You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : December 1995

Part 2: Bhagavd Dhyana Sobhanam & Amalanaadhipirans

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Dec 02 1995 - 20:34:04 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti Group: I will concentrate on the "Bhagavad Dhyana
Sobhanam" of 
Swami Desikan in this posting.


Swami Desikan spent many years  of his long life at Sri Rangam. Sri Ranganatha
and Ranganayaki were very dear to him. The Lord of Sri Rangam gave him the title
of Vedanthaachrya 
and Sri Ranganayaki recognized him as Sarva Tantra Swatantra.He composed many of
celebrated works such as Padhuka Sahsram at Sri Rangam. He enjoyed most of all
the blessings of being able to offer his worship to Sri Ranganatha daily and
enjoy  the divine beauty of the Lord resting at Sri Rangam on the couch of Adi


 He particularly relished meditation on the ten verses of Thiruppaanaalvar
dealing with his Bhagavad Anubhavam of Sri Ranganatha. In his ten verses, the
Alvar sings movingly about  the indescribable beauty of the limbs of the  Lord
of Sri Rangam  from His lotus feet to his welcoming face inquiring about the
Yoga Kshemam of His devotees. Swami Desikan felt that  the Verses of the Alvar
dealt with the  essence of the Vedas  and particularly covered the esoteric
meanings of the Divyaaksharam known as Pranavam and Rahasya  Tryam.. He
recognized that the Alvar included the 5 states of the Lord (Param, Vyuham,
Vibhavam,Archa and Antaryaamitvam ) as  summarized by the Veda Mantram-- ,
Ambasya Paareh, Bhuvanasya Madhyeh-- in his verses.  
Further, the  verses of the Alvar covered succinctly  many of the  Vaishnavite
doctrines such as Kainkaryam, Prapatti, Ananya Bhakti  ,  the role of Jivan as
Vishnu-dasa  and Vishnu as the supreme goal of life. All of the above doctrines
have  roots in the Vedas and Upanishads. That is what attracted  Swami Desikan
to the ten verses of the Alvar.


 Both at Kanchipuram and Sri Rangam, Swami  defended the sacredness of the Tamil
Marai as being on a par to the Sanskritc Vedas. He defeated his critics ,who
held that the Naalyira Divya Prabhandam does not have the same sanctity of the
Sanskritic Vedas and as such should not be included as  part of the  Recitations
infront of the Lord  during His  annual festivals. Swami Desikan established
that the verses of the Alvars are strictly based on the Vedas ( Parama
Vaidheekam ) and silenced the  overzealous critics. Sri  Varadaraja of Kanchi
and Sri  Ranganatha approved the arguments made  by Swami in defense of the
sacredness of  the Naalayira Divya Prabhandam. The Lord of Kanchi went as far as
to give  one of his two Thirucchinnam used to announce his arrival during
festive occasions to Swami Desikan as a reward for this defense... Even today,
there is only one Thirucchinnam used at the kanchi temple because of this
happening.. The deep reverence that  Swami Desikan had for the compositions of
Alvars in general and particularly to Thiruppaanaalvar in particular was  the
reason for his stout defense of the sanctity of the 4000 verses as having the
status of Tamil Marai or Vedam. Swami Desikan composed a stotram on Sri
Ranganatha called Bhagavad Dhyana Sobhanam to celebrate the Anga Soundharyam
(the Beauty of the limbs of Ranganatha) in the manner in which Thiruppaanalvar
joyously described. Swami also gave us a commentary (Rahasya Grantha) called
Munivahana Bhogam , which discusses the inner meanings of the ten verses of the
Alvar extolling the beauty of the Lord of Sri Rangam. We will focus on the
twelve verses of the Bhagavad Dhyana Sobhanam set in the beautiful
Mandhaakrantaa meter.


This stotram inspired by the Thiruppaanalvar"s composition is like a series of
steps(Sobhaanam) to climb to perform meditation (Dhyanam) on the Lord of Sri
Rangam and his beauty as well as
auspicious attributes (Bhagavad Vishayam). Therefore, it is aptly named as Sri
Bhagavad Dhyana
Sobhaanam.It closely follows the format of Thiruppaanalvar in that it adopts the
Kesaantha varnanam of the Lord of Sri Rangam. Poets usually adopt the
describtion of the 
beauty of Gods  and  Goddesses from their Lotus feet to their head (paadaadi
Kesantham ) or 
Kesaadi Paadaantham. Out of the great affection and reverence that the Alvar had
for Sri 
Ranganatha, he lifted his  adoring eyes slowly from the holy feet of the Lord
and let them travel
longingly and slowly  to His  upper limbs.Swami Desikan followed this method
used by the Alvar in his stotram.

First  Slokam: Antar Jyothi: kimapi Yaminam---

In the first verse, Swami Desikan offers his homage and general salutation to
the Lord of Sri
Rangam. He pays obesiance to the brilliant effulgence that shines in the middle
of Sri Rangam and in the heart cavities of the Yogis like the Alvar. He states
that the effulgence found in Sri Rangam is the one that unfailingly blesses
human beings with bhogam (enjoyment) in this universe and Moksham (freedom from
the cycles of births and deaths) in the hereafter.He says THAT  effulgence is
the Lord of  Lords Himself , Sri Ranganathan , who blessed the  Alvar with the
vision of His beautiful body (Subhaasryam). He adds that  the effulgence
recognized as Sri Ranganatha removes the miseries of the weak and those, who are
orphaned and serves as the divine eye to appreciate the immense  texts of the
holy Vedas.

Second Slokam: Homage to the Lotus feet of the Lord ( Velaatita sruthi

Here , Swami acknowledges that the lotus feet of the Lord is reflected in the
pool of his memory . Then he goes on to describe the significance and greatness
of those Holy feet of the Lord. The countless  Veda Mantras are ceaselessly
saluting those  feet and impart their fragrance to them. The Tamil Vedas created
by the Alvars , which can be sung by one and all , are also saluting them  and
add their own unique  fragrance to the very same lotus feet. Those holy feet
have  descended on the sandy shoals of Cauveri River , where the swans play.
Gods like Indra, Brahma , Siva and other Devas place those holy feet on their
heads as a token of their reverence. Those lotus- soft  feet  are pressed gently
by Maha Lakshmi and Bhoomi Devi to remove the stress arising  from His
The  Alvar acknowledged that the  sacred feet of the Lord entered into and
merged with his eyes. 
Swami Desikan describes the Lotus feet as being reflected in the  still waters
of the pool of
his memory.

Third Slokam: Salutatons to the section fom the ankle to  the knee(Chitraakaaram
kataka ruchibi:---)

The portion of the body between the knee and the ankle is known as Jangha. Here
Swami offers his salutations to that portion of Sri Ranganatha"s beautiful
body. The Alvar  moved his gaze 
from the lotus feet of the Lord to the reddish silk garment worn by Him around
His waist. He skipped as it were the lower legs of the Lord. Swami Desikan seems
to be more leisurely and  includes this portion of the Lord"s body  in his
salutations.He says that the lustre from  the gems
adorning the ankle  jewelery of the  Lord bathes the region of the body from the
ankles  upto His  knees.

These very same beautiful legs went on a mission of peace on behalf of the
Paandavaas to the
court of Kowravaas. The power of the ankles made Him rush quickly to that court
in pursuit of His
mission. The lower portion of the legs  appear  to serve as a vessel to hold and
capture the
flood of beauty that overflows as he Moves around.When the beauty of the Knees
join with that of the ankle and lower leg, the resulting beauty is multiplied
many times over.Swami Desikan in his own brilliant way concludes this verse by
stating that the worship of the beautiful Jangha of the Lord 
of Sri Rangam leads to the mindless of wandering of his own Jangha due to
samsaric worries.

4.Fourth Verse: The salutatons to the beauty of the Thighs (Kaama Rama sthira

Here Swami Desikan says that his mind enjoys the beauty of the powerful thighs
of  the
Youthful Sri Ranganatha. He compares the two thighs of the Lord to those of the
two lovely    Banana plants cultivated by Manmatha himself in his garden with
care and affection. These         thighs  are covered with the most beautiful
silk garment .They act as pillows for His consorts,     
when they get tired after pressing His feet.They also reflect the radiance of
the gems embedded
 in His  waist belt. These beautiful thighs seperating at His hip appear to be
the two  branches 
of  a river of beauty. Swami says that his mind is deeply absorbed in enjoying
the power of the 
beautiful thighs of the ever youthful Lord.

5.Fifth slokam: Beauty of the Navel (Sampreenathi---)

The Alvar paid tribute to the Navel of the Lord in his third verse. Swami
Desikan catches up with
the Alvar in his fifth verse, when he offers his own salutations to the deep
navel , which appears
to hide many worlds in its depth during the time of the Universal deluge. He
points out that the 
pollens falling from the petalsof the big lotus flower arising out of the Lord"s
beautiful navel 
have  the power to create many Brahma Devans. As the Lord"s beauty swirls  about
His body, it appears to form lovely eddies around His navel and creates
additional beauty to observe. Swami
concludes by saying that the beauty of the Lord"s navel is deeply etched in his
mind and causes him great joy every moment of his life.

6. Sixth slokam: The Chest  region ( Sri Vatsenah pratita Vibhavam---)

The Alvar confessed in his fifth verse that the Lord"s chest , beautified by
Maha Lakshmi and the ever green vana Mala known as Vaijayanthi has wholly
bewitched him and enslaved him .Swami
Desikan's verse in celebration of the beauty of the chest region of the Lord is
a literal echo of the
Alvar"s thoughts with additional embellishments. The factors contributing the
beauty of the 
chest region are identified by Swami as follows: (1) its glory is revealed by
the mole known as 
Sri Vatsam (2) It is glorified as a place for the foot rest of Maha Lakshmi
residing there (3) Its lustre is enhanced by the splendid red gem known as
Kousthubha (5) Its cool beauty is enhanced by the Vanamalai containing a
generous portion of green and young Tulasi leaves and (6) beautiful pearl
necklace , which has the inimitable whiteness of the full moon. Swami concludes
this verse by confessing that the beauty of the chest region of the Lord removes
all the afflictions of his mind.

7 Seventh Slokam:Beauty of the Hands of the Lord ( Ekam Leelobahitamitaram---)

After enjoying the beauty of the chest region of the Lord, The Alvar moved on to
describe the 
beauty of the throat region of the Lord. Swami Desikan is however in no hurry.
He focussed 
on the beauty of the two hands of the Lord after saluting the beauty of His
chest. He compares 
the Lord"s two hands to a unique Kalpaka tree , which can grant  the boon of
Moksham to 
those, who performed Prapatti. The traditional Kalpaka tree in the garden of
Indra can bless one 
with  many things, but does not have  the power to grant Moksham.One of His
hands is providing support for His head ; the other one is stretched all the way
to His knee. Swami states that his  mind reflecting on the beauty of the two
hands of the Lord is intoxicated with that enjoyment 
and is like a  female  elephant in the state of rut. He points out that his mind
is however kept 
in a bound state by  the many resplendent rays of the jewelery of the Lord ,
which serve as 
many ropes to keep his mind under control during the state of that  joyous

8.Eigth  Slokam: Describtion of the beauty of His Face (Saabipraya smitha
Swami Desikan"s description of the facial beauty of the Lord is one of the most
moving word pictures.This slokam is full of grace and celebrates the
extraordinary compassion of Sri
Ranganatha for His devotees, wherever they happen to be geographically. Here,
Swami describes the meaningful and benevolent smile of the Lord and His sweet
red lips that house the 
unforgettable smile. the Lord"s warm  and welcoming eyes seems to inquire about
hte welfare of even people scattered in distant lands. Swami concludes this
slokam by stating that the beautiful smile, the compassionate eyes and the
golden dot on the forehead of Sri Ranganatha will be embedded in his mind

9.Ninth slokam: Beauty of His crown: ( Maalyrantha: sthira parimalai:----)

After saluting the beauty of the chest of the Lord, Alvar went on to describe
the beauty of the 
throat, rosy red lips and His beautiful eyes. Swami Desikan took the route of
the enjoyment of
the arms, face and Crown of the Lord after  saluting the beauty of the chest
region. In the ninth 
slokam, Swami revels at the beautiful gem-studded crown sitting on the naturally
curly black
hair of the Lord.  He points out  that His tresses are decorated with fragrant
flower garlands by
the beautiful hands of his consorts. Swami uses an analogy to describe the
curliness of the Lord"s tresses. He says that they are splendidly curly like the
speech of the young girls of Chola land,
when they get  angry. He notes that the lustre of the gems  adorning his head
region mingle with the lustre of the gems in His crown and creates  a wonderful
panoply of colors. Swami says that  the 
experience of watching the beautiful crown sitting on the curly black tresses of
the Lord of 
Sri Rangam tames his erstwhile turbulent heart and makes him like a house wife
obedient  to
her lord.

(10) Tenth Slokam: Enjoyment of the entire body of the Lord: (Paadambhojam--)

The Alvar described his feeling state at  the end of enjoying the entire body of
the Lord Of 
Sri Rangam in his ninth verse. Swami describes his experience of the same in his
tenth slokam. 
In this magnificient slokam soaked with emotions, Swami summarizes brillaintly
his attraction to 
the divine beauty of the body of the  Lord and its many  limbs.In this slokam,
he equates his mind to that of  a woman , who appreciates the beauty of her
beloved consort. As the mind of Swami takes on a fminine approach to enjoy the
beauty of the Parama Purusha, we experience the emotional depth of the
appreciation of  our Acharya for the unmatchable beauty of the  Angas (limbs) of
Sri Ranganathan. In a feminine  and tender mood, Venkatanayaki  touches gently
the lotus feet             of the Lord;She worships the anklets with firm and
single-minded devotion; she elevates her gaze and gets absorbed in the masculine
beauty of  the muscular and strong thighs;she glances for  a second  at the
navel and is overcome by the beauty ,she sees there.She elevates her gaze to
the broad and beautiful chest of her Lord; then she concentrates on the powerful
shoulders  and let her gaze stay there  a little longer. She  then drinks the
divine beauty of the Lord"s face with her eyes and finally rests her attention
on His splendid crown.

(11) Eleventh Slokam: The Beauty of the Utsava Murthy: (Kanthotarairayamiha

Swami Desikan slowly shifts his attention from the celebration of the beauty of
the reclining 
Moola Murthy of Sri Rangarajan to the Utsava Murthy in front of the Moolavar. He
says the Lord with his beautiful, strong  and generous hands  marked by the
welts from the chord of his Mighty bow       Sarangam  calms our fears with His
abhaya Mudra. That Lord of Sri Rangam  takes the
form of Utsava Murthy  with His two consorts and stands in front of His
reclining Moolavar form.
Swami Desikan concludes this slokam by stating that the very same Utsava murthy
form of             the Lord of  Sri Rangam is standing forever in his heart
cavity. The Alvar was so overcome at  the end of his enjoyment of the entire
body of the Moolavar that he merged with HIM , before paying his salutations to
the Utsava Murthy of Kasturi Rangan. Swami Desikan was so eager to enjoy the
beauty of the Lord of Sri Rangam for a much longer period and therefore , he
seems to have 
kept his request for immediate Moksham under control. Sri Ranganatha was also
for the Vedanthacharya to continue his service to the strengthening of Sri
Vaishnavism for few
more Years and therefore postponed granting the  boon of Joining His holy feet .

(12) Concluding slokam about the fruits of recitation of this

Here, Swami Desikan states that Sri Rangam is a sacred place , where abound the
deeply devoted to the service of the Lord. He was priveleged to live in Sri
Rangam  and that he
was able to compose the Stotram on the Beauty of the Lord in the style of
Thiruppaanalvar due 
to the blessings of his acharya , Kidambi AppuLLar. Swami reveals that the
recitation of this stotram on Lord Ranganatha will grow rapidly the devotion
(Bhakti) for the Lord. Those, who aspire to ascend the ladder (Sobhanam ) of
Moksham will easily attain their wish  and become proficient
practioners of Bhakti Yogam, which in turn will lead to the attainment of the
supreme blessing of

Srimatheh Nigamaantha Maha Desikaaya  Nama:
Sri Haya Vadana Parabrahmaneh Nama:

 Oppiliappan  Koil  Varadachari Sadagopan

Yuva Samvatsara , Krittika Month, Kaisika  Ekadasi
Revathi Nakshatram (the Nakshatram of Sri Ranganatha).    
Errata in the first part: three of the Four Tamil  pasurams of Swami Desikan
referred to should be claasified as three from Amrita Suvadhini and he fourth
from Prabhanda Saaram. It was erroneously stated that  all the four are from the
Prabhanda Saaram.