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Re: Saranagathi

madhav.vasudevan_at_sg.abb.com
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 18:14:33 PST

SrI:
SrImathE Gopaladesika mahadesikaya namah:
Dear SrI Jagan Iyengar,

yama, niyama, Asana, prANAyAma,pratyAhAra, dhAraNa, dhyAna, and samAdhi-
The successful practioners of Bhakthi Yoga (following the above eight
parts) thus  enjoy the Lord as a Splendid and bright flame of a lamp in
their minds. This bhakti Yoga (as explained by the Poorvacharyas of
Srivaishnavam) culminates from Karma, jnAna yOga..

Let me briefly explain them: (to put it too simplistic). Please forgive me
for adiyEn's indulgence, where angels fear to tread and fools rush in... I
have again taken cue from Sri Anand and Sri Hari, SrI Satakopan articles
for reference here and explaining the samparadayic information.

Getting the true knowledge of jIvAthmA and ParamAthmA and the inseparable
relationship as Sarira-SarIri, doing the daily and especial duties like
sandhyAvandhanam, etc. without fail, and with saathviga thyAgam, special
karmas in an orderly manner is known as karma-yOga. The karma-yOga is the
direct means for jIvAthmAvalOkanam as well as the indirect means by giving
jgnyAna-yOga
for jIvAthmAvalOkanam.

JnAna yOga: If a person conquers the sense organs, and mediates on jIvAtma
swarUpam, he attains self- realization (self menas jeevan), he then
proceeds for practising bhakti-yOga.

bhakti yOgam is continuous contemplation on BhagavAn SrIman NArAyaNan. This
has the varNAsrama dharmA and anushtanams as its accessories for removal of
sins. This is very difficult to be practised in this modern age.

Sriman nArAyaNA out of His great compassion towards the baddha jIvAthmAs
propagates vedAs and allied sAshtrAs , which are the only way through which
they can possibly know about Him & the ways to reach Him. The ultimate and
final essence of sAstrAs is that Sriman NArAyaNA is the sarIrI and, all
chit & achit are His sarIrA.

This eternal sarIra sarIrI bhAvA is composed of the following three things:

a. AdheyatvA (ie.being supported by a sarIrI) : Existence of the
sarIrA(body) is due to the sarIrI ie. sarIrI supports the sarIrA. In other
words , if sarIrI ceases to exist , sarIrA also ceases to exist.

b. niyamyatvA (ie. being controlled by a sarIrI ) : Not only that sarIrA
derives its existence from a sarIrI, it is also being controlled by the
sarIrI. So , sarIrA  acts as per the will/desires of sarIrI.

c. seshatvA (ie. existing for the pleasure of sarIrI ) : Not only that
sarIrA is supported & controlled by sarIrI , it exists only for the
pleasure of sarIrI ie. sarIrI is sarIrA's Master.

It is to be noted that the "sarIrI" needn't be physically present inside a
"sarIrA". This is not a condition to be met out for the sarIra-sarIrI bhAvA
to hold good..

Thus Sriman NArAyaNA supports and controls all jIvAtmAs, and all the
jIvAtmAs exist purely for His enjoyment. Thus, the very essential nature
(svaroopam) of a jIvAtmA is to perform kainkaryam to Sriman NArAyaNA for
His pleasure and performance of any other activity doesn't conform to its
nature. This implies that, baddha jIvAtmAs are like fish out of water ,
suffering in the material world by not living according to their actual
nature.

Only in Sri VaikuNTham can a jIvAtmA perfectly act according to its nature
(svaroopam) without any interruption. Realizing this great
truth by the mercy of a sadAchAryA, a baddha jIvAtmA becomes highly
desirous of obtaining moksham and thereby reach Sri VaikuNTham , the
spiritual world beyond this material world, and perform uninterrupted
bhagavad anubhavam and kainkaryam to the Divya Dampati, with great bliss.
This is just like the ardent desire of a fish which is out of water (not
according to its nature) , to get into the water (in accordance with its
nature). Such highly glorifiable baddha jIvAtmAs are called as mumukshus ,
whose only goal is the attainment of
moksham. The mumukshu thus needs to know about the means(upAyA) to fulfil
his desire.

sAstrAs declare that Bhakti and prapatti are the only two means (sAdhya
upAyAs) by which the baddha jIvAtmAs can attain moksham ,
while the Divya Dampati are the Siddha upAyam .

NArAyaNA Himself, in Ahirbudhnya samhitA  categorically declares :
bhaktyA paramayA vA-pi prapattyA vA mahAmathe
prApyoham na anyathA prApyO mama kainkarya lipsubhihi "

NArAyaNA here clarifies that bhakti and prapatti are the only means & by no
other means will He grant moksham . Bhakti here refers to Bhakti Yogam and
NOT just devotion.. (saamaanya bhakti which we generally refer to). So, all
other processes like Bhagavad kalyAna guna Sravanam , nAma sankeertanam ,
living at a Divya desam , bathing in pushkarinIs & sacred rivers etc should
culminate in either "bhakti" or "prapatti" for one to obtain moksham. So
,it is not that a highly devoted person would be deprived of moksham by
Sriman nArAyaNA. Such a devotee would be guided by Sriman nArAyaNA to end
up with either "bhakti" or "prapatti" and thus its just a matter of time
-may be within that life time or in the next few births , that he/she would
obtain moksham.

In many Vedic literatures & in works of Sri Vaishnava AchAryAs , the term
"Bhakti" is usually associated with the term "Bhakti YogA" ,
which is the meditation through ashtAnga yogA on the kalyAna gunAs,
divyamangaLa vigrahA etc of Sriman nArAyaNA with unsurpassed love .
"Bhakti" referred here is the continuous stream of knowledge which is of
the nature of uninterrupted memory and which is unbroken like
the flow of a stream of oil. This description is not to be taken lightly.

The intensity of the uninterrupted nature of contemplation on Sriman
nArAyaNA is the central focus of ashtAnga yogA. There are 32 Brahma vidyAs
(ie.upAsanAs) that are prescribed in the upanishads . A devotee performing
bhakti yogA will adopt a particular Brahma VidyA as the means (sAdhyaupAyA)
for attaining moksham. Due to lack of a proper word, the term "Bhakti" is
also sometimes used to imply "devotion" to Sriman NArAyaNA ,which needn't
be the "matured state of jn~AnA"
(ie. "Bhakti" proper) expressed through ashtAnga yOgA.

The  seven general pre-requisites for Bhakti YogA are

1. VivekA (discrimination) : Purification of body through proper intake of
sAttvik food etc .
2. VimOkA (freedom) : abjuration of all desires other than to meditate on
Sriman nArAyaNA .
3. abhyAsA (practise) : Practise worshiping the Lord with full enthusiasm
(again & again ).This involves strict adherence to scriptures etc .
4. kriyA (work) : proper adherence to the VarnAshrama dharmA mainly dealing
with the pancha mahA yaj~nAs ( this makes only the dvijAs to be fit for
starting "Bhakti yogA" ).
5. kalyANA (auspiciousness ) : practice of virtues like truthfulness ,
integrity , compassion , benevolence, ahimsA etc.
6. anavasAda : being without any despair due to disappointment -Completely
forgetting all past sorrows.
7. anuddharSa : absence of exaltation ie. being in a state which is the
optimal midway between excessive joy & the absence of it.

The severe practise of karma & jn~Ana yogA can only bring forth the stage
for performing bhakti yogA . Jn~na yogA is the self-realization" ("self"
stands for jIvAtmA ) , whereas "bhakti yogA" is  "God-realization" . So ,
"ashtAnga yogA" is performed
for God-realization  ie. for obtaining moksham .

Jn~Ani is a person who performs Bhakti YogA (God realization) & not jn~Ana
yogA. The person performing Jn~Ana YogA (self-realization) is known as
kevalA . Jn~Ana YogA is the constant meditation of the self ie. jIvAtmA .
It results in Atma sAkshAtkAram ie. self-realization. It is however
important to note that a kevalA is fully aware of his swaroopa of being
subservient to Sriman NArAyanA. But a kevalA is nevertheless firmly
attracted by the bliss derived in the meditation of his own self (with the
understanding as servant of Sriman nArAyaNA) & is unable to come over it &
proceed further to meditate on ParamAtmA Sriman NArAyanA . A kevalA's
position is very much understandable since many a people in  this world
cannot overcome even watching TV,cinemAs, sports  etc which  only have dry
happiness (fully material; not spiritual ). The bliss derived from the
contemplation of the "self" (jIvAtmA)  would certainly be attracting a
kevalA like a magnet. He attains "KaivalyA" wherein he attains the state in
which he simply  meditates on his own  self (fully self-realized state).
>From there he can continue further to perform bhakti yogA and attain
moksham.

After perfecting karma & jn~Ana yogAs  one will start performing "bhakti
yogA" (since karma yogA by itself is integrated with jn~Ana
yogA , bhakti yogA can be started after its perfection also ).

The perfection of bhakti yogA is through ashtAnga yogA which has 8 parts :
     1. yama : self control & practise of virtues like ahimsA,
non-covetousness , non acceptance of gifts etc .

     2. niyama : practise of purity in thought , word & deed.

     3. Asana : adoption of proper  posture & seat .

     4. prAnAyAma : Control & regulation of breath alongwith the reflection
on the meaning of the mantrA like ashtAksharam .

     5. pratyahAra : Withdrawal of mind & other senses from their out going
tendencies .

     6. dhAranA : fixing of the mind towards Sriman nArAyaNA. Depending
upon the type of upAsanA (out of 32 Brahma vidyAs prescribed in
        upanishads) one chooses , the contemplation on nArAyaNA will vary .

     7. dhyAnA : Continuous meditation on the divya mangaLa vigrahA,
kalyAna gunAs etc of nArAyaNA to the exclusion of all other
        objects. One must be almost sinless to attain this stage of having
deep and profound love towards Sriman nArAyaNA which is the
        driving force for dhyAnA.

     8. samAdhi : Final stage of concentration when the yogi attains the
super-conscious state of divine life & becomes united with Sriman nArAyaNA
.. There is "unity" & not "identity" . When the dhyAnA ceases , this
communion (ie. unity) with nArAyaNA also ceases. In
other words , eternal communion is not possible as long as the jIvAtmA has
connection with prakruti . The culmination of samAdhi is the attainment of
liberation (mokshA) & eternal union at Sri VaikuNTham .

Devotion in the form of nAma sankeertanam , Bhagavad ArAdhanam, Listening
to the avatAra leelAs of Sriman nArAyaNA etc aids one to
have steady remembrance of Sriman nArAyaNA . They by themselves doesn't
constitute "bhakti yogA" . Rather they are some ways of
expressing one's devotion & develop the "love" for nArAyaNA, thereby aiding
the process of ashtAnga yogA .

During bhakti yogA , the yogI will at first encounter the stage called
"Para bhakti" wherein his mind ,thought & all sense organs
are completly focussed on Sriman nArAyaNA. He does only worship of nArAyaNA
& meditation on Him & these are the only things that
sustain him. After severe practise of the ashtAnga yogic process, the yogi
passes onto the next stage called "para jn~AnA" wherein
the thirst for the direct vision of Sriman nARAyaNA becomes highly intense
.. Sriman NArAyaNA being pleased with his devotion gives
the mental vision of His divya mangaLa vigraha. This results into much more
intense love & the yogI is mad after communion with
NArAyaNA . He cannot bear the separation even for a second & is literally
pleading with Sriman NArAyaNA constantly for the arrival
of the eternal union with Him. At right time , he attains the
God-realization & enjoys the divine company of nitya soorIs & muktAs at Sri
VaikuNTham in serving Sriman NArAyaNA uninterruptedly.

Obviously this process is out of question in this age of kali. Likes of
vashistar, vyAsar, sukar, jada bharadar, Bheeshmar,
nAthamunigaL are the capable persons for performing such contemplation with
deep & unsurpassed love towards Sriman NArAyaNA.

Thus, SaraNAgathi- prapatti is the only way out for helpless ones like us,
who can not pratise Bhakti Yoga and have the Lord stand in place of the
Bhakti Yoga to save us (who have surrendered to His Lotus Feet) from
samsaaric afflictions.

Anything good  in the write up- the credit goes to Sri Anand
Trust it helps
Regards
Namo Narayana
adiyEn dAsan



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