Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ashtabhuja Ashtakam

Swami Desika?s StOtras:
?AshTabujAshTakam? of Swami Desika
- Anbil Ramaswamy
When Swami Desika left Thooppul to do Mangalaasaasanam of Deva PerumAL, the Lords of AshTabhujam and YatOtkaari stopped him on his way. as it were, demanding Mangalaasaasanam. AshTabhujakaran had only one decad from Kaliyan. May be he was not satisfied with that. And, Desika, being a faithful follower of Kaliyan (kaliyanurai Kudi Konda Karuthu Udaiyon), he got him to compose this StOtra of 8 verses.

Why is the Lord here called ?AshTabhujakaran?? Do not ?Bhujam? and ?Karam? mean the same thing? Yes. But, that is the way the Lord introduced himself to Kaliyan, when the latter threatened him to reveal who he was (Vide 2.8of Tirumozhi). Also while Bhujam itself means ?arm?, ?Kara? can mean ?to make? or ?to do?. Thus, Swami Desika suggests that he ?created? eight Bhujams (i.e. literally doubled his usual 4 arms).

Why Eight? Swami Desika explains that he doubled his arms with eight weapons one in each arm out of his anxiety to rush to the succor of his devotees ?Saranaagatha Thraana Tvaraa Dviguna Baahunaa?. Swami Desika does not call his StOtra as ?AshTabhujam Kara AshTakam? He drops the word ?kara? when he named this StOtram and dedicated a SlOka each to the eight arms.

Though as ?AshTam?, it should have only eight SlOkas, Swami adds 2 more by way of Phalasruti and Prayer.

The Sthala PurANam avers that He came down with eight arms to protect Brahma?s Yagna from the wrath of Saraswati in the form of Vegavati. Legend has it that the Gajendra episode also took place in this Kshetram.

Sloka 1: This has reference to the episode in which the Lord rushed to relieve Gajendra whose foot was caught by a crocodile. Swami Desika says that Gajendra was caught by only one crocodile; But, he himself was caught in the vortex of several vicious creatures like KAma, KrOdha, MOha, LObha, Madha and MAtsarya. Therefore, it was all the more necessary for the Lord to double up His speed in rushing to relieve him. How can he do this? Swami Desika answers: Because the Lord?s qualities of Gnaana and Daya are limitless and he has already earned the reputation of being affectionate to Sadhus , he has not only to double up his speed but also double up his weapons and arms to hold them !

Sloka 2: ? I hitherto lacked the knowledge of the Tattvas; So, I was subject to AgjnAna and Vipareetha JnAna. Now that all these have been dispelled, I have come to realize that I am your Sesha (Servitor).

Sloka 3: ?By making me realize this, you have transformed me, a worthless creature into a worthy one fit to be saved. It is you who did this and created in me a desire to seek your feet?. By this, Swami Desika confirms that the Lord has Divyaatma Swaroopam and Divya Mangala Vigraham revealing his Paratvam but by his Soulabhyam mixes with common folk, dispelling the fear generated by his Paratvam.

Sloka 4: ? The fruits that you can bestow (like MOksha) is infinitely greater than the transient and trivial fruits that petty deities boast of conferring. So, men of discretion surrender only at your feet and you do accept them with your infinite mercy?.

Sloka 5: ?To get rid of my fears, I will never think of resorting to anyone other than you. When you shower your mercy on me, whom should I fear? And, if you get angry with me, who can protect me??

Sloka 6: ? You have a natural obligation to protect me. Furthe, mother Goddess is always by your side to recommend me to you. When you can grant MOksha to me who has surrendered to you, why should I take any efforts to beg anything from anybody? If you decide to give me up, of what avail would it be to seek help from others? ?

Sloka 7: ?Oh! AshTabhuja Lord! For those who are not able to complete Bhakti yOga, once they surrender to you, you are known to stand in the place this Bhakti yOga. I know this. But, in my case, I am totally incapable of even trying Bhakti yOga. I will be ashamed when I try to do what is impossible for me and fumble and fall down at every step. I have, therefore, adopted the easy means of Prapatti at your feet?

Sloka 8: ? Since I have surrendered myself to you, I am assured of attaining Moksham at the end of this life; But, so long as I happen to live here, there is no greater bliss than serving the holy feet of you and PirAtti. I pray to you to grant me unsullied and incessant kainkaryam both here and hereafter?

Sloka 9: This StOtram is like a general provender for a traveler of a Prapanna; for those who want to perform Prapatti, it is like a ?rasaayana? (alchemy)- an appropriate medicine that cures all ailments. It will certainly remove all sins that stand in the way, create Mahaviswaasam in the Lord and make them eligible for doing Prapatti. This StOtra was composed by me for the welfare of the entire world.

Sloka 10: This StOtra was composed by me called Sri Venkatesa. The Lord who normally has only four arms simply doubled it in his anxiety (Tvara) in saving those who surrender to him. May the Lord with eight arms accept this StOtra of eight verses.

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