Prapanna Pārijāta | Chapter 9
On the Works that ought to be Renounced:
The worldly and Vedic activities which ought to be renounced by the Prapannas are now described. One should always shun what is incongruent with one's own status, place and time.
What is particularly mentioned by Manu and others as contrary to varṇa-āśrama Dharma and what is said in the Pāñcharātra-Śāstra to be inconsistent with one's own competency shall not be done.
3 – 4.
All those acts that are sanctioned in the general Śāstras but are contrary to the special ones,
such as the reverential clockwise circumambulation around a cross-roads or intersection, a sacred tree, an auspicious object, the worship of Śiva on the 13th day of the lunar fortnight (pradosha) and such other acts which are said to remit sin, as well as yielding the enjoyments of both the worlds i.e. performed for some particular worldly object and future fruition (kāmya)
should not be done by those who are professed Vaishnava practitioners (Param-ekanti),
as also wearing marks and other tokens which are prescribed in the general Śāstras but are contrary [to the practices of] the initiated Vaishnavas.
Singing and dancing etc. which are enjoined by specific Agamas should be done by a Vaishnava as attested to by Yama and Śauṇaka:—
“O best of men, except the singing of the glories of God no other [worldly] songs should be sung by a Brahmin. Therefore [if you sing other songs] you have committed a sin!” (Matsya Purāṇa)
“Singing about Vishnu, and performing dance and drama about Vishnu, O Brahmin! ought to be especially done by those of the Brahmin caste just like the obligatory daily acts.” (Nitya Karma)
The birds of great sins which inhabit the bodies of those who dance in the presence of God, are scared away by the clapping of hands etc.
A Vaishnava shall never give up the insignia of the disc of Vishnu and other symbols which are mentioned in the special [Pāñcharātra] Śāstras.
10 – 11.
Because there are so few [sincere] followers in the world, and because it is an easy means to a mighty result, and also due to specious reasoning [regarding Prapatti] some disparage the expediency of Prapatti for achieving Liberation.
They are wicked and foolish and are deemed the vilest of men. Their intelligence has been obscured by delusion and they have assumed a demoniac nature.
Those sinners, who at the time of birth, do not receive the glance of Vishnu but rather that of Brahma or Rudra shall be either of a Rājasic (passionate) or Tāmasic (indolent) nature; with such a person one shall not converse:
“For with the unrighteous one shall not have any dealings whatsoever!”
Manu has said in the Dharma Śāstras that belligerent people are vulgar and forbids intercourse with them, even just by speaking to them.
Those texts which are contrary to the Vedas and those philosophical views which are erroneous, are all useless after death;
therefore they are indeed considered as being established in Tamas.
A Prapanna should never engage in any activities which cause hindrance to [actualising the act of] Prapatti.
18 – 21.
Worshiping deities other than Vishnu except in the established usages of daily ritual practice3, resorting to means other than Prapatti [to achieve liberation] and malice towards holy men,
blind faith, excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures, and in any way reviling Lakshmi, the Lord of Lakshmi and their attendants, and acting remorselessly, committing egregious sins without any form of atonement, -
these are all obstacles, a Prapanna should not engage them.
If the devotees do become involved in any of these activities and if they become remorseful then they should atone (Prāyaśchitta) for them — both privately and publicly.
A repentant Prapanna is not authorised to atone only in private.
Thus has Lakshmi replied to Indra’s query.
In the days of yore, secret atonement was recommended to a Prapanna.
Implying the same idea Parāśara said as follows:
“When an individual experience remorse, then merely the remembering of God alone is the highest atonement.”
“O Maitreya! Svāyambhu and other sages have declared that atonement should be proportionate to the sin — a severe one for a great sin and a light one for a small sin.”
“All atonements consist of austerity (tapas) and ritual (karma). Of all of them the constant remembering of Krishna is the best.”
“The sacred texts teach us that all errors committed in a sacrifice either from negligence or from deviation from the program become rectified by the remembering of Vishnu alone.”
To one who is devoted to meditation on the Lord, expiatory rites (kriyās) end with the onset of meditation; but to a foolish unbeliever [expiatory rites] of twelve year's duration are enjoined.
As the expiatory rites which ought to be done (kartavya) for twelve years duration are prescribed only to an unbeliever, by thus clarifying the subject there can be no confusion of the severe sin and the light one.
“The purification that an embodied one (Kṣetrajña) achieves from the knowledge of Īśvara (the Lord) is considered the best by Yājñyavalkya
who also described the purification of the embodied one that arises from a knowledge of the relationship of the appropriated and the appropriator (śeṣa-śeṣi) — that exists between the embodied one and God (Ātman and Īśvara)
“Even though a person is much addicted to detrimental practices, through meditating on God even for a moment, he becomes anew an ascetic (tapasvin) and the purifier of the pure who sanctify by their presence those persons that sit with them in the same row to dine (paṅktipāvana).” (Vishnu Dharmottara Pūraṇa)
Whether one be in a state of ritual purity or impurity, whatever condition one may be in, one who remembers the lotus-eyed One (Krishna) becomes pure both internally and externally.4
For those meditators upon God mentioned by Śauṇaka and others, who feel repentant when they commit a misdeed, their expiatory rites culminate with the setting in of that meditation [on God].
A Vaishnava should give up association with those that are devoted to other deities and also with those that are practicing any means other than Prapatti and shall dwell with other Prapannas.
A virtuous person (sādhu) shall not accept help from a fool, nor should a guru teach a fool; for one who takes refuge in ignorant person becomes ignorant and tāmasic as well. And the teaching given to a fool falls on barren ground.
The guru and the disciple shall never ever bear malice towards each other. Either of these two that are maliciously inclined falls from the path of Liberation.
38 – 39.
No one shall [attempt to] commune with God (Hari) using a mantra that was not given by a guru. A disciple should never reproach a righteous guru from self- referent greed for wealth. An intelligent person should not appropriate anything without first offering it to the guru. A good Vaishnava shall abandon all those that hate the guru.
40 – 41.
A Prapanna shall never spit or in any way defile a temple of Vishnu; one shall not wash one’s feet there; not walk between the deity and the sacrificial-altar5; nor enter the temple by any passage other than a proper doorway.
42 – 43.
A Vaishnava shall never enter a temple wrapped in a blanket of black wool; nor in a temple of Vishnu perform any other work but the recitation of the sacred mantras (japa) or the making of garlands and other such services.
One shall not salute nor gaze upon any other deity; nor shall one go up into any other temple nor enter any other sanctuary.
In the Varaha Purāṇa thirty two offences against God are especially mentioned. A Vaishnava shall abstain from them all. (vide appendix)
A Vaishnava shall not appropriate for himself perfumes, flowers, clothes, jewels, animals, houses and other objects of personal enjoyment.
One should never regard one’s sons etc. as subservient to one but rather as the manifestations of the glory of God (Vishnu). For a wise person should always avoid the feeling of possessiveness (mamatā).
A person who is totally devoted to spiritual practice (ekānta) should never be designated with the name of his village, family etc. but should rather be called by the names of Vishnu because Vishnu is his everything.
Just as when rivers of various names enter into the ocean, all names are merged into that of the ocean alone, so it is of Ekāntins who have completely dedicated themselves to the service of Vishnu.
One shall also not step on the shadows of sages, nor do such other acts [of disrespect]. One should always keep company with spiritual people and shall avoid entering into disputes with them.
51 – 52.
The Viṣvaksena Saṁhitā of Pāñcharātra Agama thus enjoins a Prapanna: —
he shall not develop a taste for an non-vaiṣṇava literature or become fond an false scripture. He shall not take a false oath nor consult [with astrologers] for auspicious or inauspicious [timings and events].
One should not use common mantras to extract poison, exorcise Piśāchas and other spirits and for the curing of all diseases.
One shall not wear matted dreadlocks, nor smear oneself with ashes. One shall give up all forms of heterodox symbols of identification for the rest of one’s life.
My view is that one should only ever dwell in those places in which ethics are practiced and where a Vaishnava course of conduct approved of by the wise is in vogue, and nowhere else.
One shall not take up a mundane profession for the sake of livelihood, but rather choose a profession which is approved of the good and is consistent with place and time; one should never be tempted to follow an objectionable out of greed.
57 – 58.
Bhagavan Vyāsa has said in this connection with what ought to be rejected by the virtuous:—
“There is no moksha for one who takes delight in literature6 (śabda śāstra) and also for who is fond of fine habitation; nor for one who is exclusively obsessed with food and clothing; nor for one who is bent on popularity.
But for one who is of a retiring disposition, has a firm practice, who has withdrawn from the pleasures of the five senses, who’s intent on acquiring the knowledge of the Supreme and who is always non-aggressive, moksha is certain”.
“Not longing for death nor craving continuation of life but rather as the hireling awaits his wage so shall one bide one’s time.” (Manu 6:45)
Generally those people who have not accomplished their life’s goals are disturbed by death; but those who have accomplished their objects await death like a welcome guest.
One should never pray to Vishnu for any other reward than devotion (Bhakti) and knowledge (Jñāna); for by praying for other things one will surely be ruined.
If one should offend a sage either from negligence or from intention and regret it afterwards then one should seek him out and request forgiveness otherwise there will be no peace.
Even in the case of an offence against God this expiation [of requesting forgiveness] is unsurpassed. A wise person shall avoid [carnal] association with the opposite sex.
Therefore shall a wise person should completely renounce sensuality like poison. An ignorant person is called a commoner but a wise person a Vaishnava.
A wise person shall not engage in any way with the ignorant. This has been said by the Lord in the Pāñcharātra Śāstra and also by Manu and others.
66 – 67.
Therefore a pious Vaishnava shall avoid socialising with common worldly people.
Socialising is said to be of eight kinds:
sharing the same bed or seat, dining while seated in the same row, using one pot, mixing cooked food, conducting sacrificial rites, teaching the Vedas, marriage and inter-dining —
all these should be rigorously avoided with materialists.
One becomes corrupted by conversation, touch, and by the way in which one sleeps and sits together with another, also through the function of priestly duties, teaching the Veda and by intermarriage.
Through priestly function, teaching the Veda and through lying down, sitting and marriage with a fallen person one is degraded within a year.
Brihaspati and Manu have discussed this socialising (sankara) in its diversity, but through priestly functions and such other activities degradation is immediate.
To the high-minded Vaishnavas who are devoted to the practice of self-surrender (Nyāsa-vidyā) the praise given by materialists is declared to be a censure, and their censure is said to be praise.
72 – 78.
“O materialists henceforth you are yourselves, and we are ourselves. You are devoted to worldly prosperity and sensual enjoyments and we are devoted to Nārāyaṇa. There can be no intercourse whatever between you and us. You are servants of the senses but we are servants of Vishnu.”
- 1. Baidala-vṛtti — “Cat-like observance” concealing one's malice or evil designs under the garb of piety or virtue.
The allusion is to a characteristic story of a cat which after gaining the confidence of rats by show of assumed piety then begins eating them by carefully preying on the stray ones.
Manu gives the following definition of a Baidala-vratika —
“One who vaunts his piety by brandishing the flag of Dharma who is always malicious and who is a religious hypocrite, deceiver of the world, fierce as a beast and a traducer of all: is known as a Baidalavratika.”
- 2. Baka-vṛtti — "Crane-like conduct" = religious hypocrisy. The reference is to the crane which stands dead-still on one leg watching the fish passing by till a big one passes, then it suddenly pounces upon it.
Manu defines a Bakavratika thus: “
He is Dvija (twice-born) acting like the crane who (appearing like a yogi in contemplation) has a downward look, who is false and cruel, who is always intent on securing his own interest, who is a rogue and who is falsely modest.
- 3. For example in the daily fire-offerings oblations are made to Indra, Agṇi, Soma, Prajāpati, Rudra etc.
- 4. This is a very popular verse and is recited before most ritual activities.
- 5. The sacrificial altar or Balī-pīṭha is situated beside the flag-pole – dhvaja-stambha, when circumambulating a temple one should not cross between the deity and the altar but walk around it.
- 6. Śabda-śāstra — delighting in merely intellectualising rather than practicing the doctrines.