SRI TYAGARAJA-27, Devotion is a Divine Gift (Post No.8117)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8117

Date uploaded in London – – – 6 June 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-27, Devotion is a Divine Gift

It is a fundamental tenet of the bhakti schools that true devotion is a gift from God. The Gita explains that some people are born with the divine qualities, which generally incline one to an astika style of living. Apart from that, one should strive to get devotion in the heart; even then, it is only by Divine grace or dispensation that one gets true bhakti. Even to worship God, we need God’s grace.  “Worshipping His Feet by his grace”- அவனருளாலே அவன் தாள் வணங்கி says Manikkavachaka.Sri  Tyagaraja belongs to this school.

Devotion due to divine grace

Rama nee pai tanaku prema bodu Sita

Damarasa nayana  needemo mayagaani

O Sitarama, with the lotus eyes! I do not understand what  this is-your maya! My fondness for you will never vanish.

Manasu nee padamulane jera

Ganulu nee roopamune kora

Vinu nee paerulake noroora

Tanapai idi nee karunera

For my mind to be always seeking your holy Feet, for my eyes to be always wishing to behold your divine form, my tongue to be always eager to utter your names which my ears hear- is not all this due to your grace?

Worldly pleasures are also due to grace

Bhoganubhava mulandu

Baaguga buddhi neeyandu

Tyagarajuni hrudayamandu

Vaageesa nandamandu

Even when I enjoy worldly pleasures, my buddhi is fixed on you. Due to that, the heart of this Tyagaraja is experiencing divine bliss. Is this not due to your grace? I do not understand this mystery.

This sentiment he expresses in another kriti too.

Bhogamu landuvela buddhi neeyedanunche

Tyagaraja                   (nammina vaarini)

Even when I enjoy worldly pleasures, this Tyagaraja’s heart lies with you.

It is remarkable how the great saints say the same things in the same words! For, we have a hymn sung by Tirujnanasambandha on Tiruchotrutturai which expresses the same thing! It begins: ” Cheppa nenje nerikol sitrinbam tuppan ennadu arule tunaiyaga”. 

செப்ப நெஞ்சே நெறிகொள் சிற்றின்பம்

துப்பன் என்னாது அருளே துணையாக

ஒப்ப ரொப்பர் பெருமான் 

It conveys the idea that the mind should never forget that even when one gets to enjoy the worldly pleasures which are obtained in a dharmic way, they come due to the blessings of the Lord! We know that Jnanasambandha received the Lord’s blessings even when he was a small child. Our Tyagarajaswami also says:

Catch them young!

Ento nanu paalanamu chetunani

Chinnanade na cheyi battidive

Assuring me that you will always protect me, you caught hold of my hand when I was very young!

Just think of this scene: a child is crossing a busy road along with his father. In one case, the child is holding on to the hands of his father. In another, the father is taking the hand of the child in his own and leading him across! Which is safer? Here, Tyagaraja says Rama took hold of him even when he was very young-chinna naade! Can he ever go astray? Is this not due to divine grace?

Nee japamu nee smarane neepada puja

Neevaari chelimi yochaki rajika dayavucheyu


Please grant me with willing kindness your nama japa, your remembrance, puja to your blessed Feet, and association with your devotees!

If they do not get such blessing, can they experience the taste of Ramanama?

Rama niyada premarahitulaku namaruchi telusuna?

Neevadanune nani lokulu

balkaga dhanyudanaitini…

tolijanmamulanu jesina puja phalamo

leku neetu kataksha balamo

Daivadeenamuga neetu roopamu

naadu maanasabjamuna naadi yundaga

ne nentati bhagyasaalino

Dittatanamu nanu bhakti stiramau

nattuga Sri Rama yennatiki

gattigaanu Tyagarajuni cheyi

batti rakshimchelukovayya         (Sita manohara)

People say I belong to your side! I am so fortunate to hear this! I do not know whether this is due to the merit of the puja I did in previous births, or due to the power of your blessings!

By the grace of God , your form is fixed in the lotus of my heart. How much merit I should have accumulated to get this fortune!

Rama! I should have fixed bhakti for you at all times.

So, catch hold of the hands of this Tyagaraja firmly, and always protect him.

Rama neeve gaani nannu


Rama! Other than you, who else will protect me?

Changing the analogy, we may say Tyagaraja pleading for Rama taking hold of his hand is akin to marchala nyayam – the way of the cat, where the mother cat carries the young in its mouth- as against markata nyayam- the way of the monkey, where the young one has to hold on to the mother! We can easily see which is safer!

Ramuni daya galgina yatani vina

Kanugonu saukhyamu

kamalajukaina kalguna        (kanugonu)

Unless one is subject to the grace of Rama, can this kind of bliss that Tyagaraja enjoys be obtained even by Brahma?

Vayasu nooraina eevasudha naeligani

Rama daya leni bratukemi         (dayaleni)

Even if one lives for a hundred years, or reigns over this world, what is that life worth without your grace?

Puja japamula vela ponduka neduta

rajilli lokantaranga marmamu delipi


At the time of performing puja, and doing japa, if you do not appear before us with love, and pacify us explaining the innate mysteries of the world, what is the use of that kind of birth?

Life’s mysteries resolved due to grace
What are these mysteries? Tyagaraja explains them next.

Saguna nirgunapu nijadab baralanu

Shanmatamula marmam

Ashta siddhula vagalu

joopa sandasilli  gantini        (Nee bhajana gana)

The truth or falsehood  behind the saguna and nirguna upasana, the secret of the six matas, the bogus but pompous  nature of ashtasiddhis – you explained and I happily understood!

Here Tyagaraja is touching on very important subjects vexing the Hindu sects. The arguments between the advocates of saguna and nirguna forms are endless. This is dealt with in the Gita. This question was also raised before Sri Ramakrishna repeatedly by the English educated youngsters of Calcutta, fifty years after Tyagaraja!

So are the arguments among the followers of the “six systems” endless. These may mean the shanmatas, as are supposed to have been fixed by Sankara ( Saivam, Vaishnavam etc) or the six systems of Indian philosophy like Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Mimamsa and Vedanta etc. In either case, the debates are intense and often, ugly. Then there is the general fascination with acquiring so called siddhis- extraordinary or supernatural (thaumaturgic) powers . Tyagaraja means to convey that the truth behind these can be understood only by genuine God experience due to the grace of God, and that true devotion is the way to get such grace!

Tyagaraja says Rama taught him more!

Nityaanityamulanu bodhinchi

krutyaa kriyamulanu delipinchi

prayyekudu neevani kanipinchi

bhrutyudaina Tyagaraju cheyi

Pattividuvaradu nacheyi

Patti viduvaradu                  (Pattividuaradu)

You taught me what is real and unreal.

You made me  understand what karmas should be done and what should not be done.

You revealed to me that you are unique among the Forms of God.

So you caught hold of me. Now you should not leave me.

Here too Tyagaraja is dealing with fundamental aspects of our religion/philosophy. Nitya-anitya vastu vivekam is a basic tenet of our philosophy- the serious aspirant should always discriminate between what is real and what is unreal.

 Karmas are of many kinds and we should know what to do and what to avoid- karma, akarma, vikarma, as the Gita terms it. There are so many forms for upasana in the Hindu fold, but the two Avatars- Rama and Krishna are preeminent among them. The very name Rama is unique and special, as we have already seen.  These three subjects are discussed in detail in the Gita! Tyagaraja means that such things can be understood only by personal divine experience- not any amount of reading, theoretical discussion or other means- what is called aparoksha anubhuti!


Leelasrushta jagatrayamane kolahala…

Eelaagani vivarimpalenu

Chala swanubhava vedhyame

(Ramabhakti samrajyam)

The three worlds have been created by Rama just as a leela, and they are full of noisy attractions. Only devotion to Rama will confer bliss. Its nature cannot be described by me. It can only be understood by each one through personal experience!

The corpus of Tyagaraja kritis constitute a deep and vast ocean. But it is not one containing ” “dark unfathomed caves”. There are innumerable gems and each time we dip into it, we can bring at least a handful! For this we should study them as literature, which indeed they are! The concert musicians often mutilate the kritis in the name of singing- [ there is a Tamil saying here: பாடினவன் பாட்டைக் கெடுத்தான் ] they do not normally render the full kriti, nor do they enunciate the words in intelligible ways. We should read them as literature. Tyagaraja Kritis are sublime literature.

To be continued………………….

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