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SVTK rationale, further discussions

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Fri Jan 12 1996 - 21:52:29 PST

Sri S. Kaushik asks:
>1. CD-ROM project. I think as a one shot project, this is fine. But I am
>really not sure if this is a "money making" project. I think it is good
>for all this to be on-line, from the viewpoint of a concept. If we can
>sell a few of the CDs and make money, great. But as a vehicle for
>propagating religion, I am a bit  skeptical.

     I don't see the CD project as propagating our
     religion.  How the CD gets used is really up to the
     buyer.  From the cost estimates provided by Sri. K.
     Srinivasan I expect the cost of the production to be
     easily covered by contributions from a few
     individuals.  Whatever revenue the sale of the CD
     generates is then available for service.  If there is
     no sale at all, then there is no revenue at all, and
     there is nothing to worry!

>In terms of future efforts, digitizing images, storing books on-line are all
>great. These are all worthy and noble from the viewpoint of providing
>information for all. However, I don't see these requiring any capital
>investment on our part ust our time (which may be even more valuable!).

     This is absolutely correct.  Success of these efforts
     will depend upon the actual effort the members
     will put in.

>2. Support of S-Vaishnava Publications. I think this is great. Have very little
>with anything Sri Dileepan wrote. However, the notion of "essay compeitions, th
>projects, etc" is something quite alien to our tradition.  All the temples in
>cities do things like this. Has it really fostered reglion in our youth? I am a
>skeptical about that. I feel a lot of this becomes a social club where the pare
>are more the principal "winners" and "losers" than the kids. The last thing one
>wants is SVTK becoming  a "club." If we are not too careful, I am afraid
>that this will be exactly what will happen.

     Whatever the members wish.  I was just bouncing
     some ideas.

>3. Support needy temples. Whereas this is a great idea in concept, I
>am not sure if we really ought to get involved in this. In India,
>there are govt. sources of funds for temples. The same cannot be said
>for our muttams and (often) poor vaidikas and their families. The
>muttmas have survived on lands given to them by ancient kings. Now,
>the govt. is takinga way a large portion of this wealth. I hear that
>the Parakala muttam is facing this problem in Mysore. Ahobila Muttam
>also derives its wealth from lands. I am not sure the status of these
>lands. If anything, the tides of affairs are turned against the
>muttams. I think the tempses are relatively better.

     Here the facts would probably contradict your
     opinion.  A selected few temples are definitely in
     great financial shape.  But a vast majority of the
     temples are in bad shape.  I don't know about the
     other states, but Tamilnadu government could not
     care less about the conditions of these temples.
     Much of this is due to benign neglect by Sri
     Vaishnavas themselves.  Some may suggest taking
     a purely market place approach.  Then, support for
     efforts to sustain temple aaraadhanai that
     originates in India should be okay.

     From what I have seen of the mutts, both
     Srimadahobila mutt and Srirangam Andavan
     ashramam are in pretty good financial shape.  I
     would imagine the same to be true of
     Vanamaamalai mutt.  I am not sure about the other
     mutts.  Support for needy mutts could be a part of
     our agenda.

>Besides, I just think it is very hard, despite all our efforts, to
>administer funds 15000 miles away. Groups within India have enough
>trouble managing funds 5 km away. We have two levels of trouble to
>deal with money going from here (the middlemen, and their

     In the light of the information Sri Vijay Triplicane
     has brought from India, this is not a problem at all.
     From what I understand, we can simply pledge to
     provide financial support for 1 or more temples
     from the list provided by the Indian organization.
     They will administer the proper use of the funds.
     Viji has already given a wealth of details in this

>4. Budding Scholars. Again, who are we to decide? Suppose we were to
>have this double-blind nomination procedure etc., nominated by Jeers
>etc, then why not directly give money to the Jeers and let THEM decide
>who is worthy and who is not?
>If an aged poor Vaidika were to write to us and ask us for money, what
>will we tell him? We can randombly accept every one who asks for
>money, but then, we cannot refuse a request made directly to us either
>(atleast I would be hard pressed to say no to someone).
>Thereforee, why get involved in this business inthe first place. Let
>our Jeers whose responsibility is the very administration of our
>religion do this. It is their job.

     These are operational details that can be worked
     out by the kuzham's executive committee and
     voted upon by the members.  I for one feel
     overwhelmed when I see a great scholar like Sri
     Srivatsaangaachar languishing in semi poverty.
     Such poverty is a standing example for capable
     and not-so-capable youngsters to abandon
     religious scholarship.  I see nothing presumptuous
     in establishing a kind of foundation to support
     religious study, especially if we are to do this with
     the blessing of the Jeers.

>I don't think we should have any contact with the money we collect.
>When money touches anyone, even Vaidikas,  it contaminates. We are not
>Vaidikas and for us, this will be even more a source of problem.
>I just don't think we ought to handle money directly. Religion should
>never be a business and if we start disbursing funds, our organization
>will become  essentially a business of sorts.

     I don't understand what you mean by no contact.  I
     feel it is better to do something than just to throw
     up our hands at the complexity of the task and just
     do nothing.  Whether we make it into a business or
     not is up to us.  I just disagree with your bleak
     assessment that fund raising will inevitably make
     our enterprise a "business of sorts."  I see your
     point about disbursement of funds.  But I am
     optimistic that we can resolve these operational

>5.   [.. deleted..]

     I have no comments here.

>Carnatic musicians arre part artists, part businessmen. Hence, we can
>negotiate with them in financial matters. This is not the case with
>religious scholars. I think it is a big mistake to equate the two.

     I am sorry for giving such an impression.  All I
     thought I was doing was giving an example, not
     equating the two.

>6. Fund Raising: Here is where I see the primary role of our
>organization. Not to use funds, but to collect them. Sri Sampath Rengi
>raised a very important issue about V-galai and T-galai, the specific
>muttams etc. This is highly relevant.

  [ .. deleted ...]

>The Jeers of the different muttams can instruct us on how to disburse
>the funds. Perhaps they may wish us to remit monthly, yearly, or to
>specific organizations. Whatever is decided, it is NOT US who
>explicitly handle money.

     It would be great if all the jeers would get together
     and form an umbrella Sri Vaishnava body and
     speak in one voice.  But this seems a rather remote
     possibility.  What is practical is to identify possible
     on-going efforts in India and support them through
     funds that are generated by some means, like the
     sale of CD-ROMs if any, and/or through nominal
     annual membership/pledges for SVTK, (not for the
     prapatti e-mail list), and/or fund raising drives for
     concrete proposals by members.

-- Parthasarati Dileepan