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

Re: the unity of the two schools

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Wed Mar 19 1997 - 18:35:15 PST

Mr. Dileepan writes:

>These carefully chosen words taken together seem to deny the very 
>existence of Vadakalai sampradayam.  If this is so it is really
>quite unfortunate.  Perhaps this view is prevalent among Sri Vaishnavas
>of Thenkalai sampradayam.  May be not.


As Varadhan is currently out of town on business, he may not be able to
respond to this for the next few days.  From recent conversations with him,
though, it is my understanding the term "thenaacharya sampradayam" was used
at one time to refer to SriVaishnavism in general.  I could be wrong on this.

However, I can emphatically say that there is no such view among Thenkalais
that the Vadakalai school is non-existent or unimportant.  Indeed, Swami
Desikan is regarded to be a very important and learned acharyan even among
Thenkalai stalwarts. For example, it is my understanding that PBA Swamy has
quoted from and elaborated on a number of Swami Desikan's works. Also, Sri
Tridandi Jeear Swamy recently published an excellent English transliteration
and commentary on Sri Hayagreeva Stotram, which he has been distributing
during his travels to the US.

Mr. Dileepan goes on to write:

>In India, orthodox Sri Vaishnavas are making effort to bring the
>two sampradayams together.  A settlement has been reached at Kanchi.
>Hopefully, a settlement may be reached at Sri Rangam as well.
>Sri Azhagiya Singar writes about cooperation regularly.  To my knowledge
>Sri Vanaamaamali Jeeyar and Azhagiya Singar did aradhanai for each other's
>thiruvaaradhanai perumaal recently.  Our spiritual leaders are trying
>to bridge the gap.  I think we the expatriate Sri Vasihnavas should 
>eagerly follow this lead.  I hope sishyaas of each kalai will be
>sensitive to each other.

I wholeheartedly agree, but would like to point out a caveat.  It is
interesting to observe that while the tensions between our two noted schools
are seemingly still prevalent in Tamil Nadu, the cultural adaptation of our
community in such states as Andhra have made the differences between them go
virtually unnoticed.  For example, among my own family, as with many
families who hail from Andhra, Vadakalais and Thenkalais have been
inter-marrying for several generations.  Thenkalais with little hesitation
will support Vadakalai Muthams, and vice versa. This "harmony and unity" has
reached such a stage that any talk about differences in the two schools is
generally done in jest. While this is certainly advantageous to cultural
preservation for SriVaishnavas overall, it is not without some
disadvantages.  For I have observed that this very spirit of harmony, which
at times is extended even to the Smarta communities, combined with the
unfamiliarity with Tamil language and culture, has separated many
SriVaishnavas in Andhra from the philosophies that make up their unique
heritage. Based on this, I would like to suggest that while we should
certainly strive for a spirit of cooperation and unity, we should be wary
that such a spirit does not dilute or disregard the teachings of any of our
poorvacharyas.

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan