Chapter 11: Prapatti
1. You have already explained to me about bhakti yoga. Now, please tell me something more about the second means of attainment of moksha, namely prapatti.
Prapatti is also called Saranagati, Bharanyasa, Bhara Samarpana and Nyasa. Here, we seek the Lord as the sole refuge, for salvation. We surrender ourselves unto Him; and pray for salvation.
2. How frequently is this prapatti to be performed?.How is it different from bhakti yoga?.
Prapatti has to be performed only once, in the life time. Bhakti Yoga, on the other hand, has to be performed throughout one’s life. May be in sub-sequent lives also.
3. What are the accessories (angas) for Prapatti?
There are five accessories. One, who does prapatti, must do the following:
1. He must decide to do hereafter, only what will be pleasing to the Lord, as laid down by the sastras.
2. He must avoid doing, whatever will be displeasing to the Lord; namely, what is prohibited by sastras.
3. Faith is most important. He must have absolute faith that the Lord will save him and grant him moksha.
4. He must be aware that he does not have the capacity or capability, to attain salvation, by his own efforts.
5. He must positively pray to the Lord, to save him and grant him salvation.
4. When a man performs prapatti, how are his sins or karmas destroyed?
There are two types of karmas.
(1) The first type are those which have started yielding fruits. In other words, the person has to experience the pleasures and pains, for the past karmas, which have started yielding fruits (Prarabdha Karma).
(2) The second type of karmas are those which have been kept aside by the Lord. They have not yet begun to yield fruits, good or bad (Sanchita karma).
So, when a man does prapatti, the second type of karmas, namely, those which have not begun to yield fruits, are destroyed altogether.
The first type of karmas, namely, those which have begun to yield fruits, good or bad, will continue, only so long as the person’s present life lasts.
At the time of death, the balance of karmas, are distributed to his friends and enemies (I have described this earlier). So, one, who has done prapatti, attains moksha, immediately at the end of this life itself. There are two types of karmas:-
1) Those which have started yielding fruits; 2) Those which have not yet started yielding fruits. For a person, who has done prapatti,
1) those which have started yielding fruits – he will experience these only till the end of this present life. 2) Balance of karmas, out of (1) above, are distri-buted to his friends and enemies, at the time of his death. 3) Those, which have not started yielding fruits, are destroyed completely.
5. Please summarise.
There are two types of karmas:
1) Those which have started yielding fruits;
2) Those which have not yet started yielding fruits.
6. You is said that at the time of prapatti, a person should resolve, that he will not do anything, displeasing to the Lord. In other words, he should not commit any sins. What happens, if a person commits sins, after doing prapatti?
For a person,who hasdone prapatti,
1) Those which have started yielding fruits – he will experience these only till the end of this present life.
2) Balance of karmas,out of (1) above,are distributed to his friends and enemies,at the time of his death.
3)Those,which have not started yielding fruits,are destroyed completely.
The person, after performing prapatti, may commit sins 1) either deliberately or 2) by oversight (without being aware that he is committing sins).
1) If a person commits sins, without being aware of the same, then these sins will be ignored by the Lord: since these sins were not committed purposely or deliberately.
2) If the person commits sins deliberately, due to the weakness of human nature, then he should do prayaschitta or atonement, for having committed them.
7. How should he do the prayaschitta in this case?
The prayaschitta or atonement for having committed the sin, is another prapatti, for this purpose. So, if the person atones for having committed the sin, by doing a prapatti for this purpose, then he is granted pardon by the Lord.
8. What happens, if he commits the sins deliberately after prapatti and still does not do prayaschitta?
Then the Lord will punish him in this life itself, before his death, in some way or other.
9. What will be the type of punishment in such cases?
The punishment can be that the person becomes lame or blind. Or, he may lose children or grandchildren or near relatives.
In fact, even inability to go to temples and worship the Lord there; or inability to bathe in holy rivers, are also punishments. In any case, one who has done prapatti, will definitely attain moksha, at the end of this life.
Incidentally, it may be said that once a person does prapatti, he becomes near and dear to the Lord. So, even for deliberate sins committed after prapatti, the punishment by the Lord will be comparatively minor.
Even in the world, if a mistake is committed by somebody close to the king, the king merely warns him; or gives him a lighter punishment. In the same way, God also gives comparatively lighter punishment, even for deliberate sins committed after prapatti.
10. What are the different types of prapatti?
There are two types:
1) Dripta Prapatti
2) Artha Prapatti
People, who want to live this life, as long as it lasts; and want to attain moksha, only at the end of this life: they do dripta prapatti.
People, who do not want to live even till the end of this life, but want to attain salvation immediately, at this very moment: they can resort to artha prapatti.
11. How is prapatti done?
This is a rite, which is performed, with the prescribed mantras and as per the procedure laid down in sastras.
12. How many types of prapatti are there?
There are four ways of performing prapatti:
1) Doing prapatti oneself (sva nishta).
2) Where a disciple repeats the prapatti mantras, as taught by the acharya (ukti nishta).
3) Where the disciple does not repeat the mantras, but the acharya performs prapatti, for the disciple (acharya Nishta).
4) Where a learned Sri Vaishnava does prapatti, on behalf of the person (bhagavata nishta).
So, one of these methods has to be adopted, for performing the prapatti.
13. YOU said that, apart from the five accessories for prapatti, there are no other rites or duties to be performed by one who has done prapatti. Then, after prapatti, why should he continue to do karmas like sandhyavandana and tarpana?
It is true that these rites, as ordained in the sastras, are not required for the efficacy of prapatti. But these are ordained by the Lord, through sastras and so the Lord’s commands have to be obeyed.
If these rites are not performed, this will be a violation of the Lord’s command. So the person will be punished by. the Lord, for the sin of not doing his duties, laid down in the sastras.
Further, the person does these things for the pleasure of the Lord.
14. We have discussed at lenght,about the means of attaining salvation.Now what are the hindrances or obstacles, a man faces, in the efforts for attaining salvation?
1) Being in this world, because of the association with a body, and with the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas; there are several temptations which try to distract the person’s thoughts from performing good deeds.
2) The person is carried away by the senses. He gets distracted by the worldly pleasures and runs after them.
3) His knowledge becomes perverse. He thinks that Narayana is not the supreme Lord. He thinks that all the deities are equal; or, he thinks there is no God at all.
4) Again, he does not realise the difference between the body and soul.
5) He does not study the sastras and perform the duties expected of him, as laid down in the sastras. As Krishna says in the Gita, sastras are only the divine command of the Lord.
6) Led away by the five senses, the person gets attached more and more to the worldly pleasures.
7) He spends his time in useless things. He does not recite the Vedas, or live an ideal life in detachment?
8) He does all forbidden things, for the sake of petty pleasures. So, all the worldly things and the five senses of a man, are the hindrances in his realising the truth.
15. So, what should we do, to get over these?
It is very necessary to completely conquer the senses; and direct one’s attention only towards the Lord.
Supposing you have to leap over a well. Whether you leap only half the well or you leap three-fourths of the well, it does not make any difference. You fall into the well, all the same.
Similarly, unless you conquer the senses completely, it does not make any difference.
16. Is prapatti done to attain salvation only?
Prapatti is also done, as a subsidiary to bhakti yoga. That is, while doing bhakti yoga, for any of the lapses or failures, prapatti is done as an atonement.
As mentioned earlier, practically nobody does bhakti yoga now. So doing Prapatti, as subsidiary to bhakti yoga, does not also arise.
17. How is it that God accepts the acharya doing prapatti for the disciple?
This is possible because, God accepts the prayers of the Acharya, for and on behalf of his disciple.
We have many examples of this, in this world also. If a man is blind, another man helps him in crossing the road. Similarly, if a man is tame, he is helped to cross the river, by the boatman, who places him in the boat and takes him across.
18. We read in books that the blessings of the holy people; residing in holy places; bathing in holy rivers, etc. give Moksha. Is this true?
This is not directly true. Only Bhakti or Prapatti can give moksha. What is meant is this: By residing in holy places, or bathing in holy rivers, or serving the holy people, a man starts getting the mentality to do good things. He is purified by such stay in holy places and bathing in holy rivers. So he starts learning the sastras and practising good things.
These things ultimately lead him to do Bhakti Yoga or Prapatti. Then finally he attains moksha. So, these things induce a man to attain Moksha, by doing bhakti or prapatti.
So, you can say that bathing in holy rivers, etc., indirectly leads to moksha. by inducing a man to perform bhakti or prapatti.
19. What are the special qualifications for a person to do prapatti?
These are mainly two in number.
1) First, the person does not have the capacity to do Bhakti Yoga.
2) Secondly, he should not worship any other deity, other than Sriman Narayana. He should also have a hatred for all other worldly things or pleasures. .
20. What is the principle behind Prapatti?
Actually, at the time of prapatti, a person surrenders three things to the Lord.
1) The first is, surrendering himself to the Lord. He gives up the thought that he is the doer. He gives up the thought that anything belongs to him. In effect, he and everything belonging to him, actually belong to the Lord. This is the first type of surrender. This is called Svarupa Samarpana.
2) The second one is, to surrender to the Lord, the responsibility for protecting him, and granting Moksha to him. This is called Bhara Samarpana.
3) The third is, surrender of the fruits. In other words, the fruit or gain, arising from Prapatti, (i.e., of attaining Moksha), is also surrendered to the Lord. The pleasure of enjoying the Lord in Paramapada is also dedicated to the Lord. This is called Phala Samarpana.
21. So,how many types of surrender are there?
There are three types of Surrender as mentioned above:
1) Svarupa Samarpana 2) BharaSamarpana 3) Phala Samarpana. .
22. You say that we should not worship any other deity, other than Narayana. But there are many passages even in our Sandhyavandana and Tarpana, worshipping the pitrus, Vayu (air), Agni, and the other Devas. So, how do you reconcile our worshipping these minor devas, with the fact that we should worship only Narayana?
There are two explanations.
1) The first is that, as I have explained to you in sufficient detail,Narayana is the soul of everything else. He is the soul also, of all the Devas. So, when we worship the other Devas, during the compulsory duties like 169 Sandhyavandana, we actually worship the soul of these Devas, who is Narayana.
2) There is another interpretation. The names of the other Devas, also refer to Narayana directly; if you analyse the meaning of their names. For example, Agni, means “one who leads” in Sanskrit. So, this word can also appropriately refer to Narayana. Thus we take the ultimate meaning of the names (of the Devas), which is actually Narayana.
23. Can you clarify this further?
For example, When the boss or the king arrives, the subordinates garland the king or the boss. The king wears a shirt and so, the garland is placed over the shirt. This does not mean that garlanding is for the shirt. The garlanding is to the person, who is inside the shirt. Similarly, when we worship the devas, the worship is actually for the person, who is inside the Devas, namely, Narayana.
24. Tell me briefly explain how a person who has done prapatti should behave afterwards.
This is explained in detail, in one of the chapters of Rahasya Traya Sara. In fact, this particular chapter can be called the most sublime in the whole treatise.
A person who has done prapatti has nothing to feel worried. He has nothing to grieve. He is sure of Moksha at the end of his life. He should, therefore, behave, after prapatti, in a completely detached manner.
If anybody praises him, he should not become proud. If anybody abuses him, he should not feel angry. He should leave everything to the Lord.
He should spend his time in reciting Vedas, Divya Prabandha and reading sastras. He can do good things like going to temples and worshipping the Lord. He should try to learn from holy people. He should continue to do his compulsory duties like Sandhyavandana, as prescribed in the sastras.
He should continue to do all good things, without desiring for any fruit: but purely as service and pleasure to Lord. He should continue to do service, to the extent possible, to the acharyas and all other holy men.
25. What is the importance to be given to doing service to the Lord’s devotees?
Service to the devotees is even more important than service to the Lord. The Lord himself feels happy, if His devotees are served and honoured by others.
Serving the devotees is like this. If we want to please a person, we fondle his children. The person becomes happier, if his children are praised and fondled by others. Similarly, the Lord becomes happier, when His children, namely His devotees, are praised and served by others. .
26. What are the duties prescribed for us?
Ramanuja himself has prescribed the following duties for a person:-
1) The first and most important duty is to study Sri Bhashya and spread its contents to others.
2) If a person is not qualified to read and understand Sri Bhashya, he should study the Divya Prabandha and spread its contents to others.
3) If a person is not competent even to read and understand Divya Prabandha, then he should serve in holy temples. He may light lamps in the temple; he may make garlands for adorning the deity; he may make sandal paste and such other works in the temple.
4) Even if this is not possible for a man, he should continuously meditate on the meaning of Dvaya mantra.
5) Lastly, even if a man is not able to do this, then he should attach himself to a learned, holy, Sri Vaishnava; and serve him, to the best of his capacity.
27. After Prapatti where should a person reside?
A person can conveniently reside in a place which is a divya desa, i.e. where the Lord has been sung by Alwars. Or he can stay in a place, where the Lord’s devotees, Bhagavatas stay. To the extent possible, he should stay in such places.
To be continued…
Source: A Dialog on Hinduism By Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan