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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -10



Srinivasa is known more as Vengadavan or Vengadanatha. The term Vengadam refers to the Hills. Vengadam is explained in the traditional commentary on the Tiruvaymoli (III iii.6) Idu. as comprising vem and kata. Kata means the triple rnas or debts and Vem means that which removes these three debts to rishis, devas and pitris. A visit to Vengadam accordingly secures the complete repayment of debts and one is thereafter free from debts. Debts have been at all times held by Hindus to be oppressive and difficult to repay. This meaning of course does not get any sanction from any other source. Apparently the term is Sanskrit but Tamilised. And we do not get this meaning from the term Venkata in Sanskrit. In Sankrit the term Kata means excess. It is used along with aksa in kataksa: grace-glance. Kata thus means grace. Ven is the word that denotes worshippability. It means: to recognize, to reflect, to praise or worship (cf. A.Fick’s Worterbuch Indo-Germaniscen Sprachen P.415 Vol. I). Thus Vengadam rightly means the place of ‘excess of worshippability’. The Lord Srinivasa is the presiding deity of the Hill. It is through His presence on the hills that the Hills get their sanctity and worshippability. It is most so because Srinivasa is the supreme Lord as intimated in the great verses of the Alvars and Sri Ramanuja. Rightly also we find that Sri Venkatanatha (Sri Vedanta Desika) sings of the Lord as the Dayanidhi and Vengadam as the sugar-candy of Grace of the Lord (iksusarasrsvantaiva yan murtya sarkarayitam), almost bearing in mind this meaning of Vengadam. The Lord on the Hills is of the form of Grace, as all avatars are but manifestations of the never-exhaustible Grace of the Lord to the creatures. Archa typifies the fullest possibility of Grace to all man kind. Srinivasa is a svayamvyakta form, not invoked and got by any seers or sages. Thus rightly has the Lord himself been called Vengadam, and his Hill by transferred epithet is known as Vengadam.

Another name by which the abode of the Lord Srinivasa is known is Vaikuntha. He also called Vaikuntha. The Santiparva (Mahabharata ch. 279, 29) states that Vaikuntha means “One who brings together all creatures”. The Tiruvaymoli(II.vi.1) states that kuntha is a weapon used in by the Lord to destroy sins. The word however is used in a different sense by Kalidasa (Kumarasambhava III. 12; Vikramorvasiya, I.14) to mean blunt, or dull and it is also meant to refer ‘to hide’. ‘Vi-kuntha means the reverse of kuntha or to hide. That is, it is the opposite of all that kuntha means. Vaikuntha is the place of utter freedom, completest light and knowledge. There no darkness or limitations which hide can exist. It is the world of transcendental perfection. Vaikuntha is the parama-pada of Srinivasa, even as Vengadam is the archa-padam of Srinivasa. There perfection resides. Here grace pervades. By these two words the nature of God Srinivasa is perfectly comprehended. The world of Grace is what the human seeks, the world of Perfection is what ultimately will be led to by the Lord Himself. The Lord is the granter of all the four Purusharthas, but only one must seek the feet of the Lord. Grace calls when the world around is dark and sorrowful and terrible. Humbled man should seek the feet of Grace. The glory of the Archa is to lead men through the path of grace to the paths of light.

It is the true that the Alvars and Acharyas of Vaishnavism have held that Vaikuntha is Vengadam itself1. But for a proper understanding of the two-fold worlds of God, both are to be accepted. The Acharyas and Alvars felt that service here is of equal merit and enjoyment as service or rather enjoyment there in the Paramapada. Vaikuntha refers to the transcendent nature of God, whereas Vengadam refers to the immanent and dynamic father-mother nature of God. As the Upanishad states it, we must worship God in both ways and attain to the fullest perfection in service and realization of God.

1 One may perhaps fancifully deduce from Vaikuntha: Vainkutha Vainkuta, Venkuta, Venkata, Vengada.