Dikku Teriyada Kattil

ForestI arrived on my post today by way of jetlag!  Last Sunday I arrived back at my home in Switzerland from my home in Australia.  After two months of long summer days, I was back into sub-zero temperatures, flurries of snow and short winter days. The 10 hours of time difference is difficult to get over and after having woken up at midnight for a couple of days, I managed to sleep until 3 am last night. My nights have been filled with Carnatic Music and this morning it was the poetry of the extraordinary Subramanya Bharathi which kept me enthralled. And as I said, I arrived at Dikku Teriyada Kattil for my post today.

In a forest through which I couldn’t find the way,
I grew tired in my search for you.

In this metaphoric poem, Bharathi likens life to a forest in which our soul is lost, forever searching for the Divine. This beautiful poem is sung by Carnatic musicians in different ragas. The most popular version is a Ragamalika – a string of different ragas – as sung originally by the great maestro G.N.Balasubramaniam. Only a subset of the verses are sung normally.

In the unsung verses, the heroine wanders lost in the forest, amazed at all the beauty of the world around her as well as the dangers. In the first verse which is sung, the heroine says:

I started falling as my legs tired, and my eyes grew sleepy,
when a lustful hunter stared at me to my embarrassment.
‘”Girl, I am maddened by your beauty!” he said and laughed.
“Oh my darling, I want to embrace you”

In other unsung verses, the hunter goes on to ask the heroine to lie with him, to eat and drink and make merry. Thus do dangers come to seduce us, implies the poet. There are passive dangers, like the lions and snakes the poet mentions as he sets the scene but also active dangers, like the hunter who intends to harm by way of pleasure.

Elder brother, I fall at your feet, do not say such cruel things to frighten me!
Is it correct to even to look in such a way at a woman who is married to another?

Who is the soul married to? Who but God himself! Our scriptures often portray the jeevatma (soul) as feminine and the paramatma (God) as masculine. The two are tied by sacred bonds as if they were wed.

‘”Don’t speak of rules! I seek only your pleasure, my sweet!
An enchantment intoxicates me like a bowl of aged liquor”

The hunter seeks pleasure, willing the girl to betray her principles. It is interesting that the poet has the hunter seeking her pleasure, not his. Is that the ultimate seduction? The most irresistible temptation is an offer of pleasure, is it not?

‘Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and fell.
Before long my faintness cleared and I woke to see You!’

Kannan is the name of Lord Krishna, but it is also means beloved. For her, both are the same.  The poet seems to say that when we are seduced by the illicit pleasures of the world, we need only take the name of our Lord and He will come to save us.

It is fascinating that in the version sung by GNB the words are altered slightly. He sings ‘I cried out ‘Kanna’ and leapt to embrace him’ !! Here the hunter is implied to be the Lord in disguise. A small change, but how it changes the story!  To those lost in this world, the only true seducer can be the Lord for what can more seductive than an offer of love from Him? There is yet another interpretation, that the girl was asleep from when fatigue made her drowsy to the time she woke up and saw ‘Him’. The poet may be implying that life is like a dream, all its pleasures and dangers a mirage and that one day we will wake from it to see the Lord.

This song appeals to me on multiple levels. The imagery is charming; a girl lost in the forest, not frightened but amazed at the world in which she finds herself. Accosted by a hunter, the world suddenly becomes a frightening place because her virtue is at stake. Great imagery! On another level, the metaphor makes sense to me and keeps me thinking. On a third level, I love the sound of the words which flow so elegantly, Tamil at its very best. On yet another level, I love the ragas the song has been set to, each verse infused with its own mood. It starts with Behag, lilting and light as she traipses through the forest. As she tires, we switch to Revagupti, a gentle and somnolent raga. The hunter seduces in Kuntalavarali and she begs him for mercy in Sahana. He talks cheerfully of his intoxication in Kapi and she loses consciousness in Paras. A gem of a song.

This song was so much owned by G.N.Balasubramaniam that it would be a travesty to offer any other rendition. I found this rather light, filmy version on youtube which I hope you enjoy.

For an instrumental version, listen to the great violinist T.N.Krishnan.


Alternate link : Click here



Footnote (Lyrics) :

திக்குத் தெரியாத காட்டில் — உன்னை
தேடித் தேடி இளைத்தேனே

கால் கை சோர்ந்துவிழலானேன் – இரு
கண்ணுந் துயில்படரலானேன் – ஒரு
வேட்கை கொண்டு கொலை வேடன் – உள்ளம்
வெட்கம் கொண்டொழிய விழித்தான் nbsp;

“பெண்ணே, உனதழகைக் கண்டு – மனம்
பித்தங் கொள்ளு” தென்று நகைத்தான் – “அடி
கண்ணே, எனதிரு கண் மணியே – உன்னை
கட்டித் தழுவ மனம் கொண்டேன்

“அண்ணா, உனதடியில் வீழ்வேன் – என்னை
அஞ்சக் கொடுமை சொல்ல வேண்டாம் – பிறன்
கண்ணாலம் செய்து விட்ட பெண்ணை – உந்தன்
கண்ணாற்ப் பார்த்திடவுந் தகுமோ?

“ஏடீ, சாத்திரங்கள் வேண்டேன் – நினது
இன்பம் வேண்டுமடி, கனியே!
மோடி கிருக்குதடி தலையை  நல்ல
மொந்தைப் பழைய கள்ளைப் போலே.”

காதால் இந்த உரை கேட்டேன் – ‘அட
கண்ணா!’ என்று அலறி வீழ்ந்தேன் – மிகப்
alternate : கண்ணா!’ என்று தாவி அணைத்தேன் – மிகப் 
போதாகவில்லை இதற்குள்ளே – எந்தன்
போதம் தெளிய நினைக் கண்டேன்

Transliteration

dikku teriyAda kATTil unait-tEdit-tEdi iLaittEnE

kAl kai sOrndu vizhalAnEn iru kaNNUm tuyil paDaralAnEn – oru
vEtkaik koNDu kolai vEDan uLLam veTkam koNDozhiya vizhittAn

peNNE unadazhagaik-kaNDu manam pittam koLLudendru nagaittAn aDi
kaNNE enadiru kaN maNiyE unnaik-kaTTit-tazhuva manam koNDEn

aNNA unadaDiyil vIzhvEn ennai anjak-koDumai solla vENDAm – piran
kaNNAlam seiduviTTa peNNai undan kaNNArp-pArttiDavun-tagumO

EDI sAttirangaL vENDEn ninadu inbam vENDumaDi kaniyE
mODi kirukkudaDi talaiyai nalla mondaip-pazhaiya kaLLaip-pOlE

kAdAl inda urai kETTEn aDa kaNNA endru alari vIzhndEn -migap-
alternate : kAdAl inda urai kETTEn aDa kaNNA endru tAvi aNaitten -migap-
pOdAgavillai idarkkuLLE endan bOdam teLiya ninaik-kaNDEn

Translation

In a forest through which I couldn’t find the way,
I grew tired in my search for you.

I started falling as my legs tired, and my eyes grew sleepy,
when a lustful hunter stared at me to my embarrassment.
‘”Girl, I am maddened by your beauty!” he said and laughed.
”Oh my darling, I want to embrace you”

Elder brother, I fall at your feet, do not say such cruel things to frighten me!
Is it correct to even to look in such a way at a woman married to another?

”Don’t speak of rules! I seek only your pleasure, my sweet!
An enchantment intoxicates me like a bowl of aged liquor”

Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and fell.
alternate : Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and leapt to embrace him.
Before long my faintness cleared and I woke to see You!

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4 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Subramanya Bharathi

4 responses to “Dikku Teriyada Kattil

  1. Ramesh

    Wonderful post where you have excelled yourself in interpreting the lyrics. That it is a well known and famous song, in a language I know, enriched the enjoyment of the post.

    Maybe the creativity is enhanced by jet lag:)

    • Thank you Ramesh :) Indeed it is always a pleasure for me when I write posts on songs in Tamil or Hindi, languages which I understand well enough to appreciate even the nuances used by the poet. I can translate for myself instead of depending on web sources which can be iffy! As for creativity, my brain is in a fog most of the day so I don’t think I would like to thank jet lag at all!
      Cheers. Suja

  2. S RAGHAVAN

    I have listened many times Bharathiar’s songs like
    this. Who will not like Bharati’s songs?. I like
    carnatic music, although I have not learnt it. I
    should be ashamed to say this, because my father
    is a Carnatic musician, a disciple of Madurai Mani
    Iyer, and trained under Gurukulavasa.

    • Thank you for your comment Raghavan :) Indeed Bharathi’s songs are very beloved to the Tamil people!

      As to not having learnt Carnatic Music in spite of such illustrious family tradition, there should be no shame in it. You know, one is obliged to do whatever is required for work maybe and sometimes the same kind of duty ties us to things we do for our family. But music, painting, dance and such other art forms, one should do solely for oneself, don’t you think? There should be no shame in the choices here, surely? But at least you listen and take pleasure in it, that itself is great gift!
      Cheers. Suja

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