By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Rahasyatrayasara, RahasyatrayasAra, Rahasyatrayasaara
Rahasyatrayasāra (‘essence of the three supreme mysteries’)
In the propagation of the principles of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, Vedānta Deśika (A. D. 1268-1369)—also known as Veṅkaṭa-nātha or Nigamānta Deśika—is next only to Rāmānuja (A. D. 1017-1137).
Among his many works, the Rahasyatrayasāra is the masterpiece. It expounds
in great detail and very effectively, tHe
essence (= sāra) of the three (= traya) supreme mysteries (= rahasya) which
every spiritual aspirant of the sect of Rāmānuja (more well-known as Srīvaiṣṇa-vism) should know and practise.
Written in chaste prose in the maṇipravāla style (sanskritised form of the Tamil language), the work is divided into four vibhāgas or sections, each section being, again, divided into adhikāras or short chapters. The total number of such adhikāras is 32.
A very brief account of these vibhāgas may now be given here:
1. Arthānuśāsanavibhāga (20 adhikāras)
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; on prapatti or total surrender to God; a feeling of fulfilment; need to perform the rites prescribed by the scriptures; obviating the evil effects of transgressions; liberation.
2. Sthirikaranavibhāga (4 adhikāras)
God as the primary means of liberation; bhakti (devotion) and prapatti (total surrender to God) as the secondary means; the need to keep up the social disciplines as reflected in the varṇa and āśrama systems; a faithful description of the powers and limitations of prapatti.
3. Padavākyayojanāvibhāga (3 adhikāras)
Detailed exposition of the mula-mantra (the aṣṭākṣarī or the eight-lettered mantra) comprising the praṇava or Om,
the actual name of the Lord, Nārāyaṇa, and the word namah (obeisance); expounding of the dvayamantra consisting of two
parts, which is the primary aspect of the practice of the prapanna (one who has surrendered himself at the feet of the Lord); detailed elucidation of the carama-śloka (Bhagavadgitā 18.66) containing the final message of the Lord.
The ways and means of an ācārya or a teacher instructing his disciple in the tattvatraya (three basic truths) 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 (spiritual disciplines) of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta.
See also RAHASYATRAYA, ŚRĪVAISNA-VISM and VEDĀNTA DEŚIKA.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore