nyasa tilakam

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nyasa tilakam


Nyasa Dasakam is one of those master pieces given to us by the Most merciful Swami . His genius as a poet and his skills in succinctly stating the essence of Prapatthi are abundantly clear in this work .As Sri D.Ramaswamy Iyengar describes , " In its metaphysical aspect , Nyasa Tilaka like SaraNagathi Deepika is a poetic rendering of the salient features of Saranaagathi as laid down in the Srimad Rahasyatrayasaara , with the difference , that while Saranaagathi Deepika is an epitome of Rahasyatrayasaara , Nyaasa Tilaka concerns itself more with the mentality that should prevail in the Post-Prapatthi period . The importance of Nyasa Tilakam ot Prapanna can not be overestimated. " Here Sri D.R .Iyengar refers to the significance of Kumara Varadarya"s singling out this work of his father for writing his commentary among all other works.

This work consists of 32 slokas in 8 different poetic metres:
Anushtup(2); sikarinI (4); Vasanthatilakaa (4) ; Saardhoola Vikriditham (9);Nathkutakam (2); Mandhaakranthaa(3) ; Sragdharaa (5); Maalini (3) . Like number of other works contained in 32 sections to be consistent with the count of 32 Upanishadic Brahma vidyas,Nyasa Tilakam shines with Upanishadic truths.

Sri Ranganatha is the object of Prapatthi for Swami here.In Nyasa Dasaka and Nyasa Vimsathi and Tamil work, Adaikkalappatthu , he surrended to Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi. IN Saranagathi Deepika , he offered his Saranagathi to Lord Dipa Prakaasan of his own agrahaaram in Tuppul .

It has been told that a study of Nyasa Tilakam is essential to remove our doubts about the efficacy of Saranagathi . Let us offer our salutation to Swami Desikan, the master intrepreter of Saranagathi saastra prior to studying this important work.



We will start the reflections on Swami Desikan's Nyasa Tilakam in the traditional manner with the salutations by his disciple and son , Sri Kumara Varadacharya, who wrote a commentary onhis acharya and father's work :


The great Desika Bhaktha , Late Sri D.Ramaswamy Iyengar has translated the above verse this way in his commentary on Nyasa Tilakam:

" That repository of all auspiciousness , Vedantha Desika,who is the incarnation of the Bell (Ghanta) of the Lord of Venkataadhri --not only did he delight the people of his times by his person and personality , but even today he continues to be a source of delight to those rasikas who are unflinchingly attached to his lotus feet -- and by his abundant grace gives the feeling of personal presence , almost speaks , so to say ."

How true is the testimony of the loyal son and disciple !Swami Desikan casts his majestic shadow across seven centuries and comforts us under the shade of that giant presence .

The Name

The name of Nyasa Tilakam was chosen by Swami Desikan inview of his conviction that this stotra grantham is the crest jewel among the various works that he composed on Nyasam or SaraNagathi. Tilakam is the Pottu or auspicious dot worn by women to bring out the beauty of their faces. Nyasa Tilakam is the Tilakam for the Nyasa Vidya as indicated by Swami Desikan's choice of the title for this grantham.

Source Literature

We will provide highlights from the commentaries of Acharya Kumara Vardarya(Nainacharya ) , Sri D.R .Iyengar and Oppiliappan Koil Vidwan Srirama Desikachar .

Structure/Organization/Metres of Nyasa Tilakam

First Slokam( Anushtub Metre) deals with salutations to the Guru Parampara. The Second slokam (Anushtub metre) is an important one explaining the significance of the Abhaya mudra (gesture) seen on the right hand of Sri Ranganatha.

The third Slokam set in SikariNi metre contains Swami Desikan'straditional SaranAgathi to the consort of the Lord. The fourth slokam set again in SikariNi metre explains the tattvam of Maha Lakshmi (Sri Ranganayaki ) serving both as Upaayam (means ) and mediatrix (PurushakAram ).

The fifth and the sixth slokams continue in SikariNi metre and focus on Sri Ranganatha. The fourth slokam houses Swami Desikan's Saranaagathi to the Lord of Srirangam. The fifth slokam reveals that the Lord rests on his bed of Adisesha at Srirangam for the express purpose of guiding people to follow the way sanctioned by the Sastraas and the Vedas to reach Him .

The metre chosen for the seventh slokam is Saardhoola Vikrititham ( the gait of a tiger). Here Swami explains in unambigous terms that the Divya Dampathis of Srirangam are the ultimate Seshis , who are the object of our Prapatthi.

In the eighth slokam , Swami shifts his attention to the Nathkutakam metre and prays for the blessings of the compassionate glances of the Lord . In the ninth and the tenth slokams, Swam's mind races like a tiger in the Sardhoola Vikrititham metre in a manner consistent with the subject .The ninth slokam deals with the Mahopakaaram rendered by Sri Ranganatha to Swami . The tenth slokam proudly recounts the glories of Prapatthi .

The eleventh slokam set in Mandaakraanthaa metre covers a prayer of Swami to the Lord to make his mind seek out and enjoy the company and the works of Prapannas , who have already been blessed by the Lord .

The twelfth slokam describes the state of Prapanna in the post-Prapatthi period. The metre shifts here to Sragdharaa. The thirteenth slokam shares the same Sragdharaa metre and points out that the Prapannas in the post-Prapatthi period never trespass the injunctions of Saastraas established by the Lord.

The fourteenth slokam reveals the reason why the Prapannas in their post-Prapatthi period come across some sufferings (Dukkam/Sokham ) .

The fifteenth slokam set once again in Sragdharaa metre emphasizes that Bhakthi and Prapatthi are two different upaayams(means )for securing the blessings of MOksham.

The sixteenth slokam set in majestic sardhoola Vikrititham lists the the different words in vogue to refer to Prapatthi and points out that all of them refer to the same act of Prapatthi .

The seventeenth slokam is housed in Sragdhara metre and deals with the points of difference between the two upaayaas (VIZ), Prapatthi and Bhakthi to attain the blessings of MOksham .

The eighteenth slokam is set in the beautiful Maalini metre and states that Prapatthi performed at the Lord's feet confers all the fruits (Sarva Hetu: ) . The NInteenth slokam reverts to Sardhoola Vikrititham metre and deals with the pancha Sankaas (Five doubts ) that assail the minds of Prapannas and explains how these doubts can be cleared .

The twentieth Nyasa Tilakam slokam set in the Vasantha Tilakam metre celebrates the blessings of the comforting glances of the Acharya (Kataaksham of the Acharya ) in the context of successful Prapatthi .. Swami Desika hints that these blessings remind one of the experience of spring(Vasantham )after the winter of distress (life during the Pre-Prapatthi period ). The twenty first Slokam deals with one of the methods of Prapatthi known as Acharya Nishtai . This slokam flows leisurely in the Mandhaakraantha metre.

In the twenty second slokam set once again in the Vasantha Tilakam metre , the thought of the joy of spring and hope is invoked , when Swami recalls the truths revealed by Sri Ranganatha to Sri Ramanuja at the time of latter's SaranAgathi on a Panguni Uttaram day at the south-western praakaaram of Srirangam .

The twenty third and the twenty fourth slokams are set in the Maalini and the Mandhaakranthaa metres . In the twenty third verse, Swami expresses his regrets over earlier engagement in the enjoyment of fleeting worldly pleasures. In the Twenty fourth verse, he consoles his mind over the past mistakes and assures it that there is no more reason to worry at the stage of Post-Prapatthi.

From Slokams 25 to 30 , we experience the firm Vairagyam of Swami Desikan , where he states that he will not approach any mortal for favors , while Sri Ranganatha looms large as the ultimate succor and support. He also declares that he will not seek any other Gods either for favors , since it is Sri Ranganatha alone , who has the power the blessings of Moksham . He declares his unwavering intent to serve the divya Dampathis alone during the rest of his life on earth. The six slokams are set in Maalini(25), Saardhoola Vikrititham(26-28),.Nathkutakam 29 ) and Sardhoola Vikrititham(30) metres respectively.

In the thirty first verse, Swami prays for eternal service in Sri Vaikuntam to the Divya Dampathis in Sragdharaa metre. The thirty second and the final verse is set in sikariNi metre and explains the fruits of reciting Nyasa Tilakam . Swami reveals that the reciter will be blessed with the boon of serving the Divine couple in both the Vibuthis (Leela and Nitya Vibuthis) . They will be blessed with the double pleasure of serving the Divya Dampathis on this earth as well as in Parama Padham as Nitya Suris.

In the earlier two postings , the structure , organization ,poetic metres and the summary of thoughts enshrined in the master work of Swami Desikan were covered .

In this concluding piece , I will focus on the second sloka of Nyasa Tilakam that explains the significance and symbolism of the right hand of Sri Ranganatha displaying the Abhaya Mudra , a gesture that assures freedom form fear for the chetanas , who have sought refuge at his holy feet . Although the other slokas of this master piece cover significant doctrines related to Prapatthi and the post-prapatthi life of a Prapanna , this particular slokam dealing with the Abhaya hastham of the Lord of Srirangam " mesmerizes" me .

The slokam is so comforting and reassuring that each time we stand before Sri Ranganatha that we should remind ourselves about the deep meaning of this verse and the profound message it carries .

The moving second slokam of Nyasa Tilakm is as follows :


Swami prays for the protection of the right hand holding the Abhaya Mudraa.( Sriranga Bharthu : Hastha: Maam avyaath ) . Why this special attention to the right hand and the Abhaya gesture seen there ?

Swami Desikan suggests in the way of Utpreksha Alankaaram(poetic fancy) that the Abhaya Pradhaana gesture symbolizesLord's "prohibition " against repeating the act of Prapatthi since he has already assured that seeking refuge once at his lotus feet will be sufficient to receive his unfailing protection (Sakrudheva Prapannaaya Tavaasmithi cha yaachateh, Abhayam Sarva BhoothebhyO Dadhaamyetath vratham mama ) .

Swami suggests that the Abhaya Mudra appears like the Lord's command to the Prapanna to stop repeating the performance of Prapatthi . His Abhaya Mudra appears like it is saying , "Halt ,Cease doing another Prapatthi ! Enough . I will protect you for the Prapatthi that you performed already " .

Sri D. Ramaswamy Iyengar reminds us of what great Acharyas tell their disciples at the time of Prapatthi . They say : " Now that you have become a Prapanna , fix your gaze henceforth on the Abhaya Mudra of the Lord and derive comfort and solace from the way it promises protection ".

Here we are reminded by the spirit of the two halves of the Charama sloka . In the first half (Maamekam Saranam Vraja ) ,the Lord invites the Prapannas to seek refuge at his sacred feet ; in the second half , He states unequivocally ,Maa Sucha: and gives us hope and courage and says " do not grieve any more " . The messsage then is to rely on Lord's Charanaaravindham till Prapatthi and thereafter shift our focus to the Abhaya Mudra and the message it carries .

Moved by this profound message housed in this slokam ,Swami Desikan used it " in toto " as the second verse of his ManipravaaLa work Abhaya Pradhana Saara , which extolls the SaraNaagathi SaastrA aspects of Srimad RamaayaNam . Once again , Swami Desikan included this message in his Tamil work Adaikkala Patthu . Here, Swami was moved by the sight of the Abhaya Hastham of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi and said :


The Prapanna's statement during Prapatthi is " Umathu Adigalai adaihinrehn ( I seek refuge at your holy feet as my Means for Moksham ) " . The Prapanna states once ( Orukkaal Uraithavarai ) that he sought refuge under the cool shade of the Lord's lotus feet . The Lord responds with the Abahya Mudra and seems to indicate "enough , it is enough that you asked My protection once ( Amaiyum ini yenbavar pol Anjal yena karam vaitthu ) ."

This then is the message of the Abhaya Hastham of the Saranaagatha Rakshaka Kaaruneekan , Sriman NaarayaNan .

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