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Sri Vairaagya Panchakam of Swami Desikan : Part 1

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Mon Mar 25 1996 - 17:38:52 PST

Dear Bhakthi Group membrs:

Sri Raghu Govindachari of Canada asked me
 in a private mail to translate and comment 
on the origin of the five slokas of  Swami 
Desikan . I am happy to do so. These five 
slokas are profound statements by Our Acharya
on his state of mind and his resolve and 
his code of conduct in the worldly life.

Prior to that , let me invoke the blessings of 
Sri Oppiliappan through the following 
Maangalya Sthavam verse to give the clarity 
of mind to undertake this Task:


(MEANING): I invoke Hari to bless me and to enhance 
auspiciousness of all kinds at all times, at all places,
and in all endeavours of mine.  May that Hari , who appears
in all forms and who  is without beginning or end
 enhance my Mangalams .

*** Swami Desikan and Acharya Ramanuja

Swami Desikan was an illustrious  propounder of Bhagavat 
Raamnuja Siddhaantham. He followed the way shown by
Acharya Ramanuja scruplously. Swami therefore believed 
deeply in Acharya"s postulation of  a personal God and the 
means of attaining Moksham with His grace through Bhakti 
or Prapatti margam. In both the  margams, the Lord is
recognized as a means and the object of attainment.
Moksham is the end result of His grace mediated by Sri Devi.
This is the Upasana that he imbibed form Ramanujaa 
and with the blessings of his Acharya,
he led a pious, simple life and subsisted on 
the minimum needed to sustain himself in service of 
Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam , Sri Devanatha of 
Thiruvahindrapuram and Sri Varadaraja of Kanchi. 

***Ramanujaa"s way
Swami Desikan followed the ancient way which 
Ramaanuja showed , which was based on the concept 
that  Bhakti (devotion ) results wholly from Viveka 
(discriminatory knowledge dealing with the true nature 
of the Lord  ), Vimoka (freedom from worldly temptations),
Abhayaasa (Practice of Nava Vidha Bhakthis), Kriya
( Nandavana and other Kaimkaryams for the Lord ,
intrepretation of scriptues for the disciples), 
Kalyaana (auspiciousness/ mangalam = thoughts 
on the Anantha kalyaana Gunas of Hari ) ,
Anavasaada ( absence of weakness = steadfast
resolve to worship Hari and Hari alone ) and 
Anuddharsha (absence of elation over worldly 
victories = Sthitha Prajna aspect ) . Swami Desikan"s
life was a pilgrimage marked with Bhakti for the 
Divya Dampathis and Kaimkaryam for them that
culminated in Saranagathi at their lotus feet. Swami 
explained in his many granthams about the sacredness 
of performing Saranagathi for our benefit and salvation .    
His wholelife was one of Vairaagyam (dispassion) and
Bhakti (devotion). 

***Demonstration of Swami"s Vairaagyam

In the early days of his  life , Swami was residing
at Kanchipuram and was engaged in Anushtaanam
and Kalakshepam. His brillance as  an Acharya
was well established. He led a simple life .
He had  a classmate and  friend from his student days
by the name of Vidyaranya .. Sri Vidyaranya was 
at that time the Aasthana Vidwaan at he court of
the  Vijya Nagara King .He was sad to hear that
Swami Desikan was poor inspite of his great scholarship.
He wanted to help his boyhood friend and wanted to use his 
influence with the King to secure financial help.
Sri Vidyaranya out of affection wrote a nice letter
welcoming Swami Desikan to the royal court .
Swami saw the letter and sent his response in
the form of a single slokam indicating 
his disinterest to receive the munificience of the
king to overcome the poverty that he chose. 
Sri Vidyaranya cared a great deal about Swami
Desikan and pressed him again to  come to the 
court for royal sambhavanaa. Swami composed 
this time five verses explaining his resolve to 
stay away  from material wealth and to only go
after the imperishable wealth given to him by 
his ancestors , which is residing on top of 
Hasthigiri with the name of Sri Varadaraja .
Sri Vidyaranya was moved by the Vairaagyam 
of Swami Desikan and had even greater respect 
for his friend. Later, Sri Vidyaranya became a 
Parama Hamsa sanyasi and decorated the 
 Sringeri Sarada Peetam himself. 

In the next posting , I will comment on the 
five brilliant slokas of Sri Vairaagya Panchakam 
of Swami desikan.