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Re: Divya Prabandhams

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Tue Nov 18 1997 - 19:09:35 PST

Mukund wrote:
> The person in question was referring to a situation wherein a 
> proposal to chant the divya prabandhams in lieu of veda parayanam in 
> a temple.  The person said " How can they do it ?  Divya prabanadhams 
> are not equal to the vedas.  Only when the vedas are recited can  
> perumal wear the pavitram.  This is a poor substitution"


The question of chanting Prabandham "in lieu" of the Veda 
or vice versa should not arise. Each has its appropriate
and essentially equal place during temple worship and festivals.
For example, during festivals when PerumaaL is in procession,
the Prabandham is chanted antiphonally by the cantors in front
of the Lord, while the Vedas are simultaneously chanted by those
following the Lord.

Similarly, thiruppaLLiyezhucci is normally recited in the
morning to wake the Lord up.  Later, during his thirumanjanam 
(sacred bath), the Purusha Sukta and other sections of the Vedas
are normally recited. In this way, we switch off between
Sanskrit and Tamil Vedas, as the two go hand in hand.

Generally, however, our tradition holds that it pleases
the Lord most to hear the Prabandham.  While the Vedas are 
eternal and declarative, the Prabandham contains the loving
and longing words of his dear bhaktas.  

Others who are unfamiliar with Sri Vaishnava temple practice
and tradition are bound to object to the recitation of
the Prabandham in the presence of the Lord.  This is especially 
true of those who have a fundamental antagonism towards
Tamil, or those who consider Tamil to not have the sanctity of 
Sanskrit.  This is nothing new, as Ramanuja, Desika, and 
ManavaaLa MaamunigaL all had to deal with this in their contiual 
efforts at maintaining the Alvar tradition in India itself.

Perhaps the best thing is to point out that one does not
"replace" the other -- they go hand in hand during the Lord's
worship, and omitting one is like seeing a three-dimensional
object with one eye.  It would also do good to inform these
people of the significance of the Alvars. If it were not for
them, perhaps Vaishnava temple worship as we know it would 
not exist today?


P.S. There is no difference of opinion between Sri Vaishnavas
on this issue.