Ninne Bhajana Seyu

Ananta shayanaAre you a one-God man/woman? Do you restrict yourself to praying to your One and no other?

I pray on an everyday basis to a number of Hindu deities. I do have my own One, the One who always listens with a sympathetic ear to whatever  I happen to go on about. I also have a Second-to-the-One for days when I am not on speaking terms with my One. What, you don’t have ‘I’m-SO-annoyed-with-you’ moments with your One? You must be much better tempered than I am!! Of course I also pray to different deities for their expertise in specific matters. I am most certainly not a one-God woman!

My meanderings arise from something I heard recently. I had mentioned a few weeks earlier that I have taken to listening to upanyasams (lectures on spiritual matters), mainly by Velukkudi Krishnan, Dushyant Sridhar and Visaka Hari. Velukkudi Krishnan is especially erudite; his depth of knowledge is quite astounding! Is it possible to learn this much in a lifetime? I am all admiration! Much as I admire his knowledge, I confess that at times I am confounded by some of his pronouncements!! For example, he says in one of his lectures that people should sleep in what they wear ‘normally’ and not change into night-clothes! Really??!! Leaving pronouncements such as this aside, there was one repeated advice which caught my attention. He says that if you serve Lord Vishnu, then you should pray to none other as otherwise He would be offended! Again – Really???? Surely these kind of feelings are human, not Divine? Velukkudi Krishnan does add that it is the same for whichever religion/deity you adhere to; ‘stick to your One’ he says.

I assume that these ideas are Sri Vaishnavite ones as proposed by Ramanuja, the extraordinary theologian and philosopher (11-12 CE). In his times, the Chola kings ruled in South India. Though the kings were predominantly Shaivite, the society was a secular one. Not only other Hindu sects but even Buddhists and Jains had many followers in those times. Under the circumstances, Ramanuja’s preaching that one must follow Lord Vishnu and none other was no doubt a way to preserve Sri Vaishnavism from all the other religious influences. Are his one-God-only ideas just part of the politics of religion?  Is this kind of thought even valid amongst today’s Hindus?  That said, I admit to total ignorance on the subject; I am merely thinking aloud…

I personally do not know even one single Hindu who prays to only one deity! When the Hindu pantheon offers a veritable smorgasbord of deities, each with their own domain expertise, is it not human nature to pray to as many of them as you can relate to? Leave alone Hindus, even in a strictly monotheistic religion like Christianity, prayers are offered to not just their God, but also to His messenger Jesus Christ and to his mother Mary as well as any number of Saints. Many of the Saints have their own speciality ‘domains’ too! I have visited many Catholic places of worship; there are as many candles in front of the Saints as there are in front of Jesus! Listening often to Sufi music, I see that even Muslims sing in praise of and in prayer to their many Saints. Many of us, it seems, spread our prayers wide!

Coming to Carnatic Music, our great composers wrote in praise of many different deities though they were known for their devotion to particular ones. For example, Tyagaraja was a devotee of Lord Rama, Dikshithar was a worshipper of Goddess Shakti, and Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaiyer was entranced by the young Lord Krishna.  Yet in my song choice of today, Tyagaraja says ‘I am the one who chants only your name, I shall not beseech others!’. Set to Raga Natta, it is a lovely composition which appeals to me greatly. I always enjoy Natta with its vigorous and rousing feel. But today the first rendition I have chosen for you has a more contemplative mood. M.D. Ramanathan has a unique sound, one I enjoy immensely, especially in songs such as this. For your ease of listening, I have chosen the rendition loaded in YouTube. The sound quality is poor, but the music is anything but. Listen to my ‘Alternative’ for slightly better sound and a longer rendition.

Alternative : Click here and play song 2. Free membership needed to Sangeethapriya.

The second rendition I would like you to listen to is by Jayanthi Kumaresh on the Veena. I find that the  resonance of the instrument is particularly suited for Natta, don’t you? This talented artist has gifted us with a hypnotic rendition. Don’t miss this!

Alternate link : Click here and play song 1. You need free membership to Sangeethapriya.

And for a third, listen to this energetic and vibrant performance by Sikkil Gurucharan here.  I really enjoyed the kalpana swarams. Again, the recording quality is not the best.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu
Please note that I do not speak Telugu; the lyrics and translations are credit to various online resources.

पल्लवि
निन्ने भजन सेयु वाडनु

अनुपल्लवि
पन्नग शायि परुल वेड लेनु

चरणम्
स्नानादि जप तप योग ध्यान
समाधि सुख प्रद
सीता नाथ सकल लोक पालक
त्यागराज सन्नुत

Transliteration

pallavi
ninnE bhajana sEyu vADanu

anupallavi
pannaga shAyi parula vEDa lEnu

charaNam
snAnaAdi japa tapa yOga dhyAna
samAdhi sukha prada
sItA nAtha sakala lOka pAlaka
tyAgarAja sannuta

Translation

I am a worshipper (bhajana sEyu vADanu) only of you (ninnE).

O One recumbent (shAyi) on a snake (pannaga)! I shall not (lEnu) plead (vEDa) to anyone else (paralu).

You are the provider (prada) of happiness and well-being (sukha) which come from (implied) bathing in holy waters (snAna), repeated prayers (japa), penance (tapa), Yoga, meditation (dhyAna), deep concentration leading to identification with the object of meditation (samAdhi) etc (Adi). O Consort (nAtha) of Sita! O Guardian (pAlaka) of the entire (sakala) world (lOka)! O One praised (sannuta) by Tyagaraja!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Jayanthi Kumaresh, M.D.Ramanathan, Tyagaraja

Zehaal E Miskeen

Amir KhusrauThis blog is primarily devoted to Carnatic Music but every now and then I like to feature other musical forms as well. Regular readers know that I have a great love for Sufi music and Qawwalis. My musical choice for today is of great interest both in a cultural and historical sense, I hope you enjoy it.

The poetry is by Amir Khusrau ((1253–1325), born in India to a Turkish father and a Rajput mother. He lived in a period where India saw the rule of three dynasties – the Mamluks (Slave dynasty), the Khiljis and then the Tughluqs. Khusrau wrote poetry for the court all through this period, during the reign of seven different rulers. India was a melting pot at that time. The locals in Delhi spoke Khari Boli, also referred to as Hindustani or Hindvi. The rulers were of Turkish/Afghan origin but the language of the court was Persian. The court attracted people from other parts of India who spoke different languages or different flavours of Hindustani like Braj Bhasha, Awadhi etc. As we can easily guess, the language of the masses which was originally based on Sanskrit and Prakrt became peppered with words from Turkish, Afghani dialects, Persian as well as the various regional languages. This was the period where languages we know today as Hindi and Urdu were developed.

Coming back to our selected song today, it perfectly reflects the merging of the languages that was happening in those days. Amir Khusrau has written it in a mix of Persian and Hindvi, mixing the languages in each couplet. This style of writing is called Rekhta from the Persian word meaning ‘poured, interspersed, mixed’. If you speak Hindi or Urdu, the Hindvi words are quite easy to identify even after the passage of 700 years.

The language is not the only thing that is a mix. The Bhakti Movement developed from the 7th century in South India. Though the word Bhakti (devotion) and the related concepts perpetuated by the saints come from Vedic times, it was the poetry in the local languages that spread the concept to the masses. This movement spread to the rest of India in later years. The tradition of expressing devotion to God in terms of human love came from those South Indian poet-saints between 5th to 10th centuries. Some of them wrote in a feminine perspective; this was called ‘Nayika Bhava’.  This kind of devotion was also called ‘viraha bhakti’ where the devotee intensely feels the pain of separation from God.

Sufism in India dates back to 10th and 11th centuries, just after the time of the Azhwars in South India. The Sufi saints of India too were influenced by the Bhakti movement and wrote beautiful mystical poetry in the 13th-14th centuries. As the locals were already familiar with devotion being expressed in music and poetry, the songs of the Sufi saints reached the hearts of the populace quite easily. Such is the poetry and songs of Amir Khusrau.

The rendition I have chosen for you today is by the Qawwal without par, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As is the tradition, the Qawwal interjects the main song with poetry from other sources which enhance and add to the concepts expressed. In this rendition, the Qawwal has used Hindu poetry, some recognizably by Meera, to further enhance the poetry of Amir Khusrau. This is a great demonstration of the mix of language, culture and religious ideas to give us a complete musical and spiritual experience.

I have struggled greatly with getting accurate lyrics and translation. The Hindvi parts were easy to translate but for the Persian words I depended on various internet resources. I was very unconvinced by the majority of translations available online as they were not authenticated. There are many ‘free’ and poetic translations. I did not find even one with  word-for-word meanings. And people copy from one another, perpetuating mistakes. The internet is not in the least reliable as a resource! Further, there also seems to be a number of variations to the lyrics. I have spent hours collating what little I found online, reading journal articles or book extracts and perusing dictionaries to get meanings. Still I am not fully satisfied. My work below is sufficient for music appreciation and for understanding the mood of the poetry, but is not rigorous enough. Also note that not knowing the Persian script, I have transliterated even those sections in Devanagari script.

Colour key – Blue=Persian, Red = Khari Boli/Hindvi. Both by Amir Khusrau.  Purple=Braj Bhasha/Rajasthani, some identifiably by Meera, others I am unsure.

ज़ेहाल-ए-मिस्कीं मकुन तग़ाफ़ुल  दुराये  नैना बनाये  बतियाँ
कि ताब-ए-हिज्राँ न दारम ऐ जाँ न लेहु काहे  लगाये  छतियाँ

zEhAl-E-miskI.n makun ta.gAful durAyE nainA banayE  batiyA.n
ki tAb-E-hijrA.n na dAram-ai-jA.n 
na lEhu kAhE lagayE CHatiyA.n

Do not (makun) ignore (ta.gAful) the miserable state (hAl) of this poor  wretched one (miskI.n) by turning away (durAyE) your eyes (nainA) making excuses (banAyE batiyA.n)! I have (dAram) no (na) patience (tAb) with this separation (hijr) anymore my sweetheart (Ai jA.n)! Why (kAhE) don’t you cuddle (lEhu) and embrace me (lagayE CHatiyA.n)?

With this first couplet, the poet establishes the characters. The poet, wretched with love and his beloved, insouciant of his pain. Note that in contrast with Hindu poetry, the self is portrayed as male. In Hindu poetry, the self is almost always portrayed as the female, with the beloved (God) being male. This comes from Vedic ideas of jIvAtma (souls) being female and the paramAtmA (God) being male.

शबान-ए-हिज्रां दराज़ चूँ ज़ुल्फ़ व रोज़-ए-वसलत  चूँ उम्र  कोताह
सखी पिया को जो मैं न देखूँ तो कैसे काटूँ अँधेरी रतियाँ

shabAn-E-hijrA.n darAz chU.n zulf va rOz-E-vaslat chU.n umr kOtAh
sakhI piyA kO jO mai.n na dEkhU.n tO kaisE kATU.n andhErI ratiyA.n

Nights of separation (shabAn-E-hijrA.n) curl long (darAz) like (chU.n) your tresses (zulf), and (va) the day (rOz) of union (vaslat)  is as short (kOtAh) as life (umr) itself. Oh my friend (sAkhI), how will I pass (kATU.n) these dark (andhErI)  nights (ratiyA.n) without seeing (na dEkhU.n) my beloved (piyA)?

The invocation of a ‘sakhi’ or friend is a common poetic device which I have pointed out before in other blog posts. In Hindu poetry, this sakhi, the intermediate between God and Man, is taken to be the Guru or spiritual teacher. I do not know if there is any such special significance in Islamic poetry. The pain of separation is beautifully portrayed by the second line – alone at a time when lovers should be together, the poet wonders how the night will pass.

शाम  सवेरे नैन  बिछाके राह तकूँ  मैं साजन की
राम ही जाने कब चमकेगी किसमत  मोरे आँगन की

shAm savErE nain biCHAkE rAh takU.n mai.n sAjan kI
rAm hI jAnE kab chamkEgI kismat morE A.ngan kI

Night (shAm=evening) and day (savErE=morning), I await (rAh takU.n) my beloved (sAjan) with longing eyes (nain biCHAkE). God (rAm) alone knows (jAnE) when luck (kismat=fate) will shine (chamkEgI)  upon my courtyard (mOrE A.gan kI)!

See how apt the Qawwal’s inclusion of this couplet is! In the previous one, he talks of passing a night alone. In this couplet the poet (taking on a feminine self) awaits her beloved day and night, waiting, watching the route home.

नैन चुराके जबसे  सैयाँ दूर कहीं  परदेस गए
बिरहन की अँखियों से बरसे बिन सावन रुत सावन की

nain churAke jabsE saiyA.n dUr kahI.n pardEs gayE
birhan kI ankhiyO.n sE barsE bin sAvan rut sAvan kI

Ever since (jabsE) my beloved (saiyA.n) has disappeared/vanished from my sight (nain churAkE, an idiom) and left for (gayE) somewhere (kahI.n) far away (dUr) lands (pardes), tears pour (barasE) from this abandoned one (birhan) like monsoon (sAvan kI) even in season (rut) which is not monsoon (bin sAvan).

There is an implication here that the beloved had been with her before he disappeared to far away lands. The pain of separation is beautifully expressed here when the poet says that her ‘tears pour as heavily as monsoon rains’.

बरखा  रुत जब  छम -छम बरसे  मनवा रोये  नैना तरसे
तारों में जब चन्दा चमके दर्द उठे मन में थम-थम के
बिरहा सुलगे जब मोरे तन में चुपके चुपके मन आँगन में
आस के बंधन टूट गए हैं बालम मोसे रूठ गए हैं

barkhA rut jab CHam-CHam barase manavA rOyE nainA tarasE
tArO.m mE.n jab chandA chamkE dard uTHE man mE.n tham-tham kE
birhA sulgE jab mOrE tan mE.n chupkE-chupkE man A.ngan mE.n
As kE bandhan TUT gayE hai.n bAlam mOsE rUTH gayE hai.n

When (jab) rain pours down (CHam CHam barsE) in monsoon (barkhA) season (rut), my heart (manavA) weeps (rOyE), my eyes (nainA) yearn (tarasE)
When (jab) the moon (chandA) shines (chamkE) amongst stars (tArO.n mE.n), pain (dard) rises (uTHE) in my heart (man mE.n) again and again (tham tham kE-stopping and starting)
When (jab) separation (birhA) burns (sulgE)  in my body (tan mE.n) and enters secretly (chupkE-chupkE) into  the courtyard (A.ngan) of my heart (man),
The bindings (bandhan) of hope (As) have broken (TUT gayE hai.n), (I realise) my beloved (bAlam) has become angry (rUTH gayE hai.n) with me (mOsE)!

How long can anyone bear the pain of separation without losing hope? The pain of separation is particularly hard to bear during Monsoon, the season for lovers. In this time, despair enters the heart and she starts wondering if her beloved is angry with her and keeping away in purpose.

सूली  ऊपर सेज हमारी  किस विध सोना होए
गगन मण्डल पर सेज पिया की किस विध मिलना होए
जौहरी की गत जौहरी जाने जो कोई जौहरी होए
घायल की गत घायल जाने के जिन लागी होए
दर्द की मारी बन बन डोलूँ वैद न मिलिया कोई
मीरा की तब पीड़ मिटे जब  वैद साँवरिया होए
हे री मैं तो प्रेम दीवानी मेरा दर्द न जाने कोई

sUlI Upar sEj hamArI kis vidh sOnA hOy
gagan maNDal par sEj piyA kI kis vidh milnA hOy
jauharI kI gat jauharI jAnE jO kOyI jauharI hOy
ghAyal kI gat ghAyal jAnE kE jin lAgI hOy
dard kI mArI ban ban DOlU.n vaid na miliyA kOyI
mIrA kI tab pID miTE jab vaid sA.nvariyA hOy
hE rI mai.n tO prEm divAnI mErA dard na jAnE kOyI

My bed (sEj) is on (Upar) a gibbet (sUlI), how can (kis vidh) I sleep (sOnA hOy)?
My beloved’s (piyA kI) bed (sEj) is in the other world (gagan maNDal=literally sky world), how shall (kis vidh) the meeting happen (milnA hOy)?
The ways (gat) of a jeweller (jauharI kI) is known by (jAnE) only those (jO) who (kOyI) are jewellers (jauharI hOy),
The state (gat) of (kI) the wounded (ghAyal) is known (jAnE) only by those  who (kE jin) are wounded (lAgI hOy),
I stumble (DOlU.n) from forest to forest (ban ban) in pain (dard kE mArE), but find no (na miliyA kOyI) healer (vaid),
Meera’s pain (pID) will be erased (miTE) only when (tab)  the Dark One (sA.nvariyA) is the healer (vaid hOY),
Alas (hE rI)! I am (mai.n tO) crazed (divAnI) with love (prEm), but no one knows (na jAnE kOyI) my pain (dard)!

That last line of Meera’s is simply heart-wrenching, isn’t it! So full of angst! How alone she is in her pain! She gives apt examples of why only those who experience a situation truly understand it. She is in pain, and she knows that the only doctor who can heal her is her beloved.

यकायक  अज़ दिल  दो चश्म-ए-जादू ब-सद फ़रेबम  बबुर्द  तस्कीं
alternate :
यकायक  अज़ दिल ब-सद फ़रेबम बबुर्द-ए-चशमश क़रार-ओ-तस्कीं
किसे  पड़ी है जो जा  सुनावे हमारे पी को  हमारी बतियाँ

yakAyak az dil dO chashm-E-jAdU ba-sad farEbam baburd taskI.n
alternate : yakAyak az dil ba-sad farEbam baburd-E-chashmash karAr-O-taskI.n
kisE paDI hai jO jA sunAvE hamarE pI kO hamarI batiyA.n

Suddenly (yakAyak)  two (dO) enchanting (jadu) eyes (chashm) robbed me (ba burd=carry off) of the tranquillity (taskI.n) of my mind (dil) with their many (ba-sad=a hundred) deceptions (farEb). [Alternate : Suddenly two enchanting eyes, with their many deceptions, took away my peace (karAr) and tranquillity).  Who (jO) will bother (kisE paDI hai) to go (jA) and talk (sunAvE) of me (hamArI batiyA.n)  to (kO) my (hamarE) beloved (pI)?

Back to Khusrau, he wonders who will take the message of his pain to his beloved. Is it a memory of two eyes that he talks about? Those eyes have deceived him, perhaps promising what they did not deliver. I wonder if this ‘deception’ is akin to the Hindu idea of Maya.

जोगनिया  का बेस  बनाके पी  को  ढूँडन जाऊँ  री
नगरी नगरी द्वारे द्वारे पी की शबद  सुनाऊँ री
दरस भिखारन जग में हो के दर्शन बिछिया पाऊँ  री
तन मन उन पर वारूँ  सजनी जोगनिया कहलाऊँ री

jOganiyA kA bEs banAkE pI kO DHUnDan jAU.n rI
nagarI nagarI dvArE dvArE pI kI shabad sunAU.n rI
daras bhikhAran jag mE.n hO kE darshan biCHiyA pAU.n rI
tan man un par vArU.n sajanI jOganiyA kahlU.n rI

Adopting the look (bEs banAkE) of a wandering mendicant (jOganiyA), I go (jAU.n) in search (DHUnDan) of my beloved (pI kO).
From town to town (nagarI nagarI), threshold to threshold (dvArE dvArE), I chant (sunAU.n) the words (shabad/shabd) of my beloved (pI kI),

Having (hO kE) an appearance (daras) of a beggar (bhikhAran) in this world (jag mE.n), I will get (pAU.n) to see (darashan) a toe ring (biCHiyA-signifies getting married),
Devoting (vArU.n) my body (tan) and soul (man=mind) to him (un par), I am called (kahlAU.n) as his beloved (sajanI), his mendicant (jOganiyA).

Breaking away from the life she had, rejecting her husband, her palace and luxuries, Meera took up a life of a wandering mendicant, a beggar. She sang, she danced on streets, actions which no woman of decent upbringing would have done in those times. As she loosened her bonds with earthly matters, her bonds with her beloved Krishna became stronger and stronger. In this poetry, she talks of her wandering and her hope that she will be presented with a toe-ring, signifying her marriage to her God.

चूँ शम्म-ए-सोज़ां  चूँ ज़र्रा हैराँ   ज़े महर-ए-आँ-माह बगश्तम आखिर
Alternate : चूँ शम्म-ए-सोज़ां  चूँ ज़र्रा हैराँ हमेशा गिरियाँ बे इश्क आँ मेह
न नींद नैना न अँग चैना न  आप आवें न  भेजें पतियाँ

chU.n shamm-E-sOzA.n chU.n zarrA hairA.n zE mahar-E-A.n-mAh bagashtam Akhir
alternate: chU.n sham-E-sOzA.n chU.n zarrA hairA.n hamE.shA giriyA.n bE ishk A.n mEh
na nInd nainA na ang chainA na Ap AvE.n na bhEjE.n patiyA.n

Like (chU.n) a burning candle (sham-E-SozA.n), like a bewildered (hairA.n)dust particle (zarrA), finally (Akhir) I have become (bagashtam)  like the sun (mahar) and the moon (mah)
Alternate second phrase: Always weeping for the love of the beloved (unauthenticated).
Sleepless (na nInd) eyes (nainA), restless (na chain) body (ang), neither (na) you (Ap) came (AyE) nor (na) did you send (bhEjE.n) any message (patiyA.n).

Note : I believe that the alternate phrasing of the first line is the more common. Not knowing Persian, my translation is pure guesswork based on dictionary meanings. If anyone can help, please do comment.

With this couplet the poet describes the state of his mind in rich imagery. The restlessness, the unanchored feeling, the sadness, the sleeplessness – all this part of his state of waiting. If my interpretation of becoming like a sun and moon is correct, perhaps he means, always orbiting and never meeting? There is a sense of desperation; he wants a message, a hint, anything to keep him in hope but there is nothing…

पिया  मिलन की  आस है मन  में नैनों में  बरसातें हैं
तनहाई के चुप आँगन में मेरी उनसे बातें हैं

piyA milan kI As hai man mE.n nainO.n mE.n barsatE.n hai.n
tanhAI kE chup A.ngan mE.n mErI unsE bAtE.n hai.n

With my heart (man mE.n) full of hope (As) of meeting (milan) with my beloved (piyA), and my eyes (nainO.n mE.n) raining (barsAtE.n) with tears,
In (mE.n) the silent (chup) courtyard (A.ngan) of solitude (tanhAI), I have conversations (bAtE.n) with my beloved (unsE=with her/him).

The Qawwal makes another apt little addition with the couplet here. That feeling of waiting that Amir Khusrau has expressed in the previous couplet is mirrored in this one too. The hope of union with the beloved is born in solitude. And it is in that silence of solitude can one hear the voice of the beloved.

मोरे बाँके संजीले  सांवरिया लिल्लाह मोहे अब  दरस  दिखा
बिन दर्शन मर ना  जाऊँ कहीं मोरा जीवन  है तोरे दर्शन में

mOrE bA.nkE sa.njIlE sA.nwariyA lillAh mOhE ab daras dikhA
bin darshan mar nA jAU.n kahI.n mOrA jIvan hai tOrE darshan mE.n

Oh my dark skinned (sA.nwariya), colourful (sa.njIlE) beau! By God (lillAh), show me a glimpse of yourself (daras) now (ab)! Without (bin) a sight of you (darshan) I may well die (mar na jAO.n kahI.n), my (mOrA) life (jIvan) is in that glimpse of you (tOrE darshan mE.n)!

Interesting to see an Islamic interjection (lillAh) within Hindu poetry! I wonder if it is the Qawwal who has added this, further strengthening his Islamic-Hindu presentation of Amir Khusrau’s work.. In this couplet, the poet uses hyperbole to show how much he/she longs for the union with his beloved.

तोहे याद करत  मोरा अंग अंग  है
मोरा भाग सुहाग तोरे सँग है
इक बार जो आ मोरे आँगन में
हो जाऊँ सुहागन सखियन में

tOhE yAd karat mOrA a.ng a.ng hai
mOrA bhAg suhAg tOrE sa.ng hai
ik bAr jO A mOrE A.ngan mE.n
hO jAU.n suhAgan sakhiyan mE.n

Every part of my body (a.ng a.ng) remembers (yAd karat hai) you (tOhE),
my (mOrA)  fate (bhAg), my marital life (suhAg) are both with you (tOrE sa.ng hai),
If only (jO) you come (A ) just once (ik bAr) into my (mOrE) courtyard (A.ngan),
I’ll be known (hO jAU.n=I will become) as your bride (suhAgan)  amongst my friends (sakhiyan mE.n)

Every part of my body remembers you’ says the poet implying that there was once a union before this separation. As to becoming a ‘suhagan’ or a married lady, both Andal and Meera considered themselves married to the Lord.

मोहे छब दिखला मोरे  साँवरिया
तोरी प्रीत में हो गयी बांवरिया
तोहे नगर नगर मैं ढून्ढ फिरी
तोहे कूकत हूँ मैं  बन बन में

mOhE CHab dikhlA mOrE sA.nvariyA
tOrI prIt mE.n hO gayI bA.nvariyA
tOhE nagar nagar mai.n DHUnD phirI
tOhE kUkat hU.n mai.n ban ban mE.n

Show (dikhlA) me (mOhE) your beauty/form (CHab), Oh my (mOrE) dark one (sA.nvariyA)!
I have become (hO gayI) crazy (bA.nvariyA) with your (tOrI) love (prIt)!
I wander (phirI) from town to town (nagar nagar) searching (DHU.nD) for you (tOhE)
I call out (kUkat) to you (tOhE) from forest to forest (ban ban mE.n)

The Qawwal selected verses before to both the state of the mind (loneliness) and the state of the body (loosening of earthly bonds, wandering like a mendicant). This poetry reiterates the idea of wandering in search of God. Meera, as I had mentioned before, left everything to take up life as a wandering minstrel. She has said in another poem ‘aisi lAgI lagan mIrA hOgayI magan, wOh to galI galI harI guN gAnE lagI’ ie. She fell so in love that she became enchanted, she went from street to street singing in God’s praise. The Qawwal has selected poetry to display this rootlessness.

मोहे  प्रीत तिहारी  मार गयी
तुम जीत गये मैं हार गयी
मैं हार के भी बलहार गयी
ऐसा प्रेम बसा मेरे  तन मन में

mOhE prIt tihArI mAr gayI
tum jIt gayE mai.n hAr gayI
mai.n hAr kE bhI balhAr gayI
aisA prEm basA mErE tan man mE.n

My love for you (prIt tihArI) has defeated (mAr gayI) me (mOhE)!
You (tum) have won (jIt gayE), and I (mai.n) have lost (hAr gayI)!
And even though (bhI) I (mai.n) lost (hAr kE), I have become (gayI)strengthened (balhAr)
Such is (aisA) the love (prEm)  which resides (basA) in (mE.n) my body (tan) and soul (man=mind)!

In this love between God and devotee, who wins? God of course, for the devotee is the one to break all bonds to go in search of Him. But the devotee is not weakened by this loss, but instead strengthened by the love of God which gets infused within him/her.

ब-हक-ए रोज़-ए-विसाल-ए दिलबर के  दाद मारा फरेब खुसरो
सपीत मन के दुराये राखूँ  जो जाये पाऊँ पिया  के खतियाँ

ba-hak-E rOz-E-visAl-E dilbar kE dAd mArA farEb khusrO
sapIt  man kE durayE rAkhU.n jo jAyE pAU.n piyA kE khatiyA.n
alternate : samIpa man ke davAri rAkhU.n jo jAn pAU.n parAyi rakhiyA

On the day (rOz) of meeting (visAl) my beloved (dilbar), with right (ba-hak) I will appeal for a redress of my grievance (dAd) that I (Khusro) have been deceived (farEb)! When I turn away (durAyE) from the ashes (rAkhU.n) of this cursed (sapIt) mind (man), I will get (pAU.n) concord (khatiyA.n) with my beloved (piyA).

Alternate last line meaning : I will keep (rAkhU.n) a sentry (davAri) near (samIpa) my heart (man kE)  if I come to know (jAn pAU.n) that my beloved (implied) is kept (rakhiyA) by someone else (parAyi).

Note : The resources I found on the internet for this couplet were not convincing. Piecing together dictionary meanings is an inaccurate process but this is the only thing I could come up with. Please do comment if you have a better insight to the words or meaning.

The poet seems to say that he will ask for justice on the day of union for being cheated thus, for being kept separate from his beloved. And in the final sentence, he seems to give the solution to his pain and the pathway to reunion. He says that to gain concord with his beloved,  he needs to turn away from the ashes of his cursed mind. I do like it much better than the alternate but more common phrasing as there seems to be a conclusion of a sort.

So after this long explanation, here finally is this magnificent rendition by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I hope you enjoy it!

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Filed under Amir Khusrau, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Qawwali

Shankari Shankuru

AkhilandeswariI am in Australia at the moment, enjoying the last traces of summer and the advent into autumn. On Sunday we set the clock back for daylight saving and I gratefully received the gift of an extra hour in the morning! The weather is perfect, neither warm nor cold but just right….Goldilocks would sure have been happy! This is such perfect weather for walking. I am a regular walker, doing a brisk 10 km everyday.  These two hours each day are precious to me as this is when I listen to music with the utmost concentration. However, for the last couple of months I have instead been listening to lectures on spiritual matters (upanyasam / hari katha). It has been educational though I find some ideas questionable and some simply appalling! But more about that some other time…

My interest in lectures has meant that I am a bit behind with catching up with the music available online. There is so much of it nowadays, don’t you think? Can anyone possibly keep up with it all? I am rather overwhelmed! My music listening experience has also changed because of this. There was a time when I had only a very limited number of tapes and then CDs. I listened to them so often that I would be pre-empting every note, every pause in my mind as I listened. Nowadays I am always listening to something new. Exciting but also a bit sad…I miss the familiarity and sense of homecoming I felt with my favourites.   As I was playing catch-up on YouTube last week, I came upon this excellent concert by Ranjani and Gayatri from which I have chosen a song to present to you today. If you have the time, do listen to the whole concert; the RTP is particularly good.

Shankari Shankuru is composed in Raga Saveri by Shyama Shastri. Like many songs of this genre, it is a simple prayer followed by many phrases to identify, describe and praise the Goddess. As we listen, the phrases invoke physical imagery  (e.g. slender-waisted Goddess). We are reminded of stories by some phrases (e.g. remembering how Manmatha became an enemy of Shiva) and are reassured of the grace of the Goddess by other phrases (e.g. she gives reward to her devotees).

Though I choose to concentrate on lyrics in this blog, renditions such as the one I have chosen are more about the raga and creativity than about the lyrics. In this piece, the total time of 36 minutes is composed of 26 minutes of improvisation and only 10 minutes of composed music. The improvisation is in the form of Raga Alapana (slow melodic improvisation without rhythm 42:31-56:23) by the vocalists and the violinist for 14 minutes, Neraval (melodic improvisation of a single phrase from the song within a set rhythm 1:00:35-1:07:48 )  and Kalpana Swarams (melodic improvisation using the Indian solfege within a set rhythm 1:07:49-1:13:03) for 5 minutes. So of a total of 36 minutes, 26 minutes is the creative component and only 10 minutes (27%) is the composed component.  So as much as I go on about words, meanings, inferences and associations, this music is more about creativity and setting the mood. Saveri is a raga which sounds like supplication, even if no word is uttered.  How beautiful are the phrases created by these two extraordinary sisters! I must especially mention the young violinist Vittal Rangan who demonstrates truly impressive skills!

Listen below to the Alapana from 42:31-56:23 and kriti from 56:51 to 1:13:03.

And those who have fallen in love with Saveri and would like to listen to another excellent rendition, here is R.Vedavalli doing an exceptional job of it.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

note – only third charanam is sung in concerts normally. Also though the long ‘I’ at the end of some words is shortened in songs, I have chosen to use the correct spelling in Sanskrit.

पल्लवि
शङ्करी  शङ्कुरु  चन्द्रमुखी अखिलाण्डेश्वरी (श्री)
शाम्भवी सरसिज भव वन्दिते गौरी (अम्ब)

अनुपल्लवि
सङ्कट  हारिणी रिपु विदारिणी कल्याणी
सदा नत फल दायिके (alt: दायकी ) हर नायिके  (alt: नायकी) जगत् जननी

चरणम् 1
जम्बुपति विलासिनी जगदवनोल्लसिनी
कम्बु  कन्धरे भवानी कपाल धारिणी शूलिनी

चरणम् 2

अङ्गज  रिपु तोशिनी अखिल  भुवन पोशिनी
मङ्गल  प्रदे मृदानी मराल संनिभ गमनी

चरणम् 3

श्याम कृष्ण सोदरी श्यामळे शातोदरी
सामगान  लोले बाले सदार्ति भञ्जन  शीले

Transliteration

pallavi
shankarI shankuru chandra mukhI akhilANDEshvarI
shAmbhavI sarasija bhava vanditE gauri amba

anupallavi
sankaTa hAriNI ripu vidAriNI kalyANI
sadA nata phala dAyikE hara nAyikE jagat jananI

charaNam 1
jambupati vilAsinI jagadavanOllAsinI
kambu kandharE bhavAnI kapAla dhAriNi shUlini

charaNam 2
angaja ripu tOshinI akhila bhuvana pOshinI
mangaLa pradE mRdAni marALa sannibha gamanI

charaNam 3
shyAma kRshNa sOdarI shyAmaLE shAtOdari
sAma gAna lOlE bAlE sadArti bhanjana shIlE

Translation

O Consort of Shankara/Shiva (shankarI)! Please create (kuru, literally do) tranquility (sham)! O Moon faced one (chandramukhI)! O Goddess (IshvarI) of the whole universe (akhilANDa) ! O ShambhavI (name of Parvati)! One worshipped (vanditE) by Brahma, the one born (bhava) in a lotus (sarasija)! O Mother (amba) Gauri (name of Parvati)!

One who removes/destroys (hAriNI) danger/crises (sangkaTa)! One who crushes (vidAriNI) enemies (ripu)! O Auspicious one (kalyANI)! One who gives (dAyikE) reward (phala) to those who always (sadA) bow to her (nata). O Consort (nayikE) of Shiva (hara)! O Mother (jananI) of the world (jagat)!

One who sports (vilAsinI) with Shiva (jambupati, from Jambukeshwara Temple of Tiruvanaikaval, where the Goddess is called Akhilandeshwari. This is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, representing water). One who takes joy (ullAsinI) in protecting (avana) the world (jagat)! One whose neck (kandhara) is like a conch (kambu)! O Bhavani (name of Parvati)! One who carries (dhAriNI) a skull (kapAla)! One who weilds a spear (shUlinI)!

One who pleases (tOshiNI) the enemy (ripu) of the God of Love (angaja)! One who nourishes (poshinI) the entire (akhila) world (bhuvana)! One who provides (pradE) good fortune/welfare/happiness (mangala)! O Consort of Shiva (mRda is a name of Shiva)! One who walks (gamanI) like (samnibha) a swan (marAla)!

O Sister (sOdarI) of the dark skinned Krishna (shyAma kRshNa) (also signature of the composer)! O Shyamala (name of Parvati)! One with a slender (shAta) belly/waist (udarI)! One who takes pleasure in (lOlE) the chanting (gAna) of Sama Veda! O Young one (bAlE)! One whose nature (shIla) is to always (sadA) dispel (bhanjana) grief (Arti)!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, R.Vedavalli, Ranjani Gayatri, Shyama Shastri

Adum Deivam

Urdhva TandavaMaha Shivaratri is almost upon us and so, of course, my mind is on the Dancing Lord, our ADum deivam. So here I am, back to this blog to share a nice Tamil lore with you. And of course, a song too!

There are many versions of the story I am sharing, I just picked one of them. I also tried to find references to see where the story comes from, but I couldn’t find anything definitive. So just take it as a lore…

 Goddess Kali is on a war path. Created to destroy demons, she is a destructive force par none. But even after she vanquishes the demons, she continues to ravage all in her path. The Gods, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, approach Lord Shiva to calm his consort. Lord Shiva blocks the Goddess and challenges her to a dance contest. In some versions of the story, Lord Vishnu is called upon to act as the judge. The Goddess turns all her energies to the dance. They are evenly matched. She can match his every movement, he can match her every pose. They dance thus for eons. The universe trembles with the force of their stamping feet and their passionate movements. Some say that it is Lord Vishnu who makes a sign to Lord Shiva on how to win. Lord Shiva pretends that his earrings have dropped to the ground. Picking his earring with his feet, he raises it to his ear. This pose is called Urdhva tAnDava. To protect her feminine modesty, the Goddess smilingly concedes defeat. Her ferocity is gone and she is once more the peaceful and compassionate Goddess. Shiva is given the title of Lord of Dance or Nataraja. This is supposed to have happened in the forests of Tillai. Lord Nataraja rests in Tillai as does the dance ‘judge’ Lord Vishnu as Govindarajan. The Goddess retreats to Tiruvalankadu which is also associated with the same lore.

How wonderful are our stories, aren’t they! I can almost see it before me – Shakti, she who is power, unleashed upon the world..is it a nuclear holocaust? Tsunamis, volcanoes or earthquakes? The start of ice age or the end of one? She is destruction incarnate. It is Shiva, our dancing Lord, the other half of her, who must dance with her and drain her fury so that she becomes once more the loving Mother Goddess that she is. It is interesting that it is He we call the Destroyer! What does he destroy then? He is destroyer of the darkness within us, the darkness which lashes out like Kali in her rage. May he always dance the Tandava within our hearts to destroy the tsunamis and earthquakes which we create to destroy ourselves.

This wonderful lore is mentioned in my song choice of today. ADum deivam is written by Papanasam Sivan in raga Kambhoji. There is something about Kambhoji – the more I live, the more I listen, the more my soul sways to the mood of this raga. Listen below to Sanjay Subrahmanyan prove why he richly deserves the title of Sangita Kalanidhi. I have a really soft spot for S.Varadajan on the violin.

Raga Alapanai (exploration of the raga without words)

Kriti (song)

You can download another beautiful version by Sanjay Subrahmanyan here. You will need a free membership to Sangeethapriya.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
ஆடும் தெய்வம் நீ அருள்வாய் இடது பாதம் தூக்கி (ஆடும்)

அனுபல்லவி
நாடும் அடியர் பிறவித் துயரற வீடும் தரும் கருணை நிதியே  நடம் (ஆடும்)

சரணம்
சுபம் சேர் காளியுடன் ஆடிப் படு தோல்வி அஞ்சி திருச் செவியில் அணிந்த-மணித்
தோடு விழுந்ததாக மாயம் காட்டியும் தொழும் பதம் உயரத் தூக்கியும் – விரி
பிரபஞ்சம் முழுதும் ஆட்டும்  நின் திருப் பதம்  தஞ்சம்  என உன்னை அடைந்தேன்
பரிந்தென் திண்டாட்டம் கண்டு பரிசு தரும் துரையே சபை நடுவில் தத்திமி என்று (ஆடும்)

Transliteration

pallavi
ADum deivam nI aRulvAy iDadu pAdam tUkki

anupallavi
nADum aDiyar  piravit tuyaraRa vIDum tarum  karuNai nidiyE -naTam

charaNam
shubham sEr kALiyuDan ADi paDu tOlvi anji tiruch cheviyil aNinda -maNit
tODu vizhundadAga mAyam kATTiyum tozhum padam uyarat tUkkiyum-viri
prapancham muzhudum ATTum nin tirup padam tanjam ena unnai aDaindEn
parinden tinDATTam kanDu parisu tarum duraiyE sabai naDuvil taddimi enDRu

Translation

O Lord (deivam) who dances (ADum) with your left (iDadu) foot (pAdam) raised (tUkki), bless me (ArulvAy)!

O Compassionate one (karuNai nidi (nidi=character, attribute)) who removes/expunges (aRa) the sorrow (tuyar) of birth (piravi) and provides (tarum) shelter (vIDum) for the devotees (aDiyar) who seek you (nADum), who dances (ADum – from pallavi) the dance (naTam)….

While dancing (ADi) with Kali, who is associated (sEr) with auspiciousness (shubham), fearing (anji) total defeat (paDu tOlvi), you created an illusion (mAyam kATTiyum) that (Aga) the gem-studded (maNi) earring (tODu) which you wore (aNinda) on your sacred (tiru) ear (cheviyil) fell (vizhundadu) and you raised (tUkki) your venerated (tozhum) foot (padam) high (uyara). Knowing (implied by ena=as) that your (nin) sacred (tiru) feet (padam) makes the expanse of (viri) the universe (prapancham) move/dance (ATTum) , I sought refuge (tanjam aDaindEn) in you (unnai). O Lord (durai) who, on seeing my (en) misery/struggles (tinDATTam), shows mercy (parindu) and bestows (tarum) the gift (parisu) of seeing (?implied? not sure) you dance (implied by taddimi enDRu=to the rhythm of ‘ta ti mi’) in the middle (naDuvil) of the assembly room (sabai).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Papanasam Sivan, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Maitrim Bhajata

Happy New Year 2016 replace 2015 concept on the sea beach

Happy New Year

So one more year has come to an end. That one micro-second when one year finishes and another year starts seems momentous, doesn’t it? Yet it is no different from the millions of micro-seconds that we have lived so far. We greet this new micro-second with cheers and wishes, hopes and dreams..and if one is particularly foolish like myself, resolutions that won’t last a week! I wonder, why do we cheer the unknown to come instead of grieving the end of one more period of one’s life? One starts life with endless possibilities but as moments pass the possibilities become fewer and fewer until at the last moment of our life there is only one possibility left. So while the world lights the skies with fireworks and parties its way into the New Year, I am sombre, looking back at what might have been and what is not.

2015 was such a hard year for so many people. I grieve for the all the people killed and maimed by terrorism and fundamentalism whether in Paris, Nigeria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Philippines, Yemen, Kenya or the innumerable other places which have seen such incidents. At the start of 2015 they too would have cheered and hoped and made resolutions which they did not keep. What happened to all those wishes when the terrorists blew them up? Did they disappear from the earth or are those wishes hanging heavily like overladen clouds? I grieve for all those affected by natural disasters, be it in the floods in Chennai, Malawi or Mozambique, the drought in Ethiopia, the heat wave in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, earthquakes in Nepal and Chile, wildfires in Canada, California and Australia, landslides in Burma, avalanches in Afghanistan or innumerable other such incidents. Did they not receive good wishes at the start of 2015? If they survived the disasters, will they ever heal from what 2015 did to them? I grieve for the earth itself which we continue to treat with careless abandon, filling landfills with toxic or non-biodegradable waste, filling the air with carbon and other emissions, filling rivers and water sources with even more waste. As polar bears struggle in melting ice caps, fish struggle with low oxygen levels in the water and animals struggle with disastrous changes in their habitat, shall we still cheer the start of 2016 or grieve over all that we could have done but didn’t in 2015? We humans selfishly follow agendas for individual interest at the cost of collective well-being, whether by killing rhinos for their horns, enslaving women for their bodies, using poverty as a weapon against the poor and in so many other ways that I despair of it all. All one can feel is shame that one is part of the same human race which does so much harm to itself and its environment.

Yet here is 2016, whether we want it or not. At the start of the year hope springs eternal, does it not! So I shall set aside all the grief of that which has passed and hope for joy and contentment in the future, not just for myself but for all of us who call earth our home. And I invoke the prayer song written by the Kanchi Paramacharya, Jagatguru Chandrasekharendra Saraswati and tuned by Shri Vasant Desai. On Oct 23 1966 M.S.Subbulakshmi sang it in the United Nations. This immortal song is as meaningful in today’s times as it was then. Please do read the translation in the footnote below, there is good advice for us all. May 2016 bring us all wisdom to follow the path recommended by the Paramacharya.

(from 6:14)

A much older M.S. sings the same song in the video below :


Footnote : Lyrics

Language : Sanskrit

in Raga Yamuna Kalyani

मैत्रीम् भजत अखिल हृज्जेत्रीम् (= हृत् जेत्रीम् )
आत्मवदेव 
परानपि पश्यत (= आत्मवत् एव परान् अपि पश्यत)
युद्धम् त्यजत 
स्पर्धां त्यजत
त्यजत 
परेषु परेष्वक्रममाक्रमणम् (=परेषु अक्रम आक्रमणम्) ||

in Raga Kapi

जननी पृथिवी काम दुघास्ते (=दुघा आस्ते)
जनको 
देवः सकल दयालुः
दाम्यत 
दत्त दयध्वं जनताः
श्रेयो 
भूयात् सकल जनानाम् ||

Transliteration :

maitrIm bhajata akhila hRjjEtrIm
AtmavadEva parAnapi pashyata
yuddham tyajata spardhAm tyajata
tyajata parEshu akramamAkramaNam
jananI pRthivI kAmadughAstE
janakO dEvah sakala dayAluh
dAmyata datta dayadhvam janatAh
shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAm

Translation :

Win over (jEtrIm) all hearts (hRt) by practising (bhajata) friendship (maitrIm).
Think (pashyata, literally look) at others (parAn) exactly (Eva) like you think of yourself (Atmavat).
Forsake (tyajata) war (yuddham), forsake (tyajata) competitiveness (spardhAm),
forsake (tyajata) sudden (akrama) attacks (Akramanam) on others (parEshu).
Mother (jananI) Earth (pRthivI) exists (AstE) like a wish (kAma) fulfilling cow (dughA) (reference to kAmadhEnu).
God (dEvah), our father (janaka), is completely (sakala) compassionate (dayAluh)
Be self-restrained (dAmyata), be charitable (datta), be merciful (dayadhvam). (*from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, see below).
May (bhUyAt) all (sakala) people (janAnAm) be prosperous/blissful/fortunate (shrEya)

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, verses 5.2.1-5.2.3

त्रयाः प्राजापत्याः प्रजापतौ पितरि ब्रह्मचर्यमूषुःदेवा मनुष्या असुराः; उषित्वा ब्रह्मचर्यं देवा ऊचुः, वीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इति; व्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दाम्यतेति 
आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति 

Three classes of Prajāpati’s sons lived a life of continence with their father, Prajāpati (Virāj)—the gods, men and Asuras. The gods, on the completion of their term, said, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: Control yourselves.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’

अथ  हैनं मनुष्या ऊचुः, ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदेवाक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इति; व्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दत्तेति न आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति 

Then the men said to him, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the same syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: Give.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’

अथ हैनमसुरा ऊचुः, ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदेवाक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इतिव्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दयध्वमिति न आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति; तदेतदेवैषा दैवी वागनुवदति स्तनयित्नुर् द द द इतिदाम्यत दत्त दयध्वमिति; तदेतत्त्रयं शिक्शेत्— मं
दानं दयामिति   

Then the Asuras said to him, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the same syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: ‘Have compassion.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’ That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, the cloud, as ‘Da,’ ‘Da,’ ‘Da’: ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give,’ and ‘Have compassion.’ Therefore one should leam these three—self-control, charity and compassion.

Explanation :

The present section is introduced to prescribe the three disciplines of self-control etc. Three classes of Prajāpati’s sons lived a life of continence, i.e. lived as students, since continence is the most important part of a student’s life, with their father, Prajāpati. Who were they? The gods, men and Asuras, in particular. Of them, the gods, on the completion of their term—what did they do?—said to their father, Prajāpati, ‘Please instruct us.’ When they thus sought his instruction, he told them only the syllable‘Da’; and saying it the father asked them,’ you understood the meaning of the syllable I told you by way of instruction, or not?’ The gods said, ‘We have.’ ‘If so, tell me what I said.’ The gods said, ‘You tell us: Control yourselves, for you are naturally unruly.’ The other said, ‘Yes, you have understoodrightly.’

The common portions are to be explained as before. ‘You tell us: Give—distribute your wealth to the best of your might, for you are naturally avaricious. What else would you say for our benefit?’—so said the men.

Similarly the Asuras took it as, ‘Have compassion, be kind to all, for you are cruel, given to injuring others, and so on.’ That very instruction of Prajāpati continues to this day. Prajāpati, who formerly taught the gods and others, teaches us even to-day through the heavenly voice of the cloud. How? Here is the heavenly voice heard. Which is it? The cloudAs ‘Da,’ ‘Da,’ ‘Da’: ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give,’and ‘Have compassion.’ The syllable ‘Da’ is repeated thrice to represent in imitation the above three terms, not that a cloud produces three notes only, for we know of no such limitation as to number. Because to this day Prajāpati gives the same instructions, ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give’ and ‘Have Compassion,’ therefore one should learn these three of Prajāpati. What are they? Self-control, charity and compassion. Men should think, ‘We must carry out the instructions of Prajāpati.’ The Smṛti too says, ‘Lust, anger and greed—these are the three gateways to hell, destructive to the self; therefore one should renounce these three’ (G. XVI. 21). The preceding portion is but a part of this injunction, ‘One should learn,’ etc. Still those who can guess the motives of others hold different views on why Prajāpati spoke the same syllable ‘Da’ thrice to the gods etc., who wanted separate instructions, and how they too discriminatingly understood his intention from the same syllable ‘Da.’

Reference : http://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-brihadaranyaka-upanishad/d/doc122189.html

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, Compositions in Sanskrit, M.S.Subbulakshmi

Kamakshi Bangaru

KamakshiHappy Navaratri, Dussera and Durga Puja to all my readers! I hope you are all enjoying the festivities of this season!

I feel very blessed by the Goddesses this week; we’ve had some very good news in the family. My son has just been accepted into the College of Psychiatry, a dream he has had for a long time.  For those who haven’t read my occasional forays into personal life, my son (25) is a doctor currently working as a Resident. He has long dreamed of becoming a Psychiatrist. His getting a placement as a Psych Registrar is a very big step in the many steps that it has taken to embark on his chosen career. It feels especially good to get this news during Navaratri.

I believe he owes his success to his worship of the Goddesses, but not in any way you imagine. In fact, much to my distress, he claims to be somewhere between atheistic and agnostic. So why do I say that he worships the Goddesses? Is it possible to get blessings without a single shlOka or puja, without even acknowledging the existence of the Goddesses? Let me share my thoughts…(Note: I am in a mood to ramble, so if you want just the music, jump right ahead!)

We believers think that our Gods and Goddesses are omnipresent. That they are present both in those who acknowledge them and those who don’t. Let us search for Shakti first. She is manifest as energy all around us. Touch your skin – even the warmth there is but a manifestation of the energy your cells create. But just as in a temple we need to perform a prANa pratishTHa to consecrate the idol and bring the power of the deity within it, we too need to ‘consecrate’ ourselves to let her manifest her powers within us. How can we do that? I have a theory..

Is Shakti not energy? So if we follow our goals with energy and vigour, surely it is a celebration of her! Shakti is prANa, the life energy itself. How better to worship her than by looking after the health of our bodies and minds? Shakti is courage. By developing our self-confidence and courage, we invite Her to take residence in our hearts. As a baby my son was afraid of the whole world. I could not even enter a lift if there were others there! It took years of coaxing for him to accept the world outside our family. As a boy, he was shy and retiring. He would hardly meet anyone’s eyes when he talked. I remember a moment of pride when at sixteen he voluntarily walked up to a visitor at home and introduced himself; it felt as if he had crossed an important threshold! When he bravely presented a research paper at a Psych conference at 21, almost a decade younger than the next youngest conference attendee, I was bursting with pride. I have seen him slowly build on his courage, his self-confidence to a level that he performs very well in interviews. If this is not the prANa pratishTHa  of Shakti, what is?

Lakshmi too is ever present in our lives. Every time anything good has happened to you, every time you have felt lucky, every time you have enjoyed a sense of well-being and happiness, it is but Lakshmi kaTAksham – Her eye has fallen on you. Or so I believe. She may look in our direction but unless we have done the groundwork to receive it, her blessings may slip and fall from our fingers! In his last rotation, my son was lucky enough to have the Head of Psych Training of another leading hospital as his supervisor. That was Lakshmi kaTAksham. She gave a glowing reference saying that ‘I’ll be happy to work with him as my colleague’! By working hard and well enough to gain such a reference, he prepared himself to receive Lakshmi’s blessings; I see it as Lakshmi pratishTHa.  At another conference he attended, he learnt that one of the interview panellists was there. That was Lakshmi kaTAksham. He walked up to him and introduced himself, talking of the job he hoped to get. That is Lakshmi pratishTHa. A senior nurse he worked with happened purely by chance to meet one of the panellists. She remembered my son voluntarily and spoke well of him. That was Lakshmi kaTAksham. That he had established a good relationship with the nursing staff, that is Lakshmi pratishTHA.

Where would we be without Saraswati? Knowledge governs our life at every turn. An infant who recognizes his mother as his source of nourishment and succour, even that infant has an important piece of knowledge. We are bombarded with information in this world, we absorb only a minute fraction of which even a smaller fraction gets converted into knowledge. As to wisdom, I don’t know how one gets that but I hope that one day our knowledge leads us to wisdom! Is not Saraswati in all sources of knowledge,  in all wisdom? When we convert information to knowledge and then into wisdom, what is it but Saraswati pratishTHa? Even with his limited income as an intern and a resident, my son made the effort to attend many seminars and conferences in Psychiatry over the past two years. I myself was surprised when I saw his CV – ‘When did he get the time to do all that?’ I wondered. When we pursue knowledge we are but paying homage to the Goddess!

I have rambled on a bit, haven’t I? But then a proud mama is allowed to gloat a while! But back now to music. My song choice today is a composition by Shyama Shastri in the Raga Varali. ‘Please protect me’ says the composer, invoking the many qualities and symbolisms of the Goddess. He was a priest at the Kamakshi temple in Tanjavur; his love for his Goddess is very evident in this composition. I present below this beautiful song in the mellifluous voice of Bombay Jayashri.

Alternate link : Click here


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

पल्लवि
कामाक्षि बङ्गारु कामाक्षि (अम्बा)
नन्नु ब्रोववे

अनुपल्लवि
तामसमेले रावे
साम गान लोले सुशीले

चरणम्
श्याम कृष्ण परिपालिनी
शुक श्यामळे  शिव शङ्करी
शूलिनी सदा शिवुनिकि राणी
विशालाक्षि  तरुणी  शाश्वत रूपिणी

स्वर  साहित्य
ना मनविनि विनु देवी
नीवे गतियनि नम्मिनानु
मायम्मा  वेगमे करुण जूडवम्मा
बङ्गारु बॊम्मा

Transliteration

pallavi
kAmAkshi bangAru kAmAkshi (ambA)
nannu brOvavE

anupallavi
tAmasamElE rAvE
sAma gAna lOlE sushIlE

charaNam
shyAma kRshNa paripAlinI
shuka shyAmaLE shiva shankarI
shUlinI sadA shivuniki rANI
vishAlAkshi taruNI shAshvata rUpiNI

svara sAhitya
nA manavini vinu dEvI
nIvE gatiyani namminAnu
mAyammA vEgamE karuNa jUDavammA
bangAru bommA

Translation :

Note : I do not speak Telugu; I have sourced the translation from multiple web sources.

O Kamakshi! O Golden (bangAru) Kamakshi! Please protect (brOvavE) me (nannu). Why (Ela) delay (tAmasam)? Please come (rAvE)!  O Enjoyer (lOlE) of recitation (gAna) of sAma vEda! O Virtuous One (sushIlE)!

O One who protects (paripAlinI) shyAma kRshNa (signature of composer)! O dark-skinned One (shyAmaLE) who holds a parrot (shuka)! O Consort of Shiva (shiva shankarI)! O One who holds a trident (shUlinI)! O Queen Consort (rANI) of shivA (shivuniki)! O Large-eyed One (visAlAkshi)! O youthful One (taruNI)! O One who is manifest (rUpiNI) eternally (shAshvata) !

O Goddess (dEvI)! Please listen (vinu) to my (nA) plea (manavini). I trust(namminAnu) you alone (nIvE) to be (ani) my refuge (gati)!! O my (mA) mother (ammA)! Quickly (vEgamE) show (jUDu) mercy (karuNa) O Mother (ammA)! O Golden (bangAru) Idol (bommA)!

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Filed under Bombay Jayashri, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Shyama Shastri

N.Ramani RIP

N Ramani RIP

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October 9, 2015 · 8:05 am