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equal respect to all bhagavatas

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Thu Jan 09 1997 - 11:58:44 PST

Most responses have disagreed with my position
that equal respect should be given to all bhagavatas.
While I do not regard the action of the Kumbakonam
Brahmins of yore in high regard, my criticism and
disappointment is more with those who have not 
learned the lesson that the Alvars of yore taught
us through their lives, and which the author of
the Divya Suri Charita so candidly brought to the
forefront.

Investigation or even a mere thought of differing
respect on the basis of birth / jAti is itself an
apachara.  How many stories do we need? Tirumazhisai's
story did not convince us; Loka Saranga Muni's 
carrying of Tiruppan does not convince us; Nammalvar's
upadesa to his brahmin disciple does not convince
us; Ramanuja's wanting to eat the leftover of Tirukkacci
Nambigal does not convince us.  All this is and was
against ``shastra''. I suppose we shall forever be
caught in this rut.

At least be consistent if you claim to follow 
the shastras.  Will all of you stop chanting the
purusha-sukta and other Vedic texts the next time
a sudra enters your presence? Is this correct?

One of us has said, ``Brahmins by virtue of their
nature are pure.''  I wonder if that makes all 
non-brahmin bhagavatas impure. If so, I would rather
have that impurity than the purity of such brahmins.

If one's anushtanam forces one to treat bhagavatas
without the courtesy they deserve, that anushtanam
and that part of shastra is ``tyaajyam,'' to be
abandoned, our acharyas say.

Or, in other words, investigating and discriminating
on the basis of jAti of bhagavatas is like examining
one's own mother's womb to see if it is pure, or
thinking that the arcAvatAra is mere stone.

Practice your sandhyavandanam, be a vegetarian,
do thiruvaaraadhanai; but don't let these be the
excuse for committing bhagavata-apacharam.

Mani