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Am Namo Narayanaya

From: Greg Jay (
Date: Sun Jun 21 1998 - 22:05:05 PDT


Regarding the arguments for and against recitation of the Ashtakshara
mantra by non-brahmin Vaisnavas. I believe this is one of those
Vadakalai/Tengalai differences of opinion. Recently Sri Sadagopan has
quoted the view that the mantra has the same effect when chanted with or
without the Pranava. I believe the Tengalai Acharyas disagree with this
statement. I mean no disrespect of Sri Vedanta Desika or his followers by
pointing this out. I would also like to point out that Ashtakshara means
eight letters (syllables) and it is not correct to call a mantra of only
seven letters (syllables) Ashtakshara. I believe that Vadakalai Acharyas
have tried to compensate for this lack of one letter by giving the letter
"Am" to ladies and non-brahmins in place of the Pranava. I would humbly
request where the shastra pramanam for such a substitution can be found.

I can certainly see the sense in not speaking any mantra in public which is
considered secret (rahasya). However it seems to me that a group of
initiated Tengalai Sri Vaisnavas (whether male/Brahmin or not) could openly
discuss it. Similarly a group of initiated Vadakalai Sri Vaisnavas (if
male/Brahmin) could also, and if not male/Brahmin could observe their
protocol by omission or substitution of the Pranava. However it seems
strange to directly speak a secret mantra in an assembly of those who have
not received it.


Keshava das