Greatness of Rama Nama, SRI TYAGARAJA-11 (Post No.8009)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8009

Date uploaded in London – – – 20 May 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-11, Greatness of Rama Nama

In the tradition of Nama Siddhanta, the name Rama occupies a unique place. Just as when ‘Sahasranama’ is mentioned, only the Vishnu Sahasranama is meant. Even such a staunch devotee of Lord Subrahmanya like Sri Arunagirinatha writes about Sahasranama Gopala, when talking of Krishna! And just as only the Bhagavad Gita is meant, when the word ‘Gita’ is mentioned! 

The Smarta tradition holds all Names and forms of God as sacred. Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, associate of Bodhendra, was a staunch devotee of Shiva, given to the japa of Shiva nama, even though Bodhendra used to preach Rama nama. Sankara who stabilised the worship of the six Deities did so as they were all based on the Veda. But when it comes to Nama japa, Rama nama assumes special significance. How come?

It is clear that the name Rama was older than Rama himself, the Avatar. It is recorded in the Valmiki Ramayana that Vasishtha who named the child Rama did so after some deliberation! Rama has several meanings, all associated with ‘Bliss’ or ananda. ( The word ‘ananda’ does not have its opposite in the language!) Rama confers Ananda, because he is so full of it himself! This Ananda is based on his own nature, he delights in his Self. [Cf, “Swathmaramam mudhita vadanam ” in the Daksinamurti stotram. This Sri Ramana Maharshi rendered in Tamil as:

உவகையோ ருருவந்தன்னுள் உவப்பவன் களிமுத்தன் -One who is always delighted in his Self ]

 Rama shows his ananda  throughout the Ramayana, by his conduct, under all circumstances. His delight is not caused, or upset, by any external event: it is based on his own innate nature. 

 When can a jiva attain that kind of delight or ananda? It is only when he can be free from Samsara-the repeated cycle of births and deaths, and the afflictions associated with it..  Lord Shiva confers this boon on those dying in Kashi, by uttering Rama’s name, thereby making the jiva cross over this Samsara., attaining Liberation. So, Rama Nama is the Taraka mantra. We should remember here that Sri Ramakrishna actually witnessed this scene in Kashi during his visit in the 19th century!  We may have our doubters, who  may say if that is true, why do others not see it. They should remember that it took a Newton to discover why apples fell, though they have been falling since creation. And it is only an Einstein who could get ‘Relativity’. And only Srinivasa Ramanujan could get his equations in dream, revealed by his Goddess Namagiri. These are all recorded. Neither Ramanujan nor Einstein worked in any laboratory. Nor could others working in the laboratories since then get them!

This name Taraka nama is very dear to Tyagaraja and he employs it in many kritis. The very purpose of life and human birth is to cease getting future births ie attain Liberation by crossing over Samsara. And what can be greater than the Name which enables one to do it?

Sri Tyagaraja reveals another secret. We saw that in the kriti, ‘Nama kusuma’ Tyagaraja reveals that he performs worship of Rama with the names of both Rama and Shiva as flowers. In another Kriti,Tulasi bilva, he says that he will worship Rama with fragrant Tulasi and bilwa leaves, along with mallika and other flowers. Now, traditionalists associate Tulasi with  Vishnu  and his avatars,  Bilva with Shiva and his parivar! But for Tyagaraja both are suitable for Rama worship! Shiva-Rama equation is a unique one! Shiva utters Rama Taraka nama in the right ear of the dying jiva at Kashi to confer Liberation on it; Rama performs Shiva puja at Rameshwaram to expatiate the brahmahatti dosha! They are so united; it is we people, so called devotees of either, who quarrel, like the retinue of Rama and Shiva- monkeys and bhuta ganas!

 Tyagaraja reveals a secret. He sings:

Evarani nirnayinchirira

Ninna etla aaradhinchirira naravaru

Shivudano Madhavudano kamala

Bhavudano parabrahmamano

Shiva mantra munaku Ma jivamu Ma-

dhava mantra munaku Ra jivamu Ee

vivaramu telisina ganulaku mrokeda

vitarana guna Tyagaraja vinuta- nin

The great men- what did they decide you to be? How did they worship you?

Did they take you to be Shiva? Or Vishnu? or Brahma? Or Parabrahmam?  What did they decide?

In the Shiva mantra ( Nama:Shivaya) it is the akshara Ma that constitutes its life. In the Vishnu mantra ( Om Namo Narayanaya), the akshara Ra constitutes its life. O generous hearted One! I bow down to the great ones who knew these secrets!

How nicely Tyagaraja explains the matter! Without Ma, the name becomes Na: Shivaya- the very contradiction of Shiva ie auspiciousness! And without Ra, that mantra too is rendered lifeless: na ayanaya!- very contradiction. So the name Rama is great! This greatness he sings in another Kriti.

Peridi ninnu benchinavarevare

Vaarini jubave Sri Ramayya

1.Sara sara tara taraka namamunu     Peridi

2.Sarva mata mulaku sammata maina

3. Ghora patakamula goppuna yanasu     

4.Tyagaraju sada baguga bhajiyinchu

Sri Ramayya!

Who gave you your name? Who fostered you? Please show them to me!

Your name is the essence of the best essences- it is the highest Taraka mantra!

This name is agreeable to all matas ( sects)

This name destroys the most serious sins completely.

This is the mantra which Tyagaraja is repeating at all times.

Please show me who gave you such a name and fostered you!

The meaning is so delightfully obvious, further comments are unwarranted!

As Nama Siddhanta took root among people, some over-zealous elements started saying that the name uttered anyhow will bear fruit, even if uttered casually, without intention, without sraddha, etc. Sri Tyagaraja does not agree with such ideas. He says the name should be uttered with love and devotion.

Rama niyeda prema rahitulaku

Nama ruchi telusuna O Sita

Kamini vesadhariki sadhvi nadata-

lemaina delusuna riti Sita……Rama

Tana saukhyamu ta nerugaga yorulaku

tagu bodhana sukhama

Ghanamagu puli go rupamaite

Tyagarajanuta sisuvi paalu kalguna

O Sita Rama!

Can those who do not have love for you understand the ruchi of your Nama sankirtana?

Can one who plays the role of a woman (in a drama) understand what is meant by the discipline of ‘pati vratam’?

The teachings imparted by one who has not himself experienced the bliss of Self,- can such teachings bear any fruit?

If the ferocious tiger comes dressed up as a cow, can the child get milk from it?

So it is clear that the Name should be uttered with love, devotion and sraddha.

 Sri Tyagaraja also shows here that a true teacher of spirituality should himself have experienced that bliss due to personal Realization! Theoretical knowledge alone will not do.

Spiritual instruction is not mere verbal communication, but transmission of a subtle power. How can one impart it, if one lacks it oneself! And how can one absorb it if he has not made himself fit by love, devotion , and intense faith?

Taraka mantra is great, but it requires fit instruments for its transmission and absorption.


It is said by some that the Hindus do not have someone to administer some sacrament at the dying moment as the churches do. The Bhagavata tells us that the utterance of the name of God at the last moment is sufficient to grant liberation.Where is the need for any other sacrament?

“Those who resort at the time of death, in a mood of helpless supplication, to the Names of the Lord, quickly overcome the sins of many births and attain to the True Being…..The name of the Lord, uttered with or without the knowledge of its power and holiness, destroys the sins of man, as fire consumes fuel. A potent drug, even when used casually without any awareness of its powers, manifests its inherent curative power. Even so is the utterance of the Lord’s Name.
-Bhagavatam 5.12, 23 &24 

Translation by Swami Tapasyananda. See his book: Bhakti Ratnavali, Introduction.(R.K.Math, Chennai , 1979.) 

tags – Rama Nama, SRI TYAGARAJA-11

to be continued…………………………………..

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