Monday, April 5, 2010
Sri Raghavendra Swami
Sri Raghavendra Swami (1595 – 1671) is a great Vaishnava saint in the line of Brahma-Madhwa Sampradaya. He was born in Tamilnadu, India and spread pure love of God Krishna throughout the land of India. He performed many miracles just to attract people to the Lotus Feet of Sri Hari. Sri Raghavendra Swami is considered as an expansion of Prahlad Maharaj. He has written commentaries on many of Madhwa’s works. I have not seen an reference made by Srila Prabhupada about this saint.
In His final earthly pastime, he entered jiva Samadhi at Mantralaya in Andhra Pradesh. His tomb is still visited by many devotees of Lord Krishna. Before his final Samadhi lila, he spoke some final words to reinforce the dvaita philosophy and at the same time solace his grieving disciples. Below is a transcript of his words written by his followers although the author and time of the transcript is not known.
“Hereafter I will disappear from your sight. The Lord who sent me to you has Himself ordered me to return to Him today. I have completed His task. Everyone has to obey His orders – coming here and returning when He calls us back. You need not feel sad that I am leaving you. The moola granthas, sarva moola and their commentaries will be your guiding light. Never give up their study under a worthy master. The Lord has blessed us with this priceless life just to study them. The shastras have an answer for all our mundane problems. Follow the shastras and listen to the words of the enlightened. Put into practice as much as you can whatever you learn. The shastraic way of life is the royal road to peace, prosperity and happiness.
The search for knowledge is never easy. As the Upanishads say it is like walking on the razor’s edge. But for those who have strong faith and put in sustained effort and have the blessings of Sri Hari and Sri Madhvacharya, this is not difficult. Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Srimadacharya. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only witchcraft. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them.
The Lord is full of auspicious qualities and absolutely faultless. There is no virtue that does not exist in Him. He is the Lord of Ramaa, Brahma and all other devathas at all times and in all ways. His form is beyond prakrithi (nature). His body is made up of jnana and ananda. He is omnipresent and omniscient. All the jivas are subservient to Him. Mahalaksmi who is ever liberated is His consort. All jivas (souls) are not equal. There is gradation amongst them and they are of three types. Whatever state they attain finally is in keeping with their intrinsic nature. The sattvik souls attain moksha which is a state of eternal bliss. The tamasic souls attain eternal hell where there is all pervading darkness. This is a state of eternal sorrow. The rajasic souls keep rotating in samsara always, experiencing both happiness and sorrow. The shastras declare such a three fold classification and gradation of souls. It can be seen everywhere in this world. There are several schools of philosophy which go against these tenets and declare that there is no God, no dharma, this world is false; there is nothing but void; the jivas and Brahma are the same; there is no three fold classification or gradation, all the jivas are equal to Brahma, the Vedas are not true, Brahman is nirguna (attribute less), nirakara (formless). None of these philosophies are correct. The world that we see is real; this world has a master; he is neither nirguna nornirakara. The shastras declare Him to be nirguna and nirakara because He is devoid of the three qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas (unlike us). For the suffering soul. His grace is the only means to attain salvation which is eternal bliss. Those who forsake Him will never be truly happy.
Without right living, right thinking will never come. Right living is performing one’s ordained duties according to one’s station in life without hankering after the fruits of the actions and on the other hand offeringall one’s activities to the Lord. This is real sadachara (right living). This is real karma yoga. Another facet of right living is performing right rituals and observing fasts. Fasting on ekadashi and krishnashtami is compulsory for everyone. Both men and women belonging to all walks of life have to observe this. Those who give up this will always have the doors of the Lord’s home closed. This is what the shastras declare. Observance of chaturmasya vrata is another compulsory mode of worship. Along with this, vishnupanchaka and other vaishnava vratas can be performed according to one’s capacity. The main goal of all such vratas is to earn His grace and love.
One should always be careful never to harm or hurt another. Philosophical thought is very necessary for the soul’s growth. Without philosophical thought we can not arrive at the right conclusions. But let there be no personal enmity. Social work done for the good of worthy people should also be considered as the Lord’s worship. In short our life itself is a worship.Every action is a puja. This life is precious. Every second of our life is precious. Not even a second that has gone will come back. Listening to the right shastras and always remembering Him is the highest duty. Without this life becomes meaningless. Have devotion to the Lord. This devotion should never be blind faith. Accepting the Lord’s supremacy wholeheartedly is true devotion. Blind faith is not devotion. It is only stupidity. We should have devotion, not only for the Lord, but also for all other deities and preceptors in keeping with their status. In short having devotion to those above us, goodwill amongst those who are our equals and having affection for those who are below us are the excellent values of life. Anybody who approaches you should not go heavy at heart or empty handed. Spirituality can never exist without social grace. And social life without spirituality is no life at all. Spirituality never denies any virtue. But always remember that the Lord is the home of all values. The world does not exist for our sole pleasure and enjoyment. The thought that we are here for the good of the world is real spirituality. While incorporating right thinking and right values in our life we should also make it a habit to give up wrong values and wrong thinking. If we do not fight against them it amounts to approving them. But such disapproval should never turn to cruelty. It should be within the limits of justice. The outstanding feature of this should be love for truth and not personal hatred.
This is our philosophy. This is Srimadacharya’a philosophy. This is the philosophy all the shastras proclaim. This is the philosophy that kings and sages like Janaka and Sanaka believed and followed. The Lord’s devotees like Dhruva and Prahlada incorporated this philosophy in their lives. Those who believe and live by this philosophy will never come to any harm is the assurance of the Lord.Being God’s devotees you should honour and respect His devotees. Help as much as you can those who seek your aid. But always remember your duties. Offer all your actions to the Lord and never hanker after temporal gains. All actions performed with a selfish motive is like milk turned sour. There can be no higher motive than the motive to please God and the motive of earning jnana (right knowledge). But giving up all actions and following unworthy methods is like taking poison which will destroy us completely. It was Srimadacharya who preached this wonderful philosophy. The same Vayu who manifested as Hanumantha to serve Lord Sri Rama and as Bhimasena to serve Lord Sri Krishna also manifested as Srimadacharya and preached this philosophy. This was his service to Lord Sri Vedavyasa. His life, like his works was philosophy itself.
Now I take leave of you. Though I will not be with you in person my presence will be in my works and in my brindavan. You can serve me best by propagating, studying, preserving and listening to my works. My blessings to you.”
– Sri Raghavendra Swami