Archive for March, 2010

Veera Vaishnava?

Dear God,

I wonder whether anyone has ever searched for or figured out who a true Vaishnavite is. Are there many true Sri Vaishnavas in this world? I do not know.  But there are many who are ready to brand one a “Veera Vaishnava’.

The way I have understood Sri Vaishnavism, upto my limited knowledge, I am given to understand the term ‘Veera Vaishnavite’ cannote exist. A true Sri Vaishnavite is supposed to be full of humility and servitude.  Therefore there can be no true ‘Veera Vaishnava’ , or for that matter a ‘hardcore iyengar’. I shall come to the iyengar part later. First let adiyen deal with the vaishnava part of this issue which has been bothering me.

The first few scenes of Dashavataram starring Kamal Hassan, where a saiva vs vaishnava feud has been depicted might look closer to authentic, in terms of screenplay or cinematography etc. But the way Kamal Hassan (who I feel does work pretty hard) has portrayed a Sri Vaishnava priest is far from what I would imagine to be a Sri vaishnava reality. Can one imagine a chest-thumping aggressive Sri Vaishnavite priest who would beat the king’s soldiers to pulp? And when he announces himself to be a ‘Ramanuja Dasan’, shouldn’t he have said it with folded hands? Or atleast folded arms? Am I getting too technical here? Well, it’s a movie, so I suppose I can. But the main focus here is not the movie. One needs to understand that such portrayal is also reflective of the belief of some people in society who would imagine a ‘true vaishnavite’ to be as aggressive, or full of hate/bias towards anything else. Is there a strong bias in the minds and hearts of all true Sri Vaishnavites? Yes, it is a bias towards Vishnu bhakti. It is not a bias to be confused with a superiority complex. ‘True’ Sri Vaishnavites are not the ones to feel superior to everybody else. The only superiority in theirs minds is the thought of the supreme Lord Narayana.  It comes from a commitment to the lord they believe in. Moreover, their true nature should reflect bhakti filled with humility. It is quite unfair to call Sri Vaishnavites and iyengars (the genuine ones), fanatical.

Now over to the topic of iyengars being superior. The term ‘iyengar’ is a caste name given to brahmin Sri Vaishnavites (Sri Vaishnavites belong to all castes and so not all are brahmins, but end of the day we all belong to Sriman Narayana 🙂 ).   Any single iyengar out there who claims to be ‘superior’ to anyone else (even to iyers), is just being a nobody. By stating that you are an iyengar first of all, one would mean that firstly one is a Sri Vaishnavite. I have aleady stated what that means. And secondly being a Brahmin, it is all about searching for the truth, acquiring vedic knowledge and performing your duties towards that Brahmann. Where is it stated anywhere you look at the definition of the term ‘iyengar’ – either as a Sri Vaishnavite or as a Brahmin – that one can claim superiority? Let me not even get into the thenkalai vs vadagalai sects’ arguments over superiority.

Basically, one need not prove anything to anybody else but to one’s own self. If you believe in something, follow it and be true to your conscience. The easiest way to figure out how to be, is to put ourselves in the shoes/footwear of the feet (divine feet) of the azhwars, acharyas and our beloved Ramanuja. That would answer all questions on human behaviour and religion – what’s true, and what isn’t. Adiyen believes in it.

I worship you Oh almighty Narayana, hope you show everybody the light of true devotion. Please bless all Your children, even the ones who have wandered (as adiyen has often times!).

Srimathe Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye!

Srimathe Narayanaya Namah!


Dear Ramanujare,

I have made a youtube video on an incident from your life. This is based on something I had read in a Tamizh Bhakti magazine which was lying around at home. Used some illustrations from there as well. Unfortunately I don’t know animation. Otherwise would have made a proper movie. But this powerpoint sort of thing would do okay to start off with. I am so sorry if I have not done justice to your holiness in anyway!

Here is adiyen’s humble but happy attempt:

Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye l

Dear Perumal,

Went to Delhi last week where I made a trip to the ISKON there. The light and sound show was nice. It felt as if You were really talking to me – the life-size statues of Krishna Bhagwan on the chariot talking to Arjuna. And the Vishwaroopa effect shown made me realise something in my mind all the time…that I think so much about why You do not reveal Yourself to adiyen and other Bhaktas (I don’t buy the logic that it is because of Kaliyugam as there were other who were able to see You!), but then Your Roopam might be way too powerful for most of us to handle! That is something adiyen had not taken into account.

Also visited the Akshardam temple where I was able to view their robotics, movie, light and sound boat-ride. The boat-ride was through a tunnel which represented Indian cultural heritage through the vedic times. There were statues which represented famous personalities. There was a section where great Indian saints were depicted. It was nice to see Ramanujar there, but it was a little funny to see that the statue was holding up two fingers in the victory position rather than holding three fingers out as our Sri Vaishnavite saints normally would. But nevertheless I was thrilled to bits to see Udayavar over there as well! 🙂 Andal and Vishnu Chittar were represented as well. So, the Akshardam temple show had represented two Azhwars and one Acharya.  Happy!

Ramanujasya Charanau Sharanam Prapadye

Dear Perumal,

Dear Bhagvaan, Champaka Dharna! I was blessed indeed to see two new temples today – the one run by ISKCON at Bangalore, and a temple bang opposite – The Guruvayur Krishna-AshtaLakshmi temple.

The ISKCON temple was beautiful, and well laid-out- right from the Narasimha-Prahalada sannadhi, the Tirupathi Srinivasar Sannadhi upto the main Krishna-Radha-Balaramar sannadhi. Nice prasadam at the end of it in a ‘dhonnai’ and a small lake-side by which to sit. Neat.

The temple I was thrilled to go to was the one bang opposite ISKCON. It was a Guruvayur Krishna – AshtaLakshmi temple. The main deity was Krishnar in the standing pose as seen at Guruvayur. There were 8 Lakshmis in separate sannadhis around the Krishnar Sannadhi. But what caught my delight was the Ramanujar Sannadhi right at the point of starting the pradakshanam. What a pleasant surprise! 🙂 There were Nammazhwar and Thiru Mangai Azhwar utsava moorthis as well. Sigh. Sometimes I really wish I had lived during Ramanujar’s times. Maybe I was alive then. But then  if I had been, I would have attained Moksham by now and not have been living this birth. Anyway, I am happy that I have learnt atleast something about Ramanujar in this birth. And glad to have been given the eyes and ears to do so.

This was again a miracle. I had to attend an interview at th eISKCON premises and hence adiyen had been sent there by You, Perumale. And then there had to be a temple right opposite these premises. And in a Guruvayur Krishna temple, I would have least expected to see a sannadhi dedicated to Udaiyavar. Emperumaanar thiruvadigale sharanam prapadhye!!!

Dear Lord Anantha Padmanabha,

Adiyen had the bhagyam of being invited to a wedding which took place right at the mandapam owned by the Trivandrum Padmanabha Swamy temple authorities. As a result, adiyen has visited the second Divya Desam, for the year 2010 (the first one being Tiru Allikeni – Sri Parthasarathy Perumal at Madras)

Anantha Padmanabha! What a majestic sight! What a gopuram! What a vigraham! What divinity! The darkness of the shrine only brightened by your sight! Adiyen wishes You a comfortable recline in Your Anantha Sayanam in the hot and humid Thiruvananthapuram. If not for you, Thiru Anantha, the city would not have its name.

The triple door view of Sri Padmanabhaswamy. The left hand of the lord holds a lotus in bloom. The right hand is placed near a Siva Lingam. The lotus emerging from the navel of the lord seats Brahma.

The sight of Anantha Padmanabha where Brahma as well as a Siva Lingam are seated, reminds me of a pasuram by Sri Thirumazhisai Azhwar –

“Naan muganai Naraayan Padaiththaan, Naan Muganum Than Mugamaay Shankarnai Thaan Padaithaan!”

“The four-faced one (Brahma) was created by Sriman Narayana. Brahma (in his image) created Shankara (Siva)”

Oh Anantha Padmanabha who is glorified by Sri Kulashekara Azhwar…adiyen wishes to be seated in admiration and comfort below your feet, while you are reclined on Adi Seshan. Infact I should be a distance away at the dust of Adi Sesha, who is none other than my dear Acharya Ethirajar, Ramanuja!

Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Thiruvadigale Sharanam l