You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : March 1997

(no subject)
Date: Tue Mar 11 1997 - 11:34:01 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakti List,

Mani writes:
My thanks to Murali for explaining Desika's Garuda poems
to us. However, I ask a very fundamental question, one that
I am surprised has not already come up.

*I do not quite understand why we as Sri Vaishnavas would
*resort to worshipping Garuda (or even the Lord for that
*matter) for the sake of obtaining something.  These are
*kaamyaartha, are they not, lower desires nowhere near
*the pursuit of jnaana, bhakti, and consequently moksha?

It is not for the sake of obtaining anything that one worships Garuda,
any other Nitya Suri or Lord Narayana. When one becomes a Prapanna, they give
up all thoughts of their Yogakshemam, because they have the firm faith 
(Maha Vishvasam) that the all pervading Lord Narayana will take care of their 
spiritual as well as materialistic needs (Sarva Rakshakatvam). Take for 
instance the case of Dhruva. His worship of Lord Narayana granted him not 
only material benefit (of becoming an emperor) but also gave him the most 
exalted status of the pole-star. I never suggested in my post that one must 
worship Garuda for Kaamyartha. 

In fact, I stated Swami Desikan's message that 
worship of Garuda bestows Adhyatma Vidya. Although Swami Desikan was a great 
Aradhakar of Garuda, never once did he worship Garuda with the intent of 
receiving any material benefit. Instead, he sought Adhyatma Vidya in pursuit 
of Moksha, which he was blessed with on account of the grace of Garuda Bhagavan 
and Bhagavan Hayagriva. In fact, Swami Desikan emphatically declares in the RTS
(if one cares to read Sriman Anbil Ramaswamy's eloquent accounts on this 
subject) " do not worry about those things that have no value some value 
high value. Go after that which has the highest value". In this context, this 
is meant to be taken as "Thirst for Moksha. Nothing else 
has greater value. Everything else is useless tinsel". Therefore, it is 
absolutely ridiculous to conclude that Swami Desikan has instructed Sri 
Vaishnavas to engage in the worship of Lord Narayana, Garuda or for that matter 
any other Nitya Suri for the pursuit of any kaamyartha. 

For example, it is often stated that recitation of the
Sudarshana Mantra can be used as means to ward off disease,
that the Garuda Mantra wards off poisons and snakes, etc.
Appeals to the fantastic mythology of Garuda and the
popular tales concerning his obtaining of amRita are often
told in this context.  Aside from the fact that this
tale has nothing to do with Bhagavan Garuda's wisdom or
devotion, these ``recite the mantra and get results''
stories smack of a very unenlightened and selfish form
of religion, one that is not respected very much by
Krishna himself (recall the classification of adhikaaris
in the Gita).
The above comments are best addressed by an Acharya. 
However, I shall make my feeble attempts at answering these remarks.
Sri Sampath Rengarajan noted in his reply that many great Mahans are privy to 
some Mantram or the other. The 
effect of the Mantram can only be experienced and no amount of words can 
sufficiently describe the effect of a sincere recantation of the Mantrams 
with strict adherence to its practice. I can point out a number of instances 
which demonstrate the power of the Mantrams. Swami Desikan is one among 
several others that come to mind. I urge Sri Mani to attend one of the 
Sudarshana Homams performed by Sri Mukkur Swamigal, where he cures people from 
the affliction of the Brahma Rakshasa. Prof. M.G. Prasad demonstrated through 
a slide the effect of properly chanting the Sudarshana Maha Mantram during 
the performance of the Sudarshana Homam. A beautiful chakram formation in the 
flame of the Homa Kundam was there for all to see. I can vouch that this was 
no P.C. Sarkar like stunt. This phenomenon defies any scientific or logical 
explanation. If there is one, I would love to hear it.

Contrary to Mani's remarks, none of the Srivasihnava Acharyas has prescribed 
the method of "recite the Mantra and get results". I challenge Mani to come 
up with one such instance. In fact they fully believe in Lord Krishna's 
message in the Bhagavad Gita "Yetechhati Tatha Kuru" (following the Visvarupa 

Please note that my comments are not directed towards
anyone in this group, in any manner.

It seems to me that someone who has surrendered his
very self to the Divine Lord should already be free
from these worldly concerns, or at least try to be so.
Is this not why a prapanna is described by Desika as
a kRta-kRtya (one who has done what ought to be done,
and is therefore supremely satisfied in his Self)?
The question in this paragraph has been answered in part above and in part 
by Sri Mani's own admission below. 

I must admit that Desika's vivid and fancy description
of the Puranic tales of Garuda also do not hold my
attention very much.  This is admittedly a criticism
of me rather than Swami Desikan, but I fail to see how
contemplation of the Puranic stories of Garuda (which
are obvious mythologies from any perspective, given
that Garuda is a nitya-sUri in our sampradAya) helps
one in the path to God-consciousness.
One must listen to the Upanyasams of our Acharyas to appreciate the truths 
that lie buried in our Puranic stories. The Kalakshepams of Sri 
Srivatsankachariar Swamigal would be a good starting point.

Since my posts seem to be objectionable to Sri Mani, this is my 
last post on the subject. I started the series on Garuda Bhagavan in response 
to Smt. Satyan's request as a kainkaryam for my Acharyan. I shall communicate 
with her through private email. Demands of my professional life have made it 
quite difficult to keep up with the activity on the Bhakti list. Therefore, 
I request Sri Mani to remove me from the list. 

Namo Narayana,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy