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re keeping our tradition alive

From: M.G.Vasudevan (
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 21:01:28 PDT

Dear Sri vaishnava perunthagaiyeer,

Few points on the topic of "Keeping our tradition alive" comes to my mind
which I want to share with you all. These are also presented from another
angle, which, I thought may be relevant to the topic. This was triggered
from the totally different perspective, very nicely projected by Sri Lakshmi
narayan krishnaswamy. 

1.	The USP concept for selling srivaishnavam must be from the
"emotional angle" and not "knowledge angle" which at present is. 

2.	What Sri bhagavat raamanuja did is offering a solution for the ills
by administering the medicine of "thiru ashtaakshara manthraartham" to one
and all without discriminating any one, who desired such solution, from the
tall precincts of gopuram of Thirukkottiyoor. Since this offering touched
the emotions of one and all, as a solution for their present ills then, the
Sri vaishnavam of Sri raamaanuja  spread like fire.
3.	The way he did, was somehow lost with subsequent generations and the
knowledge angle came into. Thus the large scale following or mass appeal is

			[eg. Recent controversies on 32 vidhyaas (knowledge
angle) and nadhopaasanai (emotional angle) etc]. {My above conclusion is not
from this controversy}. 

4.	The present discussions are also on increasing the numbers. Unless
the numbers are there, there is no use with much knowledge alone stored in
very few containers. Because once the knowledgeable person becomes
physically incapacitated, how to spread the knowledge and the message and
draw the numbers which are required. Unless the numbers are also drawn in
and they are also developed as knowledgeable, there is no use, which is the
present situation. 

5.	To do this another point is also there. While others are
capitalising on the emotion and mass appeal, the focus, in the upanyaasams
of very learned and highly respected srivaishnavaas of present days, gets
shifted in accusing the advaithis and non believers with the words
kuthaarkikaaL kumathi, haithukargaL, etc, etc, in the course of their
delivery of the subject taken for the day. Youngsters who attend such
programmes also start following these seniors, in the same lines which also
add to the detriment of the situation. 

6.	In the discourse or during the session, these words are not
understood properly by many. So such kind of usage of words (or abuse?) have
to be avoided, for, if these are understood properly, it is going to produce
an adverse effect only in a major way. 

	     This situation is because of the wrong perception that the
advaithis or others, have come there with swords drawn, to fight with these
learned Sri vaishnavas to prove their own superior principles, and establish
their religion against Sri vaishnavam. Or else, in my opinion, they think
that is the way to establish the superiority of Sri vaishnavam. 

7.	Added to that their presentation is also not well received because
of the highly sanskritised tamil and their style of delivery. Thereby the
not so serious "Sri vaishnavas" who come to listen and learn from these
scholars, because of their name and fame, and "non srivaishnavas" attending
such upanyasams are finding it difficult to sit through, and to digest the
things put forth in such upanyaasams, lest their learning. 

	     Thus the appeal of the subject and of srivaishnavam indirectly
gets lost totally. If we are going to propagate our srivaishnavam in this
way, then I am afraid, we are losing all the audience in a very big way. The
above is said by not attending the upanyaasam of one such learned person but
a score of persons in Chennai. 

8.	Regarding the presentation skills also I wish to add- The focus is
generally not on the subject. For instance I attended a series of
RaamaayaNam by one of the famous Srivaishnavite upanyaasaka. In this,  the
upanyaasakar was reciting the entire raghuveera ghadhyam RG, thereby losing
the audience attention in total. All that the reaction of the crowd, was the
upanyaasakar is well versed in samskrit recitation and able to pour out
continuously for more than 20 minutes. [Please do not think I am against
reciting of raghuveera ghadhyam. What I want to stress is the reference from
RG has to be taken and well explained which was not done effectively]. 

		This is similar to the long swara prasthaara in a music
concert and people even without understanding any subtleties of the music or
swara rendered, simply clap hands at the end of it, as a ritual. Perhaps a
well experienced connoisseur of music in chennai will agree with me, that it
is more a "fashion" and the business sense of getting "corporate contacts"
[for there are large number of corporate sponsors these days for the music
concerts] to attend the music concerts and clap hands than to enjoy the
music sincerely.

	     As you all know, once you loose the audience attention, it is
difficult to drive home your point, what you wanted to say, let it be about
sri vaishnavam or any other thing.

9.	Just for comparison, take another non Sri vaishnavite upanyasakar.
The audience was a minimum of one thousand, with many standing on the road,
in spite of heavy traffic in that area. He touched upon the very famous
"iyam seetha mama suthaa" to explain what she brings to the ikshvaaku vamsam
as "saha dharma", what is that saha dharma, what are the different ways a
saha dharmiNi helps the male, the principles involved in the hindhu
marriage, the meanings of the rituals and manthrams involved, like holding
the hand this way, not to do that way, hold the fingers this way etc, which
carried well with the audience. Any non- believer in the rituals and the
manthrams would also have picked up at least few points or things by
attending that upanyasam.

10.	Another time, when the topic was "naachchiyaar thirumozhi NT", the
upanyasakar (again a reputed srivaishnava) went on saying there are totally
14 chapters, 143 verses, ten verses in each chapter, in three chapters 11
verses thus making 143, 4 lines in each verse, number of thaniyans, who are
the composers of the thaniyans etc. 

     He totally forgot that was not a class room, and he was not giving
introduction to beginners to NT, but a learned mixed audience. Thereby the
audience was feeling highly inconvenient to sit through the entire time he
was talking, even though the number was large and knowledgeable. Finally
what he wanted to highlight in  NT did not come through.

Of course this is not to underscore others, who confine to the subject and
present it nicely like Sri Velukkudi krishnan, Sri Suki Sivam et al. 

Another point in this, is that, we, as listeners, also fail in not having
the guts or niceties, to tell these upanyaasakars for the fear of doing
bhaagavatha apachaaram to these learned ones.

Please do not take these in any other manner, except that it is relevant to
preservation and spreading of Srivaishnavam and not to criticise or comment
on and about certain individuals. Also please consider the points shared
here are from a person who has experienced such situations and observed
things happening in close quarters and not just hearsay and prejudiced point
of view. 

Remedy to such situation can come from persons like Sri RR of eyetex who are
organisers of such upanyaasams and vidwath sadas etc, stressing always
a.	one theme point pertaining to Sri vaishnavam has to elaborated upon
by the speaker, 
b.	it should be more from the heart making emotional appeal not from
knowledge angle, 
c.	around that point only the speaker has to build up his lecture 
d.	simple language and easy presentation has to be used always. 

Thus the cardinal principles can be thrown open to all for easy
understanding, leading to preservation of Sri vaishnavam for posterity.


Vasudevan M.G.

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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