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Re: Biographies of Sri Ramanuja

From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan (vidya_at_cco.caltech.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 30 1996 - 04:55:31 PDT

>     If Nammaazhvaar was the supreme to Madhurakavi, if Sri Ramanuja
>     was the five dhivyaayudhaas for amudhanaar, *in the same way*,
>     nothing more, why can't maNavaaLa maamunigaL be AdhisEshaa
>     for then aachaaryaa follwers?  Why can't Swmai Sri Desikar
>     be the amsam of Thiru Mani for vada kalai Sri Vaishnavaas?

Pardon me for entering into what seems to be an internal SrI vaishNava issue,
but it seems to me that considering nammAzhvAr and rAmanuja to be amSas of
the Lord would be acceptable to all, but not so in the other two cases. Unless
the vaDakalai-tenkalai divide is sought to be crystallized further. 

It is the general Indian tendency to glorify the gurus of our tradition, to the
extent of deifying them. But the moment this is done with an intention of
one-upmanship, sourness results. To take a specific case from the advaita
tradition, some modern advaitins want to find support for SankarAcArya's 
avatAra in the SatarudrIyam of the yajurveda. Other learned advaitins, however,
point out that this is not desirable, because the interpretation is far-fetched.
The point is that in the drive to declare our gurus to be amSas of one or the 
other thing associated with divinity, we are apt to get carried away and make
hagiographic claims that only serve to cloud the real personalities, in the 
long run. 

Also, if it is claimed that maNavAla mAmuni is to be considered AdiSesha by
tenkalais and vedAnta deSika as tirumaNi for vaDakalais only, this is not
very helpful, is it? It is reduced to the level of aitIkam, rather than upheld
as really real. It cannot be logically defended, excpet through the adoption
of very advaitin-sounding arguments. I doubt if SrIvaishNavas would want to 
do that. 

Regards,

S. Vidyasankar