Vegasetu Stotram of Swami Desikan

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September 3, 1998

vegâ-setu means “the dam for the river vegavati”. This name arises for the Lord in the kshetram called tiru-vehkA since He lies across the river vegavati like a dam. The Lord is also called yathokta-kâri in samskr*t, and its equivalent in Tamil, “Sonna vaṇṇam Seyda perumâḷ”, or “One who did as He was told”. The history behind this is that once tirumazhiSai AzhvAr requested bhagavân to pack up his snake bed and move out of kâ~nci because of the local king’s insult to a bhakta. Bhagavân did exactly what He was told. When Bhagavân moved out of the king’s land, there were immediate signs of impending darkness and suffering in the kingdom. The king realized his mistake and begged forgiveness from the âḻvâr. âḻvâr forgave the king, and asked perumâḷ to return back, unfold His snake bed and lie down again in His old place, and bhagavân heeded this request as well, and the kingdom returned to normalcy again. Thus the Lord in this kshetram is fondly called yathokta-kâri.

Like hasti-giri, tiruvehkâ is also a svayam-vyakta kshetram. We learned in SrI varadarâja pa~ñcâśat that varadarâjap perumâḷ is on a small hill called hasti-giri, and appeared there in response to brahma’s aśva medha yâgam. We may recall from the write-up of the sthala-purâṇa-s of these temples that when sarasvati rushed in the form of vegavati river to obstruct brahma’s yâga prior to its completion, perumâḷ just lied down on His snake bed in the path of the river, and sarasvati subsided and went underground. Thus bhagavân protected brahma’s yâga in this instance, and stayed here in this arcâ-mūrti form in response to brahma’s request.

In the short 10 Sloka-s of this stotra, svâmi deśikan points out the following key aspects of bhagavân:

1.  Dam

He is like a dam that helps the cetana-s in crossing the Ocean of samsâra (eshah setuh gamayitum pâram îshṭe - Slokam 2). This is the vegâ-setu aspect of this perumâḷ. In fact, svâmi deśikan refers to bhagavân as vishṇu setuh in Slokam 4, and as jagadeka setuh - The only dam that can help cetana-s, in Slokam 3.

svâmi deśikan emphasizes the aspect of bhagavân being a dam that helps in crossing the ocean of samsâra in other stotra-s as well. Thus in dayâ Satakam Slokam 87, he points out that in His râma incarnation He created the setu to cross the ocean to get into Lanka, which is in itself a great act of compassion on His part. The very sight of the setu or dam is sufficient to remove all the sins - prakr*shṭa bahu-pâtaka praśama hetunâ setunâ…. In SrI varadarâja pa~ñcâsat, he refers again to the very sight of the dam that was created by Lord râma being able to lead the cetana-s to cross the ocean of samsâra (Slokam 25 - tam vîkshya setum adhunâ’pi śarîravantah sarve shadūrmi bahuḷam jaladhim taranti).

2.  Servant of those who love Him

He is One who subjugates Himself to His devotees, and does whatever His bhakta-s want Him to do. (bhaktimatâm yathoktakârî - Slokam 5; Srita jana para tantram - Slokam 7; śaraṇam upagatânâm âdeśa kârî - One who obeys the orders of those who have surrendered to Him- Slokam 8; bhakta anugantuh - One who follows His devotees - Slokam 6). The response of perumâḷ to tirumaḻiśai âḻvâr’s request to role down His snake bed and get out of kâ~nci, and later to return back to kâ~nci, has already been covered in the previous write-up on the sthalapurâṇam of this kshetram. This is the yathoktakâri aspect of this perumâḷ.

An alternate interpretation for the name ‘yathoktakârî’ is that bhagavân will give moksham to those who have surrendered to Him as He has declared in His râma and kr*shṇa incarnations.

3.  Remover of Obstacles

He removes all obstacles that face His devotees. This is illustrated by His protecting brahma’s yâga against the ferocious force of vegavati. (praśamita hayamedha vyâpadam padmayoneh - Slokam 7). Also in Slokam 8 we have Him described as sarva jantoh Samayati paritâpam - One who removes the sorrows of all beings.

4.  Self-Surrender

Surrendering to bhagavân not only ensures moksham at the end of this life, but it quells the unrest caused by the waves of samsâra while the cetana still spends the rest of his life in this world. The prapanna leads a life of bliss in this world by dedicating himself completely to the service of the Lord (samsâra jaladhi kallolân praśamayati - Slokam 3). In Slokam 6, bhagavân is described as “pratyâdiśanti prajânâm bhava sa~ñcaraṇam - One who puts an end to the wanderings of people in the ocean of samsâra.

5.  Relationship to Lord Varada

vegâsetu perumâḷ appeared first, followed by varadan later according to the kshetra purâṇa-s. svâmi deśikan nicely interprets this as Lord first appearing as vegâsetū peru.mâḷ in the form of upâyam or the means, and then the same Lord appearing as Lord varadarâja in the form of result (phala) - Slokam 1. Another way he enjoys the vaibhavam of these two arcâ-mūrti-s is by crediting vegâsetu perumâḷ as One who removes the obstacles of His devotees (in this case the obstacels to brahma’s yâga), so that varada can concentrate on His job of bestowing the devotees’ wishes (e.g., by appearing as a pratyaksham to brahma according to His wishes) - Slokam 8.

In conclusion, svâmi deśikan points out that worshipping vegâsetu perumâḷ will lead to bhagavân fulfilling the wishes of the devotees, as well as giving moksham in accordance with bhagavân’s own declaration in His râma and kr*shṇa incarnations.

-dâsan kr*shṇamâcâryan