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Re: [Pseudo Gods etc.,---Contd...]

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_uswest.net)
Date: Thu Aug 17 2000 - 04:30:53 PDT

Dear bhAgavathas,

What I am about to share may appear to be slightly radical. But,
please know that it is not at all my intent to challenge some of
the traditionally held views of how to properly foster proper
traditional practices among our community.

But, before we jump forward with further discussion on teaching
sAstra pramAnam and vaidikam, or enforcing dress codes within our
muthams and temples, I thought that I would share a deeply
personal incident in my life that may help in shedding a slightly
different view on the subject.

My parents are wonderful and devout people.   But, like many
SriVaishnava immigrants to the US of their day, they have very
little formal background or interest in the nuances of our
satsampradAyam.  All they could teach my sister and myself about
SriVaishnavam could best be summed up in three statements:

--It was founded by a saint named Ramanuja
--He taught that Vishnu and Lakshmi are the Supreme Truth
--We hail from families who are his followers

Needless to say, such a limited understanding of SriVaishnavam
did little to prevent a hodge-podge of religious ideas to become
part of our family's life.  From childhood to early adult years,
I was exposed to every aspect of mainstream "Hindu" thought, from
temple worship to Baba bhajans, Avani Avittam to Amritanandamayi,
ISKCON to Chinmaya Mission.  But, behind it all was a simple and
sincere faith, as my parents joined other Indians of the day in
seeking out answers to help them live in what is undoubtedly one
of the most complex and least understood societies of the present
day, the US.

To those of you living outside of this country, and even for many
of you who live here, it appears that the USA has very little to
offer other than material comforts.  It is a place of high
stress, low moral values, and little if any spiritual
significance.   But, those like myself who grew up here can tell
you, there is much more to the US than that.  It is also a place
of deep emotions, a full tapestry of ideas that range from the
ridiculous to the sublime, and all the spaces in between.  The
person who is engaging in all sorts of hedonistic delights one
evening can be providing one with profound wisdom the next.
Observers of this strange array of hedonism and lofty idealism
can only liken US life to the descriptions of Lanka found in the
Sundara khAndam.

And, it is against the backdrop of this leela vibhuti of our Lord
that a young college student who now calls himself Mohan Raghavan
sat weeping one late night, lost in the meaningless of his own
self-created purgatory.  His friends had deserted him, his
parents could not understand him, and the so called "Iyengars" of
the day were too busy diversifying their portfolios to provide
him with any spiritual solace.  All that he  -- I -- could turn
to was the hodge-podge of spiritual ideas that my parents had
exposed me to.

I recall myself having spent many days prior to this time sifting
through so many ideas like a search engine, struggling and
fighting through the futility of advaitam, becoming disillusioned
by the magic tricks of the pseudo gods, on and on, until that
night when, for some inexplicable reason, my thoughts centered on
one person: Ramanuja!  This great soul with all his magnanimity,
philosophical brilliance, and deep empathy for the human
condition would capture my heart that night, and would guide me
on a journey that would lead to my dear wife, my now dear
friends, and to this forum.

It could have been very easy for me to choose some other faith or
the follow the prevailing trends towards the latest pseudo-deity.
But, when I recalled what I read about Ramanuja's life and
teachings, all I felt was that nothing else could even come close
to what he said or how he lived.   Committing to him that night
was the only thing that I could think of doing at the time.  But,
frankly what was I really doing other than accepting simply
accepting Perumal's katAksham.

And now, over a dozen years later, on another sleepless night,
and another set of circumstances to contend with, there are tears
in my eyes again.  But this time, they are tears of joy, for in
my heart of hearts, Sri Ramanuja is still there, stronger than
ever.

You must forgive the sentiment in my words, but this my friends,
this unconditional love for Sri Ramanuja, is something that I
truly believe we must foster in ourselves and in our families
before even beginning to talk about the more formal aspects of
SriVaishnava life.  Every other sect proclaims the greatness of
their guru.  We only talk about the greatness of our sampradAyam.
While we must not downplay the merits of vaidika life, let us
first keep in mind that love and faith are very very powerful
emotions, and it these very emotions that these pseudo gods are
using to spread their own message. But, it is also these same
emotions that can also lead people back onto the proper path.

Let us go forth first in spreading Ramanuja's Vaibhavam in every
nook and cranny of this world, let us foster the same love that
he felt for every human soul in our hearts and let us seek to
provide others with the same solace and meaning that he has
provided to all of us.  Let us chant his name so loudly that it
pales to insignificance the name of any other so-called guru or
baba, and let us spread his universal message to each and every
person who is interested in hearing it, irrespective of race,
caste, or gender.  All other things will naturally proceed .

I seek forgiveness if my sentimental ramblings have offended
anyone in any way.

emperumAnAr thiruvadigalE saranam

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mohan Raghavan



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