Prapatti and Saranagati

The following selections on Prapatti
is from four sources.

The feminine noun prapatti derives
from the verbal root pad + pra (to fall or drop down). The
word thus means pious resignation, seeking refuge at the
guru’s feet. Among the synonyms of prapatti is saranagati
(to approach one in search of shelter and

prapatti: (Sanskrit) “Throwing
oneself down.”

Bhakti – total, unconditional
submission to God, often coupled with the attitude of
personal helplessness, self-effacement and resignation. A
term especially used in Vaishnavism to name a concept
extremely central to virtually all Hindu schools. In Saiva
Siddhanta, bhakti is all important in the development of the
soul and its release into spiritual maturity.

from Adi Da Samraj:

Devotee: Beloved Sri Gurudev, You
put a book on The Basket of Tolerance called The Dark Night
of the Soul by John of the Cross, and he talks about
it….there’s not.. even a catharsis, not necessarily as a
single event, but as surrender.

Sri Gurudev: Surrender not done,
surrender accomplished by God. You have no option, all your
options over, so imposed upon that you are dead! That is
Prapatti, that is God-Realization, that is true surrender,
that is self-forgetting. It is not merely crisis moments
that may provoke it or make it necessary – death and other
difficult moments you see. You are in that very moment now
but you have developed through this self-contraction means
to avoid it, to desensitize yourself to the imposition, the
force of this very moment.. The force of My Company, the
force altogether of existence in this moment.

Chapter 3 – Dawn Horse

My earliest and most basic practice
was an example of what is traditionally called “prapatti”,
or simple, direct, non-technical, and unconditional
surrender to whatever is always already the case. It was not
a practice informed by any conventional religious
philosophy, or by any traditional spiritual philosophy, or
by any inherited god-concepts. All that was possible for me
was the real practice of divine ignorance, or spontaneous
submission to the unknown and unknowable condition in which
the conditional self and the conditional world are arising
in every moment.

I soon enjoyed a profoundly
essential insight into the felt dilemma and the urge to seek
that characterize the born self. It became clear to me that
the feeling of dilemma and the urge to seek god, happiness,
fulfillment, or release via the acquisition of experience,
knowledge, or any condition or conditional object at all are
not in fact the means for the realization of truth itself. I
understood that the problem-feeling and the urge to seek are
not a program for the actual discovery of truth, but they
are merely symptoms of a curious disease. I observed that
these symptoms, which tend to characterize every moment of
ordinary existence, are in fact the evidence of the very
state that must be transcended if the truth itself is to be
realized. It was clear to me that the feeling of dilemma and
the seeking – urge are nothing more than a confession that
god, truth, or happiness is not presently experienced or
known. And this seemed remarkable to me.

Mahamantra meditation is basically
the practice of total psycho-physical self-submission to the
spiritually self-revealed divine condition. The practice of
mahamantra meditation is based on devotional invocation of
me via the brain core or ajna door. It is whole bodily love
of me, and direct communion with the divine love-bliss. It
is to love me with all your heart-feeling, attention, mind,
breath, vitality, and body. Truly, it is a simple, single,
and total gesture. It is self-transcending, not
self-glorifying or self-concerned. Therefore, it is a most
profound heart-practice, corresponding to what is
traditionally called “prapatti”, or complete, unconditional
self-surrender to the living or spiritual condition, which
is the perfectly subjective self-condition and the perfectly
subjective context of all conditionally manifested beings
and worlds. And this same self-surrender must characterize
daily living as well as meditation.


You Become My Devotee in Your Past
as well as in the Present

May 26, 1995

On Friday, May 26, after Granting
formal Darshan to retreatants in the inner Courtyard of Aham
Da Asmi Sthan, Beloved Adi Da came by car to Qaravi
village-He had again consented to gather with His devotees.
Beloved Adi Das initial Discourse that evening was in
response to a question regarding the
of Prapatti
(or the disposition
of complete, unconditional surrender “to whatever is
presently the case”) in the beginners stages of practice. He
then proceeded to Give a very beautiful description of what
occurs in the personal history of individuals when they
become His devotees. A brief excerpt from this portion of
the evening follows:

ADI DA SAMRAJ: Ishta-Guru-Bhakti
Yoga is Prapatti. As I was saying the other evening, this is
because it does not contain an element that is about
measuring the results. And yet it is the precise and fullest
giving over of every faculty, surrendered and forgotten in
this Communion with Me. And Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the
principal characteristic of this Way forever, even in the
context of the “Perfect Practice” and Ultimate

Likely, inevitably, there are all
kinds of purifications and so forth, but the sign of
maturing and developing in this Way is not that arising
conditions change and become more pleasant or ideal or
desirable from whatever point of view. The sign of maturing
is that your exercise of surrender, your practice of
Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga altogether, relative to whatever
arises, becomes more and more profound, more and more
effective. So that is the aspect that is the Sign of growth
– not the measure of whether things arising improve somehow
or other. But you know the circumstances in which
transitions are made stage by stage, and they certainly
involve purifications and more responsibility and so forth.
So those kind of changes are also a Sign.


VISISTADVAITA: N.S. Anantha Rangacharya, the author,
No. 780, V Main Road, Vijaynagar, Bangalore-560040. Rs.

The author has in this work covered
in a masterly way the entire philosophy of Visishtadvaita as
presented by great preceptors like Ramanuja, Sudarsana Suri
and Vedanta Desika. Vaishnavism, as a religious system, has
a hoary past. Its earlier exponents were Nathamuni and
Yamunacharya who were inspired by the mystic saints,
Azhwars. As a system of philosophy it is known as
Visishtadvaita. Its main aim is the unfolding of the
mysticism experienced and expressed by the Azhwars, implied
in the writings of Yamuna and Ramanuja.

Means to

This publication makes a detailed
and analytical study of the Sadhana (means to liberation),
according to Visishtadvaita. The means to liberation are
Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga and Prapatti. Of these,
the ultimate and unfailing means is Prapatti, which is also
called Saranagati and Nyasa. He has explained the chief
tenets under three heads: Sadhaka (the aspirant), Sadhya
(the object to be attained) and Sadhana (the means to
accomplish the end). The Sadhana here is twofold as Bhakti
(loving devotion) and Prapatti (whole-hearted surrender).
They are not two different means. They blend into one in the
ultimate analysis. In fact all the four Yogas blend with
each other in a unique way.

When Bhakti becomes intensified, it
leads to whole-hearted surrender to God. This final stage is
called Prapatti.

The history of the concept of
Prapatti is interesting and inspiring. The author has traced
it from the Vedas, Upanishads, Itihasas and the Puranas. It
finds its culmination in the works of mystics and inspired
the Acharyas. Because the spirit of helplessness and
surrender to the divine is there in the heart of a sincere
devotee, none can claim Prapatti as the exclusive
prerogative of a particular philosophy or religion.

The Path of Love – The Life and
Teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba Shirdi
Rigopoulos, Antonio (1993)

pp. 281-283

The feminine noun prapatti derives
from the verbal root pad + pra (to fall or drop down). The
word thus means pious resignation, seeking refuge at the
guru’s feet. Among the synonyms of prapatti is garanagati
(to approach one in search of shelter and

Prapatti has been inherited as a
technical term from the Ramanujiya schools, that is, from
the immediate successors of Ramanuja, the theoretician of
Vigistaduaita Vedanta (the Vedanta School of ‘qualified
nondualism’). The latter seldom uses the term in his works,
and, when he does, he uses prapatti almost in the same sense
of bhakti, or indicating a “refuge” leading to the
perfection of bhakti.64

The concept of prapatti was
especially developed within the Terigalai school, headed by
Lokacharya Pillai (c. 1300-27). This school taught that the
individual soul (jiva), realizing its own nothingness,
should surrender completely to God, passively waiting for
the descent of His grace. Thus, it was also called the “cat
school” or mdrjdrakiioranyaya, in an analogy to the kitten
(the devotee) who is impotent and passive and of whom the
mother (God) takes complete care.

The Vadagalai school, headed by the
famous master Vedantadeshika (c. 1360), taught that divine
grace cannot release a person from his karmic
responsibilities, and that the bhakti attitude presupposes
activity. For this reason, the school became known as the
“monkey school” or mdrkatakigoranyaya, in an analogy to the
new born monkey who actively clutches his mother and does
not let go.

Prapatti is not subject to any kind
of limitation, be it spatial, temporal, or social.
Lokacharya Pillai declared that the guru’s love for a bhakta
who has totally surrendered to him may bring divine grace
upon the pupil, nothing else being required.

The way leading to prapatti may be
delineated thus: first, the determination to be faithful
(dnakuya-samkalpa). The will must be definitely oriented
towards Ishvara, that is, all actions, thoughts, and
feelings must be dedicated to God. At the same time, there
must be a renunciation of all resistance and opposition
(pratikulyavarjana), the relinquishing of all ideas of “I”
and “mine.” At this stage, the devotee, convinced that the
Beloved will protect him/her in all situations (raksisyatiti
visvasa), shows a complete trust in Providence and in the
promises of Ishvara.

The next step is atmaniksepa. This
term may be understood as “entrusting oneself to God,” that
is, an act of submission: the abandonment of one’s self in
oblation to the deity (atmatyaga, atmahavis).

There are three samarpanas,
“deliverings,” that the prapanna must perform. First, the
devotee must renounce gains (labha), in the form of merits
or consolations, that he/she might derive from virtuous
conduct. Secondly, the devotee must give up all feelings of
protagonism: this attitude is technically known as
“relinquishing the burden” (bhara) and signifies the radical
silencing of the will. In a way, one could say that the
bhakta abandons all claims relative to a “heroic” act of
surrender. Thirdly, he/she must “deliver” the entire being
to Ishvara, that is, abandon all pretenses at being an
individual jiva bearing specific traits (svarupa). Human
initiative can only extend so far.

The last stage is called “poorness
of spirit” (karpanya) or “nullity” (akincanya) and
constitutes the perfection of prapatti. It is characterized
by a condition of total vulnerability: the awareness of
being wholly impotent, thus accepting all that happens as
Ishvara’s grace. One then “belongs” to the deity, having
renounced all individual rights.

One must be fixed (ekdnta) on one’s
Lord or guru, cultivating an attitude of vigilant
receptivity, so as to be able to intuit his or her

Nyasa Dasakam consists of 10 slokas
on prapatti. It is common practice to chant these during the
daily worship (tiruvArAdhanam) in houses. This stotram is
the prapatti done by Swami Desikan at the feet of Lord
Varadaraja of Kancipuram. Thus all the slokas are addressed
by Swami Desikan from him to Bhagavan, and thus are in the
form of “I surrender to you”, “I pray to you”, etc. However,
the purpose for which our purvacharyas have preserved these
words of Vedanta Desika and presented to us is for us to
follow his example. Therefore, the meaning of the slokas is
presented here in the form of what a prapanna should

The underlying thought conveyed is
that a prapanna chooses an acharya, learns the five angas
(elements) of prapatti, surrenders the total responsibility
for his protection to Bhagavan by following these, dedicates
all he possesses to bhagavad-kainkaryam (Godly service), and
enjoys the bliss of Sri Vaikuntham in this world through
this kainkaryam. Because he has surrendered the total
responsibility for his protection to Bhagavan, He ensures
that the prapanna reaches moksham at the end of this life,
and the prapanna is thus relieved of the cycle of re-birth,
and unites with Bhagavan and continues the kainkaryam to Him
in Sri Vaikuntham afterwards.

Sloka 1

Prapatti consists of three

1. Surrender one’s atma (self) –
Recognize that this Atma is not independent but is
subservient to the Lord. This is called svarUpa

2. Surrender the responsibility for
our protection to the Lord – this is called bhara

3. Whatever benefit arises out of
our existence, this also is surrendered to bhagavAn, and
there is no part in it for us – this is called phala
samarpaNam. Prapatti involves getting the knowledge of this
principle from an acharya and making this dedication of our
atma to the Lord – this is the prapatti that leads to


Prapatti Sloka MP3 Audio