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Say no to equality!

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Mon Jan 22 1996 - 06:53:01 PST

I don't wish to belabor the point, but I am unable to resist
enlisting Azhvaar paasurams to bolster my view that
equality is not a goal for Sri Vaishnavaas.  As a matter of
fact, if one is to take Azhvaar's words seriously, it could
even be considered blasphemous to seek equality with
other devotees.  Many Azhvaars have repeatedly
expressed their keen desire to be in servitude of other
devotees, even to the extent of choosing it over the
servitude of our Lord Sriman Narayana.

Here, I would like to share a story I heard sometime back.
I am able to recall only the essentials and not some of the
names.  A renowned scholar (RS) asked Sri Ramanuja for
Thiruvaaymozhi lessons.  But Sri Ramanuja directed him
to someone else.  RS was hesitant for a scholar like him
couldn't prostrate to anyone else but only to  Sri
Ramanuja.  Sri Ramanuja understood RS's predicament
and wanted to gently teach him a lesson.  So, Sri
Ramanuja promised that the teacher will come to RS's
house, prostrate to him, sit at his feet, and then proceed
with the lessons.  RS happily agreed.  This went on for
several weeks.  Inevitably, the lessons reached the
"payilum sudaroLi" section of Thiruvaaymozhi where
Nammaazhvaar celebrates devotion and servitude to all
the devotees of our Lord Sriman Narayana.  RS was
struck by the verses and realized the bhaagavatha
apachaaram he had accumulated over the weeks of these
lessons.  He immediately switched places with the teacher
and prostrated many times.  Then, he ran to Sri
Ramanuja's presence, held his feet tightly, and wept
uncontrollably.  Sri Ramanuja lifted him up and asked
him, "the lessons have reached payilum sudaroLi, is it?"

In this spirit, let us say "no" to equality with other
devotees of our Lord Sriman Narayana.

Now, here are just a few quotes from some aazhvaars:
(Please pardon my characteristically poor translations.)

periyaazhvaar:
gOvindhan_than_adiyaar  .....  iNaiyadi_en_thalaimElanavE
(Let the feet of Govindan's adiyaar rest on my head)

ThiruppaaN aazhvaar:
adiyaarkku ennai aatpaduththa vimalan
(It is my Lord's grace that enables me to serve of His
devotees)

thoNdaradippodi aazhvaar:
aLiyanen RaruLi un adiyaark-
     aatpaduth thaay! paLLi ezhun^tharu LaayE!
(Please awaken from your sleep and make me a servant of
your devotees)

Kulasekaraazhvaar:
thoNdar sEvadi Eththi vaazhththum en nencamE!
(My heart praises and worships the splendid feet of thoNdars)

Nammaazhvaar:
adiyaartham adiyaar adiyaar adiyaareNG kOkkaL,
     avarkkE kudigaLaaych chellum nalla kOtpaatE.
(It is a great practice to subject oneself to the rule of the
servant of servant of ..... servant of our Lord.)

thiruvarangaththu amudhanaar:
un thoNdargatkE anpuRRirukkum padi ennai yaakki
     angu aatpaduththE!
(Oh! Raamanuja, please induce in my heart love for your
devotees and make me their servant.)


-- Parthasarati Dileepan