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From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Wed Jan 29 1997 - 04:13:46 PST
srimathe lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha sri vedanta desika guravE namaha Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', Swami Desikan describes in 'PPS' the following 9 'parianka-s' or steps for a spiritual aspirant : 1) vivEkam 2) nirvEdam 3) virakti 4) bheeti 5) prasAda-hetu 6) Utkramanam 7) archirAdri 8) divya-desa-prApti 9) prApti It is interesting to note that out of the 9 steps above, a SriVaishnava is expected to take the trouble to scale only the first 5. Steps #6 to #9 are easily traversed by an aspirant with the aid and Grace of Sriman Narayana. While effort is required of us to climb onto Step #5, none is required thereafter. The Lord Himself assumes the burden and responsibility of chaperoning us from Step #6 through Step #9. While Steps #1 to #5 are trodden with the physical body of the aspirant, the journey through Steps #6 to #9 is believed to be undertaken by the non-physical body i.e. the 'soul'. While sometimes one can attempt to "hop-step & jump" over ordinary stairways in order to accelerate one's way up, it is not possible to do so on Swami Desikan's 'Stairway to Transcendence'. Here one has to scale the height in proper "krama" (methodically) and there are no short-cuts. You cannot arrive at a step without first having landed on the immediately preceding one. Swami Desikan terms the first step on the "Stairway to Transcendence" as "vivEkam" i.e. power of discrimination. It is said that of all the 9 steps, this one is the steepest and most difficult to climb. (Those of you who have trekked the 7 'tirUmalai' hills know that the first one,'garUdAdri' -- right upto the 'kALi-gOpUram' -- is the most painful to climb !) Swami Desikan points out that of all the tragic errors humans are prone to, it is the error of "poor discrimination" ("a-gnyAnam" compounded by "a-vivEkam") that they commit repeatedly. It is perhaps some fundamental flaw in the mind of man that he is, for most part in life, unable to differentiate between or judge: a) the nature of truth ("satyam") and of error ("anartham") b) the nature of good ("sat") and evil ("a-sat") c) what promotes his spiritual progress and what retards it d) what is the 'summum-bonum' of human existence on earth and what only seems so; Rare is the soul born with innate power of discrimination --'vivEkam'. A Prahlada or Druva are rarities of Creation. For the large mass of general humanity true discrimination is never achieved in life. Even those who attain it to some extent are, however, unable to retain it as constant companion unto the end of their lives. It is this lack of "wise discrimination" that is the source of endless tragedies and infirmities ("vikAram") in the life of man. True 'vivEkam' dawns on a man when (A) he properly realizes the nature of 'chEtana', 'achEtana' and 'Iswara'; and of "atma-svarupa-gnana", his soul, as distinct from his 'sarIra', body; (B) he truly comprehends the evanescence of the body and the permanence of the soul; (C) he discovers that his own soul is not his ("na-mama"); (D) he discovers that the soul is the property of another Great One Who is "Beyond the Yonder even" ('athyatIshTa-dashAngulam...etc.'); (E) and the purpose of existence on earth is to pursue and realize such a Great One and restore this soul to Him, its Rightful Owner ('Atma-nivEdanam'/'Atma- samarpaNam'). When Swami Desikan explains all the above concepts it seems all so facile and self-evident ! However, if we deeply reflect on the subject we will be unable to deny to ourselves that our day-to-day lives are, indeed, in many ways hopelessly far removed from Swami's concept of "vivEkam". On the other hand, our lives would be perfect examples of the very antithesis of the 'AchAryA's' definition of 'vivEkam'. If we all did become 'vivEki-s' as described in the 'PPS", then the first "small step" Swami Desikan speaks of could be said to be a "giant leap for mankind" ! Once a man has attained 'vivEkam', he is ready to step onto the next plane on the 'stairway' viz. "nirvEdam", which was the start-point for this discussion after Sriman.Sadagopan posted that wonderful sketch of it. We will discuss 'nirvEdam' in my next posting. srimate srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikAya namaha sudarshan.