Pullay Piravi

Even if you give me many virtuous births, please let me be born as a blade of grass in Brindavan, O Krishna. But grass does not last for many days, therefore please let me be re-born as a small stone. As your flower like feet embrace me, I will be filled with joy and forget my existence!

GrassPlease let me be re-born as a blade of grass’ says the poet-composer Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. What a hook!  Any listener would want to hear the rest of the song, just to know why! I am especially drawn to this composition because, like the poet-composer, I too am forever ‘designing’ my next birth!

Of all Hindu concepts, Reincarnation is something I find so very comforting. Simply stated, Hindus believe that the soul, which is indestructible,  is born again and again on this earth shedding bodies as one sheds one’s clothing. The concept of Karma is intertwined; we are tied by good deeds and bad deeds to the souls around us forever trying to erase this Karma debt we carry from life to life.   ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ goes the saying. Apply it to multiple lives and everything at once makes sense, as all of us have known people who seem to sow and sow and never reap (and vice versa)!!

To what purpose then, all these births? It seems to me that each life is a made-to-order grade in a school where our souls come to learn new lessons. In some we succeed and in some we don’t; no matter, we can be born again as many times as is needed. There are no ‘punishments’ for mistakes, just harder lessons to learn. As the soul matures, it becomes ready for Moksha, the release from the cycle of birth and death. At that time, with the grace of God, we are released and our souls merge with God (Advaita philosophy).

So how are we to hasten through this seemingly never ending cycle of life and death? Surely good deeds tie us to this cycle as much as bad deeds, for even good deeds result in Karma debt? Well, we can follow Krishna’s advice to Arjuna

कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भू: मा ते सङ्गोत्स्वकर्मणि ||

You have right only over the act, never over its fruits. Let not the fruits be your motive and yet don’t be attached to inaction.

And if we were to follow the principle of detached virtuous action as described above, perhaps we can hasten our way to Moksha. The only other way is to somehow find the grace of God and for that Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer has found a very innovative idea!

Let me born as a blade of grass or better, a stone in Brindavan’ says he to Lord Krishna in this song. ‘When your feet touch me, I will ascend at once in Moksha’.  What a clever idea! For the full lyrics and translation of this composition, see footnote. The song is set to Raga Senjurutti; to know more about this raga, click here.

I am very fond of Sudha Raghunathan’s rendition of this song from the album Alaipayuthe Kanna which you can listen to below.

Alternate link : Click here.

Another nice rendition is by T.N.Seshagopalan which you can download from here – song 11 (needs free membership of Sangeethamshare.org).


Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி
புல்லாய்ப் பிறவி தர வேணும் – கண்ணா
புனிதமான பலகோடி பிறவி தந்தாலும்
பிருந்தாவனம் இதிலொரு (புல்லாய்)

அனுபல்லவி
புல்லாகினும் நெடு நாள் நில்லாது – ஆதலினால்
கல்லாய்ப் பிறவி தரவேணுமே – ஒரு சிறு
(மத்யமகாலம்)
கமல மலரிணைகள் அணைய எனதுள்ளம்
புலகிதமூற்றிடும் பவமற்றிடுமே
(புல்லாய்)

சரணம்
ஒருகணம் உன் பதம் படும் எந்தன் மேலே
மறுகணம் நான் உயர்வேன் மென்மேலே
(உன் ) திருமேனி என் மேலே அமர்ந்திடும் ஒருகாலே
(மத்யமகாலம்)
திருமகளென மலரடி பெயர்ந்த உன்னைத்
தொடர்ந்த ராதைக்கு இடந்தருவேனே
திசை திசை எங்கணும் பரவிடும் குழலிசை
மயங்கி வரும் பல கோபியருடனே
சிறந்த ரசமிகு நடம் நீ ஆடவும்
சுருதியோடு  லயமிக கலந்து பாடவும்
திளைப்பிலே வரும் களிப்பிலே
எனக்கிணை யாரென மகிழ்வேனே
தவமிகு சுரரோடு முனிவரும் விய நான்
தனித்த பெரும் பேர் அடைவேனே
எவ்வுயிர்க்கும் உள்கலக்கும் இறைவனே
யமுனைத்துறைவனே எனக்கும் ஒரு (புல்லாய்)

pallavI:

pullAi piravi tara vENum-kaNNA
punidamAna palakOTi piravi tandAlum
brindAvanam idiloru

anupallavI:

pullAginum neduNAL nillAdu-AdalinAl
kallAi piravi taravENumE-oru siru
(madhyamakalam)
kamala malariNaigaL aNaiya enaduLLam
pulakitamuTriDum bavamaTriDum ena oru

charaNam:

oru kaNam un padam paDum endan mElE
marukaNam nAn uyarvEn menmElE
tirumEni enmElE amarndiDum oru kAlE
(madhyamakalam)
tirumagaLena malaraDi peyarndu unai
toDarnda rAdhaikkum iDam taruvEnE
dishai dishai enkaNum paraviDum kuzhalisai
mayangi varum pala gOpiyaruDanE
shiranda rasam migu naTam nI ADavum
shrutiyoDu layamiga kalandu pADavum
tiLaippilE varum kaLippilE
enakku iNai yArena magizhvEnE
tavamigu surarodu munivarum iyalA
tanitta perumpEr aDaivEnE
evvuyirkkum uL kalakkum iraivanE
yamunaitturaivanE enakkumoru

Meaning:

Please let me be re-born as a blade of grass, O Krishna.
Even if you give me many virtuous births,
Let me be re-born in Brindavan (as a blade of grass).

But grass does not last for many days,
therefore please let me be re-born as a small stone.
As the flower like pair (of feet) embrace me ,
I will be filled with joy and forget my existence,
therefore (let me be born as a blade of grass).

The moment your feet touch me,
the moment your holy body sits on me,
I will ascend in salvation.
I will make place for Radha who follows you,
whose feet are like those of Lakshmi.

As  the Gopis come from all directions
drawn to the music from your flute,
as you dance with emotion
and at the same time sing tunefully in rhythm,
in the tiredness that comes with effort (implied: you will sit on me and )
I will think joyfully that none is equal to me,
As demi-Gods and sages in penance are amazed,
I will achieve this unique distinction.
Oh God,  you who are in all beings,
Oh Lord of Yamuna (river), please le me be re-born as a blade of
grass.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sudha Raghunathan, T.N.Seshagopalan

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