Kuzhaloodi Manamellam

Krishna MusicI am back today with a song about dancing Gods, a recurring theme in this blog. I cannot quite resist the vision of Shiva dancing his Tandava, galaxies shattering and forming again under the force of His stamping feet, energy and mass weaving one into the other, Him both the creator and the created, both the destroyer and the destroyed, dancing His dance to eternity. Nor can I resist the image of Krishna whirling with his gopikas on moonlit nights in deserted groves, animals stilled and watchful, even the wind stilled,  heavenly music weaving a magic spell, enchanting everyone, He dancing with all we see, in all we see. One is a vision which leaves us spellbound in awe, the other mesmerises by its charm.  So when poets draw me such an image, I am beguiled anew.

Our poet-composer today is Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (c.1700-1765) whom I have featured a number of times already. In this joyful song of Krishna’s dance he says ‘After He has played His flute and stolen my heart, how can I have any grievance?’. I love this contentment which is so very unusual in our devotional poetry. We hear poets often wishing and wanting :  ‘take care of me’, ‘bless me’, ‘show yourself to me’. Despair and contrition is another running thread : ‘forgive me’, ‘am I not worthy?’, ‘I long for you’ they say. Amongst all this, I much admire this poet who takes joy in Krishna’s dance and says he has no complaints, discontent or grievance.  His vision of a dancing Krishna is so beguiling, his notes so joyful that we too can partake in the bliss that the poet has found. Do read the lyrics and translation in the footnote, the poetry is quite charming.

Set to Raga Kambhoji, Kuzhaloodi Manamellam is a well known and well loved song. To more about the raga, click here.

Today I have gone back to the voices of yesteryears, the Bombay Sisters. The style may feel old-fashioned to today’s ears but the music still sounds impeccable.

I had originally chosen Sankaran Namboothiri’s detailed rendition as Kambhoji sounds very good in his rich and powerful voice, but  alas, he has taken too many liberties with the lyrics in the second charanam. If you have the time for listening to him anyway, here is a link.

I hesitated over the instrumental version. I have heard it said that Kambhoji sounds best on the Nadaswaram, and the rendition which appealed best to me today was on the Veena. But given the title of the song, I present Sikkil Mala Chandrashekharan whose gentle handling of this song is very pleasant to hear.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

குழலூதி மனமெல்லாம் கொள்ளை கொண்ட பின்னும்
குறை ஏதும் எனக்கேதடி ( தோழி/சகியே)

அழகான மயிலாடவும்  (மிக)
காற்றில் அசைந்தாடும் கொடி போலவும்

மத்யம கால சாஹித்யம்
அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே
தனைமறந்து புள்ளினம் கூட
அசைந்தாடி மிக இசைந்தோடி வரும்
நலம் காண ஒரு மனம் நாட
தகுமிதி (/தகுமிகு) என ஒரு பதம் பாட
தகிட ததிமி என நடமாட
கன்று பசுவினமும் நின்று புடைசூழ
என்றும் மலரும் முக இறைவன் கனிவோடு

மகர குண்டலம் ஆடவும் (கண்ணன்)
அதற்கேற்ப மகுடம் ஒளி வீசவும்
மிகவும் எழில் ஆகவும்
காற்றில் மிளிரும் கொடி போலவும் (/துகில் ஆடவும் )
(அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே…)

Translieration :

kuzhalUdi manamellAm koLLai koNDa pinnum
kuraiyEdum enakkEdaDi (tozhi/sakiyE)

azhagAna mayilADavum (miga)
kATRil asaindADum koDi pOlavum

madhyama kAla sahityam
agamagizhndulagum nilavoLi tanilE
tanai marandu puLLinam kUDa
asaindADi miga isaindODi varum
nalam kANa oru manam nADa
tagumidi (tagumigu) ena oru padam pADa
takiTa tadimi ena naTamADa
kandru pasuvinamum nindru puDai shUzha
endrum malarum mukha iraivan kanivODu

makara kuNDalam ADavum
adarkErppa makuTam oLi vIsavum
migavum ezhilAgavum
kATril miLirum kodi pOlavum (/tugil Adavum)
(madhyama kala sahityam)


After having stolen (koLLai) all (ellam) my heart (manam) with His flute (kuzhal) playing (oodi, literally blow), what grievance/complaint (kuRai) can I have, my friend?

As a beautiful (azhagAna) peacock (mayil) dances (Adavum), looking like (pola) a creeper (koDi) dancing (asaindADum) in the wind (kATril), I am joyous (agam=self, magizhndu=joyful) in the shining (ilagum) moonlight (niLavoLi). As birds(puL=birds, inam=class/flock) gather (kooDa), forgetting themselves (tanai marandu), as the mind (manam) longs (nADa) to see (kANa) the beauty/delight (nalam) of one who comes running, (oDi varum) dancing (asaindADi)  harmoniously (isaindu), singing (pADa) a padam (a kind of song) like (ena) tagumidi (a rhythm word), dancing (aDa) a dance (naTam) with a rhythm like takita-tadimi (rhythm words), as the calves (kandru) and cows (pasu) stand around in a guard of honour (pudai shUzha), the God (iraivan) whose face (mukha) is always (endrum) flowering (malarum) with a smile (implied), with tenderness (kanivoDu) [having stolen my heart……]

With his fish-shaped earrings (makara kundalam) dancing (Adavum), his crown (makutam) flashing light (oLi vIsavum) appropriately (adarkErppa), with great (miga) beauty (ezhil), like a flag (kodi/tugil) flashing (miLirum) in the wind (kAtril), [I am joyous….]



Filed under Bombay Sisters, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sankaran Namboothiri, Sikkil Mala

11 responses to “Kuzhaloodi Manamellam

  1. JS

    I love this song and used to hear Maharajapuram Santhanam’s version when I was growing up. I had never paid much attention to the words but looking at the words (and meaning) while listening to the song makes it that much more enjoyable. The combination of dance songs and Kamboji reminded me of a Papanasam Sivan song “aadum deivam nee arulvai” and I was going to send it to you but I didn’t see an email link on your website.

    • Me too, I love both Maharajapuram Santhanam’s version as well Sudha Raghunathan’s more light treatment! There are many many songs that I have listened to blindly, without knowing the meaning fully, just enjoying the melody, the raga, the mood – in a country like ours with so many languages it is inevitable, isnt it? But yes, it indeed adds to the pleasure of listening when I understand the words and understand the mood of the composer.

      I have seen Aadum Deivam being danced, but not heard it in a vocal concert..i think not. If you have a good rendition, I’ll be pleased to listen. My email address is in the ‘about’ page, it is sujamusic at live dot com. Cheers. Suja

  2. Nushk

    thanks for the transliteration amma!

    • You are welcome Nushk 🙂 I think I have transliterations in most of my posts – if you come across one without it, remind me 🙂

  3. Filmbuff

    Hey Suja, you have once again featured one of my fav compositions. I think Radha Jayalakshmi have the best rendition of this song. I would highly recommend you listen to RJ’s version of this song! Cheers

    • Hello again 🙂 In fact, I have actually heard a rendition by RJ of this song though I dont often listen to them and yes, they have a very melodic and appealing style, don’t they? I must feature one of their songs one day..Cheers.

  4. shoote

    Suja, This is one of my fav. maharajapuram is my fav. However Bombay sisters comes very near in imitating M.S style.

    • I too am very fond of Maharajapuram Santhanam’s version! However, this time I wanted to feature someone other than Santhanam or Sudha Raghunathan, both their versions being very popular – i though it an opportunity to listen to other artists whom we may not hear that much any more. I think the Bombay Sisters have done great justice to this song.

  5. Ramesh

    Lovely classic song. Never thought about the meaning before, but reading your explanation, the enjoyment is more. Now that you mention it, contentment is indeed not that common in our devotional music.

    I am totally bugged at why my system is not allowing me to listen to your links – Grrrr ! Anyway, I usually manage to trace your recommended version somewhere else on the Net, so OK !

    • True Ramesh, contentment is indeed rare, but it does show up rarely – ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai’ is an another example.

      Now, I wonder what it is which causes problems in your system? Have you tried switching browsers? And can you play it from a direct link like here : http://kiwi6.com/file/8404gboz4e ?

      Cheers. Suja

  6. Hello! Sorry I did not acknowledge your message so far, it had gone into the ‘Spam’ box. I appreciate your interest in my blog, thank you.

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