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SrI deSika stotra-s - 8. SaraNAgati dIpikA.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (
Date: Tue Jun 30 1998 - 08:22:43 PDT

  		SrI deSika stotram - 8. SaraNAgati dIpika.


This stotram is in praise of Lord dIpa-prakASa of tirut-taNkA, the
birthplace of svAmi deSikan.  SrI rAmadeSikAcArya svAmi has translated the
name "dIpa-prakASa"  in tamizh as "viLakkoLip-perumAn".  "viLakkoLi" means
the light from the lamp.  "perumAn" means Lord.  Thus, the name can mean
"One who is the Guiding Light" or "One who is the tejas behind all things
that shine", etc.   SrI deSika has named this stotra as SaraNAgati dIpika,
or the "torch that shows the path for SaraNAgati", instead of, for instance,
SrI dIpa-prakASa stotram.   This is because the stotram enlightens or
reveals the path of SaraNAgati.   In fact, in the very first Slokam, svAmi
deSikan says that this stotram will reveal the path of SaraNAgati handed
down to us from the yatISvara, SrI rAmAnuja.

The different concepts conveyed to us by svAmi deSikan through this stotram
cover a wealth of information.   Following is a summary of these as I
understand them.  Not having been initiated by an AcArya, I am sure I am
making many mistakes, but this is not going to keep me from going through
the stotram-s of svAmi deSikan with the objective of doing the best I can
for now.

Some of the concepts expressed in SaraNAgati dIpikA:
- BhagavAn Sriman nArAyaNa is brimming with dayA towards us with no obvious
act on our part to deserve this dayA from Him.  All we have to do is
re-visit our summary on dayA Satakam to see the innumerable instances of
this.  The key phrase in Slokam 2 of this stotram conveys this:  nirvyAja
nirbhara dayA bharitam.  "nirvyAja" - natural and without any obvious
reason, and nirbhara - absolute, full;  dayA bharitam - filled with dayA.

- Sriman nArAyaNa "surrenders" to those who surrender to Him - SaraNokti
vaSyam -(Slokam 3).  Again, each word of svAmi deSikan conveys a ton of
ideas.  Just saying that we surrender to Him (ukti) suffices for Him to be
pleased with us.

- PirATTi and bhagavAn are inseparable.   BhagaAn's kAnti is because of His
association with PirATTi.   PirATTi lives in His vaksha-sthalam, and His
tejas or kAnti  (dIpa sama avabhAsam- Slokam 4) is because She is
inseparably with Him.

- BhagavAn is the purushottama who is the Cause of the Universe, its
Supporter, dwells in everything, Lord of everything, and in fact everything
in this world is His body (Slokam 6).

- All the beings and all the objects of this Universe constitute His body.
All the praise and all the worship to all the gods are ultimately His
praise.  He is the antaryAmi in everything (Slokam 7).

- BhagavAn is the foremost of all the deities (sarva adhikah tvam - Slokam
7, 19). BhagavAn is the only one who can give moksha.  Brahma, Siva and
other gods can only give lesser benefits to those who worship them (Slokam

- BhagavAn is the Abode of all the sad-guNa-s or desired attributes such as
j~nAna, bala, aiSvarya, vIrya, Sakti, tejas, etc. in their perfection
(Slokam 8).

- Bhagavan is the one who created the Universe with brahma as the first one,
and taught us the veda-s out of His dayA (Slokam 9).

- BhagavAn is the prathama AcAryan in the AcArya paramparA, and those who
desire moksha become His followers and attain Him through SaraNAgati (Slokam
9).  Nothing else is needed for attaining Him than just prapatti or
SaraNAgati (Slokam 10, 13).

- BhagavAn is both the means and the end for His devotees.  He just looks
for the vyAja (pretext) of simple SaraNAgati, and hurries to bestow moksham
on the prapanna (Slokma 14).

- Moksha is attained by one who observes either bhakti yoga or prapatti
mArga, and in prapatti, through any one of the four paths - svanishTha
(acquiring the knowledge oneself and surrender to Him through this
knowledge), ukti nishTha (uttering the words of prapatti as instructed by an
AcArya), AcArya nishTha (surrender to the AcArya and leave it to him to
present you as a prapanna to Him), and bhAgavata nishTha (entrust this
responsibility to a bhAgavata who is not the AcArya) (Slokam 16).

- In spite of His greatness, He mixes with even the lowliest of people in
stature, which is His quality of sauSIlya.  svAmi deSikan observes that this
is most astonishing (hanta! - Slokam 18).

- The AcArya or guru is to be treated like BhagavAn Himself.  It is
BhagavAn's dayA that He becomes accessible to us in the form of an AcArya in
order to give us the instruction to do kaimkaryam to Him so that we can
derive permanent happiness throughout our lifetime (Slokam 20).

- Even living in a puNya kshetram in the vicinity of BhagavAn's sacred
temples will lead to bhagavAn's katAksham (Slokam 47).

The avatAra rahasya (The Principle Behind His Incarnations):

BhagavAn has taken different incarnations out of His sheer Mercy in order to
be accessible to us in many ways.  The six rahasya-s behind His incarnations
(avatAra rahasyam), are (Slokam 17):

 1) nAnA-vidahih - The incarnations are of different forms, including
matsya, kUrma, rAma, kr*shNa, etc.; 

2) AtmIya rakshaNa, vipaksha vinASanArthaih - The incarnations are taken by
Him for the protection of His devotees and for the destruction of their

3) akapaTaih - These incarnations are real, and not a display of trickery or

4) ajahat-svabhAvaih - In these incarnations He retains all His qualities

5) aprAkr*taih - He is not made of the pa~nca bhUta-s as we are;  they are
pure Suddha-satva and not contaminated by rajas, tamas etc. and

 6) nija vihAra vaSena siddhaih - His 'births' or incarnations are not a
result of pUrva karma-s but are taken because of His samkalpa or lIlA

Bhakti mArga vs. prapatti mArga:
Bhagavan can be realized by bhakti yoga, which has the following eight
a~nga-s (Slokam 21): 

  1. yama - Leading a life of ahimsA, truthfulness, brahmacarya, etc.
  2. niyama - Purity in mind, being satisfied with what one has, observing
vrata, tapas, etc.
  3. Asana - Performing yogic exercises such as padmAsana, bhadrAsana, etc.
  4. prANAyAma - Practicing breath control
  5. pratyAhAra - Control of the five senses
  6. sthira dhAraNA -  Steadfast diversion of one's mind on Him 
  7. dhyAna -  Uninterrupted meditation
  8. samAdhi - Ultimately accomplishing His nearness through the above seven

- With a pure mind, if one meditates on BhagavAn's tirumeni, with His lotus
face and eyes, His beautiful form with His divya Ayudha-s and divya
AbharaNa-s, this is one way to realize Him and derive unending peace of
mind.  This is called sAlambana yoga, and is simple to follow.  All sins are
removed from such meditation (Slokam 22).

- Those who practice bhakti yoga meditate on His svarUpa or True Nature
instead of meditating on His tirumeni.   His divya svarUpa is unlimited by
the constraints of location, time, and shape or object (tri-sIma rahite -
Slokam 23).  In other words, He is mediated on as one who is everywhere, in
everything, and at all times (bhUta, bhavya, bhavan- nAthah).   Meditation
on bhagavAn's divya svarUpa is called nirAlambana yoga.
Those who meditate on His divya svarUpa are relieved from the three types of
tApa or torment (tApa trayeNa vihatim na bhajanti - Slokam 23).  SrI
rAmadeSikAcArya svAmi points out that these three tApa-s are associated with
samsAra or being born in this world.  These are:  1) bodily and mental
afflictions such as diseases, desire, anger etc.;  2) those that are caused
by birds, beasts, men etc.; and  3) those that are caused as a result of
nature, such as weather, wind, rain, etc.  Since those who adopt this
meditation overcome the miseries associated with samsAra, they attain

SrI rAmadeSikAcArya svAmi gives the following additional interpretation.
karma yoga consists of acts such as sacrificial offerings or yAga-s, tapas,
dhAnam, etc. which are done with the clear realization that all these are
done as a part of His worship, and are done because of His will.  Performing
karma yoga with this state of mind and without expecting anything in return
leads to the development of the ability to perform j~nAna yoga, which
involves control of the mind and meditation on the soul with a clear
recognition of the difference between body and soul.  The result of
observing j~nAna yoga is the realization of the true nature of the self and
the development of the mind that will be conducive to observing the rigors
of bhakti yoga (whose a~nga-s were outlined previously).  Selfless
bhagavat-kaimkaryam (i.e., kainkaryam done without expecting any benefit to
oneself in return) such as construction of temples, helping in keeping
temples clean, decorating the temples, establishing nandavanam in the
temple, helping in other aspects of devotional worship in the temple, etc.
will all lead to further realization of the bhakti mArga.

Prapatti mArga Introduced:

-BhagavAn blesses those who worship Him through whichever path they choose
with whatever fruit they aspire for - be it through karma yoga, j~nAna yoga,
or bhakti yoga, or through any other means whatsoever  (Slokam 24).
However, when one considers the rigors required for bhakti-yoga, and
remembers the length of time it may take to attain moksha through bhakti
yoga, even the great mahAns resort to the easier path of prapatti (Slokam

- Praptti mArga or SaraNAgati is the means available to those of us who
cannot observe the rigors needed for realizing Him through karma yoga,
j~nAna yoga or bhakti yoga (Slokam 25).  sVami deSikan refers to the
prapatti mArga as the "shada~nga yoga" - the path with the six a~nga-s.  He
points out that this path is fit for even the ever-lazy (nitya- Alasa
arham), with no need to fear about the consequences of not observing any
rules or strictures (abhayam), not requiring the help of other objects or
people to guide (anyaih nirapeksham), viSva adhikAram (fit to be observed by
any one without distinction of caste, creed or sex), can be easily learned
and practised (SikshA viSesha subhagam), and is capable of bestowing
anything that is desired, including moksham (akhila abhimata prsUtim)
(Slokam 26).   Thus in one single Slokam svAmi deSikan introduces us to the
ease and greatness of praptti at the same time.

The a~nga-s of prapatti:

The following aspects of prapatti are outlined in Slokam 27 - 

		- Giving up whatever is antagonistic to any of His creations
or to Him (tvat prAtikUlya vimukhAh) - prAtikUlya varjanam

		- The resolve to do good to all beings.  The realization
that all beings are in actuality the body of God, and the resolve to live in
accordance with the will of God (sphurat AnukUlyAh) - AnukUlya sankalpam

		- Absolute humility bordering on lowliness and honest
awareness of one's own natural ignorance, impotence and impurity partly
because of stains acquired through countless births (kr*paNatAm kr*tvA) -

		- Irrepressible and great faith in Godhead.  Involves the
understanding that God is the benefactor of all beings, and His compassion
is always and readily available.  The firm conviction that He will not fail
to protect us (vigata atiSankhAh) - mahA viSvAsam

		- The conscious and mindful selection of Him as our Sole
Protector, and the realization that He and only He can protect us - (svayam
upAyah bhava iti ) - goptr*tva varaNam.

		- Giving up independent ownership in matters of actions or
fruits thereof, and placing oneself completely and directly under His care.
This is SaraNAgati, but is traditionally included as the sixth a~nga of
prapatti and is called Atma-nikshepa or nyAsa - (tavayi nija-bhAram
arpayanti) -  Atam-nikshepaNa.

Prapatti further elaborated:

- Once a person has surrendered to Him, He takes the responsibility to
embrace the jIvan when it leaves the body, and guide the jIvAtmA to SrI
vaikunTham to the accompaniment of all the deva-s (Sloka-s 37 - 39).  In
fact, He has given His word in SrI rAma incarnation that it is His dharma to
protect those who have surrendered to Him (Slokam 45).  Irrespective of the
enormous sins committed, He protects those who surrender to Him without
fail, as evidenced by the incident of kAkAsura (Slokam 46).  Even if one
just pretends to be a prapanna, this is sufficient for Him to offer His
protection (Slokam 50).   Among His guNa-s that corroborate the above are:
He is the svAmi - One who owns everyone and everything; dayA jala nidhih -
The Ocean of dayA or Infinite Mercy; madhurah - Sweet like nectar; kshamAvAn
- Infinitely forgiving; SIla adikhah - Possessed of Infinite good character;
Srita vaSah - One who willingly becomes subject to the wishes of His
devotees; Sucih - Pure; atyudhArah - Infinitely generous; anaghah - Flawless
(Slokam 52). 

- A prapanna reaches equality (sAmyam) with BhgavAn in SrI vaikunTham by
being able to enjoy the same paramAnanda anubhavam that He enjoys, by just
being able to do kaimkaryam to Him uninterruptedly (Slokam 40).

Different Types of prapatti:

- There are three types of prapatti that are described.  These are -
sva-nishThA, ukti-nishThA, and AcArya nishThA.  sva nishThA involves gaining
the requisite knowledge for this through one's own learning from an AcArya
etc. prior to performing this upAya.  ukti nishThA involves one's use of
one's general knowledge in the absence of specialized knowledge of the first
type.  One way of practicing this is for a disciple to repeat the prapatti
mantra after an AcArya.  Unlike the other two, if an AcArya undertakes to
present us to BhagavAn, this is AcArya nishThA.  This is by far the easiest
mArga for prapatti.

The Practice of prapatti:

A brief outline of how a SaraNAgatan leads his/her life is given in Slokam
36.  They consider themselves the dAsa-s of those who have surrendered to
Him (dAsAnudAsan) - AnukUlya sankalpam;  they avoid like snakes those who
indulge in acts that are counter to His worship - prAtikUlya varjanam; they
consider worship of other devatA-s as not worthy of their time - goptr*tva
varaNam; and they spend their life in bhagavad and bhAgavata kainkaryam.  `

- BhAgavata kainkaryam during their brief life in this world is an important
aspect of those prapanna-s who have thus surrendered to Him (Slokam 30).
svAmi deSikan compares this aspect of a prapanna's life to the zeal with
which a married woman cherishes her mAngalya-sUtra (kinkaratvam mAngalya
sUtramiva bibhrati).  In fact, the prapanna is not just satisfied by being
His dAsa, but derives great pleasure in being the dAsa of His dAsa-s -
aDiyArkku aDiyan, dAsAnudAsan (Slokam 35).     
- One who performs His worship with devotion while following one's own Agama
(pAncarAtra or vaikhAnasa), sUtra (Apastamba, bodhAyana etc.), varNa
(brAhmaNa, kshatriya etc.), and ASrama (brahmacarya etc.), pleases Him in
the process since BhagavAn accepts these different offerings as a garland of
flowers strewn with different flowers (Slokam 33).    

-   A prapanna's trust in SrIman nArAyaNa is that of a pativratA towards her
husband.  Thus they do not resort to worship of other gods such as brahma,
Siva etc.   This is because they have realized that SrIman nArAyaNa is the
only one who can give moksha, while the other deva-s can give only lesser
benefits which will still get us back to the ocean of samsAra after this
benefit is enjoyed (Slokam 34).

The Ultimate Choice -  Temporary Pleasures vs. Eternal Pleasure:

The choice between the lesser worldly pleasures (including svargam), and the
alternative of devoting ourselves to His service, is very clear (Slokam 56):

  1. The pleasure from the first category is trivial (alpa) compared to that
derived from the anubhavam of BhagavAn

  2. They are impermanent (asthiraih)
  3. One has to strain one's body and indriya-s in attaining these

  4. In the end they lead to sorrows (such as re-birth) (asukha avasAnaih)

  5. Even while enjoying them, there is no peace of mind because of the
worry of what     
        will follow after this temprary enjoyment is over (duhkha anvitaih)

  6. These are not the kinds of experiences that are desired by those who
want His 
        anubhavam to start with (anucitaih)

7. They give the false feeling that we are enjoying these for our own sake

SvAmi deSikan - The Ultimate Example of an Ideal Prapanna:

svAmi deSikan's humility (kArpaNyam) starts ringing out loud even from the
first Slokam.  He starts with feeling that the work will be meritorious
(because it expounds SrI rAmAnuja's sampradAyam), in spite of its being
communicated by him (meaning he considers himself too low in qualification
to expound this great siddhAnta) - mad-vAkya samvalitamapi.  In Slokam 3, he
refers to himself as a "jantu" - which generally refers to a living organism
of the lowest organization.  

His kArpaNya svabhAvam (absolute humility bordering on lowliness), which is
an a~nga of SaraNAgati, finds expression again in Sloka-s 41 to 47.   Words
are inadequate to describe the extent of humility and simplicity that runs
through svAmi deSikan's life as a prapanna.  He asks BhagavAn's forgiveness
for aspiring the great bhAgyam to do kaimkaryam to Him and considers it an
aprAdham or apacAram for someone as 'low' as himself to even desire such a
thing.   He feels his desire to enjoy Him who is enjoyed by SrIdevi and
BhUdevi as comparable to the desire of a dog which wants to quench its
thirst by drinking the waters of Ganges which is held in high esteem by Siva
and Brahma.   He feels that all the anushTAnam and the prapatti that he has
done is inadequate and may be blemished and may not be all sincere, and
prays to BhagavAn to accept whatever he is doing even as a put-on and a
show, but be pleased with it anyway.  He prays to BhagavAn to not use His
vIrya and Sakti to 'reward'  (i.e., punish) him for all his acts which can
be abundantly counter to SAstra-s, but instead use His quality or guNa of
dayA and forgive all his mistakes.  His humility is so absolute that he
feels he knows nothing about karma yoga, j~nAna yoga, or bhakti yoga, and
asks for BhagavAn's Mercy nonetheless (Slokam 47).

In Sloka-s 53 and 54, we see svAmi deSikan's mahA-viSvAsam that BhagavAn
will protect those who surrender to Him - period.  No if's and but's.  The
AcArya submits to Lord dIpa-prakASa that his sins are infinitely more than
that of 100 rAvaNa-s combined - daSAnana SatAn adhika Agaso'pi , but so
what?  He did not surrender to BhagavAn earlier (apUrvAn) and waited for so
long - so what?  Even now, he may not be sincere in his surrender but may be
doing so half-heartedly (ahr*dayAnapi)- so what?  A prapanna is assured of
moksham because BhagavAn has repeatedly assured us that once we surrender to
Him, it is His dharma, His duty, His responsibility, His business, to
protect us.  He has said as much in the gItA, during vibhIshaNa SaraNAgati,
etc., and demonstrated as such during the abhayam to kAkAsura and many


In Slokam 57, svAmi deSikan summarizes the step for a prapanna to follow:  A
prapanna should seek an AcArya to get instructions so that the right kind of
knowledge is obtained.  This will result in His Grace which will lead the
prapanna to the path of prAtikUlya varjana (turning oneself from doing
anything that is not in His service), AnukUlya samkalpa (devoting oneself to
His kaimkaryam in thought, word, and deed),  and mahA viiSvAsa (the firm
conviction that SrIman nArAyaNa is the only one who can give us moksham).
Given BhagavAn's Infinite Mercy, an infinitely small act of kaimkaryam to
Him is sufficient for His protection and Grace (Slokam 58).    
-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan