Shriyah Karam!

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Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Shriyah-karam Shriyonaatham, Shridharam Shri-vara-pradam,
ShriVatsalDharam Saumya, Tam vande Shri Sureshvaram,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Yogishvaram Yagnapatim, Yashodaanand-daayakam,
Yamuna-jal Kallolam, Tam vande YaduNaayakam,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Shaaligramam Shila-shuddham, Shankh-chakrop-shobhitam,
Sur-asur-sada-sevyam, Tam Vande Saadhu-vallabham,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Trivikramam Tapo-murti, Trividha-aghaugh-naashanam,
Tristhalam Teerth-raajendram, Tam vande Tulsi-priyam,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Anantam Aadi-purusham, Achyutam Cha Vara-pradam,
Aanandam Cha Sadaa-aanandam, Tam vande Cha Agh-naashanam,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Leelaya-adbhut-bhoobhaaram, Lok-satvaik-vanditam,
Lokeshvaram Cha Shrikaantam, Tam Vande Laxman-priyam,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay
Harim Cha Harin-aaksham Cha, Harinaatham Haripriyam,
Halaayudham Sahaayam Cha, Tam Vande Hanumatpatim,
Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay

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Like Radha, the beautiful gopi whom the Lord chose to symbolize His eternal love for us, other simple things can also receive His darshan by way of becoming symbols of His glories. And so it came to pass for a lowly but beautiful wall calendar to become a murthi, to be blessed in a frame heralding His Divine visage, celebrating the coming of a new era on the eve of a New Year…

I waltz through the food market, picking out the spices, nuts, dal,  and the fresh curry leaves and mini green chillies, which make my face break out in a sweat every time I eat food enhanced with them.  These are things which I can only find here, a little Indian grocery store which opened in the past year near to my home.  Clean and closer to my home, it lured me away from the other store I used to patronize and I have shopped here since.

I have come to know the people who work there, as there are only a few who are there all the time.  “Why not?” I think to myself as one man who I have also seen there before checks my groceries out for me.  “Maybe someone here can translate this Shriyah Karam for me!!!” I have found a bhajan which I want to learn and I cannot find the English translation for the Sanskrit words. It is online on Youtube and sung by Pandit Jasraj, at this address:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKjJPSbBZys. (Author’s note…See bottom of page for final version with the translation-Yes, I did finally find it!!!)

“Do you know any Sanskrit, I ask?”  “A little,” he says, as he looks at me with a mixture of surprise and perhaps a bit of skepticism.  “Wait right here.”  I run out to my car and grab the sheet of paper I have with the words on it.  I put it down on the counter and almost fall over the counter trying to show him the words I want to know about.  So far, I have asked online, looked online and asked around at puja one night, and so far, I have no translation. I want one and I will get one, word by word if necessary.

I scan the page.  I spot a word which appears numerous times, and ask him what that means…cha…”It means the word and.”  he tells me.  Oh, I like this. This is easy!  We peek at a few more words and then he expresses to me that he feels he cannot put the words into English equivalents for me.  Hey, I thought this was going just fine, but he has had enough and has customers to take care of.  Happy to get just a few thoughts from him, I thank him and start to leave when he turns behind him on an apparent impulse and offers me a large wall calendar, with a beautiful image of Lord Krishna. My eyes open wide as I see this because I have been thinking that I would like some larger images than what I print out from my computer but had let go of the idea for other more immediate thoughts.  And I was not sure what to look for…I prefer that these things come looking for me.

And there He is-looking at me, the beautiful colors and the riveting image of Him almost jumping off the page.  It is hard to believe this is a calendar.  Quite pleased with my new gift, I go home. Perfect. A beautiful calendar for my wall, satisfying my basic needs for a linear point of reference for everyday life and an endless ocean of compassion and love for my soul.  A calendar for the year 2009, heralding my Lord Krishna in His endless glory and transcendence.

Krishna murthi

Meanwhile, back at home, other developments are taking place.  I was thinking that I was done with video bhajans until my next kirtan. Then, just before Christmas, I somehow found my convoluted way to a gift from Him by way of another bhajan to learn, Jaya Radha Madhava by Bhaktinoda Thakura and offered by Shri Jagjit Singh, who is now my favorite male bhajan singer:-).  This one is easy as far as words to learn and there are some translations online so that is not my challenge.  My challenge is to learn it so I can video it and upload it for Him before the end of the year. Before the end of the year? Well, that does not give me much time!  Before I know it, I am creating my pujya for the singing of the bhajan. I am to wear a salwar suit which is peridot green, the color of my birthstone, given to me as a gift by one of my friends at Chimaya Mission so I would not have to drive to Edison to spend money and buy clothes!  And a backdrop comforter fabric from my linen closet which is deep turquoise blue.  It seems a strange color combination to my eye, but you guessed it…He wanted it, so He got it.

Tonight I will record the bhajan. I begin to work on the pujya. I realize that I want to use my new calendar as part of my pujya.  I fold the bottom section of the calendar backward so you cannot see the calendar, only the image. I secure it under the speaker and lean the image against against it, sure that it will not fall back on me.  So, what does He do?  As I work on arranging the flowers and candles and other items, the image keeps falling forward.  I lift it and put it back against its leaning post, and two minutes later, it flutters forward again.  This happens a few times as I work, before I finally get the point.  He does not like my setup and He has a much better idea.

And so pops into my head the memory of an old frame downstairs, with a print given to me by a family member moving some old items from the family storage.  It had a rather mundane print in it of a bowl of fruit, tasteful but understated in an almost boring way but the frame was nice so I kept it.  I had propped it up behind some items on the top of a book shelf, out of the way and fading into the backround until I found a use for it.  I run downstairs and grab it, taking it up with me.  A few cuts and snips later, my Lord Krishna is beautifully framed, looking His Divine Self, gracing my personal pujya and the calendar is chopped up on the floor looking forlorn without its Divine guest of honor. So much for my linear point of reference. Who needs it anyway?

The next morning I am thinking about the two men at the store, and laughing as I think of what I did with the calendar.  I began to marvel at the way in which banality had been replaced with royalty, and how it was just a mundane picture of a bowl of fruit.  I had left the print inside the frame behind Him.  A bowl of fruit??? A bowl of fruit!!! Now quietly hidden behind His Holy image is an offering of prasad, waiting there for who knows how many years until He came to bless it.  For a moment, I wonder why.  Mine is not to question why, so I leave that question immediately to instead respond to my little Divine nudge.  What about the flowers?  Flowers?  He also needs us to offer Him flowers from our hearts.  He needs?  Yes, He longs for our love and devotion as much as we long for His.

I resolve to make my offering complete.  There is another man who works in the store who was also there when I was seeking translations of Shriyah-karam. He has helped me find items a few times while I shop. I have a tendency to wander around the store singing to Him as I shop and he has commented to me once or twice about it and we have chatted a few times. I know from talking to him that Lord Krishna is his Lord. I am so excited by my new Krishna murthi that I decide to take the framed visage to the store with me to show them the beautiful blessing which flowed from their small gift to me. Although this man is not the one who actually gave me the calendar, for some reason I feel as if he should be the one to offer the flowers.

We will be offering bhajans this evening, New Year’s Eve, at the Chinmaya Mission. I go to a local place where I buy my flowers.  I buy several bouquets of flowers which I know will look beautiful with His image.  Then I drive to the grocery store with my framed murthi and flowers in hand.  The man who gave me the calendar is not there today. But my friend is there, working.  There is also a young woman I know from the Mission working today, which is a blessing, because his English is limited and he will need help to understand what I am asking him to do.  I tell her about this and I explain to her that I will be taking the image with me to Chinmaya Mission and arranging a little pujya area for the evening (I am sure Swamiji, who knows nothing about this at the moment, won’t mind if Lord Krishna shows up tonight, although he might be a bit surprised, since I have spent the last six years worshipping Him as Lord Shiva.)

The store is busy and there is a continuous flow of customers coming to the register.  I scan the front of the store and decide to go over to the side of the store where there is a counter for me to temporarily place my pujya.  I go to the back area and pick out some fruit for tonight.  I had brought several flowers in with me from my bouquets in the car outside.  While I wait, I pluck some petals for him to offer.  As I look at the back of the frame, it occurs to me that I do not want the flower petals to cause any damage to the print from the moisture that was in them seeping through to His image in the front.  I looked around for something to place under the flowers for this protection.  The young woman offered me a plastic bag, which I folded up and put down.  NO!  This will not do.  I look around me, searching,  and my eyes fall upon the wall behind the counter where I stand.  It is full of small decals and other symbolic images of Sanatana Dharma…the OM, the swastika…little feet…little feet…Lotus Feet!  That is what I will place there to receive and embrace the offering of the petals and protect the image.

So, in between a busy flow of customers, and with the young woman who works there to translate to him what I am trying to tell him, he washes his hands and gingerly places the flower petals on His symbolic Lotus Feet which have now been attached to the back of the prints.  We reclose the little metal flaps embedded into the back of the frame to secure the picture one by one, chanting together Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Krishna!!!  Ok, I led and he followed, with a smile on his face 🙂  I left him with a smile still on his face, and his own flowers from which I had plucked the petals, and some fruit which I had just picked out from the store. He was told how I came to frame the image and why, and he should offer the flowers and the fruit on his own personal pujya and they would be blessed that evening by Lord Krishna.  How do I know this?  I just do.  Does this man think I am off my rocker?  Yes, he do!  But he did what I asked without questioning me because it honored Lord Krishna.

Hari Tum Haro

My next stop is the Mission, where I want to drop off the flowers and fruit I just bought as well as the framed murthi for tonight.  Fortunately for me, Swamiji has always welcomed me into the Chinmaya family and has encouraged me to come there to worship.  I come barreling in to the kitchen and put the murthi on the table for him to see.  I also give him two of the calendars which I had just requested at the store. He recognizes the store name where I purchased and tells me that the man who owns it is a member of Chinmaya Mission.  He must be the man who actually gave me the calendar and helped me with some translations that day.  Then, as Swamiji is looking at the calendar,  he exclaims…”Oh, this is 2009.”   I cannot contain myself.  I walk closer to the calendar on the table and place my hand on His Holy image. “No, Swamiji, THIS is 2009.”

As we move into this new year, I have seen several appeals for peace and understanding, and love and compassion in our world, a world which is literally teeming with confusion, violence, and hatred. Where should we look for the answers to our pleas for peace and love in this world?  There is no one who acts without His impetus, so why not appeal to the very Source?  Has He not promised to redeem us from our suffering and to maintain Sanatana Dharma?  He is a Keeper of His Promises. So let us appeal to His mercy and love to Grace us with that which He has always promised and vowed to do when we need it most…to make His presence felt as He manifests to uphold dharma.  Let us call upon Him as Shriyah-karam…the One who can only bestow blessings for the highest good

There is a beautiful Mirabai bhajan called Hari Tum Haro,  which I am slowly learning.  Up until now, as much as I loved it, I had a certain hesitation to sing it because Mira seemed to be asking Him for something.  I do not like to ask Him for anything, as this seems inconsistent with my surrender to His will.  Now, I have come to see that all she is asking Him to do is to relieve the suffering of the world by upholding dharma, just as He did in the examples she gives in her bhajan.  And so, my New Year’s appeal to Him through her, brought to us by the exquisitely beautiful MS Amma, who surely rests safely in His arms as I write… Shriyah-karam!!! Border_1

Click here for hari Tum haro

Hari Tum Haro Jan ki piir

Hari, please remove the suffering of the people
(jan – people, piir, pronounced bhir – suffering, haro – please remove)

draupadi ki lAj rAkhyo tum badhAyo ciir

You preserved Draupadi’s honor by increasing the
length of the garment that covered her.
(You preserved (rAkhyO)  Draupadi’s  honor (lAj)  increasing (badhAyO)  the length of her garment.
The last word is ‘chir’ [or ciir, pronounced cheer] which means cloth.
Krishna kept on increasing the length of Draupadi’s sari until Dushasan was exhausted and gave up.)*

bhkat kAran roop narahari dharyO Ap sharir

For the sake of your devotee, you took on the form of Nrsimhadeva
(Based on your devotee’s (bhakat)  request (kAran – also reason),
you(Ap) took(dharyO) on the form (roop) of a human (nara).

Harinakashyapa mAra leenhO dharyO nAhina dhir

To kill the demon Hiranyakashyap,
you took on the form of a beast.

bhoodathe gaja rAja rAkhyO liyO bAhar neer
You dragged the elephant king out of the water and saved him from the crocodile’s jaws.

dAsa meera lal giridhar dukh jahAn tahAn piir
Your servant (dAsa) Meera (the saint and composer) is always with you and finds no sorrow when I’m with you.

*The translation above is from the comments section of the video link…I have incorporated and edited the suggestions contained in the comments.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCzxL5RMjUA&feature=channel_page

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TRANSLATION OF SHRIYAH KARAM

The verses in the God Is Love- OM Namo Bhagavate video by Pandit Jasraj are actually the last eight verses of the Hari Nama Mala Stotram, which contains 20 full verses.  I actually stumbled upon them in translation in the Yahoo group Guruvayur when someone posted it in its entirety.  As I scrolled down to read it I noticed some repetition of the “tam vande” phrase and continued down until the verse beginning with Shriyah karam jumped out at me!  Jai Shri Krishna!!!

Hari Nama Mala Stotram
[Composed by King Mahabali]
Translated by P. R. Ramachander

Video of God Is Love-OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKjJPSbBZys

Sriyakkaram sriyonadham,
Sreedharam, Sreevaraprdham,
Sreevatsa lasitham soumyam,
Tham vande Sri Sureswaram. 12

I salute him, who is the lord of all devas,
Who grants all forms of wealth,
Who is the consort of goddess of wealth,
Who carries Goddess Lakshmi on his chest,
Who grants boons requesting wealth,
Who shines because of Sreevatsa,
And who is embodiment of tranquility.

Yogeeswaram yagnapathim,
Yasodananda dayakam,
Yamuna jala sachayam,
Tham vande yadunayagam. 13

I salute him, who is the lord of all yadavas,
Who is the god of all yogis,
Who is the lord of all yagnas,
Who is the source of happiness to Yasoda,
And who has the same luster as the water of Yamuna.

Saligrama sila shuddham,
Sanka chakropa shobitham,
Surasura sada sevyam,
Tham vande sadhu vallabham. 14

I salute him, who is the darling of all good people,
Who is as clear as the Saligrama stone,
Who shines holding the conch and the wheel,
And who is always worshipped by devas and asuras.

Trivikramam tapomurthim,
Trividhagouga nasanam,
Tristhalam theertha rajendram,
Tham vande thulasi priyam. 15
I salute him, who holds the thulasi as dear,
Who took the giant form of Trivikrama,
Who is the object of meditation,
Who destroys the three types of sins,
Who holds all the three worlds,
And who is the greatest sacred water.

Anantham aadhi purusham,Achyuthm cha vara pradham,
Aanandam cha sadanandam,
Tham vande chaga nasanam. 18

I salute him, who cannot be destroyed,
Who does not have an end,
Who is the primeval man,
Who is one without change,
Who is the giver of boons,
Who is happiness,
And who is ever lasting bliss.

Leelaya Dhootha Bhoobaram,
Loka sathwaika vanditham,
Lokeswaram cha Sree kantham,
Tham vande Lakshamana priyam. 19

I salute him, who is dear to Lakshmana,
Who decreased the load of the world by simple play,
Who is worshiped by good people of the world,
Who is the Lord of the world,
And who is the consort of Goddess of wealth.

Harischa harinaksham cha,
Harinadham Hari Priyam,
Halayudha sahayam cha,
Tham vande Hanmathpathim. 20

I salute him, who is the lord of Hanuman,
Who is lord Hari,
Who has deer like eyes,
Who is the Lord of Hari,
Who is the darling of Hari,
And who was assisted by Lord Balarama.

Full stotram and translation at the link below:

http://www.celextel.org/stotrasvishnu/harinamamalastotram.html

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Visit my channel on youtube for the Jai Radha Madhava video in this story

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