10

Mlecchas refer to people who are foreign to India and the Vedic tradition, in contrast to Nastikas who are from India but reject the Vedic tradition. In this excerpt from his Rahasyatraya Sara, the 13th century Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan discusses a Garuda Purana verse on the subject of how to treat Mlecchas who have become devotees of Vishnu:

"Bhakti or devotion is of eight kinds. If this bhakti is found in a mleccha, he should be considered as a devout and knowing Brahmin. To him giving is proper and from him taking is proper. He should be treated with the same reverence as I myself." This shloka has been commented upon (by Peria Achan Pillai) as meaning not that girls should be given in marriage to him and the like, but that he may be given the gift of knowledge and such like. "Treatment with reverence" is a general term. Therefore it means that if a man has devotion to Bhagavan, he should be treated with as much respect as the shastras permit. Its purport is merely this much, that if a man treats such a devotee in the same way as he would treat others of the same caste, he would go to hell.

I'm interested in the part in bold. For those who don't know, Periyavachan Pillai was a 12th Sri Vaishnava Acharya famous for his commentaries on the Valmiki Ramayana and the Naalayira Divya Prabandham. He was a shishya of Nampillai, whose guru's guru was Parashara Bhattar, Ramanujacharya's successor as the head of the Sri Vaishnava sect. My question is, where in his works does Periyavachan Pillai discuss this verse of the Garuda Purana?

This web page lists his works:

In his life time, he has done vyAkyAnams for:

  • 4000 dhiyva prabhandham – He has written vyAkyAnams for all of aruLicheyal. vyAkyAnams for approximately 400 pAsurams for periyAzhwAr thirumozhi was lost and mAmunigaL just wrote those missing pAsura vyAkyAnams.

  • sthOthra granthams – He has written vyAkyAnams for pUrvAchArya srisUkthis like sthOthra rathnam, chathu slOki, gadhya thryayam, etc and jithanthE sthOthram.

  • sri rAmAyaNam – He has selected important slOkams from sri rAmAyaNam and written a detailed commentary for those in rAmAyaNa thani slOki. He was named abhaya pradha rAjar for his masterful explanation of vibhIshaNa sharanAgathi episode.

  • He has also written many rahasya granthams such as mANikka mAlai, parantha rahasyam, sakala prAmANa thAthparyam, etc which explains rahasya thrayam in an excellent manner. He was a pioneer in documenting rahasya thrayam – piLLai lOkAchAryar took the essence of nampiLLai and periyavAchAn piLLai’s teachings and wrote his astAdhasa rahasya granthams.

As far as I can tell, none of these works have been translated into English, and some may not be available in any form. But the translator was able to identify the person Vedanta Desikan was referring to as Periyavachan Pillai, so it's probably from some available work.

On a side note, does anyone know where in the Garuda Purana this verse occurs? The translator says it's verse "219-6-5", but I'm not sure what that means; the Garuda Purana has three Kandas, each of which have a bunch of chapters, each of which have a bunch of verses. So I don't see how you could specify a verse using three numbers none of which is less than or equal to 3.

9

The verse quoted by Vedanta Desika in the Rahasyatrayasara is Garuda Purana 1.227.9

भक्तिरष्टविधा ह्येषा यस्मिन् म्लेच्छो ऽपि वर्तते
स विप्रेन्द्रो मुनिः श्रीमान् स याति परमां गतिम्

bhaktiraṣṭavidhā hyeṣā yasmin mleccho 'pi vartate
sa viprendro muniḥ śrīmān sa yāti paramāṃ gatim

I checked out the Rahasyatrayasara and it doesn't quote Periavachan Pillai by name or work but simply says -

kanyāpradānaparam anRu; jñānapradānaparam enRu vyākhyānam paṇṇinārgaḻ.

Attributing the quote to Periavachan Pillai is an editorial artifact and hence provided in parentheses in the English version. Unfortunately, the version of the RTS I checked (in telugu script) doesn't provide an editorial note; so it is less useful than the English translation for the purpose of tracing this quote.


I traced a reference in the Periya Thirumozhi vyakhyanam of Periavachan Pillai in the verse "Kulam tharum".

kulam tharum - janma varthangaLaal kuraiya ninRaan oruthanukku bhagavad sambandham unDaanaaL, ivaTRaal uyarndhaan oruvan, ivai iraNDiLum ivanukku thaazhvu uNDaagavum thaan uyarndhaan aagavum ninaitha irukkavum kooDa koosavENDumbaDiaayiththu bhagavad prabhaavam iruppadhu. aagilum, peN koDuthal koLLudhal seygiraar illai; adhukkaDi jaati nibandhanamaagai, shlaagai, guNa nibandhanam; "sa ślāghyaḥ sa guṇī dhanyaḥ sa kulīnaḥ"(Vishnu Purana 1,9.128) enna kaDavadhirE.

My translation:

One person is born in a low caste but attains Bhagavad sambandham. Another is born in a high caste. Among these two, despite the latter belonging to a high caste, he should feel ashamed on account of the former attained the grace of the Lord despite being born in a lower caste.

Even so, the giving and receiving of daughters in marriage (among these two kinds of people) is not sanctioned due to compulsions of caste.

From the following quote it is to be construed that laudable is the collection of virtuous qualities.

Quote from the Vishnu Purana (Wilson's translation) with surrounding context. Actual quote by Pillai is highlighted -

Indra addresses Mahalakshmi -

They whom thou desertest are forsaken by truth, by purity, and goodness, by every amiable and excellent quality; whilst the base and worthless upon whom thou lookest favourably become immediately endowed with all excellent qualifications, with families, and with power. He on whom thy countenance is turned is honourable, amiable, prosperous, wise, and of exalted birth; a hero of irresistible prowess: but all his merits and his advantages are converted into worthlessness from whom, beloved of Vishńu, mother of the world, thou avertest thy face.

Wilson translates ślāghyaḥ as honourable whereas I think venerable or praiseworthy is a better translation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .