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Apacharam ?

From: VVijay236 (
Date: Fri May 15 1998 - 11:51:47 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

Before I left for India, there was some discussion about Apacharams.  I
pointed out that judging the Archa Vigraha in temple and Pooja griha in
our homes on the basis of the material they are made of and deeming
Alwars and Acharyas as no more than just ordinary folk like us are the
two Praapti Virodhis.

Someone observed that such references to Apacharams  put off people from
a spirit of inquiry and  someone else observed that the question of
considering Alwars as Nityasuris vs Bhaddha jeevatmas like us is loaded
with the Vadakalai- Tenkalai schism and yet another observed that unless we
come to know what is Apacharam how can avoid committing them.

I discussed the matter with several Acharyas while in India and they
agreed that as Swami Desika put it, the Lord himself took Avatars like
Alwars (Abhinavamaaga Oru Dasaavataaram Panni) and the other view is
held by some  without Pramanam.

Swami Desika on this subject: 

In  Aparaadha Parihaara Adhhikara (18 / 8) Swami Desika says that  "like
Sarveswara the Suris, when they take Avataras  ACT as if they are
subject to Karma and seem to go through Apachara and Parihaara- all with
a view to educate and  in the interest of well being of the common folk
like us".

"Sarveswaranaip Pole Soorigalum Avatarithaal Karma Vasyatvaadhi
ABHINAYAM panni Loka Hithanaarthamaaga Apachaara Parihaaraadhigalai
Nadathip Poruvaargal" (Abhinayam = Acting )

 The implication is that the Alwars are indeed Nityasuris who descend to
our level as Rama and Krishna did to show by example to us, mere
mortals, how we have to encounter situations induced by Karma and more
importantly how we can redeem ourselves.

Again in Prabhaava Raksha Adhikaram, he observes that " In this mundane
world where people treading the righteous path are so rare, it would be
a great Apacharam to think low of those great ones who through Karma
yoga and other such means show us the road to Mukti and are authorities
in Bhagavad Vishaya"

"Samsaara Mandalathile Nalvazhi Nadappaar Durlabharaayirukka Bhagavad
Vishayathaip Patri Adhikaaranuroopamaaga Mukti Maargathukku Munnadiyaana
Karma Yogaadhi Parva Bhedangalile Ninraaraiyum NEGHIZHA NINAIKKAI
Bhaagavata Apachaaram"(Negizha Ninaikkai= To think low)


In Upadesa Ratna Maalai Verse 35, he says that " those who think low of
Alwars and their Arulicheyals will surely go to hell. Remembering this,
take care NEVER to have any truck with such folks"

"  Aazhwaargalaiyum Aruli cheyalgalaiyum Thaazhvaa Ninaippavargal Thaam
Naragil Veezhwaargal Enru Ninaithu Nenje ! Eppozhudum senranugak Koosi
Thiri Nee Avarpaal"(Thaazhvaa Ninaippavargal = Those who think low of)

Apacharam consists of-  
1.  Equating other Deavatas with Bhagavan, 
2.  Considering Avataras like Rama and Krishna as just humans, 
3.  Conducting oneself contrary to Varnashrama Dharma, 
5.  Atmaapahaaram (Stealing one’s Atma i.e. Thinking that one’s jeeva is
one’s own and not belonging to Bhagavan), 
6.  Bhagavad Dravya Apahaaram ( Stealing the property belonging to
7.  And,  such others"

"Bhagavad Apachaaramaavadu 
1.   Devatantarangalodokka Easwaranai Ninaikkaiyum,
2.  Ramakrishnaaadhi Avataarangalil Manushya Sajaatheeyathaya Buddhiyum,
3.  Varnaasramathukku Virodhamaana upachaaramum,
5.  Atmaapahaaramum,
6.  Bhagavad Dravya Apahaaramum,
7.  Thodakkamaanavai"

In 305, he defines Bhaagavada Apacharam  as consisting of
1.  Hostile thinking and acting against Srivaishnavas due to enmity and
desire to harm
2.  Considering Bhagavatas as low with reference to their birth.
3.  These are equal to the Apachaaram of considering the Archaamurtis
with reference to the materials with which they have been made
4.  The above two are as heinous as researching  the womb of one’s own

PILLAI LOKACHARYA repeats the same in SRIVACHANA BUSHANAM 194 to 201, 
 194: Bhaagavata Apachaaramthaan Aneka Vidham : Bhagavata Apacharams are
195: Athile onru Avargal Pakkam Janma Niroopanam : Judging the
Bhagavaras based on their birth (i.e as mere mortals like us and with
reference to their Caste etc)
196.Idhuthaan Archaavataarathil Upaadhaana Smritiyilum Kaattilum Krooram:
This is more heinous than considering the Archa murtis based on the
material they are made of
197; Athai Maatru Yoni Pareekshaiyodokkum Enru Saastram Sollum : This is
like one researching the womb of one’s own mother.
198: Trisankuvaip Pol Karma Chandaanaal Maarvilitta Yajnopavitham Thaane
Vaaraai Vidum :Like the Yajnopavitam  worn by Trisanku when he became a
chandala,  became no better than just a piece of strap ( not useful for
Nitya Karma Anushtana)
199.  Jaathi Chandaalanukkuk Kaalaantharathile Bhaagavatan Aagaikku
Yogyathai Undu; Athuvum Illai Ivanukku ( Karma Chandaalanukku);: At
least, a chandala by birth has hope to become a Bhagavata in course of
time; But, for such a Karma Chandaala, has no chance whatsoever.
200 Aarooda Pathithan Aagaiyale: Because, he had become a Chandala by
Bhaagavata Apachaara
201.Idhuthanakku Adhikaari Niyamam Illai : However great one may be, the
effect of this kind of Bhaagavata Apachaaram can never be remitted.

The above show that the Apacharams mentioned  are the unanimous views of
Acharyas of both Kalais and cannot be deemed to be the skewed up notions
of any particular sect.

And, it requires humility on our part to accept this position.

Anbil Ramaswamy