Pirava Varam Tarum

Please give me the boon that I may not be born again O Lord! Even if I am born again, give me the boon that I do not forget your divine feet. O Beloved of Parvati ! Will my ties never break? Please come and bless me so that the sins of the past are removed, so that my mental anxiety comes to an end and I can attain your lotus like feet!

Verona ArenaIt is Diwali day and I find myself in the centre of a Roman amphitheatre. I rotate slowly, taking in the magnificence of the stones around me. We are in Verona, Italy with our friends from India for whom we are playing tour-guides. We have been here before; we had seen a performance of the opera Aida a few years ago. At that time the arena was overflowing with people, today there are just a couple of tourists besides us. In the quietness which surrounds me, I am deeply aware of the past. These stones have held their place for 2000 years. They have seen gladiators come to a gory end, knights jousting, actors performing and bulls bleeding their hearts out. Today as I stand before them I wonder, what was it all for? The gladiators who fought hard are gone, both the winners and the losers. The lords who ordered the fights are gone, as is the audience which craved blood. The triumphs and the tragedies of the past are all gone. All for nothing. No winners here, only losers. I am overwhelmed with a sense of futility.

My mood is desolate. I stare at the stones berating myself. Why did I not do better with my life? I was dealt a good hand; I was born to a good family, with sufficient wealth and a good ethical & moral sense. I was blessed with reasonable intelligence, an empathetic heart and good health. Why did I not do better? Why have I made no spiritual progress? Why did I make so many wrong and immature choices? Why did I give so much importance to what means little and little importance to what means a lot? If I could press a re-boot button, I would. That is what death and re-birth are about, isn’t it? But then one is dealt a different hand and we forget the lessons of the past – what guarantee that I would do a better job of it? I do not dare ask to be released from this cycle but if only I could remember next time that it is spiritual progress which is of true value, maybe then I would live a better, more meaningful life.

And so I come upon my song choice for today. Pirava Varam Tarum says Papanasam Sivan, ‘Please give me the boon that I may not be born again. Even if I am reborn, give me the boon that I do not forget your divine feet.’  He seems to speak for me. ‘..bless me, so that the sins of the past are removed, so that my mental anxiety comes to an end’.  See footnote for lyrics. Set to Raga Latangi, it does not sound as sad as I feel but still, the song speaks to me today. This raga is said to have curative properties, will it heal my troubled heart? To know more about the raga, click here.

First listen to the song as featured in the film Nandanar (1942), sung by M.M.Dandapani Desikar.

My favourite classical rendition of this song is by the violinist duo, brothers Ganesh & Kumaresh. This time Ganesh provides vocals as well as playing the instrument of which he is a veritable Master (I bow to your skills sirs!) The wonderful exploration of Raga Latangi following the kriti has a touch of genius. This is a 20 min rendition, do take the time to enjoy it.

Alapanai :

Kriti :

You can also listen to the track here.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பிறவா வரம் தாரும் பெம்மானே (பிறவா)

பிறவா வரம் தாரும் இறைவா மறுபடி
பிறவா வரம் தாரும் பிறந்தாலும் உன் திருவடி
மறவா வரம் தாரும் மாநில மேல் இனி / மீதினில் (பிறவா)

பார்வதி நேயா பக்த சகாயா
பந்தம் அறாதா வந்தருள் தா தா
முந்தி / முந்தை  வினை கோற சிந்தாகுலம் தீர
எந்தை உன் பாதாரவிந்தம் துணை சேர (பிறவா)

Notation is available here. I believe my translation is more accurate than what is given in this site.


piRavA varam tArum pemmAnE (piRavA)

piRavA varam tAarum iRaivA marubadi
piRavA varam tArum piRandAlum un tiruvadi
maRavA varam tArum mAnila mEl ini / mIdinil (piRavA)

pArvati nEyA bakta SaHAyA
bandam aRAdA vandaruL tA tA
mundi / mundai vinai kOra chintAkulam tIra
endai un pAdAravindam tuNai sEra (piRavA)


Please give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I may not be born again (piravA) O Lord (pemmAn)!

Give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I may not be born (piravA) again on this (mIdu) earth (mAnila) . Even if I am born (pirandAlum) again (marubadi), give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I do not forget (maravA) your divine feet (tiruvadi).

O Beloved (nEyA) of Parvati ! O Support (sahAyA) of your devotees (bhakta)! Will my ties (bandam) never break (aRa = to remove) ? Please come (vandu) and bless me (aRul ta), so that the sins (vinai=evil deeds) of the past (mundai) are removed (kORa=killed), so that my mental anxiety (chintAkulam) comes to an end (tIra) and I can attain (tuNai sEra=join) your (un) lotus like feet (pAdAravindam), O my Master (endai)!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Papanasam Sivan

12 responses to “Pirava Varam Tarum

  1. Hello Suja,
    In response to your description of the rise and fall of empires and of the human life, I cannot – you know me – refrain from comparing the desolate state I can see of the Hindu believer, who seems left to the solitude of his own moral forces, and the strong situation of the Christian, who isn’t strong because of what he believes in, which might have turned him into a better person, but because, whatever his misdeeds and negligence and meaninglessness, he knows Someone is there for him and cares for him personally, today, in the future and in the world to come.
    Christians need not worry that they’ve messed up their lives, is only they give God his right place. Their faith places them in the shelter of Christ’s sacrifice who has done the hard work for them, selfish as it seems! But it’s only because He has died for me that I can be sure he loves me, and that whatever I do to redeem myself will never amount to what he’s done for me. This is the Christian freedom, which leaves me at the bottom of humanity, even if I’m a social and moral model of humanity. And naturally even if I’m not, which is the case of 99% of us. I’m free because through Christ God has shown that it isn’t what I do that is important, it’s my trust in him. He’s the strong one, he’s the everlasting one. I’m nothing, but I’m given everything thanks to him. I can look at myself anyway, whatever my nothingness, because God loves me and makes me accept myself in spite of myself.

    • Thank you for the comment Yves. It is indeed comforting for you that your belief absolves you however you may have conducted your life. We are lucky, both of us, to have been born and brought up in a faith which makes sense to us..for you see, mine makes excellent sense to me. However desolate I feel at times, I cannot and will not think of myself as nothing for I strongly align myself with the Hindu & Buddhist view ‘aham brahmasmi’ – ‘I am the Ultimate Reality’ or rather, as one web site says nicely ‘the core of my being is the ultimate reality, the root and ground of the universe, the source of all that exists’. I would rather say this than say ‘I am nothing’. Plus my nature demands that one takes responsibility for one’s action, which is the exact thing my faith says. So like I said, we are lucky to have a faith which suits us, because we do not have to go ‘in search’ like so many people do.
      Cheers. Suja

      • Hello Suja,
        I’m very pleased to read your answer, which shows that contrary to words (in your previous message) which I had perhaps overread as pessimistic, you maintain a strong faith in what makes your core of meaning in your life. I just wanted to add that God would not “absolve me however I may have conducted my life” – I would still have to “pay”, in a way, and this not only later, but also right now, in terms of sadness and distancing from Him – but what my faith tells me is that, however I may have conducted my life, he will still be there for me and love me, perhaps even all the more more if I’m drifting away from him.
        Christian dogma doesn’t really suggest (in spite of what I wrote) that the creature is “nothing”: indeed as God’s creatures, made in his own image, we are his “friends” and we are responsible for what he has entrusted us with, but this nothingness is a way of saying that however low one may fall from grace, one is still considered as lovable and cherished by the almighty Lord.

  2. indigoite

    When I read your post yesterday, I wanted to respond as a song – a song to cheer up and blow away any feelings of desolateness. But being the gnana soonyam that I am, couldn’t think of one; so will contend with expressing the thought.
    I am guessing that there is more music expressing negative emotions than positive ones. Wonder why ?? Maybe the musical talent is better stimulated by sorrow, or pathos or loneliness, etc

    Wonderful to see you feature a 1942 song as you tend to more select current singers.

    • Thank you Ramesh, it is nice of you to try to remove my doldrums. I am optimistic by nature and shall no doubt drag myself out of my blue phase.
      You make a good point about much of music being rather sorrowful, I should examine carnatic music in that light to see if there are any patterns it follows..
      Cheers. Suja

  3. Hi Suja..

    In Hinduism even tho who stray from the path are not forgotten by the Lord. Hiranyaksha, Hirnayakasipu and many others were slain but given moksha. And also the concept of rebirths is just many chances given to the soul in us to develop and move towards the Almighty. So many births means many chances but again the dice may fall worse than what we have now and who knows if we will remember even a iota of what we have learnt in this birth. But they say what you remember most in this birth and what you want most will be given in your next birth. So,better to be optimistic isn’t it?


    • Hi there! I had to re-read my post to see what was the mood in which I wrote! Obviously I must have been feeling very down! Normally I am very positive but sometimes life brings even the most positive down to their knees, doesn’t it. I have thought about how learning can continue from life to life when our memories are so short and I have come to the conclusion that it is the soul which needs to remember, not the mind. The thing is, even the sages who impart us with wisdom about these things have no practical experience, do they! So we are all in the same boat of wondering what exactly will happen..
      cheers, Suja

  4. Hi! I was listening to Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan’s rendition of this song in their 2006 album Madhirakshi and stumbled upon this post while looking for an accurate translation of the words. Your post is a wonderful reflection of some of the sentiments conveyed through the words of the song; Keep writing. Thank you.

    http://mio.to/album/Sikkil+C.+Gurucharan/Madhirakshi+%282006%29 (for your reference)

  5. Hi Suja. Long time since I found time to get back to your blog. This song is so apt as I find the words reflecting my thoughts as it were. I like the rendition by Trisssur brothers a lot.

    And all Vwey best to your son on his graduation as a doctor.




    • Welcome back Sumati! I will check out Trissur Brothers, thanks for the recommendation. It has been a number of years since my son graduated, now he is well on his training to be a psychiatrist 🙂 Coincidentally, I just attended my daughter’s graduation yesterday; she is now a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians (Paediatrics). It has been 15 years of training to be finally become a Paediatrician 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

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