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RE: Sri Vaishnava

From: Rajagopalan, Murli (murli_at_orbit.hr.att.com)
Date: Thu Feb 12 1998 - 14:01:37 PST

Dear bhAgawathAs,

On the question "What is expected of me as a Sri VaishNava?"  I can 
think of a very simple answer.

"You are expected to follow the sAstras 100%."

The answer may be simple but it is impossible to implement.  I say it 
is impossible because a sAstraic life requires 100% of our time and 
more than a 100% of our dedication, and this is unlikely with our 
materialistic schedules.  Theoretically, a mortal being like me cannot 
be a true Sri VaishNava.  However there are some things we can do to 
alleviate the situation just a wee bit.

1.	aanukoolyasya sankalpah:   The sAstras say:  "Be anukoolam to the 
Lord."  When translated this means:  Do your nithya and naimittika 
karmas in as timely a fashion as possible ... these include trikAla 
sandhyavandanam, thiruvArAdhanam for males (depending on your varNa), 
and other karmas like tarpaNAs, shrAddha, upAkarma, etc.  For women, 
sookshma thiruvArAdhanam has been prescribed and there is a krama 
(method) to perform Aradhanam to bhagawAn in sAligrAma form.  (For 
this please refer to sri vaishNava Ahnika Grantha by Sri Villivalam 
KrishNamAcharya Swami - now the 46th jeer of the Ahobila Matham). 
 Now, one might ask: Is there a way to do detailed sandhyavandanam 
when travelling by aeroplane?  How can we do arghyam and other such 
kAryams?  I presume one can do the whole sandhyavandanam mentally (in 
sookshma form).  Set aside about ten minutes of your time on the plane 
and just think of the Lord and how he is related to you.  Then do a 
mental sandhyavandanam (one could do more number of gAyathri japams as 
a prAyaschittam).  Similarly, thiruvAradhanam also can be done in a 
non-bahya form (non-outwardly).  In fact, when we do regular 
thiruvAradhanam we do in both forms (mAnasika - mental and bAhya - 
outward).  Also, think of his mercy and ask his forgiveness for 
divasakruta paapam (sins during the day) and raathrakruta paapam (sins 
during the night).  Also, think of how merciful the Lord has been in 
giving us everything we need to gain spiritual upliftment, e.g, a body 
to do the right karma, a decently good health, food, water, shelter, 
and in some small way a mind to think about him.  Also, be ever 
grateful to the Acharya whose grace has led you to this "nirbhaya and 
nirbhara"  (fearless and burdenfree) state.  So, Acharya-taniyan 
should be recited.
2.	prAtikoolyasya varjanam:  Do not do things that displease the Lord. 
 One of that is bhAgawatha apachAram.  Do everything you have to do by 
offering it to him and for his pleasure, never for your pleasure.  Is 
this possible?  Well, we should at least try.  We might not be perfect 
in being selfless, but we can at least make an attempt at it.  Other 
things that have to avoided are kAma, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, and 
mAtsarya.  Again remember that we may not be perfect but if we advance 
one step towards Him, he will come ten steps closer to us.
3.	dharma (duties):  As a sri-vaishNava, one should execute all of 
his/her sastraic duties during his/her life.  This includes duties 
towards parents, wife/husband, Acharya, friend, guest, etc.   (As the 
sruthi (taittiriyopanishad) says:  mAtru devo bhava |  pitru devo 
bhava |  Acharya devo bhava |  atithi devo bhava | ).  - treat all of 
these as god himself.
4.	dhyAna:  Always think about the Lord.  Is this practical?  When you 
are at work, you most likely will not be thinking about god.  That is 
the nature of the work we have got entangled in.  The work we do is 
not prescribed in the sastras and has rAjasic and tAmasic guNas 
associated with it.  So, the practical thing would be to set aside 
some time everyday (may be an hour or so) and just contemplate and 
think about Him.  You may recite your favorite slokas at that time, or 
just plain and simple contemplate about his lustrous form as described 
by some of our poorvAcharyas.
5.	bhAgawata-sambandham:  Try as far as possible to stick around 
bhAgawatas.  The effect of a good sangham cannot be over-emphasized. 
 Having such a sambandham may or may not be possible during the most 
productive part of a week day.  So, weekends (or at least some 
weekend) may be a good time to visit a temple near by and try to 
associate with some bhAgawathas.  Also, do not be involved very 
closely with non-bhAgawatAs.  The effect of bad company is as strong 
as the effect of good company.  As Sri Krishna says in the BG: 
 "sanghat sanjAyate kama | ... buddhi nAshat praNasyati |"
6.	aahAra (food):   We should eat only bhagawadprasAdam.  On a daily 
basis, this would mean that we should offer food to the Lord and then 
partake of it (and that too for his pleasure).  We should avoid eating 
outside if we can.  On most days this might be very easy to practise. 
However, there are times when we have to go to lunch with others at 
work.  This is something very difficult to beat especially in 
corporate America (may be true even in corporate India).  So, my 
solution (if you want to call it that) is this:  just before taking 
the first bite, think about Him and offer the food to him  (a mental 
parisinchanam could be done ... this will not take more than 30 
seconds).  Many orthodox readers may object to the idea of eating 
something the Lord has not been offered and which others have already 
eaten.  I fully realize that this is only a compromise, not a 
solution.  But, there are some things that are very hard to resolve.
7.	anya devata pooja:  I think this can and should be avoided at all 
costs.  Why do we need any other demi-god when we have the grace of 
sAkshAt parabrahman Sriman NArAyaNa.  An Acharya told us once that one 
of the relationships we jeevAtmAs share with the paramAtma is that we 
are his wives.  Just as a pativrta wife is devoted to the husband and 
husband alone, so should we be devoted to only Sriman NArAyaNa. 
 Besides, this relationship is eternal (through his satya sankalpa) 
and factual (yathArtham).  In fact, no other relationship is as true 
as this one.  So, why should we want to go to the manager when we have 
the grace of the CEO?  (The analogy is only to make a point ... no 
offense or apachArams meant to any anya devatas.  In fact, siva is 
considered a bhAgawatottama and is an important contributor to the 
prapatti sAstra.  At all costs, I would not like to violate point 2.) 
 Anyway, since there have been some excellent postings that have been 
dedicated to this very subject, I do not want to belabor this point.

Please forgive me for any errors that might have creeped into this 
posting.  Also I would like to point out the extreme humility of the 
members of the group who, despite having the capacity to provide 
authoritative solutions to their questions, have nevertheless chosen 
to share them in public.  Having said that, I would like to thank them 
for an opportunity to contemplate on spiritual matters, and to express 
and strengthen my views on our sampradAyam.

Adiyen,
Murali Kadambi

sarvApachArAn kshamaswa |
sarvam sri krishnArpaNamastu |