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Musings on Vega-setu stotra

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Fri Nov 29 1996 - 02:47:08 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear bhagavatOttamas,

One of the great qualities of "Truth" is that it does not crave the
recognition of mere men. "Truth" does not tug at your sleeves, like a
nagging child incessantly trying to grab the attention of the adult world to
itself. The "Laws of Thermodynamics" do not knock on my door every morning,
like the milkman does, to let me know they are a daily part of my life; nor
do the deep and mysterious verities of the "General Theory of Relativity"
wake me up like the alarm-clock at my bedside does every morning .

"Truth" just remains.... It is there in my life... whether I like it or not
... it ever remains ... a force ... silent and unobtrusive ...and
constant.... whether I acknowledge its presence or not.... whether I like it
or not !!

"Truth" does not cease to exist simply because I am not aware of its
presence or how it operates. It does not become extinct just because people
remain indifferent to it. "Truth" does not atrophy simply because the world
of Man has little use for it or perhaps has forgotten how it operates in its
affairs. It neither diminishes nor multiplies in accordance with the tide of
history of human existence. 

"Truth" is simply the "Truth" and it rules my life in many ways of which I
am utterly ignorant most of the time. Sometimes in rare moments of
enlightenment I become dimly conscious of it but then it passes away
quickly, in a fleeting second, like the ether, leaving me only with the
faintest notion of what It was, what It felt like and what It did to my being.

A Victorian poet once wrote : "More things are wrought by Prayer than this
world dreams of..". He was speculating on the "Truth" contained in the act
of prayer about which much of the world to this day knows little. 

Now, a dim awareness of some such Truth or "Principle of Inversion" that
rules relations between Man and Godhead is sometimes indeed created in our
own minds (as I think it has in our minds at this point of time) whenever we
read a moving hymn like the "Vega-setu stotram" of Swami Desikan or a tale
in the 'BhAgavatham' such as the one we saw in my earlier posting where
Krishna, Yasodha and her neighbour were the principal 'dramatis personae'.
We all now perhaps are vaguely aware of a misty, so-called "principle of
Inversion" that seems to determine what could be called the "gathAgathAni"
effect alluded to in Verse #6 of Swami Desikan's hymn.

Credible as it may all sound, we are, however, not certain how this
"principle of inversion" actually operates in our world of objective
phenomena. Does our cycle of "pUNaraPi jananam, pUNaraPi maRaNam" really
cease as we begin to perform the spiritual "sAdhanA" (exercise) of
meditating on the Lord's "gathAgathAni"? Or while dwelling constantly on the
wonderful fables in the 'BhAgavatham' of Krishna's pranks, do we really
begin to sense in our lives the "inverse effects" of "release" ("mOksha")
that our great "achAryAs" say does consequently and inevitably occur ?

Dear bhAgavatOttamas, in trying to get answers to such questions we reach a
point in the path of further intellectual inquiry where it comes to a
complete and abrupt dead-end. Here at this point Reason and Logic stops and
pure Faith takes over. We have no choice from hereon but to simply leave
ourselves in the hands of our great "acharyAs" as our only guides. We simply
have to follow their instructions and do their bidding in a spirit of
humility. If they tell us, "Yes, contemplating on the Lord's "gathAgathAni"
will, in effect, lead to "release" from 'samsara'", we have no other
objective means of verification available to us other than our own
individual acts and respective experiences of pure faith.

It is only through experiences, which faith alone can produce in us, that we
will be enabled to "know, live and realize" the Truths our "achAryas" talk
about in their "pAsurams" and "stotra-s". If we choose not to take the
plunge of faith, then the truths of "gathAgathAni" or "Inversion" etc. of
SriVaishnavism as spoken by Swami Desikan, will remain forever to us like
the "truths" of the "milkman" or the "alarm-clock" I have sketched above. In
other words, we will be aware of them, no doubt, at a plain intellectual
level but it would make no real difference to our lives or the way we
resolve the issues of our existence in this world.

Look at it this way : 

...without my being intimately affected by it I know for sure that there is
indeed a great "Principle of Inversion" that rules even my day-to-day
physical life. I know for example that :

1) there is a truth called "Inverse function of algebraic quantities" in
higher mathematics
2) there is a truth called "Bayes Theorem" otherwise known as the Law of
Inverse Probability in the science of statistics
3) there is a truth called "Fourier's Theorem of Inverts and Transforms" in
advanced mathematics
4) there is a truth called "Coulomb's laws of Inverse square laws" again in
advanced mathematics
5) there is a truth called "Walden's Law of Inverse Molecular elements" in
the science of chemistry
6) there is a truth in classical Western music called "Inversion of
contrapunts" in a melody or fugue
7) there is a truth called "inversion of rhythm" in classical Carnatic music
also otherwise referred to as "anilOmam-pratilOmam" in the execution of a
8) there is the inexorable application of the Principle of Inversion in the
common techniques of photogravure printing, cinematography etc. etc

Dear bhAgavatOttamas, in all the above cases, even without actually
personally experiencing the above "truths", I as a rational being, have all
through my adult life, persuaded myself to believe in their absolute
validity as accurate reflections of physical Reality. 

Now, tell me then by the same logic, can I say ,without experiencing
personally, through an experience of faith which our "achAryAs" lay down as
sine qua non for the purpose, can I say with any confidence that the
"Principal of Inversion" involved in "gathAgathAni" of the Lord is not as
convincing as what Swami Desikan and Alwars have always said it is !!

There is "food for thought" for all of us indeed !!

I had intended this posting to be my last in this series. But I find this
posting of mine to be very grim reading, dealing as it does with very heavy
problems of philosophy and truth. I, on the other hand, staunchly believe
that Sri Vaishnavism as philosophy is really all about truth, peace and
laughter.(The American economist, John Kenneth Galbraith once wrote a book
entitled, "Economics, Peace and Laughter"!!)

Hence I am going to send you all one more posting after this which will
describe a humorous aspect of Swami Desikan's "gathAgathAni" effect as I
experienced it in my own personal life.

Stay tuned and have a good week-end.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathidra mahadesikaya namaha




srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha