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From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Feb 17 1996 - 06:44:14 PST

I am delighted to read the two series of postings (viz).,
Advaita/Visishtadvaita and Sri Rangam Temple( as a 
link between Gods and Humans). My thanks to all the 
participants on the information content and the high level
of deliberate restraint during the dialog. Thanks to Sri  Vidyasankar 
and the particpants on the first topic .All the three Smpradhaayaas
are Based on shared  Vedic sources as their authority.
Independent of their conclusions or   emphasis,
the three traditions deserve utmost respect. One still 
follows the tradition revealed by their own Acharyas and feels
comfortable with that. Great souls have wrestled with these questions
at the diferent stages of  their Sadhanas and then found the path with
the blessings of their Acharyas and proceeded onwards with their 
spiritual goals and attained them .

 A classic  example is that of
Saint Thyagaraja. His two kritis ,Edhari Sancharinturaa in raga 
Kaanthamani(Sruthiranjani) and Dwaitamu Sukhamaa, Adhvaitamu 
Sukamaa in the raga Ritigoula are examples of such search by a
great Visishtaadwaitin. In the first Kriti, he asks his Ishta Daiwatam,
Sri Rama this question: "O Lord devoid of beginning, middle or end!
O Lord of Sita! Whch path should I follow? Pray, Tell me! If I follow the 
path that regards one self as every thing, it will be hard for You.
 On the other hand, If I appeal to you for protection as a Dasa ,
You say I am a Dwaitin. 

In the second Kriti set in Raga Ritigowla, He asks: "Which conduces to
bliss, Dwaita or Adhvaita  ? Pray instruct me. Clear my doubt. You are
sporting in this Universe of Pancha Bhoothas , in Gods like Vishnu, 
Brahman ,Siva and Indra and in great devotees (Bhagavatas). 

In many Kritis on the philosophical side of Bhagavat Svarupam, he
has asked these questions. Examples of such Kritis are: Tatvameruga Tarama.
Here he asks: " Is it possible to realize the great truth? Is it possible
 to realize the great truth that You , Rama is the meaning of the
 Maha Vaakyam of the Vedas"That Thou art"?

 Saint Thyagaraja went on to celebrate Rama as
 the nectar of Nada and as a Nadhopasaka. He  declared in his 
Aarabhi Kriti  , Nada Sudhaa Rasambilanu , that the Nectar of Nada , which is
the basis of all Vedas, Puranas, Agamas and Sastras has taken the human form 
in Rama. He asked in his Esamanohari Kriti (Manasa Sri Ramachandruni
 maravakeh) , O,Mind! Refer to the third and Sixth chapters of the 
Ramayana  to know that He is supreme.  In his Surutti Kriti, Gitaarthamu, 
O,Mind! Behold! Here in Rama  You have both the full significance
of the Gita(Vedanta) and the bliss of Music. Finally, he offered His 
Saranagati at the Lord"s Lotus feet and declared in his Yadhukula Kambhoji piece
that he has attained everlasting blisss thru Rama"s Daya (Nee Dayache
Nityaanandhaudaithi ). He describes his bliss on attaining the 
fruits of his devotion  and saranagati to Rama in hs Bhairavi
Kriti " Aanandamaanadamaayenu" this way: O,Rama! By installing
Your holy feet in my heart and mediating upon them , I have become
blessed and am enabled to swim in the ocean of Eternal and 
Supreme Bliss --- That experience is beyond words.

Personally, I feel comfortable with this approach based on Saguna
Brahmam and offering Saranagati in the manner prescribed by 
Ramanuja and his line of Acharyas.

Personally,  I have every respect for other 
Sampradhaayaas , but I am content with what has been given to me by my Acharyas 
as  the staff to travel on this earth during  my sojourn here.
The dialog housed in the recent 
postings on Advaita/Dwaita/Visishtadvaita has once again pointed out
to me as to how much we can benefit  from each other in a spitrit of 
civility and learning , while following one's own  chosen path devoutly..  

Next, I want to thank Sri Rengarajan for his labor of love 
to take us thru the streets of  Srirangam and explaining the associated
 wealth of details regarding the abode of Sri Ranganatha and His divine consort.
,
I  have never had the opportunity to have this type of informed visit.
Although I have been to Srirangam temple  a few times,I never had
this type of Information to help appreciate the fine points.
There is now  some thing to look forward to
 during my next visit . Usually,I rush to the Thayaar and Perumal sannadhi
 and have missed a lot..It is wonderful to have a "native " as our guide!

What Sri Rengarajan brought out with great affection is the aspect of 
the Hindu temple , its meaning and forms. Two references might be of interest
to some of you ,who want to follow up on this subject. One is an excellent
monograph by George Mitchell entitled " The Hindu Temple, An Introduction
to its meaning and Forms". It was published in 1977 by B.I. Publications 
of Bombay and London. Part one deals with the meaning of the Hindu Temple.
Part 2 with the forms of the temples of India and thier  derivatives in S.E.
Asia.

Part 1 has the following 4 chapters:

1. The Civilization of Hinduism
2.The  World of Gods
3.The  World of Man
4.The temple as a link between Gods and Men

In the first chapter, the author puts Hinduism and temple worship in
perspective this way: "It is unimaginable in Hinduism that any activity,
impulse or process can be without some divine potential.  Hinduism spans
the complete spectrum of Indian culture from the everyday agricultural life
of the village to the transcendental speculations of the philosopher. 
At its most rarified and abstract level,Hindu thought dismisses the world as
illusory;
it aims at breaking through this illusion to discover an ultimate reality
beyond.The temple reflects this range of Hinduism and is much more than a
mere setting for the practises associated with cetain beliefs; it is imbued 
with a complex system of symbolism by which it embodies the most elevated 
notions of Hindu philosophy while still serving the requirements of everyday
religious life. It is, therefore, an expression both of Hindu Society and 
of the most profound levels of Hindu Civilization." 

In the second chapter, the discussion is on the World of Gods. Here ,
the author discusses Time and Universe and states that in Hinduism,
"the activities of the Gods and the lives of human beinngs are linked together
in a
continum in which time is conceived  as a cyclical system."  The  approach to
the
sanctuary  and the circumambulation in  a clockwise direction and the outward
radiation of Energy from the Center of the sanctuary(Garbha Graham ) are
covered in the Second chapter. The cosmology of the temple plan in the form
of a sacred geometric diagram(Mandala)  is brought out nicely by Sri Rengarajan.
The mandala in the Hindu temple construction terms is recognized generally
as a square divided into number of smaller squares by an intersecting grid 
of lines to represent the microscopic image of the Universe(s) with its(their)
concentrically organized structure. A symbolic connection is created , binding
together
the world of Gods-the universe and its miniature construction thru the work 
of man-the temple. The Mahapurusha or the Cosmic Purusha of the Purusha 
Sookta is centered in the Garbha Graha of the Mandala. Sri Ranganatha is 
at he epicenter of the Srirangam temple as the Maha Purusha representing the 
above principles. The sacred Mathematics of the Temple architects is outlined
in classical texts such as Shukranatisara. 

The second reference on the architecture of the Hindu temple and the intricacies
found
therein are the subject of a scholarly study by Professor Dennis Hudson
of Smith College.It appeared few months ago in an issue 
of the Journal of Sri Vaishnava studies(summer 95 Issue) dedicated to
Vaishnava Temples. The title of Dr. Hudson's article is:
"The Srimad Bhagavata Purana in Stone: The text as an Eigth century Temple
 and its implications".He has studied the temple built by Nandi Varman II in
the 8th century.This king is also the builder of the Kesava Perumal temple,
where Kuresa worshipped.In his brilliant study on the Esoteric and Exoteric
aspects of the subject, he identifies the correlation between Bhagavatham and 
the carved panels adorning the sanctuary of this  temple. It is a treat to read
and digest this wealth of information provided by Professor Hudson. He connects
the 
temple panelsto the subject matter of the different cantos of Bhagavatam and
specific chapters of Bhagavad Gita and Paancharaatra  Agamam.

V,Sadagopan