Sunday, October 4, 2009

Raga sudha rasa

Raga Andolika , 28 hairkhambhoji janya
Aa: S R2 M1 P N2 S Av: S N2 D2 M1 R2 S
Taalam: Deshadi



rāga sudhā rasa pānamu jēsi rañjillavē
ō manasā

yāga yōga tyāga bhōga phalamosaṅgē (rāga)

sadāśiva mayamagu nādōṅkāra swara
vidulu jīvanmuktulani tyāgarāju teliyu (rāga)

English verse:

The nectar like juice of melody sip, O my mind,
And joy therein, why don't you find?

Rites, Meditations, austerity and pleasure,
In such music, do their fruits come together.

That in which Sadashiva pervades unbound-
The notes from Om the primordial sound,
They that are versed in them, the art profound,
To the cycle of life and death are no longer bound.
This is a verity, this bard has found.

There is a lot of subtlety to this kriti. This is again a Tyagaraja kriti focusing on Nadopasana or worship through music as the means to salvation, and is about the sublimity of music itself.

"Yaga, yoga, tyaga, bhoga" in the anupallavi, refers to the different paths of realizing God, namely, Ritualism, Meditations, Renunciation and pleasure. Music (Raga) is deemed to give all their fruits combined. See fuller description below. Om, the mystic syllable, generates the primordial sound. Shiva is described as permeating this primordial sound. From this sound, come the seven notes. Experts in the art of these seven notes, are said to be J
ivanmukthas or those freed from the cycle of death and rebirth.

I have written 'manasa' literally. But, the literary device at play in "O Manasa" is soliloquy, though he also later says "Tyagaraja knows" in a more declarative form. It might be better to write addressing manas as addressing oneself is English.

Cf. the meter and structure I have written the anupallavi in, with the refrain in the English ballad "Scarborough fair", starting, "Parsley... love of mine" and the Charanas with portions of another famous ballad, 'The Solitary Reaper'.

Extra Comments:
Due to the subtlety in the lyrics, I did a quick sweep of all my textbooks and some of the larger websites, and have this to say:

In the pallavi, the book by Prof. T.K. Govinda Rao, my main source for the lyrics (we write the translations from scratch), gives "rajillave" or shine. But, I have heard some of my favorite singers render it as "ranjillave" or rejoice. In Telugu, ranjillave is a better fit due to its meaning. To reason this more technically, I think "ranjillave" is a better fit, philologically. The original sanskrit expression comes from the association of "manas", mind, with the root "ranj". This root means gladden, redden, charm etc. and is often associated with manas, as in 'manoranjani'. These are loan words into Telugu and as the association of the two has also followed into Telugu, we can take the meaning directly from the original. In fact, Tyagaraja himself has used this expression in other places, such as the next kriti we post: Heccharikaga rara. It is most possible that this was just a typo in the said book, and not a variation in the lyrics needed such argumentation. But, isn't it nice that we can technically argue the point out too?

The reference to bhoga or pleasure in this kriti among well known religious paths like yagnya, yoga and tyaga might be counter-intuitive. But, this is so, if we think only about those common in Vedanta. If we include well known Tantric paths, even in some of the reputed schools, various pleasures, may be experienced- not base enjoyments- but those like the different levels of ecstasy arising out of various methods, like in Hatha or the rising Kundalini or certain other worships and propitiations. Alternatively, but less forcefully, we could tie 'bhoga' to 'phalam' as an adjective. But, as we know that statistically, Tyagaraja subordinated his lyrics to the underlying melody frequently, we could just innocuously take bhoga to be a filler and take it literally. It is always much more prudent with this composer, to take the more direct meaning as opposed to his junior contemporary in the music trinity. But we must always humbly remember that without a contemporaneous printing, we are only reasoning a posteriori.

Note that Meditations is in plural, to signify different contemplative and equivalent Yogic paths or the different Yogas, and is not in singular, to signify extended Meditation, ie Tapas or Penance.

Sadashiva means "Always pleasing", "Always auspicious or kind" and figuratively "Eternal Siva" or "The Eternal One in Whom all things abide". Sadashiva is certainly not the Siva of the Trinity. No, he is actually a Great God, one above the pantheon. But, though He is reckoned to be the Brahman in this distinct form by his adherents, He is not exactly synonymous with the concept of Brahman. This is similar to the notion of the all pervasive "Mahavishnu" among Vaishnava sects, as different from "Vishnu, the second of the Trinity" or the Vedic Vishnu. Cf. "Pratyaksham Brahman" or the "manifest/visible Supreme Self".

Jivanmukthas are noble souls freed from the cycle of rebirth and death. In some legends, they are said to inhabit one of the higher worlds above the earth and shine as stars. Souls that have attained salvation or mokhsa, are said to transit through their world before merging with the Paramatma. The order and depiction of these higher worlds and the positions of Jivanmukthas could vary.

The Charanas have always seemed to me like oddly befitting Sadashiva Brahmendra, a well known saint, music scholar and a reputed jivanmuktha who lived some time before Tyagaraja.

Actually, so much discussion comes up in this kriti because, many of the concepts mentioned in this kriti are very familiar in the prevalent sub-culture of Tyagaraja's region to this day, but are not known in other cultural contexts.



  1. great...........the contend was so elaborate which made to know the exact strength of the lyrics...

  2. Great and thanks for the pains you have taken to give so much of information

  3. Exemplary commentary, seems like out of the great thyagayya's mind himself..Appreciate it☺

    1. Thanks for your comment. Lots and lots of people have applauded our new approach to Tyagaraja. Some have even criticized or even threatened to sue :) Just on this site, you can see samples of all kinds of comments - from the Carnatic audience, students, pros and even external readers. But your comment has hit the nail on the head. Trying to see Tyagaraja as he wanted us to, is exactly what we aim for in this work. Thanks again for your comment.

  4. Thank you! I was looking for the explanation for ranjillave and rajillave!

  5. Thank you so much. The depth of the wisdom and the power of intellect hidden in the Kriti was revealed in such a systematic and beautifully elaborate manner.