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pA'ncarAtra: An Overview - Part 6.

From: Narasimhan Krishnamachari (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2000 - 09:34:23 PST

Dear Bhakta-s:

I had posted five articles under this title before.  For reasons beyond
my control, I did not continue posting the rest of the write-up
earlier.  I am now continuing the rest.  There might be one or two more
parts to the series, which I will post later.  Those interested may
refer to the earlier parts in the bhakti archives.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

               pAncarAtra: An Overview - Part 6.

	Six aspects of surrender are described in many pA'ncarAtra samhitA-s
such as ahirbudhnya samhitA, lakshmI-tantra etc.  The order of
importance is not the same for these six aspects in the two samhitA-s
referred to above, but the aspects are same.  Sometimes one or more of
these is considered the principal one, and the others are considered
aspects that are needed for achieving the primary ones. 

lakshmI tantra give the following:

	"AnukUlyasya samkalpah prAtikUlyasya varjanam   |
	  rakshishyatIti viSvAso goptRtva varaNam tathA  ||
	  AtmA nikshepa kArpaNye shadvidhA SaraNagatih  ||   (lakshmI-tantra
17, 59-61)

Thus the order of the a'nga-s given in lakshmI-tantra is:  AnukUlya
samkalpam, prAtikUlya varjanam, mahA viSvAsam, goptRtva varaNam, Atma
nikshepam, and kArpaNyam.  In ahribudhnya samhitA, the order given is: 
Atma nikshepam or nyAsam, kArpaNyam, mahA viSvAsam, goptRtvam,
prAtikUlya varjanam, and AnukUlya sampakpam.  svAmi deSikan has
addressed these confusions in his nyAsa vimSati Slokam 12, and
concludes that those who know praptti SAstra well agree that there are
five a'nga-s to prapatti,  and the different positions taken in respect
of the number and sequence of importance etc. of the aspects of
prapatti really say the same thing in the end (sarva vAkya eka

Atma nikshepam or nyAsam is considered the main ingredient of prapatti
- the conviction that one's own effort in attaining Him will not bear
fruit, and placing oneself directly under His care and giving up
ownership of one's own protection or the benefits from any actions to
Him.  The other five are then the a'nga-s for nyAsa, that are of equal
importance as conveyed to us by svAmi deSikan.  Thus, for performing
surrender or Atma nikshepa or nyAsam, one needs absolute humility
(kArpaNyam), AnukUlya samkaplam, prAtikUlya varjanam, etc.  The six
terms are explained below in brief:

		i)  Atma-nikshepa or nyAsa - placing oneself completely and directly
under God's care.  This involves giving up independent ownership in
matters of actions or fruits thereof.    This in fact is the real
SaraNAgati.  The subsequent five are to be regarding as assisting this.
 The obstacle to nyAsa is phalepsA or the desire for mundane benefits,
which should therefore be avoided.

	ii)   kArpaNya - This refers to absolute humility bordering on
lowliness and honest awareness of one's own natural ignorance, impurity
etc., partly because of stains acquired through countless births.  We
all know the enormous feeling of kArpaNya that our AzhvArs have
expressed through their compositions.  This leads to ridding the
arrogance that one may have because of parentage, learning, wealth,
etc., and to get the sense that without the aid of Godhead, whatever we
undertake on our own is bound to fail.

	The enemy for kArpaNya is the feeling that one is free, independent,
and competent to do whatever he likes (sva-svAtantryAvabodha).

	iii)  mahA-viSvAsa - irrepressible and great faith in Godhead. 
Involves the understanding that God is the benefactor of all beings,
and His compassion is always and readily available.  The firm
conviction that He will not fail to protect us is 'viSvAsa'.  This by
itself is capable of eradicating all sins.

	iv)  goptR - The deliberate choice of bhagavAn SrIman nArAyaNa as the
sole Protector.  Even when it is granted that anyway He is the sole
protector, lakshmI-tantra points out that what is involved in this
a'nga is the conscious and mindful selection of Him, the acknowledgment
that we need protection, and that He and only He can protect us.

	v) prAtikUlya-vivarjana - giving up whatever is antagonistic to any of
His creations or to Him.  A devotee must realize that all beings are
like himself.  

	vi) AnukUlya-niScaya - The resolve to do good to all beings.  The
realization that all beings are in actuality the body of God, and the
resolve to live in accordance with the will of God.

	Ahirbudhnya samhitA gives a beautiful illustration of SaraNAgati using
a passenger who wants to cross a river in a boat.  It is the
passenger's responsibility to go and sit in the boat, and that is the
end of his responsibility; the job or rowing the boat is not his, but
that of the boatman (in this case God Himself).  

10.  moksha - The attainment of the glorious and supreme feet of vishNu
(tad vishNoh paramam padam).    The pA'ncarAtrin regards it as a
positive state of attainment for an individual soul.   Being able to
perform nitya kaimkarya to bhagavAn is the gist of moksha.  

 The concept of the individual soul in pA'ncarAtra:

	ahirbudhnya samhitA explains that the individual soul is by its nature
immortal, indivisible, and blissful.  Its form, potency, and knowledge
become attenuated and obscured owing to the mAyA-Sakti of bhagavAn, and
thus limitations are introduced which bind the soul to the material

	 But there is another power of God, the anugraha Sakti, which prompts
God to look with compassion on the deserving soul and accept it.  When
God wills it, the soul longs for liberation, becomes dispassionate, and
sets about to discern the real from the unreal.  This leads to actions
such as reflecting on scriptures, serving a master (AcArya), engaging
in good deeds, becoming steady in the knowledge of vedAnta, etc.  After
great, steady and concerted effort, he attains the foothold of vishNu
(ahir. 14, 36-40).

	The pA'ncarAtra theory holds that at time of dissolution (pralaya),
the individual souls merge, but do not become one with, Godhead.  They
retain their identity, and when the new phase of creation begins, the
unliberated souls occupy separate bodies.   While the liberated souls
are never born again, they do not become one with God, but remain
distinct from each other and from God.   SrI vedAnta deSika identifies
the following forms of liberation for the liberated soul - sAlokya
(residence in the same plane as Godhead), sAmIpya (abiding in close
proximity to Godhead), sAdRSya (attaining the same form as Godhead),
and sAyujya (union with Godhead).  Of these, the last one is the
ultimate liberation.

The modes of the Deity in pA'ncarAtra:

The number of varieties of forms assumed by the Deity is described as
three, four, or five depending on the age of the pA'ncarAtra text.  The
earlier texts (e.g., sAttvata, ahirbudhnya) describe three forms, the
para, vyUha, and vibhava. SrI ParASara BhaTTar also refers to only
three forms in his vishNu sahasranAma commentary -
paravyUhavibhavAtmanA trividham brahmeti bhagavad siddhAntah.  The
later samhitA-s (e.g., SrI praSna, vishvaksena) add the antaryAmi and
arcA forms.  Of these, the para (transcendental) and vyUha (emanatory)
forms are known only to the nityasUri-s (the likes of Garuda, ananta,
and vishvaksena who were never born), and to mukta-s (those who were
once mortals but who have subsequently attained divine bodies) who have
joined the Lord in SrI vaikuNTham.  The incarnations are forms on
earth, seen by those who are our contemporaries.  The antaryAmi form
resides in every one of us, even though only the sages visualize this
form in their meditational spells.

The Transcendental Mode:

	The three modes are together called the Supreme Deity, called
variously as vAsudeva, nArAyaNa, bhagavAn, AtmA, paramAtmA, vishNu,
kshetraj~na, etc.  In this para or transcendental mode, the Deity is
like an ocean of nectar altogether devoid of waves, quiet, profound,
limitless, unfathomable, pure consciousness, the abode of the six
qualities in fullness, altogether non-material in nature, devoid of
attributes (nirguNa), devoid of aspects (nishkala), without discernible
forms (nirAkAra, nira'nga), an embodiment of Absolute Bliss and Peace. 
VAsudeva is in a plane where knowledge and bliss abound unobstructed.

	Even though we are all familiar with the six qualities, they are
here briefly to remind ourselves of the significance of these

	1. j~nAna or knowledge - comprehension of all things without the help
of  any external agency.  This corresponds to knowledge, directly and
completely, of all things in all places at all times.  One way to
understand this concept is to look at it as the pervasion of all things
by bhagavAn as the antaryAmi in everything.  

	2.  Sakti - energy which is spontaneous and independent and which
knows no constraints.  This is the energy in the Deity which
wills-to-become and is all-powerful.  This is the initial impetus to

	3.  aiSvarya - omnipotency or Lordship over everything, expressing the
freedom to act in such a way that there can be no obstruction
whatsoever from any source.

	4. bala - strength for doing all things at all times (like the
creation, preservation and destruction) without getting fatigued on
that account.

	5. vIrya - vigor, virility or valor which is associated with the
Deity's being able to remain unchanged and unspent 
	6. tejas - splendor or glory in the sense of being able to accomplish
all things without any aid, assistance, or instrument.  

These attributes constitute the body of the Deity (shAdguNya-vigraha),
which is also the body of Lakshmi who is inseparable from the Deity. 
However, in the transcendental mode these six attributes are
indistinguishable (i.e., undifferentiated), and static, still and not
active in phenomenal appearances and changes. 

Lakshmi is considered the Sakti or energy of brahman, and is considered
inseparable and indistinguishable from Him in this state.   This Sakti
is considered responsible for the origin, maintenance, and dissolution
of the world.  It is this energy which makes all existence possible. 
The second aspect of Lakshmi is called bhUti-Sakti, wherein the world
is considered nothing but a transformation of the energy that is
Lakshmi, and so Lakshmi is also the material cause of the world (i.e.,
the material that constitutes this world is none other than Lakshmi). 
Lakshmi is considered the consort of the transcendental form, the
energy inseparable from Him, and for this reason the Deity in the
transcendental form is also referred to as LakshmI-nArAyaNa.  

	While the earlier pA'ncarAtra texts only mention of Lakshmi as the
energy associated with the transcendental form, later texts add BhU,
and still later texts add NILA.  Prof. Ramachandra Rao indicates that
probably the three energies represent the three guNa-s of prakRti -
Lakshmi representing sattva, BhU representing rajas, and NILA
representing tamas.  He bases this opinion on the premie that lakshmi
is white in color (sattva), bhUmi is red (rajas), and NILA is dark
(tamas).  He does not give a reference for this opinion. 

-To be continued 

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

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