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Re: thiruppaanazhwaar

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Mon Nov 14 1994 - 11:10:03 PST

Krishna Kalale writes:
> But there
> is some special significance to birth based caste system! I did
> not agree with this for a long time.  Since Vedanta desika
> writes about this, I am learning to agree with this.  
>
> Krishna

I'm sorry, but I *completely* disagree with this.  It should
not hold validity "simply because" Desikar wrote about 700
years ago.  He wrote (as a human) in a very different cultural
setting, with his own biases, etc.  In fact, this particular
section of the Rahasya Traya Saara (prabhaava-vyavastha-adhikaaram)
is very painful for me to read -- Desikar, in spite of all of
his greatness, uses a crude cow analogy in comparing a spiritually
advanced "low" caste devotee to brahmin devotees.  I find this
extremely disturbing.

I think we should take the words of the Azhvars quite literally.
When Periyaazhvaar talks about entering a new clan (thondak kulattil
uLLeer vandhu adi thozhudhu aayiram naamam colli, pandai kulaththaith
thavirndhu ...), he means it literally. As do Thirumangai, Sadagopan,
Thondar-adi-podi, etc. There is no need to downplay these words to
accomodate the so-called dharma-shaastras.

The above discussion is *exactly* why I think Srivaishnavas who
are interested in their tradition *must* seek to understand both
"kalais", the Thengalai and the Vadagalai.  The works of 
Pillai Lokacharya, Azhagiya Manavaala Perumal Nayanar, and Manavaala
Maamuni display far more catholicity in outlook than Desikar's. 
These two need to be taken in tandem to properly understand our
heritage.

Birth should be absolutely and completely irrelevant among Vaishnavas. 
This is all very clearly brought out in Sri Lokacharya's Sri Vachana
Bhushanam, and in Sri Nayanar's Acharya Hridayam; the life stories
of Ramanuja, Thiruppaan, etc., should also confirm this.

Mani