Sacred Songs of India (Vol. IX)

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Item Code: NAG485
Author: V. K. Subramanian
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translations
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 97881701743333
Pages: 278 (10 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description

About the Book


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.



About the Author


Vadakaymadom Krishna Iyer Subramanian (b. 1930, Kerala, India) is an eminent scholar, whose life mission is to present to the world the treasures of ancient India, in the fields of art, literature, philosophy and religion.

He has already translated several ancient texts into English.


These include: Saundaryalahari, Sivanandalahari, Sacred Songs of India, Maxims of Chanakya, Sri Rudraprasna, Wondrous Whispers of Wisdom from Ancient India.


As a consultant for holistic health and spiritual development, he has spelt out the Hindu regimens in this regard in his popular book: The Holistic Way to Health, Happiness and Harmony.


Subramanian's prolific literary output covers a variety of subjects ranging from astrology to art. He has been an astropalmic counsellor for over 35 years.


A retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (which he joined in 1953), Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who has held 22 one-man shows and whose paintings (some of them in the Chandigarh Museum) have won wide acclaim from leading art critics of India.


Subramanian who has travelled extensively in India, now lives in the United States of America.




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.)



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