You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : October 1995

Bhakti-Prapatti

Tatachar_at_aol.com
Date: Thu Oct 19 1995 - 02:54:28 PDT

Bhakti is the consummation of karma, and jnana. If karma and Jnana does not
culminate in bhakti, then those are useless for a moksharti. The final
liberation(Moksha) is constant communion with God which is thus the
consummation of karma, jnana and bhakti. Bhakti, according to Ramanuja is not
a mere devotion but a loving contemplation of God.  Almost anyone can show
moments of devotion, just like moments of vyraghyam (Eg., smashana vyragyam).
Bhakti is a continuous process of meditation till the final goal of moksha is
acheived. The subsidiaries that promote  this are the ashtanga yogas. As the
name  in it self says ashtanga (eight accessories) yoga (union). Here the
yoga or union we are talking about is with srimannarayana. Thus, there is no
real difference in the steps stressed by Ramanuja or other Srivaishnavas from
the ashtanga yoga of Patanjali. Patanjali simply refers to that entity as
Parama Purusha and for Srivaishnavas this  Purusha is Srimannarayana. The
accessories are same, independent of what calls that one to which one is
merging into. For example, It takes the same effort to come to USA from
India, even if we refer to USA by a different name!
Thus, it is obvious that the Bhakti margha takes a lot of effort and thus  is
for the Shaktas (not to be confused with worshippers of shakti). 

Prapatti on the other hand is absolute self surrender to the supreme,
involving complete conformity, avoidance of opposition, the confidence of
protection, the choosing of divine as the saviour, and surrender of oneself
to God in all meekness. This implies complete surrender of I and mine to God.
This sincere and complete transfer of spiritual responsibility to the supreme
liberates one from human efforts and  creates a condition for the flow of
divine grace. When one sacrifices one's ego at the altar of the supreme, the
Lord himself steps towards to receive. Prapatti is thus the direct means for
ashaktas (that is those who feel incompetent in the classical pathway of
meditative Bhakti and too impatient for the maturation of Bhakti).
I think it is here (sarva dharman Parityajya......, the Charama Shloka of
Gita) that the Lord's promise in the Gita that Kshipram Bhavati Dharmatma is
fulfilled. 

Bhakti and Prapatti are not same, also not antagonistic to each other. In
Bhakti there is always an element of surrender and surrender involves an
aspect of Bhakti. The predominance of one or the other element determines
whether the path is Bhakti or Prapatti.

Prapatti is a short cut, for everyone, that means even for real sadhakas.
Because Prapatti  is so easy, it is also easily overlooked and even confused
with more complex things. Also many (Non Srivaishnavas) use Bhakti and
Prapatti (Saranagati) pretty much as synnonims-just to mak ethe matter more
confusing.

K. Sreekrishna