Achyutam Keshavam

Krishna BabyHappy Janmashtami to all my readers!

Our celebrations are so often about food, decoration and socialising that we forget to be prayerful, do we not? Though I  start each day with prayers, I am not very religious, I confess. Even in those few moments of prayers, I sadly lack concentration. My mouth mumbles one prayer after another and often my mind wanders off to planning the day or reflecting on one matter or the other. I try to focus my mind but I fail most of the time.  Is it not pathetic? What use prayers then?

Today I wanted to recite some special ones for Lord Krishna. But knowing my sad deficiencies, I decided instead to spend some time just translating one stotra and thinking about it’s meaning. It is a beautiful one by Adi Shankaracharya (8th century AD) which I learnt in my childhood. I love these old hymns which have passed through so many centuries, sung by so many over time, each adding to the power of the hymn by their own belief in it. I too join the long line and, for a moment, I feel as if I am holding hands with an unending line of worshippers of Sri Krishna.

So here I am with the fruits of my labour.  The stotra is about Lord Krishna and by the many names by which he is invoked, we remember the many stories from his life. It also reminds us that he is an avatar of Narayana; we invoke Lord Rama as well. It goes beyond that, naming Him as Infinite, thus reminding us of the ultimate Brahman.

To present this stotra, I have chosen a beautiful version by Yesudas with good pronunciation (except for the word pAtu which he pronounces as pAdu), a good reference for those who wish to learn this hymn.



Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

अच्युतं केशवं राम नारायणं कृष्ण दामोदरं वासुदेवं हरिम् ।
श्रीधरं माधवं गोपिकावल्लभं जानकी नायकं रामचंद्रं भजे ॥१॥

अच्युतं केशवं सत्यभामाधवं माधवं श्रीधरं राधिकाराधितम् ।
इन्दिरामन्दिरं चेतसा सुन्दरं देवकी नन्दनं नन्दजं सन्दधे ॥२॥

विष्णवे जिष्णवे शङ्खिने चक्रिणे रुक्मिणि रागिने जानकी जानये ।
बल्लवी वल्लभायार्चितायात्मने कंस विध्वंसिने वंशिने ते नमः ॥३॥

कृष्ण गोविन्द हे राम नारायण श्रीपते वासुदेवाजित श्रीनिधे ।
अच्युतानन्त हे माधवाधोक्षज द्वारकानायक द्रौपदीरक्षक ॥४॥

राक्षस क्षोभितः सीतया शोभितो दण्डकारण्य भू पुण्यता कारणः ।
लक्ष्मणेनान्वितो वानरौः सेवितोऽगस्तसम्पूजितो राघव पातु माम् ॥५॥

धेनुकारिष्टकोऽनिष्टकृद्द्वेषिणां केशिहा कंस हृद्वंशिका वादकः ।
पूतना कोपकः सूरजा खेलनो बाल गोपालकः पातु मां सर्वदा ॥६॥

विद्युदुद्योतवानप्रस्फुरद्वाससं प्रावृडम्भोदवत्प्रोल्लसद्विग्रहम् ।
वन्यया मालया शोभितोरःस्थलं लोहिताङ्घ्रिद्वयं वारिजाक्षं भजे ॥७॥

कुञ्चितैः कुन्तलैर्भ्राजमानाननं रत्न मौलिं लसत्कुण्डलं गण्डयोः ।
हार केयूरकं कङ्कणप्रोज्ज्वलं किङ्किणीमञ्जुलं श्यामलं तं भजे ॥८॥

फलस्तुति
अच्युतस्याष्टकं यः पठेदिष्टदं प्रेमतः प्रत्यहं पूरुषः सस्पृहम् ।
वृत्ततः सुन्दरं कर्तृ विश्वंभरं तस्य वश्यो हरिर्जायते सत्वरम् ॥९॥

Transliteration

achyutam kEshavam rAma nArAyaNam
kRshNa dAmOdaram vAsudEvam harim
shrIdharam mAdhavam gOpikA vallabham
jAnakI nAyakam rAmachandram bhajE [1]

achyutam kEshavam satyabhAmAdhavam
mAdhavam shrIdharam rAdhikA rAdhitam
indirA mandiram chEtasA sundaram
dEvakI nandanam nandajam sandadhE [2]

vishNavE jishNavE shangkhinE chakriNE
rukmiNi rAginE jAnakI jAnayE
ballavI vallabhA-y-Archita-y-AtmanE
kamsa vidhvamsinE vanshinE tE namah [3]

kRshNa gOvinda hE rAma nArAyaNa
shrIpatE vAsudEvAjita shrInidhE
achyutAnanta hE mAdhavA-adhOkshaja
dvArakA nAyaka draupadI rakshaka [4]

rAkshasa kshObhita sItayA shobhitO
danDakAraNya bhU puNyatA kAraNa
lakshmaNEnAnvitO vAnarau sEvitO
agastasampUjitO rAghava pAtu mAm [5]

dhEnukA-arishtakO-anishTa-krid-dvEshiNam
kEshihA kansa-hrud vanshikA vAdakah
pUtanA kOpakah sUrajA khElanO
bAla gOpAlakah pAtu mAm sarvadA [6]

vidyut-(u)ddyOtavAna-prasphurad-vAsasam
prAvRD-ambOdhavat-prOllasat-vigraham
vanyayA mAlayA shObhitOrahsthalam
lOhitAnghri-dvayam vArijAksham bhajE [7]

kunchitaih kuntalai-r-bhrAjamAn-Ananam
ratna maulim lasat-kuNDalam gaNDayOh
hAra kEyUrakam kangkaNa prOjjvalam
kngkiNI manjulam shyAmalam tam bhajE [8]

phalastuti:

achyutAshTakam yah paTHEt prEmatah
pratyaham pUrushah saspRham
vRttatah sundaram kartR vishvambharas-tasya
vashyO harirjAyatE satvaram

Translation

I revere (bhaj) the dark-hued (krshNa) One called Damodara (refers to being tied at the waist by his mother Yashoda) who is imperishable (achyutam), with beautiful hair (kEshavam) (alternate: who killed the demon kEsI), who is Rama the incarnation of Nayarana, the son of vasudEva (vAsudEva), the one who will steal away our sins (harIm). I salute the descendent of Madhu (mAdhavam) who holds Lakshmi in his chest (srIdharam), beloved (mAdhavam) of the cowgirls of Brindavan (gOpikA), the husband (nAyakam) of  Janaki, Ramachandra.

I fix my mind (sandadhE) on the imperishable (achyutam) one with beautiful hair (kEshavam) (alternate: who killed the demon kEsI), who is adored (mAdhavam) by Satyabhama,  the beloved (mAdhavam) who holds Lakshmi in his chest (srIdharam), who is revered by (ArAdhitam) by Radhika, the dwelling (mandiram) of beauty (indirA), who is intelligent (chEtasA) and beautiful (sundaram), son (nandanam) of Devaki, son of Nanda (nandajam).

Salutations (tE namah) to Vishnu, the victorious (jishNu), the one who holds the conch (shankha) and discus (chakra), beloved (rAgiNE) of Rukmini, the reason for the birth (jAnayE) of Sita, the daughter of Janaka (jAnakI), beloved (vallabhA) to the cowherdesses (ballavI) and worshipped (archita) by their souls (AtmanE), destroyer (vidhvansinE) of Kamsa, player of the flute (vansha=flute).

O Krishna, the chief cowherd (gOvinda), O Rama the incarnation (implied) of Narayana, O Consort of Lakshmi (srIpatE), son of Vasudeva (vAsudeva), unconquerable (ajita), O receptacle of beauty (or Lakshmi) (srInidhE), O Imperishable One (achyuta), O Infinite (ananta), O descendent of Madhu (mAdhava), the one born in the month of Shravana (adhOkshaja), O Lord of Dwaraka, O Protector (rakshaka) of Draupadi.

Protect me (pAtu mAm) O Raghava (of the Raghu clan), who makes the demons (rAkshasa) tremble (kshobita), who is adorned by (shObhita) by Sita, the One who caused (kAraka) the land (bhU) of Dandakaranya to be sanctified (puNyatA), the One who is accompanied by (Anvita) by Lakshmana, who is served by (sEvita) apes (vAnara), who is greatly honoured by (sampUjita) by Agastya.

Protect me (pAtu mAm) always (sarvadA) O Young (bAla) cowherd (gOpalaka), O enemy of (dvEshiNa) of the evil-doing (anishTa krit) Dhenuka and Arishtaka, O Destroyer of Keshi (kEshihA),  who trapped (hrut) Kansa, player (vAdaka) of a flute (vanshikA), who shook (khElana) the angry Putana who was pretending to be (implied) born of the Devas (sUrajA) (unsure of this last line).

I revere (bhajE) the lotus-eyed One (vArija akshi) with clothing (vAsasam) which shine (prasfurat) like the rising (udyOta) lightning (vidyut), with a body (vigraha) like (vat) the cloud (ambhOda) after the rainy season (prAvrD) which shines brightly (prOllas), with the chest (urahsthalam) adorned by (shObhita) garlands (mAla) of wild flowers (vanya), with a pair (dvaya) of red (lOhita) feet (anGri).

I revere (bhajE) that dark-hued One (shyAmala) who has curly (kunchita) locks of hair (kuntala), a shining (bhrAja) face (Anana), a jewel (ratna) on the topknot (mauli), whose sides of the face (gaNDa) glitter (lasat) with earrings (kuNDala), and who glitters with garlands (hAra), armlets (kEyUra), bangles (kangkaNa) and pleasing (manjula) small-bells (kingkiNI).

Rewards of reciting the hymn:

He will give (da) that which is wished for (ishTa) to those people (purusha) who, filled with longing (sasprha), recite (paTHEt) this hymn (achyutAshtakam) everyday (pratyaha) with love (prEma). They will quickly (satvaram) become (jAyatE) obedient to Hari, the (beautiful (sundara) all-sustaining (vishvambara) creator of the world (kartR).

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6 Comments

Filed under Religious, Yesudas

6 responses to “Achyutam Keshavam

  1. indigoite

    Ditto your experience with prayer. Me and probably the whole of the human race suffers from the same problem. Rare is the person indeed who can wholeheartedly give himself or herself to prayer.

    Most of us leave it at that, but you have embarked on a scholarly work. Bravo.

    Happy Janmashtami to you. The wonders of different time zones means I am late in wishing you and can yet be on time :):)

  2. Jay

    Suja,

    Janmashtami would have just passed by had I not seen this post.

    I had never heard this particular rendering. It brought back to mind a melodious and rhythmic prayer/naamam/stuthi for Krishna (in Malayalam). A section of it goes like this:

    ponnin kireeDavum ponmaNE maalayum
    ponn aranjANavum kingiNiyum
    ponnum vaLagaLum ponnuDa yADeyum
    minnunna kunDalam kaal chilambum

    thechE poo mAla thulasE daLangaLum
    ellAm aNinju ….

    It describes the sight of beautiful Krishna all adorned when the sanctum sanctorum opens with all the beautiful lamps and goes on to say what else but it is saakshaat parabrahmam.

    We have come to associate being religious in straitjacketed definitions. It kind of reminds me on how loosely we associate the word charity.

    Jay

    • Hi Jay, I am glad that the post reminded you of Janmashtami..at least you would have had a chance to quickly recite a shloka or two, I hope :)
      The prayer you quoted sounds lovely, I always like descriptive songs – Oothukadu is a favourite with me.

      As to religiousness, I suppose I associate it with being ritualistic rather than devoted. I am a believer, and in my own way I am devoted, but I am not in the least ritualistic and therefore I see myself as not being very religious. Religion is prescriptive and I am a thinker by nature, and independent, and find that which is prescriptive to be too limiting. So I see myself as an irreligious theist, if such a category exists :)
      cheers. Suja

  3. Narasimharaj

    “Our celebrations are so often about food, decoration and socialising that we forget to be prayerful, do we not?”
    Suja & your followers, my Hearty ‘post’ Janmashtami(/Gokulashtami Greetings to you.
    Glad you’ve made an appropriate selection “achyutam kEshavam rAma nArAyaNam . . “. (The ‘Stotram’ reminded me of the Sanskrit teacher Nanjunda Shastry – way back (1942) when I was studying in the 4th Standard in a school in Bangalore. He always walked into the classroom loudly reciting the Stotram “achyutam kEshavam rAma nArAyaNam . . . “)

    I agree totally with your opening lines (quoted above). My ‘focus’ was on ‘what-I-should-offer-to-the-Lord’ on Gokulashtami (Aug.28th)
    I am sure you & I have – for several years – enjoyed eating delicious ‘Gokulaashtami specialities’ after reverentially offering them to Sri Krishna.
    I stay alone and prepare my daily food requirements. On Gokulaashtami Day – August 28th, 2013 – I made a bold/dashing departure from any traditional mouth-watering preparations/sweets & payasams – either prepared or bought – to ‘offer’ to Sri Krishna before consuming them myself.
    I thought, why not have Sri Krishna to share/have with me the ‘nutritious idlis and Ragi-Vita’ (Ragi Malt) that I prepared? After all, He’d certainly have eaten all the variety of ‘eats and payasams’ in so many homes
    - including yours – and I didn’t want Him to have an upset-stomach by adding some more of such!
    So, I had Him share/partake with me what I prepared. I prepared Ragi Vita because I had run short of stock of MTR ‘vermicelli payasam mix’ and also, Ragi Vita cost me far less than Bourn Vita (but perhaps is more nutritious than the latter!!)
    I used ‘jaggery’ instead of sugar (for I had read long back – when I did some research for my grand-daughter Neeraja, on ‘Jaggery’ – that refining process for Sugar uses ‘bones’ – and I didn’t want Sri Krishna to go Non-Veg!!
    I hope Sri Krishna enjoyed partaking of my ‘special preparations’!
    In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed them – consuming them in His name!!
    May many Janmashtamis/Gokulashtamis follow!
    Best Wishes.
    Raj.

    • Hi Raj, Great idea, putting Lord Krishna on a healthy diet :) Honestly, if one offers just one grain of rice to our Lord and consumes it as a prasadam, it is more than enough. Was He not satisfied with some plain aval (beaten rice) given by Kuchela/Sudama? What is right for Sudama is right for us as well..Good thought.
      Cheers. Suja

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