Category Archives: Sikkil Gurucharan

Kanden Sitaiyai

Hanuman and Sita

She sits under a tree, lost in her own misery. For ten months she has been in captivity, surrounded by her enemies. Her captor has given her twelve months to give in to him and become his consort. He has threatened death, he has tried temptation but she remains aloof and dismissive. But internally she has started despairing. Will her Lord be able to rescue her in time ? Her despair leads her to thoughts of giving up her life. Our Lord’s envoy finds her thus. He approaches her cautiously, gaining her trust in small steps. He offers to take her back but she refuses; she will allow only her Lord to rescue her. The Lord’s envoy bids her goodbye, causes as much havoc as he can in the enemy camp and returns to his Lord to bring glad tidings. Our Lord too has been suffering without his lady. He is desperate for news. His envoy greets him joyfully ”My Lord! Yes, I have seen her! Yes, she is still alive and chaste!”.

This is such a pivotal moment in the story, isn’t it! We have all followed this story innumerable times, through the innocence of our hero’s childhood, through his adolescent victories, the obedience of young adulthood, a comparatively uneventful exile and finally through the despair of loss.  Through all this time our hero has just been a man in the making, at least to my eyes. Oh, he was mature enough in age. Married at 16, he lived at home under his father’s rule for 12 years when he was sent into exile. he would have been 28 then. His lady was captured after 13 years in exile so at this stage of the story, our hero is close to 42 years in age. But he has not yet fulfilled the role for which he was born, as man or as God. It is after this point that he rouses himself from despair and takes the steps to become the glorious, victorious one that we all greet him as when we say ‘Jai Jai Ram’.

So, as I said before, this point of the story is pivotal. Ramayana is a story which has been told countless times, in countless forms. There is no saying if Valmiki’s was the original one; who knows what stories were there before? Perhaps there was always a Ramayana, whether told or untold. Still, Valmiki’s is the story we refer to as the original version. Let us see what he says about this moment of the story.


Valmiki Ramayana (Sundara Kanda, Sarga 64 and 65)
(Reference : https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/)

अङ्गदे ह्यननुप्राप्ते सुग्रीवो वानराधिपः।
उवाच शोकोपहतं रामं कमललोचनम्।।5.64.24।।
समाश्वसिहि भद्रं ते दृष्टा देवी न संशयः।
नागन्तुमिह शक्यं तैरतीते समये हि नः।।5.64.25।।

Seeing the grief stricken, lotus eyed Rama, the lord of the vanaras Sugriva said this before the arrival of Angada : Trust me, Rama. Be blessed. The vanaras have seen the divine lady. There is no doubt. It is not possible for them to come here after exceeding the time limit (in their search for Sita).

Sugriva, Rama and Lakshmana watch the havoc created by the vanaras in Madhuvana from a distance. From the very celebratory behaviour of the vanaras,  Sugriva guesses that they come with good news. So it is he who gives first intimation of the news by saying ‘the vanaras have seen the divine lady‘.

Valamiki gives further description of the approach of the vanaras and the exchange of greetings before coming to the salient point.

हनुमांश्च महाबाहुः प्रणम्य शिरसा ततः।।5.64.37।।
नियतामक्षतां देवीं राघवाय न्यवेदयत्।

Then the strong armed Hanuman with his head bowed down offered salutations and reported, ‘Divine lady Sita with her constant devotion to Sri Rama is sound in body’.

With this one sentence two important bits of news are conveyed, that of Sita’s wellbeing and that of her constancy.
In the next sarga, Valmiki has Anchaneya give a more detailed description of his experiences.
समुद्रं लङ्घयित्वाहं शतयोजनमायतम्।।5.65.8।।
अगच्छं जानकीं सीतां मार्गमाणो दिदृक्षया।
तत्र लङ्केति नगरी रावणस्य दुरात्मनः।।5.65.9।।
दक्षिणस्य समुद्रस्य तीरे वसति दक्षिणे।
तत्र दृष्टा मया सीता रावणान्तः पुरे सती।।5.65.10।।
सन्न्यस्य त्वयि जीवन्ती रामा राम मनोरथम्।
दृष्टा मे राक्षसीमध्ये तर्ज्यमाना मुहुर्मुहुः।।5.65.11।।
राक्षसीभिर्विरूपाभी रक्षिता प्रमदावने।
Having crossed the sea consisting of a hundred yojanas in quest of Vaidehi, I found her. On the southern shore of the ocean is situated the city of Lanka, ruled by the evil-minded Ravana. There, in the inner palace of Ravana, I saw your lovely wife Sita, with all her hopes pinned on you, giving up all other desires. I found her in the beautiful garden guarded by hideous ogresses threatening her again and again.
I have highlighted the phrase  दृष्टा मया सीता as this is the closest to the title of our song today ‘Kanden Sitaiyai’. She is well but she is threatened. This will rouse our hero to immediate action.
दुःख मासाद्यते देवी तथाऽदुःखोचिता सती।।5.65.12।।
रावणान्तः पुरे रुद्धा राक्षसीभि स्सुरक्षिता।
एकवेणीधरा दीना त्वयि चिन्तापरायणा।।5.65.13।।
अधःशय्या विवर्णाङ्गी पद्मिनीव हिमागमे।
रावणाद्विनिवृत्तार्था मर्तव्यकृतनिश्चया।।5.65.14।।
देवी कथञ्चित्काकुत्स्थ त्वन्मना मार्गिता मया।
Sita, who did not deserve and yet was full of grief was detained by Ravana in his inner palace, guarded by ogresses. She had a single braid (a sign of desolation), was pathetic, and totally absorbed in your thought. She was lying on bare ground with her limbs turned pale, like lotus in winter. She was averse to Ravana and was determined to commit suicide. She has only Rama in her mind. Somehow I found her.
Sita’s devotion to Rama and her determination to seek death rather than dishonour is the salient point here. Note how she is described as looking pale as a lotus in winter. When you come to the translation of our song, you will notice the same description there.
जीवितं धारयिष्यामि मासं दशरथात्मज।।5.65.24।।
ऊर्ध्वं मासान्न जीवेयं रक्षसां वशमागता।
इति मामब्रवीत्सीता कृशाङ्गी धर्मचारिणी।।5.65.25।।
रावणान्तः पुरे रुद्धा मृगीवोत्फुल्ललोचना।
O Son of Dasaratha I will hold on to life for a month. Captured by the demons, I will not live for more than a month. With her limbs emaciated through austerities detained in Ravana’s inner palace, eyes wide open in fear, Sita said this to me.
Sita gives Rama a mere month to defeat Ravana and rescue her. I have read and heard Ramayana innumerable times but somehow missed this pertinent fact. So as Sita did not give up her life, I assume that less than 30 days passed between Hanuman bringing this news and Rama’s defeat of Ravana. Is that even possible? I have to do more research on that!

KAMBA RAMAYANAM , Sundara Kandam, 6028, 6031 and 6051
எய்தினன்அனுமனும்; எய்தி, ஏந்தல்தன்
மொய் கழல்தொழுகிலன்; முளரி நீங்கிய
தையலை நோக்கியதலையன், கையினன்,
வையகம் தழீஇநெடிது இறைஞ்சி, வாழ்த்தினான்

Hanuman having reached that place, without saluting the heroic Rama’s anklet clad feet, he saluted southwards towards where the Goddess, who, having abandoned the lotus flower and been born on this earth, was currently resident, by falling on earth, with his head and hands touching the earth and praised Sita lying there.
Kambar has Hanuman conveying the news in a more subtle manner. On gaining audience, Hanuman pays obeisance to Sita instead of saluting Rama and thus conveys the news of Sita’s well-being by gestures alone. Interestingly, Kambar stresses the divinity of Sita here by connecting her to Goddess Lakshmi.
கண்டனென், கற்பினுக்கு அணியை, கண்களால்,
தெண் திரை அலைகடல் இலங்கைத் தென் நகர்;
அண்டர் நாயக !இனி, துறத்தி, ஐயமும்
பண்டு உள துயரும்’என்று, அனுமன் பன்னுவான்
Hanuman looked at Rama and said ‘O Lord of Devas, in Lanka, a city in the South which is surrounded by clear, curling tides, I saw with my own eyes your Lady who is like an ornament to chastity. Therefore forget all the doubt (of whether she is chaste or not) and the sorrow thereof’. He continued to tell in more detail.

I included this verse because it is closest to the words ‘Kanden Sitaiyai’ . Kambar’s description of Sita is very evocative and poetic.

இங்கு உளதன்மை எல்லாம் இயைபுளி இயையக் கேட்டாள்;
அங்கு உள தன்மைஎல்லாம் அடியனேற்கு அறியச் சொன்னாள்;
“திங்கள் ஒன்றுஇருப்பென் இன்னே; திரு உளம் தீர்ந்தபின்னை,
மங்குவென்உயிரோடு” என்று, உன் மலரடி சென்னி வைத்தாள்.

After hearing of all that occurred here, she told me of everything that had happened there in detail. ‘I will remain alive for only one more month’ she said. ‘If my Lord does not want to save me within that time, I will kill myself’ . She gestured as if she was saluting your divine feet.

Kambar’s Sita, like Valmiki’s Sita, gives her Lord only a month’s time to rescue her. Interesting is the wording here ‘If my Lord does not want to save me within that time’. Is there a doubt that he would want to save her or not? A hint of a future doubt over her chastity?


Ramacharitamanas,  Sundara Kanda 5-29 and 5-30
Reference : http://www.ramcharitmanas.org

I could not find the equivalent of the words ‘Kanden Sitaiyai’ in Ramacharitmanas. It is Jambavan who speaks first to the Lord.

प्रभु कीं कृपा भयउ सबु काजू। जन्म हमार सुफल भा आजू॥2॥
नाथ पवनसुत कीन्हि जो करनी। सहसहुँ मुख न जाइ सो बरनी॥
पवनतनय के चरित सुहाए। जामवंत रघुपतिहि सुनाए॥3॥
सुनत कृपानिधि मन अति भाए। पुनि हनुमान हरषि हियँ लाए॥
कहहु तात केहि भाँति जानकी। रहति करति रच्छा स्वप्रान की॥4॥

‘Everything has turned out well by the grace of my Lord; it is only today that our birth has been consummated. The achievement of Hanuman (the son of the wind-god) cannot be described even with a thousand tongues’. Jambavan then related to the Lord of the Raghus the charming exploits of Hanuman. The All-merciful felt much delighted at heart to hear them and in His joy He clasped Hanuman once more to His bosom. ‘Tell me, dear Hanuman, how does Janaka’s daughter pass her days and sustain her life?’

This version of the meeting came across to me as more intimate somehow. Unlike the other two versions, there is no comment about Sita’s chastity. I will quote only one more verse for a comparison, a verse which gives Sita’s message to Rama.

मन क्रम बचन चरन अनुरागी। केहिं अपराध नाथ हौं त्यागी॥2॥
अवगुन एक मोर मैं माना। बिछुरत प्रान न कीन्ह पयाना॥

I am devoted to Your feet in thought, word and deed; yet for what offence, my lord, have You forsaken me? I do admit one fault of mine, that my life did not depart the moment I was separated from You.

Sita feels abandoned but she neither sets a deadline nor threatens suicide.


How many versions there are of the story! Is it really just one story? Prof. Ramanujan calls the various instances of the Ramayana story as ‘tellings’. In his essay titled 300 Ramayanas  he says ‘Some shadow of a relational structure claims the name of Ramayana for all these tellings, but on a closer look one is not necessarily all that like another‘.  I urge you to read this essay when you have some time;  it is very interesting indeed.

Finally I come to the song I have chosen to present today (you may well sigh in relief !). The song is from Arunachala Kavi’s  (1711-1779) Rama Natakam, his own telling of Ramayana. The song is a narration by Hanuman to Lord Rama; it is both beautiful and poignant. I have heard it sung in Bageshri and Vasanta but I believe it is also sung in Behag and Mukhari. I understand the tuning in Vasanta was by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar but I don’t know about the other versions. If you have links to a version in Behag or Mukhari, please can you add a link in the comments? Also, I have heard only the first two charanams sung, if you know of a rendition which includes all three charanams, I will be grateful.

Let us first listen to Sikkil Gurucharan in Vasanta. He sings only the first charanam. Vasanta is so cheerful, isn’t it! The jubilation in the words is nicely matched by the raga.

 

Next, here is a rendition by Bombay Jayashri. She sings only the second charanam. I love Bageshri and the song sounds quite beautiful to me.

 


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Tamil
Note – you may note that the lyrics don’t match exactly with the renditions above. I have done my best to provide what I think is most accurate for the purpose of music appreciation. If you are a student, please refer to your guru.

பல்லவி
கண்டேன் கண்டேன் கண்டேன் சீதையை
கண்டேன் ராகவா (நான் )

அனுபல்லவி
அண்டருங் காணாத இலங்காபுரத்திலே
அரவிந்த வேதாவை தரவந்த மாதாவை

சரணம் 1
காவி விழிகளில் உன் உருவெளி மின்னக்
கனி வாய் தனிலே உன் திரு நாமமே பன்ன
ஆவித்துணையைப்  பிரிந்த மட அன்னம்
ஆனாள் நான் சொல்லுவதென்ன
பூவைத் திரிசடை நித்தம் நித்தம் சொன்ன
பக்தி வழியே தன் புத்தி நிலை மன்னப்-
பாவி அரக்கியர் காவல் சிறை துன்னப்-
பஞ்சு படிந்த பழம் -சித்திரம் என்ன

சரணம் 2
பனிக்கால வாரிஜம் போல் நிறங் கூசிப்
பகல் ஒரு யுகமாக கழித்தாளே பிரயாசி
நினைத்தங்கே ராவணன் அந்நாள் வரச் சீச்சி
நில்லடா (older version: சண்டாளா) என்று ஏசி
தனித்துத்-தன் உயிர்தனைத் -தான் விட மகராசி
சாடும் பொழுது காணும் சமயம் இதுவே வாசி
இனித் -தாமதம் செய்யல் ஆகாதென்றிடர் வீசி
ராமா ராமா ராமா என்றெதிர் பேசி

சரணம் 3
அடல் சேரும் வாலியை வானுலகிலே கூட்டி
அவனியை சுக்ரீவன் ஆள முடி சூட்டி
உடனே நீ தூது போ என்ற சொல் அமுதூட்டி
உன்னெழில் பாராட்டி
விட வந்த அனுமன்தன் நான் என்று சீராட்டி
விவரம் சொல்ல உயிர் கொண்டிருக்கிறாள் சீமாட்டி
திடமா லக்ஷ்மணன் செய்த பர்ணசாலை வீட்டில்
தேவாதி தேவா உன் திரு ஆழிதனைக்-காட்டி

Transliteration

pallavi
kaNDEn kaNDEn kaNDEn sItaiyaik
kaNDEn rAghavA (nAn)

anupallavi
aNDarung-kANAda lankApurattilE
aravinda vEdAvait-taravanda mAtAvai

charaNam 1
kAvi vizhigaLil un uruveLi minnak
kanivAy danilE un tiru nAmamE panna
AvittuNaiyaip-pirinda maDa annam
AnAL nAn solluvadenna
pUvait-tirishaDai nittam nittam sonna
bhakti vazhiyE tan buddhi nilai mannap-
pAvi arakkiyar kAval siRai tunnap-
panju paDinda pazham-chittiram enna

charaNam 2
panikkAla vArijam pOl nirang-kUsip-
pagal oru yugamAgak-kazhittALE prayAsi
ninaittangE rAvaNan annAL varach-chIchchi
nillaDA enDRU Esi
tanittut-tan uyirt-tanait-tAn viDa magarAsi
sADum pozhudu kANum samayam iduvE vAsi
init-tAmadam seyyal AgAdenRiDar vIsi
rAma rAma rAma enRedir pEsi

charaNam 3
aDal sErum vAliyai vAnulagilE kUTTi
avaniyai sugrIvan ALa muDi sUTTi
uDanE nI tUdu pO enDRa sol amudUTTi
un ezhil pArATTi
viDa vanda anumantan nAn enDRu sIrATTi
vivaram solla uyir koNDirukkiRAL sImATTi
diDamA lakshmaNan seyda parNasAlai vITTil
dEvAdi dEvA un tiru Azhitanaik-kATTi

pallavi
I have seen (kanDEn) Sita (sItaiyai), O Raghava!

anupallavi
In the city (purattilE) of Lanka, a city not seen (kANAda) even by the Gods (anDarum) (implied meaning: A city more beautiful than the celestial cities), I saw Sita (the words of the pallavi), the mother (mAtAvai) who came (vanda) to give (tara) Brahma (aravinda vEda) .
[*Note: I am very dissatisfied with the translation of the second line. I trolled the net to see what others think, but did not find anything convincing. Brahma is the son of Vishnu but only indirectly of Lakshmi. I would prefer to read it as ‘Lakshmi who sits (implied) on a lotus. After all Lakshmi is also known as Vedavalli, so could vEdA be a short version of that?  If so, what has she come to give? Can it be read as something else? Your opinions are welcome!]

charaNam 1
With your (un) reflection (uruveLi) shining (minna) in her (implied) reddened (kAvi) eyes (vizhigaLil) (ie eyes reddened by tears), uttering (panna) only (-mE after nAmam) your (un) sacred (tiru) name (nAmam), she has become (AnAL) like (implied) a pen (female swan) (maDa annam) separated (pirinda) from her soul (Avi) companion (tuNaiyai), what (enna) shall I (nAn) say (solluvadu)!  Keeping her state of mind (buddhi nilai) firmly constant (manna) by following (implied) the way (vazhiyE) of devotion (bhakti) as advised (sonna-told) daily (nittam nittam) by the lady (pUvai) Trijata (tirishaDai), while the sinful (pAvi) demonesses (arakkiyar) crowd close (tunna) guarding (kAval) her prison (siRai). She is like (enna) an old (pazham) painting (chittiram) which has become valueless (panju paTTa).

charaNam 2
Withdrawn (kUsi) with her colour (niram) pale (implied) like a lotus (vArijam) in winter (pani kAlam), the distressed lady (prayAsi) passed (kazhittaLE) each day (pagal) as if it was an eon (yugamAga). That day (annAL) when Ravana came (vara) there (angE) purposefully (ninaittu) , she (implied) reproached (Esi) him saying (eNDRu=thus) ‘chIchi’ (exclamation of disgust) Stop (nillaDa)!’.  Alone and helpless (tanittu), the blessed woman (magarAsi) decided to (implied) give up (viDa) her own (tan) life (uyir tanai) herself (tAn).  Seeing (kANum) the moment (pozhudu) of the decision (implied) of killing herself (sADum) and divining (vAsi) that this was (iduvE) the time (samayam), that (enDRu) delaying (tAmadam) further (ini) won’t do (seyyal AgAdu) , I interrupted (edir pEsi) by scattering (vIsI) the words (implied) ‘Rama Rama Rama’ .

charaNam 3
Gathering (kUTTi) the murderous (aDal = murder, but why sErum? !) Vali (vAliyai) into the celestial world (vAnulagam) and crowning (muDi sUtti) Sugriva to rule (Ala) the world (avaniyai), he said (implied) ‘Go as my ambassador (tUdu pO)’, feeding (Utti) words (sol) of nectar (amudu) to me (implied). Praising (pArATTi and sIrATTi) your (un) grace (ezhil), I  said (enDRu-thus, here indicates what is said), ‘ I (nAn) am Hanuman (anumantan), having come (vanda) to rescue you (viDa)’ .  O Lord of Lords (dEvAdi dEva)! In the leafy hut/hermitage (paRNasAlai vITTil) built (seyda) by Lakshmana, [Note: In Kamba Ramayanam, Sita is captured along with their hut, thus protecting her chastity even further by her never having been touched by Ravana], as I explained (solla) the details (vivaram) and showed [kATTi] your (un) sacred (tiru) signet ring (Azhitanai), the lady (sImATTi) resolutely (diDamA) retains life (uyir koNDirukkiRAL) (ie. he has successfully stopped her from giving up her life).

12 Comments

Filed under Arunachala Kavi, Bombay Jayashri, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Sikkil Gurucharan

Sri Kamalambikayam

Sri Yantra 7Happy Saptami to all of you! I started this series of posts on Prathami, trying to follow and understand Dikshithar’s Navavarana kritis which are based on the worship of Sri Yantra. Over the last seven days, I have read many texts and tried to understand Avarana after Avarana, giving you a summary in my posts. The texts all seem so complicated and convoluted! Yesterday I gave up, considering this quite beyond me. It is a veritable mountain of ideas in which I am quite lost.

Yet mountains too are climbed just one step at a time. So my question to myself today is simply this : what steps can I take today so that one day, in some future life, I will finally be upon the right path? Can we set measurable and achievable targets? Focusing only on the names of the Avaranas, I propose the following :

  1. Bhupuram : Trilokya Mohana Chakra, the outermost layer. Tied to the earth, as the name Bhupuram suggests, I prefer to think of it as the physical preparatory layer. Mountain climbers train, acclimatize. Olympians practice. Those on the quest of the Goddess should surely start with training their bodies and minds with discipline, yoga and meditation (long term goal). Let us all try and do yoga at least twice a week and meditate at least once a week (short term target).
  2. Sarvasa Paripooraka Chakra , the chakra where all desires are fulfilled. Is it ever possible to fulfil all desires? Isn’t the wish to fulfil all desires itself a desire? Desires come from discontent, if we remove discontent from out lives, all our desires will be fulfilled, will they not? So for me, the lesson of this chakra is to learn to be content (long term goal). Every morning, let us thank God for just one thing which makes us content with our lives; let us count our blessings (short term target).
  3.  Sarva Samkhsobhana Chakra, the chakra which agitates all. The law of inertia states that ‘An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.’ If we want to be different, we have to start doing something different! ‘Shake it up’ says this chakra to me, ‘start seeing the world with different eyes, the eyes of those on a quest’ (long term goal). Every month, let us teach ourselves one new thing in the spiritual realm from any religion of the world (short term target).
  4. Sarva Saubhagya Dayaka Chakra, the chakra which bestows all prosperity. What if we are not meant to be the receivers but instead are the providers? What is prosperity – health, wealth, happiness? We cannot provide physical health to others, but we can provide mental health by being loving, supportive, understanding and accepting. We cannot provide everyone with wealth but we can try and be generous and charitable (long term goals). We cannot make everyone happy but let us try and bring a little smile to someone, somewhere every single day – be it a text to a friend, a small charitable act, a lovingly cooked meal..anything (short term target).
  5. Sarvartha Saadhaka Chakra, the chakra which is the accomplisher of all objectives. Our schooling, our work, our life all tells us to set objectives and work towards achieving it. Let me tell you my experience : this is a whirlpool from which you will never emerge. Every objective achieved only paves the way for the next objective; it is an unending cycle. It tells me one thing very clearly – the objectives I am setting are wrong ones, they breed dissatisfaction, not satisfaction. So the lesson from this chakra is to set our objectives for those things which will bring us long time joy (long term goal). Let us think for the rest of this year and make a list of those things which will give us long term happiness (short term target).
  6. Sarva Rakshakara Chakra, the all protecting chakra. Protecting what? I ask myself. What is worth protecting in me? What is not already tainted? This is a hard question for it seems that all that is good within me has already been soiled by this life.  The lesson for me from this chakra is to protect diligently all that is worth protecting in all of us – honesty, honour, charitability, kindness, patience, gentleness, peacefulness, nobility etc..(long term goal). To do that, we must first go through mentally of all we have done by which we have let ourselves down and then forgive ourselves for those things (short term target).

    So we come to today’s Avaranam :

  7. Sarva Rogahara Chakra, the chakra which removes all diseases. ‘What is it which is diseased within me?’ I ask myself. Life sets the rot within us, does it not? Let us all examine ourselves, determining that which has started to rot in us and then heal ourselves, with kindness, with patience, but with determination as well (long term goal). Every third month, let us stop one bad habit, behaviour, or thought pattern which leads to the disease in our body, mind or soul (short term target).

Now this kind of practical steps sit much more easily with me than talk of worshipping hundreds of shaktis and yoginis with mantras and puja vidhi! Dikshithar’s kriti in honour of the seventh chakra is set to raga Sahana. It is presented today by Sikkil Gurucharan, an excellent young artist.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

पल्लवि
श्री कमलाम्बिकायां भक्तिं करोमि
श्रित कल्प वाटिकायां चण्डिकायां जगदम्बिकायाम्

अनुपल्लवि
राका चन्द्र वदनायां राजीव नयनायां
पाकारि नुत चरणायां आकाशादि किरणायाम्
ह्रींकार विपिन हरिण्यां ह्रींकार सु-शरीरिण्यां
ह्रींकार तरु मञ्जर्यां ह्रींकारेश्वर्यां गौर्याम्

चरणम्
शरीर त्रय विलक्षण सुख-तर स्वात्मानुभोगिन्यां
विरिञ्चि हरीशान हरि-हय वेदित रहस्य योगिन्याम्
परादि वाग्देवता रूप वशिन्यादि विभागिन्यां
चरात्मक सर्व रोग हर निरामय राज योगिन्याम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
कर धृत वीणा वादिन्यां कमला नगर विनोदिन्यां
सुर नर मुनि जन मोदिन्यां गुरु गुह वर प्रसादिन्याम्

Transliteration

pallavi
shrI kamalAmbikAyAm bhaktim karOmi
shrita kalpa vATikAyAm chaNDikAyAm jagadambikAyAm

anupallavi
rAkA chandra vadanAyAm rAjIva nayanAyAm
pAkAri nuta charaNAyAm AkAshAdi kiraNAyAm
hrImkAra vipina hariNyAm hrImkAra susharIriNyAm
hrImkAra taru manjaryAm hrImkArEshvaryAm gauryAm

charaNam
sharIra traya vilakshaNa sukha-tara svAtmAnubhOginyAm
virinchi harIshAna hari-haya vEdita rahasya yOginyAm
parAdi vAgdEvatA rUpa vashinyAdi vibhAginyAm
charAtmaka sarva rOga hara nirAmaya rAja yOginyAm
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
kara dhRta vINA vAdinyAm kamalA nagara vinOdinyAm
sura nara muni jana mOdinyAm guru guha vara prasAdinyAm

Translation

I give my devotion (bhaktim karOmi) to Kamalambika, to Her who is a a garden (vAtikA) of wish-giving trees (kalpa) to her worshippers (shrita), to Her who is Chandika (a rudra form of the Goddess), to Her who is the mother (ambikA) of the world (jagat).

To Her with a face (vadana) like the full moon (rAkAchandra), whose eyes (nayana) are like the lotus (rAjIva), whose feet (charaNa) are worshipped (nuta) by the enemy (ari) of the demon pAka (=Indra), who radiates (kiranAy) the skies (AkAsha) etc (Adi), who is the doe (hariNi) in the forest (vipina) of the sound hRIm, whose noble (prefix su) body (sharIra) is the embodiment of the sound hRIm, who is like the cluster of blossoms (manjara) of the tree (taru) called hRIm, who is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the sound hRIm, who is fair-skinned Goddess (gaurI).

To Her who enjoys (anubhOga) her own (svAtma) blissful self (sukha tara) which is manifold (vilakshaNa) and beyond (implied) the three (traya) bod-states (sharIra) (the causal, the subtle and the gross), who is the secret (rahasya) Yogini known (vEdita) to Brahma (virinchi), Shiva (Isha) Vishnu (hari) and Hayagreeva (harihaya), who is the embodiment (rUpa) of the deity (dEvata) of speech (vAk), who is differentiated (vibhAga) as Vashinis (deities of the 8-triangles, representing alphabets, pa ra etc (Adi)), who is the Raja Yogini who  removes (hara) all (sarva) communicable (chara-Atmaka, moving nature)diseases (rOga) causing good health (nirAmaya) , who plays (vAda) the Veena she holds (dhRta) her hands (kara), who takes pleasure (vinOda) in the Lotus-city (kamalA nagara), who delights (mOdin) the Gods (sura), men (nara) and sages (muni jana), who graces (prasAda) Kartikeya (guruguha, also signature of composer) with boons (vara).

4 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sikkil Gurucharan

Rama Rama Guna Seema

Rama! You are the most virtuous of all! Rama! You are the delight of our hearts! Sita’s Rama! Your face  is like the moon! You are deeply dark ! Your clothes are golden! You are the cessation of enemies!

Happy Ramanavami to all my readers! How did you celebrate this occasion? I am sadly negligent; my festival days go by simply, with just a mental marking, an acknowledgement when I say my prayers. Is that enough? Should that not be enough?

I feel a twinge of guilt. I remember my childhood when my family would wear new clothes, go to the temple and then have a lovely feast to eat. Yet I ask – when we mark a festival with a feast, is it God we please or our own selves ? When we buy and wear new clothes, whom are we trying to please?

I guess you know what I think! Yet, these ways of marking festivals have an important part to play. In my childhood, because my parents bought me new clothes only for festival days, I didn’t even realise one could buy clothes for no reason! In a way, it made each garment I wore a kind of ‘prasAda’, a blessing from above. Now that my clothes are bought whenever I please, they have lost their specialness. Likewise, my mother prepared certain dishes only on certain feast days. The dishes somehow became enhanced by that. They became ‘prasAda’, a gift from God. By marking these feasts, we silently thank God for all that we have.

I have prepared no feast today. Instead, the prasAda that I prepare today is this post. One of my very favourite songs, it is very simply a list of ‘identifiers’ for Lord Rama. Nothing is asked, not even blessings. An acknowledgement, that is all it is. It is written in Sanskrit by Swathi Thirunal and set to raga Simhendra Madhyamam. To know more about this raga, click here.

I am especially fond of Sikkil Gurucharan’s rendition in his CD December Season 2005. It is available in Musicindiaonline; click here for the Alapana and here for the Kriti. In fact, I recommend that you buy this track from whichever online store you use, keep it on your mp3 player and listen very often! In the meanwhile, I found a rendition from this exceptionally talented young man in youtube, which I present to you here. Note the superbly talented S.Varadarajan on the violin; I really admire this young man!

Alapana (starts at 09:01)

Kriti :

Another young artist, Nisha Rajagopal, has also given a find rendition which I enjoyed very much. Listen below, Alapana from 16:25 and Kriti from 23:42.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

Note: This kriti has three charanams but I have heard only the third one sung. Therefore only that charanam is transcribed here.  Also note that the singers usually use the long A at the end of musical phrases. eg. dhAma is often sung as dhAmA. Lyrics are verified aurally, but I cannot guarantee correctness.

राम राम गुण सीमा राम ह्रुदयाभिराम सीता

सोमानन घनश्याम हेमाम्बरारि विराम –पट्टाभि (alt: लोकाभि)

दीनबन्धो मामव दश मुख विदलन विनत कल्पतरो वारिज नाभ
मुनि मानस धामा मृगमद सुललाम अवनिजापाङ्ग सुदाम वैदेहि सकाम

Transliteration

pallavi
rAma rAma guNasImA rAma hrdayAbhirAma sItA

anupallavi
sOmAnana ghanashyAma hEmAmbarAri virAma –paTTAbhi (alt: lOkAbhi)

charaNam
dInabandhO mAmava dasha mukha vidaLana
vinata kalpatarO vArija nAbha
muni mAnasa dhAma mrgamada sulalAma
avanijApAnga sudAma vaidEhi sakAma

Translation

Rama! You are the most virtuous of all! (guNa=virtue, sImA=boundary). Rama! You are the delight (abhirama=delightful) of our hearts (hrdaya)! Sita’s Rama!

Your face (Anana) is like the moon (sOma)! You are deeply (ghana) dark (shyAma) ! Your clothes (ambara) are golden (hEma)! You are the cessation (virAma) of enemies (ari)! O consecrated one (paTTAbhirAma) ! (alt: O the one loved by everyone! (lOkAbhirAma))

O my friend (bandhu) of the wretched (dIna)! You are the destroyer (vidalana=tear asunder) of the humbled (vinata) Ravana (dasha mukha=ten faced)! You are like a wish-fulfilling tree (kalpataru)! You have a lotus-navel (vArija nAbha) (also signature of Swati Thirunal)! You dwell in (dhAma) in the minds (mAnasa) of sages (muni)! You have a kasturi tilaka (su lalAma=beautiful mark on your forehead, mrga mada=deer musk)! Sita (vaidEhi), who is born from the earth (avani ja), looks at you, the one who gives bountifully (sudAma) with sidelong glaces (apAnga) filled with love (sakAma).

6 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Nisha Rajagopal, Sikkil Gurucharan, Swathi Thirunal

Srinivasa Tiruvenkata

Srinivasa1

Sanctuary. It is a concept which is familiar to all of us. A sanctuary provides a safe haven when one is under threat, even if one is not in the right. A political refugee may seek sanctuary in countries where he will not be persecuted for his leanings. A tax refugee may seek sanctuary in a tax shelter where he can avoid paying high taxes. English law for many centuries allowed fugitives to seek sanctuary in churches and avoid prosecution as long as they remained within church property.

Abhaya mudraAnd so too in religion, the idea of sanctuary has existed for a long time. Most Hindu Gods are shown with their hands in abhaya hasta meaning without fear. In the picture on the right, the young dancer has her right hand in the abhaya hasta and her left hand in the varada or boon giving mudra typical of Goddess Lakshmi. The abhaya hasta indicates that God is a sanctuary that we can all take refuge in, without fear of anything. And just like in any other haven, when you give yourself up, it is a no-questions-asked sanctuary.

How then is one to seek that refuge? Herein comes the concept of Sharanagati or Unconditional Surrender. In Mahabharata, in the episode called Draupadi Vastrabharanam, Drapudi is humiliated in court when Dushasana tries to disrobe her in public. She cries for help but in this court of kings and noblemen, no man is noble enough to support her. As long as she tries to protect herself with her hands, there is no help for her. Finally she raises both hands and in despair calls out to Krishna seeking His help and a miracle happens.  Thus it is with unconditional surrender that you will find unconditional sanctuary says our scriptures.

All this to lead up to my song choice of the day! In this simple song by Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973) set to the melodious raga Hamsanandi, the poet salutes Lord Srinivasa and says ‘You who are famous as being the refuge of the helpless/wretched, where have you seen one more helpless than me? I seek the refuge of your feet, give me sanctuary!’. He, whose hands are held in the abhaya hasta, a constant re-assurance of sanctuary, how can He refuse so heartfelt a plea?  To see the full lyrics and translation, see footnote. To know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have found a very nice rendition by the young vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan. He starts the song with this beautiful viruththam (verse) from the Nalayira Divyaprabandam (verse 678).  1100 year old and it still speaks to us with such intensity! Such is true poetry.

ஆனாத செல்வத்து அரம்பையர்கள் தற்சூழ
வானாளும் செல்வமும்  மண்ணரசும்   யான் வேண்டேன்
தேனார் பூஞ்சோலைத் திருவேங்கடச் சுனையில்
மீனாய்ப் பிறக்கும்  விதியுடையேன்  ஆவேனே

I wish not for the immense wealth of ruling the heavens surrounded by celestial maidens, nor do I wish to rule the earth. I yearn merely to be a fish in a forest spring on the sacred Venkatam where honey scented flowers bloom.

Kulashekhara Azhwar, Chera King (9th Century)

Another rendition I like very much is that of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (1908-2003), one of the greatest and celebrated Carnatic vocalists of our times.

For an instrumental version, I present the very accomplished Iyer Brothers on the Veena. I take pride in the fact that they are from my home city of Melbourne, Australia.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
ஸ்ரீநிவாச திருவேங்கட முடையாய்
ஜெயகோவிந்த முகுந்தா அனந்தா

அனுபல்லவி
தீனஷரண்யன் எனும்பெயர் கொண்டாய்
தீனன் எனைப் போல் வேறெவர் கண்டாய்

சரணம்
ஜகம்புகழும் ஏழுமலை மாயவனே
திருமகள் அலர்மேல் மங்கை மணாளனே
ஜகன்னாதா சங்கு சக்ர தரணே
திருவடிக்கபயம் அபயம் ஐயா

Transliteration

pallavi
shrInivAsa tiru vEnkaTamuDaiyAi
jaya gOvinda mukunda anantA

anupallavi
dIna sharaNyan enum pugazh koNDaAi
dInan enaippOl vErevar kaNDAi

charaNam
jagam pugazhum Ezhumalai mAyavanE
tirumagaL alarmEl mangai maNALanE
jagannAtA shankha chakra dharanE
tiruvadik-kabhayam abhayamayyA

Translation

O Srinivasa (in whom Lakshmi dwells), lord of Venkatam, Victory to you. O Govinda, Mukunda (liberator), O Infinite one!

You are famous as the refuge of the helpless/wretched, where have you seen one more helpless than me?

O lord of the seven hills who is praised by all, O illusory one. O husband of Alamelu Mangai (name of Lakshmi). O lord of the universe who holds the wheel and the conch. I seek the refuge of your feet, give me sanctuary!

7 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Iyer Brothers, Papanasam Sivan, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Sikkil Gurucharan

Hiranmayim Lakshmim

Lakshmi

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):

पल्लवि

हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं सदा भजामि |
हीन मानव आश्रयं त्यजामि ||

अनुपल्लवि

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

चरणं

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.

Scale

9 Comments

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