An Overview Of Thooppul Pillai’s Tamil Prabandhams - 5
A significant Prabandham of 11 Paasurams in which Swami Desika gives a personal account of taking refuge at the feet of Lord Varadaraja of Aththigiri (Kancheepuram) is the next Prabandham in the series.
All critical aspects as regards Prapaththi are clearly brought out in this marquee Prabandham. This may be considered as the Tamil equivalent of the author’s hymn Nyasa Dasakam, addressing the same Lord.
In the first two Paasurams, two vital eligibility criteria for Prapaththi are laid down — ‘Aakinchanyam’, that is ‘helplessness’ and ‘Ananya-gathithvam’, which means ‘not seeking other gods’.
In the opening verse, Swami Desika draws an analogy from the Kakasura episode from Srimath Ramayanam to highlight the state of being helpless and says that similarly he took refuge at Varada’s feet. Here, he mentions that Kanchi is important among the seven holy cities that grant Moksham — the others being Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwaar), Kaasi, Avanthi (Ujjain) and Dwaaraka.
In the second verse, the author brings to the fore the fact that gods like Siva and Brahma are subject to the effect of Karma and prone to destruction. He adds, being aware of that, he sought refuge in Lord Varada who is ever compassionate and never separated from His Consort.
The third Paasuram categorically says that the Lord of Aththigiri grants all that is sought of Him to those who conform to the rules of the Varna and Asrama and approaches Him duly following the sayings in the Vedas and other works of the preceptors of our Sampradaya.
That Prapaththi is capable of bestowing all benefits is brought out in the next Paasuram. The Lord granted worldly pleasure and Moksham, as the case may be, to Kakasura, Vibhishana, Draupadhi, Kshthrabandhu, Kaalinga, Siva and Brahma, and Devas.
The defining feature of Prapaththi is its five-fold pre-requisite, and Swami Desika observes the same in the fifth Paasuram. These 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.
Athma Samarpanam, which is transferring the burden of the soul by entrusting the responsibilities with the Lord (நல் அடைக்கலமாய் அடைந்தேனே), wraps up the above five.
In the sixth Paasuram, the Acharya places himself before Lord Varada who is the saviour of those who performed Saranaagathi through one of the four methods — Swanishta (self-surrender), Ukthi Nishta (performing Prapathi by uttering the words of one’s Acharya), Acharya Nishta (included in the Prapathi done by one’s Acharya), Bhagavatha Nishta (included in the Prapathi done by a fully competent Bhagavatha).
Another crucial point is explained in the next verse. That is, Prapaththi ought to be done only once for a particular thing, lest, will tantamount to betrayal of Maha Viswaasam (full faith). Swami Desika says that, he attained the feet of Perarulaalan who, with His Abhaya Mudhra, appears to tell that It is enough to perform Prapathi just once.
How a Prapanna should conduct himself after Prapaththi is mentioned in the eighth Paasuram. Sri Desika avers that he wouldn’t forget the Lord’s words such as the Charama-Sloka, so that, Maha Viswaasam doesn’t diminish; knowledge, devotion and happiness increase; humility stays intact, etc.
In the ninth verse, the author says, he worshipped the feet of the Lord after getting rid of ignorance and obtaining clarity through the great works of the Azhwars and Acharyas that are the essence of the Vedas and Saasthras.
Exclusive Athma Samarpanam is observed in the penultimate Paasuram by Swami Desika, as he says that he drowned into the feet of kind Varada who is always with His Consort, has an exquisite form, ever merciful, epitome of knowledge, easy to access, omni-present, the Lord of the universe, performer of creation-protection-destruction.
The author concludes the Prabandham noting that Bhagavathas are those who held Lord Arulaala as the means as well as the end. The Prapathi has to be done only once while the fruits are permanent.
This Prabandham is similar to ‘Pallandu’ in Divya Prabandham in that it is also always recited first up whenever Desika Prabandham is begun in temples and at home. Hence, it is imperative to learn and by-heart it. Recitation, with the benefit of the knowledge of the meaning, will make it doubly delightful.
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