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Re: Part 2: Kumudavalli--Thirumangai"s Vaidhika Vivaham

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Sun Dec 10 1995 - 14:24:01 PST

   Thanks, Dr. Sadagopan for an informative posting about the
meaning of the Vedic mantras used in the marriage ceremony.
However, I find it highly unlikely that Thirumangai Azhvaar's
wedding was carried out using these Vedic mantras.  Being
outside the pale of the Vedas (Saint Thirumangai was of the 
KaLLa caste), he had no right to recite the Vedas according 
to the norms of his time.  Unfortunately, this is one place 
where I doubt the society of his time would have been flexible.

   Sri Vaishnavas of later times have romanticized the relationship
between the lower caste Azhvaars and the Vedas, when very often
no such relationship could have existed.  In this instance, 
we are told Thirumangai is married in a Vedic ceremony.  
In Azhvaar Thiruangari, the birthplace of Nammazhvaar, the 
image of Nammaazhvaar is adorned with a poonal (sacred thread)! 
There is no chance that Nammaazhvaar ever wore a poonal.  
Madhurakavi Azhvaar says says that he was rejected by the 
brahmins of his time, presumably due to his reverence for 
his non-brahmin acharya, Nammaazhvaar.

   It is beholden upon us to be honest about the social 
restrictions of the Azhvaars' time period.  It goes without 
saying that the Azhvaars were parama vaidikas, in that they 
perceived the deepest truths of the Vedas.  However, they
did this *despite* their being barred from the Vedas.  
Immense credit should go to Sri Nathamuni for throwing
Vedic convention to the winds and setting the Azhvaars
on the highest possible pedestal.  Surely he encountered
tremendous social opposition and ostracization in doing so.

   By romanticizing the Azhvaars' Vedic heritage, we make
it easy to ignore the social reality of their time as well
as ours.  Consider the fact that only five centuries after
Nathamuni's revolutionary acceptance of the Thiruvaaymozhi
as another Veda, a section of Sri Vaishnavas forcefully
argued that non-brahmins cannot be acharyas to brahmins!
Is this the example set by the Azhvaars? Why then were 
these great souls born amongst the entire social spectrum,
if not to show that social status meant absolutely nothing?
And that the Vedas themselves were offended by being confined
to a cloister?