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Re: mutts, monasteries

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 05:01:22 PST

Dear Sri Garga Rsi Dasa,

In response to your questions:

greg michel wrote:

> 1.Different religious groups have for their followers
> the vocation of the monk, like for instance Christians
> or Buddhists. For them also they have special place to
> live ie. Monasteries, Do the Sri Vaisnavas have
> monasteries. When  I was in India I have seen many
> Temples like for instance Ahobilam Mutt or Sri Rangam,
> but the only present were pujaris- grihasthas. I
> have’t seen any monks.

Unlike Advaitic, Buddhist and Catholic doctrine, which place emphasis on
renunciation and cloistered life, SriVaishnavam  is an outwardly directed
religious tradition in which  love and adoration for Sriman Narayana finds
full expression in service to His devotees.   Consequently, as can been seen
from the lives and contributions of many of our greatest scholars, one need
not be a sanyasi to achieve the SriVaishnava ideal.

Be that as it may, however, there are a few rare souls whose commitment,
dedication, and desire to serve the Lord and His World make them qualified to
renounce the secular obligations of married life such that they can serve as
beacons and guides for the community as a whole.  These individuals are the
muthAdipathis, the Jeeyars, who are continuing in the scholarly lineage of
Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja and his fore bearers by leading the teaching centers,
the muthams, where they provide service to the community both as spiritual
guides and as intercessors between the Lord and those who seek to serve Him.

It is in this second role where our Jeeyars show a far greater self sacrifice
than monks in any other faith.  Because, in the process of interceding on
behalf of a soul in the sacrament of self surrender, the teacher must be
willing to take on the burden of the individual's sins following his
surrender such that this individual is assured of the Lord's Lotus Feet.
These great souls are willing to do so without the slightest hesitation.

The doctrine of self surrender is a unique one, as it can be provided to
anyone who has the simple inclination to do so, irrespective of race, caste,
or gender.  Consequently, many of the Jeeyars are constantly  traveling,
bringing this message to every corner of India, and in some cases, many parts
of the world.  As a result, to find the Acharya in his mutham would be a rare

Instead, the muthams are generally under the care of dedicated students who
are appointed by each Jeeyar to take care of a local mutham until they
return.  And, as you have observed, many of these students are householders.

> 2. What are the spirytual practices of Sri Vaisnavas.

What a SriVaishnava should do on a daily basis is covered in great detail in
several works of our scholars.  I am far from qualified to even begin to list
all these works or to even begin to try and summarize them. But, in an effort
to try and answer your question, my understanding is that for a householder,
SriVaishnava spiritual life is along the lines of the following:

1. Rise before sunrise and chant the name of Hari
2. Bathe with appropriate purificatory mantras
3. Perform the early morning sandhya vandanam (Brahmin SriVaishnavas) and
meditation on the three rahasya mantras
4. Collect alms for the day
5. Collect flowers and tulasi for the Lord
6. Perform the mid-morning sandhya vandanam
7. Perform thiruvAradhana to the Lord in the home
8. Offer and partake of prasadam
9. Study the scriptures under the tutelage of  a qualified teacher
10. Bathe and perform evening sandhya vandanam
10. Visit the temple and join in group worship
11. Preach or join in satsangam with other SriVaishnavas
13. Recite prescribed evening verses
14. Partake of prasadam

By the time this is completed, it is normally around 8:00 PM, so the
SriVaishnava should then rest, meditating on the feet of His Acharya.

Of course, the pressures of modern day life have greatly diluted the ideals
described above.  What is generally done among mainstream city-dwelling
SriVaishnavas is to serve the Lord in the home with sandhya vandanam and
worship in the morning and evenings, with weekends being reserved for visits
to the temples, learning, and satsangam. The rest of the time, they live like
everyone else, fighting traffic to and from jobs that they must keep in order
to pay the bills and raise a family.

It is important to recognize, however, that SriVaishnavism is as much
spiritual and psychological attitude as it is ritual and tradition.
Consequently, the SriVaishnava sees even secular obligations as a means to
serving the Divine, and makes every possible effort to do his/her job in a
way that is conducive to the world.

I hope this helps.

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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