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Re: prapatti

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 12:03:20 PST

Prapatti is an atonement (prAyaScittam) for all previous
sins.  As Sri Desika explains in Srimad Rahasya Traya Saaram,
there are two broad types of prapatti for people like us --
ukti-nishTha and acharya-nishTha.

In ukti-nishTha, under the guidance of the acharya, the
sishya repeats the words of SaraNAgati (dvaya mantram, etc.)
in the presence of the Lord, and places the burden of 
liberation on the Lord.  Desika writes that just as a great
king protects even a little child who has been taught
to beg for protection by his elders, the Lord will protect
the sishya, even if the sishya lacks full knowledge of
the meaning of his words.

In acharya-nishTha, the sishya is included in the SaraNAgati
of the acharya, just as the rakshasas who fled Lanka with
Vibhishana were included in Vibhishana's SaraNAgati. The 
acharya petitions the Lord on behalf of the ignorant sishya.

In both, the burden of accomplishing liberation is placed at
the Lord's feet; the latter is through the connection with
the acharya exclusively.

According to my understanding, neither mode of prapatti
includes a vicarious atonement, except in the sense that
the acharya petitions the Lord to protect the sishya 
through connection with him.  Since this petitioning
combined with AtmA-samarpaNam is prAyaScittam for the
sishya's prior sins, the acharya atones for the sins
of the jIva, but he does not "suffer" in the way Jesus
is believed by Christians to have suffered on the cross
for the sake of humanity.

In ukti-nishTha I do not believe there is even this
degree of "atonement" by the acharya, since the sishya
himself does the AtmA-samarpaNam.

rAmAnuja dAsan