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Re: ALWARS_ NITYASOORIS OR BHADDA JIVATMAS ?

From: Sridhar Srinivasan (ss_at_clihouston.com)
Date: Tue Nov 25 1997 - 16:05:11 PST

At the outset, I would ask revered prapannas in this forum to 
interpret my ramblings/viewpoints with the indulgence reserved for 
the neophyte, and not as statements of self-proclaimed authority.  I 
apologize for any jarring errors and seek forgiveness for any affront 
my words might cause.  Some of my statements here might seem strongly 
worded, and they are intended to be so, for I do firmly believe that 
turth/fact/pramaaNam is not a matter of barter, and should never be 
so.

The recent discussions on the nature/life of alwars has been edifying 
and illuminating, particularly the viewpoints expressed by our 
esteemed elder Sri Anbil Ramaswamy (AR).  Since I have had close 
association with Sri Bhoovarahacharyar (Sri Swamy) extending well 
over twenty years, it was further interesting to see how a person of 
his stature and learning in our siddhantham would be viewed in the 
larger scope of the catholic, almost secular world of bhakti digest, 
replete with ideas, often, from the unqualified fringes that at times 
may appear more dominant than those from authoritative sources.  This 
is not surprising, however, since the truism that those who speak the 
loudest and most frequently make the most noise, notwithstanding 
substance,  holds true here too.  

Heretofore, I had desisted from posting anything on this topic since 
I am unqualified to speak when a giant such as Sri Bhoovarahacharyar 
speaks.  After all, as Sri Mani pointed out, I think there are very 
few scholars and acharyas extant who can match his erudition
(prAvENyam) and total mastery of concepts from the Sri VaishNava 
siddhantham.  He is a direct descendent of one of the 74 
simhaasanadhipathi (acharyas) identified by emberumaanar to 
perpetuate our siddhantham.  His total fluency in samskritham/tamil 
and comprehensive mastery of divya prabandham, upanishads as well as 
profound works of such eminent acharyals such as Pillailokacharya, 
Swami Deskikan, Parasara bhattar, nambillai, nanjeeyar, azhagiya 
maNavALa perumaaL nAyanaar cannot be overstated, and include a 
thorough understanding of all the authoritative vyakhyaanams 
(Periyavaachan Pillai, MaNavALa maamunigaL et al.).  I have had the 
good fortune to listen to his upanyaasams on varied topics over a 
period of 10 years in Bangalore, and had the unique opportunity of 
getting an inkling of both his depth of understanding and breadth of 
knowledge in our siddhantham.

Sri AR says
> It is a tall claim to say that "very very few scholars today can
> match his erudition". With due respects to Sri Bhuvarahachariar,   a
> RELATIVELY LESS KNOWN personality,  in comparison to the great
> Yathivaras like H.H. the Jeeyar, H.H. PP Andavan, H.H. Srimushnam
> Andavan , Parakaala Mutt Jeeayar, and  Acharyas like Uttamur Swami
> and Sri Vatsankachariar and others - who are recognized world wide
> for their depth of erudition. In view of this,  Sri Bhuvarahacharya 
> himself would honestly admit  that. these stalwarts in the galaxy of
> luminaries are certainly  better qualified as  Acharyas than
> himself.  

It was disheartening to see Sri Swamy's credentials questioned by 
someone like Sri AR (after all, this person lives, currently, most of 
the time in the US)  on this forum in a demeaning fashion.  In all 
honesty (and this only reflects my ignorance), I am totally unaware 
of the facts that lend greatness to the likes of Sri Andavan or Sri 
Srimushnam and Sri Vatsankachariar etc.  But it is foolhardy to 
compare. 

 Sri Swamy is very well known in the orthodox Sri VaishNava 
circles (and I suppose it is hard to know about this living in 
Michigan or Ohio or Tennessee or Houston) and is held in very high 
esteem by many wellknown vadakalai scholars (such as Srinivasa 
Gopalacharyar, a close associate of jeeyar of parakala mutt).  The 
vadakalai acharyas mentioned above by Sri AR might very well have 
their claim to fame, but what little I know in terms of our 
siddhantham (from desikan, pillai loka charyar through to maNavala 
maamunigal) seems to not have anything embellished by authoritative 
contributions from any of these current acharyas identified by Sri 
AR.

Sri AR says
> Mr. Mani has observed that "One needs to dig deeper and more broadly into our
> PuravacharyaAEs works to see how they viewed the Alwars" I think this applies
> to Mr. Mani himself more than anyone else. None could have "dug deeper and
> more broadly" than H.H Azhagiyasinghar, H.H Poundarikapuram Andavan, Uttamur
> Abhinava Desikar and Srivatsankachariar. They have pronounced in no uncertain
> terms that Alwars are indeed Nityasuris and NOT mere bhadda Jivas as held by
> Bhuvarahachariar.. They have made this clear in all their Kalakshepams time
> and again.
> 

Well, it seems, if what Sri AR seems to be accurate, that all these 
eminent folks contradict Sri Nambillai's vyakhyaanam on Tiruvaaymozhi 
as well as Sri Azhagiya maNavaLa perumAL nAyanAr in Acharya hridayam.

Fourth Pathu, ninth thiruvaaymozhi:

naNNAdhAr muRuvalippa nalluthAr karainthEnga
ENNArAthuyarviLaikkum  ivaiyEnna ulagiyaRkai?
kaNNALa! kaDalkaDaindhay!  unagazhaRkevarumparisu
kaNNAvAthadiyEnaip paNikanDaaysAmArE

NammAzhwaar here expresses his total disgust with samsaaram, where 
even death is greeted by dichotomous emotions (naNNadhar smile and 
nalluthAr shed sorrowful tears), which is only filled with 
uncountable (immeasurable thuyar - thunbam) and says why can't death 
come to me (sAmaare).  Nammazhvar entreats repeatedly for deliverance 
from samsaara, for he, a samsaari, (NambiLLai's vyakhyAnam, not my 
words) is unable to deal with it anymore.

then Azhawar goes on to say, I have obtained realization that 
SrimannArAyaNa is the upAyam and upEyam, other samsaaris should know 
about it too, and says (OnRum devam padigam):

OnRumdevum ulagum uyirum maRRum ......  maRRaithaivam nADuthirE

Give up devathanthara aradhanam and pursue kainkaryam at the feet of 
our lord as prapyam.  But he further asks,

IRanDu kiTTamirukka onnu ponnAhappOvathEn?

Why are there two kinds of entities (it is difficult to find an exact 
translation for the word kiTTam - thurumbu), one the unrealized 
samsaari, and one, the realized prapanna (Himself), and gives the 
answer himself in the fifth pathu, kaiyyAr chakkrathu padigam (this 
is such a beautiful padigam):

kaiyyAr chakkaraththu enkarumANikkamE! enRenRu
poyyE kymaisolli purame purame AaDi
meyyE pethozhindhEn vidhivAykkinRu kAppArAr
ayyo kaNNabhirAn aRaiyo inippOnale

Azhwaar says it is the nirhethuka (uninstigated) kripa of the lord 
(vidhivaaykinRukAppaarAr) that gave him the awareness that he is 
bhagavadeka seshabhuthan - and the lord gave that to someone who 
indulged in vishyAnthara pravaNyam (purame purame Aadi) and spoke 
nothing but un-truth (poyye - lied to the world, kymai - deceived 
even the lord) and what did the lord return in consequence - meyyE 
pethozhinden - nothing but the ultimte truth.

Sri AR says
> "Mayarvara Madhinalam Arulinan". When ? Even before their Avatara , Not after

What is the pramANam for this?

> - because they were Nityasuris, NOT Nitya Samsaris. They came into this world
> with what is known as "Jayamaana Kadaaksha."(i.e) even at their Avatara; Not

Sri NAyanaar says arhta panchaka gnyaanam and agnyaanam stem from 
jAyamana kAla kaTAkshangal/janmam - source of jAyamana kAla kaTaksham 
- kripa (lord's nirhethuka kripa), janmam - from the jeevathma's 
karmic association - jaayamaana kala kataaksham does not imply any 
constraints or period to the lord's grace, it is ever flowing and 
ever present - it is when we stop being vimukhas to his grace that 
realization comes to fore.

> that the Lord entered into them at some future date when they started singing
> their soul stirring psalms.

Our siddhantham is the tattva traya siddhantham.  There are the 24 
achith tattvams (prakrithi-prakrithangaL as Sri VeLukkuDi krishNan 
puts it in his upanyasams), the chith tattvam (jeevathma) and the 
Eeshwara thattvam.  So, where is the opportunity for creating a new 
class of beings?  Further the notion of jeevanmukthas that Sri AR 
talks about is an advaitic concept - realization in this life - and 
has no credence in the Ramanuja siddhantham (Sri VeLukkuDi krishNan's 
words, not mine), for if we realize our true nature of ananyarha 
seshathvam, and pursue service at the lord's feet as the goal and the 
purushartha, does he not embrace us into his fold (of Nithyasooris)?

Lives of our azhwaars clearly indicate that they unshackled 
themselves from the bondage of samsaara at some finite point in their 
lives - reinforcement of the infinite kindness of the lord, that the 
lowest amongst us can rise if we do not turn ourselves away from his 
grace - that I need not recount their life stories to the learned 
bhagavathas.  In fact, Thondaradippodiyaazhvaar (known as vipra 
nArAyaNan) gave up a life of saathvik kainkaryam and became enslaved 
by the charms  of devadevi (a veshya) to the extent that he gave up 
his life of kainkaryam and vairagyam.  It was through the lord's 
intervention that he reverted back to being a prapanna.  Further, in 
the thirumAlai paasuram 

vedhanool praayam nooru ..... pedhai pAlakan adahum ....

thondaradippodiyAzhwaar refers to youth as adhu, because the memory 
of the torments that he suffered in that stage of his life prevent 
him from even identifying youvvanam..

Thirumangai mannan's frequent naichyanusandhAnam stems from having 
been a samsaari and one deeply immersed at that, and instances to 
support that the lord's grace does not need a pre-qualifed state to 
flow are innumerable in the lives of azhawaars and acharyaLs..

Sri AR writes
> 
> I entirely agree with Sri Sampath Rangarajan that one should not rush  to
> conclusions based on knowledge gained by self-study of  books ( especially
> the wrong kind of books).**** One should resort to the feet of one of the
> Yathivaras or Acharyas like those listed earlier, serving  them for some****

Sounds like Christian propaganda to me.  Identifying a few vadakalai 
acharyas  as sole carriers of our siddhantham, with scant 
regard for what has been said by such great souls as PiLLai loka 
charyar, nambiLLAi, azhagiya maNavAALa perumaaL nAyanAr  seems 
inconsistent with the path laid down by Emberumaanaar and carefully 
followed by subsequent lines of "orthodox"  acharyas from both 
kalais.  There is hardly a need to re-invent a new method of 
propagating our siddhantham, when Sri Emberumaanaar has already done 
so.  

Of course, in a different frame of reference, folks who live in 
a materialistic society such as the US, enslaved by the material 
benefits of comfort and conveniences, and wallowing in 
intellectual/anushtanic mediocrity can make tall claims.  However, 
until such claims are backed by shastric pramANam from the 
prabandhams and Vyaakhyaanams of Purvacharyas and endorsed by 
established authorities such as Sri Bhoovarahachariar or Sri Puthur 
swamy or the vanamamalai jeeyar swamy, they would remain as 
conjecture, and nothing more.

Sri AR says
> 
> Truth is not a matter of  negotiations, not one that could be settled by a
> democratically demonstrated majority vote arriving at an agreement or a pact
> among ourselves. We go strictly by what our Acharyas mentioned above have
> said  in such matters- and they have said what ought to be said without any
> ambiguity.
> 

I, for once, am in agreement with Sri AR here.  The only caveat I 
would add is to forswear allegiance to Acharyaas (not the 
self-anointed kind) that have florished in the orthodoxy of the 
lineage (74 simhaasanaadhipathis)  established by our beloved 
emberumaanaar and not those outside that lineage.  After all, what 
better verifiable credentials can one ask for?

My sincere apologies to Sri AR if he is offended by my statements 
here.  However, bhAgavatha sEshatham is a step above 
bhagavath sEshathvam and to maintain silence even after knowing about 
Sri Bhuvarahacharyar's credentials in the face of blatant 
inaccuracies (visavis greater, lesser etc.) seemed both unnecessary 
and inappropriate. 

Azhwaar Emberumaanaar Jeeyar thiruvadigaLe sharaNam

sridhar