19.21 SHLOKAS 1 TO 4 OF 36-SELECTION FROM NARAYANEEYAM
Sloka No. 1 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 100 – 10)
yogIndrANAM tvad-angeSh-vadhika-su-madhuraM mukti-bhAjAM nivAso
bhaktAnAm kAma-varSha-dyu-taru-kisalayaM nAtha te pAda-mUlaM /
nityaM citta-sthitaM me pavana-pura-pate kR^iShNa-kAruNya-sindho
hR^itvA nissheSha-tApAn pradishatu paramAnanda-sandoha-lakshmIM //
Tr. Oh Lord! To the great yogins, Thy feet are the most beloved of all Thy limbs. They form the abode for the emancipated ones. For the devotees they are like the celestial tree which yields them all their wants. Oh Lord of Guruvayoor! Oh Krishna! Oh Ocean of Mercy! May those feet of Thine ever rest in my heart, destroy all my sufferings and bestow on me the treasure of Supreme Bliss!
Comment. The first ten of this series of 36 slokas constitute a variety of different prayers to the Absolute Lord Krishna. These prayers are intended to help us embark on the divine path to Realisation. This first one offers prostrations to the lotus feet of the Lord. Quite fittingly we are asking for the Lord’s Grace to descend on us by figuratively asking for the Lord’s feet to rest in our heart. Here the heart is the spiritual heart. The spark of the Absolute is already there, whether we recognise it or not. whether we want to admit it or not. By requesting God to have his feet rest in our heart we are only praying that His omnipresence there may be ‘felt’ by us.
Sloka No.2. (Ref. nAryaNIyaM: 92 – 9)
gangA gItA ca gAyatry-api ca tulasikA gopikA-candanaM tat
sAlagrAmAbhi-pUjA para-puruSha tathaikAdashI-nAma-varNAH /
etAny-aShTApy-ayatnAny-api kali-samaye tvat-prasAda-prasiddhyA
mAM sajjayethAH //
Tr.: Oh Supreme Lord! there are just eight items, namely, Ganga, Gita, Gayatri, Tulasi leaves, sandal paste, the worship of sAlagrAmaM, (the fast on the day of) Ekadasi, and Divine names. These eight, declare the sages, are the easy and quick means of salvation, in this age of kali-yuga, as they secure Thy abounding grace. May I be intensely devoted to them all!
Comment: This asks for karma-yoga with the stamp of bhakti. There is a folk-lore sloka which says:
gangA gItA ca gAyatrI govindeti catuShTayaM /
catur-gakAra-samyukte punar-janma na vidyate //
Meaning, ‘when the four that begin with the consonant ‘ga’ are integrally present, the four being gangA (the river Ganges), gItA, gAyatrI and govinda (standing for God’s name) – then there is no rebirth’. Bhattatiri adds to these four, another four.
In the orthodox traditions initiated by Adi Sankara, five main divinities are worshipped through a sophisticated ritual called pancAyatana-pUjA, meaning, worship at five altars. Here the divinities are worshipped not in their human-like forms but in certain symbols in the form of stones, which are nothing but certain rock formations available in specified locations in India. The Sun-God, sUrya, is taken as inherent in certain crystals normally found in Vallam in Tamilnadu. The Mother Goddess, shakti, is represented by the svarNamukhi stone found in the bed of the river of that name in the Andhra region of South India. VishNu is worshipped in the sAlagrAma (mentioned in Bhattatiri’s verse) stone that can be had in plenty on the bed of the river Ghantaki in the Himalayas. Ganesa is the red shonabhadra stone found on the bed of the river Sone flowing into the Ganges. Finally shiva is the bANa-linga found in the Omkarakunda of the river Narmada, near the island of Mandhata. The pancAyatana pUja tradition may be taken as an intermediate stage between the worship of Godhead with form and the worship of the formless, because the symbols of worship as rock formations have certainly a form but they are also formless in that they have no parts like face, eyes, body, hands and feet. It is as though the devotee trains himself to take the mind from the formful to the formless while at the same time allowing full scope for one’s devotional feelings. Also note that in the Vaishnava tradition, the emphasis is on the sAlagrAma to such an extent that the other four of the pancAyatana tradition are mostly omitted.
Sloka No.3: (Ref. nAryaNIyaM: 94 - 10)
aikyaM te dAna-homa-vrata-niyama-tapas-sAnkhya-yogair-durApaM
tvat-sangenaiva gopyaH kila sukR^iti-tamAH prApurAnanda-sAndraM /
bhakteSh-vanyeShu bhUas-svapi bahumanuShe bhaktim-eva tv am-AsAM
tan-me tvad-bhaktim-eva dR^iDaya hara gadAn kR^iShNa vAtAlayesha //
Tr.: That state of supremely blissful union with Thee, which is difficult to obtain through (disciplines like) charity, (ritual) sacrifices, observance of vows, self-control, austerities, knowledge (sAnkhya), and yoga, was attained by the blessed gopikas (cowherdesses) of Brindavan, through just personal attachment to Thee as their own beloved. Numerous are Thy other devotees, but it is this loving personal devotion of the gopikas that has received Thy highest appreciation. Therefore Oh Krishna, Oh Lord of Guruvayoor, May Thou strengthen devotion in me and destroy my ailments.
Comment. This underscores the importance of personal involvement with the Lord in intimate terms, from the heart of hearts. All the formalities of our religious observances pale into insignificance before such a personal relationship with God. So whatever we may do, we must strive to see that this innate feeling of love for the Lord is the undercurrent. This is the only thing He asks from us. More than intellectual understanding of the various nuances of scriptures and philosophy, what He expects from us is this self-negating love for Him and all that stands for Him, namely, the universe. One may recall here Gita Ch.IX – 34:
manmanA bhava madbhakto madyAjI mAM namaskuru /
mAmevaiShyasi yuktvaivaM AtmAnaM mat-parAyaNaH //
meaning, Saturate your mind with me; be devoted to me; work for me; bow down to me; having thus united your whole self with me, taking me as the supreme goal, you shall come unto me. This self-negating love has been defined by Narada in his bhakti-sutra, as follows.
guNa-rahitaM kAmanA-rahitaM pratikShaaNa-vardhamAnaM avicchinnaM sUkShma-taram anubhavarUpaM.
Meaning, (This pure love is) without attributes, without the poison of desire, every moment increasing, unbroken, subtlest, and of the nature of sheer immediate experience.
Sloka No. 4 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 4):
bhakter-utpatti-vR^iddhI tava caraNa-juShAM sangamen-aiva pumsAM
AsAdye puNya-bhAjAM shriya iva jagati shrImatAM sangamena /
tat-sango deva bhUyan-mama khalu satataM tan-mukhAd-unmiShadbhiH
tvan-mAhAtmya-prakArair-bhavati ca sudR^iDA bhaktir-uddhUta-pApA //
Tr.: It is by association with Thy devotees that bhakti germinates and develops in men who have auspicious deeds to their credit, just as in this world it is the relationship with prosperous men in various ways that leads to the prosperity of people. Therefore Oh Lord, may I always have contact with holy men, and through their outpourings of narratives and hymns dealing with Thy excellences, may I, with all my sins effaced, become established in firm and whole-hearted devotion.
Comment. What is being prayed for is sat-sangh, the company of the noble and the holy, which is the first step on the ascent in the ladder of spirituality. Narada waxes eloquent on the mental attitudes of these noble souls: (Bhakti sutra 68) When (they) with choked emotion, body covered with horripulation and tears flowing down, converse with each other in broken words, they sanctify their family and tribe, nay the very earth itself they come to glorify. “kaNTAvarodha-romAnchAshrubhiH parasparaM lapamAnAH pAvayanti kulAni pR^ithivIM ca.”
Hearing the narratives and hymns dealing with God’s excellences is the ‘shravaNa’ regimen prescribed as No.1 of the nine manifestations of bhakti, enunciated long ago, by the greatest devotee of all times, Prahlada. ‘By hearing and singing the glories of the Lord, even while engaged in the activities of the world’, says Narada again in Sutra 37:
GO TO 19.22 SHLOKAS 5 TO 8