Category Archives: Malladi Brothers

Dhyaname Varamaina

Meditation is verily the sacred dip in the Ganges. Can the mental stains of deception and treachery be washed away by dipping in rain water?

Dip in GangesAre you a Hindu? If so, do you believe that a dip in the Ganges will relieve you of your sins? If you say yes, you are in good company. Merely go to any ghat on the Ganges, be it Haridwar or Badrinath, Varanasi or Allahabad; you just have to look at the millions who take a dip in this holiest of rivers of India to know how strongly this belief is held on to.

Hinduism is not the only religion to offer a sin-wash. Catholicism, for example, offers absolution by confession. In Islam, there is Istighfar. Psychologically, if we have accepted the existence of sin, it is good to accept a kind of ‘escape clause’ as well otherwise the burden would be too heavy to bear, would it not?

I am a woman of strong faith but in this matter I do have some reservations. Let me take the most extreme of examples: think of the worst of sinners – murderers, rapists, paedophiles – and imagine that one stays next to the Ganges. He takes a daily dip. Can he live on in his depravity and be washed of sin on a daily basis? I cannot quite accept that! My sense of justice demands ‘karma phala’, a karmic debt. Does this mean that I don’t believe in the sanctity of the Ganges? But I do! A dip in the Ganges for me is symbolic – a physical ritual to represent a mental cleansing by way of prayer, repentance and a change of attitude and behaviour. The ritual without the attitude is not good enough. I probably sound sacrilegious to some…oh well!

On an aside, those of you who have the right to vote in India, would you please demand that your chosen politicians include the environmental protection of the Ganges in their agenda?

My ruminations are triggered by my song choice of the day. In  Dhyaname, Tyagaraja says that ‘meditation is like a sacred dip in the Ganges’, thus asserting to the holiness of both. But then he asks ‘can the stains of deception and treachery be washed way by dipping in rain water?’. Isn’t Ganges sourced by melting snow from the Himalayas? And isn’t snow just another form of rain? Is Tyagaraja too questioning the ritual? I cannot quite believe it…

Tyagaraja is not the only one who questions the cleansing of the body while the mind is unclean. There is a well known bhajan मन मैला और तन को धोये the mind is unclean and he washes his body’.  In a similar vein, Kabir says

मल मल धोये दाग़ न छूटे ग्यान का साबुन लाये पिया
कहत कबीर दाग़ तब छुटि है जब साहब अपनाय लिया
I rub and wash (my shawl) but cannot remove the stains. My beloved brought me the soap of knowledge. Kabir says the stain will lift when my Lord makes me his own.

Dhyaname is set to the raga Dhanyasi; to read more about this raga, click here. To present this song, I have a rendition by Malladi Brothers which I heard on a webcast last Sunday. I learnt about these webcasts from but recently. Every Sunday, at 6:05 pm Indian time, they do a free webcast of music, dance, lecdems etc. I believe this was on for all of 2013 and I never knew! I hope this post brings this to the attention of others who may enjoy such webcasts. There is a bit of noise in the transmission and also a tiny gap when it failed; I hope you enjoy the song nonetheless. You can download my recording from the links below (almost an hour in all).

Alapana : click here
Kriti : click here
Thani : click here

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Tyagaraja
Raga : Dhanyasi
Language : Telugu
I am not a Telugu speaker; the following relies heavily on various web sources. I verified the lyrics aurally as well.

ध्यानमे वरमैन गङ्गा स्नानमे मनसा

वान नीट मुनुग मुनुग लोनि वञ्चन द्रोहमनु कर पोना (alt: पोवुना )

पर धन नारी मणुलनु दूरि पर निन्दल पर हिंसल मीरि
धरनु वॆलयु श्री रामुनि कोरि त्यागराजु तॆलुसुकॊन्न राम


dhyAnamE varamaina gangA snAnamE manasA

vAna nITa munuga munuga lOni
vanchana drOhamanu kara pOnA (alt: pOvunA)

para dhana nArImaNulanu dUri
para nindala para himsala mIri
dharanu velayu shrI rAmuni kOri
tyAgarAju telusukonna rAma


O Mind! Meditation is verily the sacred dip in the Ganges.

Can the mental stains of deception and treachery be washed away by dipping again and again in rain water?

Spurning the wealth and women of others, overcoming slandering and causing harm to others, seeking the glorious Lord Rama on this earth and meditating on Rama is the true dip in the Ganges, as realised by this Tyagaraja.


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Malladi Brothers, Tyagaraja

Venkata Shaila Vihara

Oh Venkatesa you are my sole refuge, please come to protect me. Lord Brahma and Lord Indra worship your feet. You are the saviour of your devotees afflicted with a multitude of sufferings. I heard the stories of your greatness and was eager to worship you. I saw the hills, the towers and the pavilions studded with gems. I have become your devotee.

VenkateshwaraTirupati Sri Venkateshwara has been on my mind for a while. There is a quiet desire to go visit the temple once more. Yet this is one God who will never miss me; is the temple not one of the most visited sacred sites in the world? Why would He even notice one amongst the 10-12 million who visit each year?  But yet…there is this call I feel.

In my childhood, Tirupati visits were an almost annual affair. My father held a lot of faith in the power of the Lord of the Seven Hills; He is the kula daivam of my birth family, the special God of our clan. My father would undertake sankalpams or special vows every now and again. He made vows to climb the hill on foot, all 3400 steps over 11 kms. He made vows of donation. He took vows to shave his hair. Once he took a vow for angapradakshinam or rolling bodily around the circumference of the temple. This is a physically demanding vow and I remember watching with both fascination and sympathy as he rolled in prayer, in wet clothes in the pre-dawn darkness. It induced terrible nausea but he went on; belief kept him strong.

In my own adult life I have been but a couple of times. It is odd to think that I might have been to Tirupati 20 times during the first 20 years of my life and only 2 or 3 times for the next 30+ years. My mother would say எல்லாம் கொடுத்து வெச்சிருக்கணம், one must have enough good karma to get even the opportunity to visit the temple. Have I run out of good karma then?

Yet the thought of long queues is so off-putting. The alternative, paying to get ahead in the queues, leaves me feeling guilty about my wealth. Should we not be all equal before God? Yet I have been softened by the very wealth that the good God has bestowed upon us. I am unable to withstand the discomforts of long waits under a hot sun. Is this physical discomfort part of what we offer up to God? This theme of physical discomfort as an offering to God has always made me uncomfortable. I could not watch the the kavadi carriers hook themselves to their loads, I could not watch the Muslim faithful lashing themselves at Muharram or the thought of Christian mortification of the flesh, even in film.  I could not even watch with ease my father throwing up as he rolled around the temple, body bare to the rough stone below. Of course all this is much more extreme than standing in long queues under a hot sun, still the principle is the same. Does God want you to torture yourself in faith?

All my instincts shout NO! Is God not like a the kindest of parents, the dearest of friends, the love of your heart? How could He even bear to watch us hurt? But what about all the difficult sankalpams people take up, both in our faith and others? It is all so confusing!

So for the moment, not knowing when/how/if I shall make it to Tirupati again, I lose myself in the Raga that reminds me most of Sri Narayana. Hameer Kalyani is a lovely, gentle raga and Subbaraya Shastri has created a beautiful composition in his Venkata Shaila Vihara. To know more about this raga, click here.

In honour of my father for the father’s day which just passed, I am featuring the great Maestro of yesteryears Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar whose music my father enjoyed and like whom he too proudly wore his thiruman and srichurnam all his life. The sound quality is not very good but the music is still good.

Alternate link here (song 10)

I very much like Malladi Brothers’ rendition in their CD called December Season 2000 (Charsur) which is available in Spotify and other platforms which I cannot link here. An alternate is this version below.


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Subbaraya Shastri
Raga : Hameer Kalyani
Language : Telugu

I was aided in transliteration and translation by a native speaker. As I do not speak Telugu, I have transcribed it in Devanagari script below.

वेङ्कट शैल विहारा
नीवे गति ब्रोव रादा  (श्री)

पङ्कज भव सुरपति नुत चरणा
किङ्कर संकुल संकट हरणा  (श्री)

विन्टिनिने नी वरगुण कथलनु
वीनुलकेन्तो आनन्दमुग (alternate : युण्टिनि एपुडु सेविन्तुननि)
गण्टिनि गिरिनि गोपुरमुल मणिमय
मण्टपमुल(नु) ने बण्टुड नैति नी



venkaTa shaila vihArA
nIvE gati brOva rAdA (shrI)


pankaja bhava surapati nuta charanA
kinkara sankula sankaTa haraNA (shrI)


viNTininE nI varaguNa kathalanu
vInulakentO Anandamuga (alternate : yunTini epuDu sEvintunani)
gaNTini girini gOpuramula maNimaya
maNTapamula (/mulanu) nI baNTuDa naiti nI


Oh Venkatesa who dwells on the Venkata mountain, you are my sole refuge, please come to protect me.

The Lotus Born (Brahma) and the Lord of Devas (Indra) worship your feet. You are the saviour of your servants (should be read as devotee here) afflicted with multitude of sufferings.

I heard the stories of your greatness that are so pleasing to the ears (alternate: I heard the stories of your greatness and I was eager to worship you) I saw the hills, the gopuras (towers) and mantapas (pavilions) studded with gems. I have become your servant/devotee.


Filed under Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Malladi Brothers, Subbaraya Shastri


Mysore VasudevacharyaWhat imbues certain songs with an incredible sweetness which lingers forever in memory? What makes certain compositions much much more than the sum total of their ‘ingredients’ of notes, words and rhythm? I don’t know but Mysore Vasudevachar (1865-1961) sure did when he composed this beautiful song!

Vasudevachar belonged to the direct line of Tyagaraja’s disciples and therefore of impeccable musical lineage. His gurus were Veena Padmanabhayya of Mysore and Patnam Subramania Iyer of Tiruvaiyaru. He became the asthana vidwan of the Royal Court of Mysore.  Much later in life he joined the faculty of Kalakshetra School of Music and Dance, finally becoming its principal. He composed more than 200 compositions in Telugu and Sanskrit. A list of his compositions is available here.

Brochevarevarura is composed in Telugu in Raga Kamas (click here to read more about this raga). Like so many bhaktas before him, and so many after him, the poet begs of Rama ‘O Sita’s husband, don’t you have regard for me? Can’t you listen to my pleas? Aren’t you Vasudeva who rushed to rescue the king of elephants. Dispel my sins, hold my hand and do not let go’.  As I listen to this beautiful song, I too pray ‘Rama, I have neither beautiful words nor melody, but I plead the same; Please don’t let go of me’ !! See footnote for lyrics and translation.

Today I present an instrumental version of this song by the wonderfully talented Maestro U.Shrinivas (1969) on Mandolin.

For a vocal version, listen to this excerpt from a full concert by the Malladi brothers. I like their voice quality very much indeed.

I cannot finish this post without mentioning Brochevarevarura sung by S.P.Balasubramaniam and Vani Jayaram for the film Shankarabharanam (1979). Somayajulu as the Maestro emotes very convincingly and Manju Bhargavi shows that neither a stage nor expensive clothes and jewellery are needed to dance as our classics are meant to be danced!

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Telugu

As I do not speak Telugu, I have transcribed the song in Devanagari script. The translation is heavily dependent on multiple online sources.

ब्रोचेवारेवरुरा निन्नु विना रघुवरा ननु
नी चरणाम्बुजमुनु ने विडजाल करुणालवाल

ओ चतुराननादि वन्दित नीकु पराकेलनय्या
नी चरितमु पोगड लेनु ना
चिन्त दीर्च्चि वरमुलिच्चि वेगमे

सीतापते नापै नीकभिमानमु लेदा
वातात्मजाश्रित (alternate वातात्मजार्चित) पाद नामोरलनु विनरादा
आतुरमुग करिराजुनु ब्रोचिन
वासुदेवुडवु (alternate : वासुदेवुडे ) नीवु गदा
ना पाद कामेल्ल पोगोट्टि गड्डिग
ना चेय् बट्टि विडुवग

For notation, click here.


brOchEvArevarurA ninnu vina raghuvarA nanu
nI charaNAmbujamunu nE viDajAla karuNAlavAla

O chaturA nanAdi vandita nIku parAkElanayya
nI charitamu pogaDa lEnu nA
chinta dIrchchi varamulichchi vEgamE


sItApatE nApai nIkabhimAnamu lEdA
vAtAtmajAsrita (alternate: vAtAtmajArchita) pAda nAmoralanu vinarAdA
Aturamuga karirAjunu brOchina
vAsudEvuDavu (alternate: vAsudevuDE) nIvu gadA
nA pAdakamella pOgoTTi gaDDiga
naa  chei baTTi viDuvaga


O Rama, descendent of Raghu, who will save me other than you? O compassionate one, I cannot leave your lotus-like feet.

O Who is worshipped by the four-faced one (Brahma) etc, why are you so aloof sir? I am not competent enough to (assumed sing) your story. Please grant me a remedy quickly.

O Lord of Sita, don’ you have affection for me? O the one at whose feet stays (worships) Hanuman, cannot you hear my pleas? Aren’t you Vasudeva who saved the King of elephants?  (refers to Gajendra moksha). Cleansing me of all sins, will you not hold my hand firmly?



Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Carnatic Music, Malladi Brothers, Mysore Vasudevachar, S.P.Balasubramaniam, U.Srinivas, Vani Jayaram