You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : August 1999

Date: Thu Aug 12 1999 - 11:07:23 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas

Sometime ago, there was a discussion of the word "AdiyEn". 
I would like to add my two cents worth on the subject.

The word "AdiyEn" means "I, who am at your feet" or 
"I, who am Your most obedient servant". The bottom-line is 
that the person addressing believes himself honestly and truly 
to be the most obedient 'servant' of the person addressed, who by 
implication is recognized as the 'master'. 

This is the spirit of the word as used in Srivaishnava 
tradition by Azhwars and AachAryas tersely bringing out the 
'Sesha-Seshi bhava' of the BhAgavata in relation to BhagavAn. 

In the Shaivite tradition also, a similar term is used by 
NayanmArs viz. "AdiyArs"- which also means the same but 
with reference to their "Ishta Devata"- Shiva.

Sri Bharat referred to Nampillai saying-
"Whether AzhwAr calls himself ADiyEn or NAn, he means only 
ADiyEn; Whether we call ourselves ADiyEn or NAn, in our mind 
we're thinking of ourselves as NAn only!" 

Sri Narasimhan Krishnamachari amplified this saying- 
"We very frequently use it in our list when we really mean 
exactly the opposite, especially when we disagree with someone 
and want to tell them what "aDiyEn" thinks and knows to be the 
correct view, and how misinformed, illiterate, etc. the other 
person's view is when compared to "aDiyEn's" view."
This is because we miss the spirit and cling on to the form 
in an inane fashion.

The famous barrister, Lord Norton was defending an ignorant 
client before a judge who was not any brighter than the client. 
The barrister would introduce his client to the judge saying-
"My client, your honor is a fool who does not know what 
he is saying"
"My client, your honor is an idiot who does not know 
what he is doing"
"My client, your honor is a nincompoop, who does not know how 
he got into the position where he is now"

In the absence of the punctuation mark of a comma after the words 
"Your honor"- it would appear as if the descriptions belonged to 
the judge and not to his own client! 

The word "aDiyen" when used by some sometimes appears as if 
the intention is that the person addressed was actually the servant 
to whom the person addressing is the master!

The word has fallen into disrepute because of excessive abuse 
divested of the spirit of humility underlying it.

Azhagiyasinghar jocularly remarked in the Tele-UpanyAsam on 
1stAugust 99. that having been attuned to the PatasAla mode, 
even when some distant lady relative called him "Kanna" 
(which incidentally was his pet name at home in his 
Poorvaasramam, as pointed out in my write up) by force of 
habit and almost by reflex action, he would be tempted to respond
with an "AdiyEn'- which obviously was misplaced!

Sri Mani quoted my observation - 
"an indiscriminate use of expressions such as 'Adiyen' and 
'Dasan' without understanding their meaning and purport 
also tend to make them look artificial."

When so used without feeling and without realizing the true 
import of the term, it smacks of false modesty. Also, the use 
of the third-person-singular to be in tune with 'AdiyEn", 
makes the construction clumsy, belabored and self-defeating 
and very often, it is shorn of the spirit of humility that 
underlies the expression. If one can consciously adhere to 
this spirit of humility, the use of "I" instead of "AdiyEn" 
would not be egoistic but would only be easily readable, natural 
and equally effective.
Anbil Ramaswamy