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Sri NyAsa dasakam of Swami Desikan : Part 1

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Tue Oct 14 1997 - 17:34:44 PDT

SrimAn VenkatanAthArya: kavithArkika kEsarI I
vEdAnthAchArya varyO mE sannidhatthAm sadhA hrudhi II

Dear Members of the SaraNAgathi/Bhakthi Group :

The subject of SaraNAgathi is a vast one . One of 
the most moving and beautiful summary of SaraNAgathi 
is housed in Swami Desikan's NyAsa Dasakam . This 
magnificient work has ten slOkams , which are rich in meaning 
for the SaraNAgathi literature . From the height of his Ubhaya -
VedanthA perspective , our most merciful AchAryA has blessed 
us with the distilled essence of the doctrine of SaraNAgathi .

We recite it daily because of its terse brilliance , depth of 
allusions to NammAzhwAr's paasurams  and the need to 
reflect upon the meaning of each of the words that Swami
Desikan has chosen to assemble this garland of exquisite 
fragrance divine !

Any discussion on the subject of SaraNAgathi can benefit from 
its start with the ten inspired and inspiring verses of Swami 
Desikan .
He has blessed us many other works on SaraNAgathi to 
help us understand the procedure related to and the actual
performance of Prapatthi . This sacred grantham was composed 
by Swami Desikan during the occasion of his performance
of Prapatthi at the lotus feet of Sri VaradarAjan (pEraruLALan )
of KanchIpuram . 

The ten slokams comprising this short sthothra grantham 
covers the following topics : (1) the method of performing
SaraNAgathi ( prapatthi , Bhara SamarpNam or Aathma 
NikshEpam ) -- (2) the five limbs of SaraNAgathi (3) the 
method of performing Saatvika thyAgam (4) prayer for 
the boon (varam ) of Moksham from  the king of boon givers
( VaradarAjan ) (5) another  prayer for the boon of kaimkarya 
Sri during the rest of the life after Prapatthi and (6) A moving 
appeal to forgive the trespasses and sins committed knowingly
or unknowingly after Prapatthi .

This extraordinary scope of this sthothram on the most important 
subject necessitates us to recite it and to reflect on it daily during 
the occasion of the ThiruvArAdhanam for the Lord at our homes .

I will follow the commentary tradition established by my 
MaanasIka Guru , Sri Vankipuram Navaneetham 
SrirAma DesikAchar Swamy and the the additional 
commentary made by Dr.V.N .Vedantha Desikan (VNV)  
in his brilliant work with the title of AazhwAr ThiruvuLLam .

Dr. V.N.V cites the paasurams of NammAzhwAr , which might have 
inspired Swami Desikan to make reference to them in his 
Sanskrit sthOthra grantham , NyAsa Dasakam . I will elaborate on
these paasurams of NammAzhwAr to extend the commentary for 
a more detailed study of the ten slokams of NyAsa Dasakam . 
I will try to interlace the thoughts from other works of Swami Desikan
to illustrate how our great AchAryA blessed us again and again to 
gain a clear and full understanding of the doctrines of SaraNAgathi
as revealed by his predecessors .

SLOKAM 1 :  

aham madhrakshaNabarO madhrakshaNa palam tathA I
na mama SripathEvEthi aathmAnam nikshipEth bhudha : II

Here Swami Desikan points out the procedure to be adopted by 
one with  discriminating intellect ;such a person  has grasped fully 
the essence of Tattva, Hitha and purushArthams at the sacred feet 
of a qualified AchAryA and is desirous of seeking Moksham through 
the act of Prapatthi . How does such a person perform Prapatthi ?
Swami Desikan divides the act of Prapatthi or SaraNAgathi   
into its three parts :

(1) SvarUpa SamarpaNam (2) Bhara SamarpaNam and (3) Pala 
samarpaNam . 

Swami Desikan states that one has to surrender SvarUpam , 
RakshaNa bharam and RakshaNa palam at the lotus feet of
the Lord and declare  ( anusandhAnam ) without any 
shred of  doubt that ,

(1)  the Lord is the owner of his or her  aathmA and that he or she 
is not an entity gifted with svathanthram/svarUpa samarpaNam 

(2) The total responsibility to protect me is that of 
the Lord alone and that I have no role to play in that 
responsibility /bhara samarpaNam 

(3) The fruit that results from protecting me also belongs 
to the Lord and Lord alone .I have no right to claim any of 
that fruit /pala SamarpaNam . 

The terse statement of these three anusandhAnams 
are covered in the first paadham of this slOkam set in
the Anushtup metre : aham na mama ( SvarUpa SamarpaNam) ,
madh RakshaNa bhara: na mama ( Bhara samarpaNam ) 
and tathA madh rakshaNa palam na mama ( pala SamarpaNam ) .

He completes the thought behind these three anusandhAnams 
in the second paadham of the slOkam with the decalration :
 "(Aham , madh rakshaNa bharam , tathA madh RakshaNa
palam )   SripathErEva , na mama " . This triad of samarpaNam 
is entirely controlled by the Lord and not by me is the way to 
perform prapatthi according to our AchAryA . He points out that 
this is how a vivEki ( Bhudha : ) should surrender his aathmA at 
the lotus feet of the Lord ( SripathErEva ithi budha: aathmAnam 
nikshipEth ) . This is the right royal way to perform Prapatti to gain
the supreme boon of Moksham  says Swami Desikan at the very 
outset of NyAsa Dasakam .

Dr. VedAntha Desikan translates this slokam as follows :
" A refined and discerning person must surrender himself--
his aathmA , his protection and the fruit of his protection as the 
Lord"s . They are all HIS and His will is carried out . 
Aathma -samrpaNam , Bhara-SamarpaNam and Pala-
samarpaNam are thus carried out " . 

Dr. VNV cites the following two paasurams of NammAzhwAr 
as context for the text of Swami Desikan : 

1. ThiruvAimozhi 2.3.4 : yenathAvi yaar? yaanAr? 
thantha nee kondAkkinayE ! 

Here NammAzhwAr Engages in a dialog with SaraNyan .
He says : O Lord ! You have pervaded my soul ( aathmA )
and preside there . This is an ancient happening ! My aathmA
has been Yours from time immemorial . What a tragedy 
that I had mixed up things and had the deluded thinking that 
this aathmA , a property of Yours is mine . When I say now that 
I am surrendering MY  aathmA at Your feet , I am committing 
aathmApahAram ( stealing of the object that is Yours and 
pretend that I am giving to You what is mine ) . Oh , My Lord !
You indeed are the owner of this aathmA . You are the Lord of 
me and the aathmA . I am now cleared of my mix up about 
the ownership of the aathmA . How can I repay You for helping
me out of my confusion ? 

Earlier in this pasuram , AzhwAr points out to the Lord 
in a mood of utter submission that he will surrender
his aathmA to the Lord and Lord alone and asserts 
that the aathmA belongs to the Lord totally and he has
no claims whatsoever on it . He says : " YenathAvi tanthu
ozhindhEn " . He makes a statement thereafter ,"
" ini meeLvathu yenpathu uNdO ? " . AzhwAr states here that
he has no thought whatsoever on reclaiming what he has 
just surrendered to the Lord as His property . This is
SvarUpa samarpaNam at its best  .

ThiruvAimozhi 8.1.10 

Second Paaaadham : Yennyuirai aRavilai seythanan sOthi ! 
--- tamiyanEn PeriyavappanE ! 

Here the AzhwAr is supremely elated after svarUpa samarpaNam.
In that mood of blissful joy , he says : You have granted Thy feet
exclusively for my enjoyment . How can I repay You for Your 
mahOpakAram ? There is however  one thing . My cherished 
possession is my aathmA . I now make a clean , unconditional sale 
of it to You . It is my gesture of gratitude for Your paramOpakAram . 
Oh Lord ! what is happening to You now that  You have accepted 
my aathmA , which has always been Your property . You seem to 
have attained a special effulgence ( jyOthi ) as a result of
accepting my svarUpa samarpaNam . Oh Great benefactor ! 
You have paid very little in this commercial transaction of
mine . I sold you my aathmA ( svarUpam ) . The price paid by You 
is the enjoyment of Your lofty lotus feet . You are now beaming with joy 
over this transaction , where You have gained an upper hand .
You have got back your property and you seem to be recalling 
with great happiness your statement in the GithA , J~nAni thu 
aathmA yeva matham " .You are considering me as Your aathmA .
What a great fortune that befell me thru this SvarUpa samarpaNam ?
Thus pours out our Kulapathi his sense of joy over the act 
of SvarUpa SamarpaNam . 

These thoughts are  captured by Swami Desikan in his 
first slOkam of NyAsa dasakam .

( To be continued ) .

Daasan ,
Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan