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based on the vyakhyanam of Sri Periyavaccan Pillai
by Sri M.N. Ramanuja
devAnAm dAnavAnAm cha sAmAnyam adhideivatam
sarvadA charaNa dvandvam vrajAmi sharaNam tava
devAnam -- for those having devotion to Vishnu
dAnavAnAm cha -- and for those without devotion to God
sarvadA -- always
sAmAnyam adhideivatam -- equally accessible for surrender
tava -- your
charaNadvandvam -- the pair of feet
sharaNam -- as my means to reach the goal
vrajAmi -- I determine
In the previous sloka, he determines the goal and implements the means in order to attain it. He set sight on the best goal of all goals and employs the best means available. In this world which is replete with those whose only aim is procuring son, cattle and eatables, those who only cherish getting heaven by praying to gods as the accomplishment, those who suurendering to Ishvara, expect to obtain designations of Indra and others, it is hard to come by even one person whose cherished credo is to involve in uninterrupted service at the feet of the Lord who is the supreme of all, possessing all auspicious qualities, and who is the sovereign of both empires. As in "manuShyANAm sahasreShu" and "sa mahAtmA sudurlabha:" , such a person hardly exists even from the standpoint of the Lord Himself. Similarly, when considering the means, while some clinge to means like karmayoga etc, while some others clinge to God's names (as in 'kim japan muchyatE jantur janma samsAra bandhanAt'), while some resort to special locations (as in 'dEshO ayam sarvakAmadhuk') and so on thus there are numerous means in correspondence with the diverse mentalities of different groups of people. However, in this samsAra, it is rare to find one resorting to so easy and unhazardous a means as siddhopayam. This is concerned with such a siddhopayam. If it is intended to comment on dvaya, then why start with determining the prApya? It is because, it is on account of the prApya that the interest in it is roused and other things followed. Hence, first the determination of the prApya and then the acceptance of an appropriate means to reach it.
There is no eligibility constraint for the acceptance of this means. dEvas and dAnavAs are equally eligible. devas are defined as those who are classified as favourable to the Master (God). dAnavAs are those classified as unfavourably disposed to God. "dvow bhUta sargow lokesmin daiva Asura Eva cha" the whole creation is classified into daiva and Asura prakritis. "sAmAnyam adhidaivatam charaNa dvandvam" -- the pair of feet that is common to all . Not that it is common to all by virtue of relationship but by virtue of equal accessibility by all. How? when they are opposed to God, He considers them as unfavourable to the devotees and does away with them. cf "avuNarkenRum shalam purindu angaruLillAttanmaiyALan". Hence, the pair of His feet like Sunshine is for everyone to feel possessive about and to surrender to, for everyone irrespective of lowness by birth character and conduct or highness by virtue of the same. Afterall, it was accessible to Vibheeshana who had eaten the alms thrown by Ravana and justifyingly said "sarvaloka sharaNyAya rAghavAya". The word of the Lord who is sharaNya is "samOham sarvabhUtEshu". He becomes highly sorrowful when people are in distress. "vyasanEShu manuShyANAm". The people are symbolic of everyone that can surrender to Him. When it comes to the event of surrendering He says "yadi vA rAvaNa: svayam". "ellA ulakum tozhum AdimUrti " and "podu ninRa ponnam kazhal" said nammAzhvar. (sarvadA) even in the event of opposition, the tiruvadis eagerly await one's desire for protection. cf " pApAnAm va shubhAnAm vA ... kAryam karuNam AryENa.." This verily is the purport for the "anAlochita vishEShA...loka sharaNya".
(charaNadvandvam) points out the beauty of the twinness of the pair of feet. They double up as best means for the goal and again as the object of adoration after attaining the goal. (sharaNam vrajAmi) I accept as the means. The afore-mentioned common acceptability and accessibility by all is regarding this siddhopayam. The other kinds of means (sAdhanAntaram) are however licensed only to those with specified qualifications. The meaning of vraj-gatow which is - to go - is here intended to mean mental determination. This means that it is not necessary to physically be next to God and hold His feet. It is enough to set off with a constant idea of holding His feet. Even AchAryas are fond of this point of the present tense used in 'vrajAmi'. This point is also in accordance with "sakridEva prapannAya ". The first or one surrendering is done to fix the target for commitment. And because of the interest in or fondness for the prApya, further prapattis are repeated until reaching or attaining the goal (prapya). Just as mere taking the paddy or rice does not constitute a yAga or a sacrifice or even a small part of the sacrifice, so also accepting the feet as means for reaching the prApya, does not constitute the means. It is just a qualification for the surrendering incumbent. (tava) "apyaham jIvitam jahyAm" and "kapOtO vAnara shrEShTha,. kim punar madvidhO jana:". I accept the feet of the God who declared toeing in line with the pigeon's episode which even at the cost of its own life protected its refugee.