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Oppiliappan List Archive: Message 00098 Nov 2003

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SrImathE Nigamantha Mahadesikaya namah:
SrImAn venkatanAthAryaH kavitArkika kesarI |
vedAntAcArya-varyo me sannidhattAm sadA hRdi ||

May the glorious Venkatanatha, the greatest of teachers of Vedanta, and the 
lion among poets and debaters, reside forever in my heart.

Dearest Srivaishnavas,
Let us continue to enjoy the sthOthra granthas of Swamy Desikan [in 
alphabetical order]
Vairaagya-Pancakam -The five on detachment

The Vairaagya-pancaka consists of five slokas with a sixth as a complement. 
This is not mainly a hymn on devotion to any particular deity, and so it the 
fragrance of devotion to Sri Krishna in an indirect way and also shows the 
preference of Sei Desika for a simple and contented life devoid of all pomp 
and glamour.

    There is a historical touch about this stotra. According to tradition 
Sage Vidyaaranya, the well-known Acharya of the Advaita School lived in the 
latter half of the 13th Century and the earlier half of the 14th Century. He 
was the court-pandit of the King of Vijayanagar and had great influence over 
the King. He was a contemporary of Sri Vedanta Desika and a good friend who 
knew his deep scholarship and amiable qualities. He heard that Sri Desika 
was a very popular Acharya at Kanchi and many disciples studied under him, 
but he chose to lead a simple and contented life almost bordering on poverty 
and discomfort. Vidyaaranya wanted to help Sri Desika and sent a messenger 
with a request that he should come to Vijayanagar and kindly accept an 
assignment in the royal court.

   Acarya Sri Desika expressed his gratefulness to Vidyaranya for his kind 
offer and sent an epistle through the messenger containing six slokas which 
now goes by the name of Vairaagya Pancaka, which acts as a proof to the 
correctness of the epithet which describes Sri Desika as 
?Jnaana-vairaagya-bhooshana? he who has depth of knowledge and the spirit of 
non-attachment as an adorning jewel.

    We shall give in brief the substance of two or three slokas. Sri Desika 

    We do not consider those persons as blessed who spend their life 
flattering petty chiefs of small states ; we have resolved to serve and 
worship that God of Mercy(Sri Krishna), who bestowed the state of the 
wealthy Kubera on the poor Kushela who offered just a handful of pounded 
fried rice(aval) as a gift(1).

    We are perfectly satisfied with food-grains voluntarily offered in our 
pot as we go along the streets singing the glory of Bhagavan, contented with 
handfuls of water within easy reach, and with rotten pieces of cloth lying 
on the road-side to cover our nakedness(2).

   We do not extend our hands before the naughty rich since we have the 
great Treasure that adorned the chariot of Arjuna in the Kurukshetra 

    Sri Desika rises high in our estimate, when he concludes with the crisp 
sixth sloka-, Nothing has been earned (and left) by my father (for me to 
inherit); nor have I earned anything. But I have inexhaustible treasure on 
the top of Hastigiri(Kanchi, Elephant Hill) bequeathed for me by my 
grandfather (Pitaamaha, which refers to Brahma here).

   In sloka five, there is a play on the word ?dhana?(wealth) which occurs 
eleven times. There is not the fault of tautology, but it has different 
meanings when taken with the proceeding or succeeding syllable or word. It 
shows the great knowledge of Sri Desika of the Sanskrit vocabulary and 
proficiency in their use. It is a marvellous performance which charms by its 
sound the ears, and the mind by noble thoughts.

[from the book - Life and works of Sri Nigamantha Mahadesikan- by Prof Sri A 

I personally relish the sloka in this sthOthra
sareera padhanaavathi prabhunishEvaNA paadhanAth
abindhana dhananjaya prasamadham dhanam dhandhanam
dhananjaya vimardhanam dhanamudhooda govardhanam
susAdhanam apAdhanam sumanasaam samArAdhanam

what a wonderful verse! Swamy played with the word dhanam 11 times in 
different meanings and context...

Sri Lakshmi Narasimhan also shared with me the following anubhavam of his on 
this sthOthra:

This sthOthra has Swamy Deshikan's unique way of expression - the unique 
'padaprayogam' - the play with words. Of course shabdalankaaram exists & 
reaches its pinnacle in the penultimate sloka [as above].

But the most beautiful expression is in the first sloka " .... Dhaanaa 
mushti muchey kuchela munaye dattesma vitteshataam". The word "Dhaanaa" is 
greater than "Dhana".  If you remove the dheergham of dhaana u get dhana.

Dhaana, the beaten rice (Aval in tamil)) - offered with love by kuchela to 
the Lord - led the Bhagawaan almost offering himself to kuchela.

Lakshmi Narasimha dasan

Swamy Desikan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Namo narayana
kavi-tArkika-simhAya kalyANa-guNa-SAline |
Srimate venkateSAya vedAntagurave namaH ||

Salutations to Sri Venkatesa, in whom all perfections reside, who is the 
teacher of Vedanta and the lion among poets and debaters

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