‘Champakaranya Kshetra Baala’

10 May

Champakaranya is a place in South India very commonly known as Mannargudi. This kirtan is on Sri Rajagopalaswamy, the deity of Mannargudi. Sri Swamiji sings a beautiful lullaby putting the Lord to sleep in Nilabari raga. It is very beautiful to know the greatness of this place, Mannargudi (Champakaaranya). Champaka is one kind of flowers which is one of the Lord’s favorite and this kshetra is supposed to be a forest of Champaka flowers. It is also called Dhaksina Dwaraka and the Lord gives darshan as a Gopala (one who herds cow) and since the Lord is from this place, he is beautifully addressed as ‘Champakaranya kshetra baala’. The very fact that the Lord is indeed a Gopala itself means that

The Lord has two forms. One is Raja Mannar and so this place is also called as Raja Mannargudi. Lord Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva but he grew up as Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda’s son as Rajagopala. When Lord Krishna went to herd the cows, Yashoda dressed him up very beautifully with all kinds of ornaments adorning Krishna. He sets out for herding the cows with two things in his hand, the stick for generally driving the cows in one direction and a rope for bringing order among the cows when they don’t follow the instructions. He tucks his flute on his hips and on the other hand he has a horn [shrunga] for regulating the cows. This beautiful form of the Lord is verily Lord Rajagopala who being a king, goes to herd the cows.

The moment Krishna steps out of Gokulam and enters Brindavan he immediately removes his ornaments and bundles them and places the jewels under a tree. He removes his dress [pitambaram] and wears a single piece of cloth and his friends come and give flowers with long stalks [karnikara] and he wears them as his earnings. Another friend brings along a peacock feather that goes on the Lord’s head and another brings a garland made of five different wild flowers [Vaijyanthi mala].  The Lord enters Brindavan adorned with forest flowers and this form of the Lord is called ‘Kaatu Mannar’. He is still a cow herd [mannar] but the Lord now is in the forest [kaadu] adorned by forest flowers.  These are the Lord’s two forms – Raja Mannar and Kaatu Mannar. After herding the cows, the Lord comes back and wears his jewels and returns back to Gokula as Rajagopala.

In the first charanam, Sri Swamiji sings – ‘ekavastrAnvita thejomayarUpa’. The Lord wears one single piece of vastram after removing his pitambara before entering Brindavan to herd cows. According to Shastras, one needs to wear two pieces of clothes [vastras].


The consort of the Lord is Champakavalli. She is also called as Rathabja valli and Chenkamalavalli thayar. It is said that when one sing glories about the Lord, praises are sung on the Lord’s consort as well. Sri Swamiji refers to the Lord’s consort in all his kirtans.

Sri Swamiji in this kirtan sings – ‘gorakshaNakara rAjagopAla’. Here the term ‘GorakshaNa’ means Gopala and it appears that the same idea is repeated twice.  In any kirtan, the same idea should not be repeated twice and is considered a dosha. It is however not the case. The term ‘Go’ in both the words refer to two different entities. ‘Go’ means cow and it also means Mother Earth.  It is verily why the divine mother took the form of a cow when she was unable to stand the burden and went and prostrated to Lord Brahma which is seen in the tento canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. It is also seen that in the first canto of Bhagavatam, we see that Mother Earth guised in the form of a cow and conversed with the Lord of Dharma [Dharmadevatha] who was in the guise of a bull. It is very interesting to see how Mother Earth got the name ‘Prithvi’. King Prithu was once ruling the earth and Mother Earth came in the form of a cow and surrendered unto the king and offered herself to be milked to extract the natural resources from her. It is verily why Mother Earth is also called as Prithvi because of King Prithu.

In the Kirtan, ‘gorakshaNakara’ means the Lord Rajagopala, who is ruling the entire universe. There is another way to interpret this verse – “jaya srIchampakavallIramaNa”. This verse also speaks about the consorts of the Lord, Champakavalli who is Sridevi Thayar. Since the Lord protects Mother Earth and here ‘Gorakshanakara’ means the consort of Bhodevi.  The Lord is in the middle and Sridevi and Bhodevi Thayars are on either side of the Lord.


Sri Swamiji ends the kirtan with the following verse-

muraLIdhara mAnasasevita
sakalamunihRudaya sadAbhAvita”


None of the Azhwars have sung any praises on this holy ksetra of Mannargudi although there are instances in Thiruvaimozhi which could be alluded to Rajagopalaswamy. Nevertheless this deity is contemporary to Puranas and the Panguni utsav and Venna Thazhi utsav is celebrated in a very grand manner in Mannargudi during the month of March. During the Venna Thazhi Utsav, Lord Krishna is decked as a little Gopala and he is carried on a little palanquin. The beauty of this utsav is that the devotees can throw balls of butter at the Lord and it is believed that the Lord takes myriad number of hits from as many people that day. The Lord goes around Mannargudi and goes till Neivasal. The reason it is called Neivasal is because all the butter balls that were thrown at the Lord, starts melting and becomes ghee. That is verily the greatness of Mannargudi.


Sri Swamiji closes this kirtan by singing that it is verily the Lord Rajagopala in his heart to whom he propitiates.

The term ‘sakalamunihRudaya sadAbhAvita’, where the Munis are the ones who control their senses, and that they are enticed by the beautiful form of the Lord.


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