KAPILOPAKHYANAM (From Narayaneeyam)
Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri (1559-1632) was the celebrated author of Narayaneeyam, a devotional composition in Sanskrit verse which is a masterly summary of the main episodes in Srimad Bhagavatam. He was a scholar in the Sanskrit Language and its grammar on which he wrote his masterpiece Prakriya-sarvaswam which sets forth an axiomatic system elaborating on the classical system of Panini the grammarian.
Narayana Bhattathiri was born in a Namboodiri family of Kerala. He was a disciple of Achyuta Pisharati from whom he studied Sanskrit grammar. As a student he also studied the Rig Veda and Tarka Sastra (the science of logical reasoning and argument).
Bhattathiri was struck with paralysis when he was still young. The disease was painful and Ezhuthachan the author of Adhyatma Ramayana advised Bhattathiri “meen thottu koottuka” which in Malayalam meant ‘take fish as food’ or ‘start counting from fish’. It was obvious that the erudite Ezhuthachan would not have advised Bhattathiri, a Nambooiri brahmin, to eat fish since Namboodiri brahmins are staunch vegetarians. Bhattathiri figured out that the meaning of ‘start counting from fish’ was that he (Bhattathiri) should start recounting the incarnations of the Lord starting from the matsyavatara(incarnation as fish to redeem the Vedas from the asura named Hayagreeva) and go on upto the incarnation of Lord Krishna.
Bhattathiri took the advise and wrote his Magnum Opus based on Srimad Bhagavatam which chronicles the many incarnations of Mahavishnu and expounds the highest philosophy of the Hindus embodied in the Upanishads. He dedicated his work to Lord Krishna, fondly called by devotees as Guruvayoorappan, at the temple at Guruvayoor in Kerala. The work consists of 100 dasakas each containing 10 verses. However, a few dasakas contain more than ten verses so that the total number of slokas is not 1000 but 1034.
Legend has it that Bhattathiri composed one dasaka a day in the presence of the Lord and recited it before Him for His approval and the Lord did nod his head in agreement. The composition is directly addressed to the Lord telling him His own exploits and leelas. The refrain in the last sloka of every dasaka is a prayer to the Lord of Guruvayoor to remove his (Bhattathiri’s) ailments and sufferings. The Lord did cure Bhattathiri of his affliction by the time he completed Narayaneeyam and also revealed to him His captivating form which Bhattathiri has captured ecstatically in the 100th dasakam
Given below is a reproduction of Dasakas 14 and 15 from Narayaneeyam which cover the incarnation of the Lord as Kapila and his preachings to his mother Devahuti. This is described in great detail in chapters 21 – 33 of the 4th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. A simple transalation in English is also given for the benefit of those who cannot follow the original.
(नारायणीयम् : दशकम् १४ )
स्स मनुः पङ्कजसंभवांगजन्मा ।
चरितं ते कथयन् सुखं निनाय॥१॥
Swayambhuva Manu, son of Brahma, spent his manuantara ( stretching for a period of seventy one chaturyugas) happily without any hurdles, always remembering Your lotus feet, and telling the stories of Your exploits in various incarnations.
समये खलु तत्र कर्द्दमाख्यो
भगवंस्त्वामयुतं समाः सिषेवे ॥२॥
O Lord ! During the same period kardama prajapati, born of the reflection (shadow) of Brahma, becoming interested in creation at the instance of Brahma himself, worshipped and served You, who is naturally beautiful, for ten thousand years.
हसितोल्लसिताननं विभो ! त्वं
वपुराविष्कुरुषे स्म कर्द्दमाय ॥ ३॥
O Lord! You revealed to Kardama Your captivating form seated astride Garuda, beautiful as the dark cloud, sporting a lotus flower in Your hand soft and red as the lotus petals and with a bewitching smile playing on your bright face.
स्तुवते पुलकावृताय तस्मै
मनुपुत्रीं दयितां नवापि पुत्रीः ।
कपिलं च सुतं स्वमेव पश्चात्
स्वगतिं चाप्यनुगृह्य निर्गतोऽभूः ॥४॥
Kardama’s hairs stood on end at your sight and he sang hymns of your praise. You blessed him saying that he would get the daughter of Manu as his better half and would father nine daughters. You departed saying that You would yourself take birth as the son of Kardama who would attain You thereafter.
स मनुः शतरूपया महिष्या
गुणवत्या सुतया च देवहूत्या ।
समगात् कर्द्दममागतिप्रतीक्षम् ॥५॥
Advised by Narada who was prompted by You, Manu, accompanied by his wife Satarupa and his daughter Devahuti endowed with noble qualities, approached Kardama who was expecting the former.
मनुनोपहृतां च देवहूतिं
तरुणीरत्नमवाप्य कर्द्दमोऽसौ ।
दृढशुश्रूषणया दधौ प्रसादम् ॥६॥
Though Kardama, having got Devahuti, the jewel of a woman, as his wife continued to be content and happy by engaging himself in Your worship, he was touched by the devotion with which his wife served him and was very much pleased with her
दयिताकामकृते कृते विमाने ।
व्यहरद्देवपथेषु देवहूत्या ॥७॥
To please his wife Kardama materialised a beautiful vimana by the yogic powers he had acquired by worshipping you and, taking nine different forms and surrounded by beautiful damsels of heaven, roamed the celestial regions with Devahuti.
शतवर्षमथ व्ततीत्य सोऽयं
नवकन्याः समवाप्य धन्यरूपाः ।
हितकृत् त्वज्जननोत्सुको न्यवात्सीत् ॥८॥
Passing a hundred years enjoying life with Devahuti and having begotten nine beautiful daughters, Kardama was desirous of repairing to the forest (for tapas). But he stayed back with the idea of doing something good to his wife, expecting your birth as his son as You had promised.
निरतायामथ देव! देवहूत्याम् ।
प्रथयिष्यन् परमात्मतत्त्वविद्याम् ॥९॥
Taking the word of her husband, Devahuti engaged herself in Your worship and service and from her womb You were born in order to throw light, for the benefit of humanity, on the science and knowledge of the highest Truth, the Ultimate Reality
वनमेयुषि कर्द्दमे प्रसन्ने
त्वरितं त्वं परिपाहि मां गदौघात्
When Kardama, pleased with Your birth, repaired to the forest (for tapas), You imparted to Devahuti that knowledge which is the essence of all religions (the samkhya system of philosophy). O Lord of Guruvayur who took the form of Kapila! save me from my afflictions without further delay.
(नारायणीयम् : दशकम् १५ )
मतिरिह गुणसक्ता बन्धकृत्तेष्वसक्ता
त्वमृतकृदुपरुन्धे भक्तियोगस्तु सक्तिम् ।
महदनुगमलभ्या भक्तिरेवात्र साध्या
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादीः॥ १॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “ The mind which is attached to the pleasures of the senses will result in bondage but the mind not attached to those pleasures will lead to immortality. Devotion to the Lord will block all attachments. Therefore such devotion is to be cultivated by association with great souls who dearly love the Lord.
प्रकृतिमहदहंकाराश्च मात्राश्च भूता-
न्यपि हृदपि दशाक्षी पुरुषु पञ्चविंशः ।
इति विदितविभागो मुच्यतेऽसौ प्रकृत्या
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादीः ॥ २॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “ Prakriti (Primal Nature), Mahat ( the intellect) , Ahamkara (the ego), the five matras (the elements in their subtle form), the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and space, the mind, ten senses (five of perception and five of action) and purusha (indwelling spirit) together constitute the twenty five (Tattwas of the sankhya philosophy). He who understands this division is released from the clutches of Prakriti (Maya)
यदि तु सजति तस्यां तद्गुणास्तं भजेरन्
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादीः॥ ३॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “Purusha per se is not touched or affected by the qualities of Prakriti. But if he is attached to Prakriti her qualities will stick to him. But prakriti will not affect a person who worships me, is devoted to me and contemplates and meditates on My real nature“.
गरुडसमिधिरूढं दिव्यभूषायुधांकम् ।
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादी: ॥ ४॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti ”One should, with a pure mind and seated in a proper posture, ever meditate on my form seated astride Garuda, adorned with divine weapons and ornaments and of dark blue complexion as the tamala tree”.
मम गुणगणलीलाकर्णनैः कीर्तनाद्यै-
र्मयि सुरसरिदोघप्रख्यचित्तानुवृत्तिः ।
भवति परमभक्तिः सा हि मृत्योर्विजेत्री
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादी: ॥ ५॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “Hearing about my sterling qualities and my leelas (exploits) and singing my praises (in the company of my devotees) will engender in one the highest state of devotion wherein the mind is continuously dwelling on Me like the flow of waters of the Ganga”
अहह बहुलहिंसासञ्चितार्थैः कुटुंबं
प्रतिदिनमनुपुष्णन् स्त्रीजितो बाललाली ।
विशति हि गृहसक्तो यातनां मय्यभक्तः
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादी: ॥ ६॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “ One who is attached to hearth and home, who supports his family daily by wealth accumulated by harming others physically or mentally, who is won over by women and pampers the children and is not a devotee of mine will suffer the fires of hell”.
प्रसवगलितबोधः पीडयोल्लङ्घ्य बाल्यम्
पुनरपि बत मुह्यत्येव तारुण्यकाले
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादी: ॥ ७॥
You, incarnated as Kapila, said to Devahuti “ Though the child suffering in the womb of the mother suddenly gets true knowledge it forgets all that in the process of being delivered from the mother’s womb. It passes through childhood in pain and discomfort and in its youth it is deluded by the mirage of worldly pleasures“
पितृसुरगणयाजी धार्मिको यो गृहस्थः
स च निपतति काले दक्षिणाध्वोपगामी ।
मयि निहितमकामं कर्म तूदक्पथार्थं
कपिलतनुरिति त्वं देवहूत्यै न्यगादी: ॥ ८॥
Those householders who worship and propitiate the pitr (ancestors who are dead) and the devas (celestials) and are virtuous will go through the southern path and return to the cycle of births and deaths in this world when their punya is exhausted. On the other hand, all karma (action) done without attachment and expectation of reward and which is surrendered to me in worship takes one to the Northern path (from where there is no return to this mundane world).
इति सुविदितवेद्यां देव हे देवहूतिं
कृतनुतिमनुगृह्य त्वं गतो योगिसंघैः ।
विमलमतिरथासौ भक्तियोगेन मुक्ता
त्वमपि जनहितार्थं वर्तसे प्रागुदीच्याम् ॥९॥
Thus enlightened and having known what is to be known, Devahuti sang your praises. You, in turn, blessed her and departed with your disciple yogis. Devahuti, of pure heart, was liberated by following the path of devotion to You who still abide in the North-East for the welfare of humanity.
परम! किमु बहूक्त्या त्वत्पदांभोजभक्तिं
सकलभयविनेत्रीं सर्वकामोपनेत्रीं ।
वदसि खलु दृढं त्वं तद्विधूयामयान् मे
गुरुपवनपुरेश! त्वय्युपाधत्स्व भक्तिम् ॥१०॥
O the Greatest One ! what is the point of too much talk? You have emphatically stated that devotion to Your lotus feet will banish all fears and fulfill all desires. O Lord of Guruvayur ! kindly destroy all my ailments and fill my heart with devotion to You.