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Re: keeping our tradition alive
Date: Tue Sep 05 2000 - 11:05:38 PDT

The issue started with a Bhagavatha lamenting about the current
state of affairs wherein many persons from our community find
solace in offering their worship and allegiance to 'demi-gods'
and in particular he used some very strong words about a self
styled 'Bhagavan'.The issue is very sensitive and has to be
handled with tact and respect.

Let us examine some of the reasons as to why so many people flock
to that institution.(Ms.Subha has already elucidated on some of
these).Some of my eminent friends like say Dr.S.S.Badrinath and
his friend,the great Nani Palkhivala (the list is endless)are
ardent devotees of this person.Badri has been there on many
occasions and had also given them valuable advice when the Sathya
Sai Institute of Superspecialities was set up at a cost of over
Rs.300 crores(appr.$66 million)where EVERYONE is treated free
regardless of caste or creed.I know of many many other eminent
personalities who are His ardent devotees and obviously something
about his organisation and its activities attract these persons
to go there, offer their respects and thereafter do something
constructive which gives them solace and satisfaction and at the
same time benefits the society immensely.

Regarding the Bhajans and prayers, Ms.Subha has dealt and there
is no need to repeat the same points.Suffice it to say that, with
some exceptions as always, all persons are welcome there to take
part in their prayers, offer voluntary kainkaryams in all parts
of their Shanthi Nilayam(I know of Expats. coming there with an
appointment fixed an year in advance,go there and just sweep the
prayer hall and then return without even getting an audience or a
darshan).There is a system which seems to work in a very subtle
and quite manner and one which we are unable to replicate in any
of our Asramams or Mutts.Above all the prayers and their
aftermath are conducted in a profoundly silent manner which
contrasts with the tremendous noise and pandemonium that marks
all our functions and there is very little discipline
particularly amongst the priestly class who hold these gatherings
to ransom as it were.
These are strictly not comparable as ours are different types of
institutions. We proceed on the fundamental thesis that an
Acharya - Sishya relationship is a personal one, we are taught in
the Kalakshepams about all that is to be learnt at the Lotus feet
of our Preceptors who are eventually responsible to show us the
path of salvation and get us there ( via the Saranagathi or Bara
- Samarpanam ).I am dealing in a most superficial manner about
these as our focus is on something else.

Adiyen had already issued a further posting on the same subject
wherein some vital questions were asked and Sri M.S.Hari
elucidated on the Acharya - Sishya structure.Sri Velukudi
Krishnan was kind enough to respond.But the point is not to get
into a question and answer session but to find out why the
sishyas are leaving us in such large numbers to find solace
elsewhere.If they don't go Sathya Sai, they go somewhere else.In
these columns, a Bhagavatha objected to a very simple suggestion
that we relax the Dress Code !! I am not going to suggest any
answers and the points i am making in these columns are something
i have advocated for a long long time in our own Asramam and i am
famous or notorius (as the case maybe)for speaking out my mind!

I offer these points for careful consideration by the Bhagavathas:

i)the practice of Sri Ramanuja Darsana has become very very
complicated, costly and confined to the privileged few,

ii)the world has changed more in the past 10 years than it has in
the previous 100 years and people want fast solutions for

iii)in an environment where there is constant pressure on every
aspect of a person's existence,people expect solace and
fulfilment of the soul which they think they get in these
institutions and not in ours,

iv)the daily rituals are seen as very very elaborate and complex,
they are unable to have an access on a one to one basis to seek
any answers to the doubts that they have as these Acharyas are
always busy with their duties,

v)only via some Upanyasams and Kalkshepams are they able to get
some insight into the deeper meaning into all these but mostly
they are unable to understand these,

vi)thus the Guru - Sishya exchange is getting narrower and

vii)the case of the overseas Bhagavathas is even more difficult
as very very limited numbers ( out of many thousands of
ourpeople) actually visit these Asramams or Mutts that too out of
parental compulsion!

viii)there is this nagging feeling, though wholly incorrect, that
our activities are being focussed on the privileged sections and
the hoi polloi are there just to add numbers.

It is possible to highlight many more issues here but we have to
realise that for every Mani Varadarajan or Shyamsundar
Sreenivasan or M.S.Hari in our fold there are hundreds of equally
talented, brilliant and committed youngsters going elsewhere.The
question is whether we are ready to come together and form a
common platform to motivate and to organise a movement back to
the basics and this is a very very difficult issue.

I will leave you with these thoughts for now and we have to go
into these in great detail.I will come back again with some more
thoughts later on.


RR. wrote:

Dear Sriman Rajagopal,

You had written:

I would not like to condemn these persons with the adjectives
used by our brother but would like all of you to indulge in
serious introspection here and examine what should be and can
be done to arrest this 'sishyas" drain' which if left unchecked
will deplete our ranks more and more in the years to come.As my
revered friend Sri S.V.S.Raghavan says very often, this should
be our top priority and we should all get together and assess
in the manner in which we run our Asramams and Mutts if we have
to hold our people in line and not lose them to the above said
Samaj, otherwise SriVaishnavism as a heritage is itself in

I have more to say in this matter if Mani will let me do so in
these columns.

I invite you to write more about this as this is a very important
topic. Please do lead a discussion on this subject.


           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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