THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic musician-saints of India, spanning twelve centuries. These poet sages came from different regions of India and sang in different languages, but the theme central to their songs is love and devotion towards their favourite Deity: Krishna, who is also Rama. The songs of Andal, the daughter of the south Indian temple priest who lived in the 7th century A.D. and of Meera, the Rajasthani princes who lived in the 16th century are both suffused with bridal mysticism. The songs of Vidyapati and Jayadeva are similar in their erotic imagery of the love of Radha and Krishna. Tulsidas, who sang in Varanasi in the north and Tyagaraja, who sang in Tiruvaiyar in deep south, in different languages and in different centuries were similar in their approach to their darling Deity, Rama. Surdas, Tukaram and Purandharadasa felt themselves to be the servants of their Master: Krishna. Kabir, while he sang of the glory of Rama, also philosophical about the transience of material life and the permanence of the Almighty.
Andal sang in Tamil, Tyagaraja in Telugu, Purandharadasa in Kannada, Tukaram in Marathi, Jayadeva in Sanskti and the others in various dialects of Hindi, but the thread of God-intoxicated devotion binds them all.
The SACRED SONGS OF INDIA will be an inexhaustible repertoire for any musician, singer, choreographer, dancer or drama and ballet groups.
It will also be a source of inspiration, spiritual and aesthetic, to all Indians, wherever they may be, in the continents of Euro-Asia, Africa or the continents across the Atlantic.
About The Author
Vadakaymadom Krishnaiyer Subramanian (b. 1930, Kerala) is an eminent Indian scholar, whose life mission is to present to the world treasures of ancient Indian literature and cultural heritage. He has already translated several ancient texts into English. These include: Saundaryalahari, Sivanadalahari, Sri Rudraprasna, Maxims of Chanakya and SivaSakti.
Subramanian has a universalistic taste and is a prolific writer on a variety of subjects ranging from astrology to art. He has also written a few works of fiction.
A retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (which he joined in 1953), Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who has held twenty-two one-man shows. His paintings have won wide acclaim from leading art critics of India
Subramanian, who has travelled extensively in Indian, now lives in the United States of America.
THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME TWO, like volume one, encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic poet-musician-saints of India, spanning twelve centuries. These poet sages came from different region of India and sang different languages , but they were all mystics who sought and attained direct communication with God as the intangible, omniscient, omnipresent Power or in diverse manifestations of Divinity in personalised forms celebrated in the myths and legends of India and sanctified in the various temples of India which provided the inspiration for their songs.
The mystic poet-sages included in this volume are: Manikkavachakar, Jnaneshwar, Narsi Mehta, Annamacharya, Syama Sastri, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Swati Tirunal, Rabindranath Tagore, Subramania Bharati and Papanasam Sivan. Manikkavachakar, Subramania bharati and Papanasam Sivan sang in Tamil, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Swati Tirunal in Sanskrit, Syama Sastri and Annamacharya in Telugu, Jnaneshwar in Marathi, Narsi Mehta in Gujarat and Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali.
Their diverse musical compositions imbued with God-intoxication and mysticism are presentd on a common platter, in a common language to be savoured by people all over the world, irrespective of their religioun, race, language or nationality. The SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME TWO, like the earlier volume, will be an inexhaustible repertoire for all performing artistes in the field of music, dance, drama or ballet. Scholars of Indology will find it a precious reference source.
The book will be a source of inspiration, spiritual and aesthetic, to all, wherever they live: in the continents of Euro-Asia, Africa of the continents across the Atlantic.
THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME THREE, like the earlier volumes one and two, encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic poet-saint-musicians of India, spanning several centuries.
These poet-sages came from different regions of India, lived in different periods of India's chequered history, and sang in different languages. But they were all mystics, who sought and attained direct communication with God as the intangible, omniscient, omnipresent Power or in diverse manifestations of Divinity in personalized forms celebrated in the myths and legends of India and sanctified in the many temples located in various parts of India and which, as pilgrim centres, draw millions who throng to pray in love and devotion to God.
The mystic saints whose songs are included in this volume are: Namdev, Arunagirinathar, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Kanakadasa, Sant Raidas, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Narayana Teertha, Gopalakrishna Bharati and Pattanam Subramania Iyer.
Namdev sang in Marathi, Chaitanya in Bengali, Kanakadasa in Kannada, Raidas in Hindi, Narayana Teertha and Sadasiva Brahmendra in Sanskrit, Bhadrachala Ramadas and Pattanam Subramania Iyer in Telugu, and Arunagirinathar and Gopalakrishna Bharati in Tamil. Their diverse God-oriented musical compositions in different languages and belonging to different periods of history are presented on a common platter, in a common language to be savoured and sung, choreographed and danced, and treasured as a precious spiritual legacy by people all over the world, irrespective of their religion, race, language or nationality.
The spiritual experience conveyed by these sacred songs of India merits admiration, appreciation and emulation.
The book, like the earlier two volumes, will be an invaluable repertoire for all performing artists in the fields of music, dance, drama and ballet.
Scholars of Indology will find it a precious reference source.
The Sacred Songs of India Volume Four, like its predecessor volumes one, two and three, encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic poet-saints of India.
The mystic poet-sages included in this volume lived between the 8th and 20th centuries and came from such diverse regions of India like Kashmir, Kerala, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.
They are: Sundarar (also known as Sundara-murthy), one of the great Nayanmars, Nammalwar, the Doyen of Alwars, Basavanna, the Founder of Veerasaivism - a movement pledged to an egalitarian society devoted to God, Lad Ded or Lalla Yogeswari, the Kashmiri Saivite Yogin, Bilwa Mangal immortalized by his poem Krishnakarnamritam, Chandidas, the Viashnavite Rebel of Bengal who spear-headed the Sahaja movement of Bhakti, Guru Nanak, the Founder of Sikhism, Eknath, the Maharashtra saint, Kshetrajna, the Telugu composer whose sensual images sought to seek spiritual uplift and Suddhananda Bharati, the mystic Yogi, who poured out his heartfelt love for God in mellifluous poetry.
The sang in different languages: Kashmiri, Kannada, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil. But all of them sang of the glory of God, with whom each had an intimate, spiritual communion.
This precious spiritual legacy bequeathed by the mystics of India will be a perennial source of inspiration for all scholars of Indology and a limitless repertoire for all artistes in the fields of music, dance, drama and ballet.
The Sacred Songs of India Volume Five, like its predecessor volumes, encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic poet-saints of India.
The mystic poet-sages included in this volume lived between the 7th and 19th centuries and came from such diverse regions of India as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Maharashtra and Bengal.
They are: Perialwar, the doyen of Alwars, Tirujnanasambandhar, the Saivite spiritual prodigy, Mahadevi Akka, the Veerasaivite Karnataka saint, Vallabhacharya, the Vaishnavite saint, who founded the pushti marga in the Bhakti cult, Dadu Dayal, the Muslim saint who sang of the love-sports of Lord Krishna, Poontanam and Narayana Bhattadiri, the two Kerala contemporary saints who sang of the glory of the Deity in the Guruvayoor temple of Kerala, Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, Samartha Ramadas, the Maharashtra saint who was a contemporary of Shivaji and Ramprasad Sen, the Sakta saint of Bengal who poured out his burning devotion to divine Mother in simple songs, sung even today all over Bengal.
They sang in different languages: Tamil, Kannada, Sanskrit, Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Marathi, and Bengali. But all of them sang of the glory of God, with whom each had an intense spiritual communion.
This precious spiritual legacy bequeathed by the mystics of India will be a perennial source of inspiration for all scholars of Indology and a limitless repertoire for the artists in the fields of music, dance, drama and ballet.
THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME SIX, like its five predecessor volumes, encompasses selections from the lifework of ten mystic poet-saints of India.
The mystic poet-sages included in this volume lived between 13th century B. C. and 19th century A. D. and came from diverse regions of india.
They are: Veda Vyasa, the epic poet of India who authored the epics Mahabharata and Bhagavata, Appar (also known as Tirunavukkarasar, one of the quartet of great Saivite saints, Tirumangai Azhwar, one of the more important Vaisnavite saints, Sankaracharya, the great philosopher saints, who propounded Advaita or Non-dualism, Allama Prabhu, the undisputed leader of the Veerasaivite movement, Guru Amar Das, the third Sikh Guru, Ras Khan, the Muslim mystic who revelled in the exploits of Lord Krishna, Shaji Maharaja, the short-lived ruler of Thanjavur who composed melodious devotional songs in mellifluous Sanskrit, Oottukkhadu Venkata Subba Iyer, the celibate devotee of Lord Krishna and Iriymman Tampi, a member of the royal family of Travancore, one of whose songs is sung in almost every household in Kerala.
They sang in different languages: Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, Punjabi, Hindi, and Malayalam. But all of them sang of the glory of God, out of their intense personal spiritual experience.
THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME SIX, like its predecessor volumes, will be a limitless repertoire for all artists in music, drama and ballet.
THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME SEVEN: HYMNS TO GANESA, THE DARLING DEITY makes a slight departure from the predecessor volumes.
Sacred Songs of India Volume One contained songs of mystics intoxicated with God in the form of Krishna or Rama.
Subsequent volumes have presented songs of saints obsessed with other images as well, like Siva, Sakti, Subrahmania, etc.
This volume presents the songs of sages on Ganesa, the darling deity.
The songs on Ganesa included in this volume span over twenty centuries; from Vedic period to the twentieth century.
They are also in diverse languages of India: Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.
The most ancient songs (in Sanskrit) are anonymous.
Songs whose authorship is identifiable are those of the poet saints; Agastya, the doyen of Tamil mystics. Veda Vyasa, the undisputed creator of the 18 puranas, Avvaiyar, known as the grandmother of Tamil literature and a God realized soul, Sankaracharya, the famous Vedantic philosopher form Kerala, the Maharashtra saints: Jnaneswar, Eknath, Tukaram and samartha armadas, the kanakadasa, the Tamil saints: Arunagirinathar, Oottukkadu Venkatasubba Iyer, Ramalinga Swamigal, Nilkantha Sivan, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, Paparasam Sivan, Subramania Bharati, Hindi poets: Tulsidas and Swami Brahmananda, Narayana Guru, the Kerala saint and Tyagaraja and Muttuswami Dikshitar, members of the Carnatic music Trinity.
The songs presented in this volume are a veritable ocean of devotion centred on the beloved image of God Ganesa.
Sacred Songs of India, Volume Seven, like its Predecessor volumes will be limitless repertoire for all artistes in music, drama and ballet.
The Sacred Songs of India Volume Eight, Like Its Predecessor Volumes, encompasses selections from the life work of ten mystic poet-saints of India. The mystic poet-sages included in this volume lived between the 3rd century and the 20th century A.D. and came from such diverse regions of India as Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.
They are: Tirumoolar, the Doyen of Saivite saints of Tamil Nadu, Kalidasa, the National poet of India, who hailed from Ujjain, Kulssekhsrs Perumal, the King of Kerala who chose the spiritual path in preference to military adventures, Kamban, the undisputed Emperor of Tamil poets, whose Tamil rendering of the Ramayana is an incomparable classic, Devaia Dasimayya, the poineer of Veerasaivism from Karnataka, Guru Ramdas, the fourth Sikh Guru, Rahim, the Pathan poet who was smitten with love for Krishna, the darling of the Gopis, Appayya Dikshitsr, the Saivite poet-philosopherofTamil Nadu, Bhima Bhoi, the blind tribal mystic of Orissa who yearned for God, the invisible, elusive One and Sri Narayana Guru, the saint from Kerala who was also a great social reformer. They sang in different languages: Tsmil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Punjsbi, Hindi (Braj bhasha), Oriya and Malayalam. But all of them sang of the glory of God, for whom they yearned, pouring out their devotion in inimitable immortal poetry.
Like its predecessor volumes, Sacred Songs of India, Volume Eight, will be a valuable repertoire for all artistes in the field of music, dance, drama and ballet and a priceless source of reference for scholars of India's spiritual history.
This volume SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME EIGHT represents the eighth milestone in my voyage of discovery of the devotional lyrics of the mystic saints of India, who lived in different regions of India, in different periods of India's chequered history and sang in different languages.
I have been elevated by my association with the lives and work of these mystics, whose passionate yearn- ing to unite with the infinite Divine has a running thread of unity, which transcended the barriers of class, caste, gender, language, region and time. The mystic poet sages included in this volume are:
Tirumoolar, Kalidasa, Kulasekhara Perumal, Kamban, Devara Dasimayya, Guru Ramdas, Rabim, Appayya Dikshitar, Bhima Bhoi and Sri Narayana Guru.
They lived between the third century A.D. and the twentieth century A.D.
They came from such diverse regions of India as Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
They sang in Sanskrit, Tamil, Punjabi, Hindi, Oriya and Malayalam.
Tirumoolar, who lived probably between the third and fifth century A.D., is the pioneer of the system of devotion known as Saiva Siddhiinta, which was nurtured by the Saivite saints of Tamil Nadu, known as Niiyan11UJTS. Tirumoolar's magnum opus is the classic work Tirumantiram, which contains 3000 verses and deals with the Yoga path to liberation.
Tirumoolar is unique among the mystics in stress- ing the importance of the body as a vehicle for spiri- tual uplift.
He emphasised the oneness of humankind and the fact that God is love and also that God was immanent within the human body.
Nevertheless, God to Tirumoolar was the Divine Manifestation: Siva, the Auspicious One, whose dance symbolised the moving phantasmagoria of the cosmos. Kalidasa, the greatest Sanskrit poet, who lived in the sixth century A.D., during the Golden Age of the Guptas and probably during the reign of King Vikramaditya, revelled in sensory enjoyment and treated life as a festival.
His outstanding literary output is attributed to the grace of the Divine Mother, to whom Kalidasa poured out his devotion and gratitude in the immortal prayer: Syamala Dandakam (included in this volume), a devo- tional song recited throughout the length and breadth of India by all, old and young, who .seek literary skills and success in scholastic studies.
Kalidasa worshipped God as Father-Mother, as in- dicated in his famous benedictory invocation in the work Raghuvamsa:
Vagarthaviva samprktau vagarthapratipattaye,
jagatah pitarau vande parvati paramesvarau.
"I bow to the parents of the universe, Piiruati and ParameSvara, who are as united as words and their meaning, so that I may attain skill in words and their interpretation. "
The three benedictory invocations in honour of Lord Siva, the Auspicious One, preceding the three plays Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvasiyam and Sakuntalam are unmatched for their poetic majesty and humble de- votion. They are a veritable spiritual treat, when sung melodiously. These have been included in this volume. Also included is Kalidasa's famous' Navaratnamala, a song in nine verses in honour of the Divine Mother. Kulasekhara Perumal the Kerala King who lived in the 6th-7th century A.D. is one of the twelve Alwars, the Vaishnavite saints of Tamil Nadu. It is amazing that Kulasekhara Perumal was so pro- ficient with the Tamil language in his devotional songs. The intensity of devotion in his case made him identify himself with the characters in religious lore. Thus, in one of his songs, he expresses empathy with the lot of Devaki, Krishna's biological mother from whom Krishna was separated and sent to foster parents in Brindavan: Nanda and Yasoda.
In another song, he expresses anguish at the lot of Rama who had to wander in the forest for fourteen years, at the behest of his step mother. Such intensity of devotion is unparalleled and makes Kulasekhara Perumal one of the greatest Alwars and a mystic who expresses symbolically the anguish of ~e devotee in being separated from the Beloved, God. Devara Dasimayya, the Karnataka saint who lived in the tenth century A.D., was the earliest poet to intro- duce the Vacana form of devotional song, which ex- presses in short verses the intensity of devotion of the mystic sage.
Later savants of the Veerasaivite movement like Basavanna, Allama Prabhu and Mahadevi Akka fully utilised this form in their devotional songs. Guru Ramdas, the fourth Sikh Guru who lived be- tween 1534 A.D. and 1581 A.D. continued the tradi- tion of earlier Gurus in stressing the importance of chanting the Lord's name as a means to get rid of the ills that afflict mortal life and attain union with God. The unmistakable influence of Vaishnavism continues to be seen in the songs of Guru Ramdas as in the case of other Sikh Gurus.
To Guru Ramdas, as to other Sikh Gurus, God was: Hari, Rama, Govind, Madhusudan, Murari, Narahari etc.: names which are music to the ears of Vaishnavite saints like the Alwars.
Rahim, the Muslim mystic, who lived in the 16th century A.D.-a contemporary of Emperor Akbar and saint Tulsidas-was madly in love with the cloud-hued form of Krishna, the Lover of the cowherdesses and described His amoral exploits with devotion and poetic skill.
Appayya Dikshitar, who lived in the 16th-17th cen- tury A.D., was a renowned scholar and mystic poet of South India.
He was, like many other mystics of India, diffiden t about the adequacy of his love and devotion for God. To test his devotion, he drank a poisonous drink which made him delirious. What came out of him in the de- lirious state would indicate correctly what was really in his heart!
The words which came out of Appayya Dikshitar were taken down by his disciples. These turned out to be the fifty verses called Atmarpana Stuti (Hymn of self- surrender), selections from which are included in this volume.
As can be seen, these verses are soaked in devotion and desperately plead with the Lord to save the devotee.
Bhima Bhoi, the blind tribal mystic, who lived be- tween 1849 A.D. and 1894 A.D., is in a class by himself. While most mystics poured out their devotion to some specific divine manifestation like Knishna, Rama, Siva, Ganesa or Subrahmania, Bhima Bhoi preferred to adore Him as the formless, elusive One, who pervades everything as the unseen Power. His spiritual path is termed Mahima Dharma.
Sri Narayana Guru, the poet sage of Kerala, who lived between 1856 A.D. and 1928 A.D. was basically a social reformer who stood for abolition of caste distinc- tions. His famous exhortation was: "One caste, One reli- gion, One God!" Like the Advaitic philosopher Sankaracharya, Narayana Guru believed in the omni- presence and immanence of God.
Yet, like Sankaracharya, he composed beautiful de- votional songs to various manifestations of Divinity like Ganesa, Subrahmania, Siva, the Divine Mother, etc. which, as can be seen from the selections in this volume, are so full of spiritual fervour and philosophic truths. Thus, in this volume, we have a wonderful fare, comprising the life work of mystics who were kings as well as poor tribal folk, poets who were literary giants like Kalidasa and Kamban and others who, regardless of their professed religion, adored God in unconven- tional ways.
Once again, it is my privilege and good fortune to present the songs of these mystics, who came from such varied backgrounds and from such different pe- riods of time, and yet through whose outpourings runs the common thread of God-intoxication. I welcome my readers to savour with relish this ambrosial cocktail of spirituality.
SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOL IX THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA VOLUME NINE, like its predecessor volumes, encompasses selections from the life work of ten mystic poet-saint-musicians of India.
The poet-saint-musicians included in this volume lived between the 5th century and the 20th century A.D. and came from such diverse regions as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Punjab and Bengal.
They are: Karaikkal Ammaiyar, famous woman-saint of Tamil Nadu, Pattinattar, the Saivite saint, also from Tamil Nadu, who turned from a wealthy trader to a recluse, Vedanta Desikan, the famous Vaishnavite poet saint, who passionately spread the teachings of Ramanuja, Jana Bai, the Maharashtra woman saint, who though a servant-maid of Namdev attained highest spiritual advancement, feeling God in every fibre of her being, Sankaradeva, the Vaishnavite saint reformer of Assam who rejuvenated the life of Assam with his Vedantic Vaishnavism, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs who became a martyr to save the religious faiths of India, Bulleh Shah, the mystic Sufi saint whose songs conveyed the message of pure Vedanta, Abhirama Bhattar, the God-intoxicated temple priest who saw his beloved goddess, Abhirami, everywhere, Swami Vivekananda, the passionate social reformer who was also a religious mystic and poet, and Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, the outstanding music composer, who continued the tradition of the Carnatic music Trinity: Tyagaraja, Muttuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri.
They sang in different languages: Tamil, Sanskrit, Marathi, Assamese, Punjabi and Bengali. But all of them sang of the glory of God.
Sacred Songs of India, Volume Nine, will be a valuable repertoire for all artistes and a useful reference source for Indological scholars.
This volume, Sacred Songs of India, Volume Nine, continues my voyage of discovery of the devotional lyrics composed by the mystic poet-musician-saints of India, in different regions of India, in different languages, in different periods of history.
The adoration of the infinite Divine is a common running thread in the songs of these mystic poet-musician-saints. They transcended the barriers of caste, gender, language and time.
The poet-musician-sages included in this volume are: Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Pattinattar, Vedanta Desikan, Jana Bai, Sankaradeva, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bulleh Shah, Abhirami Bhattar, Swami Vivekananda, and Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar.
They lived between the 5th century A.D. and the 20th century A.D.
They came from such diverse regions of India as: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Punjab and Bengal.
They sang in Sanskrit, Tamil, Assamese, Marathi and Punjabi.
Karaikkal Ammaiyar probably lived in the 5th century A.D. She is the only woman Saivite saint mentioned in the Periya Puranam of Cekkilar, which deals with the lives of Saivite saints of South India.
Pattinattar is the other Tamil Saivite saint who probably lived in the 10th century A.D. His songs, while describing the glory of God, mock at the emptiness of human vanity and the transience of earthly possessions.
Vedanta Desikan, the Vaishnavite saint, lived in the 13th-14th centuries. He was an apostle of Vaishnavism as St. Paul was of Christianity.
Total surrender to God (Sara1Jiigati), to attain His grace is a cardinal tenet of Vaishnavism and Vedanta Desikau's songs fully reflect this approach to God.
Jana Bai, the Maharashtra saint, lived probably in the 14th century A.D. Though a servant-maid and of a low caste, she attained the highest level of spirituality, feeling God's presence everywhere, in and around her. Her songs reflect her childlike devotion to God, and unflinching faith in His benevolence.
Sankaradeva, the Assamese Vaishnavite saint, lived in the 15th-16th centuries A.D. He was a multifaceted personality. He was saint, poet, singer, actor, religious teacher and social reformer. He wrote several works in Sanskrit and Assamese. He can be deemed the Assamese Tulsidas.
Apart from generating a renaissance in Assam, in the fields of religion, music, dance and literature, Sankaradeva made a unique contribution to Assamese social life, by introducing village prayer houses, called Namghars, in villages, where people could meet for singing Kirtans and socialization. He was against all caste distinctions. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Sikh Guru, lived in the 17th century. This great martyr wrote soul-stirring songs, about the transience of the material world and the true bliss that can be attained by remembering, loving and adoring God and chanting His holy name.
Bulleh Shah, the Sufi saint, lived in the 17th-18th centuries. Though, he was the Ruler (Biidshah) of a town, was rich and married, he left everything and became a recluse, filled with a passionate love for God, whom he addressed as the Beloved. His songs contain the essence of Advaita-Vedanta, that God is not only omnipotent and omnipresent, He is also immanent in every living being. He once offended the Muslim priests by declaring: "Anal Hauq" ("I am He")!
Abhirami Bhattar, the God-intoxicated temple priest of Tamil Nadu, lived probably in the 18th century, when Maratha kings were ruling, with their capital in Thanjavur.
For him, God was the Divine Mother, who was beautiful, kind, compassionate and full of grace and he burst into picturesque poetry, describing her beauty, somewhat like Sankaracharya in his classic poem, Saundaryalahari. Abhirami Bhattar's poem is called Abhirami Anthadi and comprises 100 verses, like the Saundaryalahari. Selections from this poem are the songs included in this volume.
, Swami Vivekananda, the well-known disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, lived in the 19th century. His passionate advocacy of Hinduism and Social reform in India and abroad is well known, but his poetic adoration of God in the form of Father and Mother is not known to many. The selections from Swami Vivekananda's two poems, Amba Stotram and Siva Stotram, embellish this volume.
Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar lived in the 18th19 centuries A.D. Primarily a musician in the line of the Carnatic trinity: Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, Muthiah Bhagavatar, with his innovative musical compositions in beautiful Ragas (melodies), has bequeathed some mellifluous songs which evoke spiritual devotion to God in the listeners.
All in all, we have in this volume, as in the predecessor volumes, a wonderful feast of soulful songs composed by poet sages, widely different in their backgrounds and so different in their approach to God.
Whether they were Saivite saints like Karaikkal Ammaiyar and Pattinattar, Vaishnavite saints like Vedanta Desikan or Sankaradeva, childlike devotees like Jana Bai or Abhirami Bhattar, or Vedantins like Bulleh Shah or Vivekananda, the running thread of adoration of God invests all these songs with the power to spiritualise the mundane and lift up our souls to heights of spiritual ecstasy.
With pride, I once again invite my readers to savour this nectar-punch of devotional songs.
Songs of Karaikkal Ammaiyar (5th Century AD.)
Songs of Pattinattar (Circa 10th Century AD.)
Songs of Vedanta Desikan (1268-1369 AD.)
Songs of Jana Bai (Circa 14th Century AD.)
Songs of Sankaradeva (1449-1569 AD.)
Songs of Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675 AD.)
Songs of Bulleh Shah (1680-1752 Century AD.)
Songs of Abhirami Bhattar (Circa 18th Century AD.)
Songs of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902 AD.)
Songs of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar (1877-1945 AD.)
The Sacred Songs of India Volume Ten, the concluding volume, in the ten-volume series compendium of devotional lyrics of the mystic poet-saint-musicians of India comprises selections from the following:
Ilango Adikal, the famed author of Silappadikaram, who probably lived in the 2nd century A. D., Ramanuja, the Vaishnavite saint who lived in the 11th century A. D., and preached the devotional philosophy of Visishta Advaita, Prativadi Bhayankara Acharya, the little known author of the famous prayer, Venkatesa Suprabhatam, recited daily at the Tirupati temple, Tunjat Exhuttacchan, the well-known poet saint of Kerala, who wrote the Adyatma Ramayana, Tayumanavar, the Saivite saint who lived in the 18th century, as also Arunachala Kavi Rayar, the composer of the Tamil opera Rama Nataka Kirtanas, who also lived in the 18th century, Muthu Tandavar, the Saivite saint, one of the Tamil Trinity, also of the 18th century, Ramalinga Swamigal, also known as Vallalar, the mystic social reformer who worshipped God as Effulgent light and preached universal compassion, who lived in the 19th century, Nilakantha Sivan, mystic music composer from Kerala, who also lived in the 19th century and Mysore Vasudevachar from Karnataka, of the 20th century, whose mellifluous devotional musical compositions made Rabindranath Tagore confer the title Sangita Kala Kovida on him.
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