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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The 82 Conclusive Precepts of Ramanuja Acharya!

Excerpt from the Handbook of Sri-Vaishnavism, page 82 - 86, by Sri Rama Ramanuja Acharya - Tradition has it that when death was drawing close Bhagavad Ramanuja delivered a final sermon in which 74 precepts were given. They are as follows: 1. The glories of preceptors and great devotees should be remembered before any other work is begun. 2. A part of the day should be set aside for praising and contemplating upon the glory of one’s own preceptor. 3. A part of the day should also be set aside for reciting, studying and contemplating the works of Nammalvar and the other Alvars. 4. Service to one’s own acharya and any other devotee (bhagavata) should be on a par. One should serve every devotee as one would serve the personal acharya. 5. One should have faith and reverence for the teachings of all the previous Acharyas. 6. Having come in contact with an acharya due to one’s previous good Karma one should not revert to mundane affairs. 7. Upon waking one should recall to mind the disciplic succession (guru-parampara). 8. When approaching the Lord in a temple or an assembly of Vaishnavas a prapanna should chant the dvaya mantra while prostrating to them. 9. When a learned person is recounting the glories of the Lord, pay due respect and do not leave in the middle of the discourse. 10. One should avoid becoming engrossed in the persistent enjoyment of sensual pleasures. 11. One should not waste time in reading books about worldly things, unrelated to any knowledge about the Ultimate Truth. 12. In the matter of sensual pleasures one should be cautious and restrained. 13. Attachment to the use of perfumes, flowers and similar decorative items is not recommended. 14. One should not cultivate an interest and relish for hearing about mundane affairs. 15. One should always be studying about the Lord (Bhagavad-vishaya) - about His incarnations, pastimes and salvific activity. 16. Association with those who identify themselves with the mind/body complex should be avoided. 17. Even Vaishnavas who are enchanted by the passions of the body and mind should be avoided. 18. Avoid associating with those who repeatedly talk ill of others. 19. To compensate for the inevitable association with materialists one should frequently have spiritual conversations with other Vaishnavas. 20. All contact, even by sight or conversation with those who deprecate the devotees and who habitually obstruct the preceptors should be totally shunned. 21. Always cultivate the association of those devotees who regularly are mindful of their surrender to the Lord (by chanting the dvaya mantra.) 22. Avoiding those who follow other paths one should always nurture the association of devotees who know the right means to the Goal. 23. Always associate with those who know the three secrets and the three principles. 24. Do not mingle with those who are dedicated to the pursuit of material possessions and pleasures, but rather associate with people who are more beneficial. 25. Practice the repetition of the name of a devotee you do the name of the Lord Himself. 26. When addressing Vaishnavas or naming them one should always be humble and reverential and should use the plural form of address (considered polite in Tamil). 27. When one sees another Vaishnava, they should approach each other and salute in all reverence. 28. When Vaishnavas approach one should go forward to meet them and when they depart one should walk a short distance with them and then request permission to return. 29. When a Vaishnava greets you respond immediately and reciprocate, failure to do so is unbecoming and offensive. 30. Never consider yourself equal to any other Vaishnava. 31. Do not even show disrespect to the shadow of a Vaishnava. 32. Do not cast your shadow on Vaishnavas. 33. Having been in contact with non-devotees one should not then contact devotees (without having bathed). 34. One must refrain from self-congratulation and self-glorification in front of other Vaishnavas - be constantly mindful of your insignificance. 35. No one should ever be insulted or injured in the presence of Vaishnavas. 36. Do not neglect or look down on Vaishnavas even if they are financially deprived. 37. The Physical and the mental bodies of devotees who are endowed with devotion, knowledge and dispassion should be treated with particular reverence. 38. Devotees endowed with knowledge, devotion and dispassion must be honoured irrespective of the social class or caste into which they were born. 39. Even if the faults of a Vaishnava are brought to your notice such as low birth, neglect of duties, vices, engagement in sense gratification etc. do not mention them to others. Talk only about their positive qualities and good deeds. 40. In the presence of the Lord, devotees or acharyas one should even sit in a decent and respectful manner. 41. While sleeping take care that the feet do not point towards temples, or residences of devotees and acharyas. 42. To develop closer association with the Lord one should follow the teachings of the devotees (bhagavatas) and earnestly follow their directives and advice. 43. Service to the devotees is the sole purpose of life, affront to devotees will lead to self-destruction. 44. Without service to both Bhagavan (God) and Bhagavatas (devotees) one can never attain liberation but only degeneration. 45. The worship of the devotees (bhagavata) is superior to the worship of the Lord (Bhagavan). The tirtha and prasadam of the devotee are superior to that of the Lord Himself. 46. Bearing rancour towards devotees who are learned in the three principles and constantly intent upon them is very spiritually harmful to oneself and results in self-destruction. Revering such scholars and acting so as to please them is a sure means to Liberation. 47. When passing a temple or other structure indicating the presence of the Lord you should bow reverentially before them. 48. One should avoid glorifying the palatial buildings of governments. 49. The practice of the precepts is not a means to an end. 50. Practice of the precepts is in itself the goal. 51. Follow the precepts of the gurus and adhere to your religious conduct, avoid pursuing people who are worldly and irreligious. 52. When the divine qualities are being praised or retold, listen attentively and avoid commenting on them adversely. 53. The water of the Lord’s sacrament (tirtha) should not be taken in the presence of non-believers. 54. Do not accept the Sri-pada-tirtha (sacramental washing of the feet) from those who do not know the three secrets (tattva, hita and purushartha) and the three principles (cit, acit and ishvara) 55. The water from the feet of the guru (Sri-pada-tirtha) and learned and devout Vaishnavas should be taken every day. 56. If you should be in contact with non-believers even by accident you should have a bath and take the Sri-pada-tirtha of the preceptor. 57. The sacramental water (tirtha) offered in the houses of non-devotees should not be accepted. 58. But if in the presence of the Lord in a Vishnu temple the tirtha and prasada can be taken even if non-devotees are around. 59. Tirtha and prasada must under no circumstances be rejected in a holy place. 60. In temples tirtha and prasada should never be refused even if one is fasting. 61. Icons in the houses of non-devotees should not be worshipped. 62. Even when insulted a Vaishnava should not attempt to retort or to confront. 63. Vaishnavas who are keen on obtaining everlasting joy should strive for the welfare of all devotees. 64. Once one has surrendered to the Lord one should not act against the Divine Will even if certain comforts are attained thereby. 65. All food consumed should first be offered to the Lord. Even flowers, fruit, scents and similar things should not be accepted if they are not at first dedicated to the Lord. 66. An offering to the Lord should not be selected according to one’s personal preference. 67. The offering should be pure, fresh and unsullied. 68. All offerings should be distributed as a sacramental meal, it should not be consumed in gluttony. 69. A devotees should not consume food seen or tasted by others. 70. Money and valuables donated by those dis-inclined towards devotional service should not be accepted even if they are given unasked. 71. All the rites & ceremonies prescribed by the Shastras must be performed with the utmost dedication and spirit of surrender. 72. To consider an icon of the Lord to be a mere statue, to consider the preceptor to be like any other person, to grade Vaishnavas into categories, treat tirtha and prasada as mere water and food, to regard Sriman Narayana as one of many gods - will lead to backsliding and retardation of spiritual progress. Upon realising that this was in fact the last sermon the distressed disciples the Acharya then gave one the last sermon in which he stressed 10 points: 1. Those who have surrendered to the Lord (prapannas) should consider that everything that happens to them is ordained by the Lord, and therefore should never complain no matter how much misery or suffering is involved. Lamenting would indicate conduct that is inconsistent with the doctrine of Surrender (Prapatti) which has been done. The Surrender should be total and irrevocable and should not even for an instant be suspended or treated in a casual way. 2. The mosaic of occurrences in a person’s life is due to past karma consisting of actions, emotions and thoughts which are done by the individual alone. This being the case there is no cause for lament - lamenting and whingeing makes one a disbeliever in the Law of Karma - all the vicissitudes of life should be faced with undaunted courage. 3. Work should not be done as a means to an end. 4. All work should be done merely as service to the Lord. 5. Serve the great devotees (bhagavata uttamas) with sincerity and study and understand the Sri Bhashya from them. These higher ideals are to be propagated everywhere for the benefit of humanity. 6. If the Sri Bhashya cannot be studied and propagated then one should at least study the teachings of the Alvars (Divya Prabandham) and propagate them in public places. 7. If even this cannot be done then attend to the cleanliness and upkeep of the temples, and ensure that offerings of flowers and decorations etc are made. 8. If even this cannot be done then build a retreat at Tiru-narayana-puram (Melkote) and simply live there. 9. If even this cannot be done then simply remain where you are and chant the dvaya mantra with full concentration and faith. 10. If this too is considered beyond your capabilities then simply resort to the service of a spiritual preceptor who is endowed with knowledge, devotion and dispassion; with humility and devoid of egoism - There is no other short-cut for leading a spiritual life. Ref:

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