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Re: Material Pursuits and Sri. Vedantha Desikar
Date: Thu Jul 15 1999 - 11:58:00 PDT

 Sri Raamajayam
Dear Bhagavathaas, 

We were pondering Sri.Mani's question on "Material Wealth Vs
Spiritual Health", at Sri.Madhavakannan's residence in
Singapore.  Adiyen's views are, Vedic life starts and
culminates in Understanding the Divine.  To this effect we have
different stages of life, as a son/daughter, as a disciple, as
a spouse, as a father/mother, as a friend etc.  We learn to
accept and understand these relationships and delink from these
relationships when we complete our duties/bindings in Samsaara,
constantly reminding ourselves of our everlasting bond with
Perumaal & Thaayaar(personified in our Acharyan).  This
maturity comes when we remove 3 major obstacles from our
'self'.  One is Impurity in thoughts/action, Second is
wandering focus and the third is Ignorance.  After this a seed
of Bhakthi takes us to our goal.

I think Vairaaghya to lead a simple life, may be a wishful
thinking, but a tough thing to practice.  Maturity develops if we
conduct our duties(like Nitya karmas & other duties as a
kin/spouse/parent) and have immense Acharya Visvaasam and Bhakthi
and continue to nourish his causes with the material wealth you
earn.  When Samsaaric duties/bindings are completed, simple life
with Vairaaghya is practical.

Adiyen's conclusion is that Material Wealth should focus as a
chisel to shape the rock to carve an idol(Spiritual Health).  If
the chisel is too small, the image will never form and on the
other hand if the chisel is too big, it will break the idol.
When the idol is done, we do not need the chisel anymore.
Material wealth should be used in a simple way to fulfill our day
to day needs such as Food, Clothes, Transport(Physical needs) &
Charity, Education(Mental needs) all to be treated as a
nourishment to our soul to surrender to our Perumaal in good
realization.  Once it is done, we could lead a simple life.

Now the Grand Question is "Are we leading life this way?" The
answer is generally No.  Many balance their career higher above
their family seeking a bigger chisel(Career or Wealth) forgeting
the size of the rock to form the idol.  "What can we do?"  I
guess we need a re-orientation as a Sri Vaishnavite community,
and that way we can get rid of some fears of tomorrow(we fear if
I do this, I may suffer this.  My children may not get their
education or get married, if I take farming/teaching and lead a
simple life). as a society and involve ourselves in Vedic
Education in addition to formal education.  I am reminded of
Srimad.Andavan's Srimukham to NAMA conference in USA("ethaikondu
uivathu enraal, ivargal NAMA enrargal") as well as that of the
famous Sloka from Adishankara "Sathsangathvay
Nithsangathvay......Nitschalachithaey Jeevan Mukthihi" which
reminds me of the importance of a Sathsangam towards Spiritual

Sorry my answers may not be in line with Sri Vaishnavam, these
are my personal views which I need to clarify with an Acharyan.

Replying to Sri.Mani's question, of the origin of the stories
around Swami.Desikar being harassed, I believe it is passed on by
oral tradition, during Upanyaasam.  I heard the same story posted
by Sri.Sudarshan Madabushi as follows which I present for other
Bhagavathaas to enjoy, 

1.Desikar's simplicity in leading life 

A few Advaitins, wanted to test Sri.Desikar's resolve to lead a
simple life, offered him rice grains of solid gold and put it in
his bag during his daily rounds of Bhikshai.  When Sri.Desikar
returned home, his wife, who has never seen gold questioned Swami
Desikar innocently, what strange rice grain it was.  Swami
Desikan replied calmly, "this is a strange grain indeed.  It
strangles your leg, wraps your waist and finally strangles your
neck.  Do drop it at the street corner at night, so that no other
person gets afflicted of this strange grain".  Swami's wife
implicitly complied.

2.Grace of God on Swami Desikar's family

Swami Desikar, as we all know led very simple life, that he
performed Nitya Aaradhana with wooden vessels.  He maintained
strict code of simple life, and his family followed his way
perfectly.  It was one sunny day, that his wife was going to the
temple, and on the way many neighbours mocked at her poverty.
Unperturbed, the great lady offerred her prayers to Thayaar with
Swami's Sri Sthuthi, and returned home.  The neighbours were now
noticing Swami Desikar's wife bedecked with gold and diamonds,
and were trembling with fear of Bhagavatha Apachaaram on Swami
Desikar and his family, that they all joined the Sri Vaishnavite
fold with complete faith.  In reality Swami Desikar's wife was
still adorning her simple clothes.  ....there are many more in
the context of Desikar's works.