Sriramodantam- Day 1
The term ‘Sriramodantam’ is composed of the words ‘Srirama’ and ‘udantam’ meaning ‘the story of Srirama’. Sriramodantam is a ‘laghukavyam’ (minor poetical composition) that has been in use as the first text in the old Sanskrit Curriculum of Kerala for the last five centuries. As per this curriculum the students were taught this text along with Amarakosa and Siddharoopam immediately after they had learned the Sanskrit alphabets (Varnamala).
It is a great pity that the author of Sriramodantam is unknown. The author, in his inimitable and simple style, has narrated, in just 200 verses, the seven kandas of Ramayana that was expounded by Valmiki in 24000 verses.
On a personal note, I was introduced to this gem by Smt. Usha, my beloved Sanskrit teacher who is the reason I still have an interest in Sanskrit and am curious about the slokas and its meanings. The following is a small attempt by me to go back to the roots of my culture and to give this poem the fame it deserves. I will be trying my best to give out the meanings, usages, stories, and related stuff about the 200 verses present in the next 200 days. My primary source for meanings is from the E-book published by http://hinduebooks.blogspot.com.
Meaning of the Sloka
Bowing to Lakshmi’s consort, Vishnu, who has a mark, Srivatsa, on his chest, I shall relate the story of Sri Rama, as narrated by Valmiki.
One of the most famous first slokas similar to ‘Manishada’ by Valmiki. Here the author bows his head to Lord Vishnu before narrating the story of his Avatar Lord Sri Ram.
The word Srivatsa is a commonly associated word with Lord Vishnu. There are multiple stories attached to how he got that mark.
- Vayu Purana describes Srivatsa as a heavenly ornament of Lord Vishnu, also mentioned as a Lakshana( distinguishing factor/ornament)
- According to Matsya Purana, Srivatsa refers to a variety of mandapas(halls attached to the temple), they are meant to be built with 48 pillars.
- Referred to as a mole on Lord Vishnu’s chest
- Srivatsa is one of the nine symbols representing the cosmic principles of the universe, according to the Pāñcarātra literature. These nine weapons and ornaments symbolize the principles which they represent as the presiding deity. The Śrīvatsa symbol represents Prakriti (‘material world’).
- There is also a story in Mahabharata where Sri Krishna took the Narayanastra sent to kill Arjuna by Bhagadatta on his chest and that caused the mark. Parthasarathi temple in Chennai has a Lord Vishnu idol with the mark. (More on that story later)
- When I hear the mark on Lord Vishnu’s chest, I remember the story of Bhrigu Pada (Feet of sage Bhrigu). Here is the story as I remember:-
Sage Bhrigu was one of the sons of Lord Brahma. Once Bhrigu wanted to know who among the trinity was the greatest: his father Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. He decided that he would be the examiner because he did not want others to make the decision on his behalf.
Bhrigu began his examination with his father. While Brahma was reading the scriptures, Bhrigu came before him in a very haughty way, without bowing. Brahma said, “What! You are coming into my room without showing me any respect? I never thought that you would be so insolent and undivine!” He scolded his son mercilessly.
Silently Bhrigu went away, saying to himself, “This proves that my father cannot be the greatest of the three.”
Next Bhrigu went to see Shiva. When Shiva saw Bhrigu coming towards him, he did not know how to greet him. Why? Because Shiva was very unclean, even filthy. In spite of this, Shiva grabbed Bhrigu and embraced him. “You are so dirty and filthy! Why do you have to make me dirty also?” protested Bhrigu.
Shiva became furious. “You have to call me dirty and filthy? This is what I get for embracing you! I came to you with such affection! I love you. You are Brahma’s son. Now you have to say all kinds of things against me?” Shiva was so furious that he wanted to kill Bhrigu.
Bhrigu hastily left Shiva’s presence. On the way, he concluded, “Like my father, Shiva is also not good. Both of them have not conquered their anger. Since they have not conquered their anger, what kind of spiritual greatness do they have?”
Vishnu was the last member of the trinity to be examined by Bhrigu. When Bhrigu arrived at Vishnu’s abode, Vishnu was fast asleep. Bhrigu thought to himself, “Since both my father and Shiva showed their anger, let me see if I can also make Vishnu angry. I am sure it will be quite easy.”
While Vishnu was still asleep, Bhrigu started mildly kicking him. Vishnu did not wake up. Then Bhrigu kicked Vishnu extremely hard right on his chest. Vishnu woke up and immediately grabbed Bhrigu’s feet. “Are you hurt, are you hurt, my child? Please tell me. You kicked me so hard! I am deeply concerned that you have hurt yourself. Please tell me what I can do for you.”
Bhrigu replied, “My Lord, among the trinity — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — you are by far the greatest.”
This was Bhrigu’s realisation. His father scolded him because he showed no respect to his father; Shiva became enraged because Bhrigu insulted him; but Vishnu, in spite of being kicked ruthlessly, forgave Bhrigu and showed him such compassion and concern.
It is said that the mark of Bhrigu’s foot is still visible on Vishnu’s chest. Because of this incident, Bhrigu became known as Pada Bhrigu. ‘Pad’ means ‘foot,’ so Pada Bhrigu means ‘the sage who used his feet to examine the gods.’
Source : https://www.srichinmoy.org/resources/stories/puranas/bhrighu
Om Namoh Narayanaya