Please meet the newest entrant to our family, my grand-niece whom I affectionately call Lulu. She is 4 months old and is a Carnatic Music connoisseur. Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing her for her thoughts on this form of music.
‘Welcome to our family. I see that you are already a dedicated Carnatic music fan. Can you tell me how it came about?’, I ask curiously.
‘It is all about exposure’ she says with confidence ‘I did hear a bit of it when I was in my mummy’s tummy, but I am not sure how much attention I paid to it. But since I was born, my grandma has played this music often for me and now it is as precious as milk!’. She gurgles, blowing a milk-bubble in illustration.
‘Why do you like Carnatic music?’ I am interested. ‘How does it make you feel?’.
She smiles at her mom who is standing across the room and her brilliant big eyes follow her mom’s movements without blinking.
‘Ma’am?’ I draw attention back to myself, waving a soft toy in front of her eyes.
She blinks her eyes and stares at me with intelligent eyes. ‘It is so soothing!’ Her lips have a hint of a smile. ‘See, when I want my mommy but she is not there, or when my tummy aches with a burp which I just cannot get out, or when I am sleepy but can’t seem to close my eyes or stop my busy mind, I find that Carnatic Music lulls me into a happy and restful state’.
Having had enough of this interview, she fills her lungs to their fullest extent and demands in the most princess-like style that her mom attend to her at once.
‘Please ma’am, I would like you to recommend a restful playlist for my readers, especially for those who have a child or a grandchild to soothe.’ I beg.
She pauses for a moment and nods her head. ‘Check out my ipad.’ She dismisses me and deigns to smile at her mom, who has come running to do her bidding. The interview is closed.
This then is Lulu’s playlist of favourites.
1. Krishna Nee Begane by K.S.Chitra (too light for me, but Lulu adores this)
2. Gana Moorte by Nisha Rajagopal. (the feature song, well sung)
3. RTP in Brindavana Saranga by O.S.Arun (I heard for the first time today, its very good! Do listen.)
4. Jo Jo Rama by Bombay Jayashri (from Vatsalyam, a CD of lullabys, very soothing)
5. Shlokas on Shri Venkatesha by Aruna Sairam (I am a fan!)
As I have already featured the song Krishna Nee Begane in my blog, I have chosen Gana Moorte by Tyagaraja to feature in my post today. Set to the unusual Raga Ganamoorti, it is in praise of Lord Krishna. Like a number of kritis, the lyrics list ‘identifiers’ for Lord Krishna. A great prayer song, it brings the mind to focus on who He is. For those who know the associated stories, it brings along a vivid imagery, allowing the mind’s eye to wonder at the leelas of Lord Krishna. Listen below to Nisha Rajagopal’s rendition of this melodious song.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
Language : Sanskrit
गान मूर्ते श्री कृष्ण वेणु गान लोल त्रिभुवन पाल पाहि
मानिनी मणि श्री रुक्मिणी मानसापहार मार जनक दिव्य
नवनीत चोर नन्द सत्किशोर नर मित्र धीर नर सिंह शूर
नव मेघ तेज नगजा सहज नरकान्तकाज नत त्यागराज
gAna mUrtE shrI krshNa vENu gAna lOla tri bhuvana pAla pAhi
mAninI maNi shrI rukmiNi mAnasApahAra mAra janaka divya
navanIta chOra nanda satkishOra nara mitra dhIra nara simha shUra
nava mEgha tEja nagajA sahaja narakAntakAja nata tyAgarAja
O Embodiment (mUrtE) of Music (gAna), Lord Krishna! O He who longs for (lOla) Music (gAna) ! O Protector (pAla) of the three worlds (tri bhuvana), protect me (pAhi) !
O Stealer (apahAra) of the mind (mana) of the gem (maNi) of a proud woman (mAnini) Rukmini ! O divine (divya) father (janaka) of mAra (the God of love) !
O Stealer (chOra) of butter (navanIta) ! O good son (sat kishOra) of Nanda ! O friend (mitra) of man (nara) ! O brave (dhIra) hero (shUra), Narasimha ! O He who is radiant (tEja) as fresh (nava) clouds (mEgha)! O brother (sahaja) of Parvati (nagajA=daughter of mountain)! O destroyer of the demon naraka (narakAntaka)! O unborn (aja) ! O Lord saluted by (nata) tyagarAja !
Footnote (Raga) :
The scales of Ganamoorti are as follows :
Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N3 S’
Avarohanam (Descending) : S’ N3 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S
Ganamoorti is a the 3rd raga on the Melakarta Scale.
It is called Ganasamavarali in the Dikshithar school. Very few compositions are there in this raga; the featured song is the most popular.
Note : The 12 notes in the octave are named as below. Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Carnatic Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the gamakas(ornamentations) are a very important part of a raga.