Desika Prabandham: A Collection of Tamil Hymns by Vedanta Desika
Desika Prabandham is a collection of Tamil hymns composed by Vedanta Desika, one of the most prominent teachers of Sri Vaishnavism. Vedanta Desika lived in the 13th and 14th centuries CE and wrote many works in Sanskrit, Tamil and Prakrit. He was a master of poetry, logic, philosophy and devotion. He was also a great defender of the Sri Vaishnava tradition and refuted many rival doctrines.
Desika Prabandham consists of 28 hymns, totaling 1028 verses. They cover various topics such as the glory of God, the guru, the scriptures, the saints, the temple, the rituals, the ethics and the spiritual path. They also express Vedanta Desika's personal devotion and surrender to Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. The hymns are rich in imagery, symbolism, emotion and wisdom. They are considered as gems of Tamil literature and sources of inspiration for Sri Vaishnavas.
Desika Prabandham is available online in Tamil script in Unicode format at Project Madurai, a website dedicated to providing electronic texts of Tamil literary works[^1^]. A scanned copy of a printed edition of Desika Prabandham with commentary by K.S. Krishnaswamy is also accessible at Internet Archive[^2^]. A PDF version of Desika Prabandham with transliteration and meaning in English is available at Prapatti Online[^3^].
Desika Prabandham is a treasure trove of Tamil devotional poetry that reveals the depth and beauty of Vedanta Desika's faith and scholarship. It is a must-read for anyone interested in Sri Vaishnavism and Tamil culture.
In this article, we will briefly summarize the main themes and highlights of some of the hymns in Desika Prabandham. This is not meant to be a comprehensive or detailed analysis, but rather an introduction and an invitation to explore these works further.
Adaikkalappattu: This is a hymn of 11 verses where Vedanta Desika expresses his total surrender (prapatti) to Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. He compares himself to a bird that has fallen into a net and seeks refuge in the Lord as the only savior. He praises the Lord's qualities such as compassion, power, beauty and auspiciousness. He also acknowledges his own faults and weaknesses and begs for forgiveness and protection.
Amritaranjani: This is a hymn of 10 verses where Vedanta Desika extols the greatness of Nammalvar, one of the most revered Tamil saints. He says that Nammalvar's hymns are like nectar that can bestow immortality and bliss. He also says that Nammalvar's hymns are like a mirror that reflects the true nature of God, the soul and the world. He urges everyone to study and recite Nammalvar's hymns with devotion and gratitude.
Aruttapanchakam: This is a hymn of 5 verses where Vedanta Desika describes the five aspects of grace (arul) that are essential for salvation. They are: the grace of God, the grace of the guru, the grace of the scriptures, the grace of the saints and the grace of one's own self. He says that these five graces are like five lamps that dispel the darkness of ignorance and bondage. He also says that these five graces are like five mothers that nourish and nurture the soul.
Navamanimalai: This is a hymn of 9 verses where Vedanta Desika praises Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram. He says that Lord Varadaraja is like a precious gem that has nine facets, each representing a different aspect of his glory. These nine facets are: his form, his name, his qualities, his abode, his consort, his weapons, his ornaments, his devotees and his grace. He says that meditating on these nine facets can confer all benefits and blessings.
Prabandhasaram: This is a hymn of 10 verses where Vedanta Desika summarizes the essence of his own works in Desika Prabandham. He says that his works are like a garland of flowers that he offers to Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. He also says that his works are like a stream of nectar that can quench the thirst of those who seek spiritual knowledge and joy. He humbly requests the Lord to accept his works and bless him with his grace.
These are just some examples of the hymns in Desika Prabandham. Each hymn has its own beauty, depth and charm. They reveal Vedanta Desika's mastery over language, poetry and philosophy. They also reveal his love and devotion for God, guru and saints. They are a valuable source of guidance and inspiration for all seekers of truth and happiness. ec8f644aee