Sunday, January 06, 2013

ఆముక్త మాల్యద: గోదాకళ్యాణము

A small joke before we dive into the real stuff: This was told by my math professor back in the day. While he was a graduate student at Caltech, the first part of a course ran during the winter semester (Jan to May) - then there was the summer break of about 3 months. The second part of the course continued in the fall semester, starting in late August. Their professor entered the class on the first day, and started, "Continuing from where we left off in the last lecture, ..."
Following in his tradition, I will pick up where I left off in my last post (from more than 3 years ago) :)

After narrating the story of Mangala Kaisiki to Sri Vishnuchitta, the Lord of Srivillibuttur, in his great compassion, consoled his devotee that the peculiar troubles being experienced by his daughter Sri Goda are caused only by her separation from her Lord, not by anything else. The Lord then instructed Vishnuchitta to offer Goda in marriage to Lord Sri Ranganatha without further delay.

Vishnuchitta took this advice as divine command, seated Goda in a golden palanquin, assembled his family and attendants and set off for Srirangam.

మ. చని కాంచె న్విరజాభిధాంతర వపుస్సహ్యోద్భవాతీర నం
దనవాటీ వలయద్రుమావళి దళాంతర్దృశ్య పాపాళి భం
జన చాంపేయసుమాయమాన విషమ స్వర్ణావృతివ్రాత ర
శ్మి నభస్ స్పృక్ఛిఖరాళి దీపకళికా శృంగంబు శ్రీరంగమున్.

Vishnuchitta saw the majestic town of Srirangam. No, not even town - he basically saw the majestic golden Gopurams - they are seven in number. A very fascinating phrase in this lengthy description is పాపాళి భంజన చాంపేయసుమాయమాన - paapaali bhanjana champeya sumaayamaana.
How are these gopurams? They are like the Champeya flowers (సంపెంగ పూలు) that vanquish the black bees of sins! Sins are black, like black bees, they swarm around you, they sting you - they won't let you go. Then you come into the presence of a Sampenga flowers - the powerful aroma of the flowers drives the bees away. Normally, other aromatic flowers attract the bees - the attraction between flower and the bee is a constantly recurring metaphor in Telugu classical poetry. However, in this particular case, the flower is driving the bees away. Similarly, the sight of these golden gopurams drives away the sins of the pilgrims.

The next fascinating phrase is స్వర్ణావృతివ్రాత రశ్మి నభస్ స్పృక్ శిఖరాళి దీపకళికా శృంగంబు - svarnaavrithi vraatha rasmi nabhas sprik sikharaali deepakalikaa srungambu. The golden radiance from the gopuram top seems to be touching the sky; those tops are like so many lamp flames. The sampenga flower looks a bit like lamp flame, and so do the tops of these gopurams. The beauty in this expression is how the poet neatly ties together the common aspect of the three different objects - the gopuram, the champeya flower and the lamp flame; in the process, intensifies the devotional fervor of the devotee who came to witness such a majestic sight. The feeling experienced by the devotee is so intense that everything else simply falls away.

I am sure the literati among the readers have already spotted the similarity of this poem to the famous one from Manu Charitra. Interestingly enough, there is yet another similar poem earlier in this chapter of Amukta Malyada itself, recounted here (కాంచె న్వైష్ణవుడు). The Manu Charitra poem was also recounted there in that link in the comments section.
Even today, the first vision of the Srirangam temple gopurams is quite breathtaking.

Upon arriving there, Vishnuchitta performed the prescribed purifying ablutions, offered the appropriate prayers and worship to Sriranganatha's various attendants such as Jaya, Vijaya, Sudarsana, Garuda and Vishvaksena. He then entered the holy sanctum and beheld the glorious form of the reclining Lord.

Here, Srikrishna Devaraya described the visual glory of the Lord in a long vachana (prose) piece that runs two and a half pages in print, in deeply devotional, utterly tantalizing, and fittingly glorious detail.

Vishnuchitta, upon encountering the glorious Lord, prostrated on the ground and praised him thus:

తే. విధిగృహాక్షయవిత్త సేవధికి శరణు
చిరకృతేక్ష్వాకు పుణ్యరాశికిని బ్రణుతి
ధనపతి భ్రాతృకుల దేవతకు జోహారు
నత మృడాదిక సుమనస్సునకు నమస్సు.

I take refuge in the Lord who is the repository of inexhaustible wealth in Brahma's abode.
I salute the Lord who is the aim of all good deeds done by King Ikshvaku.
I praise the Lord who is the family deity of Vibhishana, brother of Kubera.
I salute the Lord who is Lord to various gods like Siva et al.

తే. అజ శివాదిక మగు నీ సమస్త జగము
నెందు బ్రభవించు వర్తించు డిందునట్టి
మహిమ కిమ్మైన నిత్యు సమస్త భూత
మయు బరుల కంటె బరు మహామహుని గొలుతు.

You are that unchanging one who is the source of the magic by which this whole creation, including Brahma and Siva, is being created, sustained and destroyed. You are the embodiment of all elements (all living things), and yet you are distinct from any thing in this creation. I serve you.

సీ. పరపురుషునికంటె బరుడు నా జనువాని, బరమాత్ము ముక్తికై పరమయోగి
పరిషత్తుచే సదా భావింపబడువాని, నెవ్వని యందు బ్రాకృతములైన
సత్త్వాది గుణముల సందడి లేదట్టి విమలుని, సర్వభూతముల కంటె
నాద్యుడు శుద్ధుండు నగువాని, విభుగళాకాష్ఠానిమేషాది కాలసూత్ర
తే. మయిన యెవ్వాని శక్తి యింద్రియ వితతికి
గోచరముగాదొ నిర్లేపుడై చెలగుట
నతి విశుద్ధుడు దానయ్యు నౌపచార
వృత్తి బరమేశుడగు నిన్ను విష్ణు దలతు.

You are distinct from any man. You are the Paramatma. The association of great yogis meditates on you constantly to achieve liberation. The three gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas - that are born from creation, can not stir anything in you, you are without flaw. You precede all elements. You are pure and all pervading. You are the thread of time marking units like kala, kashtha and nimisha. Your power is not perceived by the five senses. Since you are untouchable, you remain absolutely pure. However, you manifest as the Lord so that we can worship you. Oh Vishnu, I meditate on you.

The poet distills in this poem the nature of the Supreme Being as Sriranganatha, with ideas excerpted from Vishnu Sahasranama, the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. Para here indicates creation, srushti. Para purusha is a man that is born from the creation, whether be a human, or god or demigod. The poetic intent here is to show that, though the Lord is in a masculine form, he is separate and distinct from the creation. That is to say, he is Svayambhu, exists by himself, and not part of the creation. Each being born of creation is animated by the three gunas. The Lord by his very nature is beyond creation, and therefore the three gunas can not bother him. Kala, Kaashtha and Nimisha are units of time, of decreasing duration. Sri Krishna, in Bhagavad Gita, declares himself as kaalapurusha, as embodiment of time, witnessing the rise and fall of multiple creations, and not subject to such vagaries himself. The Lord is essentially formless, but in his compassion, to give a chance to his devotees (or pleased by their devotions), he manifests in various forms so that the devotees may worship him.

Sri Ranganatha was pleased by the various devotions offered by Vishnuchitta and regarded him with benevolent gaze, and inquired after his welfare. Meanwhile, Goda was offering various flowers, with her bracelets jingling, to the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord viewed her with suggestive glances. Noticing her
youth, beauty and grace, he thought to himself thus:

సీ. దీని చూపెదురెక్క గానెకా సిరిపట్టికిని బోర బిరుదు టెక్కెంబు గలిగె
దీనికౌ నల్లాడ గానెకా గర్వించి యుర్విజైత్రునకు గాలూదగలిగె
దీని పాలిండ్లుబ్బ గానెకా రతిచేతి కిన్నెర మ్రోతకు వన్నె గలిగె
దీని మోమొప్పార గానెకా వాణి రాయంచ లేమకు గులాయంబు గలిగె
తే. దీని పెన్నెరు లేపార గానెకా ప్ర
పోషిత మయూరికి విరాళి పొందు గలిగె
దీని యడుగులు రంజిల్ల గానెకా పి
పాస బడు తేటులకు మెట్ట పంట గలిగె.

1) Just because her glances rose up, Manmatha got his proud flag on his chariot. 2) Just because her waist sways gracefully, Vasantha is able to proudly set foot on earth. 3) As her breasts blossomed, the sound of Rathi's veena acquired new glow. 4) When her face shone with youth, Saraswathi's swan found a place to stay. 5) As her long hair acquired thickness, the pet peacock discovered joy of love. 6) Just because her feet blossomed, the thirsty bees got a feast of lotus flowers.

The above is just literal rendition of the poem. But the real meaning is hidden and multi layered. In the bhakti literary tradition, Sri Vishnu is visualized as Purushottama (The ultimate male). Moreover, he is the father of Manmatha, the love god. In addition, in this particular case, he is fully captivated by the beauty and devotion of Goda. So, the inner thoughts of the Lord are not only heavily laden with Sringara bhava, but are also expressed in highly imaginative terms.

1) She is meenakshi; her eyes are like fish. And Manmatha's war flag symbol is also fish. So, when the lady's glances are fluttering, it is like the fluttering of Manmatha's flag. That means that Manmatha has declared war (on his own father).
2) Her waist is slender like a flowering creeper. Vasantha, the god of spring, announces his arrival on earth with the swaying and burgeoning of creepers. Without creepers, his existence will be unknown. Now that Vasantha is here, his presence is being felt, it is the season of spring and it is the season of love.
3) Kinnera is the lute (veena) and it has a globe like ornament called kinnera kaya. It is a poetic device in classical poetry to compare full breasts of the heroine to these globular decorations on the veena. In this case, the lute is held by none other than Rathi, the wife of Manmatha and the goddess of love.
4) Saraswathi, the goddess of learning has a swan for her vehicle. It is well known that swans dwell in Manasarovar amidst the blossoming lotus flowers. Goda's face is like a blossoming lotus, thus giving a home to the swan.
5) The peacock is attracted by rain-laden dark cloud and does its dance. Goda's long and thick hair is like a dark cloud so that it brought the feeling of joy to the pet peacock.
6) Goda's feet are also like lotus flowers so that the thirsty bees find a feast.

Each of the six comparisons employs a well-established poetic device to draw attention to different aspects of Goda's beauty. However, the actual comparison is couched in indirect reference and innuendo. Apparently, this kind of device is called vishayinigarana alankaram (the art of swallowing the subject).

As the poet, Sri Krishnadevaraya played a rather naughty joke in juxtaposing these last two poems. No sooner did Vishnuchitta praised the Lord as permanent, pure and free of passions than the Lord was wracked by thoughts of love.