~by Gopalan Suresh Raj
An ideal Acharya is one who practices what He preaches.
श्री वेदान्त देशिका (Sri Vedanta Desika) enlists atleast fourteen qualities that an ideal Acharya must posses in the first sloka of his न्यास विंशति (Nyasa Vimshati). Vedas, Vedantha, and Smruthi have long stressed these qualities as the barest minimum essentials that a Satacharya (सताचार्य) must posses to initiate and guide a prospective SriVaishnava (श्रीवैष्णव) in the Saranagathi way of life.
It is therefore imperative for prospective SriVaishnavas who are eager to receive a clear comprehension of all the aspects of Saranagati and its practices to seek such an Acharya who commands these fourteen qualities for success in their quest for emancipation.
The Sloka goes as follows:
सिद्धं सत्संप्रदाये स्थिर धियमनघं श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठं
सत्त्वस्थं सत्य वाचं समय नियतया साधु वृत्त्या समेतं ।
डंम्भासूयादि मुक्तं जित विषयि गणं दीर्घ बन्धुं दयाळंु
स्खालित्ये सासितारं स्व पर हितपरं देशिकं भुष्णुरीप्सेत् ॥
- श्री वेदान्त देशिका (Sri Vedanta Desika) in न्यास विंशति (Nyasa Vimshati - sloka 1)
सतसंप्रदाये सिद्धं - An ideal Acharya should be steeped in tradition as laid down by all the SriVaishnava Azhwars and Acharyas. He must be firmly established in the lofty traditions that descended hierarchically from திரு நம்மாழ்வார் (Sri Nammazhwar), திரு நாதமுனி (Sri Nathamuni), திரு ஆளவந்தார் (Sri Alavandar), திரு பெரிய நம்பி (Sri Periya Nambi), श्री रामानुजाचार्य (Sri Ramanujacharya), etc.
स्तिरदियं - An ideal Acharya should have a steady mind in all circumstances and should remain unperturbed by false arguments. He should be of firm mind even when people who give wrong meanings (कुध्रुष्टि) or deluded souls filled with nescience (कुमथि) try to agitate Him with their debates based on deceitful reasoning (कुयुक्थि वाधं).
अङ्गाहं - An ideal Acharya should be totally devoid of all blemishes and faults or sins.
श्रोत्रियं - An ideal Acharya should be a master of all Vedas and Vedantas including the Sri Bhashyam (श्रीभाष्यं).
ब्रह्म निष्टं - An ideal Acharya should have firm blemishless devotion (भक्थि-Bhakthi) and unshakable faith in Sriman Narayana.
सत्त्वस्थं - An ideal Acharya should act in a manner conductive to augmenting purity, and balance of mind (सत्त्व गुणा -Sattva Guna). He should posses a dominance of purity, and balance of mind (सत्त्व गुणा -Sattva Guna).
सत्य वाचं - An ideal Acharya should always uphold the truth unswervingly without resorting to deceit or falsehood. He should be a master of honest truthful words that would bring comfort to a good disciple.
समय नियतिया सादु वृत्त्या समेतं - An ideal Acharya should be practicing routines (अनुष्टानं) in tune with the times, appropriate for each occasion, but without compromising on the basics laid down by pious ones in the शास्त्रा (Shastra).
डंबा असूयादि मुक्तं - An ideal Acharya should be devoid of envy, egotism, jealousy, and such inauspicious qualities.
जित विषयी गणं - An ideal Acharya should keep all His senses under total control all the time. He will not have entry into observances prohibited by शास्त्रा (Shastra).
धीर्घ बन्धुं - An ideal Acharya should be a reliable friend to anyone and everyone both here and hereafter. He should be an all-weather friend for all those disciples who seek His protection, direction, and counsel. He should always seek the welfare of those who have sought His refuge.
दायाळुं - An ideal Acharya should be extremely compassionate to even those that act inimically. His kindness for all should be spontaneous.
स्खालित्ये सासिदारं - An ideal Acharya should never hesitate to correct His disciples when they err or lose their way and ensure that they return to the right path of good behavior. He should correct their trespasses against शास्त्रा (Shastra) and suggest appropriate corrective actions to make amends for their sins.
स्व पर हितं - An ideal Acharya should be interested in the well-being of not just Himself, but in all those He comes in contact with. He will always determine what is good for Himself and everyone else and act accordingly.
श्री वेदान्त देशिका (Sri Vedanta Desika) implores all prospective SriVaishnavas seeking salvation to select such a SriVaishnava Acharya who has all these fourteen auspicious qualities in abundance.
அடியேன் ராமானுஜ தாசன் (Ramanuja's humble servant)
श्रीनिवास वरद शर्मा a.k.a. Suresh Raj Gopalan.
काश्यप आपत्सार नैद्र्व त्रयाक्षय प्रवरान्वितः नैद्र्व काश्यप गोथ्रः आपस्तम्भ सूत्रः यजुष शाकाध्यायि श्रीनिवास वरद शर्मा नाम अहं अस्मि भोः ॥
I am Srinivasa Varadha Sharma, of the Naidruva Kaashyapa gotra, a student of the Apastamba dharma sutras, from the Taittiriya shakha of the Krishna Yajur Veda, and of the three pravaras named Kaashyapa, Aapathsaara, and Naidruva.