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Sri Vaishnava life style

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Wed Oct 18 1995 - 08:30:33 PDT

The Sri Vaishnavism of Azhvaars and Sri Ramanuja is as
much a social movement as it is a spiritual one.  The
social aspect of our religion is encapsulated in the life
style prescribed for Sri Vaishnavas.  This life style entails
a heavy dose of devotion not only towards our Lord, but
also His devotees (adiyaar, thoNdar).  This is made
abundantly clear in many aazhvaar poems (paasurams.)

First, here are just a few examples of what the aazhvaars
say about our Lord's love for "adiyaar/thoNdar."
Thirumangai aazhvaar says that the Lord will raze down
the sorrow of his devotees "adiyaar paduthuyar
aayinavellaam, nilandharam seyyum."  He is ever gazing
in the direction of Lanka eagerly awaiting the midnight
visits of his dear devotee Vibeeshnan, says
ThoNdaradippodi aazhvaar, "then dhisai ilangai nOkki."
Namaazhvaar asserts that the Lord is ever contemplating
all the different ways to shower His grace upon the
devotees "unnadiyaarku enseyvan enRE yiriththin^ee."
Periyaazhvaar goes to the extent of suggesting that the
Lord will reject charges made against the devotees even if
they were to come from the thaayaar (Lakshmi) Herself,
"thannadiyaar thiRaththakaththu thaamaraiyaaL aakilum
sidhakuraikkumEl, "ennadiyaar adhu seyyaar, seydhaarEl
nanRu seydhaar.""  Why would thaayaar make any such
complaint?  The answer is to prove to the masses that the
Lord will not forsake them at all!   Such is the love of our
Lord towards His devotees.

Next, what about the aazhvaars?  What is their outlook
towards "adiyaar/thoNdar?"   Kulasekara Azhvaar
epitomizes the state of mind of all the aazhvaars when he
declares that he will proudly wear on his forehead the wet
mud from the feet of devotees, "thoNdar sEvadich
sezhuncEr en sennikku aNivanE."  Periaazhvaar
proclaims to the world that the precious feet of the Lord's
devotees are on his head "... iNaiyadi en thalai
mElanavE."   Namaazhvaar repeatedly refers to himself as
the servant of servant of servant of the Lord's servant,
"thONdar thONdar thONdar thONdan satakOpan," and
"adiyaar adiyaar thamadiyaar adiyaar thamak kadiyaar
adiyaar tham adiyaar adiyOngaLE."

Such is the status afforded to the devotees among sri
vaishnavaas.  With this as the backdrop I wish to submit a
few posts on sri vaishnava view of the devotees of our
Lord Narayana in the coming days.

-- Dileepan