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Re: proselytization and srivaishnavism

From: Jagan Mohan Naidu (light_at_neotown.com)
Date: Thu Jan 21 1999 - 19:27:42 PST

Bhagavatas,

Thiru Srinath has raised very interesting questions. 
I humbly express my views as I have understood our Heritage.

In the Varna System, We generally don't talk about the Sanyasa or the
Sanyasins. Sanyasa is generally tied to the Ashrama division of one's
lifetime. 

But we have to accept the fact that Sanyasins are beyond the defination
of Varnashrama. Sanyasins cannot be divided as Brahmanas or Sudras. They
have risen above all these mental tempraments by renunciation. Alwars
are perfect examples of renunciate monks but different from Vairagis or
Mayavadi sanyasins. Therefore Alwars are beyond caste. They are the
supreme devotees of the Lord and therefore they are closer to Narayan
than to all the three gunas. Infact they have transcended all the three
karma causing gunas.They are not even pure sattwic for being pure
sattwic brings great merits neccesiating a heaven for enjoying and
exhausting them. Alwars were thirsty for just the love of the Divine
Couple. Once glance from Narayana was all that they ever wish all their
life for. They were beyond the three bonds of Nature. 

Thus we may infer that:
1. A SriVaishnava is a SriVaishnava - irrespective of the family he is
born into! We address each other as the Dasa of the Lord. I am your
servant- Adiyan!
2. Once we begin Bhakthi, we automatically aquire sattwic nature and our
thoughts deeds and speech turns sweeter with the love of God and this is
characteristic of the true brahmana mind and essence. Without regard to
our family background, proffession, ashrama we are in, we become
brahmanas of mind. The Gitacharya has decreed that the Brahmana is he
who has the following qualities born of his nature: peacefulness,
self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowlege, wisdom
and religiousness. The Supreme Lord has voiced his opinion. It is this
words that shall direct us in determining who is a brahmana. In fact a
brahmana doesn't need or wish for this 'title'. it belongs to him in
essence. There is no real need to bother with the Brahminship. Bakthi
produces jnana and jnana makes him a perfect brahmin. (comments welcome)

3. Sanyassins are the cream of the society. They are superior to
brahmins and they are the real teachers- Alwars are our gurus- of
brahmanas also. Only after sanyasins like our beloved alwars come the
brahmins. 
4. The ceremony of initiation into SriVaishnavism apart from formally giving
you acceptance into the religion, serves no other purposes for one's
spiritual progress.Initiation is a invitation to love and serve God. It
is only the means and it should not be confused with the end. Althought
Samasranayam or initiation is a necessary ceremony for imparting of the
Mula Mantra and the Sampradaya- The illustrous lineage of starting from
Sri Lakshmi herself, a person initiated is not strictly a Sri Vaishnava
nor is one who doesn't have the right oppurtunity or chance to meet his
guru and get initiated, cannot be called a SriVaishnava. The
essence of Alwars treachings inspire us to throw away the karma kanda
part of Vedas which teach ceremonial and elaborate ritualistic worship
and turn to the Glorifull and beautiful face of Sriman Narayanan, the
primal being. It is Bakthi that matters. Ceremonies and rituals come
next. SriVaishnavism is a state of the heart and mind. Initiation and
rituals only help depict and express this emotion. You are a
SriVaishnava whether you know it or not, once you develop extreme bakthi
for Lord and believe in the basic philosophy of Vishistadwaita. 
3. The Core teachings of Vaishnavism teach only one thing!
Its Love for the lord. All philosophies and arguments and scholarship
are just ornaments and help in beautifying the bride of love in our
hearts for the lord. Surely ornaments without the bride are of no use to
the bridegroom who would be pleased enough with just the bride.

To summarise:
Alwars are SriVaishnavite Sanyasins (renunciation of the world out of
sheer love of God is true renunciation)
Sanyasins are the gurus of Brahmins. 
Sanyasins are not brahmins. They are beyond any class or division. They
are unique- They can belong to only one class- The class of Azhwars-
Those who are submerged in love for the Lord. 
Being or becoming a Brahmin is secondary to transforming of the mind and
the subjuction of the senses hereby developing Sattwic nature. 
Hence it doesnt matter (much) if you are not born to SriVaishnava
Parents, or if you are not a Brahmin or if you are anything else. 

It is this age-old dilemma of Brahmanism as birthright that has deprived
Hinduism of its rightfull position as the World ('s Only) Religion. 

Adiyen Jagan Mohan 


On Wed, 20 Jan 1999 17:29:24 PST
"Srinath Chakravarty" <nallaan@hotmail.com> wrote:


Srinath:-)   Perhaps Mani intended to say [and this is speculation on my part] 
Srinath:-)that samASrayaNam can convert a non-Srivaishavan to Srivaishnavism, by 
Srinath:-)embracing them into the thondarkulam.  That may be a recourse for me, if 
Srinath:-)the previously mentioned considerations are true.  So then, the faith is 
Srinath:-)truly universal, isn't it... since any human being can convert to it 
Srinath:-)through samASrayaNam.  Well, wait a minute.  We know that unlike the 
Srinath:-)advaita matams, OUR AchAryas continue to bear the identifiers of 
Srinath:-)brAhminhood, such as Shikha and yagnyopavEtham.  In theory, any member 
Srinath:-)of the thondarkulam can rise to the level of an AchAryan and occupy the 
Srinath:-)peetham of the mutt.  So we could have AchAryars devoid of brahminical 
Srinath:-)externals, if they were not brahmin to begin with.  Mani says that 
Srinath:-)brahminhood is an entirely different matter.  Certainly, because there 
Srinath:-)is no conversion to it [as far as I know, but surely I do have a lot to 
Srinath:-)learn...]
Srinath:-)    So here is THE question: Do the mutts require swAmis to perform 
Srinath:-)certain brAhminical rituals, and if so, could it be possible to bestow 
Srinath:-)brahminhood upon one that wasn't so born, in order to fulfill the 
Srinath:-)requirement?  A community is truly egalitarian, if just about any of its 
Srinath:-)members could ascend to prominence irrespective of their origins.
Srinath:-)Is Srivaishnavism so?  Regardless of the answer, there is a related
Srinath:-)question... how many non-brahmin Srivaishavites do we know of [other 
Srinath:-)than certain AzhwArs]?  And of course, no one has yet ventured an 
Srinath:-)estimate of the total number of adherents to Srivaishnavism today...
Srinath:-)    I will end here, and hope to hear from some of you with regard to 
Srinath:-)these doubts that I have.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me