You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : July 1998

Goda Stuti with reference to Kesava Kosam
Date: Fri Jul 24 1998 - 09:48:16 PDT


Dear Bhagavatas, I would like to supplement the brilliant write up of
Sriman Sadagopan on ``Goda'' with reference to the meanings attached
to the word ``Go'' as per the Sanskrit dictionaries.

(This is based on an article by Sri Srivatsankachariar in the Saptadi
Mahotsave Malar of Srimad Andavan of Poundarikapuram Ashramam, Sri
Gopala Desika Maha Desikan.)  
Dasoham Anbil Ramaswamy


``Goda Stuti'' is a rare and renowned Stotram of Swami Desikan. The
word ``Go'' has several meanings in Sanskrit. Like the famous flower
`` Mano Ranjitam'' that spreads the scent of whatever flower one
desires, this word is capable of any flavor one wishes to savor in it.

The Sanskrit dictionaries of those periods were quite unlike the
alphabetically arranged dictionaries that we are familiar with. They
were akin to Roget's Thesaurus containing lists of words of
approximately the same or similar meanings or with a wide variety of
meanings. You can go from the "Meaning to the Word" or from the "Word
to the meaning" as you like. And, the wonderful part of it is that the
whole exercise is presented in simple verse form (e.g.)  AMARASIMHA'S

For those who have not been exposed to Vyakarana Sastra (Sanskrit
Grammar considered to be one of the Vedaangas), it may be difficult to
comprehend the nuances of Sanskrit grammar with its infinite
ramifications that provide a rich fare in etymology and layers of
meanings. I am trying to avoid the jargons and present the essence
shorn of these myriad maze like interpretations.

This "KESAVA NIGANTU" details some 15 meanings- Gournaarthe,
Balivadane , Kirana, Kratubedayoh / Stree Tu Syaad, Disi, Bharatyaam
Bhoomou Cha, Surabhaavapi / Nristriyoh, Svarga, Vajra, Ambu, Raschmi,
Drigbarana, Lomasu //

Of these 15, Swami Desika has utilized either explicitly or implicitly
13 meanings in his " Goda Stuti". Let us see how:-

1. GOUNAARTHE (WORD AND ITS MEANING) In Sloka 3, he says- "Gode!
Tvameva Janani Tvad Abheeshtavaarham VAACHAM PRASANNA MADURAAM Mama
Samvidehi" meaning "O! Mother Goda Devi! Please bestow on me the words
which would be pleasing and gracious". That Nachiyar bestows ``Vak''
is brought out in this Sloka. What is the use of ``Vak'', if it does
not carry an ``Artha'' and what is the purpose of ``Artha'' if it does
not lead to ``Gnana''? The purpose is to augment ``Gnana''. How she
grants "Gnana'' is given in the next Sloka thus- "Theerthair Yataavat
Avagaahya Saraswateem Te" indicating that one would acquire true Gnana
by understanding the underlying meanings by attentively listening
(Avagahya) to the erudite expositions (Saraswateem) by
Acharyas(Theerthaih) whose Vak is steeped in the honey of Bhagavad
Gunaanubhavam. This itself is granted by her very glance. (Bavathee
Kaddakshaat).Swami Desika implies that Goda it is who grants ``Vak'',
``Gounaartha'' and the resultant blossoming of ``Gnana" (Vikaswara

2. BALIVADE: (Cow): The word ``Go'' means Cow in general and Kamadenu
in particular. This Kamadenu arose with Piraatti from the Ksheera
Saagara when it was churned. Its milk is nectar. It can fetch all that
one desires. Srimad Valmiki Ramayana describes how with the help of
Kamadenu, Vasishta entertained and fed the entire retinue of
Viswamitra; And, how as desired by him, on another occasion, she
chased away Viswamitra and his hordes by creating a huge battalion of
warriors.  Swami Desika compares Nachiyar to Kamadenu in Sloka 9 thus-
 " Viswa Upajeevyam Amrutam Vachasaa Duhaanam"
The nectar of Kamadenu is accessible only to great Sages like Vasishta; but,
the nectar of outpourings of Nachiyar flow to the benefit of all without any
discrimination- (Viswa Upajeevyam). 
Here, Swami Desika is supported by KAATAKA Mantram (3-3-9-12)-
"Kaama Vatsaa Amrutham Duhaana"

3.KIRANA (COLOR) The word ``Go" also means Color. Swami Desika
indicates this in Sloka 22 thus-

Dhoorvaa Dhala Prathimayaa Thava Deha Kaanthyaa Gorochana Ruchirayaa
Cha Ruchendriyaah / Aaseeth Anunjitha SIKHAAVALA KHANDA SOBHAAM
Maangalyathaam Pranamathaam Madhuvairi Gaathram // The color of
Lord''s Tirumeni is blue- black like the rain bearing clouds. The
color of Tirumeni of Bhoomi Devi is green like the grass (Dhoorvaa
Dhala Pratimaa). The color of Tirumeni of Periya Piraatti is golden
like Gorochana(Gorochana Ruchiraya). When the green and the gold
reflect on the black Tirumeni of the Lord, it shines like the neck of
a peacock. (Mayil Kazhuthu). Sikhaavala = Peacock; Khanta Sobha = the
beautiful hues of its neck

4. KRATUBEDA (YAGNA) ``Go'' also means ``Yagna''. Saranagathi is
considered the greatest ``Kratu'' or `` Velvi''. The glory of
Saranagathi known as ``Nyasa Vidya'' has been extolled in detail in
Swami Desika''s "Nikshepa Raksha". Alwar also hails Saranagatha as "
Seidha Velviyar"- One who has done what ought to be done - ``Krita
Kritya'' in the words of Swami Desika. Swami in his ``Paduka
Sahasram'' actually ridicules those who do Yagnas without doing
Saranagathi as "Pasuvada Parisesham Panditho Naama Yagnam" that they
are under the illusion of having done something without actually doing
what ought to be done. In fact, the best Yagna is that where the Atma
is dedicated to the Lord since the Vedas say "Om iti Aatmaanam
Yunjeetha". The Rig Veda Mantra which commences with the words - "Yah
Samithaa'' declares that of all the Yagas done with Samith etc, it is
this Atma Samarpanam that makes the ``Yajamana'' a ''Svatvaran''-One
who has done perfectly the best of all Yagnas.  Swami Desika even at
the outset (Sloka1) surrenders himself to Goda saying "Godaam Ananya
Saranah Saranam Prapadhye" And, again in the concluding Sloka (29) he
confirms this saying " Charana Kamala Sevaam Saaswatheem Abhyupaishin"
The implication is that the Srisooktis of Nachiyar will create in the
readers an earnest desire to do Saranagathi yagna.

5. STREE TU SYAAD (Supreme Lady) ``Go'' also means Lady (Stree). What
a lady? The One who acts as the Purushakara (Mediatrix) in
recommending the Jeevas to the Lord. How can she do this?

In Sloka 14, he uses the word "Easwari" which can mean she lords over
with the Lord or may be over the Lord himself !.

In Sloka 15, he calls her the beloved of the Lord. So beloved, indeed,
that He cannot transgress her recommendations. He proves this by
explaining how the Lord accepts her garland on his ``crown'' in
preference to the very ``Vanamala''- however fragrant (Aamodavataa
Api); however pleasing (Hridayangam Api); however colorful
(Raagaanvida Api); however soft (Lalitha Api) and however great it may
be in other respects (Guna Uttaraa Api). That is the quality of the

In Sloka 8, he says that the Alwars (including her father,
Periyalwar)experienced moods of ``Samslesha''(Union) with the Lord and
``Vislesha''(Separation) from the Lord only by SIMULATION whereas the
bhavas came to her naturally as she was Stree and had no need to
simulate.  Bhoktum Tava Priyatamaam Bhavatheeva Gode!  Bakthim Nijaam
Pranaya Bhaavanayaah Grinaantah / Ucchaavachaih Viraha Sangamajair
Udanthaih Sringaaarayanti Hridayam Guravah Tvadeeyaah //

6. DISI (DIRECTION) ``Go'' also means ``Direction''. In Acharya''s
imagination, Lord Ranganatha suffers from ``Dikbrama" while in deep
slumber and could not differentiate between North and South! He
cleverly employs a pun on the words "Dik Dakshinaapi". In accordance
with Kavya Alankara, Swami Desika says that the Lord''s Dikbrama was
cleared since ``Dakshina'' (South) became ``Uttara''(Elevated) because
the South had acquired the blessings of the Avatara of Nachiyar
there. "Dik Dakshinaapi Paripaktrima Punya Labhyaath SARVOTTARAA
Bhavati Devi Thava Avataaraath" - (Vide Sloka 16)

7. BHARATYAAM BHOOMOU ( (EARTH, LAND etc) ``Go'' also means ``Earth'',
``Land'' ``Paramapada'' etc. all denoting a ``place''. By the words
"Saakshaath Kshamaam"(sloka1) Swami Desika points out that Goda is
none other than Bhoomi Devi (Mother Earth). Parasara Bhattar explains
this aspect in his "KAISIKA DWADASI MAHATMYAM" in the "LAKSHMI

Kritraaghasah Kashamayati Kesavah Sreethaan Akinchanaan Thaan Kamalaa
Kataakshayet / Na Cha Prasajya Pratisheda seethi Yath Kshamaa
Tvamevorvi! Sahasva Mamaapi //

It is believed that this Lakshmi Kalyanam represents the wedding of
Nachiyar with Sri Rangamannaar. Swami Desika has echoed this in his ``
Rahasya Sikhaamani'' and ``Saaraswaadini'' several times. Our
Sampradayam holds that during this wedding, Periyar invited Nammalwar
and others to witness and bless the couple. Swami Desika says that it
was because she vested the powers of ruling on Manu and his successors
that they ruled their kingdom for a very long time (Chiram)- Vide
Sloka 23.  "Maathah! Chiram Niravisan Nijam Aadhi Raajyam / Maanyaa
Manu Prabrithiyor Api Maheekshithaa Te // "O! Mother! The great
emperors like Manu and his successors worshipped you and Sri Lakshmi
along with the Lord himself and were thus able to rule their kingdom
for long"

In Sloka 7 as well as in Sloka 21 Swami uses the word "Vasuda" to
denote Nachiyar. ``Vasuda'' is another name for Bhoomi
Devi. ``Vasudaatmanaste'' in Sloka7 and ``Vaachaalayanti Vasude'' in
Sloka 21.

8. SURABI (FRAGRANCE) The word ``Go'' refers to Surabi which also
means ``fragrance''. What is fragrance? Only speech that is truthful
can be regarded as having fragrance.  Alwar detested falsehood in
these words- `` Payan Alla Seithu Payan Illai Nenje1"(There is no use
talking worthless things); "Kollum Payan Illai, Kuppai Kilarthanna
Seivathai Vayaal Pugazhndu, Vaaimai Izhakkum Pulaveerkaal" (O!Poets!
Why do you forfeit truth by praising worthless people like a cock
scrambling garbage?"; "Maari Anaiya Kai, Maalvarai Thinn Tholl Yenru
Paaril ore Patriyai Pachai Pasum Poigal Pesave"(Why do you indulge in
utter falsehood by praising undeserving people saying that they are
munificent like the showers and have shoulders like boulders etc just
to gain some silly gains?).

Swami Desika refers to this fragrance in several slokas.  In Sloka 10,
he says "Tvam Mouli GANDHA SUBAGAAM" that Nachiyar''s tresses carry

In Sloka 17, he says that even though the Lord has the fragrant lotus
like naval (Naabhi Kamalam); has the fragrance of Sandal paste
imprinted on his chest when Sri Lakshmi embraced Him; has his eternal
aroma of the Vedas under his lotus feet (Paada Kamalam), it is the
fragrance of Nachiyar''s garland that was so irresistible for him that
he bowed His head to receive the same.  Viswaayamaana Rajasaa Kamalena
Naabhou, Vakshasthale Cha Kamalaa Sthana Chandanena/ Aamoditopi
Nigamair Vibhuringri Yugma Dhathe Nathena Sirasaa Tava Mouli Maalaam

In Sloka 19, he says- "O! Devi! The Upanishads deemed to be the
fountainhead of Vedas (VedaSiras) have been praising the fragrance of
your Lord. How did He acquire this fragrance? He bedecked Himself with
the garland worn by you earlier.  "Thungair Akrithrima Girah Svayam
Uttamaaghaah Yam Sarva GANDHA iti Saadharam Udvahanti / Aamodam Anyaam

9. DRISHTI (SIGHT) "Go'' also means ``sight'', ``eye'' etc. In the
very first Sloka, Swami refers to "Sri Rangaraja Harichandana Yoga
Drisyaam". `` Drisyam'' means `` beautiful to behold''. Both the Lord
and Nachiyar are beautiful to behold because they together look like
the ``Harichandana'' tree over which climbs the ``Kalpaka Valli''
creeper in the garden (Nandana) of Vishnu chitta.- " Vishnu Chitta
Kula Nandana Kalpavalleem Sri Rangaraja Harichandana Yoga Drisyaam"

10. SVARGA (HEAVEN) ``Go'' also means ``Svarga''. Though it is
generically applied to Heaven, the word Svarga is sometimes used as a
Paryaaya Pada (equivalent) of Moksha. This view is supported in the
KATOPANISHAD Mantra- Svarge Loke Bhayam Kinchit Naasti, Na Tatra Tvam
Na Jarayaa Bibeshi / Ubhe Theethvee Asanayaa Pipaase, Sokhaadiko
Modate Svarga Loke //

Both Bashyakara and Upanishad Bashyakara have adopted this Svarga
Sabdam to denote Moksham

What is Moksham?  "Yas Tvayaa Saha Sa Svargah / Nirayi Yas Tvayaa
Vinaa"- Being with the Lord is Svarga (here, Moksha) and being
separated from Him is Niraya (Hell). Nachiyar''s words in Tiruppavai "
Koodiyirundhu Kulirndhu" and ``Un Thannodu Uravel Namakku Ingu Ozhikka
Ozhiyaadhu" are significant in this context. This implies that Goda
grants this ``Serkai'' of Jeevatma with Paramatma. For what? For
rendering eternal service to Him. In the Phalasruti (Sloka 29) Swami
Desika says that reciting this Stuti will create a desire to do this
service-"Sa Bhaavaat Bahumaanyah Srimad Ranga Bartuh/ Charana Kamala

also refers to Vajraayudha, weapon of Indra. ``Dhaa'' has the
connotation of ``cutting asunder'' The Vyutpatti (Derivation) goes
like this: Ghaam = Vajram; Dhaayati =Avakhandayati Iti Goda'' Our
position bereft of Lord''s mercy is itself a thunderbolt for us. Swami
Desika says that " if it were not for Goda, the merciful glance of the
Lord would not have fallen on me".(Sloka 24) ``Paarsve Paratra
Bavathee Yadi Na Aaseeth, Praayena Devi Vadanam Parivarthitham Te".
Positioning on either side of the Lord, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi cut in
preventing the Lord''s turning away like lightning conductor which
diverts the havoc of thunder.

In Sloka 25, he says that the Lord''s Swatantryam is out to punish the
Jeeva for wrongful acts; but the glance of Bhoo Devi cuts asunder His
harsh intention, restrains Him from imposing punishment and turns it
into a favorable disposition- " Karma Anubandhi Phala Dhaana Rathasya
Bhartuh Swaatantraya Durvyasana MARMABIDHAA Nidaanam //

12. AMBU (WATERS) Yet another meaning of ``Go'' is ``Waters'' Here, it
denotes the holy purifying waters-``Thooya Neer". Swami Desika says
that a dip in Ganga and Saraswati rivers can wash away sins. But, the
same effect can be had if one dives deep into the meaningful flow of
Nachiyar''s outpourings. He indicates this in Sloka 4-"Theerthaih
Yataavat Avagaahya Saraswatheem Te'' and again in Sloka 26, he says-
Range Tadit Gunavato Ramaneeya Gode Krishnaa AMBUDASYA Gathithaam
Krupayaa Suvrishtyaa / Dourgatya Durvisha Vinaasa Sudhaa Nadheem Tvaam
Santhah Prapadhya Samayanti Achirena Thaapam // ``O! Gode! You act as
a river of ambrosia to relieve the good souls of their distress and to
terminate the malignancy of Samsara"

meaning of ``Go'' is ``Ray of light'' The word ``Raschna'' is from the
Datu- ``Rasch'' which has also been interpreted as a string of
flowers. This is evident from Veda Vaakkhyam- "Imaam Grinaath
Raschanaam" It refers indirectly to Nachiyar''s offering the Lord the
garland of flowers. What kind of garland? The ones that she had worn
earlier. This interpretation has been hailed by all Sampradayastas
since she is the "Soodik Kodutha Sudark Kodi" Swami Desika mentions
this about a dozen times in ``Goda Stuti''- Sloka 5 : "Niyamas Tava
Mouli Dhaamnaa" Sloka 10: "Tvan Mouli Gandha Subagaam Upahritya
Maalaam" Sloka 14: "Tvad Buktha Maalya Surbeekrita Chaaru Moule" Sloka
15: "Mouli Srajaa Tava Mukunda Kireeta Bhaajaa" Sloka 16: "Tvan Mouli
Dhaamani Viboh Sirasaa Griheete" Sloka 17: "Dathe Nathena Sirasaa Tava
Mouli Maalaam" Sloka 18: "Choodapadena Parigrihya Tavottareeyam
Maalaamapi Tvad Alakair Adivaasya Dhattaam Sloka 19: "Aamodam Anyam
Adigachati Maalikaabhih
		So Api Tvadeeya Kutilaalaka Vaasithaabih"
Sloka 20: "Dhanyo Samastha Jagataan Pitur Uttamaange
		Tvam Mouli Maalya Bhara Sambharanena Booyah"
Sloka 21: "Rangeswarasya Tava Cha Pranaya Anubandhaath
		Anyonya Maalyaa Pari Vrittim"
Sloka 28: "Alaka Vinihithaabih Sragbir Aakrishta Naathe"

Thus, Swami Desika has aptly applied to `` Goda'', 13 out of the 15
meanings provided by KESAVA NIGANTU.

14. Now, we will consider the explanation of Yadhavaprakasa and others
for the term ``Godavari'' which Swami Desikan has also adopted.

According to MATSYA PURANA, people go to Ganga and other rivers to get
rid of their sins. But, Ganga and other rivers come to Godavari in
what is known as ``Godavari Pushkaram'' once in 12 years in the month
of ``Thai'' to get themselves purified. Great scholars well versed in
Dharma Sastras have adopted this in "GODAVARI MAHATMYAM", ``GOUTAMI
MAHATMYAM" (Goutami is another name for Godavari) and in "SRI
BADRACHALA KSHETRA MAHATMYAM".  Swami Desika has brought this out in
Sloka 12- Praayena Devi Bavathi Vyapadesa Yogaath, Godaavari Jagad
Idam Payasya Punaate / Yasyaam Sametya Samyeshu Chiram Nivaasaath
Baagirathi Prabrutayorapi Bavanti Punyaah // "O! Devi! Probably, it
seems that Baagirati and other rivers become purified (Punyaa Bavanti)
for long periods( Chiram) by mingling (Sametya) with your waters".

Incidentally, it is said that when Sri Rama was searching for Sri
Sita, he inquired Godavari whether she had seen Sri Sita. Out of fear
for Ravana, Godavari kept mum even though she was aware of the
abduction of Sri Sita by Ravana. Thus, she had incurred a sin. She got
this expiated when Nachiyar took Avatar and assumed the name of

15. Another meaning of ``Go'' is ``Song''. Swami Desika has adverted
to this when he says-" Maal Irum Cholai Ninra Sundaranai Churumbar
Kuzhar Godai Thoguthu Uraitha Pain Thamizh Pathum Vallaar Tirumaal Adi
Servane" Sri Parasara Bhattar in his "KAISIKA DWADASI MAHATMYAM"
refers to Nachiyar as "Paada Vall Nachiyaar". We can see this in
Tiruppavai itself internally on many occasions where the words
``Paadi'', ``Paada'' and ``Paadavum'' etc. have been employed by Goda