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thamizh recitals

From: Vijay Triplicane (
Date: Mon Feb 02 1998 - 16:50:59 PST

	This is regarding the tamil Vs Sanskrit archanas in the Hindu
temples of Tamil Nadu. I don't think the intention of the article was
to say that sanskrit is better than Tamil. It is more of a political
article criticizing the government's action in interfering with the
Hindu temple and their tradition, i think.

	While leaving the issues of whether the Govt can interfere?,
why only Hindu temples and why not mosques? ... to the political
critics, I wish to bring out some of the language related issues. 
(BTW, there are many many churches in Tamil NAdu which perform their
prayer in local thamizh. This is definitely with the intention to
attract the masses and also to convey the meaning of the prayers
easily to them. Nobody imposed this on them, i guess. The themselves
felt it logical! )

	An important thing that has to be brought to attention is that
as i understand this issue, it is not being 'imposed' as somebody
might think. Let me quote from the article:

***************start quote******************************
"Let me make one thing very clear," said the chief
priest. "The government is not coercing or compelling us to do the
archana in Tamil. We do so only at the insistence of the devotees.

***************end quote **********************************
I haven't been to a temple in India for more than two years now, so i
can't really comment on how this system works. But, i don't think it
is wrong to give an option to the devotee. I also heard that the Govt
is paying the temple for teaching the tamil prabhandhams to students.
If thats true, it is to be considered as a good service!

	There is this psychological issue that needs to be explained.
For all of us, there is a little extra crush on things that are
foreign.  It doesn't mean they don't like their city or language. But
there is this extra special attention on foreign stuff. For Madrasis, 
Bangalore is little too hip. For Bangloreans Bombay is more of a fun city.
Bombayites feel California is the paradise... (And Dr. George Hart of
California strongly feels TamilNadu is The Place to be !! :)) )
So naturally there is this extra 'affection' to sanskrit (not being
their mother tongue and is considered dhEva bhAsha...), esp for such
a traditional purpose. There is no question about it.  This being the
'Godly issue', most of the people would strongly feel against changing
the tradition. They are superstitous and are terribly afraid that the
Lord will prick their eyes while they sleep ("ummAchchi kaNNa kuththum")
So it is not surprising that most of them are against.

	The fact is that most of the people who oppose this do NOT
know the vast richness of tamil. Most often they are not aware of
tamil literature at all. Let me quote this from the article:
***********start quote******************************************

Subramaniam's wife, Jaya, joins the tirade. "The essence of the words 
are lost when Sanskrit is translated into Tamil because Tamil is just 
not as rich a language, not does it have as many alphabets. 

***********end quote *********************************************
I do not want to go defensive and write pages describing the richness
of the tamil language. But I bet that she (most of such people) do not
know who an azhvAr is. ("What?? AzhvAr?? is that a new movie released
for Deepavali?" would be their response :) ) Or what dhivya
prabhandham is... (even the so called iyengars don't know. One of my
'iyengar' friend asked me ,"dEy Viji, there are 108 AzhvArs,right?". I
said,"No. that is the number of dhivya dhEsams." Then he hesitantly
continued, "is it 63?", for which i said it is the number of nAyanmArs
and then he settled at 18 or something as the total number of AzhvArs!,
18 being one of the famous numbers.  He is a perfect thamizh iyengar 
who spent 27 years of his life in tAmilnadu. )

	Another point of interest is that, srivaishNavam is unique in
this respect of attributing equal importance to thamizh as it does to
sanskrit. There are definitely more srivaishNava temples where dhivya
prabhandham (in thamizh) is recited regularly than the vEdham. It is
because we srivaishNavas love the sweet nectar of dhivya prabhandham.
Whereas siva temples are not so. There are many beautiful thamizh
works by the nAyanmars. But very few siva temples recite them
regularly and traditionally. They are not thet very important to them
according to their AgamAs. Our Sri rAmAnujar made sure that we recite
dhivya prabhandham at the temples. The survey mentioned in the article
is mostly based on a siva temple, i guess. And you know how the
response would be, won't you? 

	Our dear perumAL who looks for any of your simple good deed,
even if done unintentionally, and use that as a reason to shower His
grace on you, would never bother which language you use to pray Him,
be it Hebrew or Arabic or thamizh. Our AzhvArs' devotional outpourings,
and many of our AchAryAs' works are in thamizh and hence it makes it
easier to experience our dear perumAL through these works in thamizh,
esp for somebody who can understand thamizh.  It is upto one's ability 
to read and understand either the thamizh or sanskrit works to enjoy 
the Lord. 

(Vijay Triplicane)
(A sincere thamizh abhimAni (lover) :)) )