Monthly Archives: February 2018

​Namō Namō Bhāratāmbē

Namo namo bharatambe! My dear Bharata Mata – the innermost of our being, your essence is embedded in the countless generations of our brahmaleena ancestors who flourished in and nourished your ethos!

Celebratory dates and years are mere bubbles in the ancient stream of Your consciousness, which continues to be nourished by the feet of countless rishis and munis – yati lōka padanyāsa pavitrī kṛta pāṃsavē

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Nobody, including the great Tagore nor the powerful Bamkim Chandra Chatterjee, bring out the essence of our Janani Janmabhumi, better than Sri Nochur Venkataraman, who composed this gem – her physical beauty, her people, her history and most importantly, her spiritual glory! Commentaries are superfluous – each phrase is a treasure by itself!

Music set and beautifully sung by Kuldeep Pai and Suryagayathri


namō namō bhāratāmbē sārasvata śarīriṇī
namō’stu jagatāṃ vandyē brahmavidyā prakāśinī ॥1॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē himālaya kirīṭinī
gaṅgādyāḥ saritaḥ sarvā stanyaṃ tē viśvapāvanī ॥2॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē badarī ṣaṇḍamaṇḍitē ।
tīrthī kurvanti lōkāṃstē tīrthabhūtā munīśvarāḥ ॥3॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē vindhyatuṅgastanāyitē ।
samudravasanē dēvī sahyamālā virājitē ॥4॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē muktikēdāra rūpiṇī ।
jñāna bījākarē pūrṇē ṛṣīndratati sēvitē ॥5॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē sarvavidyā vilāsinī ।
gauḍamaithila kāmpilya draviḍādi śarīriṇī ॥6॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē sarvatīrtha svarūpiṇī ।
kāśyāhi kāśasē mātaḥ tvaṃ hi sarva prakāśikā ॥7॥
namō namō bhāratāmbē gurustvaṃ jagatāṃ parā ।
vēda vēdānta gambhīrē nirvāṇa sukha dāyinī॥8॥
yati lōka padanyāsa pavitrī kṛta pāṃsavē ।
namōstu jagatāṃ dhātrī mōkṣa mārgaika sētavē ॥9॥




Ninda Stuti – Sivarathri #3


Sivarathri #3
Continuing nindA stuti songs in praise of our Hero of the day (Hero always), presenting Kashmiri poet Bilhana.

I first heard about Bilhana as the composer of a beautiful love poem Chaurapanchasika – the forerunner of all intense love poetry! But I later discovered he was a Shiva bhakta who was banished from Kashmir for daring to love the princess, who was his student (motif copied in so many movies!). He then moved south and was patronized by Western Chalukya kings for his dazzling poetry.

This is clearly a nindA stuti on Lord Shiva – mocking Him about his fashion sense and taste (or lack therein)! The inner meaning is below.

dhatte mUrdhni sudhA mayukhA sakala slAghye kapAlasrajam
vakshasya adrisutA kucha agaru rajassandre chitA bhasmascha
tadbAndi kavipranIta lalita stotra prabandhapriye
twatkarne labhatAmayam mama girAm kumbhopi sambhAvanAm
(not sure about transliteration)

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Source:internet. Artist unknown

You have the amrta-pouring moon on your head. Yet, you collect skulls, make a mala of them and wear them too around your neck!

The mountain-daughter’s kumkum rubbed off on your chest, when you embraced her. Yet, you collect bhasma from the cemetery and rub on your chest.
(Your taste seems weird! But, since you do these weird things, do one more weird thing for my sake)
Your ears may have heard the beautiful bhakti-laden stotras of great poets, but why don’t you listen to my blabbering words and praise them too?


The deep meaning is, of course, that Lord Shiva is beyond dyads/dvandva – no pretty vs ugly, nor pleasant vs unpleasant!
More importantly, while poets may weave magical verses, our pathetic crying will be as pleasant to the Lord – so, let’s go ahead!





Ninda Stuti – Sivarathri #2

Sivarathri #2
Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya showed how bhakti is done by an Advaitin and how a vedantin can be amongst the world’s greatest poets too.

Adi Shankaracharya refers to Srisailam in Sivanandalahari. He calls Lord Shiva as Mallikarjuna Mahalingam – where Shiva becomes a Kirata – a hunter, to fight with Arjuna and eventually, give him the Pashupatastra for his penance.

This shloka from Sivanandalahari – the perennial stream of Siva-bliss, calls Siva the Adi-kirAtA – the primordial hunter and likens our minds to the dark dense forest filled with wild animals.

mā gaccha tvamitastatō giriśabhō mayyēva vāsaṁ kuru
svāmin ādikirāta māmaka manaḥ kāntārasīmantarē|
vartantē bahuśōmr̥ gāmadajuṣō mātsaryamōhādayastān hatvā mr̥gayā vinōdarucitā lābhaṁ ca samprāpsyasi

OhNo automatic alt text available. Girisha, do not go here and there, reside only within me. Oh Swami, Oh primeval hunter, within the boundaries of the dark forest of my mind, there are many rutting animals, like jealousy, delusion etc. Having killed them, you will get enjoyment of the hunt while my mind is cleared of the wild animals. Deal?

This happens to be a favorite shloka of Swami Paramarthanandaji too!



Ninda Stuti – Sivarathri #1

Sivarathri #1 
It is one thing to praise our gods, but what makes our saint-poets unique is their amazing capacity to humanize our gods so we feel close to them. While we try to raise ourselves up to the divine, we can bring the divine down to human level too 🙂
Presenting a few shlokas on these lines.

First is a somewhat humorous play on our human condition while imagining Lord Shiva a suffering human like us! This is a composition of a great Advaita master Appayya Dikshithar – the meaning is based on a lovely exposition by Kanchi Paramacharya – please watch video with helpful English translation as he speaks – a true treasure.

maulau ganga shashAnkau
kara caraNa talE shItalAngAh bhujangAha
vAmE bhAgE dayArdrA himagiritanayA
candanam sarvagAtrE

itham shItam prabhUtam
tava kanakasabhAnAtha sODum kva shaktihi
cittE nirvEda taptE yadi bhavati na tE
nitya vAsO madhIyE

In the crown of your head are the cold Ganga and the cooling moon. All over your arms and feet are the cold-blooded snakes. On your left is the daughter of the ice mountain, who is also has a cool melting heart oozing with compassion for her universal children. On top of all this, people apply cold chandanam all over you (and do abhishekam early in the month of Margazhi).

O kanakasabhA nAthA – Lord dancing in the golden hall, how are you able to bear such cold?
(I have a solution) You can come and stay eternally in my heart which is burning (due to my papa and tapa!). You can’t find a hotter place than my heart – even a minute in my heart will keep you warm for long!


Kanchi Paramacharya’s divine voice with English translation/subtitle

Maanasa Pushpam


Flowers are a big part of the Hindu puja (worship). Shodashopachara (16 step) pujas require flowers for various stages of the worship. Our saints and poets sing of offering various flowers to their gods. Tyagaraja sings of offering “lotus, various types of jasmine, champaka, lilies” apart from the sacred Tulasi in his “tulasi dhala”. Some special leaves such as Bilva/Vilva (for Shiva), as well as grass like arungampul (for Ganesha) join their flower-brethren in these pujas.

We Hindus are blessed to have many deities (who we proudly worship whether we are disparagingly called polytheistic or idolators, or we are conceded to be monotheist with all deities as manifestation of One, or we are admired to be pantheistic). As a delightful consequence, we get to celebrate festivals around each deity across the year, each with their own special rituals, traditions, food and flowers!

No automatic alt text available.

Of course, for many devout Hindus, offering fresh and fragrant flowers daily to their altar is mandatory. They will go to lot of trouble (like waking up at 3am as my father does) and even the poor will shell out a substantial part of their purse to get a “muzham poo” – a arm length of jasmine garland to offer. As a result, there is always a fresh, natural smell in almost all homes and of course, overwhelming fragrance in temples!


The above lengthy introduction is just to assert that I love the tradition of offering flowers. I am not a pseudo environmentalist and by no means, am I advocating stopping the offering of flowers to our dear Devatas, just because I share the beautiful shloka below!

A beautiful verse attributed to Srimad Vedanta Desikar, states that, more than the flowers collected from nature, Bhagawan Vishnu prefers the following pushpam (flowers)

अहिंसा प्रथमं पुष्पं पुष्पम् इन्द्रिय-निग्रहः
सर्वभूत-दया पुष्पम् क्षमा पुष्पं विशेषतः
ज्ञानं पुष्पं तपः पुष्पं शान्तिः पुष्पं तथैव च
सत्यम् अष्टविधं पुष्पं विष्णोः प्रीतिकरं भवेत्

ahiṁsā prathamaṁ puṣpaṁ puṣpam indriya-nigrahaḥ
sarvabhūta-dayā puṣpam kṣamā puṣpaṁ viśeṣataḥ
jñānaM puṣpaṁ tapaH puṣpaṁ śānthiḥ puṣpaṁ thathaiva ca
satyam aṣṭavidhaṁ puṣpaṁ viṣṇoḥ prītikaraṁ bhavet||

The shloka enlists 8 flowers we can offer from our mind – which is both pleasing to the Lord and will also purify us.

The flowers are –
1. Ahimsa – non-violence in thought, words and action towards all creatures
2. Indriya nigrahah – sense control and reigning in the mind
3. Sarva bhuta daya – compassion and empathy towards all
4. Kshama – forgiveness to all
5. Jnanam – knowledge, especially self-knowledge
6. tapah – living a life of austerities and meditation
7. Shanti – peace even in the middle of samsara
8. Satyam – abiding in truth in all conditions
While physical flowers are great and should continue, we should try to offer these Maanasa pushpani throughout the day, not just during our puja!
(Source – inspired by Acharya Dhiren Khatriji who shared this shloka)