Surdas the Indian mystic-poet composed volumes of verse in praise of Krishna, the incarnated blue Avatar of the Universal Essence. One of his most popular songs seeks the Lord’s help and intervention in a moment of adversity.

The poem seeks to recapture a popular Puranic (ancient) myth about the king of elephants, Gajendra, bathing, as elephants love to do, on the banks of the Indus river. But he is caught by a monstrous croc. and slowly dragged to the depths. The elephant calls out to Lord Krishna, whose devotee he is, to come and free him from imminent death by plucking a lotus and holding it aloft as a gesture of supplication and prayer. Krishna hearing the call hastens to his devotee on a golden eagle and saves him. The story is allegorical. The river is material existence, the elephant, the individual soul and the croc., temptation dragging it under. The soul cries out for help to be liberated from the tribulations of its material incarnation and rebirth and duly receives grace. Surdas identifies with the elephant and seeks the Lord’s grace to overcome his failings.

credit: ISKCON
Credit: ISKCON

LORD SAVE ME

O Lord save me for I am sinking

I came to these waters to quench my thirst

On the banks of the river Indus

But in these waters lurked a crocodile,

My leg in its jaws it has caught,

I thrashed out and with all my might fought

But it has dragged me deep inside,

I am now submerged, right upto my ears and trunk

So I call out to you for help as life ebbs,

Sur says O Lord I beseech you,

Have mercy I am drowning.

The Lord’s mind then filled with the entreaty

Of a sinking elephant’s shouts,

And he swiftly arrived on his great golden eagle

And plucked the drowning elephant out,

At last free of the evil entity,

To be at liberty.      

( the suffix Das means disciple / devotee – the poets name is Sur)

gajendra moksha sculpture
credit: India-Forums