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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.