Varadarâja Pañcâśat of Swami Desikan

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May 5, 1998

This storam is in praise of Sri Varadaraja Perumal of Kanchipuram. Kanchi is a svayam-vyakta kshetram. The Lord appeared here in the homa-kuṇdam when brahma performed a great penance during the kṛta yuga to have the darśana of the Lord. This is referred to in the first, seventh, eight,and forty-fourth Sloka-s in the stotram. The place is also called satya-vrata kshetram. The Lord’s temple is located on top of a small hill called hasti-giri. The Lord here is also referred to by the names varadan, devâdirâjan, devarâjan, aruḷâḷan, and pēraruḷâḷan.

The title of the stotram is self-explanatory. The word pañcâśat derives from the fact that the stotram consists of 50 stotra-s (actually 51 including the phala Sruti). The name vara-da means that He is one who bestows (da) all that is desired by His devotees (vara), which is equivalent to pēraruḷaḷan in Tamil.


This stotram contains an expression of the great essentials of śrivaishṇava concepts, and svâmi deśikan confirms this in his concluding Slokam (Slokam 51 - This stotra is composed with great devotion, and in addition has embedded in it great concepts which have the authority of the veda-s - udâram, Sruti subhagam stotram). The paratvam of nârâyaṇa, nârâyaṇa as the only one who can guide a devotee to moksham, the incorrect view held by many that the tri-mūrti-s are equals, the ease and greatness of śaraṇâgati as the means for attaining moksham compared to those such as bhakti yoga, the guṇa of karuṇâ or dayâ or Infinite Mercy of the Lord which forgives any wrong-doing of one who has surrendered to Him, the role of kainkaryam and its contribution in the great anubhavam of the Lord, the concept that the Lord in His Infinite Mercy has chosen to appear in His different forms (vyūha, vibhava, arcâ, and antaryâmi) so that He is easily available to His devotees, are all revealed in this stotram in the short span of 50 Sloka-s.

In his short introduction to this stotram, SrI râmadeśikâcârya svâmi has pointed out some additional special aspects of this stotram. śvâmi deśikan has described in this stotram the beauty of the Lord not only in the traditional terms in which the Sruti-s describe Him, but in addition in His various vâhana-s during His utsava-s, dwells on the beauty of the tirumeni of the arcâ mūrti of the pēraḷuḷâḷan when His ornaments and kavacam are removed, and imagines the beauty of the Lord even as He has His suprabhâtam from His Snake-bed, fresh from the embrace of mahâlakshmi. These later aspects are unique for this stotram that are not found in any other deśika stotram. This deep involvement of svâmi deśikan with pēraruḷâḷan might be because he was born in tūppul, which is part of the area of kâ~nci or hasti-giri, and had been having His darśanam even before he was born.

śvâmi desikan’s Humility

The âcârya starts with an expression of utmost humility for attempting to describe the Lord who is beyond the reach of even the greatest of sages (muni sârva bahumâh adhigantum aśaknuvantah - Slokam2 ). In Sloka-s 2 to 6, svâmi desikan asks for forgiveness from the Lord for attempting to describe His divya rūpam with his limited skills and knowledge, and asks for His blessing in this effort of composing this stotram. In this segment, there is also an expression of kârpaṇya, an essential a~nga of śaraṇâgati, and also an essential aspect of viśisṭâdvaida philosophy. śvâmi desikan tells the Lord of his realization and awareness of the enormous sins that have been committed through several births (jânan anâdi vihitân aparâdha vargân), and takes refuge in His natural vâtsalya (avyâja vatsala - One who is naturally forgiving without any reason).

śrîman nârâyaṇa and the Trinity

In this stotra, śvâmi deśikan explicitly refutes the view that some have that brahma, vishṇu, and Siva are equal in stature, through 5 Sloka-s devoted to this topic (Sloka-s 9 to 13). The well-known SrI vaishṇava concept that śrîman nârâyaṇa is the antaryâmi or driving force behind Siva and brahma and that mahâ vishṇu alone can help us cross the ocean of samsâra, is conveyed. It is as if mahâ vishṇu wears these different dresses of brahma, Siva, etc. and acts out their roles, and people only see the outer dress and don’t realize that mahâ vishṇu is acting out all these roles (vibhrama nâtikâyâm vividha vesha parigraham tvâm - Sloka 9). The view of equating vishṇu with brahma and Siva is pointed out as the cause of not attaining liberation from the bondage of samsâra (tâdâtmya mūḍha matayo nipantantyadhîrâh - Slokiam 10). SrI deśika even wonders if this common mistake of not realizing the paramâtma svarūpam of mahâ vishṇu is because people only think of vishṇu as a matsya or a varâha etc., and not as the paramâtmâ which He really is (Sloka 11) . In fact there are 11 Siva-s, several brahma-s, etc., for the different aṇḍa-s and kalpa-s, and they all are under the control of the One vishṇu (Slokam 13).

He continues in Sloka-s 14 and 15 and points out that it is Sriman nârâyaṇa who has protected the veda-s whenever there is harm to them from the asura-s. When the veda-s talk of attributes that can be generically interpreted - such as sat (existence), or names such as Siva (auspiciousness), they really refer to nârâyaṇa who alone exists without something else’ support (the true sat or existence), or one who is the source of auspiciouness for everything else (the ultimate auspiciousness).

The Different Forms in which He Manifests For Our Benefit

Then in several Sloka-s svâmi deśikan describes the para, vyūha, vibhava, arcâ, and antaryâmi forms of the Lord, which are all assumed by Him out of sheer dayâ to make Himself easily accessible to His devotees. In particular, he points out the significance of the arcâ mūrti as the means for even yogi-s to realize His svarūpam ultimately after they repeatedly meditate on the arcâ mūrti. He compares the arcâvatâta to the a~njana that is worn by the trained magicians to help reveal the hidden treasure, in this case the worship of the arcâ mūrti leading to the realization of the svarūpam of the paramâtmâ (Slokam 28).

śvâmi deśikan eloquently describes the beauty of the tirumeni of the arcâ mūrti of kâ~nci varadarâja. If evidence was needed for the fact that great souls such as svâmi deśikan were able to converse with the Lord in the temple and have His katâksham in reality unlike the ordinary among us who can only see the material form of the arcâ mūrti, this stotram is a perfect example. Here he prays to the Lord not only to give him His beautiful darśanam in various vahâna-s during the utsava-s(Slokam 48), but prays for the darśanam of His tirumeni as He has His suprabhâtam from the âdiśesha, when the marks of the divine bangles of periya pirâṭṭi will be fresh on His tirumeni (kanaka valaya mudrâm kaṇṭha deśe dadhânah - Slokam 47). The bhâgyam of the blessed ones (the priests) who can perform the kainkaryam to the Lord where they get the opportunity to have the darśanam of the Lord’s tirumeni with all the ornaments removed, is referenced in Slokam 46. The beauty of the mūrti of Lord varadarâja will drive away any desire even for the stature of brahma as an alternative (Slokam 29). Only someone as deeply associated with Lord varadarâja as svâmi deśikan can swear that His desire for śrîvaikuṇṭham vanishes when compared to having the constant darśanam of the Lord (Slokam 49 - vaikuṇṭha vâse’pi na me’bhilâshah).

Prapatti mârga

The efficacy of prapatti as the sure and fool-proof method of getting His grace and ultimately moksham is revealed again in this storam by svâmi deśikan. The difficulty of adopting the alternative means of the tedious bhakti yoga, which requires one to have the knowledge for observing bhakti mârga, the Sakti for observing this, the caste restrictions, and above all the patience to wait for getting the effect through bhakti mârga, cannot even be imagined. The overriding role of His dayâ in forgiving all the sins and in protecting His devotees who have surrendered to Him (śaraṇâgati) is revealed in Slokam 36 (pâre karishyati dayâ tava durnivârâ). The role of bhagavat kainkaryam in yielding the great pleasure that can eradicate all sorrow and the effects of karma is revealed to us in Slokam 41 (pâdâravinda paricâra rasa pravâhah). Even after reaching śrîvaikuṇṭham the only desire that a mukta jîvan will have is the desire to do kainkaryam to Him (the great right to do kainmaryam to Him to one’s heart’s content - sacchanda kinkaratayâ svâbhâvikam mahâdhikâram pratilabheya - Slokam 42).

dhyâna Slokam

व्यातन्वाना तरुणतुलसी दामभिः स्वामभिख्यां
मातङ्गाद्रौ मरकत-रुचिं पुष्णती मानसे नः |
भोगैश्वर्य प्रिय-सह-चरैः का’पि लक्ष्मी-कताक्सैः
भूयः श्यामा भुवन-जननी देवता सन्निधत्ताम् ||

Let us meditate constantly on the Lord who is the Cause of This Universe, and whose Splendor is shining all over hasti giri because of His divine marakatam-like blue tirumeni’s beauty ( nîla mēni aiyō! / நீலமேனி ஐயோ), which is enhanced by the green tulasi garlands, and further enhanced by the reflection of the katâksham from the blue eyes of mahâ-lakshmi or periya pirâṭṭi who is His constant companion in bestowing on the devotees all they seek including moksham.

- dâsan kṛshṇamâcâryan