Article by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore
There are looks that heal, looks that wither and looks that even kill. There are looks of anger, of compassion, of love and of laughter. Lovers often long for a look of endearment from their beloved. Such a look or the absence of it can make or mar the day of an ardent suitor.
It is said that Sri DhanurdAsa, before he became a devoted disciple of Sri Ramanuja, was extremely enamoured of a loving look from his paramour PonnAcchi. It was only after Sri Ramanjua introduced him to the incomparable delights of a glance from Sri Ranganatha’s bewitching eyes that he realised that the Lord’s look is more captivating than any other.
Emperuman’s look or His “KatAksham” destroys all evil and bestows all that is auspicious: this is brought out by the Tiruppavai lines “angaN irandum kondu engaL mEl nOkkudiyEl engaL mEl sApam izhindElOr empAvAi”.
It is significant that Sri Andal likens the Lord’s eyes to the Sun and the Moon (“tingaLum Adityanum ezhundAr pOl”).
It is a fact of nature that the Sun and the Moon are never seen together in the skies, as they reign over the day and night respectively. However, in the case of the Lord, it appears as though they are present simultaneously, as one eye, resembling the Sun, shines out brightly to destroy all sin in the minds of the devotees, while the other eye, cool and pleasing as the moon, brings them ever-lasting happiness and restfulness.
When Sri Andal compares the Lord’s look to the glittering Sun, She obviously has in mind the Purusha Sukta vAkya ?ChakshO: SuryO ajayata? ascribing the Sun’s origins to the Lord’s eyes.
The Lord’s look not only destroys evil, but also instils in the devotee all the auspicious attributes essential in an aspirant to Liberation. Once Emperuman’s kataksham falls on a bhakta even at birth, it turns him into a SAtvika, a repository of all that is good and an antithesis to all that is not. Sri Mahabharata (ShAnti Parva) bears testimony to this;
“JayamAnam hi purusham yam pasyet MadhusUdhana:
SAtvika: sa tu vigyEya: sa vai MokshArttha chintaka:”
On the other hand, if one comes under the sway and look of other dEvatAs at birth, he becomes susceptible to RAjasic or Tamasic influences.
“PasyatEnam jAyamAnam brahma rudro atava puna:
RajasA tamasA chAsya mAnasam samabhiplutam”-
Sri Tondaradippodi Azhwar cries out for a look of vAtsalyam from Aranganagarappan-
“Mazhaikku andru varai mun Endum maindanE madhura ArE
uzhaikkandrE pOla nOkkam udayavar valayuL pattu
uzhaikkindrErkku ennai nOkkadu ozhivadE
unnai andrO azhaikkindrEn Adimoorti ArangamAnagaruLAnE”
Says Azhwar- “Sri Ranganatha! You know full well that I have fallen a slave to ephemeral pleasures and am ensnared by females with mercenary intent. Even so, is it fair for You to deny me a look of compassion from Your lotus eyes? All the world knows that for protecting cows, calves and cowherds, You undertook the arduous task of holding up with Your little finger the mighty Govardhana Giri for seven days, amidst raging storm and pelting rain. My requirement is nowhere as demanding or troublesome- I just want a glance from your eyes. Even if your look were to be one of contempt for my present travails, I wouldn?t mind, as long as You do look at me! You know too that like GajEndra of yore, I have no one else to turn to for succour. So I beseech You- do look at me!”
Even a fleeting glance from the Lord’s bewitching lotus eyes can enslave one for life. The scholarly Rishis of the SvEtadveepa are no more proof to His irresistible charm than the unlettered Gopis of NandagOkulam, and gladly concede defeat:
(“Oh Lord of the lotus eyes! Despite ourselves, we have been won over by You!”). Sri Nammazhwar echoes this in Tiruvaimozhi-“ThOtrOm mada nenjam Emperuman NAraNarku”.
“Tvat eekshaNa sudha sindhu veechi vikshEpa seekarai:
KaruNya mAruta Aneetai: seetalai: abhishincha mAm”
Prays Sri Tirukkacchi Nambi, beseeching Sri Varadaraja to drench him (Nambi) with the nectarine waves of His looks, made cooler by the winds of compassion blowing constantly in His presence.
Sri Ramanuja, prompted by boundless devotion brimming over, and unable to bear the Lord’s separation, wonders in the Sri Vaikunta Gadyam- ?When will I reach Sri Vaikuntam and be the object of the Lord’s look of love and compassion!”
“KadA mAm BhagavAn svakeeyayA atiseetalaya drisA mAm avalOkya”.
We have seen so far the high pedestal on which those who are the object of the Lord’s glances are placed. At the other end of the spectrum are those who are not so fortunate. Sri Valmiki says that such people, whom Sri Rama did not make the subject of His sacred look, and those who were not fortunate enough to have a glance at the Prince of Ayodhya, were universally detested, and were unable to live with themselves: “Yascha Ramam na pasyEt tu yancha RamO na pasyati nindita: sa vasEt lOke svAtmapi Enam vigarhatE”. However high a person’s social status, and however blessed he is otherwise, if Sri Rama does not see him at least once in his life, his entire sojourn on this earth would be a waste, and he need not have been born at all. Similar is the fate of a person who is not blessed enough to see Sri DAsarati’s divya mangala vigraha at least once.
If the Lord’s looks are so uplifting, what about those of His Consort? But for Sri Mahalakshmi’s looks of compassion, the Universe would never have been created and countless jeevAtmAs would have lost the opportunity for liberation, says Sri Alavandar-
“eeshat tvat karuNA nireekshaNa sudha sandhukshaNat
rakshyatE, nashtam prAk tat alAbhata:tribhuvanam sampratyanantOdayam”
Swami Desikan voices the same feelings in a different fashion. After pralayam or the cosmic wind -down, Jeevatmas, in their sublime state, are inextricably mixed up with inanimate souls. Sri Daya Devi, casting a glance of compassion at these inert souls, is filled with sorrow at their plight, and initiates the process of Creation, so that the unfortunate souls, shackled by karma, could take birth and attempt redemption. Here is the beautiful sloka from Sri Daya Satakam-
“achit avisishtAn pralayE jantoon avalOkya jAta nirvEda
karaNa kaLEbara yOgam vitarasi VrishasailanAthaKaruNE tvam”
Sri KoorattAzhwan shares a secret with us in his SriStavam-All of us are under the impression that Emperuman is an independent agent and performs His jobs of Creation, Protection and Destruction of His own volition. Not so, says Sri Azhwan. It is from Piratti’s dictates, conveyed through Her captivating glances out of the corner of Her eyes, that the Lord takes the cue for going about His onerous tasks. Whichever way Piratti turns, and whichever place Her beatific glances fall on, riches of all kinds compete with one another to fill that place. Says Swami Desikan in Sristuti-
“yasyAm yasyAm disi viharatE Devi! drishti: tvadeeyA:
tasyAm tasyAm aham ahamikAm tanvatE sampadOghA:”
However, there are looks from another source, which are more purifying and uplifting than Bhagavat KatAksham and LakshmI KatAksham. “Could such a thing be possible?? adiyen hears you wonder. Yes it is, and it is none other than Acharya KatAksham or BhAgavata katAksham. The moment the Acharya’s benign glances, full of love and compassion, fall upon a person, the recipient’s whole life changes for the better. Acharya bhakti leads to devotion to the Lord, and in stages, culminates in liberation through an appropriate upAya, as shown by the Acharya.
As adiyen can feel the bhAgavatAs’ looks of exasperation at the length of this piece boring through me, adiyen shall conclude here with apologies.
Article by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore