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Thread: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

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    puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste,

    I'm very interested in the teachings of Śrī Rāmānujācārya, Śrī Vedānta Deśika, and the Vaḍakalai sect of the Śrī Vaiṣṇava tradition. At the moment I'm having some difficulty with the concept of puruṣakāra (interceder or mediator), which is said to appear in writings after Śrī Rāmānujācārya's day, in which Mother Śrī intercedes with Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa, pleading on behalf of all of their devotees, even the most unworthy. The concept itself I understand. I guess I don't quite understand why this intercession is needed. Let me explain.

    We know from the scriptures that Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa is not only just, but also loving and merciful. In fact, Śrī Rāmānujācārya says that one of his countless auspicious qualities is kāruṇya (compassion). When he incarnated as Lord Kṛṣṇa, he was a friend and guru to Arjuna, he danced with the gopīs (cowherd women), and he even washed the feet of Sudāmā. He told Arjuna, "...I shall free you from all sins..." in Bhagavad Gītā 18.66. In this incarnation it seems that he was very accessible to devotees and also forgiving. Yet doctrine of intercession seems to be saying, if I understand it correctly, that Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa can't be asked for forgiveness or help directly. One must go through Mother Śrī first. How does all of this fit together?

    Either I've missed something or I'm mistaken somewhere. Would someone who understands the Vaḍakalai Śrī Vaiṣṇava teaching be willing to help me to understand this doctrine as that tradition explains it?

    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste,

    According to the Vadakalai Iyengar sect, it is understood that the Lord (Sriman Narayana) is always at his most merciful when he is alongside Sri. Mother is supposed to be the facilitator between the aspirant and the Lord, in procuring the Lord's mercy towards us in forgiving our sins and thus ultimately to give us a chance to hear our pleas and to give us our mukti. One example being told is how Shri Rama granted forgiveness to 'Kakasura' when he assaulted Ma Sita devi. Shri Rama initially was furious, he decides to have asura killed, pulls out a blade of grass, recites some mantra on it and throws it at the asura. The asura runs to all the 3 worlds, but could not escape from the blade of grass. Finally he comes running back to Shri Rama and bows down at his feet, initially with his beak up, for which Mother Sita kindly corrects his head so that it appropriately bends down in surrender position at the Lord's feet. To this, Shri Rama becomes completely calm and renders him forgiveness. It is said, without Sri (Lakshmi), the Lord is never so full of forgiveness for our sins. That is why, he stated, he decided to have Ravana killed, if not, (if only Sita devi was at his side), he would have forgiven Ravana!

    At Vadakalai Iyengar homes, one can see Sri Alavandar's (Yamuncharyar) 'Chatusloki' being recited everyday. This great sloka speaks greatly of mother's role in granting us moksha being our mediator with the Lord, requesting forgiveness of our sins, and asking him at the right time for our moksha.

    The Chatusloki is based on the theme of 'Purushakaara Prapatti and Eka Seshithvam principles.' (principle of surrendering at the feet of the Lord and Mother Mahalakshmi).

    In addition to Sri Alavandar's Chatusloki, one also might want to read Sri Ramanujacharyar's 'Saranagadi Gadyam' which also supposedly (I have not read this) contains important message on surrendering at devi Mahalakshmi's feet for procuring our mukti.

    These messages might be helpful: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/.../messages/8212

    http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/gadayatrayam.htm

    Thank you.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste Viraja ji,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to provide your insights and the informative links. All of this is helpful.

    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste Ji,

    I cannot understand why Thenkalai Acharyas call Devi Lakshmi a Jivatama and declare that she can not grant moksha.Doesn't that contradict these Vedic verses?

    The Rig Veda says,

    īśvarīṁ sarvabhūtānāṁ : who is the goddess of all beings
    śriyaṁ loke devajuṣṭāmudārām : who is worshiped (even) by the gods
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram116040 View Post
    Namaste Ji,

    I cannot understand why Thenkalai Acharyas call Devi Lakshmi a Jivatama and declare that she can not grant moksha.Doesn't that contradict these Vedic verses?

    The Rig Veda says,

    īśvarīṁ sarvabhūtānāṁ : who is the goddess of all beings
    śriyaṁ loke devajuṣṭāmudārām : who is worshiped (even) by the gods
    Namaste Ram ji,

    Did you hear the actual term 'aNU' being used? If so, I can offer an explanation:

    Sri Lakshmi is termed 'aNU' because she is atomic (one who by herself does not have the capacity to pervade everywhere). However, on being one with the Lord, she acquires the capacity for pervading everywhere! This I heard from Sri U.Ve. Velukkudi Krishnan Swami.

    I feel the Tenkalai Iyengar Swamis might have described this 'aNU' or 'atomic' nature of Sri by herself and maybe that is misunderstood that Sri Mahalakshmi cannot grant moksha.

    Can you confirm?
    Last edited by Viraja; 01 August 2014 at 07:44 AM.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    Namaste Ram ji,

    Did you hear the actual term 'aNU' being used? If so, I can offer an explanation:

    Can you confirm?
    Namaste Ji,

    Hmm, no I do not know.Whenever Jeer Swamiji's(Thenkalai) speak they emphasize only about Sri Narayana.Sometimes they give different meanings of the word Sri and end up saying the same thing again,Sriman Narayana alone grants moksha.


    On a lighter note ,if Sri Devi grants moksha independently =>implies that Sri Devi = Sriman Narayana.I wonder () if they are concerned that some devotees will exhibit exclusivity () and worship only Sri Devi and state the same idea that why should we bother about other Devatas(Sri Vishnu?) when Sri Devi herself can grant everything. Just kidding.

    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste Ram ji,

    Thanks for bringing up this issue - I was not aware of difference between Tenkalai and Vadakalai sect w.r.t status of Sri Mahalakshmi as being the sole object of attainment and her status in granting moksha alone. I know that Vadakalai Iyengars view her as a mediator and facilitator in granting moksha.

    I found this interesting article that documents differences between Tenkalai and Vadakalai Iyengars' view on Ma:

    http://www.srivaishnavan.com/ans_vadakalai.html

    Thanks.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram116040 View Post
    [SIZE=3]
    On a lighter note ,if Sri Devi grants moksha independently =>implies that Sri Devi = Sriman Narayana.I wonder () if they are concerned that some devotees will exhibit exclusivity () and worship only Sri Devi and state the same idea that why should we bother about other Devatas(Sri Vishnu?) when Sri Devi herself can grant everything. Just kidding.

    Namaste Ram ji,

    I was thinking about the above comment.

    Sri is an embodiment of 'Kalyana Gunams' or 'virtues'. She not only can give material upliftment, but she can also uplift the spiritual status of an aspirant. So irrespective of whatever view (Tenkalai vs. Vadakalai), it is certain that for most devotees (even those fairly advanced on the path), worship of Sri alone can give a lot of spiritual upliftment, and I believe that Sri will lead the path to Sriman Narayana! (that is, even if she is solely worshiped). Atleast this is my view.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Namaste,

    This might be of interest.

    In chapter eight of the book Vaiṣṇavism: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Discipline, over the course of sixteen pages S. M. Srinivasa Chari, who is apparently Vaḍakalai, argues on the basis of many important texts and authorities (including the R̥g Veda Samhitā) that Mother Śrī is absolutely equal to Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa in her attributes and in her status, in fact in every respect. He quotes Śrī Yāmunācārya, who identified Mother Śrī as “the Supreme Person” and “the Supreme Sovereign of the universe." Furthermore, according to Śrī Yāmunācārya, without Mother Śrī liberation (mokṣa) is impossible. Chari argues on the basis of Śrī Rāmānujācārya’s Śaraṇāgati-gadya that “she possesses all of the characteristics of the Lord as appropriate to his status (anurūpa) and also as liked by him (svābhimata).” He observes that the Viṣṇu Purāṇa teaches that she is eternal and all-pervading, just like Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa. She is said to be forever inseparable (anapāyinī) from him in this text and in several others. Even in the physical attributes of the forms they manifest they are equal, as various texts attest. Her glory (mahimā) is infinite and she is “infinite in character.” According to Śrī Vedānta Deśika, writes Chari, “the divine couple together constitutes the para-tattva,” the one ultimate reality. This conclusion is based on the teaching of the Pāñcarātra Saṁhitās and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa.

    For Chari the only differences between the two divine persons are Mother Śrī’s possession of “motherly qualities” and their differences in their chosen roles. The Lord punishes sins. Mother Śrī never punishes sins. Mother intercedes for devotees.

    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: puruṣakāra (interceder) in the vaḍakalai sect of the śrī vaiṣṇavas

    Quote Originally Posted by anucarh View Post
    Namaste,

    This might be of interest.

    In chapter eight of the book Vaiṣṇavism: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Discipline, over the course of sixteen pages S. M. Srinivasa Chari, who is apparently Vaḍakalai, argues on the basis of many important texts and authorities (including the R̥g Veda Samhitā) that Mother Śrī is absolutely equal to Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa in her attributes and in her status, in fact in every respect. He quotes Śrī Yāmunācārya, who identified Mother Śrī as “the Supreme Person” and “the Supreme Sovereign of the universe." Furthermore, according to Śrī Yāmunācārya, without Mother Śrī liberation (mokṣa) is impossible. Chari argues on the basis of Śrī Rāmānujācārya’s Śaraṇāgati-gadya that “she possesses all of the characteristics of the Lord as appropriate to his status (anurūpa) and also as liked by him (svābhimata).” He observes that the Viṣṇu Purāṇa teaches that she is eternal and all-pervading, just like Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa. She is said to be forever inseparable (anapāyinī) from him in this text and in several others. Even in the physical attributes of the forms they manifest they are equal, as various texts attest. Her glory (mahimā) is infinite and she is “infinite in character.” According to Śrī Vedānta Deśika, writes Chari, “the divine couple together constitutes the para-tattva,” the one ultimate reality. This conclusion is based on the teaching of the Pāñcarātra Saṁhitās and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa.

    For Chari the only differences between the two divine persons are Mother Śrī’s possession of “motherly qualities” and their differences in their chosen roles. The Lord punishes sins. Mother Śrī never punishes sins. Mother intercedes for devotees.

    praṇām
    Namaste Anucarh,

    Very nice find indeed! I don't think that the differences stated between vadakalai and Tenkalai SriVaishnavas in the attachment I had cited (
    http://www.srivaishnavan.com/ans_vadakalai.html ) really hold true, I came to this conclusion after reading a knowledgeable member 'Sri Vaishnava' refute these differences in the 'Visistadvaita before Ramanujacharya' thread. It is state there that mother Mahalakshmi is viewed by Vadakalai sect as 'Vibhu' and Tenkalai sect as 'aNU'. But, Sri Velukkudi Krishnan clarifies that mother Mahalakshmi is aNU but 'sUkshma' and on association with Sriman Narayana, she becomes 'vibhU' (all-pervading). So the difference between what you have stated and what he states is that mother Mahalakshmi is indeed all that you have quoted but she acquires some of these properties by association with Sriman Narayana.

    YOu might remember I quoted Saranagathi-gadyam in my first post. I know that this text speaks volumes about mother's important role in granting moksha/she intercedes on behalf of the spiritual aspirant to the Lord in getting him the moksha, without which moksha for the devotee is impossible.

    In my personal view though, mother Mahalakshmi is the most important goddess for acquiring the 'virtues' or merits of character, which is the sole reason for one's spiritual progress.

    I appreciate what you have found and shared herein with us. It definitely adds to the clarity.

    Hail to mother goddess!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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