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 फिल 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

Chandrashekhara

Shiva MeditatingI have come back to my blogging after a short hiatus; life just seemed to take over these past two months. While most Carnatic Music fans immersed themselves in music during this season, I switched of all music and concentrated on my family and friends.

But I am back now, trawling the web for everything I missed during my time-out. I landed immediately on Jaya TV’s Margazhi Maha Utsavam videos on Youtube and selected Ranjani and Gayatri’s performance for my first listen. It turned out to be a great choice, a very good concert with a nice variety. Their theme was ‘Ezhil Mozhi Ezhu Mozhi’. They presented songs in seven languages – Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi. Nice theme. Following is the song list with the start time in the videos :

1. Swaminatha Paripalaya (Sanskrit), Natta, Dikshithar (Part 1, 1:21)
2. Adedella (Kannada), Purvi Kalyani, Purandara Dasa (Part 1, 09:28)
3. Kantanodu (Malayalam), Neelambari, Swati Thirunal (Part 1,  34:06)
4. Viruttam (Ragamalika in Saveri-Kanada-Sindhu Bhairavi) (Part 1, 41:54)
5. Chandrashekara (Tamil), Sindhu Bhairavi, Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer (Part 1, 49:12)
6. Pakkala Nilabadi with Alapana (Telugu), Kharaharapriya, Tyagaraja (Part 2, 1:00)
6. Ram Nam Tu Japa (Hindi), Lalit (Hindustani), Khalis (?) (Part 2, 33:45)
7. Devar Varuga (Tamil), Ragamalika, Subramanya Bharathi (Part 2, 40:49)
8. Dhanya Dhanya Te Sharira (Abhang in Marathi), Durga, Sant Eknath (Part 2, 47:22)

Ranjani and Gayatri were accompanied on the violin by B.V.Ganesh Prasad, Mridangam by N.Manoj Siva and Ghatam by Chandrashekhar Sharma. Listening to music after a break, everything sounded good to my starved ears! I was especially taken by their Purvi Kalyani, being one of my favourite ragas as also the beautiful rendition in Lalit. But it was Sindhu Bhairavi which drew me back for an immediate second-helping and so that is what I shall offer you today.

Chandrashekhara was preceded by a viruttam consisting of two pieces of poetry from the tevarams. The first one by Tirumular திருமூலர் was sung in Saveri. It seems to have a simple message ‘God will reside in the hearts of those who seek him’.

நாடும் நகரமும் நற்றிருக் கோயிலும்
தேடித் திரிந்து சிவ பெருமான் என்று
பாடுமின் பாடிப் பணிமின் பணிந்தபின்
கூடிய நெஞ்சத்தைக் கோயிலாக் கொள்வனே  (திருமுறை 10)

nADum nagaramum naTRiruk kOyilum
tEDit tirindu siva perumAn enDRu
pADumin pADip paNImin paNindapin
kUDiya nenjattaik kOyilAk koLvanE

Wander you through town and villa
Seek Him through shrine and temple
Sing of Him as ‘Siva, Siva, my Lord’
And thus do you offer
worship meek,
And the Lord will make your heart His temple (source : thevaaram.org)

The second piece of poetry was written by Appar Tirunavukkarasar அப்பர் திருநாவுக்கரசர். It was sung in Kanada and Sindhu Bhairavi. What a marvellous bit of poetry! I sympathise if you don’t speak Tamil because the beauty of it is tied to the beauty of the language and much is lost in translation. Here Appar describes the Lord’s characteristics in poetic terms.

மண்ணாகி விண்ணாகி மலையுமாகி
வயிரமுமாய் மாணிக்கம் தானேயாகி
கண்ணாகி கண்ணுக்கோர் மணியுமாகி
கலையாகி கலைஞானம் தானேயாகி
பெண்ணாகி பெண்ணுக்கோர்  ஆணுமாகி
பிரளயத்துக் அப்பாற் ஓர் அண்டமாகி
எண்ணாகி எண்ணுக்கோர் எழுத்துமாகி
எழுஞ்சுடராய் எம்மடிகள்  நின்ற வாறே (திருமுறை 6.94.2)

maNNAgi viNNAgi malaiyAgi
vayiramumAi  mANikkam tAnEyAgi
kaNNAgi kaNNukkOr maNiyumAgi
kalaiyAgi kalai.nyanam tAnEyAgi
peNNAgi peNNukkOr ANumAgi
praLayattuk appAR Or anDamAgi
eNNAgi eNNukkOr ezhuttumAgi
ezhunchuDarAi emmaDigaL ninDRa vARE

As earth,
heaven and mountain,
As diamond and ruby itself,
As eye and pupil of eye,
As Sastras and the Sastraic Wisdom itself,
As woman,
and man for the woman,
As the universe beyond Dissolution,
As Thought and as letters therefore,
As rising radiance,
our God abides for ever  (source : thevaaram.org)

Chandrashekhara by Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer in set to raga Sindhu Bhairavi and has a very bhajan like feel. The sisters sang it just beautifully (except for that one moment in Kanada but I am just being picky), I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Viruttam starts at 41:51.

 

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :
பல்லவி
சந்திரசேகரா ஈசா  ஈசா  சுந்தரேச்வரா கௌரீசா சென்ஜடாதரா

சரணம்
அந்தி வண்ணனே சம்போ அருள் முக்கண்ணனே ச்வயம்போ
சிந்தை தீர்க்க வந்தாய் சிதம்பரேசா கைலாச வாசா

Transliteration

pallavi
chandrashEkharA IshA IshA sundareshvarA gaurIshA shenjaTAdharA

charanam
andI vaNNanE shambhO aruL mukkannanE svayambhO
chintai tIra vandAi chidambarEshA kailAsa vAsA

Translation

O Lord (IshA) Shiva (chandrashEkharA), O Beautiful (sundara) Lord (IshwarA), the Lord (IshA) of Parvati (gaurI), the one with reddish (செம்-shem) matted hair (jatAdharA).

O Shambho, coloured (vaNNanE) like dusk (andi)! O compassionate (aruL) three-eyed (mukkaNNanE) one! O self-born one (svayambhO)! You have come (vandAy) to relieve (tIrkka) us of our worries (chintai), O Lord (IshwarA) of Chidambaram, the one who resides (vAsA) in Kailasa!

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Filed under Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ranjani Gayatri

O Holy Night

XMas wishes

Merry Christmas everybody! I have been happily overdosing on Christmas carols to celebrate the season. I adore the old favourites, they just put me in the spirit. And no, there is no ‘corny’ when it comes to Christmas music! One of my favourite carols is O Holy Night and this morning I listened with great pleasure to Celine Dion’s incredible voice soaring wonderfully over the scales of this song. I hope you share in my pleasure.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Their name forever praise we,
Noel, Noel, O Night, O Night Divine!
Noel, Noel, O Night, O Holy Night!

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Bhaja Govindam

Adi ShankaracharyaIt was more than a month ago. I had a call from an old friend in Dubai. ‘Suja, Ravi here. It’s bad news. Gautam is no more’. My mind went blank for a few minutes, I could not quite come to grips with the explanations that followed.

Through the next few days I learnt of more details. I struggled with my emotions, seemingly having lost control of my tear ducts which welled up during the most mundane activities in my life. My husband and I met Gautam in 1985 when we were all very young. There were times when we saw a lot of each other, there were times when we hardly met. Yet he was there. And now he was no more. He was only 53. Father to two beloved  sons, husband to a now desolate wife, he died alone in a hotel room while on a business trip in Singapore. I have taken it harder than I would have thought; after all, we did not live in each other’s pockets. Yet with him gone, I feel as if I have lost a part of the history of my life for he was very much part of it.

Two weeks back I flew into Australia. For those who are newcomers to my blog, my husband and I live in Switzerland, my two grown children live and work in Australia. Trying to live in perpetual summer, I almost always visit Australia in Dec-Jan. Meeting mutual friends of Gautam here was a heart-rending experience as we relived shared moments of our lives.

I tried to write this post a couple of weeks back but grief overcame me and I could not write sensibly at all. But even then a couple of verses from Bhaja Govindam kept running as a refrain in my head –  पुनरपि जननं पुनरपि मरणं पुनरपि जननी जठरे शयनम् – Once again birth, once again death, once again lying down in the womb of a mother. How fragile life is, how uncertain. One day a man goes to work and the next day he is no more. It seems so unbelievable! Adi Shankaracharya (788-820?) advises us to worship Govinda, pointing out to us fools ‘मूढमते’,  the illusory nature of life on earth. I have heard this sung hundreds of times, I have myself recited it many times, but today I have finally come to grips with Shankaracharya’s verses.

Listen below to M.S.Subbulakshmi sing the version she made famous. She sings only 10 out of the 31 verses. See footnote for my translation of the verses which are sung. If you are interested, the words of the complete version can be found easily online.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

Note: I am giving below only the verses sung in M.S.Subbulakshmi’s rendition, with the actual verse number in the full version for reference.

Raga : Yamuna Kalyani

भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं गोविन्दं भज मूढमते ।
संप्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ् करणे ॥ १ ॥

bhaja gOvindam, bhaja gOvindam, gOvindam bhaja mUDHamatE samprAptE sannihitE kAlE nahi nahi rakshati DukR.nkaraNE   ॥ 1 ॥

Worship (bhaja) Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool (mUDHamatE)! On reaching (sampraptE) close to (sannihitE) the appointed time of death (kAlE, time, implies time of death), grammatical formulae (DukR.nkaranE) will not save you (nahi nahi rakshati).

Raga : Brindavana Saranga

मूढ जहीहि धनागमतृष्णां कुरु सद्बुद्धिं मनसि वितृष्णाम् ।
यल्लभसे निज कर्मोपात्तं वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तम् ॥ २ ॥

mUDHa jahIhi dhanAgamatRshNAm kuru sadbuddhim manasi vitRshNAm
yallabhasE nija karmOpAttam vittam tEna vinOdaya chittam ॥ 2॥

O Fool (mUDHa)! Abandon (jahI, verb jahita) the desire (tRshNA) for the acquisition (Agama) of wealth (dhana) now (iha)! In a mind without desire (manasi vitRshNAm), comprehend (kuru buddhim) the Truth (sat). That (yat) that you obtain (labhasE) as your own (nija) work’s (karma) gain (upAttam), delight (vinodaya) your mind (chittam) with that (tEna) wealth (vittam).

Raga: Pantuvarali

यावद्वित्तोपार्जन सक्तः तावन्निज परिवारो रक्तः ।
पश्चाज्जीवति जर्जर देहे वार्तां कोऽपि न पृच्छति गेहे ॥  ॥

yAvadvittOpArjana saktah tAvannija parivArO raktah
paschAjjIvati jarjara dEhE vArtAm kO’pi na pRchCHati gEhE ॥ 4॥

As long as (yAvat) one is engaged in (saktah) earning (upArjana) wealth (vitta), till that time (tAvat) one’s own (nija) family (parivAra) remains attached (raktah) (implied: to you). Later (pashchAt) while one lives on (jIvati) in a decrepit/aged (jarjara) body (dEha), no one (kah api) in the house (gEha) inquires (pRchCHa) of one’s news (vArtA).

Raga : Bageshri

मा कुरु धन जन यौवन गर्वं हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् ।
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ॥ 11 ॥

mA kutu dhana jana yauvana garvam harati nimEshAtkAlah sarvam
mAyAmaymidamakhilam hitvA brahmapadam tvam pravisha viditvA ॥ ११ ॥

Do not be (ma kuru = do not do) proud (garva) of wealth (dhana), tribe (jana) or youth (yauvana). Time (kAla) can take away (harati) everything (sarva) in a moment (nimEsha)! Abandoning (hitvA) this (idam)  illusory (mAyamayam) universe (akhilam), with realisation (viditvA), you (tvam) should (implied) resort to (pravisham) the place of Brahma (brahmapadam).

Raga : Behag

सुर मंदिर तरु मूल निवासः शय्या भूतलमजिनं वासः ।
सर्व परिग्रह भोग त्यागः कस्य सुखं न करोति विरागः ॥ १८  ॥

sura mandira taru mUla nivAsah shayyA bhUtala majinam vAsah
sarva parigraha bhOga tyAgah kasya sukham na karOti virAgah ॥ 18॥

Dwell (nivAsa) in the temple (mandira) of Gods (sura), in the roots (mUla) of trees (taru). Live (Vasah) with a deer skin (ajinam) on the earth (bhUtala) as bed (shayyA).  Renounce (tyAga) the claim on (parigraha) all (sarva) possessions/enjoyment (bhOga). Who (kasya) will not be (na karOti) happy (sukha) with such indifference to worldly things (virAga)?

Raga : Nadanamakriya

भगवद् गीता किञ्चिदधीता गङ्गा जल लव कणिका पीता ।
सकृदपि येन मुरारि समर्चा क्रियते तस्य यमेन न चर्चा ॥ २० ॥

bhagavad gItA kinchidaDHItA gangA jala lava kaNikA pItA
sakRdapi yEna murAri samarchA kriyatE tasya yamEna na charchA ॥ 20 ॥

Yama (Lord of Death) does not argue (kriyatE na charchA) with one who has read (adhITa) a little bit (kinchit) of the Bhagavat Gita, sipped (pIta) even a drop (kaNikA) of a bit of (lava) of water (jala) of the Ganges (gangA), by whom (yEna) Lord Krishna (murAri) has been worshipped (samarcha) even (api) once (sakRt).

Raga : Kapi

पुनरपि जननं पुनरपि मरणं पुनरपि जननी जठरे शयनम् ।
इह संसारे बहुदुस्तारे कृपयाऽपारे पाहि मुरारे ॥ २१ ॥

punarapi jananam punarapi maraNam punarapi jananI jaTHarE shayanam
iha sa.msArE bahudustArE kRpayA’pArE pAhi murArE ॥ 21 ॥

Once again (punarapi) birth (jananam), once again (punarapi) death (maraNam), once again (punarapi) lying down (shayanam) in the womb (jaTHara) of a mother (jananI)….in this (iha) world (sa.msArE) which is so much (bahu) difficult to endure (dustAra), with boundless (apAra) compassion (kRpA), protect me (pAhi) O Krishna (murArE) !

Raga : Mohanam

गेयं गीता नाम सहस्रं ध्येयं श्रीपति रूपमजस्रम् ।
नेयं सज्जन सङ्गे चित्तं देयं दीनजनाय च वित्तम् ॥ २७ ॥

gEyam gItA nAma sahasram dhyEyam shrIpati rUpamajasram
nEyam sajjan sa.ngE chittam dEyam dInajanAya cha vittam ॥27॥

That which ought to be sung (gEyam) is the Gita and the thousand (sahasram) names of the Lord (nAma). That which ought to be meditated on (dhyEyam) endlessly (ajasram) is the form (rUpam) of Vishnu, the consort of Lakshmi (shrIpati). That to which the mind (chittam) ought to be led to (nEyam) is the company (sa.ngam) of virtuous people (sajjana). That which ought to be given (dEyam) is the wealth (vittam) to the wretched (dIna) people (jana).

Raga : Senjurutti

अर्थमनर्थं भावय नित्यं नास्ति ततः सुखलेशः सत्यम् ।
पुत्रादपि धन भाजां भीतिः सर्वत्रैषा विहिता रीतिः ॥ २९ ॥

arTHamanarTHam bhAvaya nityam nAsti tatah sukhalEshah satyam
putrAdapi dhana bhAjAm bhItih sarvatraishA vihitA rItih ॥ 29॥

There is no (na asti) true (satyam) divine (Esha) joy (sukha) resulting from (tatah) wealth (artha) on which one thinks of (bhAvaya) all the time (nityam) uselessly (anartha).  One fears (bhIti) sharing (bhAja) wealth (dhana) even (api) with one’s son (putrAt)! This (EshA) practice (rIti) is followed (vihita) everywhere (sarvatra).

Raga : Sindhu Bhairavi

गुरुचरणाम्बुज निर्भर भक्तः संसारादचिराद्भव मुक्तः ।
सेन्द्रियमानस नियमादेवं द्रक्ष्यसि निज हृदयस्थं देवम् ॥ ३१ ॥

gurucharaNambuja nirbhara bhaktah sa.msArAdachirAdbhava muktah
sEndriyamAnasa niyamAdEvam drashyasi nija hRdayastham dEvam
॥ 31 ॥

The devotee (bhakta) who relies on (nirbhara) on the lotus-feet (charaNa ambuja) of the Guru is soon (achirat) liberated (mukta) from being (bhava) in this cycle of worldly existence (sa.msAra). Indeed (Eva), with restraint/control (niyamat) of his senses (indriya) with (sa) his mind (mAnasa), he sees (drashyasi) the God (dEva) who is in his own (nija) heart (hRdayasTHa).

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Filed under Adi Shankaracharya, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Religious

Ab Ke Baras Bhej

Ab Ke Baras BhejDo we live in a society where isolation and alienation is rife? This in spite of the innumerable ways that one is ‘connected’ ?  I look at the world busily and constantly ‘communicating’ around me and wonder if it really does make people feel connected! Perhaps it is just me, but all this communication rushes over me like water over a duck’s back. I remain untouched. Isolated. At times even alienated.

My thoughts are triggered by a recent message I received from a batch mate from school. He invited me to join a whatsapp chat group that he is forming. I promptly declined. You see, a few years ago I had joined an email group of school mates,  foolishly expecting a meeting of minds. Instead, most of the mails were just re-distribution of junk mail. The communication on most social media sites follows the same pattern. People call themselves ‘friends’ but seem content to remain the most superficial of acquaintances. Is it only me who clings to the old fashioned meaning of a ‘friend’? 

What happened to conversations where one talked of everything with mates, from the very personal to the very public? What happened to sharing of real feelings and emotions? What happened to ‘adda’ sessions when one talked of nothing but felt so connected nonetheless? I honestly don’t remember when I last had a conversation which left me intellectually or emotionally stimulated. What happened to me? Why cannot I not connect with anyone anymore?

In comparison, my husband has a much more nourishing circle of friends. His mates from university are not only in touch on a daily basis via various media, but they talk on the phone and even get together every couple of years. This is not as easy a matter as you may think as his friends are spread around the globe. From what I have observed, they have somehow managed to hold on to a connection which goes beyond the superficial. I am envious! So today’s post is in honour of his friends, especially his ‘Pal’ who I hold in great esteem, and who says he misses my features on Hindi film music.

My song choice of today is a perfect little gem from the Hindi film Bandini (1963). Composed by S.D.Burman with lyrics by Shailendra, it is sung by Asha Bhosle. It is a song from another time when women married and left home, sometimes without being able to go back for years. But even in today’s time of facetime calls and whatsapp chats, it strikes a chord. The song talks of the longing for family, of the sadness for innocence lost, of the grief for a time that will come no more, of the need for re-connection. But under it all, it is a song of alienation. It is a song for all who struggle with the changing roles that life throws on them.

Asha is perfection in this song. Listen to the oh so gently done vibrato over the word ‘talE’, the almost abrupt enunciation of ‘chalkE’ in contrast to the wringing of the word ‘kaskE’, the lovely transition to the next phrase in the word ‘churAyI’…what singing! And while you are about it, look at Nutan’s swan neck and perfect profile..a timeless beauty!


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Hindi

अब के बरस भेज भैया को बाबुल सावन में लीजो बुलाय रे
लौटेंगी जब मेरे बचपन की सखियाँ दीजो संदेशा भिजाय रे  ||

अम्बुआ तले फिर से झूले पड़ेंगी रिम-झिम पड़ेंगी फुहारें
लौटेंगी फिर तेरे आंगन में बाबुल सावन की ठंडी बहारें
छलके नयन मोरा कसके रे जियरा बचपन की जब याद आये रे ||

बैरन जवानी ने छीने खिलोने और मेरी गुड़िया चुराई
बाबुल थी मैं तेरे नाजों की पाली फिर क्यों हुई मैं पराई
बीते रे जुग कोई चिट्ठिया ना पाती ना कोई नैहर से आये रे ||

Transliteration

ab kE baras bhEj bhaiyA kO bAbul sAvan mE.n lIjO bulAy rE
lauTE.ngI jab mErE bachpan kI sakhiyA.n dIjO sandEshA bhijAy rE

ambuA talE phir sE jhUlE paDE.ngI rim jhim paDE.ngI phuhArE.n
lauTE.ngI phir tErE A.ngan mE.n bAbul sAvan kI THanDI bahArE.n
chalkE nayan mOrA kaskE rE jiyarA bachpan kI jab yAd AyE rE

bairan javAnI nE chInE khilOnE aur mErI guDiyA churAyI
bAbul thI mai.n tErE nAjO.n kI pAlI phir kyO.n huI mai.n parAyI
bItE rE jug kOI chiTTHiyA nA pAtI nA kOI naihar sE AyE rE

Translation

O Father (bAbul), do send (bhEj) my brother (bhaiyA) to fetch me (lIjO bulAy) this year (ab kE baras) during monsoon (sAvan mE.n) . When (jab) my childhood (bachpan) friends (sakhiyA.n) return (lautE.ngI), do send (dIjO bhijAy) news (sandEshA).

Swings (jhUlE) will be set up under (talE paDE.ngI) the mango trees (ambuA) while light showers (phuhAr) will fall (rim jhim paDE.ngI). The cool (THanDI) breeze (bahArE.n) of monsoon (sAvan) will return (lauTE.ngI) again (phir sE) to your (tErE) courtyard (A.ngan), father (bAbul). My eyes (nayan) spill over (chalkE) by the squeeze (kaskE) of my heart (jiyarA) when (jab) I remember (yAd AyE) my childhood (bachpan).

Youth (javAnI), my enemy (bairan), snatched away (chInE) my toys (khilOnE) and (aur) stole (churAyI) my dolls (guDiyA). Father (bAbul), I was brought up tenderly (nAjO kI pAlI) by you (tErE), why then (phir kyO.n) have I become (huI mai.n) an outsider (parAyI)? Ages (jug) have passed (bItE) without my receiving any letter (chiTTHiyA nA pAtI), nor has anyone (nA kOI) come (AyE) from my natal home (naihar sE).

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Filed under Asha Bhonsle, Bollywood 60's Music

Tatvamariya Tarama

GaneshaToday my thoughts are running to a war that millions of people wage with themselves; a secret war, unspoken of, which every one of us has faced at one time or the other. I am speaking of our battles against a sense of inadequacy. Falling short of other people’s expectations is bad enough but when we fall short of our own standards, that is really difficult to deal with. The nature of such failure is that it can be seldom talked about openly; it lies dormant, a dirty secret which poisons our thoughts and behaviour in innumerable ways.

Take the inadequacy that millions feel regarding the way they look. Shallow, perhaps. but so very core to the sense of ‘I’ in all of us. I consider myself to be not at all superficial, but I can’t remember a day in my adult life when I have not worried about my rather plump form and ways to shed the ever-increasing excess weight. I doubt if I am alone in this. When this sense of inadequacy blows out of proportion, it leads to problems like bulimia or anorexia, self-mutilation, seeking the plastic surgeon’s scalpel etc. Most people however just learn to live with this feeling of inadequacy.

The same sense of being suboptimal regarding one’s financial, social or academic status is, no doubt, equally prevalent. I guess a certain level of insecurity acts as an incentive to work harder, to strive and achieve. But is it not also the seed which turns some others into crooked ways, be it cheating or bribery, embezzlement or plain thievery? The same sense of inadequacy turns some into snobs and others into sycophants, some into bullies and other into the bullied.

What about moral inadequacy? How many of us tell ourselves that we are not ‘good’ enough? How many constantly bring up their old wrongdoings in their mind, never forgiving themselves for their own slips?

Let me present an imagined scale of human morality Morality Scaleas a bell curve. At the bottom end, section 1 is filled with the pits of humanity, from ethnic cleansers like Hitler, pillagers like Attila the Hun, murderers, violent dacoits, rapists, child molesters, torturers and all those who thrive on violence. Section 2 is more populous, made of non-violent criminals, bribe takers, dirty and greedy politicians, con artists and such. Section 3 is the most populous with ordinary people who are saddled with the common human weaknesses such as greed, selfishness, envy, anger and laziness. All these weaknesses are still capable of harming others. Section 4 are the ones who have controlled these weaknesses to a large extent and also strive to help others, are thoughtful, charitable, forgiving, ethical, moral. Section 5 are those who devote themselves to the betterment of humanity in any way they can, either through charitable work, intellectual and creative endeavours or devotion to God. Where do you stand on the scale? I ask myself this question when a sense of moral inadequacy overtakes me. And I tell myself, ‘Average+ is ok! There is hope!’. But the truth is, I think I was a better human being at 10 than I am 55. So was this life a waste? sigh!

So you see, I am in perfect sympathy with Papanasam Sivan when he writes ‘Am I worthy of understanding your reality?’. Calling himself a hard hearted villain and saying that he has no Satvik qualities seems a bit harsh though. Seems to me that he is suffering from a bout of moral inadequacy! He seems to forget what our scriptures and epics say again and again – that it is possible for the basest of beings to achieve the grace of God. Think of Valmiki, surely he belonged to the bottom pile of my bell-curve before he redeemed himself? Whatever the sense of inadequacy we all battle with, we are ALL still in the running for God’s forgiveness and grace, and with that, the understanding of His truth. See footnote for lyrics and translation.

To present this wonderful song in Raga Ritigowla, I have selected two renditions for you to listen to. The first is by Trichur Ramachandran whose unique voice adds even more beauty to Ritigowla.

Alternate Link : Click here

The second is by O.S.Thyagarajan. I noticed that I had not featured this illustrious artist so far, a sad oversight on my part. So here he is.

Alternate Link : Click here and download song number 2 (needs free membership to Sangeethamshare.org)

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
தத்வமரிய தரமா (நின் )
மூலாதார கணபதே சுரபதே உனது

அனுபல்லவி
சத்வ குணமும் ஜீவ தயையும் ஞானமும்
சற்றும் இல்லாத  கிராதனுக்கு உனது

சரணம்
மதுர பரிபூர்ண மோதக கரனே
மகா விக்ன வன குடார வரனே
நிதியோன்பதும் அன்பர்க்கருள் பரனே
நிகில சராசர பீஜான்குரனே
மதிசேகரன் மகனே சுமுகனே
மத வாரண  முகனே
சுருதி  முடி  உணர்வருள் சித்பரனே*
குக சோதரனே  ராமதாசனக்குனது

* uncertain about this line

Transliteration

Note : For some Sanskrit words are used, I have preferred to transliterate them in their original Sanskrit pronunciation rather than the Tamil one in common usage!

pallavi
tatvamariya taramA (nin)
mUlAdhAra gaNapatE surapatE unadu

anupallavi
satva guNamum jIva dayaiyum jñAnamum
saTTRum illAda kirAdanukku unadu

charaNam
madhura paripUrNa mOdaka karanE
mahA vighna vana kuTHAra varanE
nidhiyonbadum anbarkkaruL paranE
nikhila charAchara bIjAnkuranE
madishEkharan maganE sumuganE
madavAraNa muganE
shruti muDi uNarvaruL chitparanE
guha sOdaranE rAmadAsanukkunadu

Translation

Am I worthy (taramA) of understanding (ariya)  your (nin)  truth / reality (tatvam)? Oh Lord of the Ganas (gaNa patE), Lord of the Suras (sura patE), O Lord of the Mooladhara chakra (or the support (AdhAra) for the origin (mUla)), your (unadu) truth (continuation meaning from first line).

Is this hard-hearted villain (kirAtan)  who is totally without (chaTRum illAda) Satvik qualities (satva guNam), compassion (dayA) for other (implied) beings (jIva) and higher knowledge (jñAna) worthy of understanding your truth (from pallavi)?

O one who holds (karanE) the Modaka sweetmeat which is saturated (paripUrNa) with sweetness (madhura)! O the excellent (varanE) wielder (implied) of the axe (kuTHAra) against (implied) the great (mahA) forest (vana) of obstacles (vighna)! O God (paranE) who blesses (aruL) his devotees (aNbar) with the nine (onbadu) treasures (nidhi) (this refers to the nine treasures of Kubera)! O Seed and Sprout (bIjAnkura) of the entire (nikhila) world (charAchara, literally that which moves (chara) and that which does not (achara))! O son (maganE) of Shiva (madishEkhara)! O benign one (sumuganE) ! O one with the face (muganE) of a proud (mada) elephant (vAraNa)! O Supreme Spirit (chitparanE) who blesses with the realisation of (uNar varRuL) the last sound (shruti muDi) (I am uncertain about shruti muDi). O brother (sOdaranE) of Guha! Is this (implied) RamadAsan (signature) worthy of understanding (implied from pallavi) your (unadu) truth/reality (from pallavi).

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Filed under Artist, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, O.S.Thyararajan, Papanasam Sivan, Trichur V.Ramachandran