Sree Narayana Guru's

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Daivadasakam is the most popular among Guru’s compositions. It is believed that this was written in 1924, for the pupils of Sanskrit school at Alwaye. There is a general impression that this work is relatively simple to understand. But this simplicity is confined only to the use of words. Just like Guru’s other compositions this also (delves) deep into Vedanta philosophy, which cannot be comprehended easily. This composition symbolizes the gradual approach from duality to non-duality, like a child being lead by the hand towards it. Guru means the knower of Truth. One who has visualized Truth is capable of showing it to others. When a Guru leads a disciple by the hand, it is equivalent to being lead by God. Mundaka Upanishad (III. ii. 9.) says: ‘Brahmaveda Brahmaiva Bhavati’ i.e. He who knows Brahman (Truth) becomes Brahman. If a Guru forsakes his disciple, it is the same as God forsaking him, and as a result, the disciple continues to roam in the world of illusion.




daivame kathukolkangu

kaivitathingu njangale

naavikan nee bhavabdhikke oru

aavivanthoni nin patham


God, protect us and keep us ever from harm ! Thou art the Great Captain,


And a mighty steamship on the ocean of being is thy foot.


Stanza:1. says:- We are here. God is here. The word ‘we’ is used to signify clearly that it is a community prayer for the group. If God is seen as separate from us, it is duality. God is addressed as ‘Thou’, with reverence. It is assumed and accepted that God is omnipotent and the Lord ofeverything, who controls all. Since God is the Supreme power, we pray to Him to look after us, without forsaking us.


After this fervent plea, the devotees tell God that they understand His greatness. God is called the Captain of the steam-ship, who controls everything. His feet is called the ship, since holding on to it we can cross the ocean of worldly life. By addressing God as the ‘navigator’ we echo the fact that everything takes place according to His wish. In Pindanandi, the same concept is seen, i.e. ‘Will happen according to your will’.

garbhathilvachu bhagavavadiyante pinda-

mepperumanpodu valartha krpaluvallee?

kalpichapole varumennu ninachukandi-

ttarppichitunnadiyanokkeyumagu sabho.


When I was in the womb, you were that merciful one who helped the growth of the embryo with your compassion. I submit everything. Oh, Sambho, having thought and understood that everything will take place according to Your will’.


The picture depicts the ocean of life (samsara-sagaram), God’s feet as the ship, and devotees crossing the ocean in the ship.


The same concept is made clear also in Kalinatakam-


namasthe, mahaghora samsaravara-

nnidhikkakkarekkeruvan thruppadatha-

rinakkappalallathoralambanam ma-

ttenikkonnumillamba, karunyarase.


Oh! Mother, the ocean of compassion, I salute thee. To reach the other side of the terrible ocean of life, I have no support, other than your feet.’


Though the concept of a ship or boat here is the same as that in the Daivadasakam, it is not as simple as seen in the latter composition. Gurudeva has used simple words in Daivadasakam is also clear here.


Duality and Non-duality


In duality, God and the devotee are treated as two entities. Prayer follows the concept of duality. In the ‘non-duality’ approach God and the devotee are not two- but ONE. In Apavada-darsanam stanza 10, Guru says ‘Sarvam hi satchidanandam’ i.e. everything is Truth-Consciousness-bliss. When there is only ONE, who can pray to the ‘other’. Therefore, here there is only the feeling of Bliss.



(Devotion at the Feet of God)


Everything takes refuge at the feet of God to cross the ocean of worldly life. Other parts of God’s body are not given this prominence. This is the importance (significance) of Padabhakti. Bhaktimarga has this important principle. It shows the devotee’s humility and smallness. The fundamental principle underlying Daivadasakam is Padabhakti.


(Please refer Padabhakti in introduction- Bhakti.)




onnonnay enniyenni

thottennum porulodungiyal

ninnidum drikkupolullam

ninnil aspanthamakanam


Counting all things here, touching them one by one, we come at last to where there is no more left; Then, lo, the quest stops in stillness in Thee, likewise, let the inner self attain its rest !

After counting one by one, everything in the world that can be counted, and after counting the sastras (instructions or holy scriptures) that help us to count, the eye does not move (becomes static), since there is nothing more to count. (This is depicted in the picture) This static state is permanent and unwavering. Similarly our mind should become unwavering in You. Thoughts come and go in the mind; some of them give pleasure (or joy); others cause sorrow. So long as the mind has Sankalpa-vikalpa (assumption-misassumption i.e. confusion), we know that permanent Bliss is not possible. The reason for your (God’s) eternal joy is the absence of wavering. We know that this is a state beyond Sankalpa-vikalpa. You must bless us to merge with you, since we yearn for eternal Bliss.


The words ‘Nin nila innithutanne namukku mati’ in sloka-3 of Chijjadachindana is the same truth as ‘Ninnil aspandamakanam’ i.e. the mind should become unwavering in You.'Ninnil aspandamakanam' i.e.the mind should become unwavering in you.


nilamodu neruppu nirannozhukum-


alayatheyadikkadi nalkuka nin

nilayinnithuthanne namukku mathi.


(Without wandering in the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) i.e. not getting involved in the seducing (tempting) desires, please give me constantly Your State. I want just that. (I shall be satisfied with that).




annavasthrati muttaathe

thannu rakshichu njangale

dhanya rakunna nee onnu-

thanne njangalkku thampuran


Food and clothes, and all things else we need, Thou give us unceasingly; Ever saving us from want. We thrive on Thy bounty, Lord! Our only God you are.

You are the one who gives us food and clothing, continuously and without fail. So we have to thank God for whatever He has provided us. Since God has the power (capability) to give anything, He is addressed as Thampuran (Lord, the Giver).


After weighing the good and bad actions of earlier births God decides in which environment a person should be born, as whose son or daughter, in which religion and so on. A sinner may not be born as a human being. After being born, a person is given the freedom to choose his way of life. Using this freedom a person can reform (improve) himself or destroy himself. Those who distinguish between right and wrong, and avoid wrongful acts and do only the rightful ones, attain salvation. Those who do not pay attention to this and continue with their sinful acts, destroy themselves with the effect of their evil doings. This is the course of Karma and cannot be violated or avoided. (As you sow, so you reap).




aazhiyum thirayum kaattum

aazhavum pole njangalum

mayayum nin mahimayum

nneyum ennullilakanam


To sea, and wave and wind and depth compared, let us within us see the plan, respectively, of us ourselves, of Maya, Thy Power and Thou Thyself!

Maya (delusion) is beyond definition. Even then in common language it can be understood as avidya (ignorance). (Maya is the obscuring force of nature, the veil that produces error and illusion. It is not real, and at the same time not unreal. It is an appearance that is deceptive.) Maya has two forces operating, namely, avaranasakti (concealing or covering or casting a veil over) and vikshepasakti (scattering or dispersing) which conceal Brahman and shows the unreal universe as real.


(In general Maya (avidya-ignorance) refers to the inability to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the eternal and the transient. When Brahman is not known avidya operates as follows:


a) the true nature of Brahman is not known.

b) what is not known is covered by something else


The second aspect is Vikshepa (projecting) or adyaropa (literally false covering). A rope in the darkness is not seen as rope but is covered over (vikshepa) by the idea of a snake (manifested world).)


Guru says that maya veils the Brahman and shows the unreal world to us. The world does not exist except as an illusion. Vidya (the opposite of avidya) or Knowledge (Jnanam) is only God. This has been further clarified by Guru in sloka- 2 of Advaita-deepika.


neralladrisyamithu drikkineneekkinokkil

verallaviswamarivam maruvil pravaham

karyathil nilpathiha karanasathayennye

veralla veechiyilirippathu variyathrae.


If we change the view of the “seeing eyes”, and think (inwardly) then we will realize that the world that we ‘see’ (through external eyes) is an illusion. It is like a mirage in a desert (something that seems to exist but does not). What we see in the world as an effect (or action) is the essence of a cause. For instance the ‘form’ (effect,wave) is but water (which causes it)”


God’s (your) ‘greatness’ or power is similar to the wind in the ocean. The wind causes the waves. Similarly your ‘power’ is the agent causing illusion, in which you indulge for sheer fun. This is the concept brought out in this sloka.




Just as the ocean, waves, wind and depth are interrelated and interdependent, you must create the belief (knowledge) in us that we, maya, your greatness and you are interwoven (in this world). (If this does not happen by itself you must make it happen). What is ‘depth’ to the ocean is what You are to us (something that cannot be fathomed).This realization has been stated in sloka 9 of Pindanandi.



 hollenamo durithamokkeyakattane nee


lellam kalanjeruthileri varunna sambho.


Full well aware art Thou, good Lord of all

Hence what need is there for humble me to tell?

Do banish, pray, all agony!

Thy servant has no one here, and if Thou me disown. Then all is lost.

O Saviour coming mounted on a bull!’




neeyallo srishtiyum sreshtaa-

vaayathum srishtijaalavum

neeyallo daivame srishti-

kkulla saamargiyaayathum


Thee we find in creation; the creator, too, Thou didst become, and creation’s myriad magic; and the very Stuff of all created things.

All theists (believers in God) believe that all creations, they are created by the Creator (God). The word ‘srishtijalam’ is used for all creations (movable and immovable). By ‘material’ for creation, the guru means five elements (earth,water,fire,air and space).This has been beautifully described in sloka 2 of Pindanandi.


mannum jalam kanalumambaramodu kaattu-

mennippidicharayilitteriyum koluthi

dannappeduthumoru devatayinkal ninnen

pindatthinannamritu nalki valartha sambho!


Oh Sambho give me the nectar for the growth of (my) embryo, which you have placed in the womb, by mixing proportionately (in proper proportion) the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) and provided it with divine consciousness (chaitanyam),and saved it from the sufferings inflected by Maya”.


The essence of sloka-5 of Daivadasakam has been clarified in sloka 2 of Atmopadesasatakam:


karanavumindriyavum kalembaram to-

ttariyumaneeka jagathumorkkilellam

 paraveli thanniluyarnna bhaanuman tan-

thiruvuruvaanu thiranju theridenam.


The inner organ, the senses, and counting from the body, the many worlds we know, are all, on thought, the sacred form of the supreme Sun risen in the sky beyond. By relentless search one should attain to this”




neeyallo mayayum maya-

viyum mayavinodhanum

 neeyallo mayayee neekki

ssayujyam nalkumaryanum


Are you not Maya, the one who creates Maya and the one who finds fun with Maya? Are you not the Noble One who, having removed Maya, grants the union between Jeevatma and Paramatma.


This stanza further elaborates what was said in sloka-5, i.e. that everything is God. (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma). The Maya in Branman is equivalent to the waves in the ocean. Maya is a goddess and cannot be defined. The various forms of Maya are; vidya (knowledge), avidya (ignorance), para (superior), apara (lower), Thamas (darkness), Pradhanam (underdeveloped nature- part of Prakriti) and Prakriti (primal matter, nature). (Para is divine-related Maya. Apara is esorelated Maya). This has been clarified in Darsanamala. (Mayadarsanam-1.)


What does not exist is maya (illusion). It itself explains that it exist in various forms as mentioned above as vidya,…,prakriti.

The waves rise in the ocean when the wind blows. The wind enjoys making waves in the sea. Similarly the word “Maya Vinodan”-(one who finds fun through maya) has been used for that power of God (divine power), which creates maya (illusion) around Brahman. If one crosses maya, he reaches sayujya (the state in which the union (yuj) between the devotee and God is established) – or God realization. The person who bestows sayujya is God. For this the devotee must earn His compassion. This is why Guru calls God as Aryan (the noble one) or sreshta (the highest).


Once a doll made of salt went to measure the depth of the ocean. The deeper it went down into water, the more it merged with it. Finally only the water (ocean) was left and no doll. This means they become ONE, from what was originally considered as two. Similarly when a devotee has no I (Aham) feeling he becomes ONE with God and there is no duality, it is sayoojyam. In short, spirituality is the pilgrimage from duality to non-duality. Duality is the starting point and no-duality the destination. In the non-duality stage there is no ‘devotee’ but only God (the subject and the object are ONE)


Sloka 7.


nee sathyam njanamanandam

nee thanne varthamanavum

bhoothavum bhaaviyum vera-

llothum moziyum orkkil nee


Truth You are, and knowledge and Bliss likewise. The present time You are. Past and future merge in unity in You. The word that speaks about You, is also your own Self again.

Guru further elaborates the concept “every thing is You”. The definition of God is Truth-Knowledge-Bliss. This is also known as Swaroopalakshanam (the nature of essence, or the characteristic of Athman). Sathyam (Truth) means eternal or absolute. Man has births and deaths. But God has no beginning or end (Ananta). The word Jnana has been used here for the embodiment of Knowledge (God). Man’s knowledge is limited. But God is all knowing, or omniscient. As regards human beings joy and sorrow come in turns. Bliss (Anantam) is not permanent. But in the case of God, Bliss is eternal and absolute. We see these three attributes (Truth, Knowledge, Bliss) only in God.


As regards a Vedanti (believer in Vedanta or the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads), of the three tenses (relative points of time) namely, past, present and future, only the present is relevant. i.e. the moment that he now lives. If one were to brood (think) about the experiences of the past, it may lead to depression. Thinking more about the future can result in anxiety. Therefore instead of wasting thinking of the past or future, one should concentrate on God with single-pointedness (ekagrata). If this is achieved it is called Sahaja-yoga (natural unity). A child does not have any sorrow from his past or anxiety about his future. He enjoys (lives) the present moment. It is the child’s nature. A Vedanti requires the mind and innocence of a child. Through this he reaches the state of Sahaja yoga. Just as a person learning cycling, can fall either to the left or the right, in the initial stages, a devotee could fall back on his past or look forward to the future. But with experience he can maintain his balance or equipoise.


The vedantic principle elaborated in sloka 5,6,7 of Daivadasakam is “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma”-(Every thing, indeed, is Brahman). Vedanta is the philosophical treatise or principle giving self-confidence and optimism (confidence in the future). This world has both good and bad to choose from. Samanya Dharma (universal or natural rule or ethical laws) is what Vedanta teaches us, i.e. to choose the ‘good’ and eschew the ‘bad’. The good or virtuous characteristics that is contained in every thing is Godliness (divinity). Vedanta asks us to see only that. ‘Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma’ is the basic or original mantra about seeing the ‘goodness’ in every thing.


A person who sees only faults (deficiencies) can never become a Vedanti




akavum puravum thingum

mahimaavarnna nin padam

pukazhthunnu njangalangu

bhagavanae jayikkuka


We praise Thy glorious feet which fills fully the in and out of the ocean of life. Oh God, may You be victorious.



jayikkuka mahadeva ,

deenavana parayana

jayikkuka chidananda

dayasindho jayikkuka


Victory to Thee, Great Master! Ever-watchful Saviour of the needy. All-knowing, bliss-filled Sea of Kindness, Hail!


Here God is addressed variously as mahadeva (Greatest God) Deena Avana Parayanan (one who is highly interested in protecting the downtrodden), Chidanandan (one who enjoys the pleasure of ultimate knowledge) , Dayasindhu (the ocean of mercy). The devotee praises God “Let all victories be with you”.


Why does a devotee wish victory to God, (in sloka 8 and 9)? According to Vedanta, God uses maya as the cover or superimposition (upadhi) for His actions. In Karmadarshanam sloka 1 in Darsanamala, the Guru says,


atmaiva mayaya karma-

karothi bahuroopadhrk

asangah svaprakaso api

nidrayamiva taijasah


Though the soul is unattached (unbound) and self illuminating it takes different forms due to illusion and acts just as a person in his dream state” (Taijasan).


If the pen, which is used for writing claims that it is the writer (or responsible for writing), what would be your reaction? Similarly a mother holds her child’s hand and guides him in his writings. The child could claim that the writing was his skill. In both cases, there is someone behind the action. According to the view in Vedanta God uses illusion as a cover to make everyone act the way he does. All animals or creatures (pasu), whom the owner of the animals (Pasupathi) binds with pasa (rope). God binds man with the rope of maya (ignorance). We greet (wish) God with all kinds of victory.


Sloka- 10.


azhamerum nin mahassa-

mazhiyil njangalakave

azhanam vazhanam nathyam

vaazhanam vaazhanam sukham


In the deep ocean of Thy Glory, let us all together immersed be. For ever and for ever- there to dwell, everlastingly, in Bliss and live happily in this world.


Bless us to live happily in this world and to exist merging in the ocean of Satchidananda.


After describing the nature of God and praising him in the first 9 stanzas the devotee makes fervent pleas for an important purpose. Here the meaning of “Azhamerum nin mahassam aazhi”-is God. In sloka 7 God has been defined as “Sathyam Janam Anandam”. Therefore this “ocean of your shining light of higher Consciousness (Jyothis)” is the same as Truth, Knowledge, Bliss. The ‘ocean’ is the ocean of “Eternal-Consciousness-Bliss”-(Sat-chitananda-sagaram) i.e.the Brahman, not this worldly life (samsara-sagaram). I must dwelve, live, and be blessed to continue to exist merging with the Satchidananda (Absolute Bliss). Those who live in this way are the liberated souls. In other words grant me the good fortune to live in this world as a Jeevanmukta (one liberated while still alive). A Jeevanmukta is one who has freed himself from the bonds of maya (ignorance). Such a person has given up his identification with his body and mind, (eschewed carefully or deliberately abstained from his ‘I’ feeling) and attained liberation. The devotees pray to God to make them Jeevanmukta. Since the Brahmavid (the enlightened soul) exsists in Bramhan (Supreme soul) and Gurudeva tells us to perform our actions for the welfare of mankind, in that state.



In nirvana- darshanam  sloka 5 Guru says:

dagdhva jnanagnina sarva-

 muddisya jagatam hitam

karoti vidhivat karma

 brahmavid brahmani sthitah.


An illumined one (soul) who is absorbed in the Supreme soul (Brahman) destroys everything with the fire of Knowledge and performs his actions according to the tenets (doctrine) for the benefit of mankind.


The merging in Satchitananda are of three types. They can be explained as follows:


a) Death: Just like the river that flows and merges with the ocean loses its identity, the individual soul merges with the Supreme Soul and never returns (to its original form). Here the plea “I should live” does not arise.


b) Samadhi: This is the state in Yoga, where the individual becomes one with the object of meditation, and then attains a state of Super-consciousness and unqualified Bliss, which is the final liberation. This also does not mean “I should live”. For a common devotee Samadhi is only a hearsay or a concept.


c) Sleep: Which takes us temporarily into eternal Bliss as mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad. (VI. viii. 1.)


Uddalaka, son of Aruna, said to Svetaketu, his son, ‘O good-looking one, learn from me about deep sleep. O good-looking one, when a man is spoken of as, “He sleeps”, then he becomes merged in Existence. He attains his own Self. Therefore they speak of him as, “He sleeps”, for he attains his own Self.’


Chandogya Upanishad (VI. viii. 2.) brings out the organic nature of relationship between mind and life.


As a bird bound to a string, flying in all directions and failing to get a resting place anywhere else, settles down at the place where it is bound, in this very way indeed, O good-looking one, that mind, flying in all directions and failing to get an abode anywhere else, resorts to the vital force itself, for, O good-looking one, the mind is bound to the vital force.’


Narayana Guru has stated the same view about sleep in stanza 55 of Atmopadesa-satakam.


netiya kinavitu nidra pole nityam

ketumitu pole kinavumiprakaram

ketumati kanukayilla kevalathil

peduvathinal anisam bhramichidunnu


This is a long dream. Like sleep, this perishes everyday. Dream also perishes in the same way. The one with the perishing mind does not see like this. He is confused, as he merges with the pure aloneness for ever.


The truth, that we fall into a state of Kevala (exclusively our own) or get absorbed into Satchidananda is repeated here. The words ‘Netiya Kinavu’ refers to the state of wakefulness (Jagrat).


Though a person merges into Bliss in his sleep, he does not become a Jnani (knower of Truth). An ignorant man carry sorrow as part and parcel of himself. Therefore, it is appropriate to interpret the words “Vazhanam Vazhanam Sukham” as a fervent plea to become a Jeevanmukta and live in eternal Bliss.


In order to merge in Bliss, Prarthana (prayer), Bhajan (singing in praise of God), Archana (offering), Japam (repetition of sacred name, manthra), Dhyanam (meditation) and Tatvavicharam (contemplation on spiritual principles) are some of the means available to the devotee. Each one has the liberty to chose his means. It is to live in Bliss, Gurdeva advised us ‘Become enlightened with spiritual knowledge’ ‘Become powerful with unity’ and ‘Obtain progress through industry’ as part of SreeNarayana Dharma. Isavasya Upanishad (11) says:


vidyavidyakal randum


mrtyuvetharanam cheytu

vidyayal amritarnnidum.


He who knows these two, vidya and avidya, together, attains immortality through vidya, by crossing over death through avidya.’


Vidya is equated with knowledge of spirituality and avidya with Karma (action). Man should attain both, vidya and avidya that is the basic thing to understand here. Avidya is considered as an essential prerequisite for spiritual life. Man cannot rise to spiritual enlightenment, if he has not first, through avidya, become conscious of himself as a separate ego (Aham). In spiritual life we then transcend this sense of separateness. To reach the Higher Self, we must battle with the lower self.


The same concept is brought out in sloka-10. ie. one should attain both material and spiritual values. To practice Dharma properly, first one should attain a healthy body and mind. For living happily he should be economically independent also. Gurudeva wrote this composition when he was 60 years old and he has concised his vision and Dharma in this work. In short we can observe that Daivadasakam is an urn of nectar, containing full of the vision and Dharma of Narayana Guru.