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Vadagalai SV's Multiple Prostration - A Clarification

From: Anand Karalapakkam (
Date: Wed Dec 01 1999 - 11:07:37 PST

SrI Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
SrI Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrIvaN-
SatakOpa SrI nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESikAya namaha

 Dear devotees,
 namO nArAyaNA.

 There has been some discussion in the recent past regarding
 the number of times one has to prostrate in front of 
 PerumAL etc.

SrI K.M.Narayanan wrote :

Let us first look at Vadaglai sampradayam.
Sri.Rmanuja's  Sri Vaikuda Gadyam, ends like
"Swamin..... Phuna Phuna Pranamya:"
He says to the  Lord that he  prostrates HIM  repeatedly.
Taking cue from Emperumanar, they have adopted multiple prostrations.
Now, Thengalai sampradayam,
Why they are prostrating only once?
it is said that vibheeshana just once prostrated, Sri.Rama 
took him in his fort. the elephent called only once
'Adimoolamae'....there you see perumal giving
protection. not to negate prahalada's wish, he appeared at 
ONCE. hence by just making single saranagathi, he gives 
kadakshama at once. such is His love for us. hence to 
remind him more and more by prostrating more and more, we 
have not understood HIS mercy properly and hece multiple 
prosrtations are not correct..

 adiyEn is posting this article, since the position 
 of Vadagalai sampradyam is not brought out completly.
 Also, adiyEn would like to clarify in this posting, 
 that the remark made above viz. " Those who prostrate 
 multiple number of times haven't properly understood 
 the mercy of PerumAL" is not correct. adiyEn would 
 also write about the line of reasoning used by Vadagalai 
 AchAryas for following their practise.

 note : It is not that Vibheeshana prostrated only once.
 His "prapatti" (only once) is the import in that context.
 SrI Mani wrote :

>  -- Single Prostration

>     "May the right hand of Lord Ranganatha, which, held
>     in the abhaya-mudra pose, promises freedom of fear to all,
>     protect me, as it asks those who have surrendered to
>     Him to not do it again and again."  -- Nyasa Tilaka, sloka 2
>     This is a reference to the pose of Lord Ranganatha in utsava
>     form as Namperumaal. His hand is held up, in abhaya-mudra,
>     and Desika imagines this as saying "Stop! A single prapatti
>     is enough! Don't repeat it!" If we take namaskAram as being
>     equivalent to prapatti, one could take this bhAvam to mean
>     that a single namaskAram is enough.

  Though the bhAvam is understood, prapatti and prostration
  can't be equated. Also, thengalai SrI VaishnavAs doesn't
  end up prostrating only once in their entire lifetime, though
  these reasonings of SrI Mani and SrI NArAyaNan are taken
  to represent the position of thennAchAryAs. Also, the same
  reasoning can be extended to things like, performing 
  SandhyAvandanam with proper mind set only once in 
  one's lifetime is enough, performing thiru aarAdhanam 
  only once for the pleasure of perumAL is enough, single
  time recitation of Dwaya mantram is enough, single
  time recitation of divya prabandham is enough etc,
  since that itself would have immensly pleased PerumAL

  The bhAvam expressed above has the purport of 
  "highlighting" the great mercy of SrIman nArAyaNa and
  bhAgavathAs. This doesn't mean that, one has to employ 
  such bhAvams in contradiction to the dictates of sAstrAs,
  which are the divine commands of SrIman nArAyaNa Himself.
  SAstrAs dictate us about the do's and don'ts. One should
  follow the sAstrAs, which are the guide available 
  to us to know as to what is pleasing to PerumAL and
  what is not.

 In this context,  adiyEn would like to write from the work 
 called "SampradAyasudhA", by the late well known vidvAn 
 SrI U.Ve. MadhurAntakam Thirumalai EecchambAdi -
 VeerarAghavAchArya swAmi (well known as madhurAntakam swAmi), 
 whose centenary celebration is going to be celebrated under 
 the presidentship of SrImad PoundarIkapuram Andavan.

  MadhurAntakam Swami quotes the following verse from 
  ParamESwara Samhita, KriyA khANda, mAnasa yAgam adhyAyam :

  " dvidhA pradakshiNam kuryAt praNAmam ca tathAvidham |
    na yEka tri panca saptAdi gaNanA vishamam hi yat || "

  < dvidhA = "even" ie. 2,4,6 etc; tathAvidham = same way ;
    vishama = Odd; gaNanA = counting;  yEka, tri .. : 1,3 ..>

   This sloka instructs that, praNAmam (prostration) has 
   to be done, in the same counting as how pradakshiNam is 
   done in even numbers and not in odd numbers like one, three,
   five, seven etc.
  MadhurAntakam SwAmi has added that, based on this pramAnam, 
  SwAmi dESIkan has made a remark in His "SrI pAncarAtra 
  rakshai". SwAmi dESIkan says that one has to perform 
  praNAmams in even counting, since sAstrAs has not permitted
  odd counting : 

  "PradakshiNAni praNAmAmca yugmAni kuryAt na yEka, tri, 
   pancasaptAdi gaNanA vishamam hi yat ...".

   MadhurAntakam swAmi, further quotes from Vankipuratthu
   nambigaL's (direct disciple of Bhagavad RAmAnuja) kArikai 
   which instruct us to prostrate many a times ie. repeatedly 
  (punaph punaha):

   "pAdukAgriyE pradAyAgrE praNamyaca punaph punaha"
   < Repeated prostrations in front of pAdukAs >
   "tathavA SuprANivasatrANi praNamyaca punaph punaha"
   < Repeated prostrations after offering pure cloths >
   "dEvapArSvamupAgamya praNamyaca punaph punaha"
    < Repeated prostrations in front of PerumAL Sannidi >

   "SamutthAya tatas tasmai bhUyO bhUyah praNamyaca"
   "praNamya dandavat bhUmou bhUyO bhUyaha purOharEhE"
    < Repeated dandavat pranAmas ie. complete praNAmams on 
      the ground  >
 MadhurAntakam SwAmi, also quotes from the VishNu purAnam :
 " namastasmai namastasmai namastasmai mahAtmaNE", for which,
 SrI VishNu Chittar alias SrI yengaLAzhwAn ( One of the 74 
 simhAsanAdipatis appointed by Bhagavad RAmAnuja and AchArya 
 of SrI NadAdUr ammAL) comments in his "vishNu chittIyam",
 the commentry on SrI VishNu purANam, that this is "aadhArAn 
  namaskAra aavruti" ie. Repetition (aavruti) of namaskArams 
  due to excessive happiness.
  MadhurAntakam SwAmi also quotes few more pramAnams from

  Earlier, SrI Mani wrote the following, which has indeed
  been quoted by SwAmi.

>       gOdA tasyai nama idam idaM bhUya EvAstu bhUyaH ||
>     "... may my repeated namaskArams to Goda forever
>      increase ..." -- Parasara Bhattar's thaniyan to Tiruppaavai

  Thus, both in the sAstrAs and in the sampradAyam, it is
  both instructed and practised to prostrate even number of
  times, and there is nothing wrong in this practise of 
  Vadagalai SrI VaishnavAs . 
   BhAvam (mental attitude) is certainly extremly important, 
   while prostrating to PerumAL. For that matter, anything 
   concerning bhagavad vishayam (things related to BhagavAn) 
   needs very good bhAvam, pouring out one's love towards 
   PerumAL. But, it is very important to know first of all 
   as to what SrIman nArAyaNa expects out of us (in any 
   activity). He has very mercifully given His divine 
   commands Or what that pleases and displeases Him through 
   the sAstrAs. So, the bhAvam expressed by the jIvAtmAs 
   should be in accordance with His commands. In other 
   words, whatever is enjoined in sAstrAs for us to do, are 
   to be done with bhAvam / sAthvIka tyAgam etc. By doing so, 
   one can't be accussed as if he/she has misunderstood 
   PerumAL's mercy. Infact, they have perfectly understood 
   the thiru uLLam (divine wish) of PerumAL and pleases Him 
   by following His own commands. 

   Once again, adiyEn re-iterates that, this posting is only
   to answer the remark made on the practise of vadagalai 
   SrI VaishnavAs, as if they haven't properly understood 
   the mercy of PerumAL. There is no doubt that thengalai 
   SrI VaishnavAs should follow their AchAryAs and adiyEn 
   is not against their practise/bhAvam expressed etc. adiyEn 
   only wanted to clarify the position of vadagalai AchAryAs 
   through their line of reasoning and make the pramAnams for 
   that practise  be available for interested devotees (ie. 
   whatever vadagalai SrI VaishnavAs practise regarding 
   "prostration" is not something "baseless" and it has 
   pramAnams supported by good logic). 

 SwAmi dESikan thiruvadigaLE SaraNam
 adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
 ananthapadmanAbha dAsan