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[ADMIN] nAdOpAsana topic closed

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 00:40:32 PDT

Dear Members,

Once again, we are seeing acrimony and unneeded emotion raising their
heads in postings to our list.  I once again beg members to read and
re-read their posts before sending them to the list.  Please realize
that we have over 600 members at this point, and you are reaching a
very large audience.  Please be careful in what you say.  We always
need vigorous discussion -- but argument for the sake of argument, or
arguments which are unnecessarily defensive, dogmatic, or which are
made without sympathetic understanding of the context of previous 
remarks should be witheld from the list and conducted in private.

This being the case, I am declaring the nAdOpAsana topic and its
derivatives closed for the time being.  Strangely enough, this topic
has further degenerated into acrimonious meta-discussions.  Need we 
really vehemently criticize one-off translations of a single sloka that 
appeared in "Sri Ranganatha Paduka"? Similarly, need we really presume 
that such a criticism is an attack on the entire institution that runs 
that magazine?

I also find it strange that this whole controversy, if I may term
it that way, got started by an innocent post by Sri M.G. Vasudevan
which simply stated that concentration through music makes bhakti
easier.  Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to say this, but the
effectiveness of music can only be disputed by those who have little 
exposure to it, or those who cannot appreciate it.  The songs of Tyagaraja, 
Purandara Dasa, and other great vAggEyakAras cannot merely be dismissed 
as "sAmAnya" or "common" bhakti, just because they didn't happen to be 
born in Iyengar families.  Who are we to judge the anubhavam of saints 
such as these? Can we really deny that Sri Tyagaraja had sakshAtkAra of 
Sri Rama, as he so beautifully describes in 'dorakunA iTuvaNTi seva'? 
Are we so sure of our own knowledge and our own status in the eyes of 
the Lord that we dare do this? (As a side note, I find that these
criticisms often come from our youngest members). 

Of course, some will make doctrinaire arguments based solely on the
their literal understanding of shastra. It is of course obvious that
bhakti-yoga and prapatti are the only paths to brahma-prApti described 
in the shastras.  But to doggedly repeat this dictum without seeing 
the plain fact that saints such as Tyagaraja had some sort of vision 
of God is simply missing the point.  *We* don't know all that has happened 
in a saint's internal life, and it is foolhardly to question or label
these great personalities based on external symbols.

Or, as several eminent scholars of our sampradAya expressed to me recently, 
the Lord chooses to take to Himself those whom He deems 'varaNIya', or worthy
of being chosen.  One is 'varaNIya' by being extremely dear to the
Lord, i.e., by attaining the state of the 'jnAni' described in the
7th chapter of the Gita, where Vasudeva is his all (vAsudeva sarvam).
How an aspirant gets to that state of absolute disregard for anything
else other than the Lord is immaterial in the final analysis.

Some of our members maintain that Tyagaraja, et al, could not have been 
true brahma-jnAnis because they strayed from conduct befitting a Sri Vaishnava. 
The example I have seen cited by one of our members in the past is Tyagaraja's 
taking of sannyAsa at the very end of his life.  This so-called 'Apat-sannyAsa' is 
supposedly indicative of a lesser form of bhakti.  Such statements strike me as 
lacking any anubhavam, compassion, or understanding of human nature. In this case, 
to me it is clear that Tyagaraja was merely acting as anyone in his circumstance 
would do. Before he left his earthly body, he had no doubt that Sri Rama
would take him to Vaikuntha.  This is clear from his songs as well as his
life story. But, to please the Lord, he felt it was his duty to formally show 
that he had no attachment to the world and take sannyAsa. That was his 
understanding based on his tradition.  I find this no different from a 
Sri Vaishnava who, having done bhara-nyAsa as a youngster, in later days
adopts a kudumi, 12 thirumaN, etc., on a daily basis, merely as an expression
of his duty to God. I.e., Tyagaraja's sannyAsa was not out of fear of not
attaining the Lord, but an expression of his love for Rama and disregard for 
all else, before he left this world.

Anyway, enough of this matter.  I also notice on the other side members
wantonly quoting questionable scriptures in their zeal to back up nAdOpAsana
as a truly independent means of realizing God.  To these people, I suggest
that they read the guidelines of this group carefully.  It is not appropriate
to start writing expositions of scripture without properly studying them.
In this case, quotes the hamsOpanishad and amRta-bindu-upanishad are not to be
tossed around as pawns in a chess game.  For all I know, these are questionable
"later" Upanishads. Certainly they are not accepted as a common standard
or shastra by the major scholars of Vedanta.  And any study of the root
texts of the Sri Vaishnava tradition make it clearly obvious that the 
only way to attain God are bhakti-yoga or accepting the Lord Himself
as the means (prapatti).
 

If anyone finds something new on this topic they feel absolutely deserves
public discussion, please contact me and we can first discuss it in private.

Thanks for your patience.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani




 

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