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daya and its synonyms

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Thu Oct 31 1996 - 00:35:13 PST

srimathE sri lakshminrsumha para brahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear BhagavatOttmamas,

Two synonyms of "daya" in the Vishnu Sahasranamam we noted in my earlier
posting was the nama no:791 in verse 85 i.e. "sundaha" and nama No.455 in
verse 49 i.e."suvrataha".We saw that this wonderful synonym denotes "melting
tenderness" (akin to 'anukampa') in the case of "sundaha" and that in the
case of "suvrataha" it denotes the Lord's steadfast commitment to be the
Great Refuge of those who have have surrendered to Him.

Now I was eager to scan the Daya Satakam and identify verses that could be
said to resonate as counterpoint to the two synonyms of "sundaha" and
"suvrataha" in the Sahasranamam.  

For 'sundaha' I could not find anything better than verse no.50 :

divyApAngam dishasi karunE! yeshu saddEsikAtma kshipram
prApta vrisha-giripatim kshatrabandhva dayastE  I
viswAchAryA-vidhisiva-mukhAs svAdikArOpa-ruddhaha manyE
mAtA jada iva sutE vatsalA mAdrisE tvam  II

I don't think a poet could have brought out the quintessence of the quality
of "melting tenderness tinged with a pang of pain" more appropriately than
Swami Desikan has done in the above verse.

To appreciate the above verse, one has to for a moment imagine a mother with
several children, most of them endowed with abundant good health and
cheer,intelligence and prosperity.

But there is one amongst them who is a congenital, confirmed,irredeemable
imbecile. He is a dim-wit who is utterly incapable of living a life of
dignity on his own. The simplest motions of living are monumental effort to
him. He cannot do a thing in life without dithering and blundering. His
faculties let him down all the time.His mind is as imperfect as his body.He
wallows in his own pathetic state of disgrace. He stews in his gaping
ignorance.He is the laughing stock of the gods and man.He sees no hope
because he is not aware of one.He is the joke of the town, the butt of
universal derision, the disgrace of his family and the absolute regret of
all his kith and kin.

And yet.... and yet his mother cannot bear a moment away from her darling
half-witted son. Not that she loves her other children less, she loves this
imbecile more.She caters to his every whim and need. He is the apple of her
eye.His ignorance and sloppiness is the rich fuel for the labour of love she
cascades on him. She picks him up from the streets and the gutters he falls
into obliviously.She washes the filth of his own making in which he wallows.
She sits up long hours worrying where the dim-wit has suddenly meandered off
in the middle of the night.She cannot bear to have a morsel of food without
first having seen him fed and tucked into bed.She grieves for his future.She
grieves for the world around him that treats him so cruelly and
indifferently.She wishes she could be immortal to be able to stay with him
all his life.She wishes he would one day wake up and just be like, and even
better, than all her other children. She yearns for the day when she would
be able to hold him in her arms and hear him whisper softly in her
ears,"ManyE matha jada iva suthE vatsala mAdrshE tvam !".

When Swami Desikan uses the term "jada" one must imagine he speaks on all
our behalf.Then one can easily appreciate that he beseeches the Lord to
exhibit the same tenderness towards us lesser souls in much the same way a
mother empathises with her dim-witted offspring.

When we translate Swami Desikan's poetry we should step into his shoes,as it
were.Then we should try and paraphrase him ourselves with our limited
vocabulary and sensitivity to the best of our ability.It is only then would
we each savour the intensity of his sentiments in our own hearts.Instead if
we merely were to read a second-hand translation at arms-length (or should I
say "mind's-length") it would leave us appreciating him third-hand,as it
were, at a dry intellectual level leaving the depths of our own being unplumbed.

I will post my next comment on "suvrataha" next time.

SrimathE srivan sri narayaNa yathIndra mahadesikAya namaha