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Desika Darsanam - 11. Sri Kamasika Ashtakam
Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar, Chennai.

Desika DarsanamThis is a hymn on Lord Kamasika Nrusimha, whose shrine Thiru Velukkai is situated on the southern banks of the river Vegavathi, near the Hasthigiri. ‘Kama’ means ‘own free will - Sankalpa’ and ‘asika’ refers to ‘one’s sitting posture’.

The Tamil equivalent ‘Velirukkai’ (வேளிருக்கை) is an amalgam of ‘Vel’ (வேள்) and ‘Irukkai’ (இருக்கை), with the former meaning ‘desire’ and the latter ‘the state of being seated’. The term ‘Velirukkai’ is said to have been corrupted into ‘Velukkai’ (வேளுக்கை).

Swami Desika commences the hymn Sri Kamasika Ashtakam stylistically, juxtaposing the words ‘Uththaram’ (உத்தரம்) and ‘Dakshinam’ (தக்ஷிணம்), which mean north (also top) and south respectively. He describes the Lord as one who, of His own desire, resides at the top of the Vedas as well as to the south of Vegavathi. Further more, he sings ‘Glory be – Pallaandu’ to the Lord, saying that the wonderful deity, who has the lion face, ever be victorious and unsurpassed.

In the second verse, he notes that the Lord Kamasika Nrusimha – who is the essence of the Thaapaneeya Upanishad – has the Sun, Moon and Agni as His three eyes, with the third on His forehead. He prays that the Lord, with those three eyes, should remove our three-fold afflictions called the thaapa-thraya. They are:

In the next sloka, our Acharya pays homage to the Lord here, who has His body up to the neck in His innate form and the head as that of a lion. Out of His liking for these parts near the Vegavathi, it would seem that He has forsaken the comfort of Sri Vaikunta, he wonders.

“I worship the three-eyed Lord, who out of sport, took the form of Nrusimha on the sand dunes of the river Vegavathi and also assumed a sitting posture with His legs crossed (Paryankaasanam). He alone is a relative to all living beings in the world”, submits Sri Desika in Sloka No. 4.

The master poet in Swami Desika makes his presence strongly felt in his description of the Nrusimha Avathara (verses 6 & 7). He picks the majestically alluring ‘Prithvee’ scale (involving a type of meter) for matching impetus to the narration. Sublimeness reaches its summit as the author brings forth Nrusimha’s contrasting dual disposition – deceit on the one hand (Kapata Kesaree) while dealing with Hiranya and compassion on the other (Krupaa Kesaree) while blessing his son Prahlada. Kesaree, as many would know means lion referring to Nrusimha here. The underlying observation is that while His face looks vicious for the wicked enemies, His eyes always shower the nectar of grace on His devotees.

In a defining penultimate verse, Swami Desika asserts in no uncertain terms the Lord’s stature of being the sole saviour of one and all. He says, “if You are out to protect someone, where is the need for other protectors? Similarly, if You are not going to protect, what is the use of other protectors? With this determination, I surrender to You, Nrusimha, the resident of the banks of Vegavathi.”

The hymn concludes with the customary phala sruti in the ninth and final verse. The author says that one who recites this sthothra with faith and devotion even once, will get rid of all the mighty sins and get hold of all the desired things in life with the blessings of Kamasika Narahari.

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Next in series: 12. Sri Paramartha Sthuthi, on August 5, 2007.

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