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SV temples: how WE can help
Date: Thu Jul 22 1999 - 12:49:15 PDT

Dear members:

The "pathetic sights" that have been referred to in earlier postings are
unfortunately, a sad truth about several SriVaishnavite temples in and
around Tamil Nadu today.  In fact, the last 3 decades have seen a continued
decline in the condition of our revered divya desam temples (including of
course, other temples not included in the 108).

Many of these temples are the very places where the AzhwArs have performed
mangaLAsAsanam to the deities and sang pAsurams in their praise.  These 
temples are sites of the archAvatAras that our beloved AzhwArs preferred
to VaikunTam itself.  How can we live and try to practice our faith so
nonchalantly, while the relentless decline of these puNyasthalams proceeds
to an extent synonymous with total desecration?

To me, the AzhwArs represent our spiritual ancestors, and these temples were
their holy abode in bhUlokam.  How would we feel, if our ancestral homes fell
into disuse because of sheer neglect?  Or if someone encroached upon them and
desecrated their land?  Would we not take it as a personal insult against our
families, and against ourselves?  If it were possible to remedy the situation
in a practical manner, would we not willingly make financial contributions
accordingly?  I will say no more.  Regardless of whether ancient SriVaishnava
temples bear the heritage of AzhwArs or not, they are still an indelible part
of our sampradAyam and its practice.  We cannot simply stand by and watch their
deterioration; we must do something about it.

I have been in correspondence with Smt. Anita Ratnam, who had appealed to
bhakti list members a few months ago to contribute towards the cause of
Arayers in SrivilliputthUr.  Anita is the founder of the Arangham trust in
Chennai, India, which among other things, supports the revival of Vaishnavite
temple dances and rituals.  Please visit the website
and peruse the section "Ritual and Revival".  Recently, I heard from Anita
about the plight of the Jagatrakshakar Kovil near KumbhakONam, which coincided
with another posting in bhakti list about VaradarAjar Kovil in KAnchIpuram.
I contacted Smt. Vimala Rajaji here in Dallas TX to see what (if possible)
could be done to help these temples; she told me about the SMSA (Sri mAlOlan
Seva Association) that has been set up by her and Mr. Rajaji since 1993.

The SMSA is a non-profit organization which can transfer charitable 
contributions to corresponding non-profit organizations in India.  This 
reciprocity is required in order that contributions made here in the USA can
be tax-deductible.  In other words, what one can do is:

[1] Make a cheque out to SMSA for a certain dollar amount;

[2] State WHAT the contribution is for, either on the cheque itself
    or in a separate letter (contributions may be thus divided among
    two or more causes, if desired)

[3] Ensure that SMSA has a means to transfer the money to a NON-PROFIT
    organization in India which can return a receipt for the amount.

All contributions to SMSA made in this manner will be tax-deductible as long
as [3] is satisfied.  One can also set up monthly deductions from a U.S. bank
account to SMSA.  For details, please contact Sri. Raghavan Rajaji at

I am also copying Smt. Anita Ratnam on this message; she had mentioned earlier
the need for (possibly) a separate branch of Arangham that could handle the
financial contributions made to temples.  I urge you all to support Anita's
endeavors, and also to inquire into the possibility of supporting SriVaishnava
temples in India through the SMSA.  I do not know of non-profit organizations
in India that specifically support the cause of such temples, so I will
appreciate any input from other members in this regard.  Anita may be reached
at email:

I hope I have provided some useful information; please excuse me if any of
it is in error.  

-Srinath Chakravarty