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"prapadyE"

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Mon Mar 10 1997 - 00:09:06 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha para-brahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",

Modern psychologists are known to form opinions on the state of mind of a
patient through what are called "Freudian slips-of-speech". For example, if
a patient, in the normal course of conversation, frequently uses the
expression "well, you know" at the beginning or end of every sentence
uttered (many people do that as a habit, isn't it?), it is seen to reflect,
very often, his/her nervous disposition. 

The mind of a poet, too, is often revealed by frequent, even involuntary,
choice of certain words or expressions -- the so-called "Freudian slips" --
in his works. Likewise is the case with artists whose predilection for
certain colour-schemes, shapes, patterns or brush-strokes is recognized
immediately in their paintings as typically their own. Van Gogh and Picasso,
I hear, are said to be good examples. (I am no art-connoisseur, so discount
my statement as much as you want !)

Now, a "kavi-simham" like our beloved Swami Desikan, too, it can be said, is
not free from such "personality give-aways"!!

He, too, can be seen, in his several "stOtrA-s", to have clear preference
for certain words and expressions in Sanskrit which are "tell-tale" pointers
to his great mind and character.

Now, if you even cursorily glance at Swami Desikan's 28 well-known Sanskrit
'stOtrA-s' you cannot help noticing that certain words like "vandE" (I bow),
"namOsthuthE" (I salute), "upAsmahE" (I contemplate in a mood of worship)
etc. appear again and again in several stanzas or verses. 

A student of modern-day human psychology might thus be tempted to surmise
that Swami Desikan, judging from the "Freudian-slips" in his "stOtrA-s",
might have been an extremely humble, courteous, self-effacing soul. And such
a conclusion would not be off the mark, would it!!

However, there is one extraordinary word in Sanskrit that Swami Desikan uses
in a very special way. That special word can be seen to be strewn in many of
his hymns; but they are really special and unique because they find a very
prominent place in the OPENING STANZAS of Swami Desikan's hymns in almost 1
of every 5 of his "stOtrA-s" !

Now, I believe, a statistic like the above clearly reveals the extreme love
a poet has for a particular expression and also tells us why it should move
him to employ it so very often in his works !!

That particular word, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is the Sanskrit term:
"prapadyE" !!

The word "prapadyE", many scholars point out, is a very meaningful, very
exquisite expression whose true dimensions of import and purport are indeed
immeasurable. 

Our great "pUrvAchAryA-s" (ancient preceptors) found a world of opulent
significance in it. They seem to have hence elaborated on it 'ad infinitum'
in their various commentaries and exegeses since, though being a simple
term, it is considered to be verily the signature of SriVaishnava faith. 

It can be said to be the verbal equivalent for the "anjali-mUdrA" (the
obeisance-mime).

It is also synonymous with the cardinal doctrine of "prapatti" so dear to
all Sri Vaishnavas.It is at the heart of the holiest of holy "mantrA-s", the
"dvayam". 

It is also said to be of the same essence as of the "charama-shlOka" of the
Bhagavath-gitA !!

Now, for want of a better or alternative means of translation, the word
"prapadyE" has come to be often read in English as : "to take refuge or
shelter".

The English equivalent unfortunately, dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is at best
only an approximation and cannot really bring out the essential flavour of
what "prapadyE" means to SriVaishnavites. That flavour, I learn, can only be
experienced by a heart brimming with true 'srisampradAya' Faith.

So rich in significance is the word, 'prapadyE !', that Swami Desikan uses
it in the following 5 popular "stOtrA-s" :

                        A. Daya Satakam
                        B. AshtabhUjAshtakam
                        C. Sri StUthi
                        D. Bhu StUthi
                        E. Goda stUthi

In each of the above hymns, it will be noticed from the text, Swami Desikan
bestows the word "prapadyE' a "PARAMOUNT PRIDE OF PLACE" in the very FIRST
verse itself ! From out of each of the above verses shines forth this little
word, "prapadyE", like a blinding and glittering diamond amidst an in-laid
row of other serried precious gems !!

                   ******************************************

In the next few posts of mine and with your kind permission and indulgence,
dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", I would like to share with you all, to the best of
my amateur abilities and experience, a "personal and literary appreciation"
(far from being "strictly traditional") of the delightful word, "prapadyE",
as used by Swami Desikan in each of the above "stOtrA-s".

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha

sudarshan