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RE: Digest bhakti.v004.n124

From: Narasimhan, Jayshree (
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 17:21:48 PDT

> --------------- MESSAGE bhakti.v004.n124.6 ---------------
> From: Mani Varadarajan <>
> Subject: Re: Some questions regarding some of our customs ...
> Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 13:05:43 -0700 (PDT)
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> > > 2.  There are certain ShriVaishnavas when
> > > prostrating, perform the act 4 times or in
> > > multiples of 2.  However, there are certain other
> > > ShriVaishnavas who do it just once (such as the
> > > people belonging to "thenKalai" <- Please do not
> > > turn this question into a "kalai" fight). 
> > > What is the significance here ?
> The moods of each kind of prostration are slightly
> different, but each in their own way intend to convey
> the utmost respect.  In one method (single prostration),
> the prostration is ended when the elder to whom the
> namskAram is being done says "ezhundiRu, pa! (get up, my
> son!)".  The the other (multiple prostration), the 
> prostration is ended when the elder says "pOrum, pOrum, pa!
> (enough, enough!). Let's examine each.
> (a) Prostrating only once
>     Those who prostrate only once and stay down until
>     told to get up feel that this is the most respectful way
>     of doing namaskAram. It is thought that here, one is 
>     behaving as if he or she is completely at the mercy of 
>     the other person, without any independent will. It is
>     also held that a single prostration at the feet of 
>     a merciful elder is itself enough to secure all blessings;
>     why prostrate multiply, as if to ask for more? Don't
>     tug on the Lord's heartstrings, don't try to prove that
>     you merit His grace. A single gesture is far more than enough.
> (b) Prostrating multiple times
>     Those who prostrate again and again feel that this indicates
>     one's perpetual willingness to serve, as well as one's
>     perpetual willingness to be "sesha" of the other.  In other
>     words, the mood is "it is not only just for now that I am falling
>     at your feet. Just because I get up once does not mean that
>     my prostration ends. It is perpetual, for ever and ever."
>     The multiple prostration is intended to convey this willingness.
> Of course, there are arguments between proponents of each kalai as 
> to which form is the more ancient, more traditional form. I won't
> get into that here. Suffice it to say, however, that each bhAvam
> finds expression in some form or another in our pUrvAchAryas' works:
>  -- Single Prostration
>     prAyaH prapadane pumsAm paunaH punyam nivArayan |
>     hastaS SrIrangabhartur mAm avyAd abhayamudritaH ||
>     "May the right hand of Lord Ranganatha, which, held
>     in the abhaya-mudra pose, promises freedom of fear to all, 
>     protect me, as it asks those who have surrendered to
>     Him to not do it again and again."  -- Nyasa Tilaka, sloka 2
>     This is a reference to the pose of Lord Ranganatha in utsava
>     form as Namperumaal. His hand is held up, in abhaya-mudra, 
>     and Desika imagines this as saying "Stop! A single prapatti
>     is enough! Don't repeat it!" If we take namaskAram as being
>     equivalent to prapatti, one could take this bhAvam to mean
>     that a single namaskAram is enough.
>     Swami Desikan's son Kumara Varadacharya eloquently writes,
>     putting words in Ranganatha's mouth, "My solemn vow is that
>     upon a single observance of prapatti, I will give everything
>     that is desired. If surrender is done again and again, I have
>     nothing at all to give, and I will become a debtor. So stop!"

IMHO, prostration is not equivalent to Prapatti! Prostration is more like
Anjali. Prapatti is done only once! Having said that in Stotra Ratnam,
Alavandar says "Namo Namo VAnk ManasAthi Bhumaye, Namo Namo VAnk Mansaika
Bhumaye, Namo Namo anantha mhAvibhutaye, Namo Namo anantha dayaika
sindhave". Saying "Nama:" once is not enough, atleast two or multiples of 2
should be siad/done. Hence, the use of Nama: twice for each action. This has
been expalined very nicely in Sri Utaamoor Veeraraghavacriar's urai.

Typically, when prostrating in front of Acharyan, one is suppossed ot
porstrate until the Acharyan syas "Stop" otherwise, in multiples of 2,4,
yatha shakti for vadagalais.

Jayshree Narasimhan