Category Archives: R.Vedavalli

Shankari Shankuru

AkhilandeswariI am in Australia at the moment, enjoying the last traces of summer and the advent into autumn. On Sunday we set the clock back for daylight saving and I gratefully received the gift of an extra hour in the morning! The weather is perfect, neither warm nor cold but just right….Goldilocks would sure have been happy! This is such perfect weather for walking. I am a regular walker, doing a brisk 10 km everyday.  These two hours each day are precious to me as this is when I listen to music with the utmost concentration. However, for the last couple of months I have instead been listening to lectures on spiritual matters (upanyasam / hari katha). It has been educational though I find some ideas questionable and some simply appalling! But more about that some other time…

My interest in lectures has meant that I am a bit behind with catching up with the music available online. There is so much of it nowadays, don’t you think? Can anyone possibly keep up with it all? I am rather overwhelmed! My music listening experience has also changed because of this. There was a time when I had only a very limited number of tapes and then CDs. I listened to them so often that I would be pre-empting every note, every pause in my mind as I listened. Nowadays I am always listening to something new. Exciting but also a bit sad…I miss the familiarity and sense of homecoming I felt with my favourites.   As I was playing catch-up on YouTube last week, I came upon this excellent concert by Ranjani and Gayatri from which I have chosen a song to present to you today.

Shankari Shankuru is composed in Raga Saveri by Shyama Shastri. Like many songs of this genre, it is a simple prayer followed by many phrases to identify, describe and praise the Goddess. As we listen, the phrases invoke physical imagery  (e.g. slender-waisted Goddess). We are reminded of stories by some phrases (e.g. remembering how Manmatha became an enemy of Shiva) and are reassured of the grace of the Goddess by other phrases (e.g. she gives reward to her devotees).

Though I choose to concentrate on lyrics in this blog, renditions such as the one I have chosen are more about the raga and creativity than about the lyrics. In this piece by Ranjani and Gayatri, the total time of 31 minutes is composed of 26 minutes of improvisation and only 10 minutes of composed music. The improvisation is in the form of Raga Alapana (slow melodic improvisation without rhythm 0-13:50) by the vocalists and the violinist. Neraval (melodic improvisation of a single phrase from the song within a set rhythm 17:31-25:15 )  and Kalpana Swarams (melodic improvisation using the Indian solfege within a set rhythm)  to 30:27. So of a total of 31.28 minutes, more than 26 minutes is the creative component. The composed content is just over 5 minutes. So as much as I go on about words, meanings, inferences and associations, this music is more about creativity and setting the mood. Saveri is a raga which sounds like supplication, even if no word is uttered.  How beautiful are the phrases created by these two extraordinary sisters! I must especially mention the young violinist Vittal Rangan who demonstrates truly impressive skills!

And those who have fallen in love with Saveri and would like to listen to another excellent rendition, here is R.Vedavalli doing an exceptional job of it.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Shyama Shastri
Raga: Saveri
Language : Sanskrit
Note – only the third charanam is sung in concerts normally. Also though the long ‘I’ at the end of some words is shortened in songs, I have chosen to use the correct spelling in Sanskrit.

शङ्करी  शङ्कुरु  चन्द्रमुखी अखिलाण्डेश्वरी (श्री)
शाम्भवी सरसिज भव वन्दिते गौरी (अम्ब)

सङ्कट  हारिणी रिपु विदारिणी कल्याणी
सदा नत फल दायिके (alt: दायकी ) हर नायिके  (alt: नायकी) जगत् जननी

चरणम् 1
जम्बुपति विलासिनी जगदवनोल्लसिनी
कम्बु  कन्धरे भवानी कपाल धारिणी शूलिनी

चरणम् 2

अङ्गज  रिपु तोशिनी अखिल  भुवन पोशिनी
मङ्गल  प्रदे मृदानी मराल संनिभ गमनी

चरणम् 3

श्याम कृष्ण सोदरी श्यामळे शातोदरी
सामगान  लोले बाले सदार्ति भञ्जन  शीले


shankarI shankuru chandra mukhI akhilANDEshvarI
shAmbhavI sarasija bhava vanditE gauri amba

sankaTa hAriNI ripu vidAriNI kalyANI
sadA nata phala dAyikE hara nAyikE jagat jananI

charaNam 1
jambupati vilAsinI jagadavanOllAsinI
kambu kandharE bhavAnI kapAla dhAriNi shUlini

charaNam 2
angaja ripu tOshinI akhila bhuvana pOshinI
mangaLa pradE mRdAni marALa sannibha gamanI

charaNam 3
shyAma kRshNa sOdarI shyAmaLE shAtOdari
sAma gAna lOlE bAlE sadArti bhanjana shIlE


O Consort of Shankara/Shiva (shankarI)! Please create (kuru, literally do) tranquility (sham)! O Moon faced one (chandramukhI)! O Goddess (IshvarI) of the whole universe (akhilANDa) ! O ShambhavI (name of Parvati)! One worshipped (vanditE) by Brahma, the one born (bhava) in a lotus (sarasija)! O Mother (amba) Gauri (name of Parvati)!

One who removes/destroys (hAriNI) danger/crises (sangkaTa)! One who crushes (vidAriNI) enemies (ripu)! O Auspicious one (kalyANI)! One who gives (dAyikE) reward (phala) to those who always (sadA) bow to her (nata). O Consort (nayikE) of Shiva (hara)! O Mother (jananI) of the world (jagat)!

One who sports (vilAsinI) with Shiva (jambupati, from Jambukeshwara Temple of Tiruvanaikaval, where the Goddess is called Akhilandeshwari. This is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, representing water). One who takes joy (ullAsinI) in protecting (avana) the world (jagat)! One whose neck (kandhara) is like a conch (kambu)! O Bhavani (name of Parvati)! One who carries (dhAriNI) a skull (kapAla)! One who weilds a spear (shUlinI)!

One who pleases (tOshiNI) the enemy (ripu) of the God of Love (angaja)! One who nourishes (poshinI) the entire (akhila) world (bhuvana)! One who provides (pradE) good fortune/welfare/happiness (mangala)! O Consort of Shiva (mRda is a name of Shiva)! One who walks (gamanI) like (samnibha) a swan (marAla)!

O Sister (sOdarI) of the dark skinned Krishna (shyAma kRshNa) (also signature of the composer)! O Shyamala (name of Parvati)! One with a slender (shAta) belly/waist (udarI)! One who takes pleasure in (lOlE) the chanting (gAna) of Sama Veda! O Young one (bAlE)! One whose nature (shIla) is to always (sadA) dispel (bhanjana) grief (Arti)!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, R.Vedavalli, Ranjani Gayatri, Shyama Shastri

Kana Kana Ruchira

RamaIt has taken me a long time to continue with my posts on Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna Kritis that I started last year. If you are just catching up, here are the posts on Jagadananda Karaka, Dudukugala and Saadinchane.

Kana Kana Ruchira, like the other Ghana Raga Pancharatna Kritis, is familiar and well-loved by most Carnatic music fans.  It is set to Raga Varali, an ancient raga dating beyond 1300 years. Varali has a lulling quality which is so appropriate to devotional music and which I find very pleasing indeed. If you would like to know more about this raga, click here.

This lovely composition is an outpouring of love for Lord Rama by Tyagaraja.  It the  pallavi  he says ‘The more I see you, the sweeter it is’ . This simple phrase is most evocative and sets the mood of the composition to an unalloyed sweetness. This is stressed by the anupallavi – dina dinamunu manasuna chanuvuna – ‘everyday, in my mind’s eye with love’.  Is that not the essence of Bhakti rasa?  To love one’s God so much that one is enthralled in gazing at God through the mind’s eye, all day, everyday? This mood of being enthralled is enhanced by the hypnotic quality of Raga Varali.

Tyagarja continues to describe and praise his Lord in many ways in the charanams; this composition stresses Rupa-Mahima or extolling the form.  I will leave it to another post to examine the concept of beauty in Divinity, a concept we come across very often in Hinduism. I love the sancharas in the purvanga (first half of octave) in Varali which are most soothing. See footnote for lyrics.

To present the song, I have chosen a rendition by the revered veteran vocalist and musicologist R.Vedavalli whose calm and crisp singing steeped in paddhati (classical method/system) is nonetheless full of emotion.

For an instrumental version, what better than the Veena, an ancient instrument to match this ancient raga? Listen below to a rendition by the talented musician E.Gayathri.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

As I do not speak Telugu, here are the lyrics in Devanagri script. For notation, click here. :

कन कन रुचिरा कनक वसन निन्नु

दिन दिनमुनु मनसुन चनुवुन निन्नु

चरणं 1
पालु गारु मोमुन श्रीय
पार महिम तनरु निन्नु

चरणं 2
कलकलमनु मुख कल कलिगिन सीत
कुलुकुचु नोर कन्नुलनु जूचु निन्नु

चरणं 3
बालार्काभि सुचेल मणि मय मालालंकृत कन्धर सर-
सिजाक्ष वर कपोल सुरुचिर किरीट धर संततंबु मनसारग

चरणं 4
सा पत्नि मातयौ सुरुचिचे कर्ण शूल मैनमाट वीनुल
चुरुक्कन तालक श्री हरिनि ध्यानिन्चि सुखिम्पग लेदायटु

चरणं 5
मृग मद ललाम शुभ निटिल वर जटायु मोक्ष फ़लद पवमान
सुतुडु नीदु महिम तेल्प सीत तेलिसि वलचि सोक्क लेदा (आ ) रीति निन्नु

चरणं 6
सुखास्पद विमुखाम्बु धर पवन विदेह मानस विहारप्त सुर
भूज मानित गुणांक चिदानन्द खग तुरंग धृत रथांग पर-
म दयाकर करुणा रस वरुणालय भयापहर श्री रघुपते

चरणं 7
कामिञ्चि प्रेम मीर करमुल नीदु पाद कमलमुल पट्टुकॊनु
वाडु साक्षि राम नाम रसिकुडु कैलास सदनुडु साक्षि
मरियु नारद पराशर शुक शौनक पुरन्दर नगजा धरज
मुख्युलु साक्षि काद सुन्दरेश सुख कलशाम्बुधि वासाश्रितुलके

चरणं 8
सततमु प्रेम पूरितुडगु त्यागराज
नुत मुख जित कुमुद हित वरद निन्नु


kana kana rucirA kanaka vasana ninnu

dina dinamunu manasuna chanuvuna ninnu

Charanam 1
pAlu gAru mOmuna srIya
pAara mahima tanaru ninnu

Charanam 2
kalakalamanu mukha kala kaligina sIta
kulukuchunOra kannulanu jUchu ninnu

Charanam 3
bAlArkAbhi suchElA maNi maya mAlAlamkruta kandhara sara-
sijAksha vara kapOla surucira kirITa dhara santatambu manasAraga

Charanam 4
sA patni mAtayau suruchichE karNa shUlamaina mATa vInula
churukkana tALaka srI harini dhyAninchi sukhimpaga lEdAyaTu

Charanam 5
mruga-mada lalAma shubha niTila vara jatAyu mOksha phalada pavamAna sutudunIdu mahima telpa sIta telisi valachi sokka lEdA (A) rIti ninnu

Charanam 6
sukhAspada vimukhAmbu dhara pavana vidEha mAnasa viharApta sura
bhUja mAnita guNanka chidAnanda khaga turanga dhruta rathAnga para-
ma dayAkara karuNA rasa varuNAlaya bhayApahara srI raghupatE

Charanam 7
kAminchi prEma mIra karamula nIdu pAda kamalamula  pattukOnu
vADu sAkshi rAma nAma rasikuDu kailāsa sadanuDu sAkshi
mariyu nArada parAshara shuka shaunaka purandara nagajA dharaja
mukhyulu sAkshi kAda sundarEsha sukha kalashAmbudhi vAsAshritulakE

Charanam 8
satatamu prEma pUrituDagu tyAgarAja
– nuta mukha jita kumuda hita varada ninnu


O Golden-attired one, the more I behold you, the sweeter it is!

Every day in my mind, with love (I behold you)

Charanam 1
The charming face, glowing with prosperity and limitless glory

Charanam 2
Whom Sita, face glowing with happiness, looks at elegantly by side-glances

Charanam 3
Lord with the splendour of rising Sun, wearing fine garments!  One whose neck is adorned with gem studded necklace! O Lotus-eyed! One with beautiful cheeks! One wearing a brilliant crown! Unceasingly, to my heart’s content..

Charanam 4
Did not Dhruva, unable to bear the harsh words of his step-mother Suruchi attain comfort by meditating on Sri Hari? In the same manner..

Charanam 5
One whose auspicious forehead is adorned with a tilaka of musk! Bestower of emancipation on the blessed Jatayu! When Hanuman, son of the Wind God, described your glory, was not Sita enraptured with love by listening to it? In the same manner..

Charanam 6
O Abode of Comfort! O gale that scatters the cloud called enemies! One residing in the hearts of celestials! O Wish-tree of those dear to you! One with the mark of virtues! One effulgent as consciousness and bliss! One who speeds on Garuda! O Wielder of the discus! O Supremely compassionate one! O Ocean of the nectar of compassion!

Charanam 7
The one who holds your lotus-feet in his hands with overflowing love and longing [Hanuman] is a witness (to my words); [Siva] The enjoyer of Rama’s name and resident of Kailasa (Shiva) is a witness too. Further, personages like sages Narada, Parasara, Suka, Saunaka, Indra, Parvati and Sita are witnesses, aren’t they? O Lord of beauty! One comfortably residing in the Ocean of Milk! Those who have sought refuge in you ….

Charanam 8
O Lord who is praised by this Tyagaraja, who is ever-replete with love towards you!  O Lord whose face surpasses the lustre of moon! O Bestower of boons!



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, E.Gayathri, R.Vedavalli, Tyagaraja