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Re: Love vs. legalism in Vaishnavism?

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Fri Aug 13 1999 - 17:59:43 PDT

Sri Venkatesh wrote:
> SaraNAgati, as prescribed by Sri Vaishnava Acharyas including Ramanuja
> and present day Acharyas, does not require any sort of rituals. 

To clarify a little bit, SaraNAgati is primarily a mental process
(jnAna-viSesham to quote our acharyas) where one realizes that one 
is completely reliant on God for everything, and that no other means 
(mere rituals, meritorious acts, or meditation) is capable of achieving the 
bliss of divine service, which is the crowning glory of God-realization and 
liberation.  SaraNAgati therefore involves placing the burden on God to do 
the needful. However, while this mental component is fundamental, all 
Sri Vaishnava acharyas have taught that there are physical and verbal 
components of SaraNAgati as well.  To this extent, there is ritual involved.

In the Sri Vaishnava tradition, this ritual involves principally the 
teaching of the Dvaya mantra, its repetition by the disciple, and 
learning and reflecting on its meaning. "Dvaya" means "twofold",
referring to its twofold teaching that the Lord is the Way and
the Goal.  It is also called the "Dvaya" because it consists of
two sentences.  The Dvaya is *the* SaraNAgati mantra and our 
acharyas prescribe constant reflection on its meaning, and application
of it in our day-to-day lives. 

In the Vadagalai Sri Vaishnava tradition, one of the ways of formally 
taking refuge (SaraNAgati) is to repeat the Dvaya specifically for the 
purpose of indicating one's surrender to God.  In the Thengalai tradition, 
roughly, one's learning and repetition of the Dvaya during initiation
(samASrayaNam) itself marks one as one who has taken refuge (it's actually 
more complicated than this -- others can elaborate).  

Suffice it to say that ritual is *involved* in SaraNAgati (we prostrate
before God as a sign of surrender, do we not?), but ritual is not 
*primary*.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mani