Category Archives: Ranjani Gayatri

Navasiddhi Petralum

Lord ShivaDon’t you find people with absolute beliefs quite intriguing? I do!  How do they arrive at it, I wonder? I refer to opinions, morality, beliefs and such, not to, for example mathematics, which I believe is absolute. Mathematicians may demur. In the world of thoughts and beliefs, I seem to be always in a twilight-zone where everything seems to shape-shift, with no absolutes.

My parents brought me up well, trying their best to teach me to distinguish between the good and the bad, setting me up with an understanding of our religion and moral standards without being prescriptive. But when I came out into the world, it did not quite match what I was taught. I saw people around me practicing what was questionable under my ‘rules’ yet they were good people, just people with a different set of standards, of morality, of religion and beliefs. ‘Ah‘, I thought, ‘What I was taught is a set of rules that applies just to the group I belong to‘. Like a Venn diagram, these sets have points of intersections, the commonality of values. ‘Perhaps these commonalities are the absolutes?‘ I wondered. Thou shalt not kill. Is that a commonality which is absolute? But hang on, when Arjuna hesitated in the battlefield did not Lord Krishna encourage him to do his duty? So even ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has exceptions, doesn’t it?

So slowly over a lifetime of seeing, experiencing and thinking, one by one my absolutes have dissolved to a great extent. Of course some absolutes remain. No Torture. No Child Abuse. No Rape. These are absolutes I believe in. There are others. But when it comes to religious, moral or social issues, my absolutes have melted away with the tide of time.

So it is with interest that I examined the lyrics of Navasiddhi Petralum by Neelakanta Sivan in raga Kharaharapriya. He has such definite views! So many absolute sounding statements! He classifies people as ‘chaff’ i.e. people without substance, and sinners. I have tabulated his thoughts, wondering how many of these I would agree with. Detailed lyrics and word by word translations are in the footnote. Have a look at the table and see where you stand. What if a person has devotion to Gods other than Lord Shiva, are they really sinners? What if people have limited intellectual capacity and wisdom but are kind and good? One should respect good parents, surely yes, but what about abusive ones? I think it is a good exercise to examine one’s own beliefs against those set by others, it makes one’s own stand more clear to oneself. And perhaps arrive at one’s own set of absolutes.

People without substance Sinners
Those who are without devotion to Lord Shiva Those who neither listen to the wisdom of others nor have their own
Those who frolic around forgetting the grace of God Those who do not meditate upon Lord Shiva
Those who avidly pursue money without counting sins and merits Those who destroy their own good character with anger and greed
Those who cause grief to their parents Those bad people who hiss and taunt everybody to fight
Those egoistic people who do not realise the truth even after having heard, seen and experienced it Those without the grace of Lord Shiva who gives us an everlasting state

I came to this song by way of listening to a marvellous concert called Thamizhum Naanum by Sanjay Subrahmanyan in which he sang this song. The concert is available at the Yuv site where, for a nominal fee, they are video offering a concert every week. This was the first. The audio and video quality were impeccable. This blog is not a commercial site and I hesitate to promote any commercial offering fearing that people may think I profit in some way. I don’t. But if you are interested in Carnatic Music, it may be worth your while to check out this site.

The first and foremost of the renditions I present today is by Semmangudi Srinavasa Iyer, whose rendition, I believe,  is a benchmark for this song.

I also like Kharaharapriya in the voice of Ranjani & Gayatri whose soft and smooth transitions from note to note is very pleasing to my ears.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Neelakanta Sivan
Raga : Kharaharapriya
Language: Tamil
Note : There are a number of variations to the lyrics in the renditions I listened to while writing this post, most minor. I have given below the version sung by Semmangudi with a few common variations I found in other renditions.

நவசித்தி பெற்றாலும் சிவ பக்தி இல்லாத நரர்கள் வெறும் சாவி (சம்போ)
எவர் புத்தியும் தள்ளி சுயபுத்தியும் இல்லாது இருப்பவர் பெரும் பாவி

நாதன் அருள் மறந்து போதம் இல்லாக் கூத்து நடிப்பவர் வெறும் சாவி (ஜகன்/தில்லை)
சீதமதி அணியும் சிவனை நினையாமல் இருப்பவர் பெரும் பாவி

தாய் தந்தை மனம் நோக செய்கின்ற குரு துரோகத் தனைவர்கள்(*) வெறும் சாவி
நாய் போல எவரையும் சீறி சண்டைபோடவே (alt: சண்டையிடும்) நலம் கெட்டார் (இல்லார்) பெரும் பாவி

பாபமும் புண்ணியமும் கணியாமல் பணத்திற்கே பறப்பவர் வெறும் சாவி
கோபமும் லோபமும் கொண்டு நல்ல குணத்தை குலைப்பவர் (தொலைப்பவர் ) பெரும் பாவி

கேட்டும் கண்டும் அனுபவித்தும் உண்மை உணரா கர்விகள் வெறும் சாவி
வாட்டமில்லாத கதி கொடுக்கும் நீலகண்டனின் அன்பில்லார் (அருள் இல்லார்) பெரும் பாவி (என்றும்)

(*) It sounded to me like தலைவர்கள் but the alternate தனைவர்கள் seemed more fitting. I do not know if this is correct.


navasiddhi peTRAlum shiva bhakti illAda narargaL veRum sAvi (shambhO)
evar buddhiyum taLLi suya buddhiyum illAdu iRuppavar perum pAvi

nAdhan aRuL maRandu bOdam illA kUttu naDippavar veRum sAvi (jagan/tillai)
sItamadi aNiyum shivanai ninaiyAmal iruppavar perum pAvi

tAy tandai manam nOga seiginDRa guru drOgattanivargaL veRum sAvi
nAy pOla evaraiyum shIRi sanDaipODa nalam keTTar perum pAvi

pApamum puNNiyum gaNiyAmal  paNattiRkE paRappavar veRum sAvi
kObamum lObhamum koNDu nalla guNattai kulaippavar perum pAvi

kETTum kanDum anubhavittum uNmai uNarA garvigaL veRum sAvi
vATTamillada gadi koDukkum nIlakanTanin anbillAr (alt: aruL illAr) perum pAvi (enDrum)


Even if they have achieved (peTRAlum) the nine (nava) extraordinary powers of the soul (siddhi), men (narargaL) without (illAda) devotion (bhakti) towards Lord Shiva are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi) . Those who reject (taLLi) the wisdom (buddhi, literally intellect) of others (evar) and are (iruppavar) without (illAdu) wisdom (buddhi) of their own (suya) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those who, forgetting (maRandu) the grace (aRul) of the Lord (nAdan), foolishly frolic (kUttu naDippavar, literally play act) even without (illa) intoxication (bOdam) are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi). Those who exist (iruppavar) without thinking (ninaiyAmal) of Lord Shiva who wears (aNiyum) the cool moon (sitamadi) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those sons (tanaivargaL) who cause distress (manam nOga) to their parents (tAy tandai-mother, father), committing the sin of harm to one’s teachers (guru drOgam), are mere (verum) chaff (sAvi). (Note-Parents are our first teachers) Those without (keTTAr) goodness (nalam), who like (pOla) dogs (nAy), hiss at (shIri) and fight (sanDaipODa) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those who, without counting (gaNiyamal) sins (pApamum) and merits (puNNiyamum), avidly pursue (paRappavar) only money (paNattiRkE) are mere (veRum) sAvi (chaff). Those who, due to (kONDu, literally having) anger (kObam) and greed (lObham) destroy (kulaippavar) their own (implied) good (nalla) character (guNam) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those egoists (garvigaL) who, despite having heard (kETTum), seen (kaNDum) and experienced (anubhavittum), do not realise (uNarA) the truth (uNmai) are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi). Those without the grace (aRuL illAr) of the Lord Shiva (nIla kaNTan, literally the one with the blue throat) who gives the everlasting (vATTam illAda, literally unfading) state (gadi) (ie. Moksha).

NOTE : This is a note based on a comment by Mr.Lakshman Ragde, who is incomparable in his knowledge of Carnatic Music lyrics. He wrote

‘In the song navasiddhi peTrAlum, there are additional caraNAs. Here are the lyrics as found in the printed text book of N.Shivan’s compositions, edited by Saraswathi Ram’ .

navasiddhi peTrAlum. rAgA: kharaharapriyA. cApu tALA.

P: navasiddhi peTrAlum shiva bhakti illAda narargaL verum shAvi
evar budddhiyum taLLi suyabuddhiyum illAdu iruppavargaL perum pAvi
C1: nAthan aruL marandu bOdham illA kUttu naDippavar verum shAvi
NItmati aNiyum shivanai ninaiyAmal iruppavar perum pAvi
2: pApamum puNyamum keNiyAmal paNattirkkE parappavar verumshAvi
kOpamum lObhamum koNDu nalla guNattai kulaippavar perum pAvi
3: tAi tandai manam nOgha sheiginra guru drOhat-talaivargaL verum shAvi
nAi pOla evaraiyum shIri shaNDaiyiDum nalam keTTAr perum pAvi
4: kETTum kaNDum anubhavittum uNmai uNarA garvigaL verum shAvi
vATTamillA gati koDukkum nIlakaNTharin aruL illAr perum pAvi


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Neelakanta Sivan, Ranjani Gayatri, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Uncategorized

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


Shiva MeditatingI have come back to my blogging after a short hiatus; life just seemed to take over these past two months. While most Carnatic Music fans immersed themselves in music during this season, I switched of all music and concentrated on my family and friends.

But I am back now, trawling the web for everything I missed during my time-out. I landed immediately on Jaya TV’s Margazhi Maha Utsavam videos on Youtube and selected Ranjani and Gayatri’s performance for my first listen. It turned out to be a great choice, a very good concert with a nice variety. Their theme was ‘Ezhil Mozhi Ezhu Mozhi’. They presented songs in seven languages – Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi. Nice theme. Following is the song list with the start time in the videos :

1. Swaminatha Paripalaya (Sanskrit), Natta, Dikshithar (Part 1, 1:21)
2. Adedella (Kannada), Purvi Kalyani, Purandara Dasa (Part 1, 09:28)
3. Kantanodu (Malayalam), Neelambari, Swati Thirunal (Part 1,  34:06)
4. Viruttam (Ragamalika in Saveri-Kanada-Sindhu Bhairavi) (Part 1, 41:54)
5. Chandrashekara (Tamil), Sindhu Bhairavi, Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer (Part 1, 49:12)
6. Pakkala Nilabadi with Alapana (Telugu), Kharaharapriya, Tyagaraja (Part 2, 1:00)
6. Ram Nam Tu Japa (Hindi), Lalit (Hindustani), Khalis (?) (Part 2, 33:45)
7. Devar Varuga (Tamil), Ragamalika, Subramanya Bharathi (Part 2, 40:49)
8. Dhanya Dhanya Te Sharira (Abhang in Marathi), Durga, Sant Eknath (Part 2, 47:22)

Ranjani and Gayatri were accompanied on the violin by B.V.Ganesh Prasad, Mridangam by N.Manoj Siva and Ghatam by Chandrashekhar Sharma. Listening to music after a break, everything sounded good to my starved ears! I was especially taken by their Purvi Kalyani, being one of my favourite ragas as also the beautiful rendition in Lalit. But it was Sindhu Bhairavi which drew me back for an immediate second-helping and so that is what I shall offer you today.

Chandrashekhara was preceded by a viruttam consisting of two pieces of poetry from the tevarams. The first one by Tirumular திருமூலர் was sung in Saveri. It seems to have a simple message ‘God will reside in the hearts of those who seek him’.

நாடும் நகரமும் நற்றிருக் கோயிலும்
தேடித் திரிந்து சிவ பெருமான் என்று
பாடுமின் பாடிப் பணிமின் பணிந்தபின்
கூடிய நெஞ்சத்தைக் கோயிலாக் கொள்வனே  (திருமுறை 10)

nADum nagaramum naTRiruk kOyilum
tEDit tirindu siva perumAn enDRu
pADumin pADip paNImin paNindapin
kUDiya nenjattaik kOyilAk koLvanE

Wander you through town and villa
Seek Him through shrine and temple
Sing of Him as ‘Siva, Siva, my Lord’
And thus do you offer
worship meek,
And the Lord will make your heart His temple (source :

The second piece of poetry was written by Appar Tirunavukkarasar அப்பர் திருநாவுக்கரசர். It was sung in Kanada and Sindhu Bhairavi. What a marvellous bit of poetry! I sympathise if you don’t speak Tamil because the beauty of it is tied to the beauty of the language and much is lost in translation. Here Appar describes the Lord’s characteristics in poetic terms.

மண்ணாகி விண்ணாகி மலையுமாகி
வயிரமுமாய் மாணிக்கம் தானேயாகி
கண்ணாகி கண்ணுக்கோர் மணியுமாகி
கலையாகி கலைஞானம் தானேயாகி
பெண்ணாகி பெண்ணுக்கோர்  ஆணுமாகி
பிரளயத்துக் அப்பாற் ஓர் அண்டமாகி
எண்ணாகி எண்ணுக்கோர் எழுத்துமாகி
எழுஞ்சுடராய் எம்மடிகள்  நின்ற வாறே (திருமுறை 6.94.2)

maNNAgi viNNAgi malaiyAgi
vayiramumAi  mANikkam tAnEyAgi
kaNNAgi kaNNukkOr maNiyumAgi
kalaiyAgi kalai.nyanam tAnEyAgi
peNNAgi peNNukkOr ANumAgi
praLayattuk appAR Or anDamAgi
eNNAgi eNNukkOr ezhuttumAgi
ezhunchuDarAi emmaDigaL ninDRa vARE

As earth,
heaven and mountain,
As diamond and ruby itself,
As eye and pupil of eye,
As Sastras and the Sastraic Wisdom itself,
As woman,
and man for the woman,
As the universe beyond Dissolution,
As Thought and as letters therefore,
As rising radiance,
our God abides for ever  (source :

Chandrashekhara by Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer in set to raga Sindhu Bhairavi and has a very bhajan like feel. The sisters sang it just beautifully (except for that one moment in Kanada but I am just being picky), I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Viruttam starts at 41:51.


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer
Raga : Sindhu Bhairavi

Language : Tamil

சந்திரசேகரா ஈசா  ஈசா  சுந்தரேச்வரா கௌரீசா சென்ஜடாதரா

அந்தி வண்ணனே சம்போ அருள் முக்கண்ணனே ச்வயம்போ
சிந்தை தீர்க்க வந்தாய் சிதம்பரேசா கைலாச வாசா


chandrashEkharA IshA IshA sundareshvarA gaurIshA shenjaTAdharA

andI vaNNanE shambhO aruL mukkannanE svayambhO
chintai tIra vandAi chidambarEshA kailAsa vAsA


O Lord (IshA) Shiva (chandrashEkharA), O Beautiful (sundara) Lord (IshwarA), the Lord (IshA) of Parvati (gaurI), the one with reddish (செம்-shem) matted hair (jatAdharA).

O Shambho, coloured (vaNNanE) like dusk (andi)! O compassionate (aruL) three-eyed (mukkaNNanE) one! O self-born one (svayambhO)! You have come (vandAy) to relieve (tIrkka) us of our worries (chintai), O Lord (IshwarA) of Chidambaram, the one who resides (vAsA) in Kailasa!


Filed under Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Ranjani Gayatri

Endraikku Shiva Krupai

When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace? When will this wretched person’s grief cease? When there is wealth, all kith and kin come to praise and serve. When there is a reduction of wealth they do not speak even when they see us! When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace to push away this wicked and villainous world and get liberation?

Neelakanta SivanSycophancy : A self-seeking, servile flattery towards people of power or influence in order to win favour or for personal gain.

I have recently returned from a very enjoyable holiday in India. As we were accompanied by some friends from Switzerland, I found it very interesting to see India and Indians through their eyes. My topic for the day is triggered by their observation about the excellent service we received at all the hotels we stayed at.

Though their comment was positive, and true, I often noted an obsequiousness which was distasteful to me. This, of course, excludes public servants who were surly and apathetic as always. This servility in India is markedly different to one’s experience in other countries. In Western Europe, for example, for the most part one is treated with distant civility with the exception of taxi drivers in Paris who treat everyone with an equal level of insolence. In Australia one is treated with a rather familiar friendliness. In USA, it ranges from sullen indifference to pushy forwardness. It is only in India that have I seen this particular servility.

If people are just simple and humble by nature, then it is of course praiseworthy. But this is not the case. The same service staff often display marked difference in manner when dealing with their colleagues. This servility is obviously in expectation of tips. In my song choice of today, Neelakanta Sivan condemns sycophancy towards the wealthy. I am however more sympathetic with it. When the tips that they hope to gain make so much of a difference, who can blame them? Is it not need which drives their behaviour? Should we not blame the disparity in society for their servility? If obsequiousness lets them survive, so be it. I tip them more than generously and hope that at least for that one day their life is easier to handle.

Of course Neelakanta Sivan is not talking of service staff. He talks of parasitic relatives. ‘When we have wealth, many kith and kin will come to praise and serve us. When wealth reduces, they will not even speak to us’. Does he speak from personal experience? It seems he was in a position of power and wealth which he resigned subsequently. Click here to read a short article about him. He calls this world ‘wicked and villainous’ and wonders when he will be blessed by Lord Shiva to  attain liberation. He is a bit harsh on the world, don’t you think? The song is lovely though. It is set to Raga Mukhari and its effect is sorrowful, devotional and introspective. To know more about this raga, click here.

To present the song, I have first chosen a lovely rendition by a maestro from yesteryears K.V.Narayanaswamy (1923-2002). The song is often sung starting at the anupallavi, so do not be surprised.

Alternate link : Click here and download song 7 (free membership needed to

Another beautiful rendition is by the mellifluous sisters Ranjani-Gayatri. Mukhari is all about bhava or emotion and they bring that faultlessly into their performance.

Alternate link : Click  here

I am also very fond of the more leisurely rendition by T.M.Krishna in his CD Janaranjani. This is available on Spotify; needs free membership to listen.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Neelakanta Sivan
Raga : Mukhari
Language : Tamil
I have noted whatever alternate words that I have heard in various renditions.

என்றைக்கு சிவ கிருபை வருமோ – ஏழை என் மன சஞ்சலம் அறுமோ ?

கன்று (alt: கன்றின் ) குரலைக் கேட்டு கனிந்து வரும் பசு போல்
ஒன்றுக்கும் அஞ்சாத என் (alt: எந்தன் ) உள்ளத்  துயரம் தீர்க்க (alt: தீர / நீக்கி )

உண்டான போது வெகு  (alt: கோடி) உறமுறையோர்கள் வந்து
கொண்டாடி தொண்டாடிக் கொள்வார் – தனம்
குறைந்தால் கண்டாலும் பேசார் இந்த கைத்தவமான பொல்லாச்
சண்டாள உலகத்தை தள்ளி சத்கதி (alt: நற்கதி ) செல்ல


enDRaikku shiva krupai varumO- Ezai
en mana sanchalam aRumO?

kanDRu (alt: kanDRin) kuralaik kETTu kanindu varum pashu pOl
onDRukkum anjAda en (alt: endan) uLLat-tuyaram tIrkka (alt: tIra / nIkki)

uNDAna pOdu vegu (alt: kODi) uramuRaiyOrgaL vandu
koNDADi toNDADik koLvAr -danam
kuRaindAl kaNDAlum pEsAr inda kaittavamAna pollAch
chaNDALa ulagattai taLLi sadgati (alt: nargati) chella


When (enDraikku) will I receive (literally, will come varumO) Lord Shiva’s grace (krupai)? When will this wretched person’s (Ezai) grief (mana sanchalam) cease (aRumO)?

Just as (pOl) the cow (pashu) comes (varum) tenderly (manam kanindu) on hearing (kETTu) the voice (kural) of it’s calf, (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace) to remove (tIrkka/nIkki) the grief (uLLat-tuyaram) of one who fears nothing (onDRukkum anjAda)? (unsure if it is the grief which fear’s nothing….)

When (pOdu) there is wealth (danam unDAna), all kith and kin (uramuRaiyOrgaL – short for for uravumuRaiyOrgal) come to praise and serve (konDADi-tonDADi). When there is a reduction of wealth (danam kuRaidAl) they do not speak (pEsAr) even when they see us (kanDAlum). (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace in order to) push away (taLLi) this abhorrent(kaittavamAna – unsure about this; kaittu is abhorrent, kaittavam I read in one translation as destined) wicked (polla) and villainous (chaNDALa) world (ulagam) and get liberation/moksha (nargati/sadgati chella-literally go to the ‘good destiny’) .


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, K.V.Narayanaswamy, Neelakanta Sivan, Ranjani Gayatri, T.M.Krishna

Idu Dano Thillai Sthalam

Ah! So this is the sacred site of Thillai! Alas, I did not really know it all these days! Like a madman I wandered wondering is it this? or is it that? He promised to show the way and beckoned me here. In Varanasi, I have heard everyone refer to it as Kailasa (the holy abode of Shiva) but (till now) I did not observe and really know it.

NatarajaEven the names of some places carry power, don’t you think? You hear the name Kashi and think of Lord Shiva, of salvation, of Adi Shankaracharya being asked by a Chandala ‘Who are you asking to move aside, the body or the Aatman?’. When you think of Srirangam, you think immediately of the immensity of Sri Vishnu, of the banks of Kaveri, of ancient shlokas and hymns which reverberate to this day. Such is also the power of the name Thillai. The Nataraja Temple is the most celebrated of temples for the worshippers of Lord Shiva. How many wonderful songs have been dedicated to the dancing Lord here! But I never had the opportunity to see it until last week. I was on a temple tour and the last stop was at Chidambaram. If you would like to read of my travel experiences, click here.

Ah finally’ I said to myself as we stepped into the temple. It was crowded where people stood peering into the sanctum from outside. We paid for the archana and were allowed into the hall in front of the sanctum. It was difficult to see the deity as He is much decorated with garlands and jewels. We arrived just in time for the Abhishekam of the crystal Lingam. The priest showered the icon with sandalwood paste, with curd, with rice and with ash. As I saw this, I was taken back to a memory from my teen years. We, as a family, were visiting the shores of Ganges close to Delhi for a dip. I asked my grandmother doubtfully ‘Truly? Our sins are all washed away?’ . That night as we camped near the river, I had a lucid dream of being showered by holy ashes as I sat still in lotus position. The dream was startling in its clarity; I can still picture it today. I felt washed of all evil, born anew. I woke the next morning and my dip in the Ganges felt like a confirmation of my dream.

All these thoughts flashed through my eyes as I watched the abhishekam conclude with the ashes. My sixteen year old self did not have many sins to wash out; my fifty-four year old self is burdened heavily indeed. As the icon was showered with ashes, I felt my soul being showered by them as well. Tears flowed from my eyes as as I watched, feeling the magic that is Thillai ambalam (temple). And I sang to myself இது தானோ தில்லை ஸ்தலம்- Ah, so this is the sacred site of Thillai!

This wonderful song by Gopalakrishna Bharathi is set to raga Behag. To know more about this raga, click here.

I would very much like that you hear both the versions I present below. The first version is by Ranjani and Gayatri. It is reverential, with a sense of amazement almost. This is how I felt when I stepped into the temple.

The second version by Abhishek Raghuram is joyous, elated. It is a discovery, a wonder, a celebration. This is what I felt as I sat amongst the old stone pillars afterwards, thinking of my experience. The young man is in superb voice, I feel joyful every time I listen to this song!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Gopalakrishna Bharathi
Raga : Behag
Language: Tamil

இது தானோ தில்லை ஸ்தலம்
இத்தனை நாளும் அறியேனே

அதுவோ இதுவோ என்று அலைந்திடும் பேயனை
கதி தருவேன் என்று கை காட்டி அழைத்திடும்

காசினியில் இதை கயிலை என்று எல்லோரும்
பேசக் கேட்டதே அன்றி பேணிப் பார்த்தறிந்திலேன் (alt: பார்த்தறிந்திடும் )

Transliteration :

idu dAno tillai sthalam
ittanai nALum aRiyEnE

aduvo iduvo endru alaindiDum pEyanai
gati taruvEn endru kai kATTI azhaittiDum

kAsiniyil idai kayilai endru ellOrum
pesak keTTadE andri pENip pArttaRindilEn (alt: pArttaRindiDum)


Ah! So this is the sacred site of Thillai!
Alas, I did not really know it all these days!

Like a madman I wandered wondering is it this? or is it that?
He promised to show the way and beckoned me here.

I have heard everyone refer to it as Kailasa (the holy abode of Shiva) of this world but (till now) I did not observe and really know it.

Note: I am unsure how to translate the alternate version as the sentence feels incomplete.


Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Ranjani Gayatri

Vazhi Maraithirukkude

ThiruppungurBirth or Worth? Or neither? What criteria should open the doors of a temple? The answer seems self-evident to me yet it is still otherwise in practice in some temples in India. Is that not sad?

My thoughts today are triggered by the discussion with my readers in my last musical post. The late Jon Higgins, an American, and Yesudas, an Indian Christian are both well known names in the Carnatic Music arena. As Carnatic vocalists they cannot but sing in praise of Hindu Gods all the time. Even otherwise, if their lives’ work is not a worship of Goddess Saraswati then I don’t know what is! Yet both were denied entry to certain temples on account of their not being Hindu. Who could be more deserving? Anyway, if it depended on what we deserved, the halls of temples would be empty indeed!

In fact, even Hindus of the lowest-classes used to be denied entry into temples. A terrible thing, this injustice meted out in the name of caste. I have had non-Indians talk to me as if this was true of Indians alone, this class-based injustice. I think not; this kind of injustice is a disease of humankind. Did the people of Israel get just treatment from the ruling Egyptians at the time of Moses? Or the African-Americans get justice in their slavery? What of the Aboriginals in Australia hunted like animals? Or the ethnic cleansing in Serbia in recent history? Oh the shame of it!

Such was case of Nandanar who was born in servitude, at the bottom of the caste ladder. He lived around the 5th/6th AD in South India. His caste was such that he was denied even entry to the temples. Yet he was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva. Overcome with the desire to get just a glimpse of his Lord in the temple, he set off once to Thiruppungur. Standing outside the door, he tried to peer in to see the sanctum sanctorum but the great statue of Shiva’s bull, Nandi, blocked his view. It is said that on hearing his plea, the statue moved aside so that he could have a glimpse of the sanctum. Even now at this temple, Nandi is not in his usual place but a bit aside. This very Nandnar, denied even entry to temples, is now revered as one of the 63 Nayanmar saints whose statues decorate the halls of Shiva temples all over South India. What a come about!

One version of Nandanar’s life story was written as an upanyasam (musical discourse) by Gopalakrishna Bharathi (1811-1896). His songs were used in the film Nandanar made in 1942. If you enjoy Carnatic music, this is a recommended watch. In addition to songs by Gopalakrishna Bharathi, we also get to hear songs written by the great poet-composer Papanasam Sivan and Kothamangalam Subbu (1910-1974) of Thillana Mohanambal fame. The wonderful vocalist Dandapani Desikar plays the lead and impressive Serukalathur Sama plays his Brahmin overlord.  You can watch a good quality print of this film here (no subtitles).

My song choice of today is written by Gopalakrishna Bharathi in his Nandanar Charithram.  ‘Alas, my view is blocked by a mountain-like bull which is lying down’ says he. ‘Even after coming to this town, will not this sinner of Parayan caste have his sins pardoned?’ he goes on to ask.  He accepts that he cannot enter the temple. ‘It is enough if I can see you from the chariot stop, I will not enter the temple’ he says and begs ‘Will not your bull move just a little?’. For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

The song is sung in Raga Todi in the film; I believe Gopalakrishna Bharathi composed it in Todi as well. The version I have chosen for you is presented in Nattakurinji by the melodious and incredibly talented sisters Ranjani & Gayathri. I find the slow and meditative quality of the song very touching indeed. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

In his next song in Nanadanar Charithram , Gopalakrishna Bharathi has Lord Shiva saying to Nandi – சற்றே விலகி இரும் பிள்ளாய் சந்நிதானம் மறைக்குதாமே ‘Do move a little, my son. It seems you are blocking the view of the sanctum’. And that is what I say to the priests of the temples who deny entry to anyone at all – சற்றே விலகியிரும், சந்நிதானத்தை மறைக்காதீர் ‘Move aside, don’t block the sanctum’.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Gopalakrishna Bharathi
Raga : Nattakurinji
Language : Tamil

வழி மறைத்திருக்குதே மலை போலே
ஒரு மாடு படுத்திருக்குதே

பாவி பறையன் (Alternates : நந்தன், ஏழை ) இந்த ஊரில் வந்து என்ன (Alt: வந்தும் இவன்)
பாவம் தீரேனோ (உந்தன்) பாதத்தில் சேரேனோ ஏறேனோ சிவலோக நாதா (Alt: நாதன்)

தேரடியில் (Alt: தேரடியிலே) நின்று தரிசித்தாலும் போதும்
கோயில் (Alt: கோயிலில்) வர மாட்டேனே (Alt: மாட்டேன் ஐயே)
ஓர் அடி விலகினால் போதும் இங்கே நின்று
உற்று பார்க்க (alt: பார்க்கவே) சற்றே ஆகிலும் விலகாதோ உந்தன் மாடு

Transliteration :

vazhi maraittirukkudE malai pOlE
oru mADu paDuttirukkudE

pAvi paraiyan (alt: nandan, Ezhai) inda Uril vandu enna (alt: vandum ivan)
pAvam tIrEnO (undan) pAdattil sErEnO ErEnO sivalOka nAdA

tEraDiyil (alt: tEraDiyilE) inDRu darisittAl pOdum
koyil (alt: koyilil) vara mATTEnE (alt: mATTEn aiyyE)
Or aDi vilaginAl podum ingE nindRu uTRu pArkka (alt: pArkkavE)
chaTRE Agilum vilagAdO undan mADu

Translation :

Alas (implied), my view (vazhi=way) is blocked (maraittirukkudE ) by a (oru) mountain-like (malai pOlE) bull (mADu) which is lying down (paDuttirukkudE)!

Even after coming to (vandu) this (inda) town (Uril), will not this sinner (pAvi) of Parayan caste have his sins (pAvam) pardoned (tirEnO, literally end, vanish)? Will I not reach (sErEnO) your feet (pAdatti) ? Will I not ascend (ErEnO) to your abode (sivalOka), O Lord Shiva (Lord, from Sanskrit natha)?

It is enough (pOdum) today (inDru) if I can see you (darisittAl) from the foot (aDiyil) of the chariot (tEr) (note: this is outside the temple gates), I will not enter (vara mATTEnE, literally not come) the temple (kOyil). It is enough (pOdum) if your bull moves (vilaginAl) by one (Or) foot (aDi) for me to peer (uTru pArkka) from standing (ninDRu) here (ingE). Will not your (undan) bull (mADu) move (vilagAdO) just a little (chaTRE Agilum) ?


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Dandapani Desikar, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Ranjani Gayatri

Bhavayami Gopala Balam

Krishna BabyThe tradition of worshipping Krishna as a Bala Krishna or Bala Gopala (child Krishna) is an old one. There is evidence as early as 4th BC of this. The stories of his Leelas or miraculous play are widely known throughout India. In contrast to Rama, the previous avatar of Vishnu, who always followed rules and regulations, Krishna’s Leelas describe someone who broke many rules. While Rama’s life is about obligation, Krishna’s life is about play and delight.

I believe that the stories of Krishna’s play have deep symbolic meaning. For example, his love for butter symbolises God’s love for a pure and unsullied heart. His leela of duplicating himself for all the gopikas symbolises the multiplicity of God who is with every soul though he is One. Even keeping aside the symbolism, the endearing nature of the leelas allow us to bring forth the purest form of love that we human beings know – the love of a parent towards his/her small child – and allow us to transform that love into a love for the divine.

Today’s composition is by Annamacharya, set to Raga Yamuna Kalyani  by Kayanallur Venkataraman. The poet says ‘I meditate on the cowherd child’ and describes the beguiling form of the child who is ‘Glorious in a girdle inlaid with precious stones and small bells tied to his waist which rings with a multitude of sounds’. On listening to the song, my mind if filled with the image of my children as babies and these become indistinguishable from the image of baby Krishna as I am overwhelmed by the love for both Krishna and my children. To know more about this raga, click here.

One cannot think of this song without thinking of M.S.Subbulakshmi who had made this her own. However today I present a beautiful performance by Ranjani & Gayatri, the sisters with voices which synchronise so perfectly.

Alternate link : Click here.

For an instrumental version, listen below to Kanyakumari whose skills on the violin are truly impressive.

Alternate link : Click here.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

भावयामि गोपाल बालम्  मनः सेवितं
तत्पदं चिन्तयेयं सदा

कटि घटित मेखला खचित मणि घण्टिका
पटल निनदेन विभ्राजमानं
कुटिल पद घटित सङ्कुल शिञ्जिते नतं
चटुल नटना समुज्ज्वल विलासं

निरत कर कलित नवनीतं ब्रह्मादि
सुर निकर भावना शोंभित पदं
तिरुवेङ्कटाचल स्थितं अनुपमं हरिं
परम पुरुषं गोपाल बालम्

English Transliteration

bhAvayAmi gopAlabAlaM manaH sevitam
tatpadaM cintayeyaM sadA

kaTi ghaTita mekhalA khacita maNi ghaNTikA
paTala ninadena vibhrAjamAnam
kuTila pada ghaTita saMkula shinjite natam
caTula naTanA samujjvala vilAsam || 1 ||

nirata kara kalita navanItaM brahmAdi
sura nikara bhAvanA shobhita padam
tiruveNkaTAcala sthitaM anupamaM harim
parama puru.saM gopAlabAlam || 2 ||


I meditate upon (bhAvayAmi) the cowherd (gopAla) boy (bAlam) on whose feet ((tatpadam) my mind (manah) dwells (chintaYeyam)
always (sadA)

Glorious (vibhrAjamAnam) in a girdle (mekhala) inlaid (khachita) with precious stones (maNi) and small bells (ghaNtikA) tied to his waist (kati) which rings  with a multitude (patala) of sounds ((ninadEna)

With radiant (samujjwala) and lovable ((chaTula) appearance (vilAsam) while dancing (naTana), inclined (natam) with (sangkula) his curved (kuTita) pada (feet) tinkling (shinjita).

Hand (kara) engaged in (nirata) kalita (providing) butter (navanIta), feet (padam) made beautiful (shobhita) by the feelings (bhAvanA) of multitude (nikara) of gods (sura) like Brahma etc (brahmAdi)

Living (sthitam) in the hill (achala) of tiru (sacred in Tamil) vengkata, incomparable (anupam) Hari, supreme being (parama purusham), the cowherd boy (gopala bAlam)



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Kadayanallur Venkataraman, Kanyakumari, Ranjani Gayatri

Hiranmayim Lakshmim


On this fifth day of Navaratri (Panchami), I continue to pay homage to Goddess Lakshmi. Those who pray to Goddess Lakshmi hope to be blessed with material wealth and prosperity. Even her image is shown as pouring gold from her hands. Here the poet-composer Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) describes Lakshmi herself as being golden (Hiranmayeeem); she is the gold that he aspires for. There is an interesting story behind this song.

One day, it is said, Dikshithar’s wife longingly asked for some golden jewellery. Dikshithar was not in the financial situation to provide these for his wife. One of his disciples suggested to Dikshithar that if he were to go to the court and sing in praise of the king, the king would give him enough to buy some jewellery for his wife. Dikshithar refused and said that he would sing only in praise of his Goddess, never for a man! Then he created this beautiful composition, calling his Goddess the Golden One. That night, Diskhithar’s wife dreamt of the Goddess who came and poured gold on her and said, ‘there, are you satisfied?’. On waking up she apologized to Diskshithar for ever wanting any material wealth  when they were so blessed with Divine wealth.

For lyrics of this beautiful song, see footnote below. The song is set to Raga Lalita (see footnote).

To enjoy this beautiful song, here’s a performance by the young vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan.

For an instrumental version, listen to this beautiful performance on the Sax by the incomparable Kadri Gopalnath.

Edit : A few years have passed since I wrote this post. There is a version which I admire tremendously and hear often. It is T.M.Krishna’s version which you can listen here. His pace is leisurely and deeply meditative. I love Lalita in all forms but like this she is just exquisite. Lalita is also lovely in the mellifluous voices of Ranjani and Gayatri which I also urge you to listen here.


Footnote (Lyrics):


हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं सदा भजामि |
हीन मानव आश्रयं त्यजामि ||


चिरतर संपत् प्रदां क्षीरंबुधि तनयां |
हरि वक्षथलालयं हरिणीं चरण किसलयां |
कर कमल धृत कुवलयां |
मरकतमनि मय वलयां ||


श्वेत दीप वासिनीं श्री कमलंबिकां परां |
भूत भव्य विलासिनीं भूसुर पूजितां वरां |
मातरं अब्ज मालिनीं माणिक्य आभरण धरां |
गीत वाद्य विनोदिनीं गिरिजाम्तां इन्दिरां ||
सीता किरण निभ वदनां श्रिता चिन्तामणि सदनां |
पीत वसनां गुरु गुह मातुल कान्तां ललितां ||

For transliterated lyrics, translation and notation click here.


Footnote (Raga) :

The scales of Raga Lalita are as follows :

Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S’
Avarohanam (Descending) : S’ N3 D1 M1 G3 R1 S

15-2 Lalita

Lalita is a janya raga, derived from Mayamalavagowla (see below), 15th on the Melakarta scale. This is not related to the Hindustani Lalit. Nannu Brovu Lalita by Shyama Shastri  is another composition in Lalita which I enjoy very much.

15 Mayamalavagowla

Note : The 12 notes in the octave are named as below. Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Carnatic Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the gamakas(ornamentations) are a very important part of a raga.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Ranjani Gayatri, Sikkil Gurucharan, T.M.Krishna

Muruganin Maru Peyar Azhagu


Yesterday was a Behag day for me. An import from Hindustani music, there are a number of tukkadas (short compositions sung at the end of concerts) in this raga.  I played all the ones I could find while pottering about with the painting I am working on now.   Behag gentles me, like a lullaby gentles a baby, and gets me into a zone where I work best. To know more about this raga, click here.

Of all the compositions in Behag, I am particularly entranced today by the composition Muruganin Maru Peyar Azhagu written in Tamil. Trying to find out about the composer turned out to be difficult; there is not much information on Guru Surajananda. He was a Yogi who lived in Chennai and died in Sept 1992. He took an interest in Carnatic music and played the Mridangam. In 1982 he wrote a book called Geeta Sangamam with a number of his compositions which were set to music by 5 eminent carnatic musicians – T M Thiyagarajan, DK jayaraman, Calcutta Krishnamurthy, TS Kalyanaraman and T K Govindarao. I was unable to ascertain who exactly composed the music for the song I am presenting. Whoever it was, it has been done brilliantly!

The poet talks of how the beauty and the smile of of Lord Murugan enchants the world (மயங்குது உலகு) – I found Behag to be particularly suitable for this description of enchantment.  See footnote for lyrics.  To present this song, I have chosen this gentle version by Ranjani and Gayatri.

For an instrumental version, listen to Sikkil Mala on the flute below:


Footnote (Lyrics):

I found that artists sing the charanam with a few variations. I have given the most used version, giving alternatives when possible.

Language : Tamil

முருகனின் மறு பெயர் அழகு
அந்த முறுவலில் மயங்குது உலகு

குளுமைக்கு அவன் ஒரு நிலவு
(நீ) குமரா என சொல்லி பழகு

வேதங்கள் கூறிடும் ஒளியே
உயர் வேலோடு விளையாடும் எழிலே
துறவியும் விரும்பிய துறவே
(alternate : துறவிகள் விரும்பிடும் உறவே )
(நீ) துறவியாய் நின்றிட்ட (நின்றிடும்) திருவே


muruganin maru peyar azhagu
anda muRuvalil mayangudu ulagu

kuLumaikku avan oRu nilavu
(nee) kumarA ena solli pazhagu

vEdangaL kURiDum OLiyE
uyar vElODu viLaiyaDum ezhilE
turaviyum virumbiya turavE
(alternate: turavigal virumbiDum uRavE)
(nI) turaviyAy ninDRiTTa (ninDRiDum) tiruvE


The other (maru) name (peyar) of Lord Murugan is ‘beautiful’ (azhagu)! The whole world (ulagu) is enchanted (mayangudu) by that smile (muruval)!

For coolness (kuLUmaikku) he is (avan oru) the moon (nilavu)! Practice (pazhagu) saying (solli) Kumara !

O Divine (implied) Light (OLiyE)! O the grace (ezhilE) with which you play (vilaiyADum) with the best of spears (uyar vElODu)! O Ascetic (turavu) who is desired by (virumbiya/virumbiDum) all other ascetics (turaviyum)! You are the divine one (tiruvE) who stands (ninDRiTTA) as an ascetic (turaviyAy)!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Guru Surajananda, Ranjani Gayatri, Sikkil Mala

Om Sharavanabhava

MuruganLord Skanda, the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Ganesh must have been worshipped all over India once upon a time. There is mention of Him in the Vedas and Puranas and in the Mahabharata as well. Archaeological findings related to Him point to His worship from 10 B.C. or before. But as time passed and worship patterns changed, His worship became more localised. In today’s India, He is most prevalent where there are Tamils.

Although my parents worshipped a pantheon of Gods, we did not have Lord Murugan in the altar at home. As a consequence, I was not much attached to this God who is most important to the Tamils, my people. As a Hindu, I believe that each of our Gods and Goddesses is a complete manifestation of the Divine. I quote the Shanti Mantra from Brihadaranyaka & Ishavasya Upanishad (4 BC), a mantra which I recite morning and evening :

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवा वशिष्यते ||
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

Om. That (Paramatma = God, the supreme being) is absolute (complete/perfect). This (Jeevatma = individual soul) is absolute. The absolute arises from the absolute. When the absolute is taken from the absolute, what remains is the absolute. Om Peace Peace Peace.

One of the earliest definition of Infinity (∞ – ∞ = ∞), the interpretation is that God being infinite, each manifestation of Him (including our souls) is also infinite and complete. Whichever God you choose to worship, you still worship the same Infinite.

It is thanks to Carnatic Music and the many songs devoted to Lord Murugan which have brought me to seek Him. How passionate the devotion of the Tamil poets is to Him! How beautifully they sing His praise!! One such song is what I am presenting today.

Sharavanabhava (Sanskrit: He who was born in a clump of reeds) refers to Lord Murugan. The six syllables haves deep esoteric significance as well and this is used as a Mantra by His devotees. This song is written by Papanasam Sivan (1890-1972) and is set to Raga Shanmukhapriya (meaning, the raga which pleases the God of Six Heads i.e. Lord Murugan). If you want to know more about the raga, click here. The lyrics are available here. The superbly talented sisters Ranjani & Gayatri sing this beautifully below  :

Alternate link : Click here.

Click here to listen to an excellent instrumental version played by the Sax Maestro Kadri Gopalnath.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Kadri Gopalnath, Papanasam Sivan, Ranjani Gayatri