Rama Ni Samanamevaru

ScaleYesterday I listened to two concerts on YouTube. Now this is a more momentous occasion than the statement reflects. I don’t often get time to listen non-stop to music so this was special. As usual my life feels like a runaway train with me hanging by my fingernails! But I’ll leave my life be for the moment. As I said, I was listening to concerts of two young men whose music I enjoy. Both have excellent gurus. Both have glorious voices, a remarkable stage presence and styles which have the mark of their guru on them. Actually, I find myself listening more and more often to young artists nowadays. I enjoy their energy and verve, and if they stumble now and then, they have a lifetime to fix it so I don’t worry about it.

The first concert I heard was by Sandeep Narayan. Since hearing him do a fantastic Bhairavi during the season in 2016, I have been clicking on his concerts online. This was a nice concert; I particularly liked the order and mix of kritis chosen which is a skill in itself. His dwijavanti was pleasing, his take on chalanatta was interesting and the hamsanandi thillana at the end and karpagame to conclude were both quite lovely. The main item on the menu was a solidly performed pakkala nilabadi in Kharaharapriya.

Next I turned to Vignesh Ishwar. I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to him live but I have really enjoyed a number of his concerts online. I was happily nodding to his singing when the young man launched into Kharaharapriya and I thought ‘Hey, I can do a one-to-one comparison now, can’t I!’. Alapana done, the kriti taken up was ‘Rama Ni Samanamevaru‘ which made me laugh. Here I was all set to do a comparison and there was Tyagaraja with ‘There is none to compare with you Rama!’. I was happy to find a theme for my blog post – our tendency to make comparisons. The rest of the concert was good. The main piece was in Begada, not my favourite raga, but I still enjoyed it.

The kriti set me thinking about how very judgemental we human beings are. We are forever judging others on the things they say and do, on their achievements and failures, on their character and abilities and so on. It is rather non-stop, isn’t it! Or is it only I? I talk confidently on a collective when all I am sure of is myself! I love my children equally, or so I hope, but I confess to comparing them especially when one of them makes me sad. ‘He is so oblivious to my needs‘ I’ll say to myself , ‘She would never have left me like this‘.  Or ‘She is so sharp, are girls always this unkind? He is so much kinder‘.   Of course, we also compare people to themselves. ‘He was so much better in his previous film‘.  ‘Oh, she looked nicer in red than in green, didn’t she!‘. It is not always unkind or negative.  We may as easily say ‘Amma, this is the best rasam you have ever made!‘ Still, the comparisons are more often negative than positive. Is it just our need to categorise and put things in order? As a Carnatic Music fan, I am often critical of performances. Even while I am listening to one musician, I may well be racking my brain thinking of some other artist, some other occasion when I felt a turn of a phrase may have sounded better! What a waste of time! Instead of being in the moment and enjoying the pleasure of what falls into my ears, my mind is scrambling elsewhere! Is it a common failing or is it just me? Whatever the case, it is high time to stop it I think…

As Vignesh Ishwar inspired this post, let us first listen to him singing Rama Nee Samanamevaru in Kharaharapriya. Alapana starts at 16:12 and the kriti at 28:15. Dr Hemalatha on the violin sounds very good.

And for a second rendition, who other than T.M.Krishna, who is Vignesh Ishwar’s guru. Maybe you will, like me, enjoy noting the stylistic similarities passed from guru to shishya.

And for an instrumental, I present the very talented vainikas from my own home town of Melbourne, the Iyer Brothers. The recording is a bit tinny but it is still enjoyable. They are accompanied by their daughters. The sound of four Veenas synchronised has such a majestic quality!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Tyagaraja
Raga : Kharaharapriya
Language : Telugu
(Note: I do not speak Telugu; the details below are based on a number of online resources)

Sanskrit Transliteration :

राम नी समानमॆवरु रघु वंशोद्धारक

भामा मरुवम्पु मॊलक भक्तियनु पञ्जरपु चिलुक

पलुकु पलुकुलकु तेनॆलॊलुकु माटलाडु
सोदरुलु गल हरि त्यागराज कुल विभूष मृदु सुभाष

English Transliteration :

rAma nI samAnamevaru raghu vamshOddhAraka

bhAmA maruvampu molaka bhaktiyanu panjarapu chiluka

paluku palukulaku tEneloluku mATalADu
sOdaralu gala hari tyAgarAja kula vibhUsha mRdu subhAsha

Translation :

Who (evaru) is equal (samAnamu) to you (nI), O Rama, the uplifter (uddhAraka) of the Raghu dynasty (vamsha)?

Like a parrot (chiluka) in a cage (panjarapu) of devotion (bhaktiyanu) of your wife (bhAma) who is as gentle (implied) as the shoot (molaka) of sweet marjoram (maruvampu). (Note: There seem to be a number of interpretations of this line – is it Sita who is like a parrot in the cage or is it Rama? Who is enslaved by devotion? The devotee or the devoted?)

You (implied) who have (gala) brothers (sOdaralu) who speak (mATalADu) like honey (tEne) drips (oluku) at each word (paluku palukulaku)!  You who youself (implied) are so gently well-spoken (mRudu subhAsha)!  O Hari (name of Vishnu), you are (implied) the ornament (vibhUsha) of Tyagaraja’s family (kula)!!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Iyer Brothers, Sandeep Narayan, T.M.Krishna, Tyagaraja, Uncategorized, Vignesh Ishwar

8 responses to “Rama Ni Samanamevaru

  1. indigoite

    Missed a post on this blog for long. Wonderful to see this. After all our own Ramanavami season, which was the subject of the previous post, is long over and we are almost at the Gokulashtami season !!

    Great to see two of the younger artists I too am very fond of, featured in this post. They are very very good when you listen live. Interestingly stalwart senior accompanists usually accompany both of them – Umayalpuram Sivaraman is frequently with them in keeping with his current tendency to accompany only young upcoming artists.

    Kharaharapriya is becoming increasingly rare in concerts (probably a consequence of it being seen as too “ordinary”) The penchant for rare ragas has made Kharaharapriya itself rare !! Nice that you have featured it, for is it not one of the majestic ragas ?

    Very impressed by the Iyer brothers and daughters. I have never heard them before, but this was a nice performance. As you commented, I loved the synchronisation. I was going to say that this is not often seen in kutcheris as under the guise of creativity and spontaneity, syncronisation is often sarificed, but then that would be falling into the trap of comparisons, wouldn’t it !!

    • T.M.Krishna is my favorite singer. Whenever I find a concert by him in You tube I listen to it. Youngsters like Sandeep Narayan, Kunnakudi Balakrishnan, Ramamakrishna Murthy etc. also do a pod job. I wish you also hear the old veteran war horse Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer in the 1958 Music Academy found in You Tube:
      Rama ni samanamu semmangudi srinivasa iyer

      • Thank you for your comment. I too am very much a fan of TMK and like you say, there are a number of youngsters who do a sterling job of keeping the tradition of Carnatic Music alive. In fact I did listen to Semmangudi when I was writing this post. There is a good live one by MLV as well on youtube, in case you missed it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4ST1rEM2o0&t=1267s .
        Cheers. Suja

    • I do like listening to young artists! As we age, there is a fear of clinging to the old and rejecting the new. Who amongst us hasn’t heard some oldie spouting ‘In my days blah blah blah’ or ‘You should have listened to XXX live, nobody can sing like that today!!’. I used to find that so annoying when I was young; I am determined never to ever start a sentence with ‘in my days’ 🙂 So this blog will do all it can to promote listening to the young.

      You are right, this penchant for rare ragas is an odd one…people keep wanting to do something ‘new’ or explore something unexplored I suppose. I have to admit that though I enjoy short pieces in rare ragas, I do not feel replete after a kutcheri unless I have heard a solid Kambhoji, Kalyani, Todi, Kharaharapriya or the like. Oh God, I am an old fuddy duddy after all!!!

      The Iyer Brothers are very very good, especially when live. I have featured them before in this blog. They often do the circuit in Chennai during the season, so perhaps you can catch them next time.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. mohan

    I don’t want to go into the problem here. Two of the great artists T.M Krishna and Nithyshree needlessly got into the mess.

  3. Having come across your blog quite recently, I am loving the process of dipping into various posts and comments section.
    I agree on both points; the urge to romanticize our own times and pretend it was perfect and the incessant urge to judge everyone all the time! Let us know how you have gotten on with your resolve to avoid “ in my days…”
    And yes not a big fan of the rare raga craze. Familiar ragas and Kritis kindle warm memories and emotions. I do think musicians often forget that it’s not all about their own prowess and creativity but also about the beauty of music and the genius of the composer!

    • Hello again 🙂 The advantage of writing posts on Carnatic music is that they don’t get dated. I see readers comment on posts written 7-8 years back which I have myself forgotten 🙂 The only problem is that sometimes links to videos in YouTube might disappear. It’s hard for me to keep checking on old posts but I do what I can.

      Actually I’m very wary of saying ‘in my days’ and don’t think I’ve ever done so 🙂 But yes, I constantly catch myself comparing people and being judgemental, much to my shame! Even at my advanced age, I’m still a work in progress..

      Totally agree with you regarding musicians thinking more of displaying their skills rather than the listeners’ experience….kind of reminds me of my dear husband displaying his driving skills on German autobahns while I closed my eyes and chanted stotrams:) Sure he drove well at 220 kms per hour but what about the passenger experience ?

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