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Belittling other faiths in our Pasurams?
Date: Tue Mar 19 1996 - 23:44:10 PST

           Asmad Gurubhyo Namah: Asmad Parama Gurubhyo Namah:
                         Asmad Sarva Gurubhyo Namah:
                            Srimate Ramanujaaya Namah:

There is an English proverb which says "Fools rush in where Angels
fear to tread."  I am not sure if I am doing exactly that by writing
this piece.  However I decided to listen to my heart and decided to
write it.  If this is a result of Bhasyakarar's inspiration, then
there is nothing regrettable about it.  If it is the result of my use
of independent will then such writing has no value and I seek the
forgiveness of the group for having written it.

The Vedas are full of seeming inconsistencies.  They have been
"breathed out" by Sriman Narayana in this way to eternally keep the
doubting Thomases in illusion.  Our Acharyas who are beyond the
dwandva of this material world have explained in their various works
how these controversies are resolved.  Through the Visishtadvaita
philosophy our Acharyas have reconciled the seemingly irreconcilable
Vedas which by itself has advaitic dwaitic concepts as well as
everything in between.  It is with the understanding of this
reconciled Vedas that Swami Desikan has written that "All the Vedas
etc declare with one voice the Supremacy of the Lord of Sri over all
that exists".

If we accept that our Azhwars and Acharyas were not born in Samsara
but took birth to help the rest of us get out of Samsara then we also
have to accept that their works were inspired by the Lord Sriman
Narayana Himself and are therefore as good as the Lord's own
composition.  Such compositions are therefore timeless and as valid
today as they were at the time they were composed.  The 4,000
Pasurams especially are given equal authority with the Vedas.  Then
the 4,000 Pasurams too have to be relevant at all times and not just
at the time they were written.

The Srimad Bhagavatam quotes Bhakta Prahalada as saying that "even
sages and rishis rejoices at the killing of snakes ...".  I was told
by a learned Prapanna that snakes here means destruction of evil and
not jiva himsa as is implied in the shloka.

If this is used as an analogy in the case of Thondaripoddi Azhwar's
Pasuram, then cutting the heads of buddhists and Jains is not meant
literally.  Note the use of the words "Our KIND Lord Vishnu..".  What
is probably meant here is that gave the Buddhists and Jains the
association of pure Vaishnavas as a result of which they would have
accepted the Vaishnava path.  This is a total change of mentality
from one of forgetfulness of Sriman Narayana to one of reawakening of
the jivatma's relationship with Sriman Narayana as His sesha and
dasa.  This is as good as a head being cut off and new head replacing
it.  Please note that our Azhwars never equated all religions.
Buddha preachings were athiestic and the Jains' as well as the
Buddhists' nirvana does not include eternal service to Sriman
Narayana which means that followers of such religions continue to
remain in illusion.

It is not clear from Badri's post which words of Siva are being
referred to by Amudanaar.  Could it be the words of Adi Sankara (an
avatara of Siva) as misinterpreted by Yadava Prakasa?  Or could it be
the practice of Saivism as followed by the king who blinded Mahapurna
and KoorathAzhwAn?  A person not engaged in the service of Sriman
Narayana can be considered to be idle, just as an employee who does
personal work during office hours at the cost of neglecting office
work.  Visishtadvaita philosophy explains that by nature we exists as
servants of Sriman Narayana and He owns us and therefore has a right
to demand that we do what He wants us to do.

Swami Desikan explains two forms of infedility in the Rahasya Traya
Sara:  "It has been said , 'He who understands dharma prescribed in
the Vedas and the smritis with the help of arguments not opposed to
the spirit of the Vedas and Sastras -- he alone knows dharma, and not
others.'  Those who have not understood dharma by the proper exercise
of reason will become rationalistic (and sceptical) and will
misinterpret the true meaning with specious arguments inconsistent
with the Vedas.

"The misinterpretation or denial is of two kinds -- that concerning
the glorious possessions (vibhutis) and that concerning the one who
possesses these glories.  That concerning the One who possesses the
glories consists in denying the existence of the Supreme Ruler, the
Lord of Lakshmi, or declaring some other deity as the Supreme Ruler
and relegating the real Supreme Ruler to the category of His
possessions (vibhuti).  The misconception or misinterpretation
concerning the glories consists in this:- denying the existence of
these glories (or objects created by God) or considering these
vibhutis as existing but as independent of the Lord by denying their
relationship to Him, or declaring that they are dependent on oneself
or others."

Swami Desikan in this instance was referring to Buddhists and
followers of Kanada but this can very well be extended to Saivism,
since Swami Desikan elaborates in other chapters why Brahma and Rudra
are no more than Jivatmas.  From the Visisthadvaita point of view
therefore, Badri's description of Amudanaar's statement as offensive,
and blatantly false is incorrect.

No disrespect is meant here for the Saiva saints.  Sri Krishna says
in the Geeta "In which ever deity you worship, I will make your faith
strong in that deity".  It is possible that the Saiva saints came to
this earth as their service to Narayana to fulfil the above verse,
just as the Yadava army though surrendered to Krishna had to fight on
the side of the Kauravas.  It is not for me to judge who is serving
Narayana and who is not.  All that is stated here is that for one who
has been struck with the disease called Samsara or forgetfulness of
one's relationship with Sriman Narayana worship of all other deities
does not provide the cure for this disease.

Just as a prisoner hoping for parole resorts to good conduct and
keeps away from fellow prisoners who indulge in bad conduct,
similarly a Prapanna resorts to devotees of Sriman Narayana for
spiritual association and interacts with others only to the extent
necessary as a result of work or family or other ties.

Sri Ramanuja Dasosmi.