Tuesday, 13 Oct
‘Navaratri starts next Saturday, better start working on a post now‘ I tell myself. I’ve already left it a bit too late. I consider my choices and decide on picking a Navaratri kriti by Swati Thirunal. ‘If I alternate between him and Oothukadu, I’m covered for Navaratri for the next 18 years‘ I tell myself and giggle! I peruse the lyrics from Carnatica.net; I remind myself again to buy Govinda Rao’s book once the post from India is normalised. Which song shall I feature? Ah! There is the Saveri kriti I have always liked. That’s it.
Wenesday, 14 Oct
Babysitting day, no time for anything but my darling little tornado!
Thursday, 15 Oct
I am busy in the morning and I don’t sit at my computer until late afternoon. I have the lyrics in a PDF, but the Sanskrit font is old and I can’t copy it. I try a few things but give up soon. I spend the next hour patiently typing out the lyrics in Sanskrit. I can see some obvious spelling errors. I compare the lyrics with the transliterated ones elsewhere. Sigh, I just wish I had the book! I also make a playlist of about 15 renditions of the song to listen to and copy it to my phone.
Friday, 16 Oct
Cleaning and laundry day today. I put on my headphones and set to it. I have chosen artists from four generations, from the venerable elders to the quite young. MDR is the first on my list. I start the music and drown in it’s beauty. There is a சாவதானம் / सावधानम् – an attentiveness, a deliberateness and a leisureliness about his music which is quite hypnotic. When he starts his tanam, I feel such a rush of affection for him! Next on my list is KVN. I fall in love! I listen to it two times, then continue to listen to other renditions by MDR and KVN for the next 4 hours, dropping my playlist altogether. Today I can listen to no other. In the afternoon I split all the sandhis (joint words) in my document but have too much personal work to do to concentrate on the translation. I am so behind!
Saturday, 16 Oct
Happy Navaratri to myself! It’s babysitting day. I rush in the morning to cook lunch for my princeling. He comes soon, and I have to play, feed, change, play again, read, convince him into taking a nap, make biscottis with him, allow him to water the garden-and me, make tawa-naans for him (I have now perfected the recipe!), play some more, give him dinner, help his grandfather bathe him and put him to bed. Everything is easier said than done as his current favourite word is NO! I am too wiped out to do any blogging after he sleeps.
Sunday, 17 Oct
My princeling is up at 5:15. ‘Patti up‘ he says ‘Odi Odi‘ – he wants me to race with him up and down the house. His grandfather gives him breakfast and I get ready to play some more with him. By 10:00 he is ready for his 2nd breakfast/early lunch. I quickly make some dosai and feed him. We pack him up and drop him home. His parents look refreshed. We look quite the opposite. We are home by noon, I could have got to my translation but I’m wiped out. Instead I binge watch ‘Portrait Artist of the year 2020′ from Sky Arts, feeling deep envy for the artists’ skills.
Monday, 18 Oct
Good going today! I must have spent at least 4 hrs on my computer and I have almost finished the translation. ‘Musicians sing only the first charanam, maybe I should have left it at that‘ I think. But no, that’s a half-done job which I just can’t bear. Nobody is going to care except me, I know, but I care and that’s enough to work at it. There are some translations on the net but it is not word for word, so I can’t really verify they are correct unless I do it myself. I find it satisfying actually, and educational as well. I am struggling with a couple of phrases but I leave them for tomorrow.
Tuesday, 19 Oct, 2 am
I wake up in the middle of the night with a perfect translation of a phrase I struggled with yesterday! Thank you, Ms. Subconscious! I try to write my post in my head, but it doesn’t quite work. I abandon it and go back to sleep.
Tuesday 19 Oct, day time
I feel guilty about the renditions I did not hear yet, so I put my headphones on and go through my list. Then I go back to MDR and KVN. Nothing compares. I think with horror of the older gentleman whom I had met in my teen years who had gone on and on about how no one can touch the singing of K.L.Sehgal in Hindi film music. I had been so indignant! ‘What about Rafi’s Chaudvin Ka Chand or Manna Dey’s Pucho Na Kaise?’ I had thought to myself. 45 years or so later, I still remember that conversation and the boredom of older people starting a sentence with ‘in my days‘! Have I now become that? Do I like only musicians of the past ? Please no! But this is my blog and I can feature whomever I like, and it’s the venerable elders for today.
I finish writing this up and then do the transliteration. Tomorrow is Wednesday and my princeling will be back. I have to finish the post now. I have spent all afternoon and it’s time to go make dinner. I have no time for an editorial perusal; my readers just have to take it as it is.
This wonderful composition is in praise of Goddess Saraswati. It is the 3rd of Navaratri Kritis written by Swati Thirunal and sung in the Navaratri Mandapam of the Padmanabhapuram Palace every year. A prayer song, the poet describes and praises the Goddess in many ways, asking for Her blessings. You can read an interesting article about the Goddess and the music festival here. May the Goddesses bless us all this Navaratri! May she give wisdom to the leaders to lead us out of this world crisis, may she give knowledge to those who treat the ill and those who develop medicines and vaccines, and please may she give prosperity to those whose livelihood has been affected.
And finally to the music! Here is M.D.Ramanathan’s excellent rendition
And now the one by K.V.Narayanaswamy which I like so very much
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Composer : Swathi Thirunal
Raga : Saveri
Note – I am not a scholar; I translate merely for the purpose of music appreciation. I have taken the liberty of making small corrections to the lyrics provided by Carnatica.net if the correction seems appropriate. I have especially corrected the long ‘I’ vowels which have been replaced by the short vowels, perhaps to fit the music. My apologies for all mistakes.
देवी पावने सेवे चरणे ते बुधावने
भावुक दायी कटाक्ष विलासिनि
भारती देहि सदा कुशलम् भुवनेश्वरी
सोम बिम्ब मदहर सुमुखी भक्तजनाखिल
कामित दाननिरते कान्त कुन्द दन्ति
भीम अनन्त अज्ञान तिमिर भेदन मिहिरायिते
मामक हृदि विहार मान्य गुणा वासे
सामज पुङ्गव चारु गते
सुर साध्य नुते विमले वरदे भुवनेश्वरी
वारिद निभ चिकुरे वासवोपल नयने
मार शरासन रुचि चोर चिल्लिकान्ते
सारस कृत निलये जाम्बूनदमय भूषे
नारदादि मुनि नुत नाम समुदाये
भूरि मनोज्ञक राञ्चित वीणा
पुस्तक भासिनि चारु हासे भुवनेश्वरी
पातित दितिसुते श्री पद्मनाभ विलासिनि
वीत पाप जन गेय विभवे विद्या रूपे
चातको जलदमिव सादरमाश्रयामि त्वाम्
प्रीतिम् मयि कुरु लोक मातरयि नित्यम्
धूत मलम् कुरु माम् सदये
परिपोषित सूरिगुणे शुभदे भुवनेश्वरी
dEvI pAvanE sEvE charaNE tE budhAvanE
bhAvuka dAyI katAksha vilAsini
bhAratI dEhi sada kushalam bhuvanEshvarI
sOma bimba madahara sumukhI bhaktajanAkhila
kAmita dAnanirate kAnta kunda danti
bhIma ananta agyAna timira bhEdana mihirAyitE
mAmaka hRdI vihAra mAnya guNA vAsE
sAmaja pungava charu gatE
sAdhya nutE vimalE varadE bhuvanEshvarI
vArida nibha chikurE vAsvOpala nayanE
mAra sharAsana ruchi chOra chillikAntE
sArasa kRta nilayE jAmbUnadamaya bhUshE
nAradAdi muni nuta nAma samudAyE
bhUri manOgyaka rAnchita vINA
pustaka bhAsini chAru hAsE bhuvanEshvarI
pAtita ditisutE shrI padmanAbha vilAsini
vIta pApa jana gEya vibhavE vidyA rUpE
chAtakO jaladamiva sAdaramAshrayAmi tvAm
prItim mayi kuru lOka mAtarayi nityam
dhUta malam kuru mAm sadayE
paripOshita sUriguNE shubhadE bhuvanEshvarI
O Holy (pAvanE) Goddess (dEvi)! The learned (budha) bend down (avanE) in worship (sEvE) at your (tE) feet (charaNE)!
O Splendorous One (vilAsini) who (implied) is the bestower (dAyI) of happiness (bhavuka) with just a glance (katAksha)! O Saraswati! (bhAratI)! Please always (sadA) give (dEhi) us (implied) well-being/prosperity (kushalam) , O Goddess (IshavarI) of the whole world (bhuvana).
O Beautiful one (sumukhI) who is (implied) the destroyer (hara) of the arrogance (mada) of the spherical (bimba) moon (sOma) (i.e She who is more beautiful than the moon), you delight in/are committed to (niratE) bestowing (dAna) whatever is wished for (kAmita) by your devotees (bhakta jana) worldwide (akhila). You are one who has teeth (dantI) like jasmine (kunda)! O (ayi) you (tE) who destroys (bhEdana) terrible (bhIma), unlimited (ananta) ignorance (agyAna) like the sun (mihira) destroys (implied) the darkness (timira), you (repeating the meaning of tE) live (vAsE) as the honourable (mAnya) qualities (guNA) in the temple (vihAra) of my (mAmaka) heart (hRdI). You have the beautiful (chAru) gait (gatE) of the best (pungava) elephants (sAmaja). You are praised (nutE) by the learned (sura) and the accomplished (sAdhya). You are the unblemished (vimalE) conferrer of boons (varadE), O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!
O Beautiful One (kAntE) with (implied) hair (chikura) like (nibha) rain clouds (vArida), eyes (nayanE) like sapphires (vAsava=Indra, upala=precious stone; indranIla is sapphire), and (implied) eyebrows (chilli, short for chillikAlatA) which steal (chOra) the beauty (ruchi) of Kamadeva’s (mAra, name of manmatha) bow (sharAsana) ! O Lustrous one (bhAsini) with a beautiful (chAru) smile (hAsE) who has made (kRta) an abode (nilayE) on a lotus (sArasa), who wears (implied) golden (jAmbUnadamaya – of gold from the river jambu) ornaments (bhUshE), who is praised (nutE) by a multitude (samudAyE) of important (bhUri) sages (muni) like Narada etc (nArada Adi), on whose beautiful (manOgya) curved (anchita) hands (kara) is a Veena-musical instrument (vINA) and a book (pustaka), O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!
O wife (vilAsini) of Shri Padmanabha (note: by some traditions, Saraswati was wife of Vishnu before being married to Brahma), who struck down (pAtita) demons (ditisutE)! People (jana) who lose (vIta) their sins (pApa) sing (gEya) of your greatness (vibhavE)! O Embodiment (rUpE) of knowledge (vidyA)! Like (ika) Chataka birds (chAtaka) take refuge (implied) in clouds (jalada), I respectfully (sAdaram) take refuge (AshrayAmi) in you (tvam). O (ayi) Mother of all people (lOka mAtara), be loving (prItim kuru) to me (mayi) always (nityam) and remove/destroy (dhUta) the sins/impurities (malam) in me (mAm). O Compassionate one (sadayE), with the nurtured (pariposhita) learned (sUri) qualities (guNE)! O Bestower of (dE) prosperity/well being/auspiciousness (shubha)! O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!