On the Role of Lakshmi
(Bhakti List - Sept. 1996)

Sri Ranganayaki Thaayaar

 

 

http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/sep96/0022.html 
A couple of more questions. This time, on the role of Lakshmi.

Regarding the statement:

"...She is endowed with the three capacities of UPAYATVA (being the means) ,UPEYATVA ( being the end) and PURUSHAKAARA (being the mediatrix) --and is the ruler of the whole world."

>From this, can we imply that one can recognize Lakshmi as the Upaya and Upeya independently of the Lord? If so, would this not coflict with Dvayam, which expresses surrender and service to Narayana, along with Lakshmi?

"...Prapatthi to Her precedes the one at the feet of Her Lord to attain freedom from the cycles of deaths and births."

How can this statement be correlated to the Carama Slokam, in which the Lord says "Mam Ekam Saranam Vraja," i.e., prapatti should be performed solely to Him?

Daasanu Daasan,   Mohan



http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/sep96/0024.html 
I am glad that someone asked this question. Your name "Mohan" is not familiar to me. I have been in this mailing list since the beginning. I could take up some details later on via telephone or person to person email instead of over this group.

This question is very deep and involved and goes into our "Rahasya Shastras". In short the answer is this:

Note that in the upanisads, there is hardly any mention of Lakshmi! and even in Bhagawadgita there is no mention of Lakshmi (except according to Madhvacharya... which we will not take up here). Why is this?

As far as the Upanisads, Bhagawadgita and Brahmasutras are concerned, the terms Brahman, Ishwara, Atman (in its original sense) refer to the duo of Lakshmi Narayana, taking them together as one. The differentiation to those fundamental texts does not serve any purpose. The major purpose of Upanisads, Bhagawadgita and Brahmasutras is to talk about the three entities : souls, matter and Lord and the stress is more on the nature, inter-relations, path for moksha etc. The details of nature of the duo, are more explained in the pancharatra texts. One might ask, "Is it true that the concept of Lakshmi Narayana a non-vedic view?". The answer is no. Even in the vedas "sritatva" is explained in different places : srisukta, nila sukta, etc. A lot of research has been done by Visistadvaitins on this issue and since the two entities are said to be equal, coeval, both are independent and equally powerful but by mutual consent , they are in perfect agreement with each other and have taken a slightly different role among themselves. (punishment is mainly ascribed to Lord Narayana, while Sri is said to be - nityam ajnata nigraham - ie. eternally ignorant of what punishment is ?.). even according to various vedic authorities it the visistadvaita view regarding Lakshmi can be established. Please read Dr. SMS CHari's "Vaishnavism" - chapter on Sri tatva. This book is absolutely a must for any Visistadvaitin to understand this system clearly. This book is not as tough as the other ones on satadushani etc. It is quite an "easy reading" kind of a book.

The tengalai and vadagalai schools differ on this point; however, I would rather discuss anything refering deeper to "rahasyas" offline on a one to one basis. For now this is enough.

The "dvaya" mantra was taken by a vedic origin - "Kata shruti". This shruti is non-existent now. Are visistadvaitins equally liable in citing shrutis from a non-existent shruti? .... This cannot be so, since I think some other people who belong to other schools possibly might have quoted from the same shruti while it was extant in some work.

Note to everyone: I would recommend one fast reading of SMS chari's book before coming to any particular conclusion.



http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/sep96/0029.html 
Krishna Prasad summarized the relationship between Lakshmi and Narayana very well in answering Mohan's questions. I want to clarify one sentence of his which could lead to confusion.

Krishna wrote: > A lot of research has been done by Visistadvaitins on this > issue and since the two entities are said to be equal, coeval, both are > independent and equally powerful ...

The word ``independent'' is misleading here. They are only independent in the sense that they are conceived as being distinct in form and function. But they are forever united, and it is virtually impossible to conceive of Lakshmi without Narayana and vice versa.

Andal sings, addressing Thaayaar:

eththanaiyElum pirivaaRRagillaayaal

You do not want to be separated for even an instant from Him.

Just as the light source and its effulgence are inseparable but yet distinct, so are Thaayaar (Lakshmi) and Perumal (Narayana). In his introduction to Raghuvira Gadyam, Desika brings this point out:

prabhAvAn sItayA devyA parama-vyoma-bhAskara:

This can be understood two ways: (1) Rama along with Sita is the shining one, or (2) Rama is the resplendent one *because* of Sita.

Either meaning is appropriate, but the second one brings out something more -- that the conception of Lakshmi brings out the relational aspect of Perumal -- how he is resplendent, how he makes himself apparent to us out of his mercy, which is nothing but Lakshmi herself.

Desika writes in the dayA Satakam about Lakshmi, ``Sreyase SrInivAsasya karuNAm iva rUpiNIm.'' Lakshmi is as it were the embodiment of Lord Srinivasa's compassion. How then, can Narayana be conceived of without Lakshmi, when compassion (i.e., Lakshmi) is fundamental to his character?

It becomes apparent whenever Narayana is mentioned in the Sastras, Lakshmi is also implicit. According to our sampradaya, Krishna's reference to himself in ``mAm ekam SaraNam vraja'' (take refuge in me alone) of the Gita includes Lakshmi, as is explicitly elaborated in the Dvaya mantra -- ``SrIman nArAyaNa caraNau SaraNam prapadye.''

adiyEn vAcaspati dAsan

P.S.

upeyatva of Lakshmi (that Lakshmi is included in the goal) is a slightly different issue, and our pUrvAcAryas have disagreed about this. In my opinion, however, if Lakshmi is conceived of as being the embodiment of the Lord's mercy, as above, I do not see this as being a big issue, and her being included in the upeya is a moot point.



http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/sep96/0031.html
All of the comments that I have received on my questions have been very thought provoking. I am looking forward to more mailings on this subject. However, Mani's comments this evening encouraged me to re-read some pertinent passages. I quote from Patricia Mumme's translation of Manavalamamunigal's commentary on Mumuksupatti of Pillai Lokacharya. These passages seem to confirm some of Mani's comments.

Mani writes: ---------------------begin quote "Krishna wrote: > A lot of research has been done by Visistadvaitins on this > issue and since the two entities are said to be equal, coeval, both are > independent and equally powerful ...

The word ``independent'' is misleading here. They are only independent in the sense that they are conceived as being distinct in form and function. But they are forever united, and it is virtually impossible to conceive of Lakshmi without Narayana and vice versa." ---------------- end qoute

Sutram 131 states: "Only in conjunction with Her does the Lord exist. " Manavalamamunigal's commentary: "The Lord's quality of being the husband of Sri is stated before the attributes of knowledge,bliss, etc., which describe His essential nature in Thiruvaymozhi 3.6.10. Therefore, since this is the primary designation of His essential nature, it is only in conjunction with Her that the Lord truly exists. Thus, Lokacharya has revealed that Their Eternal Union results from Their relationship being an aspect of the Lord's essential nature."

Mani goes on to state:

-----------------------begin quote

It becomes apparent whenever Narayana is mentioned in the Sastras, Lakshmi is also implicit. According to our sampradaya, Krishna's reference to himself in ``mAm ekam SaraNam vraja'' (take refuge in me alone) of the Gita includes Lakshmi, as is explicitly elaborated in the Dvaya mantra -- ``SrIman nArAyaNa caraNau SaraNam prapadye.''

upeyatva of Lakshmi (that Lakshmi is included in the goal) is a slightly different issue, and our pUrvAcAryas have disagreed about this. In my opinion, however, if Lakshmi is conceived of as being the embodiment of the Lord's mercy, as above, I do not see this as being a big issue, and her being included in the upeya is a moot point.

--------------------end quote

I concur that the role of Lakshmi does vary between the two schools of thought in our Sampradayam. But, as Mani says, it really does become a moot point when one considers that since the Lord is inseperable from Lakshmi, it is not possible for one to surrender to Him without Her presence. And, indeed, according to Sutram 169:

"Only in Their union will service be obtained and bring joy." Manavalamamunigal's comments: "She is the one who causes the automonous Lord to graciously accept the cetana's service rather than ignore it. For this reason, it was when She was present that Lakshmana requested and attained service in accord with his true nature. Furthermore, just as a son will enjoy attending to his parents only when both mother and father are together, it is only when the Lord and Sri are united that service will be pleasurable."

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan Raghavan