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skaushik_at_MIT.EDU
Date: Wed Oct 04 1995 - 11:17:59 PDT

Much has been said so far on Azhagiya Singar Swami and 
acharyas in general. My thougths on the matter, for what it
is worth:

First, I have heard similar accounts by others concerning
Azhagiya Singar Swami. Many describe him as an extremely learned
man, but with unrestrained anger. I know many to have lost respect
for him on the account of his anger. Hence, Badri's experience and
his response is neither new, nor is it unreasonable to understand.


But at the same time I have heard other stories from people who,
in their youth, sat before the Swami and learnt from him and who have
described the softer side of him. Similar to Krish's personal story,
I have heard of the very same Azhagiya Singar Swami perform
samashrayanam to a  Christian woman who had married an Iyengar. I am
sure there are more such stories as well.

I have myself not had the occasion to meet the Azhagiya Singar 
Swami and perhaps, had I experienced a similar behaviour, I might have
developed a similar attitude. 

Nevertheless, I feel I ought to take exception to a comment
Mani makes. 

Mani writes:

*** An Acharya is worthy of respect primarily by setting 
*** the right example for his or her sishyas.  Sri Pillai
*** Lokacharya and Sri Vedanta Desika explain in detail the
*** qualities of a true acharya, emphasizing calmness, devotion,
*** and kindness as the principal attributes -- but never 
*** do they *equate* the random acharya with the Paramaatma,
*** or even an Azhvaar.

I think whereas it is true all the above charactertistics are
important for one who is seeking salvation and detachment, I 
do not see why it is directly related to TEACHING knowledge.
I would like to know where exactly and under what context
Sri Vendanta Desikan make such remarks.

"Human" frailities are a feature not just of man, but of 
Gods themeseleves. Every major God in the Hindu Pantheon has
exhibited anger in varying degrees, including Sriman Narayana Himself
(e.g. in Narasimha avataar, as well as even Krishna avataar).
In fact, even teh most noble of the avataras, Rama himself shows
his "human" side as he threatens to destroy at ocean.

I am not sure if one can't conclude from this that  anger appears
to be an inherent part of Nature.  However, it does seem cleear to
me that it is "unreasonable" to expect even the most learned to
be free from anger, and for that matter, ANY of the vices. Even the
Gods themeselves have never seem capable of giving up vices.

We certainly do not expect these virtues (nor does it ever come)
in teachers of other knowledge (look at the professors around you
:-)). We seem to do the learning quite well. There is no reason to
expect it to be different elsewhere.

Sundar writes: (quoting Purandara Dasa)
  *** "krodhava bidada sanyaasi taaneke " ? 
  *** What use is a sanyasi who has not renounced rage and anger ? 

Purandara Dasa said nothing about the ability of a
Sanyasi to teach knowledge. All he says is that a sanyasis goal
cannot be attained (total detachment) if he/she is not free from
passion.

In Sri Vaishnavism, it is not essential to be a Sanyasi to attain
moksa. Sri Vedanta Desikar himslef was not one (please correct
me if I am wrong). I think many of the mauttadipathis choose this
path in order to anable them to lead the ashramas without
distraction from other aspects of life. Perhaps now, there is
a legal dimesniona as well in terms of the relationship of the
govt. to the muttams.

The main problem, as I see it, is that we respect the knowledge of
our professors, because we all want it. We are willing to bite the
bullet, take the abuse and learn. We hope that with this knowledge, we
can become famous, make money, live comfortably, etc. etc.

When it comes to religious matters, we do not have the respect for
the knowledge. We are skeptical that it even exists and we are
equally skeptical that someone else could possible even  possess it. 
Hence, our tolerance is much lower. 

Sumanth