This chapter deals with the accessories or Angas for performing Prapatti. They are:-
(1) Aanukulya Sankalpam: Resolve to act only in accordance with
the directives of the Lord and which would , therefore, be pleasurable to
him. This includes-
(2) Praatikulya Varjanam: Resolve to scrupulously avoid all actions not pleasurable to the Lord (i.e) those opposed to the ones stated under (1) above.
(3) Maha Viwasam: Absolute faith and confidence that the Lord will surely protect the soul and certainly grant Moksha.
(4) Karpanyam : Realizing the utter inability of the soul to do anything except surrendering at the feet of the Lord. This 'Self effacing' confession eliminates the ego, pride, possessiveness and such other defects in the individual
(5) Goptrutva Varanam or Atma Nikshepam : A formal expression of one's total dependence on the Lord for salvation
One who observes these five Angas at the time of Prapatti will certainly be saved by the Lord and granted Moksha at the end of the present lifetime itself. This however does not mean that there can be a dilution in these Angas ( parts ) at the Post-Prapatti period. This only means that they are the accessories at the time of performing Prapatti . Of these, the most important is Mahaviswasam which can arise only as a result of the benign blessings of one's Acharya. Otherwise, it will be difficult to gear up adequate determination and concentration. It may be doubted how one could cultivate the five Angas mentioned above. Day in and day out, we are adopting and practicing these in our lives without our ever being aware of it.
Take the case of your visit to a departmental stores for buying some article that you need. The fact that you go to the particular stores is a favor done to that store. This is Anukulya sankalpa. That you avoid going to another competitor of his is Pratikulya varjana. Since you are not capable of manufacturing the product is an admission of your Akinchanya. The trust you place in the particular stores for delivering the goods in quality, quantity and a reasonable price is your Mahavisvasa that impels you to go to that stores. The fact of your picking up the product you need from the aisle, putting it in the store cart and pushing it to the cash counter for preparing the bill for payment in an implied request for the item constitutes your Goptrutva varana.
To cite another example, when you have necessarily to go out under unavoidable circumstances, you may have to entrust your kids to the care of a baby-sitter, of course for a consideration. The fact that you pay the baby sitter is your Anukulya Sankalpa towards that person. Not entrusting the job to some other person is an act of avoiding something unfavorable to that person .This is Pratikulya varjana. It is because of your inability to look after your wards or take them with you for whatever reason is a tacit acceptance of your helplessness. This is your Akinchanya. Your trust in the babysitter for taking good care of your wards constitutes your confidence or Mahavisvasa. What you request that person while entrusting the job is the expression of Goptrutva varana.
The same analogy can be extended to any situation in real life where one has to be dependent on another at whatever time or place or circumstances. If we recognize the fact of adoption of these measures even in our daily routine, it should not be difficult for us to consciously adopt the same while performing Prapatti- and no special training or orientation is needed to inculcate these requirements.
Mahaviswasam consists of having complete faith in the following:-
(i) The Lord is omniscient (Sarvjna) while the self is imperfect with full of blemishes due to Karma Vasanas. As the Lord is aware of the defects of the Chetana, in the normal course, the Chetana would deserve only punishment. But, on the recommendations of Mother Goddess Lakshmi, the Lord takes pity on the individual, accepts him, forgives his sins and grants Moksha
(ii) The Lord dispenses justice (rewards or punishments) strictly in accordance with one's Karma only. Since most of our deeds are misdeeds, we deserve punishments only. Still out of extreme compassion and love, God may forgive and grant Moksha.
(iii) Since the Lord is omnipotent, there is nothing he cannot grant and there is no higher authority to question his decisions (Sankalpa), he can in exercise of his compassion accept the acts of submission (Prapatti) and reward with Moksha.
(iv) The Supreme Lord may not grant other rewards of material benefits as quickly or as assuredly for various reasons in the interests of the Prapanna ( unlike other deities) but he never delays in granting Moksha to the Prapanna as requested by him
An archer might be able to fix the arrow to his bow and aim immediately at the target. Though the actual act of shooting might be done at an incredibly short split-second, he would have gone through a lot of preparation, practice and intense training before acquiring the expertise and precision in fixing and targeting. He would have developed over a period of probation adequate mental concentration, adequate physical agility, adequate dexterity and adequate confidence about his achieving the hallmark of marksmanship .
So also, there are a few preliminaries for one desirous of performing Prapatti. These are:-
If a person prays at the time of Prapatti for a sinless future in the
Post-Prapatti period for the rest of the present life itself, the Lord
grants this prayer also. But, such a prayer could occur to a Prapanna only
when his mind is so evolved by the kind of training in the disciplines and
dedication mentioned above.
The marks of a person who has performed what he ought to perform viz., Prapatti are explained:
In the Post-Prapatti period till death the Prapanna should be free from all anxieties, worries, tensions or doubts regarding the fact of achieving the goal. He should look forward to the event of deliverance as anticipating the arrival of a honored guest since the release from Samsara ( cycle of births and deaths) is a matter for supreme rejoicing.
He should, nevertheless, be wary of his promises to do the Nitya and Naimittika karmas pleasurable to the Lord, avoid those that would displease the Lord and maintain the Mahaviswasa and remember his own Karpanya and Aakinchanya during the rest of his life. In short, he will conduct himself as a liberated soul even while living in this world .
The repentance on his having committed sins and the atonement therefor are proper before Prapatti; Otherwise, Prapatti would be ineffective. If on the other hand, he languishes over his past karma EVEN AFTER PRAPATTI, it will amount to disbelieving the Lord's assurance to forgive all that. SO, ATONEMENT BEFORE AND HOPE AFTER ARE THE HALLMARKS OF A PERSON WHO HAS DONE PRAPATTI.
A self conceited person might feel that his initiative has been lost, but
the Prapanna would feel that the initiative was never with him; It was
always with the Lord to whom he had surrendered. Neither our will nor our
mind nor our intelligence work out things for us. Every action is His; The
only actin that can ever be ours is to surrender our will to Him. This
surrender, he does not do for us because it has to come out of our free
will. All he does is to create the circumstances for us to surrender to Him.
If we don't surrender in word, thought and deed, He mercifully lets us go
free, but to be tossed about in Samsara and take our own time to come to
Him. Once, having surrendered, the Prapanna can rest assured of His
protection and has nothing else to do for saving himself. (To be continued)
The following traits of behaviour would reveal that a Prapanna has attained proper stage of evolution of mind and the following nishtas (Codes of conduct) Viz., (i) Svarupa Nishta ( self surrender), (ii) Upaya Nishta ( surrendering the means ) and (iii) Purusharta Nishta ( surrendering the fruits of surrender) would serve as a barometer to measure the stage of such evolution:
(1) SVARUPA NISHTA:
(a) He will not feel hurt when others hurl insults on him, being aware that the soul can never be insulted
(b) He will feel compassionate towards those insulting him for only they would incur sin by insulting a Prapanna.
(c) He will feel thankful towards those accusing him because they make him aware of a possible defect in him for rectifying which they had given him an opportunity.
(d) He will not harbor any ill will against those insulting him being convinced that it is divine will that is instrumental for such accusations in a process of testing his courage to face insults with equanimity.
(e) He will feel happy that his sins get removed by being exposed to insults (merited or otherwise) and by exposure of his defects. In practical termsIf someone insults, you say "I think you are perhaps correct" If someone calls you a fool, you say "I have that doubt myself" If someone besmears you, you think you have gained an experience If you think nothing is in your hands, you will have no grief or misery
SRI ANDAL has provided in her TIRUPPAVAI an excellent example of this attitude. When her mates accused her , she answered "Maybe, I am at fault"- "Nanethan Ayiduga"6 This is considered to be the essential index of a true Vaishnava ( Vaishnava lakshanam) NARSI MEHTA, a Gujarati poet composed a poem to answer the question "Who is a Vaishnava?" ( devotee of Vishnu) and this poem is said to have influenced Mahatma Gandhi in adopting his famous creed of ahimsa. He enlists the following as the traits of a Vaishnava:
(i) One who feels sympathetic on seeing the sufferings of others and rushes to alleviate their sufferings and does not feel proud for doing this.
(ii) One who respects all living beings alike, and does not engage himself in slandering through mind, word or deed
(iii) One who has no illwill towards others and regards all womenfolk (other than his wife) as Mother (i.e) without lust., one who does not indulge in falsehood, one who does not covet others' belongings
(iv) One who has banished with a determination Kama and Krodha (desire and anger) from his mind.
(v) One who has totally dedicated himself to the service of the Lord and humanity- because such service is the true hallmark of a Vaishnava.
(2) UPAYA NISHTA
(a) He is convinced that he is not subservient to any one other than Sri Narayana.
(b) He is prepared to welcome death as and when it comes-as an honored guest, knowing full well that on his death, he would reach up to the kingdom of God.
(c) He does not take recourse to any other means to achieve his goal in the firm faith that Lord Sri Narayana has already assured to respond to his prayers and will protect him under all circumstances.
(d) He is free from all worries knowing that Lord Sri Narayana would destroy all that is harmful and grant all that is beneficial to his spiritual upliftment ( not necessarily what he desires, which might turn out to be harmful ultimately)
(3) PURUSHARTHA NISHTA
(a) Being immersed in his dedication to the Lord, he no more seeks physical or material comforts or nourishment, in the conviction that everything happens as per the will of God.
(b) If any physical or material comforts come his way (through Dharmic ways, of course) he does not shun them, knowing that it is one of the ways to get rid of his Punya karmas because they also constitute impediments on his path to Moksha
(c) He views both joy and sorrow alike submitting himself to both with equanimity, knowing that both pleasure and pain visit him as ordained by the Lord.
(d) He feels intensity of devotion like that of 'Parama Bhakti" when he cannot brook any further delay in achieving communion with the Lord
When one acquires the mental caliber as aforesaid, there can be no fear other than Bhagavata Apachara and Acharya Apachara (disrespect to devotees and preceptor) which in any case, he would not indulge in.
In short, a true Vaishnava is a true gentleman and answers to the description of a 'TRUE GENTLEMAN' given by CARDINAL NEWMAN in these words: "The true gentleman carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; all clashing of opinion , or collision of feeling, all restraint or suspicion; or gloom or resentment. His great concern being to make everyone at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company. HE IS TENDER TOWARDS THE BASHFUL, GENTLE TOWARDS THE DISTANT, AND MERCIFUL TOWARDS THE ABSURD. He can recollect to whom he is speaking. He guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate. He is seldom prominent in conversation and never wearisome. He makes light of favors and SEEMS TO BE RECEIVING WHEN HE IS CONFERRING. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort. He has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage that we should EVER CONDUCT OURSELVES TOWARDS OUR ENEMY AS IF HE WERE ONE DAY TO BE OUR FRIEND.
He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults; he is too well employed to remember injuries and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing and resigned on philosophical principles HE SUBMITS TO PAIN BECAUSE IT IS INEVITABLE, TO BEREAVEMENT BECAUSE IT IS IRREPAIRABLE AND TO DEATH BECAUSE IT IS HIS DESTINY.
If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect
preserves him from the blundering discourtesy to better though less educated
He may be right or wrong in his opinions but he is too clear headed to be
unjust, he is as simple as he is forcible and as brief as he is decisive"
This Chapter lays down the duties to be performed by a Prapanna from the time of his doing Prapatti till attaining Moksha on death.
(a) A Prapanna should not slacken his attentions to and performance of his Nitya Karmas.
(b) He should continue to widen his knowledge by associating with Acharyas and others qualified.
(c) Even if he has achieved a mental evolution befitting him to a direct communion with God., he should not feel proud about it since he should be ever aware of his own insignificance
(d) He should keep his sense organs under perfect control
(e) He should continue to do service to the archa form of the Lord as also Nishkamya Karmas.
(f) He should consciously avoid all desire for worldly pleasures and carry on his daily routine with wealth earned through Dharmic means.
(g) He should always feel grateful to the grace of the preceptor who initiated him into Prapatti
(h) He should always utter the Dvaya mantra as advised by his Guru
(i) He should never boast about his own greatness (j) He should scrupulously avoid insulting or disrespecting the Bhagavatas and Acharyas.
(j) He should always be eager to perform service to Bhagavan, the Bhagavatas and Acharyas.
(k) He should eat only pious foods conducive to augmenting Satva guna.
What a Prapanna should do and what he should not may be summarized as follows:
If we probe into what is most pleasurable to the Lord, we will come to the conclusion that service to his devotees is the one that is so. Hence, service to Bhagavatas constitutes the farthest extent and most important aspect of our service to the Lord. As we saw, the ultimate object of a Prapanna is to do service to the Lord in Paramapada. But, one has to be trained in such service even while being in this world. Since Bhagavatas are ensouled by Bhagavan any service done to them constitute service to the Lord himself. As Bhagavatas are like God's favorite children, service done to them will please the Lord just like a parent being pleased with the one who pets his child. It is, therefore, that a Srivaishnava calls himself 'adiyen' which means "I who am at your feet". This concept also finds echoed in the expression "adiyar". This service which acts as a probationary period of service so that the Prapanna could taste the pleasure of service to God ' again for the first time' when he reaches Paramapada. This also saves the Prapanna from
(i) Propensity to commit sins
(ii) Entertaining doubts in the authority of the Sastras
(iii) Attachment to petty deities
(iv) Imagining pleasures as resulting out of one's own efforts and
We have been repeating time and again that one should act according to the injunctions ordained by the Sastras. Sri RAMANUJA, at the time of his death gave his disciples the following commandments that constitute the essence of these Sastric injunctions:
(1) The Prapanna should study the philosophy of SRI BASHYA and expound them to others.
(2) If he cannot do this, he should study the 4000 holy collects (Nalayira Divya Prabandham) authored by Alwars and expound them to others.
(3) If he cannot do this also, he can engage himself in such services in Divya Desas (shrines consecrated by the Alwars) like preparing offerings of prasada, preparing sandal paste, garlands etc to adorn the Archa forms of the Lord, lighting lamps in the sanctum sanctorum and around the temples etc
(4) If he cannot do even this, he must concentrate and unceasingly recite the Dvaya Mantra and meditate on its meaning constantly (5) If none of the above is possible, he must conduct himself in such a way as to become acceptable as a disciple to a qualified preceptor.
The Prapanna should bear in mind the following:-
(i) Srivaishnavas (Bhakthas Of Sri Vishnu) are like his kith and kin and he should yearn for association with them and feel glad in their company like enjoying the fragrance of sandal paste flowers, moonlight, cool southerly breeze or a dear darling wife.
(ii) Those opposed to Bhagavan should be shunned like poisonous snakes, fire etc.,
(iii) Others who are neither Bhaktas nor opposed to Bhagavan should be ignored as dirt. This category of people, if they show signs of being amenable to turning good, an attempt can be made to instruct them; if not , the Prapanna can only sympathize with them as being misled.
If out of desire for worldly pleasures one disregards a Bhakta or supports a non-believer, one is sure to incur the wrath of the Lord (which is another name for sin). If the neutral type of persons are supported for the same reasons, it is like not being able to differentiate between a gem and a clod of clay- and the Lord would ignore such supporters.
After Prapatti, a Prapanna will not indulge in committing any sins
(1) Should he commit any without intention, such sins will not accrue to him
(2) Sins knowingly and deliberately committed can be neutralized by atonement -prayaschitta prapatti (not for the purpose of Moksha)
(3) Should one indulge in sins deliberately and does not atone, minor punishments will be imposed on him like becoming blind, lame etc., or disobedience by wife, children etc. In such an event also the Prapanna would not be denied Moksha because his papas will be negatived by atonement or suffering punishment as aforesaid.
(4) Even major sins except what is stated in (5) below will be excused by the Lord by inflicting a light punishment in exercise of his patience, love and compassion towards the Prapanna.
(5) The only heinous and unpardonable sins which will nullify the effects of Prapatti are: (a) Disrespect to Bhagavatas and Acharyas and (b) Adherence to deities other than Bhagavan.
(6) Though the means and Phala of Moksha are identical as between a Prapanna and the great Nityas and Muktas like PARASARA,VYASA,SRI NATHAMUNI and others, the Prapanna should not arrogate himself by equating himself with these extraordinary luminaries since they are far superior on account of their birth, character, knowledge, discipline etc which are not comparable to those of the Prapanna.
(7) THE PRAPANNA SHOULD NOT DISCRIMINATE ANY ONE AS INFERIOR ON ACCOUNT OF THE LATTER'S CASTE, CREED, SEX OR OTHER DIFFERENCES
(8) The Apacharas committed towards Bhagavatas can also be expiated but Only by seeking the forgiveness of the same Bhagavatas
(9) A SUBTLE POINT TO NOTE IN THIS CONNECTION IS THAT IF A PRAPANNA PRAYS AT THE TIME OF DOING PRAPATTI FORGIVENESS OF SINS HE MIGHT COMMIT KNOWINGLY OR UNKNOWINGLY IN THE POST-PRAPATTI PERIOD, THE LORD WOULD TAKE CARE TO GUARD HIM AGAINST HIS COMMITTING SUCH SINS ALSO.
(10) The Post-Prapatti sins get exculpated thus:- 1/4th by not repeating
such sins; 1/4th by feeling repentant; ¼ th by efforts to perform atonement
(Prayaschitta) and the balance 1/4th by actually performing the Prayaschitta.
Thus, for the Prapanna, there is no consignment to hell or the danger of
rebirth under any circumstances.
The question arises as to which places will be most suitable for a Prapanna to reside. This is answered as follows:
(1) A Prapanna should select a place suitable for carrying out his daily ritualistic chores relating to his Varna and Ashrama
(2) Any place sanctified by Bhagavatas would be suitable. Places glorified and consecrated by Alwars in their Mangala Sasanas ( statement of consecration) will be most suitable since they will be the usual places where other devotees would prefer to reside.
(3) However great a place may be, if it is not recognized by Bhagavatas, such a place is not fit for a Prapanna.
(4) SHOULD, HOWEVER, A PRAPANNA IS FORCED BY CIRCUMSTANCES TO LIVE IN
ANY SUCH PLACE (e.g.) IN THE USA OR ELSEWHERE, AND CONTINUES TO PERFORM
SCRUPULOUSLY HIS DHARMIC DUTIES, SUCH A PLACE WOULD BECOME SANCTIFIED BY
VIRTUE OF HIS HAVING RESIDED THEREIN.