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Musings on Desikan's 'aranyAkAndam'

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Dec 23 1996 - 06:46:34 PST

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

It is convention to use Verse#26 of the 'araNya-kAndam' to annotate the
lofty theme of "saranagathi-dharma".

It can also, I think, alternatively be used to annotate perhaps the more
ordinary 'grihastAshrama-dharma' of protecting vigorously the honour and
welfare of 'womanhood' in society.

The Lord employed his fiercest "astrAs" (arrows or missiles) in the
'yUddha-kAndam' only against the likes of Ravana and other mighty warriors.
For lesser warriors He is known to have pulled out far less powerful weapons
from His armoury.

But in the case of Kakasuran's infamous act, the Lord was immediately
provoked into resorting to the mightiest "missile" viz. "the brahmAstra"
without a second thought. So enraged was He !

He simply could not tolerate an act of outrage against womanhood.

This act of His too is a pointer to that "dharmA" which enjoins every
"grihastA" to hold the womenfolk of his family --- spouse, mother, daughter
and others --- with utter reverence and respect and to never let them suffer
the slightest indignity of any kind.

I leave it your own imaginations, dear 'bhAgavatOttama-s', to fathom the
depths of decay a society or civilization descends to when it fails or
neglects to uphold this "dharmA" revealed by the Lord through His own action
in the 'araNyA-kAndam'.

It is this 'dharmA' which the poet Desikan invokes, I think, in the
'aranyA-kAndam' and offers it to 'grihastA-s' as a sort of "tapas" to be
performed in the "dandaka-woods" of their households ('ashrama').

I am no Sanskrit scholar (to my utter and perennial regret) but I would like
to still believe that Swami Desikan while composing this Verse #28 did not
have so much the "tapas" of the "rshi-s" in Dandaka in mind as he had Lord
Rama's own 'tapas' as a "grihastA" carrying out the prescribed "dharmA-s" of
the "ashrama". 

As a result of such 'tapas', indeed, did the Lord shine and appear to Swami
Desikan as "jhangamapArijAta" in that delightful phrasing :

          dandakAtapOvana jhangamapArijAtha !!

This is the way, dear friends, that Verses #28 read with Verses#23,#25 and
#26 have appealed to me, personally. To me they illustrate the theme of
"LOVE", as I have defined it, and the part it plays in an ordinary
"grihastA's" life and the 'dharmA-s' which must be observed and cherished
zealously by him.

If these views of mine on Swami Desikan's 4 stanzas, dear friends, strike
some of you as "incredible" or "unintelligible" ("credibility" and
"intelligibility" being the only yard-sticks I had requested to be judged by
through an earlier posting) please do feel free to give your feed-back even
if it is negative. 

In fact it is well-reasoned and cogent 'negative feed-back' that I would
especially welcome.

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha