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On worship - (Salagramam)

Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com
Date: Mon Jul 27 1998 - 14:57:54 PDT

Speaking about worship, sometime ago Mani wrote:

"It would seem that the attitude of the worshipper
is what is more important.  Is not Krishna's teaching
in the Gita that selfless action dedicated to Him
causes no karma? With this in mind, I would conclude
that someone who worships with selfless love, not
looking for any personal benefit (i.e., a paramaikAntin)
is bereft of any fault if there is a lapse in performance.

However small the offering, if given with selfless love,
is incomprehensibly dear to Him. What then if an imperfect
being unintentionally slips up here or there?"

Mani

Adiyen's response:

Our experience shows that any system that tolerates mistakes and
imperfections, ultimately degenerates into nothing.  I think sincerity of
purpose and striving for excellence go together.  An earnest aspirant will
do his best not to compromise.  For example - if we take the Vedas - but
for the emphasis on right svaras and varnas it would not have been possible
for a tradition that depended on oral transmission to preserve them intact
for thousands of years.

The doctrine of Prapatti often comes under attack for the very same reason
that we take refuge under prapatti for our acts of omission and commission.
They say that we are not courageous enough to own the responsibility for
our action.  I tell my advaitin friends that the life led by
Ramanujacharya, Desika, Manavala Mamunigal and other acharyas were no less
rigor and sastraic  than the acharyas of other schools notwithstanding the
dependance on prapatti.  I also understand that acharyas of the 'good old
days' would only grant prapatti after ensuring that he/she has lead a
sastraic life.

On the question of worshipping for material benefits etc., I think it is
perhaps easy for people like us (who have been blessed with considerable
felicity) to say that it must be eschewed.   While we all agree that
paramaikantikatvam is the ultimate ideal, it is for too  distant a goal for
most people.  The fact that only a minority of Sri Vaishnavas do not resort
to Anya Devata worship (in some form or other) is a clear indication that
people are not willing to ignore 'Ihaloka sukam' i.e. the needs of this
world.


Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan