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Desika Darsanam - 12. Sri Paramartha Sthuthi
Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar, Chennai.

Desika DarsanamParamartha (Parama + Artha) means the ultimate goal – the greatest thing one can aspire for – which is the Lord Himself and His kainkaryam. A hymn of 10 slokas and one which Swami Desika himself named, Sri Paramartha Sthuthi sings the praise of the Lord enshrined in Thirup Putkuzhi, near Sri Kanchi.

According to the legend, this is where Jataayu, the king of vultures, laid his life down after fighting his heart out against Ravana as he abducted Sita. Sri Rama, greatly moved by the bird's gallantry and overcome by grief, took it upon Himself to do the bird’s last rites here.

The name of the Divyadesam itself is known to have been derived from the aforesaid incident. ‘Pul’ (புள்) stands for bird and kuzhi (குழி) refers to grave, implying the place where the mortal remains of the valiant vulture were laid to rest. The holy pond of this temple 'Grudhra Saras' (Grudhra means vulture) too bears testimony to the anecdote, which our Acharya records in the invocation.

The presiding deity is Vijaya Raghava, meaning Rama – the conqueror. Interestingly, 'Poreru' (Hero of War) is how Kaliyan calls the Lord here, in his Periya Thirumadal – மரதகத்தைப் புட்குழி எம் போரேற்றை - (63). Swami Desika in this hymn, repeatedly addresses the Lord as Rana Pungava, Aahava Pungava, etc., – terms that pay tribute to Rama’s valour and heroism, meaning “the supremo in battlefield”. This is typical of our Acharya who is known to staunchly toe the Azhwars' and Poorvaacharyas' line.

In the opening verse, the author personifies the Lord as the ‘all-granting’ Paarijaatha tree stationed at the bund of the Jataayus Pushkarini. He says that the speciality of the tree is that whether tall or short (regardless of highly or lowly people in respect of birth, virtues, knowledge, wealth, etc.), anyone can obtain its fruits. The only pre-requisite is that one must bow in order to get them. Through this articulate analogy, Swami Desika indicates that surrendering to Him (Saranaagathi) is the lone viable way with which one can achieve ‘Moksha’. Read fruits as Moksha and bowing as surrendering.

His commitment to protecting those who surrender to Him finds a new dimension in the fifth sloka. Sri Desika says, “You have undertaken to perform the foremost of sacrifices – that of protecting Your devotees. Your Consort Lakshmi is the inseparable co-performer and your qualities, lead by compassion, are the officiating priests. It is called the ‘Aheena’ Yaga which means blemishless and endless sacrifice. None but You can relentlessly keep doing such a sacrifice”. ‘Aheena’ is a series of Soma Yaga that has to be performed over a long period of time and the author has appropriately chosen this to refer to the Lord’s sacrifice that is eternal.

“One must spurn all the four Purushaartha (worldly aspirations) – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha – when surrendering to you and dedicate the entire life for Your sake. Then only he obtains the benefits in this world and beyond. No better proof for this than Jataayu, who most selflessly sacrificed his life for Your sake; You reciprocated for his gesture with blessing him with greater worlds and finally Moksha”, is how he puts it in the seventh sloka, emphasising the greatness of Prapathi.

In a poetic masterpiece, our Acharya, a lion amongst his ilk, brings to the fore the most famed of Sri Rama’s qualities – Abhaya Pradhaanam (offering fearlessness). Reminding the Lord of His vow to protect the surrendered souls, he tells Him that He cannot abandon him. Not only that, because, “Your words – No matter whether it is Vibheeshana or even Ravana, bring him, I’ll protect him – are known the world over”. In an underlying connotation, Swami Desika takes heart from the fact that since the Lord was prepared to save even Ravana, He would not let him down, even if he was a sinner. A moving piece of self-deprecation, indeed! (Sloka No. 8).

In the concluding sloka, a pleased author describes this as “a beautiful hymn blessed by Lord Rana Pungava”. He says that this pure-hearted Venkatesa’s Paramartha Sthuthi deserves to be recited daily by the Lord’s devotees, who are devoid of blemishes like jealousy. The corollary is that those who recite this hymn with devotion will be good-natured.

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Next in series: 13. Sri Devanayaka Panchasath, on August 19, 2007.

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