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Re: a ? on vaishnavism
Date: Wed Jun 13 2001 - 20:25:57 PDT

Srimathe Ramanujaya namaha :

Well no where did anyone say that those who worship any body other than
Sriman Narayanan are Sinners. As Sri T.S.Sundararajan wrote

                         <Start Quote>

"ArOgyam bhAskarAt iCChEt, dhanam iCChEt hutASanAt,
 ISAnAt jnAnam anviCChEt, mOksham iCChEt janArdanAt."

[Seek health from the sun, wealth from agni,  realisation from ISAna,
and deliverance from janArdana.]

                         <End Quote>

Here the realisation or the jnana which is said, is nothing but the
realisation of the Supreme Being, and that of the relationship of the
jeevAtmA with that of the paramAtmA. This can be got from Siva.

Our ancestors have classified the Shastras into five categories,
1) asAram, 2) alpasAram, 3)sAram, 4) sAratharam, & 5) sArathamam. The
following sloka instructs which should be followed.
"asAram alpasAram cha sAram sAratharam tyajEth, bajEth sArathamam sAstrE
ratnAkara ivAmrutam"

This means that in order to obtain the salvation, one should renounce the
first 4 and should only adhere to the 5th which is the flawless sArathamam.

What are these 5?

asAram : This is the portion in the vEdAs which if followed will yield
results that is not at all encouraged. Example, a homam or yagnam to get
rid of one's enemy. Or simply stating, to trouble others. Now the question
may arise as to how can the vEdAs specify such a hOmam or yagnam, when it
is only supposed to speak of good things. The answer is, this portion is
NOT FOR THE JNANIS but for those who does not believe in vEdAs. If an
atheist who wants to get rid of an enemy is told about this and he does
that hOmam and gets the result, the next thing he will do is to START
BELIEVING the vEdAs. Then he will start asking " what does the vEdAs give
ME, more than getting rid of my enemies". The answer for this is the

alpasAram : This is the portion of vEdAs, which specifies the necessary
karmAs, to attain the materialistic and worldly pleasures. This is better
than the earlier one because, this does not talk about any destruction.
Still this is also NOT for the jnanis. Now the person starts believing the
vEdAs very well and the next question.  "What is the way I can get rid of
this births and rebirths. He now enters the lower level of self realisation
which is sAram.

sAram : This is portion in which the atmAnubhavam is specified. This is
also called as the Kaivalyam. The person who enters the state of Kaivalyam,
though gets devoid of rebirths will not attain the highest state of
salvation which is doing the service to Sriman Narayanan. So after
realising this, the person starts asking "What should I do, so that I don't
enter into this kaivalyam and go to mOksha?" This is explained by the

sAratharam : It is the portion of vEdas which instructs the anushTAnams
that have to be done to attain the lotus feet of Sriman Narayanan and to do
eternal kainkaryam. Then why is this not the top most of all? Because, what
this instructs is only swagatha sweekAra roopa kainkaryam. It means we do
kainkaryam to Him for our pleasure.

sArathamam : This is best of all and the Highest state of all. This talks
about the paragathasweekAra roopa kainkaryam for Him. It means doing
kainkaryam to Him, for His pleasure and not ours. This state exemplifies
the 'paratantra' nature of the (jeeva) AtmA to Sriman Narayanan.

Now why all the above explanations? To answer the question, those who
worship other gods will only attain worldly pleasures and also by virtue of
being true to them will get some jnanam in their rebirths and finally
realise the Supreme, get rid of the prArabha karmAs, and then enter

The following story explains the same. There was once a spider in a Siva
temple which did kainkaryam to him by weaving its web as an umbrella over
the lingam. There was also an elephant which was an ardent devotee of Siva
which used to do kainkaryam to him by bringing water from the nearby river
and do abhishekam to him, due to which the Web got disturbed every time.
Angered at this, one day the Spider bit the elephant. In a rage the
elephant stamped the spider and died due to poison. Due to the utmost
devotion, the spider was born as a king in its next birth and he
constructed many Siva temples. He was aware of his previous birth and due
to the dwEsham on the elephant, constructed the sanctum in such a way that
no elephant could enter it. In the due course, he received the complete
jnAnam from Siva and became an ardent devotee of the Supreme, Sriman
Narayanan and attained mOksham. (sorry nothing was said about the elephant
in its rebirth)

As you said, each life is a small point on an asymptote tending to Sriman
Narayana. No doubt about it. But when we are supposed to follow the
visishtAdvaita school which is THE correct school of vEdAnta, then why
should we even look at other gods. Once again, NO DISRESPECT meant to them.
As per the visishTAdvaita school, one should aspire only for the highest
pleasure of serving the Supreme Being (Sriman Narayanan) and not for the
worldly pleasures. As the mOksham can be granted only by Him, why should we
even look at others. This is the right point. Even if one worships other
gods, he will still take births (though the prayers are directed towards
the antaryAmi Sriman Narayanan) like the king above and only when He does
the saraNAgati in the correct form, he attains mOksha. So please understand
that no body says, 'those who worship other gods are sinners'.

AzhwAr emberumAnAr jeeyar thiruvadigaLE saraNam

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Thirumalai Vinjamoor Venkatesh

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