Melpāttur Sri Nārāyaṇa bhaṭṭatiri
A ‘vaiṣṇava’ who matured into a Devi-bhakta
This is a work of Sri Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭathiri, the renowned author of the equally renowned ‘Srīmannārāyaṇīyam’. The author has many other works such as on Vyākaraṇam and Pūrva mīmāmsā to his credit. The ‘Srīpādasaptati’ is perhaps his last work, authored towards the end of his considerably long life. Scholars of the opinion that the Nārāyaṇīyam was penned by him when he was 27. Dr. Kunjunni Raja, in his essay on the Life and Works of Narayana Bhattatiri says that the ‘srīpādasaptatiḥ’ is his last work.
The work is famous in Kerala with Malayalam translation. The author pours out his devotional experiences in this work where he holds Devi, the Universal Mother, to be the Supreme being. Although his Krishna/Viṣṇu bhakti was well brought out in the Nārāyaṇīyam, the above work is testimony to his maturing from Viṣṇu bhakti to the Devi devotion. In fact, in the famous ‘Nārāyaṇīyam’ itself Narayana Bhattatiri explicitly acknowledges the ‘Prapanchasāra Tantra’ as a work of Shankaracharya. Here a selection from the ‘saptati’ (seventy verses) is given with a mere purport in English.
धावल्यं परिलाल्यते पुररिपोरङ्गेण तुङ्गश्रीया
किञ्च श्यामलिमापि कोमलतरे भात्येव गात्रे हरेः ।
तत्तादृक्पदवीं ममापि जनये तस्तोकसेवारसा-
दारुण्यं तव लीयते चरणयोः कारुण्यमूर्ते! शिवे! ॥ ६
- O Śivā (consort of Lord Śiva)!, the white/fair complexion of Śiva is from you and the dark complexion of Hari is also of you. Do thou make me equal to these Two by lending me the red that belongs to your Feet.
प्राहुः पद्मसमाश्रयं शतधृतिं त्वत्पादपद्माश्रया-दन्तस्त्वत्पदपद्मवीक्षणवशात् कृष्णोपि पद्मेक्षणः ।यत् पद्मार्च्चनमामन्ति सुधियो दारिद्र्यविद्रावणंमुक्तिक्षेत्रगते! भवानि! तदपि त्वत्पादपद्मार्च्चनं ॥ ८॥ 8. They say Brahmā attained the Lotus seat due to worshiping your Lotus feet. Hari became lotus-eyed due to meditating your Lotus feet in his mind. What is prescribed by the learned as driving out poverty, the worship with lotus flowers, O Bhavāni (the consort of Bhava, Śiva)!, the one in the firmament of Mokṣa, is verily worshiping your lotus feet.
पादं ते सरसीरुहद्रुहमिमं यत् सेवते पद्मभूर्-नूनं तत् स्वनिवासपङ्कजवरश्रीलङ्घनाशङ्कया ।गोविन्दोपि च वारिराशिदुहितुर्वासाब्जबाधाभियास्वस्यैवाग्रकरोद्गृहीतकमलत्राणाभिलाक्षेण वा ॥ ९॥ 9. Brahmā worships Your Lotus feet to protect his lotus-seat. Govinda (Hari) too worships you in fear of losing Lakshmi who is seated in his lotus-heart. Or it could be that Hari worships you fearing the constant threat to himself coming from the lotus he holds in his hand.
सा पादद्वितयाहतिर्जयति ते, यस्यां गिरीन्द्रात्मजे!प्राचीनेन्दुयुते नखेन्दुदशके मौलिस्थलीसङ्गते ।स्वस्यैकादशमूर्तितासमुचितानेकादशैवोडुपा-नाबिभ्राण इवाबभौ स भगवानेकोपि रुद्रः स्वयं ॥ १७॥ Though Rudra is one only, yet he came to become eleven too by virtue of the ten toe-nails which are akin to ten crescent moons. When Rudra prostrates at Her Feet, along with that crescent moon on his head, there are the other ten crescent-moon-like toe nails of Thine. Thereby Rudra gets the ability to bring forth the eleven Rudras.
किं वैरिञ्चकरोटिकोटिनिहतं किं वा फणिग्रामणी-निश्वासानिलखेदितं न्विदमिति प्रेमार्द्रसल्लापिना ।मानस्योपशमे करेण शनकैरामृद्नता शम्भुनाभूयश्चुम्बितमम्बुजद्युतिपदं ध्यायामि माये! तव ॥ १८॥ Shiva wonders how indeed the Devi’s feet that are so soft, are red like the lotus. He considers these options: Is it because of a mere part of Brahmā’s head touching the Feet which could not stand even that force? Or is it because of the poisonous breath emanating from Nāgarāja (when Shiva bows at Her feet)? Thus perplexed Shiva, out of supreme love caresses with his hand thy Feet. O Māyā! I meditate on such Feet of Thine.
पूर्वं जह्नुसुता सकृन्मुररिपोः श्रीपादसङ्क्षालना-पुण्यादीदृशवैभवा समभवत् गोविन्दवन्द्ये! शिवे! ।सेयं सम्प्रति शम्भुमौलिनिलया मानप्रसङ्गानतौनित्यं त्वच्चरणावसेचनभुवा पुण्येन कीदृग्भवेत् ॥ १९॥ The poet wonders what great puṇya the Holy River Gangā has attained: First, in the yore, Gangā emanated from Hari’s feet and thereby attained great sanctity, puṇya. Then she attained Śambhu’s Head. When Śambhu bows at Thy Feet, O Mother, Who is worshiped by Govinda! Gangā washes Thy Feet, as though. How much more puṇya (than what she gained by washing Hari’s feet) would Gangā have acquired by that act of washing Thy Feet!
द्वित्वेन स्थितयोस्त्वदीयपदयोर्द्वैतं निरस्य स्फुटंकैवल्यप्रतिपादने कुशलता जातेति कोयं क्रमः ।किं वा युक्तिभिरत्र, मुक्तिकरता व्यक्तैव ते पादयोर्- मुक्ता एव हि विस्फुरन्ति विमलास्तत्सङ्गिनोमी नखाः ॥ २६ The Feet of the Devi is a pair, that is two, dvitvam, dvaitam. How is one to attain the Vedāntic Mukti of Advaita by resorting to these ‘two’ Feet? The answer is: There is no need to look for any reasoning, yukti. For, Your Feet are naturally endowed with the ability to confer the Advaitic mukti since all those who have resorted to Your Feet are resplendent as ‘Muktas’. The Poet is resorting to a ‘śleṣa’ alankāra here: The word ‘muktāḥ’ (liberated ones) is also taken to mean pearls ‘muktāh’ that are Her toe nails. The toe nails resemble pearls and are ever present there. They are the Muktas (liberated ones) that are ever present there having resorted to Her Feet. So, no need to doubt whether the duality involved in the pair of feet will ever confer mukti, mokṣa.
माने शम्भुशिरःप्रहारचरितं नैव त्वदिच्छाकृतंजाने देवि! पदाब्जयोस्तु पुरजिन्मूर्ध्ना विरोधादिदम् ।एते पादनखांशुबद्धकलहाः शीतांशुमन्दाकिनी-भोगीन्द्राः किल शङ्करस्य शिरसा शङ्कां विना रक्षिताः ॥ २९॥ The poet says: O Mother, I very well know that your feet nudging away Shiva’s head is not at all intentional on your part. It has happened because of the ‘enmity’ your lotus-feet harbors towards Shiva. What is this? Lotus blossoms when the Sun rises and contracts when the moon rises. Shiva’s head bears the crescent moon and when he bowed to your feet, the lotuses (that are the feet) contracted thereby pushing away his head. And there are these great beneficiaries too: The white flush of light emanating from your toe nails overwhelm the white brightness of the cool crescent moon, the Mandākinī (Gangā) and the snakes on Shiva’s head. They, the moon, the Gangā and the snakes are saved only because they happen to be on Shiva’s head.
देवि! त्वच्चरणोच्चलन्नखघृणिश्रेणीषु लीनो नम-न्नाभाति स्थटिकाचलस्फुटतटीशायीव सायन्नटः ।हंसालीन इव स्वयं कमलभूः क्षीराब्धिशायीव चश्रीभर्ता मघवापि नाकसरिति स्नायन्निवालोक्यते ॥ ३०॥ O Divine Mother! Shiva, who engages in the evening dance, while prostrating at your feet, appears as though he is lying down in the valleys of the Himalayas. Why? The white bright light emanating from your toe nails are akin to the Himalayan whiteness. While Brahmā prostates before you, he appears as though becoming merged in the Hamsa (which is white). And Śrīpati, Viṣṇu, while prostrating at thy feet, looks as though he is asleep in the Ocean of Milk. And Indra, while prostrating at thy feet, looks as though he is bathing in the Gangā, the celestial river.
डोलाकेलिविधौ हिमाचलशिलादेशे समभ्याहतात्-पादाग्रात्तव यानि यावकरसप्रस्यन्दनान्यम्बिके! । ?तान्यभ्यागतसुम्भसङ्गरभवद्रक्ताम्बुविस्तारणा-बिन्दुक्षेपनिभानि नन्ददमरीवन्द्यानि वन्दामहे ॥ ३१॥ When you Mother, sport in the swing, the juice emanates from the edges of your feet when they strike at the peaks of the Himalayas. The juice drops are so red that they look like the blood from the battle with Sumbha (demon) splattered everywhere. Such feet that are bowed to by the regaling celestial women, we too prostrate.
डोलाकेलिषु यं हिमाचलशिलालग्नं वनेवासिनोभक्त्या योगिवरास्त्रिपुण्ड्रकलिते लिम्पन्ति फालान्तरे ।यं सिद्धप्रमदाः समेत्य तिलकं कुर्वन्ति नत्वा मुहु-स्तं दाक्षायणि! ते कदा नु पदयोरीक्षेय लाक्षारसं ॥ ३२॥ Dākśāyaṇi (Daughter of Dakṣa)! When you sport on the swing, your feet touch, scrape, the stony floor of the Himāchala, mountain. The red dye that is applied to your feet gets smeared on the floor. The ascetics living in the forest, out of devotion, apply it on their forehead, in between the tripuṇḍra. And their wives too collect that red dye that has fallen from your feet and apply it as tilakam, decoration, on their foreheads after prostrating at thy feet. When shall I behold such exalted feet of thine? 
देवि! त्वं मुरवैरिणः प्रणमने यत्किञ्चिदाकुञ्चयश्रीपादाम्बूजमन्यथास्य शिरसि त्वत्पादलाक्षाञ्चिते ।श्रीभूम्योरितरप्रणामकृतमित्यन्योन्यमाशङ्कयारोषव्याकुलयोश्चिरं स भगवान् जायेत पर्याकुलः ॥ ३३॥ O Devi! When Murāri (Viṣṇu) prostrates at thy feet, please draw thy auspicious lotus feet a little inside. Otherwise the red dye of thy feet will leave a mark on Murāri’s forehead and when he returns home his consorts Śrīdevi and Bhūdevi will doubt mutually that you have prostrated at their feet. That is, Śrīdevi will doubt whether Viṣṇu has fallen at the feet of Bhūdevi and vice versa. And thereby they will be angry and by that Murāri will be confused. 
प्रागुद्वाहविधौ हिमाचलसदस्यश्माधिरोपाय य-न्न स्प्रक्ष्यामि वियद्धुनीमिति पुनः सत्यं विधातुं च यत् ।दैत्योत्पेषणसाहसे विरचिते संवाहनार्त्थं च यत्- तत् पादग्रहणत्रयं विजयते शर्वेण शर्वाणि! ते ॥ ३४ O Śarvāṇi (Pārvati)! Glory to the thrice-touching of thy feet by Śarva (Śiva). The first time was in the past, during thy wedding with Śiva when in the assembly on the Himāchala, mounted thy feet on the stone (ammi kal, in Tamil) as part of the marriage ritual. And he touched your feet a second time vowing never to touch Gaṅgā. [This is because, Gaṅgā being his other wife, he is declaring his sole loyalty to Pārvati now, during the marriage.] The third time Śiva touched thy feet when he caressed them upon your crushing the demon (Mahiśa, for example) to relieve the strain caused to your feet by the killing act. Such is the glory thy feet bears.
किं कल्पद्रुमपञ्चकं प्रणमतो माकाङ्क्षितापादनेकिं पञ्चायुधबाणपञ्चकमिदं मारारिसंमोहने । सूक्ष्मं किञ्चन पञ्चभूतवपुषो विश्वस्य किं कारणं [Panchabhutas are from Devi’s nails?]त्वत्पादाङ्गुलिपञ्चकात्मकमिदं किं भाति शम्भोः प्रिये! ॥ ४१॥
The poet wonders if the five toes of Devi are:
- The five divine (celestial) trees: mandāra, pārijāta, santāna, kalpavṛkṣa and harichandanam – which make the one who seeks them free of wants.
- The five weapons employed to charm Shiva.
- The five sūkṣma bhūtas (the five subtle elements, ākāśa, vāyu, agni, jalam and pṛthvī) that are the fundamental cause for the manifest universe
विद्यामुक्तिरमावधूषु नितरां कामातुरा मानवा-स्तप्तास्त्वन्नखकान्तिचन्दनरसैरालिप्य गात्रं निजं ।त्वत्पादाब्जरुचिप्रवालनिचिते भूमीतले शेरते [Mumukṣus seek Her Feet]नित्यं देवि! भवत्कृपाप्रियसखीविश्वासतः केवलं ॥ ४६॥ Mumukṣus, who, fatigued by the heat of samsāra, seek Mokṣalakṣmī (liberation). For that they prostrate at your feet and smear themselves with the glow that is the chandana (sandal paste) available on your feet. They lie down on the ground that is blessed, cooled, by thy lotus like feet walking on it. They, forever, are endowed with the firm faith in their dear friend that is your mercy. They have nothing else than this to rely on in this world.
क्षिप्रं देवि!शिरस्पदेन महिषं पिष्ट्वा ततोऽध:पदंदित्सन्त्यां त्वयि कण्ठभञ्जनभिया कण्ठीरवे विद्रुते ।मेदिन्यामपि भीतिकम्पिततनौ प्रेमत्वराशालिनाशर्वेणैव निजाङ्कसीम्नि निहितं पादद्वयं ते जयेत् ॥ ४८॥ Having pounded Mahiṣāsura with your upper foot, you intend to bring your other foot on the floor. Fearing a fatal blow from that foot, your simha vāhana, has fled from the place. Mother earth has started shaking (earthquake), fearing the force of thy foot falling on her. At that moment, with love for your surging, Śarva takes your feet and keeps it on his lap. Glory to thy Feet!!
I have not given the purport of the rest of the verses in the selection from the seventy. One can study these and arrive at the purport, maybe with the help of a scholar.
It may be noted that some bigoted elements have tried to portray Narayana Bhattatiri as a ‘vaiṣṇava advaitin’ by relying on the author’s famous ‘Nārāyaṇīyam’:
// This has been stated by shrI nArAyaNa bhaTTa in nArAyaNIyam, 90.5 [Nym:1]:
śrīśaṅkaro’pi bhagavān sakaleṣu tāvat
tvāmeva mānayati yo na hi pakṣapātī /
tvanniṣṭhameva sa hi nāmasahasrakādi
vyākhyad bhavatstutiparaśca gatiṃ gato’nte //
Translation: Sri Sankara Bhagavadpada, who is reputedly free from bias, worshipped Thee particularly among all Sakala forms (those having attributes) of Thine. He wrote Commentatries only on Vishnu Sahasranama, Bhagavadgita and other works depicting Thee. In the end, he also attained salvation singing Thy praises.
In the commentary to the above nArAyaNIyam verse, desha maN^gala varya, another Keralite advaitin states that “Shankara wrote commentaries explaining Vishnu alone and not Shiva and others as the Supreme. He was not inclined to writing stotras glorifying Shiva.”. [Nym:1]
This establishes that the stotras glorifying Shiva, Shakti etc. (such as the two Laharis) are authored by some recent Shankaracharyas who are heads of mutts, and they have been attributed to Adi Shankara for the cause of Shaivite propaganda and anti-Vaishnavism.//
It is strange that the blogger has relied upon an author and commentator who came over 800 years after Shankaracharya to vouch for the authenticity of works of Shankara!! However, in that very Narayaniyam, the very next verse 90.6 says:
मूर्तित्रयातिगमुवाच च मन्त्रशास्त्र-
स्यादौ कलायसुषमं सकलेश्वरं त्वाम् ।
ध्यानं च निष्कलमसौ प्रणवे खलूक्त्वा
त्वामेव तत्र सकलं निजगाद नान्यम् ॥६॥
In his famous work of Mantra Shastra, known as Prapanchasaara, Shri Shankara has described Thee as transcending the Trinity – Brahmaa, Vishnu and Mahesha. He has described Thee as a beautiful blue lily and the Lord of all. When he describes the meditation on Nishkala, while dealing with Pranava, he also propounds Thy Sakala form, and of no other deity, Thee as the object of meditation.
When one studies the Prapanchasāra, one will find that several deities have been spoken of there as the Supreme. For example, there is a verse in that text which glorifies Ganapati as the Creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. Thus, while a ‘vaiṣṇava’ advaitin has cited the Prapanchasara, a work that admits of other deities as the Supreme, the blogger has tried to bask in the ‘feel good factor’ of a verse from the Narayaniyam. And that very ‘vaiṣṇava’ advaitin, at the end of his life, composes a work on the greatness of the Devi, the consort of Śiva!!
Thus, the blogger’s mischievous motive of taking or rather assuming the support of Advaitins to buttress his bigotry is exposed several times and this work of Narayana Bhattatiri on Devi, the Srīpādasaptatiḥ’ is another proof that Advaitins have never given themselves to bigotry. They are with the Padmapurana which, in its narration of the Greatness of the 12th canto of the Srimadbhāgavatam, says:
//He is admitted to be a great vaiṣṇava who does not differentiate between Durgā, Viṣṇu and Śiva and looks upon the three to be Brahman Itself. //
It is to be specially noted that Sri Appayya Dikśita in his famous work ‘Ratna traya parīkṣā’ has brought out the above theme of Veda Vyasa in the Padmapurāṇa that the three, Durgā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, are none other than Brahman.
The rest of the selection of verses of the ‘Srīpādasaptatiḥ’:
᳚पूर्वं देवि! पदाम्बुजेन महिषप्रध्वंसनाभ्यासतःपश्चात् कुत्सितसुम्भदैत्यविजयोप्येवं कृतः किं त्वया? ।नो चेत् भाति कथं कुसुम्भविजयी पादाब्जदेशोयऽऽमि-त्यालापे गिरिशस्य तद्विजयते मन्दस्मितं देवि! ते ॥ ४९॥
᳚देव्या पङ्कशयोद्य कोपि महिषच्छत्मा महान् कण्टकःपादेनाहतऽऽ इत्युदूढहसितं सख्या समावेदिते ।सद्यः कण्टकशालिना करतलेनासाद्य पादाम्बुजंगृह्णन्नार्तिविनोदनाय गिरिशो जीयाल् प्रियस्ते शिवे! ॥ ५२॥
त्वत्पादाङ्गुलिपल्लवैरागसुते देवि! स्वयं पञ्चभिःपञ्चत्वं गमितो महासुर इति स्वात्मानुरूपं कृतं ।एतैरेव नतो जनस्त्रिदशतां नीतो, महेशः पुनर्-लक्षत्वं गमितः प्रसूनधनुषो विस्मापनं तत् द्वयं ॥ ५३॥
ब्राह्मं माघवनं च वाहनमहो मन्दैर्गतैर्निन्दितंधावल्येन नखत्विषां विहसितो वाहोपि माहेश्वर: ।इत्थं वाहनवैरितां भजति ते पादस्ततोमन्महेकात्यायन्यमुना न्यघानि महिषः कार्त्तान्तवाहभ्रमाल् ॥ ५४॥
सीमन्तप्रकरे सुरेन्द्रसुदृशां सिन्दूररेखात्मनामाणीक्यद्युतिसञ्ज्ञयैव मकुटीकोटीषु दैत्यद्रुहां ।
शम्भोर्म्मूर्द्ध्नि जटाघटारुणरुचिव्याजेन पादप्रभै-वैका ते परिणाममेति करुणा मूर्ते! गिरीन्द्रात्मजे! ॥ ५५॥
नाथे! तावकवाहसिंहचकितास्त्वत् पादमूले नतानूनं बभ्रमुरभ्रमुप्रियमुखा दिक्कुम्भिवीराश्चिरं ।नोचेदेष कथं तदुन्नतशिरस्सिन्दूरसन्दोहजोरागस्ते चरणाम्बुजे परिणमन्नद्यापि विद्योतते ॥ ५७॥
त्वत् पादोयमजाश्रितश्च रुचिरस्पर्शान्वितो योगिना-मन्तःस्थाकृतिरूष्मभाक् च महिषप्रध्वंसनप्रक्रमे ।एवं खल्वखिलाक्षरात्मकममुं शैलेन्द्रकन्ये! कथंभाषन्ते नतवर्ग्गबन्धुमपवर्ग्गालम्बनं वा जनाः? ॥ ५८॥
᳚त्वत्भक्ताघमबुद्धिपूर्वलिखितं स्याच्चेत् क्षमेथाः शिवे!कान्तस्ते मयि रोषवान्, कुरु पुनस्तस्यार्द्रभावं शनै: ।देवि त्वं महिषाभिहन्त्रि! चकितं त्रायस्व मे वाहनं᳚,कालस्येति जयन्ति ते पदनतौ लोलस्य सम्प्रार्थनाः ॥ ६३॥
“मत्पुत्र्या मम वा मुकुन्दगृहताभाग्यं न संक्षीयतां
माहं पायिषि कुंभजेन मुनिना कल्पान्तसूर्येण वा।
द्वेधा मे सुरवाहिनीदयितता साधु त्वया रक्ष्यतां”
त्वत्पादांबुजपातिनो जलपतेरित्थं जयन्त्यर्थनाः ॥६५॥
आविश्वप्राणमयी त्वमेव, मम तु प्राहुर्जगत्प्राणतांसर्वस्यापि सदा गतिर्हि भवती, मामेवमाहुर्जनाः ।लज्जापादकमीदृशं जननि! नः, किं कुर्म्महे, पाहि माऽऽ- [Prāṇa seeking Her blessing?]मित्येवं पवनस्य ते पदनतौ वाचो जयन्त्याकुलाः ॥ ६६॥
“शंखोल्लासिगलोज्ज्वले! समकरे! पद्मेन कुन्दस्मिते
पादाग्रादृतकच्छपे! मुखहापद्मे! मुकुन्दाश्रिते!।
इत्यस्मन्निधिगात्रि! नीलनयने! चर्चात्मिके पाहि मा”-
मित्थं पादनतिः शिवे! विजयते सख्युः कुबेरस्य ते ॥६७॥
“नाभीतोभवमादितस्तव बलात् पश्चादभीतोस्म्यहं
त्र्यक्षेण त्रिमुखीकृतोऽपि चतुरास्योऽहं तवैव स्तवैः।
त्वं विश्वात्मतयोपजन्य न पुनः स्रष्टारमाख्याहि मा” [Brahmā’s story/prayer]
मित्थं देवि! जयन्ति ते पदनतौ वाणीपतेर्वाणयः ॥६९॥
“आशीरस्ति मुखे विडंबयति मां भूयोऽपि चाशीःस्पृहा
भोगाः सन्ति सहस्रधा पुनरहं भोगान् कथं प्रार्थये । [Nāgarāja praying ]
शेषोहं स्पृहयाम्यशेषसुखमित्येतच्च हासास्तदं
नाथे चिन्तय सर्व” मित्यहिपतेस्त्वत्पादपातो जयेत् ॥७०॥
पार्वत्याः पदमत्रदृश्यमितिवा पादे भवत्वेन वा
साधुत्वात्तदुपास्तये हिततया पद्यान्यमूनि स्फूटं ।
सैषा मुक्तिपुरीगिरीन्द्रतनयाभक्तेन नारायणे-
नाबद्धा खलु सप्ततिर्दिशतु वः कल्याणहल्लोहलम् ॥७१॥
Om Tat Sat