Totakastakam..

A student’s meltdown of praises for his grandmaster!

Sujatha R
4 min readFeb 9, 2024

Oh Master.. Teach me! Give me knowledge! Protect me! Liberate me!

Each time I hear this poignant stotram from the Anahata channel, it gives goose bumps.. The sounds dance to this graceful rhythym of troTaka meter
ta ta taa.. ta ta taa.. ta ta taa.. ta ta taa..

I had the great fortune of talking to Anandi bhagini, a Ph.D. scholar and expert in Sanskrit, who has chanted this Stotram many times at Kanchi. She greatly helped me in connecting the intent behind the lofty adjectives in use.

The earnest student who was rather weak in studying, is praising and imploring his teacher with lofty adjectives making a case, so that his teacher accepts him and gives him refuge!

Each verse ends with the punch line भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम्. देशिक is a teacher, a preceptor who gives direction and guidance.

O शंकर देशिक! भव मे शरणम्!

May you be [भव].. my shelter refuge [मे शरणम्]

There is a musical cadence in the words.. Samasta padams weave the adjectives and there is a conversational tone of LoT lakaar. May you do xx

भव May you be, पालय मां May you save me, वारय May you cover/protect me, रचय May you make me understand , धेहि May you give me

and

कलये I think/meditate.

विदिताखिल-शास्त्र-सुधा-जलधे महितोपनिषत् कथितार्थनिधे ।
हृदये
कलये विमलं चरणं भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ १॥

विदिताखिल-शास्त्र-सुधा-जलधे O knower [vidita] of the nectar-ocean of all the scriptures!

महितोपनिषत् कथितार्थनिधे
The knower of the great Upanishadic treasure!

हृदये कलये विमलं चरणं
In my heart, I meditate [कलये] on your pure feet..

भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

करुणावरुणालय पालय मां भवसागर-दुःख-विदून-हृदम् ।
रचयाखिल-दर्शन-तत्त्वविदं भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ २॥

करुणा-वरुणालय!
O Teacher! You are the ocean with the winds of compassion!

पालय मां.. Protect me!

भवसागर-दुःख-विदून-हृदम् As my heart[hrudam] is afflicted [dukha viduna] by the sorrow of the ocean of life [bhavasAgara]..

रचयाखिल-दर्शन-तत्त्वविदं May you make me understand all the[rachaya akhila] darshanas and tattvas.

भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

भवता जनता सुहिता भविता निजबोध-विचारण-चारुमते ।
कलयेश्वर-जीव-विवेक-विदं भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ३॥

भवता जनता सुहिता भविता..
By you.. Common people get benefited..

निजबोध-विचारण-चारुमते due to your thoughts, teachings, and beautiful intellect [vichaar bodha mati]

कलयेश्वर-जीव-विवेक-विदं I think [कलये], people have benefited on topics related to Ishwara and philosophy of life [jeeva viveka] with your association. [And hence I too wish to be benefitted and be your student]

भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

भव एव भवानिति मे नितरां.. समजायत चेतसि कौतुकिता ।
मम वारय मोह-महाजलधिं.. भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ४॥

An intense thrilling thought [nitarAm kautukita] is born in my mind. [samjAyate chetasi]

that Lord Shankara[bhava] is You indeed [bhava eva bhavaan], and if this thought is not correct, please remove that delusion [mama vaaraya moha-jaladhi]

O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

सुकृतेऽधिकृते बहुधा भवतो भविता समदर्शनलालसता ।
अतिदीनमिमं परिपालय मां.. भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ५॥

Only after numerous virtuous deeds have been performed, does a keen desire for the experience of tha absolute through you arise.
I am extremely helpless. Protect me..
O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

जगतीमवितुं कलिताकृतयो.. विचरन्ति महामहसश्छलतः ।
अहिमांशुरिवात्र विभासि.. गुरो.. भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ६॥

जगतीमवितुं कलिताकृतयो For the sake of saving the world, you have done a lot of deeds/kritis

And yet, there are greatest of cheats and conmen [महामहसः छलतः ] roaming freely everywhere [विचरन्ति]

अहिमांशुरिवात्र विभासि.. गुरो.. O Guru! Therefore you must shine like a Sun [amidst them and out power] [ahimAnshuh eva atra]
O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

गुरुपुंगव.. पुंगवकेतन.. ते समतामयतां नहि कोऽपि सुधीः ।
शरणागत-वत्सल-तत्त्वनिधे.. भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ७॥

O Best among the Gurus! Whose flag bears the emblem of a
bull! You have no equal among the wise. You who are affectionate to those who seek refuge! The treasure of knowledge! [Please accept me]
O Teacher Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

विदिता न मया विशदैककला.. न च किंचन काञ्चनमस्ति गुरो ।
द्रुतमेव विधेहि कृपां सहजां.. भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥ ८॥

Not one branch of knowledge [कला] has been understood by me [विदिता]..
Nor do I possess any wealth[न च किंचन काञ्चन] [to give you], O Guru!
Please..Immediately[drutam] bestow on me compassion which is only natural to You.
O Shankara Deshika! May you be my shelter!

[विदिता.. Kind of used in the opening and closing verses.. Master.. You know it all. I know nothing]

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Patterns, Linguistics, Sanskrit et al..