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prasadana-parva/paramapada sOpAnam

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Sat Feb 01 1997 - 01:24:00 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

A SriVaishnava who has conquered the first three steps of the 'PPS'
viz."vivEkam", "nirvEdam" and "virakthi", we saw in my last post, falls
victim to unfortunate "bheethi".

But, as pointed out by Swami Desikan in his "abhithi-stavam", such a
spiritual aspirant gets cured of his "fear-syndrome" ("bheethi") by the Lord
Himself who responds readily to the pleas of the aspirant. The 'sAdhaka' is
thus enabled to mount one "step" higher on the 'paramapada-sOpAnam' to
another 'parianka' called 'prasAda-hEtu' -- the subject of this post.

The aspirant's constant 'bheethi' invariably leads him, sooner or later, to
a point in life where he begins to actively explore the means with which the
Lord's Feet can be secured easily.

Since he has already become a 'vivEki' and has also revulsion, i.e.
"virakthi", for all earthly and non-earthly "means" ("upAya-s" including
'kaivalya') which he knows are futile, the aspirant is attracted instead to
the SACRED "upAyA-s" prescribed by the Lord Himself as ARTICLES OF FAITH in
the scriptures.

Invariably, this process is hastened, or catalysed, by a mentor, an
'AchAryA' or 'guru', who comes into the aspirant's life.

It is thus and then that the aspirant comes to embrace one of the 2
scriptural ways ('mArga'): the Way of 'bhakthi' or the Way of 'prappathi'. 

Once he has chosen his 'mArga', the aspirant ceases to feel "lost or forlorn". 
This is because the "PATH of PROGRESS" is well illumined for him by the Lord
Himself who virtually acts as an "ATC" (air-traffic controller) guiding the
'air-craft' of the individual-soul to an eventual 'smooth-landing' in the
'paramapada'!

Permit me to use modern imagery, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', so we can all
understand better, the value of 'bhakti' or 'prappathi' to us.

The value of 'bhakti' and 'prapatti', is that it puts us (at last!) firmly
on the 'radar-screen' ('bhagavat-katAksham') of the Lord, the Great "ATC" ! 

We know the pilot of an aircraft approaching "touch-down", once having
established contact with "ATC", is no longer "concerned" ("bheethi") with
WHERE the aircraft will land; he is only concerned with HOW he will land !
WHERE the aircraft will land becomes the burden ('bhAram') of the 'ATC'.
And, as for the pilot, HOW he will land will depend on the degree to which
he complies with the "instructions" wired to him by the 'ATC' ! 

Similarly, an aspirant at this 'prasadana-parva' stage of the "PPS" acts
like a cool-headed, professional pilot (read : 'prapanna') guiding (read :
through 'AchAra-anUshTAna') the aircraft (read : "jivAtma") to the landing
(read :'paramapada') by strictly following the "instructions" (read :'nitya-
naimittika karmA') as well as "avoiding" the "DON'Ts" that the Supreme 'ATC'
(read : Lord Narayana) communicates (read :'gitOpadEsa') to him through the
'wireless-system" (read : 'AchAryA-paramparA') !!

The above stage in the 'flight' of Swami Desikan's 'paramapada-sOpAnam',
where a 'bhaktha' or 'prappana' strictly carries out the "prescriptions" of
the Lord is described by the poet elsewhere, in a simple but pregnant
phrase, in another little hymn of his called "nyAsa-dasakam' and it is worth
quoting here (Verse # 9):

         "akrithyAnAm cha karaNam krithyAnAm varjanam cha mE ....
("the performance of acts that must be performed at all costs; the avoidance
of acts that must be avoided at all costs...")

A 'prapanna', after attaining this stage of the 'paramapada-sOpAnam',
therefore, carries on with the rest of his life by faithfully and cheerfully
complying with the injunctions of the Lord with an attitude of absolutely
"cool-headed professionalism" that FEARS  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ('a-bheethi')
-- much like Swami Desikan himself did in his time !!! 

(Some of you, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', may remember JFK's famous statement
at the height of the Bay of Pigs stand-off with the erstwhile USSR, "Let us
not negotiate out of Fear; and let us not Fear to negotiate." This
statement, believe me, dear friends, may not have come out of the mouth of a
professed SriVaishnava but it is, indeed, 100%, an echo of true
SriVaishnavism where 'prappathi' can be said to be regarded as a means to
"negotiate" our personal redemption with the Lord and where, in such
negotiation, there is no room, at all, for FEAR !!)

The true 'prapanna' becomes ever-secure in the knowledge that the Heavens
(instead of falling about him, as he had feared !) will surely welcome him,
in good time, to the Ultimate Abode.

In another short hymn, 'ashtabhUjAshtakam', Swami Desikan, echoed this
'state of mind' of the 'prapanna' in the words, "bhayam kUtasyAt tvayi
sAnukampE; raksha kuthasyAt tvayi jAtharOshE" !(Meaning: Where is the need
to FEAR anything when I am Your protege ? And if I am not Your protege, is
there anything on earth that is not the cause of perennial FEAR to me ?)
Again in the same hymn there is another expression in the next verse to the
same effect,"tvayi pravritthE mama kim prAya-saihi, tvayya pravritthE mama
kim prAya-saihi".

In the 'nyAsa-dasakam', too, in Verse #5 and Verse #6 of that hymn, Swami
Desikan, pretty much expresses the same feelings of 'FEARLESS
SELF-ASSURANCE" in a different way :

     tvachhE-shathvE sthira-dhiyam tvatprAptyEka prayOjanam I
     nishidha kAmyarahitam kUrUmAm nityakinkaram  II
(Turn me into Thine inveterate subordinate, O Lord, Who art my End; so that
I shalt be ever rid of deeds -- those forbidden and those, as well, that
lead not unto You !)  

     swAmi svashEsham sva-vasham sva-bharathvEna nirbharam  I
     sva-datha-svadhiyA svArtham svasmin nyas-yathi mAm svayam  II
(The Lord, of His Own accord, will take me unto Him; and he will do so for
His Own Sake; I am CERTAIN of this through an awareness which, too, He
Himself kindled in me. I am but a willing servant under His reign; I have no
responsibility even unto myself; that Great Burden is all His Own !)
 
                  *******************************************

The next stage is when the 'prapanna' is ready to proceed to the 6th "step"
on Swami Desikan's "Stairway to Transcendence".

We shall discuss it in the next post.

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha

sudarshan