In the lineage of Sri Vaishnava crusaders, Koorathazhwan had played a prominent role. An ardent disciple of Sri Ramanuja, he assisted the latter in writing ‘Sri Bhashya.'

His monumental work titled ‘Panchastavee' comprises 5 Stotras: Sri Vaikunta Stavam, Athimanushastavam, Sundarabahustavam, Varadarajastavam and Sri Stavam originated in the same order. By far, these works put together, make an unparalleled compilation of the Stotras that have references to the Vedas, Ithihasas, the Puranas and other texts on Sri Vaishnavism.

The circumstances that led to composing these Stotras are elaborated in ‘Maharatna Panchakam.' The author, Chakravarthi Raghavasimhacharya's astute knowledge of the subject is evident in the commentary for each sloka, in a simple style without compromising on the meaning.

Sri Vaikuntastava is a tribute to Sri Vaikunta. Koorathazhwan refutes a variety of schools of thought regarding the nature of God and His relation to the universe with substantial annotations.

Based on Yamunacharya's Stotraratna and Ramanuja's Sri Vaikunta Gadya, he narrates the beatitude of Sri Vaikunta, Lord's attributes, ornaments, divine weapons and so on from the 41st Sloka. In some of the passages, he conveys his unworthiness and seeks the Lord's mercy.

Containing 61 Slokas, the Athimanushastava begins with the word ‘Athimanusha', a rare feature among Sanskrit Stotras. This speaks about the Lord's Vibhava stage - his incarnations on earth. Koorathazhwan alludes to Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam while referring to the vibhava forms, mostly Rama and Krishna.

Being born as a man in Ramavatara, His deeds in granting liberation to Jatayu, killing Vali, bridging the ocean across and in Krishnavatara, lifting the hill, dancing in Brindavan and other deeds are deftly narrated. The author's acumen enlightens this Stotra's profundity of character, meaning, and sweetness.

Sundarabahustava was written on reaching Tirumaliruncholai. In praising his guru in this Stotra initially, Koorathazhwan describes the copious beauty of Azhagar from foot to the head. The author interestingly explains the divine command of Azhagar which frightened even the she-elephant when it had a tiff with its spouse, in Sloka 8 and in Sloka 30 the author explains that the Lord's grace transcends caste, creed, and other man made distinctions.

Sri Varadarajastava is next to Tirukkachchi Nambi's Devaraja Ashtaka, particularly on Archa deity Kanchi Varadaraja. Koorathazhwan composed this stotra to fulfil Sri Ramanuja's wish to restore his lost vision.

The author highlights Azhwan's devotion, dexterity of language, erudition in poetry and loveable traits of Lord in this Stotra.

The Slokas are arranged in enlightening the five fold knowledge as codified in Rahasyatraya of Sri Vaishnavism. Containing 102 slokas, ten slokas each assume a panegyric form significantly different from the previous ten. The greatness of the Goddess is portrayed in Sristava, containing 11 slokas. The influence of Yamunacharya and Sri Ramanuja's works can be seen here.

Chakravarti Raghavasimhacharya's effort and erudition in giving simple commentary, deserve full credit.

Maharatna Panchakam: Sri Koorathazhwan Aruliya Panchastavam

(With Tamil commentary) Pazhaveri Chakravarthi Raghavasimhacharya (Sri Vishnuchitta Sri Trust, 18, Vekatesa Agraharam Lane, Mylapore, Chennai 600004.)


At WorkSeptember 24, 2010