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Bhakti and Prapatti

From: Eswar Josyula (
Date: Sat Oct 21 1995 - 04:52:40 PDT

For the last few days we had some interesting discussions on the differences of
Bhakti and Prapatti.  I want to thank Sridharan and others to have pointed out
to me that Prapatti is unconditional surrender resulting in the grace of God.

Hera are a few questions stemming out of the idea of unconditional surrender.

1.  Is unconditional surrender possible without divine grace?

2.  For an aspirant, the unconditional surrender can at best be a mental
resignation.  How can this be advanced to true surrender of will?

3.  Is bhakti possible without prapatti?  And, is prapatti possible without
bhakti?  The question here is can bhakti and prapatti be truly separated?   

When we take the example of Arjuna, he is first a bhakta in the sakhya bhava and
goes through a number of mental turmoils before coming to the stage where he
says to Lord Krishna, "Now, I am a soul surrenderd unto you."  Does not God
create the favorable situation to surrender unto Him?  Typically what we
consider as "difficulties" when we lose a job, money, people we love, etc. can
be understood as favorable situations created by God if we have faith in Him.
It is these "difficulties" we try so hard to avoid, by having a fat bank
balance, etc. 

A few other points of interest.  

I have seen the term used by a SriVaisnava religious scholar that gave how
Bhakti contrasts prapatti and how bhakti's fruit is inferior to prapatti.  This
kind of contradistinctions, I think are dangerous.  Those having this opinion
can, without guilt, practice bhakti without ever thinking to surrender.  Surely,
they would be rewarded for all the pious deeds, but that is not the ultimate
goal of a vaisnava.  Acts of bhakti then become mechanical wihtout developin any
love for the Godhead. 

The same scholar gives some interesting points.  
Alvaandar, according to Tirumalai-Andan's explanation interpreted Nammaazhvar
Vidumin hymn in Tiruvaimozhi as teaching the prapatti.  However, Sri Ramanuja
explained this as bhakti for fear of exposing the doctrine of prapatti to people
without preparing them in bhakti.  So, tha acaryas taught in such a way that
bhakti precedes prapatti.  Prapatti without bhakti can be confusing and lead to
active and passive retirement from life itself.  Later, Sri Ramanuja explained
prapatti in his work, "Saranagati Gadya." 

Murali Karamchedu's article, in which says the Lord has Daya element in Him, so
why not make the best use of this by surrendering to Him.
Taking some of these points into consideration,  I like what  Dileepan pointed
out that bhakti and prapatti go hand-in-hand.

-Eswar Josyula