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Musings on "Category B"

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Tue Dec 10 1996 - 00:43:09 PST

srimathe lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear bhAgavatOttamAs,

We have seen that the issues related to "Category B" revolve around the
Jatayu incident in Ramayana as described in the "Raghuveera gadyam" on which
Sriman Sadagopan is presently and concurrently posting a series on this list
and which soon will lead us all to the great climax in the "yUddha KAndam".

I am sorry to be still lagging behind in the "aranyA-kAndam" but Swami
Desikan has simply held me captive in the deep and lush "forests" of his
poetic empire! After all he is a "simham"(lion) of sorts and what else can
one expect!!!

Mulling on the Jatayu incident now, however, takes me momentarily away from
Swami Desikan and to a more contemporary person who too,as some of you may
be aware, was a great, though rather quirky, "rasika" of the Srimad
Ramayana. He was the "silver-tongued" (only silence is golden!) Right
Honourable Sir V.S.Srinivasa Sastry, the great educationist and colleague of
giants like C.Rajagopalachari and Sir.C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer. 

Sometime in the '40s or 50's, I think, Sri.Sastry gave a series of
"lectures" on the Ramayana at the Sanskrit College, Madras. The lectures in
scintillating English were then collected and put together in a book
entitled,"Lectures on the Ramayana by Sir.V.S.Srinivasa Sastry". Some of you
'bhAgavatOttamAs' may have already read the book. When I was a university
student myself the book was one of my earliest and serious introductions to
the 'Ramayana'. 

Sastry's lectures on the 'Ramayana' were a little different from
conventional  approaches to the holy epic. He stated in his lectures that he
was departing from convention not out of any intellectual or spiritual
arrogance but because, for a change, he wanted to approach the Ramayana as a
simple document of the finest "human qualities" ever known to man and which
were so fully and gloriously personified by Lord Rama. Sastry did not
attempt to treat the Ramayana of Valmiki as a religious text of the Hindu faith.

In the climate of the '40's and 50's this "maverick" stance of Sastry seems
to have ruffled,and even inflamed, the sentiments of many in the strict
brahminical orthodoxy and cognoscenti of those times. 

Be that all as it may, I personally find Sastry's lectures eminently lucid
and enlightening. The Rt.Hon'ble has a way of etching and chisseling out, in
sharp, glinting and magnificent portraits of euphonic English prose, the
supreme "human qualities" resident in the character of Lord Rama. And that
is what makes Sastry's lectures worthy of attention and of our gratitude to
a great scholar like him.

Now Sastry devoted quite some attention to the Jatayu episode in his
lectures. My own musings, dear bhAgavatOttamAs", in the postings to follow
this one, are an echo of the "Sastry Approach" which I personally think is
very appropriate to adopt while examining the "Category B" questions we have
raised :

A. Did the Lord grant "mOksha" to Jatayu in return for the bird having
valiantly resisted Ravana's abduction of "pirAtti" OR,

B. Did Jatayu get "mOksha" on the strength of its status as a heroic martyr
for "dharma".

Having clearly defined the approach I am going to take, I can now assume
having your leave, dear members, to proceed in my future postings to
scrutinize the above motions of debate.
srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha