[Advaita-l] Paramathmudu....Thyagaraja says 'One Consciousness appears as Vishnu, Shiva, etc.'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Oct 18 11:20:53 EDT 2020

Here is a composition of Sri Thyagaraja that brings out the Vedanta Tattva:
 One Consciousness appears as everything in creation.  The special point is
that he says Paramatman is what is seen as Vishnu, Shiva, Devata-s, etc.
This idea of a Turiya Brahman appearing as even Vishnu, etc. is something
that is peculiar only to a Vedantin and not the forte of the theologian.
The author of this short blog makes the composition interesting:
https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/paramatmudu/      Today’s lovely
and deeply spiritual piece of music is Tyagaraja’s kriti in the mystical
Raga Vagadeeshwari. I can imagine that he must have been in a meditative
and blissful mood when he wrote this music as it draws us into a deeply
contemplative state.

What an unusual composition this is! Instead of referring to any particular
deity, Tyagaraja sings of the Supreme Consciousness (Nirguna Brahman).  He
says ‘Know the grandeur with which the Supreme Lord is luminescent in
Vishnu, Shiva, the celestials, men, millions of universes’ and goes on to
point that the same Supreme Entity brilliantly shines in ‘animals, birds,
mountains, trees which are made up of the five elements’.  This is not a
song of prayer, but a song of affirmation from one who has seen and has

Following from Tyagaraja’s mention of the पञ्च भूत  (Pancha Bhoota) or the
five elements decreed by the Vedic seers, I will dwell a bit on its
significance. The Vedic sages nominated पृथिवी  (Earth), अप् (Water), वायु
(Gas), तेजस् (Vital Power/Energy also Fire), आकाश (Vacuity, Ether, Absolute
Brahman ब्रह्म) as the basic elements which make up this world. Three of
these are in fact common with ancient Chinese thinking as well. My
interpretation is that the first three represent all matter as they exist
in one of the three states – Solids, Liquids or Gas. तेजस् (Energy/Fire)
represents Energy which we know can convert to and be converted from
Matter. This also represents Life Force; except for that, the first four
Bhootas are governed by Physics. The fifth, आकाश represents Absolute
Consciousness or ब्रह्म.

I recently read another non-traditional interpretation where the author
equates the Pancha Bhootas as  Space (Akaasha), Planck’s energy (Vaayu),
Newtonian energy (Agni), elemental atom (Jalam), and molecule and molecular
aggregate (Prithvi). (Reference) Yet another interpretation is described
here. Whatever the interpretation, the five Vedic elements cover both the
physical and metaphysical world.

Coming back to our song of today, Tyagaraja brings our attention to the
Brahman, the Absolute Consciousness, which shines out of all beings in the
Universe (or multiple Universes). And in doing that, focuses our thoughts
on how we all are part of the One. For lyrics and translation, see
footnote. To read a bit more about this raga, click here.

Though I have heard so many singers perform this song, I find it difficult
to get past the  great Maestro Balamurali Krishna. Here’s his rendition
from the CD Tyagaraja Tattvabodha Kritis.    Footnote (Lyrics) :

परमात्मुडु वॆलिगे मुच्चट बाग तॆलुसुकोरे

हरियट हरुडट सुरुलट नरुलट
अखिलाण्ड कोटुलट अन्दरिलो (परमात्मुडु)

गगनानिल तेजो जल भूमयमगु
मृग खग नग तरु कोटुललो
सगुणमुलो विगुणमुलो सततमु
साधु त्यागराजादि आश्रितुललो (परमात्मुडु)

Translation :

Know unerringly the grandeur with which the Supreme Lord shines through!

In all and as all of Lord Vishnu, Lord Siva, celestials, men, entire
millions of universes (the Supreme Lord is resplendent).

In millions of  animals, birds, mountains and trees which are made up of
space, air, fire, water and earth, in the describable and the indescribable
(the Supreme Lord is resplendent). And in this the good Tyagaraja and
others have sought refuge.

For lyrics in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and word by word meaning, click
here.      Check the blog for two audio recordings of this song by
Balamurali Krishna and MS Amma.

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