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Desika Darsanam - 21. Sri Nyasa Dasakam
Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar, Chennai.

Desika DarsanamWhole-hearted and absolute self surrender, variously known as Saranagathi, Prapathi or (Bhara) Nyasam, is a cardinal principle of the Sri Sampradaya. This, and the doctrine of devotion (Bhakthi Yoga), are the only possible means to attain the supreme goal - the Moksha.

Although there are no differences in principle between the two and the desired end or objective of both is salvation, the two means are fraught with some functional differences which do really matter a lot. Suffice it to say that simplicity, feasibility, flexibility and fast realization of the goal are some of the inherent advantages of Saranagathi that make it an overwhelmingly superior option as compared to loving devotion to the Lord.

Our Acharyas have, through their great works, stressed the vitality and efficacy of Saranagathi in no uncertain terms. Swami Desika, ever a faithful follower of tradition, has strained every sinew to establish the fact in his own inimitable style through almost all his philosophical and devotional works.

Therefore, it is evident that one cannot over-emphasise the importance of surrender and our great Acharya has dedicated three hymns to exclusively bring out the nuances and features of the great tool. They are: Nyasa Dasakam, Nyasa Vimsathi and Nyasa Thilakam.

Sri Nyasa Dasakam, the sthothra under review, comprises 10 slokas as its name indicates. The addressee of the hymn is Lord Varadaraja. Swami Desika, after performing Prapathi to the Lord of the Hasthi Giri, came up with this masterpiece which succinctly explains the salient features of Saranagathi. The method of surrender, its five parts, prayer to be blessed with the Moksha, prayer seeking kainkarya till then, imploring the Lord's forbearance and forgiveness for his sins, are some of the highlights of this hymn.

The nature, content and import of the sthothra make it a 'must-recite daily' for every Sri Vaishnavaite. That is the reason why it has been drafted into the Thiru Aradhana or the daily pooja procedure.

Enunciating the three vital parts of Prapathi in the opening sloka, Swami Desika thus says: "One who is in the know of things should submit at the Lord's feet: a) his self - called Swaroopa Samarpanam; b) the burden of protecting him - called Bhara Samarpanam and c) the fruits of the protection - called Phala Samarpanam. It is important, as he performs Prapathi for Moksha, that he realises that all the above three are no longer his but are that of Lord Sriman Narayana, the Consort of Sri."

In the next sloka, the five components of Bhara Nyasam are spelt out as our Acharya undertakes to observe these. Addressing the Lord with Lakshmi and encompassing those, he says:

"I am placing the responsibility of protecting me on You as:

The third sloka deals with the three kinds of sacrifices one must perform while doing things prescribed in the scriptures, such as Prapathi. They are known as Karthruthva Thyaagam - disclaimer as to the doer of the work, Mamathaa Thyaagam - disclaimer as to the behalf of the work and Phala Thyaagam - disclaimer as to the benefits arising out of the work. This would mean that it is He who does the work on His behalf and for His own benefit.

Putting forth a poignant prayer in the fourth verse, Swami Desika states, "O! Consort of Sri, grantor of desired boons (Abhishta Varada!), I have surrendered to You; Please lead me to Your feet when I am done with this body (after death)".

Sins can broadly be classified into two - things done which ought not to have been done (sins of commission) and things omitted to be done which ought to have been done (sins of omission). Our Acharya seeks forgiveness against these from the Lord. Apt use of the vocative "Pranathaarthi Hara" in this ninth sloka (given below) has to be savoured. The phrase means one who destroys the distress of His devotees.

அக்ருத்யாநாம் ச கரணம் க்ருத்யாநாம் வர்ஜநம் ச மே |
க்ஷமஸ்வ நிகிலம் தேவ ப்ரணதார்த்தி ஹர ப்ரபோ ||

There is no phala sruti as such for the hymn. Perhaps, because there cannot be anything greater than the Moksha which is the ‘ultimate’ that is sought through Prapathi. An interesting declaration by the author concludes this classic. Thus he announces: "Lord Varada Himself has, on His own accord, fulfilled my Bhara Nyasam with the five imperative components, at His feet. Hence I have become relieved of any concern/responsibility whatsoever, in this regard." A perfect finish to a path-showing hymn.

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Next in series: 22. Sri Nyasa Vimsathi, on December 23, 2007.

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