Tamadam En Swami

Why this delay in helping this lone man? Who else is my support? Even when I bow at your lotus feet, where even the Lord of the Earth, Brahma and Indra pay homage, why this delay? Enough, enough, this worm like life! Enough of your games! Enough suffering in a mother’s womb! Enough of my struggles! I cannot bear it anymore!

1Carnatic Music, like other forms of devotional music, can be intensely emotional. As a classical tradition many hundreds of years old, it is also rigorous and structured.  We listeners need to put on two hats and use both the left and right sides of our brains to appreciate it to the fullest, which is what I attempt by way of this blog. Every now and then I come upon a piece of music where emotion overwhelms all else, at least for me. I have written posts highlighting emotions such as longing, despair, separation anxiety, surrender, romantic love and maternal love. And I always speak of devotion. But what I have never featured so far is Impatience!

An odd choice of emotion for devotional music, would you not say? But here is Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973), poet-composer extraordinaire, expressing his impatience in no uncertain terms. ‘What is the delay?’ he demands of his Lord Murugan. ‘Enough of this worm like life’, ‘Enough of your games’, ‘I cannot bear anything anymore’. His words are strong and demanding. At times he even sounds threatening ‘This won’t help you, the way you do not show grace on me!’. I like this wonderful saakhya bhavam shown by Papanasam Sivan, this treating of God as a near and dear friend. He acknowledges Him as Lord, he bows to Him, but he demands Grace as a right just as you would of a friend, with no overt obsequiousness.  It makes God so near somehow..someone you can argue with, make demands, even pick a fight with!I am envious of his so-easy relationship with God..

As for the rendition I have selected for you, you are in for a treat. When I came upon this recording by G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965), I was simply delighted! What a talent! What Papanasam Sivan has said with words, GNB expresses with his extraordinary musicality. Raga Todi in his vocal cords becomes a malleable, living creature, weaving this way and that, flowing through our synapses and overtaking our senses. This, my dear readers, is a masterpiece. To know more about the raga, click here.

You can listen to the kriti, kalapanaswarams and a short tani here :

I encourage you to listen to the whole rendition of about 23 mins including the alapanai by downloading the album here.

On an aside, yesterday I was listening to this song when I went shopping in Lausanne, bundled in a thick jumper and a voluminous raincoat, the hood covering my head and all signs of my ipod. I was busily nodding my head to time and when it came to GNB enunciating ‘Edu inimEl mudiyAdu porukka mudiyAdu…’, my hands too were gesturing busily. Seeing the rather odd glances coming my way, I realised what I was doing which reduced me to a giggling fit, thus marking me as a sure lunatic! This is dangerous music for one’s reputation, so hear publicly at your own risk!


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

Note: I have included only the second charanam as that is the only one I have heard sung. Karnatik.com lists another 2 charanams.

தாமதம் (alt: தாமசம்) ஏன் சுவாமி தமியேனுக்கருள் செய்ய
தாரகம் வேறு யாரய்யா சுவாமிநாதா (தாமதம்)

பூமி மணவாளனும் பூவில் வளர் அயனும்
புரந்தரனும் பணி அரவிந்தச் சரண் பணிந்தும் (தாமதம்)

போதும் போதும் இந்தப் புழு மலப் (alt: மலர்??) பிறவி
போதும் போதும் அரி பிரமன் வாழ்வும்
இனி போதும் உன் திரு விளையாட்டும்
அன்னை கரு வாதை (alt: வாசம்)  எனது திண்டாட்டம்
ஏது இனிமேல் முடியாது பொறுக்க முடியாது கருணை புரியாது
என்னுடனே இவ்வாது உனக்கு உதவாது சொகசுடனே (alt: சொகுசுடனே)
மாது இருவர் மருவும் மால்மருகனே இன்னும் (தாமதம்)



tAmadam (tAmasam?) En swAmi tamiyEnukkaruL seyya
tArakam vEru yArayya swAminAtha (tAmadam)


bhUmi maNavALanum pUvil vaLar ayanum
purandaranum paNi aravinda charaNam paNindum (tAmadam)

pOdum pOdum indap-puzhu malap-piRavi (GNB says malar-piravi)
pOdum pOdum ari biraman vAzhvum
ini pOdum un tiru viLaiyATTum
annai karu vAdai (vAsam?) enadu tiNDaaTTam
Edu inimEl mudiyAdu poRukka muDiyAdu karuNai puriyAdu
ennuDanE ivvAdu unakku udavAdu sogasuDanE (sogusuDanE? GNB says sogasu which is a Kannada word)
mAdu iruvar maruvum mAlmaruganE innum (tAmadam)


Why this delay in helping this lone man ? Who else is my support, O Swaminatha ?

Even when I bow at your lotus feet, where even the Lord of the Earth (Narayana), Brahma who is born of a lotus and Indra pay homage? (why this delay?)

Enough, enough, this worm like birth (=life),
Enough, enough, this life given by Brahma and Vishnu,
Enough of your games, enough suffering in a mother’s womb (meaning re-birth here), enough of my struggles!
I cannot do anything anymore!  I cannot bear anything anymore!
This won’t help you, the way you do not show grace on me! You stand in beauty together with your two wives O Nephew of Narayana!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, G.N.Balasubramaniam, Papanasam Sivan

11 responses to “Tamadam En Swami

  1. Kanwal

    Suja, I like the music part of it ( without understanding the words ). At the same time I could imagine the spirit of Impatience described so well by you that I enjoyed listening to the composition may be as well as by a Tamilian.

    • Hi Kanwal, I am glad you enjoyed it inspite of the language barrier 🙂 You know that I too listen to music in Punjabi or chaste Urdu which I dont really understand but like yourself, very often I find myself enjoying the music inspite of not understanding the meaning fully. Music has a language of its own, dont you think? Thanks for visiting my blog again.
      cheers. Suja

      • Kanwal

        I BELIEVE that music is a Universal language. Very often, other languages take help of this basic language to better their expression. Music is the only language which is fully communicable in its stand-alone mode. Nice to know that my good friends too believe similarly.
        It’s always a treat ( as well as educative) to visit your blog.

  2. Ramesh

    GNB was such a great singer, wasn’t he. Another example of different tastes- Todi is not one of my favourites !! I do have strange tastes, don’t I 🙂

    I can relate completely to the shopping time incident. Many a time, I have been tapping away too and I am sure attracted some strange looks. That’s the problem with music, isn’t it. When you like something, you can’t help get immersed in it.

    • I think GNB was fabulous! I get frustrated with the recording quality of the music I have though, so do not listen to him very often.

      As to Todi, its an acquired taste 🙂 I like this composition in particular..

  3. Thamadam en by GNB is indisputably a masterpiece.
    It is interesting that you chose to highlight Impatience as the emotion running through this composition. An emotion (weakness?) I am prone to too often! May be next time I am bristling with impatience, I would remember your blog post and cool down a bit.

    • I just adore this rendition; I have a definite weakness for GNB’s music. In the briskness of his singing, in the firmness of the lyrics, I do indeed find impatience to be the predominant emotion. I always nod and smile when I hear this song so perhaps next time you feel impatient, you can sing to yourself and smile instead 🙂

  4. Senathipathi

    I am late to this block but not too late
    Thank you so much for an awesome essay

  5. Sampath

    Excellent comments. I liked that but about demanding grace from God. Sivan was an extraordinary composer. Who better than GNB to express those emotions simply and elegantly.
    And Todi is a versatile ragam for expressing anything and everything and has an inbuilt melody.

    • Totally agree with you! If I could time travel, I would go back in time to listen to GNB at his peak, he is just astounding!
      Cheers. Suja

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