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social service and SrIvaishNavam
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 21:01:47 PDT

> whatever motivation), does a single Sri Vaishnava
> group 
> gather able-bodied youth and go do humanitarian
> service work in a Dalit (or any) downtrodden or
> impoverished village?

There are a few examples of the above. srI tridaNdi
srIman nArAyaNa rAmAnuja jIyar svAmi is one of
the srIvaishNava AchAryAs that have very actively
promoted social service along with prayer. He has
set up an organization called vikAsatarangini (that
has been in existence for a few years now), whose
members are primarily youth, and the main purpose
is social service.
In Andhra, this group is quite active in rural
areas, where it conducts medical camps, literacy
camps very frequently with HH jIyar svAmi present
as his schedule permits. In chennai, the local
branch has adopted a slum and works with them to
keep it hygenic and works with the parents to
send the children to school. Also, during cyclones
and other natural disasters, vikAsatarangini in AP
is quite active in the affected areas. After the
gujarat earthquake, HH jIyar svAmi has commenced
work on building a colony for the affected - houses,
trees, community center etc - more details of this
specific activity is on

Similarly in TN, HH srI azhagiya maNavALa jIyar
svAmi has set up (and is setting up one more)
free dispensaries for the poor, irrespective of
casst/creed/religion. Doctors volunteer their time,
and medical companies normally donate most of
the common medicine.

It is indeed unfortunate though that the *key*
message of srIvaishNavam has been pretty much reduced
to nothing over the years due to whatever reason.
AzhvArs explicitly state social service (bhAgavata
kainkaryam - thirumangai AzhvAr describes a bhAgavata
as one that does not have hate towards perumAL
explicitly - i.e. everyone, for the most part is a
bhAgavatha, even if he is an agnostic) - in fact,
the key message of the AzhvArs is this -
"Do not worry about your own future - perumAL will
take care of u after ur life - while you are here,
spend your time performing service to Him (enjoying
His anubhavams), and His devotees (social service)".

Unfortunately, as a whole community, we seem to have
missed the whole point. When we talk about religion,
most of us seem to ask "How can I attain salvation,
and what is it that I can do to get that", rather than
"How can I use the faculties given by the Lord to
serve His devotees".

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,

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