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Concluding Musing on #39 of Desikan's RG

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Sun Jan 05 1997 - 23:21:10 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

This is my concluding piece on the discussions we have had, for right of for
wrong, on the following issues ever since the question "Should We Ask Him ?"
arose. When I look back I cannot help being both amused as well as feeling
humble about the way a casual discussion of 'sat-vishayam' snow-balled into
a full-fledged critical inquiry which covered a wide gamut of subjects as
         a) Sabhari-mOksha sAkshi-bhutha (Verse 41 of the gadyam)
         b) Andal's "vAyAl-pAdi mannathinAl sindikka ... (TiruppAvai)
         c) grihAstAshrama-dharmA-s vide "dandakAtapOvana
jhanghama-pArijAtha"(Verse #28)
         d) further grihAstAshrama-dharmA-s of Verses #23,#25 and #26 of the
         e) the theme of the dignity of death
         f) the hierarchy of "dharmA-s" - sva-,sAdhAraNa- and visEsha-
         g) the application of the 'charama-shloka' of the Gita in the
         h) the application of Rk#18 of the pUrUsha-sUktam in the Jatayu-episode
         i) the visEsha-dharmA of Lord Rama and Jatayu
         j) the "Rt.Hon'ble Sastry Approach" and the "Mukkur Swamy II approach"

I dare not speculate on how many of you enjoyed, let alone read through my
postings on all the above, but I certainly enjoyed every moment I spent
thinking through these "sat-vishayam". It was a deeply introspective session
for me, a kind of self-therapy as I neared the end of 1996 ! It was a sort
of one-man "Buffalo Satsangh" for me and as educative too !!

I was a little glad that my postings struck a responsive chord in the minds
of several members on the list who sent me messages sharing their own
thoughts. I could not help being overwhelmed by the message sent by
Sri.Vidyasankar Sundaresan who wrote saying that the discussions on
Jatayu/the dolphins of Futaisi Island in Abu Dhabi and the theme of "dignity
of dying" reminded him of his father's recent demise.

I am also grateful for the interesting inputs separately given me my
Sriman.Tatachar, Krishna Praba, Mudumbi Ramgopal and also Mani Varadarajan.
Their comments assured me that my views on the subject were not entirely
devoid of "bhagavath" interest although they may have been very prosaic.

Discussions of this sort attain a unique richness when there is active
participation from all 'bhagavatA-s' on the list. 

I am also grateful to Sriman Sadagopan who encouraged me to "keep writing"
even in the face of some "critical" feed-back (which in retrospect I think
was not at all so "negative" as it appeared then to me !).

I now conclude by asking myself what relevance has all the discussions on
the theme of "dharmA" got to do with that famous #39 of the
Raghuveera-Gadyam. Let us look at the verse :

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

Many postings ago, we paraphrased the above as follows in plain English :

"(O Rama), the Great Bird (Jatayu) won accolade for the whole tribe of the
Valorous Ones of this world; and paid the price for it with its life in the
bargain ! When You performed the last rites for that great warrior of a
bird, O Rama, how clearly you revealed, indeed, which acts of devotees are
those that merit and elicit your deep and abiding affection for them !!"

Now, 'dear bhAgavatOttamA-s', the above verse appears to us a panegyric sung
by Desikan extolling the MARTIAL VALOUR of Jatayu.

One would think that the verse is in praise of Jatayu that battled Ravana
and died a great martyr. 

The emphasis of this particular verse appears to be on Jatayu's martial
magnificence and aggression !!

A doubt, therefore, arises in our minds whether all the great discussions we
have had so far on the "acts of dharmA" --- sva-dharma, sAdhAraNa-dharmA and
visEsha-dharmA -- of Jatayu have any bearing to this Verse #39 !!

What is so "valorous" in the "dharmA" that Jatayu carried out ?

One would, indeed, think that the poetic content of #39 does not match at
all with the theme of "dharmA" ! 

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', we must not be fooled by such seeming poetic
stances of the "kavi-tArkika-simham" !

If the "Raghuveera-gadyam" and particularly Verse #39 had primarily been
intended by Swami Desikan to be a great hymn on glorifying only MARTIAL
VALOUR then, I personally think, it would have  served no other purpose
other than being prescribed reading material for advanced training
programmes in the OFFICER's TRAINING SCHOOL of the Indian Army's National
Defence Academy !!

The principal message of the Raghuveera-gadyam a.k.a. "Mahaveera-vaibhavam"
is NOT, in my opinion, a glorification of Lord Rama's martial valour in the
military battlefield !!

More importantly, it is essentially a hymn on the glory of "valour that is
exhibited on the MORAL battlefields inside the hearts of noble "human" and
even "non-human" beings like Jatayu !!

If we do not appreciate this fact, as we read through and appreciate each of
the 96 stanzas in this hymn, then we shall be have wasted our time !!

This hymn is a song in praise of that kind of VALOUR that is demonstrated,
as Jatayu did, in the constant WAR that we all fight in our lives to uphold
and eventually "transcend" (vide the 'charama-shlOka' of Lord Krishna) what
is called our "dharmA" -- be it 'sva-dharma, sAdhAraNa-dharma or
visEsha-dhrmA' !!

When we, like Jatayu, do show our true mettle as doughty MORAL WARRIORS, it
is then that the GREAT LORD RAMA simply showers HIS AFFECTION on us EVEN

I conclude with the Salutations to Lord Rama, the God who performed
'anthima-samskAram' for that great "dharmAthmA", Jatayu :


srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha