SRI TYAGARAJA- 18, Control of Mind (Post No.8053)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8053

Date uploaded in London – – – 27 May 2020   

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SRI TYAGARAJA- 18,  Control of Mind

Sadhana involves all faculties

Sadhana in religious life involves the three faculties of man: body, speech (vak), and mind. There are many explanations, details, diverse paths but ultimately they all come to just these three. The rationale is very simple, though obscured by too much theory or philosophy: man performs karma  only through these faculties, and karmas usually result in punya or papa (religious merit or demrit); and hence these faculties should also be employed in seeking the remedy. Puja, japa and dhyana- these are done respectively by body, speech and mind.

As Sri Ramana Maharshi explained:

திடமிது பூசை  செபமுந் தியானம்
உடல்வாக்குளத்தொழில் உந்தீபற
உயர்வாகுமொன்றிலொன் றுந்தீபற

This is certain: worship, incantations and meditation are performed respectively with the body, the voice and the mind and are in this ascending order of value.
-Translation by Arthur Osborne

 All these amount to action, though most people regard only bodily action as action.(See Note below) 

Mind is the central faculty in man. Vak or speech arises first in mind, which also provides the blueprint for bodily action. Mindless action or speech is only done by an absolute idiot or mad person. Complete correspondence among thought, speech and action is the mark of virtue. The Veda declares:

Vang me manasi pratisthita

Mano me vachi pratisthitam….

Rtam vadishyami, Satyam vadishyami

May my speech be well established in my mind. May my mind be well established in my speech. I will speak the Rta (right). I will speak the truth (Satya).

Control of mind V.strengthening the mind

Control of mind is the highest discipline in all paths. All the diverse sadhanas ultimately involve control of mind, called by various names like mano nasa, mano laya, mano nigraha, etc. However, the different paths engage the mind in different ways, and do not always or invariably result in stilling the mind or controlling the thoughts. Modern psychological methods seek to ‘strengthen’ the mind, whatever it may mean. Many yogic practices also lead to strengthening the mind, resulting in development of unusual and usually undesirable and unspiritual powers, even though the classic definition by the greatest authority viz Patanjali means by yoga “chitta vritti nirodha” ie control of the modifications of the mind. Many forms of meditation too involve making the mind strong ie powerful; it may achieve temporary stillness but the mind asserts itself in the end.

As explained in the Katha Upanishad, the mind and other faculties of man are outward-oriented, ie they are naturally attuned to the external world. What happens in the case of “strengthening” the mind as prescribed by psychologists or practised  by  popular yogis is to incline the mind even more towards the external world. This surely is not the intention of real Yoga.

Only Two Ways

If we observe ourselves carefully, we will realise how fast our mind works and how thoughts succeed one  another, with lightning speed, even when our body is still. We traverse the whole universe in no time, sitting in an arm chair. On the contrary, when we circumambulate a holy place or undertake a pilgrimage on padayatra, the mind achieves stillness, even while the body is in motion!  Many thoughts are replaced by one thought, like an elephant is given a piece of wood to play with its trunk, which otherwise will not be still.

Traditionally, our religion prescribes many sadhanas for controlling the mind.  But in the modern day, only two authorities have made things clear, and simple. Sri Ramakrishna prescribed complete surrender to God as the way to kill the mind. Sri Ramana asked us to question the mind! The mind is a bundle of thoughts. If we ask to whom the thoughts occur, we will see they come to ‘us’. But who are we? This enquiry ( to be sharply distinguished from what is usually called ‘meditation’) will lead us to the source whence thoughts arise (as against the usual practice of trying to battle the thoughts to still them!) 

In both cases, the mind is the instrument of the ego, and when the ego is surrendered or its source questioned, the mind is annihilated, not just stilled. This is the essence of spiritual practice, as against ritual observances or psychological postures of the modern day.

Tyagaraja-practical teacher

Sri Tyagaraja is a practical teacher, and is not interested in developing theories.  All the mantras, tantras and other religious practices are prescribed only for controlling the mind, but what do they achieve if they fail in this?

Manasu Swadeenam

Manasu swadheenamaina aaghanuniki

mari mantra tantramu lela

Tanuvu taanu gadani yenchuvaniki

tapasu cheyanala Dasaratha bala

Anni nivanuchu yenchina vaniki

Asrama bhedamu lela

Kannu gattu mayalani yenchuvaniki

kanthala bhrama lela Dasaratha bala

Aajanmamu durvishaya rahituniki

gataa gata mika yela

Raja Rajesha Niranjana nirupama

Rajavadana Tyagaraja vinuta

For the adept (Jnani) who has controlled his mind, what is the need for mantra and tantra? ( The implication is that these are needed only for controlling the mind.)

O son of Dasaratha!

When one has realised that he is not the body ( ie given up the dehatma-buddhi), what is the necessity of undertaking Tapas?

When one realises that You are everything (in the universe ie Vasudeva sarvam iti, as the Gita says), where is the need for different ashramas (like Sanyasa, vanaprasta, etc)?

When one has understood that this world is the maya which blinds one’s (true) vision, how can he get attracted by women ( and wealth,etc)? 

When one has avoided any form of bad thoughts since birth, why should he indulge in thoughts about the past or the future?

O the king of kings! O the one without blemish! O the one without peer! O the one with the pleasant  countenance! O the one worshipped by Tyagaraja!

This is an important kriti which all earnest seekers should learn by heart, because it gives the essence of all spiritual sadhanas! It gives the secret of both what is to be achieved and how to achieve it! One has to control the mind; one has to give up the dehatma buddhi; one has to realise that God has become the whole universe; one has to realise that the world is unreal (ie impermanent); one has to avoid all bad thoughts. As we practice these, they become stabilised and become our achievements. This is the result of all mantra, tantra, tapas, ashrama regulations, etc. (If they do not lead to this, they are useless).

The repeated reference to Rama as Dasaratha bala has a tinge of sad irony. Dasaratha lost control of himself due to his infatuation for his young queen! But Rama is Niranjana ie without any blemish! (black spot) We have to worship him!

Sadly, our performing musicians do not sing this kriti often, nor do they render all the charanas!

Manasu Nilpa Shakti

Manasu nilpa sakti leka pote

madhura ghanta virula puja emi jeyunu

Ghana durmadudai ta munigite

Kaveri Mandakini yetu brochunu

Somidamma sogasu gandra gorite

Somayaji swargarhudauno

Kamakrodhudu tapam bonarchite

ghachi rakshinchuno Tyagarajanuta

If one cannot control the mind, what is the use of (performing ) puja with the ringing of bells ( and such ostentation)?

If one plunges in the water with thick ego ( or other bad qualities),how can Cauvery and Ganga save him?

If the wife of the Somayaji desires to seek pleasure with some one else, will the Somayaji become eligible for heaven?

If one full of kama and krodha performs tapas, will that tapas save him? Tell me, O Rama, worshipped by this Tyagaraja!

This is a hard-hitting kriti, exposing the hypocrisy  prevalent in  religious circles. Cultivation of moral and ethical virtues and standards (yama and niyama) is the first requisite for sincere religious practice in all true paths. Without them, mere rituals will not yield any results. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that while one goes to the Ganges for a ceremonial bath, his sins ascend the nearby tree and wait; and while he returns, they again seize him! Purity of mind, cultivation of virtues is the prime necessity. Tiruvalluvar says in the Kural:

Purat tooimai neeral amaiyum ahat tooimai

Vaaimaiyal kaanap padum.

புறந்தூய்மை  நீரால் அமையும் அகந்தூய்மை

வாய்மையால் காணப் படும். 298

External cleanliness is obtained by a bath with water; but inner purity is seen by correspondence between one’s word and  action.

Giving up kama and krodha is pre-requisite for even taking up tapas. Kama esha: krodha esha:, declares the Gita. The life of Visvamitra fully illustrates the fall due to kama and krodha.

Manasu Vishayam

How to control the mind? Only by resorting to the Lord’s feet.

Manasu vishaya natavitula kosagite

Ma Ramuni krupa galguno manasa

Tanatalu pokarintiki teesi petti

Taa gukkalu tolu reeti gado

Tavitiki rangada boyi kooti

tapila kothi kompoyinadu gado

chevitiki upadechinchinatu gado

Sri Tyagarajanutuni dalanchaka

O my mind! Tell me, if one does not meditate on the Murti worshipped by Tyagaraja, but hands over his mind to the evil forces represented by the five senses, can he obtain that Rama’s grace?

Is it not like removing the door of one’s house and handing it over to 

somebody else, and then trying to chase away the dogs (that try to enter his house)?

Is it not like the case of a woman who resorts to immoral conduct for the sake of powdered rice husk, whose rice-pot is carried away by the monkey?

Is it not like blowing the conch shell in the ears of a deaf fellow?

So control of mind is the requisite for all spiritual endeavours, and is also the result of all such endeavours!


It is the controlled mind which can perceive the spiritual truths!

Gitarthamu sangitanandamu 

Nee tavuna judara o manasa

Sitapati charanabjamu lidukonna

Vatatmajuniki baaga telusura

Harihara bhaskara kaaladi karmamu

lanu matamula marmamula neringina

harivara roopudu hari haya vinutudu

vara Tyagaraja varadudu sugira

O mind! Realise the meaning of  Bhagavad Gita and the bliss of sangita in your own place! (In the mind itself!)

Hanuman, who always bears the feet of Sitapati in his heart knows this fact well.

The great leader of the monkeys knows well the secret of the five forms of authority viz Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Time ( kala) and karma, and also the secrets of the religions. He is venerated by Indra and is always immersed in bliss.

Here, Tyagaraja enumerates the greatness of Hanuman, but even he is always having Rama’s lotus feet in his heart. So he has realised the meaning of Gita and Sangitananda in his own heart. Thinking of the Lord is the way to purify the mind, and all religious truths will be revealed to one of such pure mind/heart.

Purity of mind is obtained by worshipping the Lord, with true devotion.He gives it as a blessing.

Neeke dayarake

Neeke dayaraka ne jeyu panulella

neraveruna Rama

Ekopinchaka nenu neevanu jnani

kelaagu sukha michune O Raghava

Manasu nilvanivaaru mayajalamu jesi

mari mukti konanau ne

Rama! If you do not show mercy to this Tyagaraja, will the actions undertaken by me bear fruit?

Without having ananya bhakti for you, if a jnani thinks , ” I am different, You are different”, how can he attain sukham, O Raghava?

Can one unable to control the mind ( fix it in one place) attain Liberation through some magic ( maya jaalam)?

Control of mind gives one calmness and this in turn leads to saukyam, ie real welfare. No amount of learning is of use unless such shanti of mind is attained through its control.

Shantamu leka, saukyamu ledu

Taantunikaina Vedantunikaina

Shantamu leka saukhyamu ledu.

Whether one has subjected the indriyas, or mastered Vedanta, one cannot get sukham without getting a peaceful mind.

Daara sutulu dhana dhanyamu lundina

Saareku japatapa sampada galgina

Yagadi karmamu lanniyu jesina

baguga sakala hrda bhavamu delisina

Agama sastramu lanniyu jadivina

bhagavatulanuchu baguga beraina…

Shantamu leka saukhyamu ledu.

Even if one has wealth in the form of wife and children,

even if one has the fortune to be always engaged in japa, tapas, etc,

even if one performs yajnas and and all such rituals,

even if one can read the minds of all others,

even if one has fully learned all the Veda sastras,

even if one has earned a name as a Bhagavata,

if one does not have that quiet mind called upasantam, one cannot attain real welfare (happiness)

What happens when one is able to control the mind?

Maanasa vanachara vara sancharamu nilipi
Murti baguga podaganeva
rendaro mahanubhavulu ……….Endaro mahanubhavulu

Those who can stop the antics of the monkey that is mind, and can perceive the form of the Lord-  they are the great souls.

Saraguna padamulaku swanatamanu
sarojamunu samarpanamu seyuva
rendaro mahanubhavulu

Those who can  unreservedly offer the lotus of their heart at your Feet- they are the great souls. 

Purity of mind-heart is the highest virtue that Tyagaraja insists upon in the devotee. If he mentions any virtue of his own, even by inadvertence, it is that he is of a pure heart/mind as in vimala hrudaya Tayagaraja palam in Nadatanum,  sumati Tyagaraja in Nidhichala, etc. He has numerous references to this one virtue in his kritis; I have just indicated a few according to my limited capacity. But we learn one sure thing: Control of mind is both sadhana and the result of all sadhanas, made possible only by  Divine Grace.

Manu is our authority on this matter. He says:

Adattanam upadaanam himsa chaivavidhanata:

Paradaropaseva cha shariramtrividam smrutam.
Appropriating wealth without offering, slaughter without sanction, adultery- these are bodily sins.
Paarushyamanrutam chaiva paishunyam chapi sarvasa:

Asambaddha pralapascha vangmayam syachchaturvidam.                      Manu.XII.6
Harsh speech, telling a lie, backbiting, and idle and irrelevant talk- these are the four types of vocal sins.
Paradravyeshvabhidhyanam manasanishtachintanam

Vitathaabhiniveshascha trividam karma maanasam.
Thoughts about appropriating another’s property, thought of injuring another, identification of self with the body- adopting the false ‘dehatmabuddhi’- these are  the three types of mental sins.
As if to address these exactly, the Gita prescribes:

Devadvijaguruprajna pujanam
Shaucham arjavam
Brahmacharyam ahimsa cha
Shariram tapa uchyate.                    XVII.14

Worship of Gods, Brahmanas, the preceptor and jnanis; purity observed in respect of person, conduct and wealth; straightforwardness, continence and harmlessness- these are called the penance of the body.

Anudvegakaram vakyam

Satyam priya hitam cha yat
Swadhyayabhyasanam chaiva
Vangmayam tapa uchyate                XVII.15

Speech which causes no offence, is truthful and pleasant; wholesome study and contemplation  of Veda, japa of the Divine names- these are called the penance of speech.

Mana: prasada: saumyatvam
Maunam atmavinigraha:
Bhava samshuddhi: ityetat
Tapo manasamuchyate.                  XVII.16

Cheerfulness of mind, gentleness, habit of constant meditation on God, control of mind and purity of heart- these are called penances of the mind.

Please see the excellent book ‘The Secrets of Gita’ by Sri Jayadayal Goyandka (Gita Press, Gorakhpur) for details.

To be continued……

tag – Sri Tyagaraja- 18