Friday, 22 November 2013

The Suvalli of Jagannatha Dasa

Nearly a thousand years ago, one of India’s greatest mathematicians and astronomers wrote a book on mathematics and dedicate it to his daughter who had lost her husband just after marriage. The mathematician wanted to ensure that the memory if his daughter remains forever and he penned Lilavathi, one of the finest books on mathematics.
The mathematician was Bhaskaracharya (1114-1186) and his daughter was Lilavati. Determined to ensure that the world did not forget the name of his daughter, Bhaskarancharya wrote Lilavati.
Seven centuries later, a Haridasa from Karnataka lovingly compiled a text and gifted it to his daughter-in-law. You see, the Dasa had just lost his son and he deeply sympathized with the plight of his daughter-in-law. He wanted to console her and help her come out the agony of being a widow.
This Dasa was none other than Jagannatha Dasa (1726-1809) of Manvi and his daughter-in-law was the pious Gopamma.
Gopamma had just lost her husband Damodara and she was grieving continuously. She was also lamenting her fate of becoming a widow so early in life. More than anything, she was holding herself responsible for the death of her husband. Nothing that Jagannatha Dasa said could console her. Left with nothing else, the Dasa decided to write about Sri Hari and gift it to his daughter-in-law.
The Dasa then composed the Tatwa Suvalli which is a beautiful composition on the mahime of Vishnu and his family. It is a composition in Tripadi and since it is penned in the Janapada or folklore style, it is easy to memorise and easier to recite.
The Tatwa Suvalli is based on several other Hindu religious and philosophic works such as the Harivamsha of Vedavyasa, Brahma Sutra Bhashya and Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnanya of Madhwacharya, Bhagavatha, Upanishads, Theertha Prabhanda and Yukti Makkika of Vadiraja,Vamana, Garuda and Brahmanada Puranas, Vishnu Rahashye, Sri Sumadhwavijaya of Narayana Panditacharya and other famous works.
Gopamma began reciting the Suvalli and soon other women followed. Just as women in and around Bijapur began singing Chakki namas (composed by sufi saints and they dealt with ordinary chores that women would perform at home every day), the Suvalli son became famous in and around Raichur district.
Of the 1200 suvallis that formed the text, only 456 have survived.
The Tatwa Suvalli contains stuthis like Dashavatara, Brahma, Krishna, Tulasi, Rukmini Vilasa, Navagraha, Ganesha, Surya, Chandra, Vaisha Deva prakara, Maha Rudra Deva, Pranadevaru,  Stuthi, Venkateshwara, Mayavadha Kandana, Bhu Durga Stuthi and others.
Interestingly, in the Suvalli, Jagannatha Dasa has treated Rahu and Ketu as Chaya grahas and included Surya, Chandra, Mangala, Budha, Guru, Shukra and Shani as Navagraha.
If we go through this work, we find that the Dasa has given us a summary of the teachings and philosophy of Madhwacharya. He strictly adheres to the Taratamya or the gradation of Gods preached by Madhwacharya. Some of the tenets of Vadiraja Theertha are also brought out. The Suvalli brings out the philosopher in Jagannatha Dasa.
He says people should at all times remember and meditate on Hari or Vishnu. It is only Vishnu who can provide a balm to sooth all the pains that human beings experience. Hari is the only one who can save us and remember him always and in all circumstances, says the Dasa.
In one of the lines of the Suvalli, he says “inna vismritigadika mahapApa mahapApa karmagalu inilla inilla lOkatraydolu” and this is addressed directly to Vishnu. What he means is that much time has been spent in going after worldly pleasures and we have forgotten the lotus feet of Vishnu. We have tended to forget Vishnu and this is the first among the sins that we have committed.
At another place, he says “kere bAvi dEva maMdiraMgalanu keDisi divya hiridAgi mane kaTTidE nere neDava mArgadolu aravaTigegalannu thara tharadi bichchi tegede”.
He says he has been the cause and the source of destruction of Nature and temples and also the cause of their neglect. He says man has been selfish and he has not made use of the gifts of Nature to help others.  
The Suvalli starts with Ganapathi Stotra. It is in Ananda Bhairavi and is set to Ekathala.   

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