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Naama Mahimai --Part 3 : Gowlai pancharathnam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Oct 24 1997 - 19:24:12 PDT

Dear members of the Bhakthi group :

In the last posting , mention was made of the 
mental state of self-depreciation of Saint Thyagaraja 
and that it was a state similar to that experienced
by Swami Desikan and AlavandhAr. 

Great bhakthAs of the Lord express their own inadequacies
and worry about their state of preparedness . They are 
very critical of themselves , when they do not have 
dhruva smruthi or the unceasing rememberance 
of the Lord's kalyANa  guNAs or His thirumEni .
They chastise themselves over the lapses as a
way to pull themselves together . Actually , these
great achAryAs and parama bhakthAs have nothing 
to worry , but they think of us and undergo these 
experiences to help us . They cry out loud also because
they have zero tolerance with themselves on their
lapses in their sAdhanAs . 

Such statements of theirs are worth pondering .
Their humility and doubts about  their inadequacies 
are very illuminative . For instance , we can learn a 
lot from the statements of Swami Desikan . Let us 
reflect on few of these statements of Swami Desikan .

At one time , Swami Desikan declared :

jAnAn AnAdhi vihithAn aparAdha varghAn I
Swamin bhayAth kimapi vakthum aham na saktha: II

( Meaning ) : SarvEsvarA ! I have no heart even to praise
You in my state bent over backward with the weight of 
the bundle of sins that I have collectd from eons .
The fear about my own pitiable status makes my
tongue tied . 

Elsewhere , Swami described his dangerous state
this way :

samthanyamAnam aparAdha gaNam vichinthya 
trasyAmi hantha bhavatheem cha vibhAvayAmi 

( extended meaning ) : I am fearful about my future ,
when I reflect on the continued piling up of my sins .
At the same time , I am meditating on You too ! 
How Peculiar  is this state ! 

Swami goes on to describe this peculiar state . He says :
This weird state of mine is like the one who holds 
a poisonous snake in his hand and is playing with it
( aasi visha grahaNa kELinAmiva ) . I have 
now got the title of Aparadha Chakravarthi because of 
the piling up of these sins . You should protect me from
this dangerous state like the mother , who takes the 
crying infant in her hand and breast feeds it :

Achyutha vishaYAkrAntham bhavArNava vartha
brami nimajjantham I
Jananee sthanandhayamiva maam
uddrudhya sEvasva pathyam II

In the above passage , Swami also describes 
the danger which he was facing as equal to
the swimmer , who was going to be plunged into
the whirlpool present in the ocean of SamsAric
anithya sukhams .

He counts himself as one , who chased the worldly 
(evanescent ) pleasures and forgot to think about 
the Lord and introduces himself as " adharma 
pravaNAnAm agra skandha pravruttham , agatamAna
vipratheesAram maam ) . He described himself as 
the one occupying the front row of unrighteous ones,
who chases after the trivial pleasures and forgets
that the human birth is a rarity and that he missed out on
serving the Lord . He describes himself further as the
one , who had no compassion and patience for
the other creatures of the Lord , who cohabit His 
universe . 

This type of self-condemnation and recognition 
of the Lord at the same time as the embodiment 
of all the kalyANa guNams is the expression of 
the sanchAri bhAvam known as Athma GarhaNam 
and naicchAnusandhAnam . 

Saint Thyagaraja was in such a mental state , when
he composed the Gowlai raaga pancharathnam 
starting with the pallavi of " dhuDukku gala nannE 
dhora koDuku brOchurA yenthO " 

The pallavi begins with the lower Rishabham to reflect
the agitated state of the Saint's mind . With utter despair ,
the Saint asks " Which chakravathy thirumahan is going 
to protect me , the emperor of all trespasses ? ". He hints
that Sri Ramachandra , the precious son of Emperor
DasarathA alone can save him and no other Gods or 
demi-Gods are empowered to undertake this
onerous and impossible task .

The words " Dhora koDuku " means dhorai mahan or
the son of the emperor or high personage . Saint Thyagaraja
has Sri Ramachandra Murthy in mind with this address .
His moving appeal reminds one of Sri Kulasekhara AzhwAr's
Mukundha Maalai slOkam :

sathvam praseedha Bhagavan KurumayyanAthE 
VishNO ! krupAm parama kAruNika: kila tvam I
samsAra sAgara nimagnamanantha dheenam 
uddharthumarhasi HarE ! PurushOtthamOsi II

( anvayam ) :hEh Bhagavn ! VishNO ! sathvam anAthE mayi
krupaam kuru , praseedha ! hEh HarE ! anantha tvam parama
kAruNika: kila? samsAra nimagnam dheenam 
uddharthum arhasi , PurushOtthama: asi .

(Meaning ) : O Lord ! You are VishNU , who pervades 
every where as declared by  the VedAs . You should 
look at me , the helpless one , the orphan with 
compassion and concern and protect me.
I am sinking slowly in the deep waters of SamsArA 
and do not know how to save myself . You , the most
meciful one should take pity on me and give Your hand and 
lift me out of my misery .You are the one , who can not 
be defined by time, place and vasthu nirNayam as 
Your name Hari suggests. You are the supreme 
one as understood from Your name , PurushOtthaman.
Hence , please banish my sorrows and save me .

The above prayer and appeal is based on 
aathma garhaNam and has the two elements
of SaraNAgathi built into it . These two angAs
of saraNAgathi are   KaarpaNyam and
Gopthruva VaraNam . 

Saint ThyagarAjA wailed here out of fear not 
knowing which powerful son of the king 
( dhora koDuku ) would come to his rescue .
His sufferings caused by the afflictions of
samsAram made him cry out for protcection
to Sri Ramachandra Murthy . 

In the next posting , I will cover the anupallavi 
vAkhyam : " kaDu dhurvishayAkrushtai-gaDiya 
gaDiyaku ninDAru (dhuDuku gala ) " 

vadhathu vadhathu VaaNI RamaramEthi nithyam
japathu japathu chitham Raama pAdhAravindham I
namathu namathu dEham santhatham Ramachandram
na bhavathu mama pApam janma janmAntharEshu II

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan