You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1999

Re: proselytization and srivaishnavism

From: Venkatesh Elayavalli (
Date: Wed Jan 20 1999 - 21:59:57 PST

>    So here is THE question: Do the mutts require swAmis to perform 
>certain brAhminical rituals, and if so, could it be possible to bestow 
>brahminhood upon one that wasn't so born, in order to fulfill the 
>requirement?  A community is truly egalitarian, if just about any of 
>members could ascend to prominence irrespective of their origins.
>Is Srivaishnavism so?  Regardless of the answer, there is a related
>question... how many non-brahmin Srivaishavites do we know of [other 
>than certain AzhwArs]?  And of course, no one has yet ventured an 
>estimate of the total number of adherents to Srivaishnavism today...

As far as my understanding goes, there are more restrictions for 
one becoming an Jeeyar of a Matham. This is probably not so for
other AchAryAs (mostly among Tenkalai). For example, Sri Pillai
Lokaachaarya had a Sishya named Vilaan chOlaip piLLai who was from
a lower caste. He is the same person who composed the pure 
tamil song Sapthakaathai for which Sri Manavaala maamunikaL wrote
a commentary. Sri Vilaan chOlaip PiLLai has many sishyaas as he
was very well learned and respected. 

Technically an AchAryA can be any one who performs UpadEsam. There
are many AchAryAs who are proficient in certain aspects of 
the Vedanta. For example, Periyavaachaan pillai enumerates a whole
list of possible AchAryas and concludes that one who instructs a
sishya in the Bagavad Vishayam is the real AchArya. This statement
possibly implies that to be an AchArya practicing Bagavad Vishayam
can be from any caste. It is also true that we find many women
who fall in this category (please refer to Sri Sadagopan's earlier
posting on this).


Venkatesh K. Elayavalli             Cypress Semiconductor
Data Communications Division        3901 N. First St. MS 4
Phone: (408) 456 1858               San Jose CA 95134
Fax:   (408) 943 2949

email: (external)
Home Page Location:

Get Your Private, Free Email at