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Date: Tue Apr 15 1997 - 23:38:52 PDT
Dear Friends, At the outset I wish to apologise for the remarks I had made earlier about mosque chanting that interrupted the Nadaswaram and the morning at Thiruvallore. I realize that it was my imperfection that made me see it as an interruption instead of a part of glorification of Sriman Narayana. Even at the time of writing, it was not my intention that this become the central point of focus on any discussions in this group. On the auspicious occasion of Rama Navami, I wished to share some thoughts that occured after listening to Upanyasams on Ramayana by Mukkur Lakshminrsimhacharya, on Anushtanam by Srivatsarangachariar, and a collection of Nrisimha Priya by my Acharya Srimad Mukkur Azhagiya Singar. This whole line of thought was prompted by Mohan Sagar's remarks about his attempts to network with Srivaishnavas and K. Srinivasan's remarks about liberalism and rigidity. Not much has changed since the days of the Ramayana in terms of people, personalities and Sriman Narayana. Nobody will dispute that both Kausalya and Dasharatha were very great Bhagavatas, otherwise Sriman Narayana would not have been born to them and spent His chlidhood with them. However their marital life in the 64,000 years prior to Rama's birth was far from happy. Kaikeyi was always the favourite. As a result Kausalya was the subject of scorn and ridicule of all the palace inmates, who did not respect her because the king did not respect. Things changed after she became the mother of the eldest son and the crown prince. When Dasaratha fell unconscious on hearing Kaikeyi's 2 boons, His thoughts were on how His son, who had the best pleasures that the world's capital could offer, will manage to live the hard life in a harsh forest. Kausalya however expresses her fear that she would once again bear the brunt of insults that she lived with until Rama was born, once He goes away to the forest. Their material pains as well as the pleasures of living in the palace of Ayodhya as the emperor and empress of the world were probably far more accentuated than most of us have to face today. Sita's case was even worse. After having lived the princely life in Mithila and later in Ayodhya, She had to lead the life of an ascetic in the forest. This did not trouble Her in the least. She had her Lord and Master with Her. However things changed when She was kidnapped and taken to Lanka. There was no sign of Her Lord who, earlier at the single peck of a crow had sent a Brahmastra after the bird. She spends Her days in despondency thinking of the fond memories with Her Lord. Swami Desikan describes that She cared for neither the beautiful forest with its trees, blossoms and fruits, nor for the harassment of the Rakshasis, who in Her very presence, were discussing how Her meat would taste, after they had killed her. She merely remembered Her Lord and Master moment after moment. Her final desparation in not finding Her Lord, led her to the decision to commit suicide. Acharyas describe that the reason why Rama did not respond instantly, as He did in the case of the Kakasura incident, was because He and Sita were bound by their promise to the Devatas to give them a chance to serve the Divya Dampatis. Rama cried in seeming helplessness when the denizens of the forest responded to His cries for witnesses of Sita's kidnapping with total silence. Even the river Godavari remained silent in fear of Ravana in spite of Sita's direct appeal to it as well as Rama requesting the river to reveal Sita's whereabouts. After this Rama had to deal with the doubting Thomas Sugreeva who put the Lord who is eternally full with Jnana, bala, Aishwarya to test after test to make sure that Rama would indeed be able to protect him from Vaali. After the Lord did so and Vaali was killed, Sugreeva forgot all about his promise to send his monkey troops in search of Sita. If we forget the fact that the Vaanaras were monkeys, they displayed remarkable human characteristics. Vaali even wore the sacred thread and did Sandhya Vandanam. Sugreeva was all too buman when he forgot all about his promise to Rama and was enjoying himself with Tara instead. It was Tara and Hanuman that saved Sugreeva from the wrath of Lakshmana. The residents of Ayodhya on the otherhand, were ready to give up their urban pleasures in one second to go and live with their Lord in the forest. It was this material detachment that got them Saranagathi when Bharata did Saranagathi on behalf of all of Ayodhya at the time of requesting Rama for His Padukas. At the end of Rama Avataram all of the residents walked away from Ayodhya to Sri Vaikuntham along with Sri Rama. Way down to the south, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibheeshana all did extreme Tapas and prayed to Brahma. Kumbhakarna, who represents Tamo guna, wanted to ask for Indra's post, but on Saraswati's intervention ended up asking for sleep instead, which was granted. Ravana asked for material opulences and even wanted to build a staircase from Lanka to Swarga. Vibheeshana asked that wherever he maybe and under whatever circumstances, his mind should not swerve from Dharma. It was this prayer that enabled him to overcome all odds and do Sharanagathi at the feet of Rama. He left his family behind in Lanka, but came with 4 other Rakshasas. Having faced and overcome the opposition of Rakshasas, he now had to face opposition from Sugreeva and others, who inspite of his Sharanagathi at the feet of Rama was calculating materially the pros and cons of Vibheeshana joining his army. What if Vibheeshana was a spy? Worse what if he came with genuine intentions, but blood being thicker than water, deserted them at a crucial moment and joined Ravana's forces to deal a devastating blow to Rama's army? Vibheeshana's unswerving faith in Prapatti overcame even this opposition. Having been accepted by Rama, he did not bear any illwill towards Sugreeva, who must have surely watched Vibheeshana closely through the war. For this display of faith, he got the Kainkaryam of carrying Peria Perumal from Ayodhya to Srirangam. In today's world of Bhagavatas, we also have our Guhas, Dasharathas, Kausalyas, Sugreevas and Vibheeshanas. Some of us may get along, some of us may not get along. However they had Rama with them. We do not have such an avataram present today. Srimad Mukkur Azhagiya Singar writes that the Tiruppavai itself is an avataram and that Andal is the mother of this avataram. Among all avatarams this is the highest. One who worships this avataram by regular chanting is sure to obtain all the mercy that Sriman Narayana is capable of showering. We also have our Acharyas capable of leading us to moksha just as Brahma did to Vibheeshana, Dasharatha did to Kakasura and Bharata did for the people of Ayodhya. Some of us may be able to very good kainkaryam like Guha and Hanuman, and yet others like me are in the same boat as Sugreeva with a mind that is inclined towards service, but with a body that seems eternally married to laziness and her companions. Even during Rama's time Saranagathi and bhakti etc, though the focus of the epic, was not easily obtained by everybody and we have the same odds today. The key as shown by Vibheeshana is mahavishvasam which comes as a result of Tapas, prayers and most importantly service to Bhagavatas. Srimate Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yateendra Mahadesikaaya Namah. Srimate Sri Lakshmi Nrsimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Sri Narayana Yateendra Mahadesikaya Namah: Acharya Thiruvadigale Saranam. Jaganath.