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Swami Desika Master of Analogy - 4 (November 15, 2008)

100 Gems from Srimath Rahasyathraya Saaram
S. Padmalatha, Chennai.

Analogical Gems 16 to 20

16. How those serving in the queen's quarters are treated indulgently by the king (Parikara Vibhaga Adhikaaram):

அந்தப்புர பரிஜந விஷயத்திற் போலே

Swami Desika, while establishing the fact that Prapathi is the means to obtain any end as desired by the Prapanna, lists five objections that might possibly arise and proceeds to rip into shreds every single one. The first one is How could the Lord bear to tolerate our approach we the sinners, who commit innumerable sins per second? This indeed seems to be remarkable but there is a simple explanation.

Since we surrender to the Piraatti first, we become the object of Her recommendation (Purushakaaram) to the Lord to forgive our sins. Hence we are treated leniently by the Lord just like the king who has a soft corner for those working in the queen's quarters and is tolerant towards their misdeeds. Taking it further, even though the Lord is Omniscient, He is said to be ignorant of our sins! Such is the glory of Piraatti's recommendation. How could He refuse to pay heed to Piratti's words? So we can boldly approach Him for surrender even though we are blatantly undeserving of his mercy.

17. How a great emperor is easily satisfied by a small offering (Parikara Vibhaga Adhikaaram):

அல்ப வ்யாஜத்தாலே வசீகார்யனான ஸுஜந ஸார்வபௌமனைப் போலே

This analogy pertains to the third objection, that is, how the Lord, who is complete in Himself, without wanting for anything, could be wooed by the simple act of Prapathi? It is true that there is nothing unattainable for Him and hence He does not need any favours from anyone.

But, just like an amiable emperor who is pleased with any small offering from his subjects, the Lord is gratified that we performed the simple act of Prapathi which is the only excuse needed for Him to shower his blessings upon us. Here the emphasis is on the amiability of the emperor since if he were a cruel one, there is no question of him being pleased by humble offerings. Sriman Narayana's quality of Mercy is the only shelter for us which transforms the simple act of Prapathi into a great deed befitting the fruit thereof, namely Moksha.

18. How the king while feeding his son feeds the pet parrot alongside (Parikara Vibhaga Adhikaaram):

குமாரனோடு ஒக்க திர்யக்கான கிளிக்குப் பாலூட்டும் கணக்கிலே

The fifth objection is how the Supreme Lord (who is discerning), could grant the wishes of all Prapannas irrespective of their qualifications in terms of birth, knowledge etc.? The answer is poignant. The Lord feels that He is obliging Himself by helping His beloved Prapannas obtain their desire. When the beneficiary is self, where is the question of looking into the antecedents of the seekers? Swami Desika cites the anecdote from Srimath Ramayana, wherein it is stated that when Sri Rama left Ayodhya for Sri Vaikuntam he took all the living things of Ayodhya with him be they animals, plants or trees!

The analogy here is how the king while feeding his son with sweet, nourishing milk, extends the same privilege to a mere bird, the pet parrot. Similarly, while granting Moksha, Sriman Narayana does not differentiate between a highly qualified, scholarly Brahmin and an ignorant animal as long as they are Prapannas!

19. How a citizen offers his belongings to the king even though everything automatically belongs to the king (Saanga Prapadhana Adhikaaram):

தன்னுடைய த்ரவ்யத்தை ராஜாவுக்கு உபஹாரமாகக் கொடுப்பாரைப் போலே

This analogy has to be studied carefully since it could be misleading otherwise. While the citizen need not necessarily feel or realise that what he offers to the king is the king's property itself, the person who is performing prapathi has to mandatorily realise that the soul is the property of the Lord.

Some people were of the view that Sri Alavandhaar regretted his Prapathi and thus he spake in his Sthotra Rathnam (53) that "when I know I and mine are Yours how and with what can I surrender unto You?"

Swami Desika refutes this surmise strongly and says that the inner meaning of Sri Alavandhaar's sloka is that, if a person proceeds to offer his soul to the Lord without fully understanding its nature and thinking of it as his own, then he is not absolved from the crime of soul-theft. To explain it more clearly, we are all guilty of theft if we think that our soul belongs to us instead of the Lord. If we perform Prapathi with this misconception, it will not be effective. It is like a person offering his land, house etc., to the king, who is actually the real owner of all the property in his kingdom.

So, the point is, a Prapanna should reflect and realise before Prapathi that he is returning the property (the soul) that he had misappropriated, to the rightful owner (the Lord).

20. How piercing an object with an arrow is accomplished in one second by an expert archer (Saanga Prapadhana Adhikaaram):

அநேக வ்யாபார ஸாத்யமான தாநுஷ்கனுடைய லக்ஷ்ய
வேதார்த்தமான பாண மோக்ஷம் க்ஷண க்ருத்யமாகிறாப் போலே

One may wonder as to how all the components of Prapathi and the actual performance could be deemed to be done in one second as portrayed in the Sasthras.

To clear this doubt, Swami Desika proffers a fitting analogy. Piercing an object with an arrow involves various steps like fixing up the object, determining the point of piercing, testing the bowstring, choosing the arrow, taking aim, etc. But an experienced archer can do it all in a trice, courtesy perfection attained through years of practice. Similarly, the actual Prapathi is completed in a second, while the pre-requisites and the five components (Angas) have been included in the single thought process as encompassed in the three Manthras for performing Prapathi.

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Next in series: Gems 21 to 25, on December 15, 2008.

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