SRI TYAGARAJA-33, Tyagaraja Reveals a Secret (Post No.8156)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8156

Date uploaded in London – – – 12 June 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-33,         Tyagaraja Reveals a Secret

Is Tyagaraja pessimistic? He lived at a time (1767-1847) when Indian social life and religious traditions were beginning to fall  apart. European powers were controlling various pockets and competing among themselves, finally resulting in the triumph of the British.Nominal Mughal rule ended in Delhi, many native rulers were subjugated by the British.They were confined to the forts with a pension, while the British collected the revenue and controlled the affairs.  The South was divided among the remnants of Vijaynagar, Mahratta and Mysore kingdoms, with pockets of Muslim domination. Social life was in a flux, religious life in decline, political rule was unstable and economic life miserable for large  segments of people, and uncertain on the whole.

Even among such circumstances, Tanjore offered a ray of hope. Remarkable saintly personalities had risen there and shown people how to lead a life of devotion, even when they were not able to follow the traditional Hindu way. Everything was not lost, as yet.

Tyagaraja’s maternal grandfather was a man of some religious merit and literary accomplishments due to which he was well regarded in Tanjore court circles. Tyagaraja might have had exposure to the atmosphere of religious and literary activities there- he could observe both the bright and the darker sides, as reflected in his kritis. Tyagaraja’s kritis contain his observations on life and society as prevailing then. If one does not get a uniformly good picture, it is not because Tyagaraja was pessimistic, but society was such. Tyagaraja did not write a treatise on society, but his observations come incidentally in his exposition of the Bhakti path, using the medium of music for which he had a natural gift.

Far from being a pessimist, Tyagaraja celebrates the very fact of human birth!

Manava tanuvu durlabha manusu nenchi

paramananda monda                 ( dudukugala)

One should feel supremely happy that one obtained the rare human birth.

It is only through the human birth that it is possible to transcend the cycle of birth and death. Hence it represents an extremely rare opportunity to obtain the imperishable, immortal state using this mortal frame! It is only when people forget this and look upon the body as an instrument of worldly pleasure that they  get subject to worldly afflictions. Those who look upon the body as an instrument of dharma- sarira madhyam khalu dharma sadhanam- can take up the path of bhakti and derive ananda!

Santa janula kolla sammati yunte gaani

Inta kannananda memi O Rama Rama!

O Rama! If the mind gets immersed in the company of those devotees who are engaged in singing God’s names and praises, can there be greater happiness?

Geethathamu sangitanandamu 

Nee tavuna judara O manasa

O mind! Enjoy the meaning of the Gita and the pleasure of good sangita within yourself!

What he means is that happiness cannot be obtained from external sources but from a mind at peace. The mind will be at peace if one thinks of God in the heart. This is what Hanuman did and it is Hanuman’s example that Tyagaraja gives here. Hanuman is the greatest devotee of Rama.

Haridasulu vedale muchchata koni

Haridasulu vedale muchchata koni

Anandamaye dayalo

O the generous one! The sight of the devotees of God coming out on the street ( singing God’s names with sweet music) gives such great pleasure!

Modakara sarira metti

mukti margamu teliyani

vada tarkamela

Bhajana seyava manasa            (Bhajanaseyave)

 Oh mind! Having got this  human body which enables you to attain happiness, learn to seek the way for liberation. 

Why engage in arguments and counter-arguments which block such knowledge? Engage in bhajana of Rama.

So, Tyagaraja is quite appreciative of the fortune of having a human body, the possibility of attaining liberation through it and is also aware of the means- viz devotion to God. This also confers Ananda-delight. Indeed, our Sages have held that happiness or ananda is quite natural; it is not wrong for man to seek it, but his mistake is that he is seeking it in the wrong places! 

Tyagaraja shows us the right place and path.

It is true the world is full of problems and troubles. But why should we worry if we have devotion?

Samsarulaite nemayya siki

pincha vatamsu deduta nundaka

If people have always before their minds’ eye Krishna with the beautiful peacock feather in his crown, what if they are samsaris?

Himsadulella rosi hamsadula goodi

prasamsa jeyuchune proddu

kamsarini nammuvaru       …..samsaurlaite

Giving up  himsa completely, keeping company with holy people, engaged in singing/reciting the praises of the Lord, always having faith in Krishna who disposed of Kamsa-  what if they are samsaris?

Jnana vairagyamulu heenamai natti

bhava kananamuna dirgu manavulu sada

dhyanayoga yutulai nee namamu balguchu

nana karma phalamu daanamuseyuvaru…..samsaru

People who wander in the forest of samsara that is without substance-lacking in jnana and vairagya,if they take the path of dhyana, engage in nama sankirtan, and dedicate the fruits of their work to Bhagavan- what if they are samsaris?

Krurapu yochnala dooruchesi
tana daara putrula baricharakula jesi
saararoopuni padasaara yugalamula
saarasaareku manasaara bujinchuvaaru… samsara

Removing all cruel ideas from their mind, engaging their wives and children too in the service of the Lord, to engage heartily in always worshipping the lotus feet of the Lord, which are the essence of everything- what if such people are samsaris?

Bhagavadula goodi bhogamulella
Harike gaavimpuchunu veenagaanamulato
Aagamacharuni Sriragamuna baaduchu
Tyagarajanutuni baaguga nammuvaru….Samsaru

Gathering the company of fellow devotees, offering all the pleasures they have obtained to the Lord, engaged in praising the Lord in the  Sriraga to the accompaniment of sweet music of veena, placing full faith in the Lord worshipped by Tyagaraja- what if such people are samsaris?

Sri Tyagaraja is fantastic. Here he is giving us the essence of Gita’s teaching on devotion including the one in 9.30: even if a wicked person decides to worship God with undivided devotion, he should be regarded as good! He does turn righteous soon! And samsaris are not all or necessarily wicked- they may just not know the way- till they adopt devotion! Yes, life is full of distractions, diversions and troubles- but there is Bhagavan to look after us, if we turn to Him. We must have such faith to be saved.

For this we need association with saintly people. God should bless us with good buddhi..

Enduku peddala vale bhuddheeyavu
Endu podunayya Ramayya

O Rama! Why have you not blessed me with the kind of wisdom you have given to great holy people?

Vedasastra tatvaarthamulu delisi
Bhedarahita Vedantamulu delisi
Nada vidya marmambulau delisi
Natha Tyagarajanuta nijamuka……enduku

Though I have learnt the inner meaning of Veda sastras, I have understood the Vedanta , beyond all the differences, I have known the secrets of Nada upasana- still Lord, why have you not blessed me with the kind of wisdom that great men have?

Here Tyagaraja makes it clear that whatever one may have learned, the saving wisdom comes from God, as a blessing! This links us directly with Gita,10.10&11:

Teshaam satata yuktaanaam

Bhajataam preeti purvakam
Dadaami buddhi yogam tam

Yena Mam upayayanti te

To them, ever steadfast and serving Me with affection,I  GIVE THAT BUDDHI YOGA by which they come to Me.


Ahamajnanajam tama:
Naasayaam atma bhavasto
Jnanadeepena bhasvata

Out of mere compassion for them, abiding in their hearts, I destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the luminous lamp of knowledge.

If such is the case, why should one worry?

Maakelara vicharamu
maruganna Sri Ramachandra 

What worry do I have? O Ramachandra, the father of Manmatha!

Jada goorchi naataka sutramunu
jagamella mechchaga karamuna nidi
gati tappakaadinchevu summee

You are keeping in your hands the strings connecting all the people as in a drama show with dolls,  making them  dance without faltering , drawing praise all round. What worry do I have ( when I understand you are there, behind everything?)

In fact there is another entity who is really worried!

Chintistunnade Yamudu

Santatamu sujanulella 

Sad bhajana jeyuda joochi

Lord Yama is immersed in thought, worried.

All the good people in the world are engaged in bhajan of the Lord. So Yama is thinking, worried.

Soolapaasa dharabhata
jaalamula joochi mari mee
kolahalamu ludige
kaalamaayene yanuchu  chintistunnade

Addressing his messengers, with the sula and pasa string, he says: “the time has come for your celebrations to stop”, and is immersed in worried thoughts.

Vaaridhi soshimpa jeyu
krura kumbhajuni reeti
Ghora narakadu lanase
Taraka namamunu dalachi….chintis

Just as Sage Agastya drank up the oceans, people have taken to Tarakanama which will destroy all the terrible hells. So Yama has become worried and thoughtful

Daari teliyaleka tirige-
vaaralaina chalunante
Saaramani Tyagaraju
Sankirtanamu baaderanuchu ….chintistunnade

If it is thought that it is enough for Yamaloka to have those people who are wandering without knowing the proper way, they too are singing the meritorious Kirtans composed by Tyagaraja! So Yama is worried!

This is a splendid, magnificent , glorious crown to the fantastic kirtans of Sri Tyagaraja. This is one of the rare moments when Tyagaraja has revealed a supreme secret without any self-consciousness.That his Kirtanas- Saaramani Sankirtanamu: the sankirtans  which contain the essence!- can keep Yama away and thus ward of the fear of the people! As we saw in an earlier posting, Tyagaraja claimed no credit for his kirtanas. He said that they were taught to him by Sri Rama Himself. And in that context, he stated that they confer the prosperity of this world and also Liberation:

“Bhukti mukti kalgu nani kirtanamula 
bodhinchina….Dasarati nee runamu deerpa
na tarama                     (Dasarti-Todi)

O son of Dasarata! Is it possible for me to repay my debt to you, who taught me (bodinchina) the excellent kirtanas (nani kirtanamu) which give both worldly prosperity (bhukti) and Liberation (Mukti)?

Tyagaraja stated there the reason why Rama gave these kirtanas to Tyagaraja:

Bhaktileni kavijaala varenyulu
bhaava merugaloni kalalojani

Thinking that the poets, who merely excel in composing poetry (kavi jaala varenyulu) do not know the inner meaning or true import (bhaavamerugaloni) because they lack bhakti (bhaktileni)

See how carefully Tyagaraja is using his words. He is not indulging in superlatives or hyperbole. He says plainly that Rama taught him the kirtanas, that they give us bhukti and mukti. When they can give mukti, does it not mean  that they can ward of the fear of Yama?

Such is the benefit Sadguru Sri Tyagaraja Swami has conferred on us, totally undeserving people. We now see why he is Sadguru. 

Nee Nama Rupamulaku nitya jaya Mangalam.

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