Śrīvacana Bhūṣaṇa | 6-10

6. Prapatti — Taking Refuge

51. When devotion reaches a certain stage, it [Prapatti] may become redundant.

52. And it may also induce one to attempt to nourish and sustain oneself.

Out of extreme devotion, one may like the Āḻvārs, do things which are not compatible, with Prapatti such as striving to obtain the Lord or turning away from Him when He delays in appearing.

Examples of this are Periyāḻvār Tirumoḷi 3.7.8 and Tiruvāymoḷi 6.2.2:

In the former, Periyāḻvār portrays a young woman who has lavishly beautified herself in the hope of attracting the Lord.

In the latter, Nammāḷvār speaks as a lady hurt by her lover’s delay in coming. When the lover (the Lord) does finally arrive she tells Him to go away, to go to his other ladies, so charming and enjoyable.

53. These conflicting attitudes may be seen with regard to the impact of the auspicious attributes, the divine weapons, the divine names and the sound of the divine flute.

The Supreme Lord is the same at all times, but the attitudes of the God-lovers are always fluctuating. At one time the divine attributes soothe and console and at other times they torment.

For example in Nacchiyār Tirumoḷi 8:3 Aṇḍāḷ felt compelled to sustain herself in her cherished Lover’s absence, by singing about His auspicious attributes.

Whereas Nammāḷvār’s mental agony is reflected in Tiruvāymoḷi 8-1-8 where he feels both tantalised and tormented by the Lord’s attributes.

54. When one looks at this, it appears to be like a son asking his father for a written undertaking of protection!

The essential relationship between jīva and Lord guarantees the lord’s protection;

thus, seeking assurances of protection from the Lord, is like a grown son asking his father for an insurance policy in regard to his upbringing, regardless of the fact that the father has already fulfilled his paternal duty without any prompting or compulsion.

A Prapanna who tries to compel God to save him through his importuning is guilty of hubris in that he expects God to be at his beck and call. Bargaining with God is impious, disloyal and insolent.

55. The peculiarity of this [Prapatti] is in not tolerating its being regarded as a ‘means’.

Prapatti is not to be taken as a means for attaining the Lord such as Bhakti, Jñāna or Karma Yogas.

56. Its adjunct is not tolerating anything other than itself.

Prapatti, unlike other means, such as Bhakti Yoga, does not have any adjuncts (aṅga) such as the personal effort of the aspirant and Scriptural sanction for such practice.

57. The upāya tolerates itself.

The Lord as the Ultimate Means and the End needs no assistance in Liberating sentient beings but has to tolerate these “indirect” means to His attainment such as Bhakti, Jñāna and Karma Yogas as well as the personal effort of the individual aspirants.

58. The other Upāyas tolerate both [a means and an end].

Bhakti Yoga etc. can accommodate both the theory of attainment and the practice of the aspirant.

59. This one tolerates neither [a means nor an end].

In respect of the Lord who is the Ultimate Means, both the means and the end are the same. Prapatti is a mere conveyor and thus does not accommodate any other ancillary means nor does it consider itself as a means at all.

60. Only knowledge of Self and non-refusal are necessary to obtain the results.

The question may be raised as to whether the supplicant need not possess some degree of merit, granting that Prapatti is not a means. The answer is that only two conditions are required for Prapatti, these are:

(1) a basic understanding and conviction that one is the sole servitor of the Lord, subject to His exclusive protection and

(2) to then refrain from obstructing the influx of the Lord’s Grace by remaining in a state of passive quiescence (apratiṣedha).

61. If this is not so, it would be a defect in the relationship [of the jīva to the Lord] and [the Lord’s] perfection.

Knowledge of the Self is knowledge of one’s being śeṣa to the Lord.

A śeṣa is something that exists solely to serve the purposes of another, an adjunctive. Everything in the universe exists to serve the purposes of the Lord who is the substantive or Śeṣi.

Thus, the only requirement for Salvation is that the jīva resumes its natural disposition toward the Lord, any other requirement would be a fault and not a virtue.

62. Under the erroneous impression of warding off calamity [through self-effort in achieving Salvation], one should not cause calamity by trying to avoid it.

Apprehending the enormity of the problem of Mokṣa on the one hand and the danger of re- immersion in the ocean of Samsāra on the other, one may out of desperation try to bolster one’s chances of Mokṣa by resorting to other means such as propitiation of the Lord.

By doing this one will be courting a greater danger — the effacement of one’s true nature of exclusive dependence upon the Lord.

63. Protection simply requires submission to being protected.

64. This activity [submission to protection], which is a conscious choice, cannot be considered a means since —

(a) it is common to all means;
(b) only sentient beings can undertake it
(c) it is valid even in attainment and
(d) it does not contradict the [jīva’s] essential nature.

The Lord is said to await the desire of the subject for His protection — rakṣyāpekṣam pratīkṣate — the desire on the part of the individual struggling in Samsāra of course is nothing more than a realisation of the futility of one’s efforts and simply surrendering to the Lord. This modus operandi is the most suitable because of the above reasons.

65. The reason why a sentient being is different from the insentient is that [the sentient being] may constantly be mindful of the assistance given by the upāya (the Lord), and the [awareness of] enjoyment in union [with the Lord].

66. In the text — “What are you thinking of?....” His [the Lord’s] thinking is the means of attainment.

The reference is to Tirumangai Āḻvār’s Periya-Tirumoḷi 2.7.1, wherein the Āḻvār, playing the role of a mother, is pondering the helpless condition of her daughter, who is enraptured by the Lord: —

“A girl whose face is like the shining, brilliant moon, she who was born of the nectar of the lilies, a charming girl of the Koḷḷi hills, even though she knew that this Goddess (Lakṣmī) is seated on your chest, she became enamoured [of you], tell me, O Lord, what have you been thinking in your mind, about this girl who has made supplication at Your feet?”

67. That, indeed, is at all times.

If neither surrender (Prapatti) nor personal merit (punya) is considered as a means to salvation then what is?

The answer is that the Lord is eternally mindful of the jīva at all times and it is this very mindfulness that is the Divine Grace which bestows salvation.

68. When one’s attitude has changed, it becomes operative.

When the jīva finally gives up the idea of self-redemption and metaphysical struggling, then the Lord’s Grace comes flooding down.

69. Nañjiyar has said: — “The refuge at the moment of death is to give up the concern about refuge!”

Once when Nañjiyar was visiting a sick Śrī Vaiṣṇava on his death-bed, he was asked: — “What is our refuge at the time of dying?”

The Jīyar responded that total cessation of concern about refuge would afford the requisite conditions for the operation of Salvific Grace! Sentient beings should be passively dependent toward the Lord, just like the insentient.

70. He [the Lord] is the one who benefits, the one who causes the union and the one who enjoys upon unification.

The individual cetana is not the real beneficiary through the act of Salvation, it is the Lord who, as Proprietor of everything reaps the joy of reclamation and enjoyment of the lost property restored to Him.

7. Dependence on the Lord (paratantrya).

71. The result of [the realisation of] dependence on the Lord (paratantrya) is the cessation of self-effort; the result of acknowledging one’s being an attribute (Śeṣatva) is the cessation of self-enjoyment.

Self-effort and self-enjoyment are inherent in the individual jīva fully capacitated by the lord for a career of activity, by virtue of its ability to act and to enjoy the rewards of its actions.

These two can only be eliminated when one realises one’s exclusive dependence upon the Lord (paratantrya) and that one exists solely to serve the purposes of the Lord (ananyārha Śeṣatva).

When these two characteristics are fully realised and actualised then the selfish imperatives of self-effort and self-enjoyment can be redirected into selfless service of the Lord and the world without any tinge of personal egoism and desire for reward.

72. Then, the result of [the cetana’s] continued self-exertion is the working out of the Supreme one’s purpose, the fruit of enlightenment is The Lord’s pleasure.

It may be asked whether it is possible for the embodied jīva to give up all action? —

the reply is that all actions performed should be done to further the Lord’s own intentions (loka-saṅgraha), the enjoyment of attaining the Lord is His own enjoyment.

te prāpnuvanti māmeva sarva bhūta hite ratāḥ — Gītā 12:4
Intent on the welfare of all beings — they come to Me alone.

8. Attributes of the jīva

73. Knowledge and bliss are also attributes [of the jīva], but its singular distinguishing characteristic is servitude (dāsyam).

Consciousness or sentience distinguishes the jīva from insentient matter. Knowledge and bliss are characteristics common to both the jīva and the Lord.

Servitude distinguishes the jīva from the Lord just as Lordship distinguishes the Lord from both the sentient and the insentient.

74. This, indeed, is not imposed [upon the jīva] from the outside.

In other words it is natural to the conditioned entity. Every person in the world stands in the relationship of servitor to someone or something else:

Parents to their children, politicians to their voters, workers to their bosses, shopkeepers to their customers, doctors to their patients, pet lovers to their pets, farmers to their animals etc.

75. Independence and allegiance (Śeṣatva), to another [other than the Lord] are antithetic [to the quintessential nature of the jīva].

The twin convictions of personal independence and the desire to seek self-fulfilment by serving another for personal gain is antithetic to the quintessential ontological nature of the jīva.

76. Independence negates dependence [upon the Lord] allegiance to another obstructs servitude to That One [Kṛṣṇa].

As long as we are convinced that we are independent and capable of achieving success and happiness by our own efforts we will be incapable of taking refuge in Kṛṣṇa.

And as long as we are convinced that happiness can be achieved by serving another we will never have the time to serve the Lord.

77. When the bonds caused by the sense of individuality (ahaṁkāra) are broken, the eternal name of the jīva is “servant” (adiyēn).

Seeing that it is impossible while living in the relative world to refrain from serving others, the skilful way to do this is to realise one’s ontological position and then adjust one’s perception: —

“He who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me;
I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me”. Gītā 6 :30

So by seeing Kṛṣṇa in everything and everyone then our service to them will be transformed into service to God.

9. Self-identity

78. Identifying with reference to one’s village, family and the like is cause for calamity.

Naming oneself with reference to one’s village, family, caste or profession is a mark of the ahaṁkāra — deluded sense of individuality and self-pride, and veils the essential attribute of the jīva which is servitude; hence after initiation all Vaiṣṇavas are given a name of the Lord with the suffix dāsa (m) or dāsi (f) — meaning “servant of God”.

79. “Ekāṅta (one who is totally dedicated) should be defined”.

There is a verse in the Pañcarātra Agama-s prohibiting the Prapanna from identifying in this way — to the supplicant the Lord Viṣṇu is everything, family village, clan and all else.

10. Upāya and self-effort.

80. As to upāya (method), one should be like the Goddess, (Sītā) Draupadī and Tiruk- kanna-mangai-āṇḍān; as to the upeya (goal), one should be like the younger Lord (Lakṣmana), Periya-vudaiyār (Jatāyu), Piḷḷai Tiru-Naraiyur Araiyar and Cintayanti.

81. The difference between the Goddess Sītā and Draupadī [was that] one had power and the other was powerless.

Sītā, being imprisoned by Rāvaṇa had the capability to liberate herself with her own extra- ordinary powers but she chose not to employ them. Instead she told Hanuman that it was befitting a warrior of the calibre of Rāma to come to Lanka to rescue her.

Draupadī on the other hand while being humiliated by Duhśāsana was powerless to protect herself. She simply submitted to the Grace of Śrī Kṛṣṇa who then extended her sari and prevented her from being stripped naked in the assembly hall.

82. The Goddess (Sītā) relinquished her power, Draupadī relinquished her modesty Tiru-kaṇṇa-maṅgai Aṇḍān relinquished his self-effort.

Aṇḍān one day observed two servants fighting over their dogs:

The one man had struck the other man's dog after his own dog was injured in a dog-fight. The owner of the struck dog retaliated by killing the other servant and then himself committing suicide.

Aṇḍān concluded that if an owner of a dog will go to that extent to protect his dog, there is no limit to what the Lord will do to protect the jīva. Thus, Aṇḍān forthwith renounced all self-effort toward salvation.