The month of Margasirsha [margazhi] is celebrated in a grand manner as it is the dawn time for the Lords. Generally a day is divided into three different parts [satvaa, rajas and tamas gunas]. The early morning is the time of the day when the quality of calmness, piousness and goodness [sattva guna ] is at its peak. It is always good to get up early in the morning before sunrise to practice spiritual austerities. When we talk about the month of margazhi, we remember the thiruppavai, which consists of the thirty hymns composed by Saint Andal. Thiruppvai is sung during the month of margazhi. The great mahatmas show that Andal as the Purushakaraka as she acts as an Guru [Acharya], waking up the jivas from their slumber and helping them attain the holy feet of the Lord. This can be substantiated from her hymns where she goes knocking every door and waking up everyone. She goes into her friends houses and wakes them. Andal does a beautiful prayer by fasting for thirty days. They call it as paavai nombu. It is told that Andal has not been to Brindavan and she has gone beyond the precincts of Srivilliputur. Andal had the experience of the Lord and she knew that the Gopikas performed a very similar fast [vratha] and she took this inspiration from Srimad Bhagavatam. She tells her friends that if the Gopikas can attain the Lord undertaking this fast then why not us? So what is this fast all about?
In her first pasuram she sings, “Madhi nirainda nan naal”. Madi bears two meanings. It refers to the intellect or the mind and secondly it also means moon. The moon is said to be in control of the mind during the full-moon or the new moon day and it is when the mind is filled with bhakti. The month of margazhi starts on a full-moon day. The moon controls the mind and that the mind is filled with bhakti on the full-moon day and it is completely devoid of any negative thought which is on the new moon day. Most of the mahans who have incarnated in this earth was either a full-moon or a new-moon day. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born on a full-moon day and Our Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji was born on a new moon day.
Andal also outlined the rules and regulations for observing the fast [ paavai nombu ] that one has to undertake in order to attain the holy feet of the Lord. She also thinks about the glory of bhakti and the she reminisces the gopikas of Brindavan who incessantly chant the Divine Name of the Lord. She finally acts as a guru and teaches one to perform bhakti to the Lord. She goes to say – “When the Lord comes in front of you and requests you to ask for a boon, don’t speak up and instead let the Lord look at your desires and let Him grant the boons as per his wish for he knows what is good you”. If there are any desires in me that are not suitable for me, then please make an internal transformation in me so that all my desires are pointed to your service only. It is verily your service that can indeed liberate me from this mundane world and always make me to do service to you in all the future births.
“Yaam vanda karyam arayanthu arulelo embavai”.
“Sitram siru kaalai vandu unnai sevithu”
Un potra marai adiyen porul kelai
Petrum mai thinum kulathil pirandhu ne
Kutrai varaengal kollamal pogathu
Itrai parai kolvan andru kaan govindha
Etraikum eyeyu piravikum undanodu
uttrome aavom unmake namatchaivom
Matrai naam kamangal matrae loremabhavazhai”
That is the prayer that we all need to do to the Lord. Being in the Lord’s premises and thinking about him forever and perform service to the Lord. If you think that the Lord is quite far, then surrender unto a great mahatma and do service [kainkarya] and bhakti to that great mahan and that will lead us to the Lord.
Followed by this, Sri Prakashji talked about the life-history of Sage Narada’s life-history and the Nama Bhakti which is experienced by great mahans in this age of Kali.
Srimad Bhagavatam is given to us by the Lord himself. The Lord passed it onto Sage Narada and he gave it to Sage Veda Vyasa and he narrated it to his son Sage Suka and he finally delivered it to King Parikshit at Naimisharanya amidst Sage Suta and other Maharishis. The current narration of Srimad Bhagavatam is that of Sage Shuka expounding Srimad Bhagavatam to Sounakadi Maharishis.
So why is there a difference in manifestation of the purana? Why are there so many different expositions? It depends on the complexity of the subject matter, isn’t? The Lord gave Srimad Bhagavatam to Brahmaji in just four slokas. Sage Veda Vyasa passed Srimad Bhagvatam to Sage Suka in a guru-shisya learning style [parampara]. Chanda means the guru recites the sloka once and the ‘tiruvai’ means that the disciple repeats it twice.
We know that Sage Suka passed Srimad Bhagavatam to King Parikshit and we have it as a narration between the Sage Suta and Sounakadi Maharishis. Every purana in Sanatana Dharma begins with Vishada Yogam. It begins with someone in disturbed state of mind. Here Sage Veda Vyasa was in confused and worried after giving the four Vedas and Mahabharatha. He meditated with deep bhakti and as he meditates, his guru Sage Narada immediately appeared in front of him. The guru does not wait for the call of his devotee. When the devotee is in distress, he comes right in front. Sage Narada appeared in front of Sage Veda Vyasa.
Prakashji very lucidly explained the Bhoja Champu from Srimad Ramayanam where Lord Rama depicts the grace of a guru to Bharatha. Bharatha was asked to lead the kingdom, when Lord Rama was leaving to the forest. Bharatha was really unhappy and confused. How come I will rule the kingdom when my brother is going to the forest? Lord Rama understood Bharatha’s distress and he took him in isolation and sat in front of him in the form of a guru. When Bharatha looked at Lord Rama all his questions were answered as Mouna Vakyanam. Similarly here Sage Narada appeared in front of Sage Veda Vyasa and he immediately stood up and prostrated unto his guru.
Sage Narada says “You are a great Mahan. You have expounded on all the puranas, Mahabharatha and have a good understanding on Sanatana Dharma. In spite of all this, your mind is lamenting and you are not happy.”
Immediately sage Veda Vyasa confided on him that his heart was not contended. He asked him to give an answer to all his worries and thereby clear his mind.
Sage Narada continued. “Oh Sage Veda Vyasa, even though you have given the Vedas, the Puranas, you have not talked about the spotless glories of the Lord”.
NA yad vachas chitrapadam hareryasho jagatpavithram pragrunitha karhichith|
Thatvayasam theertham ushanthi manasa na yatra hamsa niramanthyushikshayaha||
Thatvagvisargo janathagaviplavo yasmin prathislokamabaddhavadhyapi|
Namanyananthasya yashonkithani yachsrinvanti gayanthi grunanthi sadavaha ||
When a Dharma or a work does not extol the glories of the Lord then it cannot be called as the best of the best. A sloka is said to be complete when it contains the Lord’s divine names and sings his glories even though it may not be correct grammatically. Such a sloka will wipe out all the sins of the people in this universe. It is that very sloka that the mahans would love to revel upon.
Now let us delve into the Namaniananthasya bhava and the shrinvanthi, grunanthi, yadsadavaha which was experienced by some contemporary mahans and let us reminisce what Sage Narada mentioned in the above sloka.
Let’s now start to reminisce Andal who lived in Srivalliputur. She had a great parentage. She was very fortunate to listen to the glories of Lord Sri Krishna from her father. In the Gaayanthi Bhava, she wrote Thiruppavai for the benefit and betterment of this society. She very well knew that Srimad Bhagavatam is the means of liberation for people living in the age of Kaliyuga. She depicts the Namani ananthasya bhava in the following hymns. She is referring to Lord Vamana, more specifically Lord Ulagalandha perumal from Thirukovilur of Vilupuram district of Tamil Nadu. It is said in Srimad Bhagavatam that Lord Vamana used just two foot to measure the whole world. He had one foot on the ground and the other foot on the heaven and used his third foot to grant liberation to King Bali. When one signs the Divine Names of the gracious Lord coupled with paavai Nombu, which is a tradition followed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, all the problems will be absolved akin to janathada viplavo.
Ongi Ulagalandha Uttaman Per paadi Nangal naam paaviku satru neer adinal
Theengindri naalellam thingal mummari peythu
That is the Bhagavatha Bhava experienced by Andal, who was a Gopika herself.
Meerabhai sings –
“ pāyo jī, maine nāma raṭana dhana pāyo
mīrā ke prabhu giridhara nāgara, harakha harakha jasa gāyo”
She says that she has got the most invaluable wealth that one could ever get. It is verily the understanding of Nama. She says that she wants to sing the names of the Lord with merriment.
Then Sri Prakashji elucidated the significance of Nama Mahima from excerpts of Sri Bodendral’s life-history. Purushottaman was Sri Bodendra’s former name before he became the pontiff of Kanchi Mutt. One day, Purushotaman and his pal Jnanasagaran set out to Varanasi to meet their Guru, Sri Vishwadhikendra Saraswati Swamgial. Enroute to Varanasi, Jnanasagaran passed away. After completing the rituals for Jnanasagaran, Purushotaman continued on his journey to Varanasi. Purushottaman reached Varanasi, had darshan of his Guru and paid his respectshe said that he was going to jump into the Ganges and give up his life. His Master stopped him and advised him that one had no right to commit suicide. This earthly body is a gift of God and we do not have any right to destroy it ourselves. By committing suicide, one suffers unsaid tortures after death.
The Guru explained to Purushottaman in detail why he should not end his life. But Purushottaman insisted in falling into the Holy Ganga and end his life as he had given his word to his friend. Then his Guru said, ‘You have been born in this world to liberate those millions of souls who are struggling in the ocean called Samsara. Take up Sanyasa. According to Shastras, taking up Sanyasa is akin to taking a new birth. Thus, both your promise and my wish shall be fulfilled.
Purushottaman agreed. The next morning, on the banks of the Ganges in the holy city of Varanasi, Purushottaman was accorded Sanyasa. He was given the name, ‘Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Saraswati’. For a while, the Guru kept Sri Bodendra with himself and gave him mantropadesa.
One day, the guru called Sri Bodendra Saraswati and asked him to go out to the world and spread the greatness of the Divine Name of God. He instructed his disciple to go to Puri Kshetra and meet a Mahan by the name Lakshmidhara Kavi in order to obtain the book “Bhagavan Nama Kaumudi” which dealt with the greatness of Bhagavan Nama. The Guru asked him to write Granthas based on this Text.
Adhering to his guru’s words, Bodendra Saraswati set out to Puri. It was about midnight when he reached Lakshmidhara Kavi’s home. Not willing to disturb the household at night, the ascetic rested in the pyol outside the house.
That night, a strange incident happened. A Brahmin accompanied by a woman whose form and features resembled one of a lowly caste knocked the door of Sri Lakshmidhara Kavi. A young man came out of the house and enquired what they wanted. The visitor said that he had a doubt that he wanted clarified from Lakshmidhara Kavi. The young man said that he was Lakshmidhara Kavi ‘s son, Jagannatha Kavi. He said that his father was out of town. However he had taught him all the Shastras and that he could clarify the visitor’s doubt. The Brahmin said, ‘I hail from South India. I went on a pilgrimage to the north and when I returned, could not find my wife. It is just now that I found her. However, she has the form and features of one from a lowly caste. I wanted to know if I could lead a family life with this lady again.” Jagannatha Kavi immediately said, ‘Tomorrow morning, take her to the pond adjoining the Jagannath Temple. Dip her in the pond chanting the “Rama” Nama thrice. When she emerges, she will be purified and you can lead family life with her again. His mother, who peeped from the house, corrected him saying that, uttering Rama Nama once would do!
Sri Bodendra was taken aback witnessing this incident. He immediately introduced himself to them and requested them for the book and studied it thoroughly.
The next morning, the whole city was gathered around the pond adjoining the temple. The Brahmin brought the lady and dipped her in the pond chanting the Taraka Mantra. To everyone’s surprise, when the woman emerged out of water, she had shed her current form, and had exactly the same form and features when she lived with the Brahmin earlier, clearly illustrating the power of the Rama Nama
That is an experience of the Nama bhava. When we talk about the Namani anantasya bhava and nama bhava, we are immediately reminded of Thyaga Brahmam. In of his kirtans, he says,
rAma nAmamu janma rakSaka mantramu tAmasamu sEyaka bhajimpavE manasA
Sri Thiagarajar in the above verse is conveying the fact that it is indeed the chanting of the divine names of the Lord Rama that can take one ashore. He says, please do not hesitate and don’t procrastinate to chant the Lord’s divine names.
Now let’s get back to Sage Narada’s life-history. Any action that one performs without an iota of devotion [bhakti] is useless. If one possesses deep faith and devotion to the Lord, the Lord is sure to take that person ashore, even if he falls from his righteousness and from the path of dharma. A lucid example to substantiate this is the life-history of King Parikshit and Ajamaila’s life-history.
Sage Narada narrated about his previous birth. He was born to a servant maid who was serving the sadhus who were staying close to his place. He further continued that he had the wonderful opportunity to serve the Vedic scholars with all righteousness. His mother had instilled on him the good qualities of respecting the scholars and even though the scholars were unbiased, they still showered the mercy on Sage Narada.
Uchisthalepananumoditho dwijaihi sakruthsma bhunjae thadapasthakilbishaihi
Aevam pravruthasya vishudhachaethasadharma aevathahma ruchihi prajayathae
One day he happened to consume the remnants of the food that was consumed by the scholars and his mind was instantly purified. He started to develop more and more attraction to the Lord. The scholars stayed on the village for four months as they were observing the chatur masya vratha. During that time, they elucidated the significance of the divine name chanting of the Lord. They also uttered words that were directly recited by the Lord to these vedic scholars. Sage Narada continued to talk about devotion [bhakti] in modern times.
Aamayo yascha boothanam jayathae yena suvratha |
thadeva yhamayam dhravyam na punathi chikitsitham||
The same substance which contributes to a particular malady cannot ordinarily counteract the disease, but when taken in a properly medicated form does cure the ailment. Our current mundane lifestyle leads one to transmigration but if we modify our life style by introducing bhakti to the Lord, then the cycles of transmigration is completely broken and leads to spiritual enlightenment.
Sage Narada requested Sage Veda Vyasa to extol the glories of the Lord. This cleared all his concerns and was very happy.
He then asked Sage Narada, “Oh Guru Maharaj, what did you do once the rishis left the village?”
Sage Narada continued about his life history. He said that he was the only son and his mother earned her living by running chores to other people. His father had passed away. One day when his mother went to milk a cow, she was bitten by a snake and died. Sage Narada was in great distress. He told Sage Veda Vyasa that he took it as a blessing and decided to move northwards. He further added that he had not seen any other place other than his house as a five year old boy. Since he was traveling far and wide, he was tired he sat down on the banks of a river, took a sip of water and started to meditate on the Lord without any thought.
Dyayathascharanambhojam bhavanirjithachaethasa |
Outhakantyashrukalakshasya hridyasinmae shanairharihi||
Sage Narada continued and said “Suddenly tears started to roll over my eyes and I could see that the Lord came and sat inside my heart. As I was enjoying the bliss, my joy knew no bounds and within few moments I neither couldn’t recollect who I was nor the form of the Lord that I was experiencing. Slowly the Lord started to move out of me. I was sad again and the all compassionate Lord appeared in front of me again. He said that “You are not eligible to have the consistent darshan of me.
Hanthasminjanmani bhavan mam dhrushtamiharhathi |
Aavipakvakashayam dhurdarshoham kuyoginam||
The Lord said that you had my darshan just because you served the vedic scholars and also they were thinking of you. The bhakti and devotion that you did will not go waste and bestowed him that he will be in his service in his next birth. Hearing this Sage Narada happiness knew no bounds. Bereft of any pride and jealousy he roams around the world singing his divine glories.
Days passed by, Sage Narada’s mortal coil leaves the earth but his soul was still reverberating in the cosmos waiting for the yuga to end. The soul was lingering around for the yuga to come to an end. After the yuga ended, after several yugas Lord Brahma decide to create the earth and Sage Narada appeared on the earth, and Lord Brahma blessed him with a Veena and he roamed all over singing the divine names of the Lord.
Devadhatamimam veenam svarabrahmavibhositham |
Moorchayithva harikatham gaayamanascharamyaham||
When we think about harikatha and Naama katha, Sage Thyaga Brahmam immediately comes to our mind.
Let us now delve into the experiences of Thyaga Brahmam from his Endaro Mahanu Bavalu kirtan which is in line with Sage Narada’s experiences from Srimad Bhagavatam.
He first prostrates unto to all the great men who have incarnated in this world.
SO who are great men?
“ Manasa vanachara Vara Sanchaa ramu Nilipi mu-rthi Bhaa guga Podaganevaaru
Saraguna Paadamulaku Swaanthamunu Sarojamunu Samarpanamu Seyuvaru”
Our mind is like a monkey which keeps on wandering. Great men are those who are able to keep their senses under control and constantly think of Lord Rama.
Who else is great? One who completely surrenders unto the holy feet of Lord Rama without any hesitation is indeed called as great men. He also depicts about the gayanthi bahava, in the following verse
Pathitha Paavanudane Paraathparuni Gurimchi Paramaarthamagu Nijamaargamuthonu Paaduchunu Sallapamutho Swaralayaadi raagamula Theliyuvaar
Great men are those who sing the divine names of the Lord and thius purify everyone with devotion. They are the ones who are very conversant with the oneness of swara, laya and raga by being in constant touch with them.
Parama Bhaagavatha Mounivara Sashi Vibhaakara Sanaka Sanandanaa
Dikeesha Sura Kimpurusha Kanakakashipusutha Naaradha Thumburu
Pavana Sunu BaalaChandraDharasukha Saroja Bhava Bhusuravarulu
parama Paavanulu Ghanulu Sasvathulu Kamalabhavasukhamu Sadaanubhavulu Gaaka
He talks about other saints who are great. He is reminded of the foremost of the bhagavathas who are the enjoying the eternal bliss. He starts with Sage NAarada, Thumburu Lord Shiva, Sage Suka and others.
Nee menu Naama Vaibhavambulanu Nee paraakrama…
He says that great men are those who sing the divine names of Lord Rama.
Bhaagavatha raamaayana geethaadi Sruthi Shaastrapuranapu marmamula Sivaadi Shanmathamula Gudamulan MupadiMukkodi…
He says the devotees who have a deep understanding of Srimad Bhagavatam, Ramayanana, the puranas are the ones who are really great. Very interesting point to note that is he starts off with Srimad Bhagavatam which is the Lord himself.
He propagated the chanting of the Divine Names of the Lord.
Premamu pirikonuvela namamu nu Dalchevaaru rama Bhakthudaina Thiagaraajanuthuniki nija dasu laina
Who ever chants the divine name of Lord Rama is called a devotee of Lord Rama.
ThyagaBrahmam was a great saint and who has deep understanding of the scriptures, propagated the chanting of Divine Names to everyone in this world. He has verily experienced the essence of Srimad Bhagavatam and that of divine names in all his compositions.
The satsang ended with Namasankirtan.