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expression of shortcomings

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Thu Apr 10 1997 - 17:23:36 PDT

Mr. Rangaswamy writes:

>The Acharya now recounts all of his shortcomings by describing himself as 
>lacking in personal qualities like virtue (satva), and firm faith and 
>states that he is possessed of qualities and conduct directly opposite to 
>the previously stated Kalyana Gunams of the Lord and the virtues enumerated 
>above and consequently is immersed in an ageless ocean of sin....
>The above confession of shortcomings on account of association with Karma is 
>a common feature of the works of Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Tirukacchi Nambi 
>in the Devaraja Ashtakam (which was very eloquently summarized by Sri 
>Sadagopan) and Swami Desikan (where he describes himself as the emperor of 
>all evil attributes). Such thoughts arose when these great Acharyas had a 
>vision of the Lord and were evaluating themselves critically against the 
>background of the auspicious attributes (Kalyana Gunams) of the Lord. 
>However, my own interpretation is that these great souls did not need any
>confession at all. Since they had already realized the Lord, they were above
>the Tri-gunas. However, in their compassion for the rest of humanity, they 
>chose to take upon themselves all the shortcomings of mankind (on account of
>the laws of Karma) and plead with the Lord to help mankind overcome the 
>bondage of Karma.

This expression of helplesness and worthlessness by our Acharyas is another
characteristic that is unique to SriVaishnavism.  For me, such outpourings
inspire two thoughts:

1.  If these noble souls felt so unworthy of the Lord's Grace, one can
imagine just how undeserving we lay followers should feel at having even
this slight inclination that we feel towards Him.

2.  In what I would call "popularistic Hinduism," many of the sanyasis have
been put or have put themselves into the level of god-men, being viewed by
the masses of having the power to bestow whatever material or spiritual
blessing that one seeks.  Contrast this with our Acharyas, who, in pointing
out their human weaknesses, lead us towards the True One in Whom such
"power" resides.

Daasanu Daasan,