Saranagati in Sri-Vaishnavism ( a brief over-view )
Saranagati is the same as prapatti, bharanyasam, and bhara-samarpanam. Sri Maha-Lakshmi and Lord Sriman Narayana are considered as our Divine Parents, and they are ususally referred as the Divya-Dampatis and whenever we use the word Bhagavan, we actually mean both of them.
Sri-Vaishnavism is centered around the philosophical principle that Saranagati at the Holy Feet of Lord Sriman Narayana, is a sure way to attain Salavation (Moksha or Vaikuntha Prapti or Liberation from the repeated cycle of Births and Deaths), at the end of this life itself. This Saranagati is a two-step process, Samasrayanam as we accept the holy imprints of Chakra and Sankha on our shoulders and receive the 3 Secret Mantras ( to avoid being dragged to Hell by the messengers of the God of Death ) and the Prapatti ( the actual process of Surrender ). Only a qualified Acharya in this path can offer both these procedures to any and all interested devotees.
To accept Saranagati, it is not at all a prerequisite that one should be born in a Priest family and no need that a devotee be a man. Saranagati can be accepted by anyone, irrespective of their birth in any family or gender. The actual process of Prapatti has five accessories – 1: the willingness to do only those things that are favourable to the Lord, 2: The determination NOT to do anything that is NOT favourable to the Lord (like abstaining from non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks etc..,), 3: having ABSOLUTE Faith in the LORD that HE will give us the Salavation, 4: accepting the Lord as our Protector and 5: realizing our complete helplessness to attain Salavation by any of our known means.
The two things that we all should do to keep up our Saranagati are: 1: Being Loyal to Sriman-Narayana and His Incranations ONLY who are in the Vishnu-tattva. ( Vishnu-tattva is limited to the forms of the Lord are Sriman-Narayana, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Srinivasa, Nara-Simha, Haya-Griva, Dhanvantari, Maha-Lakshmi, Andal, Garuda, Hanuman etc.., ) and 2: to be ALWAYS respectful to all Bhaagavatas ( and do not cause physical or emotional hurt and / or pain to already surrendered devotees ). The Role of an Acharya, who offers the Saranagati is very significant and that the Acharya should be worshipped as much as we worship the Lord, like accepting the Acharya-Paduka-Teertham everyday etc. Four Important Mantras will be given at the Time of Samasrayanam ( accepting the heated imprints of Sudarsana-Chakra and Panchajanya-Samkha on our shoulders ) – 1: the 8 lettered Astakshara Mantra of Lord Sriman Narayana; 2: the DWAYA Mantra called the twin-Mantra or the Saranagati Mantra, which can be chanted at ALL Times at ALL Places in ALL circumstances; 3: The Charama-Sloka in Bhagavad-Gita and 4: the Maha-Lakshmi’s Sri-Mantram. These 4 mantras are to be chanted by every initiated devotee, everyday, at least 28 times each or a Maximum of 1,008 times each ( only Exception is Dwaya-Mantra, which can be chanted always ).
Another basic principle of Sri-Vaishnavism is Eating Satvic food only, which is called prasadam after being offered to Lord Sriman-Narayana – so avoid taking any nonvegetarian food etc.., and rajo-guna and tamo-guna foods, and as part of the SriVaishnava Tradition, even that Satvic food items prepared in a Hygenic way, must first be offered to the Lord, in the traditional way or at least by chanting Krishna-ArpaNam ( means we offer these to Lord Krishna, who is the Owner of all materials in this world ). A person with Saranagati also leads the daily life in a normal way, like any other uninitiated person, except that the mental out-look of a Prapanna ( person who got Prapatti ) is totally different – i.e., Devotees after Saranagati can also have children, will also do their jobs and will keep buying the houses and cars etc.., . Before Saranagati, a person thinks that I bought this Car, I bought this house, and these are MY children, whereas after Saranagti, a person thinks that it is Bhagavan who blessed us to buy this car, Bhagavan blessed us to buy this house and to have these children to continue the self-less service to the Supreme Lord.
As is the general Rule for ALL human beings, a Prapanna after Saranagati will Tell the Truth, will practice Ahimsa ( non-Violence ) and abstain from Alcoholic drinks etc.., as these are applicable to all Prapannas and also to all human beings. Why Saranagati is important because, it guarantees Salvation at the end of this life itself. Bhakti and Saranagati are the only two highways for Salvation and JnanaYoga and Karma-Yoga can NOT give Salvation directly. They are only the Service Roads to Vaikuntham and the ONLY TWO Highways for Salvation are Bhakti and SaranAgati, and that Jnana and Karma-Yogas should merge either in Bhakti or Saranagati. It is Lord Sri-Rama who propogated this Saranagati when Vibhisana came to surrender to Him before the Rama-Ravana war and also well proclaimed by Lord Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita ( in the Famous sloka 66 of the 18th Chapter “ Sarva Dharmaan parithyajya maam ekam SaraNam vraja, aham thwaa sdarva paapebhyo mookshayishyaami maaSuchah “ ) and also by Lord Varaha Swamy who said that even if a Prapanna were to die in sleep or in a Coma and if the devotee can NOT think of the Lord at the Last moment, Bhagavan will think of that Prapanna and will guarantee moksham. AND, any mistakes committed innocently, or committed involuntarily beyond our control, are forgivenby Lord Sriman-Narayana, on asking for His forgiveness. About a 1,000 years back, this Sampradayam is established as an Authentic Philosophical System based on the Vedas and Upanishats by Sri Ramanuja-Acharya, and this Saranagati concept was was well reinforced about 800 years ago by Sri Vedanta-Desika and is currently followed by thousands of Devotees of Sri Parakala- Mutt, Sri Ahobila Mutt, Sri Andavan Asramam and Sri Poundarika-puram-Andavan Asramam.
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