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the three classes of prapannas

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Tue Dec 03 1996 - 21:07:05 PST

Although I am far from qualified to directly answer which one of the three
choices in Mr. Sudarshan's posting are the best description of a prapanna, I
have some questions regarding these three from my limited readings on
prapatti.  By this, I do not intend to challenge Mr. Sudarshan's eloquent
comments, but only intend to provide some food for thought to further this
interesting discussion.

>CATEGORY B : Those who never "asked" for it and yet the Lord thought it fit
>to grant it to them SUO MOTO.

>Poets here point out that in this case the Lord granted "mOkshA" without
>being "asked" not because Jatayu had given its life trying to save His
>Spouse but because the Great Bird had died a martyr for "DHARMA". When an
>act of "a-dharma" was being committed the bird, in spite of being old,
>infirm and simply no match for the superior might of its adversary, Ravana,
>had yet not just sat around and watched helplessly the crime take place; nor
>did it simply fly away in the modern attitude of "none of my business!" or
>"why bother? It's Rama's problem!". The Bird instead had unhesitatingly gone
>to war to protect what was its "VISHESHA-DHARMA"! Since we know that
>"dharma" is dear to the Lord (vide the Gita), it is hence no wonder that He
>gave Jatayu "mokshA" even without being "asked" for it.

While adherence to Dharma is no doubt a characteristic of a prapanna as part
of his/her kainkaryam to the Lord, the Srirangam Acharyas point out that
adherence to Dharma purely for Dharma's sake is contradistinctive to the
nature of prapatti as it goes against the Goal of serving the Lord.  For it
keeps the cetana bounded in its own ego, making it think that it should bear
the brunt of the world's good and evil.  Experience with this approach would
show that issues of personal honor, personal integrity, and personal
sacrifice become foremost in one's mind, making he/she forget that is the
Lord who verily is Dharma, and it is He who creates and supports this entire
universe and cares for its welfare.  While Perumal did grant Moksha to
Jatayu, is it truly because Jatayu was doing an act of Dharma, or was it
because Jatayu, in the true spirit of a prapanna, forgot his own welfare in
the performance of kainkarya to the Lord?

>CATEGORY C : Here the Lord is neither asked "mokshA" nor does he give it
>unilaterally. Now it may be asked if there was ever INDEED such a situation
>when a 'prapanna' neither sought "moksha" nor was he granted it 'gratis' !!
>And yet the devotee experienced 'moksha' ! Incredible, isn't it ? 

>In this category you could say "mOksha" is verily commandeered by
>"paramEkAntin-s" like Sabari and in their cases they have the right to
>simply "grab" "moksha" as a matter of right from the Lord who has virtually
>no say in the matter !!

I have a concern with this view.  According to both the Kanchi and Srirangam
schools, the Siddhopaya is always, exclusively the Lord Himself.  By saying
that even such undoubtedly deserving devotees as Sabari can "grab" Moksha
would be in direct contradiction to this view.

>CATEGORY A: Those who "asked" for it and being supremely eligible, attained
>it from the Lord e.g. Visbheeshana, Kakasuran. 

>Here "mOkshA" was granted against "saranAgathi". 

This, in my view, would seem to be the closest to what constitutes a
prapanna.  However, what made the two individuals, who undoubtedly came from
asura backgrounds, eligible for Moksha?  And were either one of them
desiring or asking of Moksha in its literal sense when they performed
prapatti to the Lord?  It would seem to me that both sought refuge in the
Lord out of the realization that there was no other recourse from their
respective samsara, and the fear arising from this, but for Him.  From their
examples, we can find validation of Nancy Ann Nayar's definition of
Prapatti: the relinquishing of the idea that we are without a Protector.  It
would follow that Moksha is not propitiated through our asking (although it
is within the cetana's nature to ask,) or through our merits, but is due
solely to the Lord's Boundless Grace.

Once again, I seek corrections and clarifications to my comments and questions.

Daasanu Daasan,