Tuesday, August 15, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 4

The eulogy of brahma and other Gods

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 3

Link to Telugu page

10.1-88.

On that occasion, nArada and other sages along with their followers accompanied by the four-faced brahma and three-eyed Siva deigned to the place where dEvaki was confined and eulogized the best among purushas who was in her womb thus...

10.1-89.

Oh Lord, You have the vow of upholding Truth; You are the very basis for attaining eternity; You are the Eternal Who exists in the past, present and future; You are the source of the five elements; You are the One existing after the five elements are withdrawn; You always speak the Truth and look after all equally; we seek refuge in Thee. Overtaken by the mAya that is under Your control, those bereft of wisdom describe Thee variously; however the wise having attained a higher level of consciousness and concentration proclaim that You permeate the entire creation.

10.1-90.

Not only that...

10.1-91.

Prakrthi, Nature is the Tree; 
pleasure and pain are its twin fruits, 
the three attributes satwa, rajas and tamas are its roots; 
dharma, the four purushArthAs - dharma, artha, kAma and mOkshA are its four tastes; 
it is perceived through the five elements; 
its six bends are the six attributes - desire, thirst, sadness, illusion, birth and death; 
the seven-fold essences skin, flesh, blood, brain, skeleton etc. are its seven layers; 
the five elements, mind, intellect and ego are its eight branches; 
the nine holes of the body eyes, ears, mouth etc. are the holes on the tree; 
the ten prANAs  or life forces in human body are the leaves;
On this Tree, the twin birds are the individual (jIva) and the Lord (ISwara).
You alone are the Lord responsible for creation, sustenance and dissolution of this tree of samsAra.

10.1-92.

The aware ones concentrate their mind only on You and don't get distracted into other ways and thereby using Your feet as the boat they cross the ocean of samsArA as easily as the calf takes a small step.

10.1-93.

In order to ensure safety and protection of the world You take any number of births and while You ensure auspiciousness on the good people, You punish the evil ones.

10.1-94.

O lotus-eyed One! Some people proclaiming to know Your essence and yet indulge in vain pursuits and in spite of knowing Your greatness cannot contemplate on Your name. Such people attain depravity.


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 3

daSama skandham or the Tenth Canto - Part2

Link to the Telugu page

The coming of nArAda to mathura


10.1-52.


One day sage nArAda appeared in mathura all of a sudden and went to kamsa's residence. Finding kamsa in solitude, the sage went to him and said these words. Listen, "nandA, his wives, family and friends who live in rEpalle (Vrindavan), dEvaki and all the womenfolk vasudEva and all the yAdavA's are verily forms of Gods and nor mere humans. O kamsa you are a demon. vishNu, Who is the very form of all Gods and wields the discus will be born as the son of dEvaki. He will slay the demons who are possessing the earth and causing havoc. Having said these prophetic words, nArada left for his abode.

10.1-53.

kamsa's anxiety swelled upon hearing nArAda's words. Learning that yAdavA's are Gods (they don't battle an eyelid - animisha) and that he is the kAlanEmi who will be slain with the sword of srImahAviShNu his mind was filled with worry...


dEvaki and vasudEva in the prison


10.1-54.

kamsa was upset and outraged with anger. He at once imprisoned his sister dEvaki and brother-in-law vasudEva. Thinking all their children to be forms of hari (the remover of miseries of devotees - viSHNu) he slayed all the newborns as soon as they were born. Inflamed, he imprisoned his pure-hearted father ugrasEna who ruled over the land of the yadus, bhOjas and andhakas and began to rule over these kingdoms himself.

10.1-55.

Corrupted by the lust for power kings execute their siblings, brothers, friends and relations without discrimination in order to safeguard their life.

10.1-56.

And then with the help of several demons such as bANa, bhauma, mAgadha, mahASana, kESi, dhEnuka, baka, pralamba, trNavarta, chANUra, muSHTika, ariSHTa, dvividha, pUtana, kamsa waged war over the yAdavAs. Having lost the battle, many yAdavAs lost their face, eschewed their titles and power and fled to other kingdoms like nishadha, kuru, kOSala, vidEha, vidarbha, kEkaya, pAnchAla and SAlva for asylum. Other yAdavAs eschewed vengeance and remained in mathura serving kamsa.

10.1-57.

One after the other in succession kamsa killed six of dEvaki's sons. And then dEvaki conceived for the seventh time as the great SESHA with the attributes of the magnanimous viSHNu entered the womb of dEvaki and took shape of the fetus.

yOgamAya Commanded


10.1-58.

Taking note of the happenings and grasping that the yAdavAs who have their faith in Him and live in mortal fear of kamsa, hari Who is the very form of the universe, summoned goddedd yOgamAya and commanded her thus...

10.1-59.

O auspicious bhadrA, descend onto the dwelling place of gOpikAs and gOpAlAs who live near the stables and tend cattle in vrindAvan. vasudEva's wives have been imprisoned by kamsa. However one of the wives rOhiNi, has sought refuge in rEpalle (vrindAvan) and is living in the gOkula of nanda. That beautiful eyed rOhiNi has numerous good qualities in her. Embodying my valor, AdiSESHA is growing in the womb of dEvaki. Please go and duly and skillfuly transplant that foetus into the womb of rOhiNi. I shall be born to dEvaki with all My attributes. After transplanting AdiSESHA, you be born as the child of nanda and yaSOda.

10.1-60.

You are the harbourage of all forms of wealth. You fulfil the desires of the devotees. O embodiment of auspiciousness, people worship and serve you with devotion and offer sacrifices and presents.

10.1-61.

In various places you are celebrated assuming fourteen different names, viz. durgA, bhadrakALi, vijaya, vaiSHNavi, kumuda, chanDika, krSHNa, mAdhavI, kanyaka, mAya, nArAyaNi, ISAna, SArada, ambika. He commanded her to leave on her mission having made all this known to her. Considering the command of viSHNU as a great blessing, the yOgamAyA dEvi at once left the abode of viSHNU and entered the earth. 


rohiNi delivers balabhadra


10.1-62.

yOgamAya extracted the resplendent fetus from the womb of dEvaki and transplanted into the womb of rOhiNi. People around dEvaki were saddened by her purported abortion of pregnancy.

10.1-63. 

Then...

10.1-64.

rOhiNi gave birth to a great son. By virtue of his exceeding strength and valor he was called balabhadrA. By virtue of conferring joy to the worlds he came to be known as rAmA. Having been born by fetal transplant, he got the name samkarSHana.

10.1-65.

After that ...

10.1-66.

vasudEva shone resplendently as the attribute of the Lord of auspiciousness and wealth srImahAviSHNu entered into his being and filled his mind. Perceiving this, all the beings and elements were filled with joy.

10.1-67.

vasudEva inducted the radiance of the Lord of lakshmi - That supreme soul Which is embodied in the entire creation, is utterly holy and protects all the worlds, into dEvaki. Receiving the radiance of viSHNu, dEvaki shone with a new splendour just as the eastern direction is filled with the moonlight before the moon rise.

10.1-68.

Listening keenly, parikshit curiously asked what transpired further. suka started to narrate thus.

10.1-69.

SrIhari, in Whose stomach are lodged all the universes began to grow like the intensity of the morning Sun in the womb of dEvaki in order to protect the world.

10.1-70.

Then...

10.1-71.

(signs of pregnancy in dEvaki)

As SrIhari grew in the form of fetus in dEvaki's womb: 

the conceited ones lost their glow in the face while the beautiful woman dEvaki lost the dullness in her face and shone with brilliance;

the fame of the enemy kings blackened while the nipples of the dEvaki darkened;

the abode of the evil people was filled with smoke as hair sprouted on the abdomen of dEvaki;

the enemies lost the appetite due to anxiety while the lotus-eyed dEvaki lost her appetite;

the enemies became motionless and tired as dEvaki started to feel lazy;

the enemies prepared to bite the dust as dEvaki hungered for taste of clay (geophagy!).

10.1-72.

Further...

10.1-73.

As the One enshrined in all the five elements grew in dEvaki's womb:

As if the element water came to visit the child in the womb, she began to sweat profusely.

As if the element fire came to offer obeisance to the divine child in the womb, she shone brightly.

As if the element air came to worship the to-be-born she began to breathe heavily.

As if the element earth came to honor the child, her hunger for clay swelled.

As if the element expansive ether came to hail the child, the moon-faced lady's waist expanded.

10.1-74.

As the days progressed...

10.1-75.

Since the divine child growing in dEvaki's womb was viSHNu who is the slayer of demons:

As dEvaki's waistband tightened the mangaLasUtra (auspicious thread of married women signifying the happily married status) of the wives of the enemies loosened;

As the beautiful form of dEvaki assumed brilliance, the wives of the evil people lost their shine;

As dEvaki began to feel burdened by her jewels and necklaces, the necklaces of the wives of enemies loosened;

As the cuckoo-voiced dEvaki's belly gradually grew bigger by virtue of the divine child in her womb, the enemy's wives aborted;

As the days of dEvaki's delivery neared, the days of widowhood neared for the wives of the unfavorable ones.

10.1-76.

Thus...

10.1-77.

dEvaki held in her womb, the One who has the entire Universe in His belly. Her oppression in the confinement in her brother's place resembled that of erudition in one bereft of wisdom and that of a lamp lit inside a pot.

10.1-78.

Startled by the increasing glow in the face of dEvaki, the best among women, enhanced brilliance of her being and growing beauty, kamsa anxiously reflected thus...

10.1-79.

"Watching dEvaki through her expectant days, my heart is feeling heavy. I have never felt like this before. Perhaps this is because viSHNu has entered into her womb."

10.1-80.

"How should I strategize, what is my action plan? How can I slay this woman, my sister and whose gestation is nearing term day by day. If being indifferent, I indeed do away with her will my fame, wealth, longevity and righteousness not wither away?"

10.1-81.

"A brute who is unmindful of relations will be reproached as being just a corpse while being alive. They will further say such a person will go to hell. Is it any life to be lived being called an evil-doer?"

10.1-82.

Eschewing brutality, assimilating courage, assuming augustness and proclaiming prowess he determined within himself that it is a harmful undertaking to slay sister and went silent...

10.1-83.

However kamsa was still mortally afraid deep within. "The hostility that cannot be suppressed is being born! This moon-faced woman will perhaps give birth to chakri, the one wielding the discus. I shall slay the new born right in the labour room". Thinking thus, he waited on...

10.1-84.

Consumed by the hostility with SrimahAviSHNu and immersed in those thoughts, he completely failed to attend to other duties.

10.1-85.

Moving, eating, drinking, walking, sitting kamsa has thoughts of only SrimahAviSHNu. Overpowered and consumed by hostility, unceasingly he thought of hari as encompassing the entire universe.

10.1-86.

Further...

10.1-87.

Whatever sound that he heard he thought that to be the voice of hari;
Whatever he saw with his eyes appeared to be the form of hari;
Even if a blade of grass touched him, he perceived it to be a smack from the hand of hari;
Whatever fragrance that came his way seemed to be the perfume of the garlands of hari;
Whatever words were spoken he misapprehended if it was the name of hari;
Whatever thoughts that came across his mind, he thought those to be about hari and was thus infuriated through every action of his own.

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 4 >>>

Thursday, July 13, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 2


10.1-20.

One day SUrasEna's son vasudEva entered into wedlock with dEvaki and filled with joy at this festive occasion they started in procession in a chariot. At that time kamsa, the son of king ugrasEna joyously took the reins of the chariot sending them to raptures and began to chauffeur them out of his affection for his sister dEvaki.  They were preceded by a number of musicians playing relentlessly on the trumpets, percussion instruments and blowing the conch. As the festive procession continued dEvaki's father dEvaka decided to shower gifts on his daughter on this auspicious occasion.

10.1-21.

dEvaka gifted eighteen hundred chariots with all facilities, four hundred fully gold-decked huge elephants, ten thousand horses and two hundred stylish maidens to serve dEvaki and keep her company. As the newly wed couple started their journey on that royal road....

10.1-22.

kamsa loosened the reins to let the horses hasten the chariot. All of a sudden kamsa felt disturbed deep within as an unseen voice from the skies thundered thus...

10.1-23.


Prompted by the gleeful appreciations of your sister you are lovingly chauffeuring the chariot. However, you know not that, the eighth child to be born in the womb of this polite and beautiful sister of yours shall slay you!

Link to Telugu page

10.1-24.

kamsa, the one to bring disrepute and destruction to the bhOjAs was shocked upon hearing the ethereal voice that spelled his doom and his shoulders shuddered. He pulled his horrifying sword out of its sheath, caught hold of the braid of dEvaki without the least consideration of being siblings, unmounted her from the chariot to slay her. vasudEva rushed to him at once.

10.1-25.

Approaching kamsa, the sin-hearted, hubris filled, consumed by the raging fire of anger, vasudEva used his sweet and nectarine speech to calm down kamsa and started speaking so...

10.1-26.

Alas! You are the elder brother of dEvaki. You should shower her with gifts of gold and clothes. Or you should felicitate her with sweet speech. Instead you seem to rely on this unseen voice and believing that to be true you are out to slay your sister! O brother, please withdraw yourself, bear patience. This doesn't befit you. I beseech you, please do not kill her.

10.1-27.

Further...

vasudEva's dhArmic counsel



10.1-28.

Your sister is an innocent and weak lass. She is pure-hearted and has only your welfare in mind. Based on the unseen voice you are setting out to dis-honor her. Alas, O meritorius one and born in a great clan, does this slaying of your sister out of anger befit you? Contemplate on it O lord of bhOjAs

10.1-29.

Death is also born as soon as one assumes a physical body. The elemental body eventually merges back in the five elements either today or tomorrow or after a hundred years. The indweller jIva sheds its current body, and assumes another life form depending on the merits or sins that have been committed by the previous body just as the caterpillar raises the front part of the body to mount on another leaf and then drags the rear part from the previous leaf. As if the experiences of wakeful state appear clearly in dreams, the accumulated karma of the jIva follows it birth after birth.

10.1-30.

Carrying the previous impressions of the sins and merits begotten in the previous births, the mind of the jIva in a given body is perturbed and follows the senses with celerity. Following the senses thus, the accumulated karma is not destroyed even if the jIva assumes multiple births.

10.1-31.

Just as the reflection of the Sun and the Moon in pots filled with water wavers due to the wind, the jIva assumes a body befitting its past karmas and moves therein zealously.

10.1-32.

The good and bad that one experiences is verily due to the karma performed by them. It is only the performer of the karma that is responsible for them. This is true even for Lord brahma. This being the case there is really no use trying to judge others (and blame them for one's situation).

10.1-33.

Therefore one should never cause harm to others. Would causing harm to another because it is beneficial to one be ever condoned? Can one escape the result of such a bad karma?

10.1-34.

Although she is related to you as a younger sister, she is indeed like your daughter. She has a good character and is worthy of honour. She is young, a bride who is radiant and opulent. But she is forlorn, terrified and is shuddering. I bow to you, O compassionate king kamsa, be kind and merciful towards her.

10.1-35.

Thus vasudEva spoke endeavouring to cajole kamsa through wise counsel  as well as frightful words. However, those words had no calming effect on kamsa. His angry gaze was raining fire and bereft of any compassion he was determined to kill that beautiful dEvaki. Sensing that his words had no effect on the foolish kamsa, vasudEva started to deliberate within himself his further course of action...

10.1-36.

One cannot justify cowardice by saying death is certain and succumb to situations. As far as one's intellect can take, one should endeavour to protect oneself spiritedly on the basis of his own strength.

10.1-37.

Having determined so...

10.1.38.

The best course to follow today is to avert danger to this woman by promising to surrender the newborns. Who knows the future! If this feme covert survives today perhaps a more lasting way-out can be found later. Even if sons are born to me and their immediate death is imminent in his hands, would not fate catch up with him? Wouldn't there be a way to safeguard the newborns? Perhaps there will be. 

Raging forest fire spares the near-by trees but leaps and guts the trees that are very far. Even so, one's own karmas have the far reaching consequences of causing one's own birth and death. Therefore, why stutter.

10.1-39.

It seems just to rescue my wife by promising to surrender the newborn sons. If he spares my wife now, perhaps by the time sons are born, situation would overturn. Would God not come to the rescue by then?

10.1-40.

The ethereal voice earnestly declared that the child born in dEvaki's eighth pregnancy shall kill kamsa. Why would it not happen? It is best to immediately secure the release of my wife. Thinking thus, vasudEva...

10.1-41.

Speaking softly and acting swiftly vasudEva felicitated kamsa with persuasive speech and a smiling countenance although he was inflamed within.

10.1-42.

O kamsa you are worried to learn from the ethereal voice that you will die in the hands of the son born to this beautiful woman. I assure you that I'll serially hand over every son who is born of her to you so that you can kill them.

10.1-43.

Hearing these assuring words of vasudEva, kamsa nodded his head in satisfaction and accepted the proposal. He spared his sister dEvaki and went off to his abode. vasudEva and dEvaki heaved a sigh of relief and having reached their abode, lived there happily. Days passed along in this manner.

10.1-44.

Although suffering constantly at the hands of kamsa, dEvaki basked in divine feelings and gave birth to eight sons and a daughter every year.

10.1-45.

Among them,

10.1-46.

The first son born to that woman of beautiful teeth dEvaki was named kIrtimantha. As soon as he was born, vasudEva courageously brought the newborn to king kamsa true to his word without feeling greedy about the offspring.

10.1-47.

Without going back on the given word, without resorting to betrayal, without feeling of angst, the courageous vasudEva handed over his newborn to the enemy. Is there anyone more brave than vasudEva?

10.1-48.

O king (suka addressing parikshit), 

for the one who is established in truth what is impossible to accomplish? 
for the one who is established in awareness, is there any attachment?
for the one who is established in unflinching devotion to God, is there anything that cannot be given away?
for the one who doesn't take cognizance, can any harm be caused?

10.1-49.

kamsa spoke thus, appreciating the manner in which vasudEva stood true to his given word and surrendered his newborn.

10.1-50.

O vasudEva, take away this son of yours. I am not in danger due to him and hence I am not angry with him. It seems your eighth son will cause my death. I shall kill him when he is born.

10.1-51.

Hearing these words of his evil natured brother-in-law, that vasudEva, at whose birth trumpets blew, did not feel overjoyed, was overcome by anxiety and took his son back. Then...

Coming of nArada to mathura

Friday, July 07, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 1

I wrote about SrImad AndhrabhAgavatham a couple of years ago. This is an all time great work of poet pOthana in the 14th century. The work is celebrated for its devotional overtones, story telling, amazing use of the Telugu language, lucidity and simplicity. A study of this is as much a treat in knowing the mythology as it is about an appreciation of Telugu grammar and above all it drives home the requirement for bhakthi in each of the seeker to attract the grace of the Lord.

Please visit the web site: telugu bhAgavatham. It is an outstanding work of a team of volunteers led by brahmaSrI sAmbaSiva rao gAru, who in the purity of their heart and their labor of love have undertaken the task to digitize the work and bring it forth to devotees along with word meaning and overall import of each poem. There are nearly 10000 padyams in this work. The work is also available as an Android app

For a long time I've been asked by my non telugu friends if an English adaptation of the great work of pOthana is available. I haven't found any. While sending a-padyam-a-day to my Telugu friends I was inspired to this idea of translating a-padyam-a-day from chaste Telugu to manageable English. So here is an attempt, starting with the tenth canto of bhAgavatham, the chapter that describes the life of srI kriShNa. I'll keep updating this page every 2-3 days, so please keep coming back. 


10.1-1.

Oh, the One Who has broken the bow of Siva;
Oh, the One Who protects indrA and his ilk by slaying his enemies;
Oh, the One Who is the crest jewel of the highly esteemed kAkutsA dynasty;
Your glory, oh king srIrAma, is spread all over like the light of full moon;
Kindly accept this offering of mine.

10.1-2.

sUta, the sage highly skilled in the narration of purANas said to the ones of great attributes - Saunaka et al, “Parikshit submitted thus to the great sage Suka…”



10.1-3.

You have narrated to me the stories of the dynasties of solar and lunar lineage. I have listened with great sense of awe, the lives and conducts of great kings in these lineages.

10.1-4.

How did the birth of Sri Mahavishnu happen in the clan of yAdavAs, the men of great character? How did HE grow up among them, what sport did he resort to in various times. Kindly describe these to me.

10.1-5.

The praise of srI mahAvishnu is the pill for the ills of mundane ways of life. Joy wells up in the heart when you listen to it. Those desirous of liberation seek it. Only an animalic person would ever say his ears had enough of it (hari’s praise).

10.1-6.

The army of the kauravas led by bhISHma is invincible even for the gods. With what kind of boat did my forefathers conquer this sea of an army as easily as crossing the stride of a child!

10.1-7.

I was lifeless in the womb of my mother having been hit by aSwathhAma when the Lord holding the discus came to save me and provide a heir for the sons of kunti

10.1-8.

HE, the purusHA principle, fills Himself in the entire Time and Forms and is present within and without every single being. Being present so, He confers liberation on all the beings (jIvas) by saving them from the cycle of birth and death. Kindly describe to me in detail the life of such purushOttama.

10.1-9.


Best among yOgis, you have told me that balarAma is the son of rOhiNi. How then was he present in the womb of dEvaki without being in another body? Why and how did the lotus eyed kriShna leave his father's house and go to the village rEpalle (brindAvan). In whose home did He stay there and what all acts did he perform there? Why did He have to kill his maternal uncle kamsA? How long did he live on the earth? How many consorts did He have? How was He disposed towards them? What all did He do there? Please be kind to describe to me the entire story of mAdhava.

10.1-10.

Further, parikShith submitted thus.

10.1-11.

My body is sustained by drinking deep the nectar of the stories of hari that is emanating from the lotus of your face. Depression has deserted me. Both thirst and hunger have departed from me. My mind is thrilled with excitement.

10.1-12.

Hearing these words of the king, that son of vyAsa, Suka spoke as follows.

10.1-13.

The stories of viShnu purify the ones desirous of always listening to His stories and also the ones who recount those just as the holy stream of water that emanates from His lotus feet.

10.1-14.

O King, listen! Earlier as thousands of demonic kings spread their might on earth, replete with regal pomp and conceit, mother Earth having been unable to bear them any more, took the form of gOmAtha (cow) and approached the lotus-born brahmA crying inconsolably. Lord brahmA calmed and consoled the desolate mother Earth with his speech and contemplated on the course of action. He went to seek help of srImahAviSHNu along with mother Earth and other gods. Contemplating on Lord viSHNu through the hymn purusha sUktam, He entered in to the wondrous samAdhi state. Returning from that deep state of communion with the Lord viSHNu, the One born from the water-born lotus (brahmA) addressed the gods and mother Earth with love and happiness about the voice of God that He heard in that state.

10.1-15.

O gods, please go and incarnate on the earth with your attributes in the clan of yAdavas. The Lord of lakshmi will happily be born as vasudEva's son and relieve the burden of mother Earth.

10.1-16.

O angels, the daughters of the gods, please deign to incarnate on the earth with beautiful forms in order to serve the Lord hari. AdisEsha, the serpent on which Lord rests will precede Him and be born as His elder brother and bring joy to Him.

10.1-17.

Goddess mAyA, the illusory power that drives the whole world and causes infatuation in the unrealized will also incarnate with her attributes as per the order of the Lord and carry out a specific task.

10.1-18.

Thus, having convinced the gods and consoled the mother Earth, Lord brahmA left for His abode. 

(Moving over to the earth) Then the lord of the yadUs, sUrasEna made mathurA his capital city and ruled over the states of sUrasEna and mAthurA.

10.1-19.

O King, in earlier times that city of mathurA where the Lord of prosperity nArAyaNa happily and lovingly resided became the prime city for all the kings of the yAdava clan.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sathguru Thyagaraja

The music world recently (on 4th May, 2017) celebrated the 250th birth anniversary of the Saint of carnatic music Sathguru Thyagaraja Swami. Year-long concerts were organized by several groups to mark the great year and as the actual date drew closer there was intense musical activity across the globe. Newspapers were not left behind and in particular The Hindu also ran a series of articles related to the saint composer. It was indeed a thrilling time for the connoisseurs as also the common man of music. Several of us need just a pretext to discuss and listen to a Thyagaraja Kriti and as pretexts go, this 250th birth anniversary served as the biggest by far. While we basked in the devotional, musical aspects of the kritis and reflected upon the deeper spiritual meanings as also the human values embedded in them I did hear a few discordant notes here and there about the poor opinion that Sathguru had towards women and the bias he had towards caste. A famed carnatic singer also alluded to the same.

The argument was based on citing out of context of some kritis like the one from the pancha ratna duDukugala nannEdora koduku brOchura. The curious may look at this link and refer to svara sAhityam 6 teliyani naTa-viTa kSudrulu vanitalu and svara sAhityam 9 mAnava tanu durlabham in which he talks about being modaTi kulajuDu - born in the first clan - arguably a Brahmin. These two lines are the ones that the critics always use to tell the story of how the saint was against women and lower castes!! Nothing can be farther from truth than this.

This begs the question, why did the saint then deify Sabari, the woman born in the lower caste? In the rAgam mukHAri, he composed entani nE varnintu sabari bhAgyamu - how should I describe the good fortune of Sabari? He talks highly of Ahalya, the woman with alleged infidelity towards her husband in many kritis. He often pleads with the Lord to bless him like He blessed these women from the rAmAyaNa. This argument is likely enough to seal the myopic views of the critics regarding the attitude of the saint towards women. But let us not stop here. Let us go a bit deeper into understanding the work of the saint. 

The saint was primarily on a spiritual journey. For his journey he chose the music as the vehicle. The goal of spiritual journey is moksha or nirvAna or liberation. With this in mind he kept his vehicle in good shape by constantly practicing music. And this vehicle seemed to have a life of sorts. So it had to be fed. He fed it the name of srIrAmA. So while the vehicle was thus fed well and kept in good shape, it made the journey a great pleasure (Ananda) and automatically reached the goal. It not only reached, on the way it gave great joy to several other chariots as well and enabled (and still enabling) them to reach the goal.

Unraveling the above metaphor we find the saint's work to be holistic package of devotion, music and spirituality. These three aspects are deeply interwoven and provide the promised nourishment only when taken in totality. The mistake that the learned men seem to commit is that they tend to treat the different aspects in isolation. Reductionism and compartmentalism are hallmarks of our times and this is what often leads to commenting out of context. 

As the saint kept the goal of liberation in front of him, he constantly discussed with his mind what are the obstacles and enablers to reach his goal. Hence the repeated use of o manasA in almost every kriti of his. He saw it from a social angle (in fact there is no other angle to see this). He commented on the ways of the world that obstruct in the journey. One such he said is women. But he also said what kind of women. He talked about the types of women who are engaged in dancing or resorted to flesh trade. Such women caused an obstacle to others as they are viewed by others with tinted lens of lust. I am very sure no woman would ever want to be seen only thus, in this era or in the eras gone by. The lust in his opinion was not as detrimental to the object of it as it was to the one who harbored it. We do see the fallout of such attitude towards women in today's world also. Therefore every criticism of this object of lust is actually a warning for the pursuer of it. 

Now it is not as if women don't journey on spiritual path and are not entitled for liberation. They too can be subjects of such an attitude towards men in which case it obstructs their path. Therefore the mention of woman itself is a sort of figure of speech.

In the spiritual plane, woman is equivalent to prakrithi (or nature) which attains fulfilment when combined with purusha. This needs to be understood beyond all gender stereotypes. In many ways swayed by women or exploiting them is equivalent to exploiting nature for selfish gains. Again I don't need to belabor the point of how exploitation of nature is causing widespread problems in the globe. This may appear farfetched but do think about it from a spiritual angle, the one from which Sathguru Thayagaraja Swami viewed life (as is eminently evident from his other kritis). Exploitation of women at the personal level brings disharmony in the personal conduct, family and when practiced widely brings ruin to the society. Exploitation of the woman that nature is brings disaster to our lives. Both are as true today as they were during Thayagaraja's times or even before that. Those are eternal principles that obstruct liberation.

Again he compassionately defines what is mOksha in the sAramati kriti mokshamu kalada. In this he questions if liberation is ever attainable for one who is not liberated while living. In other words, he categorically says liberation is not something attained during death after living a life on earth. It is living like a liberated soul even while being on earth - in harmony and happiness. As we discussed music being his chosen vehicle, he goes on to say steadfast and honest pursuit of music gives you that harmony and happiness.

Those that call him being against women should also note he was no great fan of men either!!! That is men who displayed all the insignia of being spiritual but really acted out of tune to the guise they have put on. He was against men who for the sake of fulfilling their wants indulged in flattery of the rich. he criticized men who fell for the sensuous. 

In summary it means he spared nobody who was hypocritical and professed to be on path of liberation but indulged in actions quite opposite to that. Through his work he called for single pointed devotion to the Lord. At the face of it, he eulogized srIrAmA with a bow and was deeply into mythology. But a closer look at kritis like endhundi vedalithivo in darbAr clearly tell us that Sathguru thought of srIrAmA as the eternal divine principle. He liked The Ultimate with the name srIrAmA. 

Therefore in my opinion before commenting on isolated aspects of Sathguru's works one needs to weigh their thoughts on the touchstone of rAmabhakthi (devotion to Lord rAmA) and the ultimate goal of life as visualized by the saint. Those with the goal of filling up a column or air time should steer clear of it no matter how tempting the thought of playing to the (current day) gallery is.

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Love to blog. Every time I turn joyous or in extreme pain, I blog. Huge believer of 'charity begins at home'.