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Re: saranAgati

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Sat Jul 15 2000 - 09:06:28 PDT

Dear Sri Mahesh:

prapatti or saranAgathi is the quintessence of our philosophy and
tradition. So, although it is the surest and easiest means to
realizing the Lord, it is the most complex to describe and fully
understand.   However, in an attempt to answer your questions, I
would like to provide a brief and rough synopsis of the two
prevailing understandings of prapatti, at least to the best of my
limited understanding of them:

The first understanding of prapatti along with its 5 accessories
can best be described by your term, "a mood," a psychological and
spiritual awakening -- perhaps analogous to an epiphany in
Christian faith -- in which the devotee becomes unquestioningly
aware of the fact that in his true state, he is completely
dependent upon and wholly subservient to Sriman Narayana.   As
this state of being is the true nature of the soul, nothing is
really "performed" on the part of the aspirant other than an
acceptance of this awakening.  The 5 accessories that were so
eloquently described by Sri Mani are both contained within and
are the result of this realization.  What naturally follows is a
life of humility and service to the Lord, and the firm faith that
since He is the Lord and Protector, one's salvation will surely
occur when the Lord feels the time is right.   No one can really
limit what conditions and at what time such an awakening occurs.
But, for the sake of practicality, most people regard the
receiving of samAsrayanam under an AchAryan  -- the solemn
occasion when the devotee is initiated into the 3 Sacred
Mantras -- as being the moment when  such a state of mind can
begin to be cultivated.    But, as the Lord Himself is solely
responsible for all souls, proponents of this view are quick to
point out that even this very realization or prapatti is due to
His Grace Alone.  Consequently, nothing on the part of the
individual has really brought this realization into being, and
there is really nothing that the individual need do further,
other than humbly accepting the joy and peace of mind that comes
from this awakening.

The second understanding of prapatti only slightly differs from
the first.  While it is recognized that prapatti is in line with
the soul's natural state, the question arises as to whether we,
after so many eons of avoiding the Lord, can really be sure that
we have all the 5 qualities to be able to come to this
realization properly.  As we really can never really be sure, the
best alternative is to seek out someone who embodies these good
traits, an AchAryan, and have him/her teach us, or better yet,
have him/her serve as a mediator, beseeching the Lord for
protection on our behalf, as we are unqualified to do so.   This
latter method presumes that prapatti does involve a conscious and
sincere effort, in which we, guided by the Lord, go before an
AchAryan and beseech him to surrender to Him on our behalf.
Since such an opportunity involves a time, a place, and a
specific set of actions on our parts, it can best be achieved
through participation in a solemn ritual, bharanyAsam.

Whether through a mental affirmation, or through the mediation
via bharanyAsam, prapatti really rests on our unswerving faith in
our Supremely Kind and Accessible Lord, who promises us that He
will take care of us unconditionally and unceasingly throughout
our lives on this earth, and will indeed give us mOksham, if we
simply leave ourselves to His care.   Since this promise is
unconditional, performing prapatti more than once would, in
essence, show our lack of faith in Him.  It would be like
accepting a promise from a true friend, and then making sure that
the friend holds good to his words by asking to him to make that
promise again.

Giving in to the Supreme Promise of such an Endearing Being as
Sriman Narayana is something so irresistible and so engaging that
it would be virtually impossible to fall from it.  But, even if
we were to transgress in our path, the Lord out of His Kindness
will never forget His promise to us, and will either, ignore the
transgression, as proposed by those holding the first view, or
punish us mildly as a reminder to us to stay with the path that
our AchAryans have tread in performing prapatti on our behalf.

The above is a brief synopsis of a very complex subject, based on
my limited understanding of what has been taught to me.  Any
errors in the above are mine alone.

I hope this helps.

Ramanuja Dasan

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