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Re: proselytization and srivaishnavism

From: Jagan Mohan Naidu (light_at_neotown.com)
Date: Wed Jan 27 1999 - 20:48:07 PST

Bhagavatas,
I presume it is necessary to add at the beginning that, being new to
this list, and of not being a scholar in various Sri-Vaishnavite
literature like many of the Bhaktas here, I might be wrong in many ways.
But I take the liberty of expressing my opinions and thoughts freely and
without guilt in view of the fact that you all might be understanding. 

The Sannyasi

On 25 Jan 1999 20:36:20 -0000
Thiru Mani Varadarajan <mani@be.com> wrote:
Mani:-)According to our tradition, a brAhmaNa, even after becoming
Mani:-)a sannyAsi, retains many of the duties that are incumbent 
Mani:-)on his being a brAhmaNa. 

Thiru Mani has rightly said, but between the lines I can read: even after
becoming a Sannyasi, retains MANY of the duties...
A Brahmana, becoming a Sannyasi, doesn't have to give up every duty that
his earlier ashrama has ordained for him. True renunciation is not
achieved by complete abstinence from all the duties of the world. It is
but a state of mind reflected in the works. Afterall renunciation of
various previously held responsibilities and duties is for substituting
them with perpetual thought and love of Bhagavan. In the other
ashramas, concern and care for the family, animals and the Sannyasi,
Guru, and the essential sacrifices to gods, ancestors etc have to be
performed. When all these duties are fulfilled, irrespective of the
varna, a person accepts Sannyasa or renunciation. But some duties stay
on. But this doest and should not be interpreted as follows: That
Sannyasins have distinction of Varna. Varna is for distinction in the
combination of the Gunas that make up one's mind. 
Now if we hold on to caste as being formed only by birth, we may
conclude that there can be a Brahmin Sannyasi, a Kshatriya Sannyasi and
likewise. But when we retrospectively inspect, we may find that Sannyasi
Ashrama is freed from all Karma (refer Chap. 18, verse 49 of the Bhagavad
Gita), family ties, duties of the brahmacharya ashrama, the grihasta
ashrama (including offering of pinda to ancestors), etc. and ultimately
the duties of heroism, courage in battle, leadership (BhagavadGita
Ch.18:43), farming, cowprotection, labour and service to others (verse
44). Thus he transcends varna also. Therefore Sannyasins don't have
varna although they may retain some of the most important duties and
promises. 

Mani:-)None of the Alvars were sannyAsis.  They are beyond "varNa"
Mani:-)(let us use this term instead of "caste") in the sense that 
Mani:-)irrespective of their physical origin, they are to be treated
Mani:-)with the utmost respect because they are parama-bhAgavatas,
Mani:-)exemplifying the highest level of sainthood.  Furthermore,
Mani:-)according to our tradition, _all_ bhAgavatas are to be given
Mani:-)the utmost respect, irrespective of their caste, varNa, or
Mani:-)physical origin.  One acharya states that even wondering about
Mani:-)the jAti of a bhAgavata is an offense.
Rightly and Best said. 
But why none of the Azhwars are not Sannyasins? This sentence depends on
how Sannyasa Ashrama is defined. If some Bhakta might be kind enough to
explain in Vaishnavite terms, what constitutes the Ashrama of Sannyasa,
we might clear this point. After all the Azhwars, preoccupied with love
and the agony of separation having renounced all the material joys
cannot but be called Sannyasins for they have no other greater joy or
duty than to glorify Bhagavan, his name and his pastimes. 

Jagan:-)> 3. Sanyassins are the cream of the society. They are superior to
Jagan:-)> brahmins and they are the real teachers

Mani:-)There is no such division between sannyAsis and brAhmaNas.
Mani:-)They refer to two different things; one is ASrama, the other
Mani:-)is varNa. Today, most of our sannyAsis are brAhmaNas.
If there is no division between Sannyasins and Brahmanas (who might be a
brahmachari or a Grihasta), in the spiritual hierarchy, is there a
union (always)?
perhaps I am misunderstood. May I put it this way: In Ashramas, the
Sannyasa is the superior ashrama, In Varna, the Brahmana is the superior
varna. And in general, a Grihasta Brahmana is lower in hierarchy and
offers respects to a Sannyasi irrespective of the Sannyasi's caste. And
the (true) Sannyasi commands the respect of all the other ashramites and
varnites irrespective of his caste. This is because he has transcended
all the differences and is situated in the Sattwic guna, and free from
karma. Thus was my intention to convey. This is purely my own
intrepetation and I know that I might be grossly wrong. 

Mani:-)the rituals of the karma kANDa are extremely important, are
Mani:-)must be practiced by those who have had the samskAras of 
Mani:-)upanayana, etc.  
Mani:-)Please do not condemn cermonies and rituals; such worship is
Mani:-)recommended by the Lord himself and commanded by the SAstras,
Mani:-)which are nothing but His word.  

What I meant by the karma kanda are the sacrifices and rituals performed
merely and only for the attainment of heaven, worldly gifts like good
children etc and for the appleasement of various gods and demigods. 
The rituals and ceremonies , I agree are a essential part of our
tradition and should be performed only for the pleasure of Bhagavan.

Adiyen
Jagan Mohan.