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Gurudarsanam
Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 6

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O, auspicious peace of transcendence,
the Lord of enlightenment,
we adore you as the Supreme
who is ever engaged in the act of protection.
You are the substratum of even the primeval cause,
and the repository of Divine Love
which alone sustains all in eternal peace
and in ever-flowing harmony.
You glorify the moon of the night of nescience
and make it resplendent with your radiant beauty.
Your shapely tusks have the sheen
of a pair of jasmine buds.
In your hands are the ever-active trident
and the loop of your overlordship.
We meditate upon you, our Lord,
who has sundered the shackles of our nescience.

(“Sadaasham suresham sadaa paathumeesham
Nidaanodbhavam saankara premakosham
Dhrthashreenishesham lasaddantha kosham
chalatchaalapaasham bhaje kruthapaasham”):

The next term is sadaasham: (Sadaa +sham). Sadaa means always; sham indicates the peace one attains in a state of transcendence or after the extinction of all causes of disturbance. Siva is called Shambu or Sankara. Both these words mean that Siva brings or bestows upon all the auspiciousness and peace which he himself symbolizes when he is deeply merged into the silence of his own meditation. This verse has particular reference to the Pashupathi aspect of Siva. The seal of the yogi in meditation that was discovered in the excavation sites of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa is deciphered as Pashupathi. In that seal, Siva is depicted as the magnetic center of all sentient beings. The birds of the air, human beings, wild and domestic animals, and the fish of the waters are all shown around the figure of the yogi in meditation. This seal symbolizes the transcendent peace of Siva, termed here as sham. We have translated the term sadaasham as: “O, auspicious peace of transcendence.”

The next term is suresham: (Sura +eesham). Sura is the shining ones; eesham, the lord of. The explanation of the shining ones was given in earlier verses. The principle of awareness as light operates in us at different levels such as of the senses, the mind, and the spirit. We meditate on the shining principle within us that naturally lifts our mind from the senses to the mental and from the mental to the spiritual. In the present context, the all-pervading light of the Supreme Self is personified here as Suresha. In St.Matthew’s Gospel (6:22), Jesus says: “the light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Unifying all the light into the vision of the single eye contains the same secret. We translate this here as “the Lord of enlightenment.”

The next term is sadaa paathum eesham: (Sadaa +paathum + eesham). Sadaa means always; paathum means pertaining to protection; eesham, is God (in principle). The protective aspect was also referred to previously. We translate it as: “We adore you as the Supreme who is ever engaged in the act of protection.”
The next term is nidaanodbhavam (nidaanam +udbhavam). Udbhavam is the origin of things. In that sense, it refers to the causal factor. There is an inherent flaw in the causal argument put forward to prove the existence of God. Every cause can be considered to be an effect of a previous cause. The search for the first cause will lead us only to a regression to infinity. In Vedanta, the duality of cause and effect is treated as an appearance within the realm of nescience. It’s only a projection of the mind in its attempt to relate one aspect of its awareness to another. What underlies relativistic notion is one Supreme consciousness. That is referred to here as nidaanam. Nidaanam is the base or substratum. That is why we have translated this term as: “You are the substratum of even the primeval cause.”

The next term is saamkara premakosham (saamkara +prema + kosham). Saamkara means belonging to Samkara. Samkara refers to both Siva and Shakthi. The peace that ensues from the union of Siva and Shakthi is the highest form of the transcendental perfection of love. The differences between Sankara (Siva) and Sankari (Shakthi) and transcended by their union as the non-dual existence of pure beautitude which is experienced only in the state of samaadhi or the sense in which yoga is conceived by Pathanjali. In the Yoga Vasishtha, the same state is described as a state of peace that one attains after the cooling down of the ecstasy and wonder of the individual self finding its union with the Supreme Self. Narayana Guru, however does not want to treat it as a content-less abstraction. He presents it as a peace enriched by pure love such as the love for a child which links the heart of its father and mother. Vinaayaka is the son. It is in him Sankara and Sankari realize the harmonious interlacing of their tendermost feelings of love. Our translation of this term is: “And the repository of Divine Love which alone sustains all in eternal peace and in ever-flowing harmony”.

The next term is dhruthasreenishesham (dhrutha+sreeni+ shesham). Dhrutha; one who is holding, sustaining or wearing. In the present context, it refers to the moon that is borne on the head of Siva. As Narayana Guru does not make any distinction between Siva and Vinaayaka, Vinaayaka is here referred to as dhrutha. Sri is the consort of Vishnu. She symbolizes the infinite, auspicious qualities of the Divine that are seen manifested in the world of our empirical existence. Advaitha Vedantha treats these qualities as appearances, and relegate them to the realm of maaya, but the followers of Ramanuja who support the philosophy of qualified monism look upon the world as the body of the Divine. Ephemeral beauty and divine beauty are not two things. Every value that we experience here is a sparkling example of the innate value of the Divine. The whole idea is put into this word, Sri. Although Narayana Guru mainly supports Sankara’s Advaitha Vedantha, he does not make his philosophy pale, cold and bloodless purging from it the adorable beauty of the Absolute and the infinite possibilities of expressing it in terms of love. Nisha is the night. Isha means the Lord. The Lord of the night is the moon. The moon symbolizes the mind and night symbolizes the world of nescience. According to the monistic world of Sankara, the world that is perceived with our senses and conceived by our mind is a world of ignorance. The ruler of that world of ignorance is the mind which is allegorically referred to here as the moon or the Lord of the night. Mind is the intermediary link between the physical universe and pure consciousness which we term differently as God, Spirit and the Self. When the mind is directed towards the Supreme source of all values that it experiences, the projected appearances of ephemeral values provide the same mind with avenues to enter the portals of the Self to see the reality of the loveable and the adorable as the Absolute itself. Many epithets, allegories and revaluations of philosophical visions are crowded into this term to make a confection of meaning which we have translated as: “You glorify the moon of the night of nescience and make it resplendent with your radiant beauty.”
The next term is lasathdantha kosham (lasath+dantha+ kosham). Lasath is that which shines; dantha in the present context means the two tusks of the elephant-headed Vinaayaka; kosha is the sheath but here it is to be understood as flower-buds. The shape of a well-formed tusk resembles a jasmine bud. The tusk of an elephant is very hard. A mad elephant can even tear into pieces a huge tree with its tusks. Sometimes they are described as vajradantha, meaning the tusk made of diamond. But even an elephant can become very tender in the finest expressions of love. When it is in that state, its tusks can be compared only to the delicate buds of jasmine. Our translation is: “Your shapely tusks have the sheen of a pair of jasmine buds”.
The next term is chalathshoola paasham (chalath+ shoolam + paasham). Chalath means moving. In the present context, it can mean brandishing or active. Shoolam is a trident, paasham means rope. Vinaayaka is here treated as a variation of the archetypal Siva form of the Absolute. Siva’s weapon is the trident. According to tradition, the ten symbols in the ten hands of Vinaayaka are: the pomegranate, the mace, sugar cane, the spear, the disc, the conch shell, a rope with a loop, a lotus flower, the tip of a rice grain and also a broken piece of his own tusk. But Narayana Guru is using here only the symbols of Siva’s trident and rope which is looped into a noose. The noose is not one of the symbols in the hands of Siva but it has a reference to the basic philosophy of the Siva followers called Saiva Sidhanthins. According to Saiva Sidhantha, Siva is the Lord of all beings. We are all tied to the world with a rope of ignorance. In his infinite mercy, Siva severs this rope that holds us in bondage. In the transformation of symbols, when we go from archetypal Siva to this variant, Vinaayaka; the rope changes into a noose. Vinaayaka is also Saturn (Sheni). Until he is pleased with us, he drags us around with his noose tightened around our necks. But he is benign and compassionate. Love can soften his mind. Then he uses the same noose to pull the straying mind to the very core of the Self. Siva’s trident symbolizes his victory over the three modalities of nature, sattva, rajas and tamas. We have already explained these modalities in an earlier verse. We are always in need of being released from the walnut grip of one or the other of the three modalities. Vinaayaka is here depicted as watchful of our spiritual needs and the snares into which we deliberately or unwittingly stray. He is always active in protecting us. So we have translated this term: “In your hands are the ever-active trident and the loop of your overlordhip.”

The last term is krutha paasham (krutha + paasham). Krutha means broken, cut or severed; paasham is the rope of bondage. The function of Vinaayaka is here treated as identical with that of Siva, who loosens individuals from the shackle of bondage. As the highest aspiration of a seeker is to obtain release, he meditates on this aspect of the Lord. This we translate as: “We meditate upon you, our Lord who has sundered the shackles of our nescience.”
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