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Raghuveera Gadhyam: Yuddha Khaandham --Part 4

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Nov 30 1996 - 06:33:20 PST

Musings on the VibhishaNa SaraNaagathi 
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As a Paramaachaarya, Swami Desikan dwelled  
extensivey on the doctrines of Prapatthi in many of his
sacred works. What Sri Rama said at the sea side 
to VibhishaNaa rivetted his attention . He elaborated 
on the SaraNAgathi concepts in his work known as 
Abhaya Pradhaana Saaram , where he followed the tradition
of Sri Ramaanujaa , Thirumalai Nambhi , who studied 
intensively and taught the rahasyaarthaas of SaraNAgathi
embedded in the different KhAndAs of VAlmiki RamaayaNam .

It is generally conceded by our AchaaryAs that Srimadh 
RAmAyaNam is THE SaraNAgathi Saastram . Swami Desikan 
played a key role in reminding us of this truth . Adi Kavi VAlmiki
saw what happened during  Raamaavatharam through his 
Dharma Veeryam and Divya Chakshus ( POwer of penance 
and divine insight ) and  described the exquisite incidents associated
with SaraNAgathi in every KhAndham of his Adhi Kaavyam .
That is why Srimadh RAmAyaNam is described as " PuNyam 
Vedaisccha Sammitham " ( One that enhances one's PuNyam
and is equivalent to the Vedaas in its sacredness ) . It is no wonder
that VAlmiki's work is considered as Veda UpabruhmaNam ( A work
that elaborates on the principles covered by the VedAs ) . 

The Para Tattva NirNayam ( the establishment of the unparalleled 
superiority )  of  Sri Rama is made in Srimadh RAmAyaNam 
through the Abhaya PrAdhAnam given by Him on many occasions
as saluted by Sage Vaalmiki . He  establishes Ramaa as 
Sarva VialkshaNa Para Brahmam ( One with glories that are 
distinctly superior to other Gods ) and praises Ramaa as 
" Aksharam Brahma Satyam ". This satya Vrathi and SaraNAgatha 
rakshaNa deekshitha is hailed as a Veera of an extraordinary 
caliber . The distinct and distinguishing principle of Sri Raamaa 
is the practise of  hte  Abhaya PradhAna vara dhaanam principle 
for those , who approached him even once for protection 
independent of their Avasthaa (state of mind or mood ) .
That is His Vratham as we heard from Swami Desikan 
through  the previous three Gadhyam salutations.

Sri Raamaa's SaraNyathvam is abundantly covered in the Yuddha 
KhAndham . All other Gods are described as "Vibhuthi Ekadesam "
( one speck of HIS ruling power ) , where as Sri Raamaa is considered 
the total embodiment of the power principle that offers SaraNAgathi unfailingly.
Brahmaa praises the victorious Raamaa in the battle field of Lankhaa
as " saraNyam SaraNam cha tvaam aahu ; Divyaa Maharshaya: "
( Great sages like Sanaka consider therefore YOU as the means and 
the fruit of their endeavours through performance of their SaraNAgathis ) .
They recognize that they are " Tadhadheena Padha laabhans " 
( Those  who  Acheived their superior positions as a  result of His Dayaa ) .
He is the SaraNyan (Rakshakan , RakshaNa vrathi) . That is His VaseekaraNa
Saamarthyam ( winning ways to attract us to Him ) . That SaraNaagathi is 
parama hitam ( the superior and eminently satisfying means and fruit ) .

Tondaradipodhi describes the parama hitam aspect of SaraNAgathi
done in a trice (KshaNa Karthavyam ) by PrapannAs this way in one of
the Paasurams of ThirumAlai : " kadaitthalai irundhu vaazhum Sombarai
uhatthi pOlum " ( O Ranganaatha! You take great interest even in those 
lazy ones living around your ramparts at Srirangam. They were lazy in that 
they did not make the effort to practise difficult Bhakthi and Jnaana Yogams.
They too the easy route appropriate to their limited strength and performed
Prapatthi at Your lotus feet . You accepted those Prapannaas and treated them 
as though they were superior to all  the others) . Swami Desikan points this out
and salutes the Lord as "Priya-Hita Kaari " ( the one , who treats us with 
affection and benovolence through the practise of his SaraNAgatha rakshaNa
vratham ) . We , who are ananya SaraNaas( with no other recourse for protection
become the object of His Abhimaana gocharam ( the object of his special
affection ) . 

Sita Piraati is the SaraNya Sahadharma ChaariNi of the sarva loka saraNyan.
In this role She counsels the evil-minded RavaNA in Sundara Khaandham 
this way :

vidhitha: sa hi Dharmajna: saraNaagatha vatsala: I
thena maitree bhavathu teh yadhi jeevithumicchasi II

prasAdhayasva tvam chainam saraNAgatha Vatsalam I
maam chaasmai prayathO bhoothvA niryaathayithumarhasi II

( O RavaNA ! If you want to live in this world , befriend Ramaa ,
who is well versed in the doctrines of SaraNAgathi dharmam . 
He discards the offenses made earlier by those , who seek his 
protection and perform SaraNAgathi unto Him . With a pure mind , 
beseech His friendship and unite me with Him and make Him happy 
and as a result continue to live on this earth ) .

Piratti's Vaatsalya Paravasam ( indebtedness  to those who seek Her
saraNAgathi as the consort of the Lord ) has been identified by 
Parasara Bhattar as being superior ot that of the Lord Himself .
Bhattar describes that attribute of Her in one of 
the slokams of GuNa Ratna Kosam this way :

maatharmythili raakshaseestvayi tadhaivaardhraaparAdhAstvayA
rakshanthyApavanAthmajAth laghutaraa Ramasya Goshtee kruthA I
kaakam tam cha VibhishaNam saraNamithyukti kshamou rakshatha :
saa na: saandhra mahaagasa: sukhayathu kshaanthistavaakasmikeeII

(Meaning ) : O Mother Ranganaayaki ! Sahadharma chaariNI of Kaakustha
Rangesa ! You saved(protected ) the Rakshasis od Ashoka Vanam from
the wrath of Hanumaan , even when they were committing offenses 
to You . Through this  act of Yours , You made the SaraNAgathi
(Abhaya PradhAnam ) offered by Your lord somewhat  inferior to 
Your own gesture. Your Lord offered SaraNAgathi to the offending 
crow and the supplicnt VibhishaNA only AFTER they performed 
their saraNAgathi . You out of Your  infinite mercy and affection for 
the sinners ( offenders/ApachAris) protected the rakshasis of
asokha Vanam even as they were threatening You . Therefore Your 
power of SaraNAgatha rakshaNam  is superior to that of Your consort. 
May Your natural , causeless --nirhethukam, Avyaaja KaruNaa -- 
compassion protect us ! ) 

The whole seven Khaandhaas of Srimadh RaamayaNam is 
full of incidents illustrating the SaraNAgathi Taatparyam ( the 
inner meanings of SaraNAgathi ) . Swami Desikan's Abhaya 
PradhAna Saaram salutes the SaraNAgathi episodes in 
Baala Khaandham ( Devaas offering their SaraNAgathi and 
seeking the Sesha Saayee's protecton to save them from the 
cruelty of RaavaNA ) , in Ayodhyaa Khaandham ( LakshmaNA's
prapatthi to Sri Rama and Sita together and seeking their 
protection to serve them in the forest . Here SaraNAgathi 
according to the spirit of Dvaya manthram is performed by 
the anujaa of Ramaaa . The first portion of Dvaya manthram
deals with Prapatthi and the second portion deals with the 
fruits of such prapatthi . ) 

In Ayodhyaa Khandham , we encounter once again SaraNAgathi by
the other brother Bharathaa  and his obtainment of the fruit of his 
prapatthi throught he acquisition of Sri Rama Paadhukaas or 
Sri Satakopam . 

In Aranya Khaandham , the SaraNAgathi of the sages afflicted by
Kara , DhooshaNaa are accepted by Sri Ramaa and he protects
them form the terror of the ogres. Kaakasura SaraNAgathi also
takes place in this Khaandham.

In Kishkindhaa Khaandham , we enjoy learning about 
Sugreeva SaraNAgathi and Sri Raamaa's protection 
of Sugreevaa from Vaali .

In Sundara Khaandham , we come across the Abhaya PradhAnam
of Sarva Loka SaraNyai to the ogresses that supervised Her
incarceration in asokha Vanam. 

Yudha Khaandham houses the famous VibhishaNa saraNAgathi.
In Uttara Khaandham , Sri Ramaa answers the Rakshasaa Maalyavaan
and reveals the rahasyaartham of his SaraNAgatha vratham once again .

It is with all these in mind , Swami Desikan saluted Srimadh RaamayaNam
as SaraNAgathi Vedam . He also identified his work (Abahya 
PradhAna Saaram ) as the Upanishad that elaborates on the rahasyaarthams 
of the Illustrious SaraNAgathi Vedam, Srimadh RaamayaNam .

kujantham Rama Ramethi madhuram madhuraaksharam I
aaruhya kavithaa saakaam vandE Valmiki kokilam II

Sri VaishNava Daasan ,
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan