The sage-poet Sri Budha Kousika Rishi writes in the introductory prelude (‘aadhyaay’) about the aspect of the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra. As discussed separately, he says that this is the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra in the form of a mantra (Asya Sri Rama Raksha Stotra Mantrasya), written by him, Budha Kousika Rishi, wherein the deity of the stotra is Shri Sitaram, i.e., Sita’s Ram (Sri Sitaramachandro Devata).
The stotra is, as explained by the sage-poet, written in the Anushtup Chanda, and the power to the stotra is derived from Sita (Sita Shaktihi), and that venerable Sri Hanuman is the crucial fulcrum in the form of the linchpin that holds the cartwheel (Srimad Hanuman Keelakam).
The linchpin is the very important and strategic large nail that holds the cartwheel in place on the central axle of a vehicle. It requires extraordinary strength, and one has to have absolute faith in its ability to provide the support for the journey. One knows that the linchpin will not betray the vehicle. The Sri Ram Raksha Stotra is your vehicle on your journey to Rama. The sage-poet recognizes Srimad Hanuman as the fulcrum who would give you the absolutely reliable strength in the journey.
The recognition of the status of the Keelakam is found in most mantras and stotras. Some naamavalis also include the recognition of a deity or an aspect as the Keelakam of the prayer. The mantra, or stotra, or other forms of prayer are accepted as different types of expressing or enabling devotion within oneself, i.e., dhyaan. Informing the devotee that the fulcrum is from a specific deity or aspect usually strengthens the dhyaan slokas and mantras.
There are other complex prayers that are known to be crucial in seeking the blessings of deities with multivariate aspects. The entire prayer in such examples are classified as ‘Keelakam’ and are to be recited with the status thus provided – Devi Keelakam, Keelakam Stotram or the Vishnu Sahasranaama Keelakam.
The prayer to Devi, the ‘Durga Saptasati’ is one of the most complex dhyaana stotras, comprising nearly 700 slokas. The entire sequence is made of different ‘chapters’, if one may term them as such. However, all the chapters comprising the entire range of 700 slokas are hinged on the earlier Keelakam Sloka, being the fulcrum. The Durga Saptasati has a verse that is very commonly recited by most devotees in prayer, to Devi, but rarely does anyone place it in the sequence of the 700 slokas.
Sarva mangala mangalye,
Sive sarvaartha saadike,
Sharanye tryambake Gowri,
The Kavacham (= Armour) Sloka, and the Araghala Stotram precede the Keelakam Sloka of the Durga Saptasati. Thirteen chapters follow the Keelakam Sloka, and the devotee is usually advised to recite the verses over an entire week. The Katyayani classification of the Durga Saptasati documents the structure of the 700 slokas.
The aspect of Srimad Hanuman as the Keelakam of the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra is almost mentioned as if in passing. But, the role of the fulcrum, being Hanuman, is depicted in perfection. Who could have been more appropriate than Hanuman when any devotee seeks out the blessings of Ram?
When one crosses over from the stotra to the aspects of tantra or mantra, the position of the Keelakam is extremely specific and elaborate. The Keelakam is not mentioned merely in passing, but placed in the sequence of prayer, with deliberate instructions to the devotee. This is true of the Sri Sri Chandi.
The Keelakam in the prayers and recitation of the Sri Sri Chandi, follows the (a) Devi Suktam, (b) Kavacham, and (c) Araghala Stotram, similar to the Durga Saptasati. The Keelakam is followed by the (d) Ratri Suktam, (e) Devi Mahatmya, (f) Phala Sruti and, (g) Kshama Prarthana. Rishi Markandeya has recited the Keelakam in sixteen slokas in this prayer.
All great mantras or stotras are recognized within two different purposes – (a) Loukika mantra, and (b) Moksha mantra. The Loukika mantra is composed to help the devotee to seek blessings from the deity to fulfill desires, while the Moksha mantra is meant to seek blessings to always be with God. Some prayers are intertwined with both purposes. Thus, when the great Dehu-Alandi-Pandharpur Waari takes place to coincide with Ashaad Ekadashi, and nearly 1.4 million devotees walk for more than 250 kms, they seek only one blessing, to be at one with Panduranga.
The great bhakti saints of
Maharashtra helped the millions of devotees over the past four hundred years and more to reach ‘moksha’ with Panduranga, by merely reciting the very simple prayer of “Om Rama Krishna Hari”. The saints, Tukaram and Jnaneshwar, simplified the journey by clarifying that the devotee need not remember or recite complex mantras, stotras or prayers, or seek sanctuary from witch-craft or from spiritual con artists. They taught that the fulcrum or Keelakam of the prayers of the devotees is in just being at one with Panduranga and by repeatedly reciting ‘Om Rama Krishna Hari’.
In the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra, the sage-poet Sri Budha Kousika Rishi specifies the framework by explaining in proper sequence, as it should be. Most stotras and mantras are composed in the sequence of – (a) Rishi = naming the author, e.g. Sri Budha Kousika Rishi, (b) Chanda = specifying the metre of the verse, e.g. Anushtup Chanda, (c) Devatha = identifying the deity, e.g. Sita’s Ramachandra, (d) Shakti = explaining the source of strength to the stotra, e.g. Sita, and (e) Keelakam = locating the fulcrum or linchpin, e.g. Hanuman.
The sequence varies in some mantras or stotras, where the Beejam (= seed) is also identified. In such prayers, the sequence is – Rishi – Chanda – Devatha – Beejam – Keelakam – Shakti.
In the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra, the deity is Sri Rama, and is established as the adishtana devatha, meaning that Sri Rama has been positioned with deliberate thought and purpose. Shiva has placed Sri Rama at the foremost prominence of the stotra, and therefore, Sri Rama as the deity, is given the aadhi (= foremost) sthaan (= place).
There are other prayers to Sri Rama, as presented by the traveling deity-saint Narada. These are the Rama Sadakshari and the Rama Dasakshari. The Keelakam is not specified in these prayers. This is the reason for the prominence and reverence given over thousands of years to the Sri Rama Raksha Stotra.
For, how can the devotee dare to step around Hanuman, the parama bhakt of Sri Rama? How can the devotee assume that one can succeed where even Bhima could not?
The reverse is also supreme. Shiva explained the Sri Rama Raksha Stotram to Sri Budha Kousika Rishi and the deity has placed Sri Rama as the Keelakam. The roles are reversed in the Shiva Kavacham as presented in the Skanda Purana. The rishi Rishabha Deva taught the Shiva Kavacham to Bhadraayu.
Asya Shiva Kavacha Stotra Mahamantrasya
Brahma Rishi, Anushtup Chanda,
Sri Sada Shivo Rudro Devatha, Hreem Shakti,
Ram Keelakam, Sreem, Hreem, Kleem Bheejam,
Sri Sada Shivapreetyarthe,
Shiva Kavacha Stotra Jape Viniyogaha
The Shiva Kavacham presents the sequence of – (a) Rishi = Brahma, (b) Chanda = Anushtup, (c) Devatha = Sada Shiva Rudra, (d) Shakti = Hreem, (e) Keelakam = Rama, (f) Bheejam = Sreem, Hreem, Kleem. There is another version, wherein the Rishi is Rishabha Yogeeshwara Rishi, Bheejam is ‘
Om’, and Keelakam is ‘Shiva’.
The Sri Hanuman Kavacham Stotram is also yet another example of the dialogue between Shiva and Parvati. Upon an enquiry by Parvati – How can people be protected from sorrow? Kena raksha bhaved dhruvam? From fear of the dead, the fire of the funeral pyre and sorrow? Dukha davagni santhaptha…
Shiva recites, in response, the guidance provided by Rama to Vibheeshana, and specifies that the reciting of the Sri Hanuman Kavacham Stotram would be the only pathway to seek strength and support in times of distress from sorrows that cannot be reversed.
Om Asya Sri Hanuman Kavacha Stotra Maha Mantrasya,
Sri Ramachandra Rishi,
Sri Hanuman Parmarthma Devatha,
Maruthaatmaja Ithi Bheeja Anjanaa Soorithi Sakthi,
Lakshmana Prana Ithi Keelakam…
The Keelakam in this stotra is the aspect of giving life to Lakshmana by Hanuman, and the recitation of the Sri Hanuman Kavaca Stotram is to give encouragement and courage to the devotee under duress or sorrow, sometimes due to the loss of a close relative, or the extended distress due to illness.
It is usually advised that the devotee may also direct one’s prayers to the Keelakam designated in the stotra with the same reverence that may be indicated to the Adhishtana Devatha. The deity cannot be ‘unlocked’ without the correct position and use of the fulcrum. The Keelakam will provide better strength and support only if recited and recognized with the correct inclination, as Hanuman, the supreme bhakta of Rama, would never refuse to help a devotee.
At Rama’s paadukas
- Dr. Bharat Bhushan
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4 November 2010