Pacchai Ma Malai

O Achyuta! With a body like a great green mountain, a mouth like coral, with eyes shaped like a red lotus, O Lord of the celestials! O tender sprig of the cowherds!’ Other than the pleasure of uttering these words, I want nothing, not even attaining  the experience of ruling the world of the celestials!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersIs it 2014 already? I cannot believe it! Decades seem to rush past, faster and faster, leaving me far behind. I feel as if I stand on a platform, with trains rushing past on either side of me, people hurrying from here to there, while I stare bewildered at them all.  When did I stop being a participant and become the audience instead? Is it perhaps that my children have grown and live far away with lives of their own? Is it maybe that my husband occupies the same physical space as I do but seems to live in a different mental space? When did I become so disassociated, disengaged, disjointed? What is the remedy?

ஊரிலேன் காணி இல்லை உறவு மற்றொருவர் இல்லை I sing quietly to myself. ‘I am of no town, I have no land, I have no other kin in this world’.  I am not in an unhappy place, but a place of stillness, a place removed. I think that perhaps we will all arrive in this place of one at sometime or the other. And in this place, the poetry that I have chosen for today seems so meaningful that it could have been written today, not 1200+ years back. Written by Thondaradippodi Azhwar (8th Century AD), Tirumaalai has 45 verses in devotion to Lord Ranganatha (Vishnu) of Srirangam. The two verses that are featured in today’s post are both from Tirumaalai; no Tamilian can remain untouched by these beautiful words.

பச்சை மாமலை போல் மேனி பவளவாய் கமலச் செங்கண்
அச்சுதா! அமரர் ஏறே! ஆயர் தம் கொழுந்தே! என்னும்,
இச்சுவை தவிர யான் போய் இந்திர லோகம் ஆளும்,
அச்சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன் அரங்க மா நகர் உளானே! (2)

pachchai mAmalai pOl mEni pavaLavAy kamalach-chengkaN
achchudA! amarar-ERE! Ayar tam kozhundE! ennum,
ichchuvai tavira yAn pOy indira lOkam ALum
achchuvai peRinum vENDEn aranga mA nagar-uLAnE!

‘O Achyuta! With a body like a great green mountain, a mouth like coral, with eyes shaped like a red lotus, O Lord of the celestials! O tender sprig of the cowherds!’ Other than the pleasure of uttering these words, I want nothing, not even the experience of ruling the world of the celestials, O Lord who lives in the great city of Arangama (SriRangam)!

The verse above is very famous and sung in many Vishnu temples during the daily rituals of worship. The Azhwar rejects even the pleasure of ruling heaven when compared to the pleasure of singing the praises of his dearest Lord Ranganatha.

ஊரிலேன் காணி இல்லை உறவு மற்றொருவர் இல்லை
பாரில் நின் பாத மூலம் பற்றிலேன் பரம மூர்த்தி
காரொளி வண்ணனே என் கண்ணனே கதறுகின்றேன்
ஆர் உளர் களைகண் அம்மா அரங்க மா நகருளானே (29)

UrilEn kANI illai uRavu maTRRovar illai
pAril nin pAda mUlam paTRRilEn parama mUrtti
kAroLi vaNNanE en kaNNane kadaRuginDREn
Ar uLar kaLaikaN ammA aranga mA nagaruLAnE

O Supreme Lord, I am of no town, I have no land, I have no other kin in this world. I have not even been able to access your feet! O Lord with the complexion of brightly lit clouds! O my Kanna (Krishna)! I cry in despair! Who is there to be support me like a mother! O Ranganatha!

In this second verse, the Azhwar says he has nothing and no one on this earth and cries in despair to the Lord to support him. To read the complete Tirumaalai, click here.

These verses are sung in exquisite Hindolam by Unnikrishnan. His voice is so gentle, so full of peace that I feel totally centred after listening to him. God bless him!

Tamilians of a certain age will no doubt remember the following brisker and stronger rendition by T.M.Sounderarajan in Thirumal Perumai (1968)

Happy New Year!

Reference Information :

Poetry : Thondaradippodi Azhwar
Raga : Hindolam


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, T.M.Sounderarajan, Thondaradipodi Azhwar, Unnikrishnan

18 responses to “Pacchai Ma Malai

  1. Chandramouli Subramanian

    Puthandu Nalvazhuthugal Suja! Your posts never fail to give me solace and bring joy. TMS’s soul-stirring rendition of the Azhwar song revived my boyhood memories. I first heard the song when I was ten!

    • To you too Chandramouli! All our generation would remember this song with great pleasure I think 🙂 Its an old and well loved song, and Unni’s version is somehow softer, sweeter too.. Glad it brought back good memories.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Ramesh

    Since I too am of the “certain age” :), I can relate to the TMS rendition very well !!

    Pingnant post to end Dec 31. Thank you for the joy and understanding you brought to your readers all through 2013.

    Best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

    • A ‘certain age’ is a good age to be, don’t you think Ramesh? 🙂

      It is I who must thank you Ramesh. In a largely faceless and voiceless audience that this blog has, you have been the one constant ‘voice of the reader’ since you first commented on a post in February 2012. Since then you have read and responded to every post of mine. I am very grateful for this support, truly so. We are strangers in the real world but in this blog space of mine, you feel like a friend. Thank you, its a great gift you have given me.
      Cheers. Suja

  3. joydeep

    Happy new year to you too Sujaji. Came to your blog after a few months and saw this post first.

    I am much younger than you (32) but feel the same about having no one but the lord. Its a recent feeling for me, happened over the past year, and it is a little strange. The realisation that the emotional support and attachments we humans are used to (and seek) can no longer be had from anyone. Thankfully it is accompanied by greater devotion and interiorisation of the mind, otherwise it would be difficult 🙂

    • Welcome back Joydeep! Our scriptures tell us that detachment is necessary for spiritual progress, so it is not a bad way to be. Yet, I feel that not all kind of detachment is positive. If the detachment is a result of disappointment ie. the ‘grapes are sour’ syndrome, it is not a psychologically good place to be. Instead, if it is the natural progression from contentment, it will be spiritually beneficial , don’t you agree? Just some random thoughts.. We all need to work these things out ourselves.
      Cheers. Suja

  4. joydeep

    There is no disappointment at the loss of attachments, because it happened over a period time with an inevitability to it. No sour grapes or any girl involved 🙂 The only problem is that one is neither here nor there, but it is not too bad.

    • I am happy to hear that Joydeep 🙂 I wish you well with your spiritual progress, do write now and then and tell me how it is going!
      Cheers. Suja

  5. annamalai

    Thank you very much for the post.
    TMS & Unni both are very good.
    Unni – soothing voice of course.
    TMS along with SIvaji as though leading you to the Alwar.

    • Welcome to my blog 🙂 Sivaji has a leonine personality, doesn’t he! This film had a number of stories on different azhwars which I enjoyed very much. And yes, Unni’s voice is very soothing – I prefer him for these kind of songs rather than pure Carnatic music.
      cheers. Suja

  6. Nirmala

    Suja, the TMS song is from Thirumal Perumai 🙂

  7. Fine way of describing, and nice post to take information regarding my presentation subject matter, which
    i am going to present in college.

  8. SriVatsa

    I heard Pachai Ma Malai from Harish Sivaramakrishnan’s rendition of Rangapura Vihara.

    I haven’t heard the other ones before and my search to find what it is leads me here. Please do listen to this one too. It is lovely.

    • Welcome to my blog Srivats 🙂 And thanks very much for the link. I am a traditionalist so I was very surprised to see how much I enjoyed Harish and his band!! I will search through youtube to hear more of this young man. The main piece he sings in this video is Rangapura Vihara. If you are looking for a translation for this, I have it in another post here
      Cheers. Suja

  9. Madhavan Chari

    So Divine n Melodious . No one can remain untouched by these lines ,full of unfettered devotion to the Lord.

    Tears automatically roll on ,.reading n hearing the Azhwars this immortal song , esp acted by the Great Doyen Sivaji in ” Thirumalai Deivam ” movie.

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