It was in December. My sister and her husband had come for a visit and we had gone to see the Christmas markets in Nuremberg and Munich. It was a long drive back and I fell asleep in the car. When I woke, I found myself humming ‘Kanda Naal Mudalaay’.
My sister said “ Oh, so you were not asleep after all?”.
I replied, still dazed by my deep sleep “But I was fast asleep! Was this song playing ?” .
It wasn’t. But they had been playing some other song in the same Raga Madhuvanti. Even in my sleep, the raga had infiltrated my subconscious and left me with a very strong urge to listen to Kanda Naal Mudalaay. In fact, the first thing I did the next morning was to search out the song on my music player to listen to it a few times until the urge was satiated! How strangely the mind works!
I will take the opportunity today to bring your attention to an interesting literary device, the Sakhi. It is quite common in Indian literature for the Nayika, the heroine, to express her emotions to a Sakhi, a female friend. These female friends of the heroine often play an important role. Within the fiction, they play the role of a playmate, friend and advisor, acting at times as a go-between for the heroine and the hero. They also act as a support for the heroine when she is troubled. As a literary device, they are important for us – the audience – to know the thoughts of the heroine, especially in plays. In a spiritual context, the Sakhi is seen as the bridge between us humans and the divine.
In this song, though the word Sakhi is not used, it is evident by the form of the verb that the Nayika is telling the story of her love at first sight to a female friend. “From the day I saw him”, she says “my love overflows for Kandan, my beloved, who gave me such pleasure in the spring garden where the bees were buzzing”. Note the beautiful alliteration used by the poet here with Kandan and Kaanthan. The Nayika goes on to say “My heart has not forgotten the blue peacock (which Lord Murugan rides) nor has that love mixed with affection faded”. How romantic! For full lyrics, see footnote.
The song is composed by N.C.Chidambaram in the Raga Madhuvanti (click here to know more about this raga). I have chosen a rendition by Bombay Jayashri whose lovely voice suits sweet and romantic songs like this.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
கண்ட நாள் முதலாய் காதல் பெறுகுதடி
கையினில் வேல் பிடித்த கருணை சிவ பாலனை (கண்ட நாள்)
வண்டிசை பாடும் எழில் வசந்த பூங்காவில்
அந்த/வந்து சுகம் தந்த கந்தனை (என்) காந்தனை (கண்ட நாள்)
நீல மயில்தனை நெஞ்சமும் மறக்கவில்லை
நேசமுடன் கலந்த/தந்த பாசமும் மறையவில்லை
கோல குமரன் மன கோயிலில் இறங்கி விட்டான்
குறு நகை தனை காட்டி நறு மலர் சூட்டி விட்டான் (கண்ட நாள்)
kaNDa naaL mudalaay kaadal perugudaDi
kaiyinil vEl piDitta karuNai shiva baalanai (kaNDa naaL)
vanDisai paaDum ezhil vasanta poongavil
anda/vandu sugam tanda kandanai en kaantanai (kaNDa naaL)
neelamaiyil tanai nenjamum marakkavillai
nEsamudan kalanda/tanda paasamum maraiyavillai
kOla kumaran mana kOyilil irangi viTTan
kurunagai tanai kaaTTi naru malar sooTTi viTTaan (kaNDanaaL)
Since the day I saw him, my love overflows for him who holds the spear in his hand, the son of the compassionate Shiva.
He, my beloved, who gave me such pleasure in the spring garden where the bees were buzzing.
Neither has my heart forgotten the blue peacock (the one that Lord Murugan rides), nor has the love mixed with affection faded. He has settled into the temple of my heart and with just a small smile, he has placed a fragrant flower (of love) on me.