You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : November 1996

daya and its synonyms

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Tue Nov 05 1996 - 06:02:56 PST

srimathE lakshi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha.

Dear BhAgavatatOttamas,

On reflecting on the choice of the word,"jada" by Swami Desikan in verse 50
of the Daya satakam, we are confronted, as we saw in my last posting, by the
looming question: 

why does the poet portray the Lord as if He had a very special soft corner
in his heart for unintelligent/inert/unregenerate matter (jada)?

Why would the Lord, the Supreme Apotheosis of all 'kalyana gunas', be extra
solicitous of the "jada" among "jivatmas" that Swami Desika alludes to ?

Part of the answer, I speculated in my last posting, perhaps lies in two of
the fundamental concepts of Sri Vaishnavism.The other lies in one of the
many "leelas" of Sri Krishna as commentated upon by "mahAns" and as I have
heard my "manaseega guru" Sri Mukkur Swami II relate during a discourse on
Srimad Bhagavatam.

I shall quickly summarise here in this post the two Sri Vaishnavite concepts
that seem to annotate the use of the word 'jada'. The commentary from the
Bhagavatam, I shall, reserve for my next posting.

While considering the import of the word "jada" of verse 50 of the daya
satakam we should for a moment recollect the concept of "sarira" and
"sariri" that is so fundamental to Visishtadvaita school of monism. This
concept postulates that the whole of creation i.e. the phenomenonal,
noumenal and transcendent, are but the 'sarira' of the Brahman. Conversely,
it is Brahman which is the 'sariri' of all creation. This concept is
expressed at the human plane in terms of the physiological "body" ('sarira')
that is subordinate to and dependent on the meta-sensory, metaphysical
"soul" (sariri). What our individual 'soul'(jivatma) is to our respective
'bodies'(sarira), by the same token is the One Indivisible "sariri" called
the Brahman/Paramatma/Sriman Narayana to all Creation.

Now if you invoke the above concept in the attempt to understand the import
of 'jada' in verse 50 of the Daya Satakam you will arrive at a commentary
which runs something like this:

The Lord has a special concern (daya) for even the "insentient" because he
simply cannot help it. He being the "sariri"(soul) is bound by the natural
gravity of compassion, as it were, that his "body" (sarira) verily commands
though "jada" it may be.

Now we must try and appreciate this complex application of the concept at
our own mundane level in a very limited and lay sort of way. Our 'acharyas'
help us in that too.

They give you an example. Assume for a moment that you are a lady of
extraordinary beauty. Your hands are the most exquisite part of your whole
body. Everyday a good part of an hour is spent in your bath preserving the
beauty of those hands. And it is primarily accomplished by washing,
manicuring, polishing and painting the piece of peripheral, lifeless,
insentient, "jada" bone-matter called nails. You would do anything to
preserve the "well-being" of those lifeless little things called "nails"
because they are the secret to the beauty of your lovely pair of hands. You
could fall in love with them yourself. This is only natural of the "sariri",
viz. yourself, who has an all-embracing concern and care for even the
"insentient" (jada) parts of your body i.e."sarira".

Thus goes one "vyAkhyAnam" for the word "jada" used by Swami Desikan in the
phrase "manyE matha jada iva sutE vatsala madriSe tvam" in the Daya Satakam.

The second Vishta-advaitic concept with which scholars link the word "jada"
in the Daya Satakam is that of "na mama" (not I) which is also fundamental
to Sri Vaishnavism. One of the tenets of Sri Vaishnavism is the complete
negation of the Self or the Ego in the "jivatma" if it is to be in any state
of readiness to approach the Lord or Brahman. This is called giving up the
notion of "I-ness" or "mama-kara".

Acharyas point out that when the "jivatma" gives up "mama-kara" it is said
to become verily a "jada" and hence fit to receive the very special
"anukampa" or "daya" of the Lord.

Thus, it can be seen by bhagavatOttamas, how skillfully Swami Desikan
interlaces his exquisite poetic phrasing with the profound philosophy of his
illustrious school by the use of a mere and innocuous-sounding word like "jada".

While explaining the above Sri Mukkur Swami II used to caution us all that
those around us whom we are normally tempted to regard as "jadas" in daily
life may be really great souls. The seeming imbecile or village-idiot may
very well be a highly realised being deserving in great measure the Lord's
dayaa. He used to illustrate that point with a humorous anecdote which I
will recount to "bhagavatOttamas" in my next posting.

srimathe srivan satagopa sri narayana yatindra mahadesikaya namaha


srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha