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Disagreement vs. Apachara

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (ss_at_clihouston.com)
Date: Thu Jan 16 1997 - 21:58:23 PST

I would like to clarify that what follow are thoughts in general that are
not intended to question or offend anyone.  In the process, if I do commit
bhagavatha apacharam (unknowingly ofcourse), I beg forgiveness.

Mani's contributions and comments in this often erudite forum, not
withstanding his efforts in putting all this together, have always stood out
for their temperence of tone and rational thought.  Given the conditional,
subjective nature of deciding what constitutes apacharam and what does not,
all progressive exchanges would be halted in their primacy if one were to be
guided by the fear of offending someone or the other, as has often been the
case in this forum .  I am quite surprised when people pull in our Acharyas
to support often rationally and philosophically untenable positions.
Instances from Sri Emberumaanaar's life abound about his karuNa and open
mindedness in sharing his insights with people from different facets of
life.  I am sure most in this forum are familiar with his efforts in
including a large number of Sri VaishNavaas from different walks (and
varNAshramAs) of life into the fold of bhakti and prapatti.  The life of
Pillai UrangAvilli dasan is another good example of the inherent kindness
and liberal attitudes that our beloved Emberumaanaar practiced.  Given this
background, it pains one's sentiments to see expressions that seek to
support our ignorance and insular views with references of tacit approval
from our poorvacharyars.  

Someone yesterday even went so far as to indicate that there are
objectionable parts to the Prasthanatrayi in the context of VarNAshrama
Dharma.  Such utterances, I feel, represent the type of superficial
carelessness our philosophical treatises ought not to be treated with. No
person intimately familiar with the exalted nature of rational thought and
open minded inquiry in these wonderful storehouses of knowledge would make
such statements.   I am reasonably familiar with both Srimad Bhagavadgita
and the principal upanishads (Isa, kena, katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya,
Taitheriya, Aithreya, Chandogya and BrihadaraNyaka).  BadarAyaNa's Brahma
Sutras (the third part of the prasthana thrayi) are said to reflect the
essence of the upanishads.  While it is possible to interpret support for
VarNashrama dharma from such statements as

ChathurvaNyam mayA srishTam guNa karma VibhAgayoho (BG, 4-13)

the second part of the sentence very clearly enunciates that it is people's
guNa (mental attitudes) and karma (actions) that determine the varNa.

>From my perspective, correctness (clearly subjective) stems from
conditioning.  For someone like me (raised in then-kalai vaishnavaite
tradition), it is disconcerting to see erroneous statements from many
learned vadakalai scholars in this forum about our tradition and
pooravacharyas (there is clearly very little reference to works of great
acharyas such as Azhagiya maNavaLa perumaaL Naayanaar, NumpiLLai, maNavaaLa
maamunigal, piLLai loka charyar to name a few).  Some one recently even
referred to vaDakku thiru Veedui piLLai as thiru vadakku veedhi piLLai!
However, I do realize that one can only reflect ideas and thoughts that one
has been exposed to.  

A spirit that promotes open minded inquiry, and yes, tolerance for one
another's view points (irrespective of the age of the bhagavathas involved
in the exchange) would serve to promote the cause of this admirable forum
that Sri Mani has put together.  If not for any other reason, we can abide
by what Sri PiLLai lokacharyar says,

anukoolar pakkal anaadaraththaiyyum
prathikoolar pakkal praavaNyaththaiyyum
upekshikkumavar pakkal apekshaiyyum...
.......
NAICCHYAM JANMA SIDDHAM

After all, don't we all fade into insignificance in the incredible glow of
SrimannArayaNa's divinity? In that case, inferiority is inherent to all of
us in reference to the Supreme, and till that fact is recognized (and we
stop splitting hairs about who is and is not a brahmin), one will continue
to wallow in the miasma of one's own ignorance.

Aazhwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar ThiruvadigaLe SharaNam

Sridhar