vaTakalai and ten2kalai (3)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Jun 16 23:36:42 UTC 1999

Regarding this sectarian difference, Vasudha Narayanan (The Tamil Veda, pp.
187-190) writes, "Perhaps the most obvious objection to the continuing
reality of ubhaya vedAnta in the zrIvaiSNava community is the division of the
community into two sub-communities, the names of which suggest the two sides
of ubhaya vedAnta. teG-kalai, meaning 'southern culture," seems to refer to
the Tamil tradition just as vaTa-kalai, meaning "northern culture," refers to
the Sanskrit tradition. Is it then the case that the Dual vedAnta only
survived a few generations and finally broke into its original component

Our final answer to this question will be "No," but it has to be admitted
that there are some distinctions between vaTakalai and teGkalai zrIvaiSNavas
that do suggest emphases on one side or the other of the attempted synthesis.
The tradition of Sanskrit learning has by and large flourished more
vigorously in the vaTakalai community. There is also a celebrated remark
attributed to the teGkalai theologian piLLai lOkAcArya that he would only
teach in Tamil. Moreover, the vaTakalai community seems to have some closer
ritual links with other Brahmins (specifically the smArta Brahmins) than does
the teGkalai community. One might even see in the teGkalai emphasis on Divine
grace a reflection of the AzvAr's sentiments; conversely, in the vaTakalai
doctrine of the divine pretext (vyAja), a hint might be seen in the Vedic
emphasis on just reward according to the law of karma.

On closer scrutiny, however, these points prove to be only minor differences
in emphasis. What we see in both communities is a continuing effort to affirm
and to reconcile the Sanskrit and Tamil Vedas....

There are, it seems to us, certain important differences in emphasis between
the two schools that can best be understood as distinct developments of the
same ubhaya vedAnta."

It is obvious that there are indeed language-based differences in emphasis
between vaTakalai and ten2kalai sects.

S. Palaniappan

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