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Pranava/Sama Veda/Nadhopasana/Saint Thygaraja/Prapatti

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Mon Oct 16 1995 - 08:56:04 PDT

Dear group Members:

 In this note, I will cover the Nadhopasana as a  way of surrendering oneself at
the feet of Sriman Narayana as revealed from the life of Saint Thyagaraja, one
of the most prominent among Sri Vaishanavas , who followed the Prapatti margam.
I will also include Information on the interdependent relationship between the
Udgita of Sama Veda and its relation to pranavam and in turn its relation to

Sama Vedam and Nadhopasana
                The Sama Veda has special links to Pranavam and Nadhopasana. The
Sama Veda Mantras are sung by Udgatri Preists at Vedic rituals. Their singing is
known as Udgita. The Pranavam is also referred to as the imperishable Udgita by
Chandogya Upanishad, a major Upanishad belonging to the Sama Veda. The following
Chandogya Upanishad passage points out the importance of Pranavam (Udgita) for
the Upasana of Brahman thru Nada: " This Om , this imperishable Udgita  must be
worshipped. Of all the objects of creation, the Earth is the essence; Of Earth,
the essence is water; Of Water , the essence is Hebs; Man is the essence of the
Herbs; Poetry is the essence of Speech; Music is the essence of Poetry; The
Udgita of Sama Veda embodied by  the Pranava is the  essence of Music; Thus,
this Omkaara (Pranava Nada) is the utmost, the most valuble , the final essence
of all essences. It must be worshipped." This Upanishadic passage asserts that
the Nada and Music are intimately connected to the Udgita of samans , which is
the same as that of Pranavam. In this context, the Upasana practised by the
Nada Yogis is considered equivalent to the meditation on Pranavam done by  the
other type of Yogis to attain God Realization.

   The Links  between Nadhopasana  and  Udgita of Samans  is hinted by Lord
Krishna , when he says that He is the Sama Veda  among all the Vedas. He points
out the efficacy of attaining Him thru Nadhopasana  with its roots in Pranavam
(Udgitam).The importance of Pranava  Udgitam is once again revealed from the
portion of the holy Hayagreeva Mantram(Om Pranavodgita Vachase Nama:)   Lord
Hayagreeva is the Lord of all Vidyas including Brahma Vidya. The portion of His
Mantram recognizes that His speech is the form of Pranava Udgitam.

           The Upasana of Brahman thru Sama Gana (Udgita Upasana) has been
pointed out by Sage Yagnyavalkya , the greatest authority on Smrithis this way:
"Clearing one"s senses, memory, mind and intellect of all other objects, the
supreme Atman , which is within oneself shining like a lamp should be
contemplated upon. Intoning Sama Gana  in the proper manner without break and
practising it with Concentration makes one attain the supreme Godhead."

                Sage Yagnyavalkya has  also revealed that the singing of the
Samans to the accompaniment of Vina makes one obtain the boon of Moksha. He
says: " He , who knows the truth of Vina Music and  who is an expert in
Srutis(musical) and Talas reaches the path of salvation effortlessly" He calls
them Sruthi Jati Visaaradaas. It is appropriate to note that the Vinadara
Dakshina Murthy plays SAma Gana on His Vina to indicate the efficacy of that
Upasana to attain the highest knowledge. Saint Thyagaraja, one of the greatest
Nadhopasaka as well as a  Vainika paid tribute to Vinadara Dakshinamurthy in his
Saramati Raga Kriti "Mokshamu Galada".Thygaraja also salutes Narada  as his Guru
Raya for knowing the truth of Music originating  from the Veda-Born Vina. The
importance of Nadhopasana and Sama Gana is inferred from ther tradition of Vina
playing in major Vedic  sacrifices such as Aswameda Yaga. The Vina Mirasu of
Talapakkam Annamacharya and that of Arayars before the Lord Of Srirangam and
elsewhere attest to the same principle.

Omkara, the Seven Svaras and Nada

  In his Saramati Raga Kriti, Thygaraja expatiates on the origin of Nada from
Om. He recognizes the birth of Nada from the interaction of Pranaa and Agni. He
points out further that the seven Svaras and Nada originated from the Omkara
described by the Udgita of the  Upanishads. His describtion of Lord Krishna in
the Hindola RagA Kriti reveals brilliantly the intimate connection between Sama
Veda, Sapta Svaras and Pranavam:
   "Sama Nigamaja Sudhamaya Gana Vichakshana
    Vedasiromatruja Saptasvara Nadaachala Deepa"
Here he says: " O Lord Krishna shining like a beacon of light on the mountain of
Nada based on the seven Svaras born of Pranavam, which is the source of all
Vedanta! O Lord adept in the nectar-like music born of Sama Veda! O celebrated
Lord, who transcends Time! Please protect me ."

   In his Chenchu Kambhoji Kriti "Vara raga Layajnalu", He says  that  NADA BORN
are really Jivan Muktas or liberated  souls in this Life.In the concluding
portion of this Kriti, he says that Nada, Svara and Pranava are of  the very
form of Sadasiva Himself. In his Chittaranjani song, "Nada Tanumanusam", the
saint states that Siva is verily Nada and particularly the quintessence of Sama
Veda, the best  among the Vedas. Here he states that the Seven Svaras originated
from the 5 faces of Sadasiva.

        The sacredness of Nadhopasana is pointed out by  the saint in his
Kalyanavasantha raga Kriti, "Nadaloludai". Here he appeals to us to attain
Brahmannda(Eternal bliss) thru Nadhopasana, the path followed by the Trimurthys
and  Sages. In his Garudadwani krit "Ananda Sagaramidhani", he converses with
Rama and states : "O Rama! The body that does not float on the ocean of the
ineffable bliss of Brahman called Sangita Jnana , which abides in all the Vedas,
is a burden to Earth.Have not the holy Trinity and other sacred persons
worshipped it? " In another Kriti, he has  stated that the nectar of Ragas based
on the Sapta Svaras originating from Pranavam gives one the auspicious results
of Yaga, Yoga, Thyaga(sacrifice) and Bhoga(Enjoyment). He asks us to drink that
nectar  and delight in it. In his Atana Kriti, "Sripapriya", the saint
describes Rama as the Lord of Lakshmi and as the one , who moves easily among
the seven Svaras. He asks us to worship the seven Svaras sanctified by Rama. In
his Jaganmohini raga Kriti, "Sobillillu Sapta Svara Sundarulu	Bhajimpave", he
states that the sapta Svaras shine thru the navel, heart,throat, tongue , nose
etc., and in and thru Rg, Sama Vedas and the heart of Gayatri Mantra and in the
minds of holy men and Gods..Such is the greatness of Pranavam or Udgita for
Nadhopasana to attain perfection in one"s efforts for the realization of
Brahman.Following this route, Saint Thygaraja offered Prapatti with all its 6
limbs to Lord Ramachandra and Sita Devi and  attained the highest of Blisses.