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The Greatness of Nama Sankeerthanam and Bhakthi : Part 2

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Mon Aug 11 1997 - 06:56:42 PDT

Dear BhakthAs of Sriman NaarAyaNA :

In this second posting , I will cover the following topics 
briefly : Naama Sankeertthanam and Bhakthi ,
Examples of Uttama BhakthAs ( Naama/Naadha 
SiddhAnthis ) , Effect of Naama Sankeerthanam 
and Ishta Daivam worship .
Myriads are the examples of such BhakthAs exist 
in the Bhakthi literature ; to keep these postings at 
a moderate size level , I will confine my observations 
and reflections to a smaller subset of duch BhakthAs . 

My main thrust will  be on the Rama Bhakthi 
of Saint ThyagarAjA as gleaned from his krithis 
and  operas  such as PrahlAdha Bhaktha Vijayam 
and NowkA charithram . The chinthanam of 
Sri Ramachandra is invariably and unmistakably  present 
in the  mind of this Raama ChaithanyA even in these 
dance dramas composed especially to salute 
Lord NarasimhA  and BhagavAn KrishNa respectively . 

Saint ThyagarAjA completed the recitation of the Taraka Naamam 
of Sri RaamA ninety six crores of times and had the sowbhAgyam
of the darsanam of Sri RaamA with SitA dEvi  , LakshmaNA 
and AnjanEya in front of his house on the Thirumanjana
veedhi of ThiruvaiyAru . He is the great  one who asked out
of his VairAghyam , " Nidhi chaala Sukhamaa ?
Raamuni sannidhhi seva sukhamaa ?  mamatha
Bhandhana yutha nara sthuthi sukhamA ? 
Sumathi ThyagarAjanuthini KEERTHANA sukhamA ? "    


truNAdapi suneechEna tarOrapi shaishNunA I
amAnina mAnadEna keertaniyah: Hari : II

--SikshAshtakA #3 , Chaitanya MahA Prabhu

(meaning ) : One should repeat (chant ) the auspicous 
name of Hari in a humble state of mind , while considering
oneself lower than the lowly blade of grass ; one should be 
more tolerant than  a tree ; one should be free from all sense
of vanity and false airs  and one should be prepared to offer
respectful salutations to other devotees of the Lord . 

In the sixth and the twelfth chapters of Sri Bhagavadh GitA 
dealing with DhyAnam and Bhakthi , Our Lord has 
explained the bhaktha , who is dear to Him as 
Sama-LOshtAsmkaanchana : (one to whom a lump of earth /piece
of roof tile , stone and gold are one and  the same in value ) , 
prasAntha manasa: ( One of perfectly tranquil mind ) , 
SraddhAvAn ( posessed of MahA viswasAm ) , 
adhvEshtA ( free from hatred or malevolence to others ) , 
sama dukkha suka : ( even minded , while experiencing pain
and pleasure ) , subhAsubha parithyAgi ( renouncer of 
good and evil in  an equal manner ) . GeethAcharyan 
declares that such a devotee is dear to Him 
( BhakthimAn ya: sa mE priya : ) . 

There have been many such Uttama BhakthAs , who have 
attained Moksham through single-minded bhakthi and 
naama sankeerthanam across the length and breadth of 
Bharatha Desam . There are no distinctions among these 
perfected saints based upon caste, culture , personal good
looks , family ( kulam ) , wealth or profession . 

These Saint-Singers described by the late 
Dr.V.Raghavan as the Great Integrators are 
AzhwArs of different castes or no caste , NaayanmArs , 
the SiddhAs , HaridAsAs of KarnAtakA ( Srinivasa Naik/Purandara dAsA ,
Kanaka dAsa , the shepherd by birth ,Vijaya dAsA , the Brahmin ) , 
the Saints of MaharashtrA ( Jnana dEvA , Nama dEvA , the tailor , 
EkanAth , the Sanskrit scholar , TukArAm , the shop keeper , 
Samartha RaamdAs , the guru of King ShivAji ) , Narasimha 
MehtA and MirAbai of RajasthAn , Akho , the goldsmith of
Ahmedabad , Kabir , the weaver of Banares , TulasidAs of 
Raamanandi sect also from Banares , the cobbler-mystic , RaidAs , 
another fellow-RaamAnadhi like Kabir and Tulasi Daas , 
DaadU , the Brahmin cotton-cleaner , SankaradEva of Assam , 
RamadAs of BhadrAchalam , Saint ThyagarAjA of TamilnAdu , 
Mutthuswamy Dikshithar , Sridhara IyaavAL of Thiruvisanallur , 
Upanishadh Brahmam of Kaanchi , who was the friend  
of Saint ThyagarAjA's father , Sri Raama Brahmam and 
a multitude of others . 

Sage NaaradhA in his 72nd Bhakthi sUtram explains that
there are no distinctions among such uttama bhakthAs 
based upon caste ,  culture , beauty , kulam , Eisvaryam or
chosen livelihood :

nAsthi tEshu jaathi vidhyA rUpa kula dhana kriyAdhibhEdha :

The supermacy and the efficacy of their bhakthi through 
Naama sankeerthanam and Naama Japam is the common
denominator among them .they were heedless of the people's
criticisms( jana jalpa nirbhayA : ) and great teachers and
practioners of Bhakthi mArgam ( BhakthAchAryAs ) .

These ancient masters of unalloyed Bhakthi to Sriman NaarAyaNA 
have been identified by Sage NaaradhA as Sanath KumArA ,
VyAsA , Sukha Brahmam , UddhavaA , AaruNi , Maha Bali , who
followed the path of surrender , HanumAn , VibhishaNA , et al .
The lives and compositions of these BhakthAs define the greatness
of BhagavAn's Naamams as the UpAyam and UpEyam for
Moksha Siddhi . 

Occasionally , VidvEsha Bhakthi or communion 
through confrontation helped to obtain the "blessings " of
the Lord . Slaughter at the Lord's hand raised the likes of
HiraNyakasipu , HiranyAkshA , KamsA , SisupAlA and 
DantnavakthrA et al .

More frequently , J~nana Bhakthi attained through 
the amalgam of J~nanam and Bhakthi made many 
uttama bhakthAs to gain a deep comprehension 
of  the divine excellence of the nAmAs of the Lord and led 
them  to the path of Saantha Bhakthi . 

A few had mUDa bhakthi ( devotion without saastraic 
or Upanishadic knowledge ) and yet were totally absorbed
in naama sankeerthanam . They developed a loving 
relationship with the Lord as in the case of the Gopis of 
BrindhAvanam . About the Gopis , Bhagavatham declares :

" They never learnt the VedAs ; they never served any teacher ;
they practised no austerity ; but by association with holiness ,
they attained Me " ( Bhagavatham XI . 12.7& 8 ) .  In an earlier 
canto , Srimadh Bhagavatham  has revealed the different 
roots of attaining the Lord's grace : " The Gopis through 
desire , KamsA through enimity , the VrishNis through 
clannishness , the paandavAs through affection and 
the sages through devotion attianed Him " ( Bhagavatham 
VII . 1.30 ) . 

The naama sankeerthanam appears to be
the most efficacious method of attaining Him in this 
Kali Yugam , where righteousness is on the decline . 
The greatness of such BahgavatOtthamAs have been 
extolled by Srimadh Bahgavatham elsewhere :

" The BhagavatOtthamA ( the highest type of devotee ) 
is one , who sees the glory of the BahgavAn reflected in 
all beings , high and low , and also perceives all beings
as dwelling in Him . 

The second-rate devotee is one , who makes a distinction 
between BhagavAn , His devotees , common people and
evil -minded ones , maintaining towards them attitudes of
reverential love, friendship , pity , and avoidance respectively .

The most inferior type of a devotee is one , who worships 
images of God with great devotion , but has no regard for 
His devotees and no consideration for others .  "  

The UpaasanA of one's Ishta Daivam 

The Lord's name such as RamA , KrishNA , VaamanA ,
NrusimhA , TrivikramA , have specific potencies . A great 
Rama BhakthA , Lord SivA has declared in Padma PurANam :
" O My dear Consort ! I chant the sacred name of Raama
Raama Raama and thus enjoy this purifying sound (dhvani ) .
This holy name of RamachandrA is equal to one thousand 
names of Lord VishNu . " Srimadh Bhagavatham with
Sri KrishNa bhakthAs in mind gives a twist and states :
" One thousand names of VishNu are indeed equal to
one name of Raama , and htree names o Raama are
equal to one name of KrishNA " ( Bhagavatham 1.19.6) .

The choice of one form or avathAram of the Lord for 
deep immersion is perfectly fine to advance one's 
spiritual progress and to attain siddhi . They become 
" TanmayA : " according to NaradhA's 70th Bhakthi SUthram .
They live absorbed in that form of the Lord . They become
Raama Chaithanyas like Saint ThyagarAja or BodEndrAL .
They become absorbed in KrishNA and become KrishNa 
chaithanyALs like MirAbai or Cahithanya MahA prabhu .
They become tadheyA : and belong to Him and Him alone.
They do not enter into vain disputations and discussions 
( vaadhO naavalabhya : / 74 th sUthram of Naaradha Muni ).
Sage NaaradhA gives the reasons why such great souls 
following Ishta Daiva upAsanA do  not enter into vain
disputations in the 75th Bhakthi SUthram of his :


( meaning ) ; ( Vain debates and disputations are to be
abandoned ) because there can be endless , diverse views
and all mere arguments become ultimately inconclusive only . 
Trying to understand God-head by the intellectual route of 
debate is recognized as impossible . Spiritual experience 
is beyond intellect and reasoning . The Lord warns us that He is 
the consciousnes behind all experiences : " From Me  arise all
experiences ; I am not in them , they are in Me ."  

The Uttama BhakthA may see all His Ishta Daivam in all 
forms of Sriman NaarAyaNA and yet will not put anyone down 
for their chosen mode of worship . He will question ,
" Raama nee samaanamevarurA ? " and yet will be 
tolerant to another bhaktha engaged in worshipping another 
from of divinity and will understand the approach as ultimately 
reaching Sriman NaarAyaNA as revealed by Lord KrishNA 
in Srimadh Bhagavath GitA .

KrishNArpaNam Asthu .
Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan