vaTakalai and ten2kalai (3)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Jun 16 21:30:39 UTC 1999

In a message dated 6/11/99 12:18:55 PM Central Daylight Time,
lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM writes:

>My objection at
>  that time, as it is now, is that your language centric
>  interpretation is quite foreign to what the tradition
>  itself understands. The tradition always thought in
>  terms of the Kanchi and the Srirangam groups of
>  acharyas.

This is surprising. For a long time, scholars - Indian, Western, and
Western-trained Indian - have acknowledged the language-based differences of
the sects. Let me give an example for each.

V. N. Hari Rao says in "History of the Srirangam Temple", pp. 110-114, "Even
in the last days of rAmAnuja two distinct modes of expounding the vaiSNava
darzana or system were recognised. They were called the pravacanas, viz, the
zrIbhASya pravacana and the drAvidAmnAya pravacana. The former consisted of
the study of the vedAnta sUtras with the help of rAmAnuja's commentary on
them in Sanskrit and the latter the study of the 4,000 sacred prabandas
<sic>, in Tamil, of the AzvArs. rAmAnuja followed both the methods in his
expositions, but later on this gave rise to two separate schools, two centres
and two paramparas or succession lists...nampiLLai was an ardent lover of the
Tamil prabandAs <sic>  and he was a great force in the formation of the
prabanda school at zrIrangam. engaL AzvAn and varadAcArya of the bhASya
school were his contemporaries. On the withdrawal of the latter to kAncipuram
from zrIrangam nampiLLai acted vigorously and gathered around himself a band
of veteran scholars, whose avowed object was to win for the nascent prabanda
school  stability and popular recognition based on sectarian literature. The
ARAyirappaTi guruparamparai sketches a conflict between kandAdai tOzappa, the
grandson of mudaliyANDAn, and hence belonging to the orthodox and traditional
school, and nampiLLai. In the end, however, they were reconciled. On this
incident V. Rangachari comments, "the story is significant enough. It tells
us in a clear and unmistakable manner how the prabandic movement was looked
upon as heterodox, how it began in a small scale and how it gained strength
in time of nampiLLai by bringing round even such orthodox men as the AchAryic
kandADais"...varadAcArya effected the epoch-making transfer of his residence
and scene of lectures to kAncipuram from zrIrangam, thus giving rise to the
geographical factor of the split among the vaiSNavas. This might have been
due to several causes. For one thing kAncipuram was the native home of
varadAcArya. Probably the vociferous activities of nampiLLai and his
redoubtable disciples caused him considerable embarrassment and he might have
withdrawn to kAncipuram guided by his own inclination and convenience...In
course of time kAncipuram came to be identified with the Sanskrit and
traditional school of the bhASyA <sic>, and zrIrangam with the Tamil and
popular school of the prabanda. For all practical purposes, say by 1247, when
nampiLLai was forty and varadAcArya eighty-two, the parties had begun; but it
has to beclearly understood that the partisan spirit, which brought into
being two irreconcilable sects called vaDakalai and tenkalai made its
appearance only in the 15th century and later."

Although this book was published by S. V. University in 1976, it was based on
his doctoral dissertation completed in 1948.

S. Palaniappan

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