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SrI deSika stotra-s - 13. SrI ashTa bhujAshTakam.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (nkrish_at_lucent.com)
Date: Mon Oct 19 1998 - 17:05:07 PDT

Dear bhAgavatottama-s:

As I am resuming the write-up on deSika stotra-s, I need to reiterate that I
am not giving a true translation of svAmi deSikan's Sloka-s, but am just
putting down my blabberings as I misunderstand and misinterpret them (I
don't know what else to call them).  But I am finding that I cannot stop
doing this because this is what makes me read them at least once in my life,
in the pretext of writing the so-called summary.  I am sure I am
misrepresenting the great AcArya's thoughts profusely, for which I seek his
forgivenss and all the bhAgavatas' forgiveness in this forum.  If any of you
feel I should stop this apacAram, for I know very well that I am commiting
an apacAram, please advise me through personal mail.   Otherwise I am going
to continue this till I go through the rest of the stotra-s.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan

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		SrI deSika stotra-s - 13. SrI ashTa-bhujAshTakam.

ashTa bhuja means "eight hands".  This stotra is about bhagavAn in His form
with eight divya-bhuja-s in the divya kshetram called ashTabhuya karam.
This divya kshetram and its sthala purANam have been covered briefly
earlier.  The title for the stotra is that given by svAmi deSikan himself,
and is included in the phala-Sruti Sloka following the eight Sloka-s in
priase of this perumAL.  

In this stotram, svAmi deSikan reminds us of bhagavAn's aiSvarya, souSIlya,
moksha-pradatva, etc., and urges us to resort to Him and no one else as the
sure way to attain moksha.  This is another stotram in which he conveys the
basics of prapatti and its efficacy in very crisp terms in the short span of
eight Sloka-s (excluding the two phalaSruti Sloka-s).

In the first Slokam, svAmi deSikan compares our lives to one being attacked
and torn apart by our indriya-s and dragged towards them on all sides as if
by vicious crocodiles, and invokes bhagavAn's Mercy and protection just as
in the case of gajendra when attacked by the crocodile. 

In the second Slokam, he points out the need for us to realize our always
being His dependent, and recognize our lack of independence from Him.  As we
may recall, this is one of the a~nga-s of prapatti - kArpaNya.  When we
observe the a~nga-s of prapatti, bhagavAn gives us the desire to seek His
Feet single-mindedly as the next step in attaining Him. 

In the third Slokam, SrI deSikan praises bhagavAn's guNa of souSIlyam or His
greatness of mixing with even the lowliest of beings with ease.  We all can
recall His greeting kucela with all the intimacy that one can imagine, doing
pAda pUjA for him with mahAlakshmi holding the pot of water, and then
sprinkling the water from the pAda pUja on His head and that of mahAlakshmi.
If bhagavAn reveals His divine divya ma~ngala vigraha or form to us right in
the beginning, it just will prevent us from approaching Him in sheer awe of
the greatness of this form.  Recall the reaction of arjuna, one who lived
with bhagavAn as a close friend throughout his life, when the virAt svarUpa
was revealed to Him for a brief moment.  In order to make it easy on us to
approach Him, He presents Himself to us in forms where we can approach Him
at our level, and hides His greatness from us for our benefit in the
beginning.   His arcA rUpa in temples - in this stotram the ashTabhujap
perumAL - is an example of this.  Then as we get used to Him, He reveals His
true form to us.

In Sloka-s 4 to 7 svAmi deSikan emphasizes the importance of prapatti.  He
reiterates that SrIman nArAyaNa is the only one who can bestow the ultimate
that can be asked for - moksham, and all the other devatA-s can bestow only
lesser fruits.  Those who have realized this truth do not resort to the
worship of anya devatA-s, but perform prapatti at the feet of bhagavAn and
devote the rest of their life to His kaimkaryam.  Also, He is the only one
who can protect us, and if He does not want to protect us, no other devatA
can protect us (bhayam kutah syAt tvayi sAnukampe, rakshA kutah syAt tvayi
jAtaroshe).   This again is one more reason for prapatti at the Feet of Lord
nArAyaNa alone.  None of the efforts that we may undertake, such as
worshipping the anya devatA-s, will be of any use if He does not offer His
protection.  If He decides to protect us, with periya pirATTi standing in
support of us by His side constantly, it does not matter what other efforts
we undertake (tvayi pravr*tte mama kim prayAsaih, tvayyapravr*tte mama kim
prayAsaih).  Thus He is the only upAya, and there is no other upAya for
moksha.  

As SrI deSikan has pointed out in several other stotra-s, he points out
again in this stotra the relative difficulty of undertaking bhakti yoga for
attaining moksha and getting it to completion in this lifetime.   He
strongly recommends that prapatti mArga is the path to choose for us who
cannot observe the stringent requirements of the bhakti yoga (He obviously
considers himself in this category; so we know where we stand!). 

Once a prapanna has done prapatti, moksham is guaranteed at the end of this
life, and the prapanna spends the rest of his life in great bliss by
performing selfless kaimkaryam at the feet of bhagavAn.  The life of a
prapanna after prapatti is described in detail in nyAsa tilakam etc.  In
Slokam 8 of this stotra svAmi deSikan briefly restates this.

In Slokam 6, svAmi deSikan makes reference to another of the tenets of SrI
vaishNava sampradAya, viz. the purushakAratvam of pirAtti, and refers to
bhagavAn as kamalA-sahAya (One who is aided by periya pirATTi) in the
context of His protection of the prapanna-s.

svAmi deSikan's intent in composing this stotram is two-fold:  it is to
induce the desire for prapatti in those who have not yet resorted to this
path (prapitsUnAm rasAyanam), and to help as the sustenance of the trust in
the greatness of prapatti for those who have already done prapatti (prapann
jana pAtheyam).  Thus it is his desire that those of us who understand the
principles laid down here about prapatti will develop the mahA viSvAsam that
is a requirement (a~nga) for prapatti.  It is for the good of this world
that this stotra on ashTabhujakarap perumAl outlining the greatness and
importance of prapatti has been composed by ve~nkateSa kavi.   Let us all
get one step closer to understanding the significance, ease, and efficacy of
prapatti as a result of the knowledge that svAmi deSikan has imparted to us
through this stotra.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan