Paal Vadiyum Mugam

Krishna Baby2God is in everything. So say Hindu philosophers.  तत् त्वं असि – Thou art that, they say with great conviction. Poets have sung of this. सर्वं ब्रह्ममयं – everything is infused by God sang Sadashiva Brahmendra with even more conviction. Kabir has written that God is within each of us. जैसे तिल में तेल है, ज्यूं चकमक में आग , तेरा साईं तुझमे है, तू जाग सके तो जाग – Like there is oil inside the sesame seed, like there is fire within the flint stone, your God is within you, awake if you can wake. So if we look around us, we should see God in all and the great universality of everything in us and us in everything, right?

Easier said than done! I often wonder, how did the Saints do it? Is it like looking at the clouds and seeing shapes within? We look at the world around us and look for the shape of God to emerge? It seems doable with nature at times. When I see the beauty of great mountains, the sheer magnitude of the Niagara, the power of a thunderstorm – I can convince myself that I can see the hand of God.

It is even feasible to feel at one with inanimate things.  I sometimes confront the potato that I am chopping for dinner with a statement such as ‘what you call ‘I’ today, will soon be part of me, my body. You and I are one’. I am even known to declaim to the glass of water before I drink it ‘You were ocean, you were cloud, you were rain, you were other beings, and now you shall be me!’. And no, to those who are curious about the state of my sanity, neither the potato nor the glass of water have replied so far! So the inanimate, that I can do. But to see myself or God in all beings? Even in that idiot who took two parking places to park his tiny car so that I had to go in circles trying to find a spot? Is it possible? How did the Saints do it?

So it is with great interest that I pored over Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer’s song in which he says he sees Krishna everywhere. He writes ‘Whenever I see anything my thoughts go nowhere except your innocent face’. He provides examples : ‘When sometimes I am drawn to look at the line of the horizon, your tranquil face comes to mind!’ and ‘ Even when I find meaning in the song of a cuckoo, the music of your flute enchants me!’. So if I understand correctly, whatever he does, his mind and thoughts keep being drawn towards Krishna. He is not attesting to the fact that he sees Krishna everywhere, but to the fact that he himself can think of no other than Krishna. Is that the way then?

I will let you ponder the question if it interests you. For me, I will just take pleasure in this beautiful song, enjoying the enchanting and evocative images drawn by the poet-composer and marvelling at its foot-tapping brisk melody. Oh how I remember my mother today! She used to sing this song happily to herself while pottering busily in the kitchen. So it is my dearest mother I hear in this song, not the flute of Krishna! Set to raga Nattakurinji, this is a perennial favourite. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I  have chosen a rendition by the great Maharajapuram Santhanam.

For an instrumental version, listen to this interesting Veena rendition by R.Jayanthi with a flute interlude as well as solkattu (vocal percussion) in places.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
பால்வடியும் முகம்
நினைந்து நினைந்தென் உள்ளம்
பரவச மிக வாகுதே (கண்ணா)

அனுபல்லவி
நீலக்கடல் போலும் நிறத்தழகா -கண்ணா
எந்தன் நெஞ்சம் குடி கொண்டு
அன்று முதல் இன்றும்
எந்த பொருள் கண்டும்
சிந்தனை    செல்லாதொழிய (பால்வடியும்)

சரணம்
வான முகட்டில் சட்று
மனம் வந்து நோக்கினும்
(உன்) மோன முகம் வந்து தோனுதே

தெளிவான தண்ணீர் தடத்தில்
சிந்தனை மாறினும்
(உன்) சிரித்த முகம் வந்து காணுதே

கானக் குயில் குரலில்
கருத்(து) அமைந்திடினும் (அங்கு)
உன் கான குழலோசை மயக்குதே

கருத்த குழலொடு நிறுத்த மயிலிற-
கிறுக்கி அமைத்த திறத்திலே
கான மயிலாடும் மோனக்குயில் பாடும்
நீல நதியோடும் வனத்திலே

குழல் முதல் எழிலிசை குழைய வரும் இசையில்
குழலொடு மிளிர் இளங் கரத்திலே
கதிரும் மதியும் என நயன விழிகள் இரு
நளினமான சலனத்திலே

காளிங்கன் சிரத்திலே
கதித்த  பதத்திலே
என் மனத்தை இருத்திக்
கனவு நினைவினோடு
பிறவி பிறவி தோறும்
கனிந்துருக வரம் தருக பரம் கருணை (பால்வடியும்)

Transliteration

Pallavi
pAl vaDiyum mugam
ninaindu ninainden uLLam
paravasa migavAgudE (kaNNA)

Anupallavi
nIlakaDal pOlum niRattazhgA – kaNNA
endan nenjam kuDi konDu
andRu mudal indRum
enda poRul kanDum
sindanai sellAdozhiya

Charanam
vAna mugaTTil chatRu
manam vandu nOkkinum
(un) mOna mugam vandu tonudE

teLivAna taNNIr taDattil
sindanai mARinum
(un) siritta mugam vandu kANudE

gAnak kuyil kuralil
karuttamaindiDinum
(un) gAna kuzhalOsai mayakkudE

karutta kuzhalodu niRutta mayiliRagiRukki amaitta tiRattilE
gAna mayilADum mOnakkuyil pADum nIla nadiyOdum vanattilE

kuzhal mudal ezhilisai kuzhaiya varum isaiyil
kuzhlodu miLir iLang-karattilE
kadirum madiyum ena nayana vizhigal iru
naLinamAna salanattilE

kaLinga sirattilE
kaditta padittilE
en manattai iruttik
kanavu ninaivinodu
piRavi piRavi tORum
kaninduruga varam taruga param karuNai

Translation

Note: I struggled over the translation of some bits and am not myself convinced that I have it right, my apologies.

Immersed in the thought of that innocent face, my heart  reaches heights of ecstasy!

You, who are beautiful with skin the colour  of the  blue  ocean, have taken residence  in my heart from  that day to this day. Whenever I see  anything my thoughts go nowhere  except  (your innocent face).

When sometimes I am drawn to look at the line of the horizon, your tranquil face comes to mind! When my thoughts change at a track of clear still water, your smiling face appears before me! Even when I find meaning in the song of a cuckoo, the music of your flute enchants me!

In the expertise with which the dark flute with a peacock feather stopper is made, in the forest where the peacock dances, the cuckoo sings and a blue river runs,

In the glint/flash of the flute held in young hands from which meltingly exquisite music comes, in the flashing movement of your two eyes,

In the fast-moving feet on the head of the snake Kalinga, you still my mind. With the greatest of compassion, please give me the boon that in birth after birth I should melt (for you) with my dreams and memories intact.

 

12 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, R.Jayanthi

12 responses to “Paal Vadiyum Mugam

  1. indigoite

    Very nice song. Amazing how great minds are able to focus on the Lord and see him everywhere and all the time. If I can even manage that for a few seconds without getting distracted, that would be a major achievement.

    Nice to see a veena rendition as your instrumental choice. Isn’t the veena the queen of all instruments when it comes to Carnatic music ?

    • Hi Ramesh, I sometimes wonder if it is also distracting to see God everywhere? How can one get through our daily lives if that were the case? It would be most disturbing to have Krishna smile out of my computer screen🙂 Yet we people no longer have the privilege of vanaprastha ashram ie. finishing our householder’s responsibilities and concentrating solely on spirituality. Somehow we need to do both…

      Veena is indeed called the first amongst all instruments in Carnatic Music. With my biais towards the violin and the flute, I tend to listen to them more often and consequently, tend to offer them for your listening pleasure. But lately my boy has decided to learn Carnatic Music on the Veena so I have been started listening more to the Veena.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. J

    I love how you ended by saying that the songs reminds you of your mom and not Krishna’s flute… Thoroughly enjoyed listening to the song.

    Interesting question on whether God is or is in everything… I am fairly ignorant about many nuances of Hinduism but I always thought it was an acknowledgement that we as mere mortals are in in no position to confine God to one place or form or shape and we are admitting that everything is because of God.

    • Hi again J, Glad you enjoyed listening to the song🙂 I am very fond of this song too!

      As to Hindu ideas on the universality of God, it comes from the Vedic times. In the Upanishads, it is stated that God created everything, then entered it and became all things formed and formless. So there is no question being a ‘mere’ mortal. We too are abodes of God as is everything around us!

  3. J

    You are right. How can I forget the “thoonilum irrupan, thurumbilum irrupan” expression. But I find it so hard to wrap my mind around the literal sense of it.

  4. J

    Thanks🙂 Unni sings these kinds of songs really well.

  5. Venkat

    P Murugadas semi carnatic and semi bhajan
    Karaikudi Mani mridangam. In a recital some yrs back , when PMurugadas sang this Venkata Kavis s great composition. many spontaneosuly danced

    • Thank you Venkat, it is a very nice interpretation. His enunciation is also somewhat different – very interesting. I am sure other readers who come by will also enjoy this.
      Cheers. Suja

  6. Umadesh

    Amazing work. Thanks for such a wonderful translation n admiration

  7. shruthi venkat

    all the best lovable singers have sang beautifully but i m waiting for hari charan sir’s song of pal vadiyum mugam………………..

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