Bhaja Re Manasa

AstrologyWhat does Astrology mean to you? The reaction to this question falls within a wide spectrum. Some think of it in a total negative light, as mumbo-jumbo practised by charlatans to mislead the world. Others may see it as a harmless superstition, with maybe some grains of truth but on the whole ignore it. Yet others will get a reading done for arranging a wedding or some big event but otherwise have a benign and easy going attitude towards it. And of course there are those who follow it to the last letter, seeing their astrologer more regularly than their doctor. Where do you stand?

My parents were believers. My mother checked ‘rAhu kAlam’ before doing anything of importance (or not of importance). She would read the Tamil astrological magazine Balajothidam end-to-end and would quote knowledgably from it when the occasion arose. My father had a very close relationship with his astrologer. His very favourite religious ceremony was the ‘Navagraha Shanti Homam’ to appease the planets.

Where do I stand? Influenced by my parents, I educated myself on astrology when I was still a teenager. I found it interesting but with so many conditions and counter-conditions, I also found it very confusing. How could anybody balance all the different elements and reach exactly the right prediction? I felt that whether there was truth in it or not, there was possibly very little truth in most practitioners.

When I was in my thirties, I was cleaning up some paperwork while I was visiting my parents. There I found a 30-year old astrological prediction given to my father. Amazingly, many (but not all) of the predictions had come true..and I don’t mean general predictions, but very particular ones which could not have been just an educated guess. This strengthened my ideas and views.

So is it really the planets which determine our destiny? I am not sure. You can give a pen and paper to anyone but will they all write like Shakespeare? Does the talent lie in the pen or Shakespeare’s mind and spirit? I believe that probabilities for the future can be predicted to an extent. I believe also that an astrological chart can be used as a tool, just as someone’s palm or Tarot cards. However,I think that the glimpse of the future lies not in the chart or the palm but in the mind and spirit of the one who sees.

My thoughts today are triggered by the lyrics of Bhaja Re Manasa, a wonderful song in Abheri by Mysore Vasudevachar. The composer urges his -and our- mind to dwell upon Lord Rama, describing his many qualities. Of interest, given my topic today, is his referring to Him as the leader of the Navagrahas. I so love Abheri, it always lulls me into a peaceful state of mind.

I had a very happy day yesterday listening non-stop to Abheri! So whom should we listen to today? My first choice is a rendition by the legendary D.K.Pattammal (1919-2009). This is from a live recording in 1977. She is vocally supported by her equally accomplished brother D.K.Jayaraman. DKP’s voice is strong and has such a ‘gambheera bhavam’! The sruthi is so very low, she switches an octave for the low notes..I wonder if she lowered the sruthi so that DKJ could accompany her..

Click here to listen.

As I was trolling YouTube I listened to this very nice live presentation by Amrutha Venkatesh (in two parts). She is a young lady with a strong voice and a very nice throw, I enjoyed listening to her very much.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
भजरे रे मानस श्री रघुवीरम्
भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रदम् वासुदेवम् हरिम्

अनुपल्लवि
वृजिन विदूरम् विश्वाकारम् (alt: विश्वाधारम्)
सुजन मन्दारम् सुन्दराकारम्

चरणम्
रावण वधनम् रक्षित भुवनम्
रवि शशि नयनम् रविजाति मदनम्
रविजादि वानर परिवृतम् नरवरम्
रत्न हार परिशोभित कण्ठकम्

रवि शशि कुज बुध गुरु
शुक्र शनैश्चर राहु केतु नेतारम्
राज कुमारम् रामम्
पवनजाप्त अविनिजा मनोहरम्

Transliteration

pallavi
bhajarE rE mAnasa raghuvIram
bhukti mukti pradam vAsudEvam harim

anupallavi
v.rjina vidUram vishvAkAram (alt: vishvAdhAram)
sujana mandAram sundarAkAram

charaNam
rAvaNa vadhanam rakshita bhuvanam
ravi shashi nayanam ravi jAti madanam
ravijAdi vAnara pariv.rtam naravaram
ratna hAra parishObhita kanTHakam

ravi shashi kuja budha guru
shukra shanaishchara rahu kEtu nEtAram
rAja kumAram rAmam
pavanApta avanijA manoharam

Translation

O Mind (rE mAnasa), revere (bhaja) Lord Rama, the hero (vIram) of the Raghu clan. He is the provider (pradam) of both enjoyment (bhukti) and salvation (mukti). He is Vasudeva. He is Hari.

He is far (vidUram) from wickedness (v.rijina). He is the embodiment (AkAram) of the universe (vishva). (Alternate: He is the foundation (AdhAram) of the universe (vishva)). To the virtuous (sujana), he is the Mandara flower (unsure what this implies).  He has a beautiful (sundara) form (AkAram).

He vanquished (vadha) Ravana and protected (rakshita) the world (bhuvanam). His eyes (nayanam) are like the sun (ravi) and the moon (shashi).  He is the God of Love (madanam) of the Sun dynasty (ravi jAti). He is surrounded (pariv.rtam) by the Vanaras such as son of the Sun, Sugriva (ravija) etc (Adi). His throat (kanTHakam) is adorned (parishObhita) by a jewelled (ratna) necklace (hAra).

He is the leader (nEtAram) of the Navagrahas – Sun (ravi), Moon (shashi), Mars (kuja), Mercury (budha), Jupiter (guru), Venus (shukra), Saturn (shanaishchara), Rahu and Ketu. He is Rama, the son (kumAram) of a king (rAja), the one dear to (Apta) to Hanuman (pavana) and beloved  (manOharam) to Sita (avanijA=daughter of the earth).

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Filed under Amrutha Venkatesh, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, D.K.Pattammal, Mysore Vasudevachar

Manavinalakincha

NRKAfter my rather depressing post last time, I wanted to post something happy. Immediately my mind went to this song that I love in Raga Nalinakanti, a most cheerful sounding piece of music.

As I pored over the translation, my mind wandered off in a tangent with the pallavi line itself. ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to my appeal?’ says Tyagaraja. This device of addressing one’s own mind occurs in music and literature often enough for us not to be surprised by it. But today I asked myself ‘Who is the addresser and who is the addressed?’.

I was first reminded of the mindfulness exercises in some meditative techniques. One is supposed to watch the thoughts flow by without stopping them, just watching them stream past without reaction. A mind watching its own thoughts? ‘Who is the watcher?’ I wondered, ‘and who is the watched?’. I have tried this meditation technique myself and yes, it is quite possible to do this. And so another question arises – if the mind can split into the watcher and the watched, can it split into more parts?

I became engrossed in reading many articles on mind and consciousness, within Hindu thought or otherwise. But I couldn’t get any specific answers to my questions. Coming back to our song,  Tyagaraja says ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to the one who knows the compassionate heart of Sri Ramachandra? I am revealing all the secrets’.  Oh! So part of his mind knows secrets that the other part doesn’t know? I do know unhealthy minds can keep secrets –such as in amnesia- but can a healthy mind keep secrets from itself? I don’t think so. But the subconscious can and does keep secrets from the conscious mind. Is this intended to be a song from the subconscious to the conscious?

I know, some of you may well be thinking that I am making too much of this, that it is merely a literary device. That is probably very likely. Still, Tyagaraja was such an evolved soul; it behoves us to examine his words and make sure we look beyond the obvious and glean as much wisdom as we can from them. That said, this is such a lovely piece of music that one finds joy in the very flow of the notes. And sometimes that is more than enough.

For the last two days I have been hearing innumerable renditions of this song. There are so many beautiful renditions that it was a difficult choice for me. But when I heard this version by Nedunuri Krishnamurthy (1927-2014), I knew at once that this was IT! I missed honouring him when he passed away in December; I am happy to have the opportunity to feature this illustrious artist in my blog today. There is a wonderful shower of swaras following the song, I am literally dancing to them as I write this! My only complaint is the missing gamaka on the word ‘Tyagaraju’ which only TMK and SKR seem to include..I just adore that gamaka, always makes me melt to a puddle!

(There is a small glitch at 5:45, I assume it is from tape conversion, please ignore)

Alternate Link : Click here and download item 5 – free membership of Sangeethamshare is needed.

And if you want to listen to an outstanding violin rendition, listen to Kanyakumari  supported beautifully by Embar Kannan.

Alternate link : Click here and download item 9.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

Note – As I do not speak Telugu, the translation is heavily dependent on various web sources.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि

मनविनालकिञ्च रादटे मर्ममॆल्ल तॆल्पॆदने मनसा
(common alternate version of first word : मनव्याल)

अनुपल्लवि

घनुडैन (श्री) राम चन्द्रुनि करुणान्तरंगमु तॆलिसिन ना

चरणम्
कर्म काण्ड मताकृष्टुलै भव गहन चारुलै गासि जॆन्दग
कनि मानवा अवतारुडै कनिपिञ्चिनाडे नडत त्यागराजु

Transliteration in English

pallavi
manavinAlakincha rAdaTE marmamella telpedanE manasA
(common alternate version of first word : manavyAla)

anupallavi
ghanuDaina (shrI) rAma chandruni karuNAntarangamu telisina nA

charaNam
karma kANDa matAkRshTulai bhava gahana chArulai gAsi jendaga
kani mAnava avatAruDai kanipinchinADE naData tyAgarAju

Translation

Won’t (rAda) you (aTE) listen (Alakincha) to my appeal (manavini), O mind (manasA)? I am revealing (telpedanE) all (ella) the secrets (marmamu) .

Won’t You listen (implied) to my (nA) appeal, I (implied) who know (telisina) the compassionate (karuNA) heart (antarangamu) of the great (ghanuDaina) Sri Ramanchandra (rAma chandruni)?

Seeing (kani) those who, attracted (AkRshTulai) by the opinions (mata) of the ritualistic action (karma) section (kAnDa) of the Vedas (implied), suffer (gAsi jendaga) as wanderers (chArulai) in the forest (gahana) of worldly existence (bhava), the Lord having incarnated (avatAruDai) as a human being (mAnava) exemplified (kanipincinADE) the right conduct (naData). Therefore, O Mind, won’t you listen to the appeal (implied from pallavi) of this Tyagaraja (tyAgarAju)?

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Embar S.Kannan, Kanyakumari, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Tyagaraja

Pollap Puliyinum

TigerToday I have a sad story to tell you..in fact, a horrific story. If you are new to my blog, you may wonder what horrific stories have to do with music? Me, I see life weaving into music and music weaving into life; if horrid things happen in life, I look for a reflection of that in music as well.

This is about a couple I know for many years now. They are what I would call social friends – people one meets rarely and mostly in the company of others, with whom you may share a drink, a meal, a conversation and a few good laughs. H (49) is Irish, G (46) from Kazakhstan. They have no children. Both of them have had good careers; they belong to the educated, well-to-do, well travelled society that career expats often enjoy.  H cooks well and has a lovely sense of humour. G always reminded me of a Russian doll- round-faced, placid, gentle. A few years back she was diagnosed with cancer. She was very ill for a while but recovered with treatment. I thought that was the great trauma of her life. I thought wrong.

On the 23rd of March, H picked up a knife and stabbed G more than 50 times. She must have tried to run and escape for there was blood all over their apartment, the apartment which was beautifully refurbished with great attention to detail and decorated tastefully and luxuriously. I remember their house-warming party, remember admiring their taste. It was in that apartment that G lay dead in a pool of blood and H lay unconscious beside her, having tried to kill himself with medication and alcohol. He recovered in a couple of days, confessing to the crime. All that the newspapers say is that the murder occurred after a domestic dispute.

How could I have known, I wonder, how could I have seen that there was this monster inside a man whose cooking I have enjoyed, whose jokes I have laughed at, whom I thought of as genial gentleman ? How could he possibly have picked up a knife and sunk it into the soft flesh of his wife of many years, not once, but more than 50 times? Surely she must have begged him to stop. Did he not hear her? What could she possibly have done which deserved this frenzied massacre ?

G is not the first to be attacked by the one who should have loved her most. The statistics on domestic violence is mind boggling. It is across countries, social status, educational levels, religions. Some shocking statistics here (source: United Nations website) :

  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, 40 to 70 per cent of female murder victims were killed by their partners.
  • Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
  • It is estimated that, worldwide, one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria, according to World Bank data.

I am sure that stats in India would be even more frightening. There is a BBC article here, but they talk of crimes reported. We all know that most crimes against women just goes unreported so these stats are way off the mark. In a survey of 9938 women in the late nineties, one in 4 women were either slapped, kicked, hit, beaten, threatened or raped within a year of the survey. Reasons include ‘not cooking properly’, ‘not attending household’, ‘talking to neighbours’….!!!!!!!

If you think this has nothing to do with you – look around you. Do you know four women in your family, mothers, sisters, cousins? One of them may well be abused. Do you know four men, friends, colleagues, relatives? One of them may be abusing his wife, his daughter, his girl-friend.

This touches us all.

This is criminal, cruel.

This is unjust in the eyes of man and God.

This must stop.

And so I come to my song choice of today. In this song Papanasam Sivan talks of himself as ‘a cruel man more wicked than a wicked tiger’. I do not  understand why he calls himself that, but his words were what I remembered when I heard of the rabid-animal like behaviour of H. He goes on to say ‘I will not kill the fury of lust and anger which rise within me’. Is not the lack of control of that fury which makes a man into an animal? The song has very strong lyrics, check the footnote if interested. Set to Mayamalavagowla, it sounds best when sung in a brisk pace. I present to you this very nice performance by Sandeep Narayan, accompanied by Mysore V.Srikanth on the violin and Neyveli B.Venkatesh on the Mridangam (I so admire him!).

 Alternate rendition : Click here


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
பொல்லாப் புலியினும் பொல்லாக் கொடியன் என்னை
புவிதனில் ஏன் படைத்தாய் சம்போ

அனுபல்லவி
நல்லோரைக் கனாவினாலும் நணுக மாட்டேன்
நல்லது சொன்னாலும் கேட்க மாட்டேன்

சரணம்
உன் நாமம் என் நாவாலும் சொல்ல மாட்டேன்
உள்ளெழும் காமக்ரோத மதம் கொல்ல மாட்டேன்
எந்நாளும்  மூவாசையை வெல்ல மாட்டேன்
என் ஐயன் உன் ஆலயத்துள் செல்ல மாட்டேன்

Transliteration

pollAp-puliyinum pollAk-koDiyan ennai
bhuvitanil En paDaittAi, shambhO

nallOraik-kanAvilum naNuga mATTEn
nalladu sonnAlum kETka mATTEn

un nAmam en nAvAlum solla mATTEn
uLLezhum kAma krOda madam koLLa mATTEn
ennALum mUvAsaiyai vella mATTEn
en aiyan un AlayattuL  sella mATTEn

Translation

O Lord Shiva (shambhO), why (En) did you create me (paDaittAy) in this world (bhuvitanil), a cruel man (koDiyan) more wicked (pollA) than a wicked tiger (pollA puliyinum)?

I will not approach (naNuga mATTEn) good people (nallOr) even in my dreams (kanavilum). Even if good things (nalladu) were told to me (sonnAlum), I will not listen (kETka mATTEn).

I will not utter (solla mATTEn) your name (un nAmam) even with my tongue (nAvAlum). I will not kill (kolla mATTEn) the fury/passion (madam) of lust (kAma) and anger (krOda) which rise within me (uLLezhum).  I will never (ennALum) subdue/win over (vella mATTEn) the three passions (mUvAsai) (these are மண்ணாசை பெண்ணாசை பொன்னாசை, the desire for land, for women, for gold). My master (aiyan), I will not go (sella mATTEn) into (uL) your temple (Alayam).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Papanasam Sivan, Sandeep Narayan

Challare Ramachandruni

RamaHappy Ramanavami to all my readers. Today is a day of worship. There are those who worship with prayers and offerings but in this blog, I offer worship just with music.  With my song choice of today, with the words of Tyagaraja and the voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi, I shower Lord Rama with champaka, lotus, jasmine and parijata flowers.

The thing is, I have been terribly distressed this week and not in the right state of mind for worship. I had been pouring out my confusion and distress into a post which I had intented to post today, in spite of it being Ramanavami. ‘How can I think of worship when my heart is so heavy?’ I had thought. ‘This blog reflects the music of my heart, and if it has a note of dissonance today, so be it’.

When I woke this morning and ambled bleary eyed to my prayer alcove to say ‘Good Morning’, that was still my intention. But as I stood there, a sort of acceptance washed over me. And so I have kept aside my other post and here I am in a state of worship after all.

Let us shower flowers on Sri Ramachandra with a joyous mind says Tyagaraja.  My mind is not joyous today, I have to work at it. Setting aside ignorance and observing self restraint, let us shower lotus flowers on Him. Is grief for worldly matters also just ignorance? Is giving into distress a lack of self restraint? Perhaps this song is addressed to me after all.. Let us whole heartedly worship Sri Ramachandra so that there are not countless births and deaths. Today, with my heavy heart, I see the beasts hidden in the hearts of men..and if prayers can get me away from this cycle, I will pray with all my heart.

I present you M.S.Subbulakshmi who wrings every possible emotion out of Ahiri.


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Telugu

Note: MS sings only a subset of the charanams which I have marked in blue. As I do not speak Telugu, the translation relies on various web resources (tyagaraja vaibhavam, sahityam, karnatik).

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
चल्लरे रामचन्द्रुनिपैनि पूल

चरणं 1
सॊम्पैन मनसुतो इम्पैन बंगारु
गम्पलतो मञ्चि चम्पकमुलनु

चरणं 2

पामरमुलु मानि नेममुतोनु
रमा मनो-हरुनि पैनि तामर पूल

चरणं 3

ई जगतिनि देव पूजार्हमौ पूल
राजिलो मेलैन जाजि सुममुल

चरणं 4
अमित पराक्रम द्युमणि कुलार्णव
विमल चन्द्रुनिपै हृत्कुमुद सुममुल

चरणं 5

धात विनुतुडैन सीता पति पैनि
चेतुलतो पारिजात सुममुल

चरणं 6
ऎन्न रानि जनन मरणमुलु लेकुण्ड
मनसार त्यागराज नुतुनि पैनि पूल

Transliteration in English

pallavi
challarE rAmachandrunipaini pUla

charaNam 1
sompaina manasutO impaina bangAru
gampalatO manchi champakamulanu

charaNam 2
pAmaramulu mAni nEmamutOnu
ramA manOharuni paini tAmara pUla

charaNam 3
I jagatini dEva pUjArhamau pUla
rAjilO mElaina jAji sumamula

charaNam 4
amita parAkrama dyumaNi kulArNava
vimala chandrunipai hRt kumuda sumamula

charaNam 5
dhAta vinutuDaina sItA pati paini
cEtulatO pArijAta sumamula

charaNam 6
enna rAni janana maraNamulu lEkuNDa
manasAra tyAgarAja nutuni paini pUla

Translation

Let us shower (challarE) flowers (pUla) on (paini) Lord Ramachandra (ramachandruni).

With a joyous (sompaina) mind (manasutOnu), let us shower (implied) nice (manchi) champaka flowers (champakamulanu) from beautiful (impaina) golden (bangaru) baskets (gampalatO) .

Abandoning (mAni) ignorance (pAmaramulu) and observing self-restraint (nEmamutO), let us shower (implied) lotus (tAmara) flowers (pUla) on (paini) He who is beloved (manO haruni) to Lakshmi (ramA).

Let us shower (implied) jasmine (jAji) flowers (sumamula), the best (mElaina)  amongst all the flowers (rAjilO pUla) fit for (arhamau) worship (pUjArhamau) of the Gods (dEva) in this world (jagatini).

Let us shower (implied) the lotus  (kamala) flowers (sumamula) of our hearts (hRt) on the spotless (vimala) moon (chandra) of the ocean (arNava) of the Solar (mani=jewel, dyu=sky) dynasty (kula) with infinitely (amita) mighty(parAkrama).

Let us shower (implied) pArijata flowers (sumamula) with our hands (chEtulatO) on (paini) the consort (pati) of Sita, praised (vinutuDaina) by Brahma (dhAta).

Let us wholeheartedly (manasAra) shower (implied) flowers (pUla)  on He is who is worshipped (nutuni) by this Tyagaraja so that there are no more (lEka uNDa) countless (enna rAni) births (janana) and deaths (maraNamulu).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Tyagaraja

Priye Charusheele

Radha sad‘Oh my love! O my virtuous one!’ So addresses Krishna his beloved Radha in this 12th century song in Sanskrit by Jayadeva. His Gita Govindam, literally The Song of Krishna, consists of 12 chapters with a total of 24 songs, most with eight padas or couplets  (therefore also called Ashtapadi). In addition, there are 70 to 92 shlokas (depending on versions) in this great literary work, a true treasure of India.

Jayadeva was the court poet of king Lakshmanasena (1179-1205), a Vaishnavaite king. Jayadeva and his wife Padmavati enjoyed a long and happy marriage. There is an interesting story associated with this particular Ashtapadi. When he was composing this song, the following verse came to his mind :

स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पदपल्लवम्  उदारम् ।

Place your tender feet on my head  as an ornament to refute  Cupid’s poison.

But he hesitated to write it down. Radha placing her feet on Krishna’s head? It is culturally so unacceptable! Without putting it down in the palm leaves, he left the incomplete song in his wife Padmavati’s hand and went to the river to bathe. While he was away, Lord Krishna is said to have taken Jayadeva’s form and visited his home. Taking the palm leaves from Padmavati, He wrote the very words that Jayadeva had hesitated to write. When Jayadeva returned, he saw the verse written down and realised that Lord Krishna himself had visited his home and written this verse.

Gita Govindam is a story of just one night, a night highly charged with emotions and passions. There is loneliness and longing, flirtation and jealousy, anger and pride and above all, the tenderness of love. This is lyrical and sensuous poetry, openly erotic in places; Jayadeva’s words will certainly make you blink or blush if you are old-fashioned. That said, however ‘old’ your ‘fashions’ are, surely it can’t be older than these words from the 12th century ! My song choice of today is relatively mild, only PG rated so you can read on..

The songs of Gita Govindam have come to be sung in different ragas in different regions of India though Jayadeva did set them to ragas. In the South, they are normally sung to the tunes set by Pudukkottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavatar but of course musicians and music composers may choose to present them in their own chosen ragas.

Priye! Charusheele! is refrain of song number nineteen from the 10th chapter. Radha is upset and angry with Krishna. In this song, he cajoles and flatters her, displaying his own love, longing and passion for her.  I have chosen to present two of my favourite renditions here today. (note: different subsets of the verses are sung)

The first is by O.S.Arun, in raga Vasanti. He is in great voice and this raga suits the mood of the song quite beautifully.

The second rendition is by T.M.Krishna in Mukhari. The viraha bhava is beautifully expressed in this raga. You can listen to it here (song 3).



Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

वदसि यदि किङ्चिदपि दन्त रुचि कौमुदी हरति दर तिमिरम् अति घोरम् ।
स्फुरदधर सीधवे तव वदन चन्द्रमा रोचयतु लोचन चकोरम् ॥
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले !
मुञ्च मयि मानम् अ निदानम् सपदि मदनानलो दहति मम मानसम् ।
देहि मुख कमल मधु पानम्
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले ! ॥ -1-

vadasi yadi kinchidapi danta ruchi kaumudI harati dara timiram ati ghOram
sphuradadhara sIdhavE tava vadana chandramA rOchayatu lOchana chakOram
priyE! chArushIlE! priye! chArushIlE!
muncha mayi mAnam a nidAnam sapadi madanAnalO dahati mama mAnasam
dEhi mukha kamala madhu pAnam. priyE charushIlE! priyE charushIlE!

If (yadi) you say (vadasi) even (api) some small thing (kinchid), the moonshine-like (kaumudi) beauty (ruchi) of your (tava) teeth (danta) steals away (harati) the very (ati) terrible (ghOram), fearful (dara) gloom (timiram). Let my eyes (lOchana) find pleasure in (rOchayatu) in your (tava) face (vadana) with quivering (sphurat) nectarine (from sIdhu=nectar?) lips (adhara)  just like (implied) the chakora bird (chakOram) takes pleasure in the moon (chandrama).

O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!

Please set aside (muncha) this unfounded (a nidAnam) anger (mAnam) on me (mayi)! The fire (analah) of passion (madana) burns (dahati) my heart (mAnasam=mind) at present (sapadi). Please give (dEhi) me a drink (pAnam) of nectar (madhu) from your a lotus-like face (kamala mukha) (alternate : give me a nectar like (madhu) kiss (pAnam) from your lotus-like (kamala) mouth (mukha)).

O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!

सत्यमेवासि यदि सुदति मयि कोपिनी देहि खर नख शर घातम् ।
घटय भुज बन्धनम् जनय रद खण्डनम् येन वा भवति सुख जातम् ॥ –2-

satyamEvAsi yadi sudati mayi kOpinI dEhi khara nakha shara ghAtam
ghaTaya bhuja bandhanam janaya rada khaNDanam yEna vA bhavati sukha jAtam

O One with beautiful teeth (su dati)! If you are (tvam asi) truly (satyamEva) angry (kOpinI) with me (mayi), wound and injure me (dEhi shara ghAtam) with your sharp (khara) nails (nakha). Fetter me (bandhanam) by bringing together (ghaTaya) your arms (bhuja),  cause me (janaya ) hurt (khanDanam) with your teeth (rada), or whichever way (yEna vA) makes you happy (bhavati=happens, sukha=happiness, jAtam=born).

त्वमसि मम जीवनम् त्वमसि मम भूषणम् त्वमसि भव जलधिरत्नम् ।
भवतु भवतीह मयि सततम् अनुरोधिनि तत्र मम हृदयम्  अति यत्नम् ॥ –3-

tvamasi mama jIvanam tvamasi mama bhUshaNam tvamasi bhava jaladhiratnam
bhavatu bhavatIha mayi satatam anurOdhini tatra mama hRdaya ati yatnam

You are (tvam asi) my life (jIvanam), you are (tvam asi) my ornament (bhUshaNam), you are (tvam asi) the supreme jewel (adhiratna) of the ocean of my existence (bhava jala).   That (tatra=in this matter) you may be (bhavatI) gracious (anurOdhini bhavatu) with me (mayi) here (iha), in that (implied) my heart (hRdayam) will always (satatam) make the utmost effort (ati yatnam).

नील नलिन आभमपि तन्वि तव लोचनम् धारयति कोकनद रूपम् ।
कुसुम शर बाण भावेन यदि रञ्जयति कृष्णम् इदम् एतत् अनुरूपम् ॥ –4-

nIla nalina Abhamapi tanvi tava lOchanam dhArayati kOkanada rUpam
kusuma shara bANa bhAvEna yadi ranjayati kRshNam idam Etat anurUpam

O slender one (tanvi)! Though (api) your (tava) eyes (lochanam) resemble (Abham) a blue lotus (nIla nalina) now, in anger, (implied) they wear (dhArayati) the appearance (rUpa) of a red water lily (kOkanada).  If (yadi) they (idam) are transformed (bhAvEna) into flower-tipped (kusuma) arrows (shara bANa) (note: cupid’s love arrows are flower-tipped arrows) they will dye/redden (ranjayati) the dark-hued one (kRshNa) to match (anurUpam) (i.e he will be flushed with love).

स्फुरतु कुचकुम्भयोः उपरि मणि मञ्जरी रञ्जयतु तव हृदय देशम् |
रसतु रशना अपि तव घन जघन मण्डले घोषयतु मन्मथ निदेशम् |॥–5-

sphuratu kuchakumbhayOh upari maNi manjarI ranjayatu tava hRdaya dEsham
rasatu rashanA api tava ghana jaghana maNDale ghOshayatu manmatha nidEsham

The pearl (manjari) mani (ornament) on top of (upari) your (tava) water-pot like (kumbhayOH) breasts (kucha) quiver (sphuratu) on your (tava) chest (hRdaya=heart, dEsham=place). Let the girdle (rashanA) also (api) tinkle, make sounds (rasatu) on your compact (ghana) hip and loin (jaghana) areas (maNDalE) to proclaim aloud (ghOshayatu) Cupid’s (manmata) command (nidEsham).

स्थल कमल गञ्जनम् मम हृदय रञ्जनम् जनित रति रङ्ग पर भागम् ।
भण मसृण वाणि करवाणि चरण द्वयम्  सरस लसत् अलक्तक रागम् ॥ –6-

sthala kamala ganjanam mama hRdaya ranjanam janita rati ranga para bhAgam
bhaNa masRNa vANi karvANi charaNa dvayam sarasa lasat alaktaka rAgam

Like excellent (ganjanam) land-growing lotuses (sthara kamala), your feet (implied by next verse) delight (ranjanam) my (mama) heart (hRdaya) producing (janita) the pleasure of love (rati), colouring (ranga) another part (para bhAgam). Tell me (bhaNa vANi), what if I colour (karavANi=if I do, rAgam=colour) your two (dvayam) soft (masRNa) feet (charaNa) with red juice / lac (alaktaka) so they glitter (lasat) in passion (sarasa)?

स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पद पल्लवम्  उदारम् ।
ज्वलति मयि दारुणो मदन कदनानलो हरतु तदुपाहित विकारम् ॥ –7-

smara garala khaNDanam mama shirasi maNDanam dEhi pada pallava udAram
jvalati mayi dAruNO madana kadanAnalO haratu tadupAhita vikAram

Place (dEhi=give) your tender (pallava-tender leaf) feet (pada) on my (mama) head (shirasi) as an ornament (manDanam) to refute (khanDanam) Cupid’s (smara) poison (garala). Cupid’s (madana) destructive (kadana) fire (analaH) burns (jvalati) intensely (dAruNah) in me (mayi), let your feet (implied) take away (haratu) that (tat) disquietitude (vikAram) caused by (implied) that fire (upAhita).

इति चटुल चाटु पटु चारु मुर वैरिणः राधिकाम् अधि वचन जातम् ।
जयति जयदेव कवि भारती भूषितम् मानिनी जन जनित अति शातम् ॥ –8-

(alternate rendition for last two lines:
जयतु पद्मावति रमण जयदेव कवि भारती भणितम् इति गीतम् ) 

iti chaTula chATu paTu chAru vairiNah rAdhikAm adhi vachana jAtam
jayati jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhUshitam mAninI jana janita ati shAtam

alternate:
jayatu padmAvati ramaNa jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhaNitam iti gItam

Such (iti) were the sweet (chaTula) pleasing words (chATu) words (vachana) uttered (jAtam=happened) by the clever (paTu) and endearing (chAru) Krishna (=the enemy (viriNah) of Mura) to Radha (rAdhAm adhi). May the poet (kavi) Jayadeva’s well-adorned (bhUshitam) literary composition (bhArathI) result in (janita) extreme happiness (ati shAtam) for women folk (mAninI jana). [Alternate : Victory (jayatu) to the husband (ramaNa) of Padmavati. Such (iti) is the literary composition (bhArathi) uttered (bhaNitam) by the poet (kavi) Jayadeva, a song (gItam) of praise (paNita)] 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, O.S.Arun, T.M.Krishna

Mehfil Mein Baar Baar

Heart-for-Valentines-Day

Love was in the air in February, thanks to Valentine’s Day. The shops were full of chocolates and other goodies. Television stations ran endless soppy chick-flicks. Though I happily watch the films when I can, I don’t really buy into the Valentine’s day hype. My husband and I mark our marriage anniversary which falls close to Valentine’s day and that seems more than enough. This year we celebrated our 33rd year as a married couple –it sounds like a big number but time just flew by..

Though our marriage came by from our having fallen in love, we both will be the first to admit that our ‘mixed’ marriage was quite a challenge. I didn’t speak his language then, he still doesn’t speak mine. I love the arts. He swears by sports. I hoard my art magazines. He hoards his car magazines. I am fascinated by history but am bored speechless by politics or current affairs. He is the exact opposite. I like fiction and fantasy. He likes biographies and business tales. I am a dedicated vegetarian, I eat to live. He eats anything, he lives to eat. I anger rarely but forgive with difficulty. He angers quickly but forgives the next moment. I am careful with money. He is generous and extravagant. I find peace in temples. He won’t step into them. If we have lasted 33 years, I don’t give credit to love – instead I think of everything else which makes a marriage work, like respect and understanding, compassion and forgiveness, acceptance and compromise – these seem far more important to me than love.

And yet…it all resulted from having fallen in love. All of us (I hope!) have this as a common life experience – that heady, uncomfortable, exciting, joyful, miserable state that we call being in love. So a month late, I am going to concentrate on love-themed music for March.

My first choice is this beautiful ghazal in Urdu written by Agha Bismil. I loved the song from the very first time I heard it sung by Ghulam Ali; years later I still love it! It is very popular and you might well know it already but this time, walk with me to enjoy the nuances of the poetry.

As is the norm, Ghulam Ali starts with a few  couplets to set the stage before he commences on the song (Note: authorship of couplets unknown to me). Here is a young man grieving a lost love. He clings to hope, remembering the few moments of joy they had shared. Meeting her is a bitter-sweet experience, his happiness in glimpsing her is followed by sadness afterwards. Hoping that she has come to regret casting him out, he comes once more to a gathering where he hopes to meet her.

चंद कलियाँ निशात की चुनकर |
मुद्दतों महर-ए-आस रहता हूँ ||
तेरा मिलना ख़ुशी की बात सही |
तुझसे मिलकर उदास रहता हूँ  ||
नज़र नज़र से मिलाओ बहार के दिन हैं |
ग़मो को भूल भी जाओ बहार के दिन हैं ||
शायद मुझे निकाल के पछता रहे हो आप |
महफ़िल में इस ख़याल से फिर आ गया हूँ मैं ||

chand kaliyA.n nishAt kI chunkar
muddatO.n mehr-E-As rehtA hU.n
tErA milnA khushI kI bAt sahI
tujhsE milkar udAs rehtA hU.n
nazar nazar sE milA-O bahAr kE din hai.n
.gamO.n kO bhUl jA-O bahAr kE din hai.n
shAyad mujhE nikAl kE paCHtA rahE hO Ap
mehfil mE.n is .khayAl sE phir A gayA hU.n mai.n

Having chosen (chunkar) a few (chand) flowers (kaliyA.n) of happiness (nishAt), I have remained (rehtA hU.n) in expectation (As) of kindness (mehr) for a long time (muddatO.n).
Meeting you (tErA milnA) may well be (sahI) a matter of joy (khushI kI bAt), yet (implied) I remain (rehtA hU.n) sad (udAs) after meeting you (tujhsE milkar).
Meet my eyes (nazar nazar sE milA-O), it is spring time (bahAr kE din hai.n). Forget (bhUl jA-O)  your sorrows (.gamO.n), it is spring time (bahAr kE din hai.n).
Perhaps (shAyad) you (Ap) regret (paCHtA rahE hO) having sent me away (mujhe nikAl kE)? On this thought (is .khayAl sE), I (mai.n) have again (phir) returned (A gayA hU.n) to the gathering (mehfil mE.n).

The first couplet of the song is my very favourite. The poet expresses that helplessness of attraction so very perfectly!! Again and again his eyes land on her. He tries so hard to avoid it, but no, his eyes have a will of their own. I love how Ghulam Ali renders ‘bAr bAr’..gentle and perfect! And his skills with the harmonium….Oooooooh!

महफ़िल में बार बार किसी पर नज़र गई |
हमने बचाई लाख मगर फिर उधर गई ||

mehfil mE.n bAr bAr kisI par nazar ga-I
humnE bachA-I lAkh magar phir udhar ga-I

In the gathering (mehfil mE.n), my eyes fell (nazar ga-I) again and again (bAr bAr) on somebody (kisI par). I tried hard to avoid it (humnE bachA-I lAkh=I saved a hundred thousand times), but (magar) again (phir) my eyes fell (ga-I) there (udhar).

She has cast a spell on him, it seems. He wonders if there is some magic in her eyes which make all those on whom she casts her eyes to fall for her.

उनकी नज़र में कोई तो जादू ज़ुरूर है |
जिस पर पड़ी, उसी के जिगर तक उतर गई ||

unkI nazar mE.n kO-I tO jAdU zurUr hai
jis par paDI, usI kE jigar tak utar ga-I

Surely(tO) her eyes have (unkI nazar mE.n) some (kO-I)  magic in them (jAdU hai)! On whomever (jis pas) they land (paDI), it goes straight into (utar ga-I) their (usI kE) hearts (jigar).

But wait! His longing glances haven’t been in vain! Are those tears which spill out of her eyes? Does that mean she loves him still? The poet is very successful in expressing that hope which every unrequited love has, that somehow that love is reciprocated. Did you note how Ghulam Ali presents the word ‘paDE’ to show the falling of tears?

उस बेवफा की आँख से आँसू छलक पड़े |
हसरत भरी निगाह बड़ा काम कर गई ||

us bE-wafA kI Ankh sE A.nsU CHalak paDE
hasrat bharI nigAh baDA kAm kar ga-I

Tears (A.nsU) spill  (CHalAk paDE) from (sE) the eyes of (kI Ankh) that unfaithful one (us bE-wafA). My longing (hasrat bharI) looks (nigAh)  have achieved something (kAm kar ga-I) important / big (baDA)!

Until now the poet hasn’t mentioned her beauty. Is it because now that she has shown emotion, he can once more allow himself to be enraptured by her radiance? Don’t foget to note Ghulam Ali’s little demo of his three-Octave voice range..

उनके जमाल-ए-रुख पे उन्ही का जमाल था |
वोह चल दिए तो रौनक-इ-शाम-ओ-सहर गई ||

unkE jamAl-E-rukh pE unhI kA jamAl thA
woh chal diyE tO raunak-E-shAm-O-sahar ga-I

She was beautiful (jamAl thA) with the radiance (jamAl=beauty, here radiance fits better) of her own (unhI kE) face (rukh). When (tO) she (wOh) went (chal diyE), even the brilliance (raunak) of dawn (sahar) and dusk (shAm) faded (ga-I).

Those tears, does it mean she still cares for him? Shall he send a message? Tell her, he says, that Bismil is close to death. I assume this is metaphorical! Surely, he says, she will come if she knew? This is a verse of hope, a hope which has revived on seeing an emotional response from her.

उनको खबर करो के है बिस्मिल करीब-ए-मर्ग |
वोह आयेंगे ज़ुरूर जो उन तक खबर गई ||

unkO khabar karO ke hai ‘Bismil’ karIb-E-marg
wOh AyEngE zurUr  jO un tak khabar ga-I

Give him the news (unkO khaba karO) that (ke) Bismil (name of poet) is close (karIb) to death (marg). She (wOh) will surely (zurUr) come (AyEngE) once (jO) news reaches her (un tak khabar ga-I).

We don’t know what happens next. Did the friend take the message? Did she come? Did they get together once more? If he sang with Ghulam Ali’s voice, which woman could resist him? Not this one….

Enjoy this wonderful live presentation (from the start, 18:06 mins) by the master of the art of Ghazal singing. The accompanying artists are excellent; unusual but lovely to see a violinist on the dais with Ghulam Ali.

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Filed under Ghazal, Ghulam Ali

Kaalai Thookki

Happy Shivaratri to everybody! May the One Who Dances keep you safe and happy!

NatarajaReaders who have been with me for a while know my bent towards Gods who dance. Over time, in different parts of the world, we humans have nominated many Gods. There are interesting commonalities. Natural phenomena such as rain and thunder are popular such as Indra (Hindu) and Thor (Norse). Astronomical deities are also prevalent, such as Chandra (Hindu), Ra (Egyptian) and Mama Killa (Inca). Human skill sets have a great deal of importance too, such as Saraswati (Hindu) and Apollo (Greek), both associated with knowledge, music, arts. As are human calamities such as war-Kartikeya (Hindu), Thor and Tyr (Norse) are examples. Wealth is naturally important, take Lakshmi (Hindu) or Caishen (Chinese). My point is that there are certain themes for which humankind have felt the need of Gods. But amongst all that, the idea of a God who dances to keep the world in motion- that is indeed unique. What a perfect idea!! His drum keeps time while he dances joyfully! And then someone somewhere came up with the idea of depicting this God in the form of Nataraja. Is there anything which is more perfect? And then someone else built a temple for this God in Thillai. And then poets and devotees sang to Him. Such is the song that I have selected for you today. It is written by Marimuttu Pillai (1712-1787), one of eminent pre-trinity Tamil composers and set to Raga Yadukula Kambhoji.

O Lord  who dances with his foot raised, please raise your hand to reign over me! ‘ pleads the poet. The word for raise and that for holding up or carrying is the same in Tamil and the poet has used this word as a theme throughout the song. I very much enjoy Sanjay Subramanyan’s rendition, which I hope you will enjoy too!

Alternate link : Click here

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி

காலை தூக்கி நின்று ஆடும் தெய்வமே என்னை கை தூக்கி ஆள் தெய்வமே

அனுபல்லவி
வேலை தூக்கும் பிள்ளை தனை பெற்ற தெய்வமே
மின்னும் புகழ்சேர் தில்லை பொன் அம்பலத்தில் ஒரு

சரணம்
செங்கையில் மான் தூக்கி சிவந்த மழுவும் தூக்கி
அங்கத்தில் ஒரு பெண்ணை அனுதினமும் தூக்கி
கங்கையை திங்களை கதித்த  சடைமேல் தூக்கி
இங்கும் அங்குமாய் தேடி இருவர் கண்டறியாத

Transliteration

pallavi
kAlai tUkki ninDRu ADum deivamE ennai kai tUkki AL deivamE

anupallavi
vElai tUkkum piLLaitanai peTRa deivamE
minnum pugazhsEr tillai pon ambalattil oru

charaNam
senkaiyil mAn tUkki sivanda mazhuvum tUkki
angattil oru peNNai anudinamum tUkki
gangayai tingaLai gatitta sadaimEl tUkki
ingum angumAi tEDi iruvar kanDaRiyAda

Translation

pallavi
O Lord (deivamE) who dances (ADum) with his foot (kAlai) raised (tUkki), please raise (tUkki) your hand (kai) to reign (AL) over me (ennai)!

anupallavi
O Lord (deivamE) who bore (peTRa) the son who (piLLAI tanai) holds up (tUkkum) the spear (vElai)! In the glorious (pugazhsEr) sparkling (minnum) golden (pon) temple (amabalattil) of Chidambaram (tillai), (connection to pallavi – O Lord who raises) one (oru)…

charaNam
Holding (tUkki) a deer (mAn) and also a reddish (sivanda) battle-axe (mazhu) in your beautiful hands (sem+kaiyyil=senkaiyyil) , He also always (anudinam) holds (tUkki) a woman (peNNai) on his body (angattil) (referring to Parvati on his lap? or half his body as Ardhanareeshwara?). He holds (tUkki) Ganga and the Moon (tingaL) on his thick (gatitta) locks (shadaiymel). He is unknown even to (kanDu + ariyAda = not seen and known) those who search (tEDi) here (ingum) and there (angumai), as did Brahma and Vishnu (Iruvar=the two, referring to the Legend of Shiva Linga, one form of which you can read here).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Marimuttu Pillai, Sanjay Subrahmanyan