Greetings of Dasara (Oct 24) and Bakr-Id (Oct 26) !
One of the best ever sung bhajans 'man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj'- from Hindi film 'Baiju Bawra', 1952- is written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad and sung by Mohammed Rafi.
"सोऽन्तःसरस्युरुबलेन गृहीत आर्तो
दृष्ट्वा गरुत्मति हरिं ख उपात्तचक्रम
उत्क्षिप्य साम्बुजकरं गिरमाह कृच्छ्रान
नारायणाखिलगुरो भगवन्नमस्ते ||"
'Gajendra Moksha' by Artist: Unknown, Period: mid 18th century,
Medium: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Courtesy: Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins and Wikimedia Commons
As a kid when I first read the story of Gajendra Moksha from Bhagavata Purana in Marathi, I felt very anxious and then relieved...for me elephant then was 'good' and crocodile was 'bad'. I kept seeing its occasional depiction in Ganesh Chaturthi pandals. Probably I also saw the story in 'Chandoba' (चांदोबा).
Later in life, I would watch on TV channels crocodiles catching many hapless animals at watering holes of Africa. No Lord Vishnu came to their rescue!
I came to admire both caught animals and crocs.
For a long time, I did not know that the story of Gajendra Moksha was a metaphor. And even when I came to know little more about it, its spiritual beauty eluded me until I read Govindrao Tembe's (गोविंदराव टेंबे) book "माझा संगीत व्यासंग" (Majha Sangeet Vyasang), first published in 1939.
Tembe describes how Hindustani classical singer Mohiuddin Khan (मौजुद्दीनखां) (c1870- 1921) treated Gajendra Moksha.
Mohiuddin Khan once sang this Hindi Bhajan (by Surdas) when Tembe was in the audience:
"अब तो जीवन हारे, हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।। ध्रु।।
नीर भरन हेत गए सिन्धुके किनारे ।
सिन्धु बीच बसत नक्र चरण धर पसारे ।। हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।।"
(This is a not-so-good scan of a portion of the page from Tembe's book. I am not going to attempt translation of it.)
Tembe says how poignantly Mohiuddin Khan expressed prayer, grief, frustration and helpless anger of the elephant in repeatedly singing 'हे गोविन्द !'. He sang the bhajan for 45 minutes.
Surdas's written bhajan is great but that day, my guess is, it became even greater! And how lucky we are that because of Tembe we can partly receive it even today.