Kana Kan Kodi Vendum

Lord ShivaHappy Shivaratri everyone! May Lord Shiva bless us all!

As always, I want to celebrate the day with a post in Lord Shiva’s honour. I have chosen a song which I love for many reasons. Kana Kan Kodi Vendum is written by Papanasam Sivan in praise of the Lord Kapaleeshwarar. Mylapore, where the temple is located, was the poet’s home ground, as it was my father’s. I remember many a visit to this temple in my childhood, many a concert heard in its grounds. I can never visit Chennai without a visit to this temple where echoes of my childhood and the loving care of my parents can still be heard deep in my heart.

I love this song also because it is in Kambhoji, a raga dear to me. Why do some ragas resonate inside you like a reflection of an emotion you never knew you had? When Kambhoji is sung, not just my head but my whole being sways in time. I meet the characteristic phrases of the raga like I would a dear friend of long standing.

A reader had commented recently that he enjoys kritis in Tamil, a language which he feels to be his own. That made me think. I too, I realise, perk up a little when a kriti is in Tamil. There is an added pleasure to enjoying the lyrics when the consonants and vowels sit so very comfortably on my tongue! This is surprising, as I believe I am more competent in Hindi and I speak Bengali more often than I speak Tamil. Still, one’s mother tongue has a special place in one’s heart, does it not.

I also love the lyrics of songs which are descriptive in nature. That drew me to Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer who is adept at drawing a picture which feels so very real. Papanasam Sivan has proven that he too can do an admirable job of describing a scene. Do check out the lyrics in the footnote. In my mind, I substitute the utsava moorti (the processional idol) by our Lord Himself, dressed not in skins and coated with ashes, but resplendent with glittering ornaments and fragrant garlands, His Goddess and His sons following. I add to this imagery the sound of the Nayanars singing and Nandi playing his mridangam. Would not the hordes of devotees melt at this sight and fall to His feet as Papanasam Sivan describes? Would they not be simply enchanted? Imagery and visualisation are powerful tools used for goal setting, self-improvement and meditation.  Lyrics which include wonderful imagery are good tools in our spiritual arsenal.

But you know, songs I like invariably become background music to my own life. It has just been a few weeks that my grandson has learnt to walk. He is still unsteady on his feet, his legs splayed wide for better balance. With his new skill, he sets out to explore the world with intrepidity! What a sight that is! The other day we set him loose in the park and he ventured courageously to explore his surroundings. My husband followed with the pram and the various paraphernalia that babies need, and I followed with my hands ready to grab the little one if needed. A little procession 🙂 And I said to myself ‘En kaNmaNiyin bavani kANa kaN koDi vENDum’ (One needs countless eyes to see my darling parading!). So there you are, I have brought the joy of the sacred to the profane, but the profane seems sacred to me now. Perhaps the separation between the two is not a chasm but just an ephemeral screen.

To present you this song, I bring to you a performance by Madurai Mani Iyer. My sister will no doubt laugh at me, as we were bombarded with his music in our childhood and have since kept quite away from it. I smile as I listen to it a number of times in the last few days, freely admitting that he is quite incomparable. I am remembering my father and his love for Madurai Mani’s music as I post this.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Papanasam Sivan
Raga : Kambhoji
Language : Tamil


காணக் கண் கோடி வேண்டும் கபாலியின் பவனி (காணக் )
மாணிக்கம் வைரம் முதல் நவரத்னாபரணமும்
மணமார் பற்பல மலர் மாலைகளும் முகமும்

மதியோடு தாராகணம் நிறையும் அந்தி
வானமோ கமல வனமோ என மனம்
மயங்க அகளங்க அங்கம் யாவும் இலங்க
அபாங்க அருள் மழை பொழி பவனி (காணக் )


மாலோடையன் பணியும் மண்ணும் விண்ணும் பரவும்
மறை ஆகமன் துதிக்கும் இறைவன் அருள் பெறவே
காலம் செல்லுமுன் கனதனமும் தந்தார்க்கு நன்றி
கருதிக் கண்ணாரக் கண்டுள்ளுருகிப் பணியப் பலர்
காண அறுமுகனும் கணபதியும் சண்டேச்வரனும்
சிவகணமும் தொடர கலைவாணி
திருவும் பணி கற்பக நாயகி வாமன்
அதிகாரநந்தி சேவைதனைக் (காணக் )

kANak kaN koDi vENDum kapAliyin bavani (kANak)

mANikkam vairam mudal navaratnAbharaNamum
maNamAr paRpala malar mAlaigaLum mugamum
madiyODu tArAgaNam niRaiyum andi
vaAnamO kamala vanamO ena manam
mayanga agaLanga angam yAvum ilanga
apAnga aruL mazhai pozhi bavani (kANak)

mAlODaiyan paNiyum maNNum viNNum paravum
maRai Agaman tudikkum iRaivan aruL peRavE
kAlam sellumun ghanadhanamum tandArkku nanDRi
karudik kaNNaarak kanDuLLurugip paNiyap palar
kANa aRumuganum gaNapatiyum chanDEsvaranum
shivagaNamum toDarak kalai vANi
tiruvum paNi kaRpaga nAyaki vAman
adikAranandi sevaidanaik (kANak)

One needs (vENDum) countless (kODi – literally, a crore/10 million) eyes to see (kANa) the procession (bavani) of Lord Kapali (Lord Shiva of Kapali temple, Mylapore).
With His appearance (mugamum) decorated (implied) with ornaments (AbharaNamum) studded (implied) with the nine (nava) gems (ratnam) starting from (mudal) rubies (mANikkam) and diamonds (vairam),  and garlands (mAlaugaLumum) of many (paRpala) flowers (malar) full of (Ar) fragrance (maNam), with all (yAvum) His unblemished (agaLanga) limbs (angam) shining brightly (ilanga), our minds (manam) become enchanted (mayanga) wondering if it is (ena) the twilight (andi) sky (vAnam) full of (niRaiyum) stars (tArAgaNam) along with (ODu) the moon (madi), or is it (implied) a lotus (kamala) forest (vanam) . One needs countless eyes to see (from pallavi) the procession (bavani) of the Lord (implied) who showers (mazhai pozhi) grace (aruL) with the corner of his eyes (apanga).
Before (mun) any further (implied) time (kAlam) passes (sellum), with the intention of (karudi) of gratitude (nanDRi) to the One who gave (tandArkku) gold (ghanam) and wealth (dhanam), and to get (peravE) His grace (aruL), let us (implied) bow down (paNIya) with a melting heart (uL=inside, uRugi=melting) after watching (kANDu) to the solace (ARa) of the eyes (kAN) the procession of the Lord (iRaivan) who is paid obeisance to by (paNiyum) Lord Vishnu (mAl) along with (ODu) Brahma (aiyan), and who is eulogised/praised (tudikkum) in the Vedas (maRai) and Agamas (Agaman) which are spread (paravum) throughout the world (maNNum) and heavens (viNNum). One needs countless eyes to see (implied) the service (sEvai danai) of Lord Shiva (vAman) on his vehicle with a bull’s face and body of a man (adikAranandi), along with Goddess Karpagambal (kaRpaga nAyaki) being served by (paNi) Goddess Saraswati (kalai vANi) and Goddess Lakshmi (tiruvum), followed by (toDara) Lord Subrahmanya (arumugamum), Lord Ganesha (gaNapatiyum), Lord Chandikeshwara (chandesvaranum), and the Ganas (shivagaNamum), while many (palar) watch (kANa).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Madurai Mani Iyer, Papanasam Sivan

14 responses to “Kana Kan Kodi Vendum

  1. Rishi

    First of all, it’s so nice to see the vid of your ‘kanmaniyin bhavani’ . I always like these sidelights in seriously written blogs.
    I am reminded of an incident that happened when I was visiting my daughter and her family in the U.S. several years ago,My granddaughter was then a mere child of two or three years. They used to play the song “Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma”. Even as she was playing with some toy, the child anticipated ‘amma’ every time and uttered it!
    Please permit me to say that in my notebook where I am writing down and enjoying the lyrics of Tamil compositions, many were spotted and taken from your delectable blog but this I already took from somewhere else. Naturally, there are scores and scores (in two sense of the word)!
    May I provide a link to the song:

    This by Vijay Siva is enjoyable.

    • Thank you 🙂 My grandson’s wanderings are indeed a procession as my husband follows with the pram and various paraphernalia that babies need, and I walk along ready to grab the little one if so needed!! Nice memory about your grandchild – now you can never listen to Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma without a little smile of recognition of her cleverness. And isn’t that just lovely! Remembering Goddess Lakshmi and the little Lakshmi of your own home in the same breath!
      I listened to Vijay Siva just yesterday and indeed he is very enjoyable. Thanks for the link, other readers may like to hear it too.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Excellent Madam, Very nice post. All my favourites- Kapali temple at Mylapore, Madurai MaNi Iyer Kambodhi ragam ( NCVasanthakokilam’s Anandha Natanam AdinAL..Sakthi of Sudhhnaananda Barathy in that raga is one of the greatest rendering) PapaNaasam Sivan Thamizh lyrics

  3. Thyagarajan Mani

    Very nice. Thank you Madam 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  4. R Sankara Prasad

    Hi Suja,

    Warm Greetings. Thanks a ton for this wonderful Shivarathri gift. Just a minor correction i guess. அகளங்க அங்கம் யாவும் இளங்க would refer to Lord’s pristine body parts (and not our limbs as given in the translation) In my humble and considered view it is not “இளங்க” but “இலங்க” .

    Since you say Kambhoji is one of your fav raga-s, here is something for you: with lot of respect and affection , I invite you to taste this vintage Kambhoji alapana and niraval at the point – ninuvina gati evvaru… (many may find that the krithi is not rendered with clarity though- it is lovely krithi appealing in terms of lyrical quality, tune and a scintillating swara-sahityam)

    Somu – Lalgudi – Umayalpuram Sivaraman Magic

    God Bless!

    • Warm greetings to you too! Ah, so that’s it! I was so confused while trying to translate that phrase, it made no sense at all…but with இலங்க, it makes perfect sense! Thank you, I appreciate your help. I will make the correction.
      Unfortunately, the link you have given for Madurai Somu’s rendition is not working for me. I’ll do a search to see if any other link is there. Thanks for the recommendation.
      Cheers. Suja

  5. R Sankara Prasad ( R S Prasad)

    Hi Suja,

    Sharing a few more thoughts on Kambhoji…. Verily the King among raga-s, Somu had a marked leaning for this raga – even while presenting ragamalika virutham-s in Thamizh… With lots of respect and affection, I present this link for you and all the readers here to enjoy this …. Beginning with Mohanam (imitating Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer et al 🙂 ) he then proceeds to give a royal treatment to Kambhoji (that Niagra-Nishada-glide!!!) and then it’s cascade of raga-s, each more enchanting than the other… (what follows after that may not be that palatable… 😦 )

    Today bcoz of your post I was inspired to check out Kambhoji renditions…one more on the way for you and the readers of this blog…

    • Hi again Prasad..or it it Sankar..This is an interesting Ragamalika, isn’t it. Do you sometimes wonder if some voices are suited to some ragas? I do. Mohanam, Kambhoji, Shanmukhapriya, and Madhyamavati are all given particularly majestic mood in his voice and I really enjoyed that. Darbari Kanada not so much…..:) Ranjani for me needs a softer touch, a certain tenderness which I didn’t find. I’m not sure I like Nadanamakriya in ragamalikas, I’m not sure why. Perhaps I like it the raga too much and want to be immersed, not shown just a glimpse. Thanks for the link, the Kambhoji was indeed a fine one!
      Cheers. Suja

  6. R Sankara Prasad (R S Prasad)

    Talking of Kambhoji, I recall my school days, when we would wake up to KBS’ stunning raagamalika – Gnanapazhathai. Beginning with a brilliant Kambhoji, KBS would segue into a soul-stirring Saveri – when she lingers on Riiii, after touching thara-staayi daivatham, tears would flow. Mohanam,Kapi, Kedaragowlai would follow. With a flourish she would wrap it up with Kanada – “Thandapani theivame…” And then when she launches into Pazham Neeyappa in Shanmukhapriya, it’s simply sublime.

    Enjoy, here we go!

    • It really is quite stunning, isn’t it! I have listened to this innumerable times over the years and it still sounds quite amazing. I never think in terms of ragas when it comes to songs like this – they seem to have a personality which goes beyond any technicalities.
      Cheers. Suja
      (Sorry for the delayed response – have had a crazily busy week)

  7. indigoite

    For once the excellence of music in your post is completely overshadowed by the most delightful R. He wins hands down 🙂

    Kambhoji, the most ancient of ragas, is probably on most listeners’ favourite list. Sublime raga indeed. Madurai Mani’s more popular krithi in this raga is probably Maa Janaki, and just like you i have been bombarded with this a thousand times in my childhood, so much so that even though I did not like the genre at that time, I could probably hum the entire song !

    As an aside, I rarely hear Kambhoji as the main piece in concerts today. Not sure why . Often its because artistes tend to choose less common ragas for their main piece in the belief that this shows their versatility. But then Thodi is nowadays being sung so often that I wonder why Kambhoji is not. Perhaps just a seasonal trend.

    • Our little fellow is a gem indeed 🙂 BTW his walking is improving rapidly; he stumbles far less now!

      I wonder at your saying that Kambhoji doesn’t seem to be sung often. As you know, I don’t attend many concerts so all my music listening is ‘pick and choose’ from various sources and Kambhoji features strongly in my playlist. It’s like a nice and warm ‘jeera-milagu-sathumadu and rice’ on a day when my spirit is low; it soothes my ills and lets me heal my wounds 🙂 It is a such well loved ragam! Its a shame artists choose some unknown ragams over this stalwart. Hopefully it will become fashionable one day soon.
      Cheers. Suja

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