Essence of the Three Secrets | 14.

The Āchārya’s Role

The Āchāryas have come in the line of the supreme Āchārya, Lord Nārāyaṇa. Śrī Vaiṣṇava sampradāya has come in the Āchārya paramparā beginning with the Lord. Nobody except these people know the significance of the three Secrets, as lion's milk.

The Āchāryas, who briefly meditate upon the significance of the Three Secrets, glow with good qualities that please the Lord. They should test the capacity of the disciples and then initiate them in the mantras without a third party listening to it.

People who are not worthy, who have no faith or who are ungodly should not be initiated in them. Our earlier Āchāryas never gave initiation in the mantras for money, fame, show or pride.

These Āchāryas teach as follows:

The ’Jīvātmā' has neither birth nor death. He is apart from the body and the senses. Apart from Matter and sentient beings, there is the Lord who is the Indwelling Universal.

The Jīvātmā has none to save him except the Lord:

“I, who have been bound to this earthly life till now, should be made free of entering the womb of a mother. You have to save me by granting me Your feet.'"

As the Āchārya guides thus, the aspirant must surrender at Nārāyaṇa’s feet through the line of gurus.

Then he must follow the instructions of the Āchārya and remain in the unswerving hope that the Lord will never abandon him. After prapatti he should avoid sinful acts and spend his time doing good deeds.

Such would be the teachings of the Āchārya in a nutshell.

The Disciple’s Duties

The Āchāryas reveal important factors as if showing a poor man the hidden treasure in his own backyard. For bestowing such priceless help, the disciple should have deep gratitude towards his Āchārya. He must not deceive him.

This is laid down only because if he deceives his Āchārya, others will blame him. But it does not mean that by acting so, the disciple was rendering any great help to his Āchārya.

In the same way the disciple should understand what the śāstras say of things to be offered to the Āchārya or saluting him:

Because the śāstras say the Āchārya should teach his disciple with kindness and not desire for anything, it should not be interpreted that the disciple is expected to give gifts.

It has been reiterated in many works that one can never recompense an Āchārya. It is only for the peace of mind of the disciple and his devotion that reference has been made to what the disciple gives, not that he can ever recompense the teacher.

All that the disciple can do for his Āchārya is as follows:

He should not go against the teachings of the Āchārya and render them useless. He must not waste what he has learnt as the cawing of the crow.

These teachings should not be used for pursuing a career for earning money. If he does so, the disciple would be laughed at by others.

These teachings should not be spoilt as a garland of flowers in the hands of a monkey. One must guard them and not teach them to others who have evil qualities like jealousy.

The disciple must realise that he was born blind and the Āchārya gave him sight that would enable him reach the line of the Nityā Sūrīs, and so he can never adequately recompense him. He must be happy that he has entered the line that begins with Śrī Nārāyaṇa.

When the disciple transmits the significance of the Three Secrets which are a treasure to the proper person as described earlier,

he must reveal the line of Āchāryas, teach the disciples of the greatness of the sterling truths he had learnt from them and make them realise his gratitude to his Āchāryas.

One who speaks of these inlaid truths in the Vedanta śāstra must follow the Sampradāya (spiritual tradition). If one learns them from books, or by overhearing when hiding on the other side of the wall and then speaks of them, it would be akin to wearing stolen ornaments, and he may have to teach the truths to all and sundry.

It is a sin to learn a mantra by hoodwinking others, on the sly or from a book. Even when he has learnt it the proper way and yet does not praise or name his Āchārya when initiating others, his disciple may lose faith in him. If he does not speak of his guru's greatness, his wealth and lifespan will diminish.

If he gets a good disciple, but will not initiate him, he is liable to be condemned as greedy:

Just as the holder of a lamp, if asked by the king to do an errand, hands over the lamp to the right person, when a good disciple appears, he must give initiation.

Even then he must reveal his Āchārya first and then pass on what he has learnt:

Some great persons like Periyāḻvār had gained supreme intelligence by the grace of the Lord. Yet they said it was gained from good Āchāryas and not self-revealed. If one shows such humility, everyone will gain respect.

Watching a disciple who is full of gratitude and aspiration, the Āchārya will have a sense of fulfilment.

Conclusion

Starting with Introduction, in the course of thirty-one chapters Vedanta Deśika has spoken of what is needed to sustain our sampradāya. He gave a final note in the Adhikāra. I will speak of it and bring this precious work to a close.

All the explanations noted down so far must be learnt in detail with humility, devotion and faith from someone who belongs to the Ācārya Paramparā and is worthy.

The teachings must be acted upon with discipline to attain clarity.

The dharmas spoken of in the śāstras are subtle. It is difficult to understand them well. The Rishis have learnt the subtle nuances with great effort. Striving hard, they delete the mistakes and uncover the truth.

Those who follow the path laid out by such Āchāryas of earlier times, need not fear hell and other furies:

They are saved from rebirth, gain the supreme Residence of the Lord with the honour of serving the matchless Ānanda-form of the Lord at all times and in all manner of things.

The aspirant experiences the feet of the Lord who is ever with Lakshmi when he follows the path of surrender and later the shoreless joy of servitude to the Divine Couple in Śrī Vaikuṇṭha.

Vedanta Deśika incarnated as the amśa- avatāra of Śrī Veṅkaṭeśvara and wrote this work with thirty-two chapters for bringing good to the people of the world.

||Śrīmad Rāhasyatraya Sāra Sāram Sampūrṇaṁ