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Progress Indicators for Prapannas
Date: Mon Jun 29 1998 - 06:33:30 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
There has been a discussion on whether there are  any progress indicators for
a Prapanna  after doing Prapatti. Swami Desika has given in Adhikara 14
Svanishta Abhignana Adhikara of his Rahasya Traya Sara, clear guidelines to
determine whether a Prapanna has developed the proper state of mind.
Reproduced below is the write up on this Adhikara in Chapter 18 "Prapatti"
from  my book "Hinduism Rediscovered"

Apart from the external signs and personal habits detailed by other
contributors, what Swami Desika emphasizes is the development of attitudes. A
constant self- examination  and evaluation of one’s attitude from time to time
will reveal whether and if so, how far a Prapanna has progressed in his/ her
own spiritual evolution.

Anbil Ramaswamy
(Characteristics of  behavior of  a   Prapanna  which  show  that  he  has
developed  the  proper state  of  mind  required  of  a  Prapanna)      
The following traits of behavior would reveal that a Prapanna has attained
proper stage of evolution of mind and the following Nishtas (Codes of conduct)
would serve as a barometer to measure the stage of such evolutionViz., 
(i)  Svarupa Nishta  ( self surrender), 
(ii)  Upaya Nishta  ( surrendering the means ) and 
(iii)  Purusharta Nishta ( surrendering the fruits of surrender) 
(1 )  Svarupa Nishta: 
(a)  He will not feel hurt when others hurl insults on him, being aware  that
the  soul can never be insulted.   
(b)   He will feel compassionate towards those insulting him for only they
would incur sin by insulting a Prapanna.
(c)  He will feel thankful towards those accusing him because they make him
aware of a possible defect in him for rectifying which they had given him an
(d)  He will not harbor any ill will against those insulting him being
convinced that it is divine will that is instrumental for such accusations in
a process of testing his courage to face insults with equanimity.
(e)  He will feel happy that his sins get removed by being exposed to insults
(merited or otherwise) and by exposure of his defects.

In practical terms-
If someone insults, you say "I think you are perhaps correct"
If someone calls you a fool, you say "I have that doubt myself"
If someone besmears you, you think you have gained an experience
If you think nothing is in your hands, you will have no grief or misery

SRI ANDAL has provided in her TIRUPPAVAI an excellent example of this
attitude. When her mates accused her , she answered "Maybe, I am at fault"-
"Nanethaan Aayiduga" This is considered to be the essential index of a true
Vaishnava -
(Vaishnava lakshanam)

NARSI MEHTA, a Gujarati poet composed a poem to answer the question "Who is a
Vaishnava?" (devotee of Vishnu) and this poem is said to have influenced
Mahatma Gandhi in adopting his famous  creed of Ahimsa. He enlists the
following as the traits of a Vaishnava. These can be taken as indices for a

(i)  One who feels sympathetic on seeing the sufferings of others and rushes
to alleviate their sufferings and does not feel proud for doing this.

(ii)  One who respects all living beings alike, and does not engage himself in
slandering through mind, word or deed.

(iii)  One who has no illwill towards others and regards all womenfolk (other
than his wife) as Mother (i.e) without lust, one who does not indulge in
falsehood, one who does not covet others' belongings.

(iv)  One who has banished with a determination Kaama and Krodha (desire and
anger) from his mind.

(v)  One who has totally dedicated himself to the service of the Lord and
humanity- because such service is the true hallmark of a Vaishnava.

(2)  Upaya Nishta
(a)  He is convinced that he is not subservient to any one other than Sri

(b)  He is prepared to welcome death as and when it comes-as an honored guest,
knowing full well that on his death, he would reach up to the kingdom of God.

(c)  He does not take recourse to any other means to achieve his goal in the
firm faith that Lord Sri Narayana has already assured to respond to his
prayers and will protect him under all circumstances.

(d)   He is free from all worries knowing that Lord Sri Narayana would destroy
all that is harmful and grant all that is beneficial to his spiritual
upliftment (not necessarily what he desires, which might turn out to be
harmful ultimately)

(3)  Purushartha Nishta
(a)  Being immersed in his dedication to the Lord, he no more seeks physical
or material comforts or nourishment, in the conviction that everything happens
as per the will of God.

(b)  If any physical or material comforts come his way (through Dharmic ways,
of course) he does not shun them, knowing that it is one of the ways to get
rid of his Punya karmas because they also constitute impediments on his path
to Moksha.

(c)  He views both joy and sorrow alike submitting himself to both with
equanimity, knowing that both pleasure and pain visit him as ordained by the

(d)  He feels intensity of devotion like that of 'Parama Bhakti" when he
cannot brook any further delay in achieving communion with the Lord.

When one acquires the mental caliber as aforesaid, there can be no fear other
than Bhagavata Apachara and Acharya Apachara (disrespect to devotees and
preceptor) which in any case, he would not indulge in.

In short, a true Prapanna is a true gentleman and answers to the description
of a
'TRUE GENTLEMAN' given  by CARDINAL NEWMAN in these words:
"The true gentleman carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the
minds of those with whom he is cast; all clashing of opinion , or collision of
feeling, all restraint or suspicion; or gloom or resentment.
- His great concern being to make everyone at their ease and at home. 
- He has his eyes on all his company.  
- He is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful
towards the absurd. 
- He can recollect to whom he is speaking. 
- He guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate. 
- He is seldom prominent in conversation and never wearisome. 
- He makes light of favors and seems to be RECEIVING when he is CONFERRING. 
- He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a
mere retort. 
- He has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to
those who interfere with him. 
- He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage,
never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments or insinuates evil
which he dare not say out. 
- From a long sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage that
we should *ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to
be our friend*.
- He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults; 
- He is too well employed to remember injuries and too indolent to bear
- He is patient, forbearing and resigned on philosophical principles
- He submits to pain because it is inevitable, to bereavement because it is
irreparable and to  death because it is his destiny.
- If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect
preserves him from the blundering discourtesy to  better though less educated
- He may be right or wrong in his opinions but he is too clear headed to be
unjust, he is as simple as he is forcible and as brief as he is decisive"

Anbil Ramaswamy