Sendru Va Nee Radhe

Do go now Radha, go immediately! There is no time to think! You do not understand even if told, nor would you think of it by yourself. Don’t trust that Lord! After all, the promises of that illusionist  come from the mouth which ate mud!  For one who has measured  the earth , is it difficult to come to you and make up false stories? Even if Krishna came and told us a thousand things, is it really justified for us to believe it all?

In my last post, I talked of Sita, of her refusing to be left behind when Rama goes on exile. Krishna does not go on exile but He does leave Brindavan to complete all that He has to do in His incarnation. And Radha, His sweetheart, His love, is left behind.

What happens to Radha? In youthful love, she dances to His tune, both literally and metaphorically. In adulthood, she awaits her Lord for evermore while Krishna marries Rukmini and Satyabhama. Is she seen as the jilted sweetheart? But no! She is His eternal love and has a unique place in the Krishna story. She adorns many a Radha-Krishna temple in a status equal to that of the Lord. ‘Radhe-Krishna’ exclaim millions of Indians; naming Krishna as the one belonging to Radha.

Though Radha is sung of in many parts of India, there are hardly any Carnatic songs which feature her. Does the mystic love of Radha and Krishna not really capture the imagination of the more conservative Southerners? Whatever the case, I am pleased to offer for your listening pleasure this gem of a song by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. I am not sure whether it should be classified as a nindA stuti (backhanded praise of the Lord); it does seem like it should. After all, when normally we are told ‘Trust in God’, the poet says ‘Don’t trust anything He says!’. You can find the lyrics and translation in the footnote. The words are such that we need to look beyond them for a meaningful interpretation.

Do go and find him immediately!’. Radha is urged by the poet to go and seek out Krishna. ‘There is no more time to think’, she is told. Who is Radha? She is but the representative of the jIvAtma, the soul which resides in each of us. The song is urging us all to seek Krishna.

Krishna is ever busy herding His cattle and paying attention to the crowds who seek Him, says the poet. Radha waits forever for her Krishna to come to her. Are we too waiting for the Lord to find us? The poet urges us instead to actively try and find Him. ‘You neither think of seeking Him yourself, nor do you understand when told by others’ says he. A little scolding for us all from the poet!

Don’t trust Him’, says the poet to Radha, and us. ‘After all, the promises of that illusionist come from the same mouth which once ate mud!’. This refers to the story of Krishna as a small child. He is caught eating mud by His mother Yashoda. When questioned, He denies it. She asks Him to open His mouth and sees the whole universe within it. Did He lie? Yes. He did eat mud. No. How can He ingest anything when all the universe is contained within Him? Krishna created illusions – but which was the illusion? That the universe was within His mouth? Or that He was a little child who ate mud? No, He is definitely not to be trusted!

‘For One who has measured the earth, is it difficult to come to you and make up false stories?’. The poet has cleverly used the two meanings of alappadu; this line always makes me smile! Referring to the vAmana avatAra when Lord Vishnu measured the whole world in one single step, the poet says that, in comparison, the task of making up tales is no great thing for the Lord. We have a hint for the interpretation by the poet’s use of mAyan or illusionist for referring to Krishna. The world is but a mAyA, an illusion, a falsehood made up by the Lord. ‘Even if Krishna  came and told a thousand things, is it really justified for us to believe it all?’. The Lord encompasses everything, both that which is within the bounds of Maya and that which is outside the bounds of Maya.  The poet says thatNot all that is contained within the Lord is true’. The Lord tells us a many a tale in this illusion of life that He has created, we should not believe it all!

In the last sentence, the poet hopes that the Lord will come to him. ‘If  He were only to come alone near our location today, our penances will bear fruit and the result of our sins be gone!’.  Here, the poet joins Radha and all of us as a fellow seeker awaiting the Lord’s union.

This beautiful song is a Ragamalika in ragas Kalyani, Kambhoji and Vasanta. Given that I love all these ragas, it is no surprise that the song appeals to me so much! I have heard very few renditions of this song. The one I am most familiar with is by the supremely talented Sudha Raghunathan.

Another interesting rendition is by T.N.Seshagopalan, to whom you can listen here.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி (கல்யாணி)
சென்று வா நீ ராதே இந்தப் போதே
இனி சிந்தனை செய்திட நேரமில்லையடி

அனுபல்லவி (கல்யாணி)
கன்று பசு மேய்க்கும் நாட்டத்திலே
அவரை காண வரும் ஆயர் கூட்டத்திலே
சற்று நின்று பேச என்றால் நேரமில்லையடி
நேரில் வர ஒரு தோதுமில்லையடி

சரணம் 1 (காம்போஜி)
சொன்னாலும் புரியாதே -உனக்கு
தன்னாலும் தோன்றாதே
அந்த மன்னனை நம்பாதே
அந்த மாயன் வாக்கு எல்லாம் மண் தின்ற வாய்தானே

சரணம் 2 (வசந்தா)
உலகை அளந்தோர்க்கு  உன்னிடம் வந்தொரு
பொய் மூட்டி அளப்பதும் பாரமா
கண்ணன் நலம் வந்து ஆயிரம் சொன்னாலும்
நாம் அதை நம்பிவிடல் ஞாயமா
ஆயர்குலத் திறைவன் நந்தகோபன் திருமகன்
கொள்வதெல்லாம்   (alt: சொல்வதெல்லாம்) உண்மையாகுமா
நம்  தலத்தருகே இன்று தனித்து வர என்றால்
தவப்பயன் ஆகுமே வினைப்பயன் போகுமே

Transliteration

pallavi (raga kalyANi)
senDRu vA nI rAdE indap-pOdE
ini sindanai seidiDa nEramillaiyaDi

anupallavi (raga kalyANi)
kanDRu pasu mEykkum nATTattilE
avarai kANa varum Ayar kUTTattilE
saTru ninDRu pEsa enDRAl nEramillaiyaDi
nEril vara oru tOdumillaiyaDi

charanam 1 (raga kambhOji)
sonnAlum puriyAdE unakku
tannAlum tOnDRAdE
anda mannanai nambAdE
anda mAyan vAkku ellAm maN tinDRa vAy dAnE

charaNam 2 (raga vasantA)
ulagai aLandOrkku unniDam vandoru
poi mUTTi aLappadum bAramA
kaNNan nalam vandu Ayiram sonnAlum
nAm adai nambiviDal nyAyamA
Ayar kulattiraivan nanda gOpan tirumagan
koLvadellAm uNmaiyAgumA
nam talattarugE inDRu tanittu vara enDRAl
tavap-payan AgumE vinaippayan pOgumE

Translation

Do go (senDRu vA) now Radha, go immediately (inda pOdE)! There is no time (nEralimmai) to think (sindanai seidiDa)!

In His concentration (nATTam) of herding (mEykkum) the cows (pasu) and calves (kanDRu), in the crowd (kUTTatile) of cowherds (Ayar) who come (varum) to see (kANa) Him (avarai), He has no time (nEramillai) to stand and talk (ninDRu pEsa) nor is it is appropriate (tOdu) for Him to come Himself (nEril vara).

You do not understand (puriyAdE) even if told (sonnAlum), nor would you think of it (tOnDRAdE) by yourself (tannAlum)! Don’t trust (nambAdE) that Lord (mannanai)! After all (implied in dAnE), all (ellAm) the promises (vAkku) of that illusionist (mAyan) come from the mouth (vAy) which ate (tinna) mud(maN).

For one who has measured (aLandOrkku) the earth (ulagai), is it difficult (bAramA) to come (vandu) to you (unniDam) and make up a story (poi mUTTi aLappadum)? Even if Krishna (kaNNan) fortunately came (nalam vandu) and told (sonnalum) a thousand things (Ayiram), is it really justified (nyAyamA) for us (nAm) to believe (nambiviDal) it all (adai)? Is everything (ellAm) accepted (koLvadu-koL is normally used as an auxiliary, here it is used as an independent verb which means hold, contain, have) by that divine (tiru) son (magan) of the Lord of the cowherds (Ayar kulattiraivan) Nandagopan become true (uNmayAgumA)? If (enDRAl) he were only to come alone (tanittu vara) near (arugE) our (nam) location (talam) today (inDRu), our penances (tavam) will bear fruit (payan Agume) and the result (payan) of our sins (vinai) be gone (pOgumE)!

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7 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sudha Raghunathan, T.N.Seshagopalan

7 responses to “Sendru Va Nee Radhe

  1. Ramesh

    I am surprised that there aren’t many songs featuring Radha in Carnatic music. Especially considering the millions of Radhakrishnans who exist – the concept is by no means alien, in at least Tamilian & Keralite culture. Perhaps the prolific Trinity did not have an affinity and it was left to the other composers to pay tribute to Radha.

    Krishna avatar is probably a difficult avatar to reconcile to today’s outlook. On one hand is the immortal Gita. And yet there are innumerable instances during the Mahabharat war when Krishna’s action would be difficult to comprehend by lesser mortals in today’s context. Similarly the role of Radha, as you have outlined, does not foster instant belief in the Lord, by our questioning mind.

    Maybe , as we have mused before, we should quell the questions in the mind and simply immerse in the lovely music. Your exposition of the meaning of the kriti is a nice example of why listening can be more enjoyable if we can understand the meaning of the poetry as well.

    • Hello Ramesh,
      In North India, there is much celebration of the Radha-Krishna love – think of Brindavan, Mathura etc. The Vaishnavs of Bengal also show much affinity for Radha-Krishna (think of Chaitanya mahaprabhu), as to the Odiyas (think of Jayadeva). The Sindhis, Gujaratis and Maharashtrians too worship Radha-Krishna. The Maharashtrians, however, with their love for Vitthala see Rakhumai as his consort, the consonants echoing the name of Rukmini. Though the name Radhakrishnan is common among Tamils, based on the few temples I have visited, it is more common to see Rukmini and Satyabhama as consorts rather than Radha in South Indian temples. I have to research this to gain some understanding, but this is my superficial impression.

      Much of Indian mythology is metaphoric, in my humble opinion. I don’t claim to understand Krishna’s questionable acts, yet believe that it is just my lack of understanding the metaphor.

      As to music and meaning, I enjoy songs at all levels. Songs where I have no idea what the lyrics are, songs where I can mimic the lyrics without understanding them, songs where I understand the lyrics but not the inner meaning and songs where I have contemplated on the deeper interpretations of words. Each time I proceed from one step to the next, I find that my enjoyment is much enhanced. I present my interpretations, which are no doubt riddled with faulty ideas, but still are my own. My hope is that it will get others to gain some an enhanced listening experience. But there is no need for all this at all – as you rightly say – one can simply immerse oneself in the sounds and that is more than enough for a joyful experience.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Venkatagiri R

    excellent.thank u

  3. Now that you point it out, it is intriguing why the Radha-Krishna image has not become popular in the South. You can add Andhra Pradesh to the list where the name Radhakrishna is very widely used. I know this as I have lived all my life Hyderabad.

    One question that crossed my mind as a possible explanation is this…

    Is ‘AndAl’, the Radha of the South? Andal’s TiruppAvai and NAchiyAr Tirumozhi have deeply penetrated the South (Tamilnadu).

    In Dhanur mAsam (=Margazhi), many Vaishnava temples in Andhra have Tiruppavai recited at dawn. AIR, Vijayawada used to broadcast a Telugu translation of Tiruppavai sung by Kum. Srirangam Gopalaratnam during the month. In telugu weddings of those following the vaishnava sampradaya, ‘vAranamayiram’ is sung diring the ‘Oonjal’ ceremony.

    While Andal’s story is not very similar to that of the mythical Radha, her pAsurams do reflect the jivAtma-paramAtma symbolism very closely.

    • Ah, so the name Radhakrishna is common in Hyderabad as well? Are there temples to Radha-Krishna, like in Iskon, Mathura-Brindavan temples etc?

      I must beg to differ from you in that I cannot really consider Andal the equivalent of Radha. I think Andal holds the place that Meera does, except a bit higher because she is in temples. The reason is that Radha was a contemporary of Krishna while Radha and Andal were both later bhaktas, after Krishna was accepted as being Divine. I have read that even though Krishna performed many miracles, the people in Brindavana did not think of him as God. To Radha he was just her beloved. She was not a bhakta.
      Cheers. Suja

  4. srinin

    Yes, there are two ISKCON temples in Hyderabad to my knowledge. (One is just 4 km away from home.) I am not much of a temple goer so I won’t know whether there are any other Radha Krishna temple in Andhra Pradesh.

    You are right. Andal is more like Meera. But as far as extremely limited knowledge goes, she is the one that comes close to Radha in terms of devotion to Krishna which takes the romantic form.

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