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RANGASWAMY_at_plh.af.mil
Date: Mon Jan 27 1997 - 06:41:39 PST

Dear Members of the Bhakti List,

I have read with great interest the postings by Srimans Sadagopan, Kalale, 
Sudarshan, Vijayaraghavan and Smt. Nagu Satyan. 
Thank you all for the feedback on my postings about Garuda. I can 
very briefly answer Smt. Nagu Satyan's question on Garuda Bhagavan 
being called Periya Tiruvadi. Since Garuda preceeded Anjaneya in his 
service to Lord Narayana, he is called the senior servant of Sri Hari and 
Anjaneya is called the junior servant of Sri Hari (cf: Ramayana by 
C.Rajagopalachari). This is perhaps the reason for the name Periya Tiruvadi 
being conferred on Garuda. I shall get more information about this aspect 
from my Acharyan and post on the list.

Pakshi Raja's home is the four Vedas. Swami Desikan in the Garuda 
Dandakam glorifies Garuda as residing in a cage made up of the four Vedas. 
Swami Desikan continues by saying that Garuda is replete like the Mandara 
mountain (MandarAya Garuthmathe). In the salutation SankarshaNathman Garuthman, 
Swami Desikan describes Garuda as Sankarshana among the Vyuha Murthis
(Vasudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana). It would be interesting to 
relate the shape of the Salagramams of these murthis and specifically 
focus on the Salagramam of Sankarshana and relate it to Swami Desikan's 
description of Garuda. A related reference to Garuda comes from the 
Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna declares that " Among birds, I am Garuda".
The sound caused by Garuda's flight is brilliantly 
captured by Swami Desikan in the Garuda Dandakam: Bam Boli Darakinakalpa.

Garuda's flight causes high tides in the oceans, and strikes fear in the 
hearts of the elephants guarding the eight quarters (Ashta Dik Palakas), 
who try to attack him. However, Garuda effortlessly defeats them. It is this 
sound that is described in the Bam. Swami Desikan is a master at capturing 
sound effects. One could look at the description of Rama's bow twang in the 
Raghuveera Gadyam (Desika Dhanurjya Ghosha and Katuratadatani Tankruthi), 
and the KamasikAshtakam where he beautifully describes the movement of 
Lord Narasimha in pursuit of Hiranyan. On a related note, the 
KamasikAshtakam also glorifies Lord Narasimhar as the secret of the Purva and 
Uttara Tapaneeya Upanishads (Tapaneeya RahasyAnam) of the AtharvaNa Vedam. I 
was recently informed of a brilliant Gayathri Mantram in praise of Lord 
Narasimha which has its origin in the Tapaneeya Upanishad. I shall try to 
summarize related aspects of Prahlada Varadan in a separate article.

Returning to the Garuda Dandakam, Swami Desikan describes the loneliness of 
Garuda's wives Rudra and Sukeerthi when Garuda is engaged in service of 
Lord Narayana, which requires him to carry the Lord wherever the Lord wants to 
go. Garuda's return brings great joy to his wives, who affectionately 
embrace him. Swami Desikan then dwells on the serpents that adorn the chest of 
Garuda, which shine brilliantly like glittering ornaments. Garuda's feud 
with the sons of Kadru is briefly mentioned in the Garuda Dandakam. Swami 
Desikan glorifies Garuda as one who bestows the seeker with Brahma Vidya and 
declares that those who meditate on Garuda will be blessed with all 
Siddhis and will be ever free from the fear of snakes.

By the time Swami Desikan was twenty years old, he had become a great 
scholar in Vedas and Ubhaya Vedas. He had conducted discourses on Bhagavad 
Vishayam and written commentaries on the works of Ramanuja. He was 
initiated to the Garuda Mantram by his maternal uncle. Swami Desikan 
meditated on Garuda through this Mantram at Oushadadri hill. Pleased with 
his devotion, Garuda appeared before him and initiated him into the Hayagriva 
Mantram and the worship of Bhagavan Lakshmi Hayagriva. Furthermore, Garuda 
also gave Swami Desikan a vigraham of Bhagavan Lakshmi Hayagriva to use for 
his worship. As an expression of gratitude for this blessing from Garuda, 
Swami Desikan composed the Garuda Panchasat. During the episode with 
the snake charmer (described in my previous post), Swami Desikan composed the 
Garuda Dandakam. 

Ashtakshara Kshetram contains excellent references to Garuda. Srimans Sampath 
Rengararajan and Sadagopan have referred to the greatness of this Kshetram 
and Tala PuraNams in prior posts on this forum. It would be most helpful
if they can repost their informative articles. Very briefly, Lord Narayana 
describes the importance of Ashtakshara Kshetram in his Upadesham to Garuda.

Srirangam Venkatadrischa SrimushNam Totaparvatam I
Salagramam Pushkarancha Nara Narayana Ashramam II
Naimithim Cheti Meh Sthananyasow Mukti Pradanivai I
YetushvashtaksharaikAka: VarNamurthir VasAmyaham II
TishtAmi Krishna Kshetreh PuNya Sapthako gatha: I
AshtAksharasya Mantrasya SarvAkshara Maya: SadA II

"The Kshetrams of Srirangam, Tirupati, SrimushNam, VanamAmalai, Salagramam, 
Badrinath and NaimicharaNyam are capabel of granting Mukti. I reside as one 
Akshara of my Ashtakshara in each of these places as the VarNamurthi. However,
I reside as the entire Ashtakshara Mantram in Tirukannapuram." Tirukannapuram 
has special significance, since Tirumangai Azhwar obtained Upadesham of the 
Ashtakshara Mantram from the Lord himself, at this Kshetram. The Azhwar's 
outpourings about this Kshetram are very touching indeed. I would like to 
request shcolars like Srimans Sadagopan and Rengarajan to summarize some 
of these Pasurams for the benefit of those like me, who are incapable of 
reading and writing Tamizh. 

On a related note, it pains me very greatly to see that Sriman Sampath 
Rengarajan has decided to observe Mowna Vratham. I would like to submit a 
personal request to him to reconsider his decision. Many in this forum have 
benefitted from his writings which contain hard-to-come-by information. 
If Sri Rengarajan's decision is the result of intemperate remarks, I request 
him to ignore them. Fortunately, those engaging in such outbursts are a 
minority in this forum. It may be of some solace to him that even H.H. the 44th 
Jeeyar of Ahobila Matham was not spared of vitriolic criticism on this forum.

Namo Narayana,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy