Some Well-defined Tenets Of Our Sampradaya
That Sriman Narayana is the Supreme Lord has been laid down in the sacred texts of the Vedas, Upanishads, the two great epics, Puraanas and Bhagavath Gita and unequivocally established by our preceptors like Aala Vandhaar, Bhagavath Ramanuja and Swami Desika, to name a few.
Further the Sanaathana Dharma, as the Vedic discipline is known as, has given pride of place to the Varna/Asrama Dharma stipulating and emphasising the Do’s and Do not’s for each sect. The four Varnas are Brahmana, Kshathriya, Vysya and Sudhra and the four Asramas are Brahmachrya, Gruhastha, Vaanaprastha and Sannyaasa.
One should, in this context, remember that the Vedas are but the voice of the Lord Himself and earnestly endeavour to adhere at least to the spirit of the same, if not strictly to the letter always, with reference to his Varna and Asrama.
We shall, in this Note, take a brief look at some of the important, well-defined tenets of our Sri Sampradaya. An unbroken, continuous lineage chain is the hallmark of our unique philosophy in which Sriman Narayana Himself is the first and foremost Acharya. The preachings passed through Mahalakshmi, Vishvaksena, Satakopa, Nathamunigal, UyyakKondaar, Manakkaal Nambi, Aala Vandhaar, Periya Nambi, Sri Ramanuja..., Swami Desika..., upto each one of us and will continue so forever.
There are three aspects, one or more of which connects the Acharya and Sishya. They are Samaasrayanam, Bhara Nyaasam and Grantha Kaalakshepam.
Samaasrayanam: It is quintessentially the performing of Pancha Samskaara – The Five Rites, by the Acharya. They are:
- Thaapa Samskaara: Embossing of the impressions of the Lord’s Chakra and Sankha on the right and left arms. This is to make us remember forever that we are subordinates to the Lord and enable us to identify ourselves with Daasathvam to Him.
- Pundra Samskaara: Wearing Dwaadasa Pundras (twelve Thirumans) at the specified places on our body, which is considered the abode of the 12 Vyuha forms of the Lord (Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudhana, Thrivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrishikesa, Padmanabha and Damodara). The 12 corresponding Thayars (Sri, Amruthothbhava, Kamala, Chandrasodhari, Vishnu Pathni, Vaishnavi, Vararoha, Harivallabha, Saarngini, Devadevika, Surasundhari and Mahalakshmi) are represented by the respective Sri Choornam. Vasudeva and Sarvaabhista Phalapradha constitute the additional Thiruman worn on the head over the main one on the forehead. One must salute these Lords with their Consorts daily after wearing the Thirumans.
- Naama Samskaara: Adding the suffix ‘Dasa’ to one’s name to enable him remember his subordination to the Lord and the Acharyas.
- Manthra Samskaara: Initiation into the three most important Manthra in our Sampradaya – Ashtaaksharam, Dhvayam and Charama Sloka – considered as Rahasya Thrayam.
- Yaaga Samskaara: Initiation into the procedure of Thiru Araadhanam to be performed daily.
A Brahmana (as also Kshathriya and Vysya) is known as ‘Dwija’ as he is considered to have two births, according to the Vedas – one, the actual birth and the other, at the time of Upanayanam which only affirms the ‘Brahmanathvam’. Similarly, ‘Vaishnavathvam’ is obtained only through Pancha Samskaaram.
Bhara Nyaasam: It is the doctrine of whole-hearted and absolute self-surrender to the Lord. Bhaara Nyasam, Prapathi and Saranaagathi are one and the same by which the Jivathma submits his soul, the burden of saving it and the reward for the act to the Lord Himself (Athma Samarpanam, Bhara Samarpanam and Phala Samarpanam). The knowledge of Thathva Thrayam – the Triple Truth – is very essential to understand the three Rahasyas mentioned earlier. They are: Chith (the sentient soul - Jivathma), Achith (the non-sentient material - non-living things) and Iswara (Paramaathma Sriman Narayana - the Supreme Lord).
The procedure of Prapathi consists of five parts (Angaas) and with the encompassing parcel (Angi), the submission of the burden of the soul is performed. They are:
- Aanukoolya Sankalpam: Commitment to do always only what will be pleasing to the Lord, as laid down in the Saasthras;
- Praathikoolya Varjanam: Commitment to desist from doing what will be displeasing to Him;
- Aakinchanyam: Clear consciousness of one’s destituteness or inability as regards anything and that he cannot, by his own effort, attain salvation;
- Mahaa Viswaasam:Absolute and unwavering faith in one’s redeemability through Him and that He alone can grant Moksha;
- Gopthruthva Varanam: Uttering one’s decision to take His safe refuge for salvation; and
- Athma Samarpanam: Transferring the burden of the soul by entrusting the responsibilities with Him.
Prapathi can be performed in three modes, namely, Swanishta (doing it oneself which only qualified persons can do); Ukthi Nishta (doing it through an Acharya by repeating the Manthras he utters) and Acharya Nishta (the Acharya doing it all on behalf of the disciple in his presence).
Grantha Kaalakshepam: Our preceptors have earmarked four important Sampradaya Granthas as imperative to be studied under an Acharya. They are: Sri Ramanuja’s Sri Bhashyam and Gita Bhashyam, Bhagavath Vishayam, being Commentary for Thiruvoymozhi and Swami Desika’s Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram. These are collectively known as Grantha Chathushtayams (The four works). One must strive to learn as many as possible, if not all of them.
Thus, the Guru-Sishya connection is established through the above deeds and it is the bounden duty of every Srivaishnava to identify himself with our Sampradaya. Those who already have had the privilege of Samaasrayanam and Bhara Nyaasam performed, should approach an Acharya and learn the philosophy-defining works, if not done already. And those who have not yet had the Samaasrayanam and/or Bhara Nyasam should have them performed at the earliest.
Acharyas are the cornerstones of our Sampradaya. Is there need for any proof when the Lord holds them in the same exalted pedestal as that of Himself?
Meet you in the next Note.
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