Chakkani Raja

O Mind, when a beautiful path to salvation is available, why should you take the by-lanesWhen thick creamy milk is there, why do you want toddy?

MDRIn a recent conversation with my sister, she mentioned that she very much enjoyed the Raga Kharaharapriya. It got me thinking. Why do we respond to certain ragas and not to others? There are ragas which still me, whatever I am doing. My family does not find it odd to find me standing in the middle of room, eyes far away, senses alert and focused as I let my spirit absorb a phrase, a note.  Some ragas catch my attention whenever they are played, others depends on my mood. I don’t always respond to Kharaharapriya but when it is sung well, it can be deeply moving. The raga demands an unhurried mind; the longer you listen to it, the better it feels. To know more about this raga, click here.

When the beautiful path to salvation is available, why should you take the by-lanes?’ says Tyagaraja. ‘When thick creamy milk is there, why do you want toddy?’  Is the poet-composer addressing the song to himself or us? He says ‘O Manasa’‘O Mind’ so perhaps it is addressed to himself but it is also addressed to to all of us who have strayed from the path of devotion and salvation. See footnote for lyrics and translation.

I will take this opportunity to present another great musician from yesteryears. M.D.Ramanathan (1923-1984). came from an illustrious Guru Parampara with an impeccable musical lineage. He was a gifted child and trained under his father until he went to Kalakshetra to train under Tiger Varadachariar. Later he was to become the principal of the same institute. He was also a composer, writing more than 300 kritis in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. He won many awards and accolades, including the Padmashri in 1974. His beautifully deep and resonant voice and a relaxed style of singing was unique. He is a voice of my childhood as my father enjoyed MDR’s music very much and his voice was often heard booming out of our tape recorder. For the sake of readers with limited time, I offer below only the sahityam performed by M.D.Ramanathan.

However, this raga is meant to be heard leisurely and I very much enjoy the 52 minute detailed rendition by Aruna Sairam. Click  here to listen.

Footnote (Lyrics) :
चक्कनि राज मार्गमुलुण्डग
सन्दुल दूरनेल ओ मनसा

चिक्कनि पालु मीगडयुण्डग
छीयनु गंगा-सागरमेले

कण्टिकि सुन्दर तरमगु रूपमे
मुक्कण्टि नोट चॆलगे नाममे
त्यागराजिण्टने नॆलकोन्नादि दैवमे
यिटुवण्टि श्री साकेत रामुनि भक्तियने

chakkani rAja mArgamuluNDaga
sandula dUranEla O manasA

chikkani pAlu mIgaDayuNDaga
chIyanu gangA sAgaramElE

kaNTiki sundara taramagu rUpamE
mukkaNTi nOTa chelagE nAmamE
tyAgarAjiNTanE nelakonnAdi daivamE
yiTuvaNTi SrI sAkEta rAmuni bhaktiyanE

Translation :

O Mind, when the beautiful path to salvation is available, why should you take the by-lanes?

When thick creamy milk is there, why do you want toddy?

When you can feast your eyes on the beautiful  form of Sri Rama, when Lord Shiva himself is eternally chanting His name, the God who has graced the abode of Tyagaraja, to such a Lord of Saketa, (implied-there is a royal path) called devotion.

For notation and word by word translation, click here.


Filed under Aruna Sairam, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, M.D.Ramanathan, Tyagaraja

11 responses to “Chakkani Raja

  1. Filmbuff

    I am not so knowledgable about ragas etc although i love to listen to carnatic music. However I found that i liked particular compositions – when i listed them to my friend( trained in carnatic music by MLV )said that all those songs were in saveri ragam. So I guess i am enamoured by saveri ragam!

    BTW, Suja, I am still on hols, hence the luxury of listening to your clips and reading your posts. U may be wondering about several comments from me!

    • I hope you are enjoying your holidays 🙂 So you like Saveri? I do too, it somehow sounds so very traditionally South-Indian, doesn’t it? I love Muruga Muruga Endral Urugado Undan Ullam especially. I think the word Urugado is appropriately written – this is a raga which makes one’s heart melt!

      • Filmbuff

        i will list some of the songs i like in saveri ragam some other time as i have to now log off and cook as i am expecting a friend for dinner!

        I am very fond of hindustani music too esp the various ragas for various seasons and times of the day. So many things to enjoy so little time!

  2. Thank you for your post. I can now listen to Aruna Sairam’s 52 (!) min long version rather than the distilled 8 min version on youtube. I’ve been listening to it nearly continuously since I found it a few days ago, now getting familiar with the swarams.


    • I am glad you are enjoying the 52 min version 🙂 I think in general that it is only by listening to extended renditions of a raga one is able to appreciate it truly. I love Aruna Sairam’s rendition, I have heard it so many times that I catch myself doing ‘predictive’ singing along with it! And yes, it is certainly moving.

      Another great rendition which I like equally is Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s – its equally long. I have uploaded it here : Alapanai Kriti . Enjoy!

  3. I think this is among the most beautiful ragams in Carnatic music, by the way. Very moving.

  4. Karaharapriya is like a loakamatha, mother to many other ragas

    • Thank you for your kind comment! Indeed Kharaharapriya has an incredibly large list of janya ragas, some of them stalwart pillars of Carnatic Music such as Abheri, Madhyamavati, Reetigowla etc and others which I count as my perennial favourites like Kapi, Brindavana Saranga, Shivaranjani.
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Sulakshana

    I’m slowly learning to recognize ragas. Karaharapriya has been THE discovery of this year. I’ve heard Samanamevaru and Okaparikokapari before but this year listening to TMK sing Janakipathe totally hooked me till I’d learned all the lyrics and was able to sing a passable (for my ear!) version. It makes me just plain happy whenever I sing/hear it.

    • How lovely that you are being able to sing the ragas you love! I have no voice at all, and loving music as I do it’s so sad isn’t it! Ah well, I tell myself that I listen better because I don’t sing but that’s just fooling myself 🙂
      Cheers Suja

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