Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sri Raghava Yadaveeyam

Sri Raghava Yadaveeyam

Sanskrit is a rich language. Sages like Valmiki and Vyasa have produced the two great eternal Epics, Srimad Ramayana and the Mahabharata respectively in that language. Impelled by Sage Narada, Sri Veda Vyasa composed Srimad Bhagavata, which sets out the glory of the supreme Lord and His descents into the world. It is often said that it requires a profound scholar in Sanskrit to understand and convey the meaning of Srimad Bhagavata. Philosophers like Sri Yamunacharya, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika used Sanskrit to the best advantage to posit the Visishtadvaita philosophy. Coming in the tradition of Sri Desika was Sri Venkatadhvari, a poet of the 17th century (1590 – 1660 CE). He has a distinguished genealogy. His grandfather Sri Srinivasa Dikshita (also known as Appayyaguru) was the nephew of the great Panchamata Bhanjana Tatadesika. Sri Venkatadhvari was a master of poetry, rhetoric and dramaturgy. Many works are attributed to him, but quite a few are unfortunately lost. One of his works is Raghava Yadaveeyam.

This is an unusual composition of just thirty verses, but simultaneously narrating the story of the Ramayana when read in the composed order. When read in the reverse order (commencing from the end of the second line), the episode in Srimad Bhagavata of Sri Krishna fetching the Parijata tree from Indra’s svarga-loka is narrated. In view of the difficulty in grasping the dual meanings of the words (in the original and reverse orders), the author himself has provided a commentary pointing out the salient features in the verses. Based on this commentary, the translations of the verses and the highlights thereof are given below, along with the verses in original Sanskrit and transliteration in English. Since both stories (Srimad Ramayana and Srimad Bhagavata) are familiar, readers may find the text easy to understand. But, more than anything else, this work is bound to enthuse lovers of Sanskrit literature.

श्री वेङ्कटाध्वरिकृतं
श्री राघव-यादवीयं

वंदेSहं देवं तं श्रीतं रन्तारं कालं भासा य:।
रामो रामाधीराप्यागो लीलामारायोध्ये वासे॥1॥
सेवाध्येयो रामालाली गोप्याराधी मारामोरा:।
यस्साभालंकारं तारं तं श्रीतं वन्दे अहं देवं॥1a

I pay my obeisance to Lord Sri Rama, who with his heart pining for Sita, travelled across the Sahyadri, returned to Ayodhya after killing Ravana, and sported with his consort, Sita, in Ayodhya for a long time. 1

[The loss and rescue of Sitadevi are highlighted here. These are linked to the purpose of Sri Rama’s incarnation. The term ‘sreetam’ means ‘having obtained Sree’, which means not only Goddess Sri (Sitadevi) but also royalty and prosperity. (Refer Uttara-rama-charita 4-6: dasarathasya gruhe yathaa sreeh)]

I bow to Lord Sri Krishna, whose chest is the sporting resort of Sri Lakshmi who is fit to be contemplated through penance and sacrifice, who fondles Rukmani and his other consorts, who is worshipped by the Gopikas, and who is decked with jewels radiating splendor. 1a

[The term ‘maaraamoraah’ is to be split up as ‘maa + aaraama + uraah’, meaning ‘with a Chest (uras) where Goddess Lakshmi (maa) indulges in delightful sports (aaraamah)’. Significantly, the term ‘sreetam’ is also used here to show the identity of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.]

साकेताख्या ज्यायामासीद्याविप्रादीप्तार्याधारा।
वाराशावासाग्र्या साश्वाविद्यावादेताजीरापू:।
राधार्याप्ता दीप्राविद्यासीमायाज्याख्याताकेसा॥2a

On the earth was the city of Ayodhya, named otherwise as Saketa, foremost among the famous cities, was the place of abode of King Dasratha, son of King Aja, which city was invincible even to the Gods, which displayed the pageantry of the Gods, who had assembled to partake the oblations offered in the sacrifice conducted there, which city was shining with all splendor with the Brahmins and merchant community.2

[Dasaratha, the son of King Aja, is called Aaji here. The term ‘aajeeta’ means ‘inherited by Aaji’. Reverence by the celestials is denoted by a double negative ‘adevaa dyaah avisvaasaa’. It also means that the celestials had no hope of conquering it. Hence, the city came to be called Ayodhya. It is always mentioned first among the seven sacred cities (Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika and Dvaraka). The citizens of the city excelled in their respective vocations, learning, industry, warfare, etc.]

The city Dwaravathi or Dwaraka, noteworthy among the cities, was in the midst of water, that city which abounded in horses and elephants, which was the battleground of the debating erudite scholars, which city had as her master, Sri Krishna, whose consort was Radha and which city was the greatest of the seats of learning. 2a

[The phrase ‘deepraa vidyaa’ means ‘radiant  knowledge’ or Brahmavidya.]

कापिवानघसौधासौ श्रीरसालस्थभामका॥3a

The city of Ayodhya abounded in huge mansions, which were the repository of immense wealth and splendor, deep walls and the cooing sounds of the Sarasa birds. The city was full of people, who were filled with a deep sense of love and affection.3

The raised pials in the houses of Dwaraka were filled with Brahmins. There were many huge lotuses and impeccable mansions. The city ‘Dwaraka’, which was indescribable, was in the midst of mango groves.3a

नामहामक्षररसं ताराभास्तु न वेद या॥4॥
तां समानधरोगोमाननेमासमधामरा:॥4a
Ayodhya interspersed with clusters of trees and mansions had not seen the light of stars. It was full of festivities and joy. It warded off all sins. In its splendor, it equaled the Sun. the majestic luster in the form of Rama pervaded its whole atmosphere.4

The liberal hearted Sri Krishna, the Lord of the Yadavas, the source of all light, the Lord of cows, the repository of unbounded splendor, was the protector of Dwaraka.4a

यं गाधेयो योगी रागी वैताने सौम्ये सौख्येसौ।
तं ख्यातं शीतं स्फीतं भीमानामाश्रीहाता त्रातं॥5॥
तं त्राता हा श्रीमानामाभीतं स्फीतं शीतं ख्यातं।
सौख्ये सौम्येसौ नेता वै गीरागीयो योधेगायन॥5a

The great Sage Vishwamitra, son of Gadhi, desirous of unfettered performance of sacrifices, secured the aid of the protector of sacrifices (viz: the calm and famous Sri Rama) from the destructive elements.5

The famous sage Narada, the greatest among the Brahmins who instills a sense of courage among the warriors and who is a great musician approaches singing, Sri Krishna, who is born for the welfare of humankind and the world. 5a

[In this verse, the letter ‘haa’ (which means ‘alas’), which stands alone, indicates that this visit of Narada forebode some disturbance.]

मारमं सुकुमाराभं रसाजापनृताश्रितं।
तन रातमवामास गोपालादमराविका।
तं श्रितानृपजासारभं रामाकुसुमं रमा॥6a

Sita, whose words are a source of immense joy, who is equal to Mother Earth, who is compassionate to those who bow before her, who was born out of the earth, obtained (married) Sri Rama, who possessed a graceful splendor and was the consort of Lakshmi, and had taken the human form.6

Lakshmi, born as the daughter of a King, was married to Sri Krishna. Rukmani (Goddess Lakshmi in the human form), who is the protector of the Gods, and who is free from all faults and the bride of Sri Krishna, took the resplendent flower Parijata from Sri Krishna, given by the Sage Narada. 6a

रामनामा सदा खेदभावे दयावानतापीनतेजारिपावानते।
कादिमोदासहातास्वभासारसामेसुगोरेणुकागात्रजे भूरुमे॥7॥
मेरुभूजेत्रगाकाणुरेगोसुमेसारसा भास्वताहासदामोदिका।
तेन वा पारिजातेन पीता नवा यादवे भादखेदासमानामरा॥7a
Sri Rama, who was glowing with a luster like that of the Sun, but at the same time, was easily approachable, who always sympathized with the woe begotten, who vanquished the demons harassing the sages, who was endowed with all the wealth, became kind-hearted when Parasurama, son of Renuka, bowed before him.7

[In Srimad Ramayana, the sequence is that Sri Rama killed the demons who interfered with the sacrifices performed by Vishwamitra and other sages, acquired Sitadevi as His Queen, confronted the arrogant Parasurama and condoned his behaviour, after showing His superiority. All these are dealt with in the Bala-kanda. Then, at the commencement of Ayodhya-kanda, Sri Rama’s qualities are vividly described by the citizens of Ayodhya. All these are condensed in a single verse but the sequence interchanged to permit the use of reversible words to convey the other story of Sri Krishna. Obviously, this is poetic license at its best! However, one can see that all the principal qualities of Sri Rama have been mentioned in this verse, such as His approachability (saulabhya), compassion (daya), valour (virya), lordship (aishwarya) and concern for the sages, which was the hallmark of His life, whether in Ayodhya or in the forests.]

Rukmani had lost all flair for the flowers growing on the earth, which produced a faint pleasure, Rukmani , with that Parijata flower obtained while on the Raivathaka mountain, was glowing with a new luster in the company of Sri Krishna, as if she had assumed a new body.7a

सारसासमधाताक्षिभूम्नाधामसु सीतया।

Sri Rama, who quickly sapped the energy of Asuras (demons), who was the abode of safety, sported with Sita in the abodes of Ayodhya.8

Rukmani who possessed the Parijata flower, which was like a necklace of pearls, and a repository of all welfare, and who was not afraid of her co-wives, reached her abode with Sri Krishna. 8a

यात्तमन्युमताभामा भयेतारभसागसा॥9a
In this Ayodhya, the earth (kingdom) was secured for her son (Bharata) by the middle (second of the three) queen, the jealous Kaikeyi.9

[It will be seen that there are enough words in this verse  emphasizing the negative aspects like anger, emotion, fault, etc. Kaikeyi is referred to by the word ‘madhyamaa’ for reasons of protocol to show that she was ranked senior to Sumitra.]

Satyabhama, the slender hipped, who attained a glorified position with her richness of wealth, became quickly possessed with anger and fear (due to the Parijata given by Sri Krishna to Rukmani).9a

[In both versions, the respective queens are seized by fear and anger at the prospect of being relegated to a secondary position by their husbands’ actions. Both felt that they were entitled to be in the premier positions at all times. King Dasaratha, by intending to make Sri Rama the Crown prince, and Sri Krishna, by handing over the Parijata garland to Rukmanidevi, had confirmed that the respective queens Kaikeyi and Satyabhama are secondary (madhyamaa) only.]

Kaikeyi, who became emaciated due to sorrow at the thought of coronation and who had lost all pleasures and had ceased to attend on the comforts of the old King Dasratha, objected to the coronation of Rama and made Rama proceed to the forest.10

Satyabhama, who was exceedingly agitated, had bolted the doors to prevent entry of her maids into her abode, where the peacocks used to live and sport. The beautiful-faced Satyabhama was under the influence of grave anger, which was like the forest fire.10a

[Both Kaikeyi and Satyabhama, who feared the consequences of their husbands’ actions, reacted in different ways to tackle the situations they found themselves in. While, in the Ramayana, Kaikeyi is said to have entered her ‘sulking chamber’, Satyabhama went one step further and did not wish to have any company, not even that of her maids, in her moment of anger. The poet uses the expression ‘taanavaat apakaa umaabhaa’, which means ‘thinning or emaciation due to loss of comfort and lustre’ to describe Kaikeyi’s state of mind and the reverse expression ‘bhaamaa kopaa davaanataa’ to convey the state of anger in the case of Satyabhama.]


The glorious and courageous Rama, with great devotion to his revered father, who felt ashamed at discarding the valued truth, (Dasratha’s predicament in fulfilling his vow to Kaikeyi, resulting in the banishment of his beloved son to the forest) started to go to the forest, bereft of all adornments.11

[The entire verse shows Sri Rama’s determination. He was, in no way, connected to the two boons given by his father earlier to Kaikeyi. However, due to the extraordinary respect He had for His father, He cheerfully decided (sthiradheerah) to honour the latter’s words. ‘Leaving without ornaments’ is intended to indicate removal of all vestiges of royalty before He left for the forest. He was clothed in tree-barks and carried only His bow and arrows. The poet says ‘aho’ to convey his sense of wonder at Sri Rama’s cheerful and spontaneous sacrifice.]

In Dwaraka, the brave Krishna, who was attached to his wife, endowed with a flair for music, who had been ashamed by his own action (of giving the flower to Rukmani) approached as if with fear the abode of Satyabhama.11a

[Hree means bashfulness, shame or embarrassment. The poet seems to convey that Sri Krishna perhaps thought that He could have avoided this embarrassment, had He acted differently and more carefully. The phrase ‘bhaasvarah sthiradheerah’ used to denote Sri Rama has been reversed to read ‘dheerasthira svabhaavah’ to indicate Sri Krishna.]

यानयानघधीतादा रसायास्तनयादवे।

Sita, the daughter of Mother Earth, who bestows the gift of faultless knowledge of Sastras, to those who resort to her aid, became ashamed and agitated and entered the forest with great anger. Yet she did not lack luster.12

[The words ‘who grants faultless scriptural knowledge to those who resort to Her’ (yaa nayaana agha dheetaadaa) has been placed in such a position as to apply to both Mother Earth and Sitadevi. Obviously, they pertain to Sitadevi only, for She is the Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, Who is the preceptor next to the supreme Lord in the Srivaishnava guruparampara. However, it could be taken to apply to Bhudevi also, for it was she who made the Lord spell out His plan for liberating bound souls through the Varaha charamasloka. Then, in the text, the poet refers to Sitadevi as ‘hreesataapaa’ i.e. embarrassed and agitated and explains it by his later comments ‘naayaka raajya vighna lajjaa sanjaata vishadetyarthah’, implying that She was upset due to the obstacles placed in the way of Her Lord getting the kingdom. But Sage Valmiki has stated in the Ramayana that Sitadevi joyfully went along with Sri Rama to the forest and that She was not too much concerned at the denial of the kingdom to Him. This needs a deeper analysis.]

The resplendent Krishna, the protector and bestower of wealth, who had the celestial bird (Garuda) as his carrier, was not even looked at by Satyabhama, who was slighted by Krishna’s fault (of giving the flower to Rukmani).12a

[The crux of this verse lies in linking the three words ‘dheeghanayaa’, ‘vedayaanah’ and ‘alokee’. Strung together, the sentence means ‘He who has the mobile Vedas (Garuda) as His vehicle, was not even looked at by her, who was weighed down by knowledge. Perhaps, the poet intends to convey that Satyabhama’s knowledge did not take her far enough to recognise Sri Krishna for who He was. On this point alone, Rukminidevi scores a point over Satyabhama, as was seen from the dialogue between Rukminidevi and Sri Krishna when He jocularly teased Her for choosing Him over many princes vying for Her Hand.]

हह साहमहोदारदार्वागतिधुरागिरा॥13a

Sri Rama, who vanquished the horde of wicked, proud and impassioned enemies, got tired while walking through the forest and approached the self-controlled Sage Bharadwaja.13

[After meeting Guha, the ruler of Sringaberapura, on the outskirts of Ayodhya, Sri Rama, Sitadevi and Lakshmana rested for the night on the northern banks of the Ganges. While Sri Rama and Sitadevi slept peacefully, Lakshmana stood guard over Them and lamented over the turn of events. Next morning, Sri Rama decided to cross the river and commandeered a boat for the purpose. He sent back a most reluctant Sumantra to Ayodhya and crossed over to the southern banks to enter the kingdom of the Matsyas. Seeking the shade of a large tree to take their forest meal and rest for the night, Sri Rama fondly recalled his father and rued over the latter’s plight. He feared for the safety of His mother Kausalya, who would be treated unkindly by Kaikeyi for the mere fault of being His mother. He advised Lakshmana to return to Ayodhya and provide comfort to Kausalya and his own mother Sumitra. Lakshmana consoled Sri Rama and added that he would not care even to enter the portals of paradise if Sri Rama was not there with him. Sri Rama was delighted to hear Lakshmana’s words and composed Himself to sleep.
Apparently, the short interlude of grief, which overpowered Sri Rama, is referred to by the poet through the words ‘aayaasee’. The double word ‘ha ha’ brings out the poignancy of Sri Rama’s mental state. The royal Exiles then called on the exemplary sage, Bharadwaja, who directed Them to Chitrakoota, a little further away. The sage had strictly observed all the vows and penances and had full knowledge of the three phases of time.]

Satyabhama did not utter a word to Sri Krishna out of anger nor did she listen to the utterances of Sri Krishna. However, Satyabhama became immensely pleased with Sri Krishna when he told her that He would undertake the burden of bringing the great Parijata tree and started to converse with Him.13a

[In the earlier verse 12, the poet conveyed the poor state of Satyabhama’s awareness of the greatness of Sri Krishna. He continues to dwell on the fact in this verse also. She was so far gone in her anger that she did not even ‘deign’ to speak to Him or reply to His words. However, the moment Sri Krishna mentioned His plans to bring the Parijata tree to her, she readily responded to His words. The word ‘ha ha’, in this context, refers to astonishment (aascharya), while, earlier, it referred to poignancy.]

यातुराजिदभाभारं द्यां वमारुतगन्धगं।
सोगमारपदं यक्षतुंगाभोनघयात्रया॥14॥
यात्रयाघनभोगातुं क्षयदं परमागस:।
गन्धगंतरुमावद्यां रंभाभादजिरा तु या॥14a॥   

Sri Rama who had valorous splendor like the Kubera and who had the distinction of vanquishing the big array of demons (Rakshasas), with his faultless gait, reached the region known as Chitrakoota, which was like the heaven, where the cool breeze was being wafted along.14

[Chitrakoota is described as a beautiful spot in Srimad Ramayana (Ayodhya-kanda, chapters 55, 56 and 98). Bharata praises Mount Chitrakoota saying that it is fortunate to offer a dwelling place to Sri Rama, who is like Kubera (ibid 98.12: subhagaschitrakooto’sau giriraajopamo girih, yasmin vasati kaakutsthah kubera iva nandane.).]

The cloud hued Sri Krishna, as an atonement for the displeasure caused to Satyabhama, started on a pilgrimage to the ‘Swarga’ – the heavenly abode of the God, which possessed an auditorium adorned by Rambha and others, to bring the Parijata tree of divine pleasure.14a

[Sri Krishna sought to assuage the feelings of Satyabhama by bringing the tree, which bore the celestial flowers, hoping that their fragrance will cool her tempers. He ascended His chariot and flew to Indra’s world. The poet deliberately uses the word ‘pilgrimage’ (yaatraa) to indicate that the journey was in ‘expiation’ of an ‘offence’ by Sri Krishna.]

दण्डकां प्रदमोराजाल्याहतामयकारिहा।
नसदातनभोग्याभो नोनेतानवनमास स:।

The self-controlled Rama, who had overcome Bharagava Rama (Parasurama) the destroyer of the big line of Kshatriya, reached the Dandaka forest. Rama, the Lord attainable only by the Nitya Suris, by having taken the human form also became attainable to the ordinary mortals of the world.15

[Parasurama, the son of Sage Jamadagni, was incensed at the mindless killing of his father by an arrogant king. He took a vow to exterminate all Kshatriyas and carried it out systematically. However, when he met Sri Rama and challenged the Latter, it was he who got defeated by Sri Rama’s superior prowess. Sri Rama not only humbled Parasurama, but also deprived him of his acquired divine powers and sent him to a distant land. The term ‘hata’, which ordinarily means ‘killing’, is taken to mean ‘putting to shame’ here. Next, though attainable only by the ever-free souls (nityasuris) in Srivaikuntha, Sri Rama met many inhabitants of the forest and was accessible to one and all during His Incarnation. The poet says that Sri Rama seemed to prefer the company of pure, devoted sages of the Dandaka forest to that of the nityasuris. So happy was He in the forest.]

The great leader, the possessor of remarkable magnificence, Sri Krishna, reached the Nandanavana – the celestial garden, which gave supreme pleasure to Indra.15a

[Sri Krishna was the Abode of all splendour and munificence. There was nothing He did not possess or could not get. The Parijata tree, which He sought for Satyabhama’s sake, was in the celestial world of Indra, who was known for his waywardness. The poet refers to Indra’s clandestine visit to Sage Gautama’s hermitage, coveting the sage’s beautiful wife, Ahalya. While, in the earlier original version, Sri Rama entered the (terrifying) Dandakaranya and spread His saulabhya around, in the reverse version here, Sri Krishna is seen to enter the (pleasant arboreal) nandanavana to dispossess Indra of one of his prized possessions, the Parijata tree.]


The faultless Rama, the enemy of ignorance, wearing the dress of bark, killed Viradha, the tormentor of all beings. Then Sri Rama went to Sage Agastya, whose voice was resounding with the Vedic hymns.16

[Verses 16 to 22 of this work contain the events, which are related in the Aranya-kanda of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. Soon after Sri Rama entered the Dandakavana, He passed through the hermitages of the sages and then encountered the cannibal Viradha, who was invulnerable to weapons. He was a willful killer of all moving objects and a terror to all living beings in the forest. After some terrifying moments, when the demon first carried away Sitadevi, dropped Her and then lifted Sri Rama and Lakshmana on his huge shoulders, he was pounded, mutilated and buried alive by them. The demon met his end at the Hands of Sri Rama but not before he directed Him to meet Sage Sarabhanga, who was awaiting Him. After meeting Sage Sarabhanga and then Sutikshna, Sri Rama met Sage Agastya and obtained from him divine weapons for His future use. Mention of the Viradha episode and Sri Rama’s meeting with Sage Agastya conveys the commencement of the fulfillment of the purpose of His Incarnation on earth.]

Indra, the bestower of water to the earth and who was enjoying the pleasure of hearing different kinds of music and who possessed valor capable of vanquishing the Asura (demon) named ‘Jambha’, got frightened on hearing the news of arrival of Sri Krishna in Swarga.16a

[Indra had once sent down a torrent of rain on Gokula when Sri Krishna was a boy. He got offended when young Sri Krishna had stopped the cowherds worshipping him and had diverted their worship to the Govardhana hill, the cows and Brahmins. Child Krishna had lifted the hill, kept it aloft by His divine powers, and saved the entire clan of cowherds. Indra accepted defeat and sought pardon from Child Krishna. Indra had not forgotten this embarrassment and hence was afraid of Sri Krishna’s visit to his kingdom. His misdemeanours were many and hence he was not sure for which of those actions Sri Krishna had come to punish him. Indra concluded that Sri Krishna’s visit bode no good; hence his fear.]

न समानर्दमारामालंकाराजस्वसा रतं॥17॥
तं रसास्वजराकालंमारामर्दनमासन।
सहितोनवनाकेकं हातापारकमागसा॥17a

Sri Rama, the protector of the sages immersed in the lore of the Vedas, was adored by Jatayu. Sri Rama was then implored by Surpanakha, the ugly sister of Ravana for his union.17

[On His way to Panchavati, Sri Rama espied a huge vulture seated on a large banyan tree, who introduced himself as Jatayu and a friend of Dasaratha. Sri Rama embraced Jatayu as His father’s friend even as the latter offered his respectful felicitations to Sri Rama and volunteered to watch over Sitadevi while Sri Rama was away. Later, at Panchavati, Sri Rama had an unusual visitor in demoness Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana. She was bewitched by Sri Rama’s demeanour and wanted to wed Him. It is significant that the poet has brought together, in the same verse, a friend and foe of Sri Rama, the former assuming the role of a protector and the latter a harbinger of dire consequences.]

Lord Sri Krishna uprooted the Parijata tree on Indra’s refusal to part with it. Consequently, Indra, though a friend of Krishna, made up his mind to fight with him.17a

[According to Srimad Bhagavata (X.59), Sri Krishna scored a victory over demon Narakasura and recovered from his palace many a jewel of immense value, besides several objects. Among them were the earrings of Indra’s mother, Aditi, and the white silken umbrella of Varuna. Sri Krishna went to Indra’s world to hand over these articles to him in response to his earlier request. During that occasion, Sri Krishna took out the Parijata tree from Indra’s garden, apparently after an unwilling Indra refused to part with it. Indra is shown in a poor light here, as he appears to be seen as ungrateful towards Sri Krishna despite getting his mother’s earrings through His help.]

तां स गोरमदोश्रीदो विग्रामसदरोतत।
वैरमासपलाहारा विनासा रविवंशके॥18॥
केशवं विरसानाविराहालापसमारवै:।
Lakshmana, the lieutenant and aid of Sri Rama, and the dauntless, cut the nose of Surpanakha. The demonic Surpanakha, who had lost her nose, vowed vengeance on Rama, the descendant of the God Sun.18

[When her advances were rejected by Sri Rama and Lakshmana, Surpanakha sprang at Sitadevi
Who, she felt, was the stumbling block to her attaining Sri Rama. Thereupon, on Sri Rama’s orders, Lakshmana lopped off Surpanakha’s nose and ears and she fled from the hermitage howling in pain and vowing vengeance on the Brothers whom she had sought earlier. Here, Lakshmana is referred to as ‘goramasreedah’, which means ‘one who lends strength to Sri Rama, Who is dear to the earth (goramah) because He rules it’.]

Indra, who overwhelmed the Asuras, and who was surrounded by the Gods and who had smothered the mountains, and who had his splendor and valor slighted, addressed Sri Krishna with polite words.18a

[Indra held a position none of the other deities possessed, i.e. ruler of a vast empire, had all the comforts in the world, had very little responsibility as compared to other senior deities, had plenty of lesser deities to carry out his bidding, who mostly kept the marauding Asuras under check and who had immobilized the mountains, felt slighted at Sri Krishna picking up the Parijata tree. He did not, for a moment, think who Sri Krishna was. Had he but done so, he would have realized that He was none other than Kesava, from Whom Brahma and Siva originated and that He held sway over heaven and earth and all intervening space. However, without picking up a fight straightaway, Indra used soft words to dissuade Sri Krishna from taking away the tree. To that extent, good sense prevailed, says the poet.]

यानसेरखगश्रीद भूयोमास्वमगोद्युग:॥19a
Though Sri Rama destroyed the demon ‘Khara’ and his army after a bitter fight, he was unostentatious and remained unscathed. His fame spread everywhere (reached the farthest corners of the earth and the heaven).19

[After being disfigured by Lakshmana, Surpanakha fled to her brother, Khara, and reported to him the treatment meted out to her by Lakshmana. There she spoke words of praise about the illustrious Brothers, sufficient enough for Khara to engage in battle against Them. Sri Rama killed the three demons, Khara, Dushana and Trisiras, besides fourteen thousand rakshasas in just over an hour (Aranya-kanda 30.30: ardhaadhika muhoortena). The destruction of the demons was but child’s play for Sri Rama. At the end of the battle, the sages of Dandakaranya, who had witnessed the prowess of Sri Rama, honoured and lauded Him to the skies. So did the celestial beings, who had gathered around in the skies and showered flowers on Him, accompanied by divine music. More than these was the welcome given by Sitadevi to Sri Rama when She embraced Him twice (ibid. verses 40 and 41). This is one of the very few moments of intimacy of the divine Couple mentioned in Srimad Ramayana. The esoteric meaning of this embrace is that the individual soul emerges from the confines of the material body and joins the supreme Brahman after He destroys all hurdles in the way of the soul’s attainment.]

‘Oh! Sri Krishna! Possessor of prowess capable of destroying the valor of the Gods, You who have celestial bird (Garuda) as your conveyance, dispenser of wealth, please do not carry the celestial tree Parijata to the earth.’19a

[Indra makes an impassioned appeal to Sri Krishna not to deprive the celestial world of one of its treasures, the Parijata tree. Scholars commenting on this verse say that Indra appealed thus out of ignorance. It was not sincere, but born out of ego and possessiveness. He had no thought that Sri Krishna was the supreme Lord and the ultimate Possessor of every object in the universe and that it was up to Him to decide where every object should remain and for how long.]

हतपापचयेहेयो लंकेशोयमसारधी:।
धीरसामयशोकेलं यो हेये च पपात ह॥20a
Ravana, the Lord of Lanka, who was surrounded by Rakshasas, the wicked and mean, made up his mind to conquer Sri Rama, who had destroyed the horde of demons.20

[After the destruction of Khara and other Rakshasas, Akampana escaped from Dandakaranya and reported to Ravana all that had happened in the forest. It was Akampana who suggested that Ravana should abduct Sitadevi, in which event, Sri Rama will cease to exist (Aranya-kanda 31.31: tasyaapahara bhaarthaam tvam tam pramathya pahaavane, seetayaa rahito raamo na chaivahi bhavishyati.). For Sri Rama was unconquerable even by the combination of Deva and Asura forces (ibid. 31.27: na tam vadhyamaham manye sarvaih devaasuraih api). Ravana then approached Maricha, who dissuaded him from embarking on such a foolish and dangerous venture. Subsequently, when Surpanakha met him and incited him to bring away Sitadevi, Ravana could not resist the temptation and, making up his mind to do so, sought Maricha’s help again. Ravana’s mind was clouded by the death of his cousins, Khara and others. Then Akampana and Surpanakha played upon his weakness and instigated him to abduct Sitadevi. Sage Valmiki says that, after hearing the two, Ravana retired to his chambers without taking the counsel of his ministers (ibid. 35.1: sachivaan abhyanujnaaya kaaryam baddhvaa jagaama ha). This is indicated by the poet in the two expressions ‘asaaradheeh’ and ‘haahaa’.]

Indra, the Lord of the Gandharvas and who was shining just like the God Sun, became afflicted with sorrow – the sorrow, which has the sickening effect of blunting the sense of discretion – and ordered the capture of Sri Krishna. 20a

[Indra should have known better than to encounter Sri Krishna in a fight. He was earlier worsted in his plans to inundate Brindavana through incessant rains, when Sri Krishna saved the village and its people by His divine Power. Yet he was hurt at the loss of the Parijata tree, which he should have himself offered to Sri Krishna in gratitude for all that He had done for him earlier. While, in the case of Ravana, his intellect was clouded due to his coveting Sitadevi, Indra lost his balance when he found that he was being deprived of one of his prized possessions.]

Sri Rama, the utterance of whose name makes one rid of all sins, shone brilliantly by killing Maricha, the son of Tataka. Sita, without her Lord, lost her composure and became protectorless (destitute).21

[Maricha carried out his evil designs at the instigation of and after being threatened by Ravana. Taking the form of a beautiful deer, which Sitadevi wished to possess, Maricha lured Sri Rama far away. When Sri Rama killed Maricha, the latter loudly cried, “Ha Sita! Ha Lakshmana!” in Sri Rama’s voice, to give the impression that Sri Rama was in distress. Hearing the cry, Sitadevi was unnerved. Though Lakshmana tried to assure Her that Sri Rama could be in no danger, Sitadevi sent an unwilling Lakshmana to go to the help of Sri Rama. Thus She Herself contributed to Her lack of protection, which led to disastrous consequences.]

Indra, who could destroy the wings of the mountains and could overcome Pradyumna, with the rain of his arrows, could not follow Sri Krishna, who accompanied by Pradyumna, was wandering around the abode of Gods, the Swarga.21a

[According to a Puranic version, Sri Krishna was accompanied by Pradyumna when He went to Indra’s kingdom to bring the Parijata tree. Pradyumna had an old score to settle with Jayanta, the son of Indra. Obviously, both Father and son had come prepared for a fight to possess the Parijata tree. When Sri Krishna discarded the plea of Indra not to take away the tree, Indra chose to obstruct Sri Krishna in carrying out His designs and had therefore ordered his men to capture Him. Indra first sent a shower of arrows, preventing Pradyumna’s free movements.]

चारुधीवनलोक्या वैदेहीमहिताहृता॥22॥
हानकेहकुधीराशनाकेशादकुमार भा:॥22a
The adorable Vaidehi (Sita), who was an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, was carried away by the deceitful and mean-minded Ravana.22

[Attired as a mendicant, Ravana sought alms from Sitadevi, who was alone in the hermitage after Lakshmana had been sent away by Her to help Sri Rama in the mistaken notion that He needed assistance. Unaware of the evil, which would befall him, Ravana abducted Sitadevi, which act was witnessed by the deities of the forest in silence.]

Pradyumna was defeated by Indra who was desirous of protecting the frightened and fleeing Gods and who was aided by the Brahmin named Pravara (Pradyumna fell down unconscious).22a

[According to Harivamsa, Pravara chanted some incantations, which rendered Pradyumna immobile. However, as would be seen later, this had only a temporary effect.]

Sri Rama, who was shining like the beautiful cloud, and who was separated from his wife, was met by the faultless son of Vayu – Sri Hanuman. The consort of Rama, Sugreeva, who had lost his power and fame and had thereby lost all his happiness, met Sri Rama.23

[Since the sequential events in Sri Rama’s travels in search of Sitadevi are well known, it suffices here to point out that Sri Rama first met Hanuman, the purest of pure souls (anagha vaayujah) and then Sugreeva, who was bereft of name and fame due to the loss of his kingdom (apetaamodah asaarajnah rumaa mahitah). Readers will also not fail to notice that the poet describes Sri Rama as possessing magnetic brilliance despite losing Sitadevi (haaritoyadabhah raamaaviyogah).]

The youthful Pradyumna, who was overcome by the Gods, regained his consciousness as the cold breeze blew over him and became his active self. He struck at the enemies, vanquished them, and became praiseworthy.23a

[Temporarily eclipsed in fame by Pravara’s chants, Pradyumna regained his powers and struck at Indra’s men, scattering them away.]

The lotus-eyed Sri Rama, whose splendor was adored by the splendor of God Sun, killed Vali, the son of Indra.24

[During His incarnation as Sri Rama, the Lord destroyed not only the prime source of all evil, viz. Ravana, but also all those who were directly or indirectly associated with him. The Lord’s earlier incarnations as Lord Varaha, Lord Nrisimha and Lord Vamana – Lord Trivikrama were to destroy and make powerless Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu and Mahabali respectively. He did not have to punish others. As the Yugas advanced, the evil forces tended to expand and draw others to their fold; hence He had to deal with them also. This trend is seen from His incarnation as Parasurama. Now, Vali had deviated from the rightful path in many ways and hence he had to be eliminated before destruction of Ravana. It is to be noted that Sri Rama’s splendour continues to be stressed even in the background of the loss of Sitadevi.]

Sri Krishna, who had belittled the splendor of Sun with his own splendor, and who had slighted the prowess of Ishwara; protected Garuda, his devotee, who with the breeze born out of his wings was wreaking havoc on the enemies.24a

[That Sri Krishna’s victory was a foregone conclusion is emphasized in this verse. He who had rendered Siva powerless cannot but be victorious sin His fight with Indra and his men, who were definitely of a lower calibre than Siva. Hence, Sri Krishna merely got His aide and friend, Garuda, to do the needful and drive away the celestial army with the power of his wings.]

In Sri Rama was born a new kind of magnificent splendor, which derived its strength from the invincible army provided by Sugreeva. The glorious victory (Jaya Lakshmi) which presaged cutting off the head of Ravana came to Sri Rama.25

[Sugreeva placed the entire might of his Vanara army at the disposal of Sri Rama. They were but the representatives (offspring) of the celestials sent down to earth under the orders of Brahma to assist Sri Rama during His incarnation in the task of destroying the demon Ravana (vide Bala-kanda 17.37: samaavrutaa raamasahaayahetoh). Destruction of Vali presaged the eventual elimination of Ravana and his men.]

Sri Krishna, who was capable of enduring the onslaught of an array of missiles, was approached by victory (Jaya Lakshmi), who had natural splendor of her own and had vanquished the Gods. (Sri Krishna defeated the Gods in the battle).25a

[Sri Krishna had recently emerged victorious in His battle with Narakasura and knew the art of warfare in which various types of missiles were used. Indra and his men were no match for Him. Sri Krishna overcame the gods in no time.]

Sri Rama, the renowned protector whose valor had excelled the valor of Indra, and who did not tolerate the glory of the Asuras met the famed Sri Hanuman, who had crossed the ocean, and shone brightly as he reached the Sahyadri and the shore of the ocean.26

[Sri Rama, whose valour far exceeded that of Indra, could have easily defeated Ravana. Yet, in this incarnation as a human being, He took some different steps such as enlisting the support of other beings for obvious reasons. But for Sri Rama’s incarnation, there would not be a Hanuman who is the most celebrated and deified among His devotees. He waited for Hanuman’s return and reached the shores of the ocean.]

Sri Krishna, who was much pained at the attack directed by Indra towards Pradyumna, gained victory and secured the Parijata tree, the pride of the abode of Gods – Swarga.26a

[While Sri Krishna had apparently come to Indra’s abode to get the Parijata tree, He was doubly determined to do so to teach Indra a lesson for resorting to deceit (with the help of a Brahmin) and defeating Pradyumna. It may be recalled that Sri Krishna had brought the earrings of Indra’s mother and given them to him. So He expected some token words of gratitude from Indra and definitely not waging a war.]

वीरवानरसेनस्य त्राताभादवता हि स:।
Sri Rama glowed brightly protecting the army of the valorous monkeys, which was treading its path on the newly built bridge across the ocean, which presented an obstacle in the form of a vast sheet of water and with innumerable creatures under the water.27

[At the suggestion of Vibhishana, Sri Rama observed a vow to seek the help of the Ocean-king. When the latter did not oblige, Sri Rama threatened him with extinction, after which he appeared and pacified Sri Rama with the idea of constructing a bridge across the ocean on which the Vanaras could walk. The poet says that Sri Rama obtained what He wanted. Throughout this narration, the poet makes us feel that Sri Rama took the help of Sugreeva and his army just for form’s sake and in order to protect them.]

A man praises Sri Krishna is blessed with the power to defeat the enemies. He who does not praise Sri Krishna not only becomes possessed with defeat but also loses all his luster. Sri Krishna, got hold of the Parijata tree.27a

[Indra could have shown better discretion in dealing with the matter. He could have meekly submitted his wishes to have the Parijata tree restored to him after sometime or appealed to Sri Krishna to find a way out by which He could satisfy Satyabhama and also not disturb the arrangement in Indra’s garden but he chose the wrong way of fighting for his rights and hence courted certain defeat.]

Sri Rama who dealt a fatal blow to the adventurous and valorous Ravana, the Lord of Lanka, secured his consort Sita, the daughter of Mother Earth; Sri Rama, who warded off the sorrow of Vibhishana, was adored by all the Gods.28

[In this verse, the poet links Sri Rama’s actions to Mother Earth. First, He got rid of Ravana, who was not a good ruler, but only an adventurer who was harassing good people on earth. Then He recovered Sitadevi, the daughter of Mother Earth, who was held captive by Ravana. Thirdly, He made the pious and righteous Vibhishana the ruler of Lanka in place of Ravana and later made Sitadevi cast Her glances on Lanka to restore the ravaged city to its original prosperity. Sri Rama’s all-round efforts won appropriate praise from all the gods, Brahma downwards.]

With the welfare of Pradyumna, who struck at the Gods, in view, Sri Krishna very quickly shattered the foes in the Swarga, and boasted of Iravatha (the elephant). The victorious Krishna thus merited the praise and returned to the earth.28a

[Since Pradyumna’s defeat was rankling in Sri Krishna’s mind, His victory over Indra calmed Him somewhat. His return to His city Dwaraka on earth brought happiness to all, including Rukmini, Pradyumna’s mother.]

रावणारिक्षमेरापूराभेजे हि ननामुना॥29॥
The city of Ayodhya became the fitting abode of Sri Rama the opponent of Ravana, with its magnificent and attractive mansions surrounded by coconut trees.29

[Though Ravana’s terror did not affect the peaceful life in Ayodhya, his actions cast a long shadow over it. Sri Rama remove the source of this shadow and freed Ayodhya from the very thought of Ravana looming large elsewhere. In ancient literature, a coconut palm is considered as a complete tree and a symbol of prosperity of the land it grown in.]

The best city of Dwaraka, the abode of victorious elephants, glowed with the divine tree Parijata and Sri Krishna, who disported with the Gopis in the full moon-lit nights.29a

[In this verse, Sri Krishna’s sporting with the Gopis in Vrindavana is referred to. This is to portray Him as One who fulfils the desires of His devotees and never lets them down, whatever be the cost even to Himself. However, nothing is impossible for Him. The skirmish in the celestial world of Indra could have been avoided, had the latter been more graceful in his behaviour. Dwaraka was a city built by the divine architect, Vishwakarma, and was a veritable fortress in the midst of the vast western ocean (refer Srimad Bhagavata X.50). Like Ayodhya of earlier times, Dwaraka also boasted of a superior breed of horses and elephants. The city lasted for the duration of Sri Krishna’s incarnation on earth and was finally devoured by the sea.]

निजदेपरजित्यास श्रीरामे सुगराजभा॥30॥

The Lotus-seated Lakshmi entered the opulent and bright city of Ayodhya. The victor (of foes) Rama acquired the great wealth of the kingdom.30

[The coronation of Sri Rama and Sitadevi was the culmination of Their incarnation in this world. Never before in the two yugas, Krita and Treta, was evidenced such prosperity as what followed during His rule (rama-rajya). This is indicated by the term ‘sugaraajabhaa’, the final word in this verse, which is also the last word of this work. It is interesting to note that the first word of the first verse was ‘vande aham’. Combining these two, one gets the meaning ‘I worship  the prosperity ushered in by Sri Rama’.]

The Parijata with the unfading flowers found a foothold in the threshold of Satyabhama. With the luster shed by the divine flower, Satyabhama, appeared to shine more brightly, and pleased with the celestial gift and sported with Lord Sri Krishna.30a

[On seeing the coveted tree brought by Sri Krishna from heaven, Satyabhama’s former ill-temper vanished without trace. She forgot her jealousy of Rukminidevi and showed by happiness by sporting with Sri Krishna. Here also, in the reverse order of the verse, we cannot fail to notice the link between the first word of the first verse (seevaadhyeyah) and the last word of this (last) verse (agryasaa). Taken together, we get the meaning ‘by penance and sacrifice can be acquired the highest knowledge’. We can find many such instances (connection between the beginning and end of the work) in Svami Desika’s stotras. Sri Venkatadhvari, being an ardent worshipper of Svami Desika, has adopted this technique in this short work also.]

॥श्री रामकृष्णाभ्यां नम:॥
The introduction and the commentary in brackets […] after every verse is by M K Srinivasan. It can be found on

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