Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dasa Avatara Stotram

This stotram was composed by SrI vedAta desika when he worshipped the =
Lord in the daSAvatAra sannidhi in SrIrangam. The first Slokam is =
introductory in nature, and SrI deSika offers obeisance to Lord =
ranganAtha and Mother ranganAyAki whose ten divine incarnations he is =
going to cover in the stotram. The next ten Slokams are devoted to the =
ten incarnations, one for each incarnation. The twelfth Slokam =
summarizes all the ten incarnations in one Slokam, and the thirteenth =
and last Slokam is a phala-Sruti. =20

The most striking aspect of this stotra for me was the poetic side of =
SrI deSika that comes out so vividly in this composition. When this =
statement is made, it is not to diminish the importance of the =
devotional fervor in the stotra in any way. In praising the poetic gift =
of Sri deSika, one writer has remarked that SrI deSika could compose a =
thousand pASurams in praise of SrI RanganAtha's pAduka-s with ease in =
one night, whereas no other poet would have found it easy to compose =
more than a handful of Sloka-s on the topic of 'sandals'. This is the =
poet that is revealed to us when we go through the daSAvatAra stotram. =
Especially in the description of the first few incarnations, this poetic =
expression is striking.

In his description of the matsya incarnation, the poet describes the =
beauty of the eyes of the Lord thus - wherever He goes as a fish in the =
waters looking for the lost veda-s, His eyes look like a traveling lotus =
garden. The huge waves that He creates as He travels collide with each =
other and this looks like a swing in the waters. And Our Lord is having =
fun enjoying this ride in this swing as He is looking for the veda-s.

In the kUrma avatara, SrI deSikan imagines the Lord in the form of a =
tortoise enjoying the massage by the mandAra mountain as it is used in =
churning the ocean while supported on His back. This massage makes the =
Lord feel so comforted that He falls asleep. His deep breathing results =
in the huge waves which again serve the Lord as the water-bed on which =
He is present with His Consort, blessing all of us.

The poet describes the sound emanating from the nose of the Lord in the =
varAha incarnation (ghur-ghuraih) as reverberating across the worlds and =
purifying them. The Lord takes this incarnation to retrieve the lost =
Earth from the ocean, and once He has retrieved Mother Earth, He has Her =
firmly seated on His canine teeth as He is rising out of the Ocean. She =
is enjoying the firm seating on His canine teeth and creating all the =
forms from brahma all the way down to the grass and all other beings as =
She is enjoying the ride.

When the Lord appeared as nr*simha in the pillar in hiranyakaSipu's =
palace, the pillar became the 'mother' of the Lord, who Himself is the =
Father of brahma. Thus the pillar managed to lose its sterility, and =
now became the grandmother of brahma! Given that brahma himself is =
called the pitAmahan (grandfather), now the pillar became the =
grandmother for the grandfather also. (How lucky is the pillar that =
had the good fortune to give birth to the Lord!). Since the Lord did =
not know He had to appear in the pillar (until prahlAda so wished), He =
did not have His weapons for the slaying of hiraNyakaSipu. This is just =
as well, because His nails obviously are more powerful than His other =

As the foot of the Lord in His vAmana incarnation keeps growing, SrI =
deSika imagines that His feet are carrying mahAbali's fame (for =
fulfilling His words to the Lord happily) like the soldier announcing a =
victorious king's arrival. The Ganges river that resulted from brahma's =
washing of the Lord's Holy feet as it flowed down to earth looked like a =
white victory flag for the Lord. =20

The second aspect of the stotra that is noticeable is the description =
of the incarnations of the Lord using strikingly extreme aspects of the =
avatAra as if to illustrate that the Lord is all extremes at the same =
time. In the description of the parasurAma and rAma incarnations, SrI =
deSika first points out the extreme capability or actions that they =
either did or are capable of, and then takes us down to the other =
extreme of their actions as if to contrast the two extremes. Thus he =
first points out that ParSurAma destroyed 21 generations of kshatriya-s =
as a revenge for the slaying of his father, and captured the whole world =
for himself. At the other extreme, He sacrificed all his possessions =
in one swoop to Sage KaSyapa. In rAma incarnation, SrI rAma was capable =
of draining the whole ocean with the heat of His arrows. The power of =
His arrows is far more, and is many times more tortuous than the agni =
that devours the world mercilessly at the time of pralaya. This same =
Lord rAma has as His vow the protection of those who surrender to Him =
just once.=20

The above are some instances in the daSAvatAra stotram where SrI deSika =
has lost himself intensely in the bhagavad-anubhava as he is describing =
the different incarnations. In addition to the descriptions of the =
above incarnations, the stotram also has one Sloka each that is devoted =
to the balarAma, kr*shNa and kalki incarnations. =20

Originally when I had the desire to go through each of the deSika =
stotra-s and share a high-level summary of each, I had planned not to =
include the samskr*t version of any Sloka or present detailed meanings. =
However, in the twelfth Sloka
in this stotram svAmi deSikan summarizes all the ten incarnations in one =
Sloka. So I am including this Sloka and its meaning briefly.

"IcchA-mIna vihAra-kacchapa mahA-potrin yadr*cchA-hare =20
rakshA-vAmana rosha-rAma karuNA-kAkutstha helA-harin |
krIDA-vallava kalka-vAhana-daSA-kalkin iti pratyaham
jalpantah purushAh punanti bhuvanam puNyaugha paNyApaNAh ||

"Oh Lord! Those who speak your name daily=20

as the One who took the form of a fish by your own free will, incarnated =
as a tortoise for the purposes of having fun, took the form of a big =
boar, appeared as Lord nr*simha when no one (including you) expected it, =
took the incarnation of vAmana just for protecting everyone (through the =
contact with your feet), presented yourself as the angry paraSurAma and =
also as rAma - the personification of kindness and mercy, had the sport =
with the plough in the balarAma avatAra and as the cowherd in your =
kr*shNa incarnation, and will ride the white horse in your kalki =

make this world pure by the store-house of puNya that they have =
accumulated, and are like the store where we can get all the puNya we =
need (i.e., by merely associating with them)".

SrI deSika again gives vent to his poetic sentiments in describing =
these noble souls as shop-keepers from whom we can get all the puNya =
that we want by associating with them. In the concluding Sloka, Sri =
deSika points out that even the desire to chant this stotram will lead =
to sarasvati-katAksham, in addition to the spiritual development, =
purity of thought, and all kinds fame. =20
As in the case of the previous write-up on SrI hayagrIva stotram, it is =
hoped that this high level description of the daSAvatAra stotram gives =
the desire to look at the detailed meanings of the stotram, chant it =
regularly, and be blessed by our Lord and our AcArya.=20

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan

Another input:

DevO na: Subham AaathanOthu dasadhaa nirvarthayan bhoomikaam
RangE dhaamani labda nirbhara rasaih adhyakshithO bhaavukai:/
Yad bhaavEshu pruthak vidhEshu anuguNaan bhaavaan swayam bibhrathee
Yad dharmair iha dharmiNi viharathE naanaa kritir naayikaa// 1

" May the Supreme Lord who descended down to earth in ten incarnations and acted, all in sport, a variety of roles on the massive stage of this earth and Mother Goddess who took appropriate roles and also presided over their drama as great Connoisseurs of histrionic arts – May the Divya Dhampathis shower on us their divine grace"

avyaasur bhuvana trayii manibhR^itaM kaNDuuya nairadriNaa
nidraaNasya parasya kuurma vapuSho nishvaasa vaatormayaH .
yadvikShepaNa saMskR^ito dadhipayaH preN^khola paryaN^kikaa -
nityaa rohaNa nirvR^ito viharate devaH sahaiva shriyaa

“The Lord dived into the ocean in the form of a fish searched with His lotus eyes, rapidly viewing on all directions creating an illusion of lotus flowers blossoming everywhere - all in search of the Vedas that had been stolen by an Asura. The ebb and flow of the waves of the Ocean seemed to be a swinging cradle that soothed and almost lulled Him into a comfortable reverie. May this Lord of “Matsya Avataara” protect us”

gOpaayEth anisam jaganthi kuhanaa pOthree pavithree kritha
brahmANDa: praLayOrmi gOsha gurubhir gONaaravai: gurguraih: /
yath dhamshtra ankura kOTi ghaaTa ghaTanaa nishkampa nitya sthithi:
brahma sthambham asoudasou bhagavathee mushEva visvambharaa // 4

“At the time of the great deluge, mother earth was wholly drowned under the waters. The Lord took the form of a huge wild boar and diving deep under the waters salvaged Her. At that time, He exhaled so heavily making a roaring sound that purified the three worlds. The boar bore Mother earth who bears the entire universe firmly on His horn as if She was a tuber root stuck in it”.

prathyaadishTa puraathana praharaNa graama: kshaNam paaNijai:
avyaath threeNi jaganthi akunTa mahimaa vaikunTa kaNTeerava:/
yath praadur bhavanaath avandhya jaTaraa yaadrichikaath vEdasaam
yaa kaachith sahasaa mahaasura griha sthooNaa pithamahi abhooth//

"The King of VaikunTam Himself came down in the form of Lion-king. Discarding the antiquated conventional weapons, He converted His own nails as the weapon. He appeared in some pillar in the palace of the great Asura and rid it of its sterlity by delivering Him, thus transforming it as the Paternal Grandmother of Brahmas! May that Lord Nrisimha protect all the three worlds"

vreeDaa vidha vadhaanya dhaanava yasO naasera dhaaTee paTah:
trai aksham makuTam punan avathu na: TraivikramO vikramah: /
yath prasthaava samuchritha dvaja paTee vrithaantha siddhaanthibhih:
srOthObhih: sura sindhu ashTasu disaa soudhEshu dOdhooyatE //

“ When the Lord went to Mahaabali to beg for three footsteps of land, the bounteous Emperor Mahaabali felt ashamed of himself in offering the gift. When the Lord grew to show His Viswaroopam and measured the three worlds, the foot that went up seemed to be the flagstaff proceeding to proclaim the glorious bounty of Mahaabali. Brahma offered “Paadhyam” to this foot, while the sacred waters flowing from this fell on and sanctified the matted crest of hair of Siva and the eight directions. May that Vikrama’s foot protect us”

KrOdha agnim jamadagni peeTana bhavam sam tharpayishyan kramaath
a-kshathraam iha santhathas cha ya imaam tri:sapta kritva kshithim /
Dathvaa karmaNi dakshiNaam kvachana thaam aaskandhya sindhum vasan
Abrahmanyam apaa karOthu bhagavaan aabrahma keeTam munih //

“ When the fire of the fury of the Lord as a Sage was roused by a king who
killed his father Jamadagni, He wiped out with a vengeance 21 generations of the Royal clan from the face of the earth. Later He gave away the earth in a Yagjna and retired to a land, which He reclaimed, from the Sea. Let this Lord rid the miseries of the world right from the four faced Brahma to the lowest of creatures”

paaraavaara payO visOshaNa paareeNa kalaanala –
jwaalaajaala vihaara haari visika vyaapaara gOra kramah /
sarvaavastha sakruth prapanna janathaa samrakshaNaika vrathee
dharmO vigrahavaan adharma virtheem dhanvee sa thanveetha na: //

“ He can, with His bow and arrows wreak havoc on everything and dry up the vast bodiess of waters of great oceans like the fierce fire-force of deluge.
His valor is incomparable and unsurpassed. Yet, His compassion is so great that if one were to surrender at His feet for once, He has vowed to afford protection as a matter of principle and policy, whatever the circumstances, even at the risk of His own life! Let that Lord Rama, the wielder of the mighty bow, the Greatest of heroes and who is Dharma personified, save us”

Pakkath Kowrava paTTaNa prabruthaya: praastha pralambaadaya:
Thaalaankasya tathaa vidhaa vihruthayas thanvanthu bhadraaNi na: /
Ksheeram Sarkara yEva yaabhir apruthak boothaa: prabhoothair guNai:
Aa-kowmaarakam aswadantha jagathE krishNasya thaa: kELaya: //

“May the exploits of Sri Balarama like his turning upside down Hastinaapura, the capital of the Kauravas, his wiping out the Rakshasas like Pralambasura do us all the good. Right from childhood, Balarama was inseparably involved in the sporting activities of Sri Krishna making them more enjoyable, like the inseparable sugar dissolved in milk therby heightening its taste.”

Naathayaiva namaH padam bhavathu nas chitrai: charitra kramai:
BhooyObhi: bhuvanani amooni kuhanaa gOpaaya gOpaayatE /
KaaLindhee rasikaaya kaaLiya paNi spaara spaTaa vaatikaa
Ranga utsanga visanka chankrama dhuraa paryaaya charyaa: yathE //

“ Let our obeisance be only for the Supreme Lord KrishNa
- who protects the world with His most wonderful acts
- who enjoys and relishes His association with the river Yamuna
- who performed a dance fearlessly making the broad hoods of the KaaLinga
serpent as His stage and
- who accomplished numerous such impossible but
- who nevertheless disguised Himself the garb of a simple cow-herd”

Bhavinyaa dasayaa bhavan iha bhava dvamsaaya na: kalpathaam
Kalkee vishNuyasa: sutha: kali kathaa kaalushya koolankasha: /
Nis sesha kashtaha kanTakE kshithi thalE dharaa jaloughair dhruvam
Dharmam kaartha yugam prarOhayathi yath nistrimsa dhaaraadhara: //

“The Lord who presents Himself to us now in Archaa form is sure to reappear later on in the form of Kalki, being born as the son of a Brahmin called VishNuyasas. To put an end to the present calamitous Yuga, with a blazing sword on hand and riding a horse, He will exterminate all evil, re-establish Dharma and make the golden age spring forth again as if watered by His compassion. May He get rid of our pangs of Samsaara”

(phala sruti:)
vidhyO udanvathi vEnkaTEswara Kavou jaatham jagan mangaLam
dEvEsasya dasaavataara vishayam stOtram vivakshEtha yah /
vaktrE thasya saraswaththee bahumukhee bhakti: paraa maanasE
suddhi: kaapai thanou disaasu dasasu khyaathi: subhaa jrumbathE //

Let me tell you what one can acquire on reciting this StOtram in praise of the 10 Avataras of the Lord of Lords, Sri Tiruvarangan that arose from the great poet VEnkatEswara, a veritable Ocean of knowledge. This StOtram is intended to bring welfare of the entire world (Jagan MangaLam)
Even if one were to THINK of reciting this StOtram -
1. Goddess of learning, Saraswathi, will bless such a person’s tongue in a variety of ways.
2. Such a person will develop in mind an extraordinary devotion to the Lord
3. Such a person will acquire even physical purity and
4. Such a person’s fame will spread far and wide in all the 10 directions of the world.

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