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SriVaishnava rigidity

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Mon Apr 14 1997 - 18:33:40 PDT

Mr. Srinivasan writes:

> That apart, in the earlier days (not now), perhaps Sri Vaishnavism was
> the least rigid and compassionate of the Hindu philosophies
> regarding other religions. 

As one who regards himself to be a SriVaishnava, I am personally disturbed
by this, and would of course make an effort to challenge this view.  But,
from from the perspective of the amateur student of culture, it can be
observed that every monotheistic devotional tradition, Christianity, Saivism
(not Advaita,) Islam, etc. has to have a certain amount  of rigidity in
order to propogate its views.  If a religion has to maintain the status of
one god being true above all others, it has to show that this god is better
than all the other gods.  And, since that one god generally serves as a
ruler or father figure, one would naturally want be inclined to defend, or
in some traditions, fight for that god and his chosen community.  

This, of course, would not be the case of the Advaitic or Buddhist
philosophies, for the concept of Divinity in both these traditions is
chiefly impersonal, and consequently, is discovered through individual self
realization, irrespective of religious tradition.

However, one cannot help but notice that the philosophical side of
SriVaishnavism is quite revolutionary in its humane insights and reformist
ideals. The idea that the Lord's Compassion and Magnanimity are such that He
accepts souls irrespective of their caste or station in life; that "simple"
acceptance is all that is required to reach Him; and that devotional
outpourings in the vernacular are just as valid and as sacred as religious
language and rituals are some examples of this phenomenal level of
humanitarianism that, in my view, would overshadow the perceived rigidity.


Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan