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Bhakti and Prapatti - 2

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (anand_at_engr.uconn.edu)
Date: Sun Sep 27 1998 - 12:29:21 PDT

                                  Sri :
             Srimate  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Para Brahmane Namaha
                       Srimate  ShatakopAya Namaha
                  Srimate  Bhagavad   RAmAnujAya  Namaha      
                  Srimate NigamAntha MahAdesikAya Namaha 
         Srimate Sri Adhi vaNN shatakOpa yateendra mahAdesikAya namaha   
             Srimate Sri Lakshmi - Nrusimha Divya PAdukA Sevaka - 
         Srivan  Shatakopa  Sri NArAyana Yateendra MahAdesikAya Namaha      

     Dear  bhaktAs of Sriman NArAyaNA,
     namo nArAyaNA . pranAmams. 
     -----------------------------------------------------------
    Sriman nArAyaNA out of His great compassion towards the baddha 
    jIvAtmAs propagates vedAs and allied sAstrAs , which are the 
    only way through which they can possibly know about Him & the
    ways to reach Him. The ultimate and final essence of sAstrAs is that
    Sriman NArAyaNA is the sarIrI and ,all chit & achit are His sarIrA.
    This eternal sarIra sarIrI bhAvA is composed of the following three
    things :
      
    a. AdheyatvA (ie.being supported by a sarIrI) : Existence of 
       the sarIrA(body) is due to the sarIrI ie. sarIrI supports
       the sarIrA. In other words , if sarIrI ceases to exist , 
       sarIrA also ceases to exist.   

    b. niyamyatvA (ie. being controlled by a sarIrI ) : Not only
       that sarIrA derives its existence from a sarIrI, it is also
       being controlled by the sarIrI. So , sarIrA  acts as per the 
       will/desires of sarIrI.

    c. seshatvA (ie. existing for the pleasure of sarIrI ) : Not only
       that sarIrA is supported & controlled by sarIrI , it exists
       only for the pleasure of sarIrI ie. sarIrI is sarIrA's Master.

       It is to be noted that the "sarIrI" needn't be physically
       present inside a "sarIrA". This is not a condition to be met
       out for the sarIra-sarIrI bhAvA to hold good.. 

    Thus Sriman NArAyaNA supports and controls all jIvAtmAs, and all
    the jIvAtmAs exist purely for His enjoyment. Thus, the very
    essential nature (svaroopam) of a jIvAtmA is to perform kainkaryam
    to Sriman NArAyaNA for His pleasure and performance of any
    other activity doesn't conform to its nature. This implies that ,
    baddha jIvAtmAs are like fish out of water , suffering in the
    material world by not living according to their actual nature.
    Only in Sri VaikuNTham can a jIvAtmA perfectly act according to its
    nature (svaroopam) without any interruption. Realizing this great
    truth by the mercy of a sadAchAryA, a baddha jIvAtmA becomes highly
    desirous of obtaining moksham and thereby reach Sri VaikuNTham , the
    spiritual world beyond this material world,and perform uninterrupted 
    bhagavad anubhavam and kainkaryam to the Divya Dampati, with great
    bliss. This is just like the ardent desire of a fish which is out of
    water (not according to its nature) , to get into the water (in
    accordance with its nature). Such highly glorifiable baddha jIvAtmAs
    are called as mumukshus , whose only goal is the attainment of
    moksham. The mumukshu thus needs to know about the means(upAyA) to
    fulfil his desire. 

    sAstrAs declare that Bhakti and prapatti are the only two means
    (sAdhya upAyAs) by which the baddha jIvAtmAs can attain moksham , 
    while the Divya Dampati are the Siddha upAyam .
 
    NArAyaNA Himself, in Ahirbudhnya samhitA  categorically declares :
       " bhaktyA paramayA vA-pi prapattyA vA mahAmathe
         prApyoham na anyathA prApyO mama kainkarya lipsubhihi " 
    
    NArAyaNA here clarifies that bhakti and prapatti are the only means &
    by no other means will He grant moksham . So, all other processes
    like Bhagavad kalyAna guna Sravanam , nAma sankeertanam , living
    at a Divya desam , bathing in pushkarinIs & sacred rivers etc should
    culminate in either "bhakti" or "prapatti" for one to obtain moksham.
    So ,it is not that a highly devoted person would be deprived of
    moksham by Sriman nArAyaNA. Such a devotee would be guided by
    Sriman nArAyaNA to end up with either "bhakti" or "prapatti" and
    thus its just a matter of time -may be within that life time or
    in the next few births , that he/she would obtain moksham.
 
    In many Vedic literatures & in works of Sri Vaishnava AchAryAs , the
    term "Bhakti" is usually associated with the term "Bhakti YogA" ,
    which is the meditation through ashtAnga yogA on the kalyAna gunAs,
    divyamangaLa vigrahA etc of Sriman nArAyaNA with unsurpassed love .
    "Bhakti" referred here is the continuous stream of knowledge which
    is of the nature of uninterrupted memory and which is unbroken like
    the flow of a stream of oil. This description is not be taken lightly.
    The intensity of the uninterrupted nature of contemplation on Sriman
    nArAyaNA is the central focus of ashtAnga yogA. There are 32 Brahma
    vidyAs (ie.upAsanAs) that are prescribed in the upanishads . A devotee
    performing bhakti yogA will adopt a particular Brahma VidyA as the
    means (sAdhyaupAyA) for attaining moksham. Due to lack of a proper
    word, the term "Bhakti" is also sometimes used to imply "devotion"
    to Sriman NArAyaNA ,which needn't be the "matured state of jn~AnA"
    (ie. "Bhakti" proper) expressed through ashtAnga yOgA. 
     
    The  seven general pre-requisites for Bhakti YogA are 
 
        1. VivekA (discrimination) : Purification of body through proper
           intake of sAttvik food etc .

        2. VimOkA (freedom) : abjuration of all desires other than to 
           meditate on Sriman nArAyaNA .

        3. abhyAsA (practise) : Practise worshiping the Lord with full
           enthusiasm (again & again ).This involves strict adherence to 
           scriptures etc .
 
        4. kriyA (work) : proper adherence to the VarnAshrama dharmA
           mainly dealing with the pancha mahA yaj~nAs ( this makes 
           only the dvijAs to be fit for starting "Bhakti yogA" ).

        5. kalyANA (auspiciousness ) : practise of virtues like
           truthfulness , integrity , compassion , benevolence,ahimsA etc.
        
        6. anavasAda : being without any despair due to dissappointment ,
           completely forgetting all past sorrows .

        7. anuddharSa : absence of exaltation ie. being in a state which
           is the optimal midway between excessive joy & the absence of
           it. 
                                    
        The severe practise of karma & jn~Ana yogA can only bringforth
        the stage for performing bhakti yogA . Jn~na yogA is the
        "self-realization" ("self" stands for jIvAtmA ) , whereas "bhakti
        yogA" is  "God-realization" . So , "ashtAnga yogA" is performed
        for God-realization  ie. for obtaining moksham .

    Jn~Ani is a person who performs Bhakti YogA (God realization) & not
    jn~Ana yogA. The person performing Jn~Ana YogA (self-realization) is
    known as kevalA . Jn~Ana YogA is the constant meditation of the self
    ie. jIvAtmA . It results in Atma sAkshAtkAram ie. self-realization. 
    It is however important to note that a kevalA is fully aware of his
    swaroopa of being subservient to Sriman NArAyanA . But a
    kevalA is neverthless firmly attracted by the bliss derived in the
    meditation of his own self (with the understanding as servant of
    nArAyaNA) & is unable to come over it & proceed further to meditate on
    ParamAtmA Sriman NArAyanA . A kevalA's position is very much 
    understandable since many a people in  this world cannot overcome even
    watching TV,cinemAs, sports  etc which  only have dry hapiness (fully
    material; not spiritual ). The bliss derived  from the contemplation 
    of the "self" (jIvAtmA)  would certainly be attracting a kevalA like a
    magnet. He attains "KaivalyA" wherein he attains the state in which he
    simply  meditates on his own  self (fully self-realized state ) .From
    there he can continue further to perform bhakti yogA and attain
    moksham.

     After perfecting karma & jn~Ana yogAs  one will start performing 
     "bhakti yogA" (since karma yogA by itself is integrated with jn~Ana
     yogA , bhakti yogA can be started after its perfection also ).

     The perfection of bhakti yogA is through ashtAnga yogA which has 8
     parts : 
     1. yama : self control & practise of virtues like ahimsA,
        non-covetousness , non acceptance of gifts etc .

     2. niyama : practise of purity in thought , word & deed.

     3. Asana : adoption of proper  posture & seat .

     4. prAnAyAma : Control & regulation of breath alongwith the
        reflection on the meaning of the mantrA like ashtAksharam . 

     5. pratyahAra : Withdrawl of mind & other senses from their out going
        tendencies .

     6. dhAranA : fixing of the mind towards Sriman nArAyaNA. Depending
        upon the type of upAsanA (out of 32 Brahma vidyAs prescribed in
        upanishads) one chooses , the contemplation on nArAyaNA will   
        vary .

     7. dhyAnA : Continuous meditation on the divya mangaLa vigrahA,
        kalyAna gunAs etc of nArAyaNA to the exclusion of all other
        objects. One must be almost sinless to attain this stage of having
        deep and profound love towards Sriman nArAyaNA which is the
        driving force for dhyAnA.
      
     8. samAdhi : Final stage of concentration when the yogi attains the 
        super-conscious state of divine life & becomes united with Sriman
        nArAyaNA . There is "unity" & not "identity" . When the dhyAnA
        ceases , this communion (ie. unity) with nArAyaNA also ceases. In
        other words , eternal communion is not possible as long as the
        jIvAtmA has connection with prakruti . The culmination of samAdhi
        is the attainment of liberation (mokshA) & eternal union at Sri
        VaikuNTham . 

        Devotion in the form of nAma sankeertanam , Bhagavad ArAdhanam,
        Listening to the avatAra leelAs of Sriman nArAyaNA etc aids one to
        have steady rememberance of Sriman nArAyaNA . They by themselves
        doesn't constitute "bhakti yogA" . Rather they are some ways of
        expressing one's devotion & develop the "love" for nArAyaNA ,
        thereby aiding the process of ashtAnga yogA .

        During bhakti yogA , the yogI will at first encounter the stage
        called "Para bhakti" wherein his mind ,thought & all sense organs
        are completly focussed on Sriman nArAyaNA. He does only worship of
        nArAyaNA & meditation on Him & these are the only things that
        sustain him. After severe practise of the ashtAnga yogic process , 
        the yogi passes onto the next stage called "para jn~AnA" wherein
        the thirst for the direct vision of Sriman nARAyaNA becomes highly
        intense . Sriman NArAyaNA being pleased with his devotion gives
        the mental vision of His divya mangaLa vigraha. This results
        into much more intense love & the yogI is mad after communion with
        NArAyaNA . He cannot bear the separation even for a second & is 
        literally pleading with Sriman NArAyaNA constantly for the arrival
        of the eternal union with Him. At right time , he attains the
        God-realization & enjoys the divine company of nitya soorIs & 
        muktAs at Sri VaikuNTham in serving Sriman NArAyaNA uninterruptedly.

        Obviously this process is out of question in this age of kali.
        Likes of vashistar, vyAsar, sukar, jada bharadar, Bheeshmar,
        nAthamunigaL are the capable persons for performing such
        contemplation with deep & unsurpassed love towards Sriman
        NArAyaNA. Thus, prapatti is the only way out.

   -- to be cont --
         
   namo nArAyaNA
   adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
   anantha PadmanAbha dAsan  
                      sarvam  sri KrishnArpanamastu