TyagaRaja is tense.
He is attired in a resplendent off-white silk dhoty and a like Uttareeyam (much like the regulation peetambarams of his Great Lord Rama), far removed from the spartan but clean white raiments he wears normally. Wallajahpuram silk they say, Whatever, nothing better than cotton for comfort. By the way why has Venkata Ramana not yet turned up? Unusual. It is no doubt far away from Wallajahpet to Tiruvaiyyar, but knowing him, he ought to have been here by this time at the latest.
A bright red long Tilak mark is there in the middle of TyagaRaja’s forehead, just above and betwixt his eyes. This red Tilak is in the middle of a U shaped white chalk mark. His head and face which normally are drab with a stubble,are shining and clean shaven, except for a long tuft of salt and pepper hair at the back of his head which is neatly tied into a knot. Tall and lanky, he looks much younger than his forty four years of age
Yes he is tense. It is not a simple thing for someone, who is not worldly-wise like him, to get a daughter married, He, his friends, well -wishers and his brother Japesa, had been trying hard to find a suitable boy, for his daughter, Sita Rama Lakshmi for the past few years.
By the Lord’s grace, he could settle her wedding with Kuppu Swami. Good, nice boy. Couldn’t hope to get a better match for her. Hopefully Sitamma, the lovable, cute, quiet girl would be happy with her husband. And perhaps bless her parents with a few worthy children. What else better, can a papa hope for?
The elaborate preparations for the wedding have engaged his full attention for the past few weeks and he could not devote as much time to the service of his Beloved Lord as he was wont to. Of course, brother Japesa and his wife have put aside their differences with him and have been toiling hard, looking into the minutiae relating into the arrangements for this, their dear daughter’s wedding.
Poor Japesa, he has suffered enough. People mistake him, that he was callous towards him, his younger brother. What they do not realise, is that, in his own manner he desired sincerely and ardently that his talented younger brother came up in life and prospered.
“Sir, the priest wants you to be at the dais within a few moments, to partake in the rituals and give away your daughter in marriage, “, It is Thanjavoor Rama Rao.
This young man has been a great help to him since he was a kid . Rama Rao has been a good organiser and manager, right from his childhood.. Used to keep a tight leash on all his fellow-pupils, while they were following their teacher along the streets of the town seeking alms, or when they sat down to do their assignments while he left them for a while to do some chore. Not that they were an unruly lot, but boys are boys, you see.
Thyagaraja remembered the time, long years ago when as a pupil of his, Rama Rao requested him to compose a song, (Mohana Rama), a hymn to the Lord in Mohana Ragam, He desired that the word ‘Mohana’ be embedded in it so as to serve as a mnemonic for the raga when he practised singing the hymn.
For sometime now he has been requesting him to compose a few more lyrics like the YendaroMahanubhavulu ,with notation running in parallel with the lyrics. “I would have liked him to show a li’l bit more interest in music than he had evinced in organising things”, Thyagaraja tells himself. But then, not all can be a Subbaayyar, a Venkata Ramana, or a Kuppayyar or one of the many of his other exceptionally musically-talented sishyas. Since, he grew up to be a fine young man, Rama Rao chose to keep on assisting his teacher in managing his worldly affairs and in getting his works preserved He would have made a great minister to a king, “Ramu, please tell the priest that I will be with him in a moment. I am looking forward to the arrival of Venkata Ramana any time now, from Wallajahpet.
Venkata Ramana Bhagavathar had been one of his devoted disciples and continues to be an ardent admirer. He had been a constant source of assistance to him while he stayed here in Thiruvaiyar.. He would have been a great help now too had he come a bit earlier, but had to stay at his native Wallajahpet. There are encouraging reports about the music school he is running there.
The rituals and the festivities are on. Seeing the bride and the groom enjoy themselves is great, but it causes him a pang towards his daughter. He knows that a yogi has to view all these worldly kinships as transitory and stoically go about performing his duty. . But giving away a daughter ? It is a different and onerous sort of duty altogether. Even consummate sages like Janaka and Kanwa could not rise above the filial pangs of separation from a daughter . Could he claim to be more equanimous than those exalted souls?
There is a lull in the proceedings. The priest permits Tyagaraja to move around the guests for a while before the next round of rituals starts.
Tyagaraja surveys the gathering. To his great pleasure, he finds Bhagavataar in the front row. He has with him a big framed picture of some dieties, but not clear enough from the distance, The eyes are in their fifth decade of service to this frail body. Chatwaaram seems to be setting in. He shudders to think of the day when he would not be able to behold with his eyes, the Smiling Visage, the Nagu Momu, of his God Lord.
He goes forward to meet his disciple. Bhagavatar carefully hands over the portrait to his disciple standing beside him, gets up and moves towards his Guru and touches his feet in reverence. He rises up and asks, ” Sir, how are you?. You have grown thinner than when I saw you last.”
Tyagaraja shrugs. He hugs him and says,”Ramana, my child, I am fine. You seem to be tired and look famished. Have’nt you eaten anything. “, he looks around for someone to bring his beloved sishya something to eat. “Sir, don’t you worry. Ramu has taken care of everything.”, Bhagavathar says.
‘ How is your institute going? They say it is shaping up well.”,Tyagaraja enquires.
“Sir, With all you blessings, it is growing. I wish that you visit it sometime and bless the students, me and the institute.”
“My blessings are always there with you and for whatever you do, Ramana. It will be difficult for me to leave now but surely sometime or other I will visit you at your institute,God-willing. By the way, how did you come? I understand some of the streams along the way were in spate and infested with muggers.”, Tyagaraja enquires.
“Sir, I trekked the way from Walajapet to here. How can it be any other way when I am on a pilgrimage to your sacred abode, to attend a divine wedding. And when the Great Lord who saved the ,Gajendra from the mugger sojourned with me, where was cause for any worry?”
He takes the framed picture of The Divine Couple from his own disciple and reverentially places it in the hands of his own guru and says,,” Sir, I wanted to present you a unique gift apt for the occasion. What else would be more appropriate than a portrait of the Divine Couple?.”, he says and adds, “Sir, This is Ellayyar, one of my own pupils. He sings well. People are already calling him Pallavi Ellayyar. He is a good painter too. This portrait is done by him at my request.”
Ellayyar touches the saint’s feet who blesses him ardently for having depicted his Lord and Mother so well.
“So my Great Lord and his Spouse have taken the trouble to walk all the way along with you ! “, Tyagaraja is beside him with joy, beholding the beautiful portrait of his Lord.
And invokes Him soulfully iin Mohanam,
” Lord of my very life,
Have You taken the trouble to trek all the way here just to bless me ?
My Lord , with eyes like pristine wild blossoms,
Knowing with your kind heart that it is my life’s mission
Deeply entrenched in my mind to ever keep on gazing at your graceful face,
Have you taken this trouble of trekking all the way here ?
Lord of the celestials, served eagerly by Tyagaraja ! Your body glistening like a dark blue topaz, sporting a garland of white pearls strung together into several shining strands and
Holding a lustrous bow and arrow in your hand and
Accompanied by the Daughter of Mother Earth,
Have You taken the trouble to trek all the way here just to bless me ?
Ps: The picture reportedly, is still available at the house of Tyagaraja in Thiruvaiyyar.