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SamAshrayanam - part 3

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (
Date: Wed Jan 14 1998 - 12:39:04 PST

                                  Sri :
             Srimate  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Para Brahmane Namaha
             Srimate Sri Lakshmi - Nrusimha Divya PAdukA Sevaka - 
         Srivan  Shatagopa  Sri NArAyana Yateendra MahAdesikAya Namaha      
                  Srimate NigamAntha MahAdesikAya Namaha 
                  Srimate  Bhagavad   RAmAnujAya  Namaha      
                    Sriyai Namaha ; SridharAya  Namaha

     Dear  Bhakti Group Members ,
     Namo NArAyanA . kindly accept adiyens pranAmams. 

    Let us continue with our discussion on SamAshrayanam .


                        WHAT IS SAMASHRAYANAM ?
    SamAshrayanam means 'to approach (AchAryA) with all sincerity'.In a
nut  shell , during 'SamAshrayanam' ,the AchAryA initiates a person ,
irrespective of caste,creed or sex, as his sishyA. It is a commitment from
the disciple that he or she will live as per the wishes of the AchAryA.
Thus the person gets the  link to the Sri Vaishnava paramparA. During
SamAshrayanam ,Pancha SamskAram (five Purifications) is performed and he
becomes a "Sri VaishnavA".
      The five samskArams and its main purposes are 

    1. thApam   : To emboss the impressions of heated Sankha
and ChakrA on the arms ( near the shoulders ).

    2. pundram  : To wear the dvAdasa OOrdhva pundram ( 12 Thiruman &
Srichoornam )

    3. nAmam    : To be christened by the AchAryA afresh as "RAmAnuja
dAsan" (addition of 'dAsA' at the end of  ones name) to indicate that one
is forever a servant of the Supreme Lord Sriman NArAyanA and BhagavAn
RAmAnujA .

    4. manthram : To get the initiation of "Rahasya Traya MantrAs" - 
AshtAksharam , Dvayam and charama slokam  .

    5. Ijyai    : To learn the worship of Sriman nArAyanA in proper
form ( Bhagavad ThiruvArAdhanam) .


                       PANCHA  SAMSKARAM
    In general,the human body must undergo many samskArams.This is done
basically to make the body more pure and thereby aid the jIvAtmA in
the path of Spiritualism , which culminates in God- Realisation.The
greatest stumbling block for one's advancement in Spiritualism is their
body itself, which is a result of their previous karmAs.So , sAstrAs
prescribe various samskArams like JAtakarmA , NAmakaranAa , Upanayanam etc.

     Pancha SamskArAm is superior to all such samskArams .One is not a
born "Sri VaishnavA". It is this "Pancha SamskAram" that makes him one.
Millions and Millions of janmAs(births)  were simply wasted without 
becoming a "Sri VaishnavA".It is this highly sacred "Pancha SamskAram"
which gives the real "birth" to the jIvAtmA. Since all the previous births
were simply spent in the darkness of ignorance , they don't have any value
. The real meaning of life starts, only when one becomes a "Sri VaishnavA" .
Since "Pancha SamskAram" marks the beginning of the true life one has to
lead , it is a VERY VERY SPECIAL EVENT for the person undergoing it .

     "IyengAr"  means 'Iyndu angam Udayavar'or'Iyndu kAryangal Udayavar'.
These five refers to the 'Pancha SamskAram'. It also means the fiva angAs
of prapatti.  We can in  general say that this PanchaSamskAram gives one
the name "IyengAr".    

   1.  thApa SamskAram : 
               This is the first samskAram . The AchAryA embosses the
impressions of Conch (Shankam) and Discuss (Sudarshana chakram) on the
left and right arms of the disciple, respectively . 

    To give an analogy in the materialistic world , a sales representive
 wears a logo representing the organization for which he is working.
Factually , we ( JIvAtmAs) are servants of the Supreme Lord Sriman
NArAyanA. So ,we also identify ourselves through the things which uniquely 
represent Him. NArAyanA holds the Conch(PAnchaJanyam) in His Left Hand and 
the Sudarshana Chakram in His right Hand.So ,we also bear the same way
.Any highly fortunate jivAtmA ,who becomes a devotee of Lord Vishnu will
be very happy about  wearing Shankam and Chakram .

    The AchAryA with great devotion recites the mantrAs to invoke
Sriman NArAyanA and His weapons Sudarshana Chakram & PAnchajanyam .The
Supremely merciful NArAyAnA abides by it.The Lord and His weapons thus
become present in the Agni (Fire ).Then, the AchAryA prays specifically to
the divine weapons to be eternally present with the disciples for whom
Pancha SamskAram is being performed.

     The emblem of "Sudarshana ChakrA" is heated in the agni and is
embossed on the right hand , by chanting a hymn, which translates into 
"Oh! Sudarshana MahAJwAlA (Highly resplendent), as lusturous as crores of
Sun , please show me , an ignorant one, the path of Lord Vishnu" . 

    Then , the emblem of "PAnchajanyam" is heated in the fire and is
embossed on the left hand , by chanting a hymn , which translates into 
"Oh! PAnchajanyA! You are capable of driving away the sins of individuals
through your sound. Please protect me , a sinner , from this samsArA ".

    In Ahobila Mutt , the procedure is much simpler since the emblems of
ShankA and chakrA were given by the most merciful Lord Sri Lakshmi
Nrusimhan Himself , to Sri Adivan Shatagopa Yateendra MahAdesikan.

  This is a highly powerful samskAram . SudarshanAzhvAr's (ChakrA) mercy
to the devotees of Sriman NArAyanA is highly glorifiable. No one can
forget the wonderful way in which SudarsanAzhvAr chased DhurvAsa Muni for
his BhAgavadha apachArA unto the great VaishnavA "Ambarish". That is the
way in which Sri SudarsanAzhvAr extends his mercy to protect the
devotees.He wards off the evil elements and thereby makes a nice pathway
for the devotee to engage in Bhagavad Kainkaryam ( service ).

   Nowadayas , SudarsanAzhvAr is popular amongst the 'mooda bhakthAs' ie.
those people who pray for the fulfillment of their cheap materialistic
desires.Its really a pity that eventhough SudarsanAzhvAr is highly
merciful to ward off all the evil obstacles that obstruct a person
from developing pure bhakti or performing prapatti,these people keep
pestering him regarding their materialistic desires.

   The divine conch 'PAnchajanyam' shatters all the evils through
transcendental sound . The most important aspect is that we have to
realize our ignorant way of leading the life. The whole life should be
packed with ONLY devotional services (kainkaryAs)  unto Sriman NArAyanA
and His devotees.If we are even an inch shorter to it , it clearly implies
that we are ignorant.But , attaining the mood of kainkaryA is not a
material phenomena.One must deeply depend on the mercy of AchAryAs and
BhAgavathAs.This is the only way to get it.   

    But before coming to this position , one has to know that doing
kainkaryam to the Divya Dampati ( Sri and NArAyanA )is the ultimate goal
of life . Thats why , we pray to SudarshanAzhvAr to show us the path of
Vishnu . SudarshanAzhvAr will lead us to do prapatti and by becoming a
prapanna , one will be ever  ecstatic in performing various kainkaryAs
.But , how will he help us if we don't want this from the depth of our
hearts ?

      In addition to our unwillingness to completely surrender to the
lotus feet of Sriman NArAyanA , there are so many nefarious traps in this
world of samsArA. Since everyone is allured by this and indulge nicely in
the materialistic activities , they pile up the sins.So, already being a
sinner , who is attracted by all the petty materialistic things , we pray
to 'PAnchajanyam' for his protection from 'SamsArA' (materialistic world). 

       ThApa SamskAram is highly glorified by the sAstrAs in various
places. Some of them are as follows : 

  1. Brahmasooktha in the Atarva Mahopanishad says " ChakrA in the right
shoulder and Sankha in the left shall be worn" .

  2. The Pushkala Samhita in Rig VedA says " Oh vishnu ! The learned wear
the holy Sankha - Chakra to cross the ocean of samsArA ". 

  3. Atarva vedA says " By adorning the armour of the Lord , we shall live
happily in this world and reach the abode of the Lord ( conveying that
others cannot reach Sri Vaikuntam ) "

  4. In the Vishnu Tattvam , the passage narrating about NarakalokA says "
Wearing of Sankha and ChakrA informs the relationship with Vishnu . The
sentries of YamA are afraid of them . The world will perish if they are
belittled . The devotees of Vishnu are never seen in YamA's place due to
the glory of Sriman NArAyanA " .

  5. BheeshmaparvA of MahAbhArathA says " All shall , as ordained in the
PAncharAtrA SAstrA preached by Lord SankarshanA ( NArAyanA ) , wear the
chakrA mark. They only are eligible to worship BhagavAn Vishnu ( Bhagavad 
ArAdhanam ) "

  6. VarAhapurAnam glorifies the persons wearing the hot seals of the
Supreme Lord Sriman NArAyanA on their arms (shoulders) . It says that
these devotees ultimately reach Sri Vaikuntam .  

  7. Garuda PurAnam says that only those who have been affixed with the
Sankha and ChakrA are eligible to take part in the ceremony to
    Atarva vedA is very clear in the regard that one should adorn the
heated symbols of Sriman NArAyanA on ones body , and continues to say that
only such people attain the Supreme Abode ( Sri Vaikuntam). Rig VedA is
also categorical that the Sankha and chakrA be heated and adorned.

    Any intelligent person ,after getting so much help from the divine
weapons of Sriman NArAyanA , should proceed further to become a true Sri
VaishnavA in practise.

    Thus  the AchAryA out of his dayA does this "thApA SamskArA" for the
upliftment of the sishyA from the world of samsArA .Further, the disciple
with Anjali MudrA should regularly chant the two hymns through which this
samskAram has been performed and thereby derive  the supreme protection
from SudarsanAzhvAr and PAnchajanyam . 


 Namo NArAyanA


  Anantha PadmanAbha dAsan

                      Sarvam  Sri KrishnArpanamastu