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Re: aacharya (was:Mani Varadarajan's comments)

From: raghunath govindachari (raghu_at_turing.scs.carleton.ca)
Date: Tue Oct 03 1995 - 16:11:05 PDT

[Mani writes]
> I would like to clarify the purpose of this mailing list.
> It is not merely for repeating the statements of previous
> teachers or simply extolling the virtues of one saint or
> another.  Rather, I have always planned that this mailing
> list will help in the process of religious and philosophical
> inquiry, particularly when it comes to personal devotions.
> 
Thanks to mani for clarifying his intentions in formulating this discussion
group. Perhaps as the group membership has grown there are people with 
differing expectations from the discussions. For some, this could be a forum for
 intimate exchanges on the nuances of practising prapatti. For them, no doubt
 the central faith is taken for granted, so also the devotion and loyalty to
 the acharyas of the sampradhaya. 

OTOH, there may be other participants who would agree on the central faith 
and may even delight in the path of the Azhwars and derive inspiration from 
 the life and teachings of acharyas like Sri Ramanujacharya and others but may
 prefer to practise their sadhana of prapatti guided by a different living
 teacher or may even be guided presently by nothing more than a sincere
 aspiration.

There are, as becoming apparent, a third set of participants, who are genuinely
 curious about prapatti and its practise, but may not share the same conviction
 are may even have an indifference or aversion to believing everything that 
is said. Nevertheless, so long as the intentions are not to disturb the
 faith of others but only to confirm and clarify their faith or lack of it,
 I would welcome any postings from this section too.

As to the loyalty and fidelity to acharyas, there is no doubt as to its
value and validity as can be infered from scriptures and anectdotes of 
illustrious predecessors. However, I feel that this is only applicable to
 a disciple who has accepted an acharya for his guidance. For a person who
 has another acharya (within or without the same sampradhaya) or to one
 who has none, there is no binding that he has to accept without questioning
 the words of every acharya- needless to add that one does not degrade them 
either.

I think that having implicit faith in the words of an acharya that one has
 accepted has many practical advantages - one comes across many situations
 in life where no amount of reasoning can give us satisfactory guidance. In such
 situations, it is a great (and effective) aid to have faith in the words
of someone we respect or trust or even better, one to whom we have 
surrendered.

Faith is NOT the same as believing irrationally - when we are not deceiving 
ourselves by believing what we wish to be true, we can perceive that
 faith is some form of hidden knowledge, deep in us that prompts us
strongly to accept. No amount of arguing either way is going to change it.

Excuse the length of this post. As mani mentioned, it is a topic worthy of
 discussion, for, it is indeed healthier to discuss our differences than to
 assume or pretend unanimity.

Thanks
Raghu