Haridasas of Karnatak Shri. Vadiraja : Life and works ( Part II ) - Prof. D V Potdar ii) Narrative poems: abridged.

a) Chapter 1: Elysium, a description Madhwa’s philosophy, crystal clear, sage Vadiraja describes in this poem, good people listen. (Prayers to different gods and goddesses follow) He who denies the existence of everything has no tongue to deny, no ears to listen, no guru to teach, no wisdom, he’s a stone pillar, my bright pupils will smash ! He who accepts differences here, but not in the world above, sees half the truth, like the crow. We are hurt when someone says, “You have no hands, feet, eyes or ears,” How can we say the supreme being lacks these? So I bow to Madhwa, who brushed aside all these false views. I’ll narrate the story of Narayana, the almighty, and the protector of all. If you listen not to His story, you breathe in and out like the bellows, If you sing not His praise, you croak like a frog. Salvation is entering and living in the same world, where the Lord Himself stays, a land of no return,

and this grand, eternal place is unapproachable, by non- devotees. It is teeming with buildings, parks, resplendent, and packed with faultless people. There they sit at the feet of the lord, but do not merge with him. for differences continue even among free souls. In the midst of this place is the august Ayodhya,. peopled by young men and women. The released souls reside in the Lord’s harem, which is surrounded by the river Viraja. Siridevi residing in the lord’s body, flows out as sweat, and being free from the three qualities, is called Viraja Hence countless souls, fit for release, dip in the river, and approach the lord. The city is full of gods, men, birds, hence look down upon no one, for are not serpents, birds, buffaloes, bullocks, respected, and worshipped by gods and men ? * --------------------------------* see the liberal attitude There Brahmas recite Vedas, offer Soma juice to the lord through fire. Countless the Brahmas, that approach the lord’s court, who can count the Indra, Chandra and Garudas waiting in the queue ? There the lord hobnobs with the four-armed released souls, only the Srivatsa and Kaustabha distinguish him. (from others)


The four kinds of mukti (release) : sayujya, salokya, samipya and sarupya Contact with Hari’s body—Sayujya, residence in his world—Salokya, living in the ocean of milk--Samipya wielding conch, disc etc in four arms, but sans Srivatsa and Kaustabha—Sarupya. Residents of elysium—men and women, sing, dance, and eat the fruits of trees specially grown, or fly in planes, make love, but untempted by others’ wives, like a kid watching his mother’s body, or a brother his sister’s. Here breezes blow, wafting fragrance of various flowers, a tree oozes nectar, rivers carry choice foods and drinks, for the residents to enjoy. Listen to this story, and receive the lord’s grace. Chapter 2: Annihilation: Destruction comes before creation. It is necessary for salvation. So after one hundred years of creation, the lord busies himself for destruction. The lord creates Brahma and other devotees, protects them, but it is now time to destroy. like shedding old clothes. The nether worlds the son of Vayu destroys, but Brahma and other devotees, the Lord himself swallows, using death as icing. He relishes the juicy flesh of Madhu and Kaitahbha, roasted by Sridevi in the Brahmanda pan, kept over the bonfire. His mega mouth He opens wide, gulps down boiling seas like tea,


and gets ready to sleep with his spouse. Finding her shy, He puts all the free and bound souls in his belly. Now in a world devoid of the elements, Shree herself assumes, the form of ornaments, dresses for the lord, and the leaf on which he sleeps. She blows around him, a fragrant breeze, coos in his ears sweet words, and offers her sweet lips to be kissed. Thus lulled by Bhu, Durga and Laxmi the lord sleeps, and also the other souls. But Vayu keeps awake, breathing for them. ( Thus eighty seven and a half years pass, Durga wakes ) She addresses her lord-“Prakriti, indestructible ever, knows not your ways, even the sun and the moon you exceed in refulgence, It’s Maya, under your command, who curtains you off from all living beings, don’t destroy her”. The lord listened to his praise, opened his eyes and woke up. Chapter 3: Creation: In the beginning was the Lord, but no Brahma Shankar or the rishis. Some souls are ever free, but some have to attain freedom, hence they cannot be equated with the lord. The lord places in his spouse, the red seed , with the twenty one elements, and creates the Rajasas, the white seed and creates the Satwikas, the dark seed and creates the Tamasas. These three qualities make humans.


proud, jealous, forget their daily rituals, run after women, make friends with the wicked and eat unwholesome food. But the same qualities affect not the gods that preside over them. And if a man be in good company, the qualities make him repeat the lord’s name. sing his praise and worship him. Again the lord slept with his spouse, manipulated the elements one by one, and created brahmanda. Shifting his bed to the new world, he rested for a thousand years, and then from the lotus in his navel created Brahma. And he in turn created the fourteen worlds. After granting Brahma release, the lord brought Mukhya prana in his place, and made him ruler of the fourteen worlds. Mukhya Prana resides in all the living beings, and keeps breathing for them. No wonder the lord pleased with him, declares him the future Brahma, and shares with him the fruits of the meritorious actions of myriad souls. And if His devotees suffer at the hands of the wicked, the lord descends to the earth, protects them. Chapter 4: The kingdom of heaven Shiva said to Parvati-“The true devotee should mark his shoulders with the disc, heated or coated with white earth*, and put twelve caste marks on other parts of the body. He must wear a tulsi garland round his neck.” -------------------------------------* gopi chandana During the Lord’s reign--


Rains poured from time to time, crops were plenty, there were no widows or widowers, hospitality flourished. All the people were on the righteous path, recited the Vedas and religious texts. Everywhere there were temples, and car festivals were celebrated. People engaged in arguments but also in sports. It was a time of enjoyment. If wicked spoilsports showed up, the lord quickly appeared, and destroyed them. The world was full of the good, bad and middling, and the Lord gave them their deserts. These gems of truths Vadiraja has scattered, for the benefit of the lord’s servants. Rest assured, like the ball thrown down bouncing up, Goodness will triumph over evil, by the grace of Hayavadana. b) A Dream: The lord revealed certain truths to Vadiraja in a dream. He jots them down in this poem. Serve the lord, receive his grace, or you’ll suffer. The Lord said“I’m at the command of the devotees, See, I protected the elephant, Dhananjaya and his spouse. Enter my world, be free from all bonds. Keep good company, visit holy places, listen to my stories, give up your ego, accept my supremacy, as the texts teach. Suffering is for the individual souls, not for me.


If you claim independence, why do you suffer, why be lame, blind ? Where goes the body, where the soul? (after death) Answer! Don’t be misled by other faiths. Be devoted to me seek release, read these lines, follow my teachings, and be free !” c) Grinding: A strange title for a poem! Here Vadiraja wishes to examine the different faiths, and shatter their arguments. You, who say there is nothing but the body, why not embrace your beloved wife, after she passes away ? Or if it is just breath, watch the rope-walker’s wife hang in mid air, holding her breath, after the rope is cut, or the ascetics, standing on their heads breath controlled ? If you believe in duty and not a master, why perform a sacrifice ? You accept Laxmi and Ambika as mothers of the universe, but claim,“ I’m Achyuta, I’m Shiva, is this not incest ?” If all souls are equated, why be angry, when called a dog? Addressed as zero, you flare up, then why call the lord so ? So all things considered, Our lord the all-seer is supreme, but remember only the deserving may reap the fruits.


d) The story of the three incarnations: Sri Madhwa vijaya is to be recited every day by the followers of dualism (Dwaitas). For doing so, a knowledge of Sanskrit and sufficient leisure are necessary. Keeping this in mind Vadiraja has summarized the original work into Kannada. The style and form of the work resemble those of a ballad. Because of the use of the couplet, the story moves rapidly. Common people, especially women can greatly benefit by reading it. Vadiraja follows the story as narrated in the original, but the following departures are worth noting: Ravana tells Sita’s female attendants to persuade her to yield to him. See their bold reply: “You sinner, how can you hope to win her love, Know your end to be near, Go home fool, and save yourself!” When Hanuman meets Sita, she has doubts: A deer separated me from Rama, Can this monkey unite us? When Hanuman is brought to Ravana, he tries to win him over: “Be my henchman, rule the earth”. Hanuman rejects the offer, says, “I’ve come to kill, not to accept favours” The burning of Lanka follows and Hanuman’s successful return. Was Drupada aware of his daughter’s complex personality while offering her to the Pandavas ? See what Vadiraja says-Then Drupada called them one by one, and offered, Shyamala to Dharma, Bharati to Bhima, Shachi to Arjuna, and Usha to Nakula and Sahadeva. After being successful in the war, the Pandavas spent their time contemplating the feet of the lord. In the Kali age, people being misguided, Madhwa was born at the lord’s bidding.


A kid of two years, he goes away from his parents, visits a temple—a miracle. He becomes an ascetic at a young age, against his parent’s wishes. He visits Badari and coming back installs the Krishna idol at Udupi. The rest of the poem describes the miracles he worked. Instead, if it had been pointed out how his critical and creative writings destroyed the arguments of rival faiths and established dualism, it would have been better.


The Bee Song:

Kamsa invites Krishna and Balarama to attend the bow festival. He wishes to finish them off. But things take a different turn. Krishna kills his uncle and his henchmen, and crowns Ugrasena. In the meanwhile the cowgirls at Dwaraka are growing restive because of Krishna’s long absence. Uddhava is sent to pacify them. The cowgirls see a bumblebee hovering over their heads, identify it with Krishna, and attack it. Hence, the title of the song. Why does Krishna tarry at Madhura, is he enamoured of the maidens there ? Udddhava comes with a message. The cowgirls ask him, “Any news of Krishna, we cant survive in his absence”. A bumblebee passes by. “Touch us not you rogue, polluted by contact with maidens at Madhura ! We suspect you taught our lord your ways, for he pretended he loved one of us, and left her in the lurch. Moreover this ‘rogue’* also kills the proud, the wicked and the drunkards on the earth. ---------------------------* Krishna We said let him enjoy leftovers, what’s wrong ? doesn’t he do so during certain sacrifices ? After all, the rice we cook has been munched by rats, our milk tasted by the calf, and our honey is the vomit of the bee. Now only Siri, who enjoys his tight embrace, can entice him back, not we!


The smile on his face, makes devotees prosper, but is a dart in the heart of his haters. Bootless the beauty of the woman without a husband, goalless the meeting if the wise are not present, useless the sweetness of the fruits which cant be eaten, and fruitless our love for Hayavadana, if he cares not for us. For him we gave up our houses, husbands, children, cared not for the talk of the people, but the rogue deluded us, left us in the woods, how can we be friendly ?” The sorrow of the cowgirls reaches a climax, and they become frantic. Fantasizing Krishna is coming they are ready to welcome him. Uddhava sees their plight and says, “Dear mothers, don’t worry, I brought a message, now I’ll bring the lord himself”. Reaching Madhura he requests the lord, “Krishna, merciful one, I join my palms, beg you, fulfill the longing of the cowgirls”. The lord listened and appeared before the cowgirls, and they are overjoyed “Dark, tender bodied one, join hands with us, dance, Thak thai, dhim dhim, Narada, Rambha, Shiva all sing your praise, while rings on fingers and ankle bells tinkle and a smile breaks on your lips, like moonrise.” f) Hallelujah Goddess Laxmi !


Like Athene, Laxmi emerged from the ocean of milk, a fully dressed bride. Her father, the ocean king made arrangements for her marriage. All the prospective ‘grooms were lined up. The bride inspects the parade to make her choice, soliloquizes, “Here be sages, who have earned merit by penance, but one, cant control anger, another is after money, one has conquered love, and another conquered by it. Among the gods, one is my son and another the grandson, so only the faultless supreme being must be chosen, being above sorrow, thirst, hunger. How can Yashoda claim him her son, having glimpsed the universe, when he yawned ? A kid, under ten, can’t make love, but Krishna was the paramour of a thousand cowgirls ! He was fully dressed, armed, when he was born, call it an incarnation, not just a birth”. ( Laxmi makes up her mind ) A garland of different flowers she puts round his neck, makes a gracious bow. Then horns are blown, drums struck, and bugles sounded. The father gives away the bride, with all honours, presents, and prays for a blessing. Sages recite mantras, throw coloured rice, while wives dance, and flowers’re showered. A stage studded with pearls, gems, jewels


beckons the couple, while their praises are sung. Gods come, offer presents, the father hurries to ready breakfast, for a mixed gathering * --------------------------* gods and demons The lord, fearing a riot, appears as a lovely maiden, serves, while Laxmi watches fascinated. The charmed guests take the food, beguiled * -------------------------* only the gods were served nectar! (After the guests depart) The father wishing to keep son and daughter next door, builds a grand palace studded with gems of nine kinds, lodges his daughter, son-in-law, And all live happily, ever after! The reader, brides, grooms, will, receive Hayavadana’s blessings, live long and’ll be happy. Om Tat Sat --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I am indebted to Shri. B .N .Upadhye for lending me a copy of the book.


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