VAMANAVATARA (From Narayaneeyam)
Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri was the celebrated author of Narayaneeyam, a devotional composition in Sanskrit verse which is a masterly summary of the main episodes in Srimad Bhagavatam. He was a scholar in the Sanskrit Language and its grammar on which he wrote his masterpiece Prakriya-sarvaswam which sets forth an axiomatic system elaborating on the classical system of Panini the grammarian.
Narayana Bhattathiri was born in a Namboodiri family of Kerala. He was a disciple of Achyuta Pisharati from whom he studied Sanskrit grammar. As a student he also studied the Rig Veda and Tarka Sastra (the science of logical reasoning and argument).
Bhattathiri was struck with paralysis when he was still young. The disease was painful and Ezhuthachan the author of Adhyatma Ramayana advised Bhattathiri "meen thottu koottuka" which in Malayalam meant ‘take fish as food’ or ‘start counting from fish’. It was obvious that the erudite Ezhuthachan would not have advised Bhattathiri, a Nambooiri brahmin, to eat fish since Namboodiri brahmins are staunch vegetarians. Bhattathiri figured out that the meaning of ‘start counting from fish’ was that he (Bhattathiri) should start recounting the incarnations of the Lord starting from the matsyavatara(incarnation as fish to redeem the Vedas from the asura named Hayagreeva) and go on upto the incarnation of Lord Krishna.
Bhattathiri took the advise and wrote his Magnum Opus based on Srimad Bhagavatam which chronicles the many incarnations of Mahavishnu and expounds the highest philosophy of the Hindus embodied in the Upanishads. He dedicated his work to Lord Krishna, fondly called by devotees as Guruvayoorappan, at the temple at Guruvayoor in Kerala. The work consists of 100 dasakas each containing 10 verses. However, a few dasakas contain more than ten verses so that the total number of slokas is not 1-1000 but 1024
Legend has it that Bhattathiri composed one dasaka a day in the presence of the Lord and recited it before Him for His approval and the Lord did nod his head in agreement. The composition is directly addressed to the Lord telling him His own exploits and leelas. The refrain in the last sloka of every dasaka is a prayer to the Lord of Guruvayoor to remove his (Bhattathiri’s) ailments and sufferings. The Lord did cure Bhattathiri of his affliction by the time he completed Narayaneeyam and also revealed to him His captivating form which Bhattathiri has captured ecstatically in the 100th dasakam
Given below is a reproduction of Dasakas 30 and 31 from Narayaneeyam which summarises the episode of vamanavatara narrated in detail in chapters 15-23 of the 8th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. A simple transalation in English is given for the benefit of those who cannot follow the original.
ಮನಾವತಾರಮ್ (ನಾರಾಯನೀಯಮ್- ದಶಕಮ್ ೩೦)
ಶಕ್ರೇಣ ಸಂಯತಿ ಹತೋಽಪಿ ಬಲಿರ್ಮಹಾತ್ಮಾ
ಶುಕ್ರೇಣಜೀವಿತತನುಃ ಕ್ರತುವರ್ದ್ಧಿತೋಽಷ್ಮಾ |
ವಿಕ್ರಾನ್ತಿಮಾನ್ ಭಯನಿಲೀನಸುರಾಂ ತ್ರಿಲೋಕೀಂ
ಚಕ್ರೇ ವಶೇ ತವ ಚಕ್ರಮುಖಾದಭೀತಃ || ೧||
The generous Mahabali, though killed in battle by Indra and brought back to life by sukracharya, acquired great power by the performance of many sacrifices (yagas) and conquered by his valour the three worlds, unafraid of even your chakra and with the inhabitants of heaven hiding for fear of him.
ತಂ ಕಾಶ್ಯಪಂ ನಿಜಪತಿಂ ಶರಣಂ ಪ್ರಪನ್ನಾ |
ತ್ವತ್ಪೂಜನಂ ತದುದಿತಂ ಹಿ ಪಯೋವ್ರತಾಖ್ಯಮ್
ಸಾ ದ್ವಾದಶಾಹಮಚರತ್ ತ್ವಯಿ ಭಕ್ತಿಪೂರ್ಣಾ || ೨||
Unable to bear the distress of her sons, Aditi took refuge in her husband Kashyapa. According to his advice she worshipped you with great devotion for twelve days by observing the vow of what is known as ‘payovrata’
ತಸ್ಯಾವಧೌ ತ್ವಯಿ ನಿಲೀನಮತೇರಮುಷ್ಯಾಃ
ನಮ್ರಾಂ ಚ ತಾಮಿಹ ಭವತ್ತನಯೋ ಭವೇಯಂ
ಗೋಪ್ಯಂ ಮದೀಕ್ಷಣಮಿತಿ ಪ್ರಲಪನ್ನಯಾಸೀಃ|| ೩||
At the end of the observance, while Aditi was immersed in thoughts of you, You revealed yourself to her with your dark blue complexion and with four hands. To Aditi who bowed down to you, you said “ I shall be born as your son. Keep this vision of mine a secret” and vanished.
ತ್ವಂ ಕಾಶ್ಯಪೇ ತಪಸಿ ಸನ್ನಿದಧತ್ ತದಾನೀಂ
ಪ್ರಾಪ್ತೋಽಸಿ ಗರ್ಭಮದಿತೇಃ ಪ್ರಣುತೋ ವಿಧಾತ್ರಾ |
ಪ್ರಾಸೂತ ಚ ಪ್ರಕಟವೈಷ್ಣವದಿವ್ಯರೂಪಂ
ಸಾ ದ್ವಾದಶೀಶ್ರವಣಪುಣ್ಯದಿನೇ ಭವನ್ತಮ್ || ೪||
You entered Kashyapa, who was engaged in austerities, in your subtle form and through him you entered the womb of Aditi. Brahma sang your praises. Aditi gave birth to you on the auspicious day of dwadasi (12th day of the waxing moon) and when the star shravana was ascendant
ಪುಣ್ಯಾಶ್ರಮಂ ತಮಭಿವರ್ಷತಿ ಪುಷ್ಪವರ್ಷೈ
ರ್ಹರ್ಷಾಕುಲೇ ಸುರಕುಲೇ ಕೃತತೂರ್ಯಘೋಷೇ |
ಬದ್ಧ್ವಾಞ್ಜಲಿಂ ಜಯಜಯೇತಿ ನುತಃ ಪಿತೃಭ್ಯಾಂ
ತ್ವಂ ತತ್ಕ್ಷಣೇ ಪಟುತಮಂ ವಟುರೂಪಮಾಧಾಃ || ೫||
While the celestials, beside themselves with joy, were raining flowers on the hermitage and blowing their trumpets and you were being greeted, with folded hands, by your parents with ‘’Victory to Thee’, you instantly took the form of an adept brahmachari boy.
ತಾವತ್ ಪ್ರಜಾಪತಿಮುಖೈರುಪನೀಯ ಮೌಞ್ಜೀ-
ಸ್ತ್ವಂ ಪ್ರಾಸ್ಥಿಥಾ ಬಲಿಗೃಹಂ ಪ್ರಕೃತಾಶ್ವಮೇಧಮ್ || ೬||
O Lord of all ! At the same time, led by Kashyapa your upanayanam ( sacred thread ceremony) was performed and you were equipped with maunji (waist belt made of a type of grass), danda (a bough from the palasa tree used as a stick), ajina ( skin of a kind of deer) and akshamala ( a string of beads). With your body radiating bright light, you performed the worship of Agni (Fire) and set out to the abode of Mahabali where Ashwamedha (Horse Sacrifice) was being performed.
ಗಾತ್ರೇಣ ಭಾವಿಮಹಿಮೋಚಿತಗೌರವಂ ಪ್ರಾಗ್-
ವ್ಯಾವೃಣ್ವತೇವ ಧರಣೀಂ ಚಲಯನ್ನಯಾಸೀಃ|
ದಣ್ಡಂ ಚ ದಾನವಜನೇಷ್ವಿವ ಸನ್ನಿಧಾತುಮ್ || ೭||
With your body revealing, as it were, your future greatness and dignity (as trivikrama spanning the three worlds), you walked while the earth quaked under your feet. You held the umbrella as if to ward off the heat from the enemies and carried the danda (stick) to punish, as it were, the asura hordes.
ತಾಂ ನರ್ಮದೋತ್ತರತಟೇ ಹಯಮೇಧಶಾಲಾ-
ಮಾಸೇದುಷಿ ತ್ವಯಿ ರುಚಾ ತವ ರುದ್ಧನೇತ್ರೈಃ|
ಭಾಸ್ವಾನ್ ಕಿಮೇಷ ದಹನೋ ನು ಸನತ್ಕುಮಾರೋ
ಯೋಗೀ ನು ಕೋಽಯಮಿತಿ ಶುಕ್ರಮುಖೈಃ ಶಶಙ್ಕೇ || ೮||
While you were approaching the hall where the Ashwamedha sacrifice was being performed, Sukra and others, struck by and blinded by the intensity of light radiating from your body, wondered whether it was the Sun or Agni or Sanatkumara or a yogi or someone else who was coming.
ಸ್ತ್ವಾಂ ರಮ್ಯರೂಪಮಸುರಃ ಪುಲಕಾವೃತಾಂಗಃ |
ಭಕ್ತ್ಯಾ ಸಮೇತ್ಯ ಸುಕೃತೀ ಪರಿಣಿಜ್ಯ ಪಾದೌ
ತತ್ತೋಯಮನ್ವಧೃತ ಮೂರ್ದ್ಧನಿ ತೀರ್ಥತೀರ್ಥಮ್ || ೯||
Led inside by the bhrigus who had been struck by the radiance of your body, the Asura king, with his hairs standing on end (because of the intensity of feeling), received you, of captivating form, with reverence and devotion, washed your feet and sprinkled the water from your feet ( which purifies even tirthas like Ganga) on his head.
ವಿಶ್ವಾಸತೋ ನು ತದಿದಂ ದಿತಿಜೋಽಪಿ ಲೇಭೇ |
ಯತ್ತೇ ಪದಾಂಬು ಗಿರಿಶಸ್ಯ ಶಿರೋಭಿಲಾಲ್ಯಂ
ಸ ತ್ವಂ ವಿಭೋ! ಗುರುಪುರಾಲಯ ಪಾಲಯೇಥಾಃ || ೧೦||
O Lord ! Mahabali, though an asura, had the good fortune to sprinkle on his head the water from your feet which Lord Shiva carries reverentially on his head. This may be because he was born in the dynasty of Prahlada or because of the performance of many sacrifices or because of his faith in brahmins. O Lord of Guruvayur ! save me (from my afflications).
ಪ್ರೀತ್ಯಾ ದೈತ್ಯಸ್ತವ ತನುಮಹಃ ಪ್ರೇಕ್ಷಣಾತ್ ಸರ್ವಥಾಪಿ
ತ್ವಾಮಾರಾಧ್ಯನ್ನಜಿತ! ರಚಯನ್ನಞ್ಜಲಿಂ ಸಞ್ಜಗಾದ
’ಮತ್ತಃ ಕಿಂ ತೇ ಸಮಭಿಲಷಿತಂ ವಿಪ್ರಸೂನೋ ವದ ತ್ವಂ !
ವಿತ್ತಂ ಭಕ್ತಂ ಭವನಮವನೀಂ ವಾಪಿ ಸರ್ವಂ ಪ್ರದಾಸ್ಯೇ’ || ೧||
O Unconquerable Lord ! the Asura, seeing the radiance of your body, was immensely pleased and, intent on propitiating you in all manner of ways said with folded hands “ O son of a brahmana ! tell me what it is that you expect from me. Whether it be wealth, food, house or the Earth itself, whatever it is, I shall give you everything”.
ತಾಮಕ್ಷೀಣಾಂ ಬಲಿಗಿರಮುಪಾಕರ್ಣ್ಯ ಕಾರುಣ್ಯಪೂರ್ಣೋ-
ಪ್ಯಸ್ಯೋದ್ರೇಕಂ ಶಮಯಿತುಮನಾ ದೈತ್ಯವಂಶಂ ಪ್ರಶಂಸನ್ |
ಭೂಮಿಂ ಪಾದತ್ರಯಪರಿಮಿತಾಂ ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥಯಾಮಾಸಿಥ ತ್ವಂ
ಸರ್ವಂ ದೇಹೀತಿ ತು ನಿಗದಿತೇ ಕಸ್ಯ ಹಾಸ್ಯಂ ನ ವಾ ಸ್ಯಾತ್ || ೨||
Hearing those forceful words of Mahabali You, though full of compassion, thought of curbing his conceit and praising his dynasty asked for a gift of land limited to three feet. Who will not laugh if one asks ‘give me everything’.
ವಿಶ್ವೇಶಂ ಮಾಂ ತ್ರಿಪದಮಿಹ ಕಿಂ ಯಾಚಸೇ ಬಾಲಿಶಸ್ತ್ವಂ
ಸರ್ವಾಂ ಭೂಮಿಂ ವೃಣು ಕಿಮಮುನೇತ್ಯಾಲಪತ್ತ್ವಾಂ ಸ ದೃಪ್ಯನ್ |
ಯಸ್ಮಾದ್ದರ್ಪಾತ್ ತ್ರಿಪದಪರಿಪೂರ್ತ್ಯಕ್ಷಮಃ ಕ್ಷೇಪವಾದಾನ್
ಬನ್ಧಂ ಚಾಸಾವಗಮದತದರ್ಹೋಽಪಿ ಗಾಢೋಪಶಾನ್ತ್ಯೈ || ೩||
Mahabali, in his arrogance, told you “ You are a fool to ask for three feet of land from me who is the Lord of all these worlds. Ask for the whole of this Earth. What is the use of three feet of land?” This arrogance landed Mahabali in a situation wherein he was unable to fulfil his promise and had to hear harsh words and also suffer bondage. Though he did not deserve such punishment it was imposed to remove his conceit completely and make him meek and humble.
ಪಾದತ್ರಯ್ಯಾ ಯದಿ ನ ಮುದಿತೋ ವಿಷ್ಟಪೈರ್ನಾಪಿ ತುಷ್ಯೇತ್
ಇತ್ಯುಕ್ತೇಽಸ್ಮಿನ್ ವರದ! ಭವತೇ ದಾತುಕಾಮೇಽಥ ತೋಯಮ್ |
ದೈತ್ಯಾಚಾರ್ಯಸ್ತವ ಖಲು ಪರೀಕ್ಷಾರ್ಥಿನಃ ಪ್ರೇರಣಾತ್ತಂ
’ಮಾ ಮಾ ದೇಯಂ ಹರಿರಯಮಿತಿ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಮೇವಾಬಭಾಷೇ || ೪||
O Giver of boons! You told Mahabali “ If one is not content with three feet one will not be content with all the worlds”. Thus told, Mahabali wanted to pour water for ceremonially making the gift but the Acharya for the Asuras Shukra, inspired by You for the purpose of testing the strength of Mahabali’s resolve, openly told Mahabali “ Don’t give, Don’t give, this is Hari himself”.
’ಯಾಚತ್ಯೇವಂ ಯದಿ ಸ ಭಗವಾನ್ ಪೂರ್ಣಕಾಮೋಽಸ್ಮಿ ಸೋಽಹಮ್
ದಾಸ್ಯಾಮೇವ’ ಸ್ಥಿರಮಿತಿ ವದನ್ ಕಾವ್ಯಶಪ್ತೋಽಪಿ ದೈತ್ಯಃ |
ವಿನ್ಧ್ಯಾವಲ್ಯಾ ನಿಜದಯಿತಯಾ ದತ್ತಪಾದ್ಯಾಯ ತುಭ್ಯಂ
ಚಿತ್ರಂ ಚಿತ್ರಂ ಸಕಲಮಪಿ ಸ ಪ್ರಾರ್ಪಯತ್ತೋಯಪೂರ್ವಮ್ || ೫||
Mahabali firmly told Shukracharya “ If the Lord Himself is begging from me then I am fulfilled. I will certainly make the gift”. Saying thus Mahabali, though cursed by Shukra, gifted to You, whose feet had been washed by Mahabali’s wife Vindhyavali, everything along with ceremonial water sanctified by mantras.
ನಿಸ್ಸನ್ದೇಹಂ ದಿತಿಕುಲಪತೌ ತ್ವಯ್ಯಶೇಷಾರ್ಪಣಂ ತ-
ದ್ವ್ಯಾತನ್ವಾನೇ ಮುಮುಚುರೃಷಯಃ ಸಾಮರಾಃ ಪುಷ್ಪವರ್ಷಮ್|
ದಿವ್ಯಂ ರೂಪಂ ತವ ಚ ತದಿದಂ ಪಶ್ಯತಾಂ ವಿಶ್ವಭಾಜಾ-
ಮುಚ್ಚೈರುಚ್ಚೈರವೃಧದವಧೀಕೃತ್ಯ ವಿಶ್ವಾಣ್ಡಭಾಣ್ಡಮ್ || ೬||
When the Asura King was surrendering to You everything he possessed without an iota of hesitation in his heart, the celestials and the rishis rained flowers and your radiant body, with all the worlds watching, started to grow in size until it touched the limits of the cosmos.
ತ್ವತ್ಪಾದಾಗ್ರಂ ನಿಜಪದಗತಂ ಪುಣ್ಡರೀಕೋದ್ಭವೋಽಸೌ
ಕುಣ್ಡೀತೋಯೈರಸಿಚದಪುನಾದ್ಯಜ್ಜಲಂ ವಿಶ್ವಲೋಕಾನ್ |
ಭೇರೀಂ ನಿಘ್ನನ್ ಭುವನಮಚರಜ್ಜಾಂಬವಾನ್ ಭಕ್ತಿಶಾಲೀ || ೭||
When the tip of your foot touched the abode of Brahma he washed it with the water in his Kamadalu and that water from your feet purifies all the worlds (as Ganga). The celestials danced with overflowing joy in this festival and Jambavan, your devotee, went round the world gleefully beating his big drum.
ದೇವೋಪೇತೈರ್ಭವದನುಚರೈಸ್ಸಂಗತಾ ಭಂಗಮಾಪನ್ |
’ಕಾಲಾತ್ಮಾಯಂ ವಸತಿ ಪುರತೋ ಯದ್ವಶಾತ್ ಪ್ರಾಗ್ಜಿತಾಃ ಸ್ಮಃ
ಕಿಂ ವೋ ಯುದ್ಧೈ’ರಿತಿ ಬಲಿಗಿರಾ ತೇಽಥ ಪಾತಾಲಮಾಪುಃ || ೮||
By this time the asuras, without the nod of Bali, started a fight but met with defeat at the hands of the celestials who were joined by your followers. They were told by Mahabali “ This one standing before us is verily Kala (Death, Time) Himself the benevolence of whom gave us victory earlier. What is the use of your fighting?” Thus told, the asuras retreated into the nether world.
ಪಾಶೈರ್ಬದ್ಧಂ ಪತಗಪತಿನಾ ದೈತ್ಯಮುಚ್ಚೈರವಾದೀ-
-’ಸ್ತಾರ್ತ್ತೀಯೀಕಂ ದಿಶ ಮಮ ಪದಂ ಕಿಂ ನ ವಿಶ್ವೇಶರೋಽಸಿ’ |
’ಪಾದಂ ಮೂರ್ಧ್ನಿ ಪ್ರಣಯ ಭಗವ’ ನ್ನಿತ್ಯಕಂಪಂ ವದನ್ತಂ
ಪ್ರಹ್ಲಾದಸ್ತಂ ಸ್ವಯಮುಪಗತೋ ಮಾನಯನ್ನಸ್ತವೀತ್ತ್ವಾಮ್ || ೯||
You loudly said to Mahabali who had been bound with ropes by Garuda “ Give me the third foot of land. Are you not the Lord of all the worlds ? “ Unmoved by the taunt Mahabali told you “Please put your foot on my head”. At that instant Prahlada appeared there and appreciated Bali’s gesture and praised you by hymns
ದರ್ಪೋಚ್ಛಿತ್ತ್ಯೈ ವಿಹಿತಮಖಿಲಂ ದೈತ್ಯ! ಸಿದ್ಧೋಽಸಿ ಪುಣ್ಯೈ
ರ್ಲೋಕಸ್ತೇಸ್ತು ತ್ರಿದಿವವಿಜಯೀ ವಾಸವತ್ವಂ ಚ ಪಶ್ಚಾತ್ |
ಮತ್ಸಾಯುಜ್ಯಂ ಭಜ ಚ ಪುನ’ರಿತ್ಯನ್ವಗೃಹ್ಣಾ ಬಲಿಂ ತಂ
ವಿಪ್ರೈಃ ಸನ್ತಾನಿತಮಖವರಃ ಪಾಹಿ ವಾತಾಲಯೇಶ || ೧೦||
You blessed Bali saying “ O Chief of Asuras! All this was done to wipe out your conceit and arrogance. You have acquired all mystical powers because of the merit of your good deeds. May you attain the worlds which are higher and greater than the world of the devas. Later may you become Indra and finally merge in Me “. You then got the yagna of Mahabali completed by brahmins as prescribed in the Vedic texts. O Lord of Guruvayur !
Save me (from my ailments).