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Jaganath.Bharadwaj_at_nrecatao.nreca.org
Date: Tue Dec 12 1995 - 19:11:10 PST

Mani writes:

*    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?
S Kaushik writes:
This "section of Sri Vaishanavas" could also be viewed as including
Sri Vedanta Desikar himself. In Rahasya Traya Sara, he clearly
argues why even the most devout non-Brahmin bhaktas can nver
"become" Brahmins. He argues that the para-Bhaktas ought to
be respected, but they cannot and should not be considered as
Brahmins.

>From a "naive" reading of our scriptures, it seems to me that
though the scriptures speak of EQUAL accessibility of God to all
members
of society, it NOT imply that the MODES of which God can be attained
are
the same for all members. Though our 21rst century ideals may wish
otherwise, many of the most eminent Sri Vaishnava scholars in history
have not believed in an egalitarian society of the sort that people
wish today....
Rest of text deleted.

It is correct that Vedanta Desikar said that caste distinctions
continue after Prapatti, but a careful reading of RTS as well as
other prose works of Vedanta Desikar reveal that the caste system is
there only for the baddha atmas and at the time of Moksha he or she
becomes equal to all other nitya and mukta jivatmas and that none of
the rules and regulations laid down in the shastras apply except for
what Perumal makes such a jivatma do.  It was because Kanchipurna was
 not a baddha jivatma that Ramanujacharya wanted to eat his leftovers
and be sanctified.  Perumal not giving Kanchipurna moksha until he
got Prapatti from Ramanuja was a leela just as Vipra Narayana failed
to see Narayana but was crying for Devadevi instead.

It is said in the Geeta that a true Jnani sees a brahmana, a cow, an
elephant or an untouchable equally.  This can be understood from the
Vedanta Desikar's explanation that an individual pays respect to an
Acharya because Lord Hayagriva is permanently seated on the Acharya's
tongue.  Similarly when a person without the sacred thread is paying
respect to a person with one it should be understood that the respect
is paid to Gayatri Devi and Sriman Narayana.  There is from this
point of view an equality of castes.  A comparison can be made with
the functioning of a car.  There are various parts that make up the
whole car and every part has to play its part properly in order for
the car to do its work properly.  Some years ago when I had done
$2,000 worth of repairs my car continued to stall.  Finally it was
discovered that the culprit was a washer costing 89 cents and it cost
2 hours of labour or $90 to get to the washer and replace it]
Similarly every individual's role is important in Narayana's eyes
whether it is teaching a college course as in the case of Shri
Dileepan or whether it is the Jeer of Sri Ahobila Mutt.

How people perceive roles is another matter altogether.  Coming to
Sri Kaushik's point on equality, it is correct that scriptures do not
consider everyone to be equal.  This is because Sri Krishna says in
the Geeta that He is not partial or discriminatory towards anyone.
Sri Vedanta Desikar explains in the beginning of Srimad Rahasya Traya
Sara that a jivatma became a baddha atma because of its evil passions
and desires.  How a person gets treated in this world also
depends upon his original and subsequent evil as well as
good acts from time immemorial.  We cannot consider justice
from the perspective of a few years or one lifetime's
experience.  20th century will be no more perfect in the eyes of the
25th century people than the 15th century is in our eyes. Therefore
having coming into this world of suffering, our vision is both
limited and coloured by TRIGUNA or the combination of sattva, raja
and tamo gunas.  These gunas are capable of making us thing that
imperfect is perfect and vice versa.  In order to approach Moksha we
have to undergo a paradigm shift and consider everything that Sriman
Narayana does to be perfect and for our good.  How this is so will be
explained by the perfect Acharya that Narayana chooses for us.  How
do we recognize our Acharya when as soon as He approaches Triguna
will work overtime filling our minds with doubts?

His Holiness the 44th Jeer of Sri Ahobila Mutt has explained in a
lecture that "one should chant Krishna Krishna all the time (or as
frequently as possible).  This alone with get a person who chants in
this way to the point of saranagathi.  To one that has had the good
fortune of having had saranagathi, continuous chanting of Krishna
Krishna will wipe away all sins, (including Prarabdha Karma) giving
all pleasures and enjoyments in this world as well as experience of
Paramanandam in Sri Vaikuntha Loka after this life.  Of this there is
no doubt."

Jaganath.