Vedanta Desika-Sri Garudadandakam

Introduction by Senior Medhavi Dr Partha Desikan

Sri Vedanta Desika (Swami Desika, Swami Vedanta Desika, Thoopul Nigamaanta Desika) (1269–1370) was a Sri Vaishnava Gurushreshtha. He was an incomparable poet in Tamil, Sanskrit and Manipravala, single-minded devotee of Bhagavan Vishnu, philosopher and master teacher. He was the disciple of Swami Sri Kidambi Appullar alias Sri Aathreya Ramanuja who appears in the lineage starting from the Vishishtadvaita Acharya, Sri Ramanuja with some other outstanding Acharyas in between in the order. He is considered an Avatara (incarnation) of the””Ghanta” (sacred bell) of Lord Venkateswara of Tirumalai by Sri Vaishnavas.

His genius both as a poet and a logician in spreading Vishnubhakti while interpreting and establishing Srimad Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita doctrine earned him the title “kavitaarkikakesari” which features in the Taniyan (homage) shloka in the Anushtup chhanda, with which his followers begin the reading or ceremonial recital of any of his large number of devotional or philosophic compositions.

While almost all his Sanskrit devotional work is in magnificent padya or formal verse form in a variety of metres, there are a few notable exceptions. His Raghuviragadya aka Mahaviravaibhava is in stylized prose or gadya format, where sentences of varying lengths dance rhythmically in musical cadence while addressing Sri Rama and simultaneously narrating in sequence his story, Ramayana. The present work, Sri Garudadandaka, is in the form of a prayer, partly in addressing mode, to the devotee cum vehicle of Srimannarayana, the mighty and divine bird Sri Garuda.

Medha Editor’s Note: Due to the very desirable intermingling of Sanskrit scripts with the “default” Roman script, we’ve had to render this article as a series of “picture snapshots”. Readers who are interested in the pdf version may contact us via comments at the bottom of article, & Partha just may send them the pdf if they share their email address with him.

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