Advaita Bhakti thro. Contemplative Practice of Narayaniyam (ABCPN - 12)
profvk at YAHOO.COM
Tue Dec 10 12:17:01 CST 2002
ABCPN - 12
Note: Please read the Introduction
(ABCPN 0) if you have not already read it)
Sloka No. 34 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 7):
kaShTA te sR^iShTi-ceShTA bahutara-bhava-khedAvahA jIva-bhAjAm-
ity-evaM pUrvam-Alocitam-ajita mayA naivam-ady-AbhijAne /
no cej-jIvAH kathaM vA madhura-taram-idaM
netraiH shrotraishca pItvA parama-rasa-sudh-Ambhodhi-pUre
Tr. Oh Supreme Being! Once I thought that Thy creative activity
is a tragic sport, as it inflicts various forms of suffering on
embodied beings involved in the cycle of births and deaths, but
now I do not think so. For, if there were no creation and
therefore no embodied beings, who would have been there to revel
in the ocean of unparalleled joy derived from the experience of
seeing this Form of Thine replete with Consciousness and of
hearing descriptions of Thy glory?
Comment. God descends from His pedestal of perfection and
assumes an imperfection in terms of a name and form so that we
mortals may be guided from our extremities of imperfection onto
the path towards perfection. This descent of the Divine from its
divine pedestal is called an Avatara. The complete such Avatara
is Krishna. What appears before us as a deity in the form of an
image is not just an image but it is itself the personification
of that Transcendental Absolute. Such divine Images for worship
in temples are called archAvatAras in Vaishnava theology.
Great saints and seers (from Prahlada and Ambarisha of yore
down to Sage Ramakrishna of modern times) have actually
experienced the presence of the Absolute in such archAvatAras.
Sloka No. 35 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 1):
nirmuktaM nityamuktaM nigama-shata-sahasreNa nirbhAsyamAnaM /
aspaShTaM dR^iShTa-mAtre punar-uru-puruShArth-AtmakaM
tat-tAvad-bhAti sAkShAd-guru-pavana-pure hanta bhAgyaM janAnAM
Tr. In the temple of Guruvayoor there shines in truth and in
reality what appears at first to be a mere image but on
contemplation reveals itself to be the condensed essence of
Consciousness-Bliss the veritable Brahman Supreme who is the
ultimate end of all human endeavours, to whom there is none
comparable, who is ever beyond the limitations of time and
space, who is eternally free, and whose nature the numerous
texts of the Vedas seek to reveal. Fortunate indeed, is mankind
(that such a manifestation of Divinity exists in its midst as
the image of Krishna)!
Comment. The Lord of Guruvayoor, is no distant exclusive deity.
He is famous as the One deity accessible to all devout, of
whatever condition and degree, learned and unlearned. The
rituals performed daily and the many temple festivals, round the
year, all confirm this impression. There is a fascinating
legend about the origin of rituals in the temple. For this, see
my separate posting entitled : Fascinating legend about Sankara
This first sloka of Narayaniyam has been hailed by many as
pregnant with meanings, devotional, philosophical and esoteric.
Brahman Supreme is impersonal according to Upanishadic accounts
but Bhattatiri believes that it is also simultaneously personal.
And because of this conviction he begins to rapturously pour
out, in the presence of that deity, his devotional thoughts that
have become the now-immortal poem. The very first word
sAndra is notable. sAndra means thick, dense, violent,
intense, soft, bland; crowded with, full to the brim of. This
inimitable word is so powerfully expressive that Bhattatiri uses
it very often. Not being derived from any other root word, it
stands alone as an adjective by itself. In our selection of 36
verses, it occurs in Sloka nos. 3, (the Gopis reached the
heights of bliss), 31 (full to the brim with consciousness), 33
(intensely brilliant with incomparable extreme bliss) and here
in 36 (condensed essence of consciousness-bliss).
In the beginning, that is, in the early stages on the spiritual
ladder, one does not see Him at all. Or, even if one happens to
see Him, the vision is all vague and diffuse. This is what the
word aspaShTam dR^iShTa-mAtre implies. The truth is not easily
perceived, because, everything is mixed up everywhere. nAhaM
prakAshas-sarvasya yoga-mAyA-samAvR^itaH (Gita VII 25) I
am not manifest to all (as I am) veiled by the yoga-mAyA, says
the Lord. That is why the initial pictures and images are all
blurred, if at all. But if we persist in our sAdhanA, in our
pursuit of the search for Truth, He reveals Himself as our own
Self. The word nitya-muktaM (eternally free) is significant.
The Almighty, by the very definition, is eternally free. Why was
it necessary to call Him eternally free? It is the self which is
mistakenly thought to be bound and needing release from bondage.
So it is necessary to say of the self, that it is eternally
free, it is in fact the Self that is nothing but the
Sloka No. 36 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 2):
evaM durlabhya-vastuny-api sulabhatayA hasta-labdhe yad-anyat
tanvA vAcA dhiyA vA bhajati bata janaH kShudrat-aiva sphuTeyaM /
ete tAvad-vayaM tu sthiratara-manasA vishva-pID-Apahatyai
Tr. But alas! What a pity that in spite of the easy availability
of this rarest of blessings right on hand, human beings,
prompted by their base nature, overlook it and pursue worldly
objects with all the powers of their body, mind or intellect!
But we, devotees, however, shall, with unswerving devotion,
serve the Lord of Guruvayoor, Sri Krishna, the soul of all
beings, for the total eradication of all the (physical and
spiritual) woes of the world.
Comment. The word nishsheSha-aatmAnaM means He is the Self
and there is nothing remaining. In other words He is the Self,
period. This is the conclusion of advaita. The word
vishva-pIDApahatyai is to be noted. Vishva-pIDA is the
disease of not recognizing vishvam (universe) as nothing but the
Lord Almighty. The cure for it is contained in neti neti. The
very universe which is visible to us in our sensory experience
should remind us that the Absolute is neither this nor like
this. So vishvam has to be seen not as vishvam, but as the
Ultimate itself. That is why it is the very first word in Vishnu
sahasranama. Vishvam, with the meaning universe really means
that which has entered, the root word being vish to enter.
In other words, the Almighty is in it, that is, it is immanent
in it. This immanence in everything is the most important
concept of Vedanta. More, it defines this most ancient religion:
God is everywhere; not only that, God is the ONLY ENTITY
Of course the ordinary meaning of vishva-pIDApahatyai is
obvious. All the penance, all the rituals, all the worship
are all for the goal of the universal good of the universe.
May the entire universe be happy.
I thank all the readers who have gone through this series of
postings. My capsule summary of a gist of this series of 36
verses is already available under the heading: Devotion
vis-à-vis non-Duality a la Narayaniyam, at
praNAms to all seekers of spirituality
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