Knowing the relationship between us, O Krishna, I came running! Having done millions of religious austerities, I came running to see you in Brindavanam! Seeing the flute played with such beauty, the faces of the surrounding cowherdesses turn shy. As eyes full of love seek You, a smile curves at the edge of Your lips. Thus for eons and eons, as tone and tempo, the Lord of the world plays His music and the girls keep time.
Can one really fall in love with God in a romantic sense? And this love, is it to be called devotion then? Surprisingly enough, Hinduism accepts a purely romantic love for God as equal to any other form of Bhakti. Everyone knows the stories of Meera and Andal, but even outside of these famous examples, romantic verse for God abounds in our literature. Have we not heard of the beauty of His walk and Her eyes ? Of His feet and Her curls? Of His shoulders and Her smile? Why, I have even read some description of Goddesses which are almost risqué! Interestingly, even male poets take on a female persona to express their love for a masculine God.
While this romantic love for God may offend the sensibilities of other religions, it makes perfect sense to us Hindus. Romantic love enjoys a grand commonality, far beyond any borders and differences that we humans have imposed on ourselves. The call of the opposite sex is a powerful one, is it not? We should not underestimate the power of this force; people face up to extraordinarily difficult circumstances to achieve their desired ones. Why not channel this strong force towards God instead?
To illustrate poetry of this kind, I have chosen a beautiful song by Ambujam Krishna (1917-1989). ‘I came running’ says the poet ‘Knowing the relationship between us, I came running’. An alternate version can be translated as ‘Knowing that there is to be a liaison between us, I came running!’. The second version makes it more explicit that the relationship is romantic right from the beginning. The poet goes to on to describe Krishna, the player of the flute, and the adoring Gopis who dance around him; she seems to join this adoring mass. She goes on to say ‘Thus for eons and eons, as tone and tempo, the Lord of the world plays music and the girls keep time’. Suddenly with this line we are taken away from the physical desire for an irresistibly handsome and alluring Krishna to his timeless divinity, the divinity which is like tone to our tempo, two aspects of the same music. A beautiful picture, is it not? She stresses the divinity with her words ‘The meaning of the Vedas dwell in union with you’. In one easy transition, we go from attraction to the form, to the realisation of Divinity and Divine knowledge. Set to raga Dharmavati (I think it is tuned by T.N.Seshagopalan but am unsure), enjoy this romantic song to God sung by the Master of mellifluous music, Unnikrishnan.
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Footnote (Lyrics) :
ஓடோடி வந்தேன் கண்ணா நான்
உனக்கும் எனக்கும் உள்ள உறவை (alt: உறவினை) அறிந்து
Alternate : உனக்கும் எனக்கும் உள்ள உறவென்று அறிந்து
கோடானு கோடி தவம் செய்து உன்னை காண
கோவிந்தா என்றழைத்து பிருந்தாவனத்திடை
(கண்ணன்) குழல் ஊதும் எழில் காணவே
கூடும் கோபியர்கள் முகம் நாணவே
காதல் விழி உந்தன் முகம் நாடவே
முறுவல் இதழோரம் சுழித்தோடவே
(மத்யம கால சாகித்யம்)
(ஜகந்)நாதன் இசை பாட நங்கை ஜதி போட
கால காலமெல்லாம் சுருதியும் லயமும் என
வேதப் (alt:வேதம்) பொருள் உந்நில் ஒன்றி உறைந்திடவே
போதம் மிகு காதல் பொன் அடி தனில் கொண்டு
ODODi vandEn kaNNA nAn
unakkum enakkum uLLa uRavai aRrindu
kODAnu kODi tavam seidu unnai kANa
gOvindA enDRazhaittu brndAvanattiDai
(kaNNan) kuzhal Udum ezhil kANavE
kUDum gOpiyargaL mukham nANavE
kAdal vizhi undan mukham nADavE
muRuval idazhOram shuzhittODavE
( jagan) nAthan isai pADa nangai jati pODa
kAla kAlamellAm shrutiyum layamum ena
vEdap-poRuL unnil onDRi uRaindiDavE
bOdam migu kAdal pon aDi tanil koNDu
Knowing (aRindu) the relationship (uRavu) between us (unakkum enakkum Ulla), O Krishna, I came running (ODODi vandEn)!
Having done (seidu) millions (kODAna kODi) of religious austerities (tavam), (I came) to see you (unnai kANa) in Brindavanam calling (enDRaizhaiitu) Govinda!
Seeing the flute (kuzhal) played (Udum) with such beauty (ezhil) , as the faces (mukham) of the surrounding (kUDum) cowherdesses (gOpiyargaL) turn shy (nANavE). As eyes (vizhi) full of love (kAdal) seek (nADavE) your face (undan mukham), a smile (muRuval) curves (shuzhi) at the edge (Oram) of your lips (idazh). Thus for eons and eons (kAla kAlamellam), as tone (shruti) and tempo (layam), the Lord of the world (jagan nAthan) plays music (isai pADa) and the girls (nangai) keeps time (jati pODa). The meaning (poRul) of the Vedas dwell (uRaindiDavE) in union (onDRi) with you (unnil). With wise (bOdam) love (kAdal) for your golden (pon) feet (aDi), (I came running…)
Footnote (Raga) :
The scales of Dharmavati are as follows :
Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N3 S’
Avarohanam (Descending ) : S N3 D2 P M2 G2 R2 S
Dharmavati is 59th on the Melakarta scale. A very pleasing and sensuous sounding raga, it is quite suitable for elaborations; in RTPs the tanam sounds especially pleasing. Well known compositions in this raga are Parandhamavai Jayati by Dikshithar, Bhajanaseya Rada by Mysore Vasudevachar and Ododi Vanden Kanna by Ambujam Krishna.
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.