Monthly Archives: September 2015

Jeeyar

The sannyasis in the Vaishnava sampradaya are called ‘Jeeyar’. Though I was familiar with this title, I never knew what it actually means. But this morning Dr. Anandapadbanabacharya (Podigi, Ramanuja Vaibhavam, 15-9-15, 6.45 to 7.00 am) gave the meaning of this term.

It is a corrupt version of the Tamil word ‘seeyam’ which means lion. Sri Anandapadbanabacharya said that since no one should go empty-handed to see a god or guru, the lions in the forest of Ahobilam (a famous Vaishnavite pilgrim centre where Narasimha is the famous deity) kill the
elephants and take the tusk to submit them to the Lord when they go to worship.

Similarly Sri Ramanuja, like that lion, is known as the Lion who roars against his opponents who promote false doctrine to delude people (like Advaita). Like the elephants he smashes the teeth of his opponents in the debate to establish the true doctrine of Vishishtadvaita and presents them to the Lord. He pointed out that we should not take it literarily as if Sri Ramanuja actually broke the teeth of his opponents. Like him, all of his followers in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya are known as the ‘seeyam’ as they remain a terror to their opponents like the lion. All the Sannyasis are then called as ‘jeeyar’ which is the corrupt form of ‘seeyam’. Continue reading

When the Muktiveda is silent…

On 5th September 2015 in our weekly discussions, one bhakta asked, “What are the hidden social norms and values which could help a Hindu bhakta find a solution to everyday issues where the Muktiveda is silent?”

I said that a Hindu need not approach life’s issue based on the philosophical or theological reflections to scripture.  The ‘faith’ of a bhakta of the Lord demands (or expects) that decisions in life should be endorsed by Muktivedic principles, or at least they should not oppose them. While a Christian has regular fellowship with her church where she can get help and guidance, in our mandali most of the bhaktas are scattered without any regular physical fellowship. Therefore, practical life issues can become challenging. Continue reading

Reconversion and Rice Christians

The reality of mass-movement conversions and the challenges it now faces in the form of re-conversion are used by opposite political parties to stall Parliament and corner the ruling party and the Sangh Parivar to challenge for a debate on conversion, pushing for a bill on it. However the church might respond to this challenge, it cannot hide certain hard historical facts on this subject.

The historical reality is that most of the mass-conversions took place not maintaining the spiritual need of the people alone. I am not trying to blame or find fault with ‘rice Christians’, even if they become a convert only for the sake of material gain. But many Christian missions handle this issue the same way today.

Defending any conversion in which both ‘material’ and ‘spiritual’ interests are addressed, Gunnel Cederlof questions any ‘ideological (or theological) position in which the human being is divided into body and soul’. Writing from her field research she says:

…Mass-movement converts have sometimes been accused of being ‘rice Christians’, which meant that they had converted (p. 183) for material and not spiritual reasons. They were, so to speak, not true Christians. This is a normative position, sometimes slightly moralizing. The question ‘Did they come for material or spiritual reasons?’ presupposes an ideological (or theological) position in which the human being is divided into body and soul. The underlying assumption may go even further and indicate that the mission’s responsibility covered the saving of souls, while caring for the body should be a matter for local society or the state; anything else would constitute the buying of souls. On the other hand, if the question is turned into a research question, it disregards the possibility that people may have come for both material and spiritual reasons and that they may not have divided life into two sections, one physical and the other spiritual, at all. However, let us leave he moral aspect of this question aside and concentrate purely on the research question.—Bonds Lost, Subordination, Conflict and Mobilisation in Rural South India c. 1900-1970, New Delhi, Manohar, 1997, pp.183-84 Continue reading

Using ‘Mother’ for God and Nature

In Song 9 I call nature as ‘Mother’. For us in India, the ‘mother’ figure is an all-inclusive term — reverence, respect, love, care, concern, compassion, discipline, sacrifice etc. The order of importance is known commonly as: matha, pitha, guru and daivam (mother, father, guru and God).

Being a bhakta of the Lord, how does this perception about a mother figure need to be approached? I call God ‘mother’ in other songs, so how can I use ‘mother’ for nature too? As I said earlier, some of my thoughts are not endorsed by the Muktiveda. At the same time they are not completely un-muktivedic (unbiblical), as I try to explain that it comments about them. Continue reading

Tamil Song 130

130. விந்தையான வாடிக்கை

 

வேடிக்கையானது வாழ்வும் கூட

விந்தையானது மனதும் கூட

வாடிக்கையானது செயலும் கூட

வழியில்லை இவறை விட்டுமே ஓட!

 

ஒன்றுமே செய்யாது அமர்ந்திடுவேனோ?

ஓடி ஆடி நான் செயல் புரிவேனோ?

இரண்டுமே எவர்க்கும் இயலாத ஒன்று

என்னதான் முடிவு இதற்கும் இன்று?

 

“சும்மா” இருப்பது எதுவென எண்ணினேன்

செயல்பல செய்து களைத்துமே போனேன்

“சும்மா” இருப்பது ஒரு செயலென அறிந்து

“சும்மா” இருக்க முடியாதென உணர்ந்தேன்

 

நொடிகளும் ஓடி நிமிடங்கள் ஆகி

நாட்களும் ஓடி வருடங்கள் ஆகி

ஆண்டுகள் ஓடி வாழ்க்கையும் முடியும்

ஆயினும் வாழ்வு தொடர்ந்து இருக்கும்

 

இதில் வேடிக்கையானது ஒன்றுமே இல்லை

விந்தை ஒன்றும் மனதிலும் இல்லை

வாடிக்கையான வாழ்வையும் கூட

விட்டு ஓடிட வழி எங்கும் இல்லை

 

எனவே-வேடிக்கையாக வாழ்து முடிப்போம்

அந்த-விந்தையை மனதில் வைப்போம்

வாடிக்கையான செயல்களைக் கூட

விட்டுவிடாமல் செய்து முடிப்போம்.

 

9-9-2015, மதியம் 2.50, மத்திகிரி.

English Translation

130. Strange/Funny routine

 

Fun is life indeed

Strange is the mind too

Routine is the work also

There is no way to run away from these!

 

Can I remain inactive not doing anything?

Or will be too busy by doing many things?

Both are not possible to anyone

Then what is the solution to this?

 

I thought ‘what does it mean to remain inactive’ (a-karmana)

(As) I have become tired by doing many things

Realizing that remaining ‘inactive’ (akarmana) itself is an act/work

Understanding that it is impossible for me to remain ‘inactive’.

 

Seconds are gone and become minutes

Days are gone and become a year

Years are gone and life comes to an end

Yet life will go continuously….

 

There is nothing strange in this

No wonder is in the mind

There is no way to escape

From this routine life

 

Therefore—let us complete this life by living playfully

And keep that wonder in our mind

Let us also accomplish

All the routine without missing anything.

 

9-9-2015, 2.50, pm. Mathigiri.

 

Comments

After doing my regular reading, when I thought about a day in my life, almost each day goes as it programmed by some computer. Same food (only a change is the vegetable, but that too will come next week), same work, same rest, etc. After thinking about how routine my life is, I wrote this poem.

Feminism

I have to confess that I have never understood what ‘feminism’ means. ‘Women’s rights’ and ‘Women’s freedom’ become a common slogan and a rallying point in the beginning of the 20th century in India, but I never knew how it related to feminism. I finally found a helpful definition from David Smith:

…There are two basic positions in modern feminism. First, women are the same as men—any current differences are temporary and are socially constructed. Biology lies; and anyway, the future will free us from biology. Alternatively, woman is fundamentally different from man and represents a different and higher order of being; women are conned by patriarchy. All men are rapists by their very nature. Patriarchy oppresses women. Not only are pornography and prostitution oppression of women; religion, marriage, mother-hood, and heterosexuality are oppression, the imposition of male power on women. — David Smith, Hinduism and Modernity, Blackwell, Indian edition, 2003. p. 17

That a woman is either exactly the same as a man, or that she is “fundamentally different from man and represents a different and higher order of being” are two extreme views. I don’t want to take so many pages to analyse these issues here since I am not competent enough to venture into such unknown territory where even angels should fear to dread. Continue reading

Dogmatic Approach

To understand any concept we have to approach it from a particular point of view. But those who become dogmatic insist that our ‘particular’ point of view is all that concept represents. However, even to present that kind of an idealistic, one-sided view it needs a background to highlight it.

Let me give an illustration. If I want to paint a beautiful orange sunset, if I simply spray orange colour on a paper and give the title ‘sunset’, it will seem like a joke. For me, it may be the sunset, but for others it is nothing but orange paint on paper. So to highlight my concept I need to paint a background (clouds, a setting sun, various shades of orange, etc.), which won’t dominate my theme but are essential to present my concept. Similarly every dogmatic concept needs the support and presence of other concepts to make it sensible. Continue reading