Dec 9: Guruvayurappan – 2

9 Dec

The new moon day of Kartika month marks the auspicious day of “Ganga Karshanam”. Our Guru Maharaj beautifully says that days that are auspicious for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu happen simultaneously. ‘Annabhishekam’ for Lord Shiva is celebrated on Aippasi Pournima day. On the same day, “Rasa Pournima Mahotsava” is celebrated for Lord Krishna. Karthigai Deepam is celebrated on the Karthika Poornima day with lights. It is celebrated as a celebration for various different deities by various different people. Lord Shiva is said to be pervading in the form of five elements of the earth [Panch Bhootas]. There are five holy places for Lord Shiva in Tamil Nadu [Kshetra] [Thiruvannamalai, Kalahasthi and Thiruvanaikaval] and each place represents one element of the earth [Bootha]. In Tiruvanamalai, Lord Shiva takes the form of a mountain and it is the Lord’s kshetra of fire [Agni Kshtera]. Our Guru Maharaj often says that Thiruvanamalai is even greater than Kailash. Kailash is a mountain is where Lord Shiva resides. But in Tiruvanamalai, the mountain is the form of Lord Shiva. On the auspicious day of Karthikai, a holy beacon on light is lit with cotton spun together as the wick of the huge beacon of light. It is believed that Devas have the darshan of this beacon on this auspicious day. It is also popularly known as “Thiruvanamalai Deepam”. Many astikas celebrate this Deepam to worship Lord Subhramanya, who was born as sparks. Since he was born as an element of fire itself, Kartigai Deepam is celebrated as a celebration of Lord Muruga. Ramayana speaks about Skandhotpatti (Birth of Skandha). He was born from the energy of Lord Shiva’s eyes as six pieces of a burning material and these six pieces eventually became the six faces of the Lord [Shanmuga]. Kartika happens to be Lord Muruga’s Nakshatra. The month of Krithika is also auspicious for Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavites also celebrate this deepam as Vishnu Deepam. They commemorate this as a celebration for Lord Vishnu and divine consort [Thayar].  This festival is thus celebrated by everyone, with the element of light. Light signifies knowledge [Jnana], happiness, destruction of Agnayana [ignorance] and Tamasa [laziness]. It is indeed a beautiful festival to celebrate the awakening of bhakti and Jnana in all of us. The Poornima day incidentally happens to be the day of Lunar eclipse.   When there is an eclipse, the fruit of any austerity is bound to increase multifold. It is also a good practice to do charity [Dhana] on the day of lunar eclipse.

Sri Narayananji from Boston continued the lecture on greatness of Lord Guruvayurappan and the reminisced his divine plays.

When Sri Suka describes the birth of Lord Krishna, it was a dark prison cell where Vasudeva and Devaki were imprisoned. There was an observer in the prison and it was none other than Sage Sukha. When Vasudeva and Devaki were admiring Little Krishna, Sage Suka was looking at Vasdeva and explains as to what Vasudeva really saw. He perceived the child to be a form of the Lord who has stunning lotus like eyes and four arms. The Lord was holding a conch [sanka], discus and maze [gadha] in his three arms. Lord Vasudeva did not see what the Lord was carrying in his fourth arm. It was Devaki who noticed that the Lord was holding a lotus in his fourth arm and she prayed to the Lord and requested him to become a child with two arms. It is verily this child-like form of the Lord that is seen in Guruvayur even today. Vasudeva earlier worshipped the same form of the Lord in Adhikesava temple before Lord Krishna was born and do Vasudeva only saw that very form of the Lord in front of his eyes. It was indeed a great form of the Lord since it was worshipped by Vasudeva and Uddhava and Lord Shiva himself gave his place requesting Guru and Vayu to consecrate the Lord in his abode which is called Guruvayur today. The form of the Lord is so great since everyone can see that form of the Lord even today.

We all know that Srimad Bhagavatam is a conversation between Sake Suka and King Parikshit, whereas Narayaneeyam is a conversation between Bhattathiri and the Lord. He addresses everything to Guruvayurappa. In one of his conversation with the Lord, Bhattathiri fondly recalled the incarnation of Lord Varaha and says, “Oh My Guruvayurappa, Hiranyaksha came down and hid the whole world under the waters. You know what you did, you took even a smaller form and came out from the nose of Lord Brahma and you eventually grew in size of a big mountain to become a boar”.  Bhattathiri  beautifully admires how the Lord became a boar and how he sailed through the air and jumped right into the ocean with the nose pointing down akin to a wild boar, and picked mother earth on his teeth which were curved above. Bhattathiri admired the teeth that were curved above which was sparkling white and earth which was in blue color, looked like third day moon that a little curve and streak on top. You were so happily grunting. Hiranyaksha came out to look for Lord Hari and enquired the Lord’s whereabouts with Sage Narada, who asked him to go to the forests. On seeing the Lord in the guise of a boar, Hiranyaksha started abusing the boar form of the Lord. The Lord accepted all the abuses by Hiranyaksha as a beautiful lotus garland around the neck and still bestowed him with Moksha. Bhattathiri was all awe on the Lord’s immense compassion on Hiranyaksha. This is verily an instance of how Bhattathiri showers his love on the Lord in form of Narayaneeyam. He was unable to imagine the little innocent Guruvayurappan who came down in the form of a half human and half lion form and tore Hiranyakashipu apart and so he questioned the Lord – “Oh Guruvayurappa, were you the one who came down as Lord Narasimha who tore Hiranyakashipu’s intestines apart and wore them as a garland around your neck?”.  Guruvayurappan then enacted the whole Prahalada charitra in front of Bhattathiri .  Such is the greatness of Bhattathiri ’s works.  When Gajendra shouted “Narayana Akila Guro Bhagawan Namaste”, the Lord came in Garuda and bestowed him with liberation [moksha], the greatest of the greatest. Suddenly Bhattathiri had a doubt on the Lord’s form. The Lord had four hands and in one hand he was holding the conch [sankha], in the other hand he had the discus [chakra], mace [gada] in the third hand and lotus in the fourth hand. He was cognizant of the first three items namely the conch, discus and mace which are verily the Lord’s sporting goods in Vaikuntam and Shirabdhi. He was unsure about the lotus in the Lord’s fourth hand and so he enquired about the lotus and the Lord replied that it was verily this lotus that was offered to the Lord’s holy feet by Gajendra.  He offered a lotus from the pond when the Lord saved him. It is a fact that the Lord holds whatever that is offered by a devotee very close to his heart.

Out of hundred dashakams In Narayaneeyam, about seventy to eighty dashakams are dedicated to Lord Krishna’s divine plays. He delineated all the divine plays of the Lord in Narayaneeyam. During Kaliya Nardhanam, he was unable to believe that Guruvayurappan danced on the head of Kaliya, the thousand headed snake. He jumped from the branch of Kadamba tree right on the snake and touched the tail first. Kaliya soon entwined Lord Krishna with his tail and took him inside the waters. Lord Krishna was inside the waters for couple of minutes as if caught by the snake. Gopas and Gopis, who were standing on the banks of river Yamuna, started crying since they were not able to see him and thought that they had lost him. The Lord wanted to play a prank on the Gopas and Gopis and so hid himself in the waters. They were unable to comprehend this and started weeping. The Lord then realized that it was not the right time to play pranks and so he immediately came out of the waters and jumped right on Kaliya’s head and started to dance.

atha vaariNi ghOorataraM phANinaM prativaarayituM kRihtadhiirbhagavan |
druthamaaritha tIraga nIpataruM viShamaarutashOShita parNachayam || [Narayaneeyam 55.1]

 atha dikshuvidikshu parikshubhita bhramithOdara vaari ninaadabharaiH |
udakaadudagaaduragaadhipati-stvadupAntamashAntaruShAndhamanAH || [Naryanaeeyam 55.4]

The cadence in which Bhattathiri described Kaliya Nardhanam was in the same meter in which the Lord danced on Kaliya and the reason Bhattathiri was able to portray the divine play in such a visual manner was verily because the Lord performed the leela in front of Bhattathiri. Even today there are lots of inscriptions on Lord Krishna’s divine plays on the temple pillars in Guruvayur, which stands as a testimony to the precept that Lord Krishna himself had played the leelas there. Dashakam means a set of ten slokas. After every dasakam, he cries out to the Lord – “Oh! My Lord Guruvayurappa, you have bestowed your grace on everyone, won’t you not bestow your grace on me?” He was suffering from paralysis [vAtharogam] and cried out to the Lord that only he can cure him of that disease. The Lord wanted to extract Narayaneeyam from Bhattathiri and that was verily the reason he was afflicted with paralysis. When Bhadrachalam Ramadas was imprisoned, he thought it was a good time to sing kirtans on Lord Rama. He was least bothered by the problems inside the prison in Golkonda fort and he was only thinking about Lord Rama. Even today one can see the gory place where Bhadrachalam Ramadas was imprisoned.

If we take the life-history of Bhakta Meera, she was in absolute peace with her Giridhari when she was tortured by King Rana. Brindavan was in her heart and she did not want to go anywhere – “Brindavaname un manamae”. It was only when Rana banished her, she moved to Brindavan.  When Mahans undergo more and more sufferings, it only makes them more and more aligned to the Lord.

The Lord listened to Narayaneeyam to the fullest and cured his disease and finally came in front of him. He was standing not with four hands as seen by Vasudeva but in the form of a beautiful Krishna with two arms holding a flute. When the Lord came in front of Mahans, they normally perform a “Padadi kaesha Varnanam” or “KeshAdi pAda varnanam”, where the former means a stuthi starting from the feet all the way to the head of the Lord while, the latter means a stuthi starting from the head of the Lord all the way to the Lord’s feet.  Here Bhhathari starts from the head. The reason why Mahans don’t start from the feet is because the Lord’s feet are so beautiful and alluring that they cannot go beyond the holy feet.  Thirumangai Azhwar describes how Mother Sita admired the beautiful countenance of Lord Rama, starting from the knot on the Lord’s head with tuft of hair and finally ends at the Lord’s feet – “Adiyum ahhde!”. Bhattathiri described the form of the Lord just as how he saw the Lord in front of him and he finally prostrated unto to the holy feet of the Lord which was so soft and tender. He ended Narayaneeyam with a very auspicious word, Lakshmi Sandoha Lakshmi. One will be bestowed with devotion to the Lord [Bhakti] which is verily the greatest of all Lakshmis, when one reads Narayananeeyam. Such was the life of Bhattathiri. The Lord showered his grace to many devotees around Guruvayur. There was a devotee called Poonthanam.  Narayana Bhattathiri was a great Sanskrit scholar and knew all the six Angas of the Vedas –Shikshya, kalpam, Vyakaranam, Nirukta, Chandas. Poonthanam was a novice in Sanskrit. He used to sing praises of the Lord in Malayalam which was his mother tongue. He was one reciting Vishnu Shahasarnamam and instead of reciting the Nama as “Amara Prabhuhu” he recited it as “Mara Prabhuhu”. Amara connotes Devas and Amara Prabhuhu means the ‘Lord of all Devas’.

Bhattathiri who was passing by heard Poonthanam reciting the nama as Mara Prabhuhu. The next day, Poonthanam again recited the name as Mara Prabhuhu. Bhattathiri became really mad hearing Poonthanam’s recital of Vishnu Shasarnamam and asked him not to chant Vishnu Shasarnamam since he had not learnt it properly. That very night, the Lord came in Bhattathiri’s dreams and told him that he was pleased with Poonthanam’s bhakti more than Bhattathiri’s scholarliness. He also clarified that he is indeed “Mara Prabhu” which connotes “Lord of all human beings, plants and animals”. The very next day, Bhattathiri prostrated unto Poonthanam and that “Amara Prabhuhu” and “Mara Prabhuhu” are indeed correct and requested him to continue chanting the nama verse as “Mara Prabhuhu”. It was indeed a divine play of the Lord to show that he was indeed “Mara Prabhuhu”. There was once a devotee of Poonthanam who would string garlands to little Guruvayurappan. She would offer the garland to the Lord every evening. One day she was running a little late as she had some chores to complete. By the time she reached the temple, Dolotsav was already done and the temple was closed. There was no one else in the temple and she saw Poonthanam, who was the last person to come out of the temple. She prostrated unto Poonthanam and told him that she was not able to get the garland on time and hence she was not able to offer it to Lord Krishna. There is a tree called “Manjulal” outside the Guruvayurappan temple. One would first have the darshan of the tree before entering the temple. Since the Lord was “Mara Prabhuhu” who is the Lord of trees [Mara], Poonthanam requested the girl to offer the garland to the tree. She implicitly obeyed Poonthanam and offered the garland to Manjulal.  The next morning, when all the Pandits opened the temple to wake up the Lord, they saw the same garland around the Lord’s neck. Such was the Lord’s compassion on that little girl who verbatim obeyed her Guru’s words. The Lord was so fond of Bhagavatam and so Poonthanam used to read Bhagavatam all the time in his house. One day he had some guests at home and was not able to do Bhagavata Parayanam. So he went to the back of his house since he did not want to ill-treat the guests and started reading Bhagavatam. He was reading third canto to be more specific the 14th and 15th chapters, the incarnation Varaha Avatar, where the Devas went to meet Lord Brahma and they are consoled by Lord Brahma and in the fifteenth chapter, Lord Brahma describes the Sanatkumaras voyage to Vaikuntam, and the fifteenth chapter in third canto describes Vaikunta in fine detail. bhringAdhipe harikathAm iva gAyamAne. The bees continuously buzz the names of Lord Hari and all the birds and animals chant the divine names and sign his divine glories. Poonthandam immediately goes into a bhava where he himself goes to Vaikuntam and there he sees two people prostrating unto him. He immediately enquired about them and they who were Devas replied that they were two plantain trees in Poonthanam’s backyard and they got liberated by listening to Bhagavatam. Poonthanam saw the greatness of Bhagavatam. They very listening of Bhagavatam bestow one with Vainkunta. It need not be a human tree and in this case it was a tree that was bestowed with liberation by listening to Bhagavatam, verily because the Lord is “Mara Prabhuhu”.

There was another old devotee called KruramAa who was an ardent devotee of Lord Guruvayurappan, who promptly came to have the darshan of the Lord in the morning and in the evening every day. One night as she was returning back home after the Sriveli procession, where the Lord is taken around in a procession on an elephant and then put to sleep, it started raining and she lost her way. She had to cross couple of forests en route to her home and in those days, there were no lights on the road and she lost her way. As she was walking in the forest she was continuously chanting the divine names of Lord Guruvayurappan and suddenly a small boy appeared in front of her and enquired with KruramAa as to how she got lost. She narrated how she got lost and then the boy lead KruramAa to her home. As they both walked, both of them got drenched in the rains.  As they reached KruramAa’s house, she thanked the boy for taking her safely to her home and asked his name. The boy replied that his name was Gopala. She wanted to give the boy something as gratitude and when she asked the boy, he asked her for a piece of cloth. He was only clad in a loin cloth on his hip and since he got wet in the rains, he wanted to change his loin cloth.  KruramAa looked around and she spotted a red saree. She tore apart some portion of the saree and gave it to the boy. He happily changed his loin cloth and went away. The next morning, when the Pandits opened the temple,to wake the Lord up, they were surprised to  behold the beautiful form of the Lord in a red loin cloth. The form of the Lord was so enticing that from that day, the Lord was dressed with only red loin cloth in the night. KruramAa came to have the darshan of the Lord the next day and felt so extremely happy to see the Lord clad in red loin cloth. She was so happy and kept on relishing to herself the divine play and how the Lord showered his grace on her.

 

The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.

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