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Aacharams-what and how: an opinion.

kotisreekrishna_at_mmd.com
Date: Tue Jan 09 1996 - 11:45:17 PST

About Acharams

Aacharam in my opinion is a combination of
Anushtanam or Aacharanam (practise) and
Aakaram (out ward appearance).

 Both have  a unique imporatnce.

 For example, Gandhi could have preached the
 same truth in an  alien attire; it probably would
 not have had the same mass appeal.

AAKARAM:

Aakaram makes a better first impression. It helps to
set the atmosphere. Aakaram may also serve as a
sort of warm for the individual concerned.
It certainly will influence the microcosm around
us, such as family members (just like most of us
were influenced in our childhood by our elders attire.
It is good to keep the aakaram to some extent even
for this reason alone. Children understand better
what they see than what is said).


This is probably the reason why we have the saying in
Kannada : Aa-chaa-ra ke-tta-ru aa-ka-ra ke-Da koo-Da-du.
This means: Even if one fails to practise, one should
retain the out-ward appearance.

For most part Aakaram is the easiest to duplicate.
Some impediments to Aakaram are as follows:

1.  Embarrasment of not fitting in with the surroundings.

2.  Fear of imposing our culture  on others.

3. Impractical: due to weather conditions, lack of certain
materials (dharbam, poonool, thiruman, etc).

4. Law (may be prohibitted by law in public places)

5.  Other  problems (opportunity?)
During our recent Temple inauguration ceremony,
a few devotees objected to the top-less  attire
of Bhattar and his assistants (some of us were part of the
team that assisted Bhattar). These people  were used
to only the Punjabi dress  for priests and could not
comprehend a traditional Vydhikas dress.

Now they have realised and the Vydhik attire is
here to stay as long  as the concerned
individuals wish to practise.  In this regard,
the Ramayana and Mahabharatha
Videos produced by Ramananda Sagar and
B.R. Chopra, both Punjabis came in very handy.

In a way Education/knowledge is a cure to many ills.
There is no cure for Education/knowledge.

This is a success for aakaram, but
does not mean that it will work out that way in
all instances.


ANUSHTANAM:

This  can be practised without the aakaram.
We can do the entire sandhyavandanam in any
 dress or no dress for that matter.

Anushtanam takes effort to learn the mantras
by memory or to be able to read a text.
Even doing without understanding the essence of the
mantras can give us a mental satisfaction, peace and
improve our both physical and mental health.

Impediments to anushtanam are: Time, commitment
and timing in keeping up with the prescribed routine.

However,  understanding the essence of the mantras
and putting that into real day to day life will make
an impact on the whole world (spontaneous respect
 for natural elements, conservation , charity, compassion,
 recognizing the divinity everywhere etc).
This in my opinion is the REAL Anushtanam.
This  practise  has very few impediments.

GNANA YAGNAM

Of course,  gnanam (knowledge) is a different thing
(as already pointed out by some body else as the
other wing of aacharam).  Gnanam is endless.
We perhaps have the most amenities to pursue this.
This is perhaps  the most practicable thing that one
 can pursue in this internet era. The
impediment to gnanam are bias, lack of interest,
indifference, lack of supportive companion,
lack of time, other compelling commitments etc.
Gnanam has the far reaching impact as we can learn
 as well as share knowledge (at least information)
through a variety of media.

CONCLUSION

Aacharam (Anushtanam and Aakaram) and Gnanam,
are important for preservation and propogation
of any culture, Thus we should
try to  incorporate all the constituent elements of
Sri-Vaishnavism  to the extent possible in our day
to day  life. When it comes to  Aacharam,
we have to be practical and understand the significance
of each one of the steps and adopt them to the kalam,
desham and our own situation appropriately.

 Also an aacharam should not put us in any disadvantageous
position (like some of us were prevented from
becoming Medical doctors) or should cause
pain, undue problem, disrespect  or embarrasment
to others, may it be family members, friends or relatives. 

How much of each component we can incorporate is
 up to us.

Here is what I do:

1. Trikala Sandhya at eka kalam during shower.
Loud recitation of manthras, so that the
effect on myself is better and other family
members get to hear it.
Only occasionally my daughter has complained
as: daddy will you ever keep quiet!

2. Approx. 5 minutes Puja at the family
Puja house. Again loud and clear.
Pull in kids whenever possible.

3. Teach Vishnu 1000 and stories to children.

4. Participate with discussions on Hinduism,
Gita, and other matters concerning Hindus
on AOL.

5. Prapatti group on the internet(a recent
blessing)

6. Imbibe HINDU in children as follows:

H= give them a Hindu identity. Our kids
may be part American, part Indian. What
part which may vary from child to child
and family to family. However, we are
100% Hindu

I=Involve children in a small, routine puja.
Can be as short as few seconds. But everyone
participates.

N= Give a Hindu name and use it

D=Dialect. Teach one Indian dialect at least.
If not possible or practical, at least
give Hindu vocabulary of 100 words.
Vishnu 1000 may be a good thing as
they catch on to a 1000 words.
This works very effectively. I have seen in front
of my own eyes how children from all sorts of
family backgrounds have readily learnt
Vishnu 1000 with perfect pronounciation.
(If anyone likes Vishnu1000 in readable English
script, please let me know, will be happy to fax).

U=start under 5. Even earlier the better.

Once a Kannada writer Bee-chi was asked by a
mother when she should start educating
her son who had just turned 1 year old.
Bee-chi answerd: Lady, do it right away.
You are already late by 1 year and 9 months!

7. Srichurnam on Sundays, special days and
Holidays.
Thiruman, srichurnam, Kachhe, top less while
assisting in the temple on special days.
Same attire during Tarpanams, Shraddham, Upakarmam
Gayatri and other special evnts.

8. Help others in religious activities
when approached. Do this unhesitantly
and freely. Don't worry about imposing
my style on others. Believe in others
strenghth to decide for themselves and
they won't be imposed!

9. Arrange Ramanuja Jayanti and Andal
Thiruppavai beginning along with Gita Jayanti.
in the Temple or community.

10.  Contribute articles in to local
temple news letters or news papers.

11. Defend Hindu principles whenever
misrepresented or unduly crtiticized.

12. Try to find parallels (sort of like
Joseph Campbell) and learn about other
systems as much as possible. This will
help to explain our own system better as well as
point out th e uniqueness. Useful also
in defending or responding to a
misconception of wrong criticism. One recent
example is that some Hindus were intrigued by
reincaranation concept of Hinduism and were saying
that Christianity has no such problems.
Then I asked them what about Resurrection?
Is that an established fact?

13. Try to find practical message of religion
to every day life: Jeevan Dharmam.
Many may not be interested in Moksha!

14.  Food -vegetarian at home.

Sincerely, 

K. Sreekrishna(Tatachar)

PS: Sorry, this mail got too long. I am cutting
short my apologies as it will only increase the length
further.
-Tatachar/K. Sreekrishna