Sri Madhurageetham Quelish – Questions to Relish Madhurageethams
Adhenna Pazhama – Part 1
Starting this month, we shall relish, little by little, the rasa in Sri Madhurageethams, compositions of HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, in the form of ‘questions to relish’, which we call as a ‘quelish’, as shared by his disciple Sri Ramanujamji.
Divine poetic works have an attribute called ‘dhwani’ – implied meaning that is discerned and enjoyed by rasikas. This month, since the entire world celebrated the birth of the Supreme One as Lord Krishna, it is befitting that we start this series that listens for the ‘Madhura dhwani’ with a Madhurageetham on Lord Krishna. We shall enjoy the Madhurageetham – ‘Adhenna pazhama…’, that describes the Lord lifting the Govardhana hill.
When Krishna was seven years old, he stopped the holy sacrifice for Indra and instead advised the Gopas and Gopis to worship the Govardhana hill, as it was their protector and supported their livelihood by providing food for the cows, water for all, and more. Heeding His words, the people of Vraja too worshipped the Govardhana Hill. Indra became angry on knowing this and tried to destroy the people of Vraja by sending hail and thunderstorm. As the deluge flooded the land of Vraja, the Gopas and Gopis came running to the Lord and sought refuge in Him. Even in that distress, not a single soul in Brindavan blamed Krishna for their misery. When the Lord saw this, he was deeply touched by their devotion. Mahans say, it is usually devotees who shed tears for the Lord. But here, looking at the Gopas and Gopis, the Lord had tears in His eyes. He thought, “These people consider me as the Lord (mannAtham..), these people are mine (mathparigraham..). Therefore, I shall protect them with my own powers (gopAye svAtmayogena..)”. Thus, taking a vow to protect them, the Lord looked around and he spotted Govardhana Maharaj – the one whom the Gopis had hailed with the title “Haridasa” in their beautiful Venu Gitam.
hantAyam adrir abalA hari-dAsa-varyo
mAnam tanoti saha-go-gaNayos tayor yat
Ah! This (Govardhana) hill is the foremost among the devotees of Lord Hari – the one who is joyous by the touch of Lord Balarama and Lord Krishna’s feet (as they roam about on the hill). He offers his respects to Lord Krishna by providing him, his friends and the cows and calves with food, fruits, water, etc.
The Lord himself says to Sudhama,
“patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktyA prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam ashnAmi prayatAtmana:” [S.B.10.81.4]
I accept whatever one offers with devotion. Be it a leaf, flower, fruit or water.
The Govardhana hill offered Krishna and his friends leaves, fruits and flowers from the plants and trees and water from its streams, thus worshipping Him.
There are certain signs (lakshanas) of a true prema bhakta. Horripilation, tears in the eyes, choked voice and so on. Govardhana Maharaj too, seemed to exhibit the signs of a premabhakta. The sight of the plants and trees standing tall gave the appearance of Govardhana Maharaj experiencing horripilation. Just as a prema bhakta has tears flowing from his eyes, the waterfalls and streams on Govardhana gave the appearance of Govardhana Maharaj crying in joy. There were a lot of caves in Govardhana where the Lord would play with his friends. So, just as a devotee holds Bhagavan in his heart, Govardhana Maharaj too had Lord Krishna and Balarama, in his heart (caves).
This is why the Gopis address Govardhana Maharaj as “Haridasa varyo…” (the best among the devotees of Lord Hari).
The Lord lifted this Govardhana Maharaj, effortlessly to protect the Gopas and Gopis.
So here, the quelish is – What is unique in the way Sri Swamiji describes Sri Krishna lifting Govardhana Maharaj?
He does not speak, anywhere in the song, of what Krishna is lifting! Yet, the moment he starts, we know it – from the note of great wonder, just like that of the Gopis! The Madhurageetham starts off on this wondrous note – “adhenna pazhamA? illai ilayA? illai mayil peeli thAnA?” – “What! Is that a fruit? Or a leaf? Or a peacock feather? (You have lifted it so effortlessly and protected Gokula!)”
This is similar to the bhava of the Gopis, who exclaimed “Hanta!…” in wonderment, on seeing Govardhana Maharaj.
There are many more such beautiful rasas to be enjoyed in this Madhurageetham itself. We shall explore them one by one in the coming issues. Also stay tuned to learn more about this poetic embellishment of the hidden analogy – using an analogy without mentioning what the object that it is being compared to really is.
Here is this lovely Sri Madhurageetham that also begins with this hidden analogy and great wonder.
adhenna pazhamA illai ilayA illai mayil pIlidhAnA
saTTena oru kaiyAl oru gaNatthil thUkki gokulam kAtthanaiyE
gopAla gopAla giridhara gopAla
kuLir mazhaiyAl unai thEDi oDi vandha gopa gopiyaraiyum
Avinam kanDraiyum aravaNaitthu un thiruvaDiyil vaitthu kAtthanaye (gopAla)
devar kONum naDunADungi pathapathaitthu thiruvADiyil vandhu vizhundhanane
than thavaTTrai thAne uNarndhu mannittharuLa veNDinane (gopAla)
AkAsha gangaiyAl airAvathamum kAmadhenuvum pAlai pozhiya
devargaL sUzhndhu govinda govinda enDru muDi sUTTinare (gopAla)
Is that a fruit? Or a leaf? Or a peacock feather?
Lifting it effortlessly, in a second, with a single hand, you protected Gokula!
O Gopala, Gopala, Giridhara Gopala
Suffering from the cold weather and rain, the Gopas and Gopis came searching for you,
Embracing the cows and calves, you sheltered them under your feet and protected them
Trembling with fear, the Lord of the Devas (Indra), came and fell at Your Feet
Having realized his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.
With the Akasha Ganga from the heavens carried by Airavata, and Kamadhenu showering milk
The Devas coronated You as “Govinda”, as they chanted Govinda Govinda
Sowmya Balasubramanian, Dublin, CA
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