Samashrayanam and Bharanyasam
The Andavan Ashramam is a beacon of light in the Srivaishnava line, offering succour and refuge to millions of followers by enlightening them on the path of prapatti, the easiest means of attaining the Lord. The acharya, Srimad Andavan, awards initiation to followers through a five-fold ritual called samashrayanam, and conducts sacramental surrender or prapatti through a ritual known as bharanyasam. Thousands of devotees undertake vows of samashrayanam and bharanyasam everyday at the divine lotus feet of Srimad Andavan.
What is Samashrayanam?
Samashrayanam means ‘to approach and take shelter of the acharya with all sincerity’.
In a nut shell, during samashrayanam, the acharya initiates a person, irrespective of caste, creed or sex, as his sishya. It is a commitment from the disciple that he or she will live as per the wishes of the acharya. Thus the person gets linked formally to the Sri Vaishnava parampara.
During samashrayanam, five purifications known as pancha-samskaram are performed and the candidate becomes a ‘Sri Vaishnava’. The five samskarams and its main purposes are:
01 — Tapam
The acharya embosses the impressions of heated sankha and chakra – the the holy conch shell and the sacred discuss held by the Lord – on the arms, near the shoulders
02 — Pundram
The acharya marks the candidate with dvadasa-urdhva-pundram (the traditional Sri Vaishnava mark shaped like a ‘U’ using sacred white clay, and a yellow line in the middle, worn in twelve places of the body)
03 — Namam
The acharya adds the name ‘dasan’ to the candidate, to indicate that one is forever a servant of the Supreme Lord Sriman Narayana and the purvacharyas led by Bhagavad Ramanuja
04 — Mantram
The acharya reveals the three secret mantras to initiate the candidate into Srivaishnavism
05 — Yagam
The acharya authorises the candidate to learn and practice the worship of Sriman Narayana in His deity form (bhagavad-aradhanam and paduka-aradhanam)