A Common Minimum Programme For Srivaishnavas
We have seen in the previous Note how imperative it is to adhere to the daily religious chores, as they are the commandments of the Lord. In what could be viewed as an extension of the same, let me enumerate some quintessential things that we, as Srivaishnavas, are required to observe.
It must be noted that these are merely broad, minimum guidelines and not the perfect formulae by any stretch of imagination. The latter, if listed, would seem to many as grossly impracticable and even beyond attempt.
We can call these broad guidelines as the common minimum programme for Srivaishnavas. Here it goes:
- The first and foremost thing is obtaining Acharya Sambandham. That is, undergoing Pancha Samskaaram, known as Samaasrayanam. If Upanayanam makes one a Brahmana, it is only through Pancha Samskaaram that he becomes a Srivaishnava.
- Wearing the Thiruman, which is considered to be the lotus feet of the Lord, is a must. Ideally, after Samaasrayanam, one must apply the 12 Thirumans on a daily basis. Swami Desika, in his Prabandham Panniru Naamam, has stressed the importance of the same, and it is our elders’ practice to recite these Paasurams while wearing the Thirumans. When it is not possible due to some unavoidable reason, at least the one on the forehead must be worn. Applying of Srichurnam alone is not at all acceptable. Also the wrong practice of wiping off the Thiruman while going to school or office, should be shunned. It is ironical that followers of lesser faiths boast of their identity, while a section of our sacred Sampradayam squirm unnecessarily. If we are ashamed of or feel uncomfortable in wearing the Thiruman, there is no point in priding ourselves for being Srivaishnavas.
- Doing Sandhyavandhanam (twice) and Maadhyaahnikam is a must. It is really strange that many find it difficult to accommodate this — which would take about 30 to 45 minutes in all — in their daily scheme of things. It must be mentioned here that the Lord will be immensely displeased if one does not perform the thrice-a-day ritual. The tag of ‘Brahmana’ will be sustainable only if one observes this without fail.
- One must wear traditional attire as appropriate to one’s Asramam at least while at home, temples or when participating in religious/family events. A Gruhastha should necessarily wear the Pancha Kachcham during such occasions.
- Undergoing Kaalakshepam, learning the Divya Prabandham and hymns of Poorvaachaaryas are essential too. This is not to say that one should master these all. There must be an effort to learn them to the extent possible. It is important to learn at least the select portions of the Vedas, like Purusha Sooktham and the Upanishad. It must be remembered that the Vedas provide the very identity of Brahmanas.
- Orthodoxy at home needs to be maintained as much as possible and eating outside should be totally avoided. Parishechanam must be performed before eating, both in the morning and evening. It is a pity that people tend to skip this very short procedure.
- The Saasthras say that anything we prepare at home should be offered to the Lord first and then only we can eat. So, one must worship the Lord in the form of Saalagraamam at home by way of Nithya Thiruvaaraadhanam. If that is not possible, it must be done at least on important days such as Fridays, Ekadasi, Dwadasi, Amavasya, Sravanam, Maasa-Pirappu, festival days, Azhwars/Acharyas’ Thirunakshathram days, Grahanam days, Janma Nakshatrham days of family members, etc. Even on those days Thiruvaaraadhanam cannot be done, the food must be offered to the Lord before we partake the same. This, even ladies of the household may do, if men are unable to, for some reason or the other. But they can do so, only without touching the deity (Saalagraamam).
- Much sanctity is attached to Ekadasi. Upavasam (total fasting) has been prescribed in the Saasthras for this day. If it is not possible to observe it owing to health grounds, etc., at least fragmented rice (Sojji) or tiffin not involving full rice may be taken.
- Ceremonies for forefathers like Tharpanam on Amavasya and Maasa-Pirappu, Grahanam days, Sraaddham must be diligently observed, wherever applicable. One must strictly adhere to the Phalaharam schedule on these days.
- Ideally, one should visit the temple daily and participate in temple festivals as much as possible. The Kainkaryam may be financial, physical, through chanting of the Vedas, Divya Prabandham, hymns, etc.
- Last, but not the least, Saranaagathi (also known as Prapaththi, Bhara Nyasam, etc.) must be performed through which one can rest assured that a berth in Srivaikuntam has been reserved for him at the end of this birth. Post Prapaththi, one should strive to involve himself in Bhagavath, Bhagavatha, Acharya Kainkaryam as much as possible.
A lot more are there but what has been given above is the proverbial tip of an iceberg. As mentioned earlier, these are just the ‘very essentials’, but good enough for beginners. One must constantly make efforts to upgrade himself and enjoy the fruits. It may appear to be demanding initially, but perseverance will pay off. And then, the satisfaction will be immense.
Meet you in the next Note.
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