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Selfless acharyas

May 24, 2019 10:53 pm | Updated 10:53 pm IST

Among the desirable qualities Lord Krishna speaks of, one is the quality of Acharya upasana. This means service to one’s preceptor. What is the need to specifically spell out this quality, when so many other qualities are being spoken of by the Lord? The reason is the important role the Acharya plays in leading us towards the Lord. So important is the Acharya that he is shown more respect than even the Lord Himself, said Valayapet Ramachariar, in a discourse. The Acharya should be worshipped with reverence. Without the Acharya to guide us, moksha will remain beyond reach. It is in view of the incomparable and irreplaceable role that the Acharya plays in our spiritual life, that the Lord stresses respect and service to one’s Acharya. It is the Acharya who imparts atma jnana to us. And what do they get in return for this? Nothing at all. This shows the selfless nature of the service that the Acharya renders.

In the last verse of Tattva Navaneetam, Vedanta Desika says that while it is possible to compare the Lord to something, such comparisons are impossible for an Acharya. It is impossible to compare the Lord, and to think we can is only a supposition. Let us assume this is possible. Let us say we compare the Lord to an ocean without waves, or an ocean that is not salty, but nectarine in its sweetness. Or we can compare the Lord to daylight and the moon being together at the same time. In Kamasikashtakam, Desika says that even while the Lord as Narasimha roared in fury against Hiranyakasipu, His eyes, when they rested on Prahlada were full of love. Such contrasts can be imagined in the Lord, and become the basis of comparisons. Poetic imagination helps in making comparisons. But comparisons are simply not possible for Acharyas.

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