Sri Ramachandra Kripalu

RamaHappy Ramanavami everybody!

Dickens was a clever fellow, wasn’t he? I reckon he hit the nail on the head with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Just as Scrooge was haunted by this Ghost, I too feel the presence of the Ghost of Ramanavami Past all around me today. Is this how it is for everybody? Do we all go through life shaped and then haunted by an unchangeable past and hemmed in by an unpredictable future? I wonder, what past am I creating today? How will it haunt me later?

Thankfully for me, unlike Scrooge’s Ghost, my Ghost only shows me warm and wonderful memories of Ramanavami. From its annals of collective memory, it shows me the joy of Lord Rama’s birth and from my own personal memory, it shows me the joys of celebrations past.

As I pick the song for today I am haunted more than by just Ramanavami. This song has sent me hurling back in time to my school years. Every morning I would be woken by Vividh Bharati’s 6 am devotional music program which featured songs like my choice of the day.  I would sip my tea standing on the veranda, watching the sun make its way up the horizon, listening to the songs on the radio accompanied by mum’s voice joining in as she busied herself in the kitchen. She would have woken much earlier, for she would have showered, then finished her half-hour morning puja, made filter-coffee and be well into making lunch. On festival days and holidays, this morning devotional music would be followed by Venkatesha Suprabhatam and Vishnu Sahasranamam on my father’s favourite possession – a Grundig tape recorder that he bought in Germany in the 1960s. For the rest of the festival day, there would be non-stop Carnatic Music.

What a feast my mum would lay out for us! There would be panagam and kosumalli in addition to the festival menu of many dishes with vadai & payasam. How many hours she would have spent in the kitchen! Why don’t I remember thanking her? Forget festivals, did I even thank her for getting up early enough to pack me a cooked lunch everyday? I can’t remember.  So after all, I too have a ghost which haunts me –the Ghost of ingratitude, of taking my mother’s love for granted, for were not her meals just edible love?

Today’s song is by the great poet-saint Tulsidas (1532-1623). He extolls Rama’s beauty in wonderful verse, calling him equal to ‘innumerable Cupids’, like a ‘lustrous white lightning in his yellow garments’. The sounds of the words ring as pleasingly as the description of his Lord. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. His prayer is basically for the Lord who is the ‘destroyer of the great fears of life’ to ‘live in the lotus of my heart’. Is that not our prayer too?

So here is the voice which sang so beautifully through my growing years, Lata Mangeshkar, singing Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana.

For those who are unfamiliar with the life of Tulsidas, there is a Hindi film made in 1954 which is available on youtube with subtitles. Though it does stretch what is essentially quite a short story, I still enjoyed watching it; I do like the innocence of old films.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री रामचन्द्र कृपालु भज मन हरण भव-भय दारुणम् ।
नव-कंज-लोचन कंज-मुख कर-कंज पद-कंजारुणं॥१॥

कंदर्प अगणित अमित छवि नव नील नीरद सुन्दरम् ।
पट पीत मानहु तड़ित रूचि शुचि नौमि जनक सुता वरम् ॥

भज दीन बन्धु दिनेश दानव दैत्य वंश निकन्दनम् ।
रघु नन्द आनंद कंद कोसल-चंद दशरथ नन्दनम् ॥

शिर मुकुट कुण्डल तिलक चारु उदार अङ्ग विभूषणम् ।
आजानु भुज शर चाप धर सङ्ग्राम जित खर दूषणम् ॥

इति वदति तुलसीदास शङ्कर शेष-मुनि मन रञ्जनम् ।
मम हृदय कंज निवास कुरु कामादि खलदल-गंजनं॥

shrI rAmachandra kripAlu bhaja mana haraNa bhava bhaya dAruNam
nava-kanja-lOchana kanja-mukha kara-kanja pada-kanjAruNam

kandarpa agaNita amita chavi nava nIla nIrada sundaram
paTa pIta mAnahu taDita ruchi shuchi naumi janaka sutA varam

bhaja dIna bandhu dinEsha dAnava daitya vansha nikandanam
raghu nanda Ananda kanda kOsala chanda dasharatha nandanam

shira mukuTa kuNDala tilaka chAru udAra anga vibhUshaNam
AjAnu-bhuja shara chApa dhara sangrAma jita khara dUshaNam

iti vadati tulasIdAsa shankara shEsha muni mana ranjanam
mama hrdaya kanja nivAsa kuru kAmAdi khaladala ganjanam

O Mind (mana)! Pray (bhaja) to compassionate (kripAlu) Ramachandra who destroys (haraNa) the great (dAruNa) fears of life (bhava-bhaya). With eyes (lOchana) like a new (nava) lotus (kanja), with a face (mukha) like a lotus (kanja), and feet (pada) like a crimson (aruNa=dawn) lotus (kanja).

With boundless (amita) splendour (chavi) like innumerable (agaNita) cupids (kandarpa), he is as beautiful (sundaram) as a new (nava) blue (implies rain?) (nIla) cloud (nIrada). I bow (noumi) to that groom (varam) of Janaka’s daughter (sutA), who is like  (mAnahu) a lustrous (ruchi) white (shuchi) lightning (taDita) in his yellow (pIta) garments (paTa). 

I bow (bhaja) to the Sun-like (diNesha) friend (bandhu) of the wretched (dIna),  destroyer (nikandanam) of the demons (dAnava & daityA) dynasties (vansha). Son (nanda) of the Raghu dynasty, root (kanda) of joy (Ananda), gladdens (chanda) the Kosalas (his mother’s dynasty),  son of Dasharatha.

Beautiful (chAru) with a crown (mukuTa) on his head (shira), earrings (kunDala), and mark on his forehead (tilaka) and limbs (anga) generously (udAra) decorated (vibhUshaNam). With long hands to his knees (AjAnu-bhuja), holding (dhara) a bow (chApa) and arrow (shara) , winner (jIta) of the battle (sangrAma) with khara and dhUshaNa.

Thus (iti) says (vadati) tulasIdAsa. He who pleases (ranjana) the minds (mana) of Shankara and Adisesha (sEsha muni), who has contempt (ganjanam) for the wicked things (khala-dala) like (Adi) desire (kAma), please dwell (nivAsa kuru) in the lotus (kanja) of my heart (hridaya),

12 Comments

Filed under Bhajan, Lata Mangeshkar, Tulsidas

12 responses to “Sri Ramachandra Kripalu

  1. S.Narasimha Raj

    “O Mind (mana)! Pray (bhaja) to compassionate (kripAlu) Ramachandra . ”
    Suja, Wish you and all your ‘followers’ Happy Sri Rama Navami Festival. Enjoy the ‘neivedyam'(Prasadam) of Paanakam & Paayasam’!
    You are in ‘your element’ – in all the April Posts hitherto – with apt and pleasing selections suited to the occasion/festivals and equally appropriate comments/commentary from you. A real treasure indeed.
    Each one of these April Posts have ‘kindled’ memories of my younger days with my parents & siblings.
    God Bless you.
    Raj

    • Thank you Raj🙂 It is nice to be reminded of old days, isn’t it? I hope you are enjoying this day with not only good old memories but are making wonderful new ones too! Happy Ramanavami!
      Suja

  2. Ramesh

    When I saw the title of the post, i immediately thought – you must feature Lata Mangeshkar. In fact that entire album by her, in which this song features, is a masterpiece.

    By the way, my father too had exactly the same fondness for a Grundig tape recorder bought from Germany in the 1960s. Uncanny these coincidences !

    Happy Ramanavami. Hope you made yourself some neer mor and panagam🙂

    I went to Kadri Gopalnath’s concert today (Rama navami time is some sort of a musical festival time in Bangalore). Of course he had to sing a bhajan to Ram – he chose Tumak chalat Ramachandra. Lovely concert.

    • Hi Ramesh, I know exactly which album you mean – I had it on a cassette a long time back, a cassette I listened to often. What a coincidence about the Grundig, no? After all, those days were different – foreign travel was a big thing and buying something in Germany and bringing it back meant hassles with customs clearance and so on..

      I am envious about your being able to listen to so many live concerts. Enjoy!
      Cheers. Suja

  3. S.Narasimha Raj

    “(Rama navami time is some sort of a musical festival time in Bangalore)”
    Thanks Ramesh – for taking me ‘back-to-Bangalore’
    Ha! Ramanavami-time-in-Bangalore(Bengaluru)!! Way back – during 1938 to 1949 – when I stayed with my parents at Shankarpuram in Bangalore, I never missed the fortnight long Music Festivals organized by Sri Rama Seva Mandal at Fort High School Grounds or the concerts at Bangalore Gayana Samaja or the ones at the performances held at a neighbor’s house in our road!! The illustrious list of legendary musicians – vocal & instrumentalists – who performed is too long! MSS, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Doraiswamy Iyengar (Veena) , T. Chowdiah (violin), T.R. Mahalingam (Flute) Palaghat Mani (Mridangam), Manjunath (Ghatam), Parveen Sultana, MLV, D.K.Pattammal. and so on . . . !!!
    Yes those days, I ‘heard’ their music , but nowadays I ‘listen’ to their music whenever I feel like. Thanks to Suja, I get to listen to music of many others too – of the past & the present and enjoy them all the more!
    Best Wishes.
    Raj

    • Ramesh

      @Raj – Wonderful memories. What a time that must have been. Ram Seva Mandali still runs those concerts in the same Fort High School grounds (this is the 75th year of that concert series). These days, its a month long affair and the concert I went to yesterday was there !! After reading your comment, I am sure I would “feel” the presence of the greats you have named at the the next concert I am going to early next week.

  4. S.Narasimha Raj

    Yes Ramesh, I continued being present at the concerts in later years and it was in the later years – 60s that I sat through the Concerts of Parveen Sultana and Chitti Babu. We had moved to Seshadripuram and Concerts were also held at the open ground behind the Police Station opposite Swastik Talkies. Memories never fade and I don’t loose opportunities to get foot-loose amongst them!
    By the Grace of SRI RAMACHANDRA, my 16 years old grand-daughter will be singing today – along with her Guru – at Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple in Houston, where Sri Rama Navami is being celebrated. May HIS Grace be on all – for all times.
    Raj

  5. Jay

    Suja,

    Your writing evokes memories, not just about music, which is wonderful! In the way you remember and thank your mother, one cannot help but look into their own childhood. I have wondered many times, how my mother did that. It was not just the feasts but just make so many dishes, snacks, all “made from scratch”, all done so fast in a short span of time and so well! Back then she had to get the “chula” – the earthen coal heater fired up in the cold winter! Gas cooking came only later. The debt and gratitude is inexpressible.

    For us, music was so integral that it was indistinguishable! At my home there were the never ending music rehearsals and even dance classes! We had the violin, harmonium, guitar, tabla, mridangam, flute, murshing, and more before the advent of electronic imitations. The suprabhatam or subhashitam, or the late night kutcheri’s came from the trusted old GEC valve/tube radio.

    Grundig was the gold standard, especially for radio. I used to be able to tune AIRs European broadcast in eastern US with some special antenna in my Grundig ca early 90s. A few years back, I found a classic tube radio that predates me. It sounds gorgeous and looks majestic!

    Jay

    • Hi Jay, I am glad that my post brought good memories, memories of your mother, childhood, festivals and feasts and of course music. These are special memories to cocoon around us every now and then, don’t you think? Like you said, music is such an integral part of our memories that it runs like a background-score in a film. I can well imagine how your mum cooked on a cola heater, I remember my grandma efficiently managing the same. And the food they prepared was a million times better than the best I can do with my modern all-appliances kitchen!🙂

      Your musical home sounds lovely. Your soul too much be immersed in music, it is a good place to be. Why don’t you upload a pic of your tube radio, we can all admire it then🙂

      Cheers. Suja

  6. S.Narasimha Raj

    Suja & her ‘followers’,
    Sri Ramnavami is ‘Festival Time’ and also ‘Music Festival Time’!
    Here is a ‘link’ – sent by my grandson today – to an exquisite rendition by ‘Amma MSS’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITB8RvvbUrA
    Enjoy – to your heart’s content!
    Best Wishes.
    Raj

  7. JAYAPRAKASH P KURUP

    Touching narration with a soothing melody !!!. Jai Sri Ram

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