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Regarding prapatti

From: P. Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.BITNET)
Date: Mon May 23 1994 - 19:40:48 PDT

With this post I am trying to tackle several points.  I am sorry it is
rather long.

1.  Should Bhakti or prapatti be the name for our group?

First, Mani has already included prapatti as an alias for our group.
Both bhakti and prapatti works.  Therefore the following discussion is
only academic.  I hope we all benefit from good natured arguments
like this.

I want to cite the first verse of Adaikalap patthu for this.

patthi mudhalaamavaRRuL pathi enakku koodaamal
eththisaiyum ozhanROdi iLaiththuvizhum kaakampOl
muththi tharum nagarEzhil mukkiyamaam kachchithannil
aththikiri aruLaaLarkku adaikkalam naan pukunNthEnE

In the first line Swami Desikan confesses that he is unable to attain
mukti through methods such as Bhakti.  With this it is clear that
prapatti is different from bhakti.  The next line describes the futility of
trying all other means.  Kakasuran is said to have run to all corners of
the universe and tried every trick, but the only way he was able to get
saved was by surrendering to the Lord.  Likewise, it is futile for us to
try any other means but prapatti (surrender) to achieve mukti.

Note that a great soul like Swami Desikan clearly rejects Bhakti as a
means of salvation and chooses prapatti in stead.  It is prapatti that
distinguishes our sri vaishnavam, our acharyas, and Azhvaars from
others.   Therefore, our group that is dedicated to sri vaishnavam and
azhvaars, prapatti seems appropriate and not bhakti.

2.  Is Bhakti a means or is it an end in itself?

To me it is neither.  From (1) above I must reject Bhakti as a means to
salvation.  Swami Desikan considers Bhakti too demanding.  How can
I presume to even understand bhakti let alone practice it as a means of
salvation.  Next, is Bhakti an end in itself?  All our scriptures tell us
that paramapatham is the goal.  I think it is fanciful to consider Bhakti
as the goal.

Then what is the role of bhakti?  To me, bhakti is the result of prapatti.
Having surrendered to the Lord,  bhakti flows out uncontrollably from
the heart of the prapannas.

3.  When to perform prapatti?

I agree with most of Krishna s comments about this.  Let me also cite
periyaazhvaar s thuppudaiyaarai (4.10.1 - 4.10.10)  In these ten
beautiful verses periaazhvaar expresses a fear that during the stressful
time of his life passing from his body he may forget to think of the
Lord, and therefore he says he wishes to surrender to the Lord right
away without any delay.  Again, I think if a great soul like
periaazhvaar has such doubts we are well advised to perform prapatti
at the earliest opportunity.

4.  Are the five angaas prerequisites for prapatti?

Here is a story that I heard sometime ago:

A king invaded a neighboring country and killed its king.  The
ministers of the deceased king, in an attempt to save the life of the
young price,  coached the boy to go to the victor and recite  I am
surrendering at your feet, please save me.   The young lad, not quite
understanding any of this, faithfully approached the victor and simply
regurgitated what he was made to memorize.  The emperor knowing
full well that the young lad does not even understand what he is
saying, took pity on him and saved his life.  Similarly, even if we do
not understand what we are saying, the Lord who is all merciful, will
grant you salvation if you ask for it.  No prerequisite of any kind is

Another story:  A lost traveller asked for directions to Thiru Maalirum
Cholai to a farmer.  The farmer simply pointed his hand in the
direction of the temple and for this the Lord granted him salvation.

Therefore the five angaas that I discussed in my last post are not
prerequisites for prapatti.  Swami Desikan performed prapatti to the
Lord of Kacci nagar with those five angaas.  That is all.

5.  What about the rules that we must follow after prapatti?

The rules that are embedded in the five angaas are not very onerous.
What pleases the Lord and what displeases the Lord are not, IMO not
eating or eating garlic/onion.  It has to do with the sentiments
expressed in the Vaishnava jantO post of Mani.  Thiruk kuRaL is
another source for sifting through anukoolyasankalpam and
praathikoolya varjanam.

regards,   Dileepan