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Pilgrimage - II: Upadesam

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (
Date: Wed Aug 20 1997 - 06:09:34 PDT

Pilgrimage - II:  Upadesam

(The following is a translation of selected parts of the upadesam given by
Srimad Azhagiya Singar just prior to the perfromance of my Saranagathi.  I
seek His forgiveness for any error in my free translation.)

======Translation of selected parts of Srimad Azhagiya Singar's
Thatvam, Hitham, and Purushartham are three concepts we all deal with in
one form or another.  Roughly, Thathvam is to be known, Hitham is to be
performed, and Purushartham is to be enjoyed.  For example, when suffering
from an ailment, we must know who can provide relief.  But that is not
enough.  We must then approach that person and diligently undertake the
treatment he prescribes.  Then, the resulting good health must be enjoyed.
In this example, the  physician is the Thathvam to be known.  Hitham is the
treatment prescribed by the physician that must be undertaken.  Enjoyment
of the resulting good health is the Purushartham.

The most grievous of all ailments is the Samasara in which we are
submerged.  The one who can deliver us from Samasara is the paramount
Thathvam, or Paramathathvam we must know.  The treatment prescribed for the
permanent release from Samsara is the paramount means (Upaya), or
Paramahitham that we must perform.  The resulting state of permanent
ecstacy is the paramount fortune or Paramapurushartham that we get to enjoy.

There are a lot of confusing theories about Paramathathvam propagated by
many.  Some say, it is Siva; others say it is Chaturnukha Brahmma; yet
others argue it is not Siva or Vishnu or Brahmma, but another entity above
them all, and so on.  If one studies Sastras, the absurdity of these claims
will become obvious.  Paramathathvam is none other than Sriapathi, Sriman
Narayana, the in-dweller of all sentient and non-sentient entities.
Paramahitham, the only means (upaya) for gaining His grace, is Saranagathi.
 Paramapurushartham is servitude to Him and His devotees, i.e., bhgavath
and bhaagavatha kainkaryam.

All Sasthraas proclaim Sriman Narayana to be the only entity capable of
providing release from Samsara and deliver us unto Moksham.  All others,
starting from a blade of grass up to Brahmma are all bound in Samsara.  At
the time of Pralaya all these entities are swallowed up by Sriman Narayana.
 This shows the supremacy of Sriman Narayana.  Further, the names Siva,
Brahmma, Indra, etc. can mean other things.  For instance, Brahmma can also
mean a great man.  Siva means auspicious.  Indran means a wealthy man.
Thus, these names appearing in the Vedas are subject to differing
interpretations.  But the name "Narayana" does not indicate anyone else but
the Lord of Sri.  There is but one interpretation for this name appearing
in the Vedas.  The names  Brahmma, Siva, Indra, etc., can indirectly mean
Sriman Narayana as well.  But, the name Narayana can only mean Vishnu and
no one else.  Thus, Sriman Narayana is the Paramathathvam.

There are only two means for attaining Moksham.  They are Bhakthi Yoga and
Saranagathi. There is no other way for Moksham.  Some say just
Namasangeerthanam will take us to Moksham.  We also hear that Ganaga snanam
will give us Moksham.  Living in some Dhivya Keshethras is said to take us
to Moksham.  What we need to understand is that these will lead us to
Moksham only in an indirect way.  They have a positive impact upon our
minds and induce us to seek an Acharya and perform Saranagathi sooner or
later.  Without Saranagathi there is no Moksham.  Otherwise, why should our
Lord Krishna direct us to surrender unto Him with "Maamekam saranam vraja"
in the Charama Sloka of Srimad Geethai?  Thus, Saranagathi is Paramahitham.

Service to the Lord is Paramapurushartham.  To understand why this is so we
need to look at the relationships that exist in this world.  For a mother
taking care of her children is the source of satisfaction.  For a wife
taking care of her husband gives the most pleasure.  But, mother, father,
wife, husband, son, daughter are relationships that exist only in this
birth.  These relationships are temporary and unitary.  That is, the mother
to a child can only be the mother, not the father as well.  On the other
hand, our Lord is all to us, not just in this birth but for ever.  He is
our father, mother, brother, and friend.  This relationship to Him is
permanent and cannot be undone.  Then, Paramapurushartham can be nothing
but uninterrupted service to the Lord at all times and in all plcaes.

About Saranagathi
Saranam has three different meanings, namely, House, Rakshakan, and Upayam.
 In the current context, "House" is not relevant.  Rakshakan is appropriate
but falls short of conveying the complete import.  Sriman Narayana is
Rakshakan for everyone including the ones who seek His protection for
material ends.  But only to those who surrender unto Him with only Moskham
in his mind, is He Upayam as well.  Let me give an example.  There are two
boys equally well qualified for a job.  Boy "A" has a certificate to prove
his ability.  Boy "B" deos not.  Boy "A" shows his certificate and gets
hired.  The manager who hires boy "A" can be thought of as "Rakshakan", but
the reason the boy got the job is the certificate proving the boy's
ability.  In this case, the certificate is the Upaya and the manager is
just the Rakshakan.  Boy "B" pleads with the manager for the same job.  He
clutches the feet of the manager and begs, "You are my only hope and you
must give me that job and save my family."  Seeing this the manager relents
and hires him.  In this instance, boy "B" gets the job because of the
Karunyam of the manager.  Here the manager stands in place of the
"certificate" and acts as Upaya.   Applying this example we see that for
those who perform Bhakthi Yoga, the Lord acts only as a Rakshakan, but not
Upaya.  Bhakthi Yoga is the Upaya.  But, for those who perform Saranagathi
the Lord not only acts as Rakshakan but as Upaya as well.  Therefore, in
our context, Saranam is to be understood as Upaya.  Then, Saranagathi means
"the one who stands in place of Upayam", i.e. Lord Sriman Narayana.

Who is eligible for Saranagathi?
Only those who are desirous of Moksham and are unable to perform Bhakthi
Yoga are eligible for Saranagathi.  The ability/inability to perform
Bhakthi Yoga stems from four aspects.  They are:  (1) knowledge about the
proper procedure, (2) physical and mental capacity,  (3) birth in the three
varnas for chanting the required Vedic Manthras, and (4) the patience to
wait through the many births that may be required for the Bhakthi Yoga's
fruition.  Only those who lack any one of the above four requirements is
eligible for Saranagathi.  Those who satisfy all the four requirements
should perform Bhakthi Yoga for attaining Moksham, not Saranagathi.

Three levels (angi) of  Saranagathi
Saranagathi must be done at three levels.  From beginningless time we have
been acting as though our Athma belongs to us.  This is akin to stealing
the Jeevathma from Sriman Narayana.  The only way to compensate for this
act of thievery is to return the stolen property to the true owner, Sriman
Narayana.  The act of submitting our Athman at the lotus feet of Sriman
Narayana is called Swaroopa or Athma Samarpanam.  The second is Bara
Samarpanam.  At this level we submit the responsibility for delivering us
from the bonds of Samasara at the feet of Sriman Narayana.  The third is
Pala Samarpanam.  By this we submit the fruit of the Saranagathi to Sriman
Narayana Himself.

Five Attributes (angam) of Saranagathi
(i) As you perform Saranagathi you must resolve to obey Sriman Narayana's
commands as elaborated in Sasthras (Anukoolyasankalpam).  (ii) You must
resolve not to commit any offenses that are forbidden
(Prathikoolyavarjanam).  However, if you happen to commit any offense the
Lord will be very lenient.  He will overlook transgressions committed
unknowingly.  For other offenses He will meet out minor punishments in this
birth itself.  These offenses will not render the Saranagathi ineffective.
Saranagathi will be void only under two circumstances, (a) seeking the
favor of any god other than Sriman Narayana, and (b) committing offenses
against Bhagavathaas.   (iii) Saranagathi must be performed with the utmost
sense of helplessness (Karpanyam).  Since we have no other Upaya but the
Lord Himself, you must grasp His lotus feet tightly and sob for his
protection.  (iv) You must have unshakable faith (Mahavisvasam) that our
Lord Sriman Narayana will save you from the grip of Samasara and take you
to Moksham.  In this day and age there are many opportunities for losing
faith.  You should not fall prey to such influences.  Your faith in Lord
Sriman Narayana must be unshakable.  (v) As you perform Saranagathi you
must take the Lord to be your Upaya.  You must beg Him to stand in the
place of Bhakthi Yoga which you are in no position to undertake.  This is
=========End of Upadesam==============================================

Immediately after our return to Madras from Azhvaar Thirun^agari we
proceeded north for the nine Dhivya desams in Nepal, UP and Gujarat.  The
next post will be about them.

-- adiyEn Azhagiyasingar dhaasan