Netru Varen Endru

Sorry, this post has been invalidated because the video I featured has been removed from Youtube for copyright infringement and I cannot find a replacement. I would like to note how disappointed I am with the copyright owners for this. Surely there is no great loss in revenue for them if extracts from old TV programs are recorded and shown by others? What use are they making of this video now? It is just gathering dust in some archive, and will remain unseen forever. Instead it could have given pleasure to so many. Disappointing! The lyrics are still valid and I suggest you listen to Bombay Jayashri’s extraordinarily beautiful rending here.

Bhargavi Gopalan Netru Varen

Seeing that I have not featured a dance song for a long time, I have selected this lovely Padam to present to you today.

Padams are a form of Telugu and Tamil musical compositions which are romantic and beautifully descriptive.   As with Bhakti music, the songs are written from a female perspective,  the Nayika representing a devotee with God as her lover.   While Bhakti poetry tends to be about the viraha bhava, the grief, the torment and the desperation of a woman who waits for union with her love, Padams are about a woman who has experienced an erotic union and expresses it boldly. She might be a courtesan or a woman having an extra-marital fling or even a wife but she is always sensual and passionate, more open and powerful than the nayika of Bhakti music, more in control. In fact it is God, the nayaka, who seems less in control. While the Padams from 16th-17th century tend to be openly erotic, the Padams from 18th-19th century tend to be less explicit.

Generally Padams are sung in a slow tempo with a lot of emotion. They are ideal for Bharatnatyam; the dancer has the opportunity to display her skills in the Nritya aspect of dancing i.e. focusing on expressing sentiment and mood.

Netru Varen Endru is  a Tamil Padam by the late 19th century poet Subbarama Iyer. It is set to one of my favourite ragas, Pantuvarali, also called Kamavardani. In this Padam, the Nayika is talking to her female friend and confidante. She says  ‘He who told me so sweetly that  that he would come yesterday, has yet to come even today! How I regret not taking full advantage of his presence the other day, my friend! At dusk the other day, when I was beside the stream, he came and surprised me in an embrace. On seeing his flawless red-gold body, I was enchanted into ecstasy, my friend’.

To know more about this raga, click here.

I present you with Bhargavi Gopalan’s interpretation of this song in the video below. For the sake of those not versed with the symbolisms of Bharatanatyam, here is a description of the dance.

The Nayika is stringing together a garland of flowers, and garland in hand, she awaits her lover. Garlanding a man is a symbol of a woman choosing her mate; this Nayika has chosen her man. It is dusk, she sets a lamp and waits. Why hasn’t he come? She puzzles. Evening has come and the birds are flying past, and he is still not there. Remembering the other day when they met, the dancer takes in turn the part of the Nayika, a little shy and sweet, her head shaking a ‘no’  but her eyes saying a ‘ yes’, and the Nayaka, confident, direct, seductive. She remembers asking him to promise to come back, holding out her hand, and he claps his hand on hers, sealing the promise. She remembers when she went to the stream, holding a water-pot to her side. Pushing away the stagnant water with her foot, she bends to fill her pot. She is distracted with the lotuses and is playing with the flowers when he comes from behind and embraces her. On seeing his beautiful body, she rubs her eyes in disbelief – how flawless is he! She embraces him and  and  loses herself in ecstasy. As she awaits him today, she thinks that when he comes, she would draw him to sit down, fan him and give him a drink. But why isn’t he coming? She waits.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

(As I did not find a reliable reference, I have transcribed from the performance above and verified with Bombay Jayashri’s detailed rendition. As always there are differences and I have transcribed both versions below.)

நேற்று வரேன் என்று நயமிகப் பேசினவன்  ( /பேசி அவன் )
இந்நாளும் வரக் காணேனே – என் தோழி

காற்றுள்ள போதே நான் தூற்றிக் கொள்ளாமலே
தோற்றம் மறைந்த பின் திகைக்கின்றேன் (/திகைக்கிறேன்)  – என் தோழி

சரணம் 1
ஆற்றம் கறை தனிலே அந்திப் பொழுதினிலே
யாரும் அறியாமலே அணைத்தான் என் தேவன்  (/அணைத்தார் அடி என் தோழி )

சரணம் 2
மாசில்லா (/மாற்றறியா) செம் பொன் மேனியைக் கண்டு (நான்)
மயங்கி பரவசம் அடைந்தேன் (/அவர் கைவசம் ஆனேனே  ) – என் தோழி

Transliteration :

nETru varEn endru nayamigap-pEsinavan (/ pesi avan)
innALum varak-kANEne, en tOzhi
kaTruLLa pOde nAn tUTrik-koLLAmalE
tOTram marainda pin tigaikkindrEn (/tigaikkiren) en tOzhi
Charanam 1
ATram karai tanilE andip-pozhudinile
yArum ariyAmale aNaittAn en dEvan (/aNaittar en dEvan)
Charanam 2
masilla (/maTrariya) sempon mEniyaik-kaNDu (nAn)
mayangi paravasam adaindEn (avar vasam anEnE) en tOzhi

Translation :

Having said that he would come yesterday, he has yet to arrive, my friend.

Not having taken advantage when he was here, (literally : instead of winnowing when the wind was there ie. making hay when the sun shines) how I suffer now!

At dusk, beside the stream, he came and embraced me without anyone knowing.

Seeing his flawless red-gold body, I lost myself in ecstasy (alternate : I became his)


Filed under Bhargavi Gopalan, Carnatic Music, Classical Dance, Compositions in Tamil, Subbarama Iyer

14 responses to “Netru Varen Endru

  1. Ramesh

    Much impressed by the amount of trouble you go through to research for your post – hearing multiple versions to get the transcribing right is amazing. Your blog is a delight to follow, not only for the music but also for the exposition, the meaning and the significance behind the song. Many music experts become extremely technical so much so that it dissuades casual listeners such as me. Your blog is different . Want to compliment you for a real classy effort.

    • Thank you Ramesh for your compliments, they are much appreciated 🙂 As to taking the trouble, I suppose I come from the old-fashioned thinking that anything worth doing is worth doing as well as one can! Plus I have a naturally academic bent of mind, I take pleasure in the research I do 🙂

      I also think that you enjoy my posts because we may both come from the same spectrum of audience – those who wish to be an intelligent and aware audience, gathering information only to an extent which enhances listening pleasure and not aspiring for any expertise, looking for breadth of understanding rather than depth. We must be a sad minority, my blog doesn’t get much of an audience you know, only a hundred or so visitors a day.. But I will be the first to admit that I write for my own pleasure, not for readership. But thank you again, its nice to know that there are at least a few people who share my interests 🙂

  2. jchicago

    What a treasure your site is! I am a bit partial to your Carnatic posts but each and every one is so well researched without getting too overwhelming. I love how you approach every song – first capturing the mood of the song and then delving into the raga and giving the reader various takes by different musicians on the same raga. Thanks! I really enjoyed the lecture demo on this one.

    • Thank you JS for your lovely compliment, I am very glad that my blog touches the right chord with you 🙂 What more can a blogger want? Cheers, Suja

  3. shoote

    Suja, thanks for a guided tour of padam in Bharatha Natiyam. I was reminded of a beautiful piece of bharatha natiyum piece by Padmini and Ragini for the song kathiruppan kamalakannan from movie Uthamaputhiran(1958).

    • Thank you, I dont feature dances very often but I do enjoy them very much 🙂 I am currently travelling around small towns in France but when I’m back home I will look up the dance you mention, I am not familiar with it.

  4. Narasimha Raj

    Suja, I’m glad that this morning I perused your ‘blog-posts’ on Classical Dance.
    Dance & Music, as a pair, complement/embellish each other!
    After I watched Bhargavi Gopalan dance, interpreting the song ‘Netru Varen Endru . .”, my mind/eyes went to watching the DVD of my dear 16 years old grand-daughter perform her Bharatanatyam Arangetram on August 18, 2012 at Houston-TX. (I missed being present there – as , being on the threshold of turning 80, I lacked the strength & stamina to travel the long distance to Houston from here in Margao-Goa where I stay.)
    Coming back to my grand-daughter’s captivating performance, one of the dances was an interpretation of Purandaradasa Kriti – “Aadahodalle Aadikombaru, nodamma . .” (the little boy Krishna narrates his own childhood & ‘antics’, to his mother Yashoda, in the form of complaints about his play-mates talking about them) I was (as were those in the audience during her live performance) mesmerized by her classic ‘Abhinaya’ !
    She ended her Arangetram with interpretation of Namadeva’s Abhang “Pandhari Nivasa Sakya Panduranga. .”, which she herself had choreographed.
    All through, she had truly followed the guide-lines of Bharata Muni, which said :
    “Yato Hasta Stato Drushti;
    Yato Drushti Stato Manaha;
    Yato Manaha Stato Bhavam;
    Yato Bhavam Stato Rasaha”
    (These guidelines apply for good performance in any field!)
    Her performance was in consonance with what you’ve said – “anything worth doing is worth doing as well as one can!”
    My grand-daughter has planned for her debut of Carnatic Music performance in mid 2014. God Bless the kid.
    I look forward to more on Classical Dance – from you – please.
    God Bless you.

    • Congratulations to your family on your granddaughters arangetram.I am very happy to hear that both your grandson and granddaughter are students of art forms in addition to their other careers/studies. It is especially notable since they do not live in India and access to teachers may not be that easy. Credit goes to the children who follow what may at times seem an alien culture to them, as well as to the parents who have inculcated the love of arts and given the support to follow it. I will of course do posts on dances from time to time, as something catches my interest 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Narasimha Raj

    Mar.08, 2013

    Suja, Hearty Greetings on International Women’s Day. You have truly been ‘an International’ – by travel, residence, interests & sharing! More so, there is the element of ‘International’ in your Music To My Ears! You are an ‘Achiever’ in your chosen interest! Keep it up.

    Now, the other day I was chatting on phone with my grandson who is in Atlanta. I think I had mentioned earlier that he practices/plays Tabla as hobby/interest while he pursues his Medical Studies. He mentioned that he liked the Interview of Zakir Hussain – reported in ‘The Hindu” and asked me whether he had told me of his meeting Zakir Hussain in 2005. When I said ‘no’, this is what he related, and I QUOTE his words :
    “My Mom & Dad had taken me to the Tabla Concert by Zakir Hussain in Houston-TX, mid May2005 (I was 15 then). I was thrilled and hoped I could meet him some time. As if my ‘wish’ was heard, Dr.Shankar – a friend of our family – took me the next day, at 7.30 P.M., to a get-together at his friends place. A large number of guests were there in the spacious hall of the residence of the ‘host’.
    It must have been around 8.15. P.M. when in walked Zakir Hussain – wearing a much-worn pair of jeans and a baggy T-shirt covered his torso. Ustad Sultan Khan – the famous Sarangi player who accompanied Zakir Hussain at the other night’s Concert – walked in by his side. I lost no time in running forward and stood in front of Zakir Hussain – beaming a large smile and announced my name and awkwardly said ‘I play Tabla’. Zakir Hussain looked at me and with a smile told me ‘Oh, is that so? I too play Tabla. I like you name. Are you performing a concert?’(Obviously, he asked because I was wearing a well-pressed Lucknowi Pyjama-Kurta). I mumbled ‘no’, and then I bent to touch his feet. The Ustad stopped me and said, ‘hey, I walk with my feet, but I play the Tabla with my fingers. So why don’t you touch my fingers’? I quickly did that and felt ‘vibrations’ passing into my fingers – a feeling I get every time I practice/play Tabla.
    Of course, the Ustad was at the ‘Party’ as a guest and not to play Tabla for the guests! He mixed freely with all the guests and it was a pleasure to listen to his knowledgeable & pleasant conversation with the guests, as I followed him wherever he went. He left the ‘Party’ – along with Ustad Sultan Khan – around 10.30 P.M. Of course, before he left, I touched the feet of Ustad Zakir Hussain”.
    I could feel the ‘thrill’ of my grandson as he related his meeting the Ustad! I can understand why Ustad Zakir Hussain is Tabla-God for my

    God Bless you.

    • Hello Raj, Thank you for your greetings and your even more kind words 🙂

      What an interesting anecdote you have related! It is very good of Zakir Hussain to have been so kind to your grandson; sometimes meeting celebrities can be a disappointment but evidently this meeting has inspired your grandson. The sarangi player Sultan Khan is also very talented, in fact I loved listening to his albim called Piya Basanti in which he sang with Chitra. A lovely album, his rustic voice adding lustre to the pure brilliance of Chitra’s vocal chords!

      Cheers. Suja

  6. Narasimha Raj

    Suja, I had missed sending you the link to an interesting Face-t-Face feature on BBC – sent by my grandson. The interview gives and insight of the Ustad – the man & his makings/make-up. Here is the link :

    God Bless U.

  7. S.Narasimha Raj

    ‘ . . . those who wish to be an intelligent and aware audience, gathering information only to an extent which enhances listening pleasure and not aspiring for any expertise, looking for breadth of understanding rather than depth. . . . . . . .But I will be the first to admit that I write for my own pleasure, not for readership.’
    I revisited your ‘blogs on Dance’ – hoping to find new additions, but didn’t find any. I appreciate and accept your saying “But I will be the first to admit that I write for my own pleasure, not for readership”. Yes, it is YOUR ‘blog site’ – to write about what wish to. However, I can’t resist expressing what I feel. Here it goes :
    I think that with Music and Dance having a common-factor called ‘RHYTHM’ – making them ‘siblings or first-cousins’ – DANCE blogs are getting a raw deal, while you are inclined more towards ‘blogs’ on Travel (travelogue)l. In short, how about more on DANCE/Dancers?
    Best Wishes.

    • Hello Raj, To tell the truth, I do browse Youtube every now and then to see what new dance videos are loaded but I am seldom inspired to write about what I see. Sometimes the quality of is poor, at other times it is the performance, the accompanying musician or myriad other things which bother me. I am very particular about the dance I like, and I often don’t find what I want. And as I said before, I cannot force myself to write on what doesn’t appeal to me. However I take your point and will continue to watch out for good videos which can be used in my blog. Music remains my first love but travel blogging and travel photography is something which I am passionate about and I am sure that it will to take up considerable amount of my time 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

      • S.Narasimha Raj

        ” . . . photography is something which I am passionate about .. ”
        Suja, I entirely appreciate what you’ve said – about DANCE. Yes, feels ‘compelled’ in order to like-write-share’!
        As for your photography, travelogue, I say – without reservations – they are SUPERB. I am glad to tell you that I too have a ‘passion-for-photography’ – a ‘passion’ which has had me hooked-on-to since I got my first Kodak Box Camera (costing Rs.15/-) way back in 1946. I ‘graduated’ to using my phone-camera since 2008.
        Wish you Happy Travels and trigger-happy-times with your camera – when you are not busy listening to Music & writing about it.
        Best Wishes.

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