Saranagati Dipika

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This is a very important stotra in several respects. As its very name indicates it is a treatise on saranagati (surrender). Vedanta Desika is said to have come into this world to establish the soundness and efficacy of which as an unfailing and immediate upaya (means) for the attainment of moksha. This sampradayam (traditional faith), in which saranagati is held in high esteem, is referred to in the very first sloka as the “highly venerated sampradayam that emerged from the mahaanasa (kitchen) of Yatiraja (Acharya Ramanuja).” We are also told that this sampradayam is being presented here in the form of a hymn in praise of Lord Deepaprakasa (Vilakkoli in Tamil). The name of the Kshetra is Himavanam (Tan-kaa in Tamil) meaning a cool grove. This is Vedanta Desika’s birthplace, the actual spot being known as Thooppul near here. No wonder this stotram is a fine garland of praise in respect of the Lord of his birth place in addition to being a compendium on the theory and practice of saranagati.

Lakshmi is referred to in the first five slokas, the idea being that She is part of Divinity or the Supreme Being. In fact, sloka 3 tells us that the Lord is the Deepa (lamp) but Lakshmi is its lustre. Lakshmi has to be resorted to first in saranagati (Valmiki Ramayanam, Ayodhya Kandam and Ramanuja’s Saranagati Gadyam).

That Saranagati has its roots in the Upanishads is made known to us by sloka 9 which is almost a reproduction of the mantra of Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.18) ending with the words “mumukshur vai SaraNam aham prapadye”. Slokas 10 to 40 deal with the doctrine of prapatti, how it differs from bhakti-yoga, its angas or essential prerequisites, how to observe or perform prapatti, what must be the conduct of a prapanna in the post-prapatti period, and so on. This part of the stotra can well be said to be a recapitulation in verse of several chapters of Srimad Rahasya Traya Sara, Vedanta Desika’s magnum opus on Saranagati Sastra in manipravala prose, interspersed with Sanskrit slokas and Tamil verses.

From sloka 41 to the end it is fervid devotion finding expression in eloquent verse and elegant argumentation, and moving appeals for help. This part must be studied and restudied by every prapanna.

Sloka 57 holds out a reward to the Lord Himself. If He protects us, He will be the recipient of Lakshmi Devi’s loving and approving kataakshas (glances).

वक्ता, श्रोता, वचन-विशयः, प्रीयतां वेङ्कटेशः