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Re: sandhyAvandanam

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (ss_at_clihouston.com)
Date: Fri Aug 06 1999 - 11:31:38 PDT

Dear fellow bhAgavathas:

The Sri VaishNava tradition is a hoary one, one where the lineage of 
Acharyas have demonstrated how gnyana, bhakti and vairagya come 
together in recognition of SrimannArAyaNA as the ultimate upAyam 
and kainkaryam under His feet as the ultimate purushArtham (as swami 
nammAzhwAr would say, aDikkeezh amarndhu puhundhEnE).  An even more 
notable facet of our Acharya tradition has been the remarkable 
consistency between their divine insights/preaching and anushTanam, 
from emberumAnAr, koorathAzhwAn, dEsikan all the way down to maNavALa 
maamunigaL and current day Acharyas.  And I can say this 
unequivocally, no where will you find a suggestion that one should 
give up one's nitya naimittika karma.  Just that they will all, 
uniformly, exhort you to offer everything as kainkaryam to the lord, 
even the ordained naimittika karmas.  Swami Pillai lOkachAryAr goes 
on to clarify it for those of us suffering from dense comprehension, 
in no uncertain terms, in srI vachana bhUshaNam:

karmamum kainkaryathilE pugum (all the duties, karma, that one has to 
perform become a subset of kainkaryam that we offer to 
SrImannArAyaNA).

So, when swami thonDaraDippoDi Azhwaar extols the virtues of sOmbhar
in mEmborul pOgaviTTU as sOmbarai ugathi pOlum, he is not heaping 
praise on those of us who have given up performance of our nitya 
karmas, he is referring to those exalted souls (as per Sri Periya 
Vaacchan piLLai) who have total dereliction of thought when it comes 
to being aware of thier effort in  taking care of themselves, those 
who have displayed mamathA thyAgam, kartrutva buddhi thyAgam and 
phala sanga thyAgam.  There cannot be a better reiteration of vEdic 
thought of thyAgam as a basis for bhakti, as delineated by lord 
KrishNa in the Bhagavadgeetha, than this.

In fact, I reproduced a more detailed version of swami PVP's 
vyAkhyAnam in my earlier posting (than the one above), to reiterate 
the idea that our sampradAyam asks us to imbue devotion towards lord 
in every aspect of our nitya, naimittika karma. (Pl. see bhakti 
digests v004, No. 59 in the archives).  But, what happens?

Sri Sudarshan writes, with much apparent anguish,

> 
> When this position is sought to be undermined, when it is openly
> being suggested on the list that those who perform it with anything
> less than so-called perfect "dhyAna" turn it into "useless ritual" .
> to question the very need of "gAyatri" for one who has become an
> "enlightened" 'sOmbAr'.to me all this sounds dangerous and terribly
> slighting. Somewhere in all this there is travesty of "gAyatri" ---
> the Mother of all Vedic thought?

I ask myself, what is the basis for such exaggerated pain and 
anguish?

An especially surprising state, given that Sri Sudarshan was an 
active participant in the discussion in the past few days? Unless, 
of course, he has failed ( or refused) to read /comprehend the 
expositions provided with reference to the above pasuram.  There has 
never been a suggestion that  implies "a questioning the need for 
gAyathri for one who has become a sOmbhar".  To the contrary, Sri 
Sudarshan's suggestion of separation of the physical act of sandhya 
vandanam (and an initial adequacy of a physical act bereft of any 
thought of the lord) from the mental process of devotion was 
countered as follows by aDiyEn in an earlier posting:

"Duty and devotion are not mutually exclusive.  Rather, recognition 
of  their symbiotic, integrated nature in our practices will allow us 
to elevate ourselves to mental states closer to that of attaning the
ultimate anubhavam.  To even think that devotion requires
relinquishment of duty ("venture to transcend duty in  favour of
devotion" in your words) may take us down a path where we will neither
be performing our duties nor have the benefit of being devoted to the
lord."

Is there a significant suggestion of something 'dangerous' and 
'terribly slighting' in the above monograph?  I did not think so.

I hope you can relate to my difficulty in understanding Sri 
Sudarshan's claims of 'travesty' to our 'vEdic mother' for I have 
seen no suggestion whatsoever, from anybody, that advocates giving up 
gAyathri or sandhyA vandanam.  To me, the only suggestion that 
sounded ludicrous in this whole discussion,  was  the 
adequacy of sandhya vandanam performed purely as a mechanistic 
process, with just a possible soupcon - hint - of devotion.  For such 
a thought would be anathematic to our Acharyas.  and who did that 
come from?  Sri Sudarshan himself.  And such an idea is in direct 
contrast to the fundamental tenet of srI vaishNavam propagated by our 
Acharyas, that every little action, every little thought, evey minute 
aspect of our samsaric existences should be imbued with thought 
of the lord.  Was it not Sri KrishNa who said,

yath karOshi yad asnAsi yajjuhOshi dadAsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunthEya tat kurushwa math arpaNam?

In any case, my sincere suggestion to ease SrI Sudarshan's pain is 
that he pick up a copy of thirumAlai (and SrI PVP's vyakhyAnam) 
and gain familiarity with its contents.   I have every confidence 
that what some of us on this wonderful forum have had difficulty in 
accomplishing will be achieved just as a matter of course, of course, 
God (and SrI sudarshan) willing.

Azhwaar EmberumAnAr Jeeyar thiruvaDigaLE sharaNam

sridhar