Category Archives: D.K.Pattammal

Shivakama Sundari

Happy Navaratri to all my readers! Though as I’ve been away so long from blogging, I am not certain if there are any readers left to see my greetings..

The thing is, I’ve not been listening to music and really, its quite impossible to be a music blogger if that’s the case! When I blogged regularly, I was listening to music all day long….when I walked, when I did my household chores, when I drove or pursued my artistic interests. But for quite a while I’ve been very distracted. First, by the stressful process of moving internationally, and then because my attention turned to spiritual matters. Music was replaced by lectures on topics related to the vedas, upanishads, itihasasas and mysticism. We live in lucky times with so many lectures available on YouTube and podcasts as well! I’m learning so much, and my mind is so very occupied that there hasn’t been much space left for music. For those who are wondering, I’ve listened to simply hours and hours of lectures by Swami Sarvapriyananda who is amazingly erudite and a wonderful speaker. But given that I cling to my devotion and advaita is not really my marga, I also listen to upanyasams by Velukkudi Krishnan swamigal, Dushyant Sridhar etc. Of course, music itself is divine and Carnatic Music is devotional in essence so I have not wandered too far from where I was!

I’ve also been busy with family. My grandson is a little bundle of energy, mischief, playfulness and above all, love. I cook for him, tell stories and sing songs, play lego, hide&seek, chase, digging in the backyard and myriad other games which keeps us both occupied all day. He has taken over my life and I feel so blessed to have him even as I lie exhausted after a day of baby sitting! Good karma there..

My daughter made me a grandmother again recently but both mother and child did not have it easy and we have been through some very worrying times. And I’ve had some niggling health issues as well. Life throws these challenges when you least expect them, doesn’t it! We all have to deal with our karma. Who knows what I did in my previous lives? Who can keep track of all the harm I have done in this life? How are we to escape from this never ending loop that we are stuck in?

That brings me to the song choice of today. I was listening to a kutcheri on YouTube yesterday when the musician sang Shivakama Sundari in Mukhari, composed by Papanasam Sivan. Though I have listened to and liked this song for longer than I remember, it was only yesterday that the words of the anupallavi struck a chord. ‘Bless me‘ says the poet-composer ‘to meditate on you so that my old karma does not cling to me‘. How interesting, I thought to myself, that I am searching in all those lectures for something that the music I have listened to all my life has always been saying!

I have to, of course, start with D.K.Pattammal’s rendition as she was famous for singing Papanasam Sivan’s many compositions. I admit that I have not done the due diligence of picking the best possible rendition; the one I found first is what I present below.

I also quite enjoyed Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s rendition which he sings with a lot of emotion. I hope you enjoy it too.


Footnote : Lyrics and Translation

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
சிவகாம சுந்தரி ஜகதம்பா வந்தருள் தந்தருள்

அனுபல்லவி
பவ ரோகம் அற வேறு மருந்தேது
பழ வினைகள் தொடராமல் உனை பஜிக்க

சரணம்
கேளாயோ என் முறைகள் ( திரு செவியில் – for repetition) உயர் சாம
கீத வினோதினி போதும் உன் சோதனை 
(இனி) தாளேனே அகதி நானே
ராமதாசன் பணியும் அபிராமி வாமி

Transliteration in English

pallavi
shivakAma sundari jagadamba vandaruL tandaruL

anupallavi
bhava rOgam aRa vERu marundEdu
pazha vinaigaL toDarAmal unai bhajikka

charaNam
kELAyO en muraigaL (tiru seviyil – for repetion) uyar sAma
gIta vinOdini pOdum un sOdanai
(ini) tALEnE agadi nAnE
rAmadAsan paNiyum abhirAmi vAmi

Translation in English

pallavi
Oh beautiful (sundarI) mother (ambA) of the world (jagat) who is desired (kAma) by Shiva, grace (aRul) me (implied) by coming (vandu) and giving (tandu) me (implied) your blessings (aruL).

anupallavi
What else (vEru Edu) is the medicine/cure (marundu) to destroy (aRa) the disease (rOgam) of existence (bhava)? Bless me (implied by pallavi) to meditate on you (unai bhajikka) so that old (pazha) karma (vinai) does not cling/follow (todarAmal).

charaNam
Do listen (kELAyO) (with your to divine ears (tiru seviyil)) my (en) complaints (muRaiyai – muRai is a rule, muRaiyIDu is a complaint against a rule, here the rule of karma), Oh Goddess (implied) who delights (vinOdini) in the great (uyar) music (gIta) of Sama Veda! Enough (pOdum) of your (un) trials (sOdanai), I cannot bear it (tALEnE); I am indeed (nAnE) helpless / with no other recourse (agadi), Oh Abhirami (Paravati-who is beautiful), Oh Vami (Parvati-who is the left half of Shiva) who is served by/bowed to by rAmadAsan (the signature of the composer) (paNiyum).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, D.K.Pattammal, Papanasam Sivan, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Bhaja Re Manasa

AstrologyWhat does Astrology mean to you? The reaction to this question falls within a wide spectrum. Some think of it in a total negative light, as mumbo-jumbo practised by charlatans to mislead the world. Others may see it as a harmless superstition, with maybe some grains of truth but on the whole ignore it. Yet others will get a reading done for arranging a wedding or some big event but otherwise have a benign and easy going attitude towards it. And of course there are those who follow it to the last letter, seeing their astrologer more regularly than their doctor. Where do you stand?

My parents were believers. My mother checked ‘rAhu kAlam’ before doing anything of importance (or not of importance). She would read the Tamil astrological magazine Balajothidam end-to-end and would quote knowledgably from it when the occasion arose. My father had a very close relationship with his astrologer. His very favourite religious ceremony was the ‘Navagraha Shanti Homam’ to appease the planets.

Where do I stand? Influenced by my parents, I educated myself on astrology when I was still a teenager. I found it interesting but with so many conditions and counter-conditions, I also found it very confusing. How could anybody balance all the different elements and reach exactly the right prediction? I felt that whether there was truth in it or not, there was possibly very little truth in most practitioners.

When I was in my thirties, I was cleaning up some paperwork while I was visiting my parents. There I found a 30-year old astrological prediction given to my father. Amazingly, many (but not all) of the predictions had come true..and I don’t mean general predictions, but very particular ones which could not have been just an educated guess. This strengthened my ideas and views.

So is it really the planets which determine our destiny? I am not sure. You can give a pen and paper to anyone but will they all write like Shakespeare? Does the talent lie in the pen or Shakespeare’s mind and spirit? I believe that probabilities for the future can be predicted to an extent. I believe also that an astrological chart can be used as a tool, just as someone’s palm or Tarot cards. However,I think that the glimpse of the future lies not in the chart or the palm but in the mind and spirit of the one who sees.

My thoughts today are triggered by the lyrics of Bhaja Re Manasa, a wonderful song in Abheri by Mysore Vasudevachar. The composer urges his -and our- mind to dwell upon Lord Rama, describing his many qualities. Of interest, given my topic today, is his referring to Him as the leader of the Navagrahas. I so love Abheri, it always lulls me into a peaceful state of mind.

I had a very happy day yesterday listening non-stop to Abheri! So whom should we listen to today? My first choice is a rendition by the legendary D.K.Pattammal (1919-2009). This is from a live recording in 1977. She is vocally supported by her equally accomplished brother D.K.Jayaraman. DKP’s voice is strong and has such a ‘gambheera bhavam’! The sruthi is so very low, she switches an octave for the low notes..I wonder if she lowered the sruthi so that DKJ could accompany her..

Click here to listen.

As I was trolling YouTube I listened to this very nice live presentation by Amrutha Venkatesh (in two parts). She is a young lady with a strong voice and a very nice throw, I enjoyed listening to her very much.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
भजरे रे मानस श्री रघुवीरम्
भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रदम् वासुदेवम् हरिम्

अनुपल्लवि
वृजिन विदूरम् विश्वाकारम् (alt: विश्वाधारम्)
सुजन मन्दारम् सुन्दराकारम्

चरणम्
रावण वधनम् रक्षित भुवनम्
रवि शशि नयनम् रविजाति मदनम्
रविजादि वानर परिवृतम् नरवरम्
रत्न हार परिशोभित कण्ठकम्

रवि शशि कुज बुध गुरु
शुक्र शनैश्चर राहु केतु नेतारम्
राज कुमारम् रामम्
पवनजाप्त अवनिजा मनोहरम्

Transliteration

pallavi
bhajarE rE mAnasa raghuvIram
bhukti mukti pradam vAsudEvam harim

anupallavi
v.rjina vidUram vishvAkAram (alt: vishvAdhAram)
sujana mandAram sundarAkAram

charaNam
rAvaNa vadhanam rakshita bhuvanam
ravi shashi nayanam ravi jAti madanam
ravijAdi vAnara pariv.rtam naravaram
ratna hAra parishObhita kanTHakam

ravi shashi kuja budha guru
shukra shanaishchara rahu kEtu nEtAram
rAja kumAram rAmam
pavanjApta avanijA manoharam

Translation

O Mind (rE mAnasa), revere (bhaja) Lord Rama, the hero (vIram) of the Raghu clan. He is the provider (pradam) of both enjoyment (bhukti) and salvation (mukti). He is Vasudeva. He is Hari.

He is far (vidUram) from wickedness (v.rijina). He is the embodiment (AkAram) of the universe (vishva). (Alternate: He is the foundation (AdhAram) of the universe (vishva)). To the virtuous (sujana), he is the Mandara flower (unsure what this implies).  He has a beautiful (sundara) form (AkAram).

He vanquished (vadha) Ravana and protected (rakshita) the world (bhuvanam). His eyes (nayanam) are like the sun (ravi) and the moon (shashi).  He is the God of Love (madanam) of the Sun dynasty (ravi jAti). He is surrounded (pariv.rtam) by the Vanaras such as son of the Sun, Sugriva (ravija) etc (Adi). His throat (kanTHakam) is adorned (parishObhita) by a jewelled (ratna) necklace (hAra).

He is the leader (nEtAram) of the Navagrahas – Sun (ravi), Moon (shashi), Mars (kuja), Mercury (budha), Jupiter (guru), Venus (shukra), Saturn (shanaishchara), Rahu and Ketu. He is Rama, the son (kumAram) of a king (rAja), the one dear to (Apta) to Hanuman (pavana) and beloved  (manOharam) to Sita (avanijA=daughter of the earth).

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Filed under Amrutha Venkatesh, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, D.K.Pattammal, Mysore Vasudevachar

Eppadi Padinaro

How did they sing, O Lord Shiva? I too would like to sing like that! Just as the saints Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar sang of you with full knowledge, I too would like to sing like that!

KirtanPoetry. Music. Sainthood. Do these three words make a seamless connection in your mind? Perhaps not. Whichever part of the world you come from, I assume that Poetry and Music will seem intimately connected to you . But Sainthood?

Perhaps the first word-association with Saints would be to teaching and miracles. Christian Saints always remind me of martyrdom, as do the courageous Sikh Saints. Buddhist Saints remind me of detachment and compassion, of renunciation and self-realisation. Sufi Saints call to mind their mysticism.

But when we talk of Hindu Saints, my mind almost always jumps to poetry and music.  Be it Narada from mythical times, Valmiki from Vedic times, the Azhwars (6th-9th c.), the Nayanmars (5th-10th c.), Adi Shankara (8th c.), Namdev (14th c.),  Purandaradasa (15th c.), Meerabai (15th c.), Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (15th c.), Tulsidas (16th c., Tukaram (17th c.), Tyagaraja (18th c.).…the list is endless..we associate so many of our most important Saints with song.

The list of poet-musician Saints is indeed so long and intimidating that any devotional poet-musician would be struck with a sense of inadequacy! How did they write such beautiful poetry that centuries afterwards we still talk of them with awe? How did they sing such that God himself descended to bless them, as legends tell us? How did they create music which leaves leaves us spellbound even after hundreds of years, even when the world has changed so much from the world in which the music was created?

A poet-composer of today has much to live up to, which is what my song choice of today is about. ‘How did they sing?’ Suddhananda Bharati (1897-1990) wonders. ‘I wish to sing in the same way!’. He goes on to say ‘Overflowing with compassion, heart melting with your love, how did they sing sweetly of you in chaste Tamil everyday ?’  For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

Though I knew of Suddhanada Bharati’s poetry, I knew little of his life.  I did some research online and found that he had led a very interesting life indeed. I have written a short synopsis for those who would like to know more of him. Click here to read.

Eppadi Padinaro is set to Raga Karnataka Devagandhari. To know a bit more about the raga, click here. From what I have read, Suddhananda Bharati was a poet. I could not verify if he set the song to music as well and if not, who did so.

To present this song, I have chosen a particularly pleasing rendition of a great musician from yesteryears, D.K.Pattammal (1919-2009).

For an instrumental version, listen below to Kadri Gopalnath on the Sax.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

எப்படி பாடினரோ அடியார்
அப்படிப் பாட நான்
ஆசை கொண்டேன் சிவனே !

அப்பரும் சுந்தரரும்
ஆளுடைப் பிள்ளையும்
அருள் மணி வாசகரும்
பொருளுணர்ந்து உன்னையே (எப்படி பாடினரோ)

குருமணி சங்கரரும்
அருமை தாயுமானாரும்
அருணகிரி நாதரும்
அருட்ஜோதி வள்ளலும்
கருணைக்கடல் பெருகி
காதலினால் உருகி
கனித்தமிழ் சொல்லினால்
இனிதுனை அனுதினம் (எப்படி பாடினரோ)

Translation

eppaDi pADinarO adiyAr
appaDi pADa nAn
Asai koNDEn shivanE (eppaDi)

apparum sundararum
ALuDai piLLaiyum
aruL maNi vAsakarum
poruLuNarndu unnaiyE (eppaDi)

gurumaNi shankararum
arumai tAyumAnArum
aruNagirinAdarum
arutjyOti vaLLalum
karuNaikkaDal perugi
kAdalinAl urugi
kanittamizh sollinAl
inidunai anudinam (eppaDi)

Translation

How did they sing, O Lord Shiva? I too would like to sing like that!

Just as the saints Appar, Sundararar, Aludai Pillai (another name for Sambandar) and Manikkavasagar sang of you with full knowledge/understanding (I too would like to sing like that).

Overflowing with compassion, hearts melting with your love, how did the great Guru Shankara, the dear Thaayumaanavar, Arunagirinathar and Vallalaar sing sweetly of you in chaste Tamil everyday? (I too would would like to sing like that).

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, D.K.Pattammal, Kadri Gopalnath, Suddhananda Bharathi