When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace? When will this wretched person’s grief cease? When there is wealth, all kith and kin come to praise and serve. When there is a reduction of wealth they do not speak even when they see us! When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace to push away this wicked and villainous world and get liberation?
Sycophancy : A self-seeking, servile flattery towards people of power or influence in order to win favour or for personal gain.
I have recently returned from a very enjoyable holiday in India. As we were accompanied by some friends from Switzerland, I found it very interesting to see India and Indians through their eyes. My topic for the day is triggered by their observation about the excellent service we received at all the hotels we stayed at.
Though their comment was positive, and true, I often noted an obsequiousness which was distasteful to me. This, of course, excludes public servants who were surly and apathetic as always. This servility in India is markedly different to one’s experience in other countries. In Western Europe, for example, for the most part one is treated with distant civility with the exception of taxi drivers in Paris who treat everyone with an equal level of insolence. In Australia one is treated with a rather familiar friendliness. In USA, it ranges from sullen indifference to pushy forwardness. It is only in India that have I seen this particular servility.
If people are just simple and humble by nature, then it is of course praiseworthy. But this is not the case. The same service staff often display marked difference in manner when dealing with their colleagues. This servility is obviously in expectation of tips. In my song choice of today, Neelakanta Sivan condemns sycophancy towards the wealthy. I am however more sympathetic with it. When the tips that they hope to gain make so much of a difference, who can blame them? Is it not need which drives their behaviour? Should we not blame the disparity in society for their servility? If obsequiousness lets them survive, so be it. I tip them more than generously and hope that at least for that one day their life is easier to handle.
Of course Neelakanta Sivan is not talking of service staff. He talks of parasitic relatives. ‘When we have wealth, many kith and kin will come to praise and serve us. When wealth reduces, they will not even speak to us’. Does he speak from personal experience? It seems he was in a position of power and wealth which he resigned subsequently. Click here to read a short article about him. He calls this world ‘wicked and villainous’ and wonders when he will be blessed by Lord Shiva to attain liberation. He is a bit harsh on the world, don’t you think? The song is lovely though. It is set to Raga Mukhari and its effect is sorrowful, devotional and introspective. To know more about this raga, click here.
To present the song, I have first chosen a lovely rendition by a maestro from yesteryears K.V.Narayanaswamy (1923-2002). The song is often sung starting at the anupallavi, so do not be surprised.
Alternate link : Click here and download song 7 (free membership needed to Sangeethapriya.org)
Another beautiful rendition is by the mellifluous sisters Ranjani-Gayatri. Mukhari is all about bhava or emotion and they bring that faultlessly into their performance.
Alternate link : Click here
I am also very fond of the more leisurely rendition by T.M.Krishna in his CD Janaranjani. This is available on Spotify; needs free membership to listen.
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Composer : Neelakanta Sivan
Raga : Mukhari
Language : Tamil
I have noted whatever alternate words that I have heard in various renditions.
என்றைக்கு சிவ கிருபை வருமோ – ஏழை என் மன சஞ்சலம் அறுமோ ?
கன்று (alt: கன்றின் ) குரலைக் கேட்டு கனிந்து வரும் பசு போல்
ஒன்றுக்கும் அஞ்சாத என் (alt: எந்தன் ) உள்ளத் துயரம் தீர்க்க (alt: தீர / நீக்கி )
உண்டான போது வெகு (alt: கோடி) உறமுறையோர்கள் வந்து
கொண்டாடி தொண்டாடிக் கொள்வார் – தனம்
குறைந்தால் கண்டாலும் பேசார் இந்த கைத்தவமான பொல்லாச்
சண்டாள உலகத்தை தள்ளி சத்கதி (alt: நற்கதி ) செல்ல
enDRaikku shiva krupai varumO- Ezai
en mana sanchalam aRumO?
kanDRu (alt: kanDRin) kuralaik kETTu kanindu varum pashu pOl
onDRukkum anjAda en (alt: endan) uLLat-tuyaram tIrkka (alt: tIra / nIkki)
uNDAna pOdu vegu (alt: kODi) uramuRaiyOrgaL vandu
koNDADi toNDADik koLvAr -danam
kuRaindAl kaNDAlum pEsAr inda kaittavamAna pollAch
chaNDALa ulagattai taLLi sadgati (alt: nargati) chella
When (enDraikku) will I receive (literally, will come varumO) Lord Shiva’s grace (krupai)? When will this wretched person’s (Ezai) grief (mana sanchalam) cease (aRumO)?
Just as (pOl) the cow (pashu) comes (varum) tenderly (manam kanindu) on hearing (kETTu) the voice (kural) of it’s calf, (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace) to remove (tIrkka/nIkki) the grief (uLLat-tuyaram) of one who fears nothing (onDRukkum anjAda)? (unsure if it is the grief which fear’s nothing….)
When (pOdu) there is wealth (danam unDAna), all kith and kin (uramuRaiyOrgaL – short for for uravumuRaiyOrgal) come to praise and serve (konDADi-tonDADi). When there is a reduction of wealth (danam kuRaidAl) they do not speak (pEsAr) even when they see us (kanDAlum). (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace in order to) push away (taLLi) this abhorrent(kaittavamAna – unsure about this; kaittu is abhorrent, kaittavam I read in one translation as destined) wicked (polla) and villainous (chaNDALa) world (ulagam) and get liberation/moksha (nargati/sadgati chella-literally go to the ‘good destiny’) .
12 responses to “Endraikku Shiva Krupai”
I am surprised that you encountered servility in your travels. Increasingly, the experience in India is more akin to the American example. Of course it is different in different regions of the country, but in places where tourists are common, there is largely indifference. Athithi Devo Bhava is now becoming rarer and rarer. In rural India, genuine service is still very common though.
As an aside, I wonder why the occasional singing from the anupallavi. In a highly tradition bound music genre like Carnatic music (where T M Krishna is pilloried for singing the varnam in the middle of a concert), isn’t this heresy ?
Of the wealth seeking relatives, the less said the better. Imagine the plight of every lottery or game show winner – “relatives” suddenly materialise from the woodwork .
The music season is starting in Bangalore from this weekend. I will send a photo to Narasimharaj to bring some nostalgic memories for him of the Ramaseva Mandali concerts from Fort High School ground !
I spent 3 weeks in hotels in India, 6 hotels in all. At two of them, the service was exactly right, quite excellent I would say (Windamere in Darjeeling, Park Hyatt at Goa). In the other places, there was many occasions when I cringed mentally at the servility. I wanted to say ‘For God’s sake stand up straight and take pride in your work and yourself!!‘ but of course I did not 🙂
I am not sure why some kritis are regularly sung from the anupallavi. I bet some great maestro did so because he forgot his lines and then everybody else followed blindly (ok, ok, I shouldn’t be facetious!)!
Enjoy your music season in Bangalore. I’ll look out for some concerts trickling into youtube.
I find myself nodding to both your’s and Ramesh’s comments. This servility is probably much less in Kerala. I know for a fact that keeping people at the right positions is something that is ingrained from childhood in other places. I’ve lived in the North and East and traveled well to know that in some places, they are not as kind as you may want to believe – i.e. if these `menial laborers’ speak up or act out of place, they are dealt with with beatings or retribution. Truly, it is a sad commentary on a nation after 65 years of independence. In the movie Swades, there were many well choregraphed scenes that makes one ponder about similar issues. Now, have we – the folks like you and me you who have left India many years back view the social situation differently than the people who live in this apathetic order every day?
Hi Jay, I think you may be right – perhaps because we have left India for many years, we notice these things more. I noticed it enough for it to disturb me, for me to write this post. The thing is I believe in respect, and I wish to be treated respectfully by those who are in a position to offer me service (and by everyone else as well!). There is this line when being respectful crosses into being service…not a well defined line, but a very visible line nonetheless. Perhaps the line is different for each of us…
have you seen the youtube video of the concert by R. Vedavalli featuring “Endraikku…”? It is my favourite rendition. As a bonus, you can watch young Sumithra Vasudev singing together with her guru.
Welcome to my blog Robert 🙂 No, I have not seen Vedavalli’s rendition on youtube. I did a quick search but could not find it. Is it part of a longer concert? If you have a link please do attach.
(“Endraikku…” starts at 3.27 min.)
Oh very nice! A leisurely, peaceful, thoughtful exploration of Mukhari. Vedavalli has this – I can call only centred-ness – which enhances ragas of this kind. Thank you for that!
What about Mahanadhi Shobana Podigai one…It was really fantastic, Please share the URL
Indeed she sings very well! Here is a link from where you can download it; you need a free membership to sangethamshare.org . It is song number 4.
Thanks a bunch!
IF ANYBODY HAVE ‘KANDRU KURALAI ‘ SUNG BY MUSIRI SUBRAMANYA IYER, PLEASE SHARE WITH ME. MY MAIL ID IS KRS_GANESAN@HOTMAIL.COM.