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Re: Acharam - Its relevance to modern times

From: K. Srinivasan (srini_at_ireq.ca)
Date: Thu Jan 04 1996 - 09:12:15 PST

>Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 13:05:45 -0500 (EST)
>From: Lakshmi N Srinivasa <lsriniva@uceng.uc.edu>
>Regarding achara I wish to say a few words about it. Swami vivekananda 
>had stated in one of his books that the word "Achara" means cleanliness. 
>He further adds that the same achara was given two interpretations by Adi 
>Sankara and Ramanujacharya. Adi sankara says that mental purity is what 
>is needed for eligibility to learn vedas whereas Ramanuja says that one 
>needs both mental purity as well as physical cleanliness.Ramanuja 
>emphasized on physical cleanliness as the first step towards 
>spirituality. He says physical cleanliness will itself lead to mental purity.

The well water episode from Sri Ramanuja's life story is also worth
looking at, when one forgets the motive behind Acharam and apply
it blindly.

Sri Ramanujar's wife thanjamma was a stricter follower
of madi/aachaaram, (coming from an Advaitic Brahmin family).

One day, Peria Nambi's wife polluted thanjamma's madi kudam,
by spilling water from her kudam. Peria Nambi was Sri Ramanuja's Guru.
He was a "munkudumi chOzhiyar", like Periaazhvaar and Thondar Adi podi A.
Thanjamma insulted them by bathing again in fresh water.

The chOzhiyar are Brahmins of the Tamil country, with a "mun kudumi".
They are considered to be of a lower sub-caste. (I was surprised there are
some even today, even though the Kudumi has gone or moved to the
standard location. I have met one, whom I do not want to name.)

Sri Ramanuja, considered insulting his guru a more serious offence than
her madi aachaaram. This event is considered the last straw on
the camel's back. He took Sanyasam immediately.

Srinivasan K