Sri Dasavathara Stothram – 1





May Lord RanganAthan, who has taken the ten roles as an actor on the stage of Srirangam whose role playing is enjoyed by the connoisseurs of His dhivya dEsam shower all MangaLams on us all ! His divine consort, Sri RanganAyaki, takes on the roles befitting the individual vibhava avathArams of Her Lord and follows the dharmams in tune with that of Her Lord and enacts her chosen roles. The key words in this slOkam are: “(Ya:) Deva: daSavidhA bhUmikAm nirvarthayan, RangE dhAmani dharmiNee (saha) viharathE, (Sa) Deva: na: SubhamAathanOthu”. The prayer is: May that DevAthi- Devan, Sri RanganAthan, who has taken the ten avathArams at His Supreme abode in Sri Rangam with His Devi in anuroopams, grow further our Jn~Ana roopa KshEmam!



The frequently recited slOkam salutes the glories of JanArdhana- RanganAthan taking on the ten avathArams:

Mathsya KoormO Varahasccha Naarasimhasccha Vaamana:
RaamO Raamasccha Raamasccha KrishNa: Kalki Janardhana:

Here the salutations are to JanArdhanan, who incarnated as Fish, Tortoise, Man- Lion, Dwarf, ParasurAman, DasaraTa Raaman, BalarAman, KrishNan and Kalki. Salutations to JanArdhana RanganAthan are very appropriate. JanArdhanan is the ArchA Moorthy at an ancient temple by the sea side in Kerala. RanganAthan is the presiding ancient PerumAL, who is resting in an island formed by the two rivers at Srirangam. The ardha sabdham in JanArdhananhas three meanings (Please refer to the 961st SlOkam of Sri RanganAtha PaadhukA Sahasram). The three meanings are: (1) Ardha PeeDyan: One who engages the Janams in SamsAric struggle (2) Artha gathou anugrahithavAn: One who directs the Janams to perform their karmAs as antharyAmi and (3) ardhaa yaachantE: One who is approached by Janams for all kinds of boons including Moksha sukham. This is the essence of JanArdhana RanganAtha Tatthvam Played out in the ten forms of Sri RanganAthan, the divine actor with His anuroopa NaDee (actress in the form befitting His avathAram: SeethA in RaamAvathAram and as RukmiNi in KrishNaavathAram).


The enjoyment of RasikAs (Bhagavatha-Bhaktha Janams) assembled before the stage of Srirangam to witness the Naadakam of the divine actor and His sahadharmachAriNi is referred to here. RasikAs or Connoisseurs are saluted as the blessed BhaavukAs. These rasikAs have attained yOgyathai (Fitness) to enjoy this scene through their AchAram, anushtAnam and VairAgyam (nirbhara rasa:). They enjoy the Divine couple performing their acts on the stage of Srirangam and salute them (adhyakshitha:). They have reached a stage of “PrAptha ParipoorNa Aanandham”. Their state is described by the Sruthi Vaakyam: “RasO vai sa: RasamhyEvAyam labdhvA Aanandhee bhavathy”. The reference is to the bliss of Muktha Jeevams (Mukthaiswaryam of ParipoorNa BrahmAnandham).


“Yaa NaayikA PruTak vidhEshu Yath BhAvEshu anuguNAn bhAvAn svayam
Bibrathee, yath Dharmai: DharmiNee (aTa yEva) nAnAkruthi: iha viharathE” are the words chosen by Swamy Desikan in this first slOkam to describe the role of Sri RanganAyaki in Her Lord’s ten avathArams. “PurushakAra SrI Saannidhyam” is invoked here. They are never separated. She will be there, wherever He is and whatever role He plays. Even in VaamanAvathAram as BrahmachAri, She was under the deer skin attached to the sacred thread of the Lord. This is a manifestation of “the anuroopa bhAvikA” (tahuntha vEsham as the actress/wife of the actor/Lord in the drama). Her multiple manifestations are saluted by the statement: “RaaghavathvE abhavath SeethA, RukmiNee Krishna Janmani”. In RaamAvathAram, She became SeethA to accompany Her Lord and in KrishNAvathAram, She incarnated as RukmiNee. In Her LeelA VIbhUthi, She is present as Sri RanganAyaki out of Her Aasritha Vaathsalyam and inseparability from Her Lord. They are a perfectly well matched couple as the NaDan (actor) and Nadee (actrees) in the Naatakam where they take on the ten roles (ten Roopams: DaSathA BhUmikA:).


Their main dharmam is “SaraNAgatha RakshaNa dharmam”. For practising their dharma, they take on many matching roopams and enjoy the LeelA rasams in their LeelA VibhUthi. They display Soulabhyam (ease of access), Parathvam (Status of Supreme Being), KaaruNyam (in the case of AparAdhis), PurushakAram and Bhagavath kOpa Samakthvam (intercession with Her Lord on behalf of erring chEtanams and quenching the anger of Her Lord), Puthra Vaathsalyam. Sri Anbil GopAlAcchAr Swamy points out that these ten avathArams are for the benefit of the chEtanams to get closer to the dhivya dampathis (Sakala Manuja VishayeekaraNam). Through enjoying their avathArams and their leelAs, One experiences tanmayathvam / “tanmayathvam rasEshu” (labdha Nirbhara Rasai: bhAvukai:).The rasikAs eyes are filled with tears (AahlAdha seetha nEthrAmbhu:) and their hair stands on end (PuLakeekrutha gAthram).Tanmayathvam (total immersion) in Bhagavath anubhavam follows.

The two aspects of Dharmam of the dhivya Dampathis are also “Dharma SamsTApanam” and “Saadhu RakshaNam and Dushta Nigraham”. This Naatakam is seen in all the ten avathArams. The six doctrines (rahasyams) linked to the avathArams are elaborated in Bhagavath GitA by GeethAchAryan Himself. These avathArams therefore are “Bhuvana hithakaram and Jagath RakshaNam”. He enjoys them too with His dear consort. He becomes with in the reach of the eyes of all chEtanams (Sakala manuja vishayathAm gatha:). achEtanams are also blessed as described in Srimath RaamAyaNam, where all chEtanams and achEtanams are blessed to ascend to a special lOkam dear to Him as a direct result of being part of AyOdhyA. He takes on with His divine consort many vEshams for the express purpose of blessing the beings of the worlds that He has created (Sailooshavath vividha vEsha Parigruham/taking on many roles as an actor on the stage). During Their avathArams, the divine couple can be approached by anyone.

The first slOkam provides the introduction to the DasAvathAra SthOthram. Dr. V.N.VedAntha Desikan Sums up the unique role of Sri RanganAyaki in these ten
avathArams of the Lord this way:

“May the Lord, who ever indulges in enlivening sports, grant us all auspiciousness — who adopted the ten forms, who resides in the abode called Ranga, a veritable stage for play enactment, where discerning connoisseurs witness His drama with perfect relish? His consort — a perfect equal in the Lord’s actions and world managing responsibilities, a singularly equal wife to Him — takes equivalent forms of different nature in each role of His ( in each avatAra, so to say), and enjoys the sport with such qualities as equal to His ; a varying role for Her too!”.

Commentary by: Sri Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan

to be continued…

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