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Musings on #39 of Desikan's RG

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Fri Dec 27 1996 - 09:17:07 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

 I am about to venture into essaying some aspects of "dharmA" that lie
embedded in stanza#39 of the "Raghuveera-gadyam". This is pretty serious
business and I therefore invoke, at the outset, the blessings of my
"manaseega-guru" Sri.Mukkur Swami II who will guide me through these
potentially treacherous paths.

Whatever is 'truth and good' in the folowing postings of mine must be deemed
to be the work of Sri Mukkur Swami. Whatever is erroneous or worthless must
be deemed to be mine own. No "dOsham" whatsoever that may arise out of my
essay shall accrue to my "manaseega-guru". It shall be all mine own.

Please bear this always in mind.

                     ************************************
Many weeks ago, when there was an interesting discussion on the
'bhakti-list' on the question,"Should We Ask Him ?", it somehow got steered
into a discussion on the Jatayu-episode through Stanza #41 of the
'Raghuveera Gadyam' referring to the phrase "sabhari-mOksha-sAkshi-bhutha". 

Then I think I raised a bit of a "storm" by saying that there is indeed a
special breed of "bhakthA-s", or even "prapannA-s", called "Category B"
persons, like Jatayu, who need not "ask Him for mOksha", since the Lord
unilaterally grants it to them by virtue of their being exceptional
"dharmAtmA-s".

Since Jatayu was one such great "dharmAtmA" we saw Swami Desikan, through
Stanza#39 of the 'Raghuveera-gadyam', show us that the bird did indeed
receive "mOksha" from Lord Rama unasked.

You may all recall, a bone of contention then arose during our discussions
in which several 'bhAgavaOttamA-s' poured forth many excellent and
formidable arguments and views. Through the welter of such admirable
eloquence the debate began to centre around two fundamental questions :

A. Did Lord Rama grant "mOksha" to Jatayu for valiantly attempting to save
the Lord's Consort OR,

B. Did Jatayu become eligible for "mOksha" by virtue of dying a martyr for
"dharmA".

One school of learned opinion on the list seemed to hold steadfastly to the
view that Jatayu became eligible for "mOksha" not because the bird was a
great "dharmAtmA"; it became deserving of such unsolicited "Grace" from the
Lord only because it performed a service to Lord Rama and 'Sita-pirAtti'.
This view was founded on the sound 'sastra-ic' postulate that mere "dharmA"
does not fetch one "mOksha".

Now, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', please always keep in mind that when there is
a debate on 'sat-vishayam' such as the one which agitates us now, the debate
invariably has its roots in a difference of "emphasis" rather than in a
difference of "conviction".

In other words debaters seek to combat each other's position not because
they see it as fundamentally flawed or founded in error; they "oppose" it
because they consider that more "emphasis" ought to be made on a certain
aspect of the matter under debate than on another. Both streams of thought,
in effect, do indeed really see the TRUTH but choose to express appreciation
of only that aspect of it which appeals to their respective sensitivities.

I am a cricketing enthusiast, dear friends, and hence I can only explain all
of the above by saying, picturesquely, that people can endlessly debate
about the relative virtues or flaws of predominantly "back-foot" or
"front-foot" "players" without doing much damage to the essential beauty of
the game itself.

(And try telling a batsman to leave any one "foot" -- the one you don't
usually fancy -- behind in the pavilion before walking out to the crease to
bat!!!)

So I request you all well in advance, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', not to read
any  narrow doctrinaire meanings into these otherwise very healthy discussions.

My "guru" Sri Mukkur Swami used to advise that the great tenets of our
SriVaishnava philsophy are meant to be deeply cogitated, no doubt, but such
cogitation must lead to our faith being augmented not enervated. He used to
say it is not enough for a Sri Vaishnava to merely "know the truth"; a true
Sri Vaishnava usually proceeds to "live the truth" with the expectation that
he will ultimately "realize it".

So, dear friends, please bear in mind that what I shall now proceed to
discuss must be read and understood by you not merely at a dry intellectual
level. We are not here in a debating society trying to score points for
eloquence or for the "gift of the gab". We are discussing a matter of faith,
and a deep one at that, and hence we must "think with our hearts" and "mull
with our souls". The intellect, we must not forget, can serve us only like a
lamp-post : either for support or for enlightenment.

In our present discussions, our purpose must be to seek a bit of
enlightenment; not support.

I shall proceed further in my next posting with the thoughts of Sri.Mukkur
Swami II on this subject.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha

sudarshan