Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Origin of Sri vaishnavism

There is an opinion that Srivaishnavism came into vogue

only after Bhagavad Ramanuja's avatar.

This musing is about whether this claim is true or

Sri Vaishnavism existed even before Ramanuja.

If we look into Ramanuja's life history,

we will find that srivaishnavism is not what he had coined as such.

It was Thirukkottoyur Nambi, who on being greatly moved by Ramanuja

declaring the Thirumanthram for the sake of all,

embraced him and said that this dharshanam which until then

was known as " parama vaidiha siddhantham"

would from thenceforth be known as "Emperumaanaar dharshanam."

This Emperumaanaar dharshnam later came to be known as

Sri vaishnava siddhantham,

though this Siddhantham had existed from 'anaadhi kaalam'

as Vaishnava siddhantham.

The 'Sri' perhaps came to be added to this Siddhantham later,

after Ramanuja vijayam.

The information on Brahma being the first Sri vaishnavite or Vaishnavite

is told by Brahma himslef to Narada (Brahma puranam)

I add ‘sri’, because this narration by Brahma includes the Sri choornam too

on his forehead.

Brahma also says that it was Lord Hayagreeva

who narrated him the relevance of Ashtaakshara

after he received the upadesa from Sri Vishnu.

This is followed by Brahma receiving the upadesa directly from Sri Vishnu

on how to begin creation.

My opinion in my small understanding –

It is not correct to think that Bhagavad Ramanuja 'invented'

the concept of Sri

and included it in his dharshanam.

He could not and would not have done

unless it had existed in traditional texts.

The above narration by Brahma had been in vogue

even before Emperumaanaar dharshanam.

Some instances to show that vaishanvism existed

before Ramanuja's period.

(1) In the very early times, that is, soon after creation,

it has been told in scriptures, that Vishnu,

after doing Jatha karma and naama karma

to His first ever uthpaththi(creation) Brahma,

proceeded to mark the Shanku-chakra in his shoulders

and then applied oordhwa pundaram

that culminated in pancha samskaram.

Brahma is perhaps the FIRST Srivaishnavan of the universe.

This episode also clarifies that

Srivaishnavism comes as a birth right

and this concept is as old as creation itself.

(2) When Thirumangai Alwar wanted to marry Kumuda valli,

she said that she could not marry unless the person had

undergone pancha samskaram and

the Alwar rushed to Thirunaraiyoor (naachiyar koil) and

had the samashrayan done by God Himself.

This is prior to Ramanuja's period.

(3) One will find in Thirunagai (nagapattinam ) sannidhi,

the 18 vaarthaigal advised by

Thirukkottiyoor nambigal to Ramanuja

written on the wall.

Vaishnavattwam is said to come

at the 10th level only.

Prior to coming to attain it,

the following must be removed.

1. removal of desire in samsaram
2. this leads to removal of ahankaara, mamakaaram
3. this leads to removal of deha abhimaanam
4. this leads to birth of athma gyanam
5. this leads to hatred towards aeishwarya moham
6. this leads to onset of prema on bhagwan.
7. this leads to shedding of interest in
8. this leads to bhara thanthruva gyanam
9. this leads to removal of artha-kaama ragadwesham
(ref: BG 4-10- Madhbhavam)
10. this leads to onset of srivaishanttwam!

(4) It happened in Kulashekara alwar's life.

When the ministers of the alwar blamed srivaishnavites,

for the disappearance of the navarathna maalai

in the thiruaaparana petti,

the alwar refused to believe.

He was steadfast in his belief that srivaishnavites are pure

on tri-kaaran -

they are pure in mind, vaak and body.

He even put his hand in a pot that had a serpent inside and

pledged that he would not be bitten by the serpent,

because no srivaishnavite can do such a crime.

And he was unhurt.

This shows how deep-rooted the ethos

which a srivaishnavite is identified with.

Unless a strong code culture for vaishnavites had existed for long,

the alwar could not have gone to such extremes.

(5) A quote on the dialogue between Yama dharma raja

and Sri Krishna. (this comes in Mahabharatha or Bhagavatha purana?)

Yamadjharman instructed his messengers to prostrate

before the srivaishnavites.

who can be identified in the following way.

" Ye baahu moola parichinha shanka-chakra:
Yeva lalaada palakelasa oordhwa pundra:
Ye kanda lagna thulasi nalinaaksha mala:
Teh vaishnava: bhuvana maashubha vidhrayanthi"

The srivaishnavite can be identified by the

shanku-chkra chinnam,

oordhwa pundaram and

the thulasi maala.

(6) Sri Krishna was said to have instructed his dwaara-paalagas,

before leaving the fort of Dwaaraka,

to allow sv-s inside,

who can be identified by the

shanku-chakra dhaaranam and the oordhwa pundaram.

" chakraangitha: praveshtavyaa:
Yaavadaagamanam mama,
Naamudhritha: praveshtavyaa:
Yaavadaagamanam mama"

Inference :-

Srivaishnavism with the significatory marks and practices

had existed for very long.

There is no difference between Vaishnavism and Sri vaishnavism.

But it was Ramanuja who had arranged or codified the practices

into a body of dos and donts

for easy following and

hence came to be identified as founder of srivaishnavism.


Venkatesh said...

Smt Jayasree,

From whatever little that I know, the reason, it is called Srivaishnavism is because of the importance to Lakshmi in this SampradhAyam. In fact if one takes the Acharya Paramparai of the Srivaishnavites, it starts with Sriman Narayanan giving upadEsam to His consort 'Sri', who inturn gives the upadesam to Sri Vishwaksenar and the chain continues. Leaving Sriman Narayanan behind, the Sampradhayam is considered to have been started by "Sri" and hence Srivaishnavism.

As the Vaishnavites of North India do not consider this aspect of "Sri" they are just called Vaishnavites for whom, the sampradhayam originated from Brahmachari Narayanan.

Please correct me if I am wrong here.

jayasree said...

Dear Venkatesh,

Any follower of Vishnu is a vaishnavite. In that sense, Shiva who has given Manthra Raja padam and extolled the greatness of Rama manthram is a vishnavite. Brahma who was the first one to have been given jata karma and nama karma and pancha samskaras is a Vaishnvite. We have puranic / smruthi pramana for these.

Can we say that they do not accept the concept of Sri in Lord and therefore not Srivaishnavites?
Since they are also Vishnu- devotees, is a srivaishnava justified in not prostrating before them?
Is it not a foremost lakshana of a srivaishnavite to pay respect to the fellow devotee of Vishnu?

These questions also will arise and the answers given for these do not fall in conformity with sruti texts. The reasons lie elsewhere and not in what is being told to srivaishnavites.

My handling of all issues on Vaideeha matam is to put them in philosophical and metaphorical perspective in such a way, that there is adherence to sruti and smruthi texts.

The explanation that you have given which is also the popular explanation with srivaishnavites is thus fraught with in- comprehensiveness that can only lead to divisions and confusions.

Even Ramanuja did not coin the term Srivaishnavism. It was Ramanuja Darshanam - an insight or outlook of Ramanuja. It was Vaideeha matam until then.

The concept of Sri develops in the created world. I have already written on this concept in yahoo groups and will write again in this blog.

Venkatesh said...

Smt Jayasree,

I dont understand how you got me wrong here when you ask

//Can we say that they do not accept the concept of Sri in Lord and therefore not Srivaishnavites?
Since they are also Vishnu- devotees, is a srivaishnava justified in not prostrating before them?
Is it not a foremost lakshana of a srivaishnavite to pay respect to the fellow devotee of Vishnu?

I never said this. What I said was, you had coined the term Sri for respect, while what the traditional account says is, because of the direct involvement of Sri, they are called Srivaishnavas.

I have no second opinion in that everyone who has Vishnu sambandham (I would go even more from here to say "everyone" who is moral and virtuous, without the qualifications like Vishnu sambandham etc)has to be paid obeisance and due respect. So naturally Siva or Brahma or any human being, irrespective of the race, caste, creed would have to be respected, considering ourselves as "neechas" compared to them.

So please rest assured, that I was not contesting you. Rather, since you did not touch on the popular connotion for Sri, I mentioned about it.


Srivathsa rao i said...

How do you prove that krishna is paripurna in vishistaadvaita?.....
because krishna only said that he is paripurna in bhagavath geetha...

but ,according to vishistaadvaita...we are brahman,at the same time ,we are not paripurna...similar case applies to,how is krishna paripurna in vishistaadvaita?