Rahasyatrayasara

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Rahasyatrayasāra literally means ‘essence of the three supreme mysteries’.

In the propagation of the principles of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, Vedānta Deśika[1] also known as Veṅkaṭanātha or Nigamānta Deśika is next only to Rāmānuja.[2] Among his many works, the Rahasyatrayasāra is the masterpiece. It expounds in the great and effective detail about the essence[3] of the three[4] supreme mysteries[5] which every spiritual aspirant of the sect of Rāmānuja[6] should know and practice.

Method of Writing Rahasyatrayasāra

Written in chaste prose in the maṇipravāla style,[7] the work is divided into four vibhāgas or sections, each section being divided into adhikāras or short chapters. The total number of such adhikāras is 32. A very brief account of these vibhāgas is as follows:

Sections of Rahasyatrayasāra

It is divided into four sections delineated as follows:

Arthānuśāsanavibhāga

It is of 20 adhikāras. It contains the following topics:

  • Introduction
  • The three secrets or mysteries as the essence of spiritual practice
  • Arthapañcaka or the five essentials to be known
  • The three fundamental principles known as Tattvatraya
  • Qualifications of a true aspirant
  • Prapatti or total surrender to God
  • Feeling of fulfillment
  • Need to perform the rites prescribed by the scriptures
  • Obviating the evil effects of transgressions
  • Liberation

Sthirikaranavibhāga

It has 4 adhikāras explaining the following topics:

  • God as the primary means of liberation
  • Bhakti[8] and prapatti[9] as the secondary means
  • The need to keep up the social disciplines as reflected in the varṇa and āśrama systems
  • Faithful description of the powers and limitations of prapatti

Padavākyayojanāvibhāga

It has 3 adhikāras including the following topics:

  • Detailed exposition of the mula- mantra[10] comprising the praṇava or Om
  • Actual name of the Lord, Nārāyaṇa, and the word namah[11]
  • Expounding of the dvayamantra consisting of two parts, which is the primary aspect of the practice of the prapanna[12]
  • Detailed elucidation of the carama-śloka[13]
  • Containing the final message of the Lord

Sampradāyaprakriyāvibhāga

It has 3 adhikāras delineating the following:

  • The ways and means of an ācārya or a teacher instructing his disciple in the tattvatraya[14] after examining him thoroughly as regards his competence
  • The characteristics of those who are unfit to be accepted as disciples
  • Preservation and transference of the spiritual wisdom in such a way that the ancient traditions are passed on to the future generations

By any standard, this book is a masterly exposition of the philosophy and sādhanas[15] of the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta.


References

  1. He lived in A. D. 1268-1369.
  2. He lived in A.D. 1017-1137.
  3. Essence of sāra.
  4. Three means traya.
  5. Mysteries means rahasya.
  6. He is more well-known as Srīvaiṣṇavism.
  7. This style is Sanskrit form of the Tamil language.
  8. Bhakti means devotion.
  9. Prapatti means total surrender to God.
  10. Mula mantra is the aṣṭākṣarī or the eight-lettered mantra.
  11. Namah means obeisance.
  12. Prapanna means the one who has surrendered himself at the feet of the Lord.
  13. Bhagavadgitā 18.66
  14. Tattvatraya means three basic truths.
  15. Sādhanas means spiritual disciplines.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore