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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Tue Mar 11 1997 - 06:28:06 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",

The word "prapadyE" is used in the FIRST stanzas -- what we called "PRIDE OF
PLACE" -- of SwamiDesikan's 5 very popular hymns.

In this and the next few posts, let us briefly examine the Sanskrit
originals and also attempt their English paraphrase before discussing
"prapadyE" itself further.

"prapadyE tam girim prAyaha srinivAsAnukampaya  I
ikshusAra-sravanthyEva yanmurthyA sharka-rAyitham II

(My free paraphrase): "If the Lord's compassion (anukampa !) be likened to
cane-juice, then the stuff of which this earth, His Hill, is made is that
very same sweet-fluid turned sugar !!  I hereby take refuge in this very
Hill ('tirUmala'-- the Lord's Abode) !!

It is important to note, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', the poetic mood of
RESOLUTENESS in this verse.

Swami Desikan begins the verse with the hearty exclamation, "prapadyE !", at
the very outset.

Swami Desikan seems to be affirming that he has decided, once and for all,
to "take shelter" on this Hill. It is the "Sweet Abode of Compassion" and he
cannot think of any better place of Refuge !

For any human endeavour to be successful and fruitful, dear
"bhAgavatOttamA-s", we know there must be, at the very outset, a strong

It is said that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step, isn't
it ? And we know sometimes it is the first step that is the longest mile !!

A resolution ("sankalpa") is indeed a robust affirmation of the HUMAN WILL.
Where there is no firm will and no resolution, there is never any worthwhile
achievement. It is "resolution" indeed that provides "sparking-ignition" to
the powerful fuel of human motivation and effort.

To take a simple illustration from recent 20th-century history :

At the height of the Second World War, there was a time during the Battle of
Britain when it looked as though Hitler's air-force would completely
over-run and destroy even London. At that point of time it was a "do-or-die"
situation for the British. At precisely that point in history, Winston
Churchill chose to rally his people with a clarion call for "national
resolution" with his famous speech :

"In war, Resolution,
 In victory, Magnanimity,
 In peace, Goodwill,
 And in defeat, Defiance."

After that critical moment in the War when a whole nation took a great
RESOLVE, we all know, History itself took a "completely new turn" in favour
of the Allied Forces !!

So important, indeed, is the element of "RESOLUTION" ("sankalpam") to all
human endeavour ! It may be remembered here that Swami Desikan wrote a play
titled "sankalpa-suryOdaya" and the literal translation of that is : "the
Dawning of Resolutions" !!

It is the doughty feeling of RESOLUTION in the first verse that sets the
tone and mood of the rest of Swami Desikan's "Daya Satakam".

"gajEndra rakshAtvaritam bhavantham
   grAhairivAham vishayair vikrishtaha I
 apAra-vignyAna dayAnU-bhAvam
   Aptham sathAmashtabhUjham prapadyE  II

(My free paraphrase): "Ills of worldly existence constantly threaten to
devour me just as Gajendra, the elephant, was harried by a crocodile --
until the eight-armed Lord ... He of boundless care, solicitude and
compassion ... He rushed to the creature's rescue ! In that Lord do I take
refuge !!"  

Please note that the word "prapadyE" appears at the end of the verse here.

Here Swami Desikan's primary focus seems to be not so much on "refuge" as it
is on "grAhairivAham vishayair vikrishtaha" --- the "petty pleasures of the
world" that threaten to ensnare him like "crocodiles".

The problem with even our day-to-day lives, as we all know, dear
"bhAgavatOttamA-s", is that in spite of the many admirable "resolutions" we
make, we find we continually fall short of them when it comes to carrying
them out. 

For e.g. we might take a "sankalpam" (resolution) to recite the
"Vishnu-sahasranAmam" every evening at 6.30 PM. We would happily stick to
the schedule for a few days. Then invariably (by operation of some
mysterious law called "Murphy's Law") something will go wrong, and you will
find that one engagement or the other will interfere and frustrate your
"resolution". It could be your boss calling you in for a late meeting; it
could be your wife wanting you to go shopping for groceries with her at that
time; or your child demanding you help with its homework !! 

In no time thereafter the grand resolution will vanish from your life !! 

This is the unfortunate fate of common humanity : that its lofty
"resolutions" are never actually and entirely fulfilled in life. Like
"crocodiles" snapping at Gajendra's legs in the "pUraNa", many petty
entanglements and encumbrances in our lives, seem to always turn our
attention away from our true priorities and instead draw us ever more surely
into their "deadly jaws" !!

At the fag end of our lives, so, what are we then left with ? A string of
"sankalpam-s" that never, sadly, fructified ? A wasted lifetime ?  A long
trail of promises made to ourselves which were never, alas, kept ? And weak
memories of a host of worldly cares and obsessions that gnawed away our
energies... as long as they had us in their vice-like grip .... and finally
left us all "high-and-dry" as soon as vitality had drained away from our
bodies and minds !?

Such was the predicament of Gajendra when the crocodile attacked it; and
such is our own petty, pathetic condition too, isn't it ?        

The "kavi-simham", Swami Desikan, thus seems to be reflecting along these
very lines in his opening "ashtabhUjAshtakam" verse. Of the many ills and
infirmities of the world that afflict him, he says he would rather be free;
he would WISH TO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM; he would be glad TO BE RID of

He exclaims, "prapadyE !" and seeks the Lord's "refuge" for that very purpose !


We will in the next post examine the way "prapadyE" is used in 3 other hymns
of Swami Desikan.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha