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Gurudarsanam
Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 7

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In and amidst the countless changing patterns,
you are the eternal glow of the Divine constant.
Such is your generous bounty;
you are never tired of bestowing
your favorable boons, even unasked.
To those wise ones enraptured in your wonder
and who have lost their identity in you, you care so much,
and their well-being is your constant concern.

Your elephantine countenance is suggestive of AUM,
the all-embracing Reality of the Absolute.
It is a riddle that your cosmic function
Is the quiver and shimmer even in the tiniest sparks
of the spectrum of our ephemeral visions.

You hold in your hand a piece of your own broken tusk
a wonderful gesture of the transmutation of ego.
You are the stem on which hangs the triple worlds,
the celestial, the terrestrial and the nether
obscured by our inertial plunge
into the deep blue of the unknown.
Slow is your pace, which keeps us bound to the cycles of birth,
and firm is your resolve to transport us to the transcendental beyond.
We constantly meditate on you, Lord,
The numinous resplendence in all.

(“Thathaanekasantham sadaa daanavantham
Budha sreekaram tham gajaasyam vibhaantham.
Karaathmeeyadantham thrilokaikavruntham
Sumandam paramtham bhaje ’ham bhavantham”):
The first term in this verse is thathaanekasantham: (Thatha +aneka+santham). Thatha means becoming specific and separated; anekasantham means becoming many. God is one, and there is no second reality but what we see before us are innumerable things, each having its own separate name and form. However small a thing, like a dew-drop, or a blade of grass, or a little bug; all these have a place in the divine order of things. When we turn to each of these separate entities and appreciate them, our adoration is always of one innate value which is none other than the constant principle of aananda. Our translation of this term is: “In and amidst the countless changing patterns, you are the glow of the Divine Constant”.

The next term is, sadaa daanavantham (sadaa + daanavantham). Sadaa means always, daanavantham, one who is generously giving away gifts. The aspect of divine favor as an inherent benevolence of nature was explained in an earlier verse. It is repeated here to show the intimacy of the Divine with the devotee. Our translation of this term is: “Such is your generous bounty; you are never tired of bestowing your favorable boon, even unasked.”

The next term is, budha sreekaram (budha + sreekaram). Budha means the wise, sreekaram, that which brings prosperity. The wise people are not in pursuit of prosperity. The value they see is the true Self that is within them. Vinaayaka is praised here as the Absolute. Although the realized souls are not motivated by any desire for fulfillment, they do not lack in anything because the Divine takes good care of them. This is explicitly given in the gospel of St. Matthew (7:26-29): “behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not; neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Our translation of this term is: “To those wise ones enraptured in your wonder and who have lost their identity in you, you care so much, and their well-being is your constant concern.”

The next term is, tham gajaasyam (tham + gaja + asyam). Tham means one who is such, gaja is a male elephant; asyam is face. The face of the elephant resembles the Tamil letter AUM. AUM is the symbol of the Absolute. Our translation is: “Your elephantine countenance is suggestive of AUM, the all-embracing Reality of the Absolute.”
The next term is, vibhaantham. Vibhaantham is that which shines. In the Shvethaasvathara Upanishad (Section VI, Manthra 14)it says: “The sun does not shine there nor the moon and stars, nor these lightnings, much less this fire. After Him, when He shines, everything shines, by His light all this is illumined”. Again, in the Mundaka Upanishad (Chapter II, Section 2, Manthra 10)it says: “In the highest golden sheath is Brahman without stain, without parts; Pure is it, the Light of lights. That is what the knowers of Self know”. Our translation of the term is: “It is a riddle that your cosmic function is the quiver and shimmer even in the tiniest sparks of the spectrum of our ephemeral visions”.

The next term is, karaathmeeyadantham (karam + aathmeeyam + dantham). Karam means hand; aathmeeyam means one’s own; dantham means tooth, in this case, tusk. The tusk of a male elephant symbolizes the aggressiveness of ego. One of the tusks of Vinaayaka is broken. This indicates that he is devoid of his ego. According to Indian mythology, when Vyaasa decided to write the great epic Mahaabhaaratha, he wanted someone to volunteer to take down his dictation. Vyaasa realized that only Vinaayaka could help him. He meditated on Vinaayaka. The elephant headed God appeared and agreed to take down the dictation on condition that Vyaasa should continue the dictation without any break. Vyaasa agreed to this on a counter condition that Vinaayaka should never write anything un-understood during continuous flow of dictation. Thus the epic was completed in two and a half years. The epic contains one hundred thousand verses and the entire epic was said to be written with the broken tusk of Vinaayaka. Thus Vinaayaka holding in his hand his own broken tusk symbolizes the transmutation of ego to make himself serviceable to the wisdom context. Our translation is: “You hold to your hand a piece of your own broken tusk - a wonderful gesture of the transmutation of ego”.

The next term is, thrilokaika vruntham (thriloka + eka + vruntham). Thriloka means the three worlds; eka is one; vruntham is the stem of a fruit. The three worlds are the celestial, terrestrial and the nether. They can be equated to the transcendental, the transactional, and the unconscious. Our translation is: “You are the stem on which hang the triple worlds, the celestial, the terrestrial and the nether, obscured by our inertial plunge into the deep blue of the unknown.”
The next term is sumandam param bhavantham (sumandam + param + bhavantham). Sumandam is very slow. The pace of the elephant is very slow. Param, means, the transcendental; Bhavantham means belonging to the world of the cycle of birth and death. Vinaayaka and Subrahmanya are the mind-born sons of Siva and Paarvathi. Once the divine parents thought of testing the intelligence of their children, so they offered to give a present to the first one who made a round of the universe. Subrahmanya is sleek and his vehicle is the peacock. With great confidence, he immediately started his flight around the universe. Vinaayaka knew that he could not successfully make a round by riding on his poor little mouse, but he joined the contest and went round his parents with utmost reverence. The universe came from his parents. The effect cannot be different from the cause. Thus, in principle, he won the race and received the present of a mango fruit from his parents. This allusion and the previous one show that nothing obstructs Vinaayaka. Hence, he is praised as the God who overcomes all obstacles. Our translation is: “Slow is your pace, which keeps us bound to the cycles of birth, and firm is your resolve to transport us to the transcendental beyond.”

The last term is tham bhaje’ham (tham + bhaje + aham). Tham means one who is such, bhaje, meditating on; aham is I (in the translation we are using it in the plural). Our translation is: “We constantly meditate on you, Lord, the numinous resplendence in all.”
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