Sri Padukasahasra is a poem in Sanskrit of one thousand and
eight verses sung by the poet-philosopher Vedanta
Desika in glorification of Lord Ranganatha ' s
Pdduka. 'Paduka'means 'Foot-Guard.' It is the
Sandal of the Lord and it is so called because it
'guards' the Lord's Foot. The very name of the author, Vedanta
Desika (Teacher of Vedanta) , is an inspiration, and ensures the value
of the work. He is the Teacher of Vedanta, the 'two-fold' Vedanta
Ubhaya Vedanta as it is called, the Sanskrit and the Tamil. While the
essence of both the Vedantas is service to God and to His servants,
the emphasis of the former is on service to God and that of the latter
is on service to God's servants. The author stands for and is the very
embodiment of that service. The teacher was what he taught. He was
in himself the very two-fold Vedanta which he taught, the very synthesis
of service to God and to His servants. He reveals himself in that
synthesis in the very approach to the subject. He approaches it with
a humility which is matched only by the sublimity of the subject. The
personality of the author is best revealed in the work. He was 'crowned'
with the Lord's Paduka in His sanctuary and it was in glorification of
the Paduka with which he was crowned that the poem was sung in
the abundance of his abiding humility and gratitude. Directly the
Paduka a concept and a ,truth Theme of the poem
Paduka crowned his head, he became ecstatically inspired and
expressed himself in numbers of abundant love and gratitude. He
considered that the poem was inspired by Paduka, that it is the very
voice of Paduka in his persona (mask), and that he served the purpose
of masking the Paduka which sang its supremacy as the crown of
man's head and as the guard of God's foot. The work is the expression
of that ecstatic realization. Verily it is: "0 Lord! Open Thou my lips
and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise."
Paduka is at once a concept and a truth, mystic and real. Service
to God and to God's servants is that concept and
truth. Paduka in its supremacy as the 'Foot -guard '
of the Lord, is an integral personality. That personality
is at once individual and social. In its individual
personality it is the servant of the Lord, and the very primate of all His
servants. In its social personality it is the servant of the Lord's servants
in their service to the Lord, and they all together form a society of
servants in mutual fellowship. In that fellowship every servant becomes
equated with Paduka, and therefore, with each other in mutual
service. It is the glory of that service of Paduka in individual primacy
and social parity that is sung in this poem.
The poem is a theme on good life, and stands for everything that
is good in life. Good life is a life that makes life
worth living. It is the life of humanity integrated in
Divinity. It is a life of immortality in service. It is life
abundant and it is abundant as much here as in the hereafter. A life
of bestiality is one which is abandoned to matter and dead to all
humanity and those who live that life die a bestial death accursed in it.
A life of humanity is one which is dead to bestiality and those who live that life live a blissfull life. It is a life in which the 'head' of humanity is wedded to te 'foot' of Divinity. It is an indissobluble wedding, everlasting and ever blessed. With the beginning of that wedding beings the never-ending service of man. Man serves to please God / God is pleased with man's service. He is so please with the service that in His pleasure He regards the serving man as His very compeer, comprade and friends, nay as His very self. That pleasure is his grace and in that grace, he equates His servants with His very self. That is grace and that grace is divine. Man is restored in service to his primal blessedness by the grace of god. Paduka is that service and it stands as much for that service is for the law of that service It is eternally sounding that law in the srene and immutable majesty of its march in unison with the 'Foot', which is bears and reveals in that march. Its very march is law the weill of Gid is the way of Paduka. Paduka serves as He wills, and He wills as it serves. God is the infinity of 'saving' grace and Paduka is the infinity of 'Serving love. The servant, though finite in essence, is infinite in service, and that is service infinity.
The Institute takes immense pride in publishing
Srz Padukasahasra, a gem of poetic composition of
Sarvatantrasvatantra , Kavitarkika Simha SrI Vedanta Desika of
fourteenth century A.D. A past master in the art of poetic
creativity he has made a garland of thousand and eight poems
and offered it to Goddess Paduka. As is well known, Bharata
prince of Ayodhya ruled the kingdom placing the Paduka of
Sri Rama on the throne. His service to the Paduka all the fourteen
years of Rama's exile is a moving episode in the great epic
Ramayana. Bharata ruled Ayodhya on behalf of Rama under
the mystic guidance of the Paduka; the kingdom was a sacred
trust to him. On Sri Rama's return to Ayodhya, Bharata restores
the rule to Rama by requesting him to put on the Paduka again.
He states that by the power of the Paduka he was able to nurture
the kingdom well. This seems to have made a deep impression
in Sri Vedanta Desika , that as soon as the challenge was posed
to him, regarding writing thousand verses overnight he has
chosen Paduka as his subject matter. In the process he has given
to the world the beautiful immortal lyric in lucid and grand
To Sri Vedanta Desika the Rama-Paduka is also the
Paduka of Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam. Lord Ranganatha was
the kuladhana of the Iksvakus, Desika developed the episode
Paduka of the Ramayana into a mighty Kavya which is being
chanted daily by the Vaishnavites even now.
Desika has divided his kavya into thirty-two chapters
named paddhatis. Normally ten or twenty verses form a paddhati.
Sometimes it goes even beyond fifty in number. Nad a
Paddhati the fourteenth chapter is the longest one comprising
of hundred verses. The thirtieth chapter titled Citra Paddhati
stays as an evidence for the astonishing ability of Desika to
compose a special type of poetry called citra or bandha. Here
the letter of the verses are arranged in such a way to form
enchanting diagrams like Muraja (Drum), Cakra (Discus),
Padma (Lotus), Capa (Arrow) arid so on. All the more interesting
are the verses composed with single letter, two letters, or three;
some verses are composed as palindromes that they read the
same from left to right, or right to left. Desika never repeats an
idea or an image in the course of this long poem.
This grand poem has had commentaries and translations
written every now and then. The Sanskrit commentary of
Srinivasacarya of seventeenth century has often been
published with various editions of Padukasahasra from all parts
of the country.
From the South, Panditarantna Sri D.T. Tatacharya
Siromani brought out word to word meaning and translation
in Tamil in 1958. Abhinavadesika Sriman Uttamur T.
Veeraraghavachariar, brought out a translation in 1970 and
H. H. Srirangam Srimad Andavan Svami gave a translation
with commentary following the original Sanskrit commentary.
A Tamil trans-composition of the Kavy a entitled
was brought out by Sri R. Kesava
Ayyangar in 1949. An English translation with notes by
D. Ramaswamy Iyengar was published serially in the Journal,
Sri Rafzgantitha Paduka long ago. Quite recently Padukasahasra
has been brought out with an English translation by Dr. M.
Narasimhachary in the year 1998.
The present publication of the Padukasahasra by our Institute
is unique for the reason that it is formed in three different
languages. The original text in Sanskrit is followed by its Tamil
trans-composition by Sri R. Kesava Ayyengar and English
translation and notes by Sri D. Ramaswamy Iyengar. It is quite
interesting to note how the translators had enjoyed the poem as
much as the original writer himself. As one goes through the entire
composition and the translations one can feel that the translators
have also become paduka-sevakas just as Desika himself was.
As pointed out by Sri Uttamur Svami, Sri Kesava A yyangar
had prefixed the translation with Kappu at the beginning
and ends the work with Vinnappam and
mangalam giving out the writer's name, the purpose of the
translation, eulogy on Svami Desika and benediction.
One has to read and enjoy the English translation by
D. Ramaswamy Iyengar. The notes given by him throw light on
many a convention of the Sampradaya and explain
some knotty textual problems. He also records variant readings
and his preferences to a particular reading with valid reasons.
This book is brought out in two Volumes and is released
during the Valedictory Function of the 70th anniversary of the
Institute. It was the wish of our former Secretary Sri B. Madhavan
that this should definitely be brought out by our Institute and we
are happy his wish could be accomplished now.
The Institute has published many research papers, books
and organised many lectures, seminars/ conferences on
Vaishnavism. The present book is yet another contribution by
our Institute in this field.
Now it is my pleasant duty to record our sense of gratitude
to all the people involved in making this publication possible.
Foremost among them is Sri A Rangaswami, formerly Managing
Director, Lakshmi General Finance Limited who suggested
publishing Padukasahasra along with the Tamil trans-composition
of Sri Kesava Ayyangar and prepare an English translation by
the scholars of the Institute. We are deeply indebted to him for
the idea which has materialised now.
We are deeply beholden to Sri K. Parasaran, son of Sri
Kesava Ayyangar, who has been much interested in this project
and provided the funding for the same. He also provided us with
the photo copy of his father's book. We are deeply thankful to
him for his spontaneous munificence.
Dr. S. Padmanabhan deserves our gratitude for
suggesting to us that it would be highly valuable if Sri
Ramaswamy Iyengar's English translation were taken up for
this publication. We took his advice and procured the same
and the result is in the form of this book.
We offer our pranams to H. H. Srima d Srirangam
Andavan (Srimusnarn) of Srirangam who benevolently
acquiesced to our request to get the digitised copy of the
English translation by Sri Ramaswamy Iyengar from the
Library of the Mutt. We are also thankful to the Librarian of
the Mutt for his kind help in this regard.
The Roja Muthaiah Research Library, Chennai provided
us with the photo copy of Sri Kesava Ayyangar's Tamil text. Our
thanks are due to them.
We thank Smt. K. Sandhya who typed the entire Sanskrit
and Tamil text neatly and efficiently in a short time.
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