Sri Adi Sankara, when seriously ill, prayed to Lord Subramanya in Tiruchendur by composing the Bhujangam. It is said he was promptly cured of his illness. What was good for the Acharya should be good for lesser mortals like us. Especially when we, or someone close, is ill, this should be recited

The Bhujangam comprises 32 verses, symbolising Adi Sankara’s lifespan of 32 years. It is among his last compositions. In these excerpts, eight verses have been selected for daily parayanam. The commentary is based on Sri Jayendra Saraswathy Sankaracharya Swamigal’s speech in Tamil

> ` सदा बालरूपाऽपि विघ्नाद्रिहन्त्री महादन्तिवक्त्राऽपि पञ्चास्यमान्या ।
विधीन्द्रादिमृग्या गणेशाभिधा मे विधत्तां श्रियं काऽपि कल्याणमूर्तिः ॥

> Sadaa Baala-Ruupa-Api Vighna-Adri-Hantrii
Mahaa-Danti-Vaktra-Api Pan.caasya-Maanyaa |
Vidhi-Indra-[A]adi-Mrgyaa Gannesha-Abhidhaa Me
Vidhattaam Shriyam Kaa-Api Kalyaanna-Muurtih || 1

As always, we start with a prayer to Lord Ganesha. We refer to His child like form and his ability, at the same time, to destroy mountains of obstacles. He has the face of an elephant, but, worshipped by the lion (or by Shiva with 5 faces). He is sought after by Brahma, Indra and others; he is auspicious. ‘Your greatness is immeasurable: bless me with prosperity.’

> मयूराधिरूढं महावाक्यगूढं मनोहारिदेहं महच्चित्तगेहम् ।
महीदेवदेवं महावेदभावं महादेवबालं भजे लोकपालम् ॥३॥

> Mayuura-Adhiruuddham Mahaa-Vaakya-Guuddham
Manohaari-Deham Mahac-Citta-Geham ||
Mahii-Deva-Devam Mahaa-Veda-Bhaavam
Mahaa-Deva-Baalam Bhaje Loka-Paalam ||3||

Adi Sankara now turns to Lord Subramanya. ‘I worship the son of Mahadeva.’ Mounted on his peacock, captivatingly beautiful – his Tamil name ‘Murugan’ means handsome - He is the embodiment of the Mahavakyas (profound Upanishadic statements, like, ‘Aham Brahamasmi’, or, ‘I am Brahman’), indeed of the whole Vedas. He dwells in the minds of the wise and is the protector of the whole world.’ On its own, this verse is very commonly recited as a Dhyana Sloka, as it sums up the whole concept, or thathvam, of Subramanya

> विशालेषु कर्णान्तदीर्घेष्वजस्र दयास्यन्दिषु द्वादशस्वीक्षणेषु ।
मयीषत्कटाक्षः सकृत्पातितश्चेद् भवेत्ते दयाशील का नाम हानिःII

> Vishaalessu Karnna-Anta-Diirghessv[
Ajasram Dayaa-Syandissu Dvaadashas-Viikssannessu |
Mayi-issat-Kattaakssah Sakrt-Paatitash-Ced
Bhavet-Te Dayaashiila Kaa Naama Haanih

This is cheeky way of begging the Lord’s blessings! ‘You have, not one, but, twelve eyes, all very long, stretching up to the ear! From all these there is continuous outpouring of compassion. What will you lose, if, from one of these, you throw a bit of your glance, or kataksham at me.

The next verse moves on to what we want from such a glance! Eventually, we all die. So the first request is – ‘make it painless!’ This verse, it is good to recite while breathing one’s last, but, to be able to do so, as Swamigal points out – practise it regularly, so you remember it at the right time!.

> कृतान्तस्य दूतेषु चण्डेषु कोपाद् दहच्छिन्द्धि भिन्द्धीति मां तर्जयत्सु ।
मयूरं समारुह्य मा भैरिति त्वं पुरः शक्तिपाणिर्ममायाहि शीघ्रम् ॥

> Krtaantasya Duutessu Cannddessu Kopaad [
Dahac-Chinddhi Bhinddhi-Iti Maam Tarjayatsu ||
Mayuuram Samaaruhya Maa Bhair-Iti Tvam
Purah Shakti-Paannir-Mama-[A]ayaa-Hi Shiighram

We seek the Lord’s protection against suffering when death approaches. ‘When the cruel messengers of Yama approach me, shouting, burn him, cut him, kill him, and so on, oh Lord, hasten to my side, riding on your peacock, giving me the assurance, don’t be afraid’.

What do we most want until death approaches us? We want to live healthily. The next verse seeks ailment-free life.

> अपस्मारकुष्टक्षयार्शः प्रमेह ज्वरोन्मादगुल्मादिरोगा महान्तः ।
पिशाचाश्च सर्वे भवत्पत्रभूतिं विलोक्य क्षणात्तारकारे द्रवन्ते ॥

> Apasmaara-Kusstta-Kssaya-Arshah Prameha_ [
Jvaronmaada-Gulma-Adi-Rogaa Mahaantah ||
Pishaacaash-Ca Sarve Bhavat-Patra-Bhuutim
Vilokya Kssannaat-Taaraka-Are Dravante || 25

Oh Lord, any ailments we suffer from – such as epilepsy, leprosy, consumption, lung diseases, fever or mental derangement - may we be cured from them. The holy ash, or Vibhuti, given as prasadam on a leaf in Tiruchendur, will make any disease go away - the practice even today in the Tiruchendur temple.

Why do I want healthy life? For Adi Sankara, it was to worship you, in mind, speech and body: something we can all attempt to emulate in our own small way.

> दृशि स्कन्दमूर्तिः श्रुतौ स्कन्दकीर्तिः मुखे मे पवित्रं सदा तच्चरित्रम् ।
करे तस्य कृत्यं वपुस्तस्य भृत्यं गुहे सन्तु लीना ममाशेषभावाः ॥

> Drshi Skanda-Muurtih Shrutau Skanda-Kiirtih
Mukhe Me Pavitram Sadaa Tac-Caritram |
Kare Tasya Krtyam Vapus-Tasya Bhrtyam
Guhe Santu Liinaa Mama-Ashessa-Bhaavaah || 26

Rest of my life, with my eyes I want to be seeing your vision, with my ears hear your glories, with my mouth sing about your great deeds, with my hands offer prayers – mentally and physically in every respect absorbed in You. (Kanchi Balaperiaval, Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal expounds on this sloka to highlight the importance of Tiruppukazh movement, which is nothing but singing and hearing the glories of Lord Subramanya.) .

> नमः केकिने शक्तये चापि तुभ्यं नमश्छाग तुभ्यं नमः कुक्कुटाय ।
नमः सिन्धवे सिन्धुदेशाय तुभ्यं पुनः स्कन्दमूर्ते नमस्ते नमोऽस्तु ॥

> Namah Kekine Shaktaye Ca-Api Tubhyam
Namash-Chaaga Tubhyam Namah Kukkuttaaya |
Namah Sindhave Sindhu-Deshaaya Tubhyam
Punah Skanda-Muurte Namaste Namostu ||| 31

We always pray to the vahanas of the god – Garuda in a Vishnu temple or Nandi in a Siva temple: likewise here we pray to the the vahanas of Lord Subramanya, just as we say seval vrittam and mayil vrittam in Tiruppukazh. ‘Salutations to you, Sakti, salutations to you, the goat, salutations to you, the cock. Salutations to the Ocean, and the temple on the shore. Salutations to you, Skanda, again and again’.

Adi Sankara ends the bhujanga in a with an ecstatic verse.

> जयानन्दभूमञ्जयापारधामन् जयामोघकीर्ते जयानन्दमूर्ते ।
जयानन्दसिन्धो जयाशेषबन्धो जय त्वं सदा मुक्तिदानेशसूनो

> Jaya-[A]ananda-Bhuuman.-Jaya-Apaara-Dhaaman
Jaya-Amogha-Kiirte Jaya-[A]ananda-Muurte |
Jaya-[A]ananda-Sindho Jaya-Ashessa-Bandho
Jaya Tvam Sadaa Mukti-Daane[a-Ii]sha-Suuno 32

‘O Subramanya of Infinite Bliss, may you be Victorious, you Subramanya of Immeasurable Light, unlimited Glory, Blissful Form, Ocean of Happiness, Relative of all creatures. O, you the son of Ishwara, you, the giver of Mukthi, may you be Victorious.’ .

Hara Hara Sankara, Jaya Jaya Sankara [
Jaya Jaya Sankara, Hara Hara Sankara .