Raghavendra Vijaya-Part-1

Sri Raghavendra VijayaNarayanacahrya, an erudite Pandit and poet of high order, the son of the sister of Shri Raghavendraswami (in his Grahasthashrama) wrote this long narrative poem, in the style of Kalidasa’s Raghuvansha or Narayana Panditacharya’s MadhwaVijaya. This poem beautifully describes the wonderful life-history of Shri Raghavendra Swamiji, one of the national saints of India. It deals with his scholarly learning, his saintly piety, philosophical acumen and his unflinching devotion to Shri Hari in all the vicissitudes of his life. Thus, this poem inspires devotion to our Guru, which is quite essential for us to enter into the kingdom of God through the realization of the greatness and supremacy of Lord Shri Hari. This realization of Shri Hari’s greatness also leads us to self realization and release from this bondage through the visualization of Shri Hari. Thus, the reading of this poem ultimately leads to the final goal and Purushartha namely Moksha or enjoyment of one’s own essential Ananda.

But, after all kavya or poetry is one of the fine arts, which have kept in view only physical joy or delight as the ultimate purpose and an earnest spiritual seeker shuns physical delight. So, it is rightly said that one should avoid such cheap entertainments in spiritual realization. Naturally, those who are bent upon the highest Purushartha or Moksha may not appreciate the efforts of Narayanacharya.

But there is no scope for this sort of doubt. For good poetry conduces to the realization of spiritual delight. The Veda is poetry and takes us high into noble thoughts and deep feelings about Brahman the highest abode of Rasa or spiritual delight. Relying upon this truth, Narayanacharya ventured into this realm of gold and affords us facilities to realize the greatness and significance of Shri Raghavendra Swamiji’s life, which stands a monument to the efforts of the human soul, winning the grace of Hari and Vayu and ascending the pinnacle of saintly hood. The real greatness of his life lies in the fact that he has devoted his realized life for the benefit of mankind of mankind by the order of Shri Hari.
So Narayanacharya fully confident that his attempt of writing “Raghavendra Vijaya” leads to the good of the writer and the reader, boldly proceeds to the begin the composition. But before that, he invokes the blessing of Shri Hari, so that his efforts, through his grace might be crowned with success. For, good and honest efforts are often vitiated by unexpected hindrances, which lose all strength when Hari stands at our back. So, Narayanacharya begins the poem thus by seeking the blessing of Shri Hari.
Sloka             : श्रीमल्ल्क्ष्मीनृसिंहस्य श्रियं दिशतु  मे नखः।
                             स्वभक्ताभीष्टदानाय समुपात्तदशाकृतेः ॥ १ ॥
Transliteration: Shree mallakshmee Nrisinhasya Shriyam Dishatu Me Nakhah| 
                             Svabhaktaabheeshta danaay Samupattadashaa kritehe || 1 ||
Translation: May the nail of Shri Lakshmee Nrisimha, who assumed ten forms to bestow the desired objects of his devotees, lead me to my prosperity.
Notes: This is called Mangalaacharana, which is nothing but salutations by the poet to his accepted deity with the object of getting strength and moral courage to surmount the difficulties through his grace, so that the work on hand might be finished.
The reader might find it strange that the poet seeks blessings by invoking the nail of Shri Narasimha and not Narasimha himself. There is some meaning and truth in it. The first truth is that any part of Shri Hari is the whole of Him. Shri Hari, the ultimo ate Reality of this universe is an integrated homogeneity, in which every part bristles with perfectness of the whole. So, the nail of Narasimha is the whole of tween the part and the whole as in physical reality. In order to convey this truth, the poet salutes the nail of Narasimha. The second truth is that the nail has played an important role in the Avatara work of Narasimha. He tore the belly of Hiranayakashipu with his nail and ended his wicked life.
Sloka               : वस्तु स्तुतं सुरस्तोमॆरस्तु शस्तं मया स्तुतं ।
                               मस्तुहस्तं प्रस्तुताय् श्रुतिमस्तकविश्रुतम्‌ ॥ २ ॥
Transliteration : Vastu stutam surastomairastu  Shastam Mayaa stutam|M
                              astuhastam prastutaaya shruthi mastaka vishrutam || 2 ||
Translation: That praise- worthy reality, praised highly by the hosts of deities , having churned butter in his hand, whose eulogy is predominantly found in the greatest of the Upanishads that reality (Shri Krishna) when praised  by me might help to finish the present work.
Notes: The word ‘Mastu’ is explained by commentators as ‘something floating on milk when heated that is, cream. Or it may be ‘churned butter’ Raghavendra Swami’s Aaradhya Devata is Venu Gopal Krishna. This work being devoted to his life history should have at the beginning of the poet’s salutations toLordKrishna.
Next in order comes Shri Madhwacharya for the salutations of the poet. He is reffered to here as The Moon.

Sloka             : श्रीमदानन्दतीर्थेन्दुभासनं मम् मानसे ।
                            आशासे साधुशब्दार्थसरिदीशाभिवृद्धये ॥ ३ ॥
Transliteration:Shree madananada Teerthendu bhasanam mama Maanase|
                            Aashaase sadhu shabdaartha sarideeshaabhi Vridhaye || 3 ||
Translation: May I pray that in my mind the moon in the form of Shri Madhva may rise to inspire the tidal waves of the ocean of good words with their happy meanings.
Notes: In this poem, we see the poet with his great power of raising beautiful images. The image of ocean rising in tides at the influence of the moon is full of significance and suggestion in this context. Words and meanings are the expressions of the inner spirit of thought or feeling of the poet. Constant practice and vast study are the sources of happy expressions which pour down at the inspiration of somebody, who can influence the mind of the poet. Just as the moon influence the ocean and agitates it into tidal waves so also Shri Madhva and his works are a great source of inspiration to the poet, under whose influence there is spontaneous out pouring of beautiful expressions with a world of suggested meaning behind them. The poet suggests that by dint of study he has stored words and their meanings; but they are all submerged in the mind. He wants Madhva to cause some stirring in the mind so that the happy words and their meanings might rush to the surface to be used in this work. 
Now the poet prays to Sarswathi.
Sloka              :श्रीराघवेन्द्ररत्नानां रसना रंगनर्तकी ।
                             शब्दाम्बुधिशरज्योत्स्ना शरणं मम् शारदा ॥ ४ ॥
Transliteration: Shree raghavendra ratnanaam rasanaranga nartake|
                            Shabdambudhi Sharajyotsna sharanam mama Sharadaa || 4 ||
Translation: May goddesses Saraswathi afford me protection. She is the dancer on the stage of the tongue of Shree Raghavendra, who is gem (among saints) and she is autumnal moonlight to the ocean of words.
Notes:  Sharada is Sarswathi, who is invoked to stir up the sleeping words to activity, so that they may come out one after another for use in the composition. Another charming image of a dancing girl dancing on the tongue represents the action of words, coming one after another in an unbroken chain. Utterance of words in swift sequence takes place on the tongue. Hence, it is said to be the stage for the activity of words. Sarswathi is the presiding deity over words and their meanings. So, she is invoked to dance on the tongue of the poet pouring happy words with their meanings incessantly.
Sloka             : कठिनापि कविशलाघ्या त्रिविक्रमसरस्वती ।
                             सुवर्णयॊगसंध्र्शया वरा वज्रमणिर्यथा ॥ ५ ॥
Transliteration: Kathinaapi Kavishlaghyaa Trivikrama Saraswathi|
                             Suvarna-Yoga samdrishya varaa vajramaniryatha || 5 ||
Translation:  The composition (speech) of Trivikrama Panditacharya, though difficult to understand is praised by great poets as it is rendered happy and charming by the use of apt expressions, just as jewel though hard looks best, when set in gold and is praised by the learned or the well versed in jewels.
Notes: Here we find a beautiful simile. This figure occurs when we express similarity between two objects. A difficult poem, yet full of poetic qualities on account of suggestive expressions, is found as much appealing to the sense of beauty as a hard jewel set in gold, which shines with extra ordinary brilliance on account of the golden setting would do. The simile has become all the more attractive as one adjective  with double meaning is applicable to both the standard of comparison and the object of comparison. One difficulty seemed to crop up in the usage of expression. Usually, the gender of the standard of comparison viz.  Vajramanih is the same as that of the object of comparision Trivikrama Saraswathi, which is feminine. But is mostly used in masculine gender. This would have spoiled the beauty of the simile. But on some authority in Kosha. s said to be a word used in both genders. So Mani feminine here. Hence, there is no breach of usage. The poet praises the musical qualities of narayana Panditacharya’s poetry.

(To be Continued............)