Come without dancing and swaying, Krishna, as your dance makes all the fourteen worlds sway and tremble! Even Lord Shiva abandons his own dance to come and see you dance! When you dance, all who listen to the anklets jingle on feet are intoxicated. If one of your devotees who come to see your divine dance cast an evil eye on you, my heart will be wounded so please come without dancing and swaying.
‘Beware the evil eye!’ my mother would warn me whenever I talked of any good fortune which came my way. I learnt from childhood to be circumspect with whom I shared good news. This belief in the evil eye is widespread in India. What I discovered with surprise in the course of my life that it is not Indians alone who fear it. This superstition is common amongst many cultures in South and Central Asia, the Mediterranean region, parts of South America as well as parts of Africa. If there is mention of it in Atharvaveda, there is also mention of it in the Old Testament and in the Islamic scriptures. That it is so widespread lends credence to it, don’t you think? Our minds are more powerful than we think, who knows what damage an envious thought can do?
Hand-in-hand with this belief in the evil eye are the ways of warding against them. In India you will often see children with black dots painted on their face, houses with odd and ugly sculptures mounted prominently, etc. In my recent very short visit to Turkey, I noticed with surprise the ‘eye’ very prominently displayed everywhere. A very long time ago, my Iraqi friend gave me a Hamsa hand, also called the hand of Miriam or the hand of Fatima to hang on my front door. After nearly 20 years, it still hangs there.
But can a look of envy affect God himself? Is He in danger of having an evil eye cast on Him? It does seem an odd thought. Isn’t He all powerful? Who could harm Him? Yet one of the most famous prayers recited daily in many Vaishnavaite temples is the couplet written by Periyazhwar in the 6th century to ward of the evil eye for Narayana.
பல்லாண்டு பல்லாண்டு பல்லாயிரத்தாண்டு
பலகோடி நூறாயிரம் மல்லாண்ட திண்தோள் மணிவண்ணா! உன் சேவடி செவ்விதிருக் காப்பு
pallANDu pallANDu pallAyirattANDu
pala kODi nURAyiram mallANDa tiN tOL maNivaNNA! un
sEvaDi sevvi tirukkAppu
O gem-coloured Lord with strong shoulders, who overcame the wrestling Mallas, may the beauty of your divine red feet be protected for countless years, for thousands of countless years, for millions of countless years !
Periyazhwar was not the only one who thought of protecting God from the evil eye. In today’s song, poet-composer Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (1700-1765) sings to his beloved bala Krishna (Krishna as child). ‘Come without dancing and swaying’ he says. Krishna is so breath-taking when he comes dancing and singing that the whole world stops to watch. Even the great dancing Lord Shiva, whose dance keeps the world revolving, stops his dance to come and watch, says the poet. His description of the dancing Krishna is beguiling. He describes ‘The anklets of the tiny little feet’ which jingle, the ‘plaited hair’ which is all in disarray by the dancing and swaying, the feather stuck in His hair displaced. He is still a beautiful God; ‘Azhaga’ the poet calls Him. Such beauty is in danger of the evil eye, is it not? ‘If an evil eye is cast on you, my heart will be wounded!’ says he. This beautiful song is set to the Raga Madhyamavati. For lyrics and translation see footnote.
There are many wonderful renditions of this song. I have chosen an interesting rendition of the song by one of my favourite musicians Aruna Sairam.
Alternate Link : Click here.
Now answer this quiz : The singer has brought in excerpts from four Oothkadu kritis into her rendition, as a Ragamalika. Which are the four kritis? Answers at the bottom of this post.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
Language : Tamil
ஆடாது அசங்காது வா கண்ணா
உன் ஆடலில் ஈரேழு புவனமும்
அசைந்து அசைந்தாடுதே எனவே
ஆடலைக் காணத்-தில்லை அம்பலத்திறைவனும் (அம்பலத்து + இறைவனும்)
தன் ஆடலை விட்டு இங்கே கோகுலம் வந்தான்
ஆதலினால் சிறு யாதவனே
ஒரு மாமயில் இறகணி (இறகு+அணி) மாதவனே நீ
சின்னஞ் சிறு பதங்கள் சிலம்பொலித்திடுமே (சிலம்பு + ஒலித்திடுமே)
அதைச்-செவிமடுத்தப் பிறவி மனம் களித்திடுமே
பின்னிய சடை சற்றே வகை கலைந்திடுமே
மயில் பீலி அசைந்தசைந்து நிலை கலைந்திடுமே
பன்னிரு கை இறைவன் ஏறு மயில் ஒன்று
தன் பசுந்தோகை விரித்தாடி பரிசளித்திடுமே
குழல் பாடி வரும் அழகா
உனைக் காணவரும் அடியார் எவராயினும்
கனக மணி அசையும் உனது திரு நடனம்
கண் பட்டுப் போனால் மனம் புண்பட்டுப் போகுமே
ADadu asangAdu vA kaNNA (nI)
un ADalil irEzhu bhuvanamum
asaindu asaindADude enavE
ADalai kAna (kaNNA un) tillai ambalat-tiRaivanum
tan ADalai viTTu ingE gOkulam vandAn
AdalinAl siru yAdavanE oru mA mayiliRagani mAdavanE nI
chinnan-siru padangal silambolittiDumE
adai sevimaDuttap-piravi manam kaLittiDumE
pinniya saDai satRE vagaik-kalaindiDumE
mayil pIli asaindu-asaindu nilai kalaindiDumE
panniRu kai iRaivan Eru mayil ondRu
tan pasun-togai virittADi parisaLittiDumE
kuzhal pAdi varum azhagA
unaik-kANavarum aDiyAr evarAyinum
kanaka maNi asaiyum unadu tiru natanam
kaN paTTu pOnAl manam puN paTTu pOgumE
Come (vA) without dancing and swaying (ADAdu asangAdu), my Krishna (Kanna)
By your (un) dance (ADalil) all the fourteen (IREzhu) worlds (bhuvanamum) sway and tremble (asaindu asaindu ADudE), therefore (enavE) (come without dancing…)
To see (kANa) your (un) dance (ADalai), even the Lord of the temple (ambalattu-iRaivan) at Tillai (Lord Shiva)
abandoned (viTTu) His (tan) dance (ADalai) and came (vandAn) here (ingE) to Gokulam
Therefore (AdalinAl), O young (siru) Yadava, who wears (aNi) the feather (iRagu) of a (oRu) great (mA) peacock (mayil), O Madhava (come without dancing…)
The anklets (silambu) on the tiny little (chinnan-shiru) feet (padangaL) will jingle (olittiDumE),
and the minds (manam) of the life forms (piravi) which listen (sevimaDutta) to it will be intoxicated (kaLittuDumE),
the plaited (pinniya) hair (saDai) will be disarranged (vagai kalaindiDumE) just a bit (saTRE),
the peacock (mayil) feather (pIli) will have moved (nilai kalaindiDumE) with all the swaying (asaindu asaindu)
One of the peacocks (mayil onDRu) mounted by (Eru) the Twelve-Handed (panniRu kai) Lord (iRaivan) (Murugan)
will bestow the gift (parisu aLittuDumE) of dancing (ADi) with its tender (pasum) feathers (tOgai) outspread (virittu)
Oh handsome Lord (azhagA) who comes (varum) while playing the flute (kuzhal paDi))
If one of (evarAyinum) your devotees (aDiyAr) who come (varum) to see (kANa) you (unai)
dance your (unadu) divine (tiru) dance (natanam) with golden (kanaka) bells (maNi) swaying (asaiyum)
cast an evil eye on you (kaN paTTu ponAl), my heart (manam=mind) will be wounded (pUN paTTu) (therefore, come without…)
Footnote (Raga) :
The scales of Madhyamavati are as follows :
Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R2 M1 P N2 S’
Avarohanam (Descending) : S’ N2 P M1 R2 S
Madhyamavati is a janya raga, derived from Kharaharapriya (below), 22nd on the Melakarta Scale.
Madhyamavati is normally sung near the end of a concert as it is said to wash away the sin of singing wrong notes! It is also appropriate for elaborations as the notes are well spaced. There are very many popular compositions in this raga, some of which are Adathu asangathu va kanna by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyyar, Nagumomu galavani by Tyagaraja, Karpakame by Papanasam Sivan and Palinchu Kamakshi by Shyama Shastri.
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.
Answer to the quiz :
The four kritis from which excerpts are sung are :
1. Thaye Yashoda in Todi
kAlinil silambu konja kaivaLai kulunga muttu
mAlaigaL asaiya teru vAsalil vandAa
kAlasaivum kaiyasaivum avan tALAmODi saidu vara
nIlavaNNa kaNNan ivan nartam ADurAn
2. Kshanameva Ganyam Anye in Bhupalam
nIla rUpENa ranjita kOmaLa nirmala padayuga nUpura galgala
lOva vurasthala kaustubha maNivara mukhatara smita nasmikara smaraNa
(note: Last part above is different as sung by Aruna Sairam)
sAra sAsana sanaka sanAtana sujana gaNAdi vinuta nartana
kOMaLa pada brndAvana viharaNa gOpa gOpikA jIvana smaraNa
3. Madhura Madhura in Atana
bahu vidha kaLabha kastUri tilaka gandham sugandham
samam samAgama guhuguhu itividha kOkila kalarava kUjita brndAvana sadanA
mAhEndra nIla dyuti kOmalAnga mrdu mandahAsa vadanA
kunda vrnda makaranda bindu samabrndahAra taraNa
chandra sUrya nayanA nAgEndra shayana ramaNA
4. Nirada Sama in Jayantishri
makara kuNDala dharita mahanIya vESA
sakala jana munigaNa samUha mana mOhA
tara kaTaka karatala jla jvalita jAlA