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SrI deSika stotras - 10. nyAsa vimSati - Part 1.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (nkrish_at_lucent.com)
Date: Mon Jul 27 1998 - 09:13:35 PDT

		SrI deSika stotra-s - 10. nyAsa vimSatih.

This is a continuation of the topic of SaraNAgati.  There are 20 (vimSati)
Sloka-s on nyAsa in this stotra (excluding two Sloka-s in the end which deal
with the phala Sruti), and this is the basis for the name.  After going
through the meanings of the Sloka-s in nyAsa vimSati, I felt that it would
have been more approapriate to call it prapatti-rakshA, similar to the
pA~ncarAtra-rkshA of svAmi deSikan.  After giving a description of how an
AcArya should be chosen, how he should be respected, how a Sishya should
behave, etc., svAmi deSikan takes up the different arguments that have been
advanced by opponents of prapatti as a mkoshopAya, and answers these
questions through nyAsa vimSati. 

Of the 28 stotra-s in samskr*t that we have from svAmi deSikan, nyAsa
vimSati is the only one for which he himself has written a vyAkhyAna in
prose as well.  This shows the importance he attached to the content of this
stotra. 

In this storam, svAmi deSikan gives the qualities of an AcArya, the
attributes of a Sishya, the help rendered by an AcArya, the observances that
should be followed by a Sishya on a daily basis, the qualifications for
bhakti and prapatti, the greatness of prapatti, the prAyaScitta-s for
transgressing the requirements of the a~nga-s of prapatti, etc.

I considered different formats for presenting the material below - in the
form of questions and answers, a high level summary which omits details, and
a very detailed write-up which covers everything that is conveyed to us.
The last one would have been the most preferable, but because of the length
I am compromising.

AcArya lakshaNa - AcArya should be treated as bhagavAn:

One who is interested in surrendering himself to the Lord should seek a
qualified AcArya.  A qualified AcArya is an absolute and integral part of
SaraNAgati, because getting a detailed understanding of the principle of
prapatti is an essential prerequisite for SaraNAgati, and this cannot be
attained without the help of the AcArya.  The AcArya should be held and
worshipped in the same position as bhagavAn by the Sishya, because there is
no way to repay the knowledge that the AcArya imparts to the Sishya (Slokam
2).  svAmi deSikan has described 14 qualities of an AcArya (AcArya lakshNam)
in Slokam 1, and 8 reasons why an AcArya and bhagavAn hold the same position
for a Sishya in Slokam 2.

Proper Instruction from A Qualified AcArya Absolutely Essential:

Not everyone in the ocean of samsAra comes forth with a desire for moksha.
This desire arises only in a few (kasyacit) who have had the good fortune to
get the upadeSa as described in previous Sloka-s.  In turn, it is only when
a person has led a life of virtue (puNya) that the desire to seek an AcArya,
the desire for moksha, and the opportunity to even get the upadeSa from a
qualified AcArya, will arise.  This condition itself arises only
occasionally (kvApi kAle).   SrI D. rAmasvAmi aiye~ngAr refers us to the
GitA - bahUnAm janmanAm ante j~nAvAn mAm prapadyate (Slokam 5).

One may think that it is much easier to just chant the prapatti mantra once,
and not have an AcArya etc.  However, this is not what prapatti is all
about.  It is important to have the guidance of an AcArya who alone can sow
the seed of prapatti in the Sishya's mind at an opportune time as
prescribed in the SAstra-s.  This alone will lead to the long-lasting
interest and ability to follow the a~nga-s of prapatti including
mahA-viSvAsam, and lead ultimately to moksha (Slokam 8).  

Sishya lakshaNam:

A person who wishes to learn and be instructed by an AcArya should be a
sincere Sishya with certain qualifications such as sincere interest in
learning, trust in SAstra-s, control of indriya-s, etc.  svAmi deSikan has
outlined 15 Sishya lakshaNa-s in Slokam 3.

The Most Important Instruction The AcArya Should Impart:

The most important instruction that the AcArya should give to the Sishsya,
which in turn should be meditated upon by the Sishya constantly, is that

  -  bhagavAn SrIman nArAyaNa is the sole owner and controller of everything
moving and non-moving, 

  - He is the only objective for all of us in life to attain and there is
none other,

  -  He is the only means to attain this objective, and so the Sishya should
learn never to deviate from the words of the SAstra-s which are His word.

This is the essence of the rahasya-traya-s (Slokam 4).

Bhakti and Prapatti Are Two Independent Means for Moksha:

bhakti and prapatti are two distinct methods for attaining moksham, each
with its own qualifications, requirements, effort, etc.  Those that hold
that they are  identical may be misled by thinking that because the final
outcome of both is same viz. moksha, the means are also equal in all
respects (Slokam 5).  In fact, prapatti happens to be both an a~nga of
bhakti yoga as well an independent means for attaining moksha.  The fact
that prapatti is an altogether independent means for attaining moksha can be
seen on the basis of several points.  The pre-requisites (A~nga-s) for
bhakti yoga include strict observance of varNASrama dharma-s, whereas for
praptti the a~nga-s are AnukUlya samkalpa, kArpaNya, mahA viSvAsa, etc.  The
effort needed is different for the two, the time it takes to attain moksha
through bhakti yoga and prapatti yoga are different, and there are other
differences as well. (Slokam 10).

Prapatti - Supported By Sruti-s as The Greatest tapas, and Within Everyone's
Reach:

svAmi deSikan gives examples from the Sruti-s supporting that prapatti is
considered the greatest of all tapas, one who has done prapatti is
considered to be one who has done a good yAga, prapatti is a well-kept
secret among deva-s, etc.  At the same time, it is the means available to
everyone without distinction of varNa etc.  The view that it is not suited
for those who cannot chant vedic mantra-s is not correct, since Agamic
(tantric) procedures are available to the latter (Sloka 9).  

Several instances of SaraNAgati being an accepted method to achieve one's
desired objective even in ordinary life are known in the smr*ti-s.  Examples
of sugrIva, vibhIshaNa, kAkAsura, etc. are known to everyone.  There is
nothing in the SAstra-s against SaraNAgati being an effective and accepted
method to achieve the objective that one is unable to achieve by one's own
efforts.  Given this, there is no basis for doubting that surrender to
emperumAn who is the Ocean of Mercy and the Ultimate in Sakti etc., can have
any other end except fruition.  This has been established by pUrvAcArya-s
unequivocally in their works (Slokam 6).

Importance of mahA-viSvAsam:

svAmi deSikan emphasizes that it is not just viSvAsam - ordinary trust -
that is a requisite for nyAsa;  it is mahA-viSvAsam that is needed - utmost
confidence, unshakable, beyond an iota of doubt, that He and He alone will
protect us.  This the most important of the a~nga-s of prapatti.  It is
natural for one to question whether it can really be true that we do this
relatively effortless surrender, and in return bhagavAn gives us the
ultimate that anyone can ever ask for, viz. relief from the cycle of birth
and re-birth, moksha.  But mahA-viSvAsam will come only as a result of the
upadeSa of an AcArya at the appropriate time and circumstance.  This is why
a proper AcArya is absolutely essential for prapatti (Slokam 7). 

To be Continued ---

 -dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan