Friday, June 17, 2016

Thus Thinks Chaturvedi Swamy (From Facebook)

This was an interesting read from Facebook I am sharing. Credits to Shri SAR Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swami.

"Thus Thinks Chaturvedi Swamy"
Issues-Social and Spiritual solutions
The world is viewed as abode of problems by the frustrated minds whereas for the positive minds, it also carries infinite splendours,ways and solutions. To balance the world and ensure solace, solution and success, we have two routes; First is a social process and second a spiritual one.
Social process suggests four tools; awareness, guidance, empowerment and transformation. The ignorant society needs awareness and aimless needs guidance. The weak is lifted by empowerment and the misguided needs transformation. Great social workers strive to eliminate evils like poverty, illiteracy, disharmony and corruption, through these four channels.
The second route to enrich our morale and energies, to ward-off sins and their offsprings; ‘problems’ and to receive and retain progress and spiritual elevation, is ‘spiritual and religious’ services. These may be temple construction, renovation, restoration, maintenance, offerings of all forms, prayers, rituals and worships. In our tradition, the services to Lord is extended to His devotees (Bhagavathas) and glorious masters (Acharyas) by offering them everything possible, needed and ordained in our treatises.
Supreme, temples and society
A common doubt resides in the minds of sceptics as well as beginner-devotees. It is about the necessity of the omnipotent opulent Supreme to ‘reside in a finite deity form and within a limited temple space-frame’ and to encourage, expect, accept and rejoice our simple and great praise, offerings and celebrations.
Our scriptures say that He assumes divine forms and abodes only out of His own will, to facilitate easy view, relation and services for his beginner-devotees and to propitiate his mature devotees by this beauty, simplicity and bounty. (‘Bhaktaanaam tvam prakaashase’).
● Temples and their festivals are meant for assembling, uniting and integrating the devotees enabling them to rejoice divine company and bliss. This is a rehearsal for fostering social unity and transformation.
● Supreme is the seed of every glorious attribute. If we could maintain the standards, sanctity and richness of His temples, we can harvest their impact in the society as order, peace and prosperity. Serving Him in temples increase our mind and might to serve, increase in multiples. Paucity and struggles emerge from negligence and misuse of divine centres and resources and their proper care and application result in sustainable goodness.
● Temples and festivals also serve as source of livelihood of many industries and dependents apart from being the gateways of wisdom, realization and liberation for the mature.
● We are seeing two unpleasant contrasts in the society. First is between the rich temples and the temples of the same Lord inactive and struggling for functioning. Second is between the Lord of justice, unconditional love and wealth seated inside the temple and the surrounding environments of commercialization, corruption, beggary and social negligence. He has provided us enough knowledge, courage and energy not only to use his grants but also to liberate them from misuse, deficits.
Temples and wealth flow
● An affectionate mother takes care of the child and attends with utmost care even before or without the demand of her child, understanding its instinct and needs. Similarly a devotee can understand the soft and simple instincts of the powerful Supreme who is complete and has no needs, and serves accordingly. He wants nothing from us or demands simplest offerings. That is His magnanimity. Devotees want to give big and bigger, more and more, and this is their competitive magnanimity; reflection of His generosity on them. The Lord, in His Bhagavad Gita says that it is enough if a pure devotee offers Him a leaf, flower, fruit or even water (‘patram pushpam phalam thoyam’). But the fervent devotees interpret His verses as diamond, precious gems, gold and silver (Vajram, ratnam, swarnam, rajatham) as per their volume of love and service-enthusiasm.
● A prescribed pattern of richness and its demonstration is a divine tool for alluring, retaining and transforming simple devotees, by name ‘Akarshana’. Gorgeous decorations, elegant festivals and regal shows attracts more people and influences them more strongly.
● It is true that wealth attracts insecurity and mismanagement. But the same problems are common in all other essential centres of wealth such as banks, big shops and companies. What we need is to increase vigilance and security measures and not to develop wealth-allergy. Any form of wealth is meant for the adorning and serving the Supreme only. As mentioned earlier, Lord and His temple are seed and epicentres of all needed benefits. If you need prosperity and security for the society, we have to keep temples reasonably prosperous and completely secure. Any devotee who ends his contract with Lord after giving something to or receiving something from Lord, shares the sin of misuse and thefts. Our duty is to pray, monitor, follow and work for our temple’s safety by all connected means.
● Aishwaryam also induces more awareness, attention and sincerity (jaagarana, avadhana and sraddha). When we commit to maintaining of richness and celebrating grand festivals, we become more responsible. Hence our planning, organizing and executive skills due to necessity of circumstances get naturally shaped, disciplined and enriched. Eventually these qualities will flow into the society and produce good capacity builders and efficient agents. So wealth is required but wealth preserved beyond a limit and is increasing endlessly if not diverted for support of the mass welfare will erode sanctity and safeties of the abode. Similarly, unnecessary shows and ostentatious procedures should be avoided.
● Just as a nation hosts not only royals and elite but also the poor and ignorant, temples also host not only mature and pure devotees, but also gives room to sinner, repenting, beginners, aspirants and practitioners, along with those people who come for entertainment, food, shelter, timepass and tourist visits. These extras, who don’t serve Him are blessed with the benefits of upasthithi (just being inside the temple premises). To shelter, feed, entertain and enlighten masses, wealth and its demonstration in His forms and festivals are components of his beneficial trap.
● He provides opportunities for all types and levels of people. He directs services to those who want to serve, to those want to ward-off sins and purify their wealth and souls and those who want to avoid major or greater losses in their lives or avail major or greater benefits by offering a fragment in temples. It is the foremost function of temples to attract, elevate and settle all those who approach them. He needs a initial grip in them, holding which he may promote their spiritual standards. So wealthy offerings are essential.
Giving to ‘God’
In mature stage, men who are accustomed to only rejoice receiving huge and more, are tempted to offer to right recipients. Supreme, the nourisher of world and repository of richness, in His simplified form, craves for receiving from us.
We have a natural instinct to give and gift to our beloved, whatever we wish or they want. In devotion also, devotee craves to give something to Him due on account of his love and satisfaction. Just as a simple visitor thinks about his family and welfare when he sees the Lord, an advanced devotee will get reminded of Lord and His service even when he sees his beloved and belongings. For Him, Lord is his family or a vital or general part of it. Supreme has manifested himself as Deities in temples only to provide ample provisions for their service.
Everybody in the world is aiming for relief and success. Our great ancestors have prescribed different forms of divine services and described their positive effects on our lives. Simple worships and great festivals of temples such as Brahmotsavam and Theppotsavam are all ordained by Sastras for all-round wellbeing. We can faithfully follow and experience the philosophy and benefits rather than analyzing the same.
Lord Himself is asking us to offer a leaf, flower, fruit or water. His demand of glorification, offering and services and His enjoyment of the same, is not because that He is arrogant, rigid or fame-maniac but only due to His concern on our welfare. When we worship, praise and serve Him, He is happy because we move in an uplifting path by such pious processes (sathgathi) and are deviated from the illusory degrading one (asathgathi). Any father will be pleased to see his child on a progressive direction. As a sensitive and love-packed father, He relishes every word of love we utter and every bit of anything we offer.
In context of divine offering, we often counter the following silly opinions.
● Lord, the creator and owner of this universe has everything in and with Him. Hence we need not offer anything.
● We can never offer something befitting the status and greatness of that unique Supreme personality
● There is nothing in the world that can be offered to Him as everything is what He has created and given to us.
● God never asks for anything as He is only a giver.
Respective brief counters to these misconceptions are;
● Completeness is of two types; personal and mission-oriented. Even though He is personally complete, He feels incomplete without our love, service and surrenders that could lift us from our bondage and make us complete, which is His sole mission. Hence we have to offer our mite.
● Our offering out of love never bothers about His status and standards of our offerings. Even though He is the greatest, our simple submission, endowed with supreme devotion will certainly be greater than that ‘greatest’ and will be duly acknowledged by Him in the same way.
● Everything is His creation and grant. But still, our offering has three meanings. a) As a servant, we should inform the status of our assignments and progress to the management (Master of the Universe) and also offer a very negligible part of whatever He has given. As a gracious master, He wants us just to inform, think and thank, offer a miniscule and serve the needy, and allow us to rejoice everything safely, unlike masters who suck all the gains of their workers. These formalities stipulated by Him are also meant for our sustained welfare only rather than for His personal satisfaction or happiness. b) As a token of gratitude, we should and can offer only what we have, which is nothing but what He has given us. c) Devotion cannot control our urge and fervour to serve Him with whatever we have and we could get. A product of His creation, becomes entirely a new and distinct element, out of ‘creation’ system, when the same is offered back with pure devotion. He feels that the devotee’s offering is different from and greater than what He has created and granted and a devotee can feel that whatever given as His Prasadam is entirely different from and greater than what He has created and given and what he has offered.
● Supreme is also a receiver. He asks for offerings and His injunctions through scriptures also endorse and prescribe the fruits of different types of offerings to Him. Offerings are of two types; that which we offer to Him and are distributed to us and others (like prasadams) and that which are retained for His own rejoicement (like jewels and constructed structures). He receives from us only to relish the love-part of our offering and gives back the same to all of us, filling them with His love, familiar by the name ‘grace’. Even in the case of offerings that He rejoices and retains, He transfers His grace for gaining greater perennial benefits in multiples, to us, through His simple grants like holy basil, holy water, flowers and fruits. The belly of earth receives seeds to foster them and give the same back in multiples whereas He receives simple material things from us and reciprocate with great life gifts and spiritual elevations.
His responsibility and Our responsibilities
There is a mutual exchange or dependence deal between Lord and His devotees. We offer food to Him who feeds the entire cosmos. We decorate Him who has fashioned numerous planets and stars and adorned us with intelligence and spirit. He always praises His devotees and we are singing His immeasurable glory. He is protector of all. He takes responsibility of lifting, elevating and liberating all of us. He is the creator of and ruler immanent in all. His assurance of relief (‘aham tva sarva papebhyo mokshayishyami’) in Geetha, may be more appropriate to the surrenderers but it latently covers every being in His fold. Still, we are guardians of His temples, scriptures, tradition and subjects. Neither Lord needs any protection nor do we have the capacity to protect Him. But He wishes and prefers to induce potential and responsibility (Aasrita sakthi-kartrutva) in us and silence His supremacy (Sarveswaratva). Hence audaciously we can declare ‘mamaadheenaa tava sthithi:’ (you may be our protector. But if anything happens to you before me, your relief is my duty and at my disposal).
Hence we have the prime duty of safeguarding Him; His sthapanas, siddhanta, parikaras and samajam.
● Sthapanam denotes establishments like temples and their properties and can be extended to other institutions and belongings connected to His close associates. We have to be take responsibility for their safety and smooth functioning.
● Siddhanta deals with the glory of Lord and philosophy. Any attempt to damage His glory, dignity and honour should be extirpated and our philosophy should be saved from misinterpretations, interpolations and mispropaganda.
● Parikaras are the beloved associates of the Lord; Bhagavathas and Acharyas. They also should be supported through all possible ways.
● Samajam means the society; His creations. We have to respect and safeguard nature, other species and all humans. Thus the universal meaning and vision of Vaishnavism is emphasized here.
In devotion, mere affinity and knowledge, without responsibility and execution, like loving a child without feeding and caring for it, can make no sense. Real devotee takes complete responsibility of caring for the Lord and all others come only for lip-service, courtesy-visit and exchange offers. Adoption of a temple does not mean mere support but our personal commitment to organize, develop and glorify the temple.
Devotees and services
All temple visitors cannot be brought under a single category.
Many people are formally attached to the Lord and still carrying the illusion of this material ties.
Some are more attached but are mere emotional and do nothing practical or productive.
Some are very formal in their devotion and follow customs due to their inheritance and long term practice.
Some do service in exchange for something that they expect.
Some are sincere but limit their services to the financial limits they set for those services.
A true devotee is the one who feels worried on even hearing about the need or issue of a temple. He would crave to rescue or support the temple by extending his resources or by influencing and connecting others.
When we parent our child, we never fix a limited frame for our services. Dress, education, marriage and anything needed for the child is organized as per the need and the best possible that we could do is rendered, stretching our boundaries. Similarly when we adopt divya desams, more than our limits, we should view only the needs of the temple and ways to enrich ourselves or organize the resources with our prayers and networking.
Divya Desa Sveekaram
This herculean and magnificent ‘adoption’ or Sveekaram project of our entire Sampradaya can be simply started by adopting one of His significant temples that are popularly known as divyadesams.
‘Divyadesam’ or earthly divine abode is the seat and centre of the Supreme, where He resides in the deity form. But specifically it refers only to temples and Supreme forms that have been glorified in the hymns of super-mystical Alwars (Nalayira Divya Prabandham). Similar or even greater glory is attributed to the birth, action and liberation centres of Alwars and Acharyas (avataara, sambandha kshetras and thiruvarasu). All such stations carry the enhanced energies and bliss of Perumal, Alwars, Acharyas and Bhagavathas.
It is pitiable that many Divyadesams don’t even have the basic facilities and foundation today. We have to attend to them as per their immediate, self-propulsion and development needs.
● Temples in ruin or in an unmaintained position need to be renovated with good kitchen, water sources such as well and pond, electricity and holy garden (nandavanam) facilities. Cleanliness should be maintained with utmost care.
● Our next attention should be on daily needs for thiruvaaraadhanam - such as Prasadam (groceries, firewood and other needs), clothes (vastra), basic simple jewels (earrings, nose-rings, sacred threads-mangala sutram and yagnopavitham; and crown) pushpam (flowers, garland), gandham (sandal), doopam (incense) and other accessories, and deepam (lamps). Existing accessories such as utensils, jewels and vehicles (car and other vehicles) should be repaired and replaced and kept in a condition suitable to serve Him.
● Our third concern is about the welfare of temple employees. Their monthly salary, family needs and post-service support should be organized in such a way that both the beneficiaries as well as the supreme benefactor can be worry-free and continue their duties of worship and grace. We can construct revenue generating community halls, guest houses and shops in suitable adjacent areas or handle any other reliable profit-means and divert the income for these primary care needs.
● One of our serious concerns is safety. Many temples don’t have the appropriate facilities to safeguard the temple resources. Even deities and simple elements have become centres of attraction for smugglers and thieves and their mischiefs have become part of daily news.
● The backbone of every temple is its tradition; Sampradaya. One should ensure that ‘chastity of worship’ (focused and exclusively committed to the service of Sriman Narayana and his associates) and traditional rules (as per the agamas (Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa) and Sishtachara (precedent records) and conventions) should never be compromised. Entry of new practices and fading of traditional observances both should be curbed at the earliest.
After elevating temples upto this level, the next paradigm is ‘development’.
● The first step is colonization. Many divyadesams are in and around cities and are all reasonably fertile. In areas, where the population is scarce, initiatives for establishing industries and institutions around the temple will result in development of accessory units, facilitating public attention, participation and safety. Similarly NGOs can establish old age homes, orphanages and social service centres in temple areas and enhance both God-consciousness and service consciousness levels of that zone.
● Special colonies for Vaishnavas should be formed in every divyadesam. Retired professionals/ NRIs, admirers and neighbourhood Vaishnavas can prefer to stay in divyadesam areas either as a permanent resident or even as a temporary guest for a specified period of 2, 3, 6 or 12 months. This continuous flow of Vaishnavas in such centres will make their lives meaningful as well as make Him cheerful. We need to circulate this proposal and motivate many Vaishnavas to initiate due action.
● Next is amalgamation of proximate energies. We should reach out to all nearby villages and towns, and mobilize participation from students, youth women and other public communities, for doing temple services such as cleaning, maintenance, safety and ‘event and crowd management during festival occasions’. Such opportunities will increase the faith, attachment and commitment levels of the participants and develop a strong stable service force for the temple.
● Only after fixing all of these basic problems, we can attempt for making high level services such as gold and diamond offerings and ostentatious expansions and expenses.
● And finally, the most challenging step is recovery or rent regularization of temple properties such as lands, shops and houses that are misappropriated or mismanaged. This requires long time and high resource consuming legal battles or a mass revolution
Classification of temples and prioritization of services
● Affluent temples such as Thirumala-Tirupati which are self-sustained that can also support many other temples also.
● Rich temples such as Kanchipuram and Srirangam
● Temples that can manage day to day rituals, maintenance and festivals with their resources.
● Temples that are self-sufficient to maintain themselves but cannot afford to organize huge festivals.
● Temples that are struggling for even routine maintenance and temples that are defunct and dilapidated.
Every devotee has his own wish; choice of his temple and form of service he is interested in offering. Those who are much attached to Acharyas will prioritize service to them rather than to Divya desams. Few are much engaged only in the service of devotees (Bhagavathas)
But instead of being mere admirers of certain divine forms or abodes or specific contributions, if we focus the entire system as ‘system healers and rejuvenators’, we can understand the foremost priorities and secondaries and collectively serve for the vital needs, even without disturbing the specifically engrossed communities.
● Divya desams are like the central nervous system of Sri Sampradaya. We may have our family, village, proximate and beloved temples and their services. Being a Vaishnava, one should give first preference only to divya desams.
● Even in Divya desams, most needy ones deserve our immediate exclusive attention and action.
● More than our personal settlements, welfare of divya desams should be prioritized which shall consequently bring personal developments.
● When temples are struggling for daily offerings like food and flowers (prasadam and pushpam), we should never prioritize huge celebration ventures.
● When temples need to repair the existing structure and accessories, construction of new temples, attachments, extensions and submission of new accessories should never be prioritized.
● When temples are lacking of accessories in copper, wood and simple materials, contributions in silver, gold and diamonds should never be prioritized.
● Devotees and Lord are two eyes of temple care, service and administrations.In the pretext of increasing facilities for the visitors, we should never dilute the temple’s sanctity by violating and compromising temple procedures and principles. At the same time, organizing grand festivals for Him without providing proper basic facilities for the Sevarthis (devotees) is also wrong.
● Many reform works may cause inconvenience, strain or loss. We have to endure them for solid long term subtle benefits and any adjustment for immediate interim benefits or comforts will bring solid and irreparable losses.
Empowering temples
Every temple acquires its sanctity; source of its strength, gaiety and glory, through many ways.
● The best way is Mangalaasaasanam. The sanctity of the Lord is revived, multiplied and rejuvenated by the earnest wishes that come out of the pure hearts of unconditionally devoted.
● Conducting routine procedures, festivals and celebrations (utsavams) as per the scriptures (agamas) and tradition, with love, fear and sincerity.
● Establishing centres of positive prowess like cow-sheds and Vedic learning centres (Goshala and Veda Patashala) and their due maintenance will phenomenally induce and guard the sanctity of temples.
● Organizing “beneficial special recitations and rituals, (parayanams and homams), prescribed in our scriptures and endorsed by our ancestors” and “wisdom-ritual, enlightening lectures rendered by erudite scholars”.
● All divyadesams are quite spacious and most of the temple spaces remain unutilized. They can be used for conducting spiritual activities like Homams and social activities like free tuition and training centres, and awareness campaigns, without disturbing temple routines and rules. Such activities serve as sources of both monetary and spiritual incomes.
● Harmony and peace in and around the temple itself is a mega-sanctifying force. Similarly, genuine sanctity force is capable of bringing harmony and peace in the surroundings. As they are inter-dependent, parallel measures should be taken to maintain both sanctity and harmony.
● Whenever we approach temples for service, we can experience different forms and levels of direct or substream non-cooperation, friction and oppositions, from the authority groups. Private fights, false egos and personal frustrations make “responsible people” to revenge on non-targets like temples, festivals and procedures. Only proper counseling, arbitration and prayers can heal such complex obstacles and smoothen our march and mission.
We have identified about 40 temples that require immediate attention in terms of meeting the basic needs such as day to day thiruvaradhanam, kitchen and toilet facilities, water, electricity, appointment and salaries of archakas (priests), paricharakas (assistants), cook, employees and security-men, and cleanliness. The entire temples list is given at the end. You can comment on the list or even add to them with proper details.
As detailed before, ‘adoption’ is ‘serious responsibility sense’, which is different from mere contributions. We want now more guardians to take care of field works with personal commitment. We may get support of many patrons and collectively contribute many things but at the least ‘one’ should take up the responsibility of delivering the maintenance and progress impacts for the temple either by full-time or part-time personal involvements. We also need to create a local support team to assist and lead them.
Suggestion and complaint boxes could be kept to get useful feedbacks which could be considered for rectification and betterments.
We need to create a monthly/quarterly/biannual and annual progress report that covers developments made, challenges and failures encountered, investigation and remediation tools. This should be made available to all concerned for views, reviews and suggestions.
If each one of us can adopt (sweekaram) one temple and ensure that the adopted temple is developed into a self sufficient and flourishing one, by our personal, collective and networking means, the 1000th birth-anniversary (millennium celebrations) of Sri Ramanuja will become more lifeful, meaningful, colourful and impactful. Such services and glorifying such ‘a great soul’ are indeed pathways to not only our traditional development but also to all-round wellbeing; peace and harmony.
Let us pray the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujacharya to bestow on us a stable mind, sharp intelligence and strong will to accomplish this apparently simple but arduous adventure.
Other Sthalams:
1 Mylapore Birth Place of Peyazhwar Chennai District, Tamilnadu
2 Thirumazhisai Birth place of Thirumazhisai Azhwar Thiruvallur District, Tamilnadu
3 Mandangudi Birth place of Thondaradipodi Azhwar Kumbakonam District, Tamilnadu
4 Thiruvanchikkalam
(Kodungallur, TKS Puram) Birth Place of Kulasekara Azhwar Thrissur District, Kerala
5 Thiru Kuraiyaloor Birth Place of Thirumangai Azhwar Nagapattinam District, Tamilnadu
6 Kattu Mannar Kovil Birth Place of Nathamuni and Alavandhaar Cuddalore District, Tamilnadu
7 Manakkal Birth Place of Manakaal Nambi Trichy District, Tamilnadu
8 Sriperumbudur Birth Place of Ramanujar Kanchipuram District, Tamilnadu
9 Kooram Birth place of Koorathazhwan Kanchipuram District, Tamilnadu
10 Pettai Birth Place of Mudhaliyaandan Thiruvallur District, Tamilnadu
11 Madhura Mangalam Birth place of Embar Kanchipuram District, Tamilnadu
12 Siruputthur (Kirangur) Birth Place of Anathazhwan Mandya District, Karnataka
13 Vinjemoor Birth Place of Arulaala Perumal Emperumanaar Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh
14 Chengannur Birth Place of Periyavaachaan Pillai Alappuzha District, Kerala
15 Thirunaarayanpuram (Melkote) Birth Place of Thirunaarayanpuram Aaye Mandya District, Karnataka
16 Sikkil Kadaram (Kothankulam) Birth Place of Manavala Maamunigal Ramanathapuram District, Tamilnadu
17 Erumbi Birth Place of Erumbi Appa Thiruvallur District, Tamilnadu
18 Ramanuja Chaturvedhi Mangalam
(Alwar Thirunagari) Bhavisyathaacharya Vigraha Prathistai by Manavala Maamunigal Tuticorin District, Tamilnadu
19 Kumbakonam Thirumazhisai Azhwar thiruvarasu Thanjavur District, Tamilnadu
20 Mannarkovil Kulasekara Azhwar Thiruvarasu
Birth Place of Vaadhi Kesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeeyar Tiruelveli District, Tamilnadu
21 Ayyampettai Periyanambi Thiruvarsau Thanjavur District, Tamilnadu
22 Jothishkudi(KodikkuLam) Pillailokacharyar Thiruvarasu Madurai District, Tamilnadu
23 Srirangam Manavala Maamunigal Thiruvarasu Trichy District, Tamilnadu
24 Sorgap Pallam - NathamunigaL Thiruvarasu , Jayamkondam
25 Kuppanguzhi NathamunigaL avathara sthalam,Kattumannarkoil.

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