Srivaishnavas, followers of Ramanuja, believe in the concept of prapatti or Saranagati, where, if I understand correctly, God himself becomes the savior after the devotee surrenders completely to God. People are welcome to correct me, if I misunderstood.

Now here is my question. Where is the concept of Prapatti mentioned in the mukhya upanishads, as per the Sri Vaishnava interpretation? Please cite commentaries or works of Sri Vaishnava acharyas to support your statements. The exact word "prapatti/saranagati" need not be there. It is sufficient if the concept is present. (Here, by mukhya upanishads, I mean the main upanishads (about 10-15) and not all the 108 upanishads).


2 Answers 2


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The commentary of the Svetasvatara-Upanishad explaining Bhagavat-saranagati by Sri Vaishnava Acharya is provided in image form. Please check page 121 of https://archive.org/details/SvetasvataraUpanishadPrakasikaRangaRamanujaAnandaBhasyaRamanandaMuniSanskritAcademyMelkote/page/n61

The main sloka contains the words 'mumukshur vai sharanam prapadye' meaning that 'I being desirous of liberation take rufuge in Him'. So all the words 'Sharanam' and 'prapadye' (comes from the same root from which the word 'prapanna' is created) are present in the Upanishad verse already.

In the commentary, 'He' of the sloka is referred to as Sri Rama, Who as Narayana created Brahmaa and enriched him by the knowledge of the Vedas. Two slokas-one from the Vasistha-samhita and another from the Valmiki-Ramayana(known in the Sri Vaishnava sect as the 'Charama Sloka') is quoted to support the view that Sri Rama as Narayana is the Supreme God referred to in the sloka.The concept of Surrender and liberation are already there in the main sloka of the Upanishad to fully support the concept of 'Sharanagati'.

Edited by hashable@

I am adding a translation of the above verse with a summarized commentary in English from the book "Principal Upanishads vol 1" by Vidvan NS Anantharangacharya Swamy

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  • Could you provide link to an English translation?
    – user16581
    Apr 17, 2019 at 8:31
  • @LazyLubber No I do not know.But the sanskrit is simple here and quoting the charama sloka from the Valmiki-Ramayana also.
    – user17294
    Apr 17, 2019 at 8:34
  • @LazyLubber I have edited commonman@'s answer and provided an English translation of this verse as you requested. Also see my other answer.
    – hashable
    Apr 18, 2019 at 1:14
  • @hashable Thank you
    – user16581
    Apr 18, 2019 at 1:47

According to two celebrated acharyas of the Srivaishnava Sampradaya: Sudarsana Suri, and Vedanta Desika, the path of Saranagati/Prapatti is none other than the Nyasa Vidya described in the last few passages of the of the Taittiriya-Upanisad-Narayanavalli section (aka Mahanarayanopanisad).

In the Srutaprakasika commentary on Ramanuja's Sribhashya, Sudarsana Suri says-

akṣaravidyādikā iti - ādi śabdena nyāso vivakṣitaḥ
In the phrase "Akshara Vidya etc." the word "etc." conveys Nyasa (Prapatti).

I will post quotations from Vedanta Desika's works as well in a couple of days

Here is the source text of the Nyasa Vidya portion and translation/commentary from the book "Principal Upanishads vol 1" by Vidvan NS Anantharangacharya Swamy. The commentary is based on the Upanishad Bhashya of Rangaramanuja muni.

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  • 1
    @Ikshvaku (1) Both BhaktiYoga and Sharanagati can be accessories to each other depending on which is the principal upAya. If Prapatti couldn't be an independent upAya and only an anga, then the meaning of "sarvadharmAn" in the charama shloka would be significantly impacted (2) Recall that Prapatti can be performed by a capable seeker by themselves reciting the mantras, or by representation by a qualified Acharya/Bhagavata. So it is still a valid upAya for those who are not capable of reciting the mantras. Indeed that's how it is practiced today.
    – hashable
    Oct 28, 2020 at 6:54
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    @Ikshvaku The mantras you cited say that "jnana" is the only way to mokSha (tam evam vidvan / vididtva etc.) Knowing the Parabrahman via the synonymous 'vedana' (knowing) / 'upasana' (personal worship) / 'nididhayasana' (concentration/meditation) is the only way to mokSha. Prapatti also has jnana-svarupa or is the form of knowledge. Indeed, it is considered that there are several past lifetimes of bhaktiyoga that are causal in the history of a jIvAtma that does prapatti. So prapatti is not inconsistent with "jnAnAd muktiH".
    – hashable
    Nov 12, 2020 at 18:57
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    @Ikshvaku YP is not trying to argue that JY is to be done in sannyasa. He is trying to argue that it makes sense for Shruti to prescribe a fourth ashrama dedicated for JY (as the grihasta is unlikely to be able to make time for pure-jnana pursuit). He is refuting those who claim that the sannyasashrama has no basis in Shruti. I would caution you against taking Olivelle's translation seriously. There are many places where Olivelle's translation shows clear lack of understanding of some of the finer nuances of terminology.
    – hashable
    Nov 20, 2020 at 5:06
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    E.g. In the last paragraph of Chapter 1, he translates "bhikShAcharyam" as "begging for food" and says that such practices are "not appropriate for householders". Here Olivelle misses the point that Sannyasis can only beg for cooked rice. Brahmacharis and householders can only beg for uncooked food which they are supposed to cook themselves. When a householder lives by begging, it is not called bhikShA but u~nchavritti. Vedanta Desika is a famous example of a householder who lived his life practicing u~nchavritti.
    – hashable
    Nov 20, 2020 at 5:06
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    @Ikshvaku I neglected to mention the point that Ramanuja explicitly cites "nanyaH panthA ayanAya vidyate" in support of bhagavatprapatti being a requirement for mokSha in the Vedarthasangraha. "saṃsārān mokṣo bhagavatprapattim antareṇa nopapadayata ityuktaṃ bhavati; nānyaḥ panthā ayanāya vidyata ityādiśrutibhiś ca". Sudarshana Suri clarifies in the Tatparyadipika that even for pursuants of bhaktiyoga, prapatti as an anga is required for moksha. Thus the "panthA" in the shruti verse refers to the prapatti (either as a component of, or as a complete upAya in itself).
    – hashable
    Dec 12, 2020 at 7:05

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