O Lord whose princely gait is like an elephant! O Lord who protects the lotus like hearts of the pious people! O Lord whose fame transcends time! O Lord who is expert in the nectar-like music arising from the sAma veda! O Virtuous! O Compassionate! Protect me! O Lord who a lamp in the mountain that is music! O Lord in the Yadava clan! O Lord who plays the flute! O Lord who amuses himself by being enchanting! Protect me!
सामज वर गमन ‘He who walks majestically like an elephant’ says Saint Tyagaraja. Like an elephant? It sounds strange in English. One hears of a leonine walk but not of an elephantine one without meaning something derogatory. Yet it seems so right in Sanskrit. A leonine walk implies leashed violence, while an elephant represents power without violence.
Saint Tyagaraja’s ishta devata (preferred God) was Rama but in this kriti he is talking of Krishna. Written in Sanskrit, it is set to the Raga Hindolam (click here to know a bit more about this raga) and is a composition of extraordinary beauty. In a previous post, I had talked of Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. Here Tyagaraja describes Krishna as the Lord of Music. सामनिगमज सुधामय गान विचक्षण : He who is expert in the nectar like music arising from Sama Veda, the Veda (knowledge) of Song.
Tyagaraja goes on to say यादव कुल मुरली वादन विनोद मोहनकर , he born in the Yadava race, player of the flute, who is extraordinarily enchanting. A God who plays enchanting music, how to describe him but in enchanting music? And who else to present but a flautist?
So today’s piece of music is from N.Ramani, flautist extraordinaire. There is a alapanai (improvised exploration of the raga) followed by the composition which starts min 12:12.
For a vocal version, listen to M.D.Ramanathan below. I think that his deep voice and extremely slow rendition suits this song very well indeed.
In the simply superb Telugu movie Shankarabharanam (1979), this song is presented with the pallavi and anupallavi (first part of song) from the original by Tyagaraja and the charanams (stanzas) written for the movie in Telugu by lyricist Veturi Sundararama Murthy (1936-2010). The singers are S.Janaki and S.P.Balasubramaniam. SPB sounds divine and won the National Award for another song in the same film. K.V.Mahadevan, the music director, also won the National Award for his work in this film.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
सामज वर गमन साधु हृत्
सारसाब्ज पाल कालातीत विख्यात
साम निगमज सुधामय गान विचक्षण
गुणशील दयालवाल माम् पालय
वॆदशिरॊ मातृज सप्त स्वर
नादाचल दीप स्वीकृत
यादवकुल मुरली (गान)वादन
विनॊद मॊहन कर, त्यागराज वन्दनीय
sAmaja vara gamana sAdhu hrut
sArasAbja pAla kAlAtIta vikhyAta
sAma nigamaja sudhAmaya gAna vichakshaNa
guNashIla dayAlavAla mAm pAlaya
veda shiro mAtRja sapta swara
nAdaachala dIpa svIkRta
yAdavakula muralI (gAna) vAdana
vinoda mohana kara tyAgarAja vandanIya
O Lord whose princely gait is like an elephant! O Lord who protects the lotus like hearts of the pious people! O Lord whose fame transcends time!
O Lord who is expert in the nectar-like music arising from the sAma veda! O Virtuous! O Compassionate! Protect me.
O Lord who a lamp in the mountain that is music, consisting of seven notes, born of Om (mother of the head of Vedas)! O Lord who accepted to be born in the Yadava clan! O Lord who plays the flute! O Lord who amuses himself by being enchanting! O Lord worshipped by Tyagaraja!
You can find the notation here.