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Re: Ahimsa paramo dharmaha, Tondar-adi-podi, etc.

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Thu Jul 30 1998 - 09:08:08 PDT

Sri Krishnaswami wrote:
: ... from the perspective of the conscience. From
:this perspective, I believe that the animal sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas
:refer not to the killing of animals per se, but to the sacrifice of the animal
:tendencies (gunas) in man. If our dear Acharya, Ramanuja, is to be interpreted
:correctly and understood in full justice to his demonstrated 'lokaas
:samasthaassukhino bhavanthu (may all worlds be well)' attitude,  then I
:understand his message that 'animal sacrifice is good for the animal' to mean
:that sacrificing animal tendencies, man rises from the animal level of
:behavior to the human level of conduct.  

While I appreciate Sri Krishnaswami's sentiment, this
kind of reading of Ramanuja and the Vedas is nothing
but politically correct revisionism, designed to suit
our modern sensibilities.  There cannot be much doubt
that the Vedas prescribe actual animal sacrifice for
certain purposes, and that Ramanuja believed in the
efficacy of such rituals.  However, as Murali Kadambi
pointed out (and which Dileepan has also poignantly
written about in his last article) this in no way implies
an endorsement of meat-eating or animal sacrifice. It
is more of a technical issue regarding the Vedas and
which the core principles under which a Sri Vaishnava
operates -- namely, adherence to and belief in the Vedic
teachings.

Regarding Tondar-adi-podi Alvar, and cutting off
the heads of Buddhists:

We may not be happy to hear what the Alvar wrote,
given our modern sensibilities.  They may seem intolerant,
strident, etc. But please don't take the Alvar's words 
out of context and therefore reject all that he has said.
The Alvar is certainly not encouraging us to commit acts 
of violence against any other religion or person (unlike Islam).  
I think Alvar would be horrified if we did that. He is merely 
expressing his extreme frustration and anger against those who 
repeatedly deny the existence of Sriman Narayana, and deny 
the validity of worshipping Him.

The Alvar was unfortunately quoted in the wrong context,
in my opinion, and has been given a bad name.  But please
think about it without getting emotional, and while you may
not necessarily agree with his sentiment, accept them as
the feelings expressed at one time of a great devotee of
the Lord, said out of a desire to defend Him.

thondar-adip-podi aazhvaar thiruvadigaLE saraNam

Mani