I am back today with a song about dancing Gods, a recurring theme in this blog. I cannot quite resist the vision of Shiva dancing his Tandava, galaxies shattering and forming again under the force of His stamping feet, energy and mass weaving one into the other, Him both the creator and the created, both the destroyer and the destroyed, dancing His dance to eternity. Nor can I resist the image of Krishna whirling with his gopikas on moonlit nights in deserted groves, animals stilled and watchful, even the wind stilled, heavenly music weaving a magic spell, enchanting everyone, He dancing with all we see, in all we see. One is a vision which leaves us spellbound in awe, the other mesmerises by its charm. So when poets draw me such an image, I am beguiled anew.
Our poet-composer today is Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (c.1700-1765) whom I have featured a number of times already. In this joyful song of Krishna’s dance he says ‘After He has played His flute and stolen my heart, how can I have any grievance?’. I love this contentment which is so very unusual in our devotional poetry. We hear poets often wishing and wanting : ‘take care of me’, ‘bless me’, ‘show yourself to me’. Despair and contrition is another running thread : ‘forgive me’, ‘am I not worthy?’, ‘I long for you’ they say. Amongst all this, I much admire this poet who takes joy in Krishna’s dance and says he has no complaints, discontent or grievance. His vision of a dancing Krishna is so beguiling, his notes so joyful that we too can partake in the bliss that the poet has found. Do read the lyrics and translation in the footnote, the poetry is quite charming.
Set to Raga Kambhoji, Kuzhaloodi Manamellam is a well known and well loved song. To more about the raga, click here.
Today I have gone back to the voices of yesteryears, the Bombay Sisters. The style may feel old-fashioned to today’s ears but the music still sounds impeccable.
I had originally chosen Sankaran Namboothiri’s detailed rendition as Kambhoji sounds very good in his rich and powerful voice, but alas, he has taken too many liberties with the lyrics in the second charanam. If you have the time for listening to him anyway, here is a link.
I hesitated over the instrumental version. I have heard it said that Kambhoji sounds best on the Nadaswaram, and the rendition which appealed best to me today was on the Veena. But given the title of the song, I present Sikkil Mala Chandrashekharan whose gentle handling of this song is very pleasant to hear.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
குழலூதி மனமெல்லாம் கொள்ளை கொண்ட பின்னும்
குறை ஏதும் எனக்கேதடி ( தோழி/சகியே)
அழகான மயிலாடவும் (மிக)
காற்றில் அசைந்தாடும் கொடி போலவும்
மத்யம கால சாஹித்யம்
அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே
தனைமறந்து புள்ளினம் கூட
அசைந்தாடி மிக இசைந்தோடி வரும்
நலம் காண ஒரு மனம் நாட
தகுமிதி (/தகுமிகு) என ஒரு பதம் பாட
தகிட ததிமி என நடமாட
கன்று பசுவினமும் நின்று புடைசூழ
என்றும் மலரும் முக இறைவன் கனிவோடு
மகர குண்டலம் ஆடவும் (கண்ணன்)
அதற்கேற்ப மகுடம் ஒளி வீசவும்
மிகவும் எழில் ஆகவும்
காற்றில் மிளிரும் கொடி போலவும் (/துகில் ஆடவும் )
(அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே…)
kuzhalUdi manamellAm koLLai koNDa pinnum
kuraiyEdum enakkEdaDi (tozhi/sakiyE)
azhagAna mayilADavum (miga)
kATRil asaindADum koDi pOlavum
madhyama kAla sahityam
agamagizhndulagum nilavoLi tanilE
tanai marandu puLLinam kUDa
asaindADi miga isaindODi varum
nalam kANa oru manam nADa
tagumidi (tagumigu) ena oru padam pADa
takiTa tadimi ena naTamADa
kandru pasuvinamum nindru puDai shUzha
endrum malarum mukha iraivan kanivODu
makara kuNDalam ADavum
adarkErppa makuTam oLi vIsavum
kATril miLirum kodi pOlavum (/tugil Adavum)
(madhyama kala sahityam)
After having stolen (koLLai) all (ellam) my heart (manam) with His flute (kuzhal) playing (oodi, literally blow), what grievance/complaint (kuRai) can I have, my friend?
As a beautiful (azhagAna) peacock (mayil) dances (Adavum), looking like (pola) a creeper (koDi) dancing (asaindADum) in the wind (kATril), I am joyous (agam=self, magizhndu=joyful) in the shining (ilagum) moonlight (niLavoLi). As birds(puL=birds, inam=class/flock) gather (kooDa), forgetting themselves (tanai marandu), as the mind (manam) longs (nADa) to see (kANa) the beauty/delight (nalam) of one who comes running, (oDi varum) dancing (asaindADi) harmoniously (isaindu), singing (pADa) a padam (a kind of song) like (ena) tagumidi (a rhythm word), dancing (aDa) a dance (naTam) with a rhythm like takita-tadimi (rhythm words), as the calves (kandru) and cows (pasu) stand around in a guard of honour (pudai shUzha), the God (iraivan) whose face (mukha) is always (endrum) flowering (malarum) with a smile (implied), with tenderness (kanivoDu) [having stolen my heart……]
With his fish-shaped earrings (makara kundalam) dancing (Adavum), his crown (makutam) flashing light (oLi vIsavum) appropriately (adarkErppa), with great (miga) beauty (ezhil), like a flag (kodi/tugil) flashing (miLirum) in the wind (kAtril), [I am joyous….]