Saguna Upasana -SRI TYAGARAJA-13 (Post No.8022)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8022

Date uploaded in London – – – 22 May 2020   

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Saguna Upasana

God with form?

Worship of God is one of the five basic duties of every Hindu, one of the pancha maha yajnas. This is common to all sampradayas, though the deities, methods, mantras, etc may differ. 

There have always been people who have questioned whether God has a form, can be confined to a form, whether the worship of just an idol or symbol made up of some material does not amount to sheer idiocy. The monotheistic religions condemn ‘idol’ worship but their own Churches are full of the pictures of saints, angels, Madonna and Child, Sacred Heart of Jesus, etc.  And the church itself becomes a big idol!The Muslims do not have idols but the mere mosque becomes ‘sacred’ for them and they raise a storm over even a disused, dilapidated structure! They all simply miss the point that if God is omnipotent as they say, that power must include the power to take a form too!

Arjuna’s doubt

Arjuna had a doubt. After watching the Visvaroopa, he became frightened, and requested Krishna to resume his normal form, “kreetinam gadinam chakra hastam”! Then Bhagavan assumes this form and tells him:

Naham vedena tapasa 

na daanena na chejyaya

Sakyam evam vido drashtum 

drishtvaanasi maam yatha.          11.53

Neither by the Vedas, nor by tapas, nor by gifts, nor by yajna can I be seen as you have seen Me.

Bhaktya tvananyaya  sakya 

aham evam vida Arjuna

jaatum drashtum cha 

praveshtum  cha parantapa.        11.54

O Arjuna, scorcher of foes! Only by single-minded devotion  I may, in this form, be known, seen in reality and also entered into.

 Arjuna raises another doubt. Bhagavan had earlier spoken about himself as Unmanifested  ( avyaktam) and Imperishable (aksharam) . Now He has shown his usual form with Sankha, chakra, etc. Which is better to worship?

Yevam satata yukta ye 

Bhaktastvam  parupasate

Ye chapyaksharam avyaktam

Teshaam ke yogavittama:             12.1

There are devotees who worship You (in the form just shown). There are devotees who worship the Imperishable, the Unmanifsted. Which of them is better versed in Yoga?

Bhagavan gives a clear, unambiguous answer:

Bhaktyavesya  mano ye maam
Nitya yukta upaasate
Sraddhayaa paratopetaaste
Me yukta tamaa mataa:                     12.2

Those who fixing their mind on Me, worship Me, ever steadfast, and endowed with supreme sraddha, they in My opinion are the best of the Yogis.

Ye tvamakshara manisdesyam

Avyaktam paryupaasate
Sarvatragam achintyam cha
Kutastam achalam druvam


Sarvatra sama buddhaya:
Te prapnuvanti maam eva
Sarva bhuta hite rataa:                 12.3-4  

But those too, who worship the Imperishable, the Indefinable, the Unmanifested, the Omnipresent, the Unthinkable, the Unchangeable, the Immovable, the Eternal- having subdued all the senses, even-minded everywhere, engaged in the welfare of all beings- they too reach only Me.

Klesha: adhikatarastesham
Avyaktaasakta chetasaam
Avyaktaa hi gatir dukkham
Dehavadbhir avaapyate                 12.5

(But) Greater is the trouble of those whose minds are set on the Unmanifested; for the goal of the Unmanifested is very hard for the embodied being to reach.

Teshamaham samudhdarta 

Mrutyu samsara saagarat
Bhavaami nachirat Partha
Mayyavesita chetasam.           12.7

O Partha!  For those whose minds are set on Me, I become before long their Saviour out of the ocean of mortal samsara.

Mayyeva mana aadhatsva

Mayi buddhim nivesaya
Nivasishyasi mayyeva 
Ata urdhvam na samshaya:     12.8

(Therefore) Fix your mind on Me alone; place your intellect in Me; then you shall  no doubt live in Me hereafter.

These are the very words of Bhagavan Himself and we do not need any other authority on the importance and necessity of saguna upasana.

Sri Ramakrishna Answers

In modern times, this question was repeatedly raised by English-educated Bengalis, who were also under the influence of reform movements like the Brahmo samaj. Some of them also used to say that it should be made clear to the ‘idol’ worshippers that they were in fact worshipping the ‘spirit’ and not the mere image. Sri Ramakrishna used to answer them firmly.

You believe in God without form; that is quite all right. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false. Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form.
“That is the only hobby of you Calcutta people- giving lectures and bringing others to the light! Who are you to teach others?

The Lord has done so many things- will he not show the people the way to worship Him?
Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn’t God know that through it He alone is being invoked? He will be pleased with that very worship. Why should you get a headache over it?”
                                           The Gospel, Feb, 1882

“God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person.”
                                               October28, 1882

“Do you know what God with form is like? Like bubbles rising on an expanse of water,various divine forms are seen to rise out of the Great Akasa of Consciousness. The Incarnation of God is one of these forms.”
                                             December 14, 1882

“In a shoreless ocean visible blocks of ice are formed here and there by intense cold. Similarly, under the cooling influence, so to say,  of the deep love of Its worshipper, the Infinite reduces itself to the finite and appears before the worshipper as God with form. Again, as, on the rising of the sun, the ice melts away, so on the awakening of Knowledge, God with form melts away into the same Infinite and Formless.”
                                            July 13, 1885

This was a question raging among the newly educated Bengalis, fresh from the University ( Remember, Calcutta university had been started in 1856, English education having been introduced by Macaulay in 1836). But this question was also engaging our own Vedantins, who believed in a nameless Absolute! As if all have become Brahmajnanis! Tyagaraja (1767- 1847) was active about 50 years before Sri Ramakrishna  (1836-1886) and he addressed this question squarely.

No Jnana without Bhakti

Anuragamuleni manasuna
Sujnanamu raadu
Ghanulaina antarjnanula-

keruke gaani
Vagavaga ga bhujiyinche

vaariki truptau reeti
Saguna dhyanamu paini

Saukhyamu Tyagarajanuta………..anuragamuleni

Divine Wisdom will not come to people lacking in bhakti.
The great jnanis  ( Enlightened Ones) know this very well.

Only those who eat slowly (enjoying every morsel) will derive satisfaction from food. ( Or like the one who is served a variety of items) In the same manner, it is only those who take to saguna worship ( with dhyana on the auspicious qualities of Bhagavan) who will enjoy or attain happiness and peace (saukhyam).

Yellavaarivale bhavasaagaramunu

eeta mansu raadu
Vullamunanugani  neeve nenai
yanta teliya ledu.                ( Siggu maali)

I do not feel like swimming in this ocean of samsara, like every one else.

Even after much thinking, I do not understand the method (Advaitic idea) of treating You as me!

Vinda vinda matamulalo jorabadi
veda jendaga leda                     (Koniyade)

I cannot enter the different sects and suffer. ( ie away from devotion to Rama)

Kali cannot be crossed without Bhakti

Tappi bratiki pova tarama Rama kalilo
Muppuna vishaya tatakamuna munugaka

druta manasai
kanchu modalu loha dhana kanaka mulanu 

joochi visa
manchu mariyu bengulanuchu
nenjiyantani manasai          ……..Tappi bratiki

nangana chula maanagu 

yangavastramula bagagu
mungurulani gani

yantarangamunanu aasinchaka…….Tappi bratiki

Jaaji malle mandaara sarojamulanu manasaara
Rajapadamu che Tyagarajanutuni pujinchaka….Tappi

Is it possible for men in this Kali age to escape from great dangers and sense pleasures, with  a firm mind?
Taking the metals like bronze and gold to be just like poison and broken pottery pieces, and keeping the mind away from them,
Not getting attracted by the beautiful dresses and hairstyles  of wily women,

Is it possible to escape?

Without worshipping Rama , adored by Tyagaraja, in the straight royal path , with flowers like jaji, jasmine, lotus , with full heart, is it possible to escape the dangers of Kali?

So here Tyagaraja gives his firm advice that saguna worship is necessary in this Kali age. We may also recall here that Sri Ramakrishna always warned his devotees about ‘Kamini, kanchana’, the two dangers specially stated by Tyagaraja here.

Tyagaraja pursues the path shown in the Gita, and clears the way for Sri Ramakrishna later!

To be continued ………………………………..

tags — Saguna Upasana , SRI TYAGARAJA-13

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