Only the spear and the peacock will be victorious at all times ! O Mind, worship Lord Murugan day and night! Even when the God of Death comes, the spear and peacock will be victorious.
This has been a long-distance house hunting week for me. In 2014, my son is starting his medical career with an internship at the hospital in Bendigo, a city which is about 170 kms from where we live. Though unsuccessful in finding a suitable home, we both enjoyed the eight hours of music we heard on our two trips this week. I never realised how lonesome I normally get in this musical world of mine; my husband does not share my passion. My son, however, loves it like I do. To share the pleasure in a particular sangati, to nod heads in unison to a well-executed neraval, to gasp at an intricately woven kalpana swaram –all this very much enhanced my listening pleasure.
While discussing different ragas with my son, it occurred to me that one could categorize ragas in the same way as we categorize astrological signs or rashis into the four elements – Earth, Air, Water and Fire. We have ragas like Kambhoji, Madhyamavati and Darbar which are strong but peaceful, earthed, stable. We have ragas like Hindolam, Sindhu Bhairavi, Brindavana Saranga, and Madhuvanti which weave and flow airily like colourful kites on a windy day. We have ragas like Shubhapantuvarali, Kapi, Shivaranjani and Nilamani which can be like deep dark still water or ripple like a brook. We have ragas like Atana, Bhairavi, Gambheera Natta and Gowla which are forceful, crackling like a forest fire at times, burning fierce at others. Depending on our mood, we are drawn to one or the other; or vice versa, we are drawn into that mood by the raga. I proposed this classification to my son and we had great fun arguing over the mood of each raga we heard!
To test whether we all react to notes in similar ways, I have a little game for us today. I am presenting an interesting and rare raga today, perhaps something you have not heard much before. A vivadi raga with two sets of notes which are very close together, it has a unique sound. So tell me, in which of our four classifications would you say it belongs?
To present Velum Mayilume in Sucharitra by Koteeswara Iyer, here is a rendition by Sanjay Subrahmanyan. And don’t forget to leave a comment with your classification of this raga – Earth, Water, Air or Fire? To know more about the raga, click here.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
My gratitude to Mr.Lakshman Ragde for help with the lyrics.
Language : Tamil
வேலும் மயிலுமே எவ்வேளையிலுமே வெல்லுமே -வெற்றி
(note: original lyrics say வேலு not வேலும் though its sung as the latter)
காலை மாலையுமே மனமே துதி (alt: துது )(கந்தனை)
காலன் வரினுமே -கந்தன்
சித்ரகவி நக்கீரன் தத்தை தவிர்த்த தீரன்
கஜவத்ர வீரபத்ர வீரபாகு சோதரன்
ஆறு வத்ர வசிகரன் சுசரித்ர சுசிகரன்
விசித்ர கவி குஞ்சரதாச மித்ர ருசீகரன் – சக்தி
vElum mayilumE evvELaiyilumE vellumE -veTri
(note: original lyrics say vElu not vElum, but its sung as the latter)
kAlai mAlaiyumE manamE tudi (alt: tudu) (kandanai)
kAlan varinumE -kandan
chitrakavi nakkIran tattai tavirtta dhIran
gajavatra vIrabhadra vIrabAhu sOdaran
Aruvatra vasikaran sucharitra susikaran
vichitra kavi kunjaradAsa mitra ruchIkaran -shakti
Only the spear (vEl) and the peacock (mayil) will be victorious (vellumE) at all times (evvElaiyulE)!
O Mind, (manamE) worship (tudi) (alt: make a close search into (tudu)) Kandan day (kAlai) and night (mAlai)! Even when the God of Death (kAlan)comes (varinumE), (the spear and peacock will be victorious).
He is the courageous one (dhIran) who relieved (tavirtta) the peril (tattai) to the poet Nakkeeran. He is the brother of the elephant-faced one (gaja vatra), Veerabhadra and Veerabahu. He is the six-faced one (Aru vatra), most charming (vasikaran), pure (susikaran) one with good conduct (sucharitra in Sanskrit, also name of Raga) . He is the friend (mitra) of the poet (vichitra kavi kunjaradAsa, signature of poet) and gives him much pleasure (ruchikaran).