‘You are what you are eat’ , so say the wise ones. The tradition of watching what you eat is an old one in India. According to Ayurveda, our bodies have vata, kapha or pitta doshas, or a combination thereof. For good health, we should eat that which stablizes the imbalance between the three doshas in our body. This has been a proven health system, surviving for centuries in India.
What about the makeup of our minds? Our minds are a combination of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik gunas, says Ayurveda. The gunas associated with what we eat affect our mind. For good mental health and well being, we need to ingest lots of sattvik food, less of rajasik food and avoid tamasik food.
But I ask, why consider only the food we eat? True, the body ingests only food. But does not the mind ingest so much more? What we see, what we read, what we hear – they all form food for the mind, do they not? Should we not watch out what we ingest mentally as well as physically?
It amazes me that the young ones, even those who are careful about their health, listen frequently to loud, throbbing music with lyrics which are often very passionate. The films they watch are much of the same, with added violence. Will these types of ‘ingestion’ not lead to future generations of people who are strongly rajasik or tamasik? Where are they getting their daily does of sattvik food for the mind?
I assure you that I am not deaf to the talent and music which exist outside the Carnatic world. I am known to hum along with Bollywood songs, not just the classically based ones, but even foot-tapping ones such as Piya tu ab to aajaa from olden times to even Kajra Re, Munni Badnam Hui and Sheela Ki Jawani! There, I have shocked you, I know! I admire the talent of the singers and the music directors who have created songs which find such mass appeal. I am not deaf even to Beyoncé gyrating to Put a ring on it or Shakira declaring that Hips don’t lie (wow!); they are both such incredible singers and dancers! So yes, there is interesting music everywhere but is it sattvik music? Far from it!
Carnatic Music is on the whole sattvik, but some compositions epitomize that. So today, my music has been selected to balance all the rajasik and tamasik qualities that our minds ingest from the world around us. I had the pleasure of listening to a performance by the Iyer Brothers on the Veena in Melbourne last October. They played Rave Himagiri, a swarajati in Raga Todi composed by Shyama Shastri. It is a prayer for blessings addressed to the Goddess Kamakshi. A truly wonderful composition, it is stately in pace, deep in tone, quiet in its quest. I never appreciated the full beauty of it until I listened to this performance by the Iyer Brothers. In the reverberating tones of the strings, the composition becomes the resonance of the universe, a pranava mantra in many syllables. A wonderful sattvik feast for your mind. I hope you love it as much as I do!
For a vocal version, I feature a unique combination of voices – Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer singing along with M.S.Subbulakshmi, two of the greatest musicians of the Carnatic world.
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Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Composer : Shyama Shastri
Raga : Todi
Language : Telugu
Note: I do not speak Telugu. The lyrics from multiple internet sources were verified / corrected by listening to many renditions by different artists. The translation is sourced from the web.
रावे हिमगिरि कुमारी कञ्चि कामाक्षि वरदा
मनवि विनवम्म शुभमिम्म मायम्म
नतजन परिपालिनि वनुचु नम्मितिनि सदा ब्रोव (alt: ब्रोवु )
मदमत्त महिष दानव मर्दिनि वेतदीर्चवे दूरमुगनु
काम पालिनि नीवे गतियनि कोरिति कोनियाडिति वेडिति
कामितार्थ फलदायकीयनेटि बिरुदु महिलो नीके तगु
कमल मुखी दरगळ घन नील कच भरा मृग विलोचन मणि रदना
गज गमना मदिलो निन्नु सदा दलचुकोनि नी ध्यानमे तल्लि
श्याम कृष्ण नुत विनु नाचिन्तनु वेवेग दीर्चभयमिय्यवे (दीर्चि अभयमिय्यवे)
कल्याणि कञ्चि कामाक्षि नी पादमे दिक्कु
For notation click here
rAvE himagiri kumArI kanchi kAmAkshi varadA
manavi vinamma shubhamimma mAyamma
natajana paripAlini vanachu nammitini sadA brOva (alt: brOvu)
madamatta mahisha dAnava mardini vEtadIrchavE dUrmuganu
kAma pAlini nIvE gatiyani kOriti kOniyADiti vEDiti
kAmitArtha phaladAyakIyanETi birudu mahilO nIkE tagu
kamala mukhI daragaLa ghana nIla kacha bharA mrga vilOchana maNi radanA
gaja gamanA madilO ninnu sadA dalachukOni nI dhyAnamE talli
shyAma krishNa nuta vinu nAchintanu vEvEga dIrchbhayamiyyavE
kalyANi kanchi kAmAkshi nI pAdamE dikku
O Kamakshi of Kanchi! O daughter of the snow clad mountains! O bestower of boons! Please come! O mother mine! Listen to my prayers and grant me welfare!
Protector of all those who bow to you! I believe in you only to protect me always.
O destroyer of the arrogant demon Mahisha! Please dispel my agony.
O protector of Cupid! You are my sole refuge. I praise you and beseech you (to protect me). There is no equal to you in all the worlds. Listen to my entreaties.
O lotus-faced one with a neck like a conch shell, thick dark hair, eyes like a deer, teeth like pearls, with a gait as majestic as an elephant! I always reflect upon you and meditate upon you !
O the one worshipped by Shyamakrishna (signature of the poet)! Quickly dispel my worries and bestow me with fearlessness. O auspicious one! O Kamakshi of Kanchi! Your feet are my only refuge.