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Gurudarsanam
Eight Verses in Praise of Vinaayaka (Vinaayaka Ashtakam)- Class 8

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O visible manifestation of love
without boundaries and discrimination,
the adorable Absolute that crowns everything
with the golden halo of intrinsic worth,
exemplar of the joy of restraint,
symbolized by your broken tusk,
veritable plenitude of our over-brimming joy,
radiant effulgence devoid of all psychic coloration:

How pleasing it is to see the golden pitcher of perfection
lightly held in your beautiful trunk.

How glorious is that beautiful trunk of yours
that sifts the essential from the chaff.
We meditate on your broken tusk,
The fragmentary chip from which the world
has gained its greatest saga and epic,
singing the hymn of righteousness
over the tumult and din of vanquished evil.

(“Sivapremapindam param svarnavarnam
Lasaddantha khandam sadaananda poornam
Vivarna prabhaasyam dhruthaswarnabhaandam
Chalachaarusundam bhaje danthitundam”):




The first term is Sivapremapindam (Siva+prema+pindam). Siva is one of the trinities of Indian godhead. Compared to the other two gods, Vishnu and Brahma, Siva is austere. He is depicted as one completely lost in meditative silence; in that aspect, he exemplifies the symbol of the aloneness of a perfect yogi. The lower Self, in its love for the higher Self, is drawn to the core of the Supreme Self. This union in love is the final end which all yogis seek. The other aspect of Siva is of the dance of his ecstasy. The joy of his ecstatic dance is shared by all elements and elementals. Artists and poets describe this as a frenzied dance in which Siva is accompanied by Shakthi and all nature spirits, such as ghosts and goblins. He does not present the picture of an aristocratic or bourgeois concept of the dignified serenity of the Divine. Rather, he appears like the peoples’ God, a kind of dropout from everything structured. Thus, he symbolizes the ecstasy of love that is not limited by any convention. Prema is love; in the present context it refers to Siva’s love. It is to be understood as the love of the Absolute shared by all. Pindam means body or mass. Here it means the embodiment of Siva’s love. Our translation is: “O visible manifestation of love without boundaries and discrimination.”

The next term is: param svarnavarnam (param+svarna+varnam). Param means the Absolute; it also means the transcendental and what is beyond. Although in Indian mythology, Siva is sharing his god head with Vishnu and Brahma, he is the only God without a second, according to the believers in Saivism. The world which is created and controlled by him is not unreal. The reality of it is derived from the reality of its cause, that is Siva. It is his essential nature to be blissful and to give joy to everyone. A well-harmonized mind sees the world also as the finest expression of beauty. Here the Guru is seeing the glory of the Absolute as an adorable value in everything that constitutes the world around us. Svarna means golden; varna means color; the golden color is symbolic of our sense of adoration. Our translation is: “The adorable Absolute that crowns everything with the golden halo of intrinsic worth”.

The next term is: lasaddantha khandam (lasad+dantha+khandam). Lasad means shining; dantha means the tusk of an elephant; khandam is fragment. Vinaayaka as a god of the earth element is considered to be Saturnic (saneesvara). This aspect makes him very impulsive, he gets easily annoyed. But, like the good earth, it is also easy to please him. Then he favors everyone with his bounty. One of the epithets of Vinaayaka is kshipra prasaadi which means one who is easily pleased. His infinite kindness and compassion do not allow him to harm anyone. Although his face is shown like that of an elephant, the aggressive symbol of the tusk is broken. Ego has horns and claws. For harmonious participation with others, we should tame our ego; horns are to be broken and claws are to be clipped. The symbol of Vinaayaka exemplifies this also. Our translation is: “Exemplar of the joy of restraint, symbolized with your broken tusk”.

The next term is: sadaananda poornam (sada+aananda+poornam) or (sath+aananda+poornam). Sath means substance; sada means always; aananda is bliss, poornam is plenitude. Thus, our translation is: “Veritable plenitude of our over-brimming joy”. 

The next term is: vivarna prabhaasyam (vivarna+prabha+aasyam). Vivarna means colorless; prabha is resplendence; aasyam is face. In the concluding verse of Vinaayakaashtakam, the Guru wants to bring the symbol of Vinaayakaas close as possible to the essential characteristics of Siva. Vishnu is always presented as one of innumerable auspicious qualities; his world is colorful. Vishnu is sometimes called Ranganatha, the lord of colors. Siva is well known for his transcendence of all distinctions such as physical, social, moral and intellectual. His body is smeared with ashes, which is another sign of transcendence. When Vinaayaka is described as the son of Paarvathi, he is said to be having the color of scarlet. In this verse, he is to be seen as one who is beyond all modalities of nature. Hence, our translation: “Radiant effulgence devoid of all psychic coloration”.

The next term is: dhruthasvarnabhaandam (dhrutha+svarna+bhaandam). Dhrutha means that which is carried; svarna means gold or golden; bhaandam in this context means a small pot. In the iconographic symbol of Vinaayaka, he is holding in his trunk a golden pitcher which symbolizes the bounty and fullness of his grace. Our translation is: “How pleasing it is to see the golden pitcher of perfection lightly held in your beautiful trunk”.

The next term is chalachaarushundam (chalat + chaaru + shundam). Chalath means moving; chaaru is beautiful; shundam is the trunk of an elephant. The trunk of the elephant is the symbol of discriminating values such as truth and non-truth. Self and non-Self, the essential and the non-essential. Moving means active; that means the Divine is always present in the devotee as an active principle of discriminating values. Our translation is: “How glorious is that beautiful trunk of yours that sifts the essential from the chaff”.

The final term is bhaje danthithundam (bhaje+danthi+thundam). Bhaje means meditate on; danthi is tusk; thundam is broken. The episode of Vinaayaka acting as a scribe of Vyaasa to compose the great epic of Mahabharatha was alluded to in an earlier verse. Mahabharatha depicts the story of righteousness coming out victorious after a long period of the struggle between evil forces and the votaries of righteousness. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, the very first utterance that comes from the mouth of Jesus Christ is about the need for the fulfillment of righteousness. The closing verse of the Bhagavat Gita also alludes to the final victory of justice and righteousness if the ever-vigilant man plays his role as a worthy instrument of the Absolute. We translate this as: “We meditate on your broken tusk, the fragmentary chip from which the world has gained its greatest saga and epic, singing the hymn of righteousness over the tumult and din of vanquished evil”.
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