O:m Asmad Gurubhyo: Namaha

Sri:mathe: Ra:ma:nuja:ya Namaha



(Bestower of  knowledge)


            Countless are the forms which the Lord assumed for the upliftment  of humanity.  We may not be able to know fully about all these avataras.  But we may note that while some of them were meant to bestow knowledge some others were meant to be exemplars of human conduct.  One such is the Hayagriva avatara.  Let us learn about it.  “Hayagriva” means one with the head of a horse and the body of a human being.  Like the Narasimha avatara this is also wonderful and amazing. God’s ways are always miraculous, astonishing and joyous.


There is a mention of Hayagriva by Sri Veda Vyasa in Srimad Bhagavatham (2:7:11 and 5:18:16).  Also, in the Mahabharata, the greatness of this avatara is mentioned in Na:ra:yani:ya of Sa:nthi parva.


            Several million years ago, at the very commencement of Creation, Pramatma taught the Vedas to Brahma, the Four-faced One.  But Brahma was inattentive to the teaching.  Such inattentiveness to the upadesa of the guru is improper.  Because of Brahma’s negligence two demons Madhu and Kaitabha arose and stole the Vedas from him.  God assumed the form of Hayagriva to recover the Vedas from the asuras and restore them to Brahma.


            Srimannarayana, the Paramatma, is always compassionate.  He taught the Vedas to Brahma even without his asking for it.  Vedas are the repositories of all branches of knowledge.  Even so, knowledge unsought has little value, which is why Brahma lost the knowledge given to him.  The four Vedas assumed human form as Vedapurushas and appeared before Brahma.  At that very moment the asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha appeared and stole them from Brahma.  The vedapurushas fought on behalf of Brahma as they were meant for him.  But this was of no use.  The demons left Brahma and escaped with the Vedas to the nether world.


            Darkness ensues when the lamp is extinguished.  Brahma lost the lamp of knowledge.  He now undertook a great yaga seeking knowledge again from Paramatma.  Out of compassion, Parmatma went to the nether world in the form of Hayagriva and neighed so loudly that the asuras who heard it were terrified and fled in great fright.  Hayagriva collected the four Vedapurushas and appeared through the sacrificial fire and returned the Vedas to Brahma who was eagerly seeking them.


            The neighing of Hayagriva was like the Udgi:dha a form of recital of the Sa:ma Veda.  On hearing it the asuras fled, but soon returned to the place where they had concealed the Vedas.  But not finding the Vedas there they concluded that none other than Vishnu could have taken them away.  They went in search of Vishnu and found him reclining on the Adisesha on the Ocean of Milk.  They fought with him.  Can anyone battle with the Lord?  Soon both the asuras lost their lives, but as they were slain by Paramatma they attained moksha (liberation).  As Brahma regained Vedic knowledge on his own volition it remained with him forever.  It never has any more obstacles.


            This is the reason for the sastraic injunction that knowledge should not be imparted to one who does not sincerely seek it.  Vedic knowledge given unasked does not help the recipient.


            The day following the full moon or new moon is known as “pratipat” or “padyami”.  Paramatma created Brahma on such a day.  He also gave Vedic knowledge to him on that day.  The lesson taught on pratipat thithi did not last.  It is therefore laid down that no new lessons should be commenced on pratipat thithi.


            The Lord grants knowledge to seekers on any day.  But if it is sought on the day of His appearance, on His birthday after due worship and pa:ra:yana, the Lord is pleased.  Out of kindness, Hayavadana Parabrahma grants knowledge which is powerful, abiding and splendid and from which one may profit immensely.  Hayavadana appeared out of the sacrificial fire on Sra:vana poornima.


            If one worships Hayagriva Prabrahma on that day for mastering any particular branch or braches of knowledge He grants it readily and sees to it that there are no obstacles to acquisition of such knowledge.  Hayagriva is worshipped as the personification of all knowledge.  “Haya” means knowledge, “griva” means one who holds all branches of knowledge in his throat.


            The sources of all branches of knowledge are the Rug, Yajus, Sama and Atharva Vedas.  They abound in powerful mantras.  All mantras have Bi:ja aksharas (root of the mantras).  The potency of the mantras lies in the Bi:ja aksharas.  Unlike mantras the import of the Bi:ja aksharas is not always clear.  Nor do they appear to have any meaning.  But they are packed with power.  They are referred to as the uttamanga of mantras.  In other words the life of the mantras.  If all mantras could assume a form, Hayavadana is the head of that form like the Bi:ja aksharas.  The meaning of Hayavadana’s neigh is not known.  How can anyone know what the neighing of a horse signifies?  But the sound produced by Hayagriva moorthi was not entirely meaningless.  Like the Bi:ja aksharas, it was full of power, fully capable of banishing all impurities.  It is for this reason that the asuric forces fled on hearing that sound.


            We may not be able to study the Bi:ja aksharas or the mantras but if we worship Hayagriva moorthi who is their source, all vidyas will be ours by His grace.  Such being the case if we study the moorthi embodied in the mantra with a knowledge of the Bi:ja aksharas, surely abiding knowledge will be ours, again by His grace.


            Sriman Nigamantha Desika composed 33 slokas describing the greatness of Hayagriva.  The Lord Himself made him compose the hymn where each sloka incorporates some Bi:ja aksharas.


            Cosmic administration is said to be in 33 divisions.  Likewise the great ashtakshari dwayi mantras have a total of 33 syllables.  Sri Desika has composed and favoured us with this hymn in such a manner that each sloka has within it the divine power of the aksharas.  Great souls have been witness to this.  For this reason, great acharyas of the past as well as learned scholars of the present times hold this hymn in high esteem as the bestower of great power of speech and knowledge with understanding.


            May all those who aspire to scale great heights in different branches of knowledge and all seekers of knowledge in general profit from a recital of the different slokas in this hymn and improve their understanding and power of speech !