Four Stages of Evolution through Rama Naama Japa – Insights from Saint Thyagaraja

Hindu religion is perhaps the only religion which recommends NAAMA JAPA or NAAMA SANKEERTHANAM (Chanting the Lord’s name repeatedly) as an important spiritual practice. I tried to explore this subject further with Saint Tyagaraja’s musical compositions. Here are my thoughts based on my limited reading:

As I was browsing through various compositions on Rama Naama,  it occurred to me that there are 4 stages of evolution that the saint brings out through his songs on Rama Naama. The first level is typically of the ignorant masses, who keep chanting without any understanding whatsoever. This level of awareness is highlighted in the song JNANA MOSAGARADA….NEE NAAMAMU CHE NAA MADI NIRMALA MAINADI…  Here the saint is stating that chanting the NAAMA would purify one’s mind, which is the most fundamental requisite for a spiritual seeker.

The second level of consciousness deals with the importance of intellectually understanding and assimilating the meanings and significance of the Lord’s Name. This aspect is largely covered in the well-known song TELISI RAMA CHINTANOTO…., which I discussed in my post about a month back.

And the third level is indeed quite interesting and that is what I am going to write about in this post.

In the famous song SUKHI YEVARO RAMANAMA SUKHI YEVARO …..SATYAMU TAPPAKA….DAIVA BHEDAMULEKA…. set in the Raga KANADA and the song BHAKTUNI CHARITRAMU…. in the raga BEGADA, the saint drives home an important message to the people who routinely do Naama japa. The saint gives a list of Don’ts for those who practice this japa. Later on I came to know from a RamakrishnaMutt Publication (A book written by Shri Raghavan) that the inspiration for these compositions (or songs) comes straight from Padmapurana. Padmapurana categorically lists 10 sins that a japa doer should avoid, if he has to benefit from Naama Japa. If one goes through the list, one will find a close resemblance to Ten Commandments, the biblical laws on ethical living.(Of course, Padmapurana is more ancient than Bible).

The point I am trying to drive at is that our scriptures do NOT  make a prescription to be followed blindly. For instance, it doesn’t say that all will be well if one keeps repeating the Lord’s name. It has to be done with understanding of its significance as one evolves. More importantly, our scriptures are laying down  certain fundamental moral & ethical principles which the practitioners of Japa have to abide by, if they have to benefit from chanting the Lord’s name.  All the principles listed are important. However, I particularly like the one dealing with the sin of differentiating between religious faiths (or castes).

I would think the code of conduct is more important than even the Naama Japa. The strict adherence to the code itself would purify one’s mind and prepare him for spirituality.

In fact the saint goes one step further than Padmapurana with regard to the merits of Naama Japa. According to the saint, Naama Japa will ultimately lead one to experience Advaita  where the Bhakta becomes one with the Lord whose name he is chanting! This comes out clearly in the song …..ENDUKU PEDDALAVALE BUDHI IYAVU…BHEDA RAHITA VEDANTAMUNU TELISI (Raga Sankarabharanam) and NIKE DAYA RAAKA…. NENU NEEVANU JNANI….set in the Raga Nilambari………..   Note the expressions BHEDA RAHITA VEDANTAMUNU & NENU NEEVANU JNANI, which essentially point to the saint’s belief in the Advaita philosophy.

Indeed this 4th stage of evolution where the devotee & the Lord become one is the ultimate liberation!

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Published in: on May 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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