You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : April 1999

Re: Prappatti

From: Anand Karalapakkam (
Date: Tue Apr 06 1999 - 14:56:23 PDT

SrimatE Sri Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
Sri Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrivaNN -
SatakOpa Sri nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESikAya namaha

namO nArAyaNA

 Dear Sri MuraLi,

> Q 2.  Why is there a dichotomy between prapatti and bhakti as two separate
> sAdhyOpAyas?
> As far as I understand it, without a siddhOpAya (i.e., sreemannArAyaNa) no
> upAya will work.

   Absolutely. To obtain mOksham, SrIman nArAyaNA is the
   siddhOpAyA for both the sAdhyOpAyAs viz. Bhakti and 
   prapatti performed for moksham .

   In the Katopanishad, Yaman declares to nachikEtas 
   "sa kAshtA sa parAgati" ( Brahman is both the means 
   and end ). This is discussed in Sri BAshyam.

> Even for karma and j~nAna to mature and for the aspirant
> to attain Atma-sAkshAtkAra, the supreme being's help is required, let alone
> the matter for attaining the supreme being Himself.  So, prapatti - which is
> the realization that none other than the siddhOpAya can save us from this
> sAmsAric misery - seems to be the ONLY upAya and sAdhana (because at some
> stage in one's spiritual quest, an aspirant should and will realize that the
> only sAdhya is prapatti).  So, why not just say that prapatti is the only
> sAdhyOpAya?

 A devotee performing bhakti ie. upAsanA also has the perfect
 understanding that Sriman nArAyaNA is the SiddhOpAyA (the final
 granter of mOksham). He also does everything with sAthvIka tyAgam.
 PerumAL spent 18 adhyAyam on Bhagavad gItA and this yOgI
 follows them sincerely. For PerumAL to grant the mOksham, bhakti
 needs to be done and must be fully completed. Thats how PerumAL 
 has putforth in the sAstrAs - Upanishads, gItA etc. For Him to 
 grant the moksham, the "vyAja" (excuse) is the completion of 
 "bhakti yOgam" by the aspirant. This is the deciding factor for
 the PerumAL to choose ie. "the adhigAri (qualified person) to
 be given moksham is the one who completes bhakti yOgam". It is
 infact a sAstric command and Sri Bashyam deals a lot with this.
 Bhakti yOgi also knows that it is none other than Sriman 
 nArAyaNA who is aiding him in all the activities pertaining
 to bhakti yOgam itself (kartrutva tyAgam etc is fully 
 realized by the yOgi).     

 So, it is not only a prapanna who has the realization that 
 Sriman nArAyaNA is the siddhOpAyA, but also the one 
 performing bhakti yOgam.Infact, without the completion of 
 the sAdhyOpAyA bhakti, PerumAL _won't_ grant mOksham. This 
 is very clear from sAstrAs.

 But, Upanishads also speak about nyAsa vidyA and
 the detailed explanation of it is found in AgamAs. In Bhagavad
 gItA also, PerumAL gives out the charama slOkam, only after
 Arjuna feels that Bhakti yOgam is far beyond his capacity.

 The point is this: For one to be qualified for prapatti, 
 he should be an akinchanA ie. can't perform Bhakti yOgam 
 ( may be due to inability OR one can't tolerate the slow pace 
 of bhakti in giving mOksham etc).One of the angA is "kArpanyam" 
 which is the feeling that one is bereft of all qualities needed 
 for performing bhakti yOgam. The most important aspect in 
 prapatti (for moksham) is that "Bhara Samarpanam" is done. 
 Bharam ie.burden, refers to the bhakti yOgam. This is because, 
 without the completion of bhakti yOgam, PerumAL won't grant
 mOksham.But, one may aspire for eternal kainkaryam at Sri 
 VaikuNTham, though having no capacity/qualification for 
 performing bhakti yOgam. Thus, "bhakti yOgam" is a burden 
 for akinchanAs. Towards these akinchanAs says the most merciful 
 Lord that Place Himself in the sthAnA of bhakti yOga. This is 
 the bhara samarpanam.

 So, effectively, while performing the sAdhyOpAyA of prapatti,
 PerumAL (*) is pleaded to be present in the sthAnA of the other
 sAdhyOpAyA viz. bhakti. This is the bhara samarpanam component.
 Alongwith this, both Atma and phala samarpanam also needs to be
 performed ( ofcourse the 5 angAs are also there). Thus, the route
 of prapatti is an independent means to obtain mOksham, _only_
 because, PerumAL is made to be present in the sthAnA of bhakti
 yOgA. Thatswhy while referring to prapatti, many a times it
 is told that PerumAL Himself is the upAyA (stands in place of
 bhakti yOgA, the sAddhOpAyA). The usage of  the word "upAyA"
 in reference with prapatti  is used for the above reason also, 
 apart from the global reason (common to both bhakti and 
 prapatti) that PerumAL is the (siddha)upAyam.

 Prapatti discussed above is the "prapatti for obtaining mOksham".
 But, prapatti ie. SaraNAgathi can also be done for some other
 goal. For example, kAkAsuran did prapatti to Lord rAma for
 getting relieved from the BrahmAstra (the exact nature of 
 angA and angI change appropriately). Prapatti is also done by 
 a bhakti yOgi to destroy the obstacles preventing Him from 
 performing bhakti yOgA. This is the anga prapatti. 
   This is the link between the two sAdhyOpAyAs. In SribAshyam
   bAshyakArar tells about the anga prapatti observed by 
   bhakti yOgins : "tasya ca vaseekaraNam tachSaraNAgathirEva".
   In gItA bAshyam also, this anga prapatti is explained by
   bAshyakArar. Prapatti as a sAdhyOpAyam for moksham is
   explained in SaraNAgaThi gadyam.    

   The anga prapatti performed by the bhakti yOgin is not
   a sAdhyOpAya (for obtaining moksham ofcourse). It is
   only the most important angA for him to perform the
   bhakti yOgam, which is the actual sAdhyOpAya. This means 
   that, anga prapatti by itself won't be taken as the
   "vyAjA" by the SiddhOpAyam PerumAL, to grant moksham. 
   But, for prapatti done directly for moksham, the 
   sAdhyOpAyam is this prapatti itself; but, this prapatti 
   includes the most important component of pleading the 
   PerumAL Himself to be present in the place of bhakti yOgam, 
   the another sAdhyOpAyam. Here again, it has to be
   understood that, mere knowledge of the facts like " for
   one has to obtain moksham, one needs to completely
   rely on PerumAL (in the sthAnA of bhakti yOgam) " etc, 
   is not prapatti. One may master the whole prapatti sAstra 
   and may explain everything in and out of it and may lead
   a life fully dedicated to PerumAL with great devotion
   etc. But, SwAmi Desikan explains in Srimad RTS, as to how
   this is also not prapatti, the sAdhyOpAyam for obtaining

   The knowledge about prapatti is tattva jn~Anam, born
   out of studying sAstrAs. But, the "hitam" (means) for
   obtaining the purushArtam is the "upAya roopa jn~Anam".
   The act of prapatti involves the mental faculty and is
   also jn~Ana roopam only. But, this is "upAya roopamAna
   jn~Anam", disticnt from the "vAkya janya jn~Anam" (
   tattva jn~Anam). This prapatti has to be fully complete
   ie. all the 3 angIs namely Atma, Bhara and phala 
   samarpanam has to be done ( with the 5 angAs) at once.
   The nature of the prapatti has to be understood from
   sAstrAs and thats how PerumAL has given in sAstrAs.
   Only when this prapatti as a sAdhyOpAya is complete
   in itself, will the siddhOpAya PerumAL grant moksham.
   If there are some pApa karmA obstructing the 
   performance of prapatti, it won't let that jIvAtma
   perform prapatti (with full completion of angAs and 
   angIs), though the jIvAtma may still be living a
   highly devoted and dedicated life towards PerumAL
   and bhAgavathAs. But, having reached that stage, its 
   just a matter of time for that jIvAtmA to obtain a
   sadAchArya who can perform prapatti in an appropriate
   nishtA ; PerumAL will certainly aid him/her in that
   direction (or very rarely, by the blessings of the
   AchArya, one might acquire the full competence to
   know the exact thiru uLLam of PerumAL regarding
   the prapatti and may perform svanishta prapatti,
   completely satisfying the perumAL to have it as a
   "vyAja" for Him to grant moksham).

   In summary, the two sAdhyOpAyams are different.

  Why should one Perform either Bhakti or prapatti as
  the sAdhyOpAyam ?

  The simple answer is "because sAstrAs says so" ie.
  the thiru uLLam (intention) of PerumAL as expressed
  in sAstrAs is that, only either bhakti or prapatti
  is the sAdhyOpAyam. All other processes like nAma
  sankeertanam, recitation of divya prabandham etc
  should culminate into either of these (ofcourse, in
  the current age, only prapatti is possible).  
  In kartr-adhikaranA, BAdarAyanar (vyAsar) establishes that
  jIvAtma has kartrutvam.

  bAshyakArar in vEdAnta dIpA says : 
  " The next topic for discussion is, whether the jIvAtman is
    not only a knower (has knowledge/jn~AnA) but also a 
    kartA (doer) or not. The view of SAnkhyAs is that the 
    jIvAtman is not a doer; according to them, jIvAtman merely 
    imagines that he is performing actions, though the
    actual doers of the actions are the body and the senses,
    which are manifestations of the pradhAnA. This view is
    repudiated in this adhikarana "

     (sUtrA 2.3.33 ): kartA sAstrArtavatvAt
     ( jIvAtmA is doer; then only can sAstrAs be

   bAshyakArar in vEdAnta dIpa answers the objection made
   by sAnkhyAs : " You must accept jIvAtman as the doer, if
   you want to make the vEdic passages to be meaningful, in 
   giving injunctions to perform something like "Perform yaj~nA",
   "Do upAsanA (bhakti)" which are for the purpose of attaining 
   "SwargA" and "mokshA" respectively. The injunction can only 
   be addressed to a person who can understand it ie. to a 
   chEtana and not to an achEtanA. Again, the injunctions 
   "Perform yaj~nA" OR "Do upAsanA" neccessarily imply that 
   the person addressed is the doer of the sacrifice OR of the 

   So, bhakti yOgA is perfectly in accordance with the 
   svaroopam of a jIvAtmA and is infact expected out of
   it to give a vyAjA(excuse) for PerumAL to grant the

   Similarly, Prapatti is also a sAstric injunction for
   those who are akinchanAs, to have the "vyAjA" for
   perumAL to grant moksham. It is PerumAL who issues
   these commands out of great mercy to these akinchanAs
   who can't perform upAsanA.
    BAshyakArar infact while criticizing advaitin's theory
    of vAkyajanya jn~Anam of tattvam asi (as per their
    interpretation) as the means of moksham, says about the
    "injunctions" in sAstrAs about "upAsanA" as a means
    for moksham ( jIvAtma as a kartA <doer> etc is established
    earlier; also the injunction in sAstrAs can't be made
    meaningless; thus upAsana has to be adopted by the mumukshu
    as a sAdhyOpAyam for obtaining moksham ).
    Sri PuruSai swAmi in an article on SaraNAgathi cites
    various injunctions in sAstrAs regarding the performance
    of prapatti like "SaraNam vraja", "AtmAnam mayI nikshipEd", 
    "AtmAtmeeya bharanyAsO hi Atma nikshEpa uchyatE" etc.    

    SwAmi Desikan points to the same arguments of BAshyakArar
    to make us understand that Prapatti as a sAdhyOpAyam also
    needs to be observed by the mumukshu (who has the 
    neccessary qualification for adopting the prapatti) with
    five angAs and the three angIs, as enjoined in sAstrAs
    for PerumAL to give moksham. Thus, knowledge that one is 
    a sEshan of PerumAL and that the relationship is 
    inseparable ; knowledge that PerumAL's mercy is the cause 
    for moksham and PerumAL is the upAyam and upEyam etc
    should culminate into the performance of prapatti in its
    completeness. It is also to be noted that, gOptrutva 
    varaNam is an angI and the prayer towards PerumAL for 
    granting moksham needs to be performed for the 
    completeness of the prapatti. If one has the mentality 
    that there is no need to ask PerumAL for performing 
    kainkaryam at parama padam, then he/she won't be granted
    moksham, since PerumAL needs the "vyAja" as the complete
    prapatti as per His injunctions in the sAstrAs. Thus, in
    Srimad Rahasyatraya sAram, SwAmi Desikan declares
   "prapannAtanyEshAmna dicati mukundO nijapadam"
   ( Lord Mukunda <the granter of moksham> _won't_ grant
     moksham for those who doesn't perform prapatti ).

   It is PerumAL who as per the sukrutams of the jIvAtmA
   aids him in perform prapatti (kartrutva tyAgam). Also, 
   asking for moksham is not for one's own sake,
   but for the pleasure of PerumAL (mamata and phala tyAgam 
   component of prapatti). Here in the material world, 
   howmuchsoever one has great love towards PerumAL,this 
   material body having the triguNAs will never make the 
   jIvAtma act perfectly according to its svaoopam. For 
   a very simple illustration, many sleep for atleast 6 
   hours a day - uninterrupted kainkaryam is not possible 
   in the material world; even while performing kainkaryam, 
   complete perfectness in that kainkaryam will not happen 
   in the material world due to the association with the 
   material body. Srimad Azhagiyasingar in the recent 
   tele upanyAsam mentioned that mAlOlan out of His abundant 
   mercy has given the sort of mukthAnubhavam here itself 
   since HH Jeeyar is always with mAlOlan; still HH Jeeyar 
   says (with regret) that 2 to 4 hours in the night 
   gets wasted due to sleep, to illustrate how in this
   material world, one can't perform kainkaryam
   properly, in comparison with Sri vaikuNTham, though
   one may be very much eager to serve PerumAL.

   Thus, due to the constant association of the material 
   body, as long as one is the material world, one can 
   give _only_ "leelA rasam" for PerumAL. _Only_ in Sri 
   VaikuNTham, can a jIvAtmA give "bhOgya rasam" for 
   PerumAL. PerumAL very eagerly wants the jIvAtmAs to 
   come to Sri vaikuNTham and thats the sole reason He 
   has given sAstrAs, jn~Anam, AchAryAs etc and also 
   takes avatAram etc (upakAra sangraham of swAmi desikan
   is a masterpiece that needs to be completely understood;
   SwAmi Desikan ennumerates various helps PerumAL does
   to the baddha jIvAtmAs). Thus, for his pleasure, we
   have ask for kainkaryam at Sri VaikuNTham. It is
   very important to understand that, jIvAtmAs are merely
   objects to give pleasure to PerumAL ; We are for
   Him / His enjoyment ; We are not for ourselves.

  Hope that this clarifies. Please do refer to the previous
  articles on "bhakti and prapatti" and related discussions
  in the archives. Sri Dileepan has kindly put the main 
  article on "bhakti and prapatti" in the Sri Ahobila 
  Matham webpage :   
  Kindly refer to it also. 
(*) : Whenever PerumAL is referred, pirAtti who is inseparable
      from Him, is automatically referred to and swAmi dESikan
      declares that the  Divya Dampati together acts as the
      upAyam. More on this are discussed in Srimad Rahasya
      Traya sAram. PirAtti also has the additional role of
      performing   the purushakAratvam. Just because She is 
      performing this purushakAratvam doesn't mean that She is 
      also an upAyA together with PerumAL. upAya dasai and 
      purushakAratva dasai are different.
   AzhwAr, yemperumAnAr, dEsikan thiruvadigaLE SaraNam

  adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
  ananthapadmanAbha dAsan