Kamasika Ashtakam of Swami Desikan

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Nov 1998

Introduction

This stotram is about SrI nṛsimha mūrti in the divya kshetram in kâ~nci by name vēḷukkai or veḷ irukkai. vēḷ in tamizh means “by One’s own will”; irukkai means to be seated or to be located. Since perumâḷ made this His place by His own will, the place is called tiru vēḷ irukkai. The samskṛt name of this stotram echoes the same meaning - kâma - by His own will, âsikâ - being seated, ashṭakam - consisting of 8 Sloka-s. Perumâḷ’s name here is kâmâsikâ narasimhan. svâmi deśikan refers to this emperumân as kâmâsikâ hariḥ and kâmâsikâ kesariḥ in this stotram.

In tiruvēḷukkai, bhagavân is in the yoga narasimha form and is seated in the yogic posture of parya~nka bandha. He has three eyes in His narasimha form in this kshetra. svâmi deśikan points out that His being seated in the yogic posture of parya~nka bandham suggests that He is seated with the determination to help all His devotees (Slokam 4), and chose this posture in order to give live instruction to all of us on how to perform yoga in order to attain Him (Slokam 5 - प्रायेण प्रणिपेदुषां प्रभुरसौ योगं निजं शिक्षयन् ).

Concepts

Even though the point should have been obvious, it is worth pointing out that the âcârya’s stotra-s, in addition to praising bhagavân and giving us an easy way of chanting His guṇa-s, seem to have as one of their objectives the propagation of the basic tenets of śrîvaishṇavism by repeatedly re-emphasizing and re-stating them in storam after stotram. Thus we see in this storam also svâmi deśikan bring out out several basic aspects of his and our pūrvâcâryas’ teachings. These are:

  • He is the object of the uttara bhâga (final part) of the veda-s, viz. the upanishad-s (Slokam 1).
  • bhagavân is the only one who can remove our tâpa-traya-s. These tâpa-s are referred to by svâmi deśikan in śaraṇâgati dîpikâ Slokam 23 - तापत्रयेण विहतिं न भजन्ति सन्तः , etc. In the current Slokam, svâmi deśikan prays to kâmâsikâ harih, the perumâḷ of this kshetram, to burn the three tâpas-s that result from samsâra with his three eyes (the sun, the moon, and agni). The tâpa-s are: a) âdhyâtmikam - belonging to to the individual, such as headache, cold, anger, desire, fear, etc. b) Adhi bhaudikam —those resulting from other bhūta-s such as the birds, animals, other people etc., and c) Adhi daivikam - those resulting from devatâ-s such as from the wind, sun, rain, etc.
  • He appears in His arcâ mūrti form in many of these divya-kshetra-s out of His sheer Mercy towards us, just so that He is easily accessible to us. It is as if bhagavân gave up the great regard for SrI viakuṇṭha vâsam (vimukta vaikuṇṭha bahumatim) so that He can be a nitya vâsi in this beautiful kshetram and be accessible to all of us (Slokam 3). His vibhava incarnations are for the purpose of destroying His enemies and protecting His devotees. Thus, in His narasimha incarnation, He came to protect prhalâda and other devotees from hiraṇyakaśipu. This is one of the rahasya-s of His incarnations. This is explained by svâmi deśikan in śaraṇâgati dîpikâ Slokam 17 (आत्मीय रक्षण, विपक्ष विनाशनार्थैः ). In the current stotram, he praises this aspect of bhagavân and seeks His protection. He has the anubhavam of kâmâsikâ narasimhan’s hands fighting with each other in their desire to perform this function (अहं प्रथमिका मिथः प्रकटित आहवाः बाहवः - Slokam 6).
  • bhagavân is the only true relative we all have (bandhum akhilasya jantoh). All the other relatives such as father, mother, etc. are only transient relatives, and are related this way purely because of our mutual karma-s (Slokam 4).
  • bhagavân is the one who assigns functions to, and controls, all the other devatâ-s so that they perform their assigned duties without violation (स्व-स्थानेषु मरुद-गणान् नियमयन् - Slokam 5). This has been referred by svâmi deśikan in abhîti stavam Slokam 4 also (मरुत् तरणि पावक त्रिदश नाथ कालादयः वकृत्यम् अधिकुर्वते तदपराधतो बिभ्यतः ). bhagavân is also the One who controls all our indriya-s (svâdhîna sarvendriyaḥ). His nâma of hṛshîkeśa signifies this.
  • bhagavân’s anger knows no limits when anyone commits apacâram towards His devotee. The narasimha incarnation is a typical example of this. svâmi deśikan describes through almost identical Sloka-s in dayâ Satakam Slokam 84 and Slokam 7 in the current stotra, His making His appearance reflect His intense anger towards His devotee’s enemy. However, the wonder of bhagavân’s leelâ is that at the same time His appearance reflects intense anger towards hiraṇyakaśipu, He makes His appearance to prahlâda one of intense Mercy and kindness reflecting that of a mother feeding her young child (दत्त स्तना सरोज सदृशा दृशा समुदित आकृतिरदृश्यते - dayâ Satakam, दत्त स्तना सरोज सदृशा दृशा व्यतिभिषज्य ते व्यज्यते in the current stotram). Such is the nature of His kṛpâ or dayâ to His devotees.
  • bhagavân is the only one who can protect us. If He does not protect us no one else can protect us, and if He decides to protect us, we don’t need anyone else’s protection. This concept is conveyed in Slokam 8 - त्वयि रक्षति रक्षकैः किम् अन्यैः, त्वयि च अरक्षति रक्षकैः किम् अन्यैः . The same idea was conveyed in SrI ashṭabhujâshṭakam Sloka-s 5 and 6: भयं कुतः स्यात् त्वयि सानुकम्पे, रक्षा कुतः स्यात् त्वयि जातरोषे (Slokam 5), and त्वयि प्रवृत्ते मम किं प्रयासैः, त्वय्यप्रवृत्ते मम किं प्रयासैः (Slokam 6). This is the basis of goptṛtva varaṇam (the deliberate choice of bhagavân as the Sole Protector) which is one of the a~nga-s of prapatti.
  • In the ninth and final Slokam of SrI kâmâsikâshṭakam svâmi deśikan reminds us that if one chants this stotram even once with faith and with devotion, bhagavân will forgive their sins even if they be huge like elephants, and will bestow any benefits that the devotee seeks. It appears svâmi deśikan intentionally chose to compare our sins to huge ‘elephants’, since it is the kâmâsikâ kesari (lion) who is going to eliminate the sins.

— dâsan kṛshṇamâcâryan