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Hamsa Sandesam: Special Significance .

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Mar 30 1996 - 14:31:53 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti group:

In his erudite introduction to Srirama Desikaacchaar"s
monograph on this Kavyam of Swami Desikan,
the late Sri D. Ramaswamy Iyengar educates us 
on the special significance of the Hamsa Sandhesam.
Some of these remarks have links to the ongoing 
discussions on Thirumangai's Thirumadals. 
The year of these remarks is 1968 .

He says: " one of the several important purposes 
with which Lord Sri Venkatanatha of the seven hills 
(Tirupathi ) came into the world as Thuppul Venkatanatha
(Vedanta Desika ) is to lift poetry from the mire of mere
eroticism (sensous Sringara ) into which it had sunk. Even
as Acharya Ramanuja lifted up Para Brahman (ultimate
Godhead) from the mire of the school of Kapardi (Kapardi
Mata-Kardamam ---Para Brahmanah Kara Graha Vichakshano
Jayati Lakshmana Ayam Muni: --Yatiraja Sapthati Sloka 38) ,
Vedanta Desika redeemed the great poetic muse from 
Vulgarity(Commonness). This same Acharya  has
 referred to how the Alwars had sublimated Sringara
into Bhakti .At the hands of the Alwars, Sringara blossomed
 into Bhakti ,when their great Bhakti found expression in
 the language of love (Vide: Bhakti : Srungaara Vrutthya 
PariNamathi nad Bhaktim NijAm pranaya BhavanaYaa: ) .

In this Hamsa Sandesam, Sri Desika refers to the status
of Sringara in sloka II-10 to that of a Nidhi or treasure
(SrungArAkyam nidhimatigataa SreyasI Devadeva) . No wonder 
poetry ,which is the language in which SrigAra finds expression
 gets sublimated too.That is how and why every poetic work of
 Desika is entwined with philosophy and religion. It is strange
and it is almost a tragedy,that it is for this reason Desika"s works 
are not as  widely known as they deserve to be.
 The educated world is still in large measure allergic to philosophy 
and religion and so, however exquisite Desika"s poetry 
may be , it is not popular because of its special flavour.


Even as Ramayana is a Kavyam , which became
 Mahat charitam by Sita Devi being the chief topic 
thereof, (Kavyam Ramayanam kritsnam Sitaaas
charitam mahat), this Hamsa Sandesa Kavyam
couched in the words of Rama Himself has become 
a precious epic , because Sita Devi is the person to
whom the Sandesam(Message) is sent. In fact, right
from the first sloka, which refers to Janaka-Tanaya,
this poem is well and truly devoted to that paragon 
of the femenine species(Naareenaam UttamAvadhU;)
Gods and Goddesses have been and ever will 
continue to the object of praise by their followers,
devotees and votaries. But, here is a poem ,
 where God  Himself praises and Goddess Herself is the 
object of praise. There is no higher God to us than Rama ,
and no higher Goddess than Sita. So,who can adequately 
evaluate the greatness of this poem? 

Sita Devi"s appraisements and estimate of Rama can be
seen in great detail in the Sundara Khandam (chapter 36 onwards ). 
Valmiki,  however ,  does not place before us
 to the same extent ,Rama's estimate and evaluation 
of Sita, which we are left to gather from His ravings and 
periodical outbursts of anger and depression at separation
from His beloved. Sri Vedanta Desika ,however , makes his 
Rama speak at length on the beauty , righteousness and 
excellent qualities of head and heart of Sita. 

The Second AaswAsa (Chpter) of Hamsa sandesa is really
 a monologue of Rama on Sita. Slokas 9 to 23 therein deserve to be
read and reread. Out of them, Sloka 9 which refers to the excellence of 
Sita Devi ,who is compared to a Divya-Ratnam (celestial gem )
 and sloka 22 ,which depicts Her state of samadhi (intense concentration)
are worthy of being written in letters of Gold. In the latter, Desika has
wonderfully perfected the sentiment of Valmiki, who makes 
Hanuman say about Sita(EKASTHA HRUDHAYAA NOONAM 
RAMAMEVAANUPASYATI). The words "Maanmatehnaakamena"
in sloka 22 deserve special attention. Even Kama or Love has its 
Agamaa or Scripture. Only a Vedanthacharya can speak like this.
LOVE IS SUBLIMATED AND ALONG WITH IT KAMA SAASTRAA
OR THE TREATISE ON LOVE. THIS HAS BEEN RENDERED
POSSIBLE BECAUSE  THE OBJECT OF LOVE HERE IS  BHAGAVAN
HIMSELF AND SO IT IS BHAGAVAT KAAMAM. THE ULTIMATE 
PURUSHAARTHA IN RAMANUJA SIDDHAANTHA IS not even
MOKSHA , BUT BHAGAVAT KAAMAAM (Vide KANNANUKKEH 
AAMATEH KAAMAM OF RAMANUJA NOOTRANDADI ).

To understand the greatness of this Bhagavat Kaamam as
opposed to Vishaya Kaamam , only a person ,who has 
renounced all worldly attachment is fit and capable. That is why 
a Hamsa has been chosen as the messenger by Desika's Rama.
That Hanuman has been depicted to us by Desikan as an
Acharya --vide :Hanumat sdamena guruNaa -- in Sankalpa
Suryodhayam. A Hamsa stands for a Sanyasi ,who has renounced
the world and its pleasures. So , it is a message replete with
divine love; the love of divinity is vouchsafed to that Hamsa.

TO BE CONTINUED, V.SADAGOPAN