SRI TYAGARAJA-30, Life in the World (Post No.8136)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8136

Date uploaded in London – – – 9 June 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-30,   Life in the World

Life poses the problem of living: How to? Man does not exactly know.

There are philosophies which propound that this world is all there is and to obtain material comforts is what is life all about. We have our Charavakas and the Westerners their Epicureans. In the modern day, there has been the Existential idea, which tells you to live any which way you can.

But serious thinkers in all societies up to “modern” times have been advising us that there is a greater reality behind this world and life here is but a preparation for it. Ultimately, this is the basic idea in all religions.  No religion -East or West-  stops with this world. There is no religion which advocates unlimited or unrestrained immersion in this world in the name of “enjoyment”.

Classical Hinduism provided a graded system, through its Varnasrama arrangement.  Life in the world was regulated, ultimately leading to contemplation on the meaning and purpose of life- by gradual detachment  and  renunciation at the appropriate stage. But renunciation was not held as the ideal for every one, at all times, just as unrestrained enjoyment was not. 

Our religion taught everyone that behind all the varied celebrations and enjoyments, there was the inevitable hand of icy death, often disease, old age and other afflictions.

 Bhagavad Gita is no advocate of pessimism but it too tells us about the nature of the world: 

  • dukkhalayam asaasvatam    8.15
  • mrutyu samsara vartmani     9.3
  • anityam asukhna loke          9.33
  • mrutyu samsara sagarat      12.7
  • janma mrutyu jara vyadhi dukkha doshanu darsanam       13.8
  • Janma mrutyu jara dukkham   14.20

The Gita also tells us what to do.The primary purpose and function of religion is therefore to make man aware of the purpose of life and  make him live accordingly. 

Veda and Upanishads are vibrant with the exuberance of life and there is no trace of pessimism in them. One is advised to live without forgetting the basic purpose of life- the purusharthas.   Later day philosophers made a business of making life appear like a villain. Popular religion responded by inventing all systems of sops, to make man forget his purpose and “enjoy life”. Saints appear at this stage to remind us of the true facts of life. Tyagaraja belongs to this line.

Life is likened to an ocean- it is usual to speak of ‘samsara sagaram’ or bhava sagaram. It is also called a disease-bhava rogam. It is also like the forest. One should know how to go about it.

Ocean of Life

Teerani bhava neeradi yaaradi

sairimpa neraka 

bhaya mandaga bankaja patra

neeruvida malladaka…….     Enduku dayaradura

One is unable to bear the troubles of this ocean of life and struggle like drops of water on the lotus leaf.

Drops of water on the lotus leaf-  this is an image made familiar to us by Acharya Sankara in his ‘Bhaja Govindam’:

Nalini dala gata jalam ati taralam

Tatvajjivita matisaya chapalam

Viddhi vyaadhabhimana grastam

Lokam soka hatam cha samastam.    3

The drops of water on the lotus leaf are always unsteady/ subject to constant movement. In the same way, life is also unsteady in surprising ways.Know this that life is seized by disease and egoism and is dominated by suffering.

Life dominated by suffering- this is the starting point of Buddha’s teaching.

 O Manasa poddu poyyeni

Niddura gonnallu

 vishaya buddula cheta gonnallu

Podduna lachi tritapamulanu narula

bogadi bogadi konnnallu

Patti eddu  reeti kannataavuna bhujiyinchi

yemi teliyaka gonnallu

Mudduga doche bhava sagara muna

munigi taeluchu gonnallu

Paddu malina pamara janulato verri

paluku laadusu gonnallu

Mudamuna dana tanayaakaaramula joochi

madamu cheta gonnallu

Andu chedarinayanta chokarnavagatudai

jaali jendutayu gonnallu

Edadi pacha joochi taalaleka

taanilanu tiruguata gonnallu

Mudimadi  tappina vrudada tanamuna

mundu venuka teliyakane gonnallu

Yaagaadi  karmamulanu seyavalenani

yalasata cheta gonnallu

Andu raga lobha mulato naparadhamulu chesi

rajasamunu gonnallu

Baaguga nama kirtanamulu seyute

bhagyamanaka gonnallu…..

Sri Ramuni tatvamu deliyagane gonnallu

Poddu poyyeni manasa

O mind! Time will run away very fast!

Some time is spent is sleep and in enjoying pleasures.

Some time is spent in facing the three kinds of taapaas and in praising people, soon as we wake up in the morning.

Some time is spent is working like the farm bullock, eating anywhere, and lying down without awareness of the surroundings.

Some time is spent immersed in this samsara, which is like the ocean, which appears beautiful.

Some time is spent is exchanging pleasant nonsense with people who do not know anything.

Some time is spent in boasting about one’s house, wealth, children,etc.

Some time is spent in sorrow, when these things go away.

Some time is spent in sheer jealousy, watching  the prosperity of others.

Some time is spent in just bafflement, when one gets old, not knowing what lies ahead.

Some time is spent in getting busy with performance of yajnas and such other rituals.

Some time is spent in the aftermath of rajoguna developed out of the desire for such rituals, and the attendant stinginess, etc.

Some time is spent without knowing the good fortune caused by engaging in singing the kirtan of Bhagavan’s names.

Some time is spent without knowing the truth behind Rama.

O mind, Time will pass away like this!

How well Tyagaraja Swami has captured the life of an average householder! He only means that we are engaged in earning and spending, caring for the body and will get baffled when old age comes, without awareness of God! About the same time as Tyagaraja, the great English poet Wordsworth wrote:

The world is too much with us; Late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;-

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.

Life like a dolls’ house

Dhana tanaya kalatraadulu

tamadani bhddheeyani …

Mommarindlu gaani nera

nammmuku  bhavamunu yanu

Nemmadi leni janana maranammula

dolaginche ninu…………. (Nammakane)

You remove the idea that wealth, children, women are mine.

You warn me that this samsara is like a dolls’ house and so don’t rely on it!

You cause the removal of birth and death.

Tyagaraja implies here that the phenomenon of birth and death is at the centre of the problem of samsara, and that is removed only by resorting to divine grace.
Jnana vairagya heenamulu heenamai natti
bhava kananamuna tirgu manavulu

People  are wandering in the forest of samsara which is devoid of jnana and vairagya.

This is a serious point. The world does not display the general characteristics of Wisdom and Discrimination. Just look around. So many foods are known to be unhealthy, but people do not avoid it. Smoking and drinking are scientifically proven to be bad, but even doctors indulge in them! So  much corruption is there in govt and even educational institutions! It is said that more than 50% of Indian engineering graduates are unemployable! Teaches cannot teach, students cannot read and write, temple priests cannot say the mantras properly. Who can say society is ruled by wisdom and discrimination! But it is always for individuals to adopt these virtues and save themselves. Tyagaraja goes on to say,what if people are like this if they believe in Rama! This echoes the sentiment of the Gita.(9.30)

Drishtiki saram bagulalana
sadanarbhaga senamita dhanadulanu

Women, house, children, servants , extensive wealth- all this is sweet only in appearance.

Life as a Forest

Samsara kanana     (Rara nanneluko)
The forest that is samsara

Bhavasagaramunu needaleka bhayamuna 
                                              (Nee daya galgude)

People get frightened unable to swim the ocean of samsara.

Bhavaroga            (Paahi parama dayalo)
The disease that is samsara
Ennarani deha letti
Ee samsaraa gahana mandu
barulanu veginchunu 
Ennallu tirigedi                    (Ennallu tirigedi)

Taking countless janmas, in this samsara that is like a forest, driving away other people as if they were thieves- how long to roam about like this?

It is not clear  whether this kriti has any personal reference.  Tyagaraja is complaining here of the difficulty in obtaining everything from salt to camphor by begging-through Unchavritti, and the things he has to do to please others, about the food on the morrow, the inability to concentrate on Puja in such circumstances,etc. Tyagaraja lived up to 80 and lived by Unchavritti. We know he did not live in comfort. This kriti is very moving. And it illustrates the other side- not only is excess wealth a bane of samsara, poverty is,too!  There is no glorification of poverty in Tyagaraja- but only a sense of renunciation. 

Arunagirinatha is emphatic on how bad poverty is for spiritual life. In Kandaranubhuti (19), he sings that one loses good appearance, mental poise, good qualities, the traditions of one’s family and lineage- all due to onset of poverty.

வடிவும் தனமும் மனமும் குணமும்

குடியும் குலமும் குடிபோகியவா

அடி அந்தமிலா அயில்வேலரசே

மிடியென்றொரு பாவி வெளிப்படினே.

 What is necessary for spiritual life for normal people is simplicity and voluntary restraint, not stark poverty ( though there are some people who extol poverty.)

Emi karanamu…..
Bhavarogulanu brochutaka

How did you take this Avatara? What is the reason for it? Is it to save people from the disease of samsara?

Bhava kananamuna jarinche balugaasi   (Evaraina)

People suffer in this samsara that is like a forest.

Saaraheena samsaram        (Rama ninnu)
This samsara that is without substance

Bhavarogamu       (Etulaina)
The disease that is samsara

Bhavapaasa          (Eevaraku)
The bondage that is samsara

Mitimeraleni prakrutilona dalikine   (O Rajivaksha)
Getting caught in this samsara which seems to be shoreless.

Taara tanayula udara
Pooranamu seyu koraku
Dooradesamulanu sancharamujesi
Saaraminnainaleka vesaari
Eesamsara paaraavaaramandu galugu
Bhalamidaariyani telisi           (Ninnenera)

For the sake of supporting wife and children, they wander in distant countries. But they do not reap much benefit. They get tired. Thus they get immersed in this ocean of samsara. I have understood what  is the end result of all this.

 It is the order now for every youngster to aspire to go and work abroad. They do earn well, when converted to rupee terms but most Indians are not paid equal to local people anywhere in the world. And they manage to save only by  frugal living- ie by not adopting the living standards of the locals . I am not aware whether  any sociologist has seen through this phenomenon and studied its long-term effects. Right now, it is the trend, and Tyagaraja wrote  more than a hundred and fifty  years ago. 

Bhavavaranamruga      (dayajuchuda)
Samsara that is like an elephant ( in masth)
Paraloka bhayamu lekane
Bhavapaasa baddhulaiyeru 
Lacking any fear of the afterlife, people will get entangled by the bonds of samsara.

Karivarija srfingaaraaraama
sibigadulella manage kalgenani

They get entangled, boasting that  they are happy about owning elephants, horses, fancy parks and gardens,palanquins,etc

Konna kanthalanu kona biddalanu
Vannne cheeralanu vaana gudiselenu
Tinnaka gani daivalokamani

Tannu kollalo Tyagarajanuta

They look happily at the women they have got for a price; at the children who are crooked (uncontrollable); at many-coloured dresses, constructed houses- they think they are in a divine land and thus get caught in the net of (their own) mental distraction and  further entangled in samsara.

This is a tremendous piece of prescience. For the last two hundred years, this is what modern civilisation has been doing all over the world: it has projected an artificial atmosphere of our own creation as the reality and every true value has been distorted or discounted or dismissed out of reckoning.. People have become increasingly disconnected from any sense of intrinsic value beyond the market place. We have all become more and more worldly. There is lot of serious writing on this by very thoughtful people. But even poets of the Romantic school warned us about this phenomenon. Even if direct reference to God and religion is left out, the resulting damage to Nature itself is considered irreversible. People live not only as if there is no Paralokam, but they consume as if there is no tomorrow. And at the current rate , there may not be many!  

The world is not only too much with us. We do not even know what to make of it! 

This is where the Sadguru is bringing us to our senses.

-to be continued…………………………………………

tag- Sri Tyagaraja-30

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