi mRdhonudasva ||9||

agniriva - like fire; manyO - narasimha; tviSitaH - brilliantly shining with fury; sahasva - defeat; senAnI – commander; naH - unto me/us; sahurE - one with great prowess; hUtaH - summoned; Edhi - become; hatvAya - after killing; satrUn - the enemies; vi bhajasva - bestow fully; vEdaH - knowledge/wealth; OjaH - strength (for upAsaNa); mimAnaH - giving; vimRudaH - crush the enemies completely; nudasva - removing them.

 Meaning: O Narasimha! One who shines with the brilliance of fire in his fury!  One with great prowess! Answering my call, become a commander unto me/for us. Kill the enemies and bestow knowledge in full. Give me the strength (of yoga) to crush the enemies, removing them completely.

There are two types of prapatti – anga prapatti and svatantara prapatti. In this rk, the veda puruShan shows us how to perform anga prapatti. 

The word “hUtaH” is indicative of the expression of prapatti. “hUtaH” refers to calling BhagavAn by addressing him in such terms like “adi purushA” or “achyuta govinda pundarikAksha rakshamAm sharanAgatam” as Gajendrazhwan and Draupadi did. 

Mere acceptance of bhagavAn as our master is enough for prapatti. Hence, the word “senAnirnAh” is used. When prapatti is performed, we accept bhagavAn as our commander or leader.

As mentioned before, the prapatti in this context is anga prapatti, an accessory for destruction of karmas leading to blossoming of bhakti yOgA.

The term “shatrUn” refers only to our karmas that are obstructing the aspiring upAsaka from undertaking bhakti yOga. Normally, these karmas can be destroyed by proper observance of karma and jnAna yOga. But if the individual is unable to do these, he can resort to emperumAn and perform anga prapatti for quick destruction of his karmas, leading him to perform bhakti yOga.

Hence, our calling out to him to become our commander implies saranAgati, accepting him as our swami. Upon doing so, he will destroy the karmas that impede us from true knowledge. This is indicated by “hatvAya”, ie, killing the enemies (shatrUn) and bestowing in full, the knowledge of brahman (vEdaH) for performance of upAsaNa.

The remaining line also speaks of crushing the enemies and removing them completely (vimrDaH, nudasva). This is explained as follows – Once knowledge is obtained by perumAl’s grace and the prapatti that was performed to remove the karmas (denoted by shatrUn) obstructing such knowledge, the jivA asks perumAl to bestow him the strength (OjaH), both mental and physical, for the commencement of yOga to destroy the remaining karmas (denoted by vimrDaH, nudasva) and attain mOksha.

So, the mantra first refers to performance of anga prapatti (by inviting him to be the leader) which destroys the karmas obstructing bhakti yOga proper. Following this, bhagavAn provides the knowledge and strength to commence bhakti yOga for destruction of the remaining karmas.

The mantra rAja pada stotram refers to narasimha as “jwAlantam”. That is indicated here by referring to him as One with the brilliance of fire. He shines and makes others shine. His jyoti also indicates his mangalatvam.

***

Sahasva manyo abhimAtimasme rujan mRNan pramRNan prehiSatrUn |
UgraM tE pAjo nanvA rurudhre vAsi vaSaMnayasa ekaja tvam ||10||

sahasva - defeat; manyO - narasimha; abhimAtim - foe; asmE - for me; rujan - breaking; mRuNan - smashing; pramRunan - crushing them completely; pra ihi - come very near; shatrUn - the enemies; ugraM - lofty actions that destroy enemies and make me grow; tE - your; pAjaH - strength; A rurudhre nanu - directly impeding certainly; vashI - controller; vashaM nayase - lead your dependents; Ekaja - solitary (helpless); tvaM - you.

Meaning:  O Narasimha! Defeat this foe for me. Come near to me and break these enemies, who are directly impeding (brahma-jnAnam), smashing them and crushing them completely with your guNam of ugraM and strength. You are the controller who leads your helpless dependents.

After describing anga prapatti and bhakti yOgA in the previous rk, the veda puruShan now describes the more important upAyam of svatantara prapatti in detail in this and the succeeding rks. So, in this rk, akinchanyam is first described as a prerequisite for svatantara prapatti.

This mantra is thus reflective of “Akinchanyam”, one of the prime qualifications for prapatti. The word “ekaja” signifies lack of any other aid, ie, helplessness and bhagavAn is hailed as the controller, who leads such helpless dependents. So, the context is clear.

The mantra rAja pada stOtram contains the explanation of “ugraM”. Because of his lofty actions, he absorbs all worlds and jivAs, creating, growing and destroying them, elevating them to a higher status (Credit to sriman V. Varadarajan for his notes on “ugraM” available online). This meaning is very appropriate in the context of words like “vashI” which signify him to be the supreme controller.

In this rk, first the foe “abhimAtim” is mentioned followed by “shatrUn”. The first foe (abhimAtim) is the ahaMkAra, which makes the jivA think it can protect itself. Once this foe is defeated by acceptance of one’s helplessness, bhagavAn comes very near to us and destroys the other enemies that are collectively referred to as “shatrUn”. These refer to our punya and pApa karmas.

The mantra emphasises on defeating these enemies, the punya and papa karmas by using words like breaking and smashing completely. This is to indicate that unlike anga prapatti, bhagavAn must not only just destroy karmas impeding true knowledge, but must also destroy all karmas completely to secure moksham for the prapanna. Since this mantra is about akinchanyam, a prerequisite for svatantara prapatti, it places the burden of destroying both categories of enemies on BhagavAn himself. 

Thus, this rk is in contrast to the previous rk which described anga prapatti for destruction of karmas obstructing brahma-jnAna, followed by a request for knowledge and strength to be granted to destroy further enemies (karmas) by upAsaNa. In the previous rk, bhagavAn would directly destroy the karmas obstructing bhakti, but the upAsaka will destroy the remaining karmas by his self effort (with bhagavAn as the indirect upAyam). In this mantra, bhagavAn does all the work himself.

***

Eko bahUnAmasi manyavIlito viSham-viSham yudhaye saMsisAdhi|
akRttaruk tvayA vayam dyumantaM ghoSaMvijayAya kRNmahe ||11||

eko - The one eternal sentient principle; bahUnAM - for many eternal sentients (jivAs); asi - you are (their self); manyO - narasimha; IlitaH - being praised; viSham-viSham - each and every category of people; yudhayE - for the battle; saMsisAdhi - hone them; akRttaruk - One of unimpaired effulgence; tvayA - by/with you; yujA - being together in yOgA; vayaM - we; dyumantaM - glorious; ghoSaM - roar; vijayAya - for victory; kRNmahe - we will do.

Meaning: You are praised by all categories of people as the One eternal sentient principle that is the self and hence, the sole protector as well as the fulfiller of desires, for many eternal sentients (the jivAs). Hone them (the jivAs) for the battle. We, who are together in yOga with you of great effulgence, roar gloriously in anticipation of victory.

The previous rk talked of akinchanyam. The next rk now talks of ananyagatitvam. 

The words “EkObahUnAmasi” mirrors the katOpanishad which states “nityO nityAnAm chEtanas chEtanAm ekO bahUnAm yo vidhAti kAmAn”. This specifies that he alone is the self of all the jivAs and therefore, this makes him their protector and fulfiller of desires. Furthermore, it reteirates that only he, due to this, has the nava vidha sambandham with all jivAs. 

Thus, we can come to the conclusion from this that he alone is to be resorted to. This is ananyagatitvam.

viSham is repeated twice to emphasise that he is praised by all classes of people in such a way. This could be either the categories of bhakti yOgis and prapannas, or it could be aishwaryArti, kaivalyArti and bhagavallabArti. He must make all of them sharp, ie, give them the tools such as jnAna, vairAgya and bhakti for the battle against samsArA.

We can take “yujA” as pertaining to yoga which means that the chEtana is together with the One of great effulgence in yOgA. Here, the mention of effulgence is also a reference to bhagavAn’s inseparability with Lakshmi. The nArAyaNa sukta vAkyam “nIlatoyada madhyasthA vidyullekheva bhAsvarA” is interpreted by our acharyas that bhagavAn has effulgence due to lakshmi’s golden radiance spreading from the vaksha sthala (chest) to the whole of his thirumEni. Thus, his dark body mingles with the golden hue of Lakshmi, making it that much more brilliant!

Thus, the word “akRttaruk”, ie, “effulgent one” is a reference to the fact that he is Sriya pathi: This is mentioned here because of the context of ananyagatitvam. We must not take refuge in anyone except parabrahman. And this parabrahman is only identified by the fact that he is Sriya pathi:, the consort of Lakshmi. srI rAmAnuja begins srI bhAshya with the “srinivAsa” thirunAmam for this purpose. 

Furthermore, ananyagatitvam implies performing kaimkaryam to divya dampathi as a mithunam.

The victory that is anticipated is nothing but mOksha prApti and freedom from samsArA. 

***

vijESakRdindra ivAnavabravo asmAkam manyo adhipA bhaveha |
priyaM te nAma sahure ghRnImasi vidmA tamutsaM yatAbabhUtha ||12||

vijESakrt - the one who fetches victory; Indra ivA - like he did for Indra; anavabrava - beyond reproach; asmAkam - for us; manyO - narasimha, adhipAH - our master; bhava – become; iha – here; priyaM – dear; tE – your; nAma - name of “nArAyaNa” or “govinda”; sahurE - One of indefatigable prowess; gRnImasi - we praise; vidma - we know; taM – that; utsaM - enthusiasm (reason); yataH - because of which; AbabhUtha - you manifested.

Meaning: O Narasimha! You are the one who fetches victory for us, like you did for Indra. You are beyond reproach. Become our master for us here itself. We praise your dear name. O one of indefatigable prowess! We know that enthusiasm (reason) because of which you manifested.

This rk describes the actual performance of svatantara prapatti after admitting akinchanyam and ananyagatitvam in the previous rks.

To interpret “Indra iva”, we can again refer to Bhattar’s bhAshyam on the sahasranAmA. 

The Vishnu sahasranAma contains the nAma “Indra-karma” which means “He who did several acts for the sake of Indra” as per bhagavad guna darpaNam. BhagavAn has helped Indra on various occasions, such as the slaying of vrtrA and reclaiming the kingdom from mahAbali. Thus, he has fetched victory for Indra several times and will do so for us as well.

Despite being sarwEsvaran, he begged alms from mahAbali for the sake of his devotee, Indra. The mahAbhArata also mentions that during Indra’s battle with Vrtra, the former was getting defeated. Then, Indra only mentally thought of Vishnu (note: the words “mentally thought” show that prapatti is chaitanya krt). The gracious bhagavAn appeared instantly before Indra and gave him his own Vishnu sakti and also transferred the powers of the devas to Indra to defeat Vrtra. He did all this just because Indra thought of him with bhakti for a second; and even then it was Indra who received all the praise from the rishis and took credit for the act. It shows that very few even among the devas and rishis ever realise that BhagavAn only does all great things and deserves praise! 

Does not one feel sorry that bhagavAn is never given the respect that is due to him by the devas and even some rishis? So say our acharyas - He comes immediately when summoned by them and acts in so many ways to help them, but still they praise Indra, Shiva and Brahma for acts that were in actuality performed by bhagavAn. 

He has helped Indra in this way. Will he not help us? This is the intent of this rk. One can even take this to mean, “he helped a mere aishwaryArthi like Indra in this way. Will he not help a jnAni in far greater measure?”

Also note, that the nAmam “Indra-karma” in the sahasranAma is interpreted by bhattar in this way. Other commentators take “Indra” as meaning “foremost one” and merely interpret this nAma as he who performs excellent acts of creation, etc. 

So, we can see the brilliance of Bhattar’s vyAkhyAnam by the fact that only his meaning fits the intent of the vedA wherever the sAstra uses this nAmam for bhagavAn. This is another example of Bhattar’s genius!

He is beyond reproach as per the isavAsya Upanishad (“avranam” in mantra 8). 

Here, the actual svatantara prapatti is performed after admitting akinchanyam and ananyagatitvam in the previous rks. The acceptance of him being our master is itself prapatti. This prapatti is performed by praising bhagavAn with the name that is very dear to him. “iha” signifies that it must happen in this life, at this moment itself, without delay.

The prapatti, although performed by praising him with his desired name, is still only chaitanya krt, which is implied by the reference to accepting him as our master. Mere acceptance is enough and there is no effort on the part of the chEtanan. This is only a realisation of our essential nature and not an effort on our part, as established by srI lOkAchAryar in srI vachana bhUshaNam. SrI vedAntAchAriar reteirates the same in sArasAram.

We praise his dear name. BhagavAn’s names are glorified because they are most efficacious than bhagavAn himself. This is like saying sun-light is better than the sun. To give an example, Light is the same attribute for both a flame and the sun, but the sun’s light is much more glorious – why? Because the svarUpa of the sun is greater than the flame. Similarly, names and forms attain greatness only with brahman, because of the greatness of brahma-svarUpa. So, praising the name as greater than Brahman culminates in praise of Brahman.

Here, “nAma” can also mean the Govinda nAma which was his preferred name in krishnAvatarA. BhagavAn himself stated that he responded to Draupadi’s call of “Govinda” even though she had called him by other names like Achyuta, Dwarakanilaya and PundarikAksha in that saranAgati sloka. The other meaning for “nAma” is the thiruvashtAkshara mantra – Om namo nArAyaNa.

Or, prasing him with his name is enough to please him. We do not need to do more. This is also a possible intent of the rk.

He is one whose strength to save his devotees never fails. The last line states that the enthusiasm because of which he takes birth, ie, avatAra are well-known, which is nothing but Sadhu paritrAnAm. This is a repetition of the purusha sukta which says, “rtam brAhmanya jananam”, which means, “the wise know the nature of his birth”.

“utsaM” refers to enthusiasm. The Vishnu sahasranAmA contains the nAma “mahOtsAhah”, which is interpreted by Bhattar as he who is enthusiastic in performing acts that indicate his Isvaratvam such as the creation, sustenance, etc. Again, Bhattar’s meaning is absolute for the context in hand. He is able to manage the affairs of the universe and maintain it without depending on anything. His avatArAs are also such acts as the above category and due to his enthusiasm to protect his devotees (sAdhu paritrAnAm). His births, characterised by him conferring protection to all, show that he is the supreme master of all. 

Protection conferred by taking avatArams is indicative of his Isvaratvam and hence, using the word “utsaM” is appropriate here.

AvatAra rahasyam is essential for a prapanna to understand the efforts he takes for the sake of the jivAs. That way, we understand we do not need to do anything ourselves. That is why it is mentioned here.

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AbhUtyA sahajA vajra sAyaka saho bibharSyabhibhUtauttaram |
kratvA no manyo saha medyedhi mahAdhanasya puruhUtasaMSRji ||13||

AbhUtyA - which insurmountable strength; sahajA – natural; vajra - unchanging like adamantine; sAyaka – arrow; saho – powerful; bibharShi - you are holding; abhibhUtE - defeating (asurAs); uttaraM - rescuer of brahma and others from asurAs; kratvA - from your resolve (to protect); naH - with regard to us; manyO – Narasimha; saha - able to; mEdI - he who is favourably disposed (well-wisher); Edhi - you become; mahAdhanasya - of great wealth (kalyAna gunas); puruhUta - one who is called by many (names and forms); saMSRji - mingle.

Meaning: O Narasimha! One who is born with insurmountable strength that is natural to you! One who is unchanging despite being born! You are holding that powerful arrow OR bear those sharp nails (for defeating the asurAs). Hence you are known as uttaraM, ie, the rescuer of devas from asurAs (which is the purpose of your births). You, who has many names and forms, of infinite kalyAna gunAs beginning with sousIlyam, who are favourably disposed to all, are able to mingle (during your births) owing to your resolve to protect us.

In the previous rk, after performing prapatti, the veda puruShan declared that the cause of his birth was known. In this rk, the purpose of his birth is explained in detail, to show how prapannAs can safely depend on him without making self-efforts. The mood of this rk is now that of post-prapatti. A prapannan can now live a surrendered life and his chief pastime is to dwell on the avatArams of bhagavAn until he attains moksha. This is what the veda puruShan is doing now.

The various meanings of “vajra sAyaka” were already given in the first rk. Having described various topics and officially becoming a prapanna, the veda puruShan’s mind now comes back to dwell on srI narasimha avatara again, which in turn leads him to introspect on the intent of such avatAras. So he uses the same words as he did in the 1st rk.

Despite being born, his essential nature and gunAs like strength, etc never change. He takes birth to protect devas and destroy asurAs. The meaning of “uttaraM” is given by Bhattar in the sahasranAma (uttarO gopatir goptA:) as the rescuer of Brahma and other devas from the asurAs. This is thus, one purpose of his birth.

Bhattar has once again beautifully given the exact meaning that fits the context. Other meanings for “uttaraM” given by other commentators never fit the context though they are grammatically correct.

The rk goes on to say that he is puruhUta, ie, One called by many names. Since he has many names, it follows that he has forms corresponding to these names and therefore, he is one of many names and forms. mahA-dhanasya refers to the infinite kalyAna guNas. The foremost of these is sousIlyam, which is reteirated by vAlmiki rAmAyaNam as ka:gunavAn.

Such a One, who is favourably disposed (GitAChAryan says samOham sarvabhUtEshu) exhibits his saulabhyam and sousIlyam to mingle freely with everyone. The cause of his ability to mingle with us is nothing but his resolve, which is sAdhu paritrAnam. As this is the more important and ultimate reason for his birth, it is mentioned after the reference to him protecting devas from the asurAs, which is only a vyAjam for sAdhu paritrAnam and to exhibit his sousIlyam.

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saMsRStaM dhanamubhayaM samAkRtamasmabhyaM dattAMvarUNaSca manyUH |
bhiyaM dadhAnA hRdayeSu SatravaHparAjitAso apa ni layantAm ||14||

saMsRStaM - gathering; dhanaM - wealth; ubhayaM - both; samAkrtaM - collected together; asmabhayaM - for us; dattAM - grant us; varunaH - One who envelopes the three worlds; cha - also; manyuH - yajna (one who performs acts for his devotees); bhiyaM - fear; dadhAnAH - giving; hRudayEShu - inside the heart; shatravaH - enemies; parAjitAsaH - having been conquered; apa ni layantAM - let them go away, cowering in defeat.

Meaning: O Narasimha! One who is enveloping the three worlds and hence, is the supporter of all! One who also performs acts solely for his devotees! Grant us the two kinds of wealth, after gathering and collecting them for us. Give fear in the heart of our enemies and let them go away after having been conquered, cowering in defeat.

The two kinds of wealth are described by sri vaishnava acharyas as knowledge of bhagavAn and detachment from sense gratification. 

Why are the words “collecting” and “gathering” used? If we look at srimAn nAthamuni’s thaniyan (invocatory stanza) “jnAnavairAgya rAsayE”, swami periyavAchan pillai explains in his stOtra bhAshya that since the kalyAna gunAs of bhagavAn are many, so the knowledge about them is many. Similarly, one needs to develop vairAgyam for many things. So there are many different types of vairAgyam. Hence, sriman nAthamunigal is an ocean of jnAna and vairAgya. A similar explanation is given for “dhibhakyAdi gunArnavam” in the thaniyan of periya jeeyar. 

Since jnAna and vairAgya are of many forms as explained by swami periyavAchan pillai, they are mentioned in plural as those that must be collected and gathered together.
All along we have been talking about Bhattar’s greatness. Here, we can take the opportunity to dwell on srI periyavAchan pillai’s greatness. Is it not extraordinary that even if our achAryas comment on a taniyan and give a meaning, that meaning is found in the vedas? Even the smallest of arthams in their sri sUktis find pramAna in sruti and smriti. 

The enemies mentioned here refer to all the factors that impede brahma-jnAnam, as mentioned previously. They are personified figuratively and their total annilahation upon saranAgati is expressed as them cowering in defeat and going away. We often say, “worshipping bhagavAn, our karmas will run away/will scatter/dissolve, etc”. This statement is similar to such figures of expression. Thus, this rk ends the sUktam with the confidence that bhagavad krupai will never forsake us.

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This concludes my write up of srI manyU sUktam. I thank all the members here for their patience. I also thank srI VV rAmAnujam swami and srI U.Ve SthalasayanAchAriar Swami for their guidance and inputs.

As we can clearly see, the meanings in sUktams like these are not new. We have heard them many times and read them in the srI sUktis of our acharyas. Then, why should we have any interest in these veda bhAgams?
  1. It helps us appreciate the uniformity of thought between the sruti and our acharya srI sUktIs. Works like achArya hrudayam, srI vachana bhUshanam and upadEsa ratna mAlai are often called as the essence of sAstra. This way, we understand what that statement truly means. 
  2. SrI kAnchi swami often stated that the effort of discovering delightful meanings from cryptic statements of achArya srI sUktI and sAstra increases our anubhavam when we finally decipher the meaning. The vedas, which have confounded and puzzled the greatest of pUrva mimAmsakas, advaitins and dvaitins, have such sweet and simple meanings for us Vishishtadvaitins/rAmAnuja sambandhIs owing to our knowledge of the drAvida veda. This discovery makes our enjoyment greater.
  3.  The greatness of bhagavad guna darpanam, periyavAchan pillai’s vyAkhyAnam, etc have been touched on and fully understood.

Lastly, it helps us understand one important thing. Whatever our achAryas say is not mere anubhavam. All their anubhavams have strong sruti and smriti pramAnA. For example, our sampradAyam holds that nammazhwar is conversing with his mind in the thiruvAttAru pathigam of thiruvAimozhi. Is this interpretation by our pUrvAchAryAs like nampillai only for the sake of anubhavam, or was azhwar really conversing with his mind? 

The truth can be understood if we study the Sanskrit vedas. The 34th chapter of the vajasaneya recension of yajur vedA has 6 mantras that are collectively called “shiva sankalpa sUkta” (shiva sankalpa = auspicious resolve). In these six mantras, the veda puruShan converses with his mind. He says that due to bhagavAn’s grace, his mind is now firmly fixed in tattvams,. The veda lavishes praise on his own mind that it has become uniquely endowed with great attributes, etc. 

This is quite similar to how azhwars praise their own mind/nenju often, is it not? So the anubhavams of our achAryAs are always solidly established in sAstrA. And we now know nammazhwar was really indeed talking with his manas. AdiyEn brought up this example because one of my friends had such doubts. This only had prompted my curiosity to explore what the vedA really contained.

AdiyEn would like to finish by stating that whatever we do, let us hope that it always reflects the glory of our pUrvAchAryAs.

This manyU sUktam that glorifies narasimha, makes a reference to the azhwars and expounds superbly on the prapatti mArgam is dedicated to tElliya singam of thiruvallikEni and to the pUrvAcHAryAs.

4 comments :

  1. Manyu Sukta .. there are 2 rishis even Bhimasena was rishi to the sukta.... Btw excellent blog sir. Narayana will be so pleased by the your kainkaryam

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bhima being the rishi for this sukta is a belief held by madhvas based on their interpretations. It is not accepted by sri vaishnavas. But both traditions hold that srI narasimha is the devata.

    Thank you for the appreciation. All that is right here is due to the grace of sri rAmAnuja and pUrvAcAryas.

    ReplyDelete
  3. cant thank you enough for making this effort.

    ReplyDelete

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