Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sangita Jnanamu

Raga Dhanyasi , 8 Hanumatodi janya
Aa: S G2 M1 P N2 S Av: S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S
Taalam: Adi



saṅgīta jñānamu bhakti vinā
sanmārgamu galadē manasā

bhṛṅgi naṭēśa samīraja ghaṭaja
mataṅga nāradādulupāsincē

nyāyānyāyamu telusunu jagamulu
māyāmayamani telusunu durguṇa
kāyajādi ṣaḍ-ripula jayiñcu
kāryamu telusunu tyāgarājuniki
English verse:

To know music without devotion,
Is from the right, grave deviation.

The son of Wind and the lord of dance,
The bee and the dean of musical nuance,
And he that emerged from a vessel,-
From their worship, comes this counsel.

In the world, I discern right from wrong,
And see it's been an illusion all along.
The six vices corporeal, have but one subjugation;
This, I find, is the path of musical dedication.

This powerful and popular kriti is one of the greatest examples of Tyagaraja's Nadopasana or worship through music. The "right path", is of course, an allusion to the path to salvation. Thus, the message of this kriti is that music with devotion, is the path to salvation.

Natesha, literally, "the lord of dancers", is a reference to Siva. Hanuman is the son of the god of wind (or wind personified). The celestial sage Narada, a frequent intercessor in both epics and in several puranas, is also said to have invented the Vina and musical structure, and to have written the first work on the theory of music. Tyagaraja considered him the guru of gurus (hence the 'dean'), and composed a few kritis in his praise. The sage Bhringi, one of the chiefs of Siva's retinue, took the form of a 'bee' during his penances. Agastya, one of the Seven Sages, was said to have been miraculously born in a pitcher. He is mentioned by similar epithets in other kritis as well. Another great sage, Maatanga,
whom I left out claiming poetic license, is also mentioned in this kriti. He too has appeared in several episodes in both the epics and in the puranas. Kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya are said to be the six great vices, or "six enemies" as in the kriti. They correspond in order to, lust, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance, and envy. In the pallavi, literally, he says if music is practiced without devotion, the right path shall remain elusive. So, to Tyagaraja, music is sublime.

Extra Comments:
There is a vast difference between Nadopasana or worship through music, and 'sacred music' or music written for worship, such as chants and hymns. The latter is an aid to religion. But, to a Nadopasaka or votary of Nadopasana, music itself is the religion. The latter is intended to supplement select religious services, and general adoration. But, a Nadopasaka is totally immersed in the study of music and the musical exaltation of God. A Nadopasaka might still compose or perform 'sacred music'.

"Kayaja" is an unusual usage to signify "born of the body"; kaaya or a form of it like kaayam, refers to the body in several Indian languages. As Kama or lust is always mentioned first among the among the vices and as Tyagaraja frequently described persons and entities by specifying their origination, using the suffix "ja", and was fond of avoiding enumeration by using the et cetera or "aadi", this meaning is quite in line. He also mentions exactly six "enemies", which are unmistakable for anything other than
the six great vices, given the context of this kriti, and the frequent mention they find in religious and philosophical literature.

As accents and pronunciations abound these days, note that I have required nuance and dance to be read as nuɑns/noo-ahns and dɑns/dahns respectively, to keep with the rhyme scheme in the Anupallavi verse.

Note that Tyagaraja's advaitin or monist heritage is apparent in his description of the world as a great illusion in the Charanas.


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