You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : July 1998

Need for AnushTAnam in our sampradayam

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (
Date: Wed Jul 01 1998 - 04:56:14 PDT

Sri Balaraman Sriram came up with quite a few insightful items in his 
list of progress indicators, and in the process raised several valid 
points on the need for self-evaluation prior to embarking on judging 
adhikaara (or lack of it) for others (including ladies and 
non-brahmins).  This is especially relevant in case of sri vaishnavas 
who have chosen to live in north america (not withstanding 
justifications to the contrary) because of bondage to 
samsaara/materialism/economic comfort et al.  I would be the first to 
argue that as among  those that live here and wallow in anushTAnic 
mediocrity (or as varadhan puts it, non-existent anushTAnam), it is 
irrelevant to discuss about qualifying states for others regards 
understanding something as exalted as rahasya thrayam.  Most of us 
who live here will not even qualify to be brahmins (chaturvarnyam 
mayA srushTam guNa karma vibhAgayoho - not by birth but by 
anushTanam), and hence, clearly do not qualify for pretty much 
anything from a shastric stand point.

Yet, many of us (especially in the current day environment in India,
where value stems more from the occidental connection) are 
bestowed with SamasrayaNam and more, often because of the large 
heartedness of our Acharyas than anything else.  But, just this 
bestowal of krupa should not make us think that we, in our extensive 
ignorance (the reference here is agnYanam stemming from asathva 
guNam stemming from samsaric karma - janma jAyamAna kAla 
kaTakshangaL as the basis for samsaram/moksham), have anything to do 
with the good things (from a krupa stand point) that happen to us. 

However, anushTAnam is critical because the statement "buddhih 
karmaanusaariNi" cannot be negated.  Clearly, the lives we live have 
an indelible impact on what we become.  AnushTanam is the rock bed on 
which our emotional states of humility, bhakti and prapathi are 
built.  It is foolish, and incorrect, to justify the quagmire 
of material follies that we get stuck in (I need my pizza even if it 
has rennet or my children do not eat any meat on ekadashi days or I 
will drink my beer with 0.5 percent alcohol which does not count 
anyway etc.) on the basis of lack of choice.  If we have the desire, 
then we can implement it, though some things are quite difficult in 
the US.  Often our incapacity (read paucity of will power) to live a 
life of anushTanic conformance is somehow translated into constraints 
that can be washed/wished away visavis a so called "interest' in the 

Sri Mohan sagar writes:

> Dear Sri Balaraman Sriram,
> you certainly have stirred up the proverbial coals in the few short weeks
> .......................................................................................................................
> ..................................................
> Yes, it is true that none of us are perfect.  If we were, we would be in
> paramapadam, or in one of our divya dEshams, and not here in this samsAram.
>  We all have to gulp down a slice of pizza now and then, and the vast
> majority of us cannot go without a cup of coffee in the morning.  But, I
> personally do not think that this should be used to downplay our interest
> in our tradition or in our desire to serve Him.

I would like to suggest (shocking as it might seem to some)  that 
life in America is possible, sans pizzas and cheese and 
eggs and cakes, Onions and Garlic and Drum sticks and so on.    To 
say it is OK represents an inconsistency stemming from ignorance or 
the need to justify the convenient.  The simple truth is that, when 
it comes to anushTanam, our acharyas are unequivocally unyielding and 
uncompromising.  My achAryan (mudaliyAnDan swamy) told me after my 
samAsrayaNam "I hope you will follow your nithyanusandhAnam and 
bhagavath kainkaryam without any lOpam.  If you cannot, then may be 
you should just consider coming back and living here".   He 
further said "Seyya vEnDiyada seyyATa irundhaa kooda paravaayillai.  
AnAl, seyya koodadadha seyyAdha irukkaNam", a clear reference to the 
many circumventions and adjustments prevalent in the west.   His 
point was, constrained as we are by our limitations, we may not be 
able to live as a Sri Vaishnava ought to (in terms of bhagavath 
aradhanam, guNanubhavam and kainkaryam on a daily basis) but we can 
avoid doing those things that we ought to.  In all this, there was 
never a suggestion or a hint of compromise.

I believe it is possible to avoid many offensive aspects in the US 
because of the freedoms that the society offers.  We can buy the food 
we want (and Yes, you can buy milk that has no additives in it) and 
live the way we choose to.  Ultimately, what it needs is a small dose 
of will power and a larger one of humility.

 As pillai lokacharyar says in srivachanabhushaNam, 

"Naichyam janmasiddham" and in the same breath, asseverates, 
"agnyAnathAlE prapannar asmadAdigaL" (he includes himself as one 
amongst us!!!)  or ALavandaar in stotra rathnam ("Na dharma 
nishtosmi, na chaatma vedin, na bhakthi maargascharaNaravindE 
akinchanaha, ananyagathischaraNamaham prapadye").  If these exalted 
souls, after evolving to a state of anushTanam and bhAvam that most 
of us cannot even comprehend, recognized their Akinchanyam with 
respect to the infinite kalyana guNAs of the lord, we can only  take 
baby steps in doing what we can (simple adjustments in life style and 
eating habits) and aspire that the lord's krupa will take us further.

Azhwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar ThiruvadigaLE sharaNam