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Re: A 'mArgazhi' diary and accompanying reflections

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (
Date: Mon Dec 27 1999 - 09:39:24 PST

Dear Bhagavathothamas:

Today is a wonderful day in this month of mArgazhi - as swami 
Azhagiya MaNavALapperumAL nAyAnAr celebrates  "immalaTTu mAsangaLil 
Ethor mAsam vAythatho, an obvious reference to Kannan's words in 
bhagavadgeetha - mAsAnAm mArgasheershoham.

To this, add the fact that today's pasuram is about manathukkiniyAn - 
Sri RAman and naRrcchelvan - one who gave up his sAdhAraNa dharmam to 
purusue the visesha dharmam that supersedes all dharmas, service to 
our dear Kannan.  And in this context, Sri Sampathkumar's musings are 
instructive, instructive because they illuminate the need for us to 
not to attempt to re-invent the wheel, and especially one that 
hobbles a lot.

When we have available an ocean of vyAkhyAnams and insights from an 
AchArya paramparai that is divinity re-incarnate, why would, and 
should, one attempt to interpret thAyAr's pasurams - given for our 
benefit - bereft of these wonderful commentaries?  What is more 
foolhardy than trying to interpret that vEdhamanaithukkum vithu when 
we cannot even bring ourselves to read and experience the joy of 
listening to upanyAsams of many a hallowed Acharya or vyAkhyAnams of 
smamy periya vaachhAn pillai or azhagiya maNavALapperumAL nAyanAr?

And this is precisely what sri sampathkumar is trying to do.  And in 
doing so, he is also guilty of exposing some distorted 
interpretations that are orthogonal to the philosophical behemoth
that we call srivaishNavam, a philosophical edifice that holds 
nishkAmya karma (extolled by Krishna as an exemplary state in Sri 
BG - Ch. 18) as secondary to bhagavat and bhAgavatha kainkaryam.

There are several aspects to Sri Sampathkumar's ** interpretations** 
that are contrary to poorvacharya vyAkhyAnams.  aDiyEn will utilize 
one such egregious interpretation to attempt to convey to Sri 
Sampathkumar about the need to exert  the effort to study (and a 
lifetime is not enough) the incredible outpourings of our Acharyas 
before attempting to ensnaring oneself in the folly of one's own 
fanciful misgivings.

Sri Sampathkumar writes:

> But the chief purpose of life, according to Vedanta,
> is to understand and trancend the "purushArthA-s".
> Once we do attain an intuitive understanding of the
> principles of "aram", "porul", "inbam" and "mOksa" we
> are said to be on the certain road to Godhead.
> Andal's "tiruppAvai", scholars and "achAryA-s" remind
> us, actually teems with several scintillating
> references to this great Vedantic matrix of
> "purushArthA-s" described above.

To say that the above lines mis-state the intent of thiruppavai would 
be the understatement of the millenium that is about t pass us by.
Thiruppavai essentially is dvayartha prathipAdakam, that He is the 
upAyam for the ultimate, and the ultimate is service at His feet.  
AnDAL, just so that mandamathis like ourselves do not think that 
there is any other purpose to her pasurams, explicitly states 
"maRRainam kAmangaL mARRu", the reference being to the two ashddhis 
that can come into one's prapathi:  the tinge of ego in the 
performance of prapathi, and that the goal is not mOksham, is not the 
joy that comes out of the performance of prapathi, is not anything 
that even remotely contributes ones own pleasure; it is simply 
bhagavadanubhava preethikaaritha kainkaryam - kainkaryam that brings 
uhappu to his heart - kainkaryam that brings him unmitigated joy - 
isn't He ultimately bhOkta and prabhu, sEshi and swAmy, pita and 
bharthA (as He asseverates in the bhagavad geetha)?

ThAyAr's pAsurams, meant for our upliftment (is she not the ultimate 
purushakAra bhoothai - these pasurams are not for Her benefit) 
reinforce the need for kartrutva buddhi thyAgam and swa-bhOktrutva 
buddhi thyAgam.  And to put this wonderful, ineffable aruLiccheyal, 
in the all too commonplace  framework of sAmsAric purushArthas is 
retrograte at best and grossly offensive at worst.  And to lend 
sampradayic authenticity to one's own interpretations  through 
statements such as *** "Andal's "tiruppAvai", scholars and 
"achAryA-s" remind us, actually teems with several scintillating 
references to this great Vedantic matrix of "purushArthA-s"*** seems 
to be a weak attempt to reinforce belief in an exposition that has 
been derived outside the orthodoxy of Acharya insights.  Instead of 
suggesting that Sri Sampathkumar should read Sri PVP's vyakyanam 
(which requires a certain maturity of anubhavam and comprehension), 
aDiyEn would exhort him to find a good Acharya to learn about  Sri 
vaishNavam.  And in doing so, Sri sampathkumar may very well realize 
that there is hardly a need to embark on a journey to discover new 
meanings to thiruppavai.  If only we can comprehend and experience 
the immeasurable beauty and insight in Acharya vyakhyanams, we may 
have served our cause for redemption very well.

Azhwaar EmberumAnAr Jeeyar AnDAL thiruvadigaLE sharaNam