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,
` 'parithraanaaya saadhoonaam vinaasaaya cha dushkrthaam,
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
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 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.
` '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.
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.
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
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.