Velum Mayilume

Only the spear and the peacock will be victorious at all times ! O Mind, worship Lord Murugan day and night! Even when the God of Death comes, the spear and peacock will be victorious.

Velum MayilumThis has been a long-distance house hunting week for me. In 2014, my son is starting his medical career with an internship at the hospital in Bendigo, a city which is about 170 kms from where we live. Though unsuccessful in finding a suitable home, we both enjoyed the eight hours of music we heard on our two trips this week. I never realised how lonesome I normally get in this musical world of mine; my husband does not share my passion. My son, however, loves it like I do. To share the pleasure in a particular sangati, to nod heads in unison to a well-executed neraval, to gasp at an intricately woven kalpana swaram –all this very much enhanced my listening pleasure.

While discussing different ragas with my son, it occurred to me that one could categorize ragas in the same way as we categorize astrological signs or rashis into the four elements – Earth, Air, Water and Fire. We have ragas like Kambhoji, Madhyamavati and Darbar which are strong but peaceful, earthed, stable. We have ragas like Hindolam, Sindhu Bhairavi, Brindavana Saranga, and Madhuvanti which weave and flow airily like colourful kites on a windy day. We have ragas like Shubhapantuvarali, Kapi, Shivaranjani and Nilamani which can be like deep dark still water or ripple like a brook. We have ragas like Atana, Bhairavi, Gambheera Natta and Gowla  which are forceful, crackling like a forest fire at times, burning fierce at others. Depending on our mood, we are drawn to one or the other; or vice versa, we are drawn into that mood by the raga. I proposed this classification to my son and we had great fun arguing over the mood of each raga we heard!

To test whether we all react to notes in similar ways, I have a little game for us today. I am presenting an interesting and rare raga today, perhaps something you have not heard much before. A vivadi raga with two sets of notes which are very close together, it has a unique sound. So tell me, in which of our four classifications would you say it belongs?

To present Velum Mayilume in Sucharitra by Koteeswara Iyer, here is a rendition by Sanjay Subrahmanyan. And don’t forget to leave a comment with your classification of this raga – Earth, Water, Air or Fire? To know more about the raga, click here.


Alternate Link : Click here, song 3 (Needs free membership of Sangeethapriya.org). There is also a live video recording from a different performance here.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

My gratitude to Mr.Lakshman Ragde for help with the lyrics.

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
வேலும் மயிலுமே எவ்வேளையிலுமே வெல்லுமே -வெற்றி
(note: original lyrics say வேலு not வேலும் though its sung as the latter)

அனுபல்லவி
காலை மாலையுமே மனமே துதி (alt: துது )(கந்தனை)
காலன் வரினுமே -கந்தன்

சரணம்
சித்ரகவி நக்கீரன் தத்தை தவிர்த்த தீரன்
கஜவத்ர வீரபத்ர வீரபாகு சோதரன்
ஆறு வத்ர வசிகரன் சுசரித்ர சுசிகரன்
விசித்ர கவி குஞ்சரதாச மித்ர ருசீகரன் – சக்தி

Transliteration

pallavi
vElum mayilumE evvELaiyilumE vellumE -veTri
(note: original lyrics say vElu not vElum, but its sung as the latter)

anupallavi
kAlai mAlaiyumE manamE tudi (alt: tudu) (kandanai)
kAlan varinumE -kandan

charaNam
chitrakavi nakkIran tattai tavirtta dhIran
gajavatra vIrabhadra vIrabAhu sOdaran
Aruvatra vasikaran sucharitra susikaran
vichitra kavi kunjaradAsa mitra ruchIkaran -shakti

Translation

Only the spear (vEl) and the peacock (mayil) will be victorious (vellumE) at all times (evvElaiyulE)!

O Mind, (manamE) worship (tudi) (alt: make a close search into (tudu)) Kandan day (kAlai) and night (mAlai)! Even when the God of Death (kAlan)comes (varinumE), (the spear and peacock will be victorious).

He is the courageous one (dhIran) who relieved (tavirtta) the peril (tattai) to the poet Nakkeeran. He is the brother of the elephant-faced one (gaja vatra), Veerabhadra and Veerabahu. He is the six-faced one (Aru vatra), most charming (vasikaran), pure (susikaran) one with good conduct (sucharitra in Sanskrit, also name of Raga) . He is the friend (mitra) of the poet (vichitra kavi kunjaradAsa, signature of poet) and gives him much pleasure (ruchikaran).

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12 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Koteeswara Iyer

12 responses to “Velum Mayilume

  1. Ramesh

    Oh that’s a tough one Suja. I don’t see the classification as seriously as you do, but that’s hardly a surprise – your tastes are far far more refined. So if I had to play the game, I would say Earth, but of course, I could be dead wrong.

    Haven’t heard the raga at all before. Very nice and pleasing. The artiste you have featured, was reviewed by another music blogger after a concert in Bangalore, and he was very very complementary. I hadn’t heard him before, but he is clearly a powerful singer.

    • Hi Ramesh, Of course you shouldn’t take this classification seriously! Its just something I made up :) And there is no right or wrong either..I just wanted to know if we all perceived the same moods in a raga or not. We can all say, for example, that red is ‘bright’, ‘startling’ but some may say mangala-karam (like kumkum) while others think it frightening (like blood). It is truly subjective. I wanted to see if there is an instinctive perception of a raga being of a certain ‘type’ and if my typing matched that of my readers’.

      I read up what I could find about this artist as I found his swara-placement perfect…it seems that he a professor of music. No surprise!

      Cheers. Suja

  2. Chandramouli Subramanian

    Dear Suja: Oh what a lovely song! Muruga is my ishta deivam and I was thrilled by this composition. May the spear and peacock of Skanda bless your son and make him victorious in his profession.

  3. Priya

    Loved it. Very unique and soothing. Given my scanty knowledge of ragas, I would guess “water” but thats just me:) Let me know…

    • Dearest Priya, absolutely right – I too find it unique and soothing! And yes, your perception of the raga is the same as mine :) It’s just something I made up though..:)
      love, Suja

  4. Jay

    Suja,

    The theme of water is what I perceive – similar to Shivaranjini, Shubha pantuvarali.

    I commend you for your ability to follow through the nuances of closely placed swaras. And, you are fortunate to discuss it with your son. It is a gift.

    Jay

    • Hello Jay, Ah…we have perceived the raga in the same way I see! :) You know, I get the feeling that I am somewhat of an ‘airhead’ in carnatic music tastes…one is supposed to like the stalwart ragas like kambhoji, madhyamavati, todi (all of which I adore) but not really like these unusual vivadi ragas but somehow I am very attracted to them. Once upon a time, they would not even sing these, I understand. They were considered to have dosha. Yet I love them!

      And yes, it is indeed a gift to be able to share my love for this music with my adult son. God has indeed blessed me!
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Ravi

    It’s been an while since I visited your blog, Suja. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you have featured a song on Muruga (my family deity) sung by a Malayali (I am one). Made my day! Thank you very much, indeed!

    • Welcome back Ravi, happy to have you visit my blog after all this time :) I am pleased that my choice of song and singer pleased you, it’s a fabulous performance of a lovely song, isn’t it?
      Cheers. Suja

  6. Narasimharaj

    “one could categorize ragas in the same way as we categorize astrological signs or raashis into the four elements – Earth, Air, Water and Fire.. . . ”
    Suja, that’s ‘innovative’ – reflecting the moods-of-melodies!!
    I can imagine your joy at having a son who shares your love/ear for music and debates about music with you and makes for synergistic joy for both of you. (I am glad that my grandson who enters ‘Residency’ at a hospital in USA enjoys music and plays on the Tabla)
    May your Son grow up to be a good ‘doc’ and pass on the soothing vibes-of -music to his patients, while he treats them.
    Oh, about “And don’t forget to leave a comment with your classification of this raga – Earth, Water, Air or Fire?”, I have no answer to that, but say that I enjoyed listening to Dr. KNR.
    I recall/remember K.B. Sundarambal as one who sang a lot of Compositions on Muraugarajendra/Shanmukha/Karthikeya. Your ‘take’ on her renderings?
    Best Wishes.
    Raj

    • Hello Raj, thank you for the good wishes for my son! As they say, ‘from your lips to God’s ears!’.

      I love the thiruvilayadal song as also the avvayar songs of Sundarsmbal. Unique voice, as strong as a man’s, as touching as a woman’s and remarkable musicality makes her music unforgettable.
      Cheers. Suja

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