You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : February 2000

Re: Seeming Contradiction

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli (
Date: Mon Feb 07 2000 - 17:20:11 PST

Dear Sri Ramakrishnan,

>     Our religion is one which allows a lot of individualism in approach
>to the Lord and in the method of worship. In fact, to my knowledge,
>there is no mandatory worship at all in the religion. Any method of
>worship that is there, was given only as a suggestion and there is
>always your own way of worshipping or considering the Lord.

This, in my opinion, is a generalization based on a corrupted view of the 
Advaitic traditions, which basically ended up pushing  the idea of 
individualism. I do not want to go into the debate on why I feel so, here.

However, in Vaishnava traditions, be it Sri Vaishnava or other branches of 
Vaishnavam,  temple worship is very important. The very fact that all 11 out 
of 12 alwars performed mangalaasaasanam at various temples is a standing 
example of the importance of worship and saranagathi.

>     However, in our Vaishnava sampradayam, the role of the Acharyan is
>one of a guide to Lord. There is a no contradiction here. But going a
>bit further, our sampradayam says that the Acharyan is the ONLY way to
>His feet. There, in my view, comes the contradiction. How can there be a
>total dependency on another person's advice in a religion that
>emphasises so much individualism?

Again, here I believe you are mixing the two traditions (viz, advaitic and 
visitadvaitic). That said, YOU DO NEED AN ACHARYA for the advaitic tradition 
too, to understand how the individual realization (jivan-mukti) can be 

The distinction is in the word ONLY. we give more importance to the Acharya, 
who has the responsibility to deliver the sishya to the Lord (saranagathi). 
However, this is not a must with the other system, which gives importance to 
Gnyana yoga and depends totally on the individual. So the effort by the 
acharya in such a tradition is limited.

In our Sampradhayam, we believe that Lord has some qualities and with the 
acharya's blessings (and his prapatti on behalf of the Sishya) one can get 
moksham. there are many works that address this: PVP's Manikka maalai, 
Pillai Lokacharyas Artha panchakam, etc.

These discuss the relationship between the Lord and the jiva and how an 
acharya can make a difference.

the bottom line is the concept of saranagati that differentiates between our 
tradition and the rest.


Venkatesh K. Elayavalli             Cypress Semiconductor
Data Communications Division        3901 N. First St. MS 4
Phone: (408) 456 1858               San Jose CA 95134
Fax:   (408) 943 2949

email: (external)
Home Page Location:

Get Your Private, Free Email at