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From: sadagopan iyengar (
Date: Fri Dec 28 2001 - 01:40:55 PST

Srimate Srivansatkopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra
Mahadesikaya Nama:


All human organs, apart from the obvious physical
functions they perform, are also intended to be used
in the service of the Lord. All of us are servants of
Emperuman,(SEshAs) and it is only appropriate that our
faculties are utilised for His kainkaryam. In
performing this kainkaryam, shastras and the conduct
of Poorvacharyas are our guiding star as to the manner
and type of service that is to be rendered. It should
be done in a manner that pleases the Lord (“SEshi
uganda kainkaryam”), and should be in addition to the
duties that are enjoined upon us, depending upon varNA
and Ashrama (like Sandhyavandanam, agnihotram,etc.).
For instance, Emperuman would not like us to light up
the lamps in His temple in the evening, forgoing our
basic duty of performing Sandhyavandanam.
Based on the foregoing, Acharyas have classified
Kainkaryam into two categories- AgnyA kainkaryam and
anugnyA kainkaryam. Those duties, which we have to
perform compulsorily, (like Sandhyavandanam,pitru
tarpanam,pancha maha yagyas,etc) come under the first
category, while decorating the Lord’s temple with
lamps, putting together garlands for Him, etc. fall
under the second. One may ask, “If we are compelled to
perform an act, how could it be service or kainkaryam,
which has an in-built element of choice and
willingness?” Our Sampradaya lays down that the
ultimate purpose of all these acts of worship
(including Sandhyopasanam, agnihotram,yagas, yagyas
etc.) is to please the Lord (“SrimanNarayana
preetyarttham or Bhagavat kainkarya roopam”). Hence
Agnya kainkaryam has to be performed before anugnya
kainkaryam could even be thought of.
A father is not pleased with his son, who ignores
whatever tasks have been set for him, but insists on
pressing the father’s feet in an expression of love
and concern. This is illustrated by the following
verse from the Bhagavat Gita-
“Shrui:smriti: mamaiva AgyA-yastAm ullanghya vartatE
AgyAcchEdI mama drOhI mama bhaktOpi na Vaishnava:”
 Guruparampara has it that Sri Ramanuja stood up with
great difficulty, with the support of his disciples,
even at the ripe old age of 120, to offer Arghya
pradAnam during Sandhyavandanam, thus demonstrating
his respect for the Agnya kainkaryam, even in the face
of physical inability..

Having said this, Azhwars and Acharyas have laid down
clearly the types of kainkaryam that are to be
performed with each of our faculties. Perhaps the most
comprehensive prescription is from the Mukunda MAlA of
Sri Kulasekhara Perumal, reproduced below: -

“JihvE keertaya Kesavam Muraripum chEtO bhaja
pANi dvandva samarcchaya stOtra Achuta kathA shrOtra
dvaya tvam shruNu
Krishnam lOkaya lOchana dvaya, HarE:gaccha anghri
yugma Alayam
Jighra ghrANa Mukunda pAda tulaseem moordhan nama

This shlOka incorporates the essence of kainkarya, as
perceived by Azhwars, and is worth going over line by
beautiful line, to fully appreciate its abundant

“JihvE keertaya Kesavam”- The tongue is an extremely
important part of our physique, and is often the cause
of embarrassment and trouble, if not kept under
control. It is difficult to keep the tongue idle, for,
man is a social animal who finds it difficult to
remain silent. Therefore, to canalise its function
into productive channels, Azhwar prescribes chanting
of the Lord’s holy names. And how long are we supposed
to chant His names? Says Poygai Azhwar, “sollum
tanayum tozhumin, vizhum udambu sellum tanayum
TirumAlai…….nAmatthAl EtthudirEl nandru”- “Till your
last breath, as long as it is physically possible, do
continue chanting the Lord’s names” exhorts Azhwar.
 The same Azhwar wonders” You have been blessed with a
tongue capable of praising the Lord. You also have an
extremely short, potent and sweet mantra like the
ahstAkshara, incorporating the Narayana nAmam. Despite
being provided with such infallible routes to
liberation, it is indeed surprising that some still
fall prey to bad ways.”
 “nA vAyil uNdE, namO nAraNA endru-OvAdu uraikkum urai
 moovAda mA gatikkaN chellum vagai uNdE-ennoruvar
thee gatikkaN chellum tiram”.
The following couplet reflects the same idea-
“Narayana iti shabdOsti, vak asti vasa vartinI
  tatApi narakE ghOrE patanti kim adbhutam ! »
And how should the Lord’s name be chanted? So
continuous and intense should be the chanting that it
leaves a scar on the tongue, according to another
Azhwar, who says,” nA tazhumba nAranA endru Etthi”.
 “unnai koNdu en nA agam pAl mAtru indri uraitthu
koNdEn” supplements Sri Periazhwar. 
Why is nAma sankeertanam so effective? The Bhagavan
nAma is the essence of all Vedas, (“Madhavan pEr
solluvadE Otthin surukku”-_Bhootattazhwar) and is as
effective, though much easier than performing penance
(tapas)”Etthi paNindu avan pEr eerainnooru eppozhudum
sAtthi uraitthal tavam”.
Azhwar’s reference to “eerainnooru pEr” (2x500 names)
is obviously to the Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram,
and its chanting is equated here to performing tapas.
And the word,”eppozhudum” indicates that the Lord’s
name should be on our tongue always.

Even while exhorting us to have the Lord’s name always
on our lips, Azhwars are categorical that chanting the
name of any other is taboo, and not even to be thought
 Says Poigai Azhwar, “MAyavanai allAl irayEnum EtthAdu
en nA”. « Vai avanai alladu vAzhttAdu » he reiterates
in another pasuram. Sri Nammazhwar is more categorical
in his refusal to sing the praise of anyone other than
“nA koNdu mAnidam pAdEn”, « en nAvil in kavi yAn
oruvarkkum kodukkilEn »,etc.
Even IlangO adigaL, a Jain hermit, emphasises the same
idea in SilappadikAram, one of the five great Tamil
“panchavarkku doodu nadandAnai EtthAda nA enna nAvE
 Narayana ennA nA ennA nAvE »- Is it a tongue at all,
which does not sing the praise of the Lord Narayana
who, in all His soulabhyam, made Himself a lowly
messenger of the Pandavas? enquires Ilango

In a further refinement of the concept, some Azhwars
aver that chanting the tirunAmam of BhAgavatAs (the
Lord’s devotees) is even sweeter than reciting
Emperuman’s haloed names. In an endearing display of
BhAgavata SEshatvam, Sri Madurakavi Azhwar says,
“KaNNi nuN siruttAmbinAl kattuNNa paNNia peru Mayan-
 naNNi ten Kurugoor nambi ennakkAl 
aNNikkum amudoorum en nAvukkE”
For Sri Madurakavi, Sri Nammazhwar’s tirunAmam sits
sweeter on his tongue, than that of that of the Lord
The same idea is portrayed in the following Nanmukhan
TiruvandAdi pasuram-
 “MArAya dAnavanai vaLLugirAl –MArviraNdu
  koorAga keeriya KOLariyai-vErAga
  Etthi iruppArai vellumE-matru avarai
  SAtthi iruppAr tavam »
Sri Tirumazhisai Piran extolls the virtues of those
pinning their faith on BhAgavatAs, vis-a vis the
votaries of Sri Nrsimha Himself.

Sri Periazhwar doesn’t mince his words, while
castigating those whose tongues are strangers to the
Lord’s names-
“naraka nAsanai nAvil koNdu azhayAda mAnida sAdiar
 parugu neerum udukkum kooraiyum pAvam seidana »
Those who do not chant Emperuman’s tirunAmam are
sinners- even the water they drink and the clothes
they wear must indeed have sinned, to be consumed by
such heretics, according to Sri VishnuchitthA.

True to its nature, the tongue has indeed been
long-winded, and adiyen craves the indulgence of
bhagavatas for continuing on “ Mura ripum ChEtO bhaja
“in the next posting.

Srimate Sri LakshmiNrsimha divya paduka sevaka Srivan
Satakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

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