Independence & Actorship after Prapatti

In the early summer of 2018, there was a very interesting conversation in one of the WhatsApp groups on the question how to apply the principle of non-actorship, the philosophical core of Prapatti, in daily life.

In our sampradaya, as explained in the Simple Guide, one must give up all notions of independence (swatantrya), even the slightest and consider oneself to be totally dependent (pārathanthrya) on Emperuman*/Emperumanar**/Acharyan*** for all impulses/energies.

* Emperuman = God (emphasis on mercy)
** Emperumanar = more mercyful than God, a name for Rāmānuja
*** Āchārya – teacher / guru, who exhibits perfected behavior. Adding an „n“ at the end of words ending in „a“ is common in Tamil, Tamil speakers habitually do this in English, too.

Is this something that only relates to the spiritual side of life? If not, how is the practise in everyday life?

Applies to so-called everyday life also, Swamin. All prescribed work ultimately is meant for Moksha. Even for Karma-yoga all action is to be ascribed either to the Guṇās (characteristics of Emperumān’s material energy, Prakṛiti) or to Emperumān Himself in the Bhagavad Gīta:

The method of practising Karma-Yoga by ascribing all agency to the guṇas, —because ātmā has been shown to be a distinct essence— has now been described.

The ascription or attribution of agency to the guṇas is thus:—

Reflect, that ātmā from its essential nature, cannot be actor, but action comes to it from its conjunction with matter. (It is actorship not natural but derived or borrowed). Hence in association with matter (prāpta)3, there is actorship; in the absence of such association (aprāpta)4, there is no actorship.

It is next shown how works may be viewed by attributing authorship thereof —an attribution hitherto considered with reference to the guṇas5, —to Bhagavān, the Supreme Spirit, the all-Soul, —a consideration justified by the fact that all ātmās constitute His body, and are related to Him in the relation of the guided and the Guide.

As a necessary inference, therefore, from the consideration that ātmā constitutes My body, and derives all energies (or powers) from Me, do you surrender all acts to Me, the Supreme Spirit, imagining that they are all done by Myself. In other words, let all acts be done as acts of Worship paid to Me.

Also, be nirāśih, desireless, i.e., remaining without any expectancy of fruit for work done.

Nirmamaḥ=to be free from the idea of ‘my-ness’ or owning an act for oneself.

Your (mental) fever thus cured (vigata-jvaraḥ), do fighting and all the round of duties (that the sacred Edicts make binding on you).

Your reflections ought to run thus:— ‘My Soul (Ātmā) is the Supreme Spirit, and therefore, He, my Ātmā, is the Author (or Actor). The Lord of all, the Master of all, it is He, Who causes acts being done —acts of worship to Him— by me, who am His body, and therefore His instrument. And therefore no notion of ‘my-ness’ or ownership of acts done, I can entertain.’

Thus shall your fever leave you, —the fever or mental trouble evinced by your thoughts: ‘how am I going to escape from the enormous mass of sins committed in the immemorial past etc.?’

You may thus cheerfully enter on the duties prescribed for you, —Karma-Yoga—, reflecting that by them, you do but worship the Supreme Spirit; and He so worshipped delivers you from bondage.

My edict or truth is that to all ātmā-essence I am the Prop. It is to Me as My body, standing to Me in the relation of disposable property (śesha-bhūtam) ; and it derives all its impulses from Me (explained in verse 30, ante).

Ascribing authorship, actorship, etc., to Emperumān is also described in:

More substantially from 18.1 to 18.17 and further more comprehensively verses thru to verse 18.49.

and also

Of course, for Prapannās (surrendered jīvās), prescribed duties (constituting Karma Yoga) have to be performed, no longer as Means to Moksha, but solely as service to Emperumān so non-Prapannās don’t leave Karmās also, looking at Prapannas. Per Mumukshuppadi:

The daily and special acts and rituals that he performs, appropriate to his varNa and Ashrama, are done not with the thought that they are the means. Instead, they are done due to kindness toward others, and therefore lead to His pleasure. Thus, they are part of the service done to Him.

Analogous to the beginning portion of 3.29 (Look for vyapadesyāḥ):

adiyēn Rāmānuja dāsānudāsan

Thank you swamy 🙏

However, to adiyen, application is still unclear when we take it to the very practical: your boss gives you a project and a number of people to help you with it. Now, to complete the project, one has to think and act. Or so it seems?

Philosophically, it is clear that everything is only originating in Emperumān, but it seems inevitable to act “by oneself”, taking agency in such a task. Or can we avoid it?
Adiyēn rāmānuja dāsan

Adiyen’s few cents..
In office, I am working on a role given by my boss. I am different from that role. If that role was not given, I as an individual, have no interest and no means of performing those actions. So I realize whatever work I did in the office was on my boss’s behalf and the results of it, don’t belong to me either. Having this realization, I do my work without letting my personal feelings(hatred or vested interest) about the work or my peers or the competition. They don’t come in my way of doing my duty. With that freedom of thought, I perform the actions as to how my CEO would want me to do..

That’s how adiyen see it Swamy

Nice view swamy, thank you!
What is difficult for adiyen is that in adiyens job, there is so much room for own decisions. The board gives the final ok, everything else is done by me. So while adiyen understands the logic of your point and tries to think that way, adiyen is always back to I-ness very quickly when at work… dhanyosmi 🙏

Adiyen also is only trying to stay in that ideal mental state Swami. Every day is an attempt in that direction. I guess every one will have to find a customized solution for their situation to get to this detached mental state at work. For example, I started thinking of myself as a ‚contract worker‘ in my own company. That helped me avoid many politics related distractions & hurt feelings and focus only on work and save my mind, time for bhaghavath kainkaryam

Here are adiyen’s few little thoughts on this topic to maintain a right balance of mind. Sincere apologies if something doesn’t add up or make sense.🙏🙏

Whether one is travelling the spiritual path or performing the day-to-day tasks in mundane life, ideally he / she must keep in mind that he/she is functioning only out of acharyan’s and emperuman’s kindness and blessings.
one might be performing something big / something small (in worldly terms), performing big tasks / small tasks -performing managerial job/ assistant’s job – it doesn’t matter, everything is carried out only by emperuman’s kindness and grace.
If we are of any use anywhere, if we are able to carry out even a little useful work, it is only because of emperuman’s meticulous arrangement – we are able to function only due to the facilities & faculties endowed by emperuman.

For example: adiyen does not know how im able to breathe without any conscious effort from self, how my lungs take oxygen and push out carbon dioxide, how blood is circulating through each part of the body, how the nervous system carry signals from one part of the body to another, how the heart is pumping etc. I do not know, but it happens automatically – Im not consciously taking any effort to perform the hundreds of tasks inside my body.

We don’t have any control over our own activities. All we can do is take care of our body from outside, which is very trivial when compared to what’s happening naturally inside our bodies. Such is our condition, yet we are living and using this God given gift to do our little tasks in life
We cannot make any claims on our own body’s functioning nor we can claim anything in regards to our mental capabilities, skills. intelligence etc. because we were able to acquire these qualities due to the exposure, experience, opportunities and material facilities provided to us.

When such is the case of our own bodies and our own selves, it goes without explanation about all the other external factors resources & arrangements God has created and operating for us, using which we perform our duties – be it in whatever stream and in whatever capacity

Reality is we don’t have much to make personal claims for any good work that we are able to perform. It turns out that humility is not a choice, rather it is a natural state of mind when such simple realities are realised / understood clearly.

We are only utilising what has been provided by God, within our limited understanding, knowledge & capacity and we attempt to do our duty as good as possible. Again this is dependent upon God’s will. And we can only pray for his blessings to get the right results and it is not fully in our hands.

When we realise the depth and breadth of God’s hand from behind – and our own limitations – there is nothing for us to fill up our ego. There is simply no scope for ego at any level and any measure.

It will be hard to find a reason to be able to think that I’m doing so and so big work; I’m so and so; i have such achievements; I have acquired this position etc..

In reality, we are simply using our little will, extremely limited will; wishing and willing to do little acts with all the facilities and arrangements blessed by God.

I’m in a position to take decisions and act only because God has been very kind to me and placed me in this position – I should not consider that I fully deserve everything that I possess – but it must be understood that God has blessed me with what I have, only out of His love and kindness. There are many people who can do what I’m doing. There are many who can perform a lot better than me, yet God has some reason to put me in the path that I’m in – Hence one must be thankful and make the best use of it, use it rightly and not misuse it and be thankful for what he Has given and perform our duties.

When we realise God’s immense love towards us and the unimaginable amount of blessing He showers upon us -we understand how responsibly we should be walking the right path in life. And not misuse the boons He has blessed us with love. We have a very high responsibility not to displease Him. we must exercise our little will to sincerely walk the path as shown by our acharyas. This is the only way to make our acharyas and emperuman happy.

Kindly apologise for all mistakes in adiyen’s words. And happy to receive comments for correction.

Adiyen ramanuja dasan🙏🙏🙏

Dear Swamins,

A few more things to consider for practical application.

adiyen suspects part of the issue might be mistaking / confusing the „utsāha“ (zeal, enthusiasm) which we are asked to show for an act in BG 18.26 below, with „I-ness“.

[Note: „utsāha“ (zeal) should be a state of consciousness that’s an attribute of the jīva, according to the YMD (Yatheendra Matha Deepika) reference mentioned in adiyen’s previous post.]

mukta-saṅgo ’nahaṁ-vādī dhṛty-utsāha-samanvitaḥ
siddhy-asiddhyor nirvikāraḥ kartā sāttvika ucyate

‘He is called Sātvika-Actor who is attachment-free, boasts not of ‘I-ness,’ full of courage and zeal, unmoved by success or failure.’

Attachment-free = Exempt from attachment for fruit.

An-aham-vādi = who boasts not of self (=I-ness), as the agent, or who is devoid of the pride or love of self being agent (of an act).

Dhṛiti = Courage or fortitude, or the being able to bear up against all unavoidable sufferings incidental to the prosecution of a work undertaken.

Utsāha = Zeal, enthusiasm for effort, or the being enlivened with an active spirit for work.

And to be unmoved whether success or failure follow an action such as that of a war, or other acts such as earning money and other necessaries for prosecuting such a war. To be such an Actor is called Sātvika.

In the above, Emperumān is asking for the „absence“ of boast/pride/love of the self being the doer and the „prevalence“ of zeal / enthusiasm / courage, which (the latter) is different from an aham-vādi according to the above.

In other words, rather than continually focusing on the fact that we aren’t the doer, we are asked to focus on zeal/enthusiasm/courage for the act that is being performed as an instrument (BG 11.33). Of course, if/whenever we find ourselves in the consciousness of an „aham-vādi“ we could extinguish it with 18.15 and other verses mentioned in the 2 previous posts.

Also, in practice, many jīvās‘ (including adiyen’s) „will“ is subpar/vitiated in various ways because of continued focus on prakriti/matter/māya, but by Acharyan’s kripa we can hope to immerse ourselves more and more in Bhagavath/Bhāgavatha kainkaryam and reach the perfect stage of being an instrument vide Topic 13 in Aṣta-daśa Bhedas:

Since when we subsume our will to Emperumān/Emperumānār/Achāryan’s Will, it’s Achāryan’s Will that causes kainkaryam to happen, with us just being instruments (achithvath pārathantriyam), one practical way to look at it is that ALL positives that come via us are because of Achāryan’s kripa, with only the negatives „owned“ by us (the negatives subjecting us to punyam/papam/consequences).

Also practicing Naichyanusandhanam as shown by our Pūrvāchāryas (vide Yathirāja Vimśati). Lacking in any kind of self-esteem, considering oneself to be a total imbecile, etc.

adiyen would be grateful for corrections. All faults in the above and only the faults belong to adiyen.

adiyēn Rāmānuja dāsānudāsan