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Editor's Note - 3 (August 1, 2008)

A Way To Keep Up The Focus; An Outlook On Analytical Questions

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

Hope you relished the virtual treat in the form of 'Chithra Desikeeyam', a pictorial depiction of Swami Desika's illustrious life history. For those who were already familiar with Swami's deeds and greatness, it would have served as a memory refresher, while for those who had not had the opportunity earlier, it would have been a revelation. Whichever the case is, any experience regarding the Acharya is a rewarding one.

Our Sampradaya, to use a philosophic metaphor, is the Ksheerabdhi (Milky Ocean) itself immeasurably massive and deep, bountifully rich in content, perennially oozing the essence of pure truth (milky waves). Most importantly, Sriman Narayana adorns the top of both the Milky Ocean and our Guru Parampara.

There is so much to take from the Ocean; so much to learn in our Sampradaya that it is improbable that anyone could do it even anywhere close to its entirety. However, it is one's duty to make a committed attempt and help others also in this regard. That is precisely what www.svdd.com is endeavouring to do with 'Trail Our Glorious Sampradaya' take the viewers to the beaches of the Ocean, enable them have a good look at its beauty, encourage them into pearl-fishing and help them acquire the treasure (knowledge).

Factors that govern human actions may broadly be given as the necessity, inclination, ability, time availability and the prospective benefit. The mind, consciously or sub-consciously, weighs in the pros and cons of the action ahead before deciding to do it or leave it. If the cumulative positives are more than the negatives, the mind initiates the work.

Life without discipline is meaningless and there is no greater discipline than religion. It prescribes the way of life, identifies the goal, suggests ways to attain it. Sri Vaishnavam is a supreme example of a religion steeped in discipline.

Therefore, a Sri Vaishnava has every reason to know about the Sampradaya, and priorotise his time in pusuit of that.

He should identify himself with the Sampradaya in as many ways as possible; do only the things which he is expected to (of course, with some allowance for the vagaries of present-day life). There should be no compromise on wearing the Thiruman, doing the Sandhyavandhanam, regularly visiting Vaishnavite temples (other temples strictly forbidden), attending discourses on our Sampradaya, etc. Importance must be given to learning the great works of Azhwars and Acharyas. The constant exposure to the values of the Sampradaya leads to Saranaagathi, the Upaya (the way to attain the ultimate goal) and eventually the Moksha (Upeya) itself.

For those who have already performed Saranaagathi, Swami Desika, in his Srimath Rahasya Thraya Saaram quotes Thirumazhisai Azhwar while suggesting the post-Prapaththi life style.

"தரித்திருந்தேன் ஆகவே ... உன்னை தெரித்து எழுதி வாசித்தும் கேட்டும் வணங்கி வழிபட்டும் பூசித்தும் போக்கினேன் போது!"
(நான்முகன் திருவந்தாதி - 63)

The Azhwar addresses the Lord thus: "My life has been well spent by knowing, writing, reading, hearing (only) about You, and also through obeisance, prayer and offering worship to You."

So, the efforts of the site is specifically aimed at keeping up the focus of Sri Vaishnavas on the Sampradaya. No better way to do this than the quiz. We have participants ranging from thoroughly proficient to beginners who are really interested. If the questions are very tough, it would be discouraging for the beginners. On the other hand, well-versed participants would not find it challenging if the questions are very simple. So there is a need to strike a balance while preparing the questions, so that there will be something for everyone.

Participants would have noticed in every quiz the presence of one or two analytical/interpretative questions to which more than one justifiable answer are possible. 'Pick the odd one out' (open group) and 'connection' questions are generally used for this purpose. While an element of subjectivity is inherent in such questions, they provide an opportunity for the participants to dig deep into their reserves, apply logical reasoning in the given context while arriving at the answer. They help keep the mind tickling and the focus riveted. The effects of the thought process linger on. The challenge and thrill such intricate questions provide make the programme fascinating. With the enormity of the material available on the subject in the form of books and on the Internet, coupled with the generous timeframe given for the quiz, we feel that it is fair to include such questions. That they enable sifting the best from the better ones, is an additional reason.

Just as the satisfaction will be immense if the answer is proved correct, the disappointment if it turns out to be wrong will also be considerable.

Few months ago we had asked the participants to rate the programme, the result of which was an overwhelming 'ideal'. So, we have been continuing in the same vein. You may write to us on the issue, indicating your preference about including/not including analytical questions, at [email protected].

Your 'Valued Views' has been updated with new inputs.

We have received an e-mail from Ranga, Mylapore, stressing on the need to have a forum to have doubts on our Sampradaya clarified authentically. He has opined that www.svdd.com can provide it. A good suggestion indeed and we wish to state that we shall keep it in mind and implement it at the earliest possible opportunity.

Announcement about the Children's Quiz, its format and other details can be expected next month.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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