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Vadakali, Thenkalai – Philosophical differences

Updated on November 14, 2021 in General
17 on September 29, 2021


There are 18 philosophical differences between the sampradayams of vadakalai & thenkalai. One difference is – in vadakalai, when thiru mantram (Om Namo Narayanaya) is taught to non-brahmins, Om is omitted. Is that so?. But complete mantra is taught in thenkalai.

adiyen understood through the thread from Sri. Velukkudi Krishnan swamy that Ramanujar preached maha mantram to all varnas, who had pancha samskaram, at the gopuram of thirukoshtiyur temple. Would it not be desirable to follow the footsteps of SadhAcharya Ramanujar?.

Also as per vadakalai, even after prapatti, the caste distinctions are maintained and only verbal respect by prapannas of higher caste is to be given to others. Can such differentiation bring harmony amongst the ghosti comprising all varnas?. Will it amount to Bhagavata apacharam?. But, all distinctions of caste are disregarded after prapatti as per tenkalai.

I request to excuse, if I am wrong in my understanding.

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah.


SriVaishnava dasan

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0 on September 29, 2021

Forgive adiyen for any errors.

One will get all the knowledge by developing bhakthi, and karunai. 

In present times, chant dvayam and all other mantras for loka kshemam (for the welfare of all people in the world). By this way one can be blessed with gnana, bhakti and sampath (WEALTH).

To lie with Velukkudi Swamy’s objective as in En Pani 2234 & 2238 “Nan Enna Seithaal Bhagavan Anandhapaduvar”

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Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah! Sri Sriranga Narayana Jeeyar Swamigal Thiruvadigale Saranam! Sri Velukkudi Swamigal Thiruvadigale Saranam! 

adiyen have also understood these differences between the sects. However, as our Swami, quoting from his father’s speech, always says, “as long as the differences in the sects are focussed on giving importance to Vedas and ubayavedas, it is good” anything beyond is not good for the sampradayam. adiyen follows Tenkalai and personally feels that the doctrines of Tenkalai are aligning with adiyen’s thought process but is in no position to comment on which is right or which is wrong. Adiyen would like to share the following for reference. 


Sri Govindacharya Swamy wrote extensively in English in the late 19th century and early 20th century for the benefit of the western audience at that time, but now applicable universally. 

The points of difference in the doctrines (of Vadakalai and Thenkalai) are of considerable importance for the study of religion in India. The following communication from Swarm Govindacarya, himself a follower of the Thenkalai belief. It may be noted that while each school has numerous adherents in Southern India, the great majority of Vaisnavas of Northern India trace their spiritual descent from Ramananda, and profess doctrines akin to those of the Vadakalai.

S. = South School.
N. = North School.

1. Grace of God (Prasada).
N. Say that Grace is to be earned or bought; i.e. “cooperative” (sahetuka).
S. Say that Grace comes freely. God’s grace is sovereignly free and, therefore, has no price; i.e. “irresistible” (nirhetuka).

2. Grades of Bliss in Moksa.
N. Say that there are no grades.
S. Say that some variation exists, but it is neither quantitative nor qualitative. The variation or difference arises in virtue of different duties assigned to different Muktas (i.e. freed, liberated, or salvated souls).

3. Works (Karma) and Gnosis (Jnana).
N. Say that these do not constitute direct means to attain God; but are ancillary to Bhakti. Bhakti, therefore, constitutes the direct means to Moksa ( = God-attainment).
S. Say that any of these so-called distinct means may lead to Moksa; for in each case the mental attitude of the person is the chief determinant. It is the conversion of the heart that is chiefly aimed at.

4. Nature of Sri (or Laksmi).
N. Say that Sri has essential pervasion (Svarupa-Vyapti) also, as Narayana; i.e. pervasion by essence.
S. Say that Sri has attributive pervasion (Guna-Vyapti) and corporeal pervasion (Vigraha-Vyapti), but not the essential pervasion (Svarupa-Vyapti). The Motherhood differs from Fatherhood and differs again from Sonhood. Son is the Soul, who has attributive pervasion only. Mother is Sri (or the passive female principle of the cosmos), who has attributive plus corporeal pervasions. Father is Narayana (or the active male principle of the cosmos), who has essential plus attributive plus corporeal pervasions. This pervasive character is what differentiates the three Principles from each other, viz. Soul, Sri, and Narayana.

5. Sri’s Powers.
N. Say that Sri has the power to grant Moksa—a power which she shares equally with Narayana.
S. Say that Sriman Narayana alone possesses this power; and that Sri performs the function of the Paraclete, i.e. Mediatrix in this magnum opus.

6. Definition of Vatsalya or God’s Love (or parental affection) to His creatures.
N. Say that by the expression “God’s love for soul” it is meant that the love is blind to its (soul’s) taints or faults (dosha darsitvam).
S. Say that by it is meant that the love is not merely blind, but is so overpowering as to evince a relish for the so-called taint (dosa bhoghyatvam).

7. Definition of Daya or Compassion.
N. Say that compassion is that feeling (or emotion) in the heart which begets the wish to relieve the pain of the pained (Para-duhkha-niracikirsa).
S. Say that it is that feeling in the heart which, on seeing pain, is itself as painful as the pain of the pained. It is the feeling which cannot simply bear to see the pain of others, but is itself painful or pain-feeling (Para-duhkha-dukhitva).

8. Prapatti, or Resignation to God.
N. Say that Prapatti or Resignation is also a soul-initiated act, like Love to God (Bhakti), leading to Moksa. Resignation thus is one among the several ways leading to God.
S. Say that Resignation is not one among the ways, but the Way or the Means, the adoption of which specifically characterizes those high souls who have sought that way, to the exclusion of others. This attitude of entire capitulation or surrender to God differentiates such souls from others, so that they are not to be classed with others, i.e. others whose hearts are still attached to the other ways, and have, therefore, not arrived at the ripe condition of implicit attachment to the way of Resignation. This Way is God Himself, whereas the other Ways are Ways of God. Prapatti is called a “Way ” for convenience (upacaratah).

9. Who should resort to Prapatti ?
N. Say that only those who are incapable of walking in the other paths resort to this path of Prapatti or Resignation. It is sheer helplessness that drives the soul to seek shelter in Resignation.
S. Say that the way of Resignation is for all, be they capable or incapable. Resignation is the sine qua non of every penitent soul. Without this chief feature other qualifications are futile. With it other qualifications, because they qualify, derogate from the greatness of Resignation. Resignation per se is all-powerful. Qualifying it is to weaken it and detract from its dignity.

10. Conditions of this Resignation. (Vide Bhagavad- Gita, xviii, 66.)
N. Say that the conditions may be stated thus: “If you, souls, are incapable of following the other ways ordained in the Sastras, give them up and come to Me.”
S. Say otherwise—”If you, souls, are capable of walking in the other ways, then try your might. If your capability alone will elevate you to Me, well, try; but if you are at once keenly alive to your weakness, i.e. imbecility and ignorance to compass that end by your own strength, then why not lean at once on what is Strong and Wise, i.e. God, Myself?” The former attitude is that of self-assertiveness; the latter, self-abandonment. The former attitude is measuring one’s own strength; the latter, giving it up for God’s strength. The former attitude is one of self-emphasis; the latter, self-renouncement. The former attitude is self-glorification or self-aggrandizement; the latter, self-abasement or self-abnegation. The former attitude is one of self-perpetuation; the latter, self-effacement. The former attitude is one of self-condensing; the latter, self-rarefying. Self-indulgence the one, self-sacrifice the other. In fine, self-projection by self-will is the one, whereas self-rejection for God’s Wisdom (omniscience) is the other; self-strength in the one case, God’s omnipotence in the other. That is, the object of this constant effort to negate oneself is to break the shell of the soul’s hardened material past, and destroy the consequent mainspring of egoism (ahankara).

11. Do qualifications of the other ways qualify Prapatti ?
N. Say, Yes.
S. Say, No; on the other hand, they disqualify. For the only qualification that is required is for the soul to absolutely cognize its intimate relationship with God (From Laksmi-tantra, xvii, 70). That relationship is the one which comes of Serviency (sesatva) on the part of the soul, and Sovereignty or Paramouncy (sesitva) on the part of God. “I am Thine, not Mine” is the cry of the Prapanna. The distinct vision by the soul of its own helplessness, in its relation to the only helpfulness of God, is the only help; the only passport to success; the only way leading to the open portals of Heaven; and, therefore, liable to be vilified by other qualifications which the soul may put forward as its own self-earned quantum or modicum for salvation.

12. Meaning of Works to the Resigned (Prapanna).
N. Say that the acts done by the Resigned soul conduce to evoke God’s pleasure ; and should, therefore, be performed to seek that end.
S. Say it is presumptuous to think that the souls’ acts ought necessarily to please God. They may or may not. It is not for the soul to judge or predetermine the effects from causes set afoot by itself. Performance of Works by the Resigned has not this sense, but the sense that by their means an example may be set to those whose way to salvation is yet begun—steep and uphill—that they may so be led up. Philanthropy is the motive of Works, not currying the favour of the Godhead. To imagine thus a purchase or barter with God savours of audacity indeed in the Soul.

13. What are the limbs (anga) of Prapatti (i.e. necessary preliminaries to it) ?
N. Say that the sixfold preparations necessarily precede Prapatti, viz. those mentioned in the verse- (l) “Anukulyasya samkalpah, (vow or pledge to do what He likes) (2) pratikulyasya varjanam (vow or pledge to do what He doesn’t likes)  (3) Raksisyati ‘ti visvaso, (He will only save us) (4) goptrtva-varanam tatha (confidence in the path) (5) Atma-niksepa, (6) karpanye (I don’t have anything), sadvidha sarana-‘gatih II ”
S. Say that solid, steadfast, stable Prapatti stands in no need of any prelude. It is per se the main act which spontaneously engenders, on the other hand, the so-called preliminary signs. E.g. the pounding of paddy is the act; perspiration and other signs follow it as a matter of course. Anukulya, etc., are thus not postulates but corollaries. The offspring is mistaken for the parent. It is a posterior effect, not an anterior cause.

14. Penalty for a Prapanna-peccant.
N. Say that if a Prapanna, subsequent to the act of Prapatti, stumbles, or slips into error, or relapses into his old ways, the atonement consists in repeating that act again, and as often again as one may so slip.
S. Say, Not so. Prapatti is the act once for all of freely surrendering oneself into God’s hands. When that act is done, it is done once for all. This first act contains all the potentiality for salvation; and therefore can never be cancelled by a moral fall again or subsequent act of folly. If it be said that there is and must be a reparation for every defilement, we say that that reparation or atonement consists in bringing vividly to one’s mind the saving virtue of his first efficacious act of surrender, Prapatti. This vivid recollection contrite is repentance enough, and thus the first act of Prapatti remains intact and unabrogated, the mental remorseful recollection adequately satisfying all expiatory demand. The first stout act of surrender remains pure and unrepealed, and never on any account rendered nugatory by any subsequent peccancy. The defiled soul is cleansed by a pathetic appeal to its former pledge of faith and trust in God i.e. Prapatti. “Atone for faults, then go to God,” N. say. ” Go to God and faults get atoned,” S. say (This is said by Vedantacarya himself, who is identified with the North School, in his Pancaratra Raksa).

15. Does Prapatti win or buy grace?
N. Say, Yes. As in the Path of Works (read Karma-Mimamsa) works leave insensible residua, technically called Apurva, so in the path of knowledge (read Brahma – Mimamsa) Prapatti answers to Apurva; and as Apurva produces material fruit, Prapatti produces Moksa fruit or spiritual fruit. This is humorously referred to as margata-kisora-nyaya.
S. Say that to interpret Prapatti as a means or effort put forth by the soul to compel God’s grace is tantamount to not knowing the very nature of Prapatti. Prapatti as understood by you, viz. as compelling grace, is not Prapatti at all; for, so interpreted, it is not explained as unconditional surrender or as undoubting resignation. Nay, it thus, constitutes a barter, or a huckstering with God. Prapatti is that which completely resigns, and leaves Him the Master of the situation. Prapatti as understood by you may be called Svagata-Svikara, or acceptance by God initiated by your asking; as understood by us, it is Paragata-Svikara, or acceptance by God of His own free will and choice, unasked, uncompelled.This is humorously called marjara-kisora-nyaya. Apurva is no other to us than this Grace (Ref: Brihad-Brahma-Samhita, i, 7.16).

16. Caste and Prapanna, how related?
N. Say that a Prapanna, but who is of an inferior caste, is deserving of only so much respect as may be displayed by the tongue.
S. Say that no such limitations can be tolerated. A Prapanna must be regarded completely as a Prapanna, irrespective of caste, creed, or colour. No inequality begat by caste or other such formalities and conventions ought to separate the godly from the godly.

17. The Nature of God’s Pervasion.
N. Say that inasmuch as the soul is subtile (aim), it cannot be permeated by God, as then (i.e. when it is permeable) it can no more be subtile (arm), but pertains to the category of the “gross” (i.e. pervaded, vyapya). So God’s permeating power is limited by the subtle soul.
S. Say, Not so. God’s permeating power passes our power of conception. He is most subtile, aye, more subtile than the most subtile. So He can interpenetrate even the soul. His power of pervasion, pari-samdpya-vrtti as it is designated, is like that of genera and species co-inhering in every group and individual constituting such genera and species; like that of class pervading every integer of that class; like number permeating the figures 1, 2, 3, and alphabet pervading A, B, C, and so forth.

18. Kaivalya (Isolation)-Moksa (or Soul-sight or Soul actualization; or the State of Atomic-aloofness).
N. Say that this state is temporary.
S. Say it is perennial. The soul wished for it, strove for it, and got it. What it got is eternal, by its own making. Where, then, is extrication from this state? Being a spiritual state, return to material planes is cut off. Being a soul-state, rising to Divine-planes or God-state is shut off.


1. Gain, Soul or God?
N. Say that God is gain to the Soul.
S. Say that the Soul is gain to God.

2. Definition of Vyapti or Presence.
N. Say that Vyapti is extension conterminous with the ten quarters of space; in other words Vyapti is a spatial relation.
S. Say that it is not merely this, but by the inscrutable power of Providence the Presence is not only external but internal, and in ways and modes unthinkable by man.

3. Astaksari-Mantra (or Eight-Syllabled Holy Prayer).
N. Say that when this is taught to others then Brahmanas, the Pranava must be omitted ; and that without the Pranava, the remainder of the mantra is capable of being split into eight syllables, justifying its name.
S. Say, to say so is artificial and torturing of the text, for without all its parts retained intact, no mantra can possess any efficacy. So, then, to be efficacious, this mantra is intended to be taught in its pristine purity and entirely to all, irrespective of caste, creed, and colour.

4. The power of Free (Nitya) and Freed (Mukta) Souls.
N. Say that the Free and the Freed Souls have no power to create, or, for example, make a cosmos.
S. Say that there are no such restrictions. Any Nitya or any Mukta is capable of doing anything by virtue of God’s commands.

5. Location of Kaivalya.
N. Say that Kaivalya is situated in a corner of the Material Universe.
S. Say that Kaivalya, per se, by hypothesis, i.e. by endeavour, is a trans-material (metaphysical, so to say) state. Hence it must be located in some corner of the Spiritual Universe.

Badrinarayana Ramanuja Dasan. 

on September 29, 2021

Badrinarayana Ramanuja Dasan swamy,

Thank you for bringing the complete list. Though, I wanted to take few more points, I thought, I will limit to only varna based differences to start with.

I did refer to Sri. A. Govindacarya, M.R.A.S and UVe Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari’s work 18 philosophical differences before posting this query. Both of them have given same differences. Sri. A. Govindacarya’s list, point 16 is my second point and 3rd point covered under additional points is my first one. Sorry, I made a small mix up by oversight.

adiyen’s acharya is also thenkalai.

Hope to get the clarification for the query.


on September 29, 2021

adiyen did refer to purvacharya’s work, which probably thought to be paved way for these differences. With my very little knowledge, I could identify several of these points in those works. I am not an exponent to concretely vouch that all these details are from their work.


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Thank you both swamis for sharing this complete list!

I was aware of only some of these and not all.

Now I realise, first of all I need a special course in 19th century English to fully comprehend Sri. A Govindacharya’s writing!! 🙂


on September 30, 2021

Very true! AG Swami’s Yatindra Mata Deepika is an awesome one. One can find his books at 

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7 on September 30, 2021

Srivaishnavites have utmost respect, reverence and cherish Bhagavat Ramanujar. Life of guruparamparai is being read. Incidents in Ramanujar’s life should be considered the teachings and guidance for the prapannas, besides his scriptures. More over, adisheshan came down at the instance of Perumal to aid Bhaddatmas to cross the ocean of samsara. Manavala mamunigal, considered avataram of Ramanujar, is the purvacharyar in thenkalai lineage.

Hence, adiyen could not understand why to exhibit discrimination based on varna. Ordinary people do not know who is at spiritually advanced state. If the affected Srivaishnavite feel bad about the treatment meted to him, adiyen believe, can lead to bhagavata apacharam.

Seeing Brahmam in everything is mentioned to be very high state of spirituality. Scriptures advice this. Can one see Brahmam in everything with discrimination?.

Though feel bad, adiyen would like to mind my spiritual journey. It is not my concern and should not bother. Afterall, my goal is Him and His residence. Let Ramanujar take care about everyone and everything.

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah.


on September 30, 2021

Nicely said Swami. Adiyen’s goal is to serve Him and His devotees rest He will take care. 

on October 16, 2021

Srimathe Rangaramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha

@Srivaishnava Dasan Swamy

Adiyen can’t agree

“Hence, adiyen could not understand why to exhibit discrimination based on varna. Ordinary people do not know who is at spiritually advanced state. If the affected Srivaishnavite feel bad about the treatment meted to him, adiyen believe, can lead to bhagavata apacharam.”

Who said “Shruthi Smrithir Maimaiva AgnyA?”

Shruthi & Smrithi are my orders?

AchAram & AnushtAnam are two eyes of great SriVaishnavites.

Udayavar’s BhArya cleaned the place because she was supposed to. How can it be considered wrong?

How she knows what udayavar was thinking?

Muni vAhanar followed what he was supposed to. So Perumal liked.

He did not go to garbha graha and touch moolavar saying he is a BhAgavathA.

Respecting BhagavathA doesn’t mean disregarding rituals.

Even in Ashram we have vaideeha pandhi, even though we are brahmins we can’t sit with Vedic Brahmins to eat.

Your BhAgavathA rules won’t apply there.


on October 16, 2021

Vikraminside swamy,

Did not Krishna ate at the residence of Vidhura. Shruthi & Smrithi are not applicable to Him Or it is an example for others?. Sri Ramachandra graciously accepted fruits at the hands of Sabari.

Your BhAgavathA rules won’t apply there.From vikraminside

adiyen have read from many acharyas works that there should be no distinction shown amongst Bhagavatas. Hence, I have quoted and it is not my rule. Sri Velukkudi Ranganathan swamy, in the course on Vedanta, mentions that since the works of our Acharyas give us an impeccable understanding of the Vedanta Philosophy, they are considered the most supreme Pramanam.

How she knows what udayavar was thinking?From vikraminside

Do not agree. The incidents in Udaiyavar’s life indicates clearly about his thinking.

After leaving this world, Peurmal invites the prapanna, embraces and he gets the privilege to sit on His lap at SriVaikuntam. All are going to enjoy the same experience. Is treatment of equality here or vaikuntam is important.  Hence, adiyen is not going to bother about the differences shown in this world, though feel bad.


on November 11, 2021

Srimathe Rangaramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha

@SriVaishnavadasan Swamy

“Did not Krishna ate at the residence of Vidhura. Shruthi & Smrithi are not applicable to Him Or it is an example for others?”

AchAram AnushtAnam not to be confused with discrimination. Sri Velukkudi Krishnan Swamy told several times “Differentiation” is not “Discrimination”.

In one incident, Sri ranganathar , couldn’t bear rain, took shelter in Thiruvanaikovil madapam.

Udayavar did not take shelter. Saying “Avar Aaan Pillai engey vendumAnAlum pogalAm , nAn Dharma pathini, I can’t go”

So , we can’t do what Krishna does.

There is a upanyAsam with title “Follow Rama , Listen to Krishna” by Sri Velukkudi Krishnan Swamy.

There is no follow Krishna. We can’t follow everything did by Krishna.

Sri Rama hugged Guhan Swamy. He followed what dharma to be followed by a Kshatriya.

Of course there is no theetu to Perumal but we humans have theetu.

BhAgavathA of course are greater no doubt. How deeply one is involved is a BhAgavathA’s personal choice.

Muni vAhanar is a correct representation. He did not cross temple boundaries. It was a rule of those times. Similarly temple priests worked within his boundaries

Nowhere udayavar threw AchAram & AnushtAnam away. In fact, he inisists us to follow.

We can’t do what udayavar is doing. He is sesha avathAram.

So adiyen stand by Udayavar’s poorvAshrama BhArya. Whatever she did was correct. Who are we to challenge it?

BhAgavathA nu sollittu BhrAmanathvatha thooki potutu poidalAmA?


on November 11, 2021

I know mama even today who does not touch his own grandson while in Kainkaryam. It’s not discrimination it’s meticulous following of “Dharma”.

on November 11, 2021

vikraminside swamy,

Udayavar did not take shelter. ………………… nAn Dharma pathini, I can’t go”From vikraminside

I interpret this incident as :: Udayavar would have decided not to take shelter, to avoid future generation misinterpreting and say that he visited other devata’s temple. Otherwise, dharma pathini should follow her pathi, since it is only taking shelter for rain.

Another incident has come to my mind wherein Udayavar went to hutment area to bring back the son of his disciple and put feet on his head.

Scripture says Brahmam pervades everywhere and everything is sareeram of Brahmam. We are preached to learn, understand and realise Brahmam, though it is very very difficult. If everything is sareeram of Brahmam, then there should not be any selective differentiation or discrimination, whatever it be, amongst it’s parts. Will any of us show any differentiation over the parts of our sareeram.

Can one simply think about Brahmam as mentioned above and keep away selectively from some parts of it’s sareeram?. Is sareeram of Brahmam not Holy one?. Then how can one realise Brahmam without involving with sareeram of Brahmam.

There appears to be missing link or this elderly person is unable to comprehend and trying to understand.


on November 14, 2021


“Otherwise, dharma pathini should follow her pathi, since it is only taking shelter for rain.”

Sri Ranganayaki thAyAr Padi thAndA pathini

Devareer can ask Velukkudi Swamy adiyen know this story only from our Swamy.

I am Ramanujar’s Dharma pathini.

Srimath Veda mArga PrathishtApana AchAryan
RAmAnujA Divya Agynya

So udayavar’s teaching my following.

No interpretation whatsoever. It’s a direct teaching.


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0 on October 16, 2021

Srimathe Rangaramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha

Those who help adiyen are Vadakalai
Those who don’t are Thenkalai

Or vice versa

Those who help me are Thenkalai
Those who don’t are Vadakalai

My new School

Pushing a child saying “Get away” after signing “வஞ்ச முக்குறும்பாம்” are no kalais


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0 on October 16, 2021

Srimathe Sri Varaha Mahadesikaya Namaha

ஆழ்வார் பாசுரம் பாடினா காதல் வரணும்
அனைத்து ஜீவ ராசி மேலயும் காருண்யம் வரணும்

பாடிட்டு கோவ பட்டால் அவாள எந்த கலை லிஸ்ட் இல் சேர்ப்பது?

In the heat of fighting and getting lost in these differences we forget the “core values” of love ♥️ & compassion

What’s the point of knowing all these differences?

அடியார்க்கு அடியேன்

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0 on October 16, 2021

நாம என்ன கற்பனை பண்ணிண்டாலும்
பெருமாள் அவர் நெனசதை தான் குடுக்க போறார்!

பூர்வாசார்யாளை எதிர்த்து பேசரியா?

சத்தியமா இல்லை

நிதர்சனம் சொன்னேன்


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