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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Wed Mar 12 1997 - 03:36:28 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",

In this post let us return, for a moment, to our discussions of "prapadyE"
as a unique exclamation of "dynamic" refuge-seeking. 

"Refuge-seeking", dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", is a very deep and complex
concept to put into practice although, in its stark philosophic or
ideological sense, it appears to be extraordinarily simple.

The nature of any TRUTH is that it is beguilingly simple to define but
notoriously difficult to realize ! 

("vandAy pOlE varAdAy... vArAdAy pOl varUvAnE!" sings NammAlwar).

It may be simple for us to understand the "passive act of taking refuge"
under a wayside tree on a rainy day. It is, however, not quite so easy to
fully comprehend what is truly meant by the pregnant concept of "refuge" as
symbolised by the simple word "prapadyE".

If we did, indeed, understand it to some extent then, perhaps, we may be
able to explain why Swami Desikan glorifies the term "prapadyE" by giving
it, as we saw in the last post, the "pride of place" in the very first
verses of 5 of his wonderful hymns.

To get some idea of the "dynamic" nature of "refuge" that the word
"prapadyE" indicates we have to turn to the definition of "prapatti" as per
SriVaishnava doctrine.

Now, the doctrine says that "prapatti" is a "sacrament" (if that Christian
term may be permitted in these discussions) or act of "unconditional,
irrevocable refuge-taking in the Lord to secure His Grace". 

The "act" itself is "one-time".

But the simple "one-time" act has a powerful and continuous impact that
lasts for a lifetime ! 

It turns the world topsy-turvy ! It transforms the "refuge-seeker's" life in
a very fundamental way. It changes his whole world-view (the Germans have a
special word for it : "weltanschuaanng") --- his value-systems, attitudes,
outlook, relationships, personal ends and means, motivations and aspirations
The doctrine of "prapatti" explains that such a "transformation" in the
"INTERNAL CONDITION" of the "refuge-seeker", who whole-heartedly exclaims
"prapadyE !", is wrought and sustained throughout his lifetime by the
following SriVaishnava canons of "prapatti" :

(A) "Anukulasya sankalpah
(B) "pratikulasya varjana"
(C) "raksheshyatiti visvAsaha"
(D) "kArpanyokthi"
(E) "Atma-nikshEpa"

Very briefly, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s", we will examine what each of the
above canons convey; then we will proceed to relate such examination to the
context of our discussions on Swami Desikan's use of the word "prapadyE".

(A) "Anukulasya sankalpah" is explained by many of our revered "AchAryA-s"
as the "refuge-seeker's" FIRM RESOLVE to "take refuge" in the Lord. Such
firm RESOLUTION of the "prapanna" (refuge-seeker) then is manifested in his
unfailing adherence to "nitya-naimittika karmA" (performance of
ordained/non-ordained "dharmA-s" appropriate to his station in life); in his
constant "bhAgavatha- abhimAnam" and "seva" (due respect and service to the
Lord's devotees); and by unflinching, unflagging devotion to The Lord Alone
and none else.

So, in short, "anukulasya sankalpah" clearly refers to the spirit of strong
RESOLUTENESS that overtakes the "refuge-seeker" who utters "prapadyE !".

(B) "pratikulasya varjana" is explained as the "refuge-seeker's" awareness
of the need to avoid or jettison "excess-baggage" : "the things ("vishaya")
of the world" which impair progress in the journey towards the Lord. The
"refuge- seeker", in accordance with this canon, GETS HIMSELF RID of worldly
snares and obsessions ("crocodiles') by continuously shunning them.

(C) "raksheshyatiti visvAsaha" is a canon that is explained as the
"refuge-seeker's" sense of ENORMOUS TRUST and CONFIDENCE reposed in the Lord
that He WILL NEVER and CANNOT FAIL in providing support and succour to him.

(D) "kArpanyokthi" is described as the "refuge-seeker's" approach to the
Lord  motivated by a full awareness of his own state of UTTER DESTITUTION
and his inability to resort to any other expedient of personal redemption
other than taking refuge in the Lord.

(E) "Atma-nikshEpa" is explained as the "prapanna's" expression of complete
and total DEPENDENCE on the Lord as his One and Only Refuge.

If one closely scrutinizes the above canons one can easily see that the
"taking of Refuge", far from being a "passive" act in the ordinary sense of
the term, is indeed a very "dynamic" concept of human psychology in the
doctrinal sense of "prapatti". 

To be able to utter "prapadyE", with a full sense of its implications,
therefore involves a very high level of "self-awareness"; it calls for a
high degree of refined insight into one's own persona, its true nature and

It is a gift of God, indeed, to possess it !!

Therefore, although "prappati", as pure doctrine, may be a "one-time" act
for the "refuge-seeker", we can see that its actual practice and observance
in daily life demands from the "prapanna" the adoption of and commitment to
a certain attitude of mind.
Such an attitude, exacting and constant, has to be firmly and continuously
rooted in the 5 canons as described above.


It is time, next, for us to establish a nexus between the 5 canons of
"prapatti" on the one hand, with the exclamatory "prapadyE", on the other,
in the 5 wonderful "stotrA-s" of Swami Desikan and whose FIRST stanzas we
described in some detail in our earlier posts.

We will continue in my next post.

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha