Gangashtakam and Govinda Pattabhishekam

11 Dec

The eleventh of December 2015 was very auspicious indeed as it marked the ‘Karthika Ammavasya’ which is very propitious for Bhagavatas. One of the proponents of Bhajana Sampradaya, Sri Sridhara Ayyaval Swamigal, out of his divine grace and compassion, made the river Ganges flow down to the south.  River Ganges by flowing in the well of Sri Sridhara Ayyaval Swamigal’s home blessed the whole Bhagavata community. On the Shardha day of his ancestors, he fed a wayfarer with the food that was prepared for the Shardha and the brahmanas which in turn angered the Brahmanas and they  failed to perform the Shardha. The divine lordships, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva themselves partook the offerings of the Shardha. The brahmanas were still displeased that Sri Sridhara had committed a mistake (apachara), and wanted him to undergo expiation by taking a dip in river Ganges. Sri Sridhara Ayyaval, composed Gangastakam, which consists of eight verses invoking river Ganges.  He spoke to the Brahmanas with all humility as compassionate souls, who out of their mercy have asked them to do a repentance and expiation (prayaschitta) by taking a dip in river Ganges.  The beauty of Gangashtakam is that he puts himself in a lowly state. In the first verse, he says , ‘I have been chanting the divine names of Lord Shiva, and the result of Shiva nama is showing itself”. This is in accordance with Bhagavata Dharma that when one chants the divine names, he first experiences a transition within himself.


Evam vratah sva priya nAma kIrtyA jAtAnurAgo drutha cittha uccaiḥ

hasaty atho roditI rauti gAyaty unmAda van nṛutyati loka bAhyaḥ

kham vAyum agnim salilam mahIm cha jyotImsi sattvAni disO drumAdIn

sarits amudrAms cha hareḥ sarIram yat kim cha bhUtam praṇamed ananyaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.40-41]


When one chants the divine name, he starts to experience a transformation within himself ‘jAtAnurAgo drutha cittha uccaiḥ’.  The bhakti [Anuragam]will  begin to spring in one’s heart, which will exhibit through the senses, where one will sing in joy and dance in ecstasy.   This is the first step and as the bhakti progresses, one will perceive Lord in the entire world. Sri  Ayyaval says that with his incessant chanting of Lord Shiva’s divine names, he can only see Lord Shiva everywhere. He says that he saw Lord Shiva in the beggar and so he offered the prasad, and so he asks ‘Is there anything wrong in what I did?

shambO bhavan nAma  nirantha rAnu santhAna bhAgyena bhavantha meva |

yadhEva sarvathra thathAnthyajEdhya pashyanthyahO kOthra kruthOparAgaha ||

He then says in the second verse that the best atonement for any transgression with respect to the ShrAddha ceremony is taking a dip in river Ganges, however  by merely chanting ‘Gange’ the sins are absolved . He sadly says that no one believes that chanting the divine names and simply proclaim it as ‘ArthavAdha’. He then asks if he cannot take this recourse in this situation?

asthvEsha manthuhu pithru yagna nishtE gangAplavO yO vihithOpachithyaihi |

dhoorAthu thannAma japEna shuddihi na syadhu katham mae smrithi artha vAdhaha ||

He ponders within himself and thinks may be he doesn’t believe in Nama Sankirtan.  He compares himself  to Trisanku. He says that if I had strong belief and conviction in Lord’s names, then I don’t have to pay heed to people who say Nama is Arthavadham.  He wishes to have that strong conviction in Bhagavan Nama and not caught in the midst of all rights and rituals. This precept is again mentioned in Bhagavatha Dharma by  Karabhajanar. In Krishnakarnamrutham, Sri Leela Sukar also proclaims this beautiful precept – ‘SandhyAvandhana badram asthu bhavathE’  where he says that since he has tight grip on the lord’s divine names, there is absolutely no need to catch hold onto any other karma.

Sri Ayyaval in his third verse ponders as to whether he has strong faith on Nama but for which he is getting caught in the Karma and questions to how he will be alleviate himself from the thrisanku swarga?

thvan nAma nishtA na hi thAvathO me shaddhA yathaha karmasu na pradhagdhA |

thrI shangavam mae pashu pantha rAyaha muchyeya thasmAth katham Artha bandhO  ||

He then looks compassionately at the Brahamanas  and surrendered unto Lord Shiva and  said that it may be your wish that the Shraddha should not take place and so be. But what about the Brahmanas who are fasting since yesterday and that they will not partake food anywhere else today.   Sri Ayyaval calls the Brahamanas as Sharahalus and Dayalus and if the Sharddha doesn’t take place, it will be an apachara for not serving them food.

yadhadhya  the shrAdhva vinashtirishtA kOham thathOn yachharithum samarthaha .

shArdhe vruthaha poorva dhinO pavAsAhA nAn yathra bhunji yuhu yidham thu kidhyE  ||

Bhagavatam says -‘yatra dandena shudhyathi‘ . He hails the Brahmanas as Dayalus who want him to undergo the expiation in order to be purified.

shrAdhvAlavaha shrAdha vIgAtha bIthvA svAthmOparOgam vignayya dhIraha |

Yath prochu rathrapachitham mahanthaha thathrochitham yadhyayA videhI  ||

Sri Ayyaval then looks at himself and says, ‘Oh Siva, all I know is to chant your name – Gangadahara’. He says he doesn’t even go to Kaveri river to take bath because as soon I set out, I get entangled in worldly thoughts and I stop chanting the divine names. That is verily why I take bath in my own well (koopa).   When I don’t even know Kaveri, how can I know Ganges.

gangAdhara tvad bhajanAntharAya bithvA gruhE koopa kruthavagAha |

jAnena na thirthAntharam adhya gangAyAm aAsAdhayEyam katham Artha bandhO ||

I am not a Tapsvi like Sagara or Bhagiratha who prayed for Ganges to come. I also don’t know who Jahnu is. Jahnu was the great sage who drank Ganges  and spit it out of his ears and Ganges became Jahnavi. I am not Brahma who can ordain you to release Ganges from your matted hair and lo the ganges flow down to the earth.

nAham thapasvi sagaranva vAyaha jAnena na jahanuhu charathi kvavEthi |

shambhO jatAjOta mapAvru nushvaethyamyarthane nAlamayam varAkaha ||

I am a normal being and Oh Shiva, your divine name Gangadhara is my only refuge and I am extremely confident that it will absolve my worldly problems. As he kept on chanting ‘Gangadhara Gangadhara Gangadhara’, he saw Ganges coming in his own well. Oh Lo! Look at Ganges who out of her compassion flows in the well. Akin to Gajendra, Sri Ayyaval prays for the prosperity for the entire mankind.

gangAdharAkyA gathirathra nanyA thAmAshrayE sangkata-mOchanAya |

hantha pravAhaha katham athra koopae vispoorjathIshaha kalu the prasannaha ||

As he kept on chanting ‘Gange Gange’, he was not inundated by the waters, but flooded in Lord’s compassion. The water of the Ganges has flooded the well and flowing out and he asked for a boon for Ganges to remain there in the well forever and thus be a solace for the posterity and all the Bhagavatas who come to take a bath in this well on the auspicious day of Karthika Ammavasya.

gangEthi gangEthi harathi grunhan aAplAvithOham dayayA porArehe |

kupOthi thOyam karunA prahavAhaha gangAshvi rAyAthra janAn punAthu ||

Sri Ayyaval was verily Srikantam (Lord Shiva); ‘Srikantam iva bhAshvantham shiva nama parayanam shreyase gurum ashraye‘ .

Sri Narayananji from Boston continued with his beautiful exposition of Govardhana Leela. The beauty of the lord being crowned with the beautiful name ‘Govinda’ , verily shows the compassion of Lord Krishna – ‘rakshisyati iti vishwasahaand ‘gothrupthva varanam’. 6 different precepts of Sharanagathi are completely seen in Gopas and Gopis.  They surrendered unto the lord, when they  were trembling in cold (seedarthaha) and wanted protection from that and surrendered unto Krishna as Govinda.

‘gopah gopyascha seedharthaha govindam sharanam ayuhu ‘

They had all the lakshanas of Sharanagathi. They had Krishna as the only refugee and were completely confident that he will protect them. The lord witnessed this and immediately lifted the mountain in order to protect them.

tasmAn mach charaṇam goshtam man nAtham math parigraham

gopAye svAtma yogena so yam mE vrata Ahitah   [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.15]


The lord ordained the residents of Gokula to prepare different kind of rice items, dishes with dals, payasam, savories from rice flour (murrukku), appam. The lord being ‘akila kaladi gurunanartha’, is very conversant in cooking and he himself gave the menu for Govindha Pooja


tasmAd gavAm brAhmaṇAnAm adrEs chArabhyatAm makhah

ya indra yAga sambhArAs tair ayam sAdhyatAm makhah

pachyantAm vividhAh pAkAh sUpAntAh pAyasAdayah

SamyAvApUpa shashkulyah sarva dohas cha gruhyatAm  [[Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.25-26]

Sri Vallabhacharya  analyzes this phrase ‘sUpAntAh pAyasAdayah’ that the lord ordained them to begin with payasam and end with dishes made with dhal items. The lord not only gives advice on what dishes to prepare but also how to prepare them. The reason the lord gives instructions to first make payasam is that it takes a long time for it be prepared and to make dhal related items at the end. This bhava is just a sample to demonstrated that the lord is indeed a connoisseur of culinary art.  This can be viewed in another way. One needs to  first cook dishes that has to be offered to Devas and Bhagavan and secondly cook food-items that has to be offered to Sadhus and finally make dishes that can be served for the common man.


Then the lord ordains the Gopas to circumambulate the Govardhana hill and offer all the offerings to the hill.

tasmai namO vraja janaih saha chakra AtmanAtmane

ahO pashyata sailOsau rUpI no anugraham vyadhAt [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.36]


Suddenly Lord Krishna took the unprecedented form of a big mountain and partook all the food offerings.

krishnas tva anyatamam rUpam gopa vishrambhanam gatah

sailo smIti bhruvan bhUri balim Adad bruhad vapuh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.35]


The Gopas and Gopis totally believed that it was indeed the mountain who is eating the food and joyfully offered all the food items. Meanwhile, Lord Indra who was waiting for his share of food-items became furious ordered heavy rains to pour down in Gokula. Everyone took refuge in Krishna and he protected them by lifting the Govardhana mountain. He assured them by saying ‘mA baihI’.  The lord took care of all of them and no one felt any pain anymore. It rained heavily for seven days. After the rains stopped, the lord kept back the mountain in the same place.


bhagavAn api tam sailam sva sthAnE pUrva vat prabhuh

pashyatAm sarva bhUtAnAm sthApayAm Asa lIlayA [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.28]


It was indeed lord’s divine play not only when he lifted the mountain but also when he placed it back . Everyone went back home happily not because they were not drenched in the rain or for Krishna protecting them but they now had another leela of the lord to reminisce all their lives.


tato nuraktaih pashupaih parishritO rAjan sva goshtam sa balo vvrajad dhariḥ

tathA vidhAny asya krutAni gopikA gAyantya Iyur muditA hṛudi-sprusaH [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.33]


Everyone in Gokula was truly happy because they could now fondly call the lord as ‘Giridhari’ and ‘Govinda Giridhari’. They could perceive Radha Devi’s friend Chamapakalatha coming down as Meera Bhai and singing the divine glories of  the lord as Giridhari.

Everyone in Gokula were wonderstruck on the lord’s divine play of lifting the mountain. They started to reminisce the lord’s divine plays right from how he drank the poison and the life of Putana and all his other plays all the way to his naming ceremony. They fondly recollected how Garga named him ‘Krishna’ and called the verses from Garga as Garga Geetham.


yah sapta hAyano bAlah karenaikena lIlayA

katham bibhrad giri varam pushkaram gajarAd iva [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.26.3]


tokenAmIlitAkshena pUtanAyA mahaujasah

pItah stanah saha prAnaih kAleneva vayas tanoh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.26.4]


iti nanda vacah shrutvA garga gItam tam vrajaukasah

muditA nandam Anarcuh krishnam cha gata vismayAh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.26.16]


The residents of Gokula realized that the rains were sent by Indra and it is not a feat possible by normal mortals to lift the Govardhana mountain. They then started to perceive Krishna as a divine soul.  Sage Suka does a beautiful Mangalasasanam on Lord Krishna as to how he culled the ego of Indra.


deve varshati yajna viplava rhushA vajrAsma varsAnilaih

sIdat pAla pashu striyAtma sharanam drishtvAnukampy utsmayan

utpAtyaika karena sailam abalo lIlocchilIndhram yathA

bibhrad goshtham apAn mahendra-mada-bhit prIyAn na indro gavAm  [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.26.25]


All the Gopas and Gopis came and joyfully narrated the events to Nanda Baba and he acknowledged them and inturn mentioned that he knew all about it and reminisced what ever Garga had mentioned about Lord Krishna-‘narayana samO gunaih’ and Krishna’s naming ceremony events.

It was then the turn of Lord Indra to come down. He first sent Surabhi, the cow, ‘ Govardhane drithE sailE’ , who saw that the entire cowherd was protected by Krishna. Then Indra came down. Generally, Indra’s crown’s shines so brightfully akin to hundred sun-rays. The crown touched the holy feet of Lord Krishna as soon as it came in the divine contact of Lord Krishna’s feet, the crown indeed was blessed with Lord’s Tejas and hence began to glow like sunshine.  Vedanta Desika goes a step forward and says that it was Paduka’s tejas that was imparted to Indra’s crown.

viviktha upasangamya vrIdItah kruta helanah

pasparsha pAdayor enam kirItenArka varchasA [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.2]

He came with his face covered due to shame. – ‘drushta shruthA nu bhAvOsya’

Until now, Indra had only heard about the glories of Lord Krishna. Now, whatever he had witnessed whatever he had seen and came to  terms with the fact that Krishna is not a normal person ; ‘krishnasya amitha tejasaha’.

Indra was absolved of his ego that he was the ruler of the three worlds and fell at the feet of the lord and began to speak:

vIshuddha sattvam tava dhAma shAntam tapO mayam dhvasta rajas tamaskam

mAyA mayo ya guṇa sampravAho na vidyate te grahanAnubandhah [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.4]

Indra says to Krishna, ‘Oh Krishna, you never get angry  because  the two qualities ,rajas and thamas are verily the reasons for anger are completely bereft in you. ‘Poornam brahma sannadhanam’ has indeed taken a sattva guna and come down as Krishna. He also says that anger is related to Maya. You only punish at times to establish dharma.  You don’t punish because of anger.’

When Indra showered the rains, Krishna could have immediately stripped off the power from Indra. The reason he didn’t do so was because, Indra was an epitome of Kriya and hence the lord had to do a Kriya in order to subdue Indra’s ego. The lord countered Indra directly  to establish Bhagavata Dharma.

Indra then refers to the lord as Pitha (father), Guru and ruler of the entire earth and that take a form to punish. Here Indra refers to the Dashavataram .

The first Purusha avatar of the lord is considered as the father. Matsya avatar is the form of the lord where he is a Guru ‘paramO guruhu’.  The other incarnations of the lord like Koorma and Varaha are indeed to protect the earth,’jagathathma dIshaha’.  Narasimha and Vamana avatars of the lord are to punish and goes to the extent of killing Hiranyakashipu and punishing Bali.

The ten vitals of Lord Indra became his ten slokas in praise of the lord. The four Purusharthas and six divine qualities which he had possessed earlier and in-turn lost them due to his ego eventually became the ten slokas in praise of the lord.

yaE madh vidhAjnA jagad Isha mAninas tvAm vIkshaya kAle bhayam Asu tan madam

hithvArya mArgam prabhajanty apasmayA IhA khalAnAm api te anushAsanam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.7]

Lord Indra said that it is my ego that the lord enacted this leela to subdue his ego.  Indra did a retrospective analysis for the shoot up of his ego and verily attributed to his wealth (Aishwaryam).

sa tvam mamaIshvarya mada plutasya krutAgasas tE vidushah prabhAvam

kshantum prabhO thArhasi mUdha cEthasO maIvam punar bhUn matir Isha mE sathI  [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.8]

Indra hails lord’s compassion to punish him in order to subdue his pride.

tavAvathAro yam adhokshajeha bhuvo bharAnAm uru bhAra janmanAm

chamu pathInAm abhavAya deva bhavAya yushmac charanAnuvartinAm [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.9]


The lord came down to remove the Asuras who were the burden on the earth.  The lord prostrated to the lord and said  that now being egotic, he was also a burden on the earth and instead of removing him, the lord removed his ego thus reducing the burden of the earth.

Indra finally apologized to the lord that out of his severe anger , pride and ignorance, he caused the entire destruction of entire Gokula.  He then mentioned that the lord’s determination was greater than his pride and anger and corrected him thus vanquishing his pride.

Indra surrendered to the lord and beheld Krishna as Ishwara, Guru and Deivam.

The lord then replied tersely in four slokas to Indra’s stuthi. He imparted four precepts in the four slokas. He blessed Indra in the first sloka  and in the second sloka he told Indra the reason for stopping Indra Yaga. He explained how Indra’s pride was nulled in the third sloka and in the fourth sloka the lord showers his grace on Indra.

The lord beautifully clarified that when he punishes someone it is not that he is angry with that person but only because of his compassion. He ordained Indra to go back and continue his work bereft of any pride.  After Indra departed, Surabhi came and surrendered unto the lord and all of them did a beautiful Pattabhishekam . Surabhi brings her milk and baths Krishna in it, Airavatha brings Akasha Ganga and sprayed it on Krishna and everyone crowned Krishna with a beautiful name called ‘Govinda’. The lord was showered with different kinds of flowers, by different deities (Devas, Thumbaurus, Gandarvas, Kinaras, Siddhasm Charanas and Narada)

indrah surarsibhih sAkam chOditO deva mAtrubhih

abhyasinchata dAsArham govinda itI chAbhyadhAt [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.23]

The satsang concluded with prayers to Govindha to subdue all the pride which is the source of all sufferings in this mundane world and that he delivers us from the sufferings and bless us with Nama ruchi and bhakti.


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