Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rama - Taraka Nama - Discourse of Kanchi Paramacharya - Chandra Sekharendra Sarasvati

rAma - tAraka nAma

Discourse by kAnci paramAcArya – candraSEkharEndra sarasvati -

The derivation of words from their root syllables each of which is the root of a verb signifying an action, is, in the Sanskrit language a very instructive excercise. Hindu religious literature is replete with such derivations for almost every word that it uses. Each of the names of God like Rama, Krishna, Siva , Narayana, etc. -- in fact, each one of the names of God in the various lists of thousand names of God (= sahasra-naamas) has been assigned several derivations from their root syllables. 'The one in whose memory yogis revel in the bliss of brahman' -- is the meaning of the word Rama. ramante yogino-nante brahmaanande chidaatmani -- is the declaration in the Padma-purana. 'ramante' (they revel, enjoy) is the action which forms the root verb for 'Rama'. The greatness of the word 'Rama' is not just because what the son of Dasaratha did what he did. Preceptor Vasishta hit upon the name for the child of Dasaratha because he knew that it was already a 'taaraka-mantra' -- that is, the mantra which takes you across the ocean of samsaara. And that is why the name Rama has been isolated and earmarked to be equivalent to the whole of Vishnu sahasra-naama.

There are only two mantras, in the whole of Hindu religious tradition, which get the epithet 'taaraka' (that which can ferry you across); and these are the syllable OM, and the name Rama. This single fact epitomises the importance associated with Rama, the name as well as the Godhead, in the entire Hindu cultural milieu. The sage Valmiki before he became a Maharshi, recited the name of Rama, several thousands of years and attained the status of a maharshi.

The syllable 'ra' comes from the eight-lettered mantra of Narayana and the syllable 'ma' comes from the five lettered mantra of Siva. Both are the life-giving letters (= jiiva-aksharas) of the respective mantras; because without them the two mantras become a curse. Without these letters, the mantra naraayanaaya becomes na ayanaaya - meaning, not for good; and namas-sivaaya becomes na sivaaya - meaning, again, not for good.

Thus the word Rama combines in itself the life-giving letters of the two most important mantras of the Hindu religion . The syllable 'ra' the moment it comes out of the tongue purifies you from all the sins by the very fact that
it comes from the mantra of the protector, Naaraayana. On the other hand, the syllable 'ma' burns all the sins by the very fact that it comes from the mantra of Siva, the destroyer. This is therefore the King of all mantras, the holy jewel of mantras, as is rightly sung by Saint Thiagaraja, who is one of the most famous recent historical examples of persons who attained the jivan-miukti stage - the released stage even while alive - by the sheer repetition of the Rama name."

Earlier this discourse was available in the following website which is no longer available. Therefore, the same has been reproduced here as this is often required for quoting in the Tyagaraja Kritis.

V Govindan

The current web address is - rAma - tAraka nAma


S. Anantha Padmanabhan said...

I appreciate what you are doing, but I think you are going to too much trouble for nothing with this and your other blogs. The only people who will find the level of detail in your blogs useful, are serious music students and performers. But, they will already have the textbooks you source your material from, as also their guru's notes, and you give only lyrical information and not rendering information, that is more important to them. Someone trying to learn Carnatic music only wants the lyrics, the gist and notations, which are already available on many professional websites like So, neither beginners, nor serious people can use this site fully. Looking at your site stats, you are not even getting sufficient traffic. If I were you, I wouldn't work any more on this site and focus on other ventures. I am not criticizing you. I just feel bad that someone who obviously loves music as much as I do, is doing fruitless labour. I suppose you have spent thousands of hours preparing all this content. Sigh! What a waste!

V Govindan said...

My work is dedicated to Ananta PadmanAbha.

Anantha Padmanabhan said...

Check out my new blog, which is dedicated to you:

I have invited all your followers and invited many Carnatic email lists to follow my blog.

You shouldn't have behaved so arrogantly and forced me to take you apart like this. Enjoy the fireworks.

Anonymous said...

Govinda, I am back and back on your trail. When I made some suggestions to you, you rudely asked me to "mind my own business". Well, when you are posting on music, that too, Swamigal's music, with so many errors, it damn well is my business. It is everybody's business. Unless you apologize for your arrogance, and agree to take constructive suggestions and apply them, I will continue to expose your "work". You have my email id and know what to do. Otherwise, not only will I keep posting errata to your stuff, I will also actively promote my blog on searches so that it eclipses and discredits your flawed blog.
Glory be.
Anatha Dasa.

Anantha Dasan said...

And I meant to add: check out new update on our blog:

Maanasa Sancharare said...


Consider this a frenemy email. For once I am not bashing you. Check out the last two posts on my blog: One is on Manasa sancharare and the other is an amalgam of several emails from a web-friend. These posts might interest you.

Also note how nice IAST with diacritics appears and how much more readable than HK it is.

If you have comments, +ve or -ve about these two posts, write back here, and I will take them in the right spirit. Music is everybody's property.


A. Madhavan said...

As a rasika, and the son of one who studied Thyagaraja kritis both for the raga-visesham and the sahitya, I have long been intrigued by the phrase, "taraka-nama". I note that it is embedded in the beautiful kriti, "ksheera-saagara-sayana" in the upper sththayi of the charanam, before the composer's "signature". (Have you made a list of the kritis where this phrase is implicit? I can't find a good explanation, even in V. Raghavan's "The Spiritual Heritage..")
The myth of Siva's five faces and the origin of our music from Soma Veda, and the close relationship of Siva and Rama through music have also intrigued me.
I like your own name, similar to my father's name (I bear it as a first name or the first initial thereof). With sincere thanks, A. Madhavan (retiree, living in Mysore)

V Govindan said...

Dear Madhavan,

SrI tyAgarAja mentions 'tAraka nAma' in the undermentioned kRtis -
pEriDi ninu - kharaharapriya
sukhiyevarO - kAnaDa
cintistunnADE - mukhAri
sujana jIvana - kamAs
kali narulaku - kuntaLavarALi
raghu patE - SahAna
karuNA jaladhi - kEdAragauLa

Other than these, the word 'tAraka' and 'tAraka rUpa' also appear in some other kRtis.

Thanks for your kind words.
With Best wishes,
V Govindan

Unknown said...

Whenever u do a good job there wl b both appreciation and also criticism. It's the two faces of a coin.
Pl u continue ur work with dedication and humbleness to music and all vaggeyakaras.
Music lovers like me r benefitted by ur hard and dedicated work.
I am doing vidwath in carnatic music. We r not getting text from the department. Any suggestions and help fr this.
All the best .
Vidya Rao.

V Govindan said...

Ms Vidya,
I have not understood your query. If you can kindly explain what is expected of me, I shall accordingly respond, if it is within my capacity. Otherwise, I shall direct you any other site which has the information.
With best wishes,
V Govindan

Unknown said...

Thank you for your blog and write up. sincerely appreciate all your efforts!