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Musings on #39 of Desikan's RG

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Sun Dec 29 1996 - 07:04:27 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

If you closely examine the role and actions of Jatayu in the 'Ramayana' you
will realize that the Great Bird exemplified all aspects of "dharmA"
extensively discussed by us in my postings so far.

True to the sentiment of the "charama-shlOka" of the Lord in the
Bhagavath-Gita, Jatayu "transcended", indeed, all "dharmA". In fact the
magnificent Bird, that poor little creature, "transcended" all 3 orders in
the "hierarchy of dharmA-s" we described earlier. Further, Jatayu also
showed great wisdom in embracing, at every step in the narrative context of
the "Ramayana", lofty "visEsha-dharma" in preference to "sAdhAraNa-dharmA"
or "sva-dharmA". We shall see how in my next posting.

More importantly, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', Lord Rama too, in this incident,
"transcended" the "hierarchic dharmA-s". He too clearly opted to embrace
"visEsha-dharmA" in preference to "sAdhAraNa-dharmA". Exactly as right
through all the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama demonstrates "dharmA" by personal
example in this incident too. We shall see how in my next posting.

When we examine the actions of the Lord and of Jatayu in this great and
immortal incident involving them, we cannot simply help being enthralled by
the sight of each competing with the other in zealously upholding "dharmA"
and ultimately "transcending" it. It appears as if Jatayu, a mere creation
of God, is matching the  Creator, "blow for blow", as it were, and even
trying to excel the Lord in a "battle royale" to uphold "dharmA".

It is this strange and mystifying "battle", between Rama and Jatayu, that
has caught the imagination of generations of poets from the times of Sage
Valmiki to those of Swami Desikan and to the times of Kamban, too. It is a
classic ever-unparalleled and ever-unfading in history. 

The Jatayu episode, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', is one of the grandest panaroma
of "dharmA-sastra" in all the history of religious literature. It is a sight
for the gods, indeed, where two moral paragons or peers pit their lofty
sensitivities against one another. 

It is one of the greatest dramatic moments in the "Ramayana" brimming over
with inexhaustible layers of latent meaning and shrouded significance which
one can unravel only with "deiva-" or "AchArya-" "anugraham" (i.e. the 'aid'
of the Lord Himself or of a preceptor). 

Unfortunately, dear friends, I am bestowed with neither type of "anugraham".

The best I can do, therefore, is to try and faithfully reproduce what I have
heard my revered 'manaseega-guru' Sri.Mukkur Swami discourse on the subject. 
That is the nearest I can get you all, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', to a genuine
and cathartic experience of this moving incident in the 'Ramayana' that
Swami Desikan, that master-craftsman of poetic-jewellery, fashioned in that
famous stanza #39 of the 'Raghuveera-gadyam' which reads as follows:

               vikrama yashOlAbha-vikrIthajIvitha-gridhr-rAja
dEhadidhakshA-lakshita bhakthajana dhAkshinya ! 

We shall continue in my next posting.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha