The Exquisite totaya

The Sanskrit hymn, madhu danava darana deva varam which Sankaradeva composed and sang extempore on the occasion of his first meeting the king Naranarayana is one of his finest literary creations. The exquisite hymn, known as totaya (ṭoṭaya), is filled with allusions to all the events of the life of Krishna, in a nutshell.

The Complete Hymn

.. śrīśrīkṛṣṇāẏa namonamaḥ .. .. toṭaẏa chanda .. madhudānawadāraṇadewawaraṃ . warawārijalocanacakradharaṃ .. dharaṇidharadhāraṇadhyeẏaparaṃ . paramārthawidyāśubhanāśakaraṃ .. karacurṇitacedipabhūribhagaṃ . bhagabhūṣaṇakorccitapādayugaṃ .. yuganāẏakanāgaraweśaruciṃ . rucirāṃśupidhānaśarīraśuciṃ .. śucicāmarawāẏunisewyatanuṃ . tanumadhyagadehasuweśahanuṃ .. hanumantaharīśasahāẏarataṃ . ratarāṅgaparāẏaṇaśakranataṃ .. natawarttūlasthūlasudīrghabhujaṃ . bhujagādhipatalpaśaẏānamajaṃ .. ajarāmarawigrahawiśbaguruṃ . gurugodhanakāmadakalpataruṃ .. taruṇimanamohanasarbbaśubhaṃ . śubhamaṅgaladāẏakanīlanibhaṃ .. ibhakumbhajamauktikamālyawahaṃ . wahalorasamiṣṭajasarbbasahaṃ .. sahajāẏati padmadalākṣacidaṃ . cidānandawinodanawedawidaṃ .. widūṣāmanmaguṇakambugalaṃ . galaśobhitakaustubhabhīmawalaṃ .. balabhadrasahodarasatyawapuṃ . wapunirdditawiśbasurāriripuṃ .. ripuyūthapayūthapadarpaharaṃ . haramaulinighṛṣṭapadābjaparaṃ .. paralokasahāẏasahasramukhaṃ . mukharālikulākulamālyasukhaṃ .. sukhamokṣadadakṣaramāramaṇaṃ . manasoparimeẏasahasrapraṇaṃ .. praṇato’smi nato’smi nato’smi hariṃ . hariwairihutāśanabhogyahariṃ .. harikiṅkaraśaṅkaraīśapade . padamicchan– gāẏati cāmṛtade ..

[Note the amazing choice of words here. The first word of each line begins with a character-sequence from the last word of the line preceding it, eg. the first line ends with vara and the second line begins with vara and so on. Again, in each couplet, the last words of the two lines invariably rhyme with each other, eg. vara with dhara, para with kara, bhaga with yuga and so on.]

Sankaradeva beautifies the lines with rolling alliteration (latānuprāsa). The whole poem is a string of attributes of Visnu-Krishna ending in a salute in the final verse.

When Sankara composed and sang this Sanskrit hymn to Krishna, the king Naranarayana simply wondered. He said to himself, Know it for certain, it is a divine power that works. It is not the capacity of a human being that Sankaradeva displays.

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