Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Some thoughts on “Neene Doddavano” – the song Dr Kalam liked.

 Dr Kalam’s interest in Carnatic music is well known. 

His proficiency to play Veena and his specific interest in the song "Endaro Mahanubhavulu" would be known to many by now. This song is cast in raga Sreeragam. He must have been elated when he came to know that this was the favorite raga of Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi also. The occasion was the ceremony of receiving Bharat Ratna

Both Dr Kalam and M.S. Subbulakshmi received Bharat Ratna at the same ceremony. I very well remember the photo of Dr Kalam speaking to M.S. at the Bharat Ratna ceremony. From the narration of Dr Vidyasagar , a colleague of Dr Kalam, I came to know that Dr Kalam had asked M.S. Amma on that occasion what her favorite raga was and she had replied it was Sreeragam. On that occasion Dr Kalam had even touched the feet of M.S. Amma as a Vandanam to that great Athman.  These two remind me as the examples of “Hree” and “Lakshmi” expressed in "Hreescha te Lakshmischa Patnau"[i] of Purusha Sookhtham.

On the occasion of the final journey of Dr Kalam, I heard in the Podhigai TV, the great Musician Sri T.N. Seshagopalan revealing a song that Dr Kalam liked very much. Dr Kalam attended a concert of Sri TNS at Bangalore on which occasion he had expressed his admiration for the song "Neene Doddavano". It was a newly released record of Sri TNS, say, a year before that time. It was not a widely known song as “Endaro Mahanubhavulu”. Unless Dr Kalam was a regular listener of music of many doyens in the field, he could not have expressed his prior knowledge of that song and admiration for the same.

Sri TNS was surprised to know that Dr Kalam had known that song and its meaning – without knowing which it is not possible to appreciate that song. On hearing this, I was even more surprised because the meaning of that song was such that any scientist in the West could not have appreciated it. It was because Dr Kalam was imbibed with ‘civilisational values’ of our country and also a Hindu in thought due to logical temper, he could sense the “mind of God” in that song which even an Einstein could not grasp!

In this context it would do well to compare Einstein with Dr Kalam.

Both of them worked on destructive missile power. Both of them knew the value of human life that is threatened by that missile power. Both of them loved peace, but Dr Kalam did not consider peace as anathema to missile strength. He had rightly understood the civilisational message of the importance of Kshatriya activities. The core of the message was to be battle-prepared at all times and be expansionist. But there was a rule in that too - that expansionism did not go in the anti-clockwise direction.

The kings of different regions of ancient land of Bharat went round in clockwise direction. They started from east or south and went round clock-wise in succeeding directions. Muchukuntha and Raghu did so in their Digvijaya. Similarly in the Prashasthi of the inscriptions of Chola kings, the victories are mentioned in clock-wise directions. In this order, expeditions to North West and beyond had no place. Expeditions had not gone beyond river Saraswathi or Indus in times of yore. But the movement of people and expansionism had taken place in the east. That is how throughout the East, Hinduism had spread in its glory. West and North West were meant for exile as it is in the left side – Ida – Parsva. Since our ancients considered Bharat as the holiest of the holy places (Bheeshma Parva – chapter 9), they went round and round in this land and tried to bring the entire land under their control. Military prowess was given topmost priority so that others would not disturb them or they could bring others under them so that peace could be ensured.

Taking cue from this, Dr Kalam did not subscribe to Ashokan compromise on militariness. Instead he wanted military power as a necessity for peace. I don’t think Einstein had that much clarity on weaponisation. Dr Kalam clearly had a civilisational advantage and he grasped it right.

Both Kalam and Einstein were drawn to politics. While Einstein was not so popular in politics, Kalam became popular with the people but not as much with a section of politicians who were threatened by his uprightness.

Both of them talked about God. Einstein was drawn to the religion of his birth but his stance was not well received. But Dr Kalam’s inquiry was that of true Seeker and no wonder he found himself in God-synchronous orbit being put over there against the gravitational pull of identity issues of birth, by his Guru Pramukh Swamiji some 15 years ago. 

He readily accepted the Swamiji’s suggestion of adding ‘faith in God’ as the 6th idea to transform India in 'Vision 2020'. I don’t know how many scientists would have agreed to that. But Dr Kalam perceived it as the 6th sense and that is where we can read his mind.

The 6th sense is something special to human beings. The world and the entire Universe that these two scientists were fascinated about are made up of just 5 elements (pancha bhootha) and the essence of the 5 elements. Even our body is made up of these 5 elements. But to activate it, we need an Athman. Only that Athman adds the 6th sense. For the activation of the body of 5 senses, an Athman is needed. When the Athman is absent, the human body of 5 elements is dead. In the same logic, for the activation of the Universe of huge conglomeration of 5 elements, a Great Athman is needed.

Athman is the Kshetrajan for the body which is the Kshetra. The knowledge that is developed when thinking about “Janma Mrithyu Jaraa, Vyadhi, Dhukha dosha” (BG 13-8, Kshetra- Kshetrajna Vipaka yoga) is what makes up the 6th sense. That 6th sense extends the same logic to the Universe of 5 elements that there must be a Great Athman to activate the Huge Universe. The Universe is still active and not dead. As it keeps expanding, there must an activating Athman in that. Since we the human beings are also part of the growing Universe, we are also being activated by that Great Athman.

In such a scenario, the Great Athman cannot lie outside the system of Universe (because activation is still continuing). Einstein believed in the existence of a Creator but did not find Him to be necessary for the Universe once it has been activated. But going by the logic of our body being activated by the Athman, the permeation of the Great Athman or the Paramathman throughout Creation and also in interaction with us (the numerous Athmans) sounds tenable. The constant interaction with the Paramathman must be there by virtue of It being the activating force of the human existence of the Universe. The ultimate 6th sense must tell man that He (Paramathman) is his Kshetrajan.

The kind of equation between the Paramathman and the Athman is more logically understood only in our Sanatana Dharma. As a product of this land, Dr Kalam was able to appreciate a lesser known song “Neene Doddavano, Ninna Dasaru Doddavaro?” The composer of this song, Sage Purandsaradasa asks whether God is great or his devotees are great. 

He goes on analyzing this question by the instances of how God heeded his devotee’s voice and appeared as Lion to save him. Does this not show that God is great?

At the same time is it not also true that the devotee is great by having pulled God to rush to his rescue? So who is great, God or his devotee?
Similarly God had responded to the wails of Draupadi. It is not just to human beings; God has heeded to the cries of even an elephant. This quality of God is also expressed by Meera bhai in "Hari tuma" song. The same idea is repeated in diverse ways by Azhwars in many verses of Nalayira Divya Prabhandam.

Here a question arises - why should the Great Activating Force, the Paramathman create these kinds of sufferings and allow the Athmans to wail?  Keeping aside the more mundane and better known ideas of karma, samsara, gunas, vasanas etc, let me look into the core question of why the Paramathman created the universe at all.

It was because It wanted to play! This may sound alarming, but scriptures say that Creation is a play for Him. Brahma Sutra says, “ Lokavanthu, leelaa kaivalyam”. (Brahma Sutra – 2-1-33) It means “Its (Brahman’s creative activity) is mere pastime as is seen in the world”. The clue is ‘as is seen in the world”. So what is seen in the world? To know that let's start from the beginning!

In the beginning there was Brahman.
Brahman is Brihat – huge and keeps growing.
Why did it grow in the first place?

Because without growth or before it started growing, It existed as an embodiment of all faculties and everything. It could see but it did not have an agent or an organ to see. It could hear but It did not have an organ to hear. Like this, It was capable of everything but could not actually exhibit anything. (It is like how we have the urge to express ourselves. That is a quality we have bequeathed from Brahman!). So It thought, “May I become many” and It became many. That is how creation began. In such scenario, Brahman (God) is not deviated from the created worlds or the “many” It became. In other words, It is in us as we are also part of the Many!

But we lost memory of It. That is where It has to somehow ‘bring us around’ towards It and make us eligible to be like That sometime or the other. That is why Nammazhwar said, “Vaikuntham puguvathu mannavar vidhiye” (All people are destined to enter Vaikuntham) (Thiruvaimozhi – 10-9-9).

This is like a play that we ourselves have played as kids. Imagine a kid – alone and having no one for company to play. What the kid will do? It will have the toys of a boy or a girl or an animal or anything that it has and make scenes of play by making someone hit or cry or laugh or succeed.

All these we are witnessing in the world. In all these we gain something in our 6th sense, and develop better understanding of how to play our parts.

So who is great in this equation, is it we?

We are like the toys that the kid is playing and we start enacting our role on our own (or we think so?).

Will the kid become more excited about it? Or the toy becomes more excited?
Will the kid try to outsmart the toy or the toy try to grab whatever it can to outsmart the moves of the kid?

This is the essence of "neene doddavano" (Is God great?) or "ninna dasaru doddavaro?" (Are devotees great?). The calls and wails for God from the devotees and the replies from God which these devotees can hear is what is meant by "as is seen in the world" that Brahma Sutra says. This interaction having dramatic elements of suffering and happiness, competition and excellence of one over the other makes it look like a play from a bird's eye view. 

In essence, everything seems to be a play – but that was originally started by the Kid, here the Paramathman. The kid enjoys the play as it has no one else but only its toys to play with. 

Is the Kid (God) being cruel to the toys – in this context, we, the Athmans?

Brahma Sutra further addresses this question and gives answers.

But here – for the current topic, I think the song and the purport of God’s play behind it is something that no scientist can perceive or appreciate.

The same cannot be said of Dr Kalam.

His liking for the Neene Doddavaro song shows that he is indeed steeped into Vedanta, the source of the 6th sense!  


[i] From Purusha Sookhtham:-
hreeshca te lakshmeeshca patnyau | ahorAtre pArshve |
nakshatrANi roopam | ashvinau vyAttam |

iSHTam maniSHANa |
amum maniSHANa |
sarvam maniSHANA ||

(hreeshca) Hree and (lakshmishca) Laskhmi are (patnyau) wives (te)
to you. (aho - rAtre) The day and the night (pArshve) your sides.
(nakshatrANi) the Stars (roopam) your brilliant form. (ashvinau)
the Healing Ashvins (vyAttam) your mouth

HrI is the Goddess that grants Modesty ( a reference to second stanza
of Sixteenth Chapter of Gita also shows this Hri as meaning modesty.

(ahimsaa satyam akrodhas
tyaagah saanthir apaisunam
dayaa bhuutesu aloeluptvam
maardavam hrir acaapalam)

And Lakshmi who grants Wealth. ( hreer-lajjAbhimAninee devata ,
lakshmee- raishvayAbhimAninee devatA – Commentary by SayanA) The Day and the
Night are even such opposites. Sriman Narayana is the conciliation of
all such opposites, even as Sesha, the snake, and garuda, the eagle,
worshipping him together signify. He is brilliant as the stars, and
healing comes from him.


Skandan said...

Respected Madam,

Nice to see you back in full form. GODSPEED.


krsna said...

JayaSree Mam,

" Is the Kid (God) being cruel to the toys – in this context, we, the Athmans? " - The answer is still missing in the post. May we expect some explanation for our sake?

jayasree said...

# Thanks Mr Skandan.

# I will write as an article Mr krsna.

guru.raghavan said...

Madam JS

Excellent and Thought Provoking.

The following two portions in your post are outstanding and they indeed impacted me.

1)This may sound alarming, but scriptures say that Creation is a play for Him. Brahma Sutra says, “ Lokavanthu, leelaa kaivalyam”. (Brahma Sutra – 2-1-33) It means “Its (Brahman’s creative activity) is mere pastime as is seen in the world”. The clue is ‘as is seen in the world”. So what is seen in the world? To know that let's start from the beginning!

2)The kid enjoys the play as it has no one else but only its toys to play with. Is the Kid (God) being cruel to the toys – in this context, we, the Athmans?

I am reminded of Shakespeare’s King Lear … “As flies to wanton boys, are we to Gods, they kill us for their sport?”

Well. When we believe that we are the makers of our lives and we only can run the lives as we do, we pass on the blame to GOD when things goes wrong…as above…... This normally happens with all of us.

But once we accept, agree that all our happiness, sufferings are the result of Leela Kaivalyam of our Kid GOD, we will feel such happenings are only momentary.

A comparison could be drawn to the way we feel when we actually bring up our kids– feel extremely happy when the child does something new and equally unhappy when the child falls sick or gets wounded and affected or does not listen to us. We accept the reality that in the growth of our child such things are normal happenings.

Ultimately everything will be fair in life.

It is difficult but better to learn to live with our lives and this reality – that we are toys in the play room of our GOD.