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Sri Ranganatha PaadhukhA Sahasram --Part 11: SanchAra Paddhathi

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Feb 06 1997 - 20:15:57 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatthi Group :

We will focus on some of  the 60 verses of the SanchAra Paddhathi
of Swami Desikan"s RPS in this posting . 

After describing the times of the day , when the Lord wears His 
PadhukhAs ( VaithAlika Paddhathi ) followed by the  description
of the  bliss He experiences by union with them in 
SringAra Paddhathi , Swami Desikan takes up in this Paddhathi 
the journeys made by the PadhukhAs to assist its Lord 
in the execution of His duties  during His many incarnations. 

In the first slokam of this Paddhathi , Swami Desikan points out
that even SitA Devi wanted to follow the Vritthi ( livelihood ) of the 
PaadhukhAs because of its sacredness:

agarathasthE gamishyAmi mrudganthi kusakantakAn I
ithi SeethApi yadh vritthim iyesha praNamAmi thaam II

(Meaning and comments ) : O PadhukhE ! In observance of 
your kaimkaryam to the Lord, you step on the sharp blades of 
grass and thorns and protect the Lord's feet from them . It appears
as though you say that you will go ahead and remove the obstacles 
that would have been faced by the Lord during His travel in the rough
trails of the forest during RamAvathAram . You stepped on the thorns 
and sharp blades of grass and crushed them and thereby protected 
the Lord's lotus-soft feet during His wanderings in the forest . 
I bow to you , whose occupation of protecting the Lord's feet 
was desired even by SitA Devi Herself.

The reference here is to the scene in AyodhyA , when RamA was about to 
leave for the forest . He pointed out to SitA the dangers of forest life and 
asked her to stay behind. Our Janaki MaathA , the PathivrathA SironmaNi 
answered her Lord and said that she will go ahead of her Lord in the forst 
so that she can spare her Lord's feet from the sharp blades of Kusa grass . 
She expressed her desire to step on the sharp grass first and thus soften the
path of the Lord and spare Him any discomfort. Through this expression 
of this wish , she wanted to have the customary noble  occupation/kaimkaryam 
of the PadhukhAs. Swami Desikan says here that he salutes the PadhukhAs
known for such noble Kaimkaryam , which SitA Devi herself wanted to emulate.

I will jump next to the last slokam of this paddhathi before commenting on
other slokams of this chapter :

sambhavathu paadarakshE ! satyasuparNAdhirowpavahyagaNa : I
yAtrAsu Rangabharthu: prathama parsipandha kaaraNam bhavathi II

(Meaning ) : O PadhukhE ! When RanganAthA has to use other means
of transportation , you transport Him first  , where that transporting agent
is and get Him started on His journey. For instance , When RanganAthA 
has to undetake His journey on the shoulders of GarudA known otherwise 
as Satyan , SuparNan, Taarkshyan and Vihageswaran , He travels on your
back to the place , where GarudA is waiting for Him (vahana Mantapam ) 
eagerly . Therefore , you are intimately involved partly or fully in providing 
transportation service to your Lord always . 

We will now take up selected slokas of this paddhathi to illustrate 
the beauty of construction , the lofty imagination and  the deep 
bhakthi of Swami Desikan  for Sri RanganAthA . 

In the second slokam Swami Desikan celebrates the gathA gathAni 
or the coming and goings of the PadhukhAs with RanganAthA  during
the many festivals at the Srirangam temple . The slokam is as follows :

sarada: sathamambha ! paadhukhE ! syAm samaya aahutha pitAmahasthuthAni I
maNimantapikAsu Rangabharthu: tvadhadheenAni GATHAAGATHAANI pasyan II

(Meaning ) : O Mother paadhukhE ! During the time of the temple festivals , 
BrahmA and the DevAs unite you with RanganAthA's feet to enable Him 
to travel to the many gem-bedecked sanctums and offer their worships
at these sites in the classical manner established by the sacred texts . 
May I be blessed by you to see these comings and the goings of 
RanganAthA on your back for ONE HUNDRED YEARS . 

In the third slokam , Swami points out the mutual dependence of the Lord 
and His padhukhAs . VedAs and paancha Raatra aagamAs assert that 
RanganathA and His consort are not controlled by anyone and yet they
are " yathokthakAris " as far as their devotees are concerned and respond to
their " commands  " out of overflowing affection for them . It appears that they
are controlled by their devotees . Swami Desikan points out the similarity 
of the PadhukhAs with the above attribute of the divine couple in this regard.

Swami Desikan says : " O PadhukhE ! Lord's movements are controlled by 
you ; at the same time , your movements  are under His control . He decides 
where He wants to go and you decide on how to get Him there with every 
comfort . Both of you are not controlled by anyone else. This relationship 
between both of you endure forever. Each of you is dependent on the other
and yet you are independent of every one else.  

The inner meaning of this slokam is : The blessings of acquiring a SadhAcharya 
is through the Lord's grace ; The boon of attaining  the Lord is however
through the 
blessings of Aacharya KatAksham . Thus there is a unshakable  interdependency 
between the AchAryA (PadhukhAs ) and the Lord . 

In the ninth slokam , Swami Desikan says : " O PadhukhE ! RanganAthA's ride  
on you , the elegant steps that He takes with your help , His bodily movements 
during these occasions are a delight for one's eyes. There is nothing more
pleasurable to watch in this world than that divine sight of RanganAthA's 
movement ( oyyAra nadai ) . Those  who are blessed to witness this blissful
scene  have the additional dividend of the destruction of their accumulated

In the fifth slokam , Swami Desikan states tha the PadhukhAs out of
its kindness bring the Lord closer to the people , who do not make an 
effort to come to the temple. Duirng the festival days , the padhukhAs 
carry the Lord on its back and bring Him to the raja Veedhis of Srirangam 
for one and all to see Him and receive His blessings. The inner meaning is that
the Lord will come to the place of one , who has been blessed by 
the Acharya Kataksham . 

In the fifteenth slokam , Swami points out that those , who have been
blessed to witness the sanchAram of the Lord of Srirangam on the back
of His padhukhAs will not travel the sorrowful road of repeated birhts
and deaths ( na puna: bhajanthE samsAra KaanthAra GATHAGATHAANI ) .

In the fourty seventh slokam , NigamAntha MahA Desikan states that 
the PadhukhAs of the Lord (Acharyas ) transport and bring before human
eyes the Supreme Lord , who can  not be easiy seen through strict observance 
of celibacy , penance or studies of the VedAs . His vaibhavam  is hardly
by the VedAs.   We recognize their valiant attempts to describe Him ; their 
effort is like trying to understand the immensity of the vast ocean by
reflecting upon a small amount of water held in one's palms . Swami Desikan
says that the PadhukhAs (AcharyAs ) make it easy for us to see HIm 
and attain His blessings in this human life of ours .

In the fiftieth verse , Swami Desikan appeals to the PadhukhAs 
to bring the Lord to his side during the last moments of his life
on earth , when he will be totally helpless . He says that  compassionate
act of the most merciful PadhukhAs would cut asunder his bonds of 
SamsAra and free him from additional births and deaths. This moving 
slokam is as follows :

parisaramupayAthA paadhukhE ! pasya maatha : !
karaNa vilaya kedhAth kaanthiseekE vivekE I
Purusham upanayanthee PundareekAksham agrE 
puna: udhara nivAsa klesa vicchedhanam na: II 

O Mother PadhukhE ! My sense of discrimination (Vivekam )
would have run away with fear at the time of my anthima kaalam
due to the enfeebling of my senses ( KaraNa vilaya KhedhAth
vivekE kaanthisOkE ) . At that time , please bring the Parama Purushan
to my side on your back and cast your merciful glance on me .
That lotus eyed Lord ( PundareekAksham Purusham ) is the 
one who banishes the ills of SamsArA ( repeated cycles of 
births and deaths ) and give us the boon of moksham .
The inner meaning is that the darsanam(Meditation ) of the Lord and 
Acharya should be in one's anthima smrithi to reach Parama Padham .

Sri RanganAtha MaNi PadhukhE ! Thubhyam Nama:
Swami Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam 
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan