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" ThennAcharya SampradhAyam & Sri VaishNavism ".

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Mar 22 1997 - 14:02:14 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakthi/Prapatthi  Group :

My reverence for the role of ManavALa MaamunigaL 
is what propelled me to write on his Sri DevarAja MangaLam 
before and now on this Acharyan"s moving tribute to 
Aacharya Saarvabhouman , YathirAjar .

In my mind, There is only one Sri VaishNavism and 
all the great AacharyAs from Sri Naathamuni down 
including AaLavandhAr , Periya Nambhi , RamAnujA
and His 74 simhAsanathipathis and their successors
--Sri Pillai LokAchar , Swami Desikan and 
MaNavALa MaamunigaL -- are objects of equal reverence . 
I am more comfortable with the terminology , 
" Bhagavadh RaamAnuja Siddhantham " , although 
Sri VaishNavism has a history preceding Acharya RaamAnujA .  

I have hence difficulty equating SrivaishNavism with ThennAcharya
sampradhAyam . The term itself ( ThennAcharya SampradhAyam )
is not very clear. The well meant nomenclature by the talented 
Professor Mumme ( Kanchi AchAryAs and Srirangam AchAryAs )
had its appeal in the context in which she used it . Professor VasudhA
NarayaNan knows Professor Mumme as a fellow student of Religion
and can shed more light on the work of latter entitled ,
" Sri VaishNavA Theological dispute " .

In response to a dear Member's query , I will say a few
words on the excellent book by Professor Mumme.
The first of her  two volumes on the subject  has 
the title of " MaNavAla Maamuni and Vedantha DesikA ";
the  second volume has the title of " Mumukshuppati of 
PiLLai LokAchArya with MaNavALa Maamuni's commentary " .
These were released during 1987-88 time frame .
Professor Mumme was a Faculty member in the Department 
of Religion at Denison University , Granville , Ohio .She spent 
a significant time in India meetign with many scholars . 
I do not know about her current whereabouts .
Her  monographs   can probably be 
obtained at the following address : 

S.Srinivasan & N.S.Raghavan 
New Era Publications 
P.O Box No. 2459
Raja Annamalai Puram 
Madras 600028

These two volumes need to be read by all , who wish to gain an
understanding of How Vedantha Desika and MaNavALa 
Maamuni view their traditions. Following chapter headings will
give an idea of the content of the first volume in this context :

Chapter 1 : Introduction and Historical Survey
( two of the subchapter headings are : Toward an
understanding of the Tenkalai-Vadakalai dispute ,
How MaNavALa Maamuni(MM) and Vedantha DesikA(VED ) 
view their traditions)

Chapter 2: The Nature of the Soul (according to MM and VED);
Here the discussion focusses on the fine points about 
SvarupA of the Jeevan , SvarupayaathAtmyA , KartruthvA
and PaaratantryA .
Chapter 3: Bhakthi and Prapatthi (according to the two Schools )

Chapter 4 : Is Prapatthi an UpAyaa?

Chapter 5: Service and Life of the PrapannA ( according to MM&VED)

Chapter 6: The Lord"s Mercy and Autonomy 
in Salvation

Chapter 7: The Mediators : Sri DEvi & AchAryan

The First volume ends with a summary of the Major
themes in the Theological Differences between 
Vedantha Desika and MaNavALa Maamunigal .

The appendix at the end are :

1. Historical Chart -The Sri VaishNava AchAryas
    from RamAnujA to MM .

2. The three Sri ViashNava RahasyAs

3. Glossary of Terms

4. Extensive Bibiliography.

The following five dates are imortant for us :

1 . Acharya RaamAnujA : AD 1017-1137 (120 Years )

2 . PiLLai LOkAcharyA : AD 1205-1311 ( 106 Years )

3 . PiLLai LokachAr (PL ) was 63 years old , when Vedantha 
Desikan was born and latter outlived PL by 68 years. By his 20th
year ( AD 1288 ) , Vedantha Desikan completed his studies and 
began his career as a Sri VaishNavite AchArya. PiLLai 
LokAcharyA was 83 years old then and an established 
Venerable AchArya in Srirangam . Both PL and VED
co-existed as AchaaryAs for 23 years . During this time ,
VedAntha Desikan spent many  yers at  Thiruvahindrapuram 
and  Kanchi and settled down at Srirangam . Swami Desikan
had a great affection and reverence for Sri PiLLai LokAchar 
as the senior AchAryA .
4 . Vedantha Desikar : AD 1268-1369 (101 Years );
     some give his time as AD 1269-1370 .

5. MaNavALa Maamuni : AD 1370-1443 ( 73 Years ).  
MM Had  great reverence for Swami Desikan and referred to
him always as the Abhiyukthar or the revered one .

There are indeed distict doctrinal differences between the two 
schools associated with Swami Desikan and MaNavALa 
MaamunigaL  as documented brilliantly by Professor Mumme.

Professor Mumme covers well the FOUR main areas of 
difference  between two schools : Doctrine , Practise,
Substantiation and Exposition . She identifies the differences
between these two schools and names them as Srirangam and 
Kanchi traditions in a terse summary consisting of 12 pages . 
These pages are worthy of reading and rereading to understand 
the differences in approaches and beliefs of these two schools .

There is no way to gloss over the differences . Both exist as real as life. 
The historical development as two kalais started in the 13th century and 
continued with mutual tolerance upto 17 th century. During this period , 
Ahobila Matam identified as Vada kalai SampradhAyam had 
one or more Jeeyars , who came from Tenkalai SampradhAyam
and ascended the Acharya Peetam. Both of the Kalais had great 
reverence for AzhwAr AruLiccheyalgaL . Swami Desikan had defended 
earlier the supermacy of the Tamil VedAs and  was rewarded by 
both Sri VaradarAja and Sri RanganAthA for his service . 

Around 18th century , economic concerns related to temple
administration and income led to a power struggle at major
temples and it is a pity that the British Courts and Judges had 
to rule over these disputes. As Sri KrishNa Praba pointed out
the records of the Madras Government gazette contain records 
of these disputes and evidences given by leading AcharyAs 
of the 20th century . Brittania does not rule the waves anymore 
and we are about to celebrate our 50th Independence anniversary
this Year. 

I am grateful to the Jeeyars of Ahobila Mutt and Vaanamaamalai 
for coming together recently to set an example for the future genrations 
about what unites us all as Sri VaishNavAs , while adhering to
the teachings of the PoorvAchAryAs of each tradition . This is a
happy augury that we can and should emulate here as well as 
in India . 

I must confess that I got the impression from reading Sri Varadan"s
posting the same impression that Sri Dileepan and Srimathi Nagu
Satyan got . Then came Sri Varadan's posting clarifying the points
of the earlier posting and quoting my end salutations for the 
Postings on YathirAja Vimsathi as an example to illustrate as
to how misunderstandings can happen . My reverence for all 
the giants of Sri VaishNavism including Achaarya RaamAnuja 
down to Sri Vedantha Desikan and MaNavALa Maamuni is 
equal and profound. I always like to learn from other's well-meant 
comments . I will end my future postings with the salutation 
that does not even raise a shadow of doubt on who I am saluting .
I felt hesitant to abbreviate the beautiful name of MaNavALa 
Maamunigal as MM . For parity , I will abbreviate the references 
to Swami Desikan as SD hereafter .

May I appeal to one and all of this group to enjoy 
our glorious SampradhAyam and its mula Granthams
with affection , regard and reverence and continue to 
learn from each other with humility and respect ? 
There is so much to learn and so little time to 
understand them and adapt them for our spiritual growth .
You might agree that Sathsangams like ours serve as an 
important resource in our  efforts .

Sarva Loka SaraNyan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam 
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan