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Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 3

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Translation & explanation of Verse-3
Thine is the resplendent glow of pure ecstasy
That manifests in everything
As the flowering of all endeared values.
Like the enchanted snakes (of the dancing Shiva ),
From you alone arises the perennial quest to revel and rejoice.
The negativity of the polarized strife of light and darkness
Emits devastating poison of world’s destruction.
What a miracle and act of compassion
That you transformed it into a sapphire
Glow that beautifies your throat.
You are always generous to shower on all
Unasked, the boons of their well-being.
Time expends all but the darkness of ignorance.
But the resplendent spark of your wisdom
Burns away every trace of the dread of negativity.
You are the supreme Lord Shiva in his eternal childhood.
You excel, O Lord, as the best model of the transcendence of the triple modalities of nature
With the sign of Tripundra, of sacred ashes on your forehead.
We meditate on you, the uncaused
Cause of this phenomenal universe.

(“Galaddana maalam chald bhogi maalam
Galaambhoda kaalam sada daanaseelam
Suraraathi kaalam maheshaathma baalam
Lasad pundraphaalam bhaje lokamoolam”):
The first term in this verse is Galaddana maalam : (Galad + daana + maalam). Galad means to flow, tripping or flowing; dana in the present context means the secretion that comes from the forehead of a male elephant when he is in his heat of excessive vitality; maala literally means like a garland, but in the present context, it means continuous. Vinaayaka as a deity is iconographically conceived with an elephant’s head and a human body, but Narayana Guru describes Vinaayaka as the Absolute that is in the eternal process of manifesting as the phenomenal world of becoming. Every form of phenomenal expression has in it the dynamics of a vital flow. This is especially true in all forms of living beings. Henri Bergson calls it the élan vital. In the Spring season, wherever we turn, we see all the pent up vitality in the vegetative world surging forth as shoots of new leaves and in certain trees which are in haste to bring their flowers even before the leaves appear. Life is gushing or springing forth in so many ways. Perhaps that is why the season is called the Spring. Analytically, this continuous flow of life expression is equated to the secretion that drips from the forehead of a male elephant. In Sanskrit, this secretion is known as mada-jala, the water of madness of amorous ecstasy. Keeping this idea in our minds, we have translated the term galaddana maalam “thine is the resplendent glow of pure ecstasy that manifests in everything as the flowering of all endeared values”.
The next term is chalad bhogi maalam (chalath + bhogi+ maalam); chalath means restlessly dancing; bhogi is a snake; maala here means numerous. Literally it means the innumerable snakes that are restlessly dancing. The snake symbol appears in Shiva and Shakti in two ways. In Shakti, it is a snake called kundalini which is supposed to be coiled up and sleeping in a region which is close to the coccyx of the spiral column. As a cosmic principle, the kundalini is also described as Tripura sundari, the beautiful one of the three cities. In Shiva, the snake appears as an ornament of decoration. It is seen in his matted hair, around his neck, and coiling around both hands. Narayana Guru himself has written a poem of great esoteric significance called Kundalini Paattu (the Song of the Dancing Cobra). The word bhoga in Sanskrit means enjoyment; one who enjoys, especially in erotic pleasures, is called bhogi. The bhogi in Shiva is the psychic counterpart of kundalini in Shakti. The manifestation of the world is considered to be a sport of the Divine to enjoy its own innate nature of bliss. The enjoyer and the enjoyed are not two. And yet for the purpose of keeping the sportive game of the world order, the one joyful Self multiplies itself into several interests. The rousing of an urge is very much like an amorous arousal to enjoy. The enjoyment is projected on to objects of pleasure. Mind is an in-exhaustive mine to invent fresh avenues of enjoyment and to visualize new objects of interest. Although the Supreme in its purest nature is an indivisible whole, in its phenomenal manifestation it is like countless cobras aroused to dance to the tune of the symphony of life. This is the idea in our mind when we translate chalad bhogi maalam as “like the enchanted snakes (of the dancing Shiva), from you alone arises the perennial quest to revel and rejoice”. Narayana Guru does not make any distinction between Shiva, Vinaayaka, Subrahmanya and Shakthi in their symbolic identity.

The next term is galaambhoda kaalam (galaam + ambhodam + kaalam ). galam means in the throat; ambhodam cloud-like; kaalam is of dark color. According to Indian mythology, when the shining ones, devas, and dark ones, asuras, churned the cosmic milk-ocean to produce from it the urn that contained the elixir of immortality, several precious things came out of the ocean. Among them there was also an unexpected emission of the poison which could have destroyed the whole world. Seeing this, both the shining ones and the dark ones were terrified, but Shiva gathered the dreadful poison in a conch shell and drank it to save the world. When his consort saw this suicidal act of self-sacrifice, she tried to stop the poison from going beneath throat. The poison remained at the throat and caused a dark blue color. In the Hindu mind the blue color of Shiva’s throat is so much revered as the Christians adore the cross on which Jesus gave himself to be crucified for the redemption of the world’s sin. This idea of galaambhoda kaalam is reflected in our translation, “the negativity of the polarized strife of light and darkness emits devastating poison of world’s destruction. What a miracle and act of compassion that you transformed it into a sapphire glow that beautifies your throat.” In Chinese philosophy, the harmony of the world is struck between the polarization of the positive yang and the negative yin. In the Darshana Maala, Narayana Guru also divides the energies going into the creation of the world as the bright and the dark. In Vedanta these are described as brahmam and maaya. Although maaya can spell disaster to the individual, it only glorifies the Absolute as its negative power. The reference to the blue color here should be meditated upon as the Supreme Being’s perfect mastery over all negative powers.

The next term is sadaa daana sheelam (sadaa + daana + sheelam). sadaa means always; daana is giving a gift of the appropriate kind to a proper person at an appropriate time without being sought after; sheelam is a natural habit, or doing things by habitual choice. In the Lord’s Prayer it is said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In Narayana Guru’s universal prayer, he glorifies God as the only Lord who always gives food, clothing and shelter to all of us. A mere look at nature will convince us how nature provides for all the requirements of life, even for a humble plant in a desert land. This bounty of benevolence of the Supreme Being is referred to here as sadaa daana sheelam. We have translated it here as, “you are always generous to shower on all unasked the boons of their well-being”.

The next term is suraaraathi kaalam (sura + arathi+ kaalam ). suras are the shining ones; arathis are enemies; kaala is the destroyer. In the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna describes himself as the all-expending time; kaala also means time. Existence is determined by the duration of its presence. In that sense, the eternal is identified with pure duration, but in the phenomenal world, everything is in flux. Although negativity can prevail for a short while, it has no substance that can justify its prevalence when it is challenged by the search for its meaning or value. Here the Absolute is described as the touchstone that can decide the worth of sustenance. Although in the absence of Self-knowledge, threatening forces of negativity can prevail, they will disappear as a mirage when they are examined in the light of the Absolute. Hence the term, suraaraathi kaalam. We have translated it as: “time expends all but the darkness of ignorance. But the resplendent spark of your wisdom burns away every trace of the dread of negativity”.

The next term is maheshaathma baalam (mahesha+ aathma + baalam ). Mahesha means the Supreme Lord, meaning Shiva; Aathma means the Self or the essence. Vinaayaka is considered to be the son of Shiva or philosophically, the ever-fresh essence of the Absolute. In world mythology, the concept of the Divine as a child is universal. On Christmas Eve, candles are lit before the image of the infant Jesus; Balakrishna or baby Krishna is a favorite of the Krishna lovers; the followers of Shiva are very fond of the concepts of baby Ganesha sitting in the lap of Paarvathi or a five year old Subrahmanya whispering the secret of AUM in the ear of his father Shiva. Indian legends about Dhruva and Prahlada also suggest the adoration of divinity symbolized by the innocence of childhood. Even The Little Prince of St. Exupery is interpreted by M.L.Von Franz as conforming to the same pattern. Many mothers experience the numinous presence of the divine in the peaceful countenance of their babies and in the innocent pranks of their young ones. Even though we see disease, old age and death everywhere, the world continues to be fresh and new by revealing new faces of the eternal process of becoming. Every sunrise is a unique experience, and the blooming of every flower has its own charm to capture our attention and appreciation. In other words, the Absolute is being born every moment to represent the eternal both in its uniqueness and in its universality. It is this aspect which is termed here as maheshaathma baalam. We have translated that as: “you are the Supreme Lord Shiva in his eternal childhood”.

The next term is lasadpundra phaalam (lasad + pundram + phaalam). Lasad means that which shines, pundram is a symbolic sign of applying sacred ashes in the form of three parallel lines; phaalam is the forehead. Shiva’s forehead has the decoration of three lines painted with ashes. This verse began with a reference to the manifestation of the vital tendencies, indicating an alpha factor. The verse closes with an omega factor of transmuting the manifested world into its final state of dissolution. Origin, existence and dissolution are the triple states of nature. The transformations are happening only when the modalities of nature are not in a state of equipoise. The three modalities are sattva (an aspect of nature that can clearly mirror the truth of all manifested things without distortion), rajas (another modality of nature that can distort or give coloration in the experiencing of the aspects of manifestation) and tamas (inertial modality of nature which can obstruct the understanding of the existential, subsistential and value significance of whatever manifests). Shiva is sometimes called the thripuraanthaka which means the destroyer of the three cities. Even the pure, clear experience of manifestation binds one to nature. Pure transcendence can come only when all these three modalities are dissolved. In the Bible, it says, “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. When a follower of Shiva applies sacred ashes with his three fingers on his forehead, he says, “bhasmaantham sareeram”, which also means that this body will finally turn into ashes. Thus this verse covers all aspects of the manifested world of phenomenal life, visualizing everything from alpha to omega within the Absolute. Vinaayaka here is called lokamoolam, the uncaused cause of everything. Keeping this idea in our mind, we have translated the last line as: “you excel, O Lord, as the best model of the transcendence of the triple modalities of nature with the sign of Tripundra, of sacred ashes on your forehead. We meditate on you, the uncaused cause of this phenomenal universe.”

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