Eligibility For Practising Prapaththi Is ‘Inclusive’, And How
We have seen earlier in these columns that Bhakthi and Prapaththi are the two means of attaining Moksha, the ultimate destination. Bhakthi Yoga is extremely arduous, requires immense knowledge and its fruition takes infinite time. Further, it can be practised only by those born in privileged sects of the Varna-Asrama hierarchy. On the other hand, Prapaththi is easy to perform, does not have knowledge as a factor and gives the desired result at the end of the present life itself. Also, it has been prescribed that anyone, irrespective of the Varna or Asrama, can perform it.
Now, this leads us to a question: Does this mean that there are absolutely no regulations in determining the eligibility criteria? The Saasthras have laid down certain general protocols for one who is desirous of performing Prapaththi. These are, of course, simple to observe and are as follows:
- He must be unqualified for Bhakthi Yoga; this could be owing to lack of the requisite knowledge, inability to go through the demanding process, or impatience in achieving the objective — Paramapadham, the abode of Sriman Narayana. This is known as Aakinchanyam.
- He must not deem anything else as the goal (Ananya Gathithvam).
- He must not seek the blessings of any other god (Ananya Gathithvam).
The above points are specific to Prapaththi-Yoga aspirants. There are a few other virtues which are common to both sections, as given below:
- Desire for the goal.
- Knowledge in so far as pursuing the procedure.
- Commitment and ability in following the rules.
It must be noted that those who are eligible to observe Bhakthi Yoga but cannot stand the delay in its results can also undertake Prapaththi.
Swami Desika deals with the subject in the tenth chapter (Prapaththi Yogya Adhikaram) of Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram, and summarises it in the following Paasuram:
|அந்தணர் அந்தியர் எல்லையில் நின்ற அனைத்துலகும்|
|நொந்தவரே முதலாக நுடங்கி அனன்னியராய்|
|வந்தடையும் வகை வண்தகவேந்தி வருந்திய நம்|
|அந்தமில் ஆதியை அன்பர் அறிந்து அறிவித்தனரே.|
|(Adhikaara Sangraham - 18)|
“The endless, first-cause Lord of ours (Sriman Narayana) has an unassailable compassion and intent in order to save us all. Our Acharyas have learnt (from their Gurus) and imparted to us the way to attain the Lord (Prapaththi). That is, for everyone in the whole world, irrespective of caste — all inclusive from Brahmana to the last in the hierarchy — who are afflicted by Samsara, unqualified in other means, do not seek any other goal or god.”
Sri Aala Vandhar provides a perfect example, espousing the relevance and practicability of Prapaththi, as he expresses his inability to pursue Bhakthi Yoga, in the following Sloka:
|ந தர்ம நிஷ்டோஸ்மி ந ச ஆத்மவேதீ ந பக்திமாந் த்வச்சரணாரவிந்தே!|
|அகிஞ்சந: அநந்யகதி: சரண்ய! த்வத் பாதமூலம் சரணம் ப்ரபத்யே!!|
|(Sthothra Rathnam - 22)|
“I have not observed Karma Yoga, nor Jnana Yoga; Have not pursued Bhakthi Yoga by meditating upon Your lotus feet. O my sole refuge! I surrender unto Your feet.”
The most important underlying principle in Prapaththi is ‘Maha Viswasam’ (faith) in the means and the result. Along with this, Aakinchanyam (inability) and Ananya Gathithvam (Not seeking any other god), which have been explicitly stated, form part of the simple protocols considered as pre-requisite for performing Prapaththi.
Meet you in the next Note.
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