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Re: Sri Vaishnava tradition

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Wed Aug 04 1999 - 14:38:05 PDT

Dear Mr. A.C.:

First of all, please tell us your name so we can address you properly.
Second, your questions have been discussed in great detail in the
archives already. As you are a new member, I suggest you please go through 
the old articles carefully and you will find your answers.

   http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives

Third, to address your questions directly:

> I have two questions.   Is worship of only Visnu mandatory or could someone
> worship Siva and attain the same level of bhakti?  I ask because I was told
> Vaishnavites only allow worship of Visnu.

One can attain a high level of bhakti to Siva, but this is not the issue.
The issue is who is described as the Ultimate Reality in the Vedas, and
whether anything else can compare to this Highest Power.  Repeatedly,
the shastras and our acharyas tell us that Sriman Narayana (Vishnu) is 
the Ultimate Reality, and that only Narayana, being the source of all bliss,
can confer the bliss of  moksha to the aspirant.

The reason Vaishnavas prescribe worship of Vishnu is because 
Vaishnavas theoretically desire only moksha, and only Vishnu is capable
of giving moksha.  If you are interested in lesser pursuits, please
go ahead and pursue those deities and powers which are capable of 
giving those -- but realize that worship of the Supreme Reality
(synonymous with Vishnu) is what is considered the best and most
fitting for the jIva by the Vedas and consequently our acharyas.

> I personally like Siva for
> unknown reasons and just assume Siva = God = Visnu but maybe that's just
> too simplistic to be true?

This is not the position of the Vedas, so yes, it is far too simplistic
if one seeks to be authentic to the Vedic tradition.

> Second question: please recommend best English translations of and
> commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita.  

Please see

  http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/books/books.html#GITA

This is an authentic translation into English of Sri Ramanuja's Gita Bhashya.
You cannot find a better expositor of the Gita than Sri Ramanuja.
You can purchase this book right off the site.

rAmAnuja dAsan
Mani