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From: Ramesh Sarangapani (
Date: Mon Mar 11 1996 - 06:56:11 PST

Dear Prapannas

While we are debating the concept of hell, i would like to narrate to you a
incident in my life that may shed some light on what our Acharyas feel
should be the approach of a student in understanding such matters. I had
my Upanayanum around 10 years back and i used to do Sandhaya-Vandanum (SV)
quite regularly till my 12th standard. After i joined IIT, i slowly stopped
doing this (thanks to my new found understanding of the Darwinian evolution,
and my revolutionary theory that God was only a 'concept' and not reality).

when my father questioned as to why i have stopped SV, i retorted saying
i don't believe in these meaningless rituals and that they are just a waste
of time. In the same breath i went on to add that the very 'concept' of God was
just a fanciful concoction of a weak minded person, who can't face his problems
head-on and has to resort to the mercy of a fictitious person, namely the Lord.
my father tried to talk some sense into me, but i wouldn't listen. He then
poured out his heart to his Guru, the 45th Azghiya-Singer (during his 
poorvashrama days). Azghiya-Singer asked him to bring me along next time and 
told him that he will teach me what these 'rituals' mean and why all
Srivaishnava needs to do them without fail.

It was my ill-luck that i didn't make use of that opportunity and very soon
he entered the Sanyasa-Asramun and i came to this country. i guess it was
the earnest prayer of that noble soul to the Lord to induce faith in me that
i found myself reading and trying to understand more of our sampradaya after
i came to the US. When i went home last year, my father invited him for 
doli-utsavum after which the Jeer called me to his side and told me that he
was sorry that he never got a chance to talk to me regarding SV. he than asked
if i was doing SV regularly. I gave him a big nod and quickly apologized for
my rash questions. with a smile of his face he said, "to question is a very 
healthy attitude. don't accept something just because i said so. think about it
and see if it makes sense. If you don't understand, you should question to 
discern the truth. But what is more important, once you understand the goal, is
to work toward it. If you make a sincere attempt, Lakshmi-Narasimhan will lead
you the right way."

hope this makes some sense

Acharyar rhiruvadigaleh saranam