Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maaru balka

Raga Sriranjini , 22 Kharaharapriya janya
Aa: S R2 G2 M1 D2 N2 S Av: S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S
Taalam: Adi



mārubalka kunna- vēmirā mā manōramaṇa

jāracōra bhajana jēsitinā sākēta sadana

dūra bhāramandu nā hṛdayāravindam
andu nelakonna

English verse:

Quiet You remain, O joy of Wealth! But, why?
For, never have I hailed loot and lust!

At once here, there, afar and hard by,
And now seated in my chest in must,

Quiet You remain, for I've seen the light.
And so, I sing of my Lord and delight.

This is a moving song. The sentiments expressed in this song are typical of a lyric poet, because Tyagaraja is expressing his innermost feelings. He did live during the time of English lyric poetry and was contemporary to the younger Romantic poets, although history tells us also, that he was far removed from those happenings.

Looking all around for it, and then finding something hidden in plain sight, is something all of us have experienced. In this case, Tyagaraja finds God Himself within him.

About the verses:"Joy of Wealth": In the kriti, mother is given. Mother in Tyagaraja's context refers to Sita or alternatively, to Lakshmi or Wealth (personified). "Loot and lust":In the kriti, "philanderers and thieves". "Saketa sadana": resident of Saketa or Ayodhya, hence Rama (licensed out). "Chest in must": must here is a noun, meaning new juice. Tyagaraja's heart, may be said to have been overflowing with the new juice of new found joy of realization. "I have seen the light": In the original, "I have seen the path", i.e. he realizes that the all-pervasive Lord, pervades within him too. Also, with some license, I infer with the second, "Quiet You Remain", that Rama knows Tyagaraja would soon find Him within, and so did not trouble Himself to respond to Tyagaraja's calls; or Quiet, He remained, leaving Tyagaraja to his devices, i.e. I hearken back to the initial statement of the song, the pallavi.

Unexpected subtlety: This is the shortest song we have seen. But, note that two deep philosophical statements are subtly intertwined here. First, by finding God within himself, Tyagaraja evokes many Advaitin or Monist(Non-Dualist) teachings in the song. "Aham Brahmasmi", or "I too am Brahman" is one of the tenets of Vedantic philosophy common to all three schools. It is an often stated and expounded vakya or assertion. In line with Tyagaraja's heritage, let's keep close to the Sankara or Advaita version here. It may seem for a second that I am seeing too much in Tyagaraja's casual statement in finding God within him. But, consider how he characterizes Rama- as being all pervasive, at once here, there and everywhere, and in his own heart. This is purely a trait of Brahman, the Supreme Self. And then, more tellingly, he states he is overjoyed that he now knows the path and is no longer despondent that Rama doesn't answer his call. He now realizes that Rama, considered Brahman, abides in him too, and there is no need for any further fruitless quest or supplication to Rama. Speaking quite loosely but not inaccurately, this is really the state of seeker, steeped in enquiry and slowly ascending the path of self-realization. Towards the end, he starts to view himself as one with the Brahman, and one with all of existence, and all that is in existence, as that all dissolves away. In short, he finds the light within himself. As Tyagaraja does here. The points that Tyagaraja makes about finding God everywhere and hence within us, are all often made in the mundane daily speech of pious Hindus. But, they are in fact laced with such a deep meaning if we consider their origination.

Note that the Vishistadvaita and Dvaita schools give us a slightly different route for seeing the light.

A comparative study:
So we have the teaching, "I am Brahman", as a central principle in Hindu Philosophy. This is fairly unique among philosophical systems of some antiquity in the world. Although we may find related conceptualizations in philosophical discourse, if we look through both the secular and the religious poetry and music of the west, we may not find many examples we can relate the Hindu concept to. A visualization of God as a Master and judge over all, to be obeyed than realized is more common in the west. So, we have Milton saying this in his sonnet "On His Blindness", i.e. God is "Kingly":

God doth not need

Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

"Who only stand and wait" is now a famous phrase to describe vacillators and those of little faith. Note also, that in line with the sonnet form, Milton asks a question then digresses and resolves it in the sestet, just as Tyagaraja himself asks the question and resolves it in the Charanas.

Now, here is a verse from Emily Bronte's "No Coward Soul Is Mine", that is fairly close to what we saw in the song.

O God within my breast,
Almighty ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me hast rest
As I, undying Life, have power in thee!

Even in philosophy, the classic problems discoursed in the west vastly differ from the Hindu (Vedantic) system. The primary philosophical problem in the Indian or Hindu systems current today, pertains to the Supreme Self and the particular Self, and then only produces a theory of matter and the universe, as an aid and afterthought to that discussion.


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