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Response to Rama Balasubramaniam

Date: Thu Oct 09 1997 - 11:19:57 PDT

Dear Prapatti Group Members:

I want to thank Murali for his wonderful posting on Lord Hayagreeva.  I
hope at least during my next visit to India I get an opportunity to have
the Darshan of the Lord at Parakala Matam and Poundrika Puram Ashramam.

I also thank Rama Balasubramaniam for her clarifications on mine and Shri
Krishna Kalale's postings.  My involvement with the local temple activities
has highly stressed the need for cooperation between the Smarthas and the
Vaishnavas and even beyond (between the North and South Indians).
Therefore I think it is very important for us to know each other's
viewpoint on matters of  worship and particularly temple worship.  I have
always found that a temple program that involves everyone in a spirit of
cooperation irrespective of their lindividual leanings adds to everyone's
joy.  As asthikas we are all scattered in different parts of this country
and since it is difficult for any single group to sustain their own
traditional institution, it has rather become a necessity here that we come

To begin with, most Vaishnavas assume that Smarthas are either Saivites or
Shakthas (Sri Vidya Upasakas).  After one attends one of their poojas  one
begins to understand that Vishnu also gets a place in their worship
(sometimes a primary place in their Panchayatana Pooja and sometimes much
to the discomfort of a Vaishnava - For eg. as in Rudra Mahanyasam it is
said that "Vishnu: Padhau Thishtathy").  The fact that they conclude all
their poojas with "Kayena Vacha... Narayanethy Samparpayami" brings the
Vaishnavas closer to them.  When it comes to performing a Homam the
concluding part of a "Smartha performed Homam" is more Vaishnavistic than
what Vaishnavas perform.  While offering the Poornahuti the mantra
"Vishnave Swahaha - Vishnavae PARAMAATMANE idam na mama" is common to both,
some of the slokas used in the smartha sampradayam for the
Agni-Pradakshinam identifies Madhava with Yagnya Purusha and it is indeed
pleasing to hear.  For some reason we don't say them. The mantras used in
all vaidika samskaras are common to both sampradayams and for anyone who
has a little knowledge in these things it becomes clear that
Lakshmi-Narayana take a primary place.

Added to this we have Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam as his most important
and final message where he pours out his love for Govinda.  People like
Krishna Premi who grew up in the Smartha tradition and turning into a
Narayana worshipper to the exclusion of other things is indeed striking.
Also all Sanyasis in the smartha sampradayam signing as "Narayana Smruti".
Smarthas Bhajana Sampradayam is another striking example of Vishnu worship.
All these things sometimes make me wonder - what is it that is making the
smarthas hesitate to go forward and openly accept Vishnu's Sarvottama.

Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan
Buffalo, NY