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Vol 01.001  Pre-SaraNAgati Issues
23 October, 1996

In this Issue: 
1. Introduction
2. Letter from Srimad Andavan Swami Asramam
3. A Word of Explanation
4. An Introduction to Hinduism
5. Prapatti

1. Introduction

Dear Bhagavatas,

Welcome aboard Swami Desika Darsana Satsangam on this holy Tirunakshatram day of Swami Sri Vedanta Desika..

This is a forum devoted to the study of the works of Swami Sri Vedanta Desika and the other works referred by him. The esoteric aspects of Srivaishnavism like those contained in his Rahasya Granthas will form the fulcrum of our studies. Naturally, the Satsangam will be restricted to genuine Srivaishnavas sincerely committed to the Srivaishnava Satsampradaya as enunciated by Swami Desika and expounded by our Poorva Acharyas and Present Acharyas in his tradition.

Swami Desika quotes Sesha Samhita 14 : 30 thus:-

Gurum Prakaasayeth Dheemaan Mantram Yatnena Gopayeth |
Aprakaasa Prakaasaabhyaam Ksheeyate Sampad Aayushi ||
" The wise man should bring his Guru to the light ( of renown) and should guard the savored Mantra (teachings) with great care; from the omission to bring his Guru to light and by revealing the Mantra, he declines in wealth (of knowledge) and in age (Spiritual standing)"

Kata Smriti I.11.9 makes it clear that " Wisdom concerning the soul cannot be obtained by the mere exercise of reason but by absolute faith. Only when it is imparted by another (the Guru), does it lead to the knowledge which is the means to attaining Moksha"

This obviously means that mere book knowledge can lead us nowhere. It can only delude us into believing that we are thereby being spiritually developed, but if we analyze the effect of the study of books on ourselves, we will find that, at the utmost, it is only our intellect that derives any benefit from such studies and NOT our inner spirit.

This inadequacy of books to quicken spiritual growth is the reason why, although almost everyone of us can speak wonderfully on spiritual matters, when it comes to action and the living of a truly spiritual life, we find ourselves woefully deficient. To quicken the spirit, the impulse must come from another soul. The person from whom such impulse comes is called the 'Guru'.

The transmission of this impulse presupposes two entities : A qualified Guru and a Deserving disciple. There is no doubt about the qualifications of our Aachaaryas. Only, we have to prove ourselves worthy of their grace. We have to pledge ourselves to assimilate and strive to live up to the ideals set forth by them with IMPLICIT FAITH (Prakasayeth) and MORE IMPORTANTLY NOT REVEALING THEM to those who either have no faith or indulge in disparaging or misinterpreting the teachings.( Gopayeth)

Lord Krishna advises in Bhagavad Gita 4.34 how one should approach a Guru:

Tad Viddhi Pratipaadena Pariprasnena Sevayaa |
Upadekshyanti Te Gnanam Gnaninaha Tattva Darsinaha ||
Learn this knowledge by Prostrating (Pratipadena), by Respectful enquiry (Pariprasnena- NOT mere Prasnena) and Service (Sevayaa) The wise who see the truth will teach you knowledge"

Swami Desika instructs in the Acharyakritya Adhikara the selection of proper students by testing the sincerity and integrity of the prospective student before imparting to them the traditional teachings. Students found wanting in these respects should not be admitted for instruction into these truths. Otherwise, it will be like saying 'Anything is fish that comes to the net'.

He advises also that one should avoid "liars, eunuchs, misers, mentally perverse, conceited., those who delight in tormenting others, those who indulge in vilifying others, those that engage in vain arguments (vitandavada), atheists (nastikas), those who heckle for the sake of embarrassing demanding reasons for everything (hytukas), those whose views are distorted (kudhrishti), prattlers (jalpa), who misinterpret (kuyukta), heretics (pashandis), and hypocrites who pose to be virtuous but in reality are vile".

Lord Krishna, the Prathama Aachaarya prohibits transmission of these secrets to those who do not perform their dharmic duties, those who do not have faith in God, those who are not sincere and eager to learn and most importantly those who bear ill will or jealousy towards God and therefore intolerant."

He proceeds to advise as to whom these secrets can be revealed and the benefits accruing from such revelation. "These secrets can be revealed only to those devoted to me. Anyone who reveals to such deserving persons would notice an unfoldment of his own devotion into the state of Parabhakti and finally secure myself as his reward"

Even among those who possess positive qualities as discerned by the preceptor by means of appropriate tests, cannot be told unless the would be student formally petitions to him -in the manner of Arjuna pleading before the Lord.

Some students who may not have the requisite caliber to assimilate but are nevertheless sincere in reforming themselves may be instructed the broad outlines of Tattva, Hita and Uttarakritya without going deeper into the esoteric meanings enshrined in the great truths.

In Sishyakritya Adhikara, Swami Desikan cautions , inter alia, that it is equally wrong not to impart guidance to a deserving student.

Due to economic and social constraints, we have crossed the physical ocean by coming over to lands far off from the place of our Acharyas. But, this need not deter us from crossing the ocean of Samsara by mentally prostrating at the feet of our Acharyas and earnestly seeking their guidance like EKALAVYA.

But, Hark!. This does not mean that our Acharyas would demand your thumb as ' Guru Dakshina' for learning 'in absentia' !. On the other hand, both the Pontiffs of Ahobila Mutt and Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam have blessed our efforts. They have, in fact, authorized us with their 'mantrakshadas' to carry on the mission of studying our Siddhanta in the company of Bhagavatas like you. The 'Srimukhams' granted by them in support of this is attached.

It is, therefore, the endeavor of this group to assimilate the views as expressed by our Acharyas to the best of our ability, knowledge and understanding in a true spirit of submission and unquestioning faith and devotion.

Let us study together, Let us learn together and Let us deserve together the grace of our Acharyas

Sahanaa Avathu |
Saha Nou Bunakthu |
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai |
Tejasvee Naava dheetam Asthu |
Maa Vid Vishaa Vahai |
Om Santhih. Om Santhih, Om Santhih |
Let the Lord protect both of us (who are Guru and Sishya). Let the Lord nourish both of us.
Let both of us work together with vigour. Let our studies become sharp and illumined. Let us never be hostile to each other or work at cross-purposes. Let there be peace. Let there be peace. Let there be peace"

Kavi Taarkika Simhaya Kalyana Guna Saliney|
Srimate Venkatesaya Vedanta Gurave Namah ||

Sri Nigamantha Desikaya Namah.
Anbil Ramaswamy


16th May 1996

This is to certify that Sri Anbil K Ramaswamy is a disciple of Srimad Andavan of Poundarikapuram Andavan Asramam, Srirangam.

He has successfully completed the course of training in the study of the various Hindu Religious Scriptures with specialization in Visishtadvaita philosophy like Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Bashyam of Srimad Bhagavad Ramanujacharya, Rahasya Traya Saram and other works of Swami Sri Vedanta Desika and the Divya Prabhandams of Alwars during the period from 1984 to 1989.

He has also studied under His Holiness, the 45th Jeeyar, the Present Pontiff of the Ahobila Mutt, Sri Srivatsanga chariar, Principal, Sanskrit College, Madras and Purisai Sri Krishnamachariar, Editor and Publisher of " Sri Nrisimhapriya" ( the official journal of the Ahobila Mutt).

He knows the Srivaishnava Sampradaya and has experience in performing the traditional Tiruvaradhana ( ritual worship), Pujas like Sattumurai etc., and other religious rites at home and in a temple setting.

We wish him all success in his endeavors in serving Srivaishnava Sampradaya and guiding other Srivaishnavas in this regard.

[Official Seal of   ]                 (Sd) Srikaryam
[Srimad Andavan]                      Srimad Andavan,
Poundarikapuram]                      Swami Asramam
[Asramam,          ]                  43-A / 13,   Asramam Road, Srirangam, 
  --------------------                Tiruchi -   620 006,INDIA


7th August 1995.

This is to inform you that Sri Anbil Ramaswamy is at present in Harrisburg- PA17111. He is connected with our Mutt for the past 15 years and he had attended Kalakshepam etc. He is an erudite Scholar. He is propagating our religion in various parts of America. He is tirelessly working hard for teaching Vedas, Prabandam and other religious works. He has also published religious books.

It is no exaggeration if I say that he is a tower for our religion, especially in States. His contribution to our religion is immense. He is in constant touch with us and he is carrying out our advises.

He wants to carry on the religious crusade teaching our Sampradayams to one and all for some more time. This is really a very noble act and it requires every support from all circles. This will enable him to stay back and carry on the work of spreading our religion there.

Hence, kindly do the needful as a noble service to Sri Ahobila Mutt.

( By order)



Dear Bhagavatas,
May I submit my reply given in response to the suggestion that I should ' lead' the study group, Sorry for this personal note but I thought that I should make my position absolutely clear. Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy

September10, 1996

Dear Jaganath and other Bhagavatas,

I received your e. mail and thank you for the same. I am always willing to share with you what little I happen to know with regards Srivaishnavism and I would deem it a great opportunity to serve the genuine Srivaishnavas aspiring to know the esoteric nuances of our Siddhanta.

But, what makes me feel humble is your saying that the study will be 'at the feet of Sri Anbil Ramaswamy'. I have always been feeling that after all, I am a rather ill-equipped student eager to learn in a kind of joint study with like-minded Bhagavatas like you who seem to be better equipped and more knowledgeable than my humble self. I have been looking forward to enriching my own limited understanding in the process.

By no stretch of imagination do I feel qualified to ' lead'. No doubt, I can' lead a discussion' and benefit by your inputs.

Let me hasten to assure you that I will try to the best of my ability, knowledge and understanding to place at your disposal unstintingly answers to questions, which I feel, could be answered by me - but keeping myself always open to correction.

To those questions, which I cannot readily answer, I can always refer back to Acharyas who have been munificent in clearing my doubts without hesitation. But, this will naturally take time and I crave your indulgence in this regard

Ever at your service,

Anbil Ramaswamy


To begin from the beginning, we give below (from my book " Hinduism Rediscovered" ) , the Salient features of Hinduism before taking up the study of the Rahasya Traya Saram of Swami Sri Vedanta Desika. This will be followed (in separate series) by subjects like what is Religion?. What is God?, Who is God?, Where is God?, Karma and Punarjanma , Triguna and the dietary regimen,Yoga in general, Rajayoga, Gnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga etc which will help in a better understanding of the various Adhikaras of Rahasya Traya Saram.


The Salient features of Hinduism are as follows:-
APAURUSHEYAM (Authorlessness) Hinduism has no single founder, no father figure like Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Mahavir Jain, Jesus Christ or Muhammad, no single event or events which started the religion like the exodus or the genesis. A series of scriptural literature believed to have originated from what the Hindus call the 'Brahman' (in the neuter gender) but not created by him either. The 'Vedas' literally 'knowledge' is considered to exist permanently and after every deluge (Pralaya), 'Brahman' remembered the texts and taught them to the fourfaced Brahma and through him to succeeding generations through oral tradition - the 'Auditory' phenomenon. Hinduism is thus a primordial religion.

It is the Hindu self - awareness and self - identity that affirms Hinduism to be a single religious universe. Its richly varied content makes it a significant and potent force compared with the other religions of the world. Hinduism is a happy blend of both continuity and change. No single image could adequately represent so complex an agglomeration as Hinduism. In Hinduism, there is no room for fanaticism nor is it inflexible in its assumptions. It never boasts itself as the one and only repository of religious truths. In fact, several religious beliefs found elsewhere as independent entities find a harmonious expression in Hinduism. And, this has not been by any deliberate design or as a matter of diplomacy but is a product of parallel natural growth.

Nigamanta Maha Desikaya Namah

(Abandon or Absolute Surrender)

Dear Bhagavatas,

It is proposed to give under the title PRAPATTI, a bird' eye view of Swami Desika's Rahasya Traya Sara in the forthcoming postings. Part 1 covering upto Chapter 2 of the RTS is given below. You may want to collect the postings in a single file for your record. I will be grateful for your feedback and your inputs.

You may feel free to seek clarifications for any doubts. But, it is felt that the subsequent postings would clear most of them. We will, however, strive to provide ASAP, answers to those, we believe, are not so covered.

Anbil Ramaswamy


Bhakti and Prapatti are the only means to attain Moksha. Of the two, Bhakti yoga is difficult to practice what with one or the other of the strenuous 32 Vidyas in 'Thailadhara' nature with an intensity upgraded from Para Bhakti to Para Gnana to Parama Bhakti and even so, it can secure Moksha only to those qualified to practice it and only when all karma is obliterated by attrition- a process that can take even an interminably long time- may be over several births .

And, for the one desirous of Moksha assuredly and without delay, the only easy way is that propounded by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 18 / 66 in the Charama sloka viz., Prapatti. The word 'Prapatti' is from the roots 'pra' and 'pat' together meaning 'To drop down', 'To take refuge with' . Hence, Abandon or Absolute unconditional surrender with the attitude of personal helplessness at the feet of the Lord. a.k.a. SARANAGATHI. In Charama sloka (i.e.) the last verse concluding the substantial part of the Gita discourse (verses following being in the nature of Phalasruti-fruits realizable on reciting the text)

Lord Krishna says "Having renounced all Dharmas, take refuge in me alone. I shall absolve you from all sins.- Do not grieve" Sarva dharmaan parithyajya maam ekam saranam vraja Aham tva sarva papebhyo mokshayishyami maa sucha

This does not mean that one should give up one's dharmas and then surrender to him, as some would have us believe. It only means that because you have found other means like Bhakti yoga difficult to practice you are unable to take recourse to them,the only course open to you being surrendering yourself to me, Do that surrender right here and now. Once you do this I shall protect you and grant Moksha. And, he asks you not to grieve and plights his promise to protect..

The most important exponent of the philosophy which recommends Prapatti is SWAMI SRI VEDANTA DESIKA (1268 a.d to 1369 a.d). He was a critical disputant who made extensive and intensive research in comparative religions and proved convincingly especially through his "PARA MADA BANGAM" and "SATHA DUSHANI" that other philosophies and tenets are worthless FOR A PERSON DESIROUS OF MOKSHA. He is also known as KAVI-TARKIKA-SIMHA (Lion-king among poets and rationalist logicians) and VEDANTA-ACHARYA (the preceptor of Vedanta). In fact, the word Desika itself means a preceptor and the nomenclature fits him eminently as he was indeed the preceptor par excellence. He was also known as 'SARVA TANTRA SVATANTRA" meaning master of all arts, crafts and artifacts.

A prolific writer that he was, he wrote 28 Stotra granthas (Prayers of praise) 4 Kavya granthas (Epics), 13 Vedanta granthas (Explanatory works), 32 Rahasya granthas (on esoteric truths), 24 Prabandhas in Tamil (Holy collects) besides 2 Anushtana granthas (Rules for daily observance), as also a Naataka (Allegorical drama). RAHASYA TRAYA SARA was his magnum opus which is the sheet anchor of our Siddhanta (Philosophy). As his inimitable style, spirit, force and import of his presentation cannot be transfused into the present dissertation, we can at best endeavour to have a glimpse of his work by following the arrangement of the subject as adopted in his Rahasya Traya Sara. This work consists of 32 Chapters called Adhikaras and consists of four parts;
(I) Arthanu Sasana (Ch.1 to 22) enunciates the important concepts of Tattva, Hita and Purusharta
(ii) Sthrikarana (Ch.23 to 26 ) raises all possible doubts and objections relating to the previous part and clears them. (iii) Pada-Vakya-Yojana ( Ch 27 to 29) explains the principles of Mulamantra, Dvaya and Charama Sloka And, (Iv) Sampradaya Parikriya (Ch.30 to 32) deals with the duties of the preceptor, the duties of the disciples and such other traditional matters.

SECTION 2 : GURU PARAMPARA SARAM.(The lineage of preceptors)

At the outset, he begins his work with respectful homage to the lineage of preceptors which commences from the Paramatma himself who is the PRATHAMA ACHARYA (the first and foremost preceptor). Lord Krishna, an Avatar of SRI NARAYANA advised ARJUNA on the battlefield of KURUKSHETRA, the gospel of BHAGAVAD GITA, the most important part of which is the Charama sloka on which the Siddhanta is based.

Next to him are SRI LAKSHMI (Consort of the Lord), VISHVAKSENA (the chief of staff and chief advisor in Paramapada).

Then follows NAMMALWAR (also known as SATAKOPA) who is considered the Chief among the Alwars and Chief among Acharyas who rendered inTamil the quintessence of the four Vedas in his Tiruviruttam, Tiruvasiriyam, Peria Tiruvantadi and the great Tiruvoimozhi.

In the lineage of Acharyas who followed are Natha muni, Pundarikaksha, Ramamisra, Yamuna muni, Mahapurna and Ramanuja muni Of these, the most renowned are the three Munis known as Munitraya Viz., NATHAMUNI who received directly from Nammalwar the 4000 hymns and codified them as the Divya Prabandam,YAMUNA MUNI also known as Alavandar who inaugurated the matrix of Srivaishnavism and RAMANUJA MUNI also known as Lakshmana Yogi pungava and Emperumanar. Actually, the Siddhanta came to be known after the last named as Ramanuja Darsana.

Sri Desika enjoins that it is the primary duty of a disciple to have absolute faith in and revere the Acharyas as the alter-ego of Paramatma himself since it is these Acharyas who open up the way to Moksha and maintains that the deep debt of gratitude to the Gurus can never be requited. It is only through the Guru's Upadesa (advice) our mental attitude can change, our vision broadened and we understand better than ever before.-

"Naam theliya odhi theliyaada marai nilangal theliginrome'

The lotus flower while in water blooms on receiving Sun's light. If the flower were out of water, the sunlight would only scorch and dry it up and it cannot blossom. So also, only when there is the contact and guidance of the preceptor ( Aachaarya Sambandam) can the soul evlve and blossom towards salvation.



For the one who desires Moksha (Mumukshu), the very desire can arise only through a proper Guru and the attainment of this proper Guru itself is possible only if one or more of the following conditions are satisfied:
(i) God's love
(ii) Good deeds done even by chance
(iii) The gracious glance of God even at the time of birth (Jayamana Kadaksha) or in Tamil (Karuvile Thiru) (iv) Absence of hatred towards fellow beings (another way of saying love towards fellow beings)
(v) Willingness to learn the truths
(vi) Association with the virtuous.

Our Vedas have time and again reiterated that essentially the individual souls are divine and have an inherent right to attain Moksha. But, due to the dirt of Karma Vasanas they had accumulated over several lives, they are oblivious of this divinity and stray into the cycle of births and deaths in a vicious circle of Karma and Punarjanma. Thus, they become confirmed 'Nitya Samsaris' without any hope of redemption. It is only a rare occurance that due to the factors stated above that an individual soul stumbles on a Guru who initiates him into the eternal truths and restores him to his rightful place in Moksha through Bhakti or Prapatti.

To illustrate the importance and the role of the Guru, and the deep debt of gratitude the emancipated soul owes to the Guru, Swami Desika gives an illustration thus:
The young crown prince of a king goes with his father on a hunting expedition to a forest where he gets lost. He is brought up by some huntsmen. He imbibes the qualities, customs, manners and habits of the tribes forgetting that he is actually the prince. After some time, he is spotted by a few courtiers of the king who reveal to him his identity and bring him back to the king. The king is mightily happy in getting back his dear son whom he had believed as lost forever. Thanks to the royal servants, the prince regained his regalia. In the same manner, the Jeevatma that had lost its identity is restored to its pristine glory through the chance encounter with the Gurus who are the true servitors of God.

(Determination of what is best)

It is these Gurus who instruct a Mumukshu what should be learnt and what should be ignored as not useful for attaining the goal of Moksha. Having fixed our objective as the attainment of Moksha, We should carefully avoid those that are either opposed to or are not conducive to the said goal.

Indeed, there are innumerable things in this world to know, life is short and hinderences are many. Therefore, A WISE PERSON DESIRING MOKSHA SHOULD PREFER ONLY WHAT IS ALWAYS AND UNCONDITIONALLY MOST VALUABLE, without frittering away time and energy on lesser or even harmful objectives.

The things to be scrupulously avoided are: (i) the philosophies of those opposed to the Vedas ( like Charvakas, Buddhists, Jains etc.,) and the philosophies of heretics (like those who accept the Vedas but misinterpret its contents).These are worthless (Asaara). (ii) the philosophies contained in Karma khanda of the Vedas because they are only of very little value (Alpasaara). (iii) That part which deals with the attainment of Svarga (Heavens) after death though may appear valuable to some- does not lead to Moksha ( Saara)
(iv) that part which deals with the realization of one's own self (Kaivalya) and the means to attain thereof, though a little more valuable than (iii) above is really not conducive to the attainment of Moksha (Saaratara)
(v) What is most valuable is that which deals with the supreme Brahman, the attainment of this Brahman and the means thereof (Saaratama).

(To be continued)