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SaraNAgathi & Vedic PramANam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Tue Aug 26 1997 - 18:57:02 PDT

Dear Sri Vijay Srinivasan : 

The Veda pramANam for SaraNAgathi is fairly 
extensive . Madhva VedAntham may not wish to
recognize it , but it is there . Hence , the best poisture 
in a public meeting would be to state our views 
and beg to disagree , if it comes to that type of disputations .
Even if the Madhva Vedantham does not recognize Prapatthi , 
It does not in anyway remove
the underpinnings of the Vedic Support for SaraNAgathi . 

For the followers of MadhvAchArya , Bhakthi is not to be viewed 
as not as a  means to an end , BUT AN END ITSELF . Their 
cardinal belief is that the relation between the individual and
the supreme being is not something that is destroyed by 
the release ( Moksham ) . In his Brahma Sutra BhAshtyam( BSP), 
Sri MadhvAchArya declares :

harErupAsanA chAthra sadhaiva sukharUpiNi I
na tu saadhana bhoothA saa siddhirEvAthra saa yatha : II
                                                      BSP .iv, 4.21
(Meaning) :  The worship of Hari , our Lord is an alloyed bliss
itself . It is not a means to any further end . It is an end in itself 
and a fulfillment of our selfhood .

With this type of assertion , there is not much room to discuss
the twin path of Bahkthi and  Prapatthi for Moksham with Davaitha
sampradhAyins . Our compassionate AchAryAs and the Lord
Himself has pointed out the difficulties in observing Bhakthi
Yogam and blessed us with the equally efficacious Prapatthi
yogam and made it available to all types of adhikhAris .

The key slokAs of GithA have been intrepreted differently 
by the different AchAryAs . These are :

tamEva saraNam gaccha sarva bhaavEna Bharatha and 
the carama slokam itself . The intrepretation for the 
"Sarva DharmAn parithyajya maamEkam saraNam vraja " 
section is according to Maadhva sampradhAyam is :

" giving up all the ways of other Gods or actions , surrender
yourself unto Me alone " . 

The other unique doctrine of Madhva SampradhAyam is 
aananda taaratamyam ( a hierarchic gradation in the nature ,
range , quality ,and intensity of SvarUpAnandam or the innate
bliss enjoyed by the released souls )  . This doctrine is a 
direct result of the theory of SvarUpa BhEda of souls accepted
by the MaadhvAs . Sri VaishNavaas belonging to Bahgavadh
RaamAnuja siddhAntham do not accept these doctrines .

A great AchAryA , who was called by the Lord as His own mother ,
NadAthur AmmAL in his most scholarly work has established the 
Sruthi/smruthi pramANam for Prapatthi elegantly . In his seventh 
verse , he points out that the section starting with "VasuraNya "
in Taittiriya Upanishad deals with the ways to observe NyAsam 
or Prapatthi . Professor Prasad can elaborate on this manthram .
AmmAL says :

" prapatthis TaittireeyANAm vEdhE taavath vidheeyathE I
nyAsAkyA saprayOgAsou (hi) VasuraNyEthi manthratha : II "

Dr.S.M.S. Chari has eloquently defended the ancient nature
and the antiquity of the Prapatthi doctrine as  a separate yOgA 
sanctioned by the vEdhAs ( p.262, VishNavism : Its Philosophy ,
Theology and Religious Discipline ) . He quotes the appropriate 
texts from Rg Vedam , Taittireeya Upanishad and SvEthasvathAra
Upanishads .

He says : " The term prapatthi is derived from the root-words ,
pra-pad; pad means to move and pra implies in the best manner.
In the context of an Upaaya or means , the term implies self-surrender
to the Lord as the sole refuge ... There are numerous statements 
in the Rg VedA referring to the basic principle of SaraNAgathi , viz ., 
the individual pleading his inability to achieve a desired object seeks 
with a fervent prayer the help of  a divine power . The famous Rk 
addressed to Agni , which is reiterated in IsavasyOpanishad states :
 " O Agni , lead us along the auspicious path to prosperity , O God ,
who knows the means of attainment , remove all the obstacles 
coming in our way ; we shall offer unto Thee salutations with
the expression of Namah : " 

According to Swami Desikan , Agni in this Rk (AgnE naya 
supathArAyE ---) refers to the Supreme Being resident as
the antharAthmA in Agni and the Nama: signifies the act of 
self-surrender to the Lord  . 

The Rg Vedha  manthram ( VIII.19.5 ) states , ' a person 
who ofers prayer witht he expression of nama: ( implying
self-surrender ) is to be regarded as one , who has performed 
a good yaagam . Ahirbudhnya SamhithA holds this intrepretation
of self- surrender for this manthram .

The two  passages from SvEthasvathAra and 
Taittireeya  NaarAyaNa upanishads in support of 
Prapatthi are  :

" yO BrahmaNAm vidadhAthi purvam -- ( I as an aspirant of 
Moksha seek refuge in the effulgent God , who creates
BrahmA first and who verily delivers to him the VedhAs --)

" tsmaannyaasaeshAm tapasAm athirikthamaahuh --"
( Extolling NyAsa an denjoining that the Self is to be surrenderd 
to Brahman with the PraNava manthrA ) .

Katavalli Sruthi cited  by VaishNavite AchAryAs refers to
Dhvaya manthram ennunciating the essence of SaraNAgathi .
We do not even to go to PurANAs , SamhithAs 
or PaancharAthrAs to establish the antiquity 
of the prionciple of SaraNAgathi . 

I will not be surprised , if some of the MaadhvA sampradhAyins
still come back and ask , how come , Sri RaamAnujA did not 
refer to it in his Sri Bhashyam . That is another story .