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எங்கே Sri Vaishnavam

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Nara

Well-known member
For Sri Vaishnavas, there are no one more exalted than the twelve Azvars. They are revered as Nithyasoory avatharas. Collectively, their poems are considered equal, if not more, in reverence and authority as the four Vedas.

Among the twelve Azhvars, three were born into Brahmin families. They are, (i) Vishnuchittan (Periyazhvar ), (ii) Vipranarayanan (Thondaradippodi azhvar) and (iii) Mathurakavi azhvar. In one way or another all three went against the Brahminical order and varna dharma of the day.

First, Periyazhvar. If you read his poetry you will find him to be a very gentle person. A large number of his 473 verses are devoted to enjoying Sri Krishna’s playful days in Gokulam. These are perhaps some of the most melodious and joyful of poetry anyone is lilely to come across. But I want to highlight just one verse from the very first 10 verses, known as திருப்பல்லாண்டு. Here is the last two lines of verse #5:
..
..
தொண்டக்குலத்திலுள்ளீர் வந்தடி தொழுது ஆயிரம் நாமம் சொல்லி
பண்டைக் குலத்தைத் தவிர்ந்து, பல்லாண்டு பல்லாயிரத்தாண்டு என்மினே!

(thoNdak kulaththil uLLIr! vandhadi thozudhu Ayira nAmam solli
paNdaik kulaththaith thavirndhu pallANdu pallAyiraththANdu enminE)

Here, by பண்டைக்குலம் Azhvar is referring to the high born brahmins. He is calling out to them to relinquish the high born status, "பண்டைக் குலத்தைத் தவிர்ந்து" and join the assembly of humble servants of Sriman Narayana தொண்டக்குலம்.

Even though this Azhvar was and still is celebrated with the unique honor as being Sriman Narayana's மாமனார், his words of social reform never took hold among the Sri Vaishnava Brahmins. His lofty words were given very narrow interpretation by later day status-quo commentators.

More than 1200 years ago this Azhvar dreamed of a casteless and egalitarian congregation of Sri Vaishnavas. Where did this fervor go? எங்கே such Sri Vaishnavas?
 

kunjuppu

Well-known member
nara,

good stuff. i am looking forward to your prolonged serial about srivaishnavam.

to me, personally, srivaishnavam means a lot. it reinforced my hindu faith.

incidentally, i think, religions have as a good a chance to fade through disinterest and apathy. the western christianity is a good example i think, of this happening.

perhaps, in sri vaishanvism, we will have a renewed interest in basics.

one of the best imprinted thoughts in my mind goes back to birth centenary in 1963, celebrated with pomp and festivities in madras. dr radhakrishnan opened an exhibition at the old ice house, renamed vivekananda house.

all around were banners, quotes from the swami including calling for annhilation of the caste. there was one young iyengar youth, i remember, mumbling over some query as to whether he believed in what he was expounding re casteism so vehemently condemned by vivekananda.

i was barely a teenager then, but some scenes, you never forget.

best wishes on this endeavour. :)
 

RVR

Well-known member
Prof Nara ji,

I never attempted to classify the Azhwars on the basis of caste or varna. All the twelve have done wonderful service to both Vaishavism as well as Tamil.

Since Andal is daughter of Periyazhwar, why you have not classified her as TB. Probably because she is married Rangamannar, you must have left her out of caste system.

I am really enjoying your postings on Sri Vaishavism.

All the best
 

Raghy

Well-known member
sri Naran,

Beautiful narrations. i can read your pain in your message.

I think, when Periyazhvar said,

"பண்டைக் குலத்தைத் தவிர்ந்து"

he meant to ask everyone not just brahmins to forget who they were before so as to join together as 'vaishnavas' under one description.

Vaishanavism was strating to take roots in the 7th and 8th century in Tamil Nadu. So, I think Periyazhvar meant all the varnas. The thought was certainly high in calibre. He certainly strived to group every one together. it is a pity his desire did not take off.
 
OP
OP
Nara

Nara

Well-known member
he meant to ask everyone not just brahmins to forget who they were before so as to join together as 'vaishnavas' under one description.

Yes Raghy, of course you are correct. But, here, I want to focus on Brahmins. All the best on your assignment.

Since Andal is daughter of Periyazhwar, why you have not classified her as TB.

Hello RV sir, Andal was found by Periazhvar, not born to him, that is why I did not include her among Brahmins.

Probably because she is married Rangamannar,
The name Rangamannar is normally associated with the Perumal of Srivillipuththur. But if you meant Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam, then alright. Periazhvar brought Andal all decked up to Sri Rangam and it is at Sri Rangam that Andal is supposed to have joined with Perumal.

I am really enjoying your postings on Sri Vaishavism.

Thank you for the encouragement.

Cheers!
 

RVR

Well-known member
The name Rangamannar is normally associated with the Perumal of Srivillipuththur. But if you meant Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam, then alright. Periazhvar brought Andal all decked up to Sri Rangam and it is at Sri Rangam that Andal is supposed to have joined with Perumal.

Prof Nara ji,

I have visited both Srirengam and Srivilliputhur. In Srivilliputhur, the Battachariar addresses Perumal as Rangamannar. I just followed the same principle since Andal and Rangamannar are together at Srivilliputhur.

All the best
 

talwan

Well-known member
At the current social structure one cannot find a true Vaisnavan or Brahmin or a Nampoodhiri(of Kerala),Chthurvedi,Trivedi,Pandit who were all well known for their Achara.
Alwan
 

pannvalan

Well-known member
Do you know that Sri Ramanuja himself was born in a vadama smartha family in Srirangam?

His descendants are still living in Srirangam, I am told. This has been written by T C A Ramnujam in one of shreshta, orthodoxy Vaishnavite newspapers "The Hindu".

This I write not to cast any aspersions on Sri Ramanuja or to belittle the path shown by him. I am always for unity amongst Smarthas and Sri Vaishnavas.

Historically, it has been documented that Sri Ramanuja initiated many families into Sri Vaishnavism, regardless of their caste or creed. Of course, there are many divisions in Vaishnava Brahmins, other than the well known two - Vadakalai and Thenkalai.

I am willing to correct myself, if something in contrast to what I have said, is presented with reasonable evidence.
 
OP
OP
Nara

Nara

Well-known member
Continued from post #1 on this thread....

Among the twelve Azhvars, three were born into Brahmin families. They are, (i) Vishnuchittan (Periyazhvar ), (ii) Vipranarayanan (Thondaradippodi azhvar) and (iii) Mathurakavi azhvar. In one way or another all three went against the Brahminical order and varna dharma of the day.​

In this post I shall present another amazing Azhvar of Brahmin birth who was in his own way a fiery revolutionary. He was born as Vipranarayana and wrote him poems under his nom de plume (pen name) Thondar adip podi.

He authored two poems, (1) திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி (10 verses), and (2) திருமாலை (43 verses). The lyrical beauty of திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி is not equaled yet by anyone. Of the ten, the last verse segues nicely into what I wish to highlight. Here it is:

கடி மலர் கமலங்கள் மலர்ந்தன இவையோ
கதிரவன் கனைகடல் முளைத்தவன் இவனோ
துடி இடையார் சுரிகுழல் பிழிந்த்துதறித்
துகில் உடுத்து ஏறினர் சூழ்புனல் அரங்கா
தொடையொத்த துளவமும் கூடையும் பொலிந்து
தோன்றியதோள் தொன்டரடிப்பொடி என்னும் அடியனை
அளியன் என்று அருளி உன் அடியார்க்கு
ஆட்படுத்தாய் பள்ளி எழுந்தருளாயே.

Is it not beautiful? For your reading ease I have separated the words.

What we need to note here is the last line. In this line, the Azhvar reminds Perumal the purpose for which he is being awakened, namely, to employ the Azhvar as a servant of his Bhakthas (உன் அடியார்க்கு ஆட்படுத்தாய்).

The brahmin Azhvar is not limiting his desire for servitude to just Brahmin bhakthas, but all bhakthas. How can I say this from the above pasuram? Well, the answer is in verse #41, #42 and #43 of Thirumalai. You need to look at all three to get a grasp of the Azhvar's progressive fire some 1200 to 1300 years ago.

#41
வானுளார் அறியலாகா வானவா என்பராகில்
தேனுலாம் துளப மாலைச் சென்னியா என்பர் ஆகில்
ஊனம் ஆயினகள் செய்யும் ஊன காரகர்களேனும்
போனகம் செய்த சேடம் தருவரேல் புனிதம் அன்றே.

In this verse Azhvar describes a bhaktha in the first two lines. Then, he says, even if such a bhaktha engages or gets other people to engage in demeaning occupation, yet their leftover food is consecrated isn't it? Apparently not in the Matams I have visited where strict segregation between B's and NB's is practiced and B's go first and then only NB's except if it is a rich NB.

Next, the Azhvar lifts the bar up several notches in #42.

பழுதிலா ஒழுகல் ஆறு பலசதுப் பேதிமார்கள்
இழிகுலத்தவர்கள் ஏலும் எம் அடியார்கள் ஆகில்
தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் என்று நின்னொடும் ஒக்க
வழிபட அருளினாய் போல் மதிள் திருவரங்கத்தானே.

This verse is addressed to high born Brahmins who can trace their lineage to Brahmma himself. Azhavr says to them, if you find a narayana bhaktha -- worship him (தொழுமின்), give your daughter in marriage (கொடுமின்), and take their daughters in marriage (கொள்மின்) -- even if that person is from the lowliest of low kulam. Praise him as equal to lord ranganatha.

Then, in verse #43 he lashes out against those who wish to cling on to their lofty brahminhood.

அமர ஓர் அங்கம் ஆறும், வேதம் ஓர் நான்கும் ஓதி
தமர்களில் தலைவராய சாதி அந்தணர்களேலும்
நுமர்களைப் பழிப்பராகில் நொடிப்பதோர் அளவில் ஆங்கே
அவர்கள் தாம் புலையர் போலும் அரங்கமா நகர் உளானே.

Wow, what anger against the proud brahmin. In this verse he takes the case of the most exalted of brahmins, one who is a leader among the vedic brahmins who are well read scholars of the six angas of Vedas and the four Vedas. Then Azhvar declares that even such an exalted person will become a despicable புலைய in an instant if he causes offense to a devotee.

Alas, such revolutionary fervor fizzled in just a few centuries when orthodox brahmins provided very narrow interpretation for தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் as just showing respect and giving and receiving just common wisdom.

With time one would expect egalitarian impulses to gain strength. But not among the Sri vaishnavas of our great tradition. So, I ask, எங்கே ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்?
 

RVR

Well-known member
Prof Nara ji,

I already wrote in this thread that I don't see Azhwars based on caste.

You only enlightened us with the quote from Nammazhwar `வைகுண்டம் புகுவது மண்ணவர் விதியே'

Nammazhwar is very clear when he said above that all people irrespective of caste or varna born on this earth are bound to attain the lotus feet of Srimad Narayana in Vaikundam just by fate alone.

Madhurakavi Azhwar (suppose to be a brahmin by birth) is a sishya of Nammazhwar (Not a brahmin by birth)

Azhwar Pasurams are wonderful feast for all of us. Please enlighten us with more such Pasurams.

I want to taste them to the fullest extent.

All the best
 

kunjuppu

Well-known member
good stuff nara.

i cringe at our ignorance when i hear my relatives talk about feasting for the brahmanas, all said with a banality which is so disgusting.

it is said that ronald reagan, gave the excuse, to mask racism under the term, 'small town values', which is nothing than code word for hidden racism.

we too have many such terms, and i feel sad that many a times i have to partake food in such occassions, when i would have done better to walk out.

i try to avoid such functions as much as possible, ultimately acknowledging cowardliness to face up to hypocracy.

it is a sad reflection on our ancestors, for casting away the best of the thoughts of our philosophy, and instead passing off as our heritage moribund, insular and discriminatory values, all masked under the guise of religion and tradition.

how long can this disparate values survive in an egalitarian world with absolute beliefs of equality not only among human beings, but before God.
 
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KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri kunjuppu Ji,

With all due respect, I think we are throwing around a weighty word like 'racism' so easily around. Since you have mentioned President Reagan, please read this:

Why Reagan Deserves Benefit of Doubt on Racism - November 14, 2007 - The New York Sun

Most of the leftist intellectuals have painted him with such a broad brush, it is funny.

While I am enjoying the content of Prof. Nara's postings here in terms of the beautiful Tamil verses, I can not but feel sorry for our forefathers who in general unwittingly fell prey to group thinking. An idealistic system of Varna with open movements between them, fell prey to a few from all the top three Varnas who abandoned the cause of living for the benefit of others.

I blame my forefathers as much as I blame my father for not being a Rockefeller or a Ford and thereby not leaving me a good estate to live on!

This blaming of our forefathers does not bring any value to us. While we need to learn from history and acknowledge mis deeds, this blanket 'hanging our heads in shame' seems to me to be unwarranted. This diminishes us, in my opinion as people.

I am proud of my ancestors and what they have bestowed upon us, which is more good than bad. The untouchability and the ranking of the castes is a huge burden that all of our forefathers, including from ALL castes, had to carry and pass on to the succeeding generations. Like any closed in system that goes awry, they were all caught up in it. I refuse to believe that they honestly thought that they were causing injury to others deliberately. To apply today's standards of culture and human understanding to yester years has limitations.

This burden has now been lifted and it can only get better. No need to hang our heads in shame.

Just my two cents.

Regards,
KRS



good stuff nara.

i cringe at our ignorance when i hear my relatives talk about feasting for the brahmanas, all said with a banality which is so disgusting.

it is said that ronald reagan, gave the excuse, to mask racism under the term, 'small town values', which is nothing than code word for hidden racism.

we too have many such terms, and i feel sad that many a times i have to partake food in such occassions, when i would have done better to walk out.

i try to avoid such functions as much as possible, ultimately acknowledging cowardliness to face up to hypocracy.

it is a sad reflection on our ancestors, for casting away the best of the thoughts of our philosophy, and instead passing off as our heritage moribund, insular and discriminatory values, all masked under the guise of religion and tradition.

how long can this disparate values survive in an egalitarian world with absolute beliefs of equality not only among human beings, but before God.
 
OP
OP
Nara

Nara

Well-known member
Mathurakavi

Continued from post #10 on this thread....

Among the twelve Azhvars, three were born into Brahmin families. They are, (i) Vishnuchittan (Periyazhvar ), (ii) Vipranarayanan (Thondaradippodi azhvar) and (iii) Mathurakavi azhvar. In one way or another all three went against the Brahminical order and varna dharma of the day.

In the first post (#1) in this series I presented how the gentle Periazhvar beseeched everyone to abandon their birth based superiority and unite under the banner of servitude to Sriman Narayana.

In the next post (#10) of the series we got a taste of the revolutionary fire of Thondarippodi Azhvar. He wanted complete amalgamation without regard to caste among the devotees of Sriman Narayana. He cursed any high brahmin who may dare to insult a devotee based on caste.

Well, talk is cheap, isn't? Anybody can scribble a few words of liberal thought, but it is hard to put to practice. Some would say, this is a personal matter and there must be no compulsion. Why should we alone change? Even if we change, the others are not going to. If we, striding confidently into the 21st century ask these questions in this very forum, why wouldn't the brahmins of the day, who knew no better, accept Azhvar's call for equality.

But there was one Azhvar for whom all these questions did not matter. Instead, he just lived the liberal principles. He cared little for the laws of Manu that forbade Shudras be Acharyas for anyone, let alone a Brhmana. He was Mathurakavi.

Maran Satakopan (Nammazhvar) was a 16 years old Shudra boy when Madhurakavi, a chaste Barhmin perhaps 60 years old, met him. So taken was Madhurakavi by the knowledge and wisdom of the boy, that he immediately became Nammazhvar's pupil. It seems he was the one who wrote down the 1296 verses of the four Nammazhvar prabhandhams, as he sang them out.

Madurakavi considered Nammazhvar to be not just his Acharya, but his god. All of the 10 verses he wrote were in praise of Nammazhvar only and yet he is revered as an Azhvar. Here is verse #1 of his prabhandham called கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பு, after the first phrase of the poem.

கண்ணினுண் சிறுத்தாம்பினால் கட்டுண்ணப்பண்ணிய
பெருமாயன் என்னப்பன் இல்
நண்ணித் தென்குருகூர் நம்பி என்னக்கால்
அண்ணிக்கும், அமுது ஊறும், என் நாவுக்கே

(அண்ணிக்கும் = தித்திக்கும்)

Madhurakavi says he does not care for Lord Krishna (பெருமாயன் என்னப்பன் இல்லை), for, just the utterance of the name தென்குருகூர் நம்பி (Nammazhvar) brings sweetness and a flood of ambrosia to his mouth.

In verse #3 Madhurakavi declares தேவு மற்று அறியேன், know no other god than Nammazhvar.

In verse #4 he says Nammazhvar was like his father, mother, and master, "அன்னையாய், அத்தனாய், என்னை ஆண்டிடும் தன்மையான்". Just think for a minute here. This is roughly 1300 years ago. Madhurakavi, a Brahmin, several decades senior, says the Shudra Nammazhvar is verily his master -- Manu Smrithi be damned.

In #8 he says, அருளினான் அவ்வரு மறையின் பொருள், and in #9 he says, வேத்தின் உட் பொருள் நிற்கப்பாடி என் நெஞ்சினுள் நிறுத்தினான். From these two verses we can deduce the shudra azhvar taught the esoteric secrets of vedas to the brahmin Madhurakavi.

We can argue whether or not the Varna system was, during the Vedic times, an ideal one open for free movement and independent of birth. But it clear that long before the arrival of Islamic invaders or the European colonizers, the Varnas had become strict and impermeable. Otherwise, Nammazhvar would have been accepted as a Brahmin by the orthodoxy. He never was.

The progressive fire lit by early Azhvars did burn brightly for sometime and reached its peak brightness during Bhagavat Ramanuja's time. Then a steady decline took place and during and after Swami Sri Desikan's time the Sri vaishnavas had become as castiest as the Smarthas. Why did this happen? எங்கே ஆழ்வார்கள் தந்த ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்?
 

RVR

Well-known member
Prof Nara ji,

Before 7th Centure AD, Jain influence was there with the erstwhile kings of Tamil Land.. Jainism accepts three varnas,-Kshatiya,Vysya & Sudra - but doesn't recognise Brahmin Varna.

During 7th to 9th Century (Azhwar/Nayanmar Period) caste/varna system was there but discrimination was not practiced strictly.

Periyazhwar, suppose to be a brahmin, adopted Aandal as her own daughter eventhough her caste is not known.

Madhurakavi Azhwar- suppose to be a brahmin, is a disciple of Nammazhwar - suppose to be a non- brahmin.

Sambandhar - a smartha brahmin, gave life to chettiar girl at Thirumayilai (Mylapore) from the ashes. When the parents of the girl requested him to marry her, he refused saying she is like daughter to her since he has given life to her. Caste was not the issue for refusing the marriage at that time.

Sundarar - a Saiva Brahmin (Probably Gurukkal) married Paravai Nachiar - a non-brahmin at Thiruvarur and Sangili Natchiar - again not a brahmin at Thiruvottiur with the full blessings of Lord Shiva

Both Azhwars and Nayanmars fought with Jains & Buddhists

Again in the eleventh century Bagavath Ramanujar didn't practice casticism.

Thirukachi Nambi was a Vysya by Caste. Sri Ramanuja was a Brahmin. Ramanuja’s wife Thanjamambal was a stringent follower of the Orhodoxial customs of those days.

Sri Ramanuja’s desire was to invite Thirukachi Nambi to his house, serve him food and eat the left outs of Nambi’s food (which is normally called as Sesham) as a Acharya Prasadam. But because of the Thanjamambal’s attitude, Sri Ramanuja’s desire was a daydream till his end.

All these things happened within the boundaries of the present Tamilnadu upto 11th Centurty AD

Probably caste system, which is being practiced today, has cropped up only after 11th century.

Among the three Gurus of Brahmin sect - Aadhi Sankara is from present day Kerala. Eventhough Malayalam as a language flourished only from 14th century AD, prior to that a mix of Sanskrit and Tamil was very much present in the present day Kerala for several hundred years. Adhi Sankara didn't visit interior Tamilnadu except places like Kanchi and Tiruvotriur. Probably his job was already completed by Azhwars and Nayanmars in fighting Buddhism and Jainism. He didn't contribute anything to Tamil Language. His main contribution was integrating all the six form of worship into Hinduism - but for him, we may be living as six different religions today.

Madhwa influence in Tamilnadu is very much limited since he was born in the westcoast near Udipi and mostly spent his time there only. Only later Guru Raghavendra (17th century AD) was born in Bhuvanagiri - Tamilnadu, was mutt head in Kumbakonam before attaining Jeeva Samadhi at Mantralaya.

Ramanuja is the only Acharya hailing from the present day Tamilnadu.. He advocated Nalayira Divya Prabhandham as Tamil Vedham. His writings are mostly in Sanskrit except few dhanians in Tamil. He was a major reformer of our religion. Apart from the present day brahmins, he had lot other communities practicing Sri Vaishavism such as Naidus, Chettiars, Mudaliars, Rajapalayam Rajas etc.

However the above three Acharyas are not identified as contributors to Tamil community as a whole since their contribution tp Tamil Language is not much except Bagavath Ramanujar. Hence all the three Acharyas are not recognised by major communities in Tamilnadu.

It is my presumption that Tamil Brahmins have started living as an isolated community within Tamilnadu in the subsequent period. Arunagirinathar - Tamil Brahmin of 14th century composed Thiruppugazh on Lord Muruga. Abhirami Battar - again Tamil Brahmin of 17th century composed Abirami Andhadhi on Goddess Parvathi in Tamil. However since Brahmins were practicing sanskrit for worship, they are isolated from other Tamil communities.

Is it because of Sanskrit , are we isolated?

Please note that I am not against Sanskrit but it is only my analysis and conclusion based on the available facts.

I request you as well other members to express more on this subject.

All the best
 

suraju06

Well-known member
Continued from post #1 on this thread....
Among the twelve Azhvars, three were born into Brahmin families. They are, (i) Vishnuchittan (Periyazhvar ), (ii) Vipranarayanan (Thondaradippodi azhvar) and (iii) Mathurakavi azhvar. In one way or another all three went against the Brahminical order and varna dharma of the day.
In this post I shall present another amazing Azhvar of Brahmin birth who was in his own way a fiery revolutionary. He was born as Vipranarayana and wrote him poems under his nom de plume (pen name) Thondar adip podi.

He authored two poems, (1) திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி (10 verses), and (2) திருமாலை (43 verses). The lyrical beauty of திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி is not equaled yet by anyone. Of the ten, the last verse segues nicely into what I wish to highlight. Here it is:

கடி மலர் கமலங்கள் மலர்ந்தன இவையோ
கதிரவன் கனைகடல் முளைத்தவன் இவனோ
துடி இடையார் சுரிகுழல் பிழிந்த்துதறித்
துகில் உடுத்து ஏறினர் சூழ்புனல் அரங்கா
தொடையொத்த துளவமும் கூடையும் பொலிந்து
தோன்றியதோள் தொன்டரடிப்பொடி என்னும் அடியனை
அளியன் என்று அருளி உன் அடியார்க்கு
ஆட்படுத்தாய் பள்ளி எழுந்தருளாயே.

Is it not beautiful? For your reading ease I have separated the words.

What we need to note here is the last line. In this line, the Azhvar reminds Perumal the purpose for which he is being awakened, namely, to employ the Azhvar as a servant of his Bhakthas (உன் அடியார்க்கு ஆட்படுத்தாய்).

The brahmin Azhvar is not limiting his desire for servitude to just Brahmin bhakthas, but all bhakthas. How can I say this from the above pasuram? Well, the answer is in verse #41, #42 and #43 of Thirumalai. You need to look at all three to get a grasp of the Azhvar's progressive fire some 1200 to 1300 years ago.

#41
வானுளார் அறியலாகா வானவா என்பராகில்
தேனுலாம் துளப மாலைச் சென்னியா என்பர் ஆகில்
ஊனம் ஆயினகள் செய்யும் ஊன காரகர்களேனும்
போனகம் செய்த சேடம் தருவரேல் புனிதம் அன்றே.

In this verse Azhvar describes a bhaktha in the first two lines. Then, he says, even if such a bhaktha engages or gets other people to engage in demeaning occupation, yet their leftover food is consecrated isn't it? Apparently not in the Matams I have visited where strict segregation between B's and NB's is practiced and B's go first and then only NB's except if it is a rich NB.

Next, the Azhvar lifts the bar up several notches in #42.

பழுதிலா ஒழுகல் ஆறு பலசதுப் பேதிமார்கள்
இழிகுலத்தவர்கள் ஏலும் எம் அடியார்கள் ஆகில்
தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் என்று நின்னொடும் ஒக்க
வழிபட அருளினாய் போல் மதிள் திருவரங்கத்தானே.

This verse is addressed to high born Brahmins who can trace their lineage to Brahmma himself. Azhavr says to them, if you find a narayana bhaktha -- worship him (தொழுமின்), give your daughter in marriage (கொடுமின்), and take their daughters in marriage (கொள்மின்) -- even if that person is from the lowliest of low kulam. Praise him as equal to lord ranganatha.

Then, in verse #43 he lashes out against those who wish to cling on to their lofty brahminhood.

அமர ஓர் அங்கம் ஆறும், வேதம் ஓர் நான்கும் ஓதி
தமர்களில் தலைவராய சாதி அந்தணர்களேலும்
நுமர்களைப் பழிப்பராகில் நொடிப்பதோர் அளவில் ஆங்கே
அவர்கள் தாம் புலையர் போலும் அரங்கமா நகர் உளானே.

Wow, what anger against the proud brahmin. In this verse he takes the case of the most exalted of brahmins, one who is a leader among the vedic brahmins who are well read scholars of the six angas of Vedas and the four Vedas. Then Azhvar declares that even such an exalted person will become a despicable புலைய in an instant if he causes offense to a devotee.

Alas, such revolutionary fervor fizzled in just a few centuries when orthodox brahmins provided very narrow interpretation for தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் as just showing respect and giving and receiving just common wisdom.

With time one would expect egalitarian impulses to gain strength. But not among the Sri vaishnavas of our great tradition. So, I ask, எங்கே ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்?
It has become a fashion to indulge in brahmin bashing overtly and covertly. Now another method employed is perhaps to take away vaishnavites from the main brahmin population and do the bashing. Coming to the point, it is one thing to say that dont deny to the other castes the pleasure and benefits of worship of God just because the person is born in a socalled lower caste and it is altogether another thing to say that all brahmins should go in all fours and lick the boots of all the socalled lower caste people because they worship the same god as brahmins. There is something called உயர்வு நவிற்சி in tamil. Alwar is stressing altogether different issue here. He is speaking about the greatness of பாகவதோத்தமர்கள் and the need to understand them properly and do service to them. He is not addressing any social issue here. The two are at two different levels. It is customary for Azhwars and Acharyas to sing the greatness of service to God and the greatness of such souls who do service to god. "பாதியாய் கை கால்கள் அழுகியரேனும் பழிதொழிலும் இழிதொழிலும்
செய்வரேனும் ஆதியாய் அரங்கனே என்பாராகில் அவர்தானே யாம் வணங்கும் அடியராவார்" என்பதும் ஒரு பிள்ளைப்பெருமால் ஐயங்காரின் ஒரு பாடல் தான். அதற்காக அவர் தொழு நோயாளிகளைத்தேடிச்சென்று அவர்களை தொழுங்கள் என்று கூறினார் என்றா அர்த்தம் கொள்வது? There is a limit to generalization. We can interpret any way we want because the works are in enigmatic poetry form. To understand prose and poetry you require different mind states. I want to say only this much about the anti (socalled) brahminism crusaders. Thanks.
 

tvvaradan

Member
angamellaam

In this context I would like to quote a portion from Manikka vasagar

அங்கமெல்லாம் குறைந்து அழுகு தொழுநோயராய் ஆ வுரித்துத் தின்று உழலும் புலையரேனும்
கங்கை வார் சடை கரந்தார்க்கு அன்பர் ஆகில் அவர் கண்டீர் யாம் வணங்கும் கடவுளாரே. .

The stress is for devotion to God and His devotees. He advocates Lord siva.
ondre kulam oruvane devan by thirumoolar. He advocated God in general.So Aasthigam is the most indispensable message in all these sayings of great sages,

A small correction if I am not mistaken. Thirumaalai contains 45 verses and not 43.
 
OP
OP
Nara

Nara

Well-known member
It has become a fashion to indulge in brahmin bashing overtly and covertly.


For some real brahmin bashing visit this link, but I would not recommend it: Click for brahmin bashing


If you followed my recommendation and did not visit the link, here is just a taste. The exchange here is about who was responsible for a long list of abhorrent crimes.

புலேந்திரன்: அனைத்திற்கும் விடை, பார்ப்பனர்கள்

சேகு: ஒட்டுமொத்தமாக பார்ப்பனர்கள் என எழுதியது தவறு. [..] அது அனைவரின் மனதையும் புண்படுத்தும். எனவே பார்ப்பனர்கள் எனக்குறிப்பிடாமல் 99.99% பார்ப்பனர்கள் என சதவீதத்தை குறிப்பிட்டு எழுதவும்.

[..]
Alwar is stressing altogether different issue here. He is speaking about the greatness of பாகவதோத்தமர்கள் and the need to understand them properly and do service to them.

I agree. Azhvars did limit the target of reverence to just devotees of Sriman Narayana. I disagree with this limitation, but this is not about me. It is about Azhvars and the extent to which the self described devotees of Azhvars actually live up to the Azhvar's own limited ideal.

Let us examine to what extent this very limited sort of respect Azhvars proposed, not to all and sundry who happen to be just good and honorable, but only to those who are பாகவதோத்தமர்கள் is actually given.

Thondaridipppodi Azhvar said, நின்னொடும் ஒக்க - தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின். I am told by suraju06 that I must not take this literally. Alright. Then please tell me to what extent I can go. Please give me your interpretation.

In the meantime, let me give you a taste of Swami Periyavachchan Pillai's interpretation of தொழுமின் நீர்.

உங்களுடைய வித்யாவ்ருத்தங்களும், ஜன்ம உத்கர்ஷங்களும் மத ஹேதுவாகையன்றியே தம ஹேதுவென்றிருக்கும் நீங்கள் அவர்கள் காலிலே விழுங்கோள்.... நீங்கள் அவர்களை ஆராதியுங்கோள்...ஸ்வரூப ப்ராப்தமான நீச பாவமானது அவர்களுக்கு ஸ்வரூப ஸித்தம். உங்களுக்கு துர்மாநத்தாலே துஷ்கரம். அவர்களை தொழவே உங்கள் ஸம்ஸார பீஜமான துர்மானம் போம்.

மதம் = அடக்கமின்மை
தமம் = அடக்கம்
ஹேது = காரணம்
துர்மானம் = அஹங்கரம்
துஷ்கரம் = அரிது

Just reading this passage gives me goosebumps. This is the interpretation given by a chaste and highly respected brahmin who lived within 100 years of Ramanuja. Study this beautiful passage and tell me whether I was wrong in my presentation.

For those of low varnam (yes HH these varnas were considered low!) நைச்சாநுஸந்தானம் (freedom from ego) comes naturally by birth. But for those with high birth, like the பழுதிலா ஒழுகல் ஆறு பலசதுப் பேதிமார்கள், who are by birth proud, only by falling at the feet of these great souls of low varna birth can they hope to free themselves from the ego (துர்மானம்) that comes from your birth (ஸம்ஸார பீஜம்).

Swami Perivachchan Pillai gives two interpretations for the Azhvar's கொடுமின் கொள்மின். One is to give and take knowledge of bhagawan (பகவத் ஜ்ஞாநம்). The second is to give and take ஸ்ரீபாத தீர்த்தம். Yes, even a great Vedic pundit is supposed to accept ஸ்ரீபாத தீர்த்தம் from NB Bhagavatha with reverence. This is not my interpretation of Azhvar, it is the interpretation of வ்யாக்யானச் சக்ரவர்த்தி ஸ்வாமி பெரியவாச்சான் பிள்ளை.

Unfortunately, he stops short of giving and taking girls in marriage to and from NB Bhagavatha families.

To understand prose and poetry you require different mind states. I want to say only this much about the anti (socalled) brahminism crusaders. Thanks.

Unfortunately, Azhvar's poetry, as understood by the brahmins of early Sri Vaishnavam has been obfuscated. Leave Azhvar aside, let us take the interpretation provided by the great Swami Periyavachchan Pillai, a great Brahmin and celebrated as வ்யாக்யான சக்ரவர்த்தி. Was he an "anti-brahminism crusader"?

Unfortunately, neither Vadakalai, nor Thenkalai Sri Vaishnavas come anywhere close to the social order Azhvars and great and revered commentators defined, not for everyone mind you, but only among Bhagavathas. Not a single NB Azhvar scholar will be allowed to join Prabhanda goshti anywhere. Not a single NB Azhvar scholar can get Perumal Theertham ahead of members of Brahmin goshti, let alone any Brahmin, not even the namesake only brahmins, taking the ஸ்ரீபாத தீர்த்தம் of NB Azhvar scholar.

Alright, let me stop here, for the moment....
 
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OP
OP
Nara

Nara

Well-known member
Thiru Kacchi Nambi

I would like to write about Swami Thirukkachchi Nambi (STN) next.

STN was born a Vaishya they say, but I think he was treated as a Shudra because there was no Kshatriya or Vaishya among the Tamils, there were only Brahmins and Shudras. He was a sishya of Swami Alavandhar, the Sri vaishnava Acharya at that time.

STN was probably a family friend of Ramanuja's father. Ramanuja adored STN. He wanted to be his sishya. But being an orthodox vadama brahmin, he was sent to one Yadavapraksha (Y) for his studies. In due course of time Y seems to have developed contempt for Ramanuja. In one particular incidence involving applying oil to Y, Ramanuja was supposed to have shed tears because Y compared the lord's eyes to the posterior parts of a monkey instead of lotus in "tasya yatha kapyasam pundarikam evam akshini". kapyasam is the word that Y misinterpreted. Y got angry and threw Ramanuja out. There were other instances of conflict which led to Y plotting to kill Ramanuja during a trip to Kasi. Long story short, ultimately, after Ramanuja had become a great Sri vaishnava achayra, Y became Ramanuja's sishya.

During the time Ramanuja was exiled from gurukulam by Y, he wanted STN to be his Acharya. But STN refused citing Manu (a)dharma shashthra's injunction against NB's being Acharyas for B's. However, STN continued to be Ramanuja's well wisher and steered him towards Sri Vaishnavam. But for STN Sri Vaishnavas would not have had Ramanuja in their fold.

Another important aspect of STN was his supposed ability to converse with Lord Varadhan. It is said that Ramanuja sent six questions through STN and got them answered from lord Varadhan himself. These six answers are as follows.

  1. Iswara is Sriman Narayana
  2. Duality between Iswara and Jiva is the vedic truth
  3. Acharya sambandham with an authentic Vaishnava acharya is necessary
  4. MokshoupAyam is saranagathi
  5. No need to worry about anthima smrithi, the lord will take care of it
  6. For prapannas (those who have performed saranagathi) moksham is guaranteed at the end of the current life

It was STN who finally won over Ramanuja to Sri vaishnavam and rest is history. In other words, but for an NB, there might very well not be any Iyengars, Vadakalai or Thenkalai, today. Yet, no NB Sri vaishnava is allowed to be part of any prabhandha goshti anywhere. Why is this so?

எங்கே இராமானுசனும், திருக்கச்சியாரும் கண்ட ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்?
 

suraju06

Well-known member
Continued from post #1 on this thread....
Among the twelve Azhvars, three were born into Brahmin families. They are, (i) Vishnuchittan (Periyazhvar ), (ii) Vipranarayanan (Thondaradippodi azhvar) and (iii) Mathurakavi azhvar. In one way or another all three went against the Brahminical order and varna dharma of the day.
In this post I shall present another amazing Azhvar of Brahmin birth who was in his own way a fiery revolutionary. He was born as Vipranarayana and wrote him poems under his nom de plume (pen name) Thondar adip podi.

He authored two poems, (1) திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி (10 verses), and (2) திருமாலை (43 verses). The lyrical beauty of திருப்பள்ளியெழுச்சி is not equaled yet by anyone. Of the ten, the last verse segues nicely into what I wish to highlight. Here it is:

கடி மலர் கமலங்கள் மலர்ந்தன இவையோ
கதிரவன் கனைகடல் முளைத்தவன் இவனோ
துடி இடையார் சுரிகுழல் பிழிந்த்துதறித்
துகில் உடுத்து ஏறினர் சூழ்புனல் அரங்கா
தொடையொத்த துளவமும் கூடையும் பொலிந்து
தோன்றியதோள் தொன்டரடிப்பொடி என்னும் அடியனை
அளியன் என்று அருளி உன் அடியார்க்கு
ஆட்படுத்தாய் பள்ளி எழுந்தருளாயே.

Is it not beautiful? For your reading ease I have separated the words.

What we need to note here is the last line. In this line, the Azhvar reminds Perumal the purpose for which he is being awakened, namely, to employ the Azhvar as a servant of his Bhakthas (உன் அடியார்க்கு ஆட்படுத்தாய்).

The brahmin Azhvar is not limiting his desire for servitude to just Brahmin bhakthas, but all bhakthas. How can I say this from the above pasuram? Well, the answer is in verse #41, #42 and #43 of Thirumalai. You need to look at all three to get a grasp of the Azhvar's progressive fire some 1200 to 1300 years ago.

#41
வானுளார் அறியலாகா வானவா என்பராகில்
தேனுலாம் துளப மாலைச் சென்னியா என்பர் ஆகில்
ஊனம் ஆயினகள் செய்யும் ஊன காரகர்களேனும்
போனகம் செய்த சேடம் தருவரேல் புனிதம் அன்றே.

In this verse Azhvar describes a bhaktha in the first two lines. Then, he says, even if such a bhaktha engages or gets other people to engage in demeaning occupation, yet their leftover food is consecrated isn't it? Apparently not in the Matams I have visited where strict segregation between B's and NB's is practiced and B's go first and then only NB's except if it is a rich NB.

Next, the Azhvar lifts the bar up several notches in #42.

பழுதிலா ஒழுகல் ஆறு பலசதுப் பேதிமார்கள்
இழிகுலத்தவர்கள் ஏலும் எம் அடியார்கள் ஆகில்
தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் என்று நின்னொடும் ஒக்க
வழிபட அருளினாய் போல் மதிள் திருவரங்கத்தானே.

This verse is addressed to high born Brahmins who can trace their lineage to Brahmma himself. Azhavr says to them, if you find a narayana bhaktha -- worship him (தொழுமின்), give your daughter in marriage (கொடுமின்), and take their daughters in marriage (கொள்மின்) -- even if that person is from the lowliest of low kulam. Praise him as equal to lord ranganatha.

Then, in verse #43 he lashes out against those who wish to cling on to their lofty brahminhood.

அமர ஓர் அங்கம் ஆறும், வேதம் ஓர் நான்கும் ஓதி
தமர்களில் தலைவராய சாதி அந்தணர்களேலும்
நுமர்களைப் பழிப்பராகில் நொடிப்பதோர் அளவில் ஆங்கே
அவர்கள் தாம் புலையர் போலும் அரங்கமா நகர் உளானே.

Wow, what anger against the proud brahmin. In this verse he takes the case of the most exalted of brahmins, one who is a leader among the vedic brahmins who are well read scholars of the six angas of Vedas and the four Vedas. Then Azhvar declares that even such an exalted person will become a despicable புலைய in an instant if he causes offense to a devotee.

Alas, such revolutionary fervor fizzled in just a few centuries when orthodox brahmins provided very narrow interpretation for தொழுமினீர் கொடுமின் கொள்மின் as just showing respect and giving and receiving just common wisdom.

With time one would expect egalitarian impulses to gain strength. But not among the Sri vaishnavas of our great tradition. So, I ask, எங்கே ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்?

Dear Mr. Narayan, (I did not want my salutation to be hanging in the air like some mumbo jumbo. So I have added three letters to your name to complete it. Excuse me)
What are you proposing? For a meaningful dialogue I think it is necessary to get this information. From what you have presented so far I have distilled and have formulated your proposal as given below. You can correct me if my understanding of your view point is wrong.
1. Present day srivaishnavas are very casteist in their outlook unlike the alwaars and acharyas like Ramanuja. They don’t even allow Non Brahmin srivaishnavas to join their ghoshti in the temple to chant prabhanthams.But for a NB srivaishnava-Tirukkachchi Nambi-srivaishnavam would not have got its acharya Ramanujar. So enge srivaishnavam?
2. Thondaradippodi alwar aka vipranarayanar has in his Thirumalai strongly presented the idea that (A)a Brahmin srivaishnava if he comes across a NB srivaishnava Bhagavathoththama he should eat the left-over food of such a bhagavathoththama so that he will attain salvation.(Pasuram No.41) (B)Even a Brahmin srivaishnava who has mastered the Vedas and vedangas when he comes across a NB bhagavathoththama he should salute him,he should also have marital relations with him by giving in marriage his daughters/sons to him.(pasuram 42)(C) If a Brahmin srivaishnava shows disrespect to a NB Srivaishnava bhagavathoththama that very moment he falls into the lowest caste.(pasuram 43).

As for the point 1 above, the Brahmin srivaishnavas are only as much casteist as the other srivaishnavas or non-srivaishnavas. Being a creature of their environment they follow certain practices. But learned srivaishnavas do not have a casteist outlook. They live their life according to the dharma shastras. They do not attach any higher or lower tag to the castes. They fully agree with the Alwaar that a Brahmin who does not have the real bhakti for Him is not a Brahmin really and a so called “low caste Srivaishnava” who is a real bhakta is better than the former. They are also aware that having totally surrendered to the God they have only to please Him and no one else. They also know that He will be pleased if we do service to these bhagavathas whom He loves. That settled, we come to the next issue. The ghoshtis which you mentioned are all domains which are fiercely guarded by the members of these ghoshtis. These are groups of devotees who do the service of chanting divya prabhanthams to the Lord. They have their own rules which govern admittance. Do you know that Thenkalai srivaishnavas do not admit vadakalai srivaishnavas into their ghoshtis in some well known temples and vice versa though devotees belonging to both these kalais are Brahmins?. Come to Chennai and you can see this in Triplicane Sri Parthasarathi temple and the Vedanta Desikan Temple in Mylapore. They consider these ghoshtis as their exclusive preserves. But the vadakalai and thenkalai devotees take this in their strides when denied admittance. For them God is more important than these petty quarrels. I am mentioning this because I want to stress the point that ghoshtis are not srivaishnavam and that it is much larger than these ghoshtis.Tirukkachchi Nambi is a revered acharya for all the srivaishnavas. They do not look at him as a low caste NB.So you need not wonder where is srivaishnavam. Srivaishnavism is well heeled and has ardent followers in spite of the weaknesses of the individuals and ballistic target practice of the Brahmin/srivaishnava bashers.
 

suraju06

Well-known member
This is in continuation of my earlier posting:

Now taking point no.2 above. Alwaar is not discussing here any issue of social justice. I have mentioned this already. He is talking about the surrender or prapatti or Saranagati. He stresses the point that once you surrender yourself to God, you should do only those things which will please Him. There is nothing else which pleases him more than doing service to his adiyars. Being preoccupied with casteism you have interpreted or have chosen to understand only the caste part of Alwars pasuram. Yes. Alwaar has said all that you have quoted. Periya vaachanpillai has correctly interpreted it. The “ Thozhumin, kolmin, kodumin” part of the pasuram has also been correctly interpreted by him when he said “salute them, take knowledge from them if they offer and give knowledge to them if they asked for” as the meaning of these words of Alwar. He has also put this in its proper context by this following passage which you have conveniently left out in your pre occupation with casteism.Periyavachchaan pillai said”…..jaathi nibhanthanamaana sambantham pole yaathal, guna nibhanthanamaana sambantham poleyaathal, neer mel ezhuththaana sambanthamanrire ivarkalodu pannum sambantham, ithu yaavadhaathmabhaaviyaana sambanthamire” The meaning of this is –“caste based marital relations, character based marital relations etc are co terminus with this life(janmam). So they are like the letters written on flowing water. They are not permanent. The relationship which is struck by exchanging true knowledge (here it is knowledge pertaining to the true nature of self, God and the relation between the two) will continue in the paramapatham also after leaving this world”. So, dear Mr. Narayan your veiled accusation that even periyavachan pillai has misinterpreted Alwar’s pasuram or that he has glossed over caste differences is not correct. This is the reason why I mentioned in my earlier posting that poetry requires a different state of mind to understand and appreciate. Any independent observer who judges this pasuram will only happily agree with Periyavachan pillai’s apt interpretation. Today’s learned srivaishnavites do not have any dispute with Alwar. They understand his words fully and agree with him about the greatness of bhagavathoththamas. I would humbly suggest that you join a good kalakshepa ghoshti to understand srivaishnavam from a proper perspective. Thank you.
 

suraju06

Well-known member
Apart from answering your interpretations of Alwaars and Acharyas, I want to address your misplaced fervour about caste eradication from an altogether different angle. First I will explain a scene i witnessed in Adyar, Chennai one day recently when i went to buy something:
An elderly srivaishnava brahmin in his pancha kachcham and uththareeyam was buying flower from a flower vendor on the side of the road. After getting the flower in his hand he gave the vendor a currency note. The vendor gave him the balance in coins when an interesting thing happened. As the vendor was about to touch the hands of the srivaishnava brahmin, he took his hands to a still lower level to avoid the vendor touching him.(I can see the face of many people reading this turning red and screaming untouchability) The vendor who was pehaps sensitised in this matter by his politician friends also shouted at the brahmin and said some thing in tamil which when translated means "you arrogant orthodox brahmin! you do not want me to touch you because i am from the lower caste" He actually used the term paarppanan which has derisive connotations. The old man did not get angry. He coolly replied," it has nothing to do with untouchability.I do not allow my wife and children at home also not to touch me until i complete my daily aaradhanam(pooja)" and quickly walked away from there.
Now my dear Mr. Narayan, How do you interpret this episode? Do you understand the need to look at things from the right perspective?
 

sapthajihva

Active member
Hello Shri Raju, I read your replies with interest... but I must say that if you are trying to discuss/debate with Nara, it is akin to pounding against a stone wall....

'kaamala kannuku ellam manjala thaan theiryum'

If you observe his posts, majority of them are cynical of the caste system - his earlier ostentious vituperations are now mollified in its representations here... probably due to insider prodding...

They have now taken a new form - of compare and contrast - like what we see in this thread now...

The intent has not changed, only the form has...

I am just watching to see how far it can stretch...

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The capacity to judge posts on culture and traditions is not eloquence in the literal alone. One should be able to understand the locus standi of those who follow a particular system; without which they themselves are biased.

Brahmin bashing, it appears, is still the favourite pastime of those who pull the wool over somebody's eye...

Regards,
 

suraju06

Well-known member
Hello Shri Raju, I read your replies with interest... but I must say that if you are trying to discuss/debate with Nara, it is akin to pounding against a stone wall....

'kaamala kannuku ellam manjala thaan theiryum'

If you observe his posts, majority of them are cynical of the caste system - his earlier ostentious vituperations are now mollified in its representations here... probably due to insider prodding...

They have now taken a new form - of compare and contrast - like what we see in this thread now...

The intent has not changed, only the form has...

I am just watching to see how far it can stretch...

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The capacity to judge posts on culture and traditions is not eloquence in the literal alone. One should be able to understand the locus standi of those who follow a particular system; without which they themselves are biased.

Brahmin bashing, it appears, is still the favourite pastime of those who pull the wool over somebody's eye...

Regards,
Dear Mr. Sapthajihva,
Thank you for your advice. But I do not intend to give up that early. I am still interested in haaving a dialogue with Mr. Nara on this topic if not to prove any point, at least to let others reading these postings to know that there are indeed counter points. Caste is a very controversial subject and people usuallu take extreme positions. Rarely do you find someone who puts the things in the right perspective. I am not bothered about the brahmin bashing that goes on since time immemorial. I am certainly worried about people trying to prove that Azhwars and Acharyas have gone wrong. That is what has encouraged me to take this up. Let me see where this goes.
 
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