Prayers to the Lord of Guruvayoor from Narayaneeyam -6
Narayaneeyam, considered to be a Magnum Opus of Meppathur Narayanabhattathiri, is a masterly summary of Srimad Bhagavatam in 1034 sanskrit slokas of great poetic merit. The whole work is divided into 100 dasakas of mostly ten slokas each. It was completed in 100 days at the end of which Bhattathiri, who was suffering from chronic rheumatic disease, was completely cured and also had a beatific vision of the Lord of Guruvayoor as Venugopala . In the last sloka of each dasaka Bhattathiri cries out his heart, praying to the Lord to end his afflictions and restore his health. .
Given below is the collection of last slokas from Daskas 51 to 60 of this great devotional work with a prosaic translation in English. A brief note on the contents of each dasaka is also given, where possible, to put the slokas in context.
In this dasakam is narrated the story of Aghasura whom Krishna killed and the picnicking of Krishna with the cowboys. One day Krishna decided on picnicking in the forest along with the cowboys. They packed their eatables and set out early morning to the forest. Grazing the calves, the cowboys came across a huge cave-like structure right in the middle of their path. It looked like a huge python with its mouth wide open. Actually it was aghasura who had taken this form to kill Krishna, who was a little distance away. The cowboys entered what they thought was a cave and the asura waited for the entry of Krishna without closing his mouth. The heat within the body of the python was unbearable. Krishna instantly knew that this was a trap laid by the asura in which the cowboys had been caught. To save them Krishna entered the mouth of the python. At its neck his body started growing until all the passages for inhaling air had been closed. The asura died unable to breathe and Krishna ripped open his neck and came out extricating the cowboys. The moment Krishna came out a lustrous form emerged from the body of the asura and merged in Krishna. It was now midday and Krishna and the cowboys assembled in a comfortable place for picnicking. Krishna, seated in the middle of a circle formed by the cowboys, with his horn and flute stuck at his waist and the eatables arranged on the palms of his hands, was making the cowboys laugh with his jokes. Bhattathiri concludes this dasaka with the following sloka:
’सुखाशनं त्विह तव गोपमण्डले
मखाशनात्प्रियमिव गोपमण्डले ।’
मरुत्पुरीनिलय! गदात् प्रपाहि मां ॥५१.१०॥
O Lord of Guruvayur ! the celestials wondered that you seemed to enjoy the picnic with the cowboys than the offerings made in sacrifices and praised you. O Lord of the worlds! Lord of Guruvayoor! save me from my afflictions.
The story of this dasaka is described below:
Brahma was amazed by Krishna’s divine powers not evident in other incarnations and also by the merging of the soul of aghasura in him. To test Krishna he made the calves disappear by his maya. When Krishna went in search of the calves Brahma hid the cowboys also. Krishna understood that this was the handiwork of Brahma. Then he himself became all the cowboys, the calves, the horns, the bugles, the canes, the pouches and everything else, and sporting, as before, in the forest he came back and went into the respective houses as calves, cowboys etc. Now that Krishna, who is the very soul of everyone, had come as their sons, unknowingly, the gopis felt more love for them. Similarly the cows loved their calves more. This play continued for a year by the reckoning of the time on the earth. For Brahma this was like a second. Seeing two sets of calves and cowboys, one set hidden by him and the other set created by Krishna, Brahma was confounded. As he was contemplating what had happened, all the calves and cowboys appeared to him as so many Mahavishnus reclining on Adisesha, decked out in resplendent jewellery and tended by Lakshmi. He saw himself at the service of so many forms of Narayana. Bhattathiri concludes this dasaka with the following sloka:
नश्यन्मदे तदनु विश्वपतिं मुहुस्त्वां
नत्वा च नूतवति धातरि धाम याते ।
पोतैः समं प्रमुदितैः प्रविशन् निकेतं
वाताल्याधिप! विभॊ ! परिपाहि रोगात् ॥५२.१०॥
His conceit shattered, Brahma showered encomiums on you, the Lord of all the worlds, again and again, and went back to his abode. Lord of Guruvayur! you also returned home along with the happy cowboys. Please save me from my ailments.
Krishna by now had left behind his childhood and was in the age group of five to ten years. Now, instead of tending calves he switched to tending cows. One day when Krishna, along with Balaram, was enjoying the beauty of the forest, they visited the Dhenuka forest full of high Palmyra trees at the suggestion of a friend Sridama. Balarama shook the trees with his strong hands and the ground was spread with fruits which fell from the trees. Hearing the sound of falling fruits, the demon Dhenuka came running in the form of a donkey. At the instance of Krishna Balarama killed him. His followers in the form of foxes were killed by Krishna and Balarama together by throwing them against the tall palm trees. Then they enjoyed the soft and sweet jellylike substance at the core of the fruits along with the cowboys.
’हतो हतो धेनुक’ इत्युपेत्य
फलान्यदद्भिर्मधुराणि लोकैः ।
जयेति जीवेति नुतो विभो! त्वं
मरुत्पुराधीश्वर पाहि रोगात् ॥५३.१०॥
Saying ‘Dhenuka was killed’ every one ate those fruits and showered praises on you saying ‘Victory to Krishna’ and ‘Long Live Krishna’. O Lord of Guruvayur! save me from my diseases.
Maharshi Saubhari did tapas for twelve years submerged in the waters of Kalindi (Yamuna). Garuda who was eating the fish in the Kalindi was cursed by Saubhari saying that he would die if he fed on the fish in Kalindi. Around that time, Kaliya the serpent, on he strength of his powerful venom, dared to appropriate for himself Garuda’s share of food. Garuda struck Kaliya with his powerful wings. For fear of Garuda, Kaliya took refuge in the Kalindi river where Garuda was forbidden by Saubhari’s curse. The waters of Yamuna were poisoned and the trees on the bank were scorched by the intensity of the poison. Birds flying over Kalindi fell dead. Krishna was moved by compassion. Then one day, when Balarama did not accompany Krishna, the cowboys, driven by intense thirst because of the hot summer, drank the poisoned Yamuna water. Seeing them falling to the ground dead, one after another, Krishna revived them by the glances from the corners of his eyes showering nectar (amrit). The cowboys, who got up as if from sleep, were experiencing a wonderful sense of rejuvenation. Seeing Krishna before them they embraced him knowing that this miracle was wrought by him.
This dasaka concludes with the following sloka:
एवं भक्तान् मुक्तजीवानपि त्वं
रोगात् पाया वायुगेहधिवास ॥ ५४.१०॥
O Lord of Guruvayur! You revive, by the glances from the corners of your eyes, even those devotees of yours who have given up their lives. You are the repository of such compassion. Kindly save me from my diseases.
Krishna, determined to drive away Kaliya from Kalindi, climbed on to the branch of a Kadamba tree on the bank and plunged into the deep waters of the Kalindi river, turbulent with billowing waves. Kaliya, disturbed by the turbulence, rose to the surface with blood-shot eyes and his thousand hoods radiating poison. He coiled around Krishna and injected his poison into many places in his body. Seeing Krishna’s condition, the cowboys and cows fell in deep sorrow. There were omens in Vraja portending evil because of which every one assembled on the banks of Kalindi. When all had lost hope to the extent of being prepared to giveup their own lives, Krishna extricated himself from the coilss of the snake and, jumping on to the top of Kaliya’s hoods, started a beautiful dance. Bhattathiri concludes to narrative of this dasaka with the following sloka:
ववृषुः कुसुमानि सुरेन्द्रगणाः
त्वयि नृत्यति मारुतगेहपते!
परिपाहि स मां त्वमदान्तगदात् ॥५५.१०॥
O Lord of Guruvayur ! when you were dancing, gopas were overjoyed, the sages sang your praises and the celestials showered flowers on You. Save me, O Lord!, from this intractable disease.
Krishna danced on the hoods of Kaliya, with his sparkling Kundalas oscillating, for quite sometime, to the beating of drums by the celestials and the dancing of the damsels of heaven. Leaving those hoods which had bowed down, Krishna danced on Kalia’s hoods which were raised, beating time with the clapping of his hands. With all his hoods pounded to pulp by Krishna, Kaliya was in real bad shape, vomiting blood which turned the water purple. Kalia’s wives, seeing the pitiable condition of their husband requested Krishna to pardon him and sang his praises eulogising his exploits. Seeing the devotional fervour of the wives of Kalia, Krishna was moved by compassion and granted life to Kalia who, surrendering himself, bowed to Krishna. At the instance of Krishna, Kalia left Kalindi and moved to a place called Ramanakam in the midst of the sea where Garuda would not harm him. Since it was already late evening every one spent the night sleeping on the banks of the river. All of a sudden they were surrounded by a forest fire and, finding themselves trapped in the middle, they cried to Krishna for help. Krishna swallowed the fire; this is no wonder as Agni is the Lord’s mouth, in his cosmic form. This dasaka concludes with the following sloka:
’शिखिनि वर्णत एव हि पीतता
परिलसत्यधुना क्रिययाप्यसौ” ।
इति नुतः पशुपैर्मुदितैर्विभो!
हर हरे! दुरितैः सह मे गदान् ॥५६.१०॥
The happy gopas praised Krishna saying “Agni (Fire) is yellow (peetataa) by colour ; now it has attained peetata ( the state of having been drunk) by action also” ,O the Lord of Guruvayur! Please take away my sins as well as my diseases
One day Krishna and Balaram, along with the other cowboys, went to a banyan tree, known as bhandeeraka, in Vrindavan. There Krishna found that an asura had sneaked into their group in the guise of a cowboy. He, however, did not give an inkling of this to the asura, with a plan in his mind. He picked cowboys who could do hand-to-hand fighting and divided them into two groups. Two members, one from each group, would engage in fighting. The vanquished would carry the victor on his shoulders. The asura in the guise of a gopa, who was afraid of Krishna’s strength, was accommodated in Krishna’s group so that he would not be called upon to fight Krishna. Sridama defeated Krishna in the fight and Krishna carried him on his shoulders. The asura fought with Balaram and was defeated. He carried Balaram on his shoulders for a long distance away from Krishna assuming his original form seeing which Balaram was taken aback. Balaram looked back on Krishna’s face and his confidence and courage returned. He killed the asura striking with his iron-strong fists. Krishna embraced Balaram when he returned to Bhandiraka after killing pralamba which was the name of the asura.
The concluding sloka of this dasaka is this:
प्रालंबं निधनमेवमारचयन् ।
कालं विहाय सद्यो
लोलंबरुचे हरे! हरेः क्लेशान् ॥५७.११॥
O Lord of Guruvayur! You, the aalamba (support) of all the worlds, thus managed to kill pralamba, the asura. O Lolambaruche ( dark as the honey-bee)! O Lord Hari! take away my afflictions.
While Krishna was engaged in playing with the children and killing the pralambasura, the cows strayed far away grazing and reached a forest called Aisheeka. They had strayed far away from Vrindavan where they did not experience the summer heat. But here the heat was unbearable and on top of it they were thirsty and separated from Krishna. Krishna, with a few other gopas, went in search of the cows and found that they had lost their way and were wandering, directionless, in a munja forest. When Krishna approached the herd of cows, a forest fire started raging from all sides. Caught in the forest fire and almost half-burnt they cried out in pain for help and took refuge in Krishna, the only one who could save them. Krishna asked them not to be afraid and to close their eyes. They obeyed him and Lo! there was no forest fire and no munja forest when they opened their eyes. All of them were in the vicinity of bhandeera. Krishna and others spent the summer time on the banks of the Yamuna. During the rainy season they spent time in the caves of mountains. The Govardhan Mountain sang the praises of Krishna by the coo of peacocks and worshipped him with a variety of flowers.
The concluding sloka of this dasaka is this:
अथ शरदमुपेतां तां भवद्भक्तचेतो-
विमलसलिलपूरां मानयन् काननेषु ।
तृणममलवनांते चारु सञ्चारयन् गाः
पवनपुरपते! त्वं देहि मे देहसौख्यम् ॥५८.१०॥
In the season after the rains (sharat), when water was pure as the hearts of your devotees, you took the cows for grazing into the forest. O Lord of Guruvayur! Give me bodily comfort and health.
Seeing the captivating form of Krishna daily the gopis became more and more in love with him. Struck as they were by the arrows of Cupid, they could not bear his separation evening during the day time when he went into the forest with his cows. .When Krishna set out to the forest in the mornings they cast their glances on him, their hearts thinking only of him. They heard the melodies emanating from Krishna’s flute from a distance and spent their time talking about Krishna’s exploits. Hearing the melodies from Krishna’s flute, the damsels of heaven were stricken by the arrows of Cupid, birds and animals stood still as if in intense concentration and even the rocks of the mountain melted. The Gopis thought that the celestial damsels, the birds, the animals, the cows and the forest who could look at Krishna without inhibitions had indeed achieved the purpose of their lives. Every day the gopis, struck by love for Krishna, and helpless in that love, did not know what to do.
Bhattathiri concludes this dasaka with the following verse:
रागस्तावज्जायते हि स्वभावा-
न्मोक्षोपायो यत्नतः स्यान्न वा स्यात् ।
तासां त्वेकं तत् द्वयं लब्धमासीत्
भाग्यं भाग्यं ! पाहि मां मारुतेश ॥५९.१०॥
O Lord of Guruvayoor! Love arises naturally in the heart, the path to mukti (liberation) my open or not open with human effort. For the Gopis both the above things were at hand. Love for Krishna is also a path to liberation. They were indeed most fortunate. Please save me from my afflictions.
Gopis of Vrindavan in their teens, deeply in love with Krishna, observed during the first month of winter, a month-long vrata wherein they bathed in the Yamuna early morning and offered worship to the sand idol of Girija, consort of siva, praying to her that they get the son of Nanda as their husband. When the vrata was about to conclude Krishna, moved by their love, went to Yamuna where they were bathing leaving their clothes on the banks of the river. Gathering their clothes in his hands, Krishna climbed up a tree on the bank and told the gopis to come to him one by one to receive their clothes. Moved by the conflicting emotions of love and shyness, they requested Krishna not to embarrass them but Krishna’s reply was only a sweet smile. Finally the gopis came up to the tree and, joining their palms in salutation, received their clothes and got an assurance from Krishna that he was aware of what was in their mind and he would give a fitting reply to them. Hearing these sweet words from Krishna the gopis, glancing at his face again and again with passionate love, went back to their homes. Bhattathiri ends this dasaka with the following verse:
इति नन्वनुगृह्य वल्लवी-
र्यमुनान्तेषु पुरेव सञ्चरन् ।
करुणाशिशिरो हरे! हर
त्वरया मे सकलामयावलिम् ॥।६०.१०॥
O Lord of Guruvayur! after blessing the gopis with your assurance you continued your daily routine of grazing the cows in the vicinity of Yamuna in the forests. O Lord, full of compassion! please free me of my afflictions quickly.