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Gurudarsanam
Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 4

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Translation & explanation of Verse-4
O, Lord of the cosmos,
countless are the stars that gleam and shimmer
in the vast expanse of your heavenly bosom.
The full moon of the summer sky
is verily the most brilliant jewel
that is adorned in thy matted hair.
Your compassionate thoughts,
resonating with the benign impulses of the shining ones.
enhance their well-being.
You indeed are our redeemer,
who lightens the burden of our hearts
by purging us of all our blues
with the cheer that you continuously instill in our hope.
The winding rivers that gush forth from the mountain peaks
remind us of the playful snakes
that are easily taken for your matted hair.
The secretion of your cheeks is the abundance of life’s
eternal promise of vernal rejoicing.
Thou art the primordial locus (bindu)
from which emerges and into which remerges
the cosmic pulsation (kala) of phenomenal creation.
O Lord, thou art also the transcendence
of all forms of creation (thaaram)
the deliverer from the cycle of birth and death.
We meditate on you, Lord, the effulgent dynamics
of the ever-auspicious Siva,
who is both the manifested and the un-manifested.


(“Urasthaarahaaram sharathchandraheeram
Surashreevichaaram hruthaarthaaribhaaram
Kate daanapooram jadaabhogipooram
Kalaabinduthaaram bhaje Shaivaveeram”):
The first term is urasthaarahaaram: (uras + thaaram + haaram). Uras is the chest; thaaram means star; haaram is garland. The image of Vinaayaka used for worship is usually decorated with shining chains of pearls. In the present context, the whole universe is looked upon as the paramount person. Hence, the starry heavens are alluded to here as the bosom of the cosmic Lord. Vedantins equate the visible world enveloped by the sky as a projection of the image formations that are in the inner space of psychic consciousness. The cosmic or the universal Self and the individual self are to be brought together in meditation as a single, unitive truth. In the actual ritualistic worship called upaasana, there is a triple process of applying the secret of the transformation of symbols.
The devotee first meditates on the Divine that is manifested within himself as a person, filling his whole body even up to the tip of the nails of his fingers. Then, with the aid of a ritual, he transfers the symbol of the Divine person in him to an image of the Lord which is placed before him, either as a painted picture or as an idol made of wood, metal or stone. After effecting such a transference of the symbol, the devotee assumes the position of an imperfect human being in need of help and succor from the Supreme Lord. At that stage, he also imagines that the Divine projected on the idol is his real Self and what animates the devotee’s body is only a shadowy self. As a person loves his own Self dearer than anything else, his present attitude effects a transference of love to the higher Self that is now visualized in the deity. It is with such an attitude that he sits before his deity to offer his worship. Thereafter, the devotee makes another transformation of the symbol projected on to the idol. He thinks of the idol as the locus or the epicenter of the infinite manifestation of the Lord as the cosmos. Thus, outer space, the sky with its shimmering stars, snowy mountain peaks, sun and moon, rivers and all the beings around him are seen as part of the Divine manifestation. It is the same as holding eternity in the present moment or seeing the universe mirrored in a dew drop. The epithets used in the present verse are to be seen in the light of this idea of the transformation of symbols which is employed in the act of worship by the devotees in India. We have translated is urasthaarahaaram as: “O Lord of the cosmos, countless are the starts that gleam and shimmer in the vast expanse of your heavenly bosom”.
The next term is sharathchandraheeram: (sharath + chandra + heeram). Sharath is the summer season; Chandra is the moon; heeram is a precious stone (diamond). The symbols relating to gods in India center round either the sea of the mountain. In the case of Vishnu, the element water comes as a basic factor. He is depicted as residing in the water, using the coils of an endless snake for his couch. He is even called Narayana; naaram means water; ayanam means residing in. His consort is Lakshmi, the personified spirit and beauty of the flower of a water plant, the lotus. In the case of Siva, to whose context Vinaayaka and Subrahmanya also belong, he is a personification of the spirit of a snow-clad mountain peak. He is portrayed as sitting motionless like a mountain. In India, it gladdens the people’s minds when they see the moon peering over a mountain peak. They look upon it as a decoration in the matted hair of Lord Siva. The sacred river Ganga originates from maanasarovar, a lake in one of the mountain valleys of the Himalayas. This is also allegorically transferred to the image of Siva. There is even an adage which tells how the heavenly waters which came pouring down to earth as Ganga were received by Siva in his matted hair and not a single drop touched the earth. Only after the supplication of a great king called Bhageeratha did Siva allow a little of it to trickle as the physically visible river Ganga. The consort of Siva is none other than the female spirit of the Himalayan Mountains. She is called Parvathi, meaning belonging to the mountain, or Haimavathi, meaning born of the snows, or Gouri meaning of the color of snow-white. The mountain snakes are looked upon as decorations of the Lord. The vehicle of Siva is a wild bull and of his consort is a lioness. In the description of Vinaayaka also we can see the same symbols used. There was a primitive belief in India that superior kinds of elephants had precious ones in their foreheads. The Kumaarasambhava of Kaalidasa, in verses three and nine, alludes to this belief. In verse three it says: “Although covered with snow, these mountain peaks are without blemish as they are the respositories of precious stones of invaluable worth.” Again, in verse nine it says: “The hunters of the Himaalyas do not trace the track of the lion by looking for the footsteps which are lost in the melted snow, but by recognizing the precious stones that have fallen from the claws of the lion’s paws with which they have smashed the heads of elephants.” As Vinaayaka is depicted with the head of an elephant, the moon of the summer sky is seen as a diamond shining in his head. We have translated sharath chandraheeram as “the full moon of the summer sky is verily the most brilliant jewel that is adorned in thy matted hair.”

The next term is surashreevichaaram: (sura + shree + vichaaram). Sura means the shining ones; Shree, in the present instance, is to be taken as welfare; vichaaram is thoughtfulness. Life is a progressive movement from birth to death. All through life there is a constant fight going on between the shining ones that are deathless and the negative principle that is engaged in the destruction of everything that is organized and animated. Without divine providence, it is hard to retain life in the body. The shining spirit is immortal but it is housed in perishable body. The God that is worshipped here is not a mere abstraction of the highest reality, but it is considered to be of intimate concern to the wellbeing of the shining spirit that animals all sentient beings. This idea, implied in the term surashreevichaaram, is given here as “your compassionate thoughts, resonating with the benign impulses of the shining ones, enhance their well-being.”

The next term is hruthaaribhaaram (hruth + aartha +ari + bhaaram). Hruth is the heart; aartha is one who is grief-stricken or full of anguish; ari means an enemy; bhaaram is heaviness. Thus, the term means the dispeller of the heaviness that fills the heart with misery and anguish. Our translation of this term is, “you indeed are our redeemer, who lightens the burdens of our hearts by purging us of all our blues with the cheer that you continuously instill in our hope.”

The next term is kate daanapooram (kate + daana +pooram). The cheek of an elephant is called kata; daana is the same as given in verse three – the secretion that comes from the forehead of an elephant. Here it is seen in the cheeks instead of the forehead. Pooram means filled with. As we have already explained it in verse three, there is no need to elaborate on. We translate it as “the secretion flowing in your cheeks is the abundance of life’s eternal promise of vernal rejoicing.”

The next term is jadaabhogipooram (jada + bhogi +pooram). Jada is matted hair; bhogi means snake; pooram is filled with. This symbol was also explained earlier in verse three. Our translation is, “The winding rivers that gush forth from the mountain peaks remind us of the playful snakes that are seen in abundance in your matted hair”.

The next term is kalaabinduthaaram (kala + bindu +tharam). All these are esoteric terms, appearing in the tradition of tanthra. The followers of Siva, Vinaayaka, Subrahmanya and Sakthi have their separate brands of tanthra. The tanthra connected with Vinaayaka, is known as gaanapathya. Narayana Guru being a Vedanthin, revalues al these in the light of unitive understanding. Kala literally means an artifice or a homogeneous event within a period of time, or that which comes within the ambit of the altering states of consciousness represented by the manthra AUM. All events are nuclear. The nucleus is spurting of a value interest. The point from where the urge to act or a whole range of experience erupts, is called a bindu. Thaaram means a beautiful or big pearl, a star or planet. It comes also as thaaraka. Subrahmanya, the younger brother of Ganesha, is also called Thaaraka. In that sense, thaaraam is a deliverer or savior. Our translation is: “Thou art the primordial locus (bindu) from which emerges and into which remerges the cosmic pulsation (kala) of phenomenal creation. O Lord, thou art also the transcendence of all forms of creation (thaaram), the deliverer from the cycle of birth and death”.

The last term is bhaje shaivaveeram (bhaje + shaivam +veeram). Bhaje means, I meditate on; shaivam is pertaining to Shiva; Veeram is the essence or efficacy. Vinaayaka is the first born son of Shakthi, the consort of Siva. According to legends, Vinaayaka is born of the will of the Supreme mother, who proved to be on par with Siva in his strength, courage and physical valor. Siva accepted him as his son by bestowing upon him his benediction. Neither Vinaayaka nor Subrahmanya are born of the seeds of the loins of Siva. These mythological implications are implied by the term shaivaveeram. We translate the same as: “We meditate on you, Lord, the effulgent dynamics of the ever-auspicious Siva, who is both the manifested and the unmanifested”.
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