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SrI deSika stotra-s - 3. bhagavad-dhyAna sopAnam.

From: Krishnamachari, N. (krish_at_ihmail1.ih.lucent.com)
Date: Thu Feb 19 1998 - 13:49:00 PST

		SrI deSika stotrams - 3. Bhagavad dyAna sopAnam.

	This is the third stotram being covered in this series.  The
intent of this write-up, as in the previous ones in this sequence, is to
give a very broad view of the stotram with the desire that it will give
the motivation to go deeper into the stotram as the next step.  Sri
deSika sings the beauty of Lord ranganAtha in this stotram.  The word
sopAnam means steps, and is probably derived from sa and upAyana (going
near, approaching).  In this stotram, SrI deSika describes Lord
ranganAtha's beauty part by part starting from His lotus feet all the
way up to His kirItam (The Sacred Crown).   He points out in the
concluding Slokam that one who is desirous of yoga or union with the
Lord will find it easy to climb through the steps needed for this by
acquiring the necessary bhakti by chanting this stotram.    This is the
reason for the title 'sopAnam'.  

	This stotram follows the example of SrI tiruppANazhvAr's
composition amalanAdipirAn which is also a similar composition on Lord
ranganAtha, except that AzhvAr's composition is in tamizh while SrI
deSika's composition is in samskr*t.   Both stotrams start with the
description of the Sacred Feet of Lord ranganAtha, and end with the
praise of His eyes, face, kirItam, etc.  It is SrIvaishNava tradition
that when we have the darSanam of the Lord in the temples, we start with
viewing His feet first.  When the arcaka-s do the karpUra-Arati, they
start with the pAda-sevA, and then gradually give us the sevA all the
way through the sevA of  vaksha-sthala mahA lakshmi, up to the Sacred
facial view and the kirItam of the Lord.  

	When I read SrI rAmaseSikAcAryar svAmi's interpretations on some
of the Sloka-s in this stotram, I was reminded of the AzhvAr-s who
imagine themselves as a friend of the Lord, or as a mother, or as a
consort, etc.  when they have bhagavAn's anubhavam in the form of their
compositions.  In composing the bhagavad-dhyAna sopAnam, svAmi deSikan's
mind seems to have been in the state of a young girl in deep love with
Lord ranganAtha.   Thus when he describes the Lord's hands in Slokam 7,
he describes his mind as a she-elephant which is enjoying the tight
embrace by the Lord's beautifully decorated hands.  In Slokam 10, where
he summarizes his anubhavam of the Lord, SrI rAmaseSikAcArya interprets
svAmi deSikan's thoughts as that of a young girl who is in love with the
Lord and who is having this great anubhavam of the Lord first by
touching His delicate feet with both her hands, then gently touching His
ankles with devotion, then having the sparSam of His Sacred
vaksha-sthalam or chest, then enjoying the rapture of touching His
beautiful face, and then losing herself in the beauty of His kirItam.

There are a total of 12 Sloka-s in the stotram.   The poet in svAmi
deSikan is evident throughout the stotra.  In the Slokam where he
describes the Lord's ankles, he points out that by worshipping those
ankles which helped the Lord "go" fast as a messenger to the pAndava-s,
we can get rid of the need  to  "go" in the samsAra-mArga.  When
describing His nabhI-kamalam, SrI deSikan compares it to the deep vortex
formed during the pralaya which can hide the whole Universe in it, and
where the pollen dust from the lotus flowers have settled, leading to
new lotus flowers bearing new brahma-s in each kalpa.  It is also like
the big vortex formed from the flooding beauty of the Lord.  When he
describes the Lord's vaksha-sthalam, he loses himself totally in Lord
ranganAtha's beauty.  This vaksha-sthalam is decorated by the beautiful
white SrIvatsam mole, blessed naturally by the sacred touch of the lotus
feet of mahAlakshmi since She resides on His vaksha-sthala,  and is
shining at the same time red because of the kaustubha pearl, green and
other different colors because of the tulasi and the vyjayanti mAlA-s,
and white like the moon because of the white pearl necklace decorating
His chest.   His hands are like the pArijAta tree, only special because
these can give moksha to those who have done prapatti to Him, whereas
the pArijata can give only things other than moksha.  His face is turned
on the side as if to welcome those who come to Him even from a distance,
His smiling lips look like they are speaking to His devotees, and His
eyes look like they are graciously welcoming those who are coming to
Him.   While describing His kirItam, svAmi deSikan describes the
beautiful locks of hair on which the kirItam rests.  These locks of hair
are "curled liked the twisted words from the angry women of cola deSam".


	After the description of his anubhava of the Lord in detail,
svAmi deSikan summarizes his feelings of the darSanam of the mUlavar and
utsa-mUrti in the penultimate two Slokam-s.  The last Slokam is the
phala-Sruti.  This overall organization is similar to what we saw in the
daSAvatAta stotram we visited last week.  Just as we had one Slokam in
the daSAvatAra stotram that summarized the ten incarnations, here we
have two Sloka-s that summarize the Lord's beauty.  I am including these
two "summary" Sloka-s with their brief meanings.

	"pAdAmbhojam spr*Sati bhajate ranganAthasya ja~nghAm    
	  Uru-dvandve vilagati SanairUrdhvamabhyeti nAbhim          |
	  vakshasyAste valati bhujayor-mAmikeyam manIshA
	  vaktrAbhikhyAm pibati vahate vAsanAm mauLi-bandhe     || 

	"My mind dwells on the sacred Lotus Feet of Lord ranganAtha,
then moves to enjoy the darSana of His ankles, then rests well on the
enjoyment of His majestic thighs, reaches His nabhI-kamalam, gets set on
the vaksh-sthalam, revolves around His majestic hands, drinks the nectar
of the darSanam of His beautiful face, and sets finally on His kirItam".

	"kAntodArair_ayamiha bhujaih ka~nkaNajyA-kiNA~ngaih       
	  lakshmI-dhAmnah pr*thula-parighair_lakshitAbhIti-hetih      |
	  agre kincit bhujaga-Sayanah svAtmanaivAtmanh san
	  madhye ra~ngam mama ca hr*daye vartate sAvarodhah          ||

	"This great Lord ranganAtha who is resting on Adi-Sesha, 

	and whose hands are beautiful, bestow all that is wished for by
the devotees, has the imprint of the bangles as well as the mark of the
bow-string left by bearing the bow in the process of  carrying it for
destroying His enemies, look like they are there to protect the
vaksha-sthalam which is the dwelling place of mahAlakshmi, and carry the
divine Ayudha-s that can drive away any and all fears that the devotee-s
may be exposed to by their mere darSanam, 

	is also presenting Himself in the form of His utsava-mUrti along
with His divine consorts under the SrIranga-vimAna in the heart of
Srirangam as well in my heart". 

	In the last Slokam, the phala-Sruti, the great AcArya pleads to
the Lord on our behalf to confer on us eternal and unswerving bhakti to
help us  "ascend" with ease to the level of what the great yogi-s
accomplish only by intense effort.

	Even though what follows is not part of bhagavad-dhyAna sopAnam
which is the topic of the present write-up, I noticed a
"mini-bhagavad-dhyAna sopAnam" embedded in the hayagrIva stotram as I
was going through the latter yesterday.  svAmi deSikan composed the
hayagrIva stotram as Lord hayagrIva was giving His pratyaksha darSanam
to the AcArya in tiruvahIndrapuram.   In this stotram also, just as in
bhagavad-dhyAna sopAnam, we find svAmi deSikan describing his anubhavam
of Lord hayagrIva's beautiful form part by part, starting with His
sacred feet.  There is a sequence of 8 Sloka-s (19 to 26) describing the
Lord's beauty.  Slokam 32 is a summary of the eight Sloka-s.

	In Sloka-s 19 to 21, svAmi deSikan describes Lord hayagrIva's
lotus feet.  In Slokam 22 the beautiful anklets of the Lord are
described.   Sloka-s 23 and 24 describe the Lord's two right hands
showing the j~nAna mudra and holding the japa-mAlA respectively.
Slokam 25 is a description of the Lord's sacred left hand with a book,
and Slokam 26 talks about the Lord's beautiful pure white moon-like form
as He is seated on the fresh white lotus flower .  Slokam 32
(vyAkhyAmudrAm karasarasijaih...) is the dhyAna Slokam where the
over-all beauty of Lord hayagrIva is summarized.  I had not included the
overall meaning of this dhyAna Slokam in my write-up on SrI hayagrIva
stotram, and so am including it here.  

	"vyAkhyAmudrAm kara-sarasijaih pustakam Sankha-cakre
 	  bibhrad-bhinna-sphatika-rucire puNdarIke nishaNNah           |
	  amlAna-SrIh amr*ta-viSadaih amSubhih plAvayan mAm
	  AvirbhUyAt anagha-mahimA mAnase vAgadhISah               || 

	(May Lord hayagrIva, the Lord who bestows His grace of
knowledge on His devotees, 

	- with the four divine hands which carry the sacred Sankha and
cakra, the book and the j~nAna mudra respectively, 
	- who is full of flawless greatness and eternal radiating
brilliance, 
	- who is seated on the beautiful white lotus which is like it
has been carved out of the pure white sphatika maNi,  and
	-whose greatness and brilliance are eternal and flawless, 

	always reside in my mind and grace me with His nectar-like cool
white rays so that I am always immersed in His thoughts).

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan