Guru Is Essential; Sadguru SRI TYAGARAJA-4 (Post No.7968)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No.7968

Date uploaded in London – – – 13 May 2020   

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                                           By R. Nanjappa

Guru Is Essential

Greatness of Narada- continued

Most Hindus are familiar with the name of Narada but do not have a clear idea about his greatness. A view has gained currency that he is a michievous character out to manipulate people and promote strife, though in the end all is well. Our various Puranas are replete with stories of Narada in every conceivable situation, something like Mulla Nasruddin. Our Harikatha exponents also spread lighthearted stories about Narada. Our movie and other media also portray him often in a silly vein, often played by minor or comedy artistes. Probably the only exception is Savitri where M.S.Subbulakshmi played  Narada and sang the superb song of Sadashiva Brahmendra, ‘Bruhi Mukundeti’, which brilliantly captures Narada’s own state of extreme devotion. In the circumstances, it is refreshing to hear from Tyagaraja the glories of Narada which he narrates in two more kritis. 

SRI NARADA MUNI     (Bhairavi)

Sri Narada muni gururaya ganti
me naadi tapamo gururaya

Manasara goriti gururaya nedu
kanulara ganukontimi gururaya

Meeseva dorakenu gururaya bhava-
paasamu dolakenu gururaya

Neeve sujnana sukhi, gururaya
neeve ajnanachiki, gururaya

Rajillu veenegala gururaya, Tyaga-

rajuni brochina satgururaya.

O Narada Muni! Gurunatha! We had your darshan.
Is this the result of our tapas! 
We have surrendered to you wholeheartedly. To day we have had your darshan , filling our eyes full.
We have obtained your darshan; our ties of samsara are removed.
You alone are immersed in the Brahmananda  of Atma jnana. You alone are the fire which can destroy our ignorance, O gurunatha!
O gurunatha, ever bearing the lustrous Veena! O Sadgurunatha, who protected Tyagaraja! 

Here too Tyagaraja reveals some new facets. Without tapas, we cannot get darshan of a Guru. Tayumanaswami says (only) those who take to murti worship, pilgrimage to holy places and tirthas  will get a guru to impart wisdom:

Murti talam tirtham muraiyaai todanginarkor

Vaartai sola satguruvum vaaikkum paraparame

We all want the most excellent guru, but how many of us develop our competence to deserve one by proper sadhana? Are we fit and deserving as disciples?

The very darshan of a Sadguru removes our worldly bondage- what we call the power of the very presence: sannidhi visesham. Narada is not a mere devotee, but a supreme Jnani, always immersed in the bliss of the Self. Only such a Guru can destroy our ignorance. Narada always carries a Veena to accompany his singing of the Lord’s praises. It is lustrous because it is divine. About it he is going to reveal something more. The repetition of ‘gururaya’ shows the high reverence Tyagaraja has for this Sadguru. 

Narada and Veena


SRI NARADA  (Kanada)

Sri Narada nada sara-
seeruha bhrunga subhanga

Deena maana rakshaka jaga-
deecha bhecha sangaa cha

Veda janita vara veena vaadana tatvagna
Khedakara tritaapa rahita khechara vinuta
Yaadava kulajaapta sada modahrudaya munivarya
Srida Tyagaraja vinuta Srikara maam paalaya.

O Lord Sri Narada ! The honey bee which always goes round the lotus that is Nada!

You protect the prestige of simple devotees. O jagadeesa! O one who shines like the moon!

You know the secret (truth) of the art of playing the exalted Veena, which has originated in the Veda!

You are free from the sufferings caused by the three kinds of afflictions ( taapas)! You are worshipped by the devas! You are the friend of Krishna, the scion of the Yadava clan!

Your heart is always filled with Ananda! You are the greatest of the Munis! You confer prosperity! You are venerated by Tyagaraja! You confer all auspiciousness! Please save me.

In the earlier kriti, Tyagaraja spoke of the veena as lustrous. Here he reveals its reason: it has originated in the Veda.[Veda janitha vara veena] Only those who have mastered the Veda know the secret of playing the veena. Here Tyagaraja reveals the excellences which make Narada the Sadguru! Alas! our concert artistes do not sing these kritis much. Let us bow to Narada, along with Tyagaraja.

Guru in Human Form?

In the annals of religious lore we get some exalted souls who have had no human guru, but where the Lord himself has become the Guru. Manickavachaka was one such, for whom Lord Shiva himself became the Guru, assuming  the form of a youth. Arunagirinatha had no human guru, Lord Subrahmanya himself becoming his guru. He states: O Gurunatha, who blessed me with a rosary: ” japa maalai tanda sargurunatha”. He wants  the Lord to come and bless him in the form of the Guru: “Guruvaai varuvaai Arulvaai Guhane!” In our own times, Sri Ramana Maharshi  had no human guru. 

Rama as Guru!

For Tyagaraja, Narada appeared in his vision and enlightened him. So did Rama! Tyagaraja performed the japa of Rama Shadakshari mantra 96 crore times! And he not only had vision of Rama, but Rama was ever present in his consciousness. It was Rama who instructed him and revealed to him his kritis. Says Tyagaraja:


DASARATHI       ( Todi)

Daasarathi nee runamu deerpa na-
tarama  parama paavana naama

Aasadeera duura desha mulanu pra-
kaasimpa jesina rasika shiromani

Bhaktileni kavijaala varenyulu
Bhaava merugaloni galalo jani
Bhukti mukti galgu nani kirtanamula
Bodhinchina Tyagaraja karaarchita…Daasarathi

O the son of Dasaratha! Is is possible for me to discharge the debt I owe you?

O the best of the rasikas who made me shine (even) in far off lands, to my heart’s content!

You thought that the great poets, lacking in devotion do not know the subtleties and inner meaning. So you appeared before me in vision and taught me the kirtanas which can confer both the happiness of this world and Liberation hereafter. Tyagaraja can only worship you; can he ever repay your debt?

Secret of Sacred Poetry

Friends! This is one of the greatest gems of Tyagaraja. Here he reveals the secret strength of his kritis: they are not the product of his fancy, mental effort; they are not just songs to please, but confer bhukti and mukti! He knows that they have made him well known, but he is not claiming any credit. All glory to Rama! It is Rama who taught him and made his name well known! And Tyagaraja reveals one more secret: mere scholarship or poetic skill does not lead to sacred poetry. Such learned poets do not even know the real meaning or secret of the religious truth. Divine blessings are necessary. Rama imparted this secret knowledge: what Gita calls guhyataram, guhya tamam! It is only such kritis which are worth singing and listening to.

Rama’s Role as Guru: Transformation

What did Rama do as Guru? This Tyagaraja explains in another kriti.

NEE CHITTAMU        (Dhanyasi)

Nee chittamu nimalamu nischalamani
Ninne namminaanu

Na chittamu vanchana  sanchalamani
Nannuvida naadakumi Sri Rama

Guruvu chillagincha gurave bhramaramu
Gurude bhaskarudu
Gurude  bhadrudagu, guruvu neevanu konti
Dharanu daasuni brova Tyagarajanuta…..Nee chittamu..

 O Rama!
Your heart and mind are flawless and ever established in their natural state. Knowing this, I always rely on you.
My mind is full of deceitful thoughts and always restless. But you  should not leave me on that account.

1. Guru is the Sallaki seed, which clears up muddy water.
2. Guru is the wasp which transforms the worm into a wasp!
3. Guru is the Sun  ( who removes the darkness of ignorance, and gives light which is enlightenment)
4. Guru is the one who confers auspiciousness.

I have understood that you are such a Guru, O Rama! I am your devotee, please protect and save me!

We saw earlier that the Guru’s job is to transform. Here Tyagaraja tells us how that transformation is brought about. The guru clears up the chitta of the disciple. Sallaki is a kind of soap nut seed which when crushed and put in a vessel of muddy water will cause the muddy impurities  to settle down at the bottom and make the water clear. The wasp traps a worm in its muddy nest, and by stinging it daily converts it into a wasp like itself! So the Guru makes a disciple like himself! Guru is the source of enlightenment. And he is the abode of auspiciousness. Here, Tyagaraja states very clearly that he has taken Rama as the Guru!


Guru is Necessary


 The presence of a guru is absolutely necessary for spiritual progress. Tyagaraja writes about it strongly.


GURU LEKA ETUVANTI      ( Gaurimanohari)

Guruleka etuvanti guniki  deliyaga bodu

Karukaina hrudaroga gahanamunu  gottanu sad- guruleka

Tanuvu suta dana daara daayada baandhavulu
janiyinchi chedaru jaalini karunato
Manasu nantaka seyu mandanuchu
 Tatva bodhana jesi kaapaadu Tyagarajaaptudaku..guruleka

Without the Guru, it is not possible (even) for a man with good qualities and other merits to get rid of the intense afflictions which seize his mind and heart.
One’s own body, children, wealth, wives, close relatives- these become the source of pain and troubles, which spread out. These can be prevented from affecting one’s heart only by the instructions in the knowledge of Truth (Tatva bodhana)  which act as the good medicine. It is the Guru who provides this knowledge, with his compassion and saves one. Such a guru is very dear to Tyagaraja.

If it is impossible even for a guni ie a person with good qualities and attainments to be spiritually saved without the aid of a Guru, how about ordinary people like us?

It is seen that most people approaching a saint or sage seek  remedy or relief from worldly afflictions, which almost always relate to problems arising from the factors listed in the kriti. And genuine Saints are able to give succour to troubled minds, but also provide us with a spiritual perspective, which alone is the real cure and ultimate remedy for the very illness that is samsara, not just its other ills!


Kutcheri culture and its Discontents

Sri Tyagaraja has given us the quintessence of Gurutatva in his kritis. Unfortunately, the ‘kutcheri’ culture serves mainly the interests of popular entertainment, and the kritis on Narada are not made popular on the platform. Even when they are sung, all the charanams are not handled. When they do Ragam Tanam Pallavi, why can they not take up  these words  and embellish them?  But the serious student and seeker can approach the kritis as literature, and they are sublime literature, throwing light on Itihasa, Purana, morals and ethics, culture and philosophy.

Note: What is Upadesa?
We generally talk of Guru giving “upadesa”. But what is the meaning of upadesa? Is it some magic mantra? some mystic formula? some secret technique? Sri Ramana Maharshi has explained it in his own inimitable manner.

The word upadesa literally means restoring an object to its proper place. The mind of the disciple, having become differentiated from its true and primal state of Pure Being, which is the Self and which is described in the scriptures as Sat-chit-ananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss), slips away therefrom, and assuming the form of thought, constantly pursues objects of sense-gratification. Therefore it is assailed by the vicissitudes of life and becomes weak and disspirited. Upadesa consists in the Guru restoring it to its primal state and preventing it from slipping away from the state of Pure Being, of absolute identity with the Self, or, in other words, the being of the Guru.

The word can also be understood as meaning to present an apparently distant object to close view; that is to say, it consists in the Guru showing the disciple what he had considered as distant and different from himself  to be immediate and identical with himself.

…..it is very seldom that a person can realize his true Being, without the grace of the Guru.


From: The Teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words, edited by Arthur Osborne, Sri Ramanasramam, 1965, p 120.

tags – Guru , Essential; TYAGARAJA-4

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