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Sri Nyasa Tilakam --Part 3

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Oct 03 1996 - 18:02:20 PDT

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

In the earlier two postings , the structure , organization ,
poetic metres and the summary of thoughts enshrined in 
the master work of Swami Desikan were covered .

In this concluding piece , I will focus on  the second sloka 
of Nyasa Tilakam that explains the significance and 
symbolism of the right hand of Sri Ranganatha displaying the 
Abhaya Mudra , a gesture that assures freedom form fear for the 
chetanas , who have sought refuge at his holy feet . Although the 
other slokas of this master piece cover significant doctrines 
related to Prapatthi and the post-prapatthi life of a Prapanna , this 
particular slokam dealing with the Abhaya hastham of the Lord of
Srirangam " mesmerizes"  me . 

The slokam is so comforting and reassuring that each time we 
stand before Sri Ranganatha  that we should remind ourselves 
about the deep meaning of this verse and the profound message 
it carries .  

The  moving second slokam of Nyasa Tilakm is as follows :


Swami prays for the protection of the right hand holding the Abhaya Mudraa.
( Sriranga Bharthu : Hastha: Maam avyaath ) . Why this special attention 
to the right hand and the Abhaya gesture seen there ? 

Swami Desikan suggests in the way of Utpreksha Alankaaram
( poetic fancy )  that the Abhaya Pradhaana gesture symbolizes
Lord's "prohibition " against repeating the act of Prapatthi  since 
he has already assured that seeking refuge once at his lotus feet 
will be sufficient to receive his unfailing protection (Sakrudheva 
Prapannaaya Tavaasmithi cha yaachateh , Abhayam Sarva 
BhoothebhyO Dadhaamyetath vratham mama ) .

Swami suggests that the Abhaya Mudra appears like the Lord's 
command to the  Prapanna to stop repeating the performance of
Prapatthi . His Abhaya Mudra appears like it is saying , "Halt ,
Cease doing another Prapatthi ! Enough . I will protect you 
for the Prapatthi that you performed already " . 

Sri D. Ramaswamy Iyengar reminds us of what  great Acharyas 
tell their disciples at the time of Prapatthi  .  They say : " Now that you 
have become a Prapanna , fix your gaze henceforth on 
the Abhaya Mudra of the Lord and  derive comfort and solace 
from the way it promises protection ". 

Here we are reminded by the spirit of the two halves of 
the Charama sloka . In the first half (Maamekam Saranam 
Vraja ) ,the Lord  invites the Prapannas to seek refuge at his 
sacred feet  ; in the second half , He states unequivocally ,
Maa Sucha:  and gives us hope and courage and says 
" do not grieve any more " . The messsage then is to rely on 
Lord's Charanaaravindham till Prapatthi and thereafter  
shift our focus to the Abhaya Mudra and the  message it carries  .

Moved by this  profound message housed in this slokam ,
Swami Desikan used it " in toto " as the second verse of his 
ManipravaaLa work Abhaya Pradhana Saara , which extolls the 
SaraNaagathi SaastrA aspects of Srimad RamaayaNam . Once 
again , Swami Desikan included this message in his Tamil work 
Adaikkala Patthu . Here, Swami was moved by the sight of the 
Abhaya Hastham of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi and said :


The Prapanna's statement during Prapatthi is " Umathu 
Adigalai adaihinrehn ( I seek refuge at your holy feet as 
my Means for Moksham ) " . The Prapanna states once ( Orukkaal 
Uraithavarai ) that he sought refuge under the cool shade of 
the Lord's lotus feet . The Lord responds with the Abahya Mudra 
and seems to indicate "enough , it is enough that you asked 
My  protection once ( Amaiyum ini yenbavar pol  Anjal yena 
karam vaitthu ) ." 

This then is the message of the Abhaya Hastham of the 
Saranaagatha Rakshaka Kaaruneekan , Sriman NaarayaNan .. 

Swami Desikan Thiruvadigaleh SaraNam. 

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan