Edayya Gati

What refuge have I but you? My compassionate one ! Son of Shiva ! O bestower of boons! O hoard of goodness ! Who else but you! Accepting this ignorant person, why have you not shown mercy? Why do you play this game with me? In this world only your feet are my sanctuary!

FutilityIt was in August last year. I was confidently striding towards my gate in San Francisco airport. I had had an enjoyable holiday and was feeling good about myself. 2011 had started badly for me. My pre-existing bad back, a slipped-disk in my lower back, had raised its ugly head and had crippled me at the start of the year. I was making a slow recovery from it when I twisted my ankle badly and tore a ligament. A couple of months later, I re-twisted the same ankle. So when in August I managed my rather demanding touristic visit without pain, I was very pleased with myself. ‘Maybe I can restart my fitness routines’ I told myself, aware of having gained a quite few of the inches that I had previously lost in my ongoing battle-of-the-bulge. I felt strong and able. And so I was striding confidently, just as I stated at the start of my tale.

It was therefore a shock when my feet slipped under me and I found myself dropping awkwardly to the floor. I felt something give as my knee twisted outwards at an unnatural angle. I finally saw the little pool of liquid that someone had dropped, a pool which was virtually invisible in the shiny black floor. Even as pain shot through me I wondered ‘Have we no control over our lives then? Here I was feeling so good about myself! How delusional am I!’.

Thus everyday everywhere people are striding along confidently when the rug is pulled under their feet. Are our ceaseless endeavours meaningless then? Are we no better than the hamsters who run ceaselessly to remain at the same place? It all seems so futile!!

Such were my thoughts as I struggled uphill in my latest quest towards fitness, my knee throbbing painfully. I know that something is wrong again and I dread a visit to the doctor. As I pondered my helplessness, the song playing in my ipod made utter sense. ‘What refuge have I but you?’ says Koteeswara Iyer in the exquisite pathos of Raga Chalanatta. ‘Why have you not shown mercy? Why do you play this game with me?’. Surely anything this futile can be nothing else but a game? For lyrics and translation of this short song, see footnote. If you would like to know more about this raga, click here.

I have vacillated over my selection today, there are so many renditions I like! I especially enjoy the versions by Sanjay Subrahmanyan and Sikkil Gurucharan. But finally I could not move away from Tanjore S.Kalyanaraman’s wonderful presentation of this song. This is a live, amateur recording and the sound quality is poor. But do ignore the extraneous noise and focus on the music, it is such a treat!

And for an instrumental, listen to the speaking violin of A.Kanyakumari. I am a big fan of her music, she is an immense talent.


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language: Tamil

ஏதய்யா கதி எனக்-

மா தயாநிதி உமாபதி சுகுமார வரகுணநிதி
நீதான் அல்லது வேற் (ஏதய்யா)

பேதை   ஏற்க உன்னருள் காட்டாது
என்னோடேதைய்யா விளையாட்டா
பூதல சலநாட்டா நின் தாள் தான் கதி
புகழ் கவி குஞ்சர தாசனக்கு வேற் (ஏதய்யா)


EdayyA gati enakk-

mA dayAnidhi umApati sukumAra varaguNa nidhi nI dAn alladu vEr

pEdai Erkka un aruL kATTAdu ennODEdayyA vilaiyATTa
bhUtalA chalanATTa nin tAL tAn gati pugazh kavi kunjaradAsanukku vEr


What refuge have I but you?

My compassionate one ! Son of Uma’s husband (Shiva) ! O bestower of boons! O hoard of goodness ! Who else but you (are my refuge)!

In not showing your mercy in accepting this ignorant person, are you playing a game with me? In this world only your feet are my sanctuary. For this poet Kunjaradasa who else but you (are my refuge)!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Kanyakumari, Koteeswara Iyer, S.Kalyanaraman

16 responses to “Edayya Gati

  1. J

    Hope your leg is better and it is not serious. Loved the post and especially Kanyakumari’s rendition. Perfect sentiment for this raga.

    • Kanyakumari is fantastic, isn’t she? I too enjoyed her rendition a lot. As to my leg, I am following the ostrich-principle at the moment – I bury my head in sand and hope it will go away 😦 Now I wonder whether I am a hamster masquerading as an ostrich or an ostrich masquerading as a hamster? Hmmmm….

      • J

        Somehow the mental visual of either the hamster masquerading as an ostrich or the vice versa is too bizzare and so I declare that you are neither 🙂

  2. Ramesh

    Beautiful post. I love the way you relate a personal event to music.

    This post made me dip into your archives. You featured a Koteeswara Iyer’s krithi as well in its counterpart raga – Rasikapriya. You also presented a similar theme of helplessness when you featured Enna Kavi Padinalum in Neelamani. See; your post are like this. They stay in the mind long after I read them.

    Alas I can’t find both your selections of Edayya Gati elsewhere on the net – so have to ask you for an email. The site you use is still blocked by the stupid censors here.

    Totally agree on Kanyakumari. Her violin is breathtaking. I remember watching clips of a kutcheri by MLV with Kanyakumari on the violin and Thiruvarur Bakthavatsalam on the mridangam, Harishankar on the ganjira ….. Somewhat like an All Stars event !

    • Thank you Ramesh 🙂 I am pleased that you remember my posts, what can be a better compliment for a blogger? I am actually trying to make the equivalent of flash-cards for songs by linking them with stories, either personal or impersonal. I hope that whenever you hear Edayya gati, you will remember a lone hamster working away in futility to the sounds of chalanatta 🙂

      I was lucky enough to be present at a few live concerts by Kanyakumari; she is so unassuming but her violin speaks volumes..

      Watch out for my email..


    First of all, I don’t know anything about music. I was searching a malayalam film song and found that it is based on Chalanatta. And then I found your blog and post. Rendition of Sri Tanjore S.Kalyanaraman touched my soul. Your blog is a wonderful experience to me.Lucky to find your blog
    Thank you very much.Keep up the good work
    God bless you.

    • Thank you Jayaprakash for your very encouraging comments. Mr.Kalyanaraman’s rendition is indeed wonderful and touches me every time! I am pleased to welcome you to my blog, I hope to see you here again.
      Cheers. Suja


        Pls listen to the new version of Edayya Gati from a malayalam movie released in 2012. Name of the movie is “Ozhimuri” which tells the story of the matrilineal system that prevailed in the Nair community in the erstwhile southern Travancore. Pls visit http://msidb.org/s.php?194107


      • Oh wow! What a nice arrangement! I normally do not like Carnatic songs with orchestral arrangemets but this is an exception – it sounded very good to me! Thank you for bringing it to my attention Jayaprakash 🙂 Now I want to see this film..hmm..wonder if I can find a subtitled version somewhere..will search.
        Cheers Suja


    You can watch the full movie at http://www.abcmalayalam.com/ozhimuri-malayalam-movie-online.html, but without subtitle. As the story is set on the northern part of kanyakumari which is the border area of Kerala and Tamilnadu, mix of Tamil and Malayalam is used by the Tamil-Malayalam writer Jayamohan.
    Hope you will enjoy


  5. Ambareesh

    thank you for such a beautiful description.

  6. meenakshi srinivasan

    can anyone provide me with notation for the krithi “Edayya gathi”. Thanks

  7. Savithri

    It shd be பேதை ஏற்க உன்னருள் காட்டாது and if it is sung pedai yerkunnarul kaattadhu is wrong tamil having no meaning. High time carnatic vocalists correct this n sing to have a proper appeal to the god. ஏற்க means to accept. Ka and un shd not be attached. Sandhi does not work out there to give reqd meaning

    • Thank you Savithri, I had a left a question mark in the lyrics for a long time as I could make no sense of it! Appreciate your explanation, thank you!
      Cheers. Suja

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