Ramanuja's Ten Words

Srimathe Ramanujaya Nama:

Ramanuja's divine ten words told to Mudhaliyandan

Mudhaliyandan fell at the feet of Ramanuja and asked him the following "Please explain the difference between us (who wear the sacred thread, recite the Vedas and have the status of acharyas) and bhAgavatas such as Pillai Uranga Villi Dasar (who are always sishyas, who don't wear the sacred thread and who don't recite the Vedas). Ramanuja replied "I have been meaning to explain this to you and now you have asked me about it yourself". He then collected these ten words from all the Vedas, Itihasas and Puranas and which lay hidden in the divine works of the Azhvars and gave them to Mudhaliyandan.

  1. The difference between us and them.

    Being acharyas, we have to go everywhere in this world to save all beings. Not having this duty, they stay detached from others in this world and remain close to Sriman Narayana ("nAttArOdu iyalvozhindhu nAraNanai naNNinamE" - Thiruvaymozhi 10-6-2).

  2. The difference between other divine places and Srirangam (Koil), Thirumalai (Malai) and Kanchipuram (Perumal Koil).

    Instead of staying in one of the primary divyadesams and living without fear, we keep going from one divine place to another, like a person who holds on to a float with one hand while swimming with the other hand. Whereas, they stay in a primary divyadesam such as Srirangam, Thirumalai and Kanchi and live without a burden, like a person who is in the top section of a boat.

  3. The difference between other Azhvars and Periyazhvar.

    We are like the other azhvars who sometimes sing verses pushing Him away, being angry with Him, etc and who sometimes sing mangalAshAsanam for Him ("kalakkangalum thERRamumAy" - Thiruvaymozhi 6-3-2). They are like Periyazhvar singing only His mangalAshAsanams ("kalakkamillA naRRavamunivar" - Thiruvaymozhi 8-3-10).

  4. The difference between the ocean and the beach.

    We get caught in this samsaric ocean and tossed by its relentless rain and great wind, we suffer in its joys and sorrows. They are like a ship anchored to a bay in the beach and holding on to the Lord are steady ("thaLardhal athanarugum sArAr" - Irandam Thiruvanthathi 45, "tharu thuyaram thadAyEl" - Perumal Thirumozhi 5-1).

  5. The difference between a small atom and the loftiest mountain.

    We hold on to our birth class, gOtram and sUtram and are stuck within it. They have only the knowledge of the relationship between the soul and the Lord and consider its practice as their class, gOtram and sUtram.

  6. The difference between sugarcane and sugar.

    We break our teeth by biting on the Vedas which is like sugarcane. They enjoy the Dvaya mantra which is like sugar and is the essence of the Vedas.

  7. The difference between land and the sky.

    We are afraid and confused like those in this world (lIlA vibhUti) ("mannuL ennaip peRRAl" - Thiruvaymozhi 7-1-6, "aruviththinRida anji ninnadainthEn" - Periya Thirumozhi 7-7-1, "pala nI kAttip paduppAyO" - Thiruvaymozhi 6-9-9, "thirumAlE ini seyvathonRaRiyEn" - Periya Thirumozhi 7-7-9). They are without fear and steady like those in His divine abode (nitya vibhUti) ("ingE thirinthRkizhukkuRRen" - Thiruvaymozhi 8-10-4, "vAnuyarinbameythilen" - Thiruvaymozhi 8-1-9, "nambuvAr pathi vaikuntham kAnmin" - Kanninun 11, "seyththalai ezhu nARRuppOl avan seyvana seythukoL" - Periyazhvar Thirumozhi 3-7-9).

  8. The difference between night and day.

    We remain confused in the darkness that is the Vedas. They use the light which is His thousand divine names ("pErAyiramOdhina" - Periya Thirumozhi 1-5-10), walk steady with His guidance ("mAdhavan than thuNaiyA nadandhu" - Periya Thirumozhi 3-7-4) in the path shown by Him in Bhagavad Gita (Carama Shloka) ("mAyan anRu aivar dheivath thErinil seppiya gIthaiyin semmaip poruL" - Ramanuja Nootrandadhi 68).

  9. The difference between an ordinary thing and a jewel.

    We keep reciting the Gayatri mantra during the sandhyA times ("manthiraththai manthiraththAl maRAvAthenRum vAzhuthiyEl vAzhalAm mada nenjamE" - ThirunedunthANdagam 4). Instead of that ("anthiyAlAm payan angen" - Mudhal Thiruvandadhi 33), they think ony about the jewel amongst the mantras which is the Dvaya mantra.

  10. The difference between an ordinary woman and a virtuous woman.

    We are attached to the vaidika rituals and worship the Lord through the devatas such as Agni and Indra. Therefore, we appear to be like a woman who is not faihtful to her husband. They are attached only to Him and do not care about anyone else. Therefore, they are like pativratas.

Ramanuja then said that this can be seen with Perumal (Sri Rama who was attached more to Guha, the vAnaras and Vibeeshana than to the Rishis), Namperumal (who was attached more to Thiruppanazhvar than to Loka Saranga Muni), Appan (Srinivasa who was attached more to Kurumbaruththa Nambi than to the king Thondaiman) and Periya Nambigal (who performed last rites for Maraneri Nambi). He then told Mudhaliyandan that if all Srivaishnavas follow these meanings everyday, they would not sin against bhAgavatas who do not wear the sacred thread and therefore would attain the Lord's divine feet.

Azhvar Emberumanar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Sharanam