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Social aspects - part I

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Tue May 20 1997 - 16:48:36 PDT

Mr. P. B. Anand has asked some interesting and thought provoking questions:

>A. What is the role of acharya with regard to our day to day problems?
>   In many cases, we do like to consult our acharayas on important 
>matters, but that is an exception than the rule. As an institutional 
>provision, do we have a system where any person, can approach a religious 
>leader just for moral support? IS is obligatory for the religious leader 
>to listen to such person or is it subject to their convenience?

I can personally relate to this question, because there was a time in my
life where I found the sagely advice and friendship of a Catholic Priest
comforting in trying to deal with some of the confusions of growing up in
the west.

>From what I have observed and read of Acharyas in our community, they have
the unique function of teaching the devotee the method of detaching from
this samsaram and turning towards the Lord.  Such a responsibility would
obviously conflict with trying to comfort someone within this samsaram.

However, one would think that our priests should take upon this role, as
they are about as much a part of loukikam as we lay followers are.  However,
one must recognize that unlike the priests, ministers and rabbis of western
religion, our priests do not have the proper training in peer counseling and
psychology that are required to be a mentor or social worker.  At best, the
most well wishing priest will listen to one's problems, and either suggest a
special pooja be done, or will bless the individual while chanting a few
vedic slokas and saying a few comforting words.  While this certainly
provides some solace, it falls short of the sage advice of the western
counterparts.

I would think that as SriVaishnavism becomes more established in this
country, the elders of each community may take upon such a role, giving both
comfort and sound advice to the future generation.

---continued---

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan