Date:20/09/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2006/09/20/stories/2006092000480900.htm
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Miscellaneous - Religion

Mediating role

CHENNAI : A spiritual seeker who is unable to follow the means to liberation prescribed in the scriptures can take refuge in the Almighty expressing his helplessness. Surrender to God has been formalised as a method to redemption in Srivaishnava theology: Prapatti, Saranagati. The efficacy of Prapatti hinges on the mediating role played by both the preceptor and the Divine Mother between the Lord and the devotee, to pardon his sins. Hence the preceptor is paramount to the success of Saranagati for man cannot hope to approach God on his own.

In his discourse, Sri M.V. Ananthapadmanabhachariar said that not only human beings but also all insentient and sentient beings in Ayodhya accompanied Rama when He returned to the divine abode because of their relationship to His sandals (Paduka), which ruled the kingdom for 14 years. This is the insight given by the preceptors of the tradition including the Azhwars. This then begs the question whether the Lord or His Paduka was greater. In fact, Tyagaraja addresses this question to Rama Himself in one of his compositions saying that He must provide insight into this.

According to Ramanuja, everyone qualifies for liberation and the prerequisite is only a strong desire for redemption and relationship to a preceptor. Rama's Paduka assumed the role of the preceptor (also the embodiment of the Divine Mother). In the Paduka Sahasram, in eulogy of the Lord's Paduka, Vedanta Desika says it was the special relationship that all in Ayodhya had with Rama's Paduka that made them eligible for liberation. Valmiki provides insight into this by describing that when Rama left Ayodhya the leaves in the trees shrivelled up unable to bear separation from Him and when He returned the trees blossomed unseasonably out of joy.

Kurattazhwan, in his hymn Atimanushastava, regrets having studied the scriptures, which had given him the knowledge of God's transcendence (Paratva) thus creating a distance between them. This is not to belittle scriptural knowledge but to highlight Kurattazhwan's longing for union with the Lord which increased his pangs of separation from Him by considering even the grass and shrubs in Ayodhya as more blessed than him (for they had Rama's company and also accompanied Him to the divine abode).

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