(including letters – Short e, Short o) -
a A i I u U
R RR lR lRR
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
Alphabetical ListAnanda pUrNa bOdhOham - madhyamAvati
Ananda pUrNa bOdhOham - SankarAbharaNaM
bhajarE gOpAlam - hindOLam
bhajarE raghu vIram - kalyANi
bhajarE yadunAtham - pilu
brahmaivAham kila - nAdanAmakriya
brUhi mukundEti - kuranji
cEtaH SrI rAmam - suraTi
cintA nAsti kila - navarOj
gAyati vanamAli - miSra kApi
jaya tunga tarangE - kuntaLa varALi
khElati mama hRdayE - aThANa
khElati piNDANDE - sindhu bhairavi
krIDati vanamAli - sindhu bhairavi
mAnasa sancararE - sAmA
nahirE nahi SankA - mOhanaM
pibarE rAma rasam - yamunA kalyANi
prati vAram vAram - kAmbhOji
pUrNa bOdhOham - pUrvi kalyANi
sarvam brahma mayam - chenchurutti
smara vAram vAram - kApi
sthirathA nahi nahirE - punnAga varALi
tadvat jIvitam - kIravANi
navavarNa mAlA - stOtra
Siva mAnasIka pUja - stOtra
Sadashiva Brahmendra has an exalted place among the Jnanis and Rajayogis who have traversed this land. He is venerated on par with the Rishis of yore, such as Shukabrahmam, by ascetics as well as ordinary people. His life history is well-known. Along with the story of his renunciation at a young age, his astounding scholarship, and his Gurubhakti which made him give up speaking altogether, many miraculous events are also recounted, indicating the Ashta-Siddhis being at his disposal. By virtue of the many things he has done, such as, consecrating temples and installing Yantras, providing guidance to the rulers of Thanjavur and Pudukkottai, composing devotional Keertanas and Stotrams and writing profound books on Yoga Shastra and Advaita, Brahmendra has provided compassionate support to people at every level of spiritual Sadhana.
Kanchi Mahasvami has described Vishnu and Shiva thus: They represent the first and final stage respectively of liberation from the world. A burnt object first turns black, retaining its form. Further incineration makes it white, formless ash. Vishnu and Shiva are indeed black and white like this. Hence spiritual activities which are part of the world, part of our usual life, are connected more to Vishnu, such as Hari-katha, Hari-nama-sankeertanam etc. while those that are followed after giving up worldly activities are often described as Shiva-yoga, Shiva-Jnana etc.
On reading his works, one could say that this subtle differentiation can be seen in Sadashiva Brahmendra’s approach too. His Keertanams are mostly in praise of Vishnu, exhorting one to chant the names of Krishna or drink the nectar of Rama’s name. His Stotrams, as well as invocations at the start of works on Advaita, are on Shiva. The Stotrams also contain Advaitic thoughts. For instance, in the Navavarna Mala he says he realized his real self, after Shiva’s merciful glance fell on him.
Although a great Avadhuta and Advaita Jnani, Brahmendra advocates the path of Nama-sankeertanam, i.e. repeated chanting of the names of God, since this path is easily accessible to all people, in every station of life. This path does not demand that one should renounce the world or practice severe austerities. It is therefore considered the most effective way to salvation in Kaliyuga, the age we live in.
In Shiva Manasika Puja, he describes the impossibility of performing ritualistic Puja to Shiva. How can one meditate on one beyond thought, or prostrate to one who is all around! The futility of some other aspects of Puja such as Madhuparka, Dhupa or Tambulam, are brought out with subtle wordplay. How can one offer Tambulam (betel leaf preparation) to Him who is Sumukha-raga(which this means “red-lipped” indicating he has no use for Tambulam that reddens the lips)? But then Sumukha-raga also means one who has a smiling, pleasant countenance. How can one offer Sumana-Anjali (handful of flowers) to the one who is Sumanah-shekhara (this can mean ‘one who already has flowers on his head’, or ‘the head of the Devas’)? Such puns provide an interesting variation from the other aspects of Puja, which have factual limitations, such as offering food to the ever-satisfied one, or fanning one who knows no tiredness.
The declaration of staunch Shiva-bhakti in Verse 26, where he says “Enough of those gods who don’t carry a deer, don’t ride a bull, don’t bear Ganga, and did not destroy Manmatha’s pride”, is greatly similar to the verses 34 and 35 of Shiva Bhujangam of Adi Shankaracharya. Advaitins see all the gods as one. Yet, when one particular form is being praised, that deity is exalted as supreme.
The use of the seven grammatical case-endings (Vibhaktis) in seven consecutive verses (Verses 16-22), reminds us of the Vibhakti Kritis of Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Similarly, in the Navavarna Mala (Verse 6), his instructions to his head to bow to Shiva, hands to worship Him and speech to speak His praises are reminiscent of Appar Swamigal’s Tiru-anga-malai (“thalaiye nee vanangai”).
One of the most amazing incidents demonstrating the greatness of Sadashiva Brahmendra, is the visit to his Samadhi at Nerur of Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamigal, around the beginning of the 20th Century. The Jagadguru, the 33rd Peethadhipati of Sringeri, felt the presence of an unseen power pulling him while passing nearby and therefore went to Nerur. He spent a few days in meditation there and had a vision of the saint. He has composed two beautiful Stotrams on Brahmendra, Sri Sadashivendra Pancharatna Stotram and Sri Sadashivendra Stava. The latter has 45 verses and substantiates by mention, many of the miracles that are narrated in the life of Sadashiva Brahmendra.
There are also many Kritis in praise of Sadashiva Brahmendra composed by Meesu Krishna Iyer, in the past century. Some of the well-known ones are Paramapavana (Ranjani) and Daya-payonidhe (Jaganmohini). Some others are “Karunarasa-jaladhe” (Abhogi), “Bhavaye Parama-gurum” (Hamsanandi), “Brahmanandame” (Reeti Gaula), “Paramatmani” (Bhuvanagandhari), “Nee pada-darshanamu” (Malayamarutam) and “Hamsoham” (Shankarabharanam).
These kritis, as well as the earlier-mentioned Stotrams by the Jagadguru, are currently rendered as a part of the Guru Vandanam in the Bhajana Sampradaya Paddhati, and this is followed by singing of Sadashiva Brahmendra’s Keertanams.
The Kritis or Keertanams of Sadashiva Brahmendra, though only 23 are available to us, form a part of the compositions that are performed in Carnatic Music concerts too. The Vaggeyakara Caritramu of Subbarama Dikshitar gives a brief summary of the life of Brahmendra and mentions that his Sanskrit Keertanams are very popular. As mentioned, most of these extol Vishnu. A few of them are philosophical and advisory in nature, such as “Chinta nasti kila” or “Sthirata nahi nahire”. There are several Kritis which describe Advaitic thoughts and experience, as felt by a Jnani, such as “Sarvam Brahma-mayam” or “Purna-bodhoham”. One can see similar proclamation of the Advaitic experience in some of Muthuswamy Dikshitar Kritis. One such example is “Sri Kamalambikaya” (Sankarabharanam), where he states “Saccidhananda paripurna brahmasmi”.
Scholars have opined that one can see the influence of Brahmendra’s Kritis “Manasa Sanchara re” and “Khelati mama hrdaye”, in Tyagaraja’s kritis “Manasa Sanchara re” (Punnagavarali) and “Nadachi nadachi” (Kharaharapriya).
All the Kritis of Sadashiva Brahmendra contain very lofty thoughts in mostly simple and straight-forward language, making a direct appeal to the heart. One of the interesting features in the contents, are references to Puranic personages who we rarely see mentioned in other Kritis in the Carnatic Music compositions. Kuchela, Jambavan, Akrura, the wrestler Chanura, the demons Mali and Sumali, and the Vanaras Gavaya and Gavaksha some examples. They are also filled with pleasing alliterations, especially Antya-prasa. To take an example, “Bhajare Raghuviram” we find:
bhaja rE raghuvIraM mAnasa bhaja rE bahudhIram
ambudaDimbha viDambana gAtraM ambuda vAhana nandana dAtram
kuSika sutArpita kArmuka vEdaM vaSi hrdayAmbuja bhAskara pAdam
kuNDala maNDana maNDita karNaM kuNDali mancakam-adbhuta varNam
daNDita sunda sutAdika vIraM maNDita manukulamAshraya Saurim
paramahamsam akhilAgama vEdyaM parama vEda makuTI pratipAdyam
(A closer look would show us that the first words of each line, such as daNDita and maNDita, also rhyme)
In the past century, stalwarts in the field of Carnatic Music like Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M Balamuralikrishna and Voleti Venkateswarlu have rendered the Kritis in various beautiful Ragas. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer has dedicated the book of these Kritis brought out by him, to Sri Achuthananda Saraswathi Swami, also known as Varahur Periyaval, a Sanyasi who, in his own words, impelled him to sing the Kritis of Sadashiva Brahmendra.
Words uttered by saints like Brahmendra are like Mantras – one need not understand the meaning of the songs or verses, for them to be efficacious in giving us peace and joy. Yet, for most people who live mainly in the realm of words and intellectual understanding, reading and internalizing the meaning leads to a deeper and sustained enjoyment of another kind, which we hope the translations on this blog will provide.Write-up : Rajani Arjun Shankar