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Sri Garuda Dhandakam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Nov 04 1995 - 12:10:44 PST

Swami Desikan was initiated into Garuda mantram by his Acharya, Sri AppuLLar.
Incidentally , the Tamil word PuL stands for a bird. Here the reference is to
the divine bird, Garuda , who is also known as Pakshi Raja(the king of Birds).
Garuda Mantram includes therefore  among its five syllables the two syllables
constiuted by the word  Pakshi. The Garuda Mantram was a  Mantram of AppuLLar"s
family. After instructing Sri Desikan on all relevant  Sri Vaishnava granthas,
Rahasyas  Tarka and Vyaakarna, Sri AppuLLar initiated him into the recitation of
Garuda Mantram . 

After his Acharya"s passing  away, Sri Desikan settled at Thiruvahindrapuram and
worshipped Sri Devanayaka Perumal and Hemabjavalli Thaayar. While residing
there, he ascended the hillock near the Lord"s temple known as Oushadhadri and
sat under a Aswatta  tree and recited Garuda Mantram for a considerable time in
intense concentration.. Garuda Bhagavan was pleased with the devotion of Sri
Desikan and appeared before him and blessed Sri Desikan. Sri Garuda Bhagavan
also gave an archa murthy of Yogaasika Hayagrivan to Sri Desikan to use in his
daily Aaraadhanam.  Sri Garuda also initiated Swami Desikan into the recitation
of Sri Hayagreeva Mantram. The enormous achievements of Swami Desikan came out
of the Anugraham of Sri Garuda Bhagavan, who is generally  recognized in Sri
Vaishnava Sampradhaya as Veda Swaroopi. Swami Desikan Composed Garuda
Panchaasat to record his gratefulness to Sri Garuda Bhagavan and incorporated
the Garuda Mantram in one of the 50 slokas of that Panchasat. He then recited
Sri Hayagreeva mantra and had the good fortune of seeing Sri Hayagreeva and
received His blessings as  well. Swami composed the Hayagreeva Stotram and
incorporated the Mantra of Sri Hayagreeva in this stotram. All the acheivements
of Swami Desikan as  a Great Acharya  arise from the blessings conferred by Both
Garuda Bhagavan and His Lord Sri Hayagreeva  at Thiruvahindrapuram. The archa
murthy of the Yogaasika Hayagreeva presented by Garuda Bhagavan can be seen even
today , next to the Vigraha of Swami Desikan sculpted by his own hands , when he
was challenged by a sculptor, who wanted to  to defeat Swami  in a contest.

Sri Garuda Dhandakam was composed on a later occasion, when a Snake charmer
challenged Swami Desikan"s title as Sarvatantra Swatantrar and sent some
poisonous snakes towards Swami to test his power in handling poisonous snakes..
Sri Desikan recited the Garuda Mantra  and the snakes were carried away by
Garuda Bhagawan. The snake charmer lost thus his snakes and his livelihood. He
fell at the feet of Swami and asked for forgivenness. Swami forgave him and
requested Sri Garuda Bhagawan to return the snakes and composed the Garuda
Dhandakam to thank Sri Garuda for his intervention.This stotra was composed at

Thus, the Stotras associated with Garuda Bhagavan and Sri  Hayageeva, the Lord
of Learning occupy  a special place among the 28 stotras of Swami Desikan. In
the next posting, I will include the translation of Sri Garuda Dhandakam, which
is  a marvellous composition as seen from its Dhandakam structure.