Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sri Sthavam

~Ravichandran Sowrirajan 

Thaniyan for Swamy Kuseran: 
Srivatsasigna misrEpyO nama ukthimadhImahE | 
yathukthayastrayIkanTE yAnthi manglasUtradhAm ||  

There are 11 slokams in Sri Sthavam of Kuresa. The first five are called Sthotropodhgaatam or introductory verses that express the author's disqualifications to engage in praising the most auspicious Sri Devi. Here Kuresa states that he is acutely aware of his limitations as a poet to undertake such an impossible task. From verse 6, the actual stotram begins (Stotraarambham). The ninth and the tenth verses are in the form of his Prapatti at Her Lotus feet. The eleventh and the final verse of this Sthavam is a prayer to Her to cast Her benovolent glances on him and protect him and us as the prapannas seeking refuge in Her. 

 The Sthavam begins with a prayer to Her(Svasthi Sreer Disadhaat) and Kuresa prays for her blessings of Vaak Samrutti and Bhakti Samrutti (Abundance of poetic skills and wealth of Bhakthi ) during the composition of the sthavam on Her. P.B.Annangraacchaar swamy has constructed the following imaginary dialog between Maha Lakshmi and the supplicant, Kuresa : 

 Kuresa: Svasthi Sreer Disadhaat(Sri Devi ! May thou bless me) 

 Sri devi: My Child! You asked me to bless you with auspiciousness. What would you like? Abundant fame or wealth or progeny or all the three? 

 Kuresa: O, Mother Divine! I do not want the perishable wealth or progeny or Fame. I am standing before you to praise your auspicious qualities to my heart's content. 

 Sri Devi: Kuresa! You are a great poet. You can go ahead anyway. What kind of Svasthi needs to be conferred as a boon by me beyond that? 

 Kuresa: O, My Compassionate Mother! You should not take this attitude. You should bless me with adequate Saraswati Samrutti to undertake this task, which is currently beyond my ability ,given the nature of the loftiness of the subject matter of my sthavam. 

 Sri Devi: Kuresa! You already have been blessed with that gift. Please ask me for something else your heart desires. 

 Kuresa: Mother! It is true that my tongue utters some words skillfully. I do not however have the mellowness and Bhakti to inform my intellect to engage in this holy task. Pleas egive me that type of Jnanam. 

Sri Devi: Kuresa, My dear child! When you wished to offer eulogy to me, you obtained then and there such a Jnanam. If you did not have that Vaatsalyam and a heart steeped in devotion, you would not progress in your efforts. Therefore, Please ask me for some other boons that interests you. 

 Kuresa: O, Supreme Mother ! Your blessings have indeed given me a small measure of Bhakti for You . Please bless me further that it grows into Para Bhakti, Para Jnanam and Parama Bhakti as experienced by the Mudhal Aazhwaars at Thirukkovalur. 

 Sri Devi: Kuratthaazhwaan! You do not need to worry over this. Those three that you desire will grow gradually (KrameNa) as in the case of the three Azhwaars. Why do you wish to ask for some thing that is going to grow anyway? 

 Kuresa: O,Most Merciful Mother! I can not bear to wait for a long time to experience my Bhakti grow through its different stages to become Parama Bhakti . I do not have the stregth to go through that waiting period. Please bless me as I stand before You and make me Your servant (Kinkaran) and receive in return my most humble services. May Your merciful glances fall on me and uplift me! That is ALL I wish to ask as the supreme boon from You ! 

 Sri Devi: Azhwaan! You are so Blessed! I have granted you that boon. Thus begins the Sri Sthavam. 

Verse 1 of SrI Sthavam : 

 SvasthiSrIrdhisathAdh asEsha-jagathAm SargOpsarga-sTithee :
Svargam dhurgthimApavargikapadham sarvam cha kurvan Hari:
YasyA veekshya mukham tadhingithaparAdheenO vidhatthE akhilam
kreeDEyam khalu nAnyaTAasya rasadhA syAdhaikarasyAth Tayaa

 The consort of Sri Devi (Ranganatha) engages in His acts of creation, protection and destruction; He blesses Kaivalyaarthins and Mokshaarthins(Prapannas) with the boons of Svargam and Moksham respectively.He punishes those , who deviate from Saastras and sends them to Naraka. During the performance of these tasks , He is motivated and guided by the hints from the facial expressions of Sri Devi, His consort . If He did not synchronize His activities with the expressions originating from His Devi"s eye brows and face,His many duties and activities will not yield Him happiness. He will not feel fulfilled by the performance of these duties.

 May that consort of Sri Ranganatha , who is united with Him at all times, places and states (Eikarasyam) confer auspiciousness 0n me to undertake this onerous task. The Eikarasyam concept is an important theme of Azhwaars. This is why Ramanuja chose the Panguni Uttaram day to offer his Saranagati to the Divine couple, when he saw them physically seated together (Ekapeetam) on that day at Srirangam temple. Swami Desikan has dwelled on this concept in his works; has gone further to underline the related concept of EKASESHITVAM as one of the central principles of Sri Vaishnavam as taught by his Poorvaacharyas. He salutes that extraordinary state of INTERDEPENDENCE of the divine couple in one of his slokas of Sri Sthuti as follows:

 " Vishnu: Tvam cha iti Dwandhvam Anyonya Lakshyam ". O, Sri devi, You and your husband are bound forever by your love for each other. You are never far away from each other even for a moment; both of You with Your limitless, illustrious qualities are a PAIR that can be understood COMPLETELY ONLY through each other. That is why You are introduced as Vishnu Patni and he is known as Sriya: Pathi. That is your extraordinary state of Interdependence .

Verse 2 of SrI Sthavam : 

hE SrIrdEvi ! SamasthalOkajananeem ThvAm stOthumeehAmahE
yukthAm bhAvaya Bharatheem praguNaya prEmapradhAnam dhiyam
bhakthim bhandhaya nandayAsrithamimam dhAsam janam Thaavakam
lakshyam Lakshmi ! kaDAkshaveechisruthEs tE syAma chAmee vayam

 Oh Maha Lakshmi! You are the mother of the entire universe and its inhabitants. I wish to offer my praise to You. Please grant me the gift of Vak (Speech ) appropriate for this task! please grow my intellect and devotion to carry out this undertaking ! May my Bhakti become Parama Bhakti through Your blessing! Please accept my Kainkaryam as that coming from one , who has surrendered at Your Lotus feet. Please make me Joyous through the acceptance of my Vaachika Kainkaryam ! May we the Prapannas become the object of the waves of Your most merciful and compassionate glances! This is the verse for which Sri P.B.Anna offered the imaginary dialog referred to above. 

 KurEsar addresses Mahaa Lakshmi as "Samastha Loka Janani " and prays : " amee vayam cha tE katAksha veechi visruthE : lakshyam syAma ". Prayer here is for the people of the land ( amee) and for those , who belong to the Thondar Kulam (vayam) . AzhwAr prays for the waves of SrI DEvi's glances to fall on all . 

Verse 3 of SrI Sthavam : 

sthOthram nAma kimAmananthi kavayO yadhyanyadheeyAn guNAn
anyatra thvasathOadhirOPya phaNithi: , saa tarhi vandhyA Thvayee
samyak sathyaguNAbhivarNanamaTO BhrUyu: , kaTam thAdhrusee
vaag VachaspathinAapi sakhyarachanA ThvathsadhguNAarNO nidhou

 In the previous verse, Kuresa said : "Tvaam Sthothum Yeehaamahe". He expressed his desire to praise Her . Now he elaborates on the difference between his Stotra Sabdhaarthams and that of others. He says that the common poets praise either gunaas that are not there in the subject being praised or drably describe the limited qualities of their subject . For instance, a poet may praise a bald man as the one , who has flowing locks of hair and thus describe some thing that is not there in reality. Some other common poets describe the qualities correctly , but find that there is a limited quantity of particulars to describe about their subject. There is not much to praise. Kuresa reveals that he is not hampered by either of these two difficulties, when he attempts to praise Maha Lakshmi and Her Kalyana Gunaas. There is no problem of exaggeration in Her case, since She has all the Auspicious qualities to a state of perfection . Her Kalyana Gunaas are also so abundant that there is no shortage on the subject matter to praise. Her Kalyana Gunaas are limitless and there is no possibility of exhausting them or exaggerating them . Even Hayagreevan , the Lord of speech can succeed in describing adequately Your vast sea of auspicious guNams . 

Verse 4 of Sri Sthavam : 

yE vaachAm manasAm cha dhurgrahatayA khyAthA guNasthAvakA :
thAnEva prathi sAmBhujihvamudhithA hai mAmikA bhArathee
hAsyam tath thu na manmahE na hi chakOryEkAakhilAm chnadrikAm
naalam pAthumithi pragruhya rasanAmaaseetha sathyAm thrushi

 Oh Maha Lakshmi! It is impossible to praise adequately Your Kalyana Gunaas with tongue or mind and do justice to them. It therefore becomes a laughable matter, when one atttempts to go about this impossible task. My effort is likethat of the Chakora bird that does not hold back its tongue back and engages itself in drinking gluttonously ALL of the cool rays of the moon as its food , while being fully aware of its limited power to complete that imposible task. Similarly, I am not holding back in my effort to praise all of Your Kalyana Gunaas adequately.

Verse 5 of SrI Sthavam : 
*************************** *****

kshOdheeyAnapi dhushta Buddhirapi nissnEhOapyaneehOapi tE
keerthim Devi lihannaham na cha BhibhEmyaj~nO na jihrEmi cha
dhuyEth saa thu na thAvathA na hi sunA leeDApi BhageeraTee
dhushyEcchvapi na lajjathE na cha BhibhEthyArthisthu sAmyEcchuna:

 Oh Maha Lakshmi! I am not ashamed to engage in my praise of You inspite of my inadequacies and disqualifications. I know that I have neither exemplary conduct or a sharp intellect informed by Sastra Jnanam. Inspite of these limitations, my praise of You will not become impure. The situation is similar to the lowly dog licking the most sacred waters of Ganga to quench its thirst. The River Ganga is not polluted by the dog"s act and the dog gets its thirst quenched. Here Kuresa equates the sanctity of Maha Lakshmi to the holiness of Ganga and himself to the undeserving dog.

 Verse 6 of SrI Sthavam : 
*************************** *****

 Eiswaryam mahadhEva vAalpmaTavaa dhrusyathE pumsAm hi yath
tallakshmyA: samudheekshaNAth Tava yatha: sArvathrikam vartatE
tEnaitEna na vismayEmahi JagannATOapi NaarAyaNa:
dhanyam manyatha eekshaNAth Tava yatha: svAthmAnamAthmEswara:

 Oh Ranganayaki! It is said that wealth is of two kinds. One is that , which is experienced here on earth (Eihikam) and the other experienced in Sri Vaikuntam by Mukthas and Nitya Suris(Aamushmikam). Both these types of wealth are enjoyed by a fortunate few as a result of the anugraham of your merciful glances falling on them. The beneficial impact of those glances do not surprise us one bit ! The reason for our belief is that we know already that Your Lord ,who is His Own Master ,considers Himself Kruthaarthan (one , who achieved the purpose of his mission) ,when your glances fall on Him. Kuresa summarizes the special blessed atatus of Sriman Narayana this way:


 Verse 7of SrI Sthavam : 

Eiswaryam yadhasEshapumsi yadhidham soundarya-lAvaNyayO:
roopam yasccha hi mangaLam kimapi yallOkE sadhithyuchyatE
tath sarvam ThvadheenamEva yadhata: SrerithyabhEdhEna vaa
yadhvaa SrImadhitheedhrusEna vachasA Devi ! praTAmasnuthE

 Oh Consort of Ranganatha! Whatever blessings a Chetana possesses as Wealth, Beauty ,goodness and auspiciousness in this world , ALL of these result from You. It is Your (Lakshmi ) sambhandam that makes them qualified in the above manner. Some of them become auspicious by SAAKSHAAT Lakshmi Vachaka Sabdham and the others by Lakshmi VISISHTA Vaachaka Sabdham. Kuresa refers in this verse to two types of auspiciousness thru association with SRI SABDHAM. One is " SRIRITI ABHEDHENA PRATAAM ASNUTEH ". By the very attachment of the Sabdham "SRI" , they attain auspiciousness. Thiru Pathi, Thiru Mangai, Thiru MaaLikai , Thiru ViLakku, Sri Kuresa are examples of the Sakshaath Sabdham. Visishta Vaachaka Sabdhams are illustrated by Srimad Bhagavatam,Srimad Ramaayanam , Srimad Anantha Saras et al.

 Verse 8 of SrI Sthavam : 
***************************** ****

 Devi ThvanmahimAvathi na: HariNA nApi ThvayA jn~AyathE
yadhyapyEvam aTApi naiva yuvayO: Sarvaj~nathA heeyathE
yannAsthyEva tadhaj~nathAmanuguNaam sarvaj~nathAyA vidhu:
vyOmaAmbhOjam idhantayA kila vidhan bhrAnthOayamithyuchyathE

 Devi ! Even Your Lord does not comprehend fully the limits of your Kalyana Gunaas. For that matter, You Yourself do not know the full extent of Your own auspicious qualities. This lack of awareness does not in any way cause harm to Your title as SARVAJNAI or as the one, who understands every aspect of knowledge. The reason for my view is as follows: Some think that one is a Sarvajnan ,when one possesses knowledge about nonexisting things (e.g) horn of a hare, Lotus growing in the sky, mirage in the desert . One , who prides themselves about knowledge of those nonreal things would be at the head of a group of deluded ones. In Your case, however , the limit to Your Mahima is an unreal thing (i-e), there is no such limit. It is understandable therefore that You do not know about an unreal, nonexisting thing. Hence , there is no dispute on Your Sarvajnatvam. Your "unawareness (Ajnanam)" Is Yataartha Jnanaparaaya Ajnanam and is not a Sarvatvabanjaka Ajnanam. The essence of this verse is that Maha Lakshmi"s auspicious qualities do not have any limit (i-e) they are limitless.

 Verse 9 & 10 of SrI Sthavam : 

lOkE vanaspathy Bruhaspaty tAratamyam
yasyA: prasAdha-pariNAmam udhAharanthy
Saa Bharathee Bhagavathee thu yadheeyadhAsee
ThAmm Deva-dEva Mahisheem Sriyam aasrayAma: (9)

 YasyA: kaDAksha-mrudhu-veekshaNa-dheekshaNEna
sadhya: Samullasitha pallavam ullalaasa
viswam viparyaya samuttha viparyayam prAk
ThAmm DEvadEva mahisheem Sriyam AasrayAma: (10)

These two slokas end with the Saranagati statement:" Devadeva Mahishim SRIYAM Aasrayaama: ". 

In the ninth verse, Kuresa states that those,who offer Saranagati at the lotus feet of Maha Lakshmi will be blessed with great scholarship or Vak Samrutti. Kuresa explains that by pointing out that the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati is a Kinkari (Servant ) Of Maha Lakshmi . Therefore, She will bless the Prapannas of Her Mistress with her own blessings . 

In the tenth verse , Kuresa refers to a happening at the time of the Universal Deluge(Pralayam ). At that time , there is no Lakshmi Kataksham on this world. Hence, all chetanas and achetanas are anemic and famished and are in a state resembling death.When Maha Lakshmi took pity on the state of the Universe and thought about casting Her glance at the suffering Universe, that very thought of Her gave new life to the chetanas and achetanas . They became invigourated with energy and strength. Life came back all over. Kuresa sought refuge at Her holy feet , which is the embodiment of Compassion.

Verse 11 of SrI Sthavam : 
 YasyA: KaDAksha veekshA-kshaNa-lakshyam lakshithA mahEsA: syu:
SrirangarAja Mahishee Saa mAmapi veekshathAm Lakshmee: (11)

 Kuresa concludes the Sri Sthavam by describing the power of that merciful glance of Ranganayaki. He begs Her to enrich him by casting Her glance on him. In this verse, he reveals that even a second's rest of Her glance on one will result in the acquisition of riches of the kind that have no comparison . That Eiswaryam blessed by Ranganayaki is not the ordinary wealth that disappears with time. It is the unalloyed bliss of Moksham and residence in Sri Vaikuntam as a Muktha Jivan in the company of Divya Dampathis and the Nitya Suris. Kuresa prays for the wealth of Kainkarya- Sampath from Sri Devi in this Sthavam. 

 Swami Desikan elaborated on the brief prayer of Kuresa in his SRI STHUTI . There are 25 verses in Swami Desikan"s Sthuti. The first 12 and the last 12 of them pay tribute to Sri Devi"s Kalyana Gunaas and reveal the Saastric truths about Her YEKASESHITVAM . In the epicenter of this sthuti , in the 13th verse, Swami Desikan celebrates the Pattabhishekam of Maha Lakshmi , when She appeared out of the milky ocean during the time of its churning and became the consort of Maha Vishnu and thereby gave Him the title of Sriya: Pathi. 

 Swami Desikan like Kuresa recognized Her as "Mangalaanaanam Mangalam" and "Sreyo Murthi: ". He reveals that She is the auspiciousness behind all auspiciousness and that She is the embodiment of Benevolence . He points out that in the Yajna of Prapatti , the Jeevan , the property of the Divya dampathis has to be presented as Havis to them in recognition of their role as YEKASESHIS. Swami salutes the divine couple , who are inseperable this way: " Dampathee Yuvaanam Na: Daivatham ". SWamy DEsikan salutes them as equals in the spirit of the Vedas. He adds that the Atman has to be presented as Havis to both of them to conclude one's Prapatti and to receive thereafter the fruit of Moksham through that offering to the Divine Couple. Swami says that the blessed -ones are single- minded about getting Sevaadhikaaram to the Divine Couple practising yEkaseshitva Yogam. Such Prapannas according to Swami Desikan treat the other riches of the world as worthless as the blades of Grass. 

 AdiyEn will conclude this posting on Sri Sthavam with the Dhyana Slokam of the Sri Sthuti of Swami Desikan, who drew his inspiration from the PoorvAchAryAs . Here Swami Desikan sums up the Kalyana Gunaas of Maha Lakshmi in the manner celebrated by Alawandhar in Chatussloki, Ramanuja in Sriranga Gadhyam, Kuresa in Sri Sthavam and Parasara Bhattar in Guna Ratna Kosam . 

The Dhyana Slokam is as follows:


 Here, Swami Desikan recognizes Maha Lakshmi as the Auspiciousness (Mangalam ) behind ALL auspicious objects and Tattvaas. He understands Her as the boundary of Mercy .He sees Her as a Mandaara garland adorning the head of the fragrant Veda Mantraas .He salutes Her as the most precious wealth of the Lord. He points out to us that She is the boon-granting , wish-yielding Kamadhenu for all the worlds. Swami Desikan prays that Maha Lakshmi of such attributes should always reside in his mind. Kuresa prayed for the glances of Maha Lakshmi to fall on him and thereby sanctify him. 

 SrI KooranATa SrIvathsachinhamisra Virachitha : SrIsthava: SampoorNa:

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