Category Archives: Karthik

Enna Tavam Seydanai

What penances did you do Yashoda that the ultimate Brahman who is everywhere called you ‘Mother’? What did you do that you could hold the One who created the fourteen worlds in your arms, loving Him, nursing Him, and rocking Him to sleep? Making even Brahma and Indra envious, you tied Krishna to the mortar and made Him beg you to release Him. What penances did you do, O Holy Mother, that you achieved with ease what the rishis achieved with great effort and yogic austerities?

Krishna Tied

He was a very naughty little boy, always getting into trouble. His mischief knew no bounds. His poor mother, Yashoda, had to listen to the complaints of the neighbourhood ladies every single day. She scolded Him, she begged Him– but all to no avail. He would turn his beautiful eyes on her and claim innocence, sure of his ability to twist His mother around his little finger. And did He listen to her entreaties? Oh no! He would get into the next scrape even before He was out of the first! What a handful! And yet, one cannot help laughing at His mischief, was there one as inventive as He?

One day while Yashoda was sitting churning butter, He came along demanding to be fed. She stopped her work and picked Him up with pleasure, feeding Him and loving Him. Noticing that the milk pot on the fire was about to overflow, she kept Him down half-way fed to attend to her work. The little scamp, enraged at being put down before He had His fill, broke the butter churn with a stone and started eating the butter. When Yashoda came back, He was feeding the rest of the butter to a monkey!

Always she had given in to His cajoling ways but today she had caught Him red-handed! Is it not the job of a mother to discipline as much as to love? Hardening her heart, she grabbed Him and looked for a rope to tie Him to the big stone mortar. The oddest thing was that whichever rope she found, it was always short by a two-finger length. Even when she tied all the ropes together, it was still short by the same two-finger length! The watching neighbourhood ladies, who had all suffered from Krishna’s mischief, laughed at her efforts which discomfited her. Seeing His mother’s discomfiture, Krishna allowed Himself to be tied. When she left Him, He dragged Himself, mortar and all, to the two trees which stood close by. Pulling the mortar between the trees, He uprooted them and released the curse on the two sons of Kubera who stood grateful before Him.

This story from Srimad Bhagavatam is the one that the poet-composer Papanasam Sivan refers to in my song choice of today, the charming Enna Tavam Seydanai set to raga Kapi. ‘What penances did you do Yashoda that the ultimate Brahman who is everywhere called you Mother?’ he asks. ‘What penances did you do that you could hold the One who created the fourteen worlds in your arms, loving Him, nursing Him, and rocking Him to sleep?’. We Hindus believe that good Karma is what gets us the privilege of a good life. But a life as the mother of God? Is it not beyond any good Karma that we can possibly do? ‘Making even Brahma and Indra envious, you tied Krishna to the mortar and made Him beg you to release Him’ he continues. For the full lyrics and translation, see footnote.

What exactly does this story indicate? It is true that the ultimate Brahman is beyond our grasp, our understanding even.  This is symbolised by the rope being too short in our story above. And yet when Krishna sees the mother who loves Him struggle to contain Him, He contains Himself and allows her to grasp Him. And likewise does the Nirguna Brahman who is beyond description takes form as the Saguna Brahman for the sake of those who love Him, a form which even our limited understanding can grasp. Yashoda’s love tied Krishna to the stone mortar, our love ties God to the stone or metal idols which we worship.

If you would like to know more about raga Kapi, click here.

Today I have chosen to present a couple of unusual performances. First listen to a light, non-classical approach by  talented playback singer Karthik, sung in a leisurely style.

For an instrumental version, I have chosen a more traditional approach by a couple of untraditional musicians – the two young ladies Lavanya & Subbalakshmi on the saxophone. Their brisk delivery is an interesting contrast to Karthik’s easy paced one. Click here to listen.

But I have to say that what gives me most pleasure is this beautifully calming version by Kanyakumari or this emotional rendition by Sudha Raghunathan. I am such a traditionalist!

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

என்ன தவம் செய்தனை யசோதா
எங்கும் நிறை பரப்ரம்மம் அம்மா (வெ/)என்றழைக்க

ஈரேழு புவனங்கள் படைத்தவனை
கையில் ஏந்தி சீராட்டி பாலூட்டி தாலாட்ட, நீ

சரணம் 1
ப்ரம்மனும்(/பிரமனும்) இந்திரனும் மனதில் பொறாமை கொள்ள
உரலில் கட்டி வாய் பொத்தி கெஞ்சவைத்தாய், தாயே

சரணம் 2
சனக்காதியர் தவ யோகம் செய்து வருந்திச்
சாதித்ததை புனித மாதே எளிதில் பெற, நீ

Transliteration :

enna tavam seydanai yashOdA
engum niRai parabrahmam ammA (v)endrazhaikka

IrEzu bhuvanangaL paDaittavanai
kaiyil Endi shIraTTi pAlUTTi tAlATTa nI

charaNam 1
brahmanum (/biramanum) indranum manadil poRAmai koLLa
uralil kaTTi vAypotti kenjavaittAy tAyE

charaNam 2
sanakAdiyar tavayOgam seydu varundi
sAdittadai punida mAtE eLidil peRa

Translation :

What penances did you do Yashoda that
the ultimate Brahman who is everywhere called you Mother?

(What penances did you do that ) you could hold the One who created the fourteen worlds in your arms, loving Him, nursing Him, and rocking Him to sleep?

Making even Brahma and Indra envious, you tied Krishna to the mortar and made Him beg you (implied: to release Him)

(What penances did you do) O Holy Mother, that you achieved with ease what the Sanakadi* rishis achieved with great effort and yogic austerities?

*Sanakadi is the combined name for the four sons of Brahma, the rishis Sanak, Sanandana, Sanaatana and Sanatkumara, also knows as the Kumaras.  To read about them, click here.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Kanyakumari, Karthik, Lavanya & Subbalakshmi, Papanasam Sivan

Listening to: Ghajini (2008)

GhajiniThere are but few films that I have seen on the big screen in last 25 years, Ghajini is one of those. We happened to be in India en famille when it was released and we went within the first week to see it. We all came out of the theatre very well satisfied with the experience. This is in spite of my not liking violence in films and my children being, at that time, dismissive of Bollywood fare.  After three years, I watched it again today to see why I found the film interesting.

Aamir is without doubt one of the most powerful actors of our times in Bollywood. In this film he flexes his acting muscles with as much ease as he flexes his perfectly built-up physical ones.

A young man of power and success meets an ingenuous young woman who charms him almost without volition. They are from different worlds and he puts his aside when he is with her – is that her charm? He guards his identity; she never knows till the end who he really is. It seems to me that he guards this special place where, for him, only they reside.

Horror strikes. The young woman who always lends a helping hand gets involved in rescuing young girls from girl-traffickers. This leads to her murder and him being horribly hurt. He develops a strange condition which leaves him with only a memory of the last 15 mins of his life. With revenge in his quite limited memory he relentless pursues his enemies. How does he do it? Can he succeed?  If this sounds familiar, perhaps you have seen Memento.

Aamir has a double-role in effect. He is extraordinary in his subtle performance as the quiet man with little to say but whose every expression shows his fascination, his amazement, his delight in this young woman who is so very different from him. And post-memory loss, Aamir becomes another self, one who pursues revenge relentlessly, with robotic precision, reminding us of the Terminator. Aamir’s genius is in totally convincing us that these two personas are one and the same. Hats off!! One of the most poignant moments is when towards the end, right in the middle of a fight, he loses the point and wanders through ill-lit corridors without recognition, lost, just as he is lost in life. A metaphor of the film, perfectly emoted by Aamir.

Asin as his girl and Pradeep Rawat as Ghajini provide able support. I am not sure whether it was Jiah Khan I didn’t like or her character; in either case I did not take to her. Riyaz Khan as the inspector left a poor impression.

I am a fan of Rahman’s old music, not his current generation albums. Yet there are some moments in this album which gives me pause. Lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are very good.

  • Aye Bacchoo – Suzanne. It came across as made-for-MTV kind of song. I liked the guitar interlude but Sad smile
  • Behka – Karthik. Very nice young sound with Aamir sporting an equally young and cool look to match. A heart for Karthik’s smooth singing, good choreography and an amusing picturisation. Open-mouthed smile Red heart
  • Lattoo – Shreya Ghoshal. I am shocked at myself for liking this song! Quite unlike me to listen to songs of this ilk! I blame it on Shreya for her simply superb voice which coos Yaar Yaar with such perfectness that it beguiles me into listening again!! Open-mouthed smile
  • Guzarish – Javed Ali, Sonu Nigam. The song is preceded by some brilliant poetry by lyricist Prasoon Joshi.
    बस एक हाँ के इंतज़ार में रात यूं ही गुज़र जायेगी

    अब तो बस उलझन है सात मेरे नींद कहाँ आयेगी
    सुबह की किरण न जाने कौन सा सन्देश लायेगी
    रिमझिम सी गुनगुनायेगी या प्यास अधूरी रह जायेगी
    Can the uncertainty before a proposal be better expressed? Sonu Nigam’s humming is simply beautiful. I decided after a couple of listens that I didn’t like Javed Ali’s singing here, nor the orchestration. Nice melody and nice lyrics make up somewhat. I don't know smile

  • Kaise Mujhe Tum – Benny Dayal, Shreya Ghoshal.  A contemplative and romantic song with a beautiful melody. The gentle touch with the instruments to match the gentleness of the lyrics and melody is well done.
    ज़िन्दगी सितार हो गयी
    रिमझिम मल्हार हो गयी
    मुझे आता नहीं किसमत पे अब यकीन
    कैसे मुझको मिले तुम
    I also loved the moodiness of the picturisation. Benny Dayal is quite good but does he not sound as if he mimics Rahman in the higher reaches? !!! Shreya is fabulous – I am a fan! Kudos to Rahman for a beautiful offering. Open-mouthed smileRed heart

To listen to the whole album, click here. My choice for today is Kaise Mujhe Tum.

And for Aamir fans, a bit of fun with Aamir playing dress-up in Behka.


Filed under Benny Dayal, Bollywood 00's Music, Karthik, Shreya Ghoshal