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Reviving / Preserving SriVaishnavam

From: Sriram Ranganathan (
Date: Tue Mar 07 2000 - 22:18:18 PST

Dear members,

The various posts on the subject highlight the genuine concerns and opinions
of many of us.

To be honest, I at one time belonged to that category that we (yes, I've
reformed since then) are worried about now - the one that neither shows any
interest nor appreciation for the tradition or philosophy, let alone
practice it! And of course there is this other category that goes out of the
way to mock and tarnish the tradition. The former can be addressed over a
period of time with concerted effort. As for the latter, we will leave it to
our beloved Perumal!

Several reasons can be attributed to the current
not-so-encouraging-situation. Summing up the posts so far (credits are at
the bottom), along with my personal opinions the most important factors seem
to be

1. Imprecise explanations if any, for various customs coupled with
misinformation & disinformation
2. Blind emphasis on certain esoteric practices without an understanding or
appreciation for the 'core' values and the real reasons behind their
original inception
3. A tendency to disregard the passage of time and failing to adapt the
practices forthwith
4. Lack of sustained financial support
5. Senseless commercialization (paradoxical to #4) and
6. A general apathy due to one or more of the above reasons (this by itself
recursively contributes to the growing nonchalance albeit the renewed
interest at some level - thanks to the efforts of various groups)

As they say, the first step is to know thy enemy - for when you know, half
the battle is won. And for the other half, well we have to fight!

Issue #1 (lack of explanation) can be addressed by taking the time to
explain the various practices and rituals as appropriate. Where we are
unsure, we must accept it and should seek to find out the correct answers.
This will help encourage the growing younger generation populace to have a
favorable disposition toward our tradition.

Problem #2 (esoteric rituals) can be dealt with, if only we have the courage
to accept the fact that there are indeed some practices that can be better
replaced or discontinued, since they are no longer meaningful. In the
interest of time and potential arguments, I refrain from going into the
details. But I guess we all can think of one, at the very least. Some arcane
practices are specific to individuals and families, and there are others
practiced across the board. Of course there are many rituals that we do not
fully understand, nevertheless they are proven techniques that work - so we
can keep them after acknowledging it. I am not advocating a call for
judgment on what to keep and what to discard but just voicing a generic
suggestion. Nonetheless, I'm sure we have practices that can be reviewed.

To address issue #3 (adapting) we should continue to implement new
strategies for preserving the tradition, scriptures etc. and getting the
message across to the younger generation.

As for #4(financial support) we all know what we need to do. Combined with a
more prudent management of funds within various donor/ kainkaryam groups,
individual support will go a long way in helping the cause.

Issue #5 (commercialization) arises in various forms. Again I will refrain
from naming any specific act - but all of us are aware of this. Some level
of commercialization is definitely required to bring awareness or
accommodate changing needs, but it should not become 'for profit' ventures.

If we all work together judiciously on the above, each in our own way,
everyday, within our families and as a community we can counter the threats
and rest assured that this hoary tradition that had survived so many
onslaughts will continue! We do have many great personalities and groups
within our sampradaayam to emulate. Sri Ramanuja, Sri Vedanta Desikan, the
Alwars, all our past and present Acharyas, and many other Sri Vaishnava
individuals and organizations have fought each one of the above issues in
different forms and at different levels and had successfully tackled it.
Without them we won't be where we are today. As a respect, we should
continue our efforts. With Perumal anugraham, I am sure we will prevail.

Please feel free to correct me.

Sriram Ranganathan

Note. As mentioned earlier, I had taken the liberty to sum-up the original
opinions of Ms. Geeta Ramaswamy, Sri. Srinath, Sri. Madhavakannan, Sri.
Krishna Kalale, Sri. Venkat Nagarajan and Sri. Sampathkumar.

- aazhvaar, emberumaanaar, desikan, jeeyar tiruvadigale saranam -
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