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I have heard that there is a practice prevalent among some Iyengars of Tamil Nadu in which they take a vow to either avoid worshiping Lord Shiva or not recognize him as a deity. Who started this practice and does it have any connection with Daksha Prajapathi's vow along similar lines? Which sects of Iyengars follow this practice?

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    Yes, at least in the Ahobila Mutt, if you want to perform Bharanyasam, then you have to take a vow that includes a provision you won't worship gods other than Vishnu. Bharanyasam is an affirmative act of surrender that Vadakalai Iyengars perform, since unlike Thenkalai Iyengars they believe an affirmative act of surrender is required ; see my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/2835/36 But I'm not sure if Vadakalais outside of Ahobila Mutt have to take a similar vow when they do Bharanyasam. – Keshav Srinivasan May 27 '15 at 12:25
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    So this is not targeted at Shiva, but all deities other than Vishnu? Also, Do they alter the philosophy of equality of Trimurthis to justify bharanyasam? – Naveen May 27 '15 at 12:29
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    Yeah, it's not targeted at Shiva. The idea is that after Bharanyasam you're "married" to Vishnu, so you shouldn't worship any other gods. In any case, Iyengers don't believe in the equality of the three members of the Trimurthi; Iyengars believe in the supremacy of Vishnu. That's a pretty universal belief among Vaishnavas of all stripes. – Keshav Srinivasan May 27 '15 at 12:33
  • @Ambi Vaishnava word combines all who worship Vishnu, you have to be specific in asking question .. There Iyer Vadama who worship Vishnu as there primary diety and do ekadhasi fasting as prescribed in srimad Bhagavatam...in my terms they are also vaishnavas.. Im madvacharya follower do worship Shiva as Demi god have antrayami as Narasimha.. but we don't fast on sivarathri as its from tamas purana – Prasanna R Jan 18 at 9:23
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The ceremonies have got nothing to do with or against Siva or Daksha. Don't get carried away by foolish serials, which depict every thing in wrong fashion.

Prapatti or Saranagati or bharasamarpanam is called Nyasa Vidya. This is total surrender. Infact, no other exclusive deity worship is to be performed for any gain, except to Sriman Narayana (his avataras) and his immediate parivara devathas, Alwars and Sri Vaishnava acharyas. That doesn't mean that veda mantras containing other deity names will not be recited or spelled. Veda mantras are common for all.

For vaishnavas, and in general also all veda mantras always applies to the Antaryami, Lord Narayana (Sarva deva namaskaraha keshavam pratigachati).

Swami Desikan (13 th century) one of the famous and renowned SriVaishnava acharya, clearly says in his works, that those verses in Vedas which seem to indicate Hiranyagarbha, prajapati, Rudra, Siva, Indra, Aditya, Agni, Vayu, Varuna and other devatas which are mandated in Homams, Yagnas and rituals have to be recited because antaryami of all devatas is LORD VISHNU only.

So, those critics are ignoramuses who think that vaishnavas or Sri Vaishnavas never recite Vedic verses except those related to Lord Vishnu/Narayana or his immediate parivara devatas.

To explain further, the Accessories or Angas of Prapatti or Self Surrender or saranagathy are (From Nyaasa Vimshati consisting of 22 shlokas in sragdhara metre):-

  1. Aanukulya Sankalpam: Resolve to act only in accordance with the directives of the Lord and which would , therefore, be pleasurable to him. This includes-

    Following the duties enunciated for Ashrama (i.e) Nitya and Naimittika karmas Respecting the devotees of the Lord (Bhagavatas and Acharyas) with the same ardor as while respecting the Lord himself. Exceptional and Unconditional devotion to Sriman Narayana only to the exclusion of all other deities.

  2. Praatikulya Varjanam: Resolve to scrupulously avoid all actions not pleasurable to the Lord (i.e) those opposed to the ones stated under (1) above.

  3. Maha Viwasam: Absolute faith and confidence that the Lord will surely protect the soul and certainly grant Moksha.

  4. Karpanyam : Realizing the utter inability of the soul to do anything except surrendering at the feet of the Lord. This 'Self effacing' confession eliminates the ego, pride, possessiveness and such other defects in the individual

  5. Goptrutva Varanam : A formal expression of one's total dependence on the Lord for salvation

Atma nikshEpam- entrusting the burden of protection of the individual self to the care of the Lord- is considered to be the angi, while the five are called angas. Atma nikshepam- act of self surrender is included and is called as six fold discipline in Ahirbudhnya smahithA, while Lakshmi Tantra while defining Atma nikshepam, (also known as Saranagathi or nyAsam) speaks of five components. There is however no conflict between the two. In Ahirbudhnya samhitha Atmanikshepam is incldued with the five; while Lakshmi tantram separately mentions it.

As a part of Anukulya sankalpam and Praatikulya Varjanam, all Srivaishnavas exclusively worship SrimanNarayana or Vishnu and his avataras alone, excluding all other deities.

All the accessories are common to all the srivaishnavas.

Details of these five angas (called as panchaangas as used by Swami Desikan in Nyaasa Vimshati) is given in chapter 17 of Lakshmi Tantra, a Paancharatra Agamas text and ADHIKARA 11: PARIKARA VIBHAGA ADHIKARA from Rahasya Traya Saara.

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    Is Anukulya Sankalpam done during Shamashranam, or during Bharanyasam? – Keshav Srinivasan May 28 '15 at 19:07
  • @Keshav- Swami Vedanta Desika in his Rahasya traya saaram gives all these details. Coming to Aanukulya sankalpam and other are accessories of Prapatti. For Tengalais, samasrayanam is sufficient and no other explicit act. For vadagalais, bharasamapanam is done as explicit act. These accessories are applicable to both Vadagalai and Tengalai. – user808 May 28 '15 at 19:39
  • OK, but during which of these two ceremonies is Anukulya Sankalpam done in? – Keshav Srinivasan May 28 '15 at 19:45
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    @@Keshav- Again the bharasamarpanam is of 3 types in Vadagalai sampradaya. I read that for Ukti nishta, the aspirant just repeats the words of surrender to Lord as taught by the acharya. For, Acharya nishta type, acharya does the bharasamarpana on behalf of the sishya. I dont think sishya needs to do any thing except have full faith in acharya and Lord. – user808 May 28 '15 at 20:26
  • @@Keshav- Check this link for more details swamydesika.tripod.com/srts3a.html?#top – user808 May 28 '15 at 20:38
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Lord Sambhuh (Siva) is addressed as the greatest of all Vaisnavas according to Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16. Though Visnu is the main focus of worship and Smaranam for Vaisnavas, disrespecting Lord Siva should not be done to avoid Vaisnava Aparadha.

Reference:

nimna-gānāṁ yathā gaṅgā
 devānām acyuto yathā
vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ
 purāṇānām idam tathā

Just as the Gaṅgā is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Śambhu [Śiva] the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas, so Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the greatest of all Purāṇas.

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    @sathya- The answer you have providede doesnt answer the question. – user808 Jun 13 '15 at 13:24
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    Krishna-ji - In general, Sri Vaisnavas are focused on Visnu/Narayana but there is a serious trend in South India to disrespect Lord Siva. You can consider my answer as an added comment, just trying to clear some smoke :) Namaste. – Sathya Jun 13 '15 at 13:31
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    @Sathya- Well, there is no such trend in south India. Do you have any proof or any research done. Also, i would say there is serious trend in north india to disrespect Vishnu and Krishna. First of all there is no smoke at all# Thanks – user808 Jun 13 '15 at 16:53
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    @Krishna Your answer also doesn't give an answer to the question. And it's not a trend in north india to disrespect Vishnu or Krishna but as Sathya said some people do have a nature to disrespect Shiva or Shakti and interestingly enough such people call themselves devotees of Vishnu. They think Vishnu is happy with them but in reality he is not. – Chinmay Sarupria Dec 27 '15 at 5:37
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    @ChinmaySarupria What are you talking about? Krishna did answer the question, in his discussion of Anukulya Sankalpam. In any case, I agree with you that some Vaishnavas disrespect Shiva, some Shaivites disrespect Vishnu, etc. I happen to be a Vaishnavas and thus believe Vishnu is supreme, but I would never want to disrespect any gods. I even get upset at people disrespecting gods like Indra. The gods are divine and thus all humans owe them reverence. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 27 '15 at 11:00
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Not just Iyengars, but all vaishnavites are discouraged from worshipping any other god other than Lord Vishnu. This is because Lord Vishnu is the supreme brahman and the only one capable of conferring moksha to the devotees, no other god has the ability to confer moksha. It is believed that worshipping only Lord Vishnu takes one in the right direction towards the ultimate goal of existence.

However, this does not mean we disrespect other gods, it is just that we dont find them relevant as far as achieving the ultimate goal is concerned, since they themselves have not achieved it.

Moksha is the state where one is free from the shackles of karma. However, the gods in the material universe including brahma and rudra are also bound by karma. Being themselves bound, how would they be able to grant moksha to another entity?

@Ambi : Refer to Rahasya Traya Sara by Vedanta Desika.

Or, for a more modern exposition: https://archive.org/stream/PhilosophyAndTheisticMysticismOfTheAlvarsSrinivasaChariS.M.MLBD/Philosophy%20and%20Theistic%20Mysticism%20of%20The%20Alvars%20%20Srinivasa%20Chari%20S.M.%20MLBD_djvu.txt

"f Narayana alone is the Supreme Deity, who is to be wor¬ shipped for attaining the highest spiritual goal, why do people worship other deities? This is an important question and Nammalvar himself raises it and provides an explanation.* He points out that it is a fact that there are numerous other deities referred to in the hymns of Rg-Veda and these Gods are wor- shipped by other religious cults for securing the desired goals. It is also true that these Gods sought for by others for boons such as wealth, happiness, heavenly bliss do confer them to their devotees. While acknowledging these facts, he states that all these deities have been brought into existence by the Supreme Being, Narayana, who as their antaratma or the Inner controller grants them the power to confer the desired fruits.' Thus, the worship offered to these deities ultimately goes to the Supreme Being who is actually the giver of the boons sought for. This fact is revealed by the Scriptural texts.^ In view of these explanations, Nammalvar advocates the exclusive worship of Narayana. There is yet another reason for upholding the exclusive worship of Narayana. According to Vedanta, the supreme goal of life (parama-purusartha) is moksa or the liberation of the soul from bondage. The Sacred texts point out that Janardana (Narayana) is the giver of moksa {moksa-prada)? Based on this authority, Nammalvar also teaches that the Supreme Being alone confers moksa (vldu-mudaldm).* As explained in another hymn, the im¬ plication of it is that other deities who are worshipped by the devotees cannot grant final liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. In a characteristic way Nammalvar says:

By passing through several births, you have worshipped several other deities by singing their glory, dancing with joy before them, offering salutation to them and serving them in many other prescribed ways and you have seen the result of it.’

The implication of the hymn is that the worship of other deities has not yielded the cherished moksa, but on the contrary. it has only lead to rebirth. Nammalvar, therefore, exhorts the devotees to seek the feet of Lord Tirunarayana, who as the Supreme Deity, is the sole refuge.*

  • Please cite references in support for your answer. – Ambi Jan 19 at 7:33

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