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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Jul 28 1997 - 01:02:08 PDT

At 04:30 PM 7/27/97 EDT, Sri.Keshava Prasad wrote his long post titled

AT LAST we seem to have some serious feed-back from the list !!

Sri.Prasad starts by asking the right questions :
What is the bhakti-list all about ?
Is it a "chat-group" ?
Is it a "mutual-admiration club" ?
Is it a cyber-community ?
If so, what sort of community ? "Networking" relationships ? Community of
sects/groups ---- advaitins, thengalais, vadagalais, this mutt, that mutt ?

Anyway, what does Sri.Prasad want it to be ? And what has he personally done
about it ?

He goes on to write :

>The enthusiasm has now worn off however,  partly because
>time and again I have felt out of place with the group's objectivity. If there
>was one, I think the group  has lost it.

Mr.Prasad, I am myself a relative new-comer to this group. But I think the
group's objectivity is very clear and it is given in the
BHAKTI-INFO-RESPONSE. I quote from it :

        "The Bhakti list is dedicated to discussing Visistadvaita Vedanta 
philosophy and the Sri Vaishnava religion.  Sri Vaishnavism is
one of India's principal religious traditions, with a long and
colorful philosophical, literary, and social history, dating
back at least 1500 years.  Its accompanying philosophy, known 
as Visistadvaita, continues to be one of the dominant schools 
of Vedanta, the orthodox philosophy of Hinduism."

The above, Mr.Prasad, was written by Sri.Mani Varadarajan and the key words
"Sri Vaishnavism (has).... a long and colorful philosophical, literary, and
social history, dating back at least 1500 years....It is the orthodox
philosophy of Hinduism..."  

Given the above facts, Mr.Prasad, you must understand that discussions in
the group are bound to be "long", "colourful" (not to your tastes, perhaps),
"literary" (even long-winded) and with a little bit of "history", dreary
"philosophy" and a wide variety of "social" comment thrown in for effect.

But that's exactly what a "community of minds" is all about ! That's exactly
the "objectivity" of the Bhakti-group ! Its "free-for-all" environment is
what makes the Bhakti mailing-list so different ! It is such a wonderful
barometer of what contemporary SriVaishnava minds on the verge of the
21st-century think about themselves, their religion and their lives ! 
If Mr.Prasad can define the "Objectivity of the group" more clearly perhaps
it might help. He should perhaps also ask himself what has he personally
done to shape and influence the "objectivity" of the group all these years ? 

I am personally amazed at the energy and sweat that young members like Vijay
Srinivasan, Sempath Rengarajan, Mohan Sagar, Sri and Smt.Kalyani
Krishnamachari, Sri.Bharadwaj, Sri.Dileepan, Sri.Varadan,Sri.P.B.Anand,
Sri.Seshadri, Sri.Kalale, Sri.Rangaswamy, Sri Sundaresan and many others
bring  to the wide variety of subjects they discuss on this list. The sharp
questions they ask, the comments, the insights, the repartees they come up
with now and then are all so interesting. Senior members like Sri.Sadagopan
and Sri.Anbil of course flood us with so much that is useful and nourishing.

As a group the above members have indeed done such a lot to define what
Sri.Prasad calls the "objectivity" of the mailing list.

So what is Mr.Prasad talking about ? I don't understand.

>I have tried but unsuccessfully,  to
>get some of the youth members of our society to subscribe to the group. They
>came forward but backed off after a short while. The reason given to me was
>the postings were too lengthy, repetitive, too abstract and at times too
>outdated in some ways. Though I do not totally agree with this point of view, I
>surely think that there is more truth to it than meets the eye.

What do these "youth members" Mr.Prasad spoke to expect from the list ?
Great jokes, gags, one-liners, tit-bits and punch-lines ?

I recommed Mr.Prasad's "youth-brigade", if they want something less
"abstract", they should all go to a MacDonald's outlet and have a
"burger".... Bye the way, let me warn you, Mr.Prasad, MacDonald's burgers,
too, are hopelessly "repetitive" in size, shape, taste and content !

>The discussions and parables that figure in the discussions do not seem to have
>a message for them. 

Let me take up this point of Mr.Prasad as I consider myself the biggest
narrator on this list of "parables", "short-stories", "grandma-yarns" and
and maybe I'm right in thinking that Mr.Prasad directs this remark to me.

Mr.Prasad, Sir, the many abstruse matters of SriVaishnavism cannot often be
grasped by ordinary people like us without the aid of "parables". One can
listen to the story of the Ramayana all one's life, ad nauseaum, ad
infinitum, and still fail to fully understand its essence.

Sri.Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was probably the biggest "story-teller" of all
times. He was also one of the greatest saints of India this millennium. 

If stories irk the likes of Mr.Prasad on the list there's always the "trash"
button on your PC ! Use it.

>The purpose of the discussions does not seem to focus on  winning new

What gave Mr.Prasad the idea that we are all mighty crusaders and
proselytizers for the cause of SriVaishnavism ?!! We have no need for fresh
acolytes, Mr.Prasad, thank you, but I now get an idea of what your own
"objectivity" really is ! 

>There is no emphasis on how and when one can actually adopt the
>moral, philosophical or religious import that a story or an event in the
life >of an Alwar or Acharya, in our own lives on this earth and how the
same can be
>passed on to the progeny. 

At least many of us on the list are trying to do so, Mr.Prasad. We may be
failing in our efforts but we are not professional philosophers or saints.
But we are still trying, and damned hard too ! We aren't sitting back and
passing judgment on or "pooh-poohing" those who do. 

>It may also be claimed that the information is out
>there for anyone to take advantage  of but it is not the responsibility of the
>information giver to find out if it has an effect if any on the receiver. 

Mr.Prasad, how can you be so naive as to think that "feed-back" is received
from members only through the "main-list" ?  Do you know how many
private-mails I personally get from members --- some "loving" and also a
few, what you may call, "hate-mail" ! Do you know how many private mails
Sri.Sadagopan, the biggest contributor to our "list", receives ?

In any case, can you possibly appreciate the fine concept of humble
"nishkAma" "kainkaryam"? Have you ever in your life stopped to give
"feed-back" to the lowly sweeper who clears rubbish in the front-yard of a
temple and washes it with cow-dung ?

>If the format or the material is the same as
>or similar to what can be found in any book,  we do not need a mailing list
>such as this.

Pardon us humble folks, Sir Prasad, some of us are deficient in
book-learning ! Anything humbly offered thorugh the mailing-list is good
enough for us. What we do not savor we ignore. What is good we absorb.

>On the other hand, if the postings can focus on showing how the ways of
>our religion can carry us through our lives as mortals, it will be not only of
>practical help but more interest can perhaps be generated and we can expect
morelively discussions of contemporary relevance from many more members than
>>Keshava Prasad

Why don't you show us how to do it ? Why don't you show us all the Great Way
yourself, Sri.Keshava Prasad, we'd be much obliged and follow you implicitly !

I am waiting, Mr. Prasad !