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Tenkalai/Vadakalai

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Thu Sep 29 1994 - 07:23:23 PDT

Thanks Mani for your excellent reply.  After my first post I
remembered reading about this subject in the book entitled "A
Dialog on Hinduism" by Sri. V.N. Gopala Desikan, (1990)
published by Sri Visishtadvaita Research Center, 66, Dr.
Rangachari Road, Madras 600 018.  Chapter 13 of this book deals
with this subject and it starts out saying "There is no fundamental
or basic difference in the philosophy, between the two schools,
Vadakalai and Tenkalai."  The chapter states there are 18 points of
difference, but lists only 12.  These are given below.  I have
paraphrased many of them in order to be brief.  In this process I
may have introduced imprecision.  Please pardon me for this and
feel free to correct gross mistakes.


1.   Role of Lakshmi:  Both V and T consider Lakshmi as
"mediator" and "she, along with Narayana, is the object of
attainment, Paramapada."  V views Laksmi as a means of attaining
Paramapada, i.e. upaya, and T does not.

2.   T views Lakshmi as Jivatma.

3.   T views Lakshmi as atomic in nature.

4.   Both T and V hold Kaivalya (perceiving and enjoying one's
own soul through Jnana yoga) inferior to Paramapada.  According
to V, Kaivalya is outside Sri Vaikunta, for T it is in Sri Vaikunta's
outer most parts.

5.   V accepts bhaki as a means (upaya) and T does not.

6.   Prapatti is necessary for V, for T it is not.

7.   This is related to the concept of prapatti.  According to V,
Lord's grace has to have a reason, like the efforts by the individual
soul.  T holds that the Lord's grace is spontaneous.

8.   T holds that the sins of devotees are pleasing to the Lord,
like the misdeeds of young children.  According to V, the Lord
ignores these sins.

9.   According to T, exalted persons need not perform duties
such as sandya, etc., they do so only to set good example.  For V,
these duties must be performed even by the exalted.

10.  For T, the giving up of all dharma stated in the carama
sloka refers to an explicit act of giving them up, for V it is a
statement of fact, i.e. when you are ready for prapatti, you have
already given them up.

11.  T believes the Lord also grieves when a person is suffering,
like Rama and Krishna avatharams.  V says the Lord being
satyasangalpa will remove the suffering and won't grieve.

12.  This one is about the Lord being "smaller than the smallest
and bigger than the biggest."  Both V and T interpret "smaller than
the smallest" as He is inside even the smallest particle in the
universe.  For "bigger than the biggest,"  T says the Lord envelops
the infinite things, such as Time, and V says the Lord is also
present with infinite things.

As you see, the differences are highly technical and IMHO not
important to ordinary folks like myself.   I for one would like to see
the two schools merged.   Recently I read in Sri Nrisimha Priya
that azhagiya singar met with a thenkalai jeer, (sorry, I am unable
to recall the name of the madam) and discussed cooperation.  I
wish for more such meetings and joint endeavors.

P.S. This book "A Dialog on Hinduism" is an excellent primer for
understanding the basic differences among the many schools of
Indian philosophy.  It is written as a dialog between a father and a
child.  The discussion is at a level that even I was able to follow
most of it.