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An Appeal to shrI Sadagopan (Re: Sri Ranga Pancharathnam :Part 13.1 of Sri Ranganatha Temple project)

From: Raja Krishnasamy (RXKRISHN_at_us.oracle.com)
Date: Mon Apr 27 1998 - 11:41:26 PDT

Shri Sadagopan:

I have been patiently waiting all this while for your commentary on the Shri
Ranga Pancharathnams.  However your first posting indicated that you will be
discussing all the 5 gems in one post.  This did hit me as an anti-climax !

I appeal to your benevolence to reformat your postings to spread this over
several postings.  That way you will have the chance to ellaborate one each
of these gems a lot more, for which your literary expertise has few equals.

I have so far enjoyed every one of the postings on our choice of spiritual
path and I have even more enjoyed your commentaries particularly when they
include ellaborate references to our great tradition of music.

"O rangasAyI", "vinarAdha nA manavi" and "rAju vedala" particularly hold a
special place in my heart for choice of kirthanams.  Although I have gone
over the documented meanings of these songs in several musical texts, your
commentaries have always had that literary additions and cross references
that are indeed rare to find, and add the "saffron" to the "pAyasam", if I
may.  A more detailed understanding of these songs and the literary climate
surrounding them will only add to the pleasure of hearing these songs and an
indexed reference in one's mind when visiting the shrines.

Members of this group will be quick to agree with me when they refer to your
posting on shrI dikshithar's krithi in brindAvana sAranga - "shrI ranga pura
vihAra".

I therefore once request you kindly to rethink your strategy in terms of
these posts regarding the shrI ranga pancharathnams.  While I am sure it
involves a lot of your time, I am indeed am being almost selfish when it
comes to this matter.

Regards,

Raja Krishnasamy

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attached mail follows:


Dear Sri Ranganatha BhakthAs :

Sriranga KshEthram is the puNya BhUmi .
Like in VaraNAsi , anyone who breathes their 
last here reaches Parama Padham . The great Vedantin, 
Appayaa Dikshithar , who wrote the commentary
for Swami Desikan's YadhavAbhudhayam pointed out 
the significance of this Mukthi KshEthram this way:

idham cha Rangam tyajathAmihAngam 
na vidhyathEangam yadhi jAthuchAngam I
pANou rathAngam sayanE bhujangam 
yaanE vihangam charaNEambhu Gaangam II

(Meaning ) : This is Sriranga KshEthram .There is
no rebirth for those , who shake off their mortal 
coils here . If they perchance take up a body again ,
it will return to this earth as the ONE with Sudarsanam
in its hand , resting on Adhi SEshA , riding on Garudan 
and having the sacred feet from which the holy Ganga river
flows . That body will return with Bhagavadh SaarUpyam .

Saint ThyagarAjA , the reluctant traveller 
******************************************

To this Moksha KshEthram of Srirangam came the pilgrim  
from ThiruvayyAru . He wanted to offer his worship to
the IshvAku Kula Dhaivam worshipped by His Ishta 
Dhaivam, Sri RamachandrA at His ancestral home in
AyOddhi . As a rule , this pilgrim , Saint ThyagarAjA
was not keen on leaving the side of his AarAdhana 
mUrthy at ThiruvayyAru . He said through one of
his Thodi raaga krithis ( Kotinadhulu DhanushkotilO):

" Oh Mind ! Listen to the counsel of ThyagarAjA , the great 
devotee of RaghunAthA . For those fortunate souls , who 
constantly and directly see the beautiful form of RaamA ,
crores of holy rivers are present at Dhanushkoti ( the tip
of Sri RaamA's bow ) itself , rivers like GangA with its
source at the Lord's feet and the KaavEri deriving its 
glory from Sri RanganAthA ; WHY SHOULD THEN ONE WANDER FROM 
PLACE TO PLACE ON THEERTHA YAATHRAA AND PILGRIMAGE ? ".

In his other well known MukhAri Raaga Krtithi , "KsheeNamai ",
Saint ThyagarAjA talked about the real road to travel :

" Oh Mind ! Give up the siddhis ( Yogic achievements),
which are perishable and  bring you rebirth . Perishable
are the fruits of the study of Sanskrit , Drama , poetics ,
VedAs , PurANAs and the performance of sacrifices , Japa ,
Tapa and KshEhtrAdanam .The ( real) road to travel is 
the worship of RaamA ; (then ) all that one ( the devotee) 
does , the Lord will accept with approbation and 
vouchsafe to him the highest state that is everlasting .

With this discriminating knowledge (Vivekam), Saint 
ThyagarAjA did not want to spend his time traveling 
anywhere and was happy to stay at ThiruvayyAru deeply 
immersed in Sri Raama Naama Japam and the AarAdhanam of  
HIS Ishta Dhaivam . He declared that it was not possible
for him to describe the joy that he derived from 
the chanting of the Raama Naamam ( Kaapi Raaga krithi
vaakhyams : Intha Souhkhyamani nE jEppajAla ;
yenthO yEmO yevariki dhelusunO ? ) .

Saint ThyagarAja , the reluctant pilgrim did not want 
to leave the side of Ishta dhaivam .He did not also want 
his Ishta Dhaivam, Sri RaamA to leave him and go on any travel 
away from him .Hence , He asked in another of his MukhAri krithis
( MuripEmu GaligEgadhA  ? RaamA !) : " Oh My dear One !
Sri RaamA ! Are you not happy staying here at ThiruvayyAru
(Panchanadha KshEthram ) on the banks of KaavEri river 
at my home , where I have built a rathna mantapam for
Your residence with SitA dEvi and Soumithri ? Why 
do You want to go away from Your lovely home right here ?

Inspite of this reluctance to leave the side of 
his AarAdhana mUrthy , he was persuaded by his
sishyAs to undertake a trip to Tiruppathi , Kaancheepuram
and Srirangam . He included additional visits to 
ThiruvallikkEni and other KshEthrams in that one and only 
pilgrimage that he took in his life time spanning 
eighty years before he reached the Lord's holy feet .

We will cover the Srirangam portion of this pilgrimage ,
where many auspicious events took place including 
the birth of the Sriranga Pancharathna Krithis 
devoted to Sri RanganAthA .

The Five Gems of Krithis on Sri RanganAthA 
*******************************************

Saint ThyagarAjA arived at Srirangam during ChaithrOthsavam .
He stayed at a house of a friend in South Chittra veedhi .This
was near the corner of South and West Chittra streets . It was 
the day , when Sri RanganAthA came around the rAja veedhis 
of Srirangam on the golden horse ( Kuthirai Vaahanam ) .
Saint Thyagaraja was standing in fornt of 86, South Chittra
street as the Lord's procession arrived . The great NaadhOpAsakA
was moved by the beauty of the Lord on Kuthirai vAhanam and 
burst forth extempore into the Thodi Raaga Krithi , " Raaju
Vedale JutAmu rAre " . As the Bhagavan approached , the Saint 
wanted to get closer to receive the SatAri and TulasI prasAdam 
from the Archakar . The density of the crowd thwarted his plans
to come closer to the VaibhOga Rangan .The saint was disappointed
and stayed put in his original place . Some thing miraculous 
happened then . The moving procession of the Lord suddenly 
came to a standstill . The trained bearers of the Vaahanam of 
the Lord were benumbed and could not take another step . During
such occasions , it is generally assumed that some apachAram 
has been committed and Saanthi ceremony is performed to overcome
this inauspiciousness. The ArchakAs felt that there was some 
dhrushti dhOsham and suggested that the Deva daasis and Raaja daasis
should perform the assigned dance for that corner as per aaagama
sAsthrAs to propitiate the Lord .The dancers performed . Nothing
happened . The vaahanam bearers did not regain their mobility .
At that time , an archakar went into an aavEsam ( inspired ) 
mode pointed to saint ThyagarAjA  and said :

" A great BhakthA of Sri RanganAthA is standing
there at the corner of South and West Chittra Veedhi pining over his 
inability to approah the Lord closely  and have the Lord's darsanam .
Please bring him near the Lord for a hearty darsanam and then 
the procession will move " . 

The Koil KaimkaryabharAs brought the saint near 
the Lord and honored him with Sataari and TulasI 
prasAdham .The Saint was visibly moved by the DayA of
the Lord and he sang in all humility the famous DevaghAndAri
raaga krithi " VinarAdA nA manavi " . In that song , the saint 
begged the Lord to listen to his appeal to continue 
His procession and bless the BhakthAs and BhaagavathAs 
waiting for His darsanam in the other raaja veedhis .
When the saint completed his DevagaandhAri raaga krithi 
and concluded his appeal to comply with his request ,
deepArAdahnam was conducted and immediately , the bearers
of the Lord's Vaahanam regained their strength and the Lord's
procession resumed to the joy of all . Sri RanganAthA
thus let all those assembled at His raaja Veethi know
about the greatness of His special Bhakthan from THiruvaiyAru .

TheArchakAs and Koil adhikAris invited the saint for a specail
darsanam of the Moolavar offering Mutthangi Sevai during that
eventful evening . Saint ThyagarAja rushed to the Garbagraham
and was so moved by the sight of the reclining Lord celebrated
by so many AzhwArs and AchAryAs that he broke out spontaneously 
into the famous KaambhOji raaga Krithi , " Oh RangasAyee "
with its many moving pallavi sangathis . He also sang two more
krithis in praise of Lord RanganAthA in Aarabhi (chuthAmu rArE )
and in SaarangA raagam ( KaruNa jUdumayya ! kaavEdi Rangayya ! ).
These five krithis on Sri RanganAthan came to be known collectively 
as Sriranga Pancharathnams .

I will discuss the meanings of these five beautiful and 
moving krithis in the second an final part of this posting .

Sri RanganAtha ParabrahmaNE Nama:
Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan

P.S : Please have the darsanam of the Lord of Srirangam
in the specail home page created by Sriman Dilepean for
the Temple for the Lord at Pomona , New York .