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Naama MahimA --Part 2 : Saint ThyagarAja"s Gowlai Pancharathnam

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Oct 23 1997 - 18:55:29 PDT

Dear Members of the Bhakthi group :

Saint Thyagaraja SawmigaL was a parama VaishNavA . 
He was a Rama chaithanyar par excellence .
Every living moment of his life  was infused with the thought of 
his Ishta daivam . From the time  he woke up Sri RamA 
with SuprabhAtham to the time  he lulled  Him to sleep 
at night , our sadhguru was engaged in NadhOpAsanA .

During  the course of this nadhOpaasanA ,
Saint ThyagarAja celebrated the glory of the Lord , saluted
His naama mahimai , His  rUpa mahimai , argued 
with Him about His "indifference " , blamed his own 
inadequacies that stood in the way of the Lord's grace , 
expressed his visvAsam in the Lord as the saraNAgatha
rakshakan ,  saluted the parama bhakthAs of the Lord 
such as PrahlAdhA , NaaradhA , HanUmAn and begged 
the Lord to bless him with mithya kaimkarya Sri . All of these
emerged as hundreds of krithis set in beautiful rAgAs
and TaaLAs . The most distinguished among them 
are the Gana Raaga  Pancharathna krithis .

I will cover the Gowlai raaga pancha rathnam , 
which has his nirvEdam and naicchAnusandhAnam 
as the sanchAri bhAvam . Nirvedam is the mood of 
dejection or despondency over the thought of 
not receiving the Lord's anugraham fast enough . 
NaicchAnusandhAnam or aathma garhaNam
is the act of self-depreciation and recounting of one's
shortcomings that interfere with the speedy progress 
of the SaadhanA to achieve the Lord's blessings . 

Our Sadhguru chose the upAngha raagam , GowLai
known for the beauty of its unique rishabha and 
nishAdha svarams to celebrate the unique soundharyam
of Sri RamachandrA . The mood of the Saint was that of 
of despair over his limitations that resulted in imperfect 
bhakthi . He begged the Lord in that mood to forgive him
for his aparAdhams and embrace him as His devotee 
inspite of his shortcomings . This mood of nirvEdam 
is experienced  often by the great devotees of the Lord.
For example , AlavandhAr cries out in despair in one
of his slokams of SthOthra rathnam this way :

na nindhitham karma tadhasthi lOkhE 
sahasrasO yann na mayA vyathAyi I
sOham vibhAkAvasarE Mukhundha 
kranthAmi sampradhyagathis tavAgrE II

( Meaning ) : O MukhundhA ! There is not a deed 
that I have left undone , which has been prohibied by
sAsthrAs and sishtAs ( righteous ones ) . I have engaged
in such deeds tens of thousands of times . Rich with
the unbearable burden of paapa raasis , I stand before
you screaming in despair and fear about them bearing 
their fruits . I stand before you in that helpless state . 

Swami Desikan has condemned himself in number of 
his sthOthrams about his many trespasses . At one conversation 
with the Lord , Swami described himself as the emperor of 
trespasses ( AparAdha chakravarthi ) ; In another occasion ,
he described himself to Lord DevanAthA of thiruvaheendrapuram
as " Aj~nana vaaridhi " ( the ocean of aj~nanam ) , 
apAya dhurandharam ( the one , who occupies the front row of 
sinners ) , agynaa vibhanjanam ( trespasser general of
the saastraic commands ) and akinchana saarvabhoumam
( the first among the meek and helpless ) .

In paadhukhA sahasram , in NirvEdha paddhathi ,
Swami cries out , " DheenAksharANi na sruNOshi " .
The words of mine in my state of great sorrow 
are pitiable . Inspite of that , O PaadhukhE , You 
do not come to my rescue . This is only because
of my great sins . In another slOkam of PaadhukhA
sahasram , Swami again condemns himself
and depreciates his unfit state and laments over it :

vividha vishaya chinthAsanthathAbhi: chiram maam
janitha kalushamittham Devi ! durvAsanAbhi: 

( Meaning ) : O PaadhukhA Devi ! Engaged without let 
in the enjoyment of evanescent indriya sukhams , my
thoughts are forever steeped in acts prohibited by
sAsthrAs and are thus overloaded with paapa raasis . 
Thou , who are the antithesis of my state should 
banish the durvAsanAs and make me fragrant 
with Bhagavadh chinthanA and offer me salvation .

Saint ThyagarAjA engaged in such aathma garhaNa 
moods and composed krithis condemning his deficiencies.
Some examples of them are :

" Yetula BhrOthuvO teliya , ekAntha RaamayAA "
in chakravAka raagam , where he calls with affection 
Sri RaamA and wonders as to how He is going to save
him with his despicable record  of sins . He recalls 
that he has been wandering around doing wicked  deeds 
in association with wicked people . 

In "PrArabhdha mittuNdagA "  in raagam SvarAvarALi ,
Our sadhguru laments : " When my own past karmas are 
like this , O merciful one , there is no purpose in blaming 
others . " 

In " Toli janmamuna " krithi in Bilahari raagam , 
Sadhguru says " I have known the sins I had committed in 
my previous births . I have known also their results.
They are as clear as the fruit in the palm of my hand ." 

In " Edula ghApAduthuvO ? " set in the raagam Ahiri ,
he asks RaamA , " How are you going to protect me , who had 
got himself enmeshed deeply in samsArA , who has been going
about declaring that there is no one equal to me ----" 

The krithi in Raagam Gowlai is the supreme example of 
this mood of self-depreciation and despondency over
the thought that the Lord may fail to come to his rescue .
We will find many parallels to Swami Desikan's 
moods in this krithi . 

I shall cover the deep  thoughts relevant to 
SaraNAgathi and Aakinchanyam embedded in 
the Gowlai pancharathnam of Sri Thyaga Brahmam 
in the subsequent postings .

Sri Ramachandra Para BrahmaNE Nama :
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan