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Swami Desikan"s PadhukA Sahasram : Part 1

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Jan 19 1997 - 06:32:41 PST



Dear Members of the Prapatthi Group :

Sri RanganAtha PaadhukA Sahasram (RPS) is one of 
the most magnificient literary , philosophical and theological
compositions of Swami Desikan . The other kAvyams such as 
Sankalpa SuryOdhayam , YaadhavAbhyudhayam , Hamsa Sandesam
and Subhashitha Neevi have their unique merits. For instance ,
Sankalpa SuryOdhayam is an allegorical play , where the cardianl 
doctrines of SrivaishNavite philosophy are covered . The Hamsa 
Sandesam modelled very much after Mega Sandesam of the immortal
bard KaaLidAsA , the literary and poetic talents as well as his knowledge
of the Indian subcontinent of  Swami Desikan  come to the fore . In his
kAvyam on the life and history of Sri KrishNA-- the Yadhava kula Tilakam --
known as YaadhavAbhyudhayam , Swami celebrated the scion of the 
Yadhu kulam .The Subhashitha neevi is an "didactic lyric " containing 
the wise and pithy  statements similar to the ones found in the Niti Sataka
of poet Bharthruhari . The uniqueness of PadhukhA Sahasram is that it is
an intgrated essence of the literary , poetic , philosophical and theological
and last but not the least , the Bhakthi of Swami Desikan at its full bloom .

In this multifaceted master-piece of a Kavyam of RPS , Swami Desikan 
has celebrated the glories of the two PAADHUKHAAS  (sandals ) 
adorning and supporting the lotus feet of the Lord of Srirangam . 
This suprasiddha (highly revered ) kavyam
has 1,008 verses housed in 32 chapters (Paddhathis ) . It is said that
Swami Desikan composed all of these 1008 verses in one Yamam of 
a night in response to a challenge set by a SrivaishNava of Srirangam .
The challenger suggested that whoever completes 1,000 slokams on 
ANY  subject of his choice in ONE NIGHT  will be the winner of the title 
as the MahA Kavi . Swami Desikan was  least interested in acquiring a title 
or enter into a competition with the ego-driven local poet/ SrivaishNavA of 
Srirangam . He accepted however this challenge as a command of 
Sri RanganAthA for him to compose an eulogy on HIS  anantha KalyANa  
guNams . Swami chose the subject of the sandals of the Parama 
Purushan of Srirangam and created the 1,008 verses celebrating 
their glories . The competitor chose the subject of the Paadha Kamalam
of Sri Ranganatha and barely completed 300 verses during the course of 
the night and gave up his futile attempt. During the next  morning , Swami
Desikan presented to the Lord of Srirangam his grantham entitled ,
" Sri Ranganatha PadhukhA Sahasram " at the temple and was duly honored 
by the scholars and devotees assembled there and most importantly 
received the blessings of the Lord Himself .

According to another version , Swami Desikan settled down in Srirangam
after many years of residence at Thiruvaheendrapuram and was engaged 
in the SiddhAntha Pravachanam to his disciples . His MedhA vilasam
and brilliance in intrepreting Bhagavadh RaamAnuja SiddhAntham was
admired by the residents of Srirangam. A group of scholars appealed to
Swami Desikan at this time  to compose a Uttama Kaavyam on the Lord of Srirangam

to celebrate the unmatched devotion of their AcharyA to Periya PerumAL . 
Swami Desikan accepted their wish as the Lord's command and composed
the bhakthi-laden verses of Sri Ranganatha PadhukhA Sahasram (RPS ) . In that 
extraordinary kaavyam , he explained that  the Lord's sandals and NammAzhwAr
are one and the same . He pointed out further  that the sacred sound arising
from the movement of the Lord on His padhukhAs is equal to the sacred sound of
Thiruvaimozhi arising out of Sri SatakOpA's mouth and RPS emanating 
out of his own mouth . 

The individual verses arising from the power of Swami Desikan's
Hayagreeva mantrOpAsanam are very powerful in their mAntric 
significance . The Andavans of Srirangam , who worship the MaNi 
PaadhukhAs of Sri RanganAthA in their daily AarAdhanam have identified
individual slokAs for japam and DhyAnam to realize specific siddhis .
The Lifco company of Madras has produced a small monograph on
the individual slokams with such maantric significance and have 
given the sankalpams for the japam of these slokams of RPS with the
guidance of the Andavans of Srirangam . This booklet also contains the 
yantrams with bheejAksharams at the center for the ladies of the house 
to draw in the  pujA grahams of their houses as kolams (RangOlis ) as 
the accompaniment to the japam and to invoke (aavAhanam ) of 
the Lord wearing His sandals ( Lord and NammAzhwAr ) on individual
days of the week. There has been repeated demonstrations of the siddhis
arising out of such japams of the individual slokams of RPS in many people's
lives . People performing Mantra japam of individual slokams
have attained the fruits of their efforts to achieve loukika and Vaidhika 
purushaarthams . In essence , RPS is a celebration of one's AcharyAs
and the celebration of the acharya-bhagavadh sambhandham . It is therefore
a PaarayaNa grantham like Srimadh RaamAyaNam of sage Valmiki . When
one does PaarAyaNam of RPS , one enjoys the Lord of Srirangam 
directly ( pratyakhshamiva Samvruddham ). When we recite the hundred
slokAs of the chapter of RPS (paddhathi ) known as Naadha Paddhathi 
with devotion , the Ranganatha sevakA can experience literally the 
" GathAgathAni " (the hither and thither Sancharam ) of the bell-studded 
padhukhAs of the Lord of Srirangam . The most beautiful sounds of 
his sanchaAram as the Lord leaves His aasthAnam in Srirangam and
coming to our Puja Grahams have been captured by Swami Desikan .
One experiences the different mellifluent sounds of the Lord's bell-studded
PaadhukAs as His Paadam Thaangis ( Periya and Siriya Thiruvadis ) carry
him on their back and engage in the steps used in transpoting Him 
 known as Simha Gathi , vyAgra gathi and others . 

Thiruvaimozhi and RPS
Swami Desikan has closely modelled RPS after NammAzhwAr's
Thiruvaimozhi with its 100 decads. In view of the  importance of
RPS to us , Therezhundhur Aandavan created a Tamil commentary 
for us . He completed the commentary  upto 860 slokams and could 
not continue further due to his illness. He commissioned then Sri
Aakkur Andavan to complete the work . The year was 1955 and the 
extremely valuable commentary along the Andavan tradition was
released in that year.  For many years thereafter , this monograph was 
out of print.  Thanks to the efforts of the disciples of Aandavan , this
sacred monograph was rereleased in 1995 in two parts . Sri Uttamur
Swami had released his own VyAkhyAnam on RPS earlier and it is also 
out of print now. I was blessed to receive in 1994 the last copy of 
this brilliant commentary of RPS form the son-in-law of Uttamur SwamigaL
(Sri K.G.KrishNan )at Madras . I had the good fortune to translate 
this version into english in 1995.
This English version may be released in 1997 with the help of 
Sri K.G.KrishNan and Swami Desikan scholars such as Sri V.N.Vedantha
Desikan , the author of "AzhwAr ThiruvuLLam " and Dr. S. PadmanAbhan,
the author of Parasara Bhattar's works and a descendant of the ThevanaarviLagam
Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt . I am now bridging the two traditions 
of commentaries - that of Uttamoor SwamigaL and Srirangam 
Aandavans -- so that we can appreciate the integrated essence of the two 
schools offering their devotion to Sri Ranganatha Divya MaNi PaadhukhAs .

I will sumamrize in the next few postings the architectonics of RHS 
and the brief summary of the subject matter of the 32 paddhathis 
of RPS .

May the Divya dampathis of Srirangam bless  this effort and bring it
to a successful conclusion !

Sri RanganAyikA Sametha Sri Ranganatha ParabrahmaNE nama ;

Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchari Sadagopan