Category Archives: Ganesh-Kumaresh

Sri Kamakshi Katakshi

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Happy New Year to all my Tamil readers! In Southern India the New Year signals the start of the extreme heat to follow but here in Europe, Spring is in the air and a spring is in my step. We set back the clocks a couple of weeks ago and light streams into my home until late in the evening and the lake glints outside my windows as if diamonds were scattered on it. The French Alps that I see across the lake are still snow-capped but only the highest of them will remain so through summer. The quality of light has changed from the cool blue-greys of winter to brilliant warm light of the summer sky. The gardeners are busy everywhere, planting small flowering plants in the roundabouts and the flower beds which abound in the city. Today when I went for my morning walk I noticed that the first of the daffodils are out. Perhaps next week I’ll go out a bit further to see the fields of narcissus. The tulips will be out soon and like each year, I will set out to see the multi-coloured blooms. There is joyfulness in the air and I am infected by it.

This phenomenon of an upward mood swing with the coming of spring is fairly common. In fact, there is a syndrome called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which occurs during fall and winter, when the days are shorter, and goes away with the advent of spring. The chemistry of our bodies is an extraordinary thing, isn’t it? And the workings of our mind is even more marvellous. Just as light can affect the way our body works, and hence the mind, so too can music affect our minds, and hence our bodies. How do we bring Spring into our minds with music? Obviously with the Raga Vasanta which means Spring! I am always seduced by the elegance of this raga, it’s beautiful slides and upbeat mood. I have a recording of Sri Kamakshi by the violin maestros Ganesh & Kumaresh which stands amongst the most-listened in my music library. I must say that Vasanta sounds simply magical in their hands!

Recently the maestros performed in Geneva. I had written an email to their website before their arrival, requesting that they perform Vasanta and they kindly obliged. I was delighted to hear Sri Kamakshi live; a week has passed and I am still in an ‘enhanced’ state!

In this lovely and uplifting Kriti, the poet-composer Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai* refers to the Goddess Kamakshi as the embodiment of Music and  begs her to come and remove his emptiness and loneliness. With this song, I too pray that the good Goddess, the very embodiment of vasantam (Spring), scatter away the emptiness and loneliness of winter and usher in the blooming of devotion and joy in my heart. If you would like to know more about this raga, click here.

I present this fantastic rendition by the young geniuses on the violin, the Maestros Ganesh and Kumaresh. It is a radio recording and the sound quality is not the best but it is still superb (26 mins).

Alternate link in Sangeethapriya.

For a vocal version, listen to Jon Higgins, our own American bhagavatar, singing this song with astonishing ease (6 mins).

Alternate link in Sangeethapriya.

* There seems to be some confusion regarding the composer of this kriti. It is ascribed to Subbaraya Shastri in a number of places yet there seems to be a convincing case for those who say it is by Ramaswami Pillai. Without having real knowledge, I have opted to use the latter’s name in my blog.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
ஸ்ரீ காமாக்ஷி கடாக்ஷி

அனுபல்லவி
ஏக வச்துவாக எங்கும்/எங்குமே நிறைந்தாயே
போக மோக்ஷம் பக்தர்க்கு புரிந்திடும் எந்தன் தாயே

சரணம்
வேதாகம சாஸ்திர நாத ச்வரூபிணியே
வேகமே வந்திப்போதென் வறுமையை நீக்குவாயே (alt: போக்குவையே)
ஆதாரம் எனக்கு நீ வேதபுரீச்வரியே
அம்பா சித்தம் இறங்கி அடிமையை பாலிப்பாயே
மாநிலம் தனில் தேவி நின் மகிமையை சொல்ல
மாலயனாலும் ஆகுமா உனக்கு சமானம் இனி
தெய்வமா நிஜமா குமாரனை ரக்ஷி

Transliteration

pallavi
shrI kAmAkshi kaTAkshi

anupallavi
Eka vastuvAga engum/engumE niraindAyE
bhOga mOksham bhaktarkku purindiDum endan tAyE

charaNam
vEdAgama shAstra nAda svarUpiNiyE
vEgamE vandippOden (vandu+ippo+en) varumaiyai nIkkuvAyE
AdhAram enakku nI vEdapurIshvariyE
ambA chittam irangi aDimaiyai pAlippAyE
mAnilam tanil dEvi nin mahimaiyai solla
mAlayanAlum AgumA unakku samAnam ini
deivamA nijamA kumAranai rakshi

Translation

O Kamakshi, she with the sidelong glance (it is said that even a sideways glance of the Devi is filled with compassion and grace, so kaTAkshi implies the compassionate one)

You who are all pervading as the One, you who provide prosperity and salvation to your devotees, my mother.

You who are the essence of the Vedas and Agamas, you are the embodiment of music. Please come now and remove my loneliness and emptiness. (note: vaRumai means poverty but also emptiness and loneliness; the latter meaning seems more appropriate here). You are my support, the Goddess of Vedapuri. Have compassion for this servant of yours and protect me. In this world who can describe your glory, not even Vishnu or Brahma! There is no deity equal to you! In truth come and protect your son.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Jon Higgins, Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai

Pirava Varam Tarum

Please give me the boon that I may not be born again O Lord! Even if I am born again, give me the boon that I do not forget your divine feet. O Beloved of Parvati ! Will my ties never break? Please come and bless me so that the sins of the past are removed, so that my mental anxiety comes to an end and I can attain your lotus like feet!

Verona ArenaIt is Diwali day and I find myself in the centre of a Roman amphitheatre. I rotate slowly, taking in the magnificence of the stones around me. We are in Verona, Italy with our friends from India for whom we are playing tour-guides. We have been here before; we had seen a performance of the opera Aida a few years ago. At that time the arena was overflowing with people, today there are just a couple of tourists besides us. In the quietness which surrounds me, I am deeply aware of the past. These stones have held their place for 2000 years. They have seen gladiators come to a gory end, knights jousting, actors performing and bulls bleeding their hearts out. Today as I stand before them I wonder, what was it all for? The gladiators who fought hard are gone, both the winners and the losers. The lords who ordered the fights are gone, as is the audience which craved blood. The triumphs and the tragedies of the past are all gone. All for nothing. No winners here, only losers. I am overwhelmed with a sense of futility.

My mood is desolate. I stare at the stones berating myself. Why did I not do better with my life? I was dealt a good hand; I was born to a good family, with sufficient wealth and a good ethical & moral sense. I was blessed with reasonable intelligence, an empathetic heart and good health. Why did I not do better? Why have I made no spiritual progress? Why did I make so many wrong and immature choices? Why did I give so much importance to what means little and little importance to what means a lot? If I could press a re-boot button, I would. That is what death and re-birth are about, isn’t it? But then one is dealt a different hand and we forget the lessons of the past – what guarantee that I would do a better job of it? I do not dare ask to be released from this cycle but if only I could remember next time that it is spiritual progress which is of true value, maybe then I would live a better, more meaningful life.

And so I come upon my song choice for today. Pirava Varam Tarum says Papanasam Sivan, ‘Please give me the boon that I may not be born again. Even if I am reborn, give me the boon that I do not forget your divine feet.’  He seems to speak for me. ‘..bless me, so that the sins of the past are removed, so that my mental anxiety comes to an end’.  See footnote for lyrics. Set to Raga Latangi, it does not sound as sad as I feel but still, the song speaks to me today. This raga is said to have curative properties, will it heal my troubled heart? To know more about the raga, click here.

First listen to the song as featured in the film Nandanar (1942), sung by M.M.Dandapani Desikar.

My favourite classical rendition of this song is by the violinist duo, brothers Ganesh & Kumaresh. This time Ganesh provides vocals as well as playing the instrument of which he is a veritable Master (I bow to your skills sirs!) The wonderful exploration of Raga Latangi following the kriti has a touch of genius. This is a 20 min rendition, do take the time to enjoy it.

Alapanai :

Kriti :

You can also listen to the track here.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
பிறவா வரம் தாரும் பெம்மானே (பிறவா)

அனுபல்லவி
பிறவா வரம் தாரும் இறைவா மறுபடி
பிறவா வரம் தாரும் பிறந்தாலும் உன் திருவடி
மறவா வரம் தாரும் மாநில மேல் இனி / மீதினில் (பிறவா)

சரணம்
பார்வதி நேயா பக்த சகாயா
பந்தம் அறாதா வந்தருள் தா தா
முந்தி / முந்தை  வினை கோற சிந்தாகுலம் தீர
எந்தை உன் பாதாரவிந்தம் துணை சேர (பிறவா)

Notation is available here. I believe my translation is more accurate than what is given in this site.

Transliteration

pallavi
piRavA varam tArum pemmAnE (piRavA)

anupallavi
piRavA varam tAarum iRaivA marubadi
piRavA varam tArum piRandAlum un tiruvadi
maRavA varam tArum mAnila mEl ini / mIdinil (piRavA)

charaNam
pArvati nEyA bakta SaHAyA
bandam aRAdA vandaruL tA tA
mundi / mundai vinai kOra chintAkulam tIra
endai un pAdAravindam tuNai sEra (piRavA)

Translation

Please give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I may not be born again (piravA) O Lord (pemmAn)!

Give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I may not be born (piravA) again on this (mIdu) earth (mAnila) . Even if I am born (pirandAlum) again (marubadi), give me (tArum) the boon (varam) that I do not forget (maravA) your divine feet (tiruvadi).

O Beloved (nEyA) of Parvati ! O Support (sahAyA) of your devotees (bhakta)! Will my ties (bandam) never break (aRa = to remove) ? Please come (vandu) and bless me (aRul ta), so that the sins (vinai=evil deeds) of the past (mundai) are removed (kORa=killed), so that my mental anxiety (chintAkulam) comes to an end (tIra) and I can attain (tuNai sEra=join) your (un) lotus like feet (pAdAravindam), O my Master (endai)!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Papanasam Sivan

Sugunamule

Maha Vaidyanatha SivanIt was the year 1844. In Vaiyacheri, a small hamlet in Tanjore district of Tamizh Nadu, a family was blessed with their third son. Was it his good Karma that he was born to an accomplished musician? Or was the good Karma of the father that he was given a son of extraordinary musical talent? Perhaps both. The father had the knowledge to recognize talent and foster it. And so two of the four boys of the family became accomplished musicians at a tender age. This boy was only 7 and his brother 11 when they gave their first concert.

His fame grew quickly. From time to time this earth is blessed with young musicians who seem to know much more than it is possible to know at their age. Mozart composed at 5. Beethoven was 7 at the time of his first public performance. Lalgudi Jayaraman started his musical career at 12. Do you not think that their skills must have been honed in previous lives to achieve what they did at such young ages?

The hero of my story was blessed not only with vidwat (knowledge) but also a pleasing voice which ranged over three and a half octaves. In the year 1856, when he was 12 years old, he and his brother were staying with the pontif at Kalladurichi when a musical festival was held. He performed with other illustrious musicians of his times. But it was his solo performance of the composition of Tyagaraja, Sugunamule, in raga Chakravaham, which won most appreciation. The pontif bestowed the title ‘Maha’ (Great) to this young lad. The lad was henceforth called Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan.

He lived a life for music. He was only 49 when he passed away in 1893. He left behind a small body of compositions of which his magnum-opus was the 72 Mela Ragamalika.

To honour him today, I present Tyagaraja’s composition Sugunamule which earned him his title of greatness at so young an age. ‘Not knowing any other method, in the vain hope that this would make you come, I just keep talking of your virtues’ sings Tyagaraja to his ishta daivam, Lord Rama. I like the simplicity of the lyrics, it touches my heart. Are we not all in the same boat, we believers in whichever Gods we believe in? Do we not blindly pray, hoping, believing that He or She would be listening?

To know more about the raga Chakravaham, click here.

I have chosen a rendition by the inimitable Dr.Balamuralikrishna whose Chakravaham I like better than any other vocalist.

For an instrumental version, listen below to a lovely performance by Ganesh and Kumaresh on the violin.




Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
सुगुणमुले चॆप्पुकॊण्टि
सुन्दर रघुराम

अनुपल्लवि
वगलॆरुंग लेकयिटु
वत्तुवनुचु दुरासचे (सु)

चरणं
स्नानादि सुकर्मम्बुलु
वेदाध्ययनम्बुलॆरुग
श्री नायक क्षमियिञ्चुमु
श्री त्यागराज नुत (सु)

Transliteration

Pallavi
suguNamulE cheppukoNTi
sundara raghu rAma

Anupallavi
vagaleruNga lEkayitu
vattuvanuchu durAsachE (suguNa)

Charanam
snAnAdi sukarmambulu
vEdAdhyayanambuleruga
srI nAyaka kshmayinchumu
srI tyAgarAja nuta (suguNa)

Translation
Pallavi
O handsome Rama of the Raghu clan, I just keep talking of your virtues

Anupallavi
Not knowing any other method, with the vain hope that at least by this way you would come (I just keep chanting your virtues)

Charanam
I do not know to perform meritorious acts such as dips in holy rivers, recitation of the Vedas etc. Kindly forgive me, O consort of Lakshmi, O Lord praised by this Tyagaraja.

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Ganesh-Kumaresh, M.Balamuralikrishna, Tyagaraja

Ka Va Va

Murugan Vel

Invocation. As a child I remember listening with fascination to my mother’s explanation of how God can be invoked into a Kalasha filled with water, topped with mango leaves and a coconut. Once the invocation is done, the Kalasha is worshipped as the Goddess. ‘God is everywhere’ my mother said ‘but when we invoke His or Her presence, divine energy becomes concentrated in an idol or a symbolic representation like a Kalasha’.  Likewise an idol carved by the hands of men comes to sit in an altar somewhere and transforms from stone to God.

What causes the transformation? Invocation. Just invocation. Human beings have invoked the presence of God from time immemorial using ceremonies of all kinds. But finally it is just a simple call ‘Come’. My song choice of today is the essence of invocation. Addressed to Lord Muruga, the poet-composer Papanasam Sivan says ‘Come and protect me’. He identifies the divinity he invokes by different descriptions but the repeated ‘vA vA’ are the words we hear the most in this song, ‘Come, Come’.  Set to the beautiful raga Varali (click here for more information on this raga), this melodious supplication touches the hearts of all those who hear it. So how can Lord Muruga remain unmoved?

Here below is an excellent version by Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968) , one of the most respected and celebrated vocalists from the first half of the 20th century.

For an instrumental version, listen to the supremely talented violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh below :


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
கா வா வா கந்தா வா வா என்னை கா வா வேலவா
(முருகா வா கந்தா வா)
பழனி மலை உறையும் முருகா (வா வா)

அனுபல்லவி
தேவாதி தேவன் மகனே வா – பர
தேவி மடியில் அமரும் குஹனே வா
வள்ளி தெய்வயானை மணவாளா
சரவண பவ பரம தயாளா ஷண்முகா (வா வா)

சரணம்
ஆபத்திருளற அருள் ஒளி தரும்
அப்பனே அண்ணலே ஐயா வா வா
பாபத் திரள் தரும் தாபம் அகல வரும்
பழனி வளர் கருணை மழையே வா வா
தாபத்ரய வெயில் அற நிழல் தரும் வான்
தருவே என் குல குருவே வா
ஸ்ரீ பத்மனாபன் மருகா வா
ராம தாசன் பணியும் முத்தைய்யா (விறைவுடன் வா வா)

pallavI
kA vA vA kanda vA vA Yennai kA vA vElavA
(murugA vAkandA vA)
pazhanimalaiyuraiyum murugA (vA vA)

anupallavI
devAdi dEvan maganE vA
para dEvi maDiyil amarum guhanE vA
vaLLi deivayAnai manavaLA (vA)
sharavana bhava parama dayalA (shanmugA)

charaNam
aapath- iruLara aruloLi tarum appane annaLe ayya vA vA
pApa tiraL tarum tApam agala varum
pazhani valar karunai mazhayE vA vA
tApatraya veyilara nizhal tarum vAntharuve yen
kula guruvEe vaa
sri padmanAban marugA rAma dAsan vanangum mutaiyA

Oh Muruga, who lives in Pazhani malai, come to protect me.
Come, O son of Shiva.  Come, O Guha (the hidden one), who sits on Parvati’s lap.
Come, O husband of Valli and Deivayanai.
Come O Sharavana, the supremly kind being.
Come, you who bestow light to remove the darkness of danger.
Come, you who remove longing and sin, you the shower of kindness, who grew up in Pazhani.
Come, you who give shade to protect  me from the hot rays of intense  longing, you who are the Guru of our community.
Come, you who are the nephew of lord Vishnu, the one worshipped by Ramadasa, a gem like being.

For notation, click here.

 

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

Ninnukori

SrinivasaEveryday in households all over South India children would be setting out their Sruti box (drone instrument) after school and sitting down for music practice. Young voices would be raised, perhaps a bit off-key, to be kindly corrected by parents and grand-parents so that the youngster is ready for the next lesson. Violins would be squeaking in frequencies not suitable for human ears and the adults would manfully ignore the discomfort hoping that one day beautiful music is going to pour out of the same instrument. One song which will cross all thresholds during this period of training is Ninnukori, a varnam in Raga Mohanam (see footnote).

Mohanam in Sanskrit  means that which is pleasing, seductive. Mohan is the name of Krishna for He is the one who seduces all of us. ‘O Lord of the universe, I exist only because of my yearning for you. This is the time to take charge of me! Kindly show mercy upon me.’ Thus pleads the poet Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar (1860 – 1919) of his namesake.  If you would like to know more about this raga, click here.

Are you wondering why I am writing about so basic a song? I just chanced upon violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh’s ‘enhanced’ version of the song on youtube and I wanted to share it with you. I confess, I am not sure what to think of it! They stray too far from the traditional for me at times. Yet its really interesting to hear this very new treatment of this well-known varnam. What do you think?

Click below to listen to a vocal version by Maestro Neyveli Santhanagopalan.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Telugu

Transliteration

Pallavi
ninnu kōri yunnAnurA
nikhila lOka nAyaka

Anupallavi
nannu pAlimpa samayamurA
nAmIda kṛpa jUḍarA

Charanam
sannutAṅga srInivAsa

As the swarams are sung for varnams, it is better to consult the notation here .

Translation

O Lord of the entire universe, I yearn for you!

This is the right time to save me! Show compassion on me!

O Srinivasa! I pray to your discernable form!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar

Yaaro Ivar Yaaro

Rama Sita 2

The story of Rama and Sita’s wedding has inspired many great poets and saints. In my entry for Kalyana Rama, I had the retold this story. There, the poet describes the beauty of Rama as groom. Today I have picked a song in which another aspect of the same story is explored by the another poet.

Arunachala Kavi (1711-1779) was a Tamil poet who wrote the musical drama Rama Natakam. The music was composed by his disciples, Venkatarama Iyer and Kodandarama Iyer. This musical-drama contains 197 songs and 278 viruththams (devotional verse). From this. I present a song where the poet describes the emotions of Rama when he first sees Sita. Originally sung in Raga Saveri, it is nowadays rendered in the beautiful raga Bhairavi. To know more about this raga, click here.

Who can it be? What is her name? ’ Rama wonders on glimpsing Sita. ‘In this beautiful Mythila which abounds with clouds and wealth, who is this who stands in front of the ladies quarters?’. He is taken by the vision of Sita. ‘With her beautiful moon like face turned towards me, is she looking at me? Perhaps our relationship in a previous life is why she presents herself to me today’.

This is not love at first-sight that the poet describes, but recognition at first-sight. Vishnu born as Rama recognises his consort Lakshmi born as Sita and the love that they have for each other from time immemorial resurfaces. In Hindu mythology, Lakshmi is said to reside in Vishnu’s heart and thus is inseparable from Him.

For the complete song and translation, see footnote below.

To present this song, I have chosen a rendition by the incomparable Sanjay Subrahmanyan. For me, it’s always a great pleasure to listen to him singing Tamil compositions.

Alternate Link : Click here and download item 5 Kriti (needs free membership of Sangeethamshare.org)

[28.03.2014 : I recently heard a video version by SS; I add the link for those who prefer to see their artist, it is the first song in this video]

For an instrumental version of the song, listen below  to this wonderful rendition by Ganesh and Kumaresh weaving their magic on the violin.

Alternate link : Click here.


Footnote 1 : Lyrics and translation

I give below the complete composition and translation sourced from a Carnatic music discussion board rasikas.org (thank you, contributers!) and other internet sources. But I haven’t ever heard the full song being sung. Normally only the third charanam is sung.

Srimati Vedavalli has said that this song should be sung as Aaro Ivar Aaro. However, I have chosen to follow the Yaaro Ivar Yaaro route for this post.

Lyrics in Tamil :

பல்லவி:
யாரோ இவர் யாரோ என்ன பேரோ அறியேனே (யாரோ)
அனுபல்லவி:
காருலாவும் சீருலாவும் மிதிலையில் கன்னிமாடம் தனில் முன்னே நின்றவர் (யாரோ)

சரணம்1:

பண்ணிப் பதித்தார்ப்போல் இரு ஸ்தனமும் கூட பாங்கியர்கள் இன்ன முத்துரைத்தனமும்
எண்ணத்தாலும் வண்ணத்தாலும் பங்கயப் பெண்ணைப்போல்
கண்ணிற் காணும் மங்கையர் (யாரோ)

சரணம்2:

பாக்கியம் என்பது இவர் தரிசனமே அதிங்கே
பலித்ததென்ன புண்ணியமோ மனமே
மூக்கும் முழியும் தீர்க்கமாய் இன்னமும் பெண்கள்
பார்க்கப் பார்க்க நோக்கம் கொள்ளுமோ கண்கள் (யாரோ)

சரணம்3:

சந்த்ர பிம்ப முக மலராலே என்னைத் தானே பார்க்கிறார் ஒருகாலே
அந்த நாளில் சொந்தம் போலே உருகிறார்
இந்த நாளில் வந்து சேவை தருகிறார் (யாரோ)

Transliterated Lyrics:

Pallavi

yArO ivar yArO enna pErO ariyEnE
(yArO)

anupallavi

kArulAvum shIrulAvum mithilaiyil kannimADam tanil munnE ninravar
(yArO)

canaNam 1

paNNip-padittArp-pOl iru sthanamum kUDa pAngiyargaL inna muduraittanamum
eNNattAlum vaNNattAlum pangayap-peNNaip-pOl kaNNirk-kANum mangaiyar

caraNam 2
bhAgyam enbadivar darishanamE adingE balittenna puNNiyamO manamE mUkkum muzhiyum dhIrgamAi innamum peNgaL pArkkap-pArkka nOkkam koLlumO kaNgaL

caraNam 3

candra bimba mukha malarAlE ennai tAnE pArkkirAr orukkAlE
anda nALil sondam pOlE urugirAr inda nALil vandu sEvai tarugirAr

Meaning :

Who can this be? What could her name be? I know not!!

In this beautiful city of Mythila, where clouds and symbols of wealth abound, who is this standing in front of the ladies quarters of the palace?

Her breasts appear as though they have been uniquely designed and installed in her body. She is surrounded by a band of friends with sweet chatter. In thought and appearance (complexion) she looks like the goddess seated on lotus, viz., Lakshmi. Who could it be?

One must have earned a lot of merit to have the audience of this woman. To have that opportunity right here is really significant. She has striking eyes and nose. When other girls look at her they are so captivated by her charm that cannot take their eyes off her.

With her moon-like face turned towards me, is she looking at me? A loving relationship from those times (a past life) brings her before me in these times.

 

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Filed under Arunachala Kavi, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Sanjay Subrahmanyan