SRI TYAGARAJA-28, Tyagaraja’s Rama (Post No.8123)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8123

Date uploaded in London – – – 7 June 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-28,  Tyagaraja’s Rama

Brahman and Avatara

 Rama was the Ishtadevata, Upasana Murti of Sri Tyagaraja. How exactly did Tyagaraja regard Rama? Of course, He is the Avatara, born as the son of Dasaratha, ruled over ayodhya, etc. But the matter is not so simple-it is mysterious.

The English word God has  no clear  meaning. We have different words to indicate different concepts. The Absolute, Ultimate, Alpha and Omega, is beyond our mind, thought and speech. It (or He, or She) is designated Brahman. But the human mind is incapable of conceiving something like that. So for our sake, that Absolute, Unnamable, Formless Truth comes down , bearing a Form and Name. (There is the concept of Iswara also, which is not relevant here). Those who murmur should ponder: can they understand even a human concept like love in an absolute vacuum? Can they think of love in the absence of any person or object or relation? It is seen that those unfortunate persons not having any one to love or be loved by, at least attach themselves to a pet, an ideal or even a petty thing like a pen or a bike!

Our highest love is reserved for the Most High. And to honour our love, That comes down, descends to our level, to our midst, bearing a name and form. This we call the Avatara.

Avatara in the Gita

 Lord Krishna  explained this idea in the Gita.

Ajoapi sannavyayaatma

Bhutanaam Ishvaroapisan

Prakrutim swaam adhishtaaya

Sambhavaami aatma mayayaa.        4.6

Though I am unborn, of changeless nature and Lord of beings, yet subjugating My Prakriti, I come into being by MY own Maya.

(The words sambhavami and maya are untranslatable. The translation here is  approximate.)

Then does He become a mere human being?

Avyaktam vyaktimapannam

Manyante Mam abhuddhaya:

Param bhavam ajananto

Mam avyayam anuttamam.             7.24

The foolish regard Me, the Unmanifested, as come into manifestation, not knowing my Supreme State- immutable and transcendental.

Naaham prakaasa: sarvasya

Yoga maya samavruta:

Moodhoayam naabhi janati

Loko Mam ajam avyayam                7.25

I am veiled by My Yogamaya. So I am not perceived by every one. This humanity lacking intelligence does not understand Me as the Unborn and the Ultimate Immutable 

This maya belongs to Bhagavan. That is why we need His grace to go beyond it and understand and love Him. This is clarified by Bhagavan Himself.

Daivee hyesha gunamayi

Mama maya duratyayaa

Maameva ye prabatyante

Maya metaam taranti te              7.14

This maya of Mine, constituted of the three gunas is difficult to cross over. Only those who are devoted to Me cross over this maya.

Avajaananti Mam moodha

Maanusheem tanum aasritam

Param bhavamajaananto

Mama bhuta maheshvaram.               9.11

Unaware of My higher state, as the great Lord of beings , fools disregard Me, donning the human form.

Those who are able to transcend the maya are fortunate. They perceive Bhagavan in the Avatara.

Yo Mam ajam anaadim cha

Vetti loka Mahesvaram 

Asammoodha: sa martyeshu

Sarva papai: pramuchyate.             10.3

He who knows Me (as I am), birthless and beginningless (and therefore deathless and endless),the great Lord of the worlds – he among mortals is undeluded ; he is freed from all sins.

Avatara in Bhagavtam: Act of Compassion

 It is to bless  people that the Unmanifest Bhagavan comes down with a name and form, as clarified in the Bhagavatam.

Anugrahaya bhutaanaam

Maanusham deham aasthita:

Bhajate daatrusee: kreeda

Ya srutvaa tatparo bhavet.          

It is for the sake of conferring blessings on the Jivas that Bhagavan manifests Himself in the human form .

He then indulges in a variety of divine play(leela). At least by listening to them , their minds may turn towards Bhagavan- that is why.

So, the Avatara is a great act of compassion on the part of the Absolute for the benefit of humanity. But the devotee never forgets that the Avatara is also the Absolute.


A problem is faced by Hindus here. We also have the concept of Trimurti- the absolute Brahman being regarded as Brahma, Vishnu, Siva. So, how do we regard the Avatara vis a vis the Trimurtis?

It is generally held that all the Avataras are of Vishnu. Brahma is never known to have incarnated. Siva has manifested and performed leelas, but these are not regarded as Avatars.Only Vishnu has taken Avatar.

But in reality there is nothing like this. The Trimurti is a human concept, but the Avatara is a divine fact! The Bhagavan who gives us the Gita is not just one of the Trimurtis! If we study the Gita closely and carefully,we will see that Krishna, sitting in the chariot and speaking to Arjuna, easily transcends His human form and reveals Himself as the Absolute- beyond the Trinity.Arjuna becomes so frightened that he requests this Absolute to assume his normal human form! It is therefore my view that Avatara is superior to the Trinity.

Avatara: Preservation and Destruction

I will just point out one  incongruity in the popular idea that Vishnu has taken all the Avatars. Vishnu is supposed to be the Deity of preservation. But in all the Avatars, he has only destroyed something or somebody! In fact this destruction is part of preservation- it is indeed not destruction but transformation or fulfilment! So our idea of one murti for creation, one for preservation, one for samhara is itself imperfect. Sri Bhagavan makes it clear in the Gita:

Yada yada hi dharmasya 

glanir bhavati Bharata

Abhyutthanam adharmasya 

tadaatmanam srujamyaham             4.7

O descendant of Bharata! Whenever there is decline of Dharma, and rise of Adharma,  then I come forth in a body.

Paritranaya Sadhunam 

Vinasaya cha dushkrutaam

Dharma samstaapanaartaya 

Sambhavaami yuge yuge.                 4.8

For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, for the establishment of Dharma, I come into being in every age.

It is therefore clear that the  establishing dharma involves both protection (preservation) and destruction! It cannot be the role of just Vishnu, as popularly conceived! Often, adharma will not go unless those who indulge in it are got rid of!

For instance Duryodhana says:

Jaanaami dharmam na cha me pravritti:

Jaanaami adharmam na cha me nivritti:

Kenaapi devena hrudi stithi tena

Yatha niyuktoasmi tatha karomi      (Pandava Gita)

I know what is dharma; but I am not able to observe it. I know what is adharma but I am not able to refrain from it. There is some deva in my heart; as it prompts me, I act.

This is a very clear example of how adharma cannot be removed unless those responsible for it are also removed! Duryodhana is a prime example of one born with demonic tendencies, as explained in the Gita! Such figures are typal ie they cannot be reformed. Thus maintenance of dharma involves destruction too, conceived as the job of Rudra! Besides, we should also remember that the names Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are Vedic and in the Veda they have a significance far different from those given in a puranic context.  

It is therefore clear that Avatara is above the Trimurtis! 

Rama is more than Trimurtis

Tyagaraja  subscribes to this fully. His Rama is not just the son of Dasaratha. The name Rama, the Taraka Nama, existed prior to Ramavatara! Let us see how Tyagaraja regards Rama.

Adi madhya rahita           (Nee daya- Todi)

Adi madhyanta rahita       (Edari sancharintura)

Adi anta rahita                (Aela needaya radu)

Rama is one without beginning, middle and end. He is Brahman.

Oka rupamuna barosi oka rupamuna echi

oka rupamu joochuchuntivi             (Innallu- Ghata)

You create the universe assuming one form; assuming another, you preserve it; and in another form, you destroy it!

Vinu Saketaraju visvamaneratha munekki

Tana samarthyamuche daane nadiyinchenae


Bhagavan as Ayodhyapati moves on the Earth as his chariot, and gets everything done by his own skill (or power)

Okatesinapadi noorai veiyai

Chakapakalaadi satuvula nanache nata 

Vikaluni kakini brova trimurtulu

venula teesi naarada 

Sakala nadipatikai  drumakulyula

samharinche nataa               (Evarichchirira)

 It seems when you sent an arrow, it multiplied into ten, hundred and thousand and controlled the enemies. Even the Trimurtis refrained from saving Kakasura (  when he was pursued by your weapon).For the sake of the king of the Seas, your arrow destroyed the place of residence of the Rakshasas called Drumakulya.

(Who gave you such bow and arrows?)

The Trimurtis represent the three gunas. But Rama is beyond the three gunas.

 Mooti kekkuvaina needu gunammulu

                                    (Talachi nantate)

Your characteristics which transcend the three gunas.

Tri saktiyu galigina devudu neevai   (Yuktamu gaadu)

You are the Divine who has all the three powers (of creation, preservation and destruction)

Tamasadi guna rahitudu        (Undaedi)

One who has transcended the gunas beginning with Tamas.

Besides transcending the three gunas, Bhagavan is also beyond the dualities. He does not have feelings of friend ,enemy, etc. He saves even the Rakshasas and Asuras.

Satrula mitrula samamuga jooche nee

                                        (Enduku nirdaya)

You regard enemies and friends alike. 

Here we remember the words of Gita:

Samoaham sarva bhuteshu

Na Mae dweshyoasti na priya:

Ye bhajanti tu Mam  Bhaktya

Mayi te teshu chapyaham                9.29

I am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear. But those who worship Me are in Me and I too am in them.

Nirvikara guna nirmala         (Dinamani vamsa)

One with charactersistics which do not undergo change. The pure.

(Gunas are modifications of mind. Rama is beyond such modifications.)

Vaemako lokaabhi

Cheemalo Brahmalo Siva kesavaadulalo

prema meera melagu chunde birudu vahinchina

                                         (Rama nannu brova)

You are pervading all jivas- from the ant to Brahma, and also Siva and Vishnu with great love.

Srushti pushti nashti seyu panuluni

Nikrushta manuchutu Trimurtula koasagi

                                     (Manasa SriRamachandra)

Rama has felt the three activities of creation, preservation and destruction as of low order and so has left them to the Trimurtis.

Ajagaja rakshaka gajasarmaamba-

raadi daivabhedamulanu leela 

kalga jesina                 (Nijamarmamulanu)

Sri Rama established the differentiation  among Brahma, Vishnu and Siva as if in play.

(The kriti goes on to say that those who know this secret cannot be subject to any difficulties.)

Muggurilo maelaina Rama      (Siggumali)

Rama, who is above  the Trimurtis!

Parvati ramanaarchita pada

Ramaapati vandya paratpara       (Sarva bhauma)

Your Feet are worshipped by Siva

You are worshipped by Vishnu.

You are the Paratpara.

Paripurnaavatara                     (Raghupate Rama)

You have assumed the perfect, most complete Avatara.


 (Para Isha)  Paramatma

Eeraedu lokamula

Kaadharudagu                           (Vaerevvarae)

You are the foundation for the fourteen worlds.

Saatvika bhakti bichcha meeyavae….

Trimurtula gati melmi Rama         (Bhakti bichcha)

Rama! Please give me as alms bhakti for you which is of an auspicious nature. That alone is superior to even the Trimurtis.

Mummurtulu gumigoodi pogade

muchchata vinukorae 

Just listen to this- how the Trimurtis have come together to praise Rama!

Geetad yakhilo upanishad sara  Sitavara    (Sitavara)

Rama! You shine as the essence of Gita and other Upanishads.

Srushti sthityantakara…..

Onkara panjara keera 

purahara sarojabhava kesavaadi


One performing the three functions of creation, preservation and destruction.

Has taken the form of Siva (who destroyed the three puras) , Brahma of the lotus, and Vishnu.

Nara kinnara kimpurusha sura 

nirjara raja sivaadi ramaapatula

taru bhudharaa naekanda mula….

Leelaganu jooche                       (Leelaganu)

Humans kinnaras kimpurushas, asuras Devendra,Siva, Vishnu, the lord of Lakshmi, trees, the different worlds – all these should be seen as your play. (Please grant me the association of such holy men who have this vision.)

Sivuniki tamasa gunamichchi kamala-
Bhavuniki rajasa guna mosagi sachi-
dhavuniki garva hrudayuniga jesina
Emani pogadudura                    (Emani pogadudura)

You gave tamasa guna to Siva, rajasa guna to Brahma, indordinate pride to Indra.

There are at least three kritis where Tyagaraja deals with this subject extensively.

  • Evarani nirnayinchirira
  • Etavunara
  • Endundi vedalitivo.

We have seen the first two in previous postings. So now, we will look at the other one.

Where does Rama hail from?

Sri Rama nee 

Endundi vedalitivo Aeyooro ne deliyya

ipudaina delupavayya                  (Endundi)

Sri Rama!Where do you hail from? Which is your place? I do not know.Lord, at least now reveal them to me.

Anda chandamu verai  nadatalella 

trigunaateetamai yunnade gaani 

Your appearance ( of a prince) is something; but your conduct is different- beyond the three gunas! 

Chitukante naparadha chayamula dagilinche

Sivalokamu gadu

Vaturupudai balini vanchinchi yanchuvani

Vaikunthamu gadu

Vitavachamulaadi chiramu drumpabadda

Vidhilokamu gadu

Your place cannot be Sivaloka- where even a small lapse constitutes a big offence.

It cannot be Vaikunta, the place of Vishnu, who after all tricked Mahabali and subjugated him. 

It cannot be the world of Brahma who lost one of his five heads for resorting to lustful words.

Didavu dharmamu satyamu mrudubhashalu kalgu

divyarupa Tyagaraja vinuta

Your divine form is full of firmness, dharma, satya, pleasing speech, etc. So where exactly do you come from? (Who indeed are you, because you are so different from the Trimurtis!)

What a splendid way Tyagaraja portrays the nature of Rama, as beyond the Trimurtis! Our Puranas are full of incidents revealing the ‘other side’ of the Trimurtis! (It is almost like the gods in Greek mythology!) Compared to them, Rama is ideal and perfect in all respects! No wonder Tyagaraja has seen the secret behind Him ( nija marmamu telisina vaani) and realised Him as the Brahman, beyond the Trinity!

That is why, we can never get good buddhi without instructions from Satguru : buddhi radu, buddi radu, peddala suddulu vinaka)

Bhagavan Himself declares in the Gita:

Brahmano hi pratistaaham
Amrutasya avyayasya cha
Sasvatasya cha dharmasya
Sukhasya aikaantikasya cha                 14.27

For I am the abode of Brahman- the Immortal and Immutable, of everlasting Dharma and the Absolute, Unchanging Bliss.
Can we now dare to say that the Avatara is just an aspect of any Deity?

As the Sadguru, Tyagaraja has revealed the Truth of Avatara.


That a true devotee should not differentiate among Upasana Murtis ( that is, whatever may be one’s own Upasana Murti, he should not denigrate or decry others, and advocate the idea that one is superior to another) is emphasised in the Bhagavata.
After Daksha’s Yajna was destroyed by Rudra, the Devas request Rudra to give up his anger and help in the proper completion of the Yajna. Rudra too shows compassion and  visits the Yajnashala. Then Lord Narayana also appears there and instructs them about the non-difference among the Murtis (Murti-Samasrayam). Bhagavatam, Skanda 4, Chapter 7.

Bhagavan says:

Aham Brahma cha sarvascha 
jagata: karanam param
Atmeswara upadrishta
 swayam druga viseshana:

I am Brahma, responsible for creation of the World. I am Siva too. I am the Atma of every one, their master and also the witness for their acts. I am self-effulgent and unconnected with anything.
Atma mayam samavisya

 soaham gunamayeem dwija
Srujan rakshan haran visvam 
 dadhrae samjnam kriyochitaam.
O Brahmins! Though I am such, I assume the Maya consisting of the three gunas and engage in projection,maintenance and  laya of the world. Accordingly, I assume the names of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Tasmin brahmanyadvideeye

 kevalae paramatmani
Brahmarudrau cha bhutani 

It is the one lacking intelligence who perceives differences in this One without a second, such as Brahma, Siva and others.

Yatha pumaanna swaangeshu 

sira:paanyadishu kwachit
Paarakya buddhim kurutae 
aevam bhuteshu matpara.

Will any man think of the various parts of his body that some are his, while some belong to others? Likewise my true devotee does not distinguish between Me and other forms of life.

Tryaanaam eka bhaavaanaam

Yo na pasyati vai bhidaam.
Sarva bhutatmanaam Brahman 

Sa santim adhigachchati.

O brahmajnanis!

We three are One. We also appear as all forms of life. One who does not perceive any differences among us attains Peace.
                               -Slokas 50-54.
Devotees should ponder how this matches what is said in the Gita!

To be continued…………………..

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