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Purandaradasa – The Grandsire of Carnatic Music!

Purandaradasa

Srinivasa Nayaka (1484 – 1564) was a merchant dealing with gold and precious stones residing in Tirthahalli, Karnataka. Though wealthy, he was a miserly person. Charity was something unknown to him.
One day an old brahmana came to his shop asking for some monetary help. Nayaka sent him away asking him to come the next day. He came the next day, but again he was asked to “come tomorrow”. Nayaka thought that the old man will stop coming after a few days but he persisted — every day the old man was there in front of the shop! After months of postponement, one fine day Nayaka threw an old coin at the poor man and asked him to go away. The poor man refused the unusable coin and went away.
The brahmana went to Nayaka’s house and approached his wife, Saraswati Bai. He told her how he had every day sought help from her husband but in vain – an old coin was all that he got in response. He asked her for help, but she pleaded her helplessness, saying that she had nothing with her to give him. All money transactions and accounts were exclusively with Nayaka. The old man said that she could give to him the diamond nose-ring which she was wearing. After all that was a gift to her from her maternal house, and Nayaka had no claim or hold over it. She thought for a second, removed her nose-ring and gave it to the old man. He happily accepted it, blessed her and walked away.
With the nose-ring in his hand and a smile on his face, the brahmana returned to Nayaka’s shop. Nayaka was furious to see him come back again. The old man said that he had not come to beg but had come to do business with him. He showed the the nose-ring and asked Nayaka to fix up its value and give him the equivalent cash. A shocked and surprised Nayaka took the nose-ring in his hand and examined it in detail. He immediately knew that it was his wife’s nose-ring. He questioned the old man as to who gave it to him. He answered that a pious generous lady gave it to him. Nayaka told him to come the next day for money, sent him away, carefully put the nose-ring inside a trunk and locked it. He then closed his shop and hurried back home.
On reaching his house, he loudly called out to Saraswati. Seeing her in the courtyard he looked at her face. Sure enough the nose-ring was missing! He asked for it. The poor lady was trembling within and not knowing what to do, said that it was inside. He asked her to bring the nose-ring immediately. She went in, and knowing her husband’s anger, she decided to end her life. She picked up a cup of poison and was about to consume it, when she heard a metallic sound inside the cup. Inside the cup she saw her nose-ring which she had given away in charity! Overwhelmed at the Lord’s grace, she ran outside and handed it to her husband. Nayaka could not believe his eyes. The nose-ring he had locked up in his shop was here in his wife’s hand. Crazily, he ran back to the shop and opened his trunk. The nose-ring was not there! He ran back again home and asked his wife to tell him all that had happened. She told him everything.
Srinivasa Nayaka’s eyes opened! The old brahmana was none other than Lord Sri Hari who had come to “wake” him up from the dream of sheer materialism and put him on the spiritual path. Srinivasa Nayaka was a totally changed person now. He gave away everything in charity,  and went in search of a Guru. He came to Sri Vyasa Tirtha who accepted him as his disciple, gave him the name PURANDARADASA and introduced him to the Haridasa Sampradaya.
Sri Purandaradasa travelled extensively and composed songs on all the deities with the signature “Purandara Vittala”. The most difficult and profound philosophical truths were simplified and presented in the form of simple songs, and hence his compositions are known as “Purandara Upanishad”. His simple devaranama-s or kirtans make use of almost every simple day-to-day activity to convey a profound message at the individual as well as community level. Purandaradasa’s compositions are a beautiful blend of raga and laya, sahitya and bhava. The songs on Lord Krishna showcasing the Navarasa-s and the Nava-vidha bhakti are mesmerizing! Dasaru danced to Krishna’s divine music and Sri Krishna danced to Dasaru’s devotional outpourings!  Purandaradasa formulated basic lessons for teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises (swaravalis, jantiswaras, alankaras, geetas etc) which are followed even today. He used the Mayamalavagowla Raga for this. Purandaradasa is known as KARNATAKA SANGEETA PITAMAHA — the Grandsire of Carnatic Music.
Purandaradasa is one of the rarest and unique disciples who was glorified by his own Guru, Sri Vyasa Tirtha in one of his compositions: “Dasarendare Purandara dasarayya ….”[He, Purandaradasa alone is the true DASA, the great devotee, who through his Geeta (naada) and Narthana (nritya) worships Sri Vasudeva Krishna]!
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The Fisherman-Guru of Sage Narada

shiva narada A yagna was being conducted at Swarga Loka. Lord Indra had taken special care to invite all the Devatas, the Nava Grahas, the Sapta Rishis and others. It was a huge assembly. The sacred fire was lit and the Vedic rituals started. Narada, the greatest among the devotees of the Lord, who always chanted the Lord’s name “Narayana, Narayana” arrived. Surprisingly he was given a seat which was lower than that of the others. Being the ‘manas putra’ of Brahma, he questioned his father – Lord Brahma as to why he was being treated inferior to all the others. Brahma replied that though he had mastered all the Vedas and was a great devotee of Lord Hari, he had not been initiated into a mantra by a Guru. Narada was constantly singing and chanting the Lord’s name, but he had never approached a Guru and obtained Mantra Deeksha from him. Realizing this, he told the Assembly that he would go down to Earth (Bhoomi), and whoever he sees first at dawn, he would accept that person as his Guru and with the Guru mantra he would return soon. The light at dawn had just begun to dissolve away the darkness of the night. Narada was waiting expectantly for the sight of the ‘one’ who would be his Guru, and whom does he see! An old fisherman with a net on his shoulder came walking along, and all the time he was busy weaving the net. Narada ran to him and fell at his feet and declared him to be his Guru. He requested the old firsherman to initiate him with the Guru mantra. The fisherman was shocked to see the great sage at his feet. He told the sage that he himself had never taken any mantra from a Guru and was incapable of giving him Guru mantra. Narada did not give up. He asked the old firsherman to speak whatever was in his mind at that moment. The fisherman said “Hari Bol”. Accepting this as his Guru mantra Narada returned to the assembly of the Devas. Now, he was given a higher seat in front of the Assembly as he now had both a Guru and a Mantra! The assembly demanded to meet his Guru, upon which Narada returned to the old fisherman and requested the old man to come with him. But the old man said he was partially lame and hence could not undertake this long journey. On hearing this, Narada lifted the old man and carried him on his back to Deva loka. Narada now presented his Guru to the entire assembly. Everyone was surprised and shocked to see an old lame fisherman who was being introduced as Narada’s Guru. In the presence of all, in utter surrender Narada fell flat at the feet of his Guru.  All the Devatas in the assembly were surprised seeing Narada falling at the feet of an old fisherman. At that very moment the old fisherman revealed his true nature. He was none other than Lord Shiva Himself who had appeared to Narada in the form of an the old fisherman. The Lord had taken up the form of the old fisherman to test whether Narada would keep up his words and take as his Guru whoever he first saw at the break of dawn, and Narada had indeed lived up to his words. Narada’s firm resolve and his eager longing for the Guru brought him to none other than Lord Shiva Himself who initiated him and gave him the mantra. [PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]
Devarishi Narada: A personality very familiar throughout the Puranas. He works everywhere as a friend, philosopher and guide, to all devotees....it is his job to propagate the Path of Love, and, therefore, he appears of his own accord to guide devotees of the Lord. - Swami Chinmayananda
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How Rama got the name “Rama Chandra”

Baby Rama

The city of Ayodhya was joyously celebrating the birth of Lord Rama – the avatar of Lord Hari. Guru Vasishta gave the divine baby the name – RAMA. He picked up the letter “Ra” from the 8-lettered ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ mantra and “Ma” from the 5-lettered ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ mantra, and combined them to give the most powerful Taraka Mantra: RAMA. Both the letters “Ra” and “Ma” are the very LIFE of their corresponding mantras. Without these letters, both the mantras lose their efficacy and the very capacity to bless.

Everyone including the Gods in the guise of human beings had come to have a glimpse of  the child Rama. The devatas, one by one slowly came up to the cradle to silently offer their prostrations to the Lord without being recognised. When it was the turn of Lord Sun (Surya), he reverentially thanked the Lord for having been born in the Solar dynasty. The All-knowing Lord in the form of an infant lying in the cradle smiled and acknowledged him. Next was the turn of Lord Moon (Chandra). He came forward with a very sad face. The Lord asked him what was the matter. Chandra Bhagavan answered that he was upset because he felt that the Lord had neglected and ignored him, and Surya Bhagavan had been given all the importance.

Lord Rama was born in the Solar (Sun) dynasty, in Uttarayan Punyakala (the bright six months of the year), in the bright month of Chaitra (just before summer), in the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha), during daytime, at noon (abhijit muhurtha) and punarvasu nakshatra — all prominently related to Lord Sun! Of course Chandra had been sidelined!! The Lord smiled from the cradle and consoled Chandra and told him not to worry, and in the next avatar of His, all prominence will be given to Lord Moon. In Sri Krishna Avatar, He will be born in the Lunar (Moon) dynasty, in Dakshinayana Punyakala (the dark six months of the year), in the dark rainy month of Sravana, in the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha), during midnight, and rohini nakshatra (very dear to Chandra) — all factors prominently related to the Moon. Still Lord Chandra was not happy — he was still sulking. When the Lord asked him what was the matter now, he said he had to wait for years and years, for Treta Yuga to get over and Dwapara Yuga to start. That was indeed a long….long…..wait!

The All-knowing Lord smiled and told him: “Okay, from today onwards, your name CHANDRA will be added to my name RAMA and people will address me as RAMACHANDRA — happy now”!!
Indeed, Lord Chandra was very happy and satisfied! That is how Lord Sri Rama became Sri RAMACHANDRA!!

Significance: MOON (Chandra) represents our mind. RAMA is the Lord, the very Source of life in us. RAMACHANDRA therefore symbolically suggests that we always enshrine the LORD in our MIND.

Rama means the One Reveller who revels everywhere in all the bosoms. Rama is the Self of all, of the nature of Peace-Auspiciousness-Beauty. - Swami Chinmayananda

Sindoora Varna Hanuman

Lord-Hanuman

Sri Hanuman was the greatest devotee of Lord Rama.  Lord Rama and Seeta considered him to be their first son. Hanuman would be ready to do anything for Lord Rama, ever at His service.

Once Hanumanji saw Seeta applying sindoor on her forehead. It is a tradition for all married ladies to apply sindoor. Being a brahmachari, ever immersed in chanting the name of his Lord, Hanumanji was unaware of the purpose of married ladies applying sindoor. Innocently he asked Seeta why she applied sindoor daily on her forehead. She smilingly replied that by applying, it would increase the longevity of her Lord, Sri Rama.  She did not mention the word “husband” but addressed Rama as her Lord. Infact Rama was the Lord of Sri Hanumanji too.

Having now known the reason for applying sindoor, Hanumanji thought that if by applying a little bit of sindoor the longevity of the Lord would increase, why should he not apply it to his entire body? That would indeed increase the life-span of Lord Rama a lot more. Seeta’s words went straight into his heart. He waited for Seeta to leave her room and then immediately went inside. He saw the little sindoor box on the table. He was not satisfied. He wanted lots more and searched around. There in one corner he found a big jar full of orange powder stacked up. He quickly brought some water, poured it into the jar, stirred it and poured the sindoor all over his body. He was dripping from head to toe with the sindoor liquid!

With the wet sindoor dripping all over and a huge victorious smile on his face, Hanumanji came to the darbar. Everyone was shocked to see Hanumanji in this new avatar. Some of them were amused also. Sri Rama also was taken aback, but knowing that Hanumanji never did anything without a sound reason asked him to explain why he had drenched himself in orange colour. Seeta immediately understood and smiled! Hanumanji narrated his conversation with Mother Seeta and said that he had applied sindoor all over his body in large quantity wishing for his Lord Rama a very…very long life!! The Lord, seeing Hanumanji’s devotion for him was supremely happy.

Hanuman knew that Lord Rama was the incarnation of the Supreme Personality. But still, due to his unlimited love towards Lord, he thought of applying sindoor to his body for the Lord’s sake!!

From then on, Hanumanji is worshiped as Sindoora Varna Hanuman and it is a tradition to offer sindoor to Sri Hanumanji in temples, and this is distributed as prasad.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]