Dhyanam is Ganga Snanam : SRI TYAGARAJA-17 (Post No.8046)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8046

Date uploaded in London – – – 26 May 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA-17-          Devotion to Universal Mother 

Smarta Tyagaraja

Sri Tyagaraja is generally taken to be a devotee of Rama. That indeed he is. However, not many are aware that though his Ishtadevata was Sri Ramachandra, he was essentially a  Smarta who venerated all forms of God. He had no Shiva-Vishnu bhedam. People know that he sang the general  Pancharatna kirtanas, which are usually rendered together (only) during his Aradhana. But he also sang other Pancharatna kirtanas at some Kshetras. While the ones on Sri Rangam are on Vishnu, his kirtanas on Tiruvotriyur, Kovur and Lalgudi are on Lord Shiva/ Ambal. He also sang 12 kritis on Tiruvaiyaru, 4 of which are on Lord Shiva and 8 on Dharmasamvardhini. He also sang two kritis on Nilayatakshi of Nagapatnam. He sang one on Ambal  and one on Subrahmanya at Brahmapuram  (Sirkazhi). 

Dhyanam is Ganga Snanam

Sri Tyagaraja was of the firm view that Rama dhyana was equal to Ganga snana and did not believe in pilgrimages, (supada dhyanamu sura   Ganga snanamu ra Raghunatha- Paripalaya ;  Rama dhyaname varamaina Ganga snaname- Dhyaname). That he visited a few kshetras is remarkable and that he  sang of the Deities there shows his universal spirit, in the line of a true Smarta.


Plea to Mother to save 

There is a small, but extremely sweet kriti in the rare Raga Sindhukannada or Kesari as follows:

Nannu kanna thalli

Nannu kanna talli naabhagyama

Narayani Dharmambike

Kanakangi ramapati sodhari

karuninchave Katyayani

Kavu kavu mani ne mora bettagaa

gharakadhemi madhi kamalalochani

Neevu brovakunte yevaru broturu

sadavaram bosagu Tyagarajanute

O my mother! O my great fortune!

O Narayani! O Dharmambike!

O of the golden hue! Sister of Vishnu!

O Katyayani! Please show mercy on me!

When I repeatedly beseech you to save me, if you do not save me, who else can come to save me?

O the one who always grants boons, please save this Tyagaraja!.

This is a simple, straight prayer to Mother to save him.

What does Tyagaraja want to be saved from? What are the boons he desires? He makes it clear in another kriti in the Raga Desiya Todi.

Innalla vale

Innalla vale vindaseyaka nivada

nipudaiti Dharmambike

Anyula neranammutavalla phalamu le

damma O Dharmambike O Janani

Ennarani jenanamuletta na tarama

Vaddanarada Dharmambike

manasuna vishayadulu antaneeka nannu

manninchu Dharmambike O Janani

Kamadi gunamula cheta gasi leka

karuninchu Dharmambike

Neemayala cheta dagi limpake O

nirupama Dharmambike O Janani

Malayajagandhi sandadiyani manasuna

maravake Dharmambike O Janani

Giluku sommulatonu sisuvuku baalu 

taginchina Dharmambike O Janani

Padamulaku nenu balumaru mrokkiti

pavani Dharmambike

Peda saadhala baghyamu ni vanuchu

yenchiti Dharmambike O Janani

O Dharmambike! O Universal Mother! Please do not treat me like a stranger, as you have done so far. I have become one of your own from now on. Mother, there is no use depending on others.

Is it possible for me to take countless births? Can you not order them to be stopped? Please bless me so that my mind will not run after sense pleasures.

Please grant me the boon that I will not be seized by kama and other bad gunas. Please do not entice me with your Maya.O peerless Dharmambike!

O the one endowed with the aroma of sandalwood!

Please do not forget me thinking that I am making (vain, useless) noise. O Dharmambike! Did you not come with all your tinkling jewels and feed the child with milk?

I have prostrated at your feet repeatedly. O the immaculate Dharmambike! I have always thought that you are the fortune of those devout souls who do not know much about upasanas/sadhana. 

This kriti Tyagaraja sang at Sirkazhi ( Brahmapuram) made famous by Tirujnanasambandha. Naturally, he sings of the incident of Parvati feeding milk to   Jnanasambandha, then child of three who started singing hymns in praise of the Lord from that day on!. The only kriti of Tyagaraja on Subrahmanya available today is again sung at Brahmapuram, the birthplace of Jnanasambandha who is regarded as an Avatara of Subrahmanya!

Grace alone matters

Here Tyagaraja gives ample hints that we can never deserve divine blessings by any amount of upasana or sadhana and that we simply have to depend upon divine grace! Mother is the form of that grace, that power of the Trimurtis! That is why, even when he talks about the Trimurtis, as when he wonders about the form of Rama, he recalls the Srirupam:

Etavunara nilukada neeku

Enchi chuda naga padavu

Sita Gauri Vagisvariyanu

Sri rupamulanda  Govinda

Where is your place? If I think, you are not traceable anywhere! O Govinda!

Are you in the form of Sita (Lakshmi), Parvati, Sarasvati?

The power of grace is so strong that we celebrate it for nine nights, twice a year  ( in Vasanta and Sharad ritus ) even when Mahadeva has only one night dedicated to him!

The Navaratri kritis of Swati Triunal and the Navavarana kritis of Dikshitar are popular and regularly sung during the Navaratri season; the kritis of Shyama Sastri on Ambal are also famous.

 But Tyagaraja kritis on Goddess are rarely sung, on this or any other occasion. He has given us many kritis on Ambal and  they combine the allusion to various legendary incidents like in  Dikshitar kritis, along with a devout , pleading spirit like that observed in the kritis of Shyama Sastri.

 It will be a good sadhana to at least read and study them during this blessed season.Those musically talented can definitely select nine gems out of these Kritis and make a  Nava kirtana mala of Sri Tyagaraja!  May Universal Mother bless all devotees! 

tag – Sri Tyagaraja-17

To be cotntinued……………………………..