After a brilliant academic career finishing with a professional Engineering course at the Indian institute of Science, Bangalore, Sri K.R. Krishnaswami proceeded to hambrug (in the then West Germany) having been selected by the ministry of scientific Research and Cultural Affairs as a Nehru Scholar Through their all India search, for specialization in the field of the petroleum Refining. On returning to India he was invited to join the CSIR pool as an UPSC Grade I Officer and placed at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was then Picked up by the English company, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI India from Where he retired as a Senior Sales Manager.
Always interested in the religious and spiritual field, he applied himself seriously in the last 3-4 decades , absorbing religious literature / training himself in 4000 Divya Prabhandam and yajurveda (finishing with samhitas) attending Kalakshepam on Upanishads and Divya Prabhanadam. Simultaneously he Participated in programmes of recitation of Divya Prabhanadam and Vedas Largely in temples. This training has enabled him to look at Subjects from both the angles the Purport emanating from Shruthis as also Sri Sukthis of Azhwars.
Settings up a Publication Facility in 2000, he has published about 40 books- besides his own titles in English, he has also brought out religious books written by famous authors in kannada. Outside this, he spear – headed a venture to translate Divya Prabhandam in to kannada enlisting the help of a well-Knoun author in the field, and brought out 6 books accounting for 1500 song out of a total 4000.
He has in the last three decades, undertaken the work of improving/ renovating / restoring the past glory of some temples in A.P./T.N./ Karnataka.
Sri Vedantha Desikar has written three works related to Srimadh Raamaayana viz. Paaduka Sahasram, Raghuveera Gadhyam and Abhaya Pradhaana Saram, the last one being in 'manipravala' language. The famous 'divya desham', the hallowed location, related to Abhaya Pradhaanam or Vibheeshana Sharanaagathi is Tirupullani. It is in Ramanaathapuram district of Tamil Nadu.
Abhaya Pradhaana Saaram is one of the 32 rahasyas (hidden truths) authored by Swami Desikan and this work is the twentieth in the serial order. Adiyen has covered eignteen of the 32 rahasyas cluding the present one - the others are Rahasya Traya Saram, and the sixteen Chillarei Rahasyangal in three companion volumes.
Abhaya Pradhaana Saaram is based on an episode appearing in yuddhakaanda of Valmeeki Raamaayana (sargas 16, 17 and 18). one is amazed at Lord's keenness and convincing ability in getting the highly suspicious vaanara king, Sugreeva, to appreciate His point of view. He uses anecdotes and scriptural support to prove that sharanaagathi is beneficial not only to the receiver but also to the giver.
The 'moola' (text) is given in three languages and the explanations are in English.
I thank Mrs. Sudha for the DTP-type setting and Sri Sharada prasad for timely printing. Naveen of Hamsanikethan has come out with an attractive cover design. My wife has assisted in corrections of drafts. I thank them all and pray that Lord Sri Raama showers His grace on them.
Srimadh Raamaayana is one of the chief Sharanaagathi works like Bhaagavadgita and Naalaayira Divya Prabhandham. Latter-day works include Alavandar's Sthothrarathnam, Sri Raamaanuja's Gadhya Traya and Sri Vedantha Desikar's Rahasyatraya Saaram. While sharanaagathi generally means surrendering of a weak person to a strong man who is capable of providing protection and granting 'abhaya', it also refers to a means of achieving 'rnoksha' placing 'mahaavishwaasa' in Lord's famous promise in Varaaha avataara that He Himself will take the contrite soul when a man dies. It was a promise made to the goddess Lakshmi.
Three sargas (chapters) in Raamaayana viz. sixteen, seventeen and eighteen appearing in Yuddhakaanda cover the subject of Vibheeshana (a strong raakshasa himself) seeking protection from the Lord, Sri Raama. This part of Raamaayana is considered as an upanishad. The three sargas present (i) Raavana's negative admonition of Vibheeshana resulting in latter's decision to leave his (half) brother Raavana, along with close associates and deciding to seek Sri Raama's protection, (ii) his announcement while still air-borne to Sri Raama that he is seeking protection from Him, (iii) Sri Raama letting Vaarana-chiefs to express their opinions, (iv) a cross-section of views including that of Sugreeva, Hanumaan and Jhambuvan and finally (v) Sri Raama acting on His own giving due credence to the assembly's views.
The slew of opinions made by the Vaanara members is interesting to read - it is suggested that before laying hands on Swamy Desikan's work, one would do well to go through the three chapters referred here for a fuller appreciation. The views expressed talk about (i) Vibheeshana, who was fully armed, had come to kill them, (ii) the hazard of keeping any trust in him, (iii) his having arrived from enemy-camp, his bonafides need testing and that he be viewed with suspicion, (iv) taking appropriate action if acceptance is considered beneficial for Sri Raama, (v) sending spies to verify his words / shadow him and (iv) interrogating him progressively.
Sri Raama very wisely allowed everyone to speak his mind freely. The last speaker was Hanumaan. Hanumaan commented on the previous observations and spoke as to how they were impractical and inappropriate. His own views were -
i) one could know Vibheeshana's intentions with different voice-tones, as also with study of his countenance.
ii) it is difficult to conceal bad intentions and one's facial expression reveals them.
iii) Sri Raama's valour is so great that He killed Vaali with a single arrow - the very Vali had squeezed Ravana in his arm pit and went clock-wise around the four oceans!
iv) Sri Raama's intention to storm Lanka will be helped by according protection to Vibheeshana who longed to have the kingdom.
v) Vibheeshana should be accepted as one amongst us.
This expression from Hanumaan was just the thing Sri Raama was waiting for! He said He could not refuse acceptance of anyone who had come to Him. He quoted anecdotes of Kandu maharshi and others, to declare that even if an enemy had come with folded hands He would receive him. Failure to protect shuts one from heaven; it also decimates one's strength and brings bad name - here, to one who is a scion of the famous Raghu clan. Thus follows Sri Ramaa's declaration "sakrudeva prapannaaya thavaasmeethi cha yaachathe I abhayam sarva bhoothebhyo dhadhaamyethadh vratham mama II (I promise to bestow security to all living beings; to anyone who comes to Me even once and seeks protection from Me. This is my vow").
In Raamaayana we see quite a few instances wherein the Lord grants sharanaagathi : it starts with devathas taking refuge in Sri Mahaavishnu to destroy Raavana who was oppressing them resulting in His manifestation as Sri Raama followed by Lakshmana's and Bharatha's prayers to allow service to Him. Sri Raama saves Kaakaasura (Indra's Son Jayanthan) when he misbehaves with Seethadevi and falls at His feet with the arrow sent by the Lord relentlessly following him and no One, including Brahma, could save him. Sugreeva who had earlier on offended the Lord and Samudraraaja who had paid no heed to His prayers were finally granted sharanaagathi.
What makes the sharanaagathi related to Vibheeshana special is that it has all the features of six-limbed 'sadhana'fully exemplified. We shaII be discussing this aspect while covering the main theme, abhayapradhaanasaara'.
Sri Vedantha Desikar"s composition is a 'Rahasya grantha'in manipravala language (a mix of Tamil and sanskrit) and out of 32 rahasyas it is the twentieth 'rahasya' (hidden truth). It is based on Srimadh Raamayana's three chapters in Yuddhakaanda. and has become Famous as Vibheeshana Sharanaagathi.
There are five verses in Tamil, two in the beginning and three at The end setting forth the loftiness of the one who gives refuge and the benefit received by the one who undergoes sharanagathi. There are ten sections in this treatise dealing with various aspects of Abhayapradhaana' .
Before embarking on the contents of each section, let us get to Know the various limbs of sharanaagathi. They are known as angas, Which are five but including the actual act of surrender it becomes six. The angas are -
i) The candidate's own resolve to undergo sharanaagathi (AANUKOOLYA SANKALPAM),
ii) Avoidance of acts that might obstruct the fulfillment of such a resolve (PRMTHIKOOLYA VARJANAM),
iii) Feeling of utter helplessness to obtain His mercy (KAARPANYAM),
iv) Innate and unshakeable faith that the Lord will stand by him as UPAAYA (means) for achieving the 'goal'which is Prapatthi (MAHAA VISHWAASAM),
iv) One's prayer itself seeking protection (GOPTHRATHVA VARNAM), and, finally
v) vi) The actual process of undergoing sharanaagathi, known as ANGI. (ATHMA NIKSHEPA).
Let us briefly understand the contents of the work comprising ten.
1) Prabhandhaavatharam : It highlights the aspect of Vaalmeeki Ramayana as embodying vedic truths.
2) Paratathva nirnayam : Establishing the attributes of Paratathva viz. Sri Raama, the Reality.
3) Sharanaagathi thaathparya prapancham : Elucidates the synonmity of Raamaayana with Veda itself with Vibheeshana sharanaagathi as its head crown amounting to an upanishad itself.
4) Prakarana Thaathparya nirnayam : Assessing as to how the episode relating to Vibheeshana in the epic, Raamayana, brings out the way and the fruits of Prapatthi (sharanaagathi).
5) Sharanya-sheela-prakaasham: Highlights the unique greatness, saulabhya (approachability and the compassion I grace of the Protector, the Lord, who accords refuge).
6) Sharanya-vaibhava-prakaasham: Substantiating the splendour and the great ability of the one who grants refuge.
7) Parama-dharma-nirnayam: This is the longest section which puts forward Sri Raama's arguments in support of the duty to protect the (to-be-prapanna) one who has sought refuge, highlighting it as the protector's 'parama dharmam'(utmost duty) with anecolotes, past incidents and teachings from scriptures.
8) Sharanya-vratha-vishesha-prakaasha: Explaining the oft- quoted vow of Sri Rama conveying that He will protect anyone seeking refuge with a prayer without any distinction of candidate's character.
9) Sharanya-sharanaagatha-sangama-Iaabham: highlights the benefits that accrue to the giver as well as the seeker of refuge in the act of uniting which is similar to the union of the released soul with the Lord at Paramapadham, and
10) Praapthi-prakaara-prapancham : Explaining the benefit achieved by Vibheeshana through his sharanaagathi - Lord Raama's grace resulting in limitless bliss at Paramapadham in addition to his getting the kingdom of Lanka.
The high-point in the composition is Sri Raama's convincing ability ; the way He goes about telling the vaanara-chief that once a seeker of sharanaagathi comes to His door-step, He has to follow the dharma which has been exemplified in vedas and anecdotes serving as a referece manual or a handbook and that He will never swerve from the lofty ideals set by His forefathers, the Raghu clan. He declares that He is not scared even if He is Raavana in Vibheeshana's grab as He is able to finish off the whole group of raakshas and pishaachas / yaksrtasas coming together to fight by using His finger nail ! This was meant to convince those who doubted His limitless capacity.
'Abhayapradhaana saara' is considered to be the most significant work of Swami Desikan on Raamaayana. He has also written a sthothra known as Raghuveeragadhya' which can be called 'Raamayana in a nutshell'. The 'manipravaala' style employed by the author is unique and it has to be read to be enjoyed.
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