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Fourth day of Isvara Samvathsara Raama Navami celebration

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Apr 19 1997 - 06:25:28 PDT

Dear Raama Bhakthaas :

With Sri Ramabhadran's blessings , I will summarize 
the meanings of the Nattai krithi of Saint Thyagaraajaa 
named " Jagadhaanandha kaarakaa . This is the first of 
the gana raaga pancha -rathnams set in the majestic and
gambheera raagam of Naattai . There are 108 naamaas 
that are housed in this krithi . It will be a challenge to separate
the 108 naamas that are bundled together under  long
compound naamas . It took 75 printed pages to cover 
the profound meanings of this krithi in my book released earlier
and yet I hav ethe feeling that I have just started to understand .
I will summarize briefly the subject matter covered in that monograph.
This krithi has 10 charaNams in its form as a Thodaya MangaLa krithi .
Sri Thyagaraaja swamigaL( AD 1767-1847 ) added few charaNams 
over a period of time to bring the krithi to the current length 
containing the 108 naamams. 

The krithi with 10 charaNam is rather long . Saint Thyagaraajaa 
is known however to sing extempore krithis , which had even 
more charaNams . For instance , the krithi in Gouri raagam 
( Jaya Jaya Sriraama sajjana hrudhayaarNava soma ) has 23 
charaNams  . Out of his profound Raama Bhakthi and intimate , 
personal relationship with the Lord as His devoted bhakthaa , the Saint
used to be immersed in thoughts and prayers for hours at length.
The krithis flowed at that time .  The assembled disciples  received 
these anugraha prasaadams and wrote as fast as they could write 
the saahithyams and took turns to memorize the sangaths and raagaa
delineation . For instance , one sishyaa would listen to the pallavi 
and leave for the banks of Cauveri river to pracise it to retain 
that portion in his memory . The next sishyan covered in this 
manner the anupallavi . Others followed the charaNams and took
turns . At the end of the day , they will sit together and sing back
to their Achaarya , who was moved to tears hearing the effect 
of the anugraham of Sri Raamachandra .

There was no paper to write on during a significant portion 
of the life of the Saint . The writing for quick rememberance
was done on a slate board with chalk . Later it was transferred 
to dried palm leaves and bound together. That was how 
the sishya paramparaas of the saint collected ,
preserved and passed on the prolific " output " of this
Raama chaitanyar to us . Much of the creations are now lost and 
approximately 600 are available to us . The  set of five gems 
(pancha rathnam ) set in raagaas Nattai , Gowlai , Aarabhi , VaraaLi 
Sri raagams are the greatest among the krithis of Saint 
Thyagaraajaa from the point of the richnes of maathu and dhaathu 
as well as for the outstanding Raama Bhakthi of our 
sadhguru , who was a Parama VaishNavan(paramaikaanthi ) . 

Tribute of Professor Sambhmoorthy to the Pancharathna krithis
Professor Sambhamoorthy of Madras was a great musicologist.
He assessed the beauty and greatness of the Gana raaga 
pancha rathnams this way: " These five compositions serve to
reveal the depth of the saint's learning and his gifts in Sanskrit 
and Telegu . To the student of Raagaa and  rasaa , 
these compositions are monumental examples to show how 
such feelings of rapture , self-introspection , prudence,
admiration , sustained joy and humility resulting from the recognition 
of greatness in others could be effectively portrayed  by particular raagaas 
and special phrases in them --The pancharathnams have 
a powerful appeal . A high degree of technical skill is required to
render them ... They constitute fine examples of mucical
architecture . They are without parallel and are noted for
their peerlessness ." These pancha ratnams have been set in 
the taana varNa paaNi . The word Taanam is related to
the Sanskrit expression , " Anantham Tvam " meaning 
" endless Thou art " . John Barlow and VeeNai Nageswara Rao
has commented on the taanam and ganam aspect of these 
gana raaga pancharathnams this  way : 

" The endlessness (anantham tvam ) reflects that manner 
of reciting a chant , which involves the breaking up of a text 
into syllables and the subsequent reordering of them in all
combinations , both as a means of obtaining mastery over 
the sound (aural ) system of the chant and of acquring insight 
into the truths behind the text . This technique is known as Ganam.
--- This technique of ganam and the resulting rhythm through
the singing of taana varNams represent an instrumentalization
of the voice , that is , an emphasizing of the articulative 
possibilities of the vocal apparatus( the consonants of 
the language)  at the expense of the tonal capabilities
(vowels and diphthongs ).The hierarchical rhythymic
structure known as taanam (based  on gana gaanam of vedic 
tradition ) consists of melodic lines built up over a 
constant pulse from short phrases of 2 or 3 beats in 
length ...... from these building blocks ,  larger architectonic
units (melodic lines , sections ) are shaped. The(musical ) 
phrases , when properly ordered , acquire a vector-like 
quality , which points towards silence. This silence is 
a positive rhythymic entity ,somewhat akin to a cadence , but
with its temporal force removed . This silence is both the end
of the preceding line or section and the beginning of
the following  , just as the ultimate in musical control 
is the mastery of silence , so silence is the resolution of
the endlessness(anantham ) of taanam " . This is the central
goal of naadhOpaasanaa and nirvikalpa samaadhi , where 
Raama chaitanyaas like Saint Thyagaraaja are deeply immersed 
and have bhagavadh saakshaathkaaram and experience 
samslesham and vislesham (union and separation from the 
Lord ) and experience rapture during the sambhogam and 
despair during the occasions of the loss of that experience .
Saint Thyagaraajaa , the parama bhaagavatha belongs in
the tradition of the Azhwaars of Sri VaishNava sampradhaayam 
in this regard .

I  am priveleged to say that my sister , Sangeetha Vidwaamsini , 
Sow Padmaa Veeraraghavan will be leading the singing of 
this set of Pancharathnams with her group on April 25 at
the Seethaa KalyaNa Mahothsavam celebration at
Oppiliappan Koil . She will also be singing the Uthsava 
sampradhaaya krithis during that occasion .

In the next posting set for the fifth day of Sri Raama Navami
uthsavam , I will start with the pallavi of the Naatai 
pancha rathnam of the bard of panchanatha Kshethram 
( thiru IyaaRu , the kshethram of five rivers , where the five rivers
 -- Cauveri , KoLLidam , Kudamurutti , VeNNaaRu , VettaaRu --
come together ) and pay obesiance to the saint's naadhOpaasanai 
at his samaadhi on the banks of the river Cauveri even today .

tadh vishNO: paramam padham sadhaa pasyanthi sooraya:
dhiviva chakshuraathatham I tadhvipraasO vipanyavO 
jaagruvaamsa: samindhathE I VishNOryath paramam padham II
--- Rg Vedam I. 22 . 20& 21 

Om Sarva theerthamayaaya nama: (85th naamaa 0f the Ashttothram )

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan