It gives us great pleasure in placing this great work by Vedanta- desika, a 14th century Visistadvaita philosopher, in the hands of the scholars of Sanskrit literature and Indian philosophy.
Varadarajapancasat which is philosophical work in a beautiful poetic form, is both a great piece of literature and a great work of authority on Visistadvaita philosophy and Srivaisnava theism. In fifty verses, the master has in a lucid way brought out the 'main articulations of the Srivaisnava doctrine of god and of the relation between God and the Individual soul. The end of the poem evokes the state of Liberation or the state of adoration of the image in the temple which state the devotee wishes as an equivalent to liberation.
The Varadarajapanchacat was published in 1905, with commentary in Sanskrit by Sri. Karur Srinivasacharya and it was in grantha script. Dr. P. Filliozat has translated this work in English with a scholarly Introduction. He has also given the text and the commentary of Shri. K. Srinivasacharya in Devangari Script for the use of the Scholars all over the world. The original which was in Grantha character, is not easily readable for Scholars.
We are really very much thankful to Dr. P. Filliozat for this great service he has rendered to the cause of Srivaisnava learning and scholarship.
We are also thankful to Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanam and also other Philanthropists for their financial assistance.
We are also thankful to All India Press, Pondicherry for bringing out this work in shortest possible time.
Since several centuries Vedanta Desika's name is attached to an object of high veneration who has his place in the cult in many Vaisnava temples. He has attained this status by his works as a religious teacher and by the attraction he exerts on the mind of his followers by his literary talent. Varadarajapancasat is chiefly an exposition of religious doctrines, but is also a fine piece of poetry. In fact doctrine and poetry are not here distinguishable, are not in the relation of a body of philosophical thoughts and its literary ornamentation. They are blended together. The doctrine is a conception of the world rooted in a feeling of man's submissiveness and love towards God, which feeling has a natural emotive appeal, and the expression of which is spontaneously literary, the intensity of the literary expression being dependent only on the authenticity of the description. It is not surprising that an author who has gone deep in his reflection on a doctrine of bhakti, who has been penetrated by the psychic processes of love of God, has produced, with a true account of his reflection and conviction, a highly emotional literary appeal. Vedanta Desika's works are held as fundamental on the philosophical side and the poetical appeal of a good number of them made them to be placed on the first rank of literary productions of Srivaisnava sect.
The historical figure who was thus sanctified or even deified, has almost completely disappeared. However the holy story' which gives a good idea of the religious work and attitude of Vedanta Desika, may contain facts admitting of a correspondence with true historical events. At least on two occasions there is a possibility to connect him with political figures of his time, otherwise known by inscriptions or other historical sources.
A tradition recorded by Srinivasasuri in his Ratnapetika, a commentary on Subhasitanivi says that the king Singa in Rajamahendra (Rajamundry), a distant disciple, by a desire to learn the tenets of Srivaisnavas, sent srivaisnava brahmins to Vedanta Desika in Srirangam, who received them and wrote for their king Rahasyasamdesa, Tattvasamdesa and one verse. This king can be identified with Singaya Nayaka who belonged to a royal family ruling at Korukunda (Rajamundry taluk) in the 14th century. The connection of this family with srivaisnava teachers is also known by other inscriptional sources. Singaya Nayaka appears in an inscription in 1368.
Vedanta Desika is also connected with a famous historical event, the rescue and restoration of the statue of Ranganatha in Srirangam, after the sack of the temple by Muslim invaders who established the short-lived Madurai Sultanate in 14th century. When Kampanna had brought Tamilnad under the authority of Vijayanagara, his general Gopana, a Srivaisnava brahmin of Bharadvaja gotra and Apastambasura, governor of Gingee at that time, brought the image from Tirupati, and after a halt at Singavaram, reinstalled it in Srirangam. Vedanta Desika came back to Srirangam, and composed a record of the event in a sanskrit verse.
There is a telugu kavya entitled Sindhumativilasa, the colophon of which says that its author, Gopana, of Bharadvajagotra and Apastambasutra, son of Narasanamatya, received the sadaksarimantraraja from Vedanta Desika. It is certainly the same Gopana and this confirms the connection of the Srivaisnava teacher with Kampanna's general. The verse in praise of Gopana, ascribed to Vedanta Desika, has been engraved in 1371 in the temple at Srirangam.
Vedanta Desika is said to have been born in Tuppil, a suburb of Kanci in 1268. His life was certainly spent in the main vaisnava centres of Tamilnad. And that gave him the occasion to compose hymns to the local deities, of Tiruvendipuram (Devanayaka-pancasat), Srirangam (Abhitistava, etc.), Kancipuram, etc. His connection with Kanci is attested by the composition of the Vegasetustotra addressed to the deity Yathoktakarin, the Astabhujastaka dedicated to the deity of the Astabahu temple, Kamasikastaka to the Narasimha of the Kamasika temple, etc. The Varadarajapancasat is connected with the great temple of Varadaraja. In a tamil poem called Ataikkalappattu the poet formulates his surrender to the same Varadaraja or "Attikiriy arulalar". In a punning verse of his Vairagyasataka he refuses the riches offered to him by a king, saying he has no property from his father, no riches acquired by himself, but has a property from his grand- father (paitamaham dhanam), i.e. a property on which, according to hindu law, he has a special right; and that ancestral property is the manifestation of the Lord on Hastigiri obtained by the sacrifice of the pitamaha who is Brahman the creator.
In the times of Vedanta Desika the temple of Varadaraja was already a magnificent structure. It had the extent it has nowadays with its four prakaras. The notable additions which Vedanta Desika could not have seen are the Eastern gopura, the Kalyanamandapa on the South Bank of Anantasaras tank, the Unjal mandapa in the third prakara, etc. The shrine of Perundevi Tayar was reconstructed in the 15th century. But all the important and original features of the temple were there: first the elevated platform which is held to represent a hillock and the vedi or altar of a horse-sacrifice performed by Brahman, according to the local legend. The main shrine is supposed to be built on a hill called Hastigiri. In fact only a square enclosure closed by high walls of well cut stone slabs on a height of about 7 meters is seen nowadays. And it cannot be decided if there is enclosed in the structure a natural hillock. or if it is an artificial mound.
The local legend which is attested since 11th century, and is recorded in a non datable sthalapurana says that the elephants of the directions worshipped Visnu on this hill, whence the name Hastigiri "Hill of Elephant", arose. The deity is also called "Lord of Hastigiri", or by abbreviation "Lord of Hastin", other words for "elephant" being sometimes substituted. Brahman is told to have worshipped Visnu by performing a horse-sacrifice on the top of this hill. Visnu came in person to receive the oblation. Therefore the image of the temple on the hill is considered as being a direct manifestation of the god on the altar (vedi) of Brahman's sacrifice. The present built platform can thus be held as the "Hill of Elephants" or as the altar of Brahman's sacrifice.
Another peculiarity deserves notice. The original image of Varadaraja in the sanctum was made of wood from the tree called atti (Ficus Glomerata, sanskrit udumbara). The interpolated version of the mahatmya found in Jayakhyasamhita mentions that the mulabera is made of wood. Now it seems that this text which refers to two gopuras of which one is not older than 14th century, cannot be placed at an earlier date than 14th or 15th century. It follows that in this time and may be in the time of Vedanta Desika also the wooden statue was in the main sanctum. A stone image was substituted later, may be in the 15th century and the old wooden image is kept in the tank Anantasaras in a small four-pillared mandapa.
This temple together with his mahatmya has inspired a good number of literary pieces. The Varadarajastava by Kurattalvar (11th century) is one of the earliest and most famous. Apart of the present Varadarajapancasat Vedanta Desika has composed a Satyavratamahatmya. Manavala Mahamuni has composed a Devarajamangalam , Appayya Diksita a Varadarajastava, (16th century), Venkatadhvarin a Hastigiricampu (17th century); etc.
|Translation: Fifty Stanzas to the Lord Giver of boons||1|
|Index of quotations||163|
Item Code: NAG998 Author: Vedantadesika Cover: Paperback Edition: 1990 Publisher: Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation Size: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch Pages: 186 Other Details: Weight of the book: 240 gms