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Intra Religious Distinctions - Section 8

VVijay1068_at_aol.com
Date: Fri Apr 05 1996 - 19:26:26 PST

Dear Bhagavatas,
Please find attached Section 8 of my Series " Intra Religious Distinctions".
I am concluding the Series with this. I sincerely thank all the Bhaktas and
Mr. Mani in particular for giving me an opportunity to share a few thoughts
on the subject
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy

          Intra Religious Distinctions - Section 8

VADAKALAI AND TENKALAI  DITINCTIONS 

In Srivaishnava school itself, two branches of thought had
emerged between the time of Sri Ramanuja and that of Sri
Vedanta Desika  whose contemporary was Pillai Lokacharya. They
are called Vadakalai ( Northern ) and Tenkalai ( Southern) though
in reality there is NO GEOGRAPHICAL POLARIZATION to
justify their nomenclature. 

Possibly, this is due to greater importance ascribed by the former 
to the Vedas which were in Sanskrit, a language  prevalent in the
Northern part of India, while the latter stressed the importance of
the Divya Prabandams of Alwars which were in Tamil, the
language prevalent in Southern part of India. This distinction has,
in fact, no meaning since both in temple worship and in the hearths
and homes the two streams have been so integrated and observed
by both the branches.

Swami Sri Vedanta Desika is generally regarded as representing
the so called ' Vadakalai' sect. But, since he has produced 
monumental works in both the  ' Northern Sanskrit' and the
 ' Southern Tamil', he and his followers could more appropriately be
called  ' Ubhaya Kalai' ( both Kalais) rather than mere ' Vadakalai'.

Also, their differences are not on fundamentals but on certain
aspects of the Srivaishnava philosophy which one branch
emphasizes with greater force than the other. It is unfortunate that
some later day enthusiasts of the two branches went to stupid
lengths ( e.g ) putting alternatively their respective castemarks on
the forehead of the poor temple elephant and taking the dispute
right upto the privy council.

In fact, most people know only this difference regarding the
application of the white clay caste marks in the form of 'U' by the
northern and  'Y' by the Southern sects. It would appear that when
an Acharya observed that the base of the castemark should touch
the TIP of the nose. one set  took it to mean the TOP-TIP  where
to link the eyebrows with a U shaped curve while the other took it
to mean the TOE-TIP, with a spear- point -like stroke riding on
the back of the nose reaching up to the nostrils.We do not know
whether the Acharya did not explain what he meant or the Sishyas
did not seek a clarification or the Acharya had become unavailable
for an explanation. Be that as it may, the practices had come to
stay and stay with such disasterous consequences. This is an
example of how  over- enthusiastic fanatics could blow up even
insignificant and inconsequential distinctions to abnormal
proportions.

There are about 18 such points of differences with varying degrees
of insignificance as not to deserve a discussion at all. Still, being
on the subject, we shall briefly allude to a few of them by way of
illustration and without comment       

1. Regarding Lord's mercy. Next to the Caste mark, this
probably is the only other difference most people are
aware of

Vadakalai View           
Some positive gesture is necessary on the part of the jeevatma to
deserve the grace of God, because He can be deemed partial if He
grants Moksha to all both deserving and undeserving. This is
based on '  Markata Nyaya'- a comparison with a mother monkey
carrying its infant only when the infant takes effort to cling  or
attach itself to the mother 

Tenkalai View
Lord's grace is spontaneous. He can grant Moksha to anyone he
likes. This is based on ' Marjara Nyaya'- a comparison to  a mother
cat carrying its kitten  holding it in its mouth without any effort on
the part of the infant ( unlike in the case of monkey )

2. Regarding the status of Lakshmi (i) as to her being the means
(ii) as to her being infinite (iii) as to her being Paramatma

Vadakalai View
(i) She is the means for attaining salvation as much as the Lord
Himself and also has the role of a mediator ( Purushakara) 
(ii) She is infinite in nature (Vibhu) like the Lord Himself
(iii) She is also Paramatma as much as the Lord Himself

Tenkalai View
(i) Do not accept this position though they accept her
recommendatory role as held by Vadakalais
(ii) She is atomic in nature like other Jeevatmas
(iii) She is  a  Jeevatma like any of us.




3. Regarding Kaivalya

Vadakalai View
(i) Kaivalya is inferior to Paramapada
(ii) Kaivalya is not eternal
(iii) Kaivalya is situated Outside Paramapada

Tenkalai View
( i) Accepted
(ii) Kaivalya is eternal
(iii) Kaivalya is within Paramapada but in its outermost parts.

4. Regarding the means of Bhakti and Prapatti

Vadakalai View
Accept both as the direct means but Bhakti is more difficult and
dilatory while Prapatti is easy and immediate

Tenkalai View
Do not accept any means because Jeevatma is so utterly dependent
as to be incapable of adopting either Bhakti or Prapatti as a
means.

5. Regarding Prapatti

Vadakalai View
Prapatti has to be a positive specific act of surrender by the
jeevatma to the Paramatma

Tenkalai View
No positive, specific act is necessary.  All that is required  is   
 (i) the knowledge of the Svarupa of the Jeevatma and
 (ii) mental acceptance of  the Lord's grace in granting salvation 

6. Regarding sins

Vadakalai View
When a jeeva surrenders, the Lord forgives the sins committed by
the jeevatma and grants Moksha They do not accept the analogy of
the cow or husband advanced by Tenkalais because neither the
cow nor the husband enjoys the dirt in either case, but only ignores.

Tenkalai View
The sins of a jeevatma is a source of joy for the Lord who relishes
the same like a cow licking off the dirt on the body of its calf or
like a loving husband enjoying the dirt on the body of his beloved
wife.

7. Regarding performance of Compulsory duties like
Sandhyavandanam

Vadakalai View
As compulsory duties are laid down by the Sastras which are the
Lord's commandments, non- performance will tantamount to
transgression of His commands (Ajna adhilangana) and will
render the Prapanna liable for punishment

Tenkalai View
To a highly evolved soul, non- performance of the compulsory
duties is not an offence. But, they should continue to do them more
for setting an example to the less evolved souls. 

8. Regarding the interpretation of the words "Sarva Dharman
Parityajya' occuring in the Charama sloka

Vadakalai View
The Dharmas actually refer to the 32 Vidyas attaching to
Bhaktiyoga which had already been given up by the jeeva due to
incapacity and delay involved in observing them and the Lord
offers to stand in their place

Tenkalai View
This is literally interpreted to mean ' First, give up your duties
and then take refuge in the Lord'

9. Regarding the Lord's grief at the suffering of the souls

Vadakalai View
One can have grief only when one cannot remove suffering of
another. But, the Lord is capable of removing suffering. So, there
is no need for Him to grieve. As Sri Rama , He shows to the World
how a human would feel and how one should react on seeing the
misery of others. 

Tenkalai View
They hold that the Lord actually feels sorry on seeing the
sufferings of souls and cite examples from Srimad Ramayana
where Sri Rama is depicted as grieving over the misery of others.

10. Regarding the Lord's being also atomic as well as gigantic in
size as mentioned in the Vedas.

Vadakalai View
He is smaller than the atom in beings  that are atomic in size.
This is called 'Antar Vyapti'  ( Immanence). He is also greater than
the greatest in the sense He pervades  and surrounds everything.
This is called ' Bahir Vyapti'. ( Transcendence)

Tenkalai View
His being atomic in atoms and enveloping even the biggest are all
done by what is known as 'Agatitha Ghatana Saamartya'- Special
powers enabling accomplishment of even the impossibles.