Happy 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.
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Raga : Kambhoji
Language : Tamil
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 )
மறை ஆகமன் துதிக்கும் இறைவன் அருள் பெறவே
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)