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Some Observations !

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sun May 04 1997 - 19:04:05 PDT

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

Yesterday's meeting at the Bridgewater temple sponsored 
by the Nama group went well . I joined them for the afternoon 
sessions. Professor Venkatacharya of the Univeristy of Toronto 
gave a wonderfully clear and scholastic speech on the topic of
Bhakthi . It was a most enjoyable presentation by him . It was also 
a pleasure to meet once again fellow members of the group :
Sriman Vijaya Raghavan of Buffalo and his family , Srimans
 MuraLi Ramgaswami of Boston , KaNNapirAn of Boston , 
RajA of Oppiliappan Koil/Cambridge, Mass ( Husband of Srimathi 
Vaidehi of ThiruvallikkENi ), Professor M.G.Prasad and other 
lovely friends. 

I talked about the divine mysticism of AzhwArs . After defining mysticism ,
I spoke about religious mysticism of the divine Azhwaars as revealed from 
their aruliccheyalgaL and the commentaries(Eedu granthams) on Thiruvaimozhi 
by the five  Sri VIshNava  Acharyaas . In his Upadesa Ratna maalai paasuram , 
Sri MaNavaaLa MaamunigaL  refers to the five Acharyas 
that preceded him  , who opened our eyes to the extraordinary 
anubhavam of  NammazhwAr in his Thiruvaimozhi 
through their commentaries and padha arthams . 
The five Sri VaishNava AchaaryAs saluted explicitly by Sri MaamunigAl
are : Thirukkuruhai Piraan PiLLAn , Nanjeeyar , PeriyavaachAn PiLLai ,
Vadakku Thiruveedhi PILLai and Vaadhikesari Azhagiya MaNavALa Jeeyar.

I also referred to Sri Vedantha Desikan's contributions for the defense
of TamiL Marais at Kanchipuram and Srirangam as well as his help to 
understand the inner meanings of Tamizh Marais thru DramidOpanishad  
Saaram , DramidOpanishasd Taatparya RatnAvaLi and Sri Rahasya 
Traya Saaram and other Rahasya Granthams. 

Next , I discussed the unique contributions of Thiruvaimozhi PiLLai 
and continuation of that tradition thru  MaNavALa maamunigaL in 
preserving and protecting the great heritage of the Divya Prabhandhams 
in general and Thiruvaimozhi in particular. Next , I dwelt on 
the interrelationship between the four AruLiccheyalgaL
of NammAzhwAr ( Thiruviruttham , Thiruvaasiriyam ,
Periya ThiruvanthadAthi and Thiruvaimozhi ) and the incomparable 
mystic anubhavam of our Kulapathi .

I focussed on the two SaraNAgathi paasurams of NammazhwAr 
( " Yennappan YenakkaiguLai Yennai PeRRavaLAi " 
 on ThiruviNNagarappan and " AhalahillEn " on ThiruvenkatamudayAn)
and the connections between the Dvaya Manthram and the SaraNAgathi
paasuram , " AhalhillEn " . 

I concluded the talk with a statement that there is only one sampradhAyam for us

and that is the Bhagavadh RaamAnujA Siddhaantham , which celebrates 
the Satyathvam , Jnanathvam , Ananthathvam , Aanandhathvam 
and Amalathvam of Sriman NaarAyaNA . I emphasized the fact that
all AcharyAs that opened our eyes to the glories of Bhagavadh RaamAnuja
siddhantham are Sri VaishNava Acharyas worthy of equal respect and that 
the two Sampradhaayams branching from Our ParamAcharya RaamAnuja 
are branches of the same tree bearing the same flower and fruit . I mentioned
at conclusion that the ultimate purushArtham in Bahgavadh
RaamAnuja SiddhAntham according to our AchAryAs is not even Moksham ,
but " Bhagavadh Kaamam " or " the KrishNa TrushNaa " 
experienced by NammaazhwAr in his Paasurams .

Personally , I am convinced that the Sri VaishNava Svarupa LakshaNam 
requires  reverence to all MahA AcharyAs , who established the Ubhaya 
Vedaantham on its golden throne for us to enjoy.  I welcome the comments of 
Both Sri Dileepan and Sri Varadan in this context. This is not to gloss over 
distinct differences in approaches developed by the AchaaryAs of the two
Schools . As Sri Mohan Sagar has pointed out in a number of postings ,
there are distinct points of views and they need to be studied 
and understood. .Professor  Vasudha NarayaNan has 
kindly sent me portions of her Doctoral thesis , which throws a lot of 
light on the early history of the development of these different points of view
.
She has kindly given me permission to make use of them for the benefit of 
interested members. I will first make an effort to understand them fully
before venturing to write about them .The fact remains however  
that the role of AchAryaas ( Desikaas ) remain the same in both the kalais,
when it comes to the tripartite relationship beteween the Jeevans , AchAryAs
and Sriman NaarAyaNaa . 

In Sankalpa SuryOdhayam , Swami Desikan points out to the experience
of entering Brahmam and enjoying that unique bliss by jeevans is 
reminiscent of us taking a plunge in the cool waters of a pond during 
the scorching days of summer ( GreeshmE seethamiva hrutham 
bahuguNam Brahma Pravishtam muni: ) . Extending this analogy 
further , I am reminded of our village tank , where there were 
naalu (four ) patitthuaris (bathing ghats ) . Some preferred the Eastern
and some others the Northern patitthurai . All enjoyed their abolutions
and were cleansed to perform their anushtAnams . The two sampradhaayams
appear to me like the two patitthurais for bathing in the cool pond of 
Sriman NaarAyaNA and it really does not matter as to which bathing ghat 
one uses  to get relief from the taapaas of Samsaaram and to attain 
the supreme bliss that our Azhwaars and  AchAryAs experienced and 
described through their AruLiccheyalgaL and VyaakyAnams .

Let us continue to discuss and  appreciate the differnet points of view 
with all respect and affection . We may end up feeling comfortable with
one or the other POV . That is the end result of a serious search . We are 
not using this forum for proseletizing or for establishing the superiority 
of one sampradhaayam over the other. The leadership provided by our
AchaaryAs like the Jeeyars of Ahobila Mutt and Vaanamaamali Mutt 
at this time on the importance of mutual respect is particularly relevant 
to us , the expatriates wanting to establish and benefit from a sathsangam 
like the  Bhakthi  group initiated by Sri MaNi and others . I am proud to be
a member of this important and unique group. Let us continue to grow
from the sathsangam ........and resist the temptation to quickly brand points 
of views as misconceptions of one great AchAryA or other . The sincerity 
and the thirst for understanding of the subteleties of our sampradhayam 
are great . It is also clear that we  will never understand fully the
complexities
from discussions and intellectual exercises . Professor Venkatacharya had 
an analogy yesterday in this context. He pointed  out that reading a map
about travel from one city to another is quite different from actually
travelling 
on that road . The mystic and  intutive  anubhavam  of the Bhagavan by  Azhwaars

and Desikaas is quite  different from any amount of reading of
their paasurams  or their sacred works. If however a flash of insight of 
their Bhagavad anubhavam arises from the reading of their 
Bhagavadhanubhavam from Vyaakyaanams or thru the Kalakshepams
of our AchaaryAs , then we  are truly blessed . 

Asmath  GurubhyO nama : Asmath parama GurubhyO nama :

Bhootham Sarasccha mahathaahvya Bhattanaatha-
  Sri Bhakthisaara Kulasekhara Yogi vaahaan I
Bhakthaangri rENu Parakaala Yatheendhra misraan 
Srimadh Paraankusamunim PraNOthOsmi nithyam II

Oppiliappan Koil VaradaachAri Sadagopan