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Re: Clarification Please...

madhav.vasudevan_at_sg.abb.com
Date: Tue Sep 04 2001 - 16:57:14 PDT

SrI:
SrImathE Ramanujaya namah:
Dear Sri Mukundan,

I have always been admiring of your posts whenever you send..
Thanks very much for the informative posts again..Thanks for sharing such
beautiful anecdotes from Acharyas' lives. They have been exalted souls..
It is the Lord's grace that we are born in such lineages (or brought into
such lineages).. Thanks a million again.

Sorry that I mentioned only brahmin for pooNool.. (others also do have).
Nowadays even some brahmin boys also don't:" :-)

With regard to equating Srivaishnavas equal to the Lord Himself; and
highest regards, I fully agree with you.
There is no second opinion.

All that I  wished (or intended to) write is:

One has to follow his varNAshrama dharma..
(Gievn below is an extract from Sri Anand Karalapakkam's article on the
same subject- *sort of*)

In Bhagavad GItA , Sri KrishnA says " woman , vaishyas & sUdrAs -those who
are of sinful birth , whoever they might be, they obtain the highest state
(moksham) , if they seek My protection " (Chapter 9- sloka number, I don't
recall)

Though the caste may be considered low ,everyone is eligible for moksham
through saraNAgathy.. There is no restriction in it. Anyone can become a
Sri Vaishnava through samAsrayanam. These things are  intimately tied up
with the jIvAthmA . So, there are no restrictions. But, restrictions come
into play only in the case of karmAs to be performed since the type of body
acquired is taken into account .

Once one becomes a devotee of Sriman NArAyanA , irrespective of  his/her
caste , one should eulogize them . Any vaishnavA is always glorious .

Though the caste may be considered low ,everyone is eligible for moksham
through prapatti . There is no restriction in it. Anyone can become a Sri
VaishnavA through samAsrayanam. These things are  intimately tied up with
the jIvAtmA . So , there are no restrictions. But, restrictions come into
play only in the case of karmAs to be performed since the type of body
acquired is taken into account .

Though a devotee might be from a particular caste which is in general
considered low , he is neverthless far supreme than the other persons of
his caste.

There are lots & lots of pramAnams to show that a Sri vaishnava should be
adored irrespective of his caste. Just because of the caste, one might be
debarred from reciting vedAs. This doesn't mean that he can't be a supreme
devotee. As you rightly said, AzhvArs like NammAzhvAr and ThirupPANAzhwAr
have no parallels.

Of all forms of ArAdhanam (say homage,adoration etc) , ArAdhanam to Lord
VishNu is the best, but superior even to this is the excellent ArAdhanam
(homage ,adoration etc) offered to Vishnu's devotees. "

There are also pramAnAs of the following type which stress the importance
of paying respects/adoration to devotees irrespective of their caste :

MahAbhArathA :"Those sUdrAs who have devotion to BhagavAn are not sUdrAs ;
they, who are devotees of BhagavAn are Brahmins. Those who have no bhakti
to BhagavAn (JanArdanA) , whatever might be his caste - they alone are
sUdrAs "

So, by the presence or absence in them of the specific attribute of bhakti
(devotion; not to be confused with bhakti yogA) to Sriman NArAyanA, men of
lower castes are called by the names of the higher, & men of higher castes
are called by the names of lower respectively.

Then one might possibly come up with the question " Does the devotees of
Sriman NArAyanA belong to one and the same caste ? "

If it is so , then it contradicts with all the pramAnams of the type

"Thus will the devotee of Lord who is a Brahmin conduct himself and thus
will the devotee who is a sUdrA conduct himself etc ".

Consider the following pramAnA :

MahAbhArathA : AswamedhikA parvA (116.8) :" Auspicious qualities which
carry esteem do not arise from caste. The demigods (devAs) consider as a
Brahmin even a chandAlA who conducts himself in accordance with his caste "

It is also evident from many pramAnams quoted above that the caste of a
devotee doesn't change because of his devotion , though he has to be highly
respected & adored for his devotion (the terms used in the pramAnAs
inherently assumes that a devotee belongs to a particular varNA). For that
matter , even though a sthrI (lady) is a great devotee of Sriman NArAyanA &
is a BrAhmin , SAstrAs(*) don't allow her to recite vedAs, perform
Agnihotrams etc.

(*) Smrutis declare that sthrIs shouldn't recite vEdam etc esp. in kali
yugA, as per kali yuga dharmA.

There are pramAnams which state that the prapannAs from various castes are
equal ,which is in the sense of attainment of the final goal, namely
moksham. So,there is a kulam called Sri VaishNava kulam wherein everyone
are so great that all are certain to reach Sri VaikuNTham since they adopt
prapatti . But this word kulam is not be confused with caste ie.varNA.

PeriAzhvAr in his Thirup pallAndu says "pandaik kulaththai thavirthu
pallAndu ..." (We will give up our former kulam & sing pallAndu to perumAL
).

So, instead of being a materialist, now one becomes a Sri VaishNavA fixed
in kainkaryams .

Let us see Sri Peria AchAn PiLLai's conclusion on Thirumangai AzhwAr's
pAsurm 1.1.9 " kulam tharum ..." ( "The name "NArAyanA" , confers a
(higher) kulam  ) :

"If a man who is low by birth & by conduct attains contact with BhagavAn,
one who has both should shrink from calling him low , because of the
potency of his devotion to BhagavAn "

Our poorvAchAryAs say that one must have high reverence for a Srivaishnavan
, whatever may be his caste & is one of the greatest offenses to treat him
with indifference , disregard , ill will or contempt on the ground of his
caste. This doesn't mean that a srivaishnavan, whomsoever he might be, is
eligible to perform agnihOtrA.

A materialistic analogy : A person may be a nobel laureate in Physics and
the whole world is glorifying him for his achievements. This doesn't mean
that he can be asked to teach English. Similarly, all prapannAs are highly
glorifiable since they have surrendered to the Divya dampati by begging the
divya dampati themselves to become the upAyam (means) to attain the
kainkarya sAmrAjyam at Sri VaikuNTham. This doesn't make a prapannA
eligible to perform sandhyAvandanam and recite vedAs irrespective of
his/her varNA. These activities are related with the varNA and SAstrAs
specify appropriately as to what one can do / shouldn't do.

Ardent devotion to Sriman NArAyaNA doesn't advocate the change of varNA ,
since by very definition varNA is based on body.

Sri Peria vAcchAn PiLLai very categorically states this in his commentry to
the verse in Garuda PurAnam :

verse :
"Bhakti or devotion is of eight kinds. If bhakti is found in a mleccha, he
should be considered a devout and knowing Brahmin. To him, giving is proper
& taking is proper. He should be treated with the same reverence as I
myself "

in His commentary : " This doesn't mean that strIs (ladies) can be given in
marriage to him and the like , but he may be given the gift of knowledge
and the like.

Thanks to Sri Anand Karalapakkam for giving me permission to make use of
his write up.

Thanks again for your explanation and clarification.
You are doing wonderful kaimkaryams in your posts and radioramanuja.com. .
Regards
Narayana Narayana
aDiyEn Narayana dAsan madhavakkannan


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