Sunday, February 25, 2007

Vegasethu Stotram

vegA-setu means "the dam for the river vegavati". This name arises
for the Lord in the kshetram called tiru-vehkA since He lies across the
river vegavati like a dam. The Lord is also called yathokta-kAri in
samskr*t, and its equivalent in tamizh, "Sonna vaNNam Seyda perumAL", or
"One who did as He was told". The history behind this is that once
tirumazhiSai AzhvAr requested bhagavAn to pack up his snake bed and move
out of kA~nci because of the local king's insult to a bhakta. BhagavAn did
exactly what He was told. When BhagavAn moved out of the king's land,
there were immediate signs of impending darkness and suffering in the
kingdom. The king realized his mistake and begged forgiveness from the
AzhvAr. AzhvAr forgave the king, and asked perumAL to return back, unfold
His snake bed and lie down again in His old place, and bhagavAn heeded this
request as well, and the kingdom returned to normalcy again. Thus the Lord
in this kshetram is fondly called yathokta-kAri.

Like hasti-giri, tiruvehkA is also a svayam-vyakta kshetram. We learned in
SrI varadarAja pa~ncASat that varadarAjap perumAL is on a small hill called
hasti-giri, and appeared there in response to brahma's aSva medha yAgam.
We may recall from the write-up of the sthala-purANa-s of these temples that
when sarasvati rushed in the form of vegavati river to obstruct brahma's
yAga prior to its completion, perumAL just lied down on His snake bed in the
path of the river, and sarasvati subsided and went underground. Thus
bhagavAn protected brahma's yAga in this instance, and stayed here in this
arcA-mUrti form in response to brahma's request.

In the short 10 Sloka-s of this stotra, svAmi deSikan points out the
following key aspects of bhagavAn:

1. He is like a dam that helps the cetana-s in crossing the Ocean of samsAra
(eshah setuh gamayitum pAram IshTe - Slokam 2). This is the vegA-setu
aspect of this perumAL. In fact, svAmi deSikan refers to bhagavAn as vishNu
setuh in Slokam 4, and as jagadeka setuh - The only dam that can help
cetana-s, in Slokam 3.

svAmi deSikan emphasizes the aspect of bhagavAn being a dam that helps in
crossing the ocean of samsAra in other stotra-s as well. Thus in dayA
Satakam Slokam 87, he points out that in His rAma incarnation He created the
setu to cross the ocean to get into Lanka, which is in itself a great act of
compassion on His part. The very sight of the setu or dam is sufficient to
remove all the sins - prakr*shTa bahu-pAtaka praSama hetunA setunA.... In
SrI varadarAja pa~ncAsat, he refers again to the very sight of the dam that
was created by Lord rAma being able to lead the cetana-s to cross the ocean
of samsAra (Slokam 25 - tam vIkshya setum adhunA'pi SarIravantah sarve
shadUrmi bahuLam jaladhim taranti).

2. He is One who subjugates Himself to His devotees, and does whatever His
bhakta-s want Him to do. (bhaktimatAm yathoktakArI - Slokam 5; Srita jana
para tantram - Slokam 7; SaraNam upagatAnAm AdeSa kArI - One who obeys the
orders of those who have surrendered to Him- Slokam 8; bhakta anugantuh -
One who follows His devotees - Slokam 6). The response of perumAL to
tirumazhiSai AzhvAr's request to role down His snake bed and get out of
kA~nci, and later to return back to kA~nci, has already been covered in the
previous write-up on the sthalapurANam of this kshetram. This is the
yathoktakAri aspect of this perumAL.

An alternate interpretation for the name 'yathoktakArI' is that bhagavAn
will give moksham to those who have surrendered to Him as He has declared in
His rAma and kr*shNa incarnations.

3. He removes all obstacles that face His devotees. This is illustrated by
His protecting brahma's yAga against the ferocious force of vegavati.
(praSamita hayamedha vyApadam padmayoneh - Slokam 7). Also in Slokam 8 we
have Him described as sarva jantoh Samayati paritApam - One who removes the
sorrows of all beings.

4. Surrendering to bhagavAn not only ensures moksham at the end of this
life, but it quells the unrest caused by the waves of samsAra while the
cetana still spends the rest of his life in this world. The prapanna leads
a life of bliss in this world by dedicating himself completely to the
service of the Lord (samsAra jaladhi kallolAn praSamayati - Slokam 3). In
Slokam 6, bhagavAn is described as "pratyAdiSanti prajAnAm bhava sa~ncaraNam
- One who puts an end to the wanderings of people in the ocean of samsAra.

5. vegAsetu perumAL appeared first, followed by varadan later according to
the kshetra purANa-s. svAmi deSikan nicely interprets this as Lord first
appearing as vegAsetU peru.mAL in the form of upAyam or the means, and then
the same Lord appearing as Lord varadarAja in the form of result (phala) -
Slokam 1. Another way he enjoys the vaibhavam of these two arcA-mUrti-s is
by crediting vegAsetu perumAL as One who removes the obstacles of His
devotees (in this case the obstacels to brahma's yAga), so that varada can
concentrate on His job of bestowing the devotees' wishes (e.g., by
appearing as a pratyaksham to brahma according to His wishes) - Slokam 8.

In conclusion, svAmi deSikan points out that worshipping vegAsetu perumAL
will lead to bhagavAn fulfilling the wishes of the devotees, as well as
giving moksham in accordance with bhagavAn's own declaration in His rAma and
kr*shNa incarnations.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan

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