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"The Life of Kuresan"-postscript

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2000 - 22:08:09 PST

Dear friends,
It is nice to know that some of you enjoyed reading
the posts on the "Life of Kuresan". But adiyen must
tell you the enjoyment in reading does not exceed the
enjoyment there is in writing the story of Kuresan's
extraordinary life. One can narrate it any number of
times without ever tiring of it.

To tell you the truth, my children more than anything
else are really responsible for the series of posts. 
Let me explain.

Last month during 'mArgazhi' adiyen began to teach my
12-year old son and 9-year old daughter to recite
AndAl's 'tiruppAvai'. Everyday before commencing the
'tiruppAvai' adiyen had them first recite the full set
of "AchAryAn tanians" that usually prologue the
"prabhandam-s". The 'tanian' in praise of Ramanuja
composed by Sri.Kuresan in Sanskrit, as you all know,
holds the pride of place in the order of recital.

My children kept asking me why they had to repeat the
"tanians" everyday and why couldn't they simply get on
straight with the "tiruppAvai" verses. Adiyen said no,
"The "acharya tanians" are very important!". They were
adamant and wanted to know why. Then adiyen told them
that a 'tanian' like Kuresan's is very important
because it is a chronicle of the entire history of
SriVaishnavism, the whole biography of AchArya
Ramanujan and autobiography of Kuresan too... all put

Adiyen's children weren't willing to believe that a
short 4-line 'tanian' could be all that! "Come on,
appa, you are just kidding us!", they said. Adiyen
protested and told them, "No, I'm serious. Kuresan's
'tanian' really contains a whole slice of the history
of India!". They immediately jumped up and shouted,
"Okay, we'll believe you but only if you tell us the
whole story of Kuresan's "tanian"!".

Adiyen realised he'd been tricked! He'd walked into a
trap the children had laid for him! The sly creatures
had got me into a situation where I'd have to start
telling them a story!

It was thus that adiyen began narrating to them the
life-story of Kuresan over the following days...
especially since the timing too had been just perfect
with Jan '26 being the "tirunakshatram" of the great
soul! And whatever adiyen recounted to the children at
night around bedtime, adiyen simply repeated in his
posts to the bhakti-list the following morning! 

Adiyen is really glad his children now know the full
story of Kuresan. For Kuresan is really an ideal and
inspiring role-model for all our children. Sometimes
adiyen feels that the problem with SriVaishnava
'sampradAyam' today is that it does not effectively
project "role-models" to our children. It is
unrealistic to expect our modern, "hi-tech" children
to draw inspiration solely from reciting "stOtrA-s"
and hymns of the AzhwArs and AchAryA-s. They must be
made to understand that the purpose of learning
"stOtrAs" and "pAsurams" is to dwell on them and
slowly imbibe the value-system and the lessons of life
they contain.

Our children must not fall into the trap of believing
that all there is to being a SriVaishnavan is wearing
"tirumann sri-churnam", being able to memorise a few
Desikan stOtrA-s or AzhwAr "pAsuram-s", repeat some 
catechism about "prappatti" and hold up one's nose and
haughtily exclaim, "I am a staunch SriVaishnavan". Our
children should know (at a tender, young age itself)
that being a SriVaishnavan also means being daring in
life, highly principled, fearless, responsible,
adventurous, resourceful, selfless, kind, generous to
a fault and heroic .... like the ancient 'rshis' and

It is really important our children should grow up
wondering at the exciting deeds of SriVaishnava
role-models. Unfortunately, in our 'samparadyam' we do
not project SriVaishnava heroes in the true light.
It's because instead of treating our past heroes as
heroes we turn them into demi-gods and near-gods. It
is impossible for our children, for instance, to go
anywhere near SriRamanuja today because he has been
deified for centuries now as God incarnate. They can't
look up to the AzhwArs or Desikan because they too
have been thoroughly apotheosised. And as for other
"achAryA-s" of history, they've become distant,
shadowy figures for our children because we've ensured
they are portrayed as old men in ochre-robes whose
principal claim to posterity's attention is that they
took to "sannyAsa". We have effectively turned all our
revered 'achAryA-s' into objects of awe and veneration
for the senior citizens of our community. Somehow
nobody seems to have tried or succeeded in projecting
them also as flesh-and-blood role-models for the young
of the community. Most of our young boys and girls, to
tell the truth, actually grow up thinking that Sri
Vaishnavism is therapy for "daddy" when he grows old
and has to cope with "PRB" i.e. "post-retirement

But the wonderful story of Kuresan's life easily
appeals to children and youth of all ages. It is an
action-packed tale of human courage and raw heroism,
of rare nobility and high spiritual endeavour. For a
SriVaishnava child of today there can really be no
better role-model than Kuresan! 

Adiyen has no hesitation in saying that Kuresan is the
quintessential folk-hero of the SriVaishnavas!
    ******    *******   ******

This is the message adiyen had tried to convey to my
children through the "The Life of Kuresan" story...
and also, through the posts, to many friends on the
bhakti- list who like adiyen have little children in
their homes too.

Adiyen cannot boast of any "erudition" in the real
"sAmpradAy-ic" sense. Adiyen does not write on the
"bhakti-list" to make a reputation as a "soap-box
orator" (Sri Mani Varadarajan to please note). Adiyen
does not aspire to present scholarly papers at any
'vidvat sadas' or at any symposium of the learned or
devout, in India or abroad. Adiyen simply wants his
children (and those of his friends' too) to grow up
with pride in native heritage or Vaishnavatvam. Adiyen
simply wants them to be able to find real SriVaishnava
role-models in life. 

That's all there was, and is, to adiyen's "series" on
the Life of Kuresan.


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