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Bhakti & prapatti : some issues

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Sat Apr 10 1999 - 00:24:57 PDT

Srimathe Sri van Satagopa Sri Vedanta Desika yatindra maha desikaya namaha
Sri Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
Sri Lakshminrusimha divya pAAdukA sEvaka SrivaNN-
SatakOpa Sri nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESikAya namaha

namO nArAyaNA.

Let me try to address some aspects of bhakti and prapatti.  Sri Murlidhar 
Rajagopal initially started this series by asking a question :  If Bhakti 
Yogi ends up performing surrender in the end,  why have two upayas?  Bhakti 
and prapatti? why don't we just agree that prapatti is the the only 
sadhyopaya and siddhopaya is Lord Srimannarayana.  I checked with Dr. SMS 
Chari and Dr. N.S. Anantharangachar regarding this issue, so that I can 
write this email with some authoritative support.

Let me explain it here :

Bhaktiyoga and Prapatti yoga are two sadhyopayas, ie. accessory causes for 
one's attainment of moksha.  These two paths are not sufficient to get 
moksha to an aspirant.  Only Srimannaryana's grace is the final giver of 
moksha;  the sadhyopayas namely bhakti or prapatti only helps to evoke that 
divine grace of our lord.

Bhakti yoga CANNOT EVEN BE STARTED before achieving self realization or 
atma sakshatkara by performing karmayoga and / or jnana yoga. Samanya 
bhakti is essential for Bhaktiyoga and anyone can have Samanya bhakti or 
ordinary bhakti. The path of bhakti yoga is as follows :  One has to do 
nitya naimittika karma to avoid sins, daily.  One first realizes he is 
different from matter and God by studying scriptures.  Note that even 
though one realizes self actually, when he attains atmasakshatkara, at the 
beginning of karmayoga one has to know that atma exists only by the 
authority of scriptures.  Then for success of karmayoga, one needs God's 
grace and so he has to surrender to GOD. (yukta asita matparaha - chapter 
II, gita). Here the "surrender" is secondary in the sense that the goal of 
that surrender it to get indriya nigraha and the person's effort in 
karmayoga is primary.  Without surrendering to GOD, one cannot  even 
achieve indriya nigraha or control of senses - as suggested in chapter II 
of Bhagawadgita.

further even for jnana yoga one has to surrender to GOD for its success. 
 Again the primary goal is jnanayoga and prapatti here is secondary to 
attain the proper performance of jnanayoga.

Only when one becomes self realized by these processes of karmayoga and 
jnanayoga, one can start bhakti yoga.  For this He is has to surrender to 
srimannarayana - as indicated in  "sarva dharman... parityajya......". 
 Just successful commencement of a process of Bhaktiyoga is not sufficient 
to make that process error free when performed daily during several janmas. 
 Bhakti is a gift of God.  To commence, perfect and complete Bhaktiyoga, 
prapatti is necessary.  Here, prapatti is an anga or subbordinate to the 
primary goal of fulfilling error free bhaktiyoga.  Hence such a prapatti is 
known as anga prapatti or  a factor which facilitates the main goal ie. 
bhaktiyoga.  Why is prapatti needed to perfect and complete bhaktiyoga? 
 The papavasanas are anadi or accumulated from beginningless time and can 
be annihilated only by the grace of the supreme lord.  Initial prapatti 
only removes obstacles which stand in the way of the aspirant's 
commencement of bhaktiyoga. It does not mean that once the bhaktiyoga is 
successfully started due to the initial prapatti, it can be maintained and 
successfully completed by just the self effort of the bhakti yogi!.  To 
maintain bhaktiyoga and to finish it to the satisfaction of the supreme 
lord and gaurantee the fruition of bhaktiyoga, God's grace is needed.  This 
grace is evoked by prapatti.  Here bhaktiyoga is  the angi,  and prapatti 
is the anga or subsidiary.

Please note that there are two sayings :

1.    bhaktyA paramayA vA-pi prapattyA vA mahAmathe
  prApyoham na anyathA prApyO mama kainkarya lipsubhihi"

The Supreme Lord said that : "either through bhaktiyoga or through 
prapatti, I (The Supreme Lord) is attainable, and that I cannot be attained 
by any other means by those who love to serve me"

2.  prapannad anyesham na dishati mukundo nijapadam

Lord Mukunda does not confer the true state (moksha)  to those who have not 
surrendered to HIM.

These are not contradictory statements.  By these two statements, it clear 
that there are two paths bhaktiyoga and prapatti.  In the case of prapatti 
also there is need for bhakti! Without bhakti in Lord, one cannot decide to 
go surrender to Lord.  In this case bhakti is subbordinate to prapatti.  ie 
anga is bhakti and angi is prapatti.  However, here the anga which is 
bhakti could be samanya bhakti of a high order.

It is true that there are two paths bhakti yoga and prapatti.  Then what is 
the difference between bhaktiyoga and prapatti?

In bhakti yoga there is bhajana sukha - or experience of the bliss of 
service to God, though living verily on this earth.  In prapatti such sukha 
is not so prominent.  For bhaktiyoga, one feels confident that it is 
possible for him with help of God and that he does not mind the delay in 
attainment of God.  Bhakti yogis is one who wants to first experience the 
self,  check God out and slowly start process of bliss ful God-love which 
he wants to experience through several janmas.  The important point here is 
that the very act of continuing bhaktiyoga without mistakes and making sure 
that the process succeeds requires divine grace which is evoked by a 
prapatti to that effect.

There was one other view point expressed in malolan net regarding this 
subject by sri dileepan:

"As explained by Srimad Azhagiya Singar, if anyone is
capable of Bhakti Yogam (i.e. adhikAri) then "prapatti"
as mOkshOupAyam is not available to him.  He must perform
only Bhakti yOgam.  "

adiyen thinks that this is not a complete explanation of of H.H 45th Jeer's 
lecture.  The issue here depends on what are the requirements which 
qualifies one to become bhaktiyogadhikari?.  If " tolerance to delay in 
attainment" is taken as a requirement for bhaktiyogadhikari, then what was 
said here is fine.  As "tolerance to delay"  itself will force the aspirant 
not to change course to prapatti.

 Further, What does it mean when one says " one is capable of bhaktiyoga?" 
 No body is independently capable of doing any yoga.  It is only because of 
the grace of the Lord one can do any yoga. A prapatti is needed for one to 
begin bhaktiyoga.  Initially, a bhakti yogi may start bhakti yoga thinking 
that he will wait for any number of janmas or years to attain GOD. However, 
a bhakti yogadhikari, while doing bhaktiyoga, may come to a helpless state 
that he cannot wait to attain God any more and then revert back to "total 
prapatti" for quick attainment of God. The  taittiriya Upanishad states 
"tatveva bhayam manvanasya" - even a second's disappearance of God from the 
vision of a bhaktiyogi causes immense grief to him.  Adiyen does not think 
that Prapatti path is completely closed, the moment a qualified individual 
starts bhaktiyoga.  I am sure we can bring this point out during the next 
lecture of H.H 45th Jeer for further clarification.  I did check this with 
Dr. N.S Anantharangachar.  We have to clearly understand that sadhyopaya is 
secondary and God's Grace is primary for the attainment of moksha.  But 
without sadhyopaya, God's grace cannot selectively take effect, and if it 
does, God will be subject to partiality.  This will go against "vaishamya 
nairgranya" principle.

Since bhaktiyoga requires karmayoga and jnanayoga and on the other hand 
prapatti does not require these two steps,  these two paths are different 
even though bhaktiyoga needs prapatti as an accessory for its beginning, 
proper performance and completion.