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Social Services and Sri Vaishnavism: part II(Conclusion)

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 18:31:43 PDT

Dear BhakthAs : 

Social services arise out of Societal services 
based on Social/Societal Consciousness. The thought 
that we are part of a larger and interconnected 
organism consisting of family and society at all 
different levels , all the way upto Nation and 
the World.

VedhAs and the prayers therein (Saanthi manthrams 
et al) have that broad vision .Too much individualism
is the bane of today's society. Our great leader,late
Sri Chakravarthi RajagOpAlAchAri (RaajAji) , the first
Governor of General of India wrote a brilliant monograph
called " pOtti Ozhiga!" ( Down with destructive competition )
at one time. The concept of winner takes all has been 
the horrible message from excessive individualism 
of market economies.

Now coming back to Vedhic approach , as pointed out
earlier by Dr.Sadananda , there are number of debts
that a human being has to discharge:

1. Rishi RuNam (Discharged thru observance of Brahmacharyam
   and Vedha adhyayanam )
2. Deva RuNam ( Discharged thru performance of Yaj~nams)
3. Pithru RuNam ( Discharged thru the blessings of progeny)
4. Manushya RuNam

The last debt is Manushya RuNam defined by Satapatha 
BrAhmaNam( as pointed out by AgnihOthram TatAchAr Swamy):

" RuNam ha vai jaayathE so sti sajAyamaana eva dEvEbhya:
  rishibhyA; Pithrubhya: manushyEbhya: yadenAn vaasayatE 
  yadate bhyO ANNAM daatIti tat tadasya aanruNyam "

The man  by birth  becomes an addition/burden to the Society,
which has to bear the burden of that addition. The new born
is indebted first to his parents and then to society that 
supports him .  Manushya RuNam is thus acquired.As this child
grows into a working man , he earns , takes care of his food ,
shelter and clothing . As he earns more than what he needs
for the above requirements , VedhAs say : " Provide it for
others , who are your co-beings".The concept of service 
to fellow human beings and living things is central to all
as taught by Vedhas. Sacrificing one's interest to help 
others in achieving their interests without any display
of selfishness or ego and in a spirit of Saathvika ThyAgam
is underlined by the vedhAs .

Sacrifice of selfishness is identified as a absolute
necessity for the enhancement of one's Social consciousness.
It is the opposite of " Dehi mE dadhaami tE " ( I give You
some thing .You give me back some thing in return ). Swamy 
Deikans' NyAsa Dasakam touches on these concepts of karthruthva,
Phala and mamathA ThyAgams.The emphasis is made by the VedhAs
that without the spirit of sacrifice , there is no dharmic path. 
Swamy NigamAntha MahA Desikan , who practised unchivrutthi
(seeking alms for his dEha Yaathrai) all his life prayed 
therefore to Lord Varadhan this way:

"nithyam niraparAdhEshu kaimkaryEshu niyunkshva maam "

( Oh Varadha! Please order me to perform Kaimkaryams 
always without the admixture of the above three kinds of 
aparAdhams and to place those Kiamkaryams at Your 
sacred feet ).

AgnihOthram Swamy points out further that one of the key 
imperatives of developing Social consciousness is
the acquisition of philosophical knowledge to help one
follow the Dharmic path and stay away from adharmic way. 
Lord KrishNA points out the development of discriminative
knowledge (VivEkam ) thru the understanding of SaasthrAs:

"TasmAth Saasthram PramANam tE kAryAkAryau vyavasthitau
 Jn~AthvA sAsthra vidhAnOktham kAryam karthum tavArhasi"

This development of Societal consciousness backed up
by the knowledge of SaasthrAs will develop an equanimity
of mind ( priyam sarvasya pasyatha)to look at every
one with affection and frieendship ( maithra bhAvam).

The reinforcement of Kaimkaryams by SaasthrAic knowledge 
will lead to auspicious speech (KalyANi)in service 
to mankind ( vaachi imaa visvaa bhuvanAni arpithA ).
The Vedha manthrAs are very much for auspicious speeches 
addressed to the Supreme Being . Reciprocal good 
sentiment is behind auspicious speech without any
precondition .

Other pointrs given by Sri AgnihOthram TatAchAr Swamy
in the context of Vedhic upadEsam on developing 
societal consciousness are:

1. No work is superior or inferior . All are neeeded for
   the nenefit of Society.

2. The need for tolerance in interactions: " One may 
   beat you , one may curse you , but do not be irritated.
   Pray to God for his (abuser's) good thinking (maaO
   ghnantam sapantam maa prativricie sumatimitasyaa 

3. another message of the VedhAs about the social life
   is the use of utmost care in our utterances.For any reason , 
   no one should abuse others( na duruktaa sprhayet).Since 
   nature (prakruthi) is the cause of all behaviour of men,
   some times one may be tempted to use inauspicious words 
   to address others , but it must be controlled.Freindship is 
   a special relationship ( maitra bhAvam) . This is a measure 
   of one's deep social life.Friendship is no one-way traffic.
   A veda manthram says: " One who deserts his wise friend
   in distress loses all chances of life and all his learnings 
   are in vain.He does not know the path of righteousness
   ( yasttyaaja sakhividam sakhyam na tasya vaci api bhaago'sti).
    Friendship is the human relationship contributing to social
    consciousness  outside the family life.   

4.  The developmental social consciousness and progress of
    society is also tied up with the development of standards
    in relationship between men and women. This topic has been 
    covered in earlier postings on Sthree Dharmam as defined by
    the Vedhaas. According to VedhA , the women are more 
    intelligent than men.

5.  Family life and family consciousness form the first step 
    in the ladder of social consciousness.Atharva vedham gives
    a picture of family life to discharge the 4 indebtedness.
    The messaage is to cultivate unity in heart and mind.

6.  Vedham stresses the importance of anna dhAnam.Imparting
    food to the needy , irrespective of caste is necessary.
    Giving food is taken as a sense of gift ( anna dhAnam).
    VedhAs say: taking food alone is a sin (anna sooktham).
    atthithi sathkAram is a must duty for a grahasthA.   

7. The haves and the have-nots are always there in society
   from time immemorial. Hence , understanding this truth ,
   VedhAs say that dhAnam is a social virtue (manushya 
   RuNam dischargement) and providing food for others 
   (anna dhAnam ) yields great puNyam .

These are some of the excerpts from the scholarly study
of AgnihOthram RaamAnuja TatAchAr Swamy , who is now in
his ninth decade and continues to write, lecture, travel 
and perform Yaj~nams all over India . 

Although human fraility makes us fail often to live up
to the high standards set by the VedhAs for developing
social consciousness and freindship among each other ,
it is good to reflect on them and apply them . I know
I have failed many times and seek the forgivenness of
Sriman NaarAyaNan and AchAryALs.

with prayers for Kaimkarya PrApthi,
Daasan , Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SatakOpan




           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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