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Re; neo-Sadhus

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 02:15:04 PDT

Dear Sri Sadagopan Mama, and other Respected Members and Friends:

Due to an unfortunate coincidence, I have learned that
my previous post in this thread has hurt the feelings of
many well-meaning members, particularly in the sishya-community
of Srimad Azhagiya Singar.  There apparently is some current
controversy over precisely the same section of Swami Desika's
"Sankalpa Suryodaya" that I quoted in my message, a controversy
which I was *completely* unaware of until I personally spoke
to Sri Sadagopan yesterday in response to his email.  After
talking at length with Sri Sadagopan, I fully understand 
his anguish and that of fellow sishyas, and I deeply regret 
any hurt feelings I have caused.  I want to make it absolutely 
clear that my comments were not made with any jIyar-svAmi of our 
sampradaya in mind, certainly not Srimad Azhagiya Singar, and I 
had no hidden implications or message between the lines.  I had
only wished to share an ironic and beautiful sloka from Swami Desika 
that a great Desika bhakta (late Sri C.S. Krishnamurthy of Mandaveli,
Madras) had pointed out to me a few years ago.

I am very sorry if it appeared that I was implicating any acharya of 
Bhagavad Ramanuja sampradAya, all of whom to my knowledge are 
performing their kainkaryams selflessly and fully in the spirit 
of dharma.  

To return to the original point -- there are Swamis in this day 
and age who bear the external signs of godliness and renunciation, but
who actually are slaves of wealth or sensuality in some form or another.
There are neo-Hindu Swamis who preach renunciation and dispassion 
while simultaneously lining their pockets with cash.  They bear
the external signs of renunciation -- typically the saffron
robe, ash or kumkum, shaved head, matted hair or unusual hairstyles, 
etc., -- but internally they remain slaves of money, often used for 
their own personal needs.  We need to be vigilant about *these* kinds 
of sadhus, and it's not very hard to do so. 

The acharyas of Bhagavad Ramanuja sampradAya, as well as most
sannyasis of other orthodox Vaidika traditions, are almost to 
a person in a totally different class from the aforementioned Swamis.  
Here I must make special mention of Srimad Azhagiya Singar.
While some of the so-called Swamis spend their nights dreaming about
money, I am convinced that Srimad Azhagiya Singar only dreams
about how next he can serve Sri Malola Narasimhan.  The demanding,
selfless schedule he leads has to be understood to get a feel for
what true Vaidika sannyasis go through. (There was a fine post a few 
years back by Sri Jaganath Bharadwaj detailing his first-hand account
of the daily routine of Srimad Azhagiya Singar -- well worth reading).  

I recall the last time I had the good fortune of darsana
of Sri Malolan and Srimad Azhagiya Singar. It was during Maargazhi
of 1999-2000. Because of the month, Srimad Azhagiya Singar had
to get up particularly early and perform all the anushThAnams
and ArAdhanams required, as well as see the countless sishyas
who seek audience with him in Madras. Yet, he would still lecture
on Tiruppavai to an enthusiastic crowd late into the night in
Mylapore.  It is truly remarkable that at such an advanced age
that the acharya would have so much energy, nay, so much will 
to share knowledge with eager sishyas. This kind of self-sacrifice, 
I feel, is remarkable and such things help one decide the true 
character of a given acharya.

On a general note, I beseech members to judge everything and
everyone for themselves and at face value. Please don't let
rumor, innuendo, and implication be your guide.   Particularly
in the case of our acharyas, there apparently is much gossip,
most of it false, and all of it extremely difficult to hear.
Unfortunately, accusations and counter-accusations abound in 
our little Sri Vaishnava community. Let's each try to do our
part to rid our greater community of it.

With apologies and regrets once again for any misunderstanding, 
aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani



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