Sunday, 14 August 2011

Annamayya on adherence to rituals vs engaging in service

In this song, SrI annamachArya is talking about the superiority of engaging ourselves in praising the Lord's glory and serving His devotees over performance of rituals, symbolizing them by the sandhyA vandanam - a prayer offered three times a day at dawn, dusk and mid-day.

sahaja vaiShNava AchAra varthanula sahavAsame mA sandhya ||
Living in the company of the Vaishnavas who live a life consistent with their nature of Seshatvam (subservience to the Lord), is our sandhyAvandanam.

charanam 1:
athiSayamagu SrI hari sankIrthana sathathaMbunu mA sandhya |
mati rAmAnuja mathamE mAkunu | cathuratha merasina sandhya ||
Excelling in singing the glory of Srihari always, is our sandhyA.
Accepting the religion of rAmAnuja, is our bright and wise sandhyA.

charaNam 2:
 parama BhAgavata pAdha sEvanayE | saravi nenna mA sandhya |
sirivaru mahimalu cheluvondhaga vEsAraka vinutE mA sandhya ||
Servitude to the feet of paramabhAgavathas (those who have excelled in the above), is our sandhyA.
Untiring listening to the glory of the lover of Sri with pleasure, is our sandhyA.

charaNam 3:
mantukekka thirumanthra paThanamE | santhathamunu mA sandhya |
kanthugurudu vEnkaTagirirAyani santharpaNamE mA sandhya ||
Studying thirumanthra always, is our sandhyA.
Existing for the complete satisfaction (samyak tharpaNam) of the Lord of Venkatagiri (Lord Venkateswara), Who is far superior to kanthu (manmatha - the Hindu deity of love) in attraction, is our sanhdyA.

1. Thirumanthra means the ashtAksharI manthra "Om namO nArAyaNAya" one of the important tenets of Srivaishnavism, the school of thought of which Sri annamacharya was an adherent. Here, annamayya wisely puts it as "paThanam" or study, rather than "japam" or reptetitive recitation of the words enshrined in the mantra, in line with his non-ritualistic views presented in this song. For an understanding and appreciation of the meaning of this mantra, please visit:

2. Annamayya was inspired by the following Poigai AzhwAr's pASuram (Tamil verse) from Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi (verse 33):

naharam aruL purindhu nAnmuharkku-p-pUmEl
pahara maRai payandha paNban peyarinaiyE
pundhiyAl SindhiyAdhu, Odhi uruvennum
andhiyAl Am payanAvadhu en?

It is the Lord Who blessed BrahmA with a place in the lotus stemming out from His navel. He is the One Who gave knowledge to BrahmA in the form of Vedas. Instead of thinking of His auspicious qualities, what benefit one derives from counting the chants of mantras in sandhyAvandanam?

Free translation of the above in poetic form is as below:

The Lord Who graces
Brahma a place
In a lovely lotus
And teaches him Vedas,
Instead of having the heart
Fixed on His thoughts
What benefit one gets
From counting the chants
Daily thrice?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. No where Annamacharya says that he is putting down Sandhyavandanam. It brings out the greatness of enjoying kalyana gunas and service to prapannas. But doesn't mean that sandhya should be avoided. sandhyavandanam one does Keshavadi tharpanam, Astakshari mantra anusandhanam etc. So, sandhyavandanam is also enjoying Lord and his names and his kalyana gunas. Here Annamacharya is not saying Sandhyavandanam should be neglected or put aside. So even during sandhyavandanam one should enjoy the kalyana gunas of SrimannArayana should be what has to inferred, is my view. Doing sandhya is also service to prapannas as prapannas also will be pleased by that. Also, I don't think in current era hardly any one can say he/she enjoys kalyana gunas perpetually without wasting time on materialistic things etc. When some one can perpetually enjoy kalyana gunas of Lord without even a break, 24*7, has the right, like Alwars, great acharyas etc. The greatest acharya SriRamanujacharya used to do sandhyavandanam even at ripe age of 90+. So, sandhyavandanam also shouldn't be neglected. Otherwise it might get misconstrued, i think.


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