The birthday of our Lord Krishna (Sri Jayanthi) is on Simha SraavaNa month (AavaNi), when Ashtami of Krishna Paksham is united with the constellation RohiNi, our Lord was born. Swami Desikan composed 20 verses in praise of him and prayed that he should be blessed with thoughts exclusively about HIM during his final moments (Anthima Smrithi) on this earth. Swami composed these twenty verses, when he was overcome by the beauty of the Archa Murthy of Sri Rajagopalan in the Divya Desam at Thiruvahindrapuram. The Sanskrit name for twenty is Vimsathi and hence these twenty verses in praise of Sri Gopala are celebrated as Sri Gopala Vimsathi. For more than 700 years, these verses have been sung prior to Sri Vaishnava TadhiyAraadhanams (Group partaking of food presented to the Lord earlier) to seek the Lord's blessings and during the occasion of marriages to confer the blessings of the Lord on the bride and the bridegroom.
Swami Desikan paints a word picture of the incomparable beauty of Sri Gopalan, describes the structure of His mantram and affectionately recalls the many mischievous deeds performed by Bala Gopalan in Gokulam and BrindhAvanam to the utter delight of the humans and the celestial beings.
Sri Gopala Vimsathi must have been very dear to Swami Desikan as indicated by his inclusion of the twelfth verse of this stotram in his esoteric master piece known as Sankalpa Suryodhayam. There, he depicts Narada descending from heaven singing joyously the above verse during his journey to meet Purushan and initiate him into the Maha Mantram of the Lord.
On this Krishna Jayanthi day, the Archa Murthy of Rajagopalan is taken in procession around the streets of Thiruvahindrapuram and Sri Gopala Vimsathi slokams of our Acharya is recited. May our thoughts be blessed with the delectable experience of Swami Desikan! I salute Sri Vedantha Desikan prior to attempting to provide an English translation to these bhakthi-laden verses dedicated to Sri Rukmii Satyabhama Sametha Raja Venugopalan.
VALLAVEE JANAVALABHAM I
JAYANTHISAMBHAVAM DHAMA VAIJAYANTHEE VIBHUSHANAM II
I salute that divine effulgence named Gopala, who was born on this Sri Jayanthi day and roamed in the forests of Brindhaavanam wearing the unfading garland made of wild flowers of the forest known as Vaijayanthi MaalA. This garland was his characteristic decoration. He enchanted the Gopis of Brindhavanam. I salute this illustrious Jyothi.
VAKTHRARAVIDHYA VINIVESITHA PAANCHAJANYA: I
VARNATRIKONARUCHIREH VARA PUNDAREEKEH
BHADDHAASANO JAYATHI VALLAVA CHAKRAVARTHEE II
The Lord of the cowherds, Sri Gopala is seated on a Yantra in the shape of a eight-petalled lotus. Inside that Yantra is yet another yantra in the shape of a triangle. Gopala Upasakas seat him at the centre of this inner triangle and enjoy His illustrious beauty. On His lap, they find Saraswathi , the Goddess of learning. He blesses Her with His auspicious glances.
He has on His lotus lips the conch known as Panchajanyam, whose sound is that of the holy Pranavam symbolizing the essence of the Vedas. (His devotees meditate on Him in this manner and receive His blessings).
Parama Purusha with the scent of Vedas in his breath
AAMNAAYA GANDHI RUDITA
AASRAAVILEKSHANAMANUKSHANA MANDHAHAASAM I
PRAANASTHANANDHAYAMIVAIMI PARAM PUMAAMSAM II
I visualize and revere Sri Gopala as the Supreme Lord, who took the form of the child born in the cowherd family. He was not an ordinary baby. As he feigned fear at the sight of the approaching evil Puthanaa, he alternately cried and smiled. When he cried, his upper and lower lips quivered from that exertion. At that time, his sweet breath carried the fragrance of the Vedas. He also smiled in between his crying spells. His smile was over the thought of what he planned to do next with the deceitful Puthanaa. He not only helped himself with the poisonous milk from her breast, but also sucked her life through the very same act of responding to her cunning invitation to breast feed him. He drank at one swoop Puthana's milk and her life force and blessed her this way. This certainly is no ordinary child!
Dance for Navaneetham at his mother's house
AAKUNCHITAIKA CHARANAM NIBRUTHANYAPAADAM I
DADHNAA NIMANTHAMUKARENA NIBADDHATAALAM
NATHASYA NANDHABHAVANEH NAVANEETHANATYAM II
At the house of his parents, Yasodha was strenuously churning milk to produce butter as part of the daily chore. Krishna, the bhagyam of Yasodha listened to these rhythmical sounds coming from her efforts and began a special dance to amuse her and to receive gobs of butter as a present for his performance. For this special dance , he planted one of his foot firmly and he moved the other foot around in different directions .The gold necklaces, jewellery and the ankle bells on his holy feet produced then a most delightful musical sound ,which matched the laya patterns emanating from his mother's efforts at churning milk. May that vision of this butter dance of Lord Gopala appear before my eyes! (Navaneetham is freshly churned butter mixed with sugar).
Lord's fright at the sight of his chasing mother
HARTHUM KUMBEH VINIHITA
MATHARAM JAATHAROSHAAM I
NAAPAGACCHAN NA THISHTAN
MITYAAGOPA: SAPADHI NAYANEH
MEELAYAN VISWAGOPTHAA II
(Here, Swami Desikan enjoys the scene just before the Lord being caught in the act of stealing butter from a hidden vessel by his angry mother).
May the special pose that
this protector of the Universe, who acted like an innocent child born in
the family of cowherds of Gokulam, nurtures the inhabitants of his world!
His mother normally stored freshly churned butter in shallow earthen
vessels (Chattis). Gopalan routinely raided the kitchen and stole those
gobs of butter. Yasodha thought that she could hide the butter in deep
water pots to mislead her child. Gopalan defeated his mother in her
efforts to save the butter and won the game. When his mother stepped out
of the kitchen for a moment, he put his hands into the pot and helped
himself. As he was enjoying himself, his mother arrived suddenly
suspecting something was going on behind her back. She saw Gopalan
stealing butter again and ran towards him with a rope in hand to tie him
down as a punishment. Gopalan was bewildered by the sight of his angry
mother. For a moment, he wanted to run away to escape his mother. He
lifted his foot to run. His feigned fright at his mother however made him
stop. He stood still pretending that he did not know what to do next. He
closed his eyes at the thought of the impending calamity of being caught
and punished by his mother. He appeared as though he was averting that
danger by closing his eyes. It is common for ordinary human beings to
close their eyes, when they face serious danger out of a sense of utter
helplessness. Our Lord, who is the protector of His universe, adopted this
posture as if he was a mere mortal. May the thought of the simplicity that
he adapted for this occasion protect all of us in our daily lives!
Devaki"s Darling infant & Madhura's blessing
MADHURAABHAGYAM ANANYA BHOGGYAMEEDEH I
VASUDEVAVADHOO STHANANDHAYAM TATH
KIMAPI BRAHMA KISORABHAVA DHRUSYAM II
The young girls of Gokulam look at this lovely child of Yasodha with great affection. Their glances enter him like arrows and makes him subservient to them. He is the great fortune of the city of Northern Madhurai. He , who was born there is the object of delectable experience for the sages , who do not covet anything else in this world. Right from his infant stage, when he was breast fed by his natural mother Devaki in the prison , he has been the essence of beauty in all the three worlds. I salute and offer my tribute to this supreme being known as Gopalan .
Reflection of Gopalan as the one who dragged the mortar
SMITHA PULLADHARA PALLAVAM SMARAAMI I
VITAPITHVA NIRAASAKAM KAYOSCCHITH
VIPULOLOOKALA KARSHAKAM KUMARAM II
I meditate on that child Gopala , who dragged the big mortar to which he was tied by his angry mother Yasodha. She wanted to teach him a lesson for stealing butter .As Yasodha went away , he checked around to make sure that she was out of sight and then pulled the tied mortar to the garden . He smiled with a sense of satisfaction that he duped his mother once again and his lips were rosy with that joy .He dragged the mortar further and went between two Marutha trees . The shock of the collision with the mortar broke the twin trees and the the sons of Kubera , who stood as the trees in the garden of the Lord got released from their curse and regained their original bodies . I offer my worship to that blessed child ,who freed the sons of Kubera from their existence as twin trees .
Power of Swami Desikan's meditation on Rajagopalan
NIGAMAANTHAI : ADHUNAAPI MRUKYAMAANAM I
YAMALAARJUNA DHRUSHTA BALA KEHLIM
YAMUNAA SAKSHIKA YAVVANAM YUVAANAM II
Vedas are still searching for Him; His leelas were seen by the twin Marutha trees in His backyard . even after they were released from their state as trees , the sons of Kubera did not want to get back to their home , since they wanted to enjoy some more of His Bala Leelas . The river Yamuna , the daughter of Surya was a joyous witness to all his playful deeds that took place on her sands and banks . I see that wonderful young Gopala next to me always . ( This is a blessing that Swami Desikan earned as a result of his meditation on Rajagopalan ) .
Salutation to the power of the Universe
ATAVEE SAMPADHAM AMBHUVAHAYANTHEEM I
ARUNAADHARA SAABHILAASHA VAMSAAM
KARUNAAM KAARANA MAANUSHEEM BHAJAAMI II
I worship the most merciful Gopala , who is the root cause of the creation, sustenance and destruction of this universe ; He is the one , who revealed to us the easy to practise route of Prapatthi as the short road to Moksham .He is the rejuvenating , rain-bearing cloud that enhanced the wealth and well being of the citizens of Brindhaavanam . The flute that rests on His red lips during the time of His playing appears to be deeply eager to taste the sweetness of his mouth . I salute this embodiment of mercy known as Venugopalan .
Beauty of peacock feather clad Gopala
AJAHAT YAVVANAM AAVIRASTHU CHITTEH I
KALAHAAYITA KUNTALAM KALAABHAI :
KARANONMAADHAKA VIBRAMAM MAHO MEH II
One should enjoy the unchanging and incomparable beauty of the youth , Gopala with unblinking eyes .When we blink , we lose that moment of this delectable experience. He is wearing the peacock feathers (Peelis) in his dark tresses . The "eyes" at the top of each of the peelis decorating his hair seem to compete for attention with his youthful beauty. When we think of His many playful deeds/pranks as Balagopala in Gokulum and Brindhavanam and his blemishlesss beauty , our minds fall in intense love with Him. Our senses are overpowered. May the overflowing flood of that beauty and its lustre remain steadily in my mind .
Meditation on the Beauty of Venugopalan
AVATHU SPARSITHA VALLAVEE VIMOHAI: I
ANAGASMITHA SEETHALAI RASOU MAAM
ANUKAMPAA SARITHAMBHUJAI: APAANGAI : II
Venugopalan plays on his flute and creates delightful music and casts his most merciful glances on the Gopis . They are totally captivated by his friendly smile and the divine music originating from His flute. At this time , His cool and welcoming eyes resemble a pair of just-blossomed lotuses in the river of His mercy (Dayaa). May this enchanting youth Gopala protect me always !
Prayer for memory of Venugopalan during the last moments
ADHARAHITA CARU VAMSA
MAKUTALAMBI MAYURA PINCHAMALA: I
HARINILA SILAVIBHANGA LILA:
PRATIBHA: SANTU MAMANTIMA PRAYANE II
(This is the famous verse sung by Sage Narada in Sankalpa Suryodhayam. The beauty of Venugopala and His world-enchanting flute music has been celebrated by Srimad Bhagavatham and Periyazhwaar in particular (Periya Thirumozhi : 3.6))
May the resplendent blue jyothi of Gopala reminding one of an incomparable blue gem stone(Indra neela stone ),with blue peacock feather decorations on His dark black hair and the divine flute on His lips appear before me during the last moments of my life on this earth.
Enjoyment of the indescribable beauty of the Lord
MAHILAADHEENA BHUJAANTHARASYA YUNA: I
ABHILABHA KRAMA DHURAMAABHIRUPYAM II
Even in His incarnation as Krishna/Gopala , Sri Devi is always united with Him. He has left her His chest region as Her place of special residence and enjoyment. He has the eternal and youthful beauty that qualifies Him to play with Her. We are powerless to describe His full beauty. The Gopis of Gokulam are thirsting to enjoy His beauty . I am blessed to have the vision of this beautiful youth everywhere and at all times .
Which artist created this splendour ?
HRUDHI MUGDHA SIKANDA
LIKHITA: KENA MAMAISHA SILPINAA I
VADHANAAMBHOJA DIVAKAROH YUVAA II
Which (bold) artist drew this picture of this unsatiable beauty known as Gopala in my heart ? Who etched this embodiment of beauty wearing the charming peacock feathers in His hair ? Which painter painted the picture of this beautiful youth in my heart , who is like the morning Sun to the lotus-like faces of the love-sick Gopis
Venugopalan's Music supported by the Talams of Gopis
KALAYAAMI VIMUGHDHA VALLAVEE
VALAYAABHASHITA MANJU VENAVEH II
I join my hands in Anjali Mudraand lower my head in salutation of that much revered effulgent , dark-hued Jyothi of Gopala , whose divine flute music joins in conversation as it were with the taaLam of Gopis wearing golden bangles that jingle as they keep up with the rhythmic patterns .
Venu music and Raasa Kreetaa with Gopis
SITHILA VALAYA SINCHAA SEETHALAIR HASTHA TAALAI : I
AKILA BHUVANA RAKSHAA GOPA VESHASYA VISHNOH:
ADHARA MANI SUDHAAYAAM AMSAVAAN VAMSANAALA : II
The incarnation of Vishnu taking the form of a cowherd to protect all the universes has on its coral-red lips the bamboo flute that tastes the nectar of this Gopala's mouth . As he plays the flute on the banks of the Yamuna river during the moon-lit nights, the lovelorn Gopis engage in Raasa Kreeta with him. The Gopis beat taaLam to the music of their Lord with their cool hands decorated with golden bangles. Their follow-up with taaLam suggests as though they are teaching the abhinayam step known as LaLitham to the flute of the Lord . ( The Abhinaya sastras describe LaLitham as the gesture , where the dancer places her hands on the appropriate portion of the body and change the movement of her eyebrows to mimic the different rasas . The delectable interplay between the Bhavam ,Ragam and TaaLam- Bharata Natyam- is suggested here as the Rasa Kreeyaa progresses ).
Gopalan with the decorations appropriate for his role as a cowherd roaming in the forests to graze the cows and calves
KALAYAN LANKALEE KARNAPOORAM
BARHOTTHAMSA SPURITHACHIKUROH BANDHUJEEVAM DADHAANA: I
GUNJAA BADDHAA MURASI LALITHAAM DHARAYAN HAARAYASHTIM
GOPASTHREENAAM JAYATHI KITAVA: KOAPI KOWMAARAHAARI II
(Gopalan is a roamer of the forest . Hence , he decorates himself with the ornaments appropriate to the dwellers of the forests (i.e.) natural products available in the forests).
The mischievous Gopalan , who stole the youth of the Gopis appears before them with many decorations that enhance his beauty . On his ears, the Gopis find the flower known as Laangali ( Flower from the coconut tree's sheaf/Tennampaalai flower ) ; peacock feathers are found by them on his dark and curly tresses; red hibiscus also decorates those tresses. On his broad chest ,they find a beautiful necklace made of yellowish-red seeds known as Gunjaa or Kunrimani strung together . With these and more AabharaNaas made of forest products, Gopala enchants the hearts of the adoring Gopis .
The beauty of Rajagopala Svaroopam
DAKSHINEH NYASYA DHANYAAM
AMSEH DEVYAA: PULAKARUCHIREH
SANNIVISHTAANYA BAAHU : I
MEGASHYAMOH JAYATHI LALITHOH
MEGALAA DHATTHA VENU:
GUNJAAPEETA SPURITHA SIKUROH
GOPAKANYAA BHUJANGA: II
Lord Gopalan showing great affection for the Gopis stands before them in resplendent attire .He strikes a pose at that time with his tender right hand holding the shepherd's bent stick ;his left hand rests on the shoulder of the beautiful Nappinnai ; that touch of Gopalan sends shivers of joy over Nappinnai's body . That beautiful Gopalan has tucked his flute inside his waist band and has additional decoration in the form of a chain of Kunrimani beads tied across his own dark hair pulled up in the form of a bun . He shines with his dark blue hue, reminiscent of the clouds in the rainy season and wins over the Gopis with his formidable beauty . He roams around with great desire for union with Gopis.
The Jala Kreeta of Gopalan
PASCHAADHEESHAN MILITHA NAYANAAM
PRAYASEEM PREKSHAMAANA: I
BHASTHRAA YANTRA PRANIHITA KAROH
VAARI KREETAA NIBITA VASANOH
VALLAVI VALLABOH NA: II
Gopalan desirous of performing water sports with the Gopis tucked tightly his garments .He took in his hands the water pump used in those sports. He approached one of the Gopis , who was standing with one foot forward in the water and the other planted backward on the land .,He surprised her from behind and embraced her tightly .That Gopi was overpowered by that delectable experience and partially closed her eyes and looked at Gopalan with half-open eyes. He returned her affectionate glances .Their eyes met. May that Gopala engaged in water sports with the Gopis as their lover protect us , since he is the medicine for his devotees suffering from the afflictions of Samsaara .
Krishna stealing the clothes of Gopis
VAASOH HRUTHVAA DINAKARA
LEELAASMEROH JAYATHI LALITHAAM
AASTHITHA: KUNTHASAAKHAAM I
SAVREETAABHI: TADHANU VASANEH
KAAMI KASCHITH KARA KAMALAYOH:
ANJALIM YAACHAMAANA: II
On the banks of the Yamuna river shines the Lord , who is seated on the bow of a Kunthaa tree with a smile on his face . He is enjoying the prank that he played on the unsuspecting Gopis , who had left their clothes on the river bank and were engaged in taking morning ablutions. He wanted to teach them a lesson for breaking the rules of Sastras, which forbid one from taking bath in the river without wearing a cloth . Gopalan sneaked up on the crowd of Gopis deeply absorbed in water sports and took all of their clothes and climbed up the Kuntha tree and sat on one of its branch and waited for them to come out of the water. The unaware Gopis completed their water sports and ablutions and got out of the water and discovered that there clothes were removed by the smiling Gopalan sitting on the adjascent Pinnai (Kuntha) tree . Overcome by modesty , they rushed back into the water and prayed to him to return their clothes. He commanded them to come out of the water with folded hands raised above their hands as a mark of atonement for the sin of breaking the injunctions of Saastras . They had no choice , but to obey him to regain their clothes. May that mischievous Gopalan fond of Gopis be victorious!
Pala Sruthi of Gopala Vimsathi
VENKATESA KAVINAA STHUTHIM PATAN I
DIVYA VENU RASIKAM SAMEEKSHATEH
DAIVATHAM KIMAPI YOWATHA PRIYAM II
This stotram has been created by the poet Venkatesa , who does not consider any God other than Gopala/Naraayana .Those who read and recite this eulogy will have the blessings of the Darsanam of the God of incomparable beauty , Venugopalan ,Who was the keen object of desire of youthful Gopis .