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Tirunakshatram of Lord Srinivasa and Swami Desikan

rangaswamy_m_at_hotmail.com
Date: Fri Oct 10 1997 - 08:16:09 PDT

Kushyate Yasya NagarE Ranga YAtra Dine Dine
TAmaham ShirasAm VandE RajanAm Kulashekaram.

Dear Friends, 

I am summarizing Sri Kulashekara Azhwar's Pasurams in praise of the 
Lord of Seven Hills for the doubly blessed occassion of the 
Tirunakshatram of Lord Srinivasa and his Ghanta Nada Svaroopi, Swami 
Vedanta Desikan. In the fourth decad of Perumal Tirumozhi, Rajarishi 
Kulashekara sings the glory of Lord Srinivasa and desires to be 
something sentinent or insentinent associated with the sacred Hills of 
Tirumala with the objective of serving the Lord. Each Pasuram reflects 
the Azhwar's thought process in seeking increasingly better ways to 
serve the Lord of seven hills. My summary is based on a translation of 
these Pasurams by Sri Ananathanarasimhachariar (Bangalore), Sri Karyam 
Srimad Paundarikapuram Ashramam.

1. I am interested only in the service of Lord Srinivasa, who in the 
Krishna Avataram subdued the seven bulls to win the hand of Nappinai. 
I do not care for human life with wealth and body comforts which are 
transient in nature. The Panchajanya conch held by the Lord has opened 
to express Bhagavad Anubhavam. I would like to be born as a stork 
residing in the Pushkarani reserved exclusively for the Lord.  

The reference to Panchajanya comes from the Gayathri mantram for the
Lord's conch which indicates that the Shanka Nadam dispels all
inauspiciousness and paves the way for reaching the Lord.

2. I am not interested in a life where I am surrounded by beautiful 
young Apsaras, or the Lordship of the earth or heavens. Instead I 
desire to be a fish in the hill streams of Venkatachalam with creepers
laden with nectar-filled flowers.

3.  How I wish to hold the spit bowl of Lord Venkateshwara, who holds 
the Sudarshana Chakram in his hand at Tirumala. The door of the
Garbhagriha resembles that of Sri Vaikuntam, which is difficult to 
enter. Even Rudra with scattered hair, Brahma and Indra vie with one 
another to have the Darshan of Lord Srinivasa.

4. I want to serve the lotus feet of Lord Venkateshwara, who is in Yoga 
Nidra at the cool Ksheerabdhi, whose shore is scattered with precious 
jewels. How I wish to be a Champaka tree in Tirumala (whose flowers are 
offered to the Lord's lotus feet) whose flowers are visited by bees 
humming to the tune of the music filling the air at Tirumala.

5. I do not aspire for the wealth and pleasures of a monarch riding an 
elephant. Even the present kingdom, I do not desire. I would like to be 
a tree in the beautiful Venkatachalam to serve the benevolent Lord
Srinivasa. 

6. I am not interested in hearing the music or seeing the dance of
Urvashi, Menaka or other Apsaras with a beautiful waist and figure.
Instead, I would do penance to be a peak in Venkatachalam listening to 
the humming music of the bees.

7. I do not consider it to be great to be an emperor flaunting his 
wealth, occupying a huge area, walking under a royal umbrella resembling 
the white moon, hearing the praise of courtiers and kings. I would like 
to be a hill stream (to serve the Lord) in Venkatachalam hill laden with 
creepers full of nectar-filled flowers.

8. Rudra with moon on his head and scattered hair, Brahma and Indra have 
obtained their positions by performing big Yagas and Lord Srinivasa 
gives them their positions as desired. I desire to be a path or road 
traversed by Bhagavatas in the Venkatachalam hills with cool gardens of 
fragrant flowers.

9. Oh Lord of Venkatachala with Godess Lakshmi seated in your chest 
bestowing her grace! You give preferential support to those who have 
surrendered (Prapannas) to destroy their sins that have grown like a 
wild hedge. I desire to be a threshold in the Temple door trodden by 
your Bhaktas, Devas and Apsaras like Rambha, while at the same time 
have a glimpse of your lips looking like a pearl. 

Even today, the entrance to the Sanctum-Sanctorum is known as 
Kulasheakara Padi. The Azhwar wished to be purified by the dust from the 
feet of Bhagavatas coming to offer homage to Lord Srinivasa. However, 
traditional Sri Vaishnavas never place their feet on this step. Instead 
they jump over it as a mark of respect to Kulashekara Perumal.

10. Even if I get the kingship of the entire world or even the place 
where Urvashi dances with full complement of golden ornaments (Indra 
Lokam), I do not consider it as anything great. I desire to be something 
in the golden Tirumala hills, where my Lord (Srinivasa) with lips like 
red pearl resides. 

11. These garland of Tamil poems, which meet the requirements of 
Shastras, recited with understanding and respect to realize the cool and 
beautiful golden feet of Lord Venkatachalapathy of the north were 
composed by King Kulashekara, possessing a sharp trident to kill 
enemies. Those who recite these poems will become Bhaktas and will 
please the Lord.

In this set of ten Pasurams, Kulashekara Azhwar refers to the evanescent 
nature of material and worldly pleasures. He firmly establishes that the 
only thing of permanence is attainment of Lord Narayana's(Tiruvenkatan) 
lotus feet. This can be related to the Narayana Sooktam salutation: 
Patim VishvasyAtmeshvaragam Shashvatagam Shivamachyutam and the 
Sriranganatha Gadyam salutation "Sthairya" (meaning fixed or permanent 
one). The eternal bliss of attaining the feet of Lord Narayana is 
described in the Narayana Upanishad salutation "Narayana 
SayujyamavApnoti, Narayana SayujyamavApnoti", in the Taittriya Upanishad 
salutation "Sa YekO BrahmaNAnanda:"  and in the Vishnu Sooktam 
salutation "TadvisNoh Paramam Padam Sada Pashyanti Soorayaha" Since this 
is the "bull's eye" Kulashekara Azhwar shuns everything else that comes 
in the  way of his goal (material wealth, royalty and its associated 
paraphernalia and pleasures, Indra Lokam, the status of Brahma, Indra, 
Rudra). The import of the message of the  Ashtakshara Mantram is 
beautifully reflected in these Pasurams. The first Pasuram referring to 
Shanka Nada can be associated with the PraNava Aksharam glorified in the 
Narayana Upanishad as: OmithYekAksharam. This establishes the Parathvam 
of Lord Narayana. The ninth Pasuram refers to the benefit of performing 
SharaNagati to Lord Narayana and finally,  Pasurams 8-10 reflect the 
Azhwar's enthusiasm to enjoy Bhagavat and Bhagavata Kainkaryam. Thus, 
the Azhwar succinctly presents Tatva, Hita and Purushartha for a Sri 
Vaishnava. One can associate the Narayana Upanishad salutations "Nama 
Iti DvaE AksharE" and "NarayaNAyeti PanchAksharaNi", with Pasurams 8-10. 
Another important feature of the ninth Pasuram is the description of 
Prapatti as Papa Nivrutti, i.e., the act of surrendering to Lord 
Narayana immediately rids one of their 
sins (Bharanyasam). The final Pasuram again refers to the bliss of 
attaining the Lord's feet. It is instructive to observe the use of 
"possessing a sharp trident to kill enemies". The reference here is to 
the fact that all obstacles coming in the way of one's path to seek the 
Lord are ruthlessly destroyed by the three Rahasya Mantras, i.e., 
Ashtakshara Mantram, Dvaya Mantram, and Charma Shlokam.

It is also possible to discuss at length, the Azhwar's thought process 
as he seeks increasingly better ways to serve the Lord while delivering 
these Pasurams. Limitations of time and space preclude me from 
undertaking the task in this post. Perhaps, this could be a topic for 
future discussion. In this regard, I welcome inputs from all members of 
our group. 

Everything correctly stated is entirely due to the grace of my Acharyan. 
All errors and shortcomings are mine alone.

SrivenkatAchalAdeesham Shriyadyasita Vakshitam
Sritachetana Mandaram Srinivasamaham Bhaje

Bhavitam Srinivasasya Bhakta DoshEshvadarshanam

Namo Narayana,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy  





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