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Torture of Body during SamASrayanam

From: Anand Karalapakkam (
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 02:31:59 PDT

SrI Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
SrI Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrIvaN SatakOpa-
SrI nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESIkAya namaha

 Dear devotees,
 namO nArAyaNa.

 The following question was raised by a devotee to know
  more about the significance of tApa samskAram and
  SamASrayanam in general.

> hello sir,
> I am an iyengar without samasrayanam.  Your article was a great
>read. thank you for that.  My only problem with samasrayanam is
> that by simply branding god's(my) body how does my soul get
>purified? I can still be a servent of Srimad Narayana without
>god's body.  Doesn't Sri Krishna say in Gita "Donot torture your body

>to reach me because it is fruitless".  Also aren't we ' trusteees' of
>body and therefore have no right to torture it ?
> Two dumb questions.  Please enlighten me!

   The answer is as follows :

  1. It is only SAstras which form the authority for deciding
     as to what is right and what is wrong. If SAstras (vEdas,
     Smrutis, pAncarAtra etc) says that, we have to perform
     certain act (for a specified reason), we have to do it.
     Its _always_ going to be for our benifit. For becoming
     a VaishNava, if SAstras stipulates certain things (5
     samskAras), then its essential that we need to undergo
     it to become a VaishNava.

  2. SAstras are the divine commands of SrIman nArAyaNa. He
     is the author of PAncarAtra also. He, the same person
     who gave these bodies to us, is also instructing us to
     undergo 5 samskAras. For those who want to attain Him,
     these things becomes important. So, its not that we
     are performing 5 samskAras out of our own whims and
     fancies. Infact, disobeying this SAstric injunction
     amounts to misuse of the freewill given to us by
     SrIman nArAyaNa and we don't act us proper trustees
     of the body. If one really feels as the servant of
     SrIman nArAyaNa, then he/she will certainly obey what
     the master instructs/commands, which is known through
     the SAstras. Thus, a real servan t will certainly come
     forward happily to undergo SamASrayanam.

  3. It is only through SamASrayanam does one gets linked into
      the SrI VaishNava Parampara, through that AchArya. Attaining
      an AchArya is of utmost importance enroute to attaining
      SrIman nArAyaNa.

  4. There are 5 samskAras totally. Its not that only
     applying the marks of Sanka and Chakra (ie. tApa samskAra)
     denotes SamASrayanam. It is only one of the 5 samskAras.
     Hardly does one will feel the pain during tApa samskAra,
     and it will be like a bite of an ant Or even lesser pain
     than that. This is absolutely not at all a torture to
     the body.

 5. The same body, when gets infected with some disease,
     one is ready to go for surgery and the like. Even
     injections are taken for the improvement of health.
     These will also fall under the category of "torture"
     in your own terms. But, these are actually not tortures,
     since the patient undergoes these things willingly for
     becoming better. Also, a devotee has no right to die
     by his/her own accord ie. commiting suicide is against
     SAstras. A devotee has the full responsibility in taking
     care of the body in a way that it is used for spiritual
     purposes and adopt a means viz. either "bhakti" Or
     "Prapatti" to attain SrIman nArAyaNa. Thus when a devotee
     needs not only to preserve his/her health for performing
     better spiritual services, but also needs to undergo
     things like SamASrayanam, which are for his/her own spiritual

 6. The food we take is not only for the nourishment of the
     body, but it also affects "us" the jIvAtma. The sattvIka
     Or rAjasa Or tAmasa characteristics of the body does
     affect the jIvAtma's mental faculty (dharmabhUta jn~yAna
     to be in technical terms). Similarly, what we see, hear
     etc affect "us" the jIvAtmas only. Similarly, the five
     samskAras, though done through the medium of the body,
     actually affects the jIvAtma and this is the way SrIman
     nArAyaNa has made the sankalpam (desired), as evident
     from SAstras.

 7. In bhagavad gIta, Lord KrishNa does say that while
    performing a spiritual activity, we shouldn't be
    either lazy Or afraid of performing tough spiritual
    procedures Or fear bodily discomfort etc. We should
    always be prepared to do the best, within the constraints
    one is in :

    For instance :

    ( Trans. of Bhagavad RAmAnuja's GIta bhAshya by
      SrI AdidEvAnanda).

    "The contact of senses with their objects, O Arjuna, gives
     rise to feelings of cold and heat, pleasure and pain.
     They come and go, never lasting long. Endure them O Arjuna."

    "Holding pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and
     defeat alike, grid yourself upto the battle. Thus, you
     shall not incur any sin" (2.38)

 8. The bottomline is that, as long as we are baddha jIvAtmas
    acting under the control of karma, SAstras are the guide
    given to us by SrIman nArAyaNa. One who loves His
    Master viz. SrIman nArAyaNa, will automatically  follow His
    instructions (through SAstras), which are for our
    well-being only.

    adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
  anantapadmanAbha dAsan.

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