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Stotras of Vedanta Desika

by Sri D. Ramaswamy Ayyangar
Page 12

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18. Bhagavad Dhyana Sopanam

This is a Stotra patterned upon a Prabandham (Alvar's work in Tamil). It is in praise of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. Tiruppaan Alvar was vouchsafed a vision of that great God, and he has sung about what he then saw, in ten verses. Vedanta Desika enjoys the same Tirumeni (Sacred Body) of the same Sleeping Beauty in the same manner, i.e., from the Feet to the Head; but the enjoyment here is mental dhyaanam or contemplation.

Sopaanam means steps -- the several stages from the Feet to the Head (slokas 2 to 9). Sloka 10 recapitulates those eight angas (parts of the body) and incidentally gives a new meaning to Ashtaanga-yogam. Sloka 11 refers to the utsava murti -- the Smiling Beauty standing in front of the Moola-Viraat reclining on the Adisesha (Serpent Couch). The last one of course is the phalasruti.

In all the twelve slokas of the Stotra, there is reference to the mind, chinta, maneeshaa and so on. Is not dhyaanam a mental process? That the dhyaanam (contemplation) has been fruitful is indicated by slokas 1 and 11. What was seen in Rangam in sloka 1 is said to reside in Desika's heart (11).

More details - Devanagari Text

19. Sri Stuti

This is Vedanta Desika's Kanaka-dhaara-stavam. Lakshmi or Sri is reputedly the Goddess of Wealth. Sloka 16 refers to how She can shower wealth on Her votaries.

That apart, the importance of this Stotra lies in the emphasis it lays on the concept of Divya-Dampati (Divine Couple). Narayana and Sri together as a dvandvam (couple) are the ultimate Tattva or Reality, the most potent Upaaya or Means, and the Goal, or Purushartha, to be attained. Thus Divya-Dampati is the Tattva; Saranya-Dampati is the Hita; and Seshi-Dampati is the Purushartha. Sloka 9 posits this truth that not Narayana by Himself, nor Lakshmi by Herself, is to be sought after, but the two of them together (yuvAm dampatI nah daivatam). As many as seven slokas out of the 25 refer to the two of them together (slokas 5, 6, 7, 9, 16, 19, and 13). Where earlier acharyas who sung the praise of Lakshmi were inclined to put Lakshmi above the Lord or the Lord above Lakshmi, Desika studiedly maintains absolute equality among them.

Sloka 13, the central sloka in the stotra, celebrates the coronation of Lakshmi in the presence of the Lord. Only thereafter the devas and their chiefs together with their wives regained the rulership (which they had lost by curse) (14), by being the recipients of Lakshmi's kataaksha-s (glances). All riches and wealth will vie with one another to go and stay where Lakshmi-kataaksha goes and settles (15)

The reference to the Lord at the beginning and at the end (1 and 24) as Madhuvijayi, a term by which Desika indicates Lord Srinivasa in the Hamsa Sandesa, and the name sarasija-nilayaa for Lakshmi are pointers to Padmavati Thayar of Tiruchanur (Tirupati) being praised in, and by this stotra. The opening words 'maanaateeta' meaning "exceeding bounds" will befit only Padmavati Thayar, who alone goes out in procession outside the temple precincts. This stotra, it is said here (25), has emerged out of guru bhakti. Without that the supremacy of Sri Tattva cannot be visualised.

Devanagari Text

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