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Srivaishnavism - can we revisit ?

From: Velukkudi Krishnan (
Date: Mon Dec 10 2001 - 14:50:36 PST

Dear bhagavatas ,

na mantharAyA : na ca mAtulasyA: dOshO na ragna: na ca rAghavasya |
matpApamEvAtra nimittam AsIt vana pravEsE raghunandanasya || (Srimad
Ramayanam - words of bharata)

  a.. This is a self analysis by Bharata on return to Ayodhya from his
maternal uncles place after Rama went exile. He probes the cause for
Rama's exile. Could it be mantharA (kUni). She stopped everything.
Bharata hastens to say NO. She was a dAsi to kaikEyi and so her well
wisher. She is not at fault. The fault lies on kaikEyi. She should not
have requested for the boons on the words of a dAsi. Bharata nods his
head NO. She is after all a mother and love towards her son made her
blind. Dasaratha, a great Emperor,  having ruled for 60,000 years must
not have acted on the words of kaikEyi. He is to be blamed. Bharata
could not accept this too. It is the order of IkshvAaku kings to stand
by their words, come what may. Dasaratha is no exception. It is Rama to
be blamed. He should have argued his case and conducted the
pattabhisheka for himself. Why did he not do so ? bharata sighed. I am a
fool. The purpose of Rama' s incarnation was to make the human race
understand "obey the words of your parents ". ("jIvatO vAkya karanAt" -
the prime duty of a son is to obey his father, perform pinda pradAnam
(last rights) at gayA, and perform yearly srAddha sincerely - vEdas).
Will Rama act against this purpose. So finally who is to be blamed.
Bharata, unexpectedly turned his fingers to himself. My sins caused all
these. If I had not gone to kEkaya kingdom, I would have stopped Rama.
So I am to be blamed squarely. Can anyone blame bharata even in their
dreams. Bharata exhibits  a rich and proud Srivaishnava characteristic
"accept your fault even if you are not to be blamed for that" Andal in
tiruppavai 15th pasuram reiterates this as " nAnEdAn Ayiduga". "Let
myself and only myself be at fault".=20

  a.. Swamy Ramanuja enters Tiruvengadam (tirupaty) on a yatra. Peria
tirumalai nambigal comes to the outskirts of the town to welcome him.
Ramanuja felt that such a great person should not have come to invite an
unworthy person like him. He told the same to nambigal. peria tirumalai
nambigal smiled and said " I searched the whole tirumalai for an
inferior person to me. But could not get one. So I decided to come. "
Ramanuja was spell bound. Nambigal displays an unparalleled Srivaishnava
quality " shed your ahankAra - be humble"=20

  a.. Koorathazhwan heard the cry of a frog caught by a snake. Azhwan
said "Is the frog calling the universal protector. O ! what a belief for
the frog. We, the samsaris do not have this belief ". Having said so he
fell unconscious. Koorathazhwan practices a great quality of a
Srivaishnava - "learn MahA viswAsam even from a small creature"

  a.. Embar saw a painful snake with a thorn stuck to its mouth. He went
near the snake, pulled out the thorn unminding the danger, and had his
bath.  Embar sets example for a Srivaishnava " help anyone in need.
Sorrow / pain of others must be unbearable to a srivaishnava."=20

  a.. MudaliAndan was out of town. Embar made a disciple of mudali Andan
to do service to him, as though he was his sishya (Embar did not know
that he was a sishya of mudali Andan). After mudali Andan returned,
embar came to know the truth and felt sorry that he posed to be the
acarya to a sishya of mudali Andan. Mudali Andan smiled and said "it is
easy for two people (rather than one) to pull out some one in distress
from a well . It is easy for the drowning to come out if he holds two
people instead of one. Alwar sings "gnana kai tA" It is easy for two
acaryas to pull out a sishya from the ocean of samsara.So let us do it
together. " Mudali Andan is a trend setter for a Srivaishnava attribute,
"tolerance, peaceful co existance, collective action rather than
fanaticism. "

  a.. Ramanuja was going through the streets of Srirangam with his 700
sanyasi and 12000 grhasta disciples. Peria nambigal (the direct acarya
of Ramanuja ) who came by that way sighted Ramanuja and suddenly
prostrated before him. It sprung a surprise to others watching and they
enquired with Peria nambigal. peria nambigal replied " Ramanuja sanyasi
surrounded by his sishyas, looked to me like my acarya Alavandar and so
I prostrated" Peria nambigal demostrates a Srivaishnava principle
"vaishnavO vaishnavam drshtvA dandavat pranamEt bhuvi" and "paraspara
nIca bhAva" "Before a vaishnava feel yourself inferior to him, say so,
and prostrate before him - whoever he may be "
You would all be wondering, as to why am I lamenting like above ? What
are all these ? Stories - Hagiologies Call it by whatever name you want.
These are all the guidance notes, pathway lights which our merciful
preceptors have left for us. These are stepping stones in building , in
developing our personal qualities as a Srivaishnava. It pains to watch,
that the same stories and hagiologies have been instrumental for
infights in our bhakti list.=20

While Ramanuja was out of Srirangam during difficult periods, there was
an order by the king that no one connected with Ramanuja should be
allowed inside Ranganatha temple. Unaware of this, Koorathzhwan tried to
go inside the temple. One, out of the two watchmen, stopped him. The
other recommended, "Eventhough Koorathazhwan is connected to Ramanuja,
individually he is a pious gentleman with full of atma gunas. So pls let
him in ". The other agreed to do so. Koorathazhwan was shocked and said
" I believed that atma gunas help to improve your love towards acarya.
But here they go against my acarya bhakti. " So he decided not to go
inside the temple taking the help of his atma gunas.  Similarly,
hagiologies and guru parampara stories must go to develop your qualities
and not be counter productive.=20

Adiyen went through the string of mails, on adisesha avatara - Swamy
MMunigal, and got surprised. These mails have been exchanged amongst the
most learned, pious and understanding bhaktas of the bhakti list. I feel
individuals have been hurt by someone abusing,  and that was the
backdrop for all these mails.  If someone had abused,  try to educate
them, if not it is just to be condemned and ignored.(pOvadE nOyadAgi).
You are the ones who can do something to our sampradaya.=20

Adiyen fully agrees with one important point of Mani. We should spend
time in learning acharyas works. But let me tell you, I am of late not
finding that dedication and perseverence even amongst devotees who talk
a lot about sampradayam. Many talk about Srivaishnavism and that they
lead their lives as a Srivaishnava but show no interest in knowing the
great works of our acharyas. Whether it is India or US , there is no
difference in this indifferent attitude.=20

You all have the experience of conducting tele lectures. Great scholars
like, Rangapriya swamy, NSA swamy, Bhoovarahachariar swamy, ANC swamy,
Narasimhachariar swamy have all delivered lecturers. All are quite old
and it is time for them to take rest. But they take pain (but enjoy) at
late hours in the bridge. How many log in  ? How many are regular ? How
many really ask questions on the subject. Unless we undergo a systematic
course on our philosophy and religion, how can you appreciate the
acharyas. All these arguments/ kala vaishamyam would die naturally, if
we gain proper knowledge.=20

Adiyens father used to feel sad in saying : if one has to sign a balance
sheet he has to be an auditor, if one has to argue in a court of law, he
has to be an advocate, if one has to touch scissors on a operation
table, he has to be a doctor. All these take a minimum of 5 years
course. Unfortunately, to be a Srivaishnava or to comment on
Srivaishnavism there is no specified course to gain knowledge .=20

So the  way to put down all these, is first to learn a lot, second to
practice atleast a few, and third to feel sorry that we are not able to
practise the rest.

 I have experienced this. 18 months back we started regular courses
through our foundation at Chennai. Classes are on, tiruvoimozhi,
guruparampara, geeta, and sahasrananam. Classed are conducted slokam by
slokam, pasuram by pasuram, tirunamam by tirunamam. No rush.  There are
about 100 people attending regularly alternate sundays. This is to gain
knowledge. For anubhava, they have visited 55 divyadesams together.
Adiyen took them personally to all these places, explained the greatness
of these divyadesams, pasurams for these divyadesams, acharyas works on
these divyadesams. etc.  Now I see a vast difference in their
attitutude. There are almost equal number of both kalais. Adiyen feels
proud to say that 5 out the above have started rural propagation in turn
of what they have learnt.=20

As experienced members of our sampradayam, pls think and come up with
ideas as to how to make people get interested in a systematic course.
How to make them read and practise more instead of getting into duals. I
know this is a difficult process.Once they are soaked in the writings of
our acharyas and alwars they will not find time for these
shortsightedness. This is the only kritagyata we can show to our great
acharyas. The best way to make a line small without touching it, is to
draw a bigger line by the side of it. (refer sloka- yadA tE
mOhakalilam...nirvEdam gantAsi-Chapt 2 of Gita )

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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