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Articles on Carnatic Music

Reciting Rama Nama
by M.G. Vasudevan

What will happen if you start uttering a word repeatedly even without knowing

* Whether it is a mere sound or some thing else
* What is the content of the word
* What is the meaning of the word
* What is the essence behind the word
This repeated speaking of the same word in simple terms is called japam.

Generally it is believed, why believed, to a good extent proved also, that all sounds "produce vibrations" around that subject utterer [one who speaks that word]. These vibrations create to human beings a positive or negative benefit depending on the word, the nature of it, and the good and bad intention of the person behind that word.

In such a situation, when that word is the name of our pet lord, and the intention of the person behind that uttering is simple and pure devotion to that lord, will it not produce immense benefits for him, around him, and confer benefits through him to the entire mankind?

That "maraa" by vaalmeeki gave him the eternal fame linked with the epic raamaayaNam. That "raamaa" by saint thyaagaraaja gave him the very "su- darsanam" of the lord raamaa.

But has this continuous uttering of raamaa gave him the "sukham" - the enjoyment, the happiness, or welfare to him? Perhaps the answer will be a big "NO" for he himself asks "sukhi evarO, raama naama - sukhi evarO". Since he raised this question in the form of a krithi, the question itself makes clear he is the not sukhi. Then who else was it?

Further question arises, if he is not the enjoyer - sukhi - why then he continued that repeated uttering - japam. Dear bhakthaas, if, he has not continued that, perhaps we, you and I, need not worry about this person, discuss his "point" of "who is the sukhi?", sing his krithi with deep devotion on that raamaa, shed tears singing his krithi or hearing his krithi. That is the benefit he got, the name and fame even after his physical removal from this world.

Now the full krithi. raagam: kaanadaa
taaLam: dhEsaadhi
22nd mELa karthaa kharaharapriya janya
Aa: S R2 G2 M1 D N2 S
Av: S N2 P M1 G2 M1 R2 S

Composer: Sri thyaagaraajaa
Language: telugu

sukhi evarO raama naama sukhi evvarO -- (sukhi)

meaning: who is the raamaa naama enjoyer?

sukhi evarO sumukhi evarO
akhila saaramagu thaaraka naama -- (sukhi)

meaning: Who is the raamaa naama enjoyer? Who is that person having the good face [as a result of uttering the raama naama]? Like the pupil of the eye that liberating naama, which is the entire essence of all - that liberating raamaa naama, the enjoyer who is it?

sathyamu thappaka sakala lOkulaku
Bhrthyudai dhaiva bEdhamu lEka
nithyamaina susvarapu gaanamuthO
nirantharamu thyaagaraaja nutha raama -- (sukhi)

meaning: that naamaa eulogised by thyaagaraaja, which is truth and nothing but truth in the entire world, guiding all people, without creating any difference or distinction between different gods, the eternal, with good quality singing made permanent, the enjoyer of that naamaa, who is he?

The question in the krithi is some thing fantastic - who is the happy person enjoying the raamaa naamaam. Not only that sukhi but the sumukhi - one who has a good face? Dear bhakthaas, now perhaps you will be clear that he is not the sukhi - the enjoyer. But he has not answered this question he himself raised, just left it unanswered. Does it mean that he is not aware of the answer? One thing he made clear in this krithi- he is not the enjoyer but he continued to do that raamaa naama japa, for he said, realised that it is thaaraka naamam- life saving naamam. Is this not the real karma yOgam - just doing the duty - my duty is to do japam - not enjoy the fruits of the japam - but really not aspiring for the fruits of that action of doing the japam.

karmaNi Eva aDhikaarasthE maa phalEshu kadhaachana|
maa karma phala hEthur Bhoormaa thE sangO~sthva karmaNi ||
2 -47 of srimadh bhagavath geethaa.
Now the scenes get changed.
Scene 1: Read the dialogue, taking place in kailaayam, the abode of sivan.
Paarvathi - Hey - praBhO! aham srOthum ichchhaami!
Meaning - Hey lord I want to hear [from you]

Sivan - Yes, dear, what is that you want to hear from me?

Paarvathi - This is what it is - paNdithai: nithyam vishNo: naama sahasrakam kEna upaayEna laghunaa patyathE?

Meaning - These learned persons, with what easy means, daily can read the 1000 naamaas of sri vishNu?

Now the slOkam: [dear bhakthaas, you all know this slokam is part of the phala sruthi slOkams in sri vishNu sahasra naamam]

kEna upaayEna laghunaa vishNOr naama sahasrakam|
patyathE paNdithai: nithyam srOthum ichchaami aham prabhO||

Sivan - vara aananE! Meaning - hey charming faced lady,
sri raama raama raama ithi ramE
raamE manOramE
raama naama sahasra naama thath thulyam "

meaning: I enjoy telling sri raama raama raama, and thereby delighted to repeat that raama naamam. For that is equivalent to telling 1000 naamaas of sri vishNu.

Now the slOkam- "sri raama raama raamEthi ramE raamE manOramE sahasra naama thath thulyam raama naama vara aananE"

Is it that the "raama naama sukhi" is no body else other than sivan? This doubt comes because thyaagaraaja asked the question sukhi evarO? and completed the krithi without answering the question.

Scene 2: The very first sargam [chapter] of the first of the seven kaaNdam - divisions - baala kaaNdam of sreemadh vaalmeeki raamaayaNam starts with

thapa: svaadhyaaya nirathaam thapasvee vaagvidhaam varam | naaradham paripaprachchha vaalmeeki: muni pungavam || 1-1-1

Meaning: the sage-poet Vaalmeeki, inquisitively inquired the divine sage naaradha, who is
* the thoughtful person even in meditation,
* an eternally studious sage in scriptures [about the truth and untruth]
* a sagacious thinker
* a sublime elucidator among all expert enunciators,
* a man who is a composite in his form for all merited endowments.
* ka: nu asmin sampratham lOkE guNavaan ka: cha veeryavaan |
Dharmajna: cha krtajna: cha sathya vaakyO dhrDa vratha: || 1-1-2
* Meaning: vaalmeeki to naaradha - Who really is that person in this present world who is
* a principled one
* a potential one,
* a conscientious one,
* a redeemer,
* a truth-teller
* who is determined in his deeds
* chaarithrENa cha kO yuktha: sarva bhoothEshu kO hitha: |
vidhvaan ka: ka: samartha: cha ka: cha Eka priya dharsana: || 1-1-3
* Meaning: the question "who he is" is continued -
* conduct- wise blended with good-conduct
* benign in respect of all beings
* adept
* able
* uniquely goodly to look to
* aathmavaan ka: jitha krOdhO dhyuthimaan ka: anasooyaka: |
kasya biBhyathi dhEvaa: cha jaatha rOshasya samyugE || 1-1-4
* Meaning: the question "who he is" is continued
* courageous
* controlled his ire,
* brilliant,
* non-jealous
* by whom even the gods are afraid when provoked to war

Ethath ichchhaami aham srOthum param koutoohalam hi mE |
maharshE thvam samartho~asi jnaathum Evam vidham naram || 1-1-5

Meaning: oh! Great Sage [to naaradha], all this I wish to listen from you, for you are a mastermind to know such kind of a man, for immense is my inquisitiveness, indeed.

When this question is asked by sri vaalmeeki to sage naaradha, naaradha maharshi immediately starts pouring out the sankshEpa raamaayaNam. From slokam 8 to 97 of first sargam is an abridged version of raamaayaNam. The doubt now comes to mind - is naaradha, the raama naama sukhi referred by thyaagaraaja, for unless he has enjoyed that taste, he can not just start and pour out at one go that "raama amirtham".

Scene 3: Sreemadh raamayaNam Baala kaaNdam sargam 2 [chapter 2]

maa nishaadha pratistaam thvam aagama: saasvathee: samaa: |
yath krouncha mithunaath Ekam avadhee: kaama mohitam || 1-2-15

meaning: Oh! No! Hunter, you will get an ever-lasting reputation for ages to come, by which deed of yours, you killed one male bird of the couple, when it is in its lustful passion.

aajagaama thatha: brahmO lOka karthaa svayam prabhu: |
chathur mukhO mahaa thEjaa dhrashtum tham muni pungavam || 1-2-23

meaning: Then lord brahma, the creator and lord of worlds, that great resplendent four-faced deity, arrived on his own, to see that eminent saint vaalmeeki. [1-2-23]

Comment: The presiding deities like brahma usually do not arrive on their own, but present themselves after long and great effort on penance. Otherwise he visits the scene when demon devotees do a big hue and cry as is general. But here brahma, the creator of worlds, one of the three trinities arrives in front of vaalmeeki on his own.

slOka evaasthvayaam badhDhO na athra kaaryaa vichaaraNaa ||
mathchchhandhaath eva thE brahman pravrththE ayam sarasvathee | 1-2-31

meaning: oh! brahma rishi, the above verse [sarasvathee] is composed by you at my wish alone, and there is no need to think otherwise.

raamasya charitham krthsnam kuru thvam rishi saththama |
Dharma aathmanO bhagavathO lOkE raamasya Dheematha: || 1-2-32

meaning: oh! The best sage, you shall render raama's legend in its entirety, of raama, who in the world is a virtuous, godly and sagacious person.

vriththam kathaya dheerasya yathaa thE naaradhaath srutham |
rahasyam cha prakaasam cha yadh vrththam thasya dheematha: || 1-2-33

meaning: Tell the legend unknown or known of that valiant, ingenious raama, as you heard from naaradha,.

raamasya saha soumithrE raakshasaanaam cha sarvasa: |
vaidhEhyaa: cha Eva yadh vrththam prakaasam yadhi vaa raha: || 1-2-34

meaning: raama's legend along with lakshmana, and of those demons also in its entirety, with that of vaidhEhi, that legend which is either revealed or un-revealed so far.

Point: That sage vaalmeeki uttered a slOkam on seeing the male bird fell by a hunter and after that brahma "on his own" appears in front of that sage and says "on my behest only you composed that slOkam. Now pour out that story of raama", he also complies with that.

Later a slokam is composed to highlight the contribution of vaalmeeki and also to pay respects to him at the beginning of reading raamaayaNam as the guru vandhanam -

koojantham raama raamEthi madhuram madhura aksharam
aaroohya kavithaa saakhaam vandhE vaalmeeki kOkilam ||

meaning: My prostration to the nightingale vaalmeeki who cuckoos 'raamaa, raamaa' the sweet honey letters [aksharam] among the sweet, in the form of branches of poetry [srimadh raamaayanam].

ya piban saththam raama charitha amrutha saagaram|
athrupthastham munim vandhE praachEthasam akalmasham||

meaning: To that faultless muni praachEthas [vaalmeeki- son of prachEthas], I always prostrate, who did not get satisfied even after drinking from the nectarian ocean called raama charitham.

Point: one thing is clear here - perhaps the raama charitham is not that sweet and giving the sukham like that of the raama naamam. That is why he is still a non-satisfied person- athruptha: and cuckoos the naamaa "raama raama".

This leads to the doubt, is sri vaalmeeki the raama naama sukhi said by thyaagaraaja? - for other wise how that brahma will come in front and say now you start telling that raamaa's story.

Scene 4: Now let us see the maaruthi anjali slOkam
yathra yathra raghunaathha keerthanam thathra thathra krutham hasthaka anjalim
baashpa vaari pari poorNa lOchanam maaruthim namatha raakshaasa anthakam

meaning: where all raama's naama is being sung [or told or spoken], there maaruthi [the enemy of raakshasaas] [or] who annihilated raakshaasaas, stands bowing to raamaa with folded hands in anjali mudhra, eyes completely filled with tears.

Point: This leads to the doubt and question that, is he not the raama naama sukhi. But if he is the sukhi, why he has to wander where all raghunaathaa's name is uttered? yathra yathra raghunaatha keerthanam thathra thathra maaruthi. Further why he denied himself the mOksham when offered by the very raama, so that he can stay always with that raamaa in front, whom he now enjoys by going places.

Scene 5: Now let us see another krithi by another very staunch raama bhaktha. "O raamaa nee naamam entha ruchi raa, Emi ruchi raa raamaa - O raamaa" says bhadhraachala raama dhaasa [BRD] in his krithi in the raaga poorvi kalyaani.

Point: Since by time period BRD is senior to saint thyaagaraajaa, perhaps ST had in his mind BRD to state "sukhi evarO raama naama sukhi evarO?".

But as history goes, BRD suffered so much at the hands of the muslim ruler of that place where BRD served as the official, whereas that muslim ruler had the dharsana sowbhaagyam of two youths coming and paying BRD's dues to the ruler. These two are raama and lakshmaNa. This also gives rise to a doubt that may be BRD may or may not be the raama naama sukhi addressed by ST.

By considering the above 5 scenes it has become very difficult who is the raama naama sukhi? Also where to look for the answer? Now see another krithi of same thyaagaraaja

raagam: suruti 28 harikaambhOji janyam
Aa: S R2 M1 P N2 S
Av: S N2 D2 P M1 G3 P M1 R2 S
thaaLam: dhEsaadi
Composer: thyaagaraaja
Language: Telugu

geethaarthamu sangeetha aanandhamu
nee thaavuna joodaraa O manasaa -- geethaarthamu

geethaa arthamu - the meaning of sri bhagavath geetha
sangeetha aanandhamu - the pleasure or happiness derived from music
nee thaavuna joodaraa - please see the path
O manasaa - hey mind

meaning: hey mind, please see the meaning of bhagavath geetha, the pleasure [or is it happiness?] out of music. [it is understood here that 'hey mind without enjoying these why you are jumping places?'].

seethaapathi charaNaambujamulu idukonna
vaathaathmajuniki baaga thelusuraa

meaning: The son of wind god [that vaayu puthran hanumaan] knows very well, who has the lotus feet of seethaa's husband, the great raamaa in his mind always.

hari hara bhaaskara kaalaadhi karmamulanu
mathamula marmamula neringina
hari vara roopudu harahaya vinuthudu
vara thyaagaraaja varadhuDu sukhiraa

meaning: That hanumaan is the enjoyer the raama naama sukhi -who * has the boon of having monkey face,
* knows well about hari the naaraayaNa, hara the siva, bhaaskara the sun god, yama the kaala or death god et al closely
* knows the work and secrets of all religions, the meaning of bhagavath geetha.
* is the boon giver to thyaagaraaja

1. hari vara roopudu sukhiraa - monkey faced hanumaan is the sukhi - raa - the enjoyer.
2. It is also said that hanumaan is another avathaaram of siva - rudhra avathaaram - so siva who claims one raama naama is the equivalent of 1000 names of sri naaraayaNa is the raama naama sukhi.
3. hari vara roopudu sukhi raa - it can also be said that naaradha is also hari vara roopudu - for once it is said naaradha met sri naaraayaNa and asked a boon to have a face like hari -the vishNu - hari aananam - bhagavaan also said - ok, granted. What naaradhaa had really is also hari aananam - the monkey face. Then naaradhaa has to do a lot more to get rid of that monkey face. [For hari also mean a monkey, a lion, a tiger, vishNu etc.] so hari vara roopudu can also be naaradha.

See how nicely the question put in one krithi is answered in another krithi. Dear bhakthaas, Now enjoy the raama naama sukham by singing both krithis one after the other.

Vasudevan m.g.

M.G. Vasudevan is a civil engineer in active service as well as a devoted rasika. He has also written many articles on Krishna, and more recently on Raama, in addition to Tyagaraja kritis linked to incidents in the Ramayana, all of which are available at the Bhakthi list and the Oppiliappan Yahoo group.

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updated on 03/20/2009