Thyagaraja Swami – Advaitist or Visistadvaitist?
Practically, every school of philosophy has claimed Swami as its votary. Citing Swami’s later day kritis such as Gnanamosoga rada in Poorvikalyani and Paramatmudu in Vagadheeswari, the dvaitis claim him.” The Visishtaadvatis claim him citing kritis such as Bhuvini Dasudane in Sriranjani, where the Sri Vedanta Desikan’s Panchanga Prapatti is virtually reproduced. The Marjara Nyaya school quotes the Bhairavi kriti, Tananayuni Brova to support their claim. Sri Swami himself has been asked the question, whether he follows one or the other margas; but, Swami, never answered it. E dari sancharintura in Kanthamani and Dwaitamu Sukhama in Riti Gowla clearly tell us that the answer to the question is not easy. Indeed, he has clearly mentioned that the pathway to Godhead is a matter of individual preference and the label is inconsequential. “Vaga Vadaja bujaiyinche variki tripthiaoureethi saguna dhyanamu paini sowkhyamu.”
To Sri Thyagaraja, labels and nomenclatures did not matter, as by themselves, they matter little in helping the spiritual growth of man and his endeavor to experience godhood. Like the satisfaction after a meal is wholly an individual affair and no one meal being the cause of universal satisfaction, the philosophical path is a matter of personal choice and preference. His main stress is on morals and ethics, humility and non-attachment or unattachment or Thyaga.
When Thyagaraja Swami interprets the Puranas, he constantly emphasizes that one has no right to be vain, selfish, and egoistic just because one is learned in the scriptures or is in high status and power. One may possess all the virtues in the world and yet be led only by selfishness and egoism, ultimately losing all the benefits of the virtues he possesses as a gift or boon from God. Take for example, Hiranya Kasipu and Ravaana who were great tapasvans and had got boons for indestructibility. Yet, all their power came to naught due to their wrongdoings and they were annihilated. Seetha, the Gopis, Narada, Durvasa, and others are mentioned as an example of those who sought and got boons but did not benefit from such boons. However, thoughtfully and comprehensively received, unless one behaves, God has a way of making that boon useless. God always gives a boon with a hidden catch and while one may believe that I could do anything and get away with it, one cannot.
In “Adigi Sukhamu” (Madhyamavati), he stresses the futility of asking for a boon and getting them in self-interest. (As Aldous Huxley says “Supplication”) – Where one asks God for something and expressing gratitude by fulfilling a vow such as breaking coconuts or other prasadams or monetary contributions as a quid pro quo. Instead, one should surrender to the will of God and the faith and confidence that God will bestow only what is good for us. So that we may enjoy not only the humor but the pithiness, let us look at a free translation of Adigi sukhamulu. O! Rama! Who has benefited ultimately from your boons? Sita had to go the forest for having asked for a boon; Soorpanaka lost her nose for just expressing her desires; Durvasa lost his appetite the moment he asked for food; Devaki wanted you to be born her child and it was Yasoda who had the good fortune of bringing you up. Narada became a woman as soon as he asked for a boon; the Gopis desired you and lost their husbands. What is this Maya? I shall hence surrender and leave it to you to give me what is good for me. In Varalandu Kommani (Gujjari), Swami asks Rama, “Why do you want to be cruel to me by conferring boons? What have I done to deserve it? “Like Nachiketas, neither do I want nor would I accept anything less than liberation, moksha.”
Dr. R. Krishnaswamy
Do not reprint or publish without permission (contact email@example.com)