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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Feb 03 1997 - 06:30:02 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

If you ever find yourself discussing, with a friend or relative, Swami
Desikan's 'PPS' and describing to him/her about the 5 steps viz. 'vivEkam',
"nirvEdam", 'virakthi', 'bheethi' and 'prasAda-hetu', you can be absolutely
certain that you will be queried as follows:

"All of Swami Desikan's thesis in "PPS' is very fine in theory. But the five
"steps" described do not appear to be exemplified anywhere in our
'itihAsa-s' (history) or 'pUrANa-s'(epics). Is Swami Desikan simply weaving
a concept which really has no 'pramANam' (basis of validity)?"   

If you face a query like the above, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', please regard
it as similar to the one put to you when you tell someone you have visited
the Niagara Falls and are, in turn, asked to produce evidence for the same !! 

When someone like that does insist you show them 'evidence' or 'proof' of
your having been at site of the Niagara Falls, what do you do ? You let out
a tired sigh and reach into your photo-album and produce a set of
"souvenir-snapshots" (the 'pramANam') which you took with your
Yashica-Pentax while at the site of the Niagara. Your querist will then look
at your snaps, nod his head and finally acknowledge, "Oh, yes, you are
indeed lucky to have been at the Niagara !! I can see that!".

Now, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', can you possibly determine what such
acknowledgment by your querist adds to, or diminishes from, your original
experience of the Niagara Falls ?

Can you definitively say the 'pramANam', in itself, is the equivalent of the
'real experience' ? Or, those 'snapshots' are accurate records of the
feelings of marvel and awe that gripped you while you stood watching the
Niagara ? 

Can you say 'pramANam' is the peer of 'bhagavath-guNAnUbhavam' (experience) ?

NO WAY, isn't it ?

No way, dear 'bhagavatOttamA-s', because only you, who have really been
witness to the grand spectacle of the Niagara, can re-live the glory of that
private experience of yours. You may be able to report to someone, perhaps,
the ecstasy you felt, in that moment of the experience, by providing
'pramANam' (snap-shots, in this case) for it. But there is no way the 'inner
joy' such personal experience produced in you in the first place, can be
truly communicated to another person, is there ?

Thus there are certain "experiences" in life whose truth and validity are
self-evident, with or without 'pramANam'. In that category fall :  

-- the majesty of a Niagara Falls, perhaps, as we saw above.

-- or that of Swami Desikan's 'paramapada-sOpAnam' !!

-- and most certainly, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', the entire body of
"experiences" which we know our ancient 'vEdA's', the "srUthI-s" and the
"smrithI-s" speak about !!!

Anyway, anticipating all the likely hullaboo about 'pramANam', proof or
evidence etc. that ordinary people like us are prone to raise, Swami Desikan
himself provides, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', for his 'Stairway to
Transcendence', a wonderful basis of validity drawn straight out of that
premier 'pUraNa' -- the  Ramayana ! 

And that 'pUrAni-c' 'pramANa' from the Ramayana is precisely what I was
referring to in my last post, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', as "Desika-souvenir" !! 

It is the 'snapshot', or all the 'pramANam' anyone would want, as 'evidence'
of that exhilirating experience we all felt as we "travelled", in the last
half-a-dozen posts, with the "kavi-tArkika-simham" up the five steps from
'vivEkam' to the 'prasAdana-parva', on that "holy stairway" he calls
'paramapada-sOpAnam' !!  

It is that "pramANam" from the Srimad Ramayanam -- the "Desikan
tour-souvenir" -- which will now be the subject of my last post to follow.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikAya namaha