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From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_CompuServe.COM)
Date: Sun Apr 14 1996 - 17:54:33 PDT
Dear Prapatti group members: I will be out of the country for the next wo weeks and particularly during Sri Ramanuja Jayanthi. Inview of my absence to celebrate that holy day here, I thought I would offer my salutations to Sri Ramanuja through a posting on his influence in spreading his Siddhhaantham beyond the Tamil speaking part of the country . Sri Keshava Prasad posted an article recently on Sri Ramanuja"s influence in Karnataka Desam and his contributions to spread Sri Vaishnavism from the base of Melkote. Sri Bhardwaj Jaganath referred in an earlier posting to the similarity in the thoughts of AndAL and Meera Bhai of Rajasthan, who lived in the Sixteenth century. I thought it might be a good topic to reflect on the wide impact of Bhagavat Ramanuja Siddhaantham in the land of Narasimha Mehta, Meera Bhai and Mahatma Gandhi .. A compartive analysis of the literary works of AndAL and Meera Bhai reveal clearly that they wanted the close presence (Sampoorna Saanidhyam) of the dark-hued Lord of their heart of hearts. They both craved for him , pleaded to him to come to them and cried out, when he left them. Both wanted him as their husband. Their deep emotional attahment (Raagthmaka Sambhandham) to the Lord of Brindhavan and Govardhan is unmistakable .They were blessed with Vaishnava Samskaaram quite early in their lives. Meera"s grandfather , Rao Doodaji brought her up in the Vaishnavite tradition. AndAL ofcourse was heir to the rich devotional Bhakthi of PeriyaZhwAr , who adored Krishnaavatharam. Both surrenderd their womanhood(Naaritvam ) at the lotus feet of their Lord and chased away those , who even dared to mention their marriage to anyone other than their chosen Lord. Their Bhakthi is unparalleled and different than that of the Male Azhwaars, since they were more natural and less self-conscious in their role as women to love the Parama Purushan. Hence, their Viraha Taapam is a little more convincing. The only difference between Meera Bhai and AndAL is that the latter is the consort of the Lord and she took the Avatar on this earth as the daughter of PeriyAzhwAr. During the time of Meera Bhai(16th century) , the Bhakthi/ Saranagathi aspects of the Azhwaars as established by Bhagavad Ramanuja Siddhantham had spread to the northern and western parts of the country and especially to Rajasthan and Gujerat. It is not therefore too much of a stretch of imagination to assume that the teachings of Sri Ramanuja had " an indelible Impact " on Meera"s life as suggested by Professor Seshan of Vaishnava College , Madras . I will compile a few items of comparison of the Bhagavt Anubhavam of Meera and AndAL as culled form the work of Professor Seshan and the Padavali/Bhajans of Meers . The passages from these outporings of Meera echo the sentiments of AndAL as expressed in her MangalAsAsanam in Thiruppavai and the stanzas of NacchiAr Thirumozhi. Sri Lakshmi Tatachar of our group has written on the MangaLAsasanam aspects of AndAL's work earlier in a monograph dedicated to AndAL in 1986. Sangeetha Kalanidhi Srimati M.S.Subbulakshmi"s recording of Meera Bahjans are brilliant evocations of Meera's devotion and dedication to her Lord Giridhari . In her Bhajan " Chakar Rakho Ji ", Meera appeals to her Lord to appoint her as a maid servant in His palace so that she can grow an arbour for Him and sing of Him. She expresses her confidence here that the Ocean-hued Lord of hers will show up on the banks of the river of love in the depth of the dark night. In her Thirumozhi, AndAL expresses a similar sentiment to serve her Lord (Pada Sevanam ) this way: KESAVA NAMBHIAI KAAL PIDIPPAAL ENNUM IPPERU YENAKKU ARULUKANDAAI ( NT 1.8) In her Bhajan , "Mai Haricharan Ki", she affirms her total sarangathi at His feet. She appeals to her Lord to come to her, here and now. AndAl describes her total surrender to Her Lord, complains about his indiffernce inspite of her many sincere appeals to Him to come to her rescue . She requests Manmatha, Nightingales, Fast moving clouds to intercede on her behalf and to bring Her Lord to her in many verses of her Thirumozhi. The sentiments expressed by AndAL in her Mega Vidu Thuthu pasurams take a slight twist in Meera"s Hari Awan Ki Awaz Bhajan. Here, Meera experiences the rainy season and the movements of dark blue clouds swiftly in the sky. She sees the peacocks dance to the song of the nightingale. She suffers from her separation from Her Lord and appeals to the King of Rain (Varuna) to shower his love on Meera and breathe new life in Meera to prepare for her Union with the Lord . She appeals for rejuvenation , just as the timely rains would bring the life back to a dried up creeper scorched by the heat of the Sun. Both Meera"s and AndAL's fascination with nature and the world around them as the objects reminding them of their Lord during his separation from them are tender moving experiences articulated in sublime poetry . (to be continued in the second posting ).