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Re: Bhakti & Prapatti -4

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Mon Oct 12 1998 - 12:13:58 PDT

Sri Balaraman Sriram wrote:

> Sri Mani wrote:
> >If, out of ignorance or unintentional error, someone falls short
> >of the ideal, is it not the greatness of the Lord that he still
> >accepts the devotee? Perfect prapatti a la Nammalvar is a very 
> >difficult state to reach
> 
> I understood Sri Anand to mean perfection to one's best of abilities. 
> This is similar to saying "Only if you aim for 100% you will atleast get 
> 70". To start with if we say since we are nitya bhadas and any way we 
> are bound to make mistakes, we will continue to make
> mistakes taking the whole thing too leniently. I think such an approach 
> smacks of  insincerity.

On the contrary, I don't think it smacks of insincerity, but
of true humility.  To realize that no matter how hard we try
we will still fall short of the mark is a realization of our
essential nature in worldly existence as imperfect beings,
as completely dependent on PerumaaL for everything (pAratantryam).
It further signifies that all our efforts, no matter how
great from our perspective, are completely irrelevant without
PerumaaL's kataaksham. 

To this effect, we have Sri Vedanta Desika's sloka on 
aTTabuyakarattAn: 

   tvayi pravRtte mama kim prayAsaiH
   tvayyapravRtte mama kim prayAsaiH

   If You act, of what good are my efforts?
   And if You do not act, of what good are my efforts?

To admit one's imperfection _may_ lead to taking things
"too easily", or being lax about one's service to PerumaaL;
But the two don't necessarily go hand in hand.  Or is humility
(a la Swami Desika) always a sign of insincerity?  

> Despite our best efforts there will be mistakes and that will be 
> accepted/forgiven by the Lord. Ignorance/Unintentional error etc is not 
> and never an excuse.I suppose the ignorance arises out of
> past karma.Burn out the karma and there cannot be ignorance.

Prapatti is itself a prAyaScittam for all past karma.
The Lord, the ever-existent fount of grace, is overjoyed
at the jIvA's decision to accept Him as the means and 
completely wipes the slate clean [*].  If prapatti itself 
atones for all prior karma, one necessarily recognizes
one's helplessness (kArpyaNyam) and ignorance when taking 
refuge with the Lord.  If, on the other hand, lack of ignorance 
is taken as a prerequisite for taking refuge (i.e., demanding 
that taking refuge be done 100% "properly"), none of us would be 
qualified, as taking refuge itself is what in the end
destroys our ignorance.

[*] except for prArabdha karma for dRpta prapannas.

> >but our  
> >very imperfection is the cause for our prapatti and consequently
> >for His acceptance of us.  
> 
> If this was completely true then prapatti should be the only way for 
> moksham. But that is not the case. There are definitely other 
> methods/ways though difficult they still exist.

Prapatti, whether as a limb of the discipline of bhakti-yoga
or as a wholehearted, complete surrender of one's self to the 
Lord, is the _only_ way to moksha according to our acharyas.
Sri Ramanuja explicitly says this in the Vedarthasangraha
and this is explained in further detail by Sri Sudarsana Suri.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani