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Gurudarsanam
Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 5

Play Kolatheerasha Sthavam Audio
Translation & explanation of Verse-5

To those who writhe and wriggle
in the snares of life’s entanglements,
your dexterous hand is always ready to untie
their bonds of ignorance to give them release.
As the protector of all, you are ever vigilant
to remove from our path all hurdles
that obstruct the free flow of harmonious life.
Your protective glances are everywhere,
as if they were a million lotus petals
which sway under the weight of fervent bumble bees
that alight on them, desirous of enjoying
the honey of your divine grace.
Being conjoined with the Supreme power Shakti,
you are omnipotent to create and dissolve.
The celestial trees grant only the gifts of pleasures
but you bestow on your devotees, even unasked,
the priceless boon of their eternal release.
Even from the dark, obdurate forces of negativity,
you are skilled to carve out the finest models of perfection.
The beatitude of Divine atonement easily comes
to those who cherish your benign protection
as their only aspired goal of life.
We meditate on you, Lord, in whom it is no contradiction
to see the transcendent auspiciousness of Siva
being coupled with Lakshmi, the goddess of
grace and prosperity.

(“Karaaroodha moksham vipadbhangadaksham
Chalathsaarasaaksham paraashakthipaksham
Shrithaamarthya vriksham suraaridrudaksham
Paraanandapaksham bhaje Shree sivaaksham”):

The first term is Karaaroodha moksham: (Karam + aroodham+ moksham). Karam means the hand; aroodham is a state where something is permanently fixed or established; moksham is emancipation. The highest goal of life is realization or emancipation. In the present case, it easily comes from the hand of the Lord who bestows it on the seeker as his blessing. In all religions, it is believed that God is as eager or perhaps more so than his devotee to give his love to those who love him. The word aroodham has special significance. In the Bhagavad Gita, yogaroodha is described as one who is fully established in his identity with the Absolute. Narayana Guru is a Vedanthin; like the Taoist and Zen masters, he also believes in the absolute freedom of the Self. It is never bound. However, the individual self, subjected to several forms of relativistic ignorance, thinks it is bound. It is like a person getting into a nightmare and howling and screaming when he is otherwise lying on a comfortable bed of his own house. Someone has only to touch and wake him up from the dreadful dream. This is what a Guru does to his disciple. The comforting word of a Guru to his disciple in anguish is, “Have no fear”. In the iconographic image also, we can see the deity showing a raised palm which in Sanskrit is called abhayamudra, which means the gesture of assurance to have no fear. Release from all imminent and potential fear is emancipation. With this view in our mind, we have translated the term as “To those who writhe and wriggle in the snares of life’s entanglements, your dexterous hand is always ready to unite bounds of ignorance to give them release”.
The next term is vipadbhangadaksham: (vipad +bhanga + daksham). vipad is anything that brings a crisis or catastrophe. It can come as obstacles or obstructions, bhanga is breaking up or destroying; daksham is doing something in great care, constant vigilance, and absolute skill. Although this world shows an apparent orderliness, it is very chaotic. Any catastrophe can take place any time. It is a real miracle that such a contingency arises only very rarely. It is as if the forth-coming doom is already noticed and skillfully averted by an inherent benevolence that is in every turn of events. A simple look at the randomness of movements of all living creatures and the movements caused by physical force will convince us that there is some unknown, superior law operating in the guidance of those movements so that millions of crashes are avoided in every split-second. The greatest mystery is the movement of the heavenly bodies that seem to have a better traffic regularity that what is instituted by man on his highways. Even when a freak disaster occurs, it is minimal when compared to the enormity of the odds that are put into order by this unseen hand. It is as if Providence is in eternal vigilance to avert disaster. Our translation of this term reads: “As the protector of all, you are ever vigilant to remove from our path all hurdles that obstruct the free flow of harmonious life”.

The next term is chalathsaarasaaksham: (chalath+saarasam+ aksham). chalath means moving; saarasa lotus flowers; aksham, eyes. Indian poets compare beautiful eyes to the petal of a lotus flower. When bumble bees come to a lotus flower, they are very eager to reach the honey and so they crawl all over the petals. This makes the petals tremor. The deity we are describing here is Vinaayaka who is glorified as the God who is always on the lookout for his devotees’ welfare. His vigilant glances are everywhere. They are compared to the moving petals of several lotus flowers with bumble bees crawling on them. In the thousand names of God, Providence is described as the one with a thousand eyes to watch over his creatures. In the present context, we should understand it as the Supreme Self which functions as an eternal witness in and through all the vicissitudes of the changing patterns of life. Our translation is: “Your protective glances are everywhere, as if they are a million lotus petals which sway under the weight of fervent bumble bees that alight on them, desirous of enjoying the honey of your divine grace.”

The next term is paraashakthipaksham: (para+shakthi+ paksham). Para is the Absolute. Here it is to be taken in its feminine sense. Shakthi is the divine power to create, sustain and dissolve; paksham means, by the side of or conjoined with. The opening verse of Sankara’s Saundaryalahari says that Lord Siva cannot even pulsate if he is not coupled with his consort Sakthi. In the invocation of Kaalidaasa’s Shakunthala, he compares Siva and Shakthi to the word and its meaning. Like the Chinese yang and yin, and the positive and negative force in electro-magnetism, the spirit and its dynamic energy are to be taken together to understand the Absolute as a functional reality. In this particular verse, all terms are given as sacred formulas for meditation. For instance, by adding AUM and a seed manthra, saum, this term can be changed into, “aum sham shakthipakshaaya namah”. From this reference, we should understand that the Absolute is not taken here in its abstraction. Aristotle speaks of the Unmoved Mover. In the present context, we should think of the Absolute as the moving principle which is identified with all the motions which are implied in the unceasing process of becoming. Our translation is: “Being conjoined with the Supreme power Shakthi, you are omnipotent to create and dissolve”.

The next term is shrithamarthya vruksham: (shritha+amarthya+vruksham). Shritha is taking refuge in; amarthya is immortal; vruksham is tree. In Indian mythology, there are five celestial trees. They are named as Mandaara, Paarijaatha, Santhaana, Kalpavruksha and Harichandana. These trees are supposed to bestow on people the fulfillment of their desires. They are supposed to be in the garden of the hedonistic heaven. Seekers after such pleasures of paradise are condemned in the Bhagavad Gita as people of little knowledge. A wise person seeks realization and not pleasure. In the Katha Upanishads, it is said that man has a choice, he can either choose the good or the pleasurable. In contrast to the celestial trees which give the gift of pleasures, the Lord gives the immortality of the Self which is the same as emancipation or realization. Our translation is: “The celestial trees grant only the gifts of pleasures but you bestow on your devotees, even unasked, the priceless boon of their eternal release”.

The next term is suraareedrutaksham: (suraari+dru+taksham). Suraari means the dark forces of life, i.e. people endowed with demonic tendencies; dru is tree, which is to be taken here as a log of wood which can be carved into any form; taksha is a wood-carver. In all religious traditions, we hear of great sinners who are transformed into saints. Vaalmiki, who composed the great epic Raamayana, was an ambusher. By divine grace, he changed into a great saint. Mary Magdalen was a sinner changed into a great saint by the love she felt for Jesus. In the Bhagavat Gita, it says, it takes only a split second for wisdom to transmute a sinner’s mind into the truthful perspective of a benevolent seer. Vinaayaka is here described as a master of perfection who can even carve saintly figures out of demonic forces. Our translation is: “Even from the dark, obdurant forces of negativity, you are skilled to carve out the finest models of perfection”.

The next term is paraanandapaksham: (para+aananda+paksham). Para means the transcendent; ananda is blissful beautitude; paksham, in relation with. According to the Upanishads, you become what you meditate on. The real nature of the Supreme is of blissful beatitude. To distinguish it from sensuous pleasures, it is qualified here as transcendent. Hence, the translation: “The beatitude of Divine atonement easily comes to those who cherish your benign protection as their only aspired goal of life.”

The final term is bhaje sree sivaaksham (bhaje+sree+siva+aksham). Sree is the graceful consort of Vishnu who is worshipped as the goddess of grace, beauty and prosperity; Siva is the god of dissolution and hence, he is beyond all comprehensible qualities. The transcendence to which he belongs is however, described as the auspicious and the peaceful. Vinaayaka is a God who equalizes the values that we can aspire to achieve in our world of socio-economic culture. Siva, on the other hand, refers to the peace and understanding of a seer of perfection. Both these aspects come together in the Lord Vinaayaka. Thus the translation: “We meditate on you, Lord, in whom it is no contradiction to see the transcendent auspiciousness of Siva being coupled with Lakshmi, the goddess of grace and prosperity.”
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