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Nyasa Dasakam of Vedanta Desika

Ten Verses of Self-Surrender

by Sri N. Krishnamachari
July 8, 1998

We had just finished covering Saranagati Dipika as our previous stotra in this series. In the sequence in which Sri Rama Desikacarya Swami has organized the Desika stotras, several stotras on the divya kshetras in Kancipuram and other stotras are covered next, and a series of stotras on prapatti are covered as stotras 21, 22, and 23 (Nyasa Dasakam, Nyasa Vimsati, and Nyasa Tilakam) respectively. Because of their relation to the topic of Saranagati Dipika, I am covering the saranagati-related stotras next. The terms nyAsa, prapatti, bhara-samarpaNam, and SaraNAgati are synonyms all meaning self-surrender.

Nyasa Dasakam consists of 10 slokas on prapatti. It is common practice to chant these during the daily worship (tiruvArAdhanam) in houses. This stotram is the prapatti done by Swami Desikan at the feet of Lord Varadaraja of Kancipuram. Thus all the slokas are addressed by Swami Desikan from him to Bhagavan, and thus are in the form of "I surrender to you", "I pray to you", etc. However, the purpose for which our purvacharyas have preserved these words of Vedanta Desika and presented to us is for us to follow his example. Therefore, the meaning of the slokas is presented here in the form of what a prapanna should observe.

The underlying thought conveyed is that a prapanna chooses an acharya, learns the five angas (elements) of prapatti, surrenders the total responsibility for his protection to Bhagavan by following these, dedicates all he possesses to bhagavad-kainkaryam (Godly service), and enjoys the bliss of Sri Vaikuntham in this world through this kainkaryam. Because he has surrendered the total responsibility for his protection to Bhagavan, He ensures that the prapanna reaches moksham at the end of this life, and the prapanna is thus relieved of the cycle of re-birth, and unites with Bhagavan and continues the kainkaryam to Him in Sri Vaikuntham afterwards.

Sloka 1

Prapatti consists of three steps.

  1. Surrender one's atma (self) -- Recognize that this AtmA is not independent but is subservient to the Lord. This is called svarUpa samarpaNam.
  2. Surrender the responsibility for our protection to the Lord -- this is called bhara samarpaNam.
  3. Whatever benefit arises out of our existence, this also is surrendered to bhagavAn, and there is no part in it for us -- this is called phala samarpaNam. Prapatti involves getting the knowledge of this principle from an acharya and making this dedication of our atma to the Lord -- this is the prapatti that leads to moksham.

This is nicely stated in slokam 1 (aham, mad rakshaNa bharah, mad rakshaNa phalam tathA, na mama, SrIpatereva iti, AtmAnam nikshipet, budhah).

Sloka 2

Bhara samarpaNam involves surrendering the responsibility for our protection to the Lord by observing the following five angas of prapatti:
  1. involving in only those acts that will be pleasing to the Lord (AnukUlya samkalpam),
  2. desisting from any act that will be displeasing to His cause (prAtikUlya varjanam),
  3. recognizing that one is incapable of observing any other means for prapatti and with humility surrendering to Him (kArpaNyam),
  4. having the firm faith the He will definitely protect us (mahA viSvAsam), and
  5. praying to Him to protect us (goptRtva varaNam).

Sloka 3

One who is doing prapatti should realize that Bhagavan is our Lord, and whatever knowledge we have, whatever we do, whatever effects they have, whatever benefits they result in, these are all His acts, and everything belongs to Him. This is called sAttvika tyAgam. This is a necessary and essential concept of any dharma towards the attainment of moksham.

This consists of three parts.

  1. We should realize that Bhagavan uses us as the means to do things, and it is not we who perform any act by ourselves. This is called kartRtva tyAgam.
  2. We should realize that the benefits accruing from our acts are not the result of our acts, but that of Bhagavan. This is called mamatA tyAgam.
  3. We should dedicate the benefits of any of our actions also to Bhagavan, and not look at the benefits as belonging to us. This is called phala tyAgam.

The prefix "sva" appears nine times in slokam 3 which conveys this idea, each time referring to Bhagavan being the owner of everything we do, including the actions and their benefits. (svAmin sva-SeshI sva-vaSam sva-bharatvena nirbharam sva-datta sva-dhiyA svArtham svasmin nyasyati mAm svayam).

Sloka 4

A prapanna prays to Bhagavan with the full confidence that he will be granted moksham by Bhagavan at the time of the end of his body's life in this world.

Sloka 5

The prapanna prays to Bhagavan that during his life in this world, Bhagavan should guide him so that he does not indulge in any acts that are counter to shstras, and spends his time in bhagavad-kainkaryam for the rest of his life. The prapanna prays for the firmness of mind in the service of the Lord (tvat Seshatve sthira dhiyam), attainment of Him as the only goal in life (tvat prAptyeka prayojanam), giving up those acts that are not befitting a prapanna and directed towards benefit for the self (nishiddha, kAmya rahitam), and performance of uniterrupted kainkaryam (nitya kinkaram) to Him during the life of the prapanna in this world (slokam 5).

Sloka 6

A prapanna longs to do flawless kainkaryam that will be pleasing to Him who is associated with Sri Devi, Bhu Devi, and Nila Devi, and is decorated with the divine ornaments and the divine weapons.

Sloka 7

The prapanna dedicates to the Lord's kainkaryam everything he possesses including his self (mAm), and all that he has any control on (madIyam) including living and non-living things that belong to him (cetana acetana Atmakam). This includes the relatives such as wife and children, house, garden, wealth, etc.

Sloka 8

The prapanna entrusts to Bhagavan the responsibility for his protection, and prays that the Lord should ensure that the prapanna does not indulge in any sinful act, and forgiveness for any sins committed thus for.

Sloka 9

The prapanna begs forgiveness from the Lord for all the sins that have been committed - by performing acts that have been forbidden by the shstras (akRtyAnAm ca karaNam), as well as by not performing those acts that have been prescribed in the shastras (kRtyAnAm varjanam ca).

Sloka 10

Having thus been blessed by the Lord to do bhara-nyasam at His feet by following the five angas of prapatti, the prapanna has surrendered the responsibility for his protection completely to the Lord. The prapanna then devotes the rest of his life in the bliss of kainkaryam to Him and derives the joy of Sri Vaikuntham in this world itself. At the end of this life, it is Bhagavan who ensures that the prapanna who has thus surrendered himself to His care and protection, is indeed united with Him in Sri Vaikuntham, and is relieved of the cycle of samsara.

-- dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

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