Swamy Desikan’s “VAIRAGYA PANCHAKAM”

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SRI VAIRAGYA PANCHAKAM

The Vairagya-Panchakam is the shortest hymn among the stotras of Swamy Desikan.Actually,it was not addressed to any deity.It is the rarest of the rare ones,an ode to the vitue of “Vairagya”,which is very necessary for every aspirant to spiritual advancement and ultimate liberation.

The first verse conveys Swami Desikan’s refusal to comply with the request of the Vijayanagara King,to join the court.When the King insisted Acharya,he composed these five verses giving reasons for his relunctance to change his lifestyle.These five verses extol the virtues of frugal living,contentment and vairagyam(abstinence)and these form an object to humanity to curtail its desires and thereby,acquire peace of mind.For this reason,our Purvacharyas recommend a daily chanting of this hymn during our morning prayers, to keep our minds focussed on God-realisation.

Thaniyan:

Sreemaan Venkatanathaaryahkavitaarkika-kesaree

Vedaantaacaaryavaryo me sannidhattaam sadaa hrudi//

May Sri Vedanta Desika, who is an accomplished scholar and Vedanta-preceptor and who is well-known as the great Venkatanaatha (a divine advent of the supreme Lord Srinivasa), a lion among poets and logicians, dwell in my heart forever.

Sloka.1:

 1.        Kshonee-kona-sataamsa paalana-

            Kalaadurvaara-garvaanala-

            Kshubhyat-kshudra narendra-caatu

            Racanaadhanyaan na manyaamahe/

            Devam sevitumeva niscinumahe yo’sau

            Dayaaluh puraa,

            Dhaanaamushtimuce Kucelamunaye

            Datte sma vittesataam//

            There would be some kings (kshudrakshatriyas-meanest wicked rulers) just administering a small, i.e., infinitesimal part of the vast region of Mother Earth, but full of pride and haughtiness. However, singing in praise of such kings, some people would consider themselves blessed. I would never take such people into consideration at all. But I like to worship the supreme Lord Devaadhi raja, viz. Varada. Indeed, He, long ago, as Krishna tried to snatch the small knot of parched rice tied in the torn cloth worn by Kuchela and won in his endeavour by beseeching the latter, then He enjoyed in eating parched rice and blessed Kuchela to become Kubera—Lord of riches.

Legend

Renunciation is not only virtue of the ascetics (Sanyaasi) but also the merit of householders (gruhasthas) who would strictly adhere to it showing their detachment to worldly pursuits. Among such gruhasthas, Sri Vedanta Desika shines as a foremost role-model. For, he did not approach anyone to lead his life, following the principle of Kulasekhara’s Mukundamalaa – “Yad-yad-bhavyam bhavatu bhagavan! Poorva-karmaanuroopam,”—as God proposes, so He disposes. Sri Vidyaranya was a good friend of Sri Vedanta Desika in his early life. He later became a court Pandit (Aasthaana Vidvan) of Vijayanagar kingdom. He wanted to help Sri Desika who was leading a very destitute way of life. So Vidyaranya sent a word to Sri Desika urging the latter to come to the Vijayanagara ruler from Kancheepuram. However, Sri Desika disagreed with Vidyaranya on this matter and wrote this stotra-hymn Vairagya Pancakam as a reply to his request. This anecdote is narrated in Sri Desika-Vaibhavaprakaasika and other life-stories of Sri Desika, (ii) Ruler of a small hamlet [Kshonee….sataamsa-paalana….] compare Mukundamaalaa -(28):

 ” Naathe nah …. yam kancit—purushaadhamam…atyalpadam …varaakaa vayam”

 Datte sma vittesataam:

compare:- Vishnudharma: “sakala phalapradohi Vishnuh”.

Sloka.2:

Silam kimanalam bhaved-analam audaram baadhitum,

    Payah prasruti poorakam kimu na dhaarakam saarasam/

    Ayatna-malamallakam pathipatac-caram kaccaram

    Bhajanti vibudhaa mudhaa hyahaha kukshitah kukshitah//

Are not the tiny pieces of small grains, left over on the small altars of land where the grains of paddy-fields are dried in sunshine, sufficient for you to tide over the fire of hunger in your belly? Is not palm-full of water taken from a small pond enough to save your life (from thirst)? Are not the small pieces of cotton cloth, found on the street-corners, got without much efforts, enough to be worn by you for saving your modesty? Alas! nevertheless, without saving themselves like this, even the learned people resort to wicked kings for the sake of quenching thirst (greed) for pompous living.

“silam kimanalam”—Compare:- the name of the founder of Vaiseshikas-“Kanaada” (one who eats only small grains for pacifying hunger).




3. Jvalatu jaladhikrodakreedat-krupeeda-bhavaprabhaa-

    Pratibhata-patujvaalaa-maalaakulo jatharaanalah/

    Trunamapi vayam saayam samphulla-malli-matallikaa

    Parimala-mucaa vaacaa yaacaamahe na maheesvaraan//

It is said (in some Puranas) that there is a blazing fire at the mouth of a horse[badabaa-mukhaagni] at the corner of the bowl of the ocean. Similar to such fire, let there be growing the fire of hunger in my stomach throughout day and night. I don’t bother at all. Never would I sing in praise of any king, for the sake of a blade of grass from him, with my sweet fragrant words that resemble the sweet-smelling jasmine flower blossoming during the evening.

Notes:

“Jvalatu jaladhi…. yaacaamahe na”. compare: Neetisataka “Kim jeernam trunam-atti maa-na mahataam – agresarah kesaree.” (Does the majestic Lion graze the small blade of the dry hay at any time?)

4. Dureesvara-dvaara-bahir-vitardikaa-

    Duraasikaayai racito’yam-anjalih/

    Yad-anjanaabham nirapaayam-asti me

    Dhanjayasyandana-bhooshanam dhanam //

I have just folded my hands (i.e., I have bid goodbye) to wait in agony at the gates (doors – or the front courtyards) of any arrogant haughty king; because I do possess this foremost, well known, permanent fortune the black-colour collyrium-like Lord Sri Krishna, the charioteer of Arjuna(Dhananjaya).

Notes:

Dureesvara…vitardikaa…dhanam:-

  • Compare Nyaasatilakam, 26: Maatar Bhaarati, lubdha-duraasika-paribhavaih…manah.

[Enough of waiting at the door of a miser, Oh mind!]

  • Dhanam-the supreme Lord is the great wealth – cf. Tiruvaymozhi, “vaitta maanidhiyaam Madhusoodanaiye alatri”[calling Lord Madhusoodana who is the supreme safe deposit of wealth]

5. Sareerapatanaavadhi-prabhunishevanaapaadanaad-

    Abindhana-dhananjaya-prasamadam dhanam dandhanam/

    Dhananjayavivardhanam dhanam-udoodha Govardhanam

    Susaadhanam-abaadhanam sumanasaam samaaraadhanam//

For the sake of eking our livelihood, (i.e.,) for satisfying our digestive fire, we go on gathering wealth (riches) till our body falls down, by serving one master or other; but such a wealth (money is , indeed, only in vain (waste-). However, Lord Krishna is the permanent wealth for all, for He has protected Arjuna all along; He raised Govardhana mountain by holding it aloft through His finger; He gives the most helpful hands for all of us; and He provides the upright satisfaction to all learned people and great men.

Notes

Dhanam–udoodha Govardhanam: compare:- Periyaazhvaar Tirumozhi, Attukkuvi sotrup-paruppadamum.. Govardhanamennum kotrak-kudaiye (The Lord, Sri Krishna held aloft the Govardhana hill by His palm).

6. Naasti pitraarjitam kincit Na mayaa kincid-aarjitam/

    Asti me Hastisailaagre Vastu paitaamaham dhanam//

Neither do I have any father’s inheritance;nor have I earned any money. However I do possess my grand-sire’s [Brahma’s) hard-earned property (wealth)i.e. the supreme Lord Perarulaalan-Devaadhiraaja,at the top of the Elephant-hill.

Commentary by:Prof.V.K.S.N.Raghavan

Courtesy:Sri Vedanta Desika Research Centre,Villivakkam,Chennai-49.

Notes:

To cite a reference from Sri U.Ve. Sreevatsankarcharya Swami’s Tamil gloss:-

Vastu—immovable property.

Arcaavatara-i.e., with regard to paternal grand-father’s property, the grand son has full-legal right.

“Vastu Paitaamaham dhanam”—Compare Sreevatsaankaacharya’s Tamil Commentary on Vairaagyapanchakam (p.142) quoting Sri Desika’s grandfather Sri Pundareekaakshasoori’s sloka, viz.,

Maayaavadi matasthaasca mahaarogena peeditaah/

manche sayaanaa drusyante kinca bhaishajakaankshinah// (Satadooshanee-7thVaada)

Kavitaarkika-simhaaya kalyaana guna saaline/

Srimate Venkatesaaya Vedantagurave namah//

Salutations to Sri Vedanta Desika, the Lion among poets and logicians, full of auspicious merits, the preceptor of Ubhaya Vedanta and who is known as Sri Venkatesa.

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