Verses of surrender

Among the innumerable great intellects that have shaped, fostered and embellished Indian philosophy, that of Appayya Dikshita is a resplendent one, which elicits instant awe and respect.

One of the greatest scholars of the 16th century, Appayya Dikshita combined in himself the erudition of a polymath in the best of hallowed Indian tradition, the practicality of an astute man of the world, the imagination of a poet and the detachment and profundity of a philosopher.

His numerous treatises are even now part of the course of study of students of Indian philosophy. It is said that knowledge of Dikshita's works are an indicator of a student's caliber.

The 'Atmarpanastuti' is one of the well known works of Appayya Dikshita. In 50 stanzas of exquisite Sanskrit lyrics, Dikshita quite literally, as the title itself suggests, surrenders his 'self' at the feet of the supreme power that guides the affairs of man.

These verses are the epitome of inner maturity of a soul that has reached the pinnacle of its spiritual journey. In his own words in the course of this work, his is "a soul that has sold its god given gifts of literary powers for earthly acquisitions and which has now realized the futility of it all and is craving for spiritual emancipation".

Legend has it that he once wanted to test his own devotion and therefore swallowed an inedible seed that caused intoxication. He instructed his pupils to gather around him and note down his utterances in this inebriated condition. To the surprise of all, this work, the 'Atmarpanastuti' flowed out .

Whatever be the veracity of this story, there is no doubt that this composition is the result of true and pure devotion of a soul that seeks nothing else except divine grace. The very opening lines show his remarkable catholicity of thought, wherein he says that though there may be disputes among different sects over God's names, he recognizes only one power that is beyond name and form.

He says "you are beyond description, higher than what the mere intellect can perceive. You, the cause of this material world can be attained only by true devotion. You existed even before creation.In their delusion, people ascribe names and forms to you. But in reality, you are only one, the formless".

He significantly adds that there are some people who resort to rites and rituals, some who meditate, some who discharge their functions according to their station in life, but the vast majority simply exists, immersed in their worldly pursuits and sense enjoyments.

Their fickle minds run hither and thither, pursuing the mirage of happiness through material possessions. Through a telling example, Dikshita portrays the power of the senses in shackling and misleading man. "Like a calf yoked to a bull and being dragged along, man is overpowered by his senses. It is only by your grace that he can realize his folly and attempt to extricate himself and strive for spiritual upliftment".

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