You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : March 2001

Re: prostrating four times.

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Thu Mar 01 2001 - 02:44:26 PST

Dear bhAgavatha,

There have been several discussions in Bhakti List over the years
regarding the issue of the number of prostrations and how this
varies between various kalais and muthams.  Much of it, as Sri
Sudarshan has suggested, does indeed have to do with how the two
branches of our sampradAyam differ on the issue of surrender.
But, it should be noted that the prostration itself, whether it
is done directly to the Feet of the Lord, or performed out of
respect for His devotees, should not be construed as an act of
surrender or prapatti itself, but only an expression of it.
Prapatti in its true sense can only be realized through the
Lord's Compassion as revealed to us through the kind intercession
and guidance of our AchAryan.

Once this concept of prapatti is gifted to the devotee, however,
he/she can begin to see the genuflection in its true light, as
being one way of expressing love and adoration towards God and
more importantly, to His Devotees.  It becomes on par with all of
the other ways that our AchAryas teach us as means to serving
God, such as chanting His Holy Names, performing our secular and
religious duties in the mood of loving service, visiting temples,
caring for our fellow living beings, and so on.  Consequently,
despite the mechanistic nature of this action, it really serves
an important role in our overall spiritual development.

One can easily see the spiritual benefit of putting aside our ego
and self interest, if only for a moment, to humble ourselves
before a fellow Devotee.  It is a solemn gesture that allows us
to symbolically experience for just a moment what the AzhwArs
have extolled as one of the greatest of treasures, having the
dust of Sriman Narayana's devotees adorning our forehead.  Such
an experience can only naturally lead to a significant change in
one's character, encouraging a person to advance from an
ego-centric life to a God centered one.

This spiritual experience has come to be accepted in two
different ways by our tradition.  For followers of the Vadagalai
branch, it becomes like the chanting of His Holy Names, something
that becomes sweeter the more it is performed.   Consequently, it
is extended to multiple genuflections with the proper recitation
of specific mantras.

The Thengalai branch takes a slight variation to this mood of
loving servitude.   Although the individual truly desires to
prostrate repeatedly, he empathizes with the pain that it would
cause his fellow devotee, who ideally is seeing himself/herself
as troubling another for an undeserving honor.  Consequently, the
individual stops at just one genuflection.

Both moods are equal, as they both serve to express the ideal of
loving service and mutual respect that is the essence of the
SriVaishnava faith.  What is important is that we perform the
prostration in this proper mood and with the prayer that it will
lead to more such opportunities to serve Sriman Narayana through
service to His Devotees.

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

----- Original Message -----
From: Radha Varadarajan <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2001 7:01 PM
Subject: prostrating four times.

> dear members,
> supreme pranams!
> i have this strange doubt, silly too.
> what is the tatparyam/idea behind prostrating 4 times
> in vadakalai sampradayam?
> is there any specific reason or is it just done by
> convention?
> seking your blessings,
> radha.
> __________________________________________________
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
> --------------------------------------------------------------
>            - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
> To Post a message, send it to:
> Archives:
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
To Post a message, send it to:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to