Essence of the Three Secrets | 5

Classification of Qualified Persons:
Different Classes among them.

There are two kinds of such qualified aspirants who are engaged in the pursuit of Moksha. Those who perform prapatti for the sake of moksha alone are Direct Aspirants. The rest perform Prapatti for the proper fulfilment of bhakti that leads to Moksha.

Prapatti (Surrender) is done in two ways. One is Ukti Niṣṭhā (by one's utterance) and the other Āchārya Niṣṭhā (performed by Āchārya on one’s behalf).

Just as for the seven kinds of baths, the result is the same according to the aspirant's nature, results of Prapatti are same for the aspirants according to their nature.

Ukti Niṣṭhā is as follows. Though one may not know in detail about the limbs of Prapatti, the aspirant must have no other goal except Nārāyaṇa and also have unswerving faith in His guardianship.

The words betokening total surrender should be submitted to the Lord, saying that it is His responsibility now to save the aspirant. This Is Ukti Niṣṭhā.

When he utters the words repeated by his spiritual teacher without knowing their significance if he does so with full faith and surrenders, the compassionate Lord accepts him and fulfils his desire.

Even an aspirant who lacks in knowledge follows the surrender of Ukti Niṣṭhā, the Lord's compassion will save him.

Āchārya Niṣṭhā is what teacher does on behalf of his disciple. One can perform Prapatti only as Ukti Niṣṭhā or Āchārya Niṣṭhā.

When Ukti Niṣṭhā itself confers results, no doubt need be raised regarding Āchārya Niṣṭhā.

But he who does not perform Prapatti according to either Ukti Niṣṭhā or Āchārya Niṣṭhā will not gain moksha. Be an animal or a bird, it can definitely gain moksha if a Śrī Vaishnava Āchārya performs Prapatti for them.

Staying close to Vaishnavas and living in holy places may not give one moksha straightaway, but it will induce him to bhakti or prapatti that leads to moksha.

For a devotee, residence in a good holy place will bring an accession of bhakti. For one who has done prapatti, such places of residence will increase his desire to serve the Lord.

For one who is qualified to follow Bhakti Yoga like Vyāsa, and who is not helpless either, and is prepared to bear delay,

he will attain Moksha if he performs Prapatti which will avert the hindrances on the way, except his own wish to live which would fulfil his bhakti till the end.

Prapatti helps this and grants remembrance of the Lord in the last moments and leads him to Moksha. Thus for those who follow bhakti yoga Moksha is gained after a considerable lapse of time.

This is because if the devotee has to work out his Prārabdha karmas through many lives, in his last life that will end the Prārabdha Karma, he will gain remembrance of the Lord while leaving the body and attain moksha. It is not possible though to enumerate the number of births.

But for one who performs Prapatti, Moksha is assured at the conclusion of this life itself. He is not born again. All are qualified for Prapatti.

This path removes all difficulties. It fulfils all desires. It is an easy way. It has to be done only once. It can be performed speedily. No hurdles come in its way.

But it is a Brahmāstra which ceases to be when another missile is used. In the same way, if one goes in for another way to gain this result Prapatti will not work.

Thus, there is no hurdle for one who has performed Prapatti for gaining Moksha.

But one does not seem to be gaining moksha as soon as he performs Prapatti. This is because the aspirants perform Prapatti to gain Moksha at the conclusion of his life on earth.

The aspirant wants his body to continue to live as one can do service to the Lord in his Arcā (iconic) form. This is controlled by space and time.

Since he has seen the greatness of Arcā form while in the body, and wants to do service, he prays for moksha at the conclusion of his present life. He performs service on earth and later offers unrivalled service in Moksha.

Whatever he desires when performing Prapatti to the Lord, his desires are fulfilled in time. Hence Prapatti has been praised in many places.

The service performed in this world by one who has done Prapatti will be varied according to his desires. But the service and Ānanda consciousness he gains in Moksha have no degree of difference.

The service he is given to do in Moksha has nothing to do with his earthly life. Any kind of service is given to him according to the grace of the Lord. He becomes qualified to perform all kinds of service.

The Lord gives no place in Śrī Vaikuṇṭha to one who has done neither Bhakti yoga or Surrender:

The result of devotion and surrender are the same. But one who performs prapatti gains results immediately. But the joy of meditating upon the Lord is much less for him.

For one who chooses bhakti, the pleasure of meditating upon the Lord is immeasurable. But he gets moksha only after a lapse of time. This is the only difference.

There is no difference in the gains thereof. Hence no one can achieve Moksha without performing Bhakti yoga or Prapatti.

On Several Means

This way of bhakti or Prapatti for gaining Moksha is one kind of the blossoming of knowledge. The attainment of this act also is another kind of blossoming of knowledge.

Of the two, the knowledge of the Way is helped by the senses. It would have been commanded by śāstras.

It would have five equalities including truth and would be about the Parabrahman that is spoken of having qualities as adumbrated in each of the several vidyās (disciplines).

The attained knowledge would be about Brahman that is not dependent upon any sense organ and has auspicious qualities that are everlasting.

That is, the knowledge of the Way is about Brahman that has certain attributes. The attained knowledge would be of Brahman who has all-auspicious qualities.

But according to the rule that one attains his object according to his upāsanā (aspirational discipline), one might think that the aspirant here will get only the qualities of his upāsanā.

It is not so:

The qualities that blossom forth during his upāsanā will be joined by other qualities also at the end. It is not as if other qualities are from him.

This gain of the ātman in moksha is service to the Lord. This is spoken of as one kind of blossoming of knowledge.

It would mean that when he enjoys the Lord as containing all- auspicious qualities, Ānanda flows forth as a flood. That is kainkarya or service.

The Supreme Lord is the Way and the Goal:

That is, He is attained by the Realised souls because He is the content of the knowledge of the aspirant and also gives the gain, so He is the Way. In the same manner He being the reason for the Ānanda Consciousness attained by the aspirant, the Lord is the Goal.

For the aspirant who performs Prapatti straightaway to gain Moksha, the Lord gives Moksha immediately.

Those who wish to gain Moksha through bhakti yoga, if they perform Prapatti for the fulfilment of bhakti, they will gain Moksha tardily.

For him who performs prapatti for Moksha, the Lord sees to it by His Grace that the Moksha gained through bhakti does not get delayed. Hence the Lord becomes another Way.

In the same manner, those who follow the path of bhakti to attain Moksha, if they perform Prapatti for the fulfilment of bhakti yoga, the Lord accepts the Prapatti, removes all hurdles beginning from karma yoga to the completion of bhakti yoga and helps in fulfilling that devotion.

Four are the ways undertaken by one who desires Moksha. They are Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jñāna yoga and Prapatti.

Of these, Bhakti yoga or Prapatti is the straight pathway to Moksha. One can follow only one of the two. Both should not be followed together. Of these, Prapatti for Moksha is to be done only once.

Karma yoga and Jñāna yoga lead to Moksha only through bhakti yoga. They do not lead to Moksha straightaway.

Karma yoga is performing action. One should know the truth about the Soul and the Supreme through the śāstras. Having attained the knowledge, one should perform one's personal work without hankering after results. He must also engage himself in the daily duties and those meant for special occasions and the work ordained by śāstra.

Karmas are of 3 kinds: Nityā (daily), Naimittika (special) and Kāmya (performed for personal fulfilment).

Nityā includes work like Sandhya Vandanam. That which if not done is a sin and must be atoned for is Nityā.

Naimittika belongs to special occasions. This is like bathing and performing rituals during eclipses. If the rituals are not done, sin is the result.

Kāmya is performing sacrifices to attain ends like heavenly life: If this is done, one gains what is desired. But by not doing these karmas no sin accrues to the aspirant.

But the best way is to do them not for personal gain but to please the Lord. It is best to avoid performing such karmas for gain. Such actions form Karma yoga.

Of these, one portion includes performing worship to the Lord, tapasyā, undertaking pilgrimages, charity and yajñas. Another part is Vedic recitation, cogitating on the significance of Vedic hymns, the three types of Prāṇāyāma and the rest.

This Karma yoga is an instrument to realise one’s Ātman:

Even as Prapatti is for some a straight way to Moksha, and for others it is through Bhakti, Karma yoga also is a way to realise one's self straightaway or through Jñāna yoga.

Jñāna yoga is a constant meditation on the Ātman by one who has posited a victory over his mind through Karma yoga. He must meditate upon Ātman as different from Prakriti and as the body of the Lord which is under His control and is held up by Him.

If through the yoga of karma and Jñāna one is able to watch one's Ātman, one can gain a rare enjoyment. His desire for external things ceases.

But without getting sunk in the joy of beholding the Ātman, one should continuously apply himself to bhakti yoga that leads to the Moksha of enjoying the Supreme Lord.

In this manner, since the vision of his jīvātman which is the body of the Lord helps him envision the Lord, this too becomes bhakti yoga.

Bhakti yoga is a constant meditation on the Divine:

The meditation on the Lord should be done joyously without thinking of anything else, keeping oneself not as the servant of anyone and with the clear understanding that he is Nārāyaṇa’s servant.

This meditation should be continuous as the flow of oil. The meditation should be like watching the Lord face-to-face. It must be done every day till one reaches Moksha.

Such continuous meditation should be on when life leaves the body. This is Bhakti yoga.

One who follows this Bhakti yoga must follow the activities laid down according to one’s caste. That way his intelligence keener and helps bhakti yoga by avoiding mistakes.

Bhakti yoga also helps the aspirant gain a taste for Moksha for those who do not have full faith. It helps by giving them an increase in wealth and other things desired by them.

The Lord speaks of four types of devotees who worship Him for such bhakti.

In the same place the Lord also says that only he who follows Bhakti yoga with the sole intent on Moksha is superior among his devotees.

Such bhakti yoga whose aim is Moksha is known as Para-bhakti. Bhakti is somewhat lesser than Para-bhakti. Bhakti will help the blossoming of Para-bhakti by emphasising the need for love towards the Lord.

The Para-bhakti that riles from such bhakti creates a desire in the aspirant to see the Lord in person. It makes him cry out: “My Lord, show yourself to me!"

By such desire the Lord's grace flows out and for that moment gives the aspirant a vision of the Lord. This vision of the Lord is known as Para- Jñāna.

A tremendous love and joy rises in the aspirant who has seen the Ānandamāyā form of the Lord, verily like a thirsty man chancing upon a lake. This love is known as Parama- bhakti.

As with Nammāḷvār, Parama-bhakti brings him to a state of the highest Ānanda, raises a deep aspiration in him and makes him call out with force and compels the Lord to grant him Moksha.

Prapatti is surrendering to the Lord:

Only Brahmins, Kṣatriyas and Vaiṣyas are qualified for Bhakti yoga. Those outside these three castes must follow Prapatti for attaining Moksha.

Even those belonging to these castes who have neither the knowledge nor capacity to do bhakti yoga, are qualified for Prapatti.

Even those who have everything in their favour under such groups can gain result through Prapatti, if they do not wish to tarry back tardily.

Prapatti gives all that one desires. This is advised as an alternative to Para- bhakti.

Those qualified for Bhakti and Prapatti should follow one of them only. The results of both the ways are in no way different:

Just as the Vedas have spoken of the way of bhakti in several ways, the mantras of Prapatti have also been given in different ways at times.

Though bhakti yoga has various methods, only one of them should be followed. In the same way, though there are variations in mantras used for Prapatti, only one of them must be used.

When aiming for a particular goal one must choose either bhakti or prapatti. Both methods should not be followed. Prapatti should be performed only once for a particular goal. If each follows either of them according to his eligibility, he will surely gain the goal.