Narayana (Vishnu) was the family God for my parents, our kula daivam, and His presence was always felt at home. ‘Narayana’ my father would say every time he sneezed or coughed. Or when he was tired. Or when he just wanted to exclaim. कौसल्या सुप्रजा रामा पूर्वा संध्या प्रवर्तते M.S.Subbulakshmi’s voice would boom out early every weekend, singing Venkatesha Suprabhatam, the holy chant to wake Narayana. Morning did not start really without this music.
Thanks to this childhood conditioning, I associate Narayana with mornings and naturally this beautiful composition in the morning raga Bauli strikes a chord. To know more about the raga, click here. When I play Sriman Narayana by Annamacharya (1408-1503), it blows in the gentle breeze of days past long ago in the safe haven of my family home. The composition is in Telugu, click here for the lyrics, notation and translation.
Who else to present today but M.S.Subbulakshmi (1916-2004), the voice of Suprabhatam, one of the most respected Carnatic Music exponents we have had the privilege to co-exist in this world with.
While on this raga, I cannot but mention the ecstatic Brahmam Okate by the same composer, Annamacharya. As a great bhakta of Narayana, he composed many songs on Him. In Brahmam Okate, he declares that there is only one God, that He is present in each one of us, that everyone is equal. A 15th century composition which feels as meaningful today as it was then. For the lyrics and meaning of this song, click here. I present this joyful song from the Telugu movie Annamayya (1997) sung by S.P.Balasubramaniam (unconfirmed).