19.23 : SHLOKAS 9 TO 12 OF 36-SELECTION FROM NARAYANEEYAM
Sloka No. 9 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 97 - 3):
tvad-bhAvo yAvadeShu sphurati na vishadaM tAvadevam hyupAstiM
kurvan-naikAtmya-bodhe jhaTiti vikasati tvan-mayo’haM careyaM /
tvad-dharmasy-Asya tAvat-kimapi na bhagavan prastutasya prNAshaH
tasmAt-sarvAtmanaiva pradisha mama vibho bhakti-mArgaM manojnaM //
Tr. As long as the experience that ‘Thou art the All’ does not arise, shall I continue to perform your worship thus. Soon shall I attain to this experience of the unity of all existence. Thereafter I shall move about with a complete identification with Thee. Oh Lord! For one traversing the path of Thy (Bhagavata) dharma there cannot be any downfall or destruction. Therefore bestow on me the capacity to follow the path of bhakti, the most fulfilling of all spiritual paths.
Comment. Here the thought is that bhakti matures into the ultimate jnAna. To speak of two paths bhakti and jnAna as if they are mutually exclusive is contrary to the conclusions of Krishna in the eighteenth chapter of the Gita. Once the path of jnAna becomes second nature, it includes the feelings of bhakti also. This is the essential content of the Gita. Refer Gita XVIII – 49-55. To say that the centrality of Bhattatiri’s poem is only Bhakti is to miss this focus of his. It is clear that Bhattatiri here indicates that the ultimate goal of any path, including bhakti, is what Krishna enjoins in Gita VI – 30:
yo mAM pashyati sarvatra sarvaM ca mayi pashyati /
tasyAhaM na praNashyAmi sa ca me na praNashyati //
meaning, He who sees me everywhere and sees everything in me, never becomes separated from me nor do I become separated from him.
Sloka No. 10 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 4):
tval-lokAd-anya-lokaH kvanu bhaya-rahito yat-parArdha-dvayAnte
tvad-bhItas-satyaloke’pi na sukha-vasatiH padmabhUH padma-nAbha /
evaM bhAvepy-adharmArjita-bahu-tamasAm kA kathA nArkANAM
tan-me tvaM cchindhi bandhaM varada kr^ipaNa-bandho kr^ipA-pUra-sindho //
Tr. There is no sphere other than Thy transcendent state of Vaikuntha that is free from the fear of death and downfall. Even satya-loka (the world of the highest level of divine existences, where the creator Brahma lives), Oh Lotus-navelled One, is not found to be a secure and happy place by the Lotus-born Brahma at the end of two parArdhas (that being the life-span of a Brahma).
What then to speak of those who, in consequence of their unrighteous deeds, have incurred numerous sins and reside in hells. Therefore Oh Giver of boons! Friend of the Lowly! Ocean of Mercy! Deign to cut off all my attachments to worldly life.
Comment. Recall: Certain is death for the born (‘jAtasya hi dhruvo mR^ityuH’) (Gita II – 27). Even Brahma, though the first-born, is born and the end awaits him. What begins has to end. Every movement of the Sun across the sky implies the passing away of our lives. This continual reduction in the remaining part of our lives is something that the scriptures are never tired of pointing out, because even after all this, we tend to forget this especially in crucial moments of
self-consciousness, anger, jealousy, passion or disappointment.
Sloka No. 11 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 99 - 10):
avyaktaM te svarUpaM duradhigama-tamaM tattu shuddhaika-satvaM
vyaktaM cApy-etad-eva sphuTam-amR^ita-rasAmbhodhi-kallola-tulyaM /
sarv-otkR^iShTAm-abhIShTAM tad-iha guNa-rasen-aiva cittaM harantIM
mUrtiM te samshraye’haM pavanapura-pate pAhi mAM kR^iShNa rogAt //
Tr. Thy nature as Absolute Being is not manifest to the senses or the intellect. It is therefore difficult to grasp or attain But Thy Being manifest in shuddha-satva (spiritual purity) as Krishna is like the wavy surface of the ocean of Blissful
Spirit, definite, clear and easy to grasp. Therefore I resort to the worship of this form of Thine which is superior to anything manifested and which is lovable and enchanting by its sweet beauty and other blessed attributes. Oh Krishna, Resident of Guruvayoor! Deign to free me from my ailments.
Comment. This is the explanation why followers of advaita have no reservation about the worship of the saguNa form of God while striving to comprehend the nirguNa concept of Godhead Bhattatiri, through this sloka, sets at nought all the nagging dilemmas of a doubting advaitin, in regard to worship of the Formful. The real Nature of the Absolute Godhead is ‘duradhigama-tamaM’, that is, to reach out to it is most difficult, almost impossible. Recall, Gita Ch.XII – 5: Greater is the trouble of those whose minds are set on the manifest; for
the goal, the unmanifest, is very hard for the embodied to reach.
klesho’dhikatarasteShAM avyaktA-sakta-cetasAM /
avyaktA hi gatir-dukhaM dehavadbhir-avApyate //
The philosophy of advaita has two facets. One is the 'kevala-advaitam' and the other is 'bheda-abheda-advaitam'. The former one will not even talk of any attribute-ful form, as a possibility in the absolute sense. In other words, even Ishvara belongs to a lower reality than the Absolute. And because, everything other than the Absolute is non-real, Ishvara has to be non-real. But the bheda-abheda-advaitam says that the wavy surface of the ocean even though it appears as if it can be distinguished from the ocean, IS the ocean. There is no distinction between them. If we have to make a distinction between them that distinction is one ‘without a difference’. In other words, bheda (difference, distinction) appears ‘without a real difference’. God is the highest being in devotional thought and He must therefore be Absolute also, even as the wavy surface and the ocean are one and the same in spite of the apparent difference.
Bhattatiri’s advaitic leanings are in this category.
Sloka No. 12 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 2 - 1):
kAruNyAkula netram-Ardra-hasitol-lAsaM sunAsApuTaM /
tvadrUpaM vanamAlya-hAra-patala-shrIvatsa-dIpraM bhaje //
I adore the form of the Lord with head crowned with a diadem that rivals the brilliance of the sun; with forehead whose beauty is enhanced by the upright sandal paste mark; with eyes wetted by mercy; with face lit up by a benevolent smile; with nose well-proportioned and attractive; with ears adorned with
fish-marked pendants that add lustre to the cheeks by their reflection; with neck wearing the luminous jewel Kaustubha; and with chest resplendent with a variety of decorations like the wreath of flowers from the wilderness, lines of pearl necklaces and the auspicious mark called Srivatsa.
Comment. Here is the first of two slokas (this and the next) which are very suitable subjects for meditation. When the boy Dhruva (five years old) goes to the forest for doing penance and getting to see the Lord, the sage Narada accosts him, tries to dissuade him from the tortuous task of a penance in the solitary
world of the forest, but finally finds him determined; and at that point he unfolds to the boy how he should meditate and onwhat form. The description that Narada gives to the boy is famous in the Bhagavatam for the charming visualization (of the inaccessible Personality of Godhead) that it gives for
meditation. Bhattatiri here goes one step further, by lyrically immortalising the beauty of form that one can see by going and having darshan at Guruvayoor. It is to this attractive form that Arjuna wanted the Lord to return, when he was overwhelmed, and frightened, by the cosmic vision which he had the rare
opportunity to witness: ‘I desire to see thee as before, Oh Lord, crowned, bearing a mace, with the discus in hand, in thy former form only, having four arms , Oh thousand-armed cosmic form’ (Gita Ch.XI 46):
kirITinaM gadinaM cakra-hastaM
icchAmi tvAm draShTum-ahaM tathaiva /
tenaiva rUpeNa catur-bhujena
sahasra-bAho bhava vishva-mUrte //