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Re: Thaniyans

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 17:10:04 PDT

govind@playground.net writes:
> Dear BhAgawathAs
> 
> I have two questions.
> 
> Question #1:

> I wonder what was the beginning/starting paasuram of
> the 4000 diwya prabhandam before the dhaniyans were
> added.

Dear Govindarajan,

I do not have a complete answer to this question but here
is what I have pieced together. Most of the taniyans
to the Divya Prabandham were composed between the time
of Sriman Nathamuni and Bhagavad Ramanujacharya. 
Take tiruvAymozhi, for example.  The first taniyan
"bhaktAmRtam..." was composed by Sri Nathamuni himself.
The succeding taniyans are by his successors, with the
fifth and final one by Bhattar, in the post-Ramanuja
era.

We also know that in Sri Nathamuni's time, only the
iyaRpa was formally recited (hence the name 'iyal'). 
The rest of the hymns (isai) were literally sung, with some 
abhinaya, by the araiyars, descendants and disciples 
of Nathamuni.  Even today, as I understand it, the
araiyars do not recite taniyans when they do their
sEvai as they are supposed to represent the Alvars
themselves in their experience of the Lord.

What I gather from this is that the practice of reciting
taniyans before the Prabandham only became widespread
once recitation of the 'isai' section were formally
and ritually recited.  This can probably be dated to the 
time of Sri Ramanuja who greatly expanded the community.

My feeling is that originally the Prabandham was recited
without taniyans, just as any other poetry would be.
But, once the dramatic and intense 'anubhava' of rasikas
such as Ramanuja, Bhattar, et al, became well known,
their verses in honor of the Alvars came to be prepended
to the hymns so that we too could share in their experience.

> Question #2

> I was also reading the Vadakali-Thenkalai Doctrinal
> differences presented excellently by Sri. Mani Varadarajan and
> Sri. Anbil Ramaswamy at 
> http://members.tripod.com/~sriramanujar/tVsv.html
> There it is said that the doctrinal differences crept up
> about 100 years after the times of ManavaaLamaamunigaL in one, 
> however the other says that it is between the times of
> "Emberumaanar and Swami Desikan".  I wonder which
> interpretation is correct ? Do we have any evidences ?
> I am sorry, I might be starting that has already been discussed
> on this forum. If so, can any one please refer me to the 
> appropriate Bhakti Digest.
> 
> Adiyen Ramanuja Daasan
> Govindarajan Varadarajan
> 
> 

There definitely were intellectual differences in the days
of Sri Vedanta Desika -- but whether these differences were
the basis for animosity or for sectarianism is totally 
a different story.  We have no indication of anything but
friendly interchanges between scholars who mutually respected
each other. 

These differences may very well have existed in seed form
in the time of Bhagavad Ramanuja himself. Realize that Ramanuja
greatly expanded the Sri Vaishnava community, gathering an
extremely diverse group of disciples. With this diversity came
differences in understanding the shastras and where to make
tradeoffs, which may have been extremely inconsequential at
first, but which developed into greater differences over 
generations.  The basic tension is between the traditional 'vaidika' 
(i.e., smArta) way of looking at things, with all the practices, 
rules, and regulations that go along with it, and the emotionalism 
of intense devotion, where everything else fades into the background.
Even today each one of us makes tradeoffs between these two,
and the acharyas were put in the position of doing the same.
Apply some logic and argumentation and you get intellectual
differences that crystallize into differing doctrines.

What we do know for certain is that Sri Pillai Lokacharya and 
Sri Vedanta Desika, the two great systemizers of that time period, 
differed subtly on a few issues of significance, but lived together
in Srirangam and cooperated on the preservation of the treasures
of the sampradaya during Malik Kafur's invasion. We also know that
Sri Manavaala Maamunigal considered Swami Desika one of his
own respected predecessors (and indeed has Sri Desika in his acharya
parampara) and quotes him as such, and does not seek to debate 
Sri Desika when the latter disagreed with his own direct predecessors. 
We also know that Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan of Tirupati Suprabhatam 
fame was a disciple of both Sri Desika's son and Sri Manavaala Maamunigal, 
indicating that there was no such thing as two different sects at that 
time. Different paramparas, yes, but there are in actuality so many 
different acharya paramparas within the tradition that that is of 
little consequence. Recall Bhagavad Ramanuja had 74 different
chief disciples, each in the position of being an acharya.

We also know that the first truly sectarian works were written
a few generations after Sri Manavaala Maamunigal. This indicates
that the notion of separate sects ("us" vs. "them" mentality)
firmly took place only at this point.

Hope this clarifies,
aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani

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