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From: Venkat V. Rao (
Date: Wed Nov 02 1994 - 14:45:55 PST

Thengalai/Vadagalai: about some historical settings related
                     to history & concepts as heard from elders.
Part 5 (conclusion), contd. from part-4

With the Samkalpa to proceed with the spiritual reformation of society and
equipped with the divine urge and knowledge needed to do so, Ramanujacharya
set about the task with a handful of followers and an army of opponents.
As it happens in most natural physical phenomena, so it happens with
psychic phenomena and more so in the area of religious reformation.
The momentum, the systemic practices had developed, was formidable to be
countered for immediate and radical changes. The Acharya chose a
graduated path as the wish and command of God.

As mentioned already, Ramanujacharya considered it important to recover
the lost centralization of the human concerns and to re-establish the
dignity of man, in all social spheres. Consistency with the noble
concerns of the guiding scriptures and the messages contained therein,
were taken as important. The 'benefits' of being otherwise must be rendered
irrelevant to what the humans seek in their spiritual existence and
uplift. These guidelines needed to be built into the social system in an
enduring, pleasant and enjoyable form that added value to society.

The Acharya identified the common threads in all human beings as the
designs of God and appealed to the recognition of those threads of importance.
The rest was spiritually 'also there'. And all artificial distinctions
were irrelevant as man-made. This was a big change in concept which was
not easy to be conveyed in a convincing way to the common folks who have
had centuries of brain-washing to accept unhealthy man-made gradations
and values. To be different, for Ramanujacharya, is not inequality,
in human beings.

Ramanujacharya was fully aware of the difficulties that common folks may
find in re-recognizing such basic issues which have been high-lighted
throughout our scriptures and which, under the 'interpretative astuteness'
of the polarized man, suffered intolerable and unjust distortions for
selfish or clan ends.

It is in the light of these considerations that Ramanujacharya conceived
human activities as a wholesome fusion of Karma-yoga, Bhakti-yoga and
Jnana-yoga. He left it to the choise of individuals to determine for
oneself the proportions in the fusion so long as its effects on society
is deterministic of the centralized concerns of uplift of the human
society and elevation of the dignity of the human being in all walks of

The exercise of this choice permitted the followers to group themselves
into the clans, Thenkalai and Vadakalai, based on the interpretation of
the complex concept of Prapatti, a central entity around which the fusion
coefficient, so to say, of the freedom permitted in the above paragraph
was exercised. This understood, one would be constrained to appreciate
the real absence of basic spiritual objectives of the two systems apart
from technicalities of the processes involved.

In the few words above, I have tried to express the social concepts that
the great Acharya had, as explained to me by some of the stalwarts
of Srirangam. I would like to have the comments of the members of the
group to rectify any misconcepts I may have had in understanding.

End of the series. Comments invited.