Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thyagaraja Kriti - Bhakti Biccham - Raga Sankarabharanam

Transliteration as per Modified Harvard-Kyoto (HK) Convention
(including Telugu letters – Short e, Short o) -

a A i I u U
e E ai o O au M (H or :)

(e – short E – Long o – short O – Long)

k kh g gh n/G
c ch j jh n/J (jn – as in jnAna)
T Th D Dh N
t th d dh n
p ph b bh m
y r l L v
S sh s h

bhakti biccam-SankarAbharaNaM

In the kRti – ‘bhakti biccamiyyavE’ – rAga SankarAbharaNaM, SrI tyAgarAja asks Lord to grant him alms of (desire-less) true devotion.

1bhakti 2biccam(i)yyavE
bhAvukamagu 3sAtvIka (bha)

4muktik(5a)khila Saktiki tri-
mUrtulak(a)ti mElmi 6rAma (bha)

prANamu lEni vAniki bangAru 7pAga cuTTi
ANi vajra bhUshaNam(u)ramandu peTTu rIti
8jANalaku purAN(A)gama SAstra vEda japa prasanga
trANa kalgi(y)Emi bhakta tyAgarAja nuta 9rAma (bha)


O Lord rAma praised by this devout tyAgarAja!
  • Deign to grant me alms of auspicious, pure desire-less devotion.

  • It is much superior to emancipation, all kinds of powers and even the Trinity.

  • Of what avail if the capability of chanting (or reciting) and discoursing of/on epics, Agama, SAstras and vEda accrue to clever persons (devoid of devotion)?

  • It is like tying a golden turban to a corpse and decorating it with exquisite diamond jewellery on the chest.

Word-by-word Meaning

bhakti biccamu-iyyavE
bhAvukamagu sAtvIka (bha)

Deign to grant (iyyavE) me alms (biccamu) (biccamiyyavE) of auspicious (bhAvukamagu), pure, desire-less (sAtvIka) devotion (bhakti).

muktiki-akhila Saktiki tri-
mUrtulaku-ati mElmi rAma (bha)

O Lord rAma! It (bhakti) is much (ati) superior (mElmi) to emancipation (muktiki), all kinds (akhila) (muktikakhila) of powers (Saktiki) and even the Trinity (tri-mUrtulaku) (mUrtulakati); therefore,
deign to grant me alms of auspicious, pure, desire-less devotion.

prANamu lEni vAniki bangAru pAga cuTTi
ANi vajra bhUshaNamu-uramandu peTTu rIti
8jANalaku purANa-Agama SAstra vEda japa prasanga
trANa kalgi-Emi bhakta tyAgarAja nuta rAma (bha)

In the same manner (rIti) as tying (cuTTi) a golden (bangAru) turban (pAga) to a corpse – one (vAniki) who is not (lEni) alive (prANamu) – and decorating (peTTu) (literally place) it with exquisite (ANi) diamond (vajra) jewellery (bhUshaNamu) on the chest (uramandu) (bhUshanamuramandu),
of what avail (Emi) if the capability (trANa) (literally might) of chanting (or reciting) (japa) and discoursing (prasanga) of/on epics (purANa), Agama (purANAgama), SAstras and vEda accrue (kalgi) (kalgiyEmi) to clever persons (jANalaku) (devoid of devotion)?
O Lord rAma praised (nuta) by this devout (bhakta) tyAgarAja! Deign to grant me alms of auspicious, pure, desire-less devotion.

Notes –
Variations -
2 – biccamiyyavE – biccamIyyavE – bikshamIyavE : ‘biccamu’ is an appropriate telugu version for Sanskrit word ‘bhiksha’. ‘iyyavE’ is the appropriate version. Therefore, ‘biccamiyyavE’ has been adopted.

7 – pAga – bAga : In view of the ensuing word ‘cutti’, it is clear that this refers to a ‘turban’ (pAga). However, as per dictionary, the correct word is ‘pAgA’.

9 – rAma – this word is not found in some books.

5 – akhila Sakti – SrI tyAgarAja seems to refer to aNimAdi eight-fold siddhi.

Comments -
1 – bhakti biccamiyyavE – Give me alms of bhakti. While bhakti is the means to attain Lord, even that bhakti can spring only if there is grace of Lord. What a catch 22 situation! Which comes first – bhakti or grace? In my humble opinion, up to gauNa bhakti it is the man’s effort and the mukhya bhakti is the Lord’s grace. Though SrI tyAgarAja has placed the ‘sAtvIka’ at the end of the pallavi, that is the operative word of the whole kRti.

3 – sAtvIka bhakti – In the nArada bhakti sUtras, two types of bhakti are defined – ‘mukhya bhakti’ – Supreme or Primary Love and ‘gauNa bhakti’ – Secondary Love. The following verse is relevant –

gauNi tridhA guNa bhEdAd-ArtAdi bhEdAd-vA 56

“Secondary devotion is of three kinds, according to the qualities of the mind of person in whom it manifests itself; either it may be classified as sAttvika, rAjasika, and tAmasika; or it may be divided as Arta, jijnAsu and arthArtin as per statement in SrImad-bhagavad-gItA, Chapter 7.16”

“....As this differentiation is based on the qualities of mind (sattva etc).....these three expressions of bhakti (sattva, rajas, tamas) are called gauNa bhakti as distinguished from mukhya bhakti which is devotion bereft of all taint.....The second classification is based on the differences in the motives (Arta etc). (Translation and notes by Swami Tyagisananda) (brackets mine)

SrI tyAgarAja states that ‘sAtvIka bhakti’ is superior (mElmi) to even emancipation ‘mukti’ which is the ultimate human realisation. When a devotee does not even seek emancipation, then it is mukhya bhakti and not gauNa bhakti. Therefore, neither of the classifications stated above (based on qualities of mind – sattva etc and motives – Arta etc) would apply. This is explained in the following verse of nArada bhakti sUtras –

bhaktA EkAntinO mukhyA: 67

“Those are primary devotees who have one pointed love of God for His own sake.” (Translation by Swami Tyagisananda)

Complete text and meanings of 'nArada bhakti sUtra'.

In kRti 'buddhi rAdu' – rAga SankarAbharaNaM, SrI tyAgarAja calls such great devotees as 'nAnya citta bhakta' – a devotee whose mind delves on God to the exclusion of everything else.

Please also refer to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's ‘bhakti rasAmRta sindhu bindu’ (download).

4 – muktiki mElmi (greater than mukti) – In this regard, please refer to tirumAlai of vaishNava saint toNDaraDippoDi AzhvAr in praise of Lord of SrI rangaM -

paccai mAmalai pOl mEni pavaLavAy kamalac cengaN
accutA! amarar ERE! Ayar tam kozhundE! ennum,
iccuvai tavira yAnpOy indira lOgam ALum,
accuvai peRinum vENDEn arangamA nagar uLAnE! (2)

பச்சை மாமலை போல் மேனி பவளவாய் கமலச் செங்கண்
அச்சுதா! அமரர் ஏறே! ஆயர் தம் கொழுந்தே! என்னும்,
இச்சுவை தவிர யான்போய் இந்திர லோகம் ஆளும்,
அச்சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன் அரங்கமா நகர் உளானே! (2)

“Green great mountain-like body; coral mouth; lotus eyes; O Lord acyutA – the lion of celestials – the tender one of the cow-herds; other than the relish of uttering these words, even if I happen to attain the great joy of ruling the World of celestials, I do not desire it, O Lord abiding in the holy SrI rangam.”

PDF version in Tamil of tirumAlai (download)

The following quote from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna clarifies how bhakti is greater than mukti –

“Hanuman kept the ‘servant ego’ after realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspects. He thought of himself as the servant of God. The great sages, such as nArada, sanaka, sananda, sanAtana, and sanatkumAra, after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman, kept the ‘servant ego’ and the ‘ego of Devotion’. They are like big steamships, which not only cross the ocean themselves but carry many passengers to the other shore.” (Chapter 26)

The is further certified by nArada bhakti sUtras –

sa tarati sa tarati, sa lOkAMstArayati 50

“He crosses indeed, he crosses this mAyA and carries also the world across it.” (Translation by Swami Tyagisananda)

8 – jANaluku – clever persons - According to SrI tyAgarAja, it is only through devotion that one can attain true insight into the purANas etc; any talk on these subjects by such persons (who are imbued with devotion) will carry weight. Otherwise, it is clever, but life-less talk. Please also refer to kRti 'buddhi rAdu' – rAga SankarAbharaNaM, wherein SrI tyAgarAja eulogises bhakti.

6 and 9 – rAma – In some books, the ending word of anupallavi and caraNam has been joined to pallavi to mean 'rAma bhakti' – deign to grant me devotion to rAma'. In many kRtis tyAgarAja has adopted such second and third person usage, particularly in respect of SrI rAma. Such an interpretation (deign to grant rAma bhakti) may also be correct.


ऎ,कॆ,चॆ.. - e,ke,ce..(short);
ए,के,चे.. - E,kE,cE..(long);
ऐ,कै,चै.. - ai,kai,cai..;
ऒ,कॊ,चॊ.. - o,ko,co..(short);
ओ,को,चो.. - O,kO,cO..(long);
औ,कौ,चौ.. -au,kau,cau..;

प. भक्ति बिच्च(मि)य्यवे
भावुकमगु सात्वीक (भ)

अ. मुक्ति(क)खिल शक्तिकि त्रि-
मूर्तुल(क)ति मेल्मि राम (भ)

च. प्राणमु लेनि वानिकि बंगारु पाग चुट्टि
आणि वज्र भूषण(मु)रमन्दु पॆट्टु रीति
जाणलकु पुरा(णा)गम शास्त्र वेद जप प्रसंग
त्राण कल्गि(ये)मि भक्त त्यागराज नुत राम (भ)


க,ச,ட,த,ப - 2-ख छ ठ थ फ; 3-ग ड द ब; 4-घ झ ढ ध भ
(ச3 - ஜ)
ஸ1 श - शिव - சிவன்
ரு2 ऋ - कृप - கிருபை

ப. ப4க்தி பி3ச்ச(மி)ய்யவே
பா4வுகமகு3 ஸாத்வீக (ப4)

அ. முக்தி(க)கி2ல ஸ1க்திகி த்ரி-
மூர்துல(க)தி மேல்மி ராம (ப4)

ச. ப்ராணமு லேனி வானிகி ப3ங்கா3ரு பாக3 சுட்டி
ஆணி வஜ்ர பூ4ஷண(மு)ரமந்து3 பெட்டு ரீதி
ஜாணலகு புரா(ணா)க3ம ஸா1ஸ்த்ர வேத3 ஜப ப்ரஸங்க3
த்ராண கல்கி3(யே)மி ப4க்த த்யாக3ராஜ நுத ராம (ப4)

பேறெனத்தகும் சாத்துவிக பக்திப் பிச்சையிடுவாயய்யா

முக்திக்கும், அனைத்து சக்திகளுக்கும், மும்-
மூர்த்திகளுக்கும் மிக்கு மேலானதாகும்; இராமா!
பேறெனத்தகும் சாத்துவிக பக்திப் பிச்சையிடுவாயய்யா

உயிரற்றவனுக்கு பொற் பாகைச் சுற்றி,
ஆணி வைர நகைககள் மார்பிலணிவித்தல் போலும்,
கெட்டிக்காரர்களுக்கு புராண, ஆகம, சாத்திர, வேதம் ஓதல், சொற்பொழிவுத்
திறனுண்டாகியென்ன (பயன்)? தொண்டன் தியாகராசனால் போற்றப் பெற்ற இராமா!
பேறெனத்தகும் சாத்துவிக பக்திப் பிச்சையிடுவாயய்யா

சாத்துவிக பக்தி - கோரிக்கைகளும் இச்சைகளுமற்ற இறைப் பற்று
பாகை - தலைப்பா


ప. భక్తి బిచ్చమియ్యవే
భావుకమగు సాత్వీక (భ)

అ. ముక్తికఖిల శక్తికి త్రి-
మూర్తులకతి మేల్మి రామ (భ)

చ. ప్రాణము లేని వానికి బంగారు పాగ చుట్టి
ఆణి వజ్ర భూషణమురమందు పెట్టు రీతి
జాణలకు పురాణాగమ శాస్త్ర వేద జప ప్రసంగ
త్రాణ కల్గియేమి భక్త త్యాగరాజ నుత రామ (భ)


ಪ. ಭಕ್ತಿ ಬಿಚ್ಚಮಿಯ್ಯವೇ
ಭಾವುಕಮಗು ಸಾತ್ವೀಕ (ಭ)

ಅ. ಮುಕ್ತಿಕಖಿಲ ಶಕ್ತಿಕಿ ತ್ರಿ-
ಮೂರ್ತುಲಕತಿ ಮೇಲ್ಮಿ ರಾಮ (ಭ)

ಚ. ಪ್ರಾಣಮು ಲೇನಿ ವಾನಿಕಿ ಬಂಗಾರು ಪಾಗ ಚುಟ್ಟಿ
ಆಣಿ ವಜ್ರ ಭೂಷಣಮುರಮಂದು ಪೆಟ್ಟು ರೀತಿ
ಜಾಣಲಕು ಪುರಾಣಾಗಮ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ ವೇದ ಜಪ ಪ್ರಸಂಗ
ತ್ರಾಣ ಕಲ್ಗಿಯೇಮಿ ಭಕ್ತ ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜ ನುತ ರಾಮ (ಭ)


പ. ഭക്തി ബിച്ചമിയ്യവേ
ഭാവുകമഗു സാത്വീക (ഭ)

അ. മുക്തികഖില ശക്തികി ത്രി-
മൂര്തുലകതി മേല്മി രാമ (ഭ)

ച. പ്രാണമു ലേനി വാനികി ബങ്ഗാരു പാഗ ചുട്ടി
ആണി വജ്ര ഭൂഷണമുരമന്ദു പെട്ടു രീതി
ജാണലകു പുരാണാഗമ ശാസ്ത്ര വേദ ജപ പ്രസങ്ഗ
ത്രാണ കല്ഗിയേമി ഭക്ത ത്യാഗരാജ നുത രാമ (ഭ)

Updated on 12 Sep 2009


S.Govindaswamy said...

Dear Sri Govindan
In Anupallavi can we take the adjectives ‘muktikakhila Saktiki tri-
mUrtulakati mElmi’ to qualify ‘rAma’? In this case the anupallavi will be simply an address to rAmA. You have mentioned that ‘rAma’ is not found in some books. If the above adjectives qualify bhakti as explained by you, the word ‘rAma’ stands alone. You have commented that can be joined to the boginning of pallavi.
In caraNam tyAgarAja calls himself as bhakta. Hence what is the need for asking for rAma bhakthi?

V Govindan said...

Dear Sri Govindaswamy,
Regarding ‘muktikakhila Saktiki tri-mUrtulakati mElmi’ qualifying ‘rAma’ - the problem is with the word 'mElmi'. If it is 'mElmiyaina', then it could be easily taken as qualifying rAma. Otherwise, 'mElmi' seems to terminate the sentence.

Regarding 'rAma bhakti' - Sri tyAgarAja makes such statements in certain other kRtis also. While addressing rAma (2nd person), he also make statements about rAma in third person. Therefore, 'rAma bhakti' may not be incorrect.

The problems have been compounded because of errors and improvisations made by musicians to suit their convenience in order to make the rendering more colourful.

Therefore, there is no way, one can make a definte statement about such 'possible' errors.

V Govindan


I believe It should read as "Bhakthi Bhijamiyyave" Not Bhakthi Biccamiyyave...I guess it must be translation/ interpretation mistake from the source.


Its Bhakti Bhijamiyyave,,not Bhiccamiyyave ... Its translation mistake from the source.
Bhakti raises in the form bhija mantras.. aksharas..then only politie/sacred words/Divine poetry comes out from the sky. Please relook and rethink.

V Govindan said...

Dear Sravankumar,
Sri tyAgarAja was a bhakta and not an upAsaka. Whatever it is, it surely is not 'bhIjamiyyavE' - that I am positive about it - having gone through all the kRtis. Let us not try to inject words which are just not appropriate.
Best wishes,
V Govindan