Narayana Theertha Tarangini

Narayana Teertha was born in 1675 A.D. on Ashada Sudha Ekadasi at Kaza, Guntur Dist. Andhra Pradesh. His name originally was Govinda Shastri. He married from a Brahmin Family of Vedadri. The marriage took place very early in life.

 Young Govinda Shastri suffered from Parinamasula (Chronic Stomach ache) and in search of a cure for his painful disease, he went to the temple of Narasimha in the village Singarakonda (near Addanki, present Prakasam Dist.) and undertook Prada­kshinam for 40 days around the deity. He obtained relief and composed the Taran­gams there and taught them to the residents of Sixty Villages in Addanki Seema. This is the traditional belief of the elders of the region which has a Shishya – Param­para to uphold it.

 Govinda Shastri visited many Narasimha Kshetrams in that period. While he was swimming across the Krishna River to reach his father-in-law’s place in Vedadri, the swollen river drove him to despair and in the face of imminent death, he took to Apatsanyasa (becoming a Sanyasi in an emergency situation) by reciting the pre­scribed mantras. When the floods subsided and he could reach his father in law’s place, his wife saw in him the radiance of a Sanyasi. With her consent, he confirmed his status as a Sanyasi and left on his Deshatana (wandering round the country).

 He was properly initiated into Sanyasa by Shivaramateertha at Kanchipuram and took on the name Narayanateertha.  Eventually during his wanderings he reached Kasi and stayed there for a long time. He was a master of Music, Literature and Shatshastras and a great Jnani. He also visited Prayag, Mathura and Puri and on his way back he visited Kuchimanchi, Shob­hanadri, Vedadri, Kuchipudi, Srikakulam, Velatur, Addanki and Thirupandurthy. His stay in Tamilnadu included visits to Govinda Rajapuram, Thiruvasanallur, Ramesh­waram, Gunashekharam, Tiruvaiyuru, Nadukaveri, Varahur and Thirupandurthy.  

 Narayana Teertha moved to Tamilnadu as an ascetic on his own after 1692 A.D and lived in Varahur till the end. 

 By Tradition Narayana Teertha has been regarded as an incarnation of Jayadeva, the author of the immortal Geeta Govindam. We can observe similarities in the works of Jayadeva and Narayana Teertha. What Jayadeva did for Krishna, the eternal lover, Narayana Teerthar has done for Krishna, the playful child.

 The literary and artistic content of the lilting music of Narayana Teertha’s Tarangini have charmed many generations. Earlier the entire phase was presented to the au­dience in an open air auditorium as dance drama. Now generally only the songs are sung. Some exponents do sing them to the accompaniment of dance, with greater prominence on Laya. The Tarangams have over the years formed an integral part of the Kuchipudi Dance Tradition.

 In Shri Krishna Leela Tarangini, Shri Narayana Teertha deals with the story of Shri Krishna, as related in the Dashama Skandam of Shrimad Bhagavatam, from the marriage of Devaki and Vasudeva to the wedding of Rukmini and Krishna.

 It is divided into Twelve Tarangams and the author calls the entire work Tarangini (The River of the Sport of Shri Krishna). The division of the work into twelve parts seems to be inspired by the division of Shrimad Bhagavatam into twelve books as also with the twelve letters of Dwadasakshari Mantra which had fascinated Naray­ana Teertha from his early years. It is significant that Jayadeva has also divided his Geeta Govindam into twelve parts.

 After a long and productive life Narayana Teertha attained mukti in 1745 in Varahur. The works of Shri Narayana Teerthar include:

1.      Shri Krishna Leela Tarangini, a Yakshagana in Sanskrit.

2.      Parijatapaharana Natakam in Telugu

3.      Bhatta Bhasha Prakasam, a work in Poorva meemamsam

Haribhakti Sudharnavam, an opera in Sanskrit