Archive | August 11, 2014

Lead kindly light

Today is the first day of the three-day Aradhana of Raghavendra Swamy (1595-1671).
Raghavendra Swamy is one of the foremost Madhwa saints and his one of the most widely worshipped saint in the world. Though he entered Brindavana 343 years ago, he continues to inspire devotion, faith and fervour. A man of the masses, Raghavendra Swamy was an unparalleled scholar, mystic, philosopher and religious icon.
He strode across India and revived Hindu thought, religion and philosophy when Hinduism was in peril. The Deccan or South India during the time of Raghavendra Swamy was in political turmoil. The Vijayanagar Empire, which was founded in 1336 had led to a revival of Hindu religion and it had stood as a bulwark against the expansion by Muslim states. Though the continuing battle between the Vijayanagar and Bahamani forces weakened both the kingdoms, Hindus never felt more safer and secure than when they were under the shelter of Vijayanagar emperors.
Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Theertha (1460-1539), as the previous avatar of Raghavendra Swamy, had presided over the Vijayanagar Empire at its peak. He was the Raja Guru of six Vijayanagar Emperors, including Krishna Deva Raya. Vyasa Raja entered Brindavana at Nava Brindavana in Anegundi on the banks of the Tungabhadra in 1539, a decade after Krishna Deva Raya died. Vyasa Raja had founded the Vyasa Koota and Dasa Koota schools. If Dasa Koota celebrated the glory of Vittala or Hari by means of songs and poems, Vyasa Koota was its philosophical counterpart. Vyasa Raja contributed to both and nurtured them.
Once the Vijayanagar Empire was ravaged by the Muslim states of the Deccan in 1565 (The Vijayanagar Emperor, Rama Raya, who was the son-in-law of Krishna Deva Raya, was beheaded in the battle of Talikota or Rakasa Tangadi in 1565 after which Hampi or Vijayanagar was sacked, burnt and totally destroyed), the innumerable dasas and men of literature and learning were forced to flee. Among those who escaped were Madhwapati Dasa, the son of Purandara Dasa and his brothers. Some of the Dasas went to Pune where they were patronised while the others sought refuge in smaller kingdoms. During the age of Raghavendra Swamy, the Adilshahis of Bijapur were the most powerful force in south India. Though the Adil Shahis were generally tolerant of other religions, they were essentially Shia Muslims.
The Adil Shahis, after sacking Vijayanagar, were at war with other Hindu states. They even conquered Mysore for a short time before they were repulsed. Their generals under Shahaji, the father of Shivaji, had captured Bangalore and exiled Kempe Gowda to Magadi.
By the middle of the 17th century, the South had become a vast battleground where the Mughals under Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707), the Adil shahis under Mohammad Adil Shah (1627-1657)-the builder of Gol Gumbaz, Ali Adil Shah (1657-1672) and Sikander Adil Shah (1672-1686), the Qutb Shahi Kings of Golconda, Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah (1612–1626),
Abdullah Qutb Shah (1626–1672) and Abul Hasan Qutb Shah (1672–1689) and the Marathas under Shivaji waged wars against each other.
The repeated incursions of the Mughals into the Deccan and the weakening of Hindu kingdoms, with the exception of the Mysore Kingdom of Wodeyars, dealt a severe blow to Hindu art, culture and philosophy. Of course, religion too was affected. It was at this time that Raghavendra Swamy strode across India.
Rayaru, as Raghavendra Swamy is popularly known, sparked the revival of the Dasa Sahitya. Raichur and the areas surrounding Mantralaya became the hub of the Dasa Sahitya movement and the first among them was Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755). Several generations of Haridasas such as Gopala Dasa, Jaganatha Dasa of Manvi, Guru Jagannatha Dasa, Abhinava Janardhana Dasa and others were inspired by Rayaru to compose poems in praise of Hari.
Rayaru also contributed to the robust revival of Madhwa thought and philosophy when he composed several outstanding works. His Bhatasangraha is an outstanding piece of philosophical work. It is an insightful commentary on the entire Mimamsa Sutra of Jaimini. His commentaries on the works of Jayatheertha or Teekacharya such as Nyayasudha Parimala, which is a commentary on the Nyaya sudha, commentary on pramana paddhati of Jayatheertha and Bhavadeepa, a commentary on Vaadavalii (a book by Jayattheertha) led to renewed interest in the works of Jayatheertha.
Rayaru also interpreted several works of Madhwacharya and gave a new and meaningful insight into them. His Mantraarthamanjari is an exquisite commentary on the first three adhyaayas of the Rig Veda. Incidentally, Rayaru has touched upon the same portions which four centuries earlier had been dealt with by Madhwacharya.
Rayaru also interpreted two works of Vyasa Theertha or Vyasaraja, his earlier avatar. The Prakasha is a commentary on the Tatparya Chandrika of Vyasa Theertha and the Nyayadeepa, a commentary on Tarkatandava of Vyasa Theertha.
More than anything else, Rayaru by his humanitarian nature, piety, devotion to God, deep and everlasting concern for the poor and needy and simplicity inspired one and all who came in contact with him.
Rayaru came down to earth only to guide, help mankind. Even on the day he entered Brindavana, he showed his concern for the poor and the needy and performed several miracles. Though he entered Brindavana more than three centuries ago, he continues to inspire and guide us.
The aradhane of Rayaru is not only celebrated in Mantralaya but in mathas all over the world and in lakhs of houses. Rayaru will continue leading us from gloom to light, from bondage to freedom and from ignorance to bliss and knowledge. Here it is apt to remember Henry Newman’s poem, Lead Kindly Light.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene–one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

An outpouring of faith and devotion

There have been more than a thousand dasas or poets who have written on Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru. This saint not only sparked the revival of the Haridasa Sahitya which had been dealt a mortal blow after the destruction of Hampi or Vijayanagar in 1565, he also gave a new impetus to Madhwa thought and philosophy.
One of the first Haridasas to identify Rarayu as a holy man and an avatara purusha was Vijaya Dasa. This Dasa came to Mantralaya frequently and wrote several works on Rayaru. It was Vijaya Dsa who first identified to us the gods who sat in the Brindavana surrounding Rayaru. On several occasions, Vijaya Dasa would offer Naivedya to the Brindavana and he would wait for Rayaru to take his holy bath in the Tungabhadra and come back.
After Vijaya Dasa, a number of post-composers such as Jagannatha Dasa, Gopala Dasa and others have eulogised Rayaru. One of the most prolific of them is Abhinava Janardhana Vittala. Here are some of his compositions. A disciple of Rayaru, he is often called as Prema Dasa of Somapura. He was a disciple of Jagannatha Dasa. No Dasa has written as much and as extensively on Rayaru as Abhinava Janardhana Vittaala.
Here are a few of his popular compositions.
Many of his works are outpouroing of faith and devotion. Here are some of them:

ತುಂಗಾನದೀ ತೀರದಿ ರಾಜಿಪ ಯತಿಯ

ನದೀ ತೀರದಿ ರಾಜಿಪ ಯತಿಯ
ನೀರೆ ನೊಡೋಣು ಬಾ
ಬಾ ಬಾ ನೀರೆ ನೊಡೋಣು ಬಾ….
ವೃ೦ದಾವನದೊಳಗಿರುವಾ ತಾ
ವೃ೦ದಾರಕರನು ಪೊರೆವಾ
ವೃ೦ದ ಗುಣಗಳಿ೦ದ ಮೆರೆವಾ
ವೃ೦ದಾರಕ ತರು ಎನಿಸಿದ ಸುಜನಕೆ
ಮರುತ ಮತಾ೦ಬುಧಿ ಚ೦ದ್ರ
ದಿನಕರ ಅಘತಮಕೆ ರವೀ೦ದ್ರ
ದುರುಳ ಮತಾಹಿ ಖಗೇ೦ದ್ರ
ಕರುಣಾಕರ ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಘವೇ೦ದ್ರ
ರವಿ ಶಶಿ ಕುಜ ಬುಧ ಗುರುವೆ
ಕವಿ ರಾಹು ಧ್ವಜ ಬಲವೇ
ಇವರ ದರುಶನಕೆ ಫಲವೇ
ನಮ್ಮ ಅಭಿನವ ಜನಾರ್ಧನ ವಿಠ್ಠಲನ ದಯವೇ.

Another beautiful composition is

ಬೇಗ ಸಾಗಿ ಬಾರಯ್ಯ – ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ ಗುರುವೆ

ಬೇಗ ಸಾಗಿ ಬಾರಯ್ಯ – ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ ಗುರುವೆ
ಬಾಗಿ ಭಕುತಿಲಿ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ತುತಿಪೆ ನಿನ್ನ || ಪ ||
ಭಾಗವತಾಗ್ರಣಿ ಭಾಗವತರ ಪ್ರೀಯ
ಯೋಗಿ ಕುಲವರ್ಯ ಯೋಗೇಂದ್ರ ವಿನುತ || ಅ ||
ಗಿರಿಯ ವೆಂಕಟ ನರಹರಿ ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣ ವ್ಯಾಸ
ಸಿರಿ ನಾರಾಯಣ ತನ್ನ ವರಮೂರ್ತಿಗಳಿಂದ
ಸರಸೀಜಭವ ವಾಯು ಸರಸ್ವತಿ ಭಾರತಿ ತ್ರಿ
ಪುರಹರ ಶೇಷ ವಿಪ ಸುರಪಾದ್ಯರ ಕೈಯಿಂದ
ಥರಥರದಲಿ ಪರಿಪರಿ ಸೇವೆಯ ವಿ
ಸ್ತಾರವಾಗಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳುತ ಮೆರಗುತ ನಿಲಿಸಿಹ
ಸ್ಥಿರವಾಗಿ ನಿಂದು ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯವ
ಧರೆಗೆ ತೋರ್ಪುದಕೆ ಮೆರೆವುತಲಿಹ || ೧ ||
ರಥಾರೂಢನಾಗಿ ಬರುತಲಿರೆ ನಿನ್ನ ಕ್ಷಿತಿಸುರರೆಲ್ಲ ಭಾಗ
ವತ ಪಂಚಮವೇದ ಭಾರತ ಮತ್ತೆ ಶ್ರುತಿಗಳಿ೦ದ ಬಲು ತುತಿಸುತಲಿನ್ನು
ಅತಿ ಹರುಷದಿ ಬಾರೆ ಯತಿಗಳಗತಿ ಸ೦
ಗತಿಯಿಂದಲಿ ನಲಿವುತ ಬಲು ಪರಿ ಮೆರೆ
ವುತ ಸದ್ಗತಿಯ ಕೊಡಲು ಅ
ಚ್ಯುತ ಸುಚರಿತ ಆ ನತಜನಬ೦ಧು || ೨ ||
ಸೂರಿ ಜನರುಗಳಪಾರ ಸ೦ದೋಹದಿ ಬರೆ ಭಕುತರು ಗ೦
ಭೀರ ಸ್ವರದಿ ಪಾಡೆ ಬಾರಿ ಬಾರಿಗೆ ಮಂಗಳಾರತಿ ಎತ್ತಿ ಜನರು
ಹಾರ ಪರಿಮಳ ಶರೀರಕೆ ಗಂಧ ಪೂಸಿ
ಭೂರಿ ಜನರು ಕೈವಾರಿಸುತಿರಲು
ಭೇರಿ ಕಹಳೆ ಭೂಂ ಭೋರಿಡುತಿರೆ ಮುರವೈರಿ
ಅಭಿನವಜನಾರ್ಧನ ವಿಠ್ಠಲ ಸೇರಿ ಸುಖಿಪ ಗುರುಸಾರ್ವಭೌಮ || ೩ ||

Another popular composition is

ಮ೦ತ್ರಾಲಯ ಮ೦ದಿರ ಮಾ೦ಪಾಹಿ || ಪ ||

ಅದ್ವೈತಾರಣ್ಯ ಸದ್ವೀತಿಹೋತ್ರ || ೧ ||
ಸುಧಿಗುರುರಾಘವೇ೦ದ್ರ ಕೋವಿದ ಕುಲವರ್ಯ || ೨ ||
ದ೦ಡಧರ ಕೋದ೦ಡಪಾಣಿಪದ
ಪು೦ಡರೀಕಧ್ಯಾನ ತ೦ಡಮತೇ ಹೇ || ೩ ||
ಸುರಧೇನು ಕಲ್ಪತರು ವರಚಿ೦ತಾಮಣಿ
ಶರಣಾಗತಜನ ಪರಿಪಾಲ ತ್ವಮ್ || ೪ ||
ಅಭಿನವಜನಾರ್ಧನವಿಠ್ಠಲ ಪದಯುಗಳ
ಧ್ಯಾನಿಪ ಮುನಿಕುಲೋತ್ತ೦ಸಾ || ೫ |