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

"bandhu-s & jantu-s" in KAmAsikhAshtakam

From: R.Balaji (lucasfie_at_md2.vsnl.net.in)
Date: Fri May 29 1998 - 23:36:58 PDT

srimathe lakshmi-nrsimha parabrahmane namaha
sri vedanta gurave namaha

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s",

If you flip through the earlier posts on this subject you will see that
in the course of discussing Desikan's line -- "bandhumakhilasya
janto-ho" -- we have been severely villifying the Great Lord!!

In our efforts so far inquiring into the true import of Verse#4 of the
"kAmAsikhAshtakam", we have begun to call the Lord a lot of names!
Indeed through the last few posts, if you noticed, we have been
unwittingly performing a "sahasranAma-archana"(a litany of the divine
names of God) of an extremely dubious sort to the Lord!! 

I am not joking. Please read the previous posts and you can see for
yourself we actually started off quite harmlessly, simply asking
ourselves how the Lord could remain the "bandhu" of all "jantu-s" of the
world without regard to their individual moral worth or stature. But
somehow we ended up through the discussions calling the Lord all sorts
of "nAmA-s" such as :

    (a) "amoral"
    (b) "perverse"
    (c) "aloof"
    (d) "arms-length", "neutral" bandhu
    (e) "supercilious"

(Someday I will find out for you all from the "purAna" if the aforesaid
expletives were included too by the infamous "sisupAlan" in the 100
vicious invectives he himself authored and hurled at the Lord in the
open Court of Duryodhana!!)

Let's forthwith suspend the line of questioning pursued so far in our
discussions. It has not led us, has it, an inch closer to a better
understanding of the Great "bandhu". On the other hand it might only end
up in our coining an awful "sahasranAma" of more expletives for the good
Lord, who is our true "bandhu"!! Surely we don't want to do that, do we?

Let's instead turn to the "Vishnu-sahasranAmam" and see what it can tell
us about the question of the Lord being "akhilasya-bandhu".

If you scan the 1008 "nAmA-s" recounted in that holy text the epithet,
"bandhu", appears but once:

In Verse #78 ('nAmA'#733) you will come across the following:

    "loka-bandhur-lOka-nAthO mAdhavO bhakthavatsala-ha !"

This is a wonderful set of the Lord's "nAmA-s" pregnant with rich
meaning!

It is customary to read the above as a string of 4 discrete and
different "nAmA-s" viz. (a)"loka-bandhu" (b)"loka-natha" (c) "madhava"
and (d)"bhaktavatsala" respectively denoting:

(a) The Kinsman of all the World
(b) He who leads the world
(c) He who belongs to the clan of Madhu
(d) He who loves his devotees dearly

You can also roughly concatenate the above 4 ideas into 2 simple
predicative statements :

    (A) "madhava: loka-bandhur loka-natha:" !

    (B) "madhava: loka-bandhur bhaktavatsala:" !

In plain English the above 2 statements might read as follows :

 (A) "Madhavan,the Kinsman of all the World, leads."
  
 (B) "Madhavan,the Kinsman of all the world, is filled with love
for       those who follow Him." 

Please study the above 2 statements carefully.

If you were asked to reverse-render each of the above statements back
into a single Sanskrit word you might well translate them
(notwithstanding unfamiliarity with the language) as two proper names
very much in currency in parts of South India:

  (A) "mArga-bandhu" !!    

  (B) "deena-bandhu" !!

"marga-bandhu" is a frequently used name in southern parts of India,
though not very popular elsewhere perhaps. It actually means "He who
shows or leads the way!".

Again, in parts of Tamilnadu and Bengal, many people can be seen to
christen children with the name of "Deenabandhu" (I remember here an old
colleague of mine from Calcutta whose name was "Deenabandhu Datta"). It
means "He who is the unfailing saviour of the meek"! 

Amazing, isn't it, how most names of people in India have uncanny
connections with the "Vishnu-SahasranAmam" ?!!

Now what do "marga-bandhu" and "deena-bandhu" really mean and how are
they relevant to our present discussion on Desikan's "bandhu-akhilasya-
janto-ho"?

How much nearer do they take us than we are at the moment towards
resolving the tricky questions we raised amongst ourselves about the
Lord being totally "amoral", rather cold and distant even, in his
relations with us as "bandhu" or as the "jagato-dhAta" He calls Himself
in the Gita?

We will take up the answers in the next post.

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yatindra mahadesikaya namaha
sudarshan