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Thirumangai Aruliccheyalga--Part 3 .1;

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sun Jan 21 1996 - 15:39:49 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti Group:

On this day, when Thirumangai Azhwar conducts the 
Mangalaasaasanam of the Thirunangoor Archa Murthys,
I will assemble some thoughts on the times of Thirumangai and 
how his two Thaandakam works occupy a unique place in 
Sri Vaishanvite literature . Parasara Bhattar , the precoccious son
of Kuresa chose Thirunedumthaandakam(TNT ) to defeat the Advaita 
scholar in debate ; the defeated scholar embraced Sri Vaishnavism 
and became the great savant of Sri Vaishnavism known as Nanjeeyar,a name 
given by Parasara Bhattar to his star student.

***THIRUMANGAI'S TIME & THE PREVALENT PHILOSOPHIES

There were three original sources in Indian philosophies that 
were contending for attention by scholars , kings and  the public at 
large in Azhwar"s time.These three continue even today :

(1) The Aatma Vaada or the SUBSTANCE VIEW  OF  REALITY   developed by 
Brahminical Systems .This view is derived from the Aatman doctrine of
Upanishads.
Sri Vaishnavite, Advaita and Dwaita Systems belong to this category. They accept

the authority of Vedas and are known as Vaidihic religions. Each  have different

relationships to the Indian Darsanas like Samkhya, Yoga, Vaiseshika,
 Nyaya , Poorva and Uttara Mimamamsaa(Vedanta). The entanglement
 of metaphysical and Philosophical issues with those of a religious or
 ritualistic character  over the years and the attempts to
 reconcile different points of view in this thicket has occupied the 
attention of our Achaaryas and we have stayed with one or
 the other Vaidhika Madham based on our tradition or choice.

(2) The sceond dominant  philosophical tradition at the time of Thirumangai was
 THE MOMENTARY VIEW OF  REALITY  known as KSHANIKAVAADHA  developed and taught
by
Buddha.He rejected the authority of the Vedas and said that everything is
 in a state of Flux and there is nothing that exists as inner and immutable core
of things.
This is also  called the Soonyavaadha. 
   
Four classical schools of Buddhism ( Vaibhashika, Sautraantika, Vigyanavaada
and the Madhyamika ) developed as time went on from  the main preachings of 
Buddha  as they adapted to the other Darsanas that have been around.
Some prefer to classify  the four Classic schools of Buddhism into
 the following three categories:  Abhidharmika, Madhyaamika  and Yogaachara .
 The last one is very close to  some of the tantric systems
 developed by Kashmir Saivism , a source of inspiration to Aagamas
including Pancharaatra Agama defended later by Yamunaaxharya in his
Agama Nirnaya..Buddhism  considers the soul
 as  a stream of Consciousness and denies the Vedic Ritualism
 and the Upanishadic Monism.

(3) The Jains under Maha Vira and the successive Thirtankaras 
reconciled the view of REALITY  AS SUBSTANCE 
(vedic View ) AND AS  CHANGE  (Buddha's Kshanikavaada).
This was a synthesis of the orthodox and heterodox 
approaches of viewing Reality  as  either of  a substantive
 nature or of a changing nature.Jainism has its own
distinctions as a Heterodox system The situation of viewing 
relaity  as substance and Change is similar  to the viewing of 
the Electron as a particle or as a Wave as per Qunatum theory and the 
principle of Indeterminacy.

The heterodox  Or Veda-Bhaahya views of Buddhism and Jainism were reactions to 
excessive emphasis on ritualism and the tyranny   of the preistly classes . By
the time of
Azhwars and Nayanmaars  (5th to 8th centuries ), the Brahminical systems were
under
 intensive attack  by the Veda Bahya systems. The Azhwaars and Nayanmaars
reestablished
the pristine  place of Vaidhic systems; the Acharyas that  followed  were
inspired by the 
works of their predecessors &  built the Visishtadvaita, Advaita and Dvaita
schools of
religion  and strengthened the heterodox systems furhter.. 

*** Alternate View on the progression of Philosophies

The progressive line of thought behind today's  three Veda-based religions can
be viewed 
this way: 
 
FIRST  came, the Vedic culture and civilization with the UPANISHADIC
 period at its end.The Upanishads upheld intution over
 resoning as pathway to REALITY. 

Tthe SECOND  period known as the EPIC  period followed;
Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed during this period.
.These twoIthihaasas presented "Philosophical doctrines indirectly
 in a  nonsystematic and non-technical manner .It is generally believed
 that the heterodox systems and even Dharma Saastraas
( works on Ethical and Social philosophy )came into being during
 this second period.

The THIRD  period is recognized as the SUTRA  Period ,where terse
 aphorisms for each system of thought  have been compiled
 in a systematic  and logical fashion.

The FOURTH  period is named the SCHOLASTIC  period , where commentaries and 
intrepretations were created. To some extent this period still continues
according to
some , although its intensity was muted somewhat by foreign invasions .

We can thus place Thirumangai and the Azhwar's period somewhere between the 
Sutra  and the Scholastic period. Infact, through their inspired Bhakti
approach,
the Azhwars gave new life to the Scholars of the Scholastic period practising
what is termed as Hermeneutics today .

***HERMENEUTICS
 
 S. Pannerselvam"s definition on Hermeneutics
states that it is a discipline , which teaches the rules regarding the way to
handle and
intrepret scriptures. He states: "in one way, Hermeneutics is an attempt to
mediate meaning 
expressed in one context to another. The term is derived from the son of Zeus,
 Hermes, who served as the messenger of Olympian Gods. Hence, Hermeneuetics
may be intrepreted as the message given by God through a messenger, who fully 
understands it and conveys it, intreprets it to other fellow human beings".
The  Acharyas of our and other traditions can thus be considered as Hermneutics 
of one sort or another. The  Azhwars and Acharyas are the messengers in our 
traditions and sometimes the Lord himself takes the role of Acharya , just as
Lord Krishna played that  role in Bhagavad Gita for our benefit. It is generally
conceded by Western Scholars Like George McLean (Author of Tradition and
Contemproary
Life ) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (Author of Truth and Method)  that language plays
a central role in Hermeneutics and there is a powerful relationship between
language and intrepretation. The Ubhaya Vedanta tradition of ours and the 
two Sampradhaayams or Traditions emphasizing Sanskrit and Tamil can be
understood in this context  as  the powerful links between language and 
intrepreatation of the scriptures and other  source literature. 

Thirumangai"s and other Azhwar's Pasurams inspired both Vedantha Desika and 
Manavala Maamuni , the two latter day Acharyas , who were intrepretors of Srimad

Ramanuja Sampradhayam. From the  earlier posting ,
 It was interesting for me to learn about the role of 
Manavalamaamuni in the Manjal Neerattam festival dedicated for
 the celebration of Thirumangai's contributions to Naalayira Divya-
 Prabhandham. Earlier, Swami Desikanhad defended
 the sacredness of the 4,000 at Kanchipuram and received the
 Thiruchinnam of Lord Varadaraja as a reward for his noble efforts.

*** The Name Thaaandakam

In the next two  Subsections (3.2& 3.3 ) , I will focus on the message of 
yhe  50 verses of the two Thaandakams ofThirumangai
.I mentioned earlier that the two works can be viewed as Dhandam 
or Staff used by the Azhwar in the  ultimate stage of his Spiritual journey
after
declaring his unfailing love to Sriman Narayana through the  two madals. 
 In another view , the assignment of the name of Thaandakam is linked to the 
Tamil word Thaand(uth)al or leaping over, Just as Hanuman did ,when he 
jumped over the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka on the Lord's misison. Thirumangai
Azhwar is said to have jumped over the sorrows of Samsara with Sriman Narayana"s
grace and articulated his experiences assoicated with such Leaps as the two
Thandakams. This is the reason for Parasara Bhattar's reverence for these two
works of Thirumangai and his choice of The Thirunedumthaandakam to win over
"Namjeeyar" to the Sri Vaishnavite Tradition.

Azhwar Thiruvadigaleh Saranam,
Oppilkiappankoil Varadachari Sadagopan