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Sri Raaga pancharathnam : Part 7- The Greatness of Sri Ragam & Naama KusumAnjali

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sat Feb 14 1998 - 14:43:43 PST

Dear Jaanaki RaamaNa BhakthAs ,

In this posting , I will cover the greatness of Sri Raagam 
chosen by Saint ThyagarAjA and the compositions of his 
in this Raagam before writing about the Krithi , " EntharO
mahAnubhAvulu " itself .

Sri Raagam 
**************

This is a Janya Raagam of Karahara Priya ( Hari Hara PriyA ) ,
the 22nd MeLakarthA Raagam . Prior to Saint ThyagarAjA's time , 
composers did not use Karahara PriyA much . Just as Sri Dikshithar
made the MeLa Raagam MaayA Maalava Goulai and its janya 
raagams famous through use in his krithis ,  Our Sadhguru Swami  
used Karahara PriyA  MeLa Raagam for composing many of his krithis 
and also used many of its janya Raagams to salute this Raaga devathai .
Hari NaarAyaNan  has given room for Haran in His body and therefore this
raagam gets the  special attention of Sriman Rama NaarAyaNan .

Sri Raagam is one of the most auspicious janya Raagams
of Karahara priyA  MeLa Raagam . For the sake of completeness ,
I will compile the other Janya Raagaas of Karahara PriyA ,
which have been used by our Sadhguru and his 
cohorts to offer their  salutations to the Lord and His consort :

AbhOgi , Kannadagowla , KalAnidhi , Kaanada , Kaapi ,
Kumudapriya , JayanthasEnA , Jaya NaarAyaNi ,
DarbhAr , DevaghAndhAri , DevamanOhari , DevAmruthavarshiNi ,
NaadhavarangiNi , PushpalathikA , Pala Manjari ,
BrindhAvana SaarangA , Manjari , MaNiranghu ,
MadhyamAvathi , ManOhari , MaadhavamanOhari ,
MaaLavasri , MukhAri , RudrapriyA , SRI , Sri Ranjanai ,
Suddha DanyAsi , SvarabhUshaNi , SaaLagabhairavi ,
Saindhavi , Hari NaarAyaNi ,  HusEni and many others . 

The SRI Raagam with its auspicious association with
MahA Lakshmi stands out among them  with its Special 
Rishabham . In this Raagam , Rishabham and NishAdham
serve  as ChAyA Svarams as well . The experts have 
charactrized the place of Rishabham in Sri Raagam 
in the context of the other  Rishabhams assoicated with 
the other four Raagams -- Naatai , Gowlai , Aarabhi and
VaraaLi -- selected by the Saint for the four other Gana Raaga 
Pancharathna Krithis this way :

" Sri Raagam raises Rishabham again from the shadow of the
powerful GhAndhAram , where it rested in the case of VarALi .
The Rishabham of Sri Raagam ascends to its natural position 
and is present in its simplest , purest form , an unvaried tone 
freed from the curves and the implied directionality , which it
carries in Naatai , GowLai , Aarabhi and VarALi .... This total 
purity is the melodic correlate of the silence of Nirvikalpa 
SamAdhi and the Aanandham that is associated with that 
anubhavam " . 

The unique Rishabha Svaram of Sri Raagam is capable of 
conferring sarva ManagaLams in every direction it is heard.
Its tonal auspiciousness is equivalent to the MangaLams 
that are conferred by the glances of Maha Lakshmi in
any direction they fall ( YasyAm YasyAm disi ViharathE 
dEvi dhrishtistvadheeyA , tasyAm tasyAm ahamahimikAm 
tanvathE sampadhOghA : ) .

THE SRI RAAGA KRITHIS OF SAINT THYAGARAJA
********************************************************

Saint ThyagarAjA composed three Krithis in Sri Raagam :

1. Naama KusumamulachE pUjimchE --
2. YukthamugjAthu Nannu RakshimthsayunTEthi--
3. YentharO MahAnubhAvulu ---

Before we focus on the Saahithya Vaakhyams of 
" YentharO MahAnubhAvulu " , it is appropriate to 
appreciate the devotion-soaked mind set of our
Sadhguru as revealed in the " Naama KusumamulE--"
krithi .

SAAHITHYA VAAKHYAMS OF " NAAMA KUSUMAMULE--"
*************************************************************

Pallavi :         Naama kusumamulachE pUjinchE 
                       nara janamamE janmamu --manasA 

Anupallavi : Sriman Maanasa kanaka peeTamuna
                      chElaka jEsikOni varasivarAma

CharaNam : Naadhasvaramanu vara navarathnapu
                        Vaidhikapai sakala leelA vinOdhuni 
                        paramAthmuni , Sri Raamuni paadhamulani
                        ThyagarAja hrudh bhUshaNuni ( Naama Kusuma --) 

In a Rithigowlai krithi ( Raagarathna MaalikachE --) ,
Saint ThyagarAjA reminded us that Sri RamachandrA 
is shining with the garland of songs set in hundreds of
gems of RaagAs by him to gain his salvation . He invited us to
join with him and sing His glories and attain all blessings 
from Him ( BhAga sEvichi sakala BhagyamOnnadhudhAmu rArE ) .

In this Sri Raaga Krithi , he decribes the ArchanA that we should 
perform  to the Lord seated on the gem-bedecked seat of 
susvarAs with the flowers of His thousand names . He invites us
to perform maanaseeka ArAdhanam and worship Him with the 
flowers of His holy names such as RaamA , SivA ( Auspiciousness ) .
The Raama chaithanyA points out that the life of a human being 
is truly blessed , when he or she installs the Lord on the golden 
throne of the mind and worships Him with His sacred  Naama--
KusumAs . He asks us and his mind as well to place the reveller 
in the sport of Universe ( BhOga Murthy ) , the ornament of 
ThyagarAjA's heart  on the navarathna simhAsanam made up 
of SvarAs born out of NadhOpAsanA and cover His holy feet 
upto HIs ankles with the fragrant flowers of His nAmAs . 

Why this emphasis on Naamas and Naama KusumAs ? 
Sri VishNu sahasra nAmam explains to us that the names of 
the Lord are elaboration of His kalyANa guNAs ( Yaani nAmAni
GouNAni ) . The Lord of infinite KalyANa guNas has infinite ,
sacred names corresponding to them . Bhagavatham points
out therefore , each name of the Lord is a tribute to His fame , 
valor and auspicious attribute ( NaamAnyananthasya 
YasOankithAni ) . The worship with the flowers of His naamAs 
gives us infinite bliss ( samaraNE Sukham -- Janaranjani krithi ) .
The glories of this type of worship with flowers of His names 
purify every one from the great scholar to an unlettered person 
( Paamara Panditha pAvanakara NaamadhEya -- Maahuri krithi
of Sri Dikshithar , Maamava Raghuvara ) . 

The Upanishads and VedAs inform us about the blessings of
Naama kusumArchanA in the emotion-driven yugam of kali :

1 . bhagavatha Adhipurushasya NaarayaNasya naamOccharaNa --
mathrENa nirdhUtha Kalirbhavathi --Kali SantharONOpanishad 

( At the very moment , when we recite the name of the primordial
BhagavAn , Sriman NaarAyaNan , the dhOshams of Kali gets
shaken off ) .

2. Rg Vedam 2.1.13 : tvAm jihvAm suchascchakrirE kavE 
    ( O poet of penetrating Vision ! the pious people have made 
      YOU their tongue ) .

3. VishNu purANam 6.2.17 : 
    " Meditation( DhyAnam )  in Krutha YugA , sacrifices ( Yaj~nams)
       in TrEthA yugam , Worship in DvApara Yugam -- what these give ,
       one attains their equivalent fruits in Kali Yugam by merely
performing
       Naama KusumArchanai "  .

VishNu purANam goes onto say that One can get liberation from one's
accumulated sins by performing Naama KusumArchanA even as 
one walks , stands , lies down , drinks , eats or bends down .
.
PrAyschitthAn asEshANi tapa: karmAthmakAni vai I
yAni thEshAm asEshANAm KrishNAnusmaraNam param II

( the expiation of all expiations is the thought of the Lord 
with the uttering of His names )

HarE: nAmaiva nAmaiva mama jeevanam I
Kalou nAsthyEva nAsthyEva nAsthyEva gathiranyathA II 

( In Kali yugam , NaamA of the Lord alone is the means ; 
there is no other path ) .

maa RuchO maaYajusthAtha maa Saama pata kimchana I
GOvindhEthi HarErnAma ghEyam gAyasva nithyasa: I

NaarAyaNEthi sabdhOsi vAgasthi vasavardhini I
tathApi narakE ghorE pathanthee yethadh adhbhutham II

( You need not recite Rig vEdic Rks , Yajus , or Saamans .
Sing the Lord's names and offer Naama KusumArchanai .
There are the Lord's names , there is the tongue under 
one's control , still humans  descend into narakams ( hell ) .    
What a strange happening ? ) 

Naama SiddhAntham propounded by Saint ThyagarAjA 
is the NaamAmurutha SUryOdhayam for one's dark night 
of SamsAric Sufferings . This is the NaamAmrutha RasAyanam 
that chases away one's samsAric illness . That is why ,
Saint ThyagarAjA celebrated the Lord's names as " VedasAramu
NaamadhEyamunu " in his MukhAri Krithi , TalachinantanE .
That is why , Sri Dikshithar celebrated Raama Naamam 
as " Naama keerthana Taarakam in his VasanthA krithi ,
Sri Raamachandhram BhAvayAmi . As upAyA and upEyA ,
the naamAs of the Lord and the manaseeka archanA of
the Lord with those powerful names have no equal . 
The fragrant memory of the names of the Lord is the sure 
means for one's salvation . 

In the Sri Raaga Krithi extolling the sacredness of the Names
of the Lord , the Garbha BhaagavathA , Saint ThyagarAjA 
reminds us of the power of Naama KusumArchanai to
gain moksham . He taught us here UpEya Naama vivEkam .
The power of Such a naama kusumaarchanA done by BhagavathAs 
is described by Saint ThyagarAjA in his SahAnA krithi ,
Vandanamu RaghunandanA :

 " The Lord's Naama Japam and Archanaa with those 
names bring prosperity here on His earth , and lead one 
to the right path leading to the abode of Divinity ( Sri Vaikuntam ) " . 

Sri ThyagarAja Swamy , who performed 96 crores of ArchanAs
at the Lord's feet with Naama Kusumams followed the vidhi 
( injunctions ) set by Tatthva samgraha RaamAyaNam's 
Sundara KhAndham , which prescribes directions for the adoration
of Raama naamA ( Raama Manthra Purascharanam and KriyA yOgam ) .
It unambigously states that Raama ManthrA itself is to be used 
as the flowers for the Manaseeka pUjA in the pushpArchanA .

Such is the power of Naama kusumArchanA of the Lord 
performed by true BhagavathAs . That is why , Saint ThyagarAjA 
celebrated Bhagavatha Nishtai as an unfailing method of Prapatthi
in his Sri Raaga Krithi , "  YentharO MahAnubhAvulu "

I conclude this posting with the smaraNam of the Sacred feet 
of the Raghu Raaman standing on the top of the seven hills ,
which are covered upto His  ankles with  the Naama KusumAs
from the archanai of the BhagavathAs , dEvAs and Nithya sUris :

aanUpurArpitha sujAtha sugandhi pushpa--
sourabhya sourabhakarou samasannivEsou I
soumyou sadhAnubhavanE api  navAnubhAvyou 
SRI VENKATESA SARANOU SARANM PRAPADHYE II

( I surrender at the feet of the Lord of seven hills and 
seek those feet as my shelter. Those sacred feet add fragrance 
to the scent of the sweet-perfumed flowers offered upto His
ankles. These feet  are symmetrically placed and are beautiful 
to experience with  their coverage of forever fragrant flowers 
( Naama kusumAs ) . They  are enjoyable anew in 
an aparyApthAmurutham sense and gives us the anubhavam 
of never-ending aanandham ) .

Sri SadhguravE Nama:
Sri Jaanaki RamaNa ParabrahmaNE Nama:
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan