Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore
It is Govinda who is touted to be the holiest of the holy, the most auspicious of all that is held auspicious-
‘Pavitraanaam hi Govinda: pavitram param uchyate
Punyaanaam api punya: asou mangalaanaam cha mangalam’
He might have a thousand and more names, but the name to which He answers with pleasure is of course the Govinda naama, because it reminds Him of His sojourn with cows and Gopas and Gopis, who are extremely dear to His heart. In fact, He is pained if addressed by any other name indicating His supremacy, which is why Sri Andal beseeches Him not to be annoyed at being called such names-‘Siru per azhaittanavum seeri arulaade.’ Again, to indicate the wantlessness of the Paramatma and to explain His having attained all that He desires, it is the Govinda naama that She resorts to-‘Kurai ondrum illaada Govinda!’. Such is Andal’s fascination and infatuation with the Govinda nama, that she trains even Her parrots to continuously call out only that tirunaamam -“Koottil irundu kili eppodum Govinda!Govinda! endru azhaikkum”
The greatness and glory of the Govinda naama are such that they are capable of instantly transforming hell into heaven, says Tondaradippodi Azhwar-“poriyil vaazh narakam ellaam pul ezhundu ozhiyum andre”. Though there is no direct reference here to the Govinda nama, it is clear by inference, as Azhwar speaks earlier of the three-lettered name of the Lord-“Govinda”– which conferred liberation on even a vile and wicked knave like Kshatrabandhu-“Moondru ezhutthu udaya peraal Katthirabandhum andre paraangati kandu kondaan”. The same idea of Govinda nama being the sole panacea for all mundane ills is emphasized by Vishnu Dharmam too-
“Yadi samsaara nirvedaat abhivaanchasi sadgatim
Tat aaraadhaya Govindam”.
Further, not only does Govinda not have any “Kurai” or wants, He makes His devotees too rid of any unrequited desires-for, a single utterance of the Govinda nama is capable of conferring merits which cannot be attained even by gifting a million cows during the auspicious eclipse period, by living for ages on the banks of the sacred Ganga at Kasi and Prayag, giving off gold in mountainous quantities to the needy and performing innumerable sacrifices ordained in the Vedas.
The famous Ambareesha Chakravarthy is another votary of the Govinda nama, as would appear from his response to Indra. The Emperor tells the chief of celestials that it is natural for Devas to place hurdles in the way of those whose devotion to Govinda is steadfast, for the celestials are envious of the devotees. And why should there be such envy? Because the votaries of Govinda would definitely rid themselves of Samsara and thus place themselves beyond the power of Devas. Here is the relative slokam from Vishnu Dharmam–
‘Srooyate kila Govinde bhakti udvahataam nrinaam
Samsaaraarnava bheetaanaam tridasaa: paripanthina:’
Not withstanding any such hurdle, the Emperor expresses his resolve never to forsake the worship of Govinda, for nothing else could be more auspicious-
‘Govinda bhaktaadhikam shreyascha anyam na vidyate
Sa tvam prahara maa vaa mayi vajram Purandara!
Naaham utsrijya Govindam anyam aaraadhayaami bho:’
However, is the Govinda nama part of a potent mantra, like Narayana, Vishnu and Vasudeva, which respectively form the body of the Ashtaakshara, Shadakshara and Dvaadasaakshara mantras? Yes, the Upanishad tells us, calling it the five-lettered/worded formulation-“Govindasya pancha padam manum”. To those who meditate on the Lord and surrender to Him using this Govinda mantra prefaced by Pranavam, He shows Himself in all His splendour, we are told-“teshaam asou darsayat aatma roopam tasmaat mumukshu: abhyaset nitya shaanti:” Apart from the Govinda mantra, this holy name also forms an integral part of the MahaSudarsana mantram.
Govindan is described as a beautiful moorthi, distinct and different from other forms of Sriman Narayana. He is depicted with not one or two, but four bows in His four hands, all meant for aasrita rakshanam (protection of the devout), which sets Him apart as a Saviour par excellence. He is extraordinarily effulgent, His splendour not that of the scorching Sun, but resembling that of a thousand moons, cool, pleasant and inviting, instantly relieving us from the horrible heat of Samsara. Here is Swami Desikan’s tribute to Govindan, in his Panniru Tirunaamam-
“Govindan endrum kulir madiyaagi kodiyavarai
Evum dhanukkaludan terkkilum ul kazhutthilum
Mevum tiruvarulaal vinai teertthu enai aandu arulum
Poovan tozha atthi maa malai mel nindra punniyane”
When my ruminations drew to a close, I recollected what started off the train of thought-the habit of people uttering the Govinda nama, especially when they are cheated, looted or lose money otherwise. I realized, on second thoughts, that the habit is not as inappropriate as I originally concluded, but is indeed the losers’ call to the Lord, just like Droupati, for assistance at a time of distress, due to the involuntary realization that it is to Govinda they must appeal, at a time of anguish and pain. If the hills of Tirumala have been reverberating since time immemorial with the devotees’ call of “Govinda!”, despite Srinivasa having no apparent connection with the particular name, it speaks volumes about bhaktas’ preference for the intoxicating elixir of the Govinda nama. Thus, while scholars prefer the name for its profound purport, the proletariat prefers it for its simplicity and sweetness, making this holy name one of universal acceptance and adulation.
Here are a few slokas I found in the course of my browsing, which sit sweet on the tongue, for your perusal and pleasure-
“Namo viggyaana roopaaya paramaananda roopine
Krishnaya Gopeenaathaaya Govindaya namo nama:
Barhi peedaabhiraamaaya raamaaya aakuntta medhase
Ramaa maanasa hamsaaya Govindaya namo nama:
Kesava! klesa harana! Narayana! Janardana!
Govinda!Paramaananda!maam samuddhara Madhava!
Yata: Satyam yato Dharma: yato hree: aarjavam yata:
Tato bhavati Govinda: yata: Krishna: tato jaya:
Go koti daanam grahaneshu, Kaasi Prayaaga Gangaa krita kalpa vaasa:
Yagyaayutam Meru suvarna daanam Govinda naamnaam na kadaapi tulyam”.
Srimate SriLakshmiNrisimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya nama:
Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore