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Desika Darsanam - 16. Sri Gopala Vimsathi
Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar, Chennai.

Desika DarsanamSri Gopala Vimsathi is a sthothra that Swami Desika composed on Lord Rajagopala enshrined in Thiruvaheendrapuram. The hymn, as its name suggests (vimsathi means twenty), comprises 20 slokas with a phala sruti to go with that.

If Ramaavathara is quintessentially about Parathvam (supremacy) and symbolised by valour, the thriving theme of Krishnaavathara is Souseelya/Soulabhyam (easy accessibility) exemplified by Krishna’s innumerable Leela.

While Sri Mahaveera Vaibhavam, a hymn on Rama is steeped in majesty, this sthothra on Krishna is soaked in artistry. The author’s visualisation and presentation of Krishna’s playfulness as a child and a cowherd youth offer spell-binding poetic charm. The author’s adeptness is a stunning stand-out as he switches gears to bring forth Krishna’s qualities as a supreme deity with devotional fervour oozing all over.

In an invocation that is as sweet as it is crisp, Swami Desika salutes “the glow that descended on the earth on Srijayanthi day, that is adorned by the Vyjayanthi garland, that is the heart-throb of cowherd damsels (of Gokula) and that treads on Brindavana”.

The next sloka is considered to have its bearing in the Manthra Sasthra and is the highlight of the hymn. It describes the posture of baby Krishna. He is present on a beautiful lotus-shaped seat in the midst of a multi-coloured triangle. Saraswathi, the Goddess of Knowledge graces His lap. Even as Krishna lends a glance on Saraswathi, which is her source of knowledge, He keeps the conch (Paanchahanya) in His lotus-like mouth. The author hails the Lord who is the emperor of the Yadhavas, underlining His Souseelya.

Along the line, Swami Desika narrates Krishna’s dance for butter, He being caught ‘white-handed’ by Yasodha, on stealing butter (5), a few of the Leelas He indulges in Gokula and Brindavana, He being bound to a mortar (Ural) and then relieving two persons of their curse of wooden existence, Raasa Kreeda, His decorations befitting one who dwells in the ‘greens’, His stealing of the garments of the damsels.

The sublime imagination, the choice of words, the style of narration which literally presents the reader with the Krishnaanubhava with the ambience in its entirety are the hallmarks of this superb work.

Some of these are provided below as samples:

One sloka presents a picture of contrast in the hymn studded with descriptive delights. In a poignant expression of his wish, Swami Desika notes, “In my (last) journey to the other world, the images of Krishna, with the beautiful flute of His on His lip, with the peacock feathers embellishing the crown and the shades of the blue diamond that He is, should appear on my mind.”

அதராஹித சாருவம்ச நாளா: மகுடாலம்பி மயூர பிஞ்ஞ்ச மாலா:!
ஹரிநீல சிலா விபங்க நீலா: ப்ரதிபா: ஸந்து மம அந்திம ப்ரயாணே!! (12)

The hymn concludes with a customary phala sruti. Accordingly, one who recites this sthothra composed by Venkatesa, the poet with an unswerving mind from the divinity, will have the vision of the Lord who is a connoisseur on the divine flute and is beloved by young girls.

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Next in series: 17. Sri Dehaleesa Sthuthi, on October 14, 2007.

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