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4th follow-up on 'PPS'

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Sun Feb 16 1997 - 22:52:56 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhagavatOttamA-s',

Parashara Bhattar led his disciple down a SriRangam street to a large
"pandal" (a sprawling make-shift canopy erected on street-kerbs on festive
occasions). He pointed to one of the bamboo-poles supporting the structure
and asked :
"Tell me, boy, what is this ?"
"It is a bamboo-pole, sir," replied the disciple.
"And what is this that has been wound around the pole?"
"It is a streamer, Sir, woven out of the bark-fibre of the coconut tree".
"And how does it look ?", asked the Bhattar.
"It looks very pretty and colourful, Sir. They have painted it all for the
occasion, as you can see," remarked the disciple.
"And what is this here ?", continued Bhattar.
"It is a festoon of the leaves of the banana-tree. ("thOraNum")".
"And how does it look ?"
"Why, it looks very lush and pleasing to the eye, Sir," replied the disciple.
"And, boy, tell me what is this here ?", Sri.Bhattar persisted.
"It is a colourful banner made of leaves of the mango-tree ("mAvalai-kodi'),
Sir."
"And how does this banner look, boy ?".
"It's been plaited together with floral wreaths; its a festive and colourful
sight, Sir, indeed !", said the disciple.

Sri.Parashara next drew the boy closer to him and looked him in the eye and
spoke to his disciple :
"Now, answer me, boy. The streamer, the festoon and the banner here, which
you say all look so pretty, why have all these been strung up here on this
pandal?".

The disciple thought hard for a moment.

Then he answered,"Sir, these have been put up here for the occasion of our
Lord Ranga's "utsavam"."

"Smart boy!", said the Bhattar gleefully,"I say, however, that the streamer,
festoon and the banner have been put up here not so much for the occasion of
Lord Ranga's procession as for the purpose of ornamenting this structure of
a "pandal" here ! Now what say you to that, eh?" asked Bhattar.

The disciple fell silent and contemplated Sri.Parasharar's remark for a full
minute.

It was then that Sri.Bhattar's lesson slowly sank into his comprehension.

The boy looked up into Bhattar's face. The tears then welled up in his eyes.
He fell at his guru's feet and prostrated and said,

"Honourable Sir, please forgive me! Please pardon this sinner. I have
understood your "virakthi" now truly. Out of ignorance and inexperience I
mistook your sartorial bearing today as a sign of your insincerity to the
values of true "virakthi" and "vairAgyam". But now I have understood what
you truly mean, Sir!"

The Bhattar gathered his young disciple up in his arms, stroked his tearful
cheeks and whispered in his ears :

"My pet, my little pet, if it were not for the Lord's procession this
morning would there be need for this "pandal" here ? Similarly, if it were
not for the Lord's Will ("ichcha") would there be any need for this world
("prakriti")? Would there be need for even you and me ("jivAtmA's")? Now
when they decorated this "pandal" here with streamers, festoons and banners,
they did it,of course, to enhance the beauty of this canopy; but what is the
real purpose for display of such beauty ? It is for our Lord Ranga's
procession, really, isn't it? If Lord Ranga didn't come by this way this
morning, would any fool take the trouble of hanging streamers and festoons
around this dumb and dead timber ? If it were not for the Lord's "utsavam"
and His Exclusive Pleasure, where would we confine, I ask you, these silly
things like festoons and banners ? In the dust-bin, isn't it ? We would
treat them all with a kind of "virakthi" (indifference) isn't it? They would
have no more lofty purpose other than to be used as menial implements such
as domestic broom-sticks ("thOdappam") or kitchen firewood ("varatti"),
isn't it ?"

"Likewise, my boy", Sri.Parasharar continued,"when we talk of "virakthi" and
"vairAgyam", we refer to them as appropriate emotional responses to a world
not serving the Pleasure of the Lord ("bhagavth-AgnyA","bhagavath-icchai"
etc.). So long as the things of this world serve us not in offering Ranga
His Due Pleasure ("bhagavath-kainkaryam"), they deserve nothing but our
unqualified revulsion (virakthi). But occasionally even such worldly things
-- like the streamers, festoons and banners here did today -- do serve The
Lord's Purpose or Pleasure ! At those times, my dear boy, we should embrace
the world, and freely rejoice and indulge in it ! Even the objects of our
"virakthi" would then turn into objects of Pleasure for the Lord ! It then
becomes our duty as His servants ("sEsha"), my dear boy, to offer Him
("sEshi") and for His Sole Pleasure, the very same "material" world that
otherwise would deserve our revulsion!

"Tell me, which is greater to us, after all -- Ranga's Pleasure or our own
"vairAgyam" ?!!".

"It is in that spirit of "virakthi" or "vairAgyam", my dear little boy, that
I wore all these fine clothes and diamond ear-studs on my body today. These
are but like your streamers, festoons and banners for this body ("sarira")
of mine akin to this "pandal" here erected for the Lord's procession !".

"Understand, my dear disciple," said Sri.Parashara Bhattar finally,"that the
practice of "virakthi" or "vairAgyam" (self-abnegation), by itself, will not
carry you far forward to the Lord if there is, within your heart, no
awareness of the "sEsha-sEshi sambhandham" (Master-Servant equation) between
ourselves and Ranga. Without that understanding, my dear boy, the practice
of "virakthi" or "vairAgyam" will not only be vain and empty but also
fruitless effort."
 
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I trust now, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", that Sri.Bhattar's aforesaid
"nirvAham" adequately addresses Question (B) we posed to ourselves as follows :

"(B) Even after performing 'prappati' in the 'prasadana-parva', how does one
still reconcile the fact that one has to continue accepting, to some
inevitable degree, the same "indulgences" and "excesses" of quotidian
existence in a "material" world that was once the object of the "prapanna's"
"virakthi" and the source of his "bheethi" ?" 

We have one more related question to be next examined i.e. (A).

There's another Bhattar-"nirvAham" for that one !! 

We shall discuss it in my next post.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha

sudarshan