About knowledge, Thyagaraja Swami says that it is not worth acquiring knowledge which does not improve the quality of man. A very well-read man who has not benefited from his erudition and knowledge is an ass that carries a load of books. Humility and vinaya are essential for spiritual progress.
About which path to tread for enlightenment, he says that all paths of discipline, humility, love of God and environment lead to salvation. The replacement of the six enemies which haunt us is: desire, hatred, and miserliness, attachment to ephemeral values, egotism, and acquisitiveness. The six gunas that we must acquire are: Sama or equanimity; dharma or self-control; titiksha or willingness to bear suffering; uparati or looking away from evil; sradha or dedication; and samadhana or satisfaction. These six gunas help us attain liberation from bondage. The happiness one person derives from taking one kind of food is no better or worse than the happiness of another person eating another kind of food.
All schools of philosophy are good, provided the fundamental qualities of genuine love and dedication, compassion and understanding are practiced. This thought is expressed in Anuragamuleni in Saraswathi. In this kriti, Thyagaraja Swami says that you can acquire all the knowledge in the world. But, if an individual does not have bhakthi, he would not develop good qualities. In “Endaro Mahanubhavalu” Swami mentions the different ways of attaining liberation. “Bhagawata, Ramayana, Geethathi, Sruthi Sastra Puranabu mamula Sivadhi Shanmathamula Gootamula Muppadhi Mukkodi Surandarangamula Bhavamula Neriki Bhavaraga Layadhi Sowkyamulche Jiravuyal Kaliki Niravadhi Sugathmulai”. Freely translated, it says that there are several ways to attain knowledge and liberation: by learning the Bhagavatham, Ramayanam, Bhagawath Geetha, the Srutis, and Puranas, by finding out the secrets hidden in the six religions (shanmatha), and by finding the inner meaning from the Devas and so on. But, the easiest way to obtain knowledge is bhakthi aattaingeetha.
He explains why he chose Rama Nama as Taraka mantram for japam in his kriti, “Saaramegani Anya Marga Vicharamatike” (Panthuvarali). In this kriti, he refers to Sivas advise to Parvathi (familiar to all those who recite Vishnu Sahasharanamam) that by reciting Rama’s name thrice, one may attain the benefit of repeating the hymns a thousand times. In the Thodi kriti, Endu DAginado (Rama! Where are you hiding?), he says, “that it has become the practice and play of the Lord to hidetofore saving his devotees and wonders where he is hiding today to save Thyagaraja. Perhaps, he hid behind the seven trees to help and save Sugriva. Perhaps, he hid in an iron pillar to save Prahalada (Prahladhu goraku kambamulo palanundagaledha).
Dr. R. Krishnaswami
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