Do you know the story of the time when the Gods and Demons churned the primeval ocean of milk? No? Well, you’ll have to wait for another time, for I know exactly which song I wish to write that story for! Today I shall write of one of the gifts the ocean gave forth when churned, the wish-fulfilling tree called a Kalpavriksha or Kalpataru. This tree was taken by the King of the Gods, Indra, and planted in heaven.
I quite like the fact that trees and plants have a sacred place in Hinduism; I am quite fond of trees! We have of course the Banyan tree, which is ideal for meditating under. We use various leaves and flowers for worship, like the Tulasi leaves for Vishnu or the Bilva for Shiva, the Hibiscus for Shiva and Lotus for Vishnu. But the most special plant of all is the mythical Kalpataru. This wish-fulfilling tree has been mentioned both in our ancient Puranas and in the Mahabharata. One has but to sit under this tree and wish, and our wishes will be fulfilled immediately!
But what a dangerous tree it would be! We, who have so much difficulty in controlling our minds, could we possibly trust that no stray bad thoughts come when we are under that tree? And even if we make what we think to be a good wish, what do we know of the repercussions? For a couple of decades now, knowing that my wishes turned out at times to be a bad choice, I have stopped praying for anything concrete. The well-being of my family and friends, peace and good health and most of all the guidance and wisdom to choose the correct path seem more than enough to wish for.
I was reminded of the Kalpataru by my song choice of today. The poet-composer, Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) sings the praises of Lord Shiva in the form of Sadachaleshwara, the deity of Tiruvarur. ‘Like a Kalpa tree, He is always a refuge for everyone including the celestials who seek sanctuary’ the poet-composer says. He goes on to say that ‘Like a bee which hovers over a lotus, He hovers over the hearts of good people who are tranquil and self-controlled…’. What use a Kalpataru for those who are neither tranquil, nor self-controlled? They will only harm themselves, will they not? So the good Lord Shiva is a Kalpataru only for those who have learnt to control their senses. This beautiful song set to Raga Bhoopalam is beautifully crafted and will not fail to touch your heart, so I believe. To know more about the raga, click here.
To present this song, I have selected a nice rendition by Nithyasree Mahadevan; the brisk kalpanaswarams after the kriti are especially enjoyable. Click here to listen.
Thanks to a reader, I have just been introduced to an excellent rendition by the Hyderabad Brothers, which I have now included for your listening pleasure.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
Language – Sanskrit
सदाचलेश्वरम् भावयेऽहं चमत्कारपुर गेहं गिरिजा मोहम्
सदाश्रित कल्प वृक्ष समूहं शरणागत देवता समूहं
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यं )
उदाज्य कृत नामधेयवाहं चिदानन्दामृत प्रवाहं
चमत्कार भुपालादि प्रसाद करण निपुण महालिङ्गं
छाया रहित दीप प्रकाश गर्भ गृह मध्य रङ्गं
समस्त दुःखादि हेतु भूत संसार सागर भय भङ्गं
शमदमो पवृत्यादि संयुक्त सादुजन हृदय सरसिज भृङ्गं
कमल विजयकर विधृत कुरङ्गं करुणारस सुधामव तरङ्गं
कमलेश विनुत वृषभतुरङ्गं कमल वदन गुरुगुहान्तरङ्गं
For notation, click here.
sadAchalEshvaram bhAvayEham chamatkArapura gEham girijA mOham
sadAshrita kalpa vRksha samUham sharaNAgata dEvatA samUham
udAjya kRta nAmadhEyavAham chidAnandAmRta pravAham
chamatkAra bhUpAlAdi prasAda karaNa nipuNa mahAlingam
chAyA rahita dIpa prakAsha garbha gRha madhya rangam
samasta duhkhAdi hEtu bhUta samsAra sAgara bhaya bhangam
shamadamO pavRtyAdi samyukta sAdujana hRdaya sarasija bhRngam
kamala vijayakara vidhRta kurangam karuNArasa sudhAmava tarangam kamalEsha vinuta vRshabhaturangam kamala vadana guruguhAntarangam
I meditate (bhAvayEham) on Lord Sadachaleshvara, He who has his abode (geham) in Chamatkarapura, and is the beloved (moham) of Girija.
Like a Kalpa tree (vrksha), He is always (sadA) a refuge (Ashrita) for everyone(samUham=group), including the celestials (dEvatA samUham) who seek sanctuary(sharanAgata = literally, they who come to His feet), he who is known (nAmadhEya, literally titled) as the one who turned water (uda) to ghee (Ajya), he is like a flow (pravAham) of nectar (amrtam) of bliss (chidAnanda).
He is Mahalinga (shiva) who causes (karaNa) the well-being (prasAda) of king (bhUpAla) Chamatkara etc (Adi). His shadow-less (chAyA rahita) sanctum (garbhagRha madhya rangam=the inner room in the middle of the house) is lit by a lamp (dIpa prakAsha). He removes (hetu bhoota, literally causes to be past) all sorrows (dukha) etc (Adi) and removes fear (bhaya bhanga) of this ocean (sAgaram) like life (samsAra). Like a bee (bhRnga) which hovers (implied) over a lotus (sarasija), He hovers over the hearts (hrdaya) of good people (sAdu jana) who are tranquil (shama) and self-controlled (dama), senses etc (unsure: cannot findpavrti in dictionary) in unison (samyukta). His lotus-like (kamala) victory-giving (vijaya kara) hands (implied) holds (vidhRta) a deer (kurangam), he is like a nectar-filled (sudha maya) wave (taranga) of compassion (karuna rasa). He is worshipped (vinuta) by Vishnu (kamalesha), he is mounted (turangam) on a bull (vRshabha), he is dear to the lotus-faced (kamala vadana) Guruguha (subrahmanya).