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Editor's Note - 14 (July 1, 2009)

Let Us Lead The Life The ‘Sri Vaishnava Way’

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

It indeed is our great fortune that we are what we are. A little bit of elaboration would make it less cryptic. That we are part of an elite sect – devotees of Sriman Narayana or simply Bhagavathas – is a matter of immense joy and pride for us.

Given the background of the mind-blowing expanse of the Universe, the remote earth within and the countless living things it comprises, to represent the human race (with the sixth sense to boot) in itself is a boon of sorts. And to be part of our Sri Sampradaya and the very select band of Bhagavathas which provides the unique opportunity (through Saranaagathi) to escape the travails and miseries that accompany the vicious cycle of births and deaths, is a real honour. The Bhagavathas are, as Nammazhwar concludes his Thiruvoymozhi, “பிறந்தார் உயர்ந்தே”.

Avvaiyaar, the grand old lady of the Tamil tradition exclaimed thus:

அரிது அரிது மானிடராய்ப் பிறத்தல் அரிது
அதனினும் அரிது கூன் குருடு செவிடு பேடு
நீங்கிப் பிறத்தல் அரிது
ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயத்தல் அரிது
ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயத்த காலையும்
தானமும் தவமும் செய்வது அரிது
தானமும் தவமும் செய்வராயின்
வானவர் நாடு வழி திறந்திடுமே !

“It is extremely rare and precious to be born as human beings; even more so to be born without any physical challenges; much more rare to be equipped with wisdom and education; all the more rare to have the heart to donate to others or do penance. For those who achieve this, the celestial entrance will surely open up.”

This reference has been taken only to underline the favourable providence that has smiled on us and it is for us to make it count our Sampradaya way.

Preceptors of our Sampradaya have unequivocally established – quoting from the Vedas and other divine scriptures – that there is absolutely no need for all that is given above to attain salvation. It is very simple and straight. Unconditional surrender unto Sriman Narayana, driven by unswerving devotion to Him, is the sole requirement for deliverance and to guarantee oneself a place in His abode – Sri Vaikuntam.

The exalted status and the privileges that go with it were discussed in the 12th episode. To recall from the previous Note, privileges and benefits entail duties and responsibilities. Therefore, it is now time to deal with the norms that need to be followed by us to fully qualify for the tag ‘Bhagavatha’.

We should strive to conduct ourselves at all times (as far as possible) as befits a Sri Vaishnava. To identify with our Sampradaya through our deeds is of paramount importance. There is a noticeable reluctance in some of us in this regard. If one may say so, we may take a leaf out of the followers of other faiths in that they never feel slighted in displaying their allegiance; far from it, they seldom lose an opportunity to do so.

Coming back to our people, the needless ‘sense of embarrassment’ in, for instance, wearing the Thiruman in places of work/education must be put aside. The ‘feel of pride’ in being a Sri Vaishnava must, in fact, replace it. We should hold our head high for being Bhagavathas (Saathvika Ahankaaram in matters relating to our Sampradaya is perfectly permissible and even our Poorvacharyas have indulged in it in good measure).

We shall look into some specifics (minimum requirements) that need to be followed:

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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