Category Archives: Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Adum Deivam

Urdhva TandavaMaha Shivaratri is almost upon us and so, of course, my mind is on the Dancing Lord, our ADum deivam. So here I am, back to this blog to share a nice Tamil lore with you. And of course, a song too!

There are many versions of the story I am sharing, I just picked one of them. I also tried to find references to see where the story comes from, but I couldn’t find anything definitive. So just take it as a lore…

 Goddess Kali is on a war path. Created to destroy demons, she is a destructive force par none. But even after she vanquishes the demons, she continues to ravage all in her path. The Gods, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, approach Lord Shiva to calm his consort. Lord Shiva blocks the Goddess and challenges her to a dance contest. In some versions of the story, Lord Vishnu is called upon to act as the judge. The Goddess turns all her energies to the dance. They are evenly matched. She can match his every movement, he can match her every pose. They dance thus for eons. The universe trembles with the force of their stamping feet and their passionate movements. Some say that it is Lord Vishnu who makes a sign to Lord Shiva on how to win. Lord Shiva pretends that his earrings have dropped to the ground. Picking his earring with his feet, he raises it to his ear. This pose is called Urdhva tAnDava. To protect her feminine modesty, the Goddess smilingly concedes defeat. Her ferocity is gone and she is once more the peaceful and compassionate Goddess. Shiva is given the title of Lord of Dance or Nataraja. This is supposed to have happened in the forests of Tillai. Lord Nataraja rests in Tillai as does the dance ‘judge’ Lord Vishnu as Govindarajan. The Goddess retreats to Tiruvalankadu which is also associated with the same lore.

How wonderful are our stories, aren’t they! I can almost see it before me – Shakti, she who is power, unleashed upon the world..is it a nuclear holocaust? Tsunamis, volcanoes or earthquakes? The start of ice age or the end of one? She is destruction incarnate. It is Shiva, our dancing Lord, the other half of her, who must dance with her and drain her fury so that she becomes once more the loving Mother Goddess that she is. It is interesting that it is He we call the Destroyer! What does he destroy then? He is destroyer of the darkness within us, the darkness which lashes out like Kali in her rage. May he always dance the Tandava within our hearts to destroy the tsunamis and earthquakes which we create to destroy ourselves.

This wonderful lore is mentioned in my song choice of today. ADum deivam is written by Papanasam Sivan in raga Kambhoji. There is something about Kambhoji – the more I live, the more I listen, the more my soul sways to the mood of this raga. Listen below to Sanjay Subrahmanyan prove why he richly deserves the title of Sangita Kalanidhi. I have a really soft spot for S.Varadajan on the violin.

Raga Alapanai (exploration of the raga without words)

Kriti (song)

You can download another beautiful version by Sanjay Subrahmanyan here. You will need a free membership to Sangeethapriya.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
ஆடும் தெய்வம் நீ அருள்வாய் இடது பாதம் தூக்கி (ஆடும்)

அனுபல்லவி
நாடும் அடியர் பிறவித் துயரற வீடும் தரும் கருணை நிதியே  நடம் (ஆடும்)

சரணம்
சுபம் சேர் காளியுடன் ஆடிப் படு தோல்வி அஞ்சி திருச் செவியில் அணிந்த-மணித்
தோடு விழுந்ததாக மாயம் காட்டியும் தொழும் பதம் உயரத் தூக்கியும் – விரி
பிரபஞ்சம் முழுதும் ஆட்டும்  நின் திருப் பதம்  தஞ்சம்  என உன்னை அடைந்தேன்
பரிந்தென் திண்டாட்டம் கண்டு பரிசு தரும் துரையே சபை நடுவில் தத்திமி என்று (ஆடும்)

Transliteration

pallavi
ADum deivam nI aRulvAy iDadu pAdam tUkki

anupallavi
nADum aDiyar  piravit tuyaraRa vIDum tarum  karuNai nidiyE -naTam

charaNam
shubham sEr kALiyuDan ADi paDu tOlvi anji tiruch cheviyil aNinda -maNit
tODu vizhundadAga mAyam kATTiyum tozhum padam uyarat tUkkiyum-viri
prapancham muzhudum ATTum nin tirup padam tanjam ena unnai aDaindEn
parinden tinDATTam kanDu parisu tarum duraiyE sabai naDuvil taddimi enDRu

Translation

O Lord (deivam) who dances (ADum) with your left (iDadu) foot (pAdam) raised (tUkki), bless me (ArulvAy)!

O Compassionate one (karuNai nidi (nidi=character, attribute)) who removes/expunges (aRa) the sorrow (tuyar) of birth (piravi) and provides (tarum) shelter (vIDum) for the devotees (aDiyar) who seek you (nADum), who dances (ADum – from pallavi) the dance (naTam)….

While dancing (ADi) with Kali, who is associated (sEr) with auspiciousness (shubham), fearing (anji) total defeat (paDu tOlvi), you created an illusion (mAyam kATTiyum) that (Aga) the gem-studded (maNi) earring (tODu) which you wore (aNinda) on your sacred (tiru) ear (cheviyil) fell (vizhundadu) and you raised (tUkki) your venerated (tozhum) foot (padam) high (uyara). Knowing (implied by ena=as) that your (nin) sacred (tiru) feet (padam) makes the expanse of (viri) the universe (prapancham) move/dance (ATTum) , I sought refuge (tanjam aDaindEn) in you (unnai). O Lord (durai) who, on seeing my (en) misery/struggles (tinDATTam), shows mercy (parindu) and bestows (tarum) the gift (parisu) of seeing (?implied? not sure) you dance (implied by taddimi enDRu=to the rhythm of ‘ta ti mi’) in the middle (naDuvil) of the assembly room (sabai).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Papanasam Sivan, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Kaalai Thookki

Happy Shivaratri to everybody! May the One Who Dances keep you safe and happy!

NatarajaReaders who have been with me for a while know my bent towards Gods who dance. Over time, in different parts of the world, we humans have nominated many Gods. There are interesting commonalities. Natural phenomena such as rain and thunder are popular such as Indra (Hindu) and Thor (Norse). Astronomical deities are also prevalent, such as Chandra (Hindu), Ra (Egyptian) and Mama Killa (Inca). Human skill sets have a great deal of importance too, such as Saraswati (Hindu) and Apollo (Greek), both associated with knowledge, music, arts. As are human calamities such as war-Kartikeya (Hindu), Thor and Tyr (Norse) are examples. Wealth is naturally important, take Lakshmi (Hindu) or Caishen (Chinese). My point is that there are certain themes for which humankind have felt the need of Gods. But amongst all that, the idea of a God who dances to keep the world in motion- that is indeed unique. What a perfect idea!! His drum keeps time while he dances joyfully! And then someone somewhere came up with the idea of depicting this God in the form of Nataraja. Is there anything which is more perfect? And then someone else built a temple for this God in Thillai. And then poets and devotees sang to Him. Such is the song that I have selected for you today. It is written by Marimuttu Pillai (1712-1787), one of eminent pre-trinity Tamil composers and set to Raga Yadukula Kambhoji.

O Lord  who dances with his foot raised, please raise your hand to reign over me! ‘ pleads the poet. The word for raise and that for holding up or carrying is the same in Tamil and the poet has used this word as a theme throughout the song. I very much enjoy Sanjay Subramanyan’s rendition, which I hope you will enjoy too!

Alternate link : Click here

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி

காலை தூக்கி நின்று ஆடும் தெய்வமே என்னை கை தூக்கி ஆள் தெய்வமே

அனுபல்லவி
வேலை தூக்கும் பிள்ளை தனை பெற்ற தெய்வமே
மின்னும் புகழ்சேர் தில்லை பொன் அம்பலத்தில் ஒரு

சரணம்
செங்கையில் மான் தூக்கி சிவந்த மழுவும் தூக்கி
அங்கத்தில் ஒரு பெண்ணை அனுதினமும் தூக்கி
கங்கையை திங்களை கதித்த  சடைமேல் தூக்கி
இங்கும் அங்குமாய் தேடி இருவர் கண்டறியாத

Transliteration

pallavi
kAlai tUkki ninDRu ADum deivamE ennai kai tUkki AL deivamE

anupallavi
vElai tUkkum piLLaitanai peTRa deivamE
minnum pugazhsEr tillai pon ambalattil oru

charaNam
senkaiyil mAn tUkki sivanda mazhuvum tUkki
angattil oru peNNai anudinamum tUkki
gangayai tingaLai gatitta sadaimEl tUkki
ingum angumAi tEDi iruvar kanDaRiyAda

Translation

pallavi
O Lord (deivamE) who dances (ADum) with his foot (kAlai) raised (tUkki), please raise (tUkki) your hand (kai) to reign (AL) over me (ennai)!

anupallavi
O Lord (deivamE) who bore (peTRa) the son who (piLLAI tanai) holds up (tUkkum) the spear (vElai)! In the glorious (pugazhsEr) sparkling (minnum) golden (pon) temple (amabalattil) of Chidambaram (tillai), (connection to pallavi – O Lord who raises) one (oru)…

charaNam
Holding (tUkki) a deer (mAn) and also a reddish (sivanda) battle-axe (mazhu) in your beautiful hands (sem+kaiyyil=senkaiyyil) , He also always (anudinam) holds (tUkki) a woman (peNNai) on his body (angattil) (referring to Parvati on his lap? or half his body as Ardhanareeshwara?). He holds (tUkki) Ganga and the Moon (tingaL) on his thick (gatitta) locks (shadaiymel). He is unknown even to (kanDu + ariyAda = not seen and known) those who search (tEDi) here (ingum) and there (angumai), as did Brahma and Vishnu (Iruvar=the two, referring to the Legend of Shiva Linga, one form of which you can read here).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Marimuttu Pillai, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Eppadi Manam Thunindado

Rama ExileLet us take our minds to the scene from Ramayana where Rama is summoned to his father’s presence the day before his coronation. Kaikeyi has demanded the boons promised to her by Dasaratha; she wants her son Bharata to be coronated and Rama to be exiled. Dasaratha is devastated but obliged to keep his word.

सप्त सप्त च वर्षाणि दण्डक अरण्यम् आश्रितः |
अभिषेकम् इमम् त्यक्त्वा जटा चीर धरः वस ||

You have to leave this coronation function and dwell in the forest of Dandaka for fourteen years, with matted hair and clothed in animal skin

So says Kaikeyi to Rama, when Dasaratha finds it too difficult to utter the words.  How shocked Rama would have been to be exiled thus! Yet he takes it manfully, seeing it as his duty to fulfill his father’s words to Kaikeyi. Bidding farewell to his mother Kausalya, Rama comes to inform Sita of his imminent departure. He bids her farewell, advising her of her duty towards Bharata, who is to be king in his stead, towards his father Dasaratha and his mothers. Sita, quite unlike herself, does not take this meekly.

एवम् उक्ता तु वैदेही प्रिय अर्हा प्रिय वादिनी |
प्रणयात् एव सम्क्रुद्धा भर्तारम् इदम् अब्रवीत् ||

“Sita, who speaks kindly and deserving of kindness, after hearing Rama’s words, became angry out of love alone and spoke thus to her husband.”

She is upset and demands to go to the forest with Rama, saying that the destiny of a wife is tied to her husband. Her words are strong; she says that she cannot be prevented from her intention.

Rama explains to her the many discomforts, difficulties and dangers faced by forest dwellers. He speaks of dangerous animals, the lack of food, bed and comforts; he tells her of the rigours of the life of a hermit.

तत् अलम् ते वनम् गत्वा क्षमम् न हि वनम् तव |
विमृशन्न् इह पश्यामि बहु दोषतरम् वनम् ||

“Therefore, do away with the idea of your coming to the forest. The forest is not indeed bearable for you. Reflecting now, I perceive the forest as having too many disadvantages.”

Sita tries to convince Rama in many ways. She talks of her duty to be beside him, she talks of soothsayers predicting her stay in a forest. She even threatens suicide! When he tries to dissuade her, she demands to know why he is afraid of taking her, going so far as to ask-

किम् त्वा अमन्यत वैदेहः पिता मे मिथिला अधिपः |
राम जामातरम् प्राप्य स्त्रियम् पुरुष विग्रहम् ||

 “What will my father, the king of Mithila, think of having a son-in-law such as you, a woman having the form of a man”

Strong words indeed!! I was surprised when I read the word to word translation of this chapter; I had imagined Sita as a softer character, who goes quietly with whatever is demanded of her.

Curious to see what Goswami Tulsidas writes in his Ramcharitmanas, I looked it up. In this, it is Kausalya who advices Rama that Sita is too gently brought up to survive the forest and she advices him to leave her behind. Sita is described as अति सुकुमारी , exceedingly delicate; as being timid चित्रलिख कपि देखि डेराती – frightened even to see a picture of a monkey. Rama then dissuades Sita by demonstrating her unfitness for the forest in many ways.

मानस सलिल सुधाँ प्रतिपाली । जिअइ कि लवन पयोधि मराली ।

Can a swan brought up in the nectarean water of the Manasa lake live in salt water of the ocean?

Sita’s reply is much softer than in Valimiki’s dialogue. Her main argument is that a wife should be with her husband, and that she could not bear to be separated from him.

बन दुख नाथ कहे बहुतेरे । भय बिषाद परिताप घनेरे ॥
प्रभु बियोग लवलेस समाना । सब मिलि होहिं न कृपानिधाना ॥

You have mentioned many hardships and perils, woes and afflictions attendant in forest life; but all these put together will hardly compare with an iota of the pangs of separation from my Lord, O fountain of mercy!

She offers herself in service of her Lord, she begs and pleads in her distress.

सबहि भाँति पिय सेवा करिहौं । मारग जनित सकल श्रम हरिहौं ॥

I shall render all sorts of service to my beloved Lord and shall relieve him of all the toil occasioned by the journey.

Tulsi’s Sita is more gentle but comes across as rather servile, calling herself a दासी or handmaiden.

Arunachala Kavi’s (1711-1779) representation of her is more like what I had imagined her to be. This great Tamil poet wrote the musical-drama called Rama Natakam which is based on the Ramayana. My song choice of today is set to the scene above. In contrast to Valmiki’s Sita who angrily demands her rights or Tulsi’s Sita pleadingly offering her services, Arunachala Kavi’s Sita is distressed but aware of her rights, as she reminds Rama of promises made.

 “How can you even bear the thought of leaving me?” she asks. She reminds him of his promise to never separate from her in any birth and asks if he is breaking his word to her. She speaks of her distress;  “By distressing me again and again, you kill me without killing me with your words” she says. There is pathos in her pleas and it is well expressed in the Raga Huseni. I believe it was set to tune by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

My favourite rendition is by Sanjay Subrahmanyan who is extraordinarily talented in showing bhava, expression, in his music. I have just listened to at least fifteen renditions and for me, none come close to the expression he portrays! I am a fan!

Alternate link : Click here

I also like very much K.V.Narayanaswamy’s rendition which is beautifully enunciated.

Alternate link : Click here and download song 4

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Tamil

பல்லவி
எப்படி மனம் துணிந்ததோ, சுவாமி
வனம் போய் வருகிறேன் என்றால்
இதை ஏற்குமோ பூமி?

அனுபல்லவி
எப்பிறப்பிலும் பிரியேன், விடேன்  என்று கை தொட்டீரே
ஏழையான சீதையை நட்டாற்றிலே விட்டீரே

சரணம்
கரும்பு முறித்தாற் போலே சொல்லல்லாச்சுதோ ?
ஒருக்காலும் பிரியேன் என்று சொன்ன சொல்லும் போச்சுதோ?
வருந்தி வருந்தி தேவரீர் வெல்ல (alt: சொன்ன ) வார்த்தையால் கொல்லாமல் கொல்ல
இரும்பு மனது உண்டாச்சுதல்லவோ?
என்னை விட்டுப் போகிறேன் (alt: பிரிகிறேன்) என்று சொல்ல

Transliteration

pallavi
eppaDi manam tuNindadO, swAmi
vanam pOy varugiREn enDRAl
idai ERkumO bhUmi

appiRappilum piriyEn, viDEn enDRu kai toTTIrE
EzhaiyAna sItaiyai naTTATRilE viTTIrE

charaNam
karumbu muRittAR pOlE sollallAchchudO ?
oru kAlum piriyEn enDRu sonna sollum pOchchudO?
varundi varundi dEvarIr vella (alt: sonna) vArttaiyAl kollAmal kolla
irumbu manadu uNDAchchudallavo?
ennai viTTup pogirEn enDRu solla

Pallavi
How (eppaDi) can your mind (manam) even bear the thought (tuNindadO; literally dare), O Lord (swAmi)? If you say (enDRAl: if so) that you will leave (pOy varugirEn) for the forest (vanam) (implied: without me), will the earth (bhUmi) bear it (ERkumO)?

Did you not hold (toTTIrE: literally touch) my hand (kai) and say “I will never part with you (piriyEn), I will never leave you (viDEn) in any birth (eppaRappilum)”? (Refers perhaps to pANigraha ritual in a wedding). And yet (implied) you leave ((viTTIrE) this wretched (EzhaiyAna) Sita mid-stream (naTTATRil)?

So there is to be (AchchudO) this harsh (karumbu muRittar pOlE: literally like a sugar cane being broken) proclamation (sollall) ? Are the words (sol) “I shall never (oru kAlum) separate from you (piriyEn) that you spoke (sonna) forgotten (pOchchudO: literally gone)? By distressing me again and again (varundi varundi), you kill me (kolla) without killing me (kollAmal) with your winning/subduing words (vella vArtayAl) O Lord (dEvarIr)! Have you become hard-hearted (irumbu=iron, manadu=mind, uNdAcchu=come into existence) enough to say (enDRu solla) that you will leave me behind (ennai viTTu pOgirEn)?

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Filed under Arunachala Kavi, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, K.V.Narayanaswamy, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Ananda Natana Prakasham

puzzlesI have a penchant for puzzles. It started with an addiction to the Times of India crossword puzzles eons ago, while I was still at high school. Since then I have amused myself with all kinds of puzzles, my current obsession being Sudoku.

The moment my husband walks in from work, I grab his Telegraph for my puzzle-fix. With the advent of an IPad into my home, I continue the evening doing tougher puzzles during the commercial breaks on the telly.  I love the logical structure of Sudoku. You work through it methodically, eliminate logically and voila, you have a perfect solution! What a pleasure that is!

While I do my Telegraph puzzle, I also finish the word game based on anagrams which is featured on the same page. Now this is a very different kettle of fish to Sudoku. The only way I can work out anagrams is to jumble up the letters, removing the linearity, then staring at them until the answer comes to mind. I love the magical ‘pop’ of the answer into my head! Though I have a very good success rate, I have no control over it. There is neither logic nor method in this.

But why is she going on about puzzles in a music blog?’ I’m sure you are puzzling over that right now! Well, there is a connection…..

We Carnatic Music rasikas have our own puzzles, you see. It is called ‘What raga is this?’! Whenever you hear a song, that is the first question that comes to mind. So what is it exactly that we recognize as a raga? Mind you, there is a difference between remembering and recognizing. If you hear a kriti and you know that it is of a certain raga, that is remembering. If you hear an improvised alapana or an unknown kriti, and then can name the raga, that is recognizing.

With the caveat that my knowledge is meagre indeed, I believe there are three major characteristic-sets to ragas:

  • The Notes : Arohanam and Avarohanam define the set of permitted notes. There are further conditions of use for these notes; for example, some are Jiva swaras or ‘life giving’ notes while others are Amsa Swaras, notes which occur frequently. As Carnatic Music uses a variable scale depending on the pitch of the musician, surely what our mind registers are the presence of frequency-intervals? To use these rules in raga recognition, you need to be able to translate a tune or an alapana to its notes on the fly. Sadly, I cannot.
  • The Ornamentation: Ragas have rules regarding gamakas or oscillations and slides between notes. Again, raga recognition by this is difficult for untrained rasikas as it demands you to recognize the notes as they are sung.
  • The Characteristic Phrases: Prayogas and Sancharas are essentially little micro-tunes made up of a few notes, a combination by which a raga can be identified.  Of the three, this is the easiest for a musically uneducated listener. If you have a mental database of what these characteristic phrases sound like, you could compare them to what you are listening. With my limited ability, I just cannot spot micro-tunes amongst the barrage of notes that the musician spouts out.

So what is my method? This is not a puzzle like Sudoko which I can approach in a methodical and logical manner. Instead, somewhat like my anagram puzzle, I have to wait for the answer to ‘pop’ into my mind. See, I told you there was a connection! My very unscientific method rests on listening to the alapana, waiting for my mind to have the incredible urge to belt out some kriti for which I already know the raga. Recognizing the raga is based solely on this urge! A method prone to errors, I assure you. Yet I can recognize many ragas based on this unscientific method!

So coming to my song choice of the day..

Last week I was listening to a nice kutcheri by Sanjay Subrahmanyan on youtube while rolling out the chapatis for dinner, head nodding, rolling-pin going back and forth in perfect tala, saying ‘besh besh’ when the music warranted it. I was a happy woman indeed! A new alapana started and as usual I waited for my mind to offer a raga-match. My mind obligingly offered up ‘Valachi Va-a-a-chi-i-i-i’ in a confident manner.  Now I knew that this varnam is a ragamalika but what is the first raga? For the life of me, I could not remember! You are no doubt sniggering at me now if you know the answer! I waited for an alternate kriti to pop out, getting more and more frustrated with myself for being so inept and clueless. The kriti started and this too was unfamiliar. I finally gave up and went back to enjoying the music. That’s when I heard myself mutter ‘Hmmmm not a bad Kedaram, maybe I should feature this in my next post?’.  I stopped short and grinned as my chapati burnt to a crisp. Puzzle solved!

For those who are new to Carnatic Music and for those who would like to train themselves in raga recognition, I propose a simple strategy here. If you would like to know more about Kedaram, click here.

Instead of presenting the song I was listening to, I am presenting a good reference song in Kedaram, the song which my mind should have logically ‘popped’ out. Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Ananda Natana Prakasham is a very interesting, and mystical song, I am doing it injustice by not discussing the lyrics in detail. Oh well, some other time maybe..

Since last week I have been listening to multiple versions of this song. Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s rendition in his CD Keshtra Chidambaram is gentle as a lullaby. T.M.Krisha’s rendition in his CD Panchabhutam brings out all it’s mysticism, this is available to listen in Spotify.   But there is no match, I think, for M.D.Ramanathan’s deep-voiced leisurely exploration of the song. Somehow MDR’s voice and style seem a perfect match for this song. What do you think?

Alternate Link : Sangeethapriya (free membership).


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

पल्लवि
आनन्द नटन प्रकाशं चित् सभेषम्
आश्रयामि शिवकामवल्लीशम्

अनुपल्लवि
भानु कोटि कोटि सङ्काशम्
भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रद दहराकाशम्
दीन जन संरक्षण चणम्

मध्यम काल साहित्यम्
दिव्य पतञ्जलि व्याघ्रपाद
दर्शित कुञ्चिताब्ज चरणम्

चरणम्
शीतांशु गङ्गा धरम्  नील कन्धरम्
श्री केदारदि क्षेत्राधारम्
भूतेशम् शार्दूल चर्माम्बरम् चिदम्बरम्
भूसुर त्रिसहस्र मुनीश्वरम् विश्वेश्वरम्
नवनीत हृदयम् सदय गुरुगुह तातमाद्यम्
वेद वेद्यम् वीत रागिणमप्रमेयाद्वैत प्रतिपाद्यम्
संगीत वाद्य विनोद ताण्डव जात बहुतर भेद चोद्यम्

Transliteration :

pallavi
Ananda naTana prakAsham chit sabhEsham
AshrayAmi shivakAmavallIsham

anupallavi
bhAnu kOTi kOTi sa.nkAsham
bhukti mukti prada daharAkAsham
dIna jana samrakshaNa chaNam

madhyama kAla sAhityam
divya patanjali vyAGra pAda
darshita kunchitAbja charaNam

charaNam
shIta.nshu gangA dharam nIla kandharam
shrI kEdArAdi kshEtrAdhAram
bhUtesham shArdUla charmAmbaram chidambaram
bhUsura trisahasra munIshvaram vishvEshvaram
navanIta hrudayam sadaya guruguha tAtamAdyam
vEda vEdyam vIta rAgiNampramEyAdvaita pratipAdyam
sangIta vAdya vinOda tAnDava jAta bahutara bhEda chOdyam

Translation:

Pallavi
He who is lustrous (prakAsham) with the dance (naTana) of bliss (Ananda), the   Lord (Isham) of the court (sabhA) of the soul (chit) [also Lord of Chidambaram]. I take refuge (AshrayAmi) in the Lord of Shivakamavalli [shivakAmasundari is the name of the Goddess at Chidambaram].

Anupallavi
His appearance (sa.nkAsham) is like millions (kOti kOti) of suns (bhAnu). He is the provider (prada) of pleasure (bhukti) and salvation (mukti). He is  the form of the yogic space of daharAkAsha (deep psychic world). [Yoga Upanishads talk of three etheric planes: chit-AkAsha=space of the mind, hrudaya-AkAsha=space of the heart and daharAkAsha=space of the psychic world. Note also that Chidambaram is the one which represents Akasha amongst the pancha-bhoota sthalams of Lord Shiva]. He is famed (chaNam) as the protector (samrakshaNam) of the wretched (dIna jana). His lotus-like (Abja) bent (raised?) (kunchita) feet (charaNam) are those seen by the divine (divya) Patanjali and Vyaghrapada [sages who were given a vision of the dancing Lord at Chidambaram].

Charanam

He who holds (dharam) the moon (shItAnshu) and the Goddess Ganga. He is blue (nIla) necked (kandharam). He is the foundation (AdhAram) of sacred places (kshEtra) such as (Adi) Kedara [note: also name of Raga]. He is the Lord (Isham) of all living beings (bhUta). His apparel (ambaram) is the skin (charma) of a tiger (shArdUla). He resides (implied)  in our consciousness (chit) and ether (ambara) [also temple of Chidambaram]. He is the Lord (Ishwaram) of the three thousand (thri-sahasra) Brahmin (bhUsura) sages (munI). He is the Lord (Ishwaram) of the universe (vishva). His heart (hrudayam) is soft as (implied) fresh butter (navanItam). He is the compassionate (sadaya) one, the father (tAtam) of Guruguha [Lord Subramanya, also signature of composer], He is the primal (Adyam). Celebrated (vEdyam) in the Vedas, He is dispassionate/calm (vItarAga). He is immeasurable (apramEya). He is expounded (pratipAdyam) in the Advaita philosophy.  He takes pleasure (vinOda) in music (sangIta), instrumental music (vAdya) and dance (tAnDava) causing (jAta) different kinds of (bhEda) great (bahutara) astonishment (chOdya). [there can be multiple interpretations of this last phrase; this is just one possibility.]

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, M.D.Ramanathan, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, T.M.Krishna

Kapali

Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Vinayak Nagraj@flickrOne of my earliest memories of Carnatic Music is from the temple grounds of Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai. I must have been less than five years old, I reckon. I remember playing in the sand under the stars while my parents listened to the musical outpourings of the maestros who ruled Carnatic Music at that time. When I went back to the Kapali koil many years later I looked for the sandy areas inside the walls but there were none…is it something I have imagined? Too many years have passed for my memory to retain facts other than a deep sense of contentment I felt in the holy grounds of the temple. I wonder, did the music conjure up images of the Divine for the listeners as potently as the idols within the temple do for the worshippers? Did they feel as blessed as I feel when I listen to music?

Busy with my guests yesterday, I missed marking Shivaratri in any way. This morning I feel guilty, for yesterday should have been a day when my mind focused on the dancing Lord. I make up for it today for my guests have left. I listen non-stop to music, as a prayer, as a meditation, as a worship and I write this 200th post of mine in his honour. Listening to Kapali by Papanasam Sivan takes me to the hallowed grounds of the Kapaleeshwarar temple. Those far off memories are joyful ones for me, and this joy is echoed in the happy notes of Raga Mohanam in which the song is set.

Who is He? Papanasam Sivan describes the Lord as the one with matted hair who is adorned by a snake, with a garland of skulls, wearing tiger skin, His body covered by ash.  He is Kapali, meaning the one who holds a skull. Should not such an image be terrifying? But no! He who dances the dance of Time, His drum keeping the beat, His matted hair flying, His eyes flashing is the most attractive God of all!  Though He is the God of destruction, He is life itself for does not each moment of our life die almost as we live it? There is much symbolism in the depiction of Shiva; I will leave that discussion for another day.

The composer makes it clear that he too finds the Lord enchanting by setting the song in joyful Mohanam and saying in the last line of the song that ‘this enchanter captures the heart of all women who come before Him! I love the contrast of the rather frightening form of the Lord to the soft and lyrical notes of Mohanam. As a woman who has come before Him, I too have lost my heart to Him!

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

It is a struggle to decide which rendition to present to you because there are many excellent renditions of this kriti. I have finally decided on the one by D.K.Jayaraman (1928-1991) because in addition to being a wonderful listen, it is also a rare good quality video of a yesteryear artist from the eighties which is very much worth your attention.

I am also very fond of Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s rendition (21 mins, I have not loaded the alapana) from the album Live at Gokhale Hall.

For an instrumental version, I enjoyed U.Srinivas’s very pleasant 30 min rendition on the mandolin.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
காபாலி கருணை நிலவு பொழி வதன மதியனொரு

அனுபல்லவி
ஆபால கோபாலம் ஆழி சூழ் தலத்தவரும்
பூபாலரும் அஷ்ட திக் பாலரும் போற்றும் அற்புத

சரணம்
மதி புனல் அரவு கொன்றை தும்பை அருகுமத்தை புனை மாசடையான்
விதி தலை மாலை மார்பன் உரித்த கரிய வெம்புலியின் தோலுடையான்
அதிர முழங்கும் உடுக்கையும் திரிசூலமும் அங்கியும் குரங்கமும் இலங்கிடும் கையான்
துதி மிகு திருமேனி முழுதும் சாம்பல் துலங்க எதிர் மங்கையர் மனம் கவர் ஜகன் மோகன

Transliteration

pallavi
kApAli karuNai nilavu pozhi vadana madiyan oru

anupallavi
AbAla gopAlam Azhi shUz dalattavarum
bhUpAlarum ashTa dik pAlarum poTrum adbhuta

charaNam
madi punal aravu konDrai tumbai arugumattai punai mAsaDaiyAn
vidi talai mAlai mArban uritta kariya vempuliyin tOluDaiyAn
adira muzhangum uDukkaiyum tirushUlamum angiyum kurangamum ilangiDum kaiyyAn
tudi migu tirumEni muzhudum sAambal tulanga edir mangaiyar manam kavar jagan mOhana

For notation, click here.

Translation

His compassion (karuNai) pours (pozhi) like moonlight (nilavu), his face (vadana) is like a moon (madiyam) (=handsome), the one who holds a skull (kApAli).

The marvellous (arpuda) one who is worshipped by (pOtrum) by the young (bAla) cowherd gOpAlam) (= Krishna?), those from the place (dalattavar) surrounded (shUzh) by the ocean (Azhi), the kings (bhUpAlar) and the keepers (pAlar) (= deities) of the eight (ashta) directions (dik).

He whose matted hair (masadaiyAn) is adorned (punai) with the moon (madi), the river (punal) (=Ganga), the snake (aravu), kondrai flower (=Indian laburnum, a yellow flower), tumbai flower (=leucas, a white wildflower), arugam grass and Umattai flower (=datura, a purple flower). He whose chest (mArbAn) is adorned by a garland (mAlai) of Brahma’s (vidi) head (talai), he who wears a skin (tOluDaiyAn) skinned (uritta) from a dark (kariya) [alternate : kariyin=of an elephant) mighty tiger (vem puli) . With his hands (kai) shining (ilangidum) with a drum (uDukkai) which makes a startling (adira) loud noise (muzhangum), a trident (tirushUlam), fire (angi) and a deer (kurangam). Worship well (tudi migu) the One who enchants the world (jagan mohana),  his sacred body (tiru mEni) shining (tulanga) with ashes (sAmbal), who captures the heart of (manam kavar) the women (mangaiyar) who come before him (edir).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, D.K.Jayaraman, Papanasam Sivan, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, U.Srinivas

Chandiran Oliyil

Chandiran OliyilI bought Sanjay Subramanyan’s CD of the same name last year, quite excited to listen to an album full of Tamil compositions. Yet, I didn’t like the album as much as I expected. It missed something – I’m not sure what. But I loved the title track from first listening. Recently I was reminded of it by video I saw on youtube.

Chandiran Oliyil is a poem written by one of the greatest modern Tamil poets, Subramanya Bharathi (1882-1921). Though he often both wrote the songs and set them to music, I am uncertain about this song as I have heard versions in Raga Chandrakauns as well as Raga KeervAni. Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s version in Malayamarutam particularly pleasing. To know more about this raga, click here.

The poet recounts his meeting with his Goddess (unnamed) by moonlight, saying ‘She told me to work without counting on the results, she told me to live in devotion. Thus, she has removed all affliction, she has rooted out all pain and suffering’. He also says ‘I have controlled my senses and destroyed the desire of ‘mine(selfishness? ego?)’. In essence, there seems to be advice lifted from Raja Yoga (control of senses, removal of desire), Bhakti Yoga (life spent in devotion) as well Karma Yoga (doing one’s duty without looking for results). The aim? The removal of all pain and suffering.

Listen below to the detailed rendition (25 min) by Sanjay Subrahmanyan. I normally feature shorter renditions, given the short attention span that one has for blogs. But this is a recording of both excellent audio and video quality of an expert rendition; definitely attention worthy. The kalpanaswarams are a shower of delight; I also loved the violin accompaniment by S.Varadarajan. Neyveli Venkatesh on the Mridangam performs beautifully and the artists all share a great rapport.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி
சந்திரன் ஒளியில் அவளைக் கண்டேன்
சரணம் என்று புகுந்து கொண்டேன்

அனுபல்லவி
இந்திரியங்களை வென்று விட்டேன்
எனதென்றாசையைக் (எனது என்ற ஆசையை) கொன்று விட்டேன்

சரணம் 1
பயன் எண்ணாமல் உழைக்க சொன்னாள்
பக்தி செய்து பிழைக்க சொன்னாள்
துயரில்லாதெனை செய்து விட்டாள்
துன்பம் என்பதை கொய்து விட்டாள்

சரணம் 2
மீன்கள் செய்யும் ஒளியைச் செய்தாள்
வீசி நிற்கும் வளியைச் செய்தாள்
வான்கணுள்ள வெளியைச் செய்தாள்
வாழி நெஞ்சிற்க் களியைச் செய்தாள்

Transliteration

pallavi
chandiran oLiyil avaLaik-kaNDEn
sharaNam endru pugundu koNDEn

anupalllavi
indiriyangaLai vendru viTTEn
enadenrAsaiyaik-kondru viTTEn

Charanam 1
payaneNNAmal uzhaikka sonnAL
bhakti seidu pizhaikka sonnAL
tuyarillAdenai seidu viTTAL
tunbamenbadai koidu viTTAL

Charanam 2
mIngaL seyyum oLiyai seidAL
vIsi nirkkum vaLiyai seidAL
vAngaLuLLa veLiyai seidAL
vAzhi nenjirk-kaLiyai seidAL

Translation

I saw her in a moonlit night and sought refuge in her.

I have controlled my senses and destroyed the desire of ‘mine’.

She told me to work without counting on the results (karma yoga?), she told me to live in devotion. Thus, she has removed all affliction, she has rooted out all pain and suffering.

She created starlight, she created the blowing whirlwind. She created the outer space, she created the joy in our hearts.

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Subramanya Bharathi

Anandavalli

Oh Ananadavalli! Grant me happiness eternally! Your beautiful smile eradiates the darkness of suffering of poor people like a ray of nectar. The beautiful one who holds a young parrot. Hail!

Swathi ThirunalHaving flown 16,500 kms traversing 10 time zones over 30 odd hours to travel  from one home to another, sleep (or lack thereof) is on my mind. Naturally, I choose to listen today to Raga Nilambari, a soothing and soporific raga most often associated with lullabys in Carnatic music. Today’s song however is not a lullaby; its a prayer song to the Goddess Anandavalli of Padmanabhapuram, Tamil Nadu. Composed by Swathi Thirunal, its slow and soothing sound is a balm to my sleep-disturbed state.

Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (1813-1846) was the Maharaja of Travancore. A connoisseur of both Carnatic and Hindustani music, he was a prolific composer with some 350+ compositions attributed to him. A linguist, speaking 8 or so languages, with an interest in literature and arts, his court included many expert musicians and dancers. He was a great devotee of Sri Padmanabha, presiding deity of the royals of Travancore. Click here for further information.

The poet begs the beautiful Goddess to grant him eternal happiness. ‘Your smile eradiates the darkness of suffering’ says the poet. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. To know more about the raga Neelambari, click here.

Though lovely, this song is rarely sung in concerts. I have listened only to this one version by Sanjay Subrahmanyan .

Alternate link : Click here (free membership of Sangeethapriya.org required)


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
आनन्द वल्ली कुरु मुदमविरतं

अनुपल्लवि
दीन जन संताप तिमिराम्रुत किरणायित सुहसे
धृत शुकपोत विलासिनि जय परम

चरणं
जम्भवि मत मुख सेवित पद युगले
गिरिराज सुते (अम्ब)
घनसार लसित विधु खण्ड सदृश निटिले
शंभु वदन सरसीरुह मधुपे
सारसाक्षि हृदि विहर दिवानिशं

Lyrics in English and translation (from Swathi Thirunal site)

Pallavi
Anandavalli kuru mudamaviratam

Anupallavi
dIna jana santApa timirAm.rta kiraNAyita suhase
dh.rta shuka pota vilAsini jaya parama (Anadavalli)

Charanam 1
jambhavi mata mukha sEvita pada yugaLe
giri rAja sutE (amba)
ghanasAra lasita vidhu khaNDa sadrsha niTile
shambhu vadana sarasIruha madhupE
sArasAkShi hrdi vihara divAnisham

Charanam 2

kEsha pAshajita sajala jaladanikarE  pada pankaja sEvaka
kheda jAla shamAnaika parama caturE
nAshitAgha caritE bhuvanatraya
nayike vitarE mE shubhamanupamam

Charanam 3
shAradEndu rucimaNjuLatama vadanE
munih.rdaya nivAsini
cArukuNDala mukuLopavararadanE
cArukuNDala mukulOpama vardanE
pArijAta taru pallava caraNe
padmanAbha sahaje hara me shucam

Translation

Oh Ananadavalli! Grant me happiness eternally!

Your beautiful smile eradiates the darkness of suffering of poor people like a ray of nectar. The beautiful one who holds a young parrot. Hail!

One whose feet are worshipped by Indra, foe of Jambha, daughter of the king of mountains. One who is adorned with camphor on the crescent like forehead. You are like the bee to the lotus face of Shiva. The one with lotus-like eyes. Always dwell in my heart.

Your long tresses surpasses the water bearing collection of clouds. You are the only skillful one in dispelling the misfortunes of those who worship your lotus feet. One who has the glory of removing the afflictions of the three worlds. Please grant me insurmountable prosperity.

One who has the most beautiful face like the charming autumnal moon; resides in the hearts of ascetics. One who has charming teeth like the beautiful jasmine buds; feet like the tender leaf of Parijata. Oh The sister of Lord Padmanabha! Dispel my grief!

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Swathi Thirunal