Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nyasa Dasakam

Swami Sri Desikan has blessed us with many granthams on the doctrines of NyAsam or Prapatthi . One of the most substantive and short sthuthi on the subject of NyAsam consists of ten verses and is known as NyAsa Dasakam . Because of the importance of this work as the distilled essence of the principles of NyAsam and the method of performance of NyAsam , Sri VaishNavAs recite NyAsa Dasakam at their homes during their daily aarAdhanam for Sriman NaarAyaNan .
Sri NyAsa Dasakam is associated with the Prapatthi that Swami Sri Desikan performed at the sacred feet of Kanchi VaradarAjan . The topics covered are :

(1) The method of performing nyAsam or Bhara SamarpaNam
(2) the five limbs of nyAsam
(3) the method of enacting sAthvika thyAgam
(4) his prayer to the Lord for moksham at the end of his life on His earth
(5) his prayer for the blessings of service to the Lord during his life on His earth
(6) his appeal for the Lord's grace for tolerating any sins committed during his days as a prapannA .

Swami Sri Desikan elaborated further the glories of the doctrines of nyAsam in his other granthams such as Sri nyAsa vimsathi , Sri nyAsa tilakam , SaraNAgathi deepikai , Adaikkala patthu , mummaNik kovai , Anjali vaibhavam , Abhaya pradhana sAram , Rahasya sikhAmaNi and in his magnum opus , Srimadh Rahasya Traya Saaram . The significance of nyAsa dasakam however is due to the clarity and brevity with which our AchAryan summarized in just ten slokAs , the essence of nyAsam or bhara samarpaNam .

SlOkam 1

aham madhrakshaNabharO madhrakshaNa palam tathA |
na mama SripathErevEthyAthmAnam nikshipEth bhudha: ||
A viveki ( one with disrininating intellect ) should surrender at the Lord's feet his AthmA (svarUpa samarpaNam ) , the responsibilities for his protection ( Bhara samarpaNam ) and the fruits of that protection ( pala samarpaNam ) . He should performbhara nyAsam in this manner and understand that his AthmA ,protection and the fruits of such protection does not belong tohim , but only to Sriman NaarAyaNan.
SlOkam 2

nyasyAmakinchana: Sriman anukUlOanyavarjitha: |
viswasa prArthanApUrvam AthmarakshAbharam thvayi ||
Oh my Master ! Sriman-NaarAyanA ! I surrender at Your lotus feet the total responsibilities for my protection . I have no other means . I will perform only the duties that please You ( AnukUlya sankalpam ). I will not transgress the codes of conduct prescribed by You in Your sAstrAs ( PrAthikUlya varjanam ) . I am totally unfit for pursuit of any paths of deliverance ; hence I stand before You with utter humility about my helplessness ( kArpaNyam ) . I have total and enduring faith in Your coming to my protection ( MahA visvAsam ) and I entrust my protection entirely to you with this prayerful appeal ( Gopthruva VaraNam ) . Here Swami Sri Desikan performs prapatthi with its five limbs .
SlOkam 3

SwAmI svasEsham svavasam svabharathvEna nirbharam |
svadhattha svadhiyA svArtham svasmin nyasyathi mAm svayam ||
Srima NaarAyaNan is the supreme Lord of all . As His bonded servant , I am completely under His control . He blessed me with the knowledge about Himself out of His own accord. He has accepted me as His responsibility for protection. He has thus removed all my worries about my protection with that gift of knowledge. The fruits of my protection belong entirely to Him . He frees me from any connection to the fruits resulting from His protection out of His own free will and accepts me .
In this slOkam , Swami Sri Desikan refers to his performance of Saathvika thyAgam constituted by its three parts : (1) Karthruva thyAgam (2) mamathA thyAgam (3) pala thyAgam .

SlOkam 4

Sriman abheeshta Varada tvAmasmi saraNam gatha: |
yEdhaddEhAvasAnE mAm tvadh paadham prApaya svayam ||
Oh my Lord who is always with Your consort ! Oh Master who is hailed as Varadhan because of Your disposition to grant all the boons that Your devotees ask for ! I have now performed bhara nyAsam at Your sacred feet . Please grant me the boon of reaching Sri Vaikuntam at the end of my stay on this earth and perform nithya kaimkaryam there for You .
SlOkam 5

tvacchsEshathvE sthiradhiyam tvath prApthyEka prayOjanam |
nishiddha kAmyarahitham kuru mAm nithya kinkaram ||
Oh VaradarAjA ! I am a prapannan at Your holy feet. I am firm of thought about my status as Your servant . That thought will never leave me. My mind is not seeking any fruits other than the enjoyment of Your limitless auspicious attributes. Please bless me not to engage in any acts forbidden by Your sAsthrAs . Please grant me the boon of uninterrupted service to you , while on Your earth . All of this will not happen without Your dayA . Please bless me !
SlOkam 6

dEvi bhUshaNa hEthyAdhi jushtasya bhagavamsthava |
nithyam niraparAdhEshu kaimkaryEshu niyunkshva mAm ||
Oh my Lord ! You are served endearingly by Your beloved consorts. Your AbharaNams and Ayudhams serve You by association with Your auspicious body . I am deeply desirous of performing eternal service to You , who is accompanied by Your dEvis , weapons and AbharaNams . Please therefore bless me with the duties that are dear to Your heart and accept them .
SlOkam 7

mAm madheeyam cha nikilam chEthanAchEthanAthmakam |
svakaimkaryOpakaraNam Varadha sveekuru svayam ||
Oh Lord VaradarAjA ! Please accept out of the fullness of Your heart myself , all that is mine and my kaimkaryam . Please make me an instrument of Your kaimkaryam and have the services to You done by Yourself through me. In this effort , please use all that is " mine" ( my wife , my children , my house , my garden and all other property ) . I have nothing left to do , nor even the power to place any thing at Your disposal since they - my Self , my worldly properties-- are already Yours .
SlOkam 8

tvadEka rakshyasya mama tvamEva KaruNAkara |
na pravarthaya pApAni pravrutthAni nivarthaya ||
Oh Lord VaradhA , the ocean of Mercy ! There is no one except You to protect me. Please grant me the boon not to commit anymore sins . Please also destroy out of Your limitless compassion all the sins that I have accumulated so far .
SlOkam 9

akruthyAnAm cha karaNam kruthyAnAm varjanam cha mE |
kshamasva nikhilam dEva PraNathArthihara prabhO ||
Oh VaradarAjA known for destroying the samsAric sufferings of Your dear devotees! Your power has no limits. You are capable of executing whatever You desire. I have transgressed the injunctions of Your sAsthrAs; I have abandoned the karmAs prescribed by You in those sAsthrAs . Please forgive all of these trespasses of mine and protect me . The power of Your pardon alone can destroy my sins .
SlOkam 10

SrimAn niyatha panchAngam madhrakshaNa bharArpaNam |
acheekarath svayam svasmin athOhamiha nirbhara : ||
Oh Lord VaradarAjA always in the company of PerundEvi ThAyAr ! YOU have YOURSELF executed the bhara nyAsam for me at Your sacred feet . You have completed my prapatthi in its entirety with its five limbs . You have accepted now the responsibilities for my protection . I am therefore freed of any worries about my protection and lead my life as a prapannA with peace and tranquility .
With this slOkam , Swami Sri Desikan brought to a conclusion , the sAthvika thyAgam that he commenced in the third slOkam of nyAsa dasakam


kavithArkika simhAya kalyANa guNasAlinE |
SrimathE VenkatEsAya vEdhAntha guravE nama: ||
Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan
The subject of SaraNAgathi is a vast one. One of the most moving and beautiful summary of SaraNAgathi is housed in Swami Desikan's NyAsa Dasakam. This magnificent work has ten slOkams, which are rich in meaning for the SaraNAgathi literature. From the height of his Ubhaya -VedanthA perspective, our most merciful AchAryA has blessed us with the distilled essence of the doctrine of SaraNAgathi.

We recite it daily because of its terse brilliance, depth of allusions to NammAzhwAr's paasurams and the need to reflect upon the meaning of each of the words that Swami Desikan has chosen to assemble this garland of exquisite fragrance divine!

Any discussion on the subject of SaraNAgathi can benefit from its start with the ten inspired and inspiring verses of Swami Desikan.

He has blessed us many other works on SaraNAgathi to help us understand the procedure related to and the actual performance of Prapatthi. This sacred grantham was composed by Swami Desikan during the occasion of his performance of Prapatthi at the lotus feet of Sri VaradarAjan (pEraruLALan ) of KanchIpuram .

The ten slokams comprising this short sthothra grantham covers the following topics:
1. The method of performing SaraNAgathi ( prapatthi, Bhara SamarpNam or Aathma NikshEpam ) -
2. The five limbs of SaraNAgathi
3. The method of performing Saatvika thyAgam
4. Prayer for the boon (varam ) of Moksham from the king of boon givers ( VaradarAjan )
5. Another prayer for the boon of kaimkarya Sri during the rest of the life after Prapatthi and
6. A moving appeal to forgive the trespasses and sins committed knowingly or unknowingly after Prapatthi.

This extraordinary scope of this sthothram on the most important subject necessitates us to recite it and to reflect on it daily during the occasion of the ThiruvArAdhanam for the Lord at our homes.

I will follow the commentary tradition established by my MaanasIka Guru, Sri Vankipuram Navaneetham SrirAma DesikAchar Swamy and the additional commentary made by Dr.V.N .Vedantha Desikan (VNV) in his brilliant work with the title of AazhwAr ThiruvuLLam.

Dr. V.N.V cites the paasurams of NammAzhwAr, which might have inspired Swami Desikan to make reference to them in his Sanskrit sthOthra grantham, NyAsa Dasakam. I will elaborate on these paasurams of NammAzhwAr to extend the commentary for a more detailed study of the ten slokams of NyAsa Dasakam. I will try to interlace the thoughts from other works of Swami Desikan to illustrate how our great AchAryA blessed us again and again to gain a clear and full understanding of the doctrines of SaraNAgathi as revealed by his predecessors.


aham madhrakshaNabarO madhrakshaNa palam tathA I
na mama SripathEvEthi aathmAnam nikshipEth bhudha : II

Here Swami Desikan points out the procedure to be adopted by one with discriminating intellect; such a person has grasped fully the essence of Tattva, Hitha and purushArthams at the sacred feet of a qualified AchAryA and is desirous of seeking Moksham through the act of Prapatthi. How does such a person perform Prapatthi? Swami Desikan divides the act of Prapatthi or SaraNAgathi into its three parts:

1. SvarUpa SamarpaNam
2. Bhara SamarpaNam
3. Pala samarpaNam.

Swami Desikan states that one has to surrender SvarUpam, RakshaNa bharam and RakshaNa palam at the lotus feet of the Lord and declare (anusandhAnam) without any shred of doubt that ,

(1) the Lord is the owner of his or her aathmA and that he or she is not an entity gifted with svathanthram/svarUpa samarpaNam

(2) The total responsibility to protect me is that of the Lord alone and that I have no role to play in that responsibility /bhara samarpaNam

(3) The fruit that results from protecting me also belongs to the Lord and Lord alone .I have no right to claim any of that fruit /pala SamarpaNam.

The terse statement of these three anusandhAnams are covered in the first paadham of this slOkam set in the Anushtup metre : aham na mama (SvarUpa SamarpaNam) , madh RakshaNa bhara: na mama ( Bhara samarpaNam) and tathA madh rakshaNa palam na mama ( pala SamarpaNam ) .

He completes the thought behind these three anusandhAnams in the second paadham of the slOkam with the decalration: "(Aham, madh rakshaNa bharam, tathA madh RakshaNa palam) SripathErEva, na mama ". This triad of samarpaNam is entirely controlled by the Lord and not by me is the way to perform prapatthi according to our AchAryA. He points out that this is how a vivEki (Bhudha : ) should surrender his aathmA at the lotus feet of the Lord (SripathErEva ithi budha: aathmAnam nikshipEth). This is the right royal way to perform Prapatti to gain the supreme boon of Moksham says Swami Desikan at the very outset of NyAsa Dasakam.

Dr. VedAntha Desikan translates this slokam as follows: "A refined and discerning person must surrender himself-- his aathmA, his protection and the fruit of his protection as the Lord's. They are all HIS and His will is carried out. Aathma -samrpaNam, Bhara-SamarpaNam and Pala-samarpaNam are thus carried out ".

Dr. VNV cites the following two paasurams of NammAzhwAr as context for the text of Swami Desikan:

1. ThiruvAimozhi 2.3.4: yenathAvi yaar? yaanAr? thantha nee kondAkkinayE !

Here NammAzhwAr engages in a dialog with SaraNyan. He says: O Lord! You have pervaded my soul (aathmA) and preside there. This is an ancient happening! My aathmA has been Yours from time immemorial. What a tragedy that I had mixed up things and had the deluded thinking that this aathmA, a property of Yours is mine. When I say now that I am surrendering MY aathmA at Your feet , I am committing aathmApahAram ( stealing of the object that is Yours and pretend that I am giving to You what is mine ) . Oh, My Lord! You indeed are the owner of this aathmA. You are the Lord of me and the aathmA. I am now cleared of my mix up about the ownership of the aathmA. How can I repay You for helping me out of my confusion?

Earlier in this pasuram, AzhwAr points out to the Lord in a mood of utter submission that he will surrender his aathmA to the Lord and Lord alone and asserts that the aathmA belongs to the Lord totally and he has no claims whatsoever on it. He says: "YenathAvi tanthu ozhindhEn ". He makes a statement thereafter," "ini meeLvathu yenpathu uNdO? ". AzhwAr states here that he has no thought whatsoever on reclaiming what he has just surrendered to the Lord as His property. This is SvarUpa samarpaNam at its best.

ThiruvAimozhi 8.1.10

Second Paaaadham: Yennyuirai aRavilai seythanan sOthi !
--- tamiyanEn PeriyavappanE !

Here the AzhwAr is supremely elated after svarUpa samarpaNam. In that mood of blissful joy , he says : You have granted Thy feet exclusively for my enjoyment . How can I repay You for Your mahOpakAram ? There is however one thing . My cherished possession is my aathmA . I now make a clean , unconditional sale of it to You . It is my gesture of gratitude for Your paramOpakAram . Oh Lord ! what is happening to You now that You have accepted my aathmA , which has always been Your property . You seem to have attained a special effulgence ( jyOthi ) as a result of accepting my svarUpa samarpaNam . Oh Great benefactor ! You have paid very little in this commercial transaction of mine . I sold you my aathmA ( svarUpam ) . The price paid by You is the enjoyment of Your lofty lotus feet . You are now beaming with joy over this transaction , where You have gained an upper hand .You have got back your property and you seem to be recalling with great happiness your statement in the GithA , J~nAni thu aathmA yeva matham " .You are considering me as Your aathmA . What a great fortune that befell me thru this SvarUpa samarpaNam ? Thus pours out our Kulapathi his sense of joy over the act of SvarUpa SamarpaNam .

These thoughts are captured by Swami Desikan in his first slOkam of NyAsa dasakam .

In the second slokam of NyAsa Dasakam , Swami Desikan addresses Sri VaradarAjan of Kancheepuram as" Sriman " as in Dvayam and salutes PerundEvi ThAyAr as well this way and performs his SaraNAgathi . He states unambigouously , " Sriman ! aathma rakshA bharam tvayi nyasyAmi". Swami Desikan reminds the Lord that he has laid the total responsibility of his protection at the feet of the Sarva Loka SaraNyan. The full slOkam is as follows:

nyasyAmyakinchana: Sriman aanukUlOnyavarjitha: I
visvAsa prArthanA pUrvam aathmarakshAbharam tvayi II

(Anvaya kramam): Sriman! anukUla: anya varjitha:
akinchana: visvAsa prArthanA pUrvam aathma rakshA
bharam tvayi nyasyAmi .

Swami Desikan brilliantly weaves in the five angAs of Bhara SamarpaNam in this slOkam first and then performs SaraNAgathi at the holy feet of PEraruLALan . This is the Saastraic way to perform SaraNAgathi with its five angAs . These five angAs are :

(1) aanukUlya Sankalpam
(2) PrAthikUlya varjanam
(3) KaarpaNyam
(4) MahA VisvAsam and
(5) gOpthruva VaraNam

1)AanukUlya sankalpam is covered by the word " anukUla: " in this slOkam .This refers to his vow to perform always deeds that please the Lord .

2)PrAthkUlya Varjanam is covered by the word " Anya Varjitha: " in the verse . PrAthikUlya varjanam relates to the vow of one performing Prapatthi that he will not engage in acts that cause displeasure to the Lord .

3)KaarpaNyam is connected to the word " akinchana: " in this verse. KaarpaNyam is a state of meekness and humility arising from the clear recognition that one has no skills or power to practise any upAyams to reach the Lord such as Bhakthi yOgam et al . This state is invoked by ALavandhAr in his famous sthothra rathna slOkam :

" na dharmanishtOsmi nachAthmavEdhi na bhakthimAn
tvadh SaraNAravindhO !
akinchanO ananyagathissaraNya tvadh paadha mUlam
saraNam prapadhyE " .

4)MahA VisvAsam is hinted by the words " VisvAsa " in this slOkam . Maha visvAsam is the total and unshakable faith in the thought that the Lord will protect the saraNAgathan without fail .

5)gOpthruva VaraNam is the request of the rakshaNam of one with a humble prayer . The words , " prArthanA pUrvam " connect to the fifth limb (angA ) of SaraNAgathi in this slOkam .

After observing SaraNAgathi with the above five angAs , Swami performs saraNAgathi with the statement , " Aathma rakshA bharam tvayi nyasyAmi". Thus the pancha anga bharanyAsam is practised by Swami Desikan througth this verse .

Swami addresses thus the kAruNya Raasi ( the embodiment of mercy and compassion ) presiding over VaaraNa sailam ( Hasthi Giri ) and performs his SaraNAgathi . Lord VaradarAjan was very dear to our AchAryan . He has saluted His SvarUpam elsewhere as " nithyam param sarvagatham susUkshmam nishpandhanandhathu mayam bhavatha: SvarUpam " .

With the above moving salutation , Swami Desikan recognizes
the Bhagavath SvarUpam of Lord VaradarAjan as eternal ( nithyam, superior to all tattvams (param ) , omnipresent (sarvagatham ) and capable of penetrating everywhere ( susUkshmam ) and of the form of unaltered bliss ( nishpandhanandhuathu mayam ) .

Before this Lord of anantha kalyANa guNams, Swami Desikan feels acutely his aakinchanyam and ananyagathithvam referred to by AlavandhAr earlier. The above two are the visEsha adhikArams of Prapatthi. After that acknowledgement of his deficiency, Swami performs his SaraNAgathi.

Aakinchanyathvanm refers to the lack of skills to follow the upAyams such as Bhakthi yOgam ; ananyagathithvam relates to the seeking of Moksham alone as the fruit of one's efforts and seeking Sriman NaarAyaNA alone as the one capable of granting that boon of Moksham .

The first two paasurams of adaikkala patthu of Swami Desikan, which are echoes in Tamil of the ten slOkams of NyAsa dasakam in Sanskrit deal with akinchanathvam and ananyagathithvam respectively.

Swami Desikan's whole life was devoted to advancing the key doctrine of Prapatthi housed in Bhagavadh RaamAnujA's SaraNAgathi Gadhyam and AlavandhAr's sthOthra rathnam. In the above cited 22nd slokam of SthOthra rathnam, AlavandhAr ( YaamunAcchaaryA ) describes himself as one bereft of dharma nishtai , aathma j~nAnam and Bhakthi at the Lord's lotus feet. He explains the reason for his saraNAgathi at the Lord's
Sacred feet as a direct consequence of these deficiencies.

AlavandhAr in turn took his cues from NammAzhwAr ( thruvaimozhi VaanamAmalai paasuram 5.7.1) and Thondardippodi's 25th Thrirumaalai paasuram ( nORRa nOnbilEn nuNNaRivilEn of NammAzhwar and ninlaNum batthanallEn of Thpondaradipodi AzhwAr ) ..

NammAzhwAr addresses ThOthAdhrinaathan of VaanamAmalai in his paasuram and cries out:

" O Lord ! I have not gained any distinction through pracise of karmaa or J~nAnA yOgA , which are precursors to the development of Bhakthi in one . I do indeed have Bhakthi for You , but it is far from the kind that results from the practise of Bhakthi yOgA . My bhakthi for You is of a restless and intensely passionate kind . This is not a kind of Bhakthi resulting from Bhakthi yOgA that leads to Moksham . That is why I have this dvarai or urgency . Oh my Lord seated on your mighty serpent aasanam at Srivaramangala Nagar , rich with lotuses growing in fertile paddy fields , take me into your fold as one who needs protection ."

NammAzhwAr states here that of all the four yOgAs leading to Moksham , he is not qualified or he is unable to succeed in the practise of Karma, J~nana or Bhakthi yOgams . He is left with only Prapatthi yOgam to reach his goal of Moksham . He has no other succor . Therefore he confesses , " Puhal onru illA adiyEn unnadikkeezh amarnthu puhundhEnE".

The basis for the hoary tradition of SaraNAgathi as the easy -to-practise and as a quick yielder of the fruit of Moksham is in the Lakshmi Tantram belonging to the PaancharAthrA texts. NammAzhwAr , Naathamuni, AalavandhAr , RaamAnujA and Swami Desikan followed this tradition . Lakshmi Tanthram says in this context :

" upAyaccha chathurthasthE prOktha: seegra paltara: pUrvE
traya upAyAsthE bhavEyu ramanOharA : , chathurthamAccharyan
yEvam upAyam saraNAsrayam " .

Lakshmi enlists the three yOgams --karma , J~nana and Bhakthi yOgams --first and discards them in favor of Prapatthi yOgam as seegra pala pradham ( quick to yield results ) . GeethAchAryan followed the same line of thought and described the three yOgams first and then in the very last chapter revealed prapatthi at his lotus feet as the fourth and most effective upAyam for one and all . The five limbs of prapatthi and the two visEsha adhikArams ( Aakinchanyam and ananyagathithvam ) were elaborated upon by our pUrvAchAryAs in general and Swami Desikan in particular .

This is the greatness of the second slOkam of NyAsa dasakam since it focuses on the five angAs and the two adhikArams of SaraNAgathi.

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan

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