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Sri Ranganatha PadhukhA Sahasram : part 4

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Jan 24 1997 - 18:14:44 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatthi group :

In this and the subsequent  postings , I will cover the central theme
of each of  the 32 Paddhathis  to illustrate the architectonics and 
coherence of meaning of  RPS and select appropriate verse or verses 
from each of the Paddhathis in support of their central themes .

Paddhathi 1 : Prasthava Paddhathi 

Swami Desikan chose the name of Prasthava Paddhathi 
for the first chapter of RPS . The word Prasthava: means beginning,
or commencement or  an introduction  or  the prologue of a drama 
(kavyam )  or an introductory praise or an AvathArikai . 

Swami Desikan begins the very first chapter with a salutation to 
the BhagavathAs, AcharyAs and BharathA , who illustrated first 
the glory of the Lord's PadhukAs . The central theme is that 
one should revere one's Acharya paramparA and attain Sadhgathi 
through the strength and power of AcharyAs .

In the first verse quoted in the previous posting , Swami Desikan  saluted 
the Santha : ( auspicious BhagavathAs ) , who carry with reverence 
Sri Ranganatha PadhukAs on their heads . Swami Desikan pointed out 
that the very act of holding the sandals of the Lordon their heads confers 
on these blessed souls the power to protect the universe . He mentioned 
that even the particles of dust from their feet (Padha ReNus ) had the power 
of protecting the world from its miseries. The inner meaning of the first verse 
is that those who understand and celebrate the works of NammazhwAr reach 
Sadhgathi and bless others , who come into contact with them to attain
the four purushArthams . 

In the second verse , Swami Desikan saluted BharathA for making it 
possible for us to understand the power and significance of the padhukhAs 
of Sri RamachandrA . He saluted the MahA Bhakthan , Bharathan . The 
reference here is also to Natha Muni . The word Bharathan is made of three
letters , Bha, Ra and Tha . These three letters stand for Bhavam (Bha),
Raagam (Ra) and TaaLam (Tha). It was Natha Muni , who set NaalAyira
Divya Prabhandham to Raagam and TaaLam to bring out the Bhakthi
Bhavam of the AzhwArs . When Swami Desikan salutes , " BharathAya
Tasmai NamOsthu " , He means both BahrathAzhwAn and Nathamuni .
Swami Desikan reminds us here that it was Natha Muni , who brought out 
the glory of NammAzhwAr , just as Bharatha served to bring out the glory 
of the PadhukhAs (Satakopam ) of Sri RamachandrA .

In the third verse , Swami Desikan connects the PadhukhAs 
directly to NammAzhwAr. He describes the Sri Ranganatha MaNi
PadhukhAs as having  the fragrance of VakuLA flowers ( VakuLasumana:
vaasanAm udhvahantheem ) . VakulA flower (Mahisham Poo) garland
is the one that adorns the chest of NammAzhwAr . 

Swami Desikan concludes the PrasthAva Paddhathi with a description
of his inadequacies to tackle the MahA Vaibhavam of the Sacred sandals
of the Lord and begs for its blessings to complete his task . There are 
twenty verses in this paddhathi .

The Second Paddhathi : SamAkhyA Paddhathi 

The second paddhathi houses just  ten slokams. SamAkhyA 
means to count , reckon , relate, declare , proclaim and sum up .
Swami Desikan does all of these in the short span of ten verses
and  proclaims the Vaibhavam of the maNi PadhukhAs of Sri RanganAthA .
SamAkhya in the noun form means fame, reputation and 
celebrity status. The unique fame of  the PadhukhAs of the Lord of
Srirangam and their unparalleled glory and the root of its glory
is recokned with here. Their glorious connection is related to 
BhagavAn himself. Swami Desikan declares their Vaibhavam,
proclaims their MahimA and sums up their auspicious attributes
in the SamAkhyA paddhathi .

The fourth slokam (24th of RPS ) provides the central theme of 
this Paddhathi :

muninA maNipAdhukE tvayA cha 
prathithAbhyAm satakopasamgyaiva I
dvitayam SAKALOPAJEEVYAM aaseeth
prathamEna sruthiranyathastadhartha : II

(Meaning and comments ) : O Jewel-adorned sandals of 
Sri RanganAthA ! Both You and NammAzhwAr share the name of 
SATAARI . You bothshare SATAKOPATHVAM or the quality 
associated with SatakopA , which is nothing but saving the 
jeevans from the ills of  SamsArA and making them fit objects 
for receiving the DayA of the Divya Dampathis . In this context , 
both of Your name and duties are the SAME . Inspite of the common
name and end results that you both share , O maNi PadhukE ,
You achieve Your purpose in a slightly different way . NammAzhwAr
blesses the Jeevans through his Thiruvaimozhi , the essence of the VedAs.
You elevate the Jeevans by bringing them closer to the Lord Himself,
who is the essence of VedAs . 

In the next verse (the 25th of RPS ) , Swami Desikan points out that 
both the PadhukhAs and NammAzhwAr share the name of SatAri 
for another reason besides SATAKOPATHVAM . He says : " O PadhukhE !
Those who hear the Thiruvaimozhi of NammAzhwAr recognize and enjoy 
the delectable music associated with Your movements; similarly , those who
are blessed to hear Your movements (GathAgathAni ) recognize and enjoy 
the sacred and ear-pleasing sound of Thiruvaimozhi in them . Hence it is no
wonder  both of You have the same name, SATAARI . 

In the 26th verse of RPS , Swami Desikan refers to two Vaishnavite
doctrines known as Bhagavatha Seshathvam and Seshathva Kaashtai.
He connects the two principles to illustrate the hierarchical relationship
between NammAzhwAr and Sri RanganAtha PaadhukhAs . 

The Bhagavatha Seshathvam refers to being DaasAs or servants of 
great souls (BhagavathAs ) .One qualifies for the Lord's grace through 
sevice to those BhagavathAs , who are dear to Him . Seshathva Kaashtai
refers to the lowest servant in the hierarchy of the servants of the BahgavathAs

In one of his famous paasurams , NammAzhwAr refers to himself being 
eigth in the line of servants to the BhagavAn . He thus establishes seven
BhagavathAs ahead of him in that line of service. RanganAthA's sacred
sandals are not included in that lineage of servants .Swami Desikan 
points out that the PaadhukhAs took the name of NammAzhwAr(SatAri ) 
and thereby acheived the supremely desirable state of Seshathva 
KhaashtA and became even more famous than its name sake , NammAzhwAr .

Swami Desikan's brillaint mind explores further the similarity between 
NammAzhwAr and the PaadhukhAs , the central theme of this paddhathi,
and points out  both of their relationship to Lord RanganAthA  in the 28th
verse of RPS. The use of the word SESHAM   in the different sections
of this verse is  moving testimony to the poetic genius and Bhakthi 
of Our illustrious AchArya :

padhyEna Devi ! SatakopamunistavAseeth
tasyApi naama vahanAn maNipaadhukE! tvam I
seshi bhaboova yuvayOrapi SeshasAyee 
sesham tvaseshamapi seshapadhE sthitham va: II

(Meaning ) : O Glorious sandals of the Lord of Srirangam ! 
NammAzhwAr composed poems relating to Your glory and became 
Your humble servant. You took in turn NammAzhwAr's name(SATAARI ) 
and thereby became his devoted servant. Lord RanganAthA resting on 
AdhiseshA became the Lord (SESHI ) to both of You . The rest of 
the jeevans are in your lineage of service (SESHAM ) . Hence both  You 
and NammAzhwAr are equal in status in relationship to Lord RanganAthA
on one end of the hierarchy and to the rest of the world at the other end
of the hierarchy .


Sri RanganAtha Divya maNi paadhukE ! Thubhyam nama: 

Swami Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam ,

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan