(8th tarangam) with jatis. Narayana Teertha was an Advaitin and sanyasin who took to Sagunopasana (worship of God with forms and names). In this respect, he is in the distinguished company of Bodhendra Swami of Govindapuram, Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval of Tiruvisainallur, Sadasiva Brahmendra and Sadguru Swami of Marudanallur, all of whom advocated, and practised, Namasiddhanta and Bhajana Sampradaya in south India. Narayana Teertha chose music and dance as means for self-realisation, and wrote the Tarangini as an offering to God. Though his ishta-devata was Sree Krishna, he has sung on other deities too-- Durga, Saraswati, Siva, Dakshinamoorti, Sree Rama and Varadaraja. He has commenced the work invoking the blessing of Ganesa in the first song, of Garuda in the second and sought the grace of Varahapuri Venkatesa in the third song. The purpose of the work was to instill bhakti in the hearts of the readers and listeners. He has therefore used simple words and avoided roundabout expressions. There is no attempt to display his poetic gifts. Narayana Teertha occupies a prominent place among the saint composers who fostered and nourished the bhakti cult. He is best known as the author of Sree Krishna Leela Tarangini, a magnificent musical opera (dance-drama). From his works one can discern that he had mastered Sanskrit, music and Bharatam. He seems to have taken to sanyasa quite early in his married life. Sivarama Teertha was his guru. In the eighth tarangam the author states that "he serves the lotus feet of Sivarama Teertha as a bee" ( "Sivaramateertha-padaambuja bhramarena" ). Soon after the ordination, Narayana Teertha set out on a pilgrimage to holy shrines. It eventually took him to Varugur or Varahapuri, near Tanjavur, where he settled down. (There is a popular legend that during the pilgrimage he was afflicted by a stomach ailment and that a divine command bade him proceed to Varahur and worship the Lord enshrined there to get relief from the ailment.) It was at Varahur that he composed Sree Krishna Leela Tarangini. In the third song (in the first tarangam) he pays obeisance to 'Varahapura Venkatesa'.
The Great Saint Narayana Theertha Swamigal sung the whole Tharangini Episode at VaragurVillage (about 23 KM from Thanjavur)and still the village is celebrating Krishna Ashtami Festival in the name of "URIYADI" for about 13 days. This festival was introduced by Sri Sr Sri Narayana Theertha Swamigal during his life at this village and in the same manner the festival is being celebrated. The village also celebrating Narayana Theertha Aradhana every year for three days in the tamil month Masi Sukhla Paksha Ashtami Day.
Recently I happen to read a book on Sri Sri Sri Narayana Theertha's life story. This doubt was raised by many people more than thirty years back. Bharaneedharan who is a popular and prominent writer in Anandavikatan had made a reaserch on this. I understand that Narayana Theertha attained mukti only at Varahur. There was yet another saint during those days and He was also a Great Soul, called Theertha Narayana Swamiji who had immense powers. He lived in Thirupoonthurithi and both the Yathis are different from each other. I strongly believe Sri Narayana Theerthar whom we sing in Bhajans belongs to Varagur only
He has signed his songs as Narayana Teertha. However, in a large number of songs the name appears with prefixes: Sivanarayana Teertha, Varanarayana Teertha, Narayanananda Teertha and Dheeranarayana Teertha. In some songs we also find the signatures with elongated prefixes: Gurubhakta Narayana Teertha, Sarasa Narayana Teertha, Bhavya Narayana Teertha, Yati Narayana Teertha, Sadhu Narayana Teertha, Vishnubhakta Sivanarayana Teertha, Sreeharibhakta Narayana Teertha, Muni Narayana Teertha, Bhakta Narayana Teertha, Siddha Narayana Teertha, Nijanarayana Teertha and Yogivara Teertha Yati. It is evident that the author has resorted to these varieties of prefixes to meet the requirement of the varnamettu and tala of the song as also to keep prasa. About 40 songs do not have his signatures. In the beginning of each tarangam the author gives a synopsis thereof and lists the episodes to be enacted. He also gives the names of the principal characters who take part in the episodes. He uses sloka-s, daru-s and choornika-s (long prose passages) for this purpose. We find them before the keertana-s too. The tarangam-s acquired an honoured place in the bhajana tradition from the time of Bodhendra Swamigal. The simple language, the delightful music and the vivid description of various incidents in Krishna's boyhood captured the hearts of one and all who participated in the bhajan-s. The songs entered the concert stage much later, perhaps in the middle of the last century. Some of the songs often heard in music concerts are:
It is stated that when Narayana Tirtha was on his way to Thanjavur District he was afflicted with a severe stomach ailment and prayed to Lord Venkateswara for relief. A divine voice told him to follow the first object he saw the next morning. This happened to be a boar, which led him to Varahur (Bhupatirajapuram). Tirtha settled down in the village and rendered yeoman service to Carnatic music.
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