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!