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Points to Ponder

From: Vijay Srinivasan (Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com)
Date: Thu Mar 21 1996 - 05:25:05 PST

Dear Prapatti Group Members:

I read with great interest some of the recent postings of Krishna Prabha and 
Bharadwaj.  They seem to represent two streams of current thinking (so to 
speak) on our attitude towards religion.  The majority (including those not in 
the Prapatti Group) in my opinion favors the stand taken by Krishna Prabha 
(which indeed is the reality that we confront day-in and day-out).   I thought 
it may be of some value if I can briefly summarize these two streams of current 
thought  side-by-side for us to reflect on.  These views which I present are 
not exactly the same as espoused by either Krishna Prabha or Bharadwaj, but 
they are an humble attempt on my part to charecterize what I see as two 
possible courses for us.  I would request members  to pardon me (like a father 
would do to the prattle of his child) if I have oversimplified or 
misrepresented anything. 

School of thought-I (The Reality)

1)  We have come far away from our homeland.  Anushtanams etc., are impractical 
even in our homeland, let alone they being of any value here.  Therefore do not 
attach much importance to them.  If possible be good and do good.  Nama 
Sankeertana is enough.

2) Confine religious activities to a pooja cabinet to say 30 mts. during the 
week-end. 

3) If you have no other better thing to do take a translation of Sri-Bhashya  
or some Vedanta publications  for bed-time reading.

4) Religion should not interfere with the way I eat, what I eat (eventhough I 
am prepared to accept vegetarianism), where I eat, how many times I eat and how 
I dress etc..  I need complete freedom on all these issues.

5) If at all you happen to be in a religious program, don't worry who is 
worshipped, how the pooja is done or who is doing it.  Just be happy that 
something religious is going on and take the good if any.  If possible use this 
also as a social occassion, hug one and all, eat and drink (soft) walking and 
chatting around.

6) Moksha is a distant and vague goal.  It will come in due course of time.  It 
is anyway Vasudeva's responsibility.  Our present concern should be to live 
this life happily  and as long as our religion or prayers is able to sub-serve 
this end I am willing to accept the same. 

7) Finally compartmentalization is inevitable.  Religion as taught by our 
fore-fathers is unsuitable for the present time and therefore should be 
delineated from our practical life.

School of thought - II (Perhaps a Voice in the Wilderness ?)

1)  I do not know why Sriman Narayana has brought me to this land.  Anushtanams 
have always been difficult.  Limitations come from the mind of man.  Therefore, 
let me take time to examine what our poorvacharyas have to say about 
Anushtanams and  try my best to abide by that (to the extent possible).  I do 
not know their full value at present, but may be time will prove that good 
deeds never go waste (Na Hi Kalyana Krut Dhurgathim Thatha Gatchathy).  
Anushtanam perhaps is a way to keep the instrument called jiva in the best 
possible shape so that the Lord can play it for His higher purposes.  When I go 
to India let me approach a good teacher and learn them properly.

2) Approach the study of scriptures with a true spirit of enquiry, with 
reverence and faith and not with a view to find contradictions and faults.  

3) All sages tell us that food has a profound influence on our minds (Ahara 
Shuddhou Satva Shuddhi - Chandogya).  Krishna says food taken without being 
offered to Him first is like a stolen food.  Therefore, when I have to take 
food outside, I will first question whether it is really essential to do that 
or can I avoid it. 

4) Intuitively, I know this much that worshipping a Navagraha Devata (like Rahu 
or Kethu) is not the same as worshipping Vasudeva.  They are all limited 
manifestation of the supreme being which Adi Sankara calls by the name 
Narayana.  Their powers are all limited and there is nothing that Narayana 
cannot give that these Gods would give me.  Therefore, as far as possible I 
would worship Narayana alone (Dig a well deep at one place).  I would worship 
Sriman Narayana with all those wonderful attributes and super sensuous forms 
which He on His own accord takes (without any diminution)  to conquer and 
transcend the Eros that soils the jiva with a fleshly feeling.  Sages tell me 
if at all the Satyam, Jnanam, Anatham Brahman (the Universal Consciousness) has 
expressed itself completely in any form it is Vasudeva's forms (Para, Vyuha, 
Vibhava, Antaryamin and Archa).  While I would refrain from criticising any 
other systems of worship, I will not hesitate to help others who would like to 
benefit from our system.

5) While I would like to live for 100+ years with good health and happiness, I 
would like to slowly develop a detachment.  And at the end of it all, I would 
like to reach the permeanent abode of Sriman Narayana.

6) Religion as far as possible must be integrated with life.

Thus I have tried to summarize the two strains of thought that I think are 
prevalent in the minds of well meaning men and women.  I am also not saying 
that one is better than the other.   Many of us may fall in-between the two.  
Once again I seek your forgiveness if I have overstated anything.  To conclude, 
it is not a question of where we are at present but it is a matter of  where we 
would like to be.

Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan