Friday, July 14, 2017

Yadhavabhyudhaya of VedantaDesika-A perusal Part1

Courtesy:Smt.Saroja Ramanujam

Yadhavabhyudhaya of VedantaDesika-A perusal Part1




      Yadhavaabhyadhaya is the story of Krishnaavathaara retold by VedantaDesika with a beautiful poetic flavor steeped in bhakthi.

      Desika has written devotional hymns on all the  archaavathaaras the deities of all the vaishnavite shrines but none of the forms of Lord Narayana  seems to be so dear to him as His incarnation as Krishna. Gopalavimsati, twenty verses in praise of Krishna is the most exquisite work exuding charm and beauty. Yadhavaabhyudhaya is an epic which seems to be an elongated version of Gopalavimsati as it elaborates on the subtle references to the exploits of Krishna therein but it is rich in poetic skill and intellectual excellence. The most significant fact which points out to the link between the two works is that the opening verse of both the works is the same. The greatness of Yadhavaabhyudhaya can be understood by the fact that the commentator of the work is none other than Appayya Dikshitha, the well known exponent of Advaita Vedanta.  In this page an endeavor will be made to present this great work in such a way that all can enjoy its richness and beauty, which has been made known only to Sanskrit scholars so far.

First chapter - Prologue


      Vedantadesika starts his epic with the mangalasloka

`    'vande  brindavanacharam vallaveejanavallabham;

      jayanteesambhavam dhaama vyjayantheevibhooshanam.' 

      This verse is rich in meaning and brings out fully the glory of Krishna. It means, Salutations to Him, who was born on Krishnaashtami, who used to inhabit the Brindavan, adorned with the garland of forest flowers, self effulgent and loved by gopis. The four adjectives given to the Lord, namely, 

      brindavanacharam,  the one who roams around in Brindavan,

      vallveejanavallabham, the beloved of the gopis,

      jayantheesambhavam, born on the day of His avatar,

      vyjayantheevibhooshanam, adorned by  the forest flowers are rich in meaning as they denote His vathsaltya,  souseelya,soulbhya and svamithva.

His Vaathsalya, love towards His dependents is indicated by Brindhaavanacharam, which is like that of a cow towards its calf. Brindha denotes His devotees, for whose protection, avanaaya, He moves about, charathi. This dispels the fear in the heart of His  punishment for the wrong deeds one has committed, svaaparaadha bhaya nivarthakam. Appayya dikshitha, in his commentary says that He, who was dhandakaaranyachara, walked in the dhandaka forest for the protection of the rishis became brindhaavanachara, for the protection of the cows, in Krishnaavathaara true to His  promise later,

`     'parithraanaaya saadhoonaam  vinaasaaya cha dushkrthaam, 
dharma samsthaapanaarthaaya samhavaami yuge yuge',

      I manifest myself in each epoch in order to protect the good and to punish the wicked.' The cows represent the good who resort to the Lord for their welfare. Sentiment, rasa, exhibited by this epithet is adbhutha, wonder  that the lord assumes  the form of a cowherd and showers His love to one and all, man, bird and beast. The same vathsalya  as He has shown towards Prahladha so that  Hiranya kasipyu could not harm  even a hair  on his body, towards Jatayu in Ramaavathaara and towards all His dependents in Krishnaavathaara which made Him  even to wash and feed the horses during the Mahabhaaratha war

Valavee jana vallabham, the beloved of the gopis, is the epithet chosen for the purpose of indicating His Souseelyam, benevolence. Souseelyam is defined as `mahathah mandhaihi saha neerandhra samslesha svabhaavah, the close friendship shown by the great towards the humble folk. This quality of the Lord dispels the fear that He is beyond comprehension. Appayya dikshitha says that the fact that He who enjoys  the uninterrupted union with Mahakakshmi was also able to enjoy the company of the simple cowherd girls is the proof of His souseelya.  The term Vallavijana is used to denote their nomad existence as valla means movement. The sentiment expressed here 
is sringara.

Desika uses the epithet Jayanthee sambhavam to denote the soulabhya of the Lord, in taking birth in the yadhavakula, which removes the fear that the Lord is unapproachable. Soulabhyam is labhdhum susakathvam, easy accessibility. The significance of the word jayanthee sambhava  instead of  Devakisambhava  implies that the Lord manifested Himself as Krishna and was not born, according to His words `sambhavaami yuge yuge' and `yadha yadha hi dharmasya glaanirbhavathi -------thadhaathmaanam srjamyaham.' Jayanthi also means jayam thanothi, victorious in the vinaasa of dushkrtha, indicative of virarasa. It is interesting to observe here that the 
words jayanthi and janmaashtami are used only to mark  Krishnajayanthi, 'janmaashtami avathaara dhinasya jayantheethi  vyavahaarah'  and  all  the others  are mentioned as  Ramanavami  Nrsimhajayanthi and so on.

Dhaamavyjayantheevibhooshanam relates to the svaamithva, overlordship. Dhaama means the self effulgent nature and vyjayayanthi which normally means garland of forest flowers also implies bhoothathanmaathra adhishtaana devatha the divinity behind the elements. The vanamaala here is the maya of the Lord which He 
wears like a garland in His manifestations this indicates that Krishna is the Parabrahman who is the cause of this universe created out of His own Maya. The Paravasudeva is referred to by this epithet.

For a literary work there are four aspects that have to be specified at the outsetFirst is the grantha the mention of the work itself.

      Secondly the subject matter, vishaya,

      Third is the adhikaari, to whom the work is intended, and

       Lastly the phala or prayojana, the benefit that will accrue by the study of the grantha. Here by the four adjectives given to the Lord in the sloka refer to the above mentioned four requisites of a kavya.

The grantha is Yadhavaabhyudhaya, the glory of Yadhava, Krishna. This is indicated by brindhaavanacharam, the inhabitant of brindhaavan, Krishna. 

      The vishaya is the story of Krishna denoted by jayantheesambhavam, born on Janmaashtami.

      Adhikaari is the one who has love for the Lord. This is shown by the word vallavee jana  vallabham.

       Lastly the phala, fruit of hearing the story of the Lord is Mokha, salvation which is implied by dhaama vyjayanthee vibhooshanam. Knowing Him as Dhaama the Parabhrahman manifest in the garb of a cowherd through His maya, vyjayanthee vibhooshanam, and one gets emancipated.

The glory of the Lord is such that even the Vedas, which are the primary source of knowledge about Him, are not able to do full justice to His description. Desika portrays the Vedas as the bards trying to sing about His merits and he says that when they start 
extolling even one of His infinite auspicious attributes, they become tired.

`     'Ekaika gunapraanthe sranthaah nigamavandhinah' 

      Then Desika expresses his humility by saying that under such circumstances what those with limited intellect can expect to accomplish, meaning himself. He goes on to reassure himself that the subject is sourikatha, story of Krishna, which is like nectar that will be relished even if it is told by a dull witted person. He reaffirms his position by claiming that there could be nothing wrong in following the footsteps of the great poets like Valmiki and Vyasa.  

Then Desika extols the kavithva saying that a kavi, poet, whose creation is full of merits such as rasa, bhaava and alamkara is akin to the creator, Brahma, in whom Sarasvathi revels. Rasa is the nine kinds of sentiment, srngara etc. bhaava here means the accompanying moods that go with each sentiment, called vibhaava, anubhaava and sanchaaribhaava and alamkara is the figure of speech. Such poetry is like goddess Sarasvathi expressive beautiful and well adorned with ornaments. The poet who is endowed with all these skills is like Brahma associated with Sarasvathi.

 But should perfection be an essential characteristic in composing poetry? No, says Desika. If a talented dancer makes a slip in her performance a connoisseur will ignore it and will appreciate only the overall effect. Similarly considering the vishayagourava, the merit of the subject matter which is Bhagavatvishaya, story of the Lord, even if there may be any fault, it can be excused. 

So, says Desika, "I will now speak of the story of Krishna, which is the nectar emerging out of the ocean of Vyasaveda, the Mahabharatha, without any hesitancy." What is implied here is that the most enjoyable part of Mahabharatha is the story of Krishna. 
Vyasaveda may also mean the Vedas, the essence of which is the Lord, as Ramanuja says in the mangala sloka of Sribhaashya, sruthi sirasi vidheepthe brahmani  Srinivaase, the Lord forms the crown of the  Vedas. So the story of Krishna is the sarabhootha, essence of Vedas as well as Mahabharatha which is later given by Vyasa as  Bhagavathapurana like extracting the butter out of the milk of Mahabharatha. 

Desika calls the story of Krishna vibhudhajeevaathu, the elixir for vibhudha, devas as the incarnation took place on being entreated by devas and the Bhoodevi. The word vibhudha also means men of wisdom of whom the story of Krishna is the paramoushadham greatest antidote for the ills of the samsara.

In this context it would be interesting to note the peculiar circumstances which made Vyasa write the Bhagavatha purana. The Dasamaskandha, tenth section of Bhagavathapurana contains the story of Krishna, the subject matter of Yadhavaabhyudhaya. It seemed that after Vyasa had finished  Mahabharatha and other vedantic works he became depressed for no reason. Narada came to him and told him that his feeling of depression  born out of dissatisfaction was due to the fact that though he exhaustively wrote about dharma and Vedanta he did not write about the exploits and the glory  of Krishna and the incarnations of the Lord which would inculcate bhakthi . Hence his heart became dry and depressed. Then Narada told him the whole 
Bhagavata as he had learnt from Brahma. This was the inducement for Vyasa to write the Bhagavatha purana. That is why Desika calls it vibhudhajeevaathu, the life-giving elixir.

Desika refers to the Lord as Vibhu, and Sreemaan. He is Vibhu, all powerful, all pervading, Sreemaan associated with Sree, Lakshmi. The significance of the two adjectives is given by the words eko visvamidham chithram ajeejanath. He is eka, one only. `Sadheva soumya idham agra aaseeth, ekameva adhvitheeyam (Chandhogya Up.) Sat alone existed in the beginning, one only without a second.' Hence Brahman, Lord Narayana of Visistadavaita, was both the material and instrumental cause of the Universe. Usually in creation as applied to the worldly things like the creation of a pot the material cause, the mud and the instrumental cause, the potter are different. But before 
creation, says the Upanishad there was none else than the Brahman. So Brahman is the upaadhaana karana, material cause and  nimiththa kaarana, instrumental cause. This is indicated by the words svayam and svasmin.

The Lord created the world which Desika describes as chithram, wonderful. He compares it to a painting; chithram which is created by the Lord with the brush of His leela, playful and without effort, and the paint He used was His krpa, infinite mercy. The 
canvas was nothing but the Lord Himself, svasmin, in Him, created by Himself, svayam. This is in accordance with the concept of sarira-sariri bhava of Visishtadvaita. The world consisting of sentient and insentient beings is the body of the Lord of which He is the soul. Before creation the world exists in Him in subtle form and after creation it assumes the gross form. 

Now what is the purpose of creation?

      To say that it is His leela would make Him a sadist who has created the world full of sorrow and misery for His sport.} No, it is not so, says Desika, because He has coloured it with His krpa. The word leela only denotes that the creation was as effortless as a play for Him. He not only created but also sustains the universe through His acts of mercy. The duhkha  is due to our karma but to protect us by showing the path to emancipation is His act of mercy.

Then Desika traces the clan of yadhu in which the Lord took the incarnation as Krishna.

      The first of the clan was Chandra, the Moon.' Chandramaa manaso jaathah, the Moon was born from the mind of the Lord.'(Purushasuktham) Desika gives the reason as to why the Moon was born out of His mind. The Moon came out as though he is the personification of the prasaadha, grace of the Lord, paripaaalayithavyeshu prasaadha iva, towards the people deserve to be protected, His devotees because the  moon is jagadhaahlaadhakara,  gives happiness to all

Budha, the adhidevatha of the planet Mercury was the son of Moon and Pururavas was the son of Budha. Pururavas, says Desika, was the living example of the efficacy of sathaam aahitha vahneenaam  stheyathaa, the power of aahithaagni  the sacrificial fire, which represents the acts of sacrifice, yajna because it gave him the power of visiting svarga where he fell in love with Urvasi, the celestial damsel and married her.
The lineage of Pururavas flourished in all directions of the earth by the fame of his descendants like Ayus and Nahusha, who attained the status of Indra through his merit. When Indra incurred  brahmahaththi dosha, the sin of killing a Brahmin by his slaying 
Vrthraasura, who was the son of Thvashta, a Brahmin , he had to leave the svarga and do penance.  Then the devas  put Nahusha in the place of Indra since he has performed hundred asvamedha yagas, which makes him qualified for the post of Indra but he incurred the displeasure of Agasthya and was cursed by him to become a snake.

Yayathi was the son of Nahusha and had three sons and one of them was Yadhu, who was a vadhaanya, very generous and austere and just. Vasudeva, the father of Krishna was born in the clan of Yadhu. Vasudeva was Kasyapa prajaapathi in his previous birth and was the father of both devas and. asuras. His wives Surabhi and Adhithi were born as Rohini and Devaki in next birth and married Vasudeva. When 
Vasudeva was born the divine musical instruments, aanaka and dhundhubhi sounded and hence he acquired the name AAnakadhundhubhi.

Vasudeva was the refuge of the good as Lord Vishnu is for the world, the Sun is for light and the sea is for gems.  This implies that he was the sole resort of the good as the earth was burdened with unrighteous kings for whose destruction the Lord descended in the form of Krishna. Even though born of the royal family Vasudeva was intent on attaining mukthi and was not interested in the worldly possessions and became content with whatever came to him of its own accord? 

Vasudeva got married to Devaki, the cousin sister of Kamsa whom he loved very much  but hearing the aerial declaration that the eighth son of Devaki will be his killer Kamsa  put them both in prison.

In the meanwhile the devas  were approached by Bhoodevi  who entreated them to relieve her of he burden of adharma  perpetuated by the unrighteous kings who oppressed her like giant mountains. Then they all approached the Lord Narayana  along with Brahma with Bhoodevi in front and started praying to Him.

 The devas praised the Lord thus.

He is thrivedimadhya dheeptha, shines on the three vedas because He is vedavedya, known through the Vedas. Here it would be interesting to compare the words of Thyagaraja in his kriti `saamajavaragamana' on Krishna. He calls Him `vedasiromaathrja 
sapthaswara naadhaachaladheepa,' He shines as the light  on the mountain of naadha, made up of the seven notes, sapthasvara which were born out of the head of vedas, that is pranava.

He is thridhaama, having three abodes, namely, Vaikunta which is His paramapadha, supreme abode, the milky ocean and the surya mandala, disc of the Sun, He is described in the upanishat as  Suryamandalamadhya varthi.

He has five weapons, panchahethayah, shankha, charka gadha ,sharnga and khadga, the Conch, Disc, Mace, Bow and Sword respectively.

He is baahyaanthara havirbhuja, takes the external offering in the yajna and also internal in the form of the self which is offered in devotion and He as varadha, bestows His grace.

His power is independent ananyaadheenamahima and unlimited whereas that of other gods are in His control paraadheenavaibhava and hence limited. Devas beseech Him to protect them as He is dhayaadheenavihara overwhelmed with mercy as shown by His acts like killing Ravana. In this sloka the poetic skill is shown in the choice 
of the epithets ananyaadheena svaadheena and dhayadheena.

The Lord is the ocean of mercy, dhayaambhudhi in which His gunas, jnana bala aisvarya ,,shakthi , tejas and virya are the ratnas, gems and the waves are His vyuhas and vibhavas. The six attributes, knowledge, might, sovereignty, power, glory and valiance are called bhagas and hence the name bhagavan. The vyuhas are His 
manifestations as Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradhyumna and Anirudhdha and the vibhavas are His incarnations. These are metaphorically described as the waves while the gunas are the precious gems which are said to be in the ocean.

The glory of the Lord cannot be ascertained from the Vedas even ,because they are His creation and they are compared to the  travellers who even after travelling from morning till evening  are unable to reach the destination ,namely to describe Him as such.

He puts on different costumes and comes down as incarnations like an actor and He acts according to the role He assumes. This amuses the wise who see Him act like a subordinate, a supplicant and obedient son to His own children and dependents. He is the one who apportions the result of karma to the individuals and it is all His leela which waters the seeds of karma so that it brings forth the sprouts of results, karmaphala. Desika says that this is true with all beings, brahmaadhisthambaparyantham, from the four-faced Brahma down to the blade of grass as everything is His creation only.

He shines in the hearts of the pure in His full splendour and like the Chintamani fulfils all their wishes. Chintamani is a precious gem which is supposed to grant all wishes of the possessor.

To those who have become fatigued by traveling in the desert of samsara the devotion of the Lord serves as a welcome river, flowing with the nectar of His mercy, in which they plunge and enjoy its coolness.

He is the boat that helps those who are caught in the whirlpool of sin to cross
over to the other side.

He is unparalleled, limitless, and the cause of the universe, Himself uncaused. He is denoted by Pranava, the essence of Vedas and the raft of rescue from the sea of samsara.  Those who seek refuge in Him alone depend only on Him for their redemption and do not adopt any other means except devotion to Him like the chathaka bird which live on rain drops alone. Not seeking any other source of water.

Like the sun that wakes up from sleep the Lord wakes up the jivas from the sleep of ignorance. Hence, the devas entreated Him to dispel their calamity  like the sun  destroys the darkness because Kamsa and others have risen like comets to create disturbances in the world. 

Thus entreated by the devas  Bhagavan  appeared before them out of mercy. Desika here gives a beautiful description of the Lord.

The devas saw Him reclined on the couch of Adisesha, like a rain-bearing cloud, dark in hue , on a white cloud of autumn. Adisesha  is supposed to be white in color and sitting on him the  lord presented a picture of a dark cloud on the top of a  white cloud, which is a rare occurrence. This simile is an indication of the wonder the devas experienced on seeing the Lord before them. 

The lord was accompanied by Sridevi with lotus in her hand implying His aisvarya, the mastery over the universe. The epithet Lakshmipathi denotes the supreme power combined with mercy of the Lord.

He was adorned with ornaments which were sukumara, slender and not heavy, sukhasparsa, soft of touch on His body and not rough, like sweet smelling flowers, suganshibhih prasoonaih iva, and well suited to His gunas, the infinitely auspicious qualities.  His form is the garden of His gunas and the ornaments were like the flowers in 
the garden. Desika expresses his love for the Lord in imagining the ornaments on His body to be tender like flowers. An ardent devotee treats the archa or idol of the Lord as real and cannot bear to see even the stalks of the flowers hurting Him. And arranges the 
ornaments on the idol in such a way as not to hurt Him 

Every part of His body vying each other in beauty excelled   that of His ornaments and stole the hearts of all beings. The ornaments were beautified by Him and not vice versa. The weapons He was wielding, namely the disc , bow, mace etc. were proclaiming His 
natural qualities like valor, power and so on and seemed to forecast the victory of the devas. With His form created by Himself, He shone like a sapphire rising out of the sea of His own splendor.

Along with the Lord came Garuda, who is the embodiment of Vedas, srutiroopa, and covered with the fragrance of the feet of the Lord, being His carrier, signifying the impending war with the asuras. The veda calls Garuda `suparno asi garutman trivrth the 
sirah' meaning that Garuda with powerful wings has veda as his head.

The Lord thus presented a picture of a Sun who never sets, a Moon who never wanes and an ocean of nectar which has no bounds to devas.
 He was shining in His glory which excelled the Sun, was source of joy in His cool mercy, which never diminishes and He was like everlasting nectar to the devas in showering His grace. By 
seeing Him thus the eyes of the devas became fruitful and the Lord reassured them with His abhayahasta, showing His hand in a gesture of protection and by His smile that destroys evil by the mere sight of it. The abhayakara and the mandasmita were reassuring enough for them that their prayer is answered even before He began to speak.


       Appeal to the lord

      The devas started to tell the Lord that rakshasas who were extinguished previously by Him like moths by the fire, have come back to earth in the form of kshathriyas and the earth is suffering  by their misdeeds and if the Lord does not intervene the earth will be
      submerged into the sea,  not being able to bear their weight. The idea here is that the wicked are burden to the earth. They entreated Him thus: ˜This earth which has you, who is full of with mercy, as its helmsman, should not be allowed to go under.
      Desika provides a beautiful metaphor by referring to the Lord as the central jewel of the girdle of the earth. The devas claimed that the earth deserves the protection of the Lord from the oppression of the wicked kshathriyas . The earth is surrounded by the ocean like a girdle of the Bhoodevi and the Lord shining in the middle of the ocean like a sapphire is like its central gem. Further the devas said that He should free the earth from the burden of these wicked kings and make her shine as the crest jewel of 
      Aadhisesha, meaning that the earth should be made light as a crest jewel for Sesha who supports it on his head.
      Desika, the bhaktha, here comes out with beautiful expression. He makes the devas say ˜Prabhodhasubhagaih smeraih prasannaih sheethalaischa nah 
      kataakshaih plaavaya kshipram krpakodhanvadhoormibhih,
      They pray to him to direct His merciful glances towards them. The glances of the Lord are, Prabhodha subhaga, attractive, He just being awakened from His yoganidra, smera,
      accompanied with His charming smile, prasaana, pleasing, sheethala ,cooling with love and they are like the waves of the sea of His mercy, krpakodhanavadhoormibhih.  Imagining the Lord thus is enough to send a devotee to ecstasy. With these words devas concluded their entreaty asking the Lord to forgive them for their impudence in informing Him the reason of their approaching Him as though He did not know everything being the antharyami, indweller  of all.
      Then Bhoodevi bowed down to Him, who has vowed to protect His dependents, along with the devas and informed Him of her plight. Desika describes her as being beautiful like the Maya of the Lord.The earth assuming the form of   an exemplary damsel,
      vanithaarathnarupini,  of slender waist and large eyes , thanumadhyaa visaalaakshi , is compared by Desika to the enchanting Maya of the Lord. The whole Universe constituted of the five elements is the product of Prakrthi, otherwise known as the Maya of the Lord. 
      Desika's poetic skill is seen in his further description of Bhoodevi. She was sporting beautiful hair, the natural scent of which attracted the bees that hover on her head presenting a spectacle of her being covered with an umbrella made of peacock feathers. The tears of joy on seeing her Lord formed the beads of pearls that adorn her chest. Her left shoulder throbbed as though desiring the embrace of her Lord which was welcomed by her as a good sign. Desika uses the word Dhakshinaa for the Bhoodevi to imply that
      she is knowledgeable  about the meaning of signs and employs the word dhakshinaadhitharam , the one other than the right  to denote left arm thus enhancing the poetic beauty.
      The Lord replied to them in a voice that echoed the sound of His Paanchajanya. He reassured them by saying that those who follow His command will never come to harm. [Vide: Bhagavatgita-6-40- ˜ na hi kalyanakrth kaschith dhurgathim thaatha gachchathi.] The Lord then promised that He will descend to earth  as an incarnation to lessen the burden of the earth by destroying the evil kshathriyas and will establish dharma and  He asked them to take birth as kings to partake  the result of His deeds. So saying the Lord awaited the right time to enter the garba of Devaki to be born as Krishna. Thus the one in whom the entire world resided came to reside in Devaki.