Category Archives: T.M.Krishna

Balagopala

Krishna BabyA very happy Janmashtami to all my readers! May Lord Krishna’s grace always be with you!

Today is the perfect day to meditate upon Bala Gopala, the young Lord Krishna, the cowherd who charmed the Gopikas ages ago, and who continues to charm millions even today. Don’t you think that Krishna as a child is quite irresistible? Mischievous and endearing, he is both child and God. When He steals butter from his mother’s pantry, He is a child; when He opens His mouth to show the universe contained within, He is God. When He allows Himself to be tied by a rope to His waist in punishment for his mischief, He is a child; when He drags the mortar he is tied to and uproots two trees, He is God. When He dances and plays with his friends, He is a child; when He dances on the serpent Kalinga’s head, He is God. So it is that we, his devotees, love Him like a child but worship Him like a God.

Bala Gopala is a God that children are drawn to very easily. I remember how attached I was to Him as a child. I thought of Him almost as a playmate, as a friend. How close He seemed at that time! There is a story which illustrates just that feeling. In fact, as a child of seven or eight, I acted in a play put up by Chinmaya Mission which was based on this story.

Once upon a time there was a young lad from a very poor family. Since his father had died, he was brought up by his mother. They lived in a little hamlet at the edge of a forest. When he was about seven, he started school. There were no schools in his hamlet; he had to go across the forest to the town on the other side. There were many wild animals in the forest and our little friend was fearful every time he had to cross.

“Mother, I am so afraid of the forest! Can you not walk with me to school?” He asked her.

She smiled at him. “Don’t be afraid. Your brother Gopala grazes his cattle in the forest. Call out to him if you are afraid, He will take care of you” said the wise and devout lady.

The next day as he entered the forest he grew fearful as always. Remembering his mother’s words, he called out “Brother Gopala, where are you? I am afraid, will you not walk with me?”.

He heard a voice in response and soon a young cowherd joined him, a beautiful dark-skinned little boy in yellow clothes, a joyous visage and a peacock feather tucked jauntily in his hair. They laughed and played as little boys do.  At the other edge of the forest Gopala waved him goodbye. This continued until the end of the term when all the students gave a gift to the teacher to honour him. Our lad was much too poor to afford anything but still he asked his mother.

“I must take a gift for my teacher mother. Is there anything you can give me?”.

Shaking her head she said “No son, I have nothing worthy as a gift. Why don’t you ask your brother Gopala? I am sure he can find you something”.

Which he did. Gopala gave him a small pot of yoghurt to give to his teacher. At the school, our little boy hesitated as his gift looked not very impressive compared to the gifts of the other children. Still, when it was his turn, he gave the small pot of yoghurt to the teacher, saying that it was from his brother ‘Gopala’. The teacher took it with thanks and poured out the yoghurt into a bigger pot. Much to his surprise, the little pot refilled. He kept pouring it out and it kept refilling! Realising who his pupil’s ‘brother’ was, he asked to be taken to the forest so he could see for himself. But much to the little boy’s dismay, much as he called out to his brother, he didn’t appear.

Finally he cried out piteously “Brother Gopala, don’t you love me anymore?”

They heard a voice in response. “I will always love you. I will appear only for you, for only you are worthy of seeing me.”

Hearing this the teacher was moved to tears and embraced the boy, for thanks to him he had at least heard the Divine Cowherd’s voice!

I ponder on the tale today, wondering what lessons I can glean from it. God is very close to the innocent, is he not. The little boy was not even praying; nor did he call out to God. Then whose call was He answering? It seems to me it was the mother whose prayers were answered. She tied Lord Krishna to her boy with the deft knot of love and prayer just like Yashoda tied Him to the mortar with her own bonds of love. We who have lost our innocence, what is our recourse I wonder? Innocence once lost can never be regained, can it? Something to think about….

To celebrate the day, I have chosen a beautiful composition in Bhairavi by Muthuswami Dikshithar. The words describe Lord Krishna – his appearance, his actions, his qualities, his powers. You can use each line as a gateway to a meditation on who He is. Or you could forget it all and drown in the haunting notes of Bhairavi which takes you to exactly the same place in the presence of God.

There are so many beautiful renditions of this kriti that it is difficult for me to choose one! Since I decided on the music two days ago, I have listened to at least a dozen or so renditions and I like so many of them! So here are some of my recommendations :

T.N.Seshagopalan gives a very solid and energy filled performance in this CD from 1990.

M.Balamuralikrishna’s rendition is softer, smoother and very peaceful. A touch of sadness and pathos in his Bhairavi, don’t you think?

The third is by T.M.Krishna and he makes an interesting technical note about the Bhairavi he sings being the ‘original’ of Muthuswami Dikshithar school. I also like his neraval very much. It is from the album December Season 2009 and is available in Dunya and Spotify for online listening (needs registration).

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
बाल गोपाल पालयाशु माम्
भक्त वत्सल कृपा जलधे हरे

अनुपल्लवि
नील नीरद शरीर धीर तर
नीरज कर निरुपम आनन्द कर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
लीलया गोप वेष धर मुरळी धर
श्री धर दामोदर वर

चरणम्
चाणूर मल्ल हरण निपुण तर
चरण निहत शकटासुर मुर हर
माणिक्य मकुट हार वलय धर
मत्तेभ कुम्भ भेदन पटु तर
वाणीशार्चित पीताम्बर धर **
वैजयन्ती वन माला धर **
आणवादि विजय मानसाकर
अपहत कंसासुर नत भूसुर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
द्रोण कर्ण दुर्योधनादि हर
द्रौपदी मान संरक्षण कर
वैणिक गायक गुरु गुह नुत
पुर वैरि विहित (alt: विनुत ) गोपिका मनोहर

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Transliteration in English :

pallavi
bAla gOpAla pAlayAshu mAm
bhakta vatsala kRpA jaladhE harE

anupallavi
nIla nIrada sharIra dhIra tara
nIraja kara nirupamAnanda kara
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
lIlayA gOpa vEsha dhara muraLI dhara
shrI dhara dAmOdara vara

charaNam
chANUra malla haraNa nipuNa tara
charaNa nihata shakaTAsura mura hara
mANikya makuTa hAra valaya dhara
mattEbha kumbha bhEdana paTu tara
vANIshArchita pItAmbara dhara **
vaijayantI vana mAlA dhara **
ANavAdi vijaya mAnasAkara
apahata kaMsAsura nata bhUsura
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
drONa karNa duryOdhanAdi hara
draupadI mAna saMrakshaNa kara
vaiNika gAyaka guru guha nuta
pura vairi vihita (alt: vinuta) gOpikA manOhara

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Translation :

pallavi

O The Child (bAla) Cowherd (gOpAla), protect (pAlayAshu) me (mAm)! O Hari (harE), you are dear (vatsala) to your devotees (bhakta), an ocean (jaladhi) of mercy (kRpA).

anupallavi

With a body (sharIra) like (here it means the colour of) blue (nIla) rain clouds (nIrada), you are most wise (dhIra tara). Your hands (kara) are like a lotus (nIraja). You bestow (kara=the one who causes) incomparable (nirupama) bliss (Ananda). You assumed the appearance (vesha dhara) of a cowherd (gOpa) by divine sport (lIlayA). You hold (dhara) a flute (muraLI). You are bearer of fortune (shrI dhara, name of Vishnu, also means He who holds Lakshmi). You are excellent (vara) Damodara, one whose waist was tied with a rope (from the Damodara Lila).

charaNam

You are the one who destroyed (haraNa) the wrestler (malla) Chanura with great skill (nipuNa tara). You slew (nihata) Shakatasura with your feet (charaNa). You are the destroyer (hara) of Mura. You are wearing (suffix dhara) crown (mukuTa) of rubies (mAnikya), garlands (hAra) and armlets/bangles (valaya). You very skilfully (paTu tara) fractured/broke (bhEdana) the high forehead (kumbha) of a mad /furious (matta) elephant (ibha) (from the story of the killing of the elephant Kuvalayapida). You are worshipped (archita) by Brahma, husband (Isha) of Saraswati (vANI). You wear (suffix dhara) yellow (pIta) garments (ambara). You wear (suffix dhara) a garland (mAlA) of forest (vana) flowers (vaijayantI, a kind of forest flower). You are victorious (vijaya) over egoism (ANava) etc (Adi) by his excellent (Akara) mental powers (mAnasa). You destroyed (apahita) the demon (asura) Kamsa. You are worshipped (nata) by Brahmanas (bhUsura). You defeated (hara) Drona, Karna, Duryodhana etc (Adi). You protected (samrakshaNa kara) Drapadi’s honour (mAna). You are praised (nuta) by the Veena player (vaiNika) and singer / musician (gAyaka) Guruguha (signature of the composer). You put in order (vihita) the enemies (vairi) of the town (pura) [does this refer to His protecting Dwaraka? I am unsure about this. The alternate word vinuta is translated often as praised so here it could mean ‘praised by the enemies ‘]. You are the enchanter (manOhara) of the cowherdesses (gOpikA).

 

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, M.Balamuralikrishna, T.M.Krishna, T.N.Seshagopalan, Uncategorized

Priye Charusheele

Radha sad‘Oh my love! O my virtuous one!’ So addresses Krishna his beloved Radha in this 12th century song in Sanskrit by Jayadeva. His Gita Govindam, literally The Song of Krishna, consists of 12 chapters with a total of 24 songs, most with eight padas or couplets  (therefore also called Ashtapadi). In addition, there are 70 to 92 shlokas (depending on versions) in this great literary work, a true treasure of India.

Jayadeva was the court poet of king Lakshmanasena (1179-1205), a Vaishnavaite king. Jayadeva and his wife Padmavati enjoyed a long and happy marriage. There is an interesting story associated with this particular Ashtapadi. When he was composing this song, the following verse came to his mind :

स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पदपल्लवम्  उदारम् ।

Place your tender feet on my head  as an ornament to refute  Cupid’s poison.

But he hesitated to write it down. Radha placing her feet on Krishna’s head? It is culturally so unacceptable! Without putting it down in the palm leaves, he left the incomplete song in his wife Padmavati’s hand and went to the river to bathe. While he was away, Lord Krishna is said to have taken Jayadeva’s form and visited his home. Taking the palm leaves from Padmavati, He wrote the very words that Jayadeva had hesitated to write. When Jayadeva returned, he saw the verse written down and realised that Lord Krishna himself had visited his home and written this verse.

Gita Govindam is a story of just one night, a night highly charged with emotions and passions. There is loneliness and longing, flirtation and jealousy, anger and pride and above all, the tenderness of love. This is lyrical and sensuous poetry, openly erotic in places; Jayadeva’s words will certainly make you blink or blush if you are old-fashioned. That said, however ‘old’ your ‘fashions’ are, surely it can’t be older than these words from the 12th century ! My song choice of today is relatively mild, only PG rated so you can read on..

The songs of Gita Govindam have come to be sung in different ragas in different regions of India though Jayadeva did set them to ragas. In the South, they are normally sung to the tunes set by Pudukkottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavatar but of course musicians and music composers may choose to present them in their own chosen ragas.

Priye! Charusheele! is refrain of song number nineteen from the 10th chapter. Radha is upset and angry with Krishna. In this song, he cajoles and flatters her, displaying his own love, longing and passion for her.  I have chosen to present two of my favourite renditions here today. (note: different subsets of the verses are sung)

The first is by O.S.Arun, in raga Vasanti. He is in great voice and this raga suits the mood of the song quite beautifully.

The second rendition is by T.M.Krishna in Mukhari. The viraha bhava is beautifully expressed in this raga. You can listen to it here (song 3).


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

वदसि यदि किङ्चिदपि दन्त रुचि कौमुदी हरति दर तिमिरम् अति घोरम् ।
स्फुरदधर सीधवे तव वदन चन्द्रमा रोचयतु लोचन चकोरम् ॥
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले !
मुञ्च मयि मानम् अ निदानम् सपदि मदनानलो दहति मम मानसम् ।
देहि मुख कमल मधु पानम्
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले ! ॥ -1-

vadasi yadi kinchidapi danta ruchi kaumudI harati dara timiram ati ghOram
sphuradadhara sIdhavE tava vadana chandramA rOchayatu lOchana chakOram
priyE! chArushIlE! priye! chArushIlE!
muncha mayi mAnam a nidAnam sapadi madanAnalO dahati mama mAnasam
dEhi mukha kamala madhu pAnam. priyE charushIlE! priyE charushIlE!

If (yadi) you say (vadasi) even (api) some small thing (kinchid), the moonshine-like (kaumudi) beauty (ruchi) of your (tava) teeth (danta) steals away (harati) the very (ati) terrible (ghOram), fearful (dara) gloom (timiram). Let my eyes (lOchana) find pleasure in (rOchayatu) in your (tava) face (vadana) with quivering (sphurat) nectarine (from sIdhu=nectar?) lips (adhara)  just like (implied) the chakora bird (chakOram) takes pleasure in the moon (chandrama).

O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!

Please set aside (muncha) this unfounded (a nidAnam) anger (mAnam) on me (mayi)! The fire (analah) of passion (madana) burns (dahati) my heart (mAnasam=mind) at present (sapadi). Please give (dEhi) me a drink (pAnam) of nectar (madhu) from your a lotus-like face (kamala mukha) (alternate : give me a nectar like (madhu) kiss (pAnam) from your lotus-like (kamala) mouth (mukha)).

O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!

सत्यमेवासि यदि सुदति मयि कोपिनी देहि खर नख शर घातम् ।
घटय भुज बन्धनम् जनय रद खण्डनम् येन वा भवति सुख जातम् ॥ –2-

satyamEvAsi yadi sudati mayi kOpinI dEhi khara nakha shara ghAtam
ghaTaya bhuja bandhanam janaya rada khaNDanam yEna vA bhavati sukha jAtam

O One with beautiful teeth (su dati)! If you are (tvam asi) truly (satyamEva) angry (kOpinI) with me (mayi), wound and injure me (dEhi shara ghAtam) with your sharp (khara) nails (nakha). Fetter me (bandhanam) by bringing together (ghaTaya) your arms (bhuja),  cause me (janaya ) hurt (khanDanam) with your teeth (rada), or whichever way (yEna vA) makes you happy (bhavati=happens, sukha=happiness, jAtam=born).

त्वमसि मम जीवनम् त्वमसि मम भूषणम् त्वमसि भव जलधिरत्नम् ।
भवतु भवतीह मयि सततम् अनुरोधिनि तत्र मम हृदयम्  अति यत्नम् ॥ –3-

tvamasi mama jIvanam tvamasi mama bhUshaNam tvamasi bhava jaladhiratnam
bhavatu bhavatIha mayi satatam anurOdhini tatra mama hRdaya ati yatnam

You are (tvam asi) my life (jIvanam), you are (tvam asi) my ornament (bhUshaNam), you are (tvam asi) the supreme jewel (adhiratna) of the ocean of my existence (bhava jala).   That (tatra=in this matter) you may be (bhavatI) gracious (anurOdhini bhavatu) with me (mayi) here (iha), in that (implied) my heart (hRdayam) will always (satatam) make the utmost effort (ati yatnam).

नील नलिन आभमपि तन्वि तव लोचनम् धारयति कोकनद रूपम् ।
कुसुम शर बाण भावेन यदि रञ्जयति कृष्णम् इदम् एतत् अनुरूपम् ॥ –4-

nIla nalina Abhamapi tanvi tava lOchanam dhArayati kOkanada rUpam
kusuma shara bANa bhAvEna yadi ranjayati kRshNam idam Etat anurUpam

O slender one (tanvi)! Though (api) your (tava) eyes (lochanam) resemble (Abham) a blue lotus (nIla nalina) now, in anger, (implied) they wear (dhArayati) the appearance (rUpa) of a red water lily (kOkanada).  If (yadi) they (idam) are transformed (bhAvEna) into flower-tipped (kusuma) arrows (shara bANa) (note: cupid’s love arrows are flower-tipped arrows) they will dye/redden (ranjayati) the dark-hued one (kRshNa) to match (anurUpam) (i.e he will be flushed with love).

स्फुरतु कुचकुम्भयोः उपरि मणि मञ्जरी रञ्जयतु तव हृदय देशम् |
रसतु रशना अपि तव घन जघन मण्डले घोषयतु मन्मथ निदेशम् |॥–5-

sphuratu kuchakumbhayOh upari maNi manjarI ranjayatu tava hRdaya dEsham
rasatu rashanA api tava ghana jaghana maNDale ghOshayatu manmatha nidEsham

The pearl (manjari) mani (ornament) on top of (upari) your (tava) water-pot like (kumbhayOH) breasts (kucha) quiver (sphuratu) on your (tava) chest (hRdaya=heart, dEsham=place). Let the girdle (rashanA) also (api) tinkle, make sounds (rasatu) on your compact (ghana) hip and loin (jaghana) areas (maNDalE) to proclaim aloud (ghOshayatu) Cupid’s (manmata) command (nidEsham).

स्थल कमल गञ्जनम् मम हृदय रञ्जनम् जनित रति रङ्ग पर भागम् ।
भण मसृण वाणि करवाणि चरण द्वयम्  सरस लसत् अलक्तक रागम् ॥ –6-

sthala kamala ganjanam mama hRdaya ranjanam janita rati ranga para bhAgam
bhaNa masRNa vANi karvANi charaNa dvayam sarasa lasat alaktaka rAgam

Like excellent (ganjanam) land-growing lotuses (sthara kamala), your feet (implied by next verse) delight (ranjanam) my (mama) heart (hRdaya) producing (janita) the pleasure of love (rati), colouring (ranga) another part (para bhAgam). Tell me (bhaNa vANi), what if I colour (karavANi=if I do, rAgam=colour) your two (dvayam) soft (masRNa) feet (charaNa) with red juice / lac (alaktaka) so they glitter (lasat) in passion (sarasa)?

स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पद पल्लवम्  उदारम् ।
ज्वलति मयि दारुणो मदन कदनानलो हरतु तदुपाहित विकारम् ॥ –7-

smara garala khaNDanam mama shirasi maNDanam dEhi pada pallava udAram
jvalati mayi dAruNO madana kadanAnalO haratu tadupAhita vikAram

Place (dEhi=give) your tender (pallava-tender leaf) feet (pada) on my (mama) head (shirasi) as an ornament (manDanam) to refute (khanDanam) Cupid’s (smara) poison (garala). Cupid’s (madana) destructive (kadana) fire (analaH) burns (jvalati) intensely (dAruNah) in me (mayi), let your feet (implied) take away (haratu) that (tat) disquietitude (vikAram) caused by (implied) that fire (upAhita).

इति चटुल चाटु पटु चारु मुर वैरिणः राधिकाम् अधि वचन जातम् ।
जयति जयदेव कवि भारती भूषितम् मानिनी जन जनित अति शातम् ॥ –8-

(alternate rendition for last two lines:
जयतु पद्मावति रमण जयदेव कवि भारती भणितम् इति गीतम् ) 

iti chaTula chATu paTu chAru vairiNah rAdhikAm adhi vachana jAtam
jayati jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhUshitam mAninI jana janita ati shAtam

alternate:
jayatu padmAvati ramaNa jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhaNitam iti gItam

Such (iti) were the sweet (chaTula) pleasing words (chATu) words (vachana) uttered (jAtam=happened) by the clever (paTu) and endearing (chAru) Krishna (=the enemy (viriNah) of Mura) to Radha (rAdhAm adhi). May the poet (kavi) Jayadeva’s well-adorned (bhUshitam) literary composition (bhArathI) result in (janita) extreme happiness (ati shAtam) for women folk (mAninI jana). [Alternate : Victory (jayatu) to the husband (ramaNa) of Padmavati. Such (iti) is the literary composition (bhArathi) uttered (bhaNitam) by the poet (kavi) Jayadeva, a song (gItam) of praise (paNita)] 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, O.S.Arun, T.M.Krishna

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 Sangeethapriya.org)

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) :

Language : Tamil
I have noted whatever alternate words that I have heard in various renditions.

பல்லவி
என்றைக்கு சிவ கிருபை வருமோ – ஏழை என் மன சஞ்சலம் அறுமோ ?

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

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

Transliteration

pallavi
enDRaikku shiva krupai varumO- Ezai
en mana sanchalam aRumO?

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

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

Translation

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’) .

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

Arumo Aval

In January, this blog quietly celebrated it’s third birthday. What started as a whim has developed into a beloved project. My today’s post is in celebration of my fascination with music, Carnatic Music in particular.

As an analyst at heart, I will start with a graphical representation of the world of Carnatic Music as I see it.

Life of a composition

The journey of a song before it reaches the humble ears of a rasika quite fascinates me. There is so much creativity in each step of the process, and by so many individuals !

Firstly there is this marvellous Raga-Melody relationship. The majority of Carnatic Ragas have not started their life in some structured process. Instead they emerged from an aesthetic developed over time based on the intellectual and emotional experience of a people or an individual. There seems to be a feedback loop, unstructured though it is; concrete ideas develop from such a cloud of experience and then contribute back to the cloud. At some point of time in the loop, there is a consensus on how a subset of melodies are to be sung. We  just call this consensus a Raga. Obviously, there are multiple bursts of creativity even before this stage is reached!

A Raga is not set in stone; the consensus continues to evolve. Words and cadence, melodies and rhythm are then developed not in isolation, but feeding back from the Raga consensus and the collective experiences of all those concerned. The words, cadence and rhythm feed from the mood of the Raga. And as more lyrics are written, the mood of the Raga acquires new meaning from these. Each of these boxes I have drawn above – Raga, Words and Cadence, Melody and Rhythm are affected and affect the other.

Sometimes the definer of the Raga, the lyricist and composer are all the same (e.g. Omkarakarini in Lavangi by Balamuralikrishna). At times each step is by a different individual at a different time (e.g.. Hamir Kalyani from unknown origins, Andal writing Thoomani Madattil many centuries ago (dates contested), Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar tuning the words in the 20th century). Apart from the great bursts of creativity by the named individuals, there are many invisible others who contribute to the process by forming the cloud of experience in which the creators live.

And thus we have a composition. It is taught to a student with contributions from his or her guru, and their gurus and so on. There is intense creativity at this stage too. Sangatis, for example, belong to the guru-shishya parampara. In time, the student becomes a performer.  By that time he or she has lived in this cloud of intellectual and emotional experience for years and absorbed so many influences. Their performance, including their manodharma, is in effect a wonderful fruit of a long evolution.

Thus we, the shrotas, finally come to hear a piece of music. You may think us of an unimportant part of the whole, but I beg to differ. That wonderful effect it has within your heart and mind and body? That is the culmination point of that piece of music, its point of self-actualisation. Imagine how far it has travelled, with how many creative contributions to finally reach your ears! It is as if our ancestors touch us across centuries! We, the listeners, do not stand in isolation, but become a part of the system, providing the feedback into the cloud of intellectual and emotional experience.

When I hear, for example, Arumo Aval, I wonder: Who first sang a melody with the yearning of separation in far away Rajasthan? Who all heard and loved it so much that they wrote more songs in the same style?  When did this style of singing acquire an identity, a name? When and who turned it from a style of singing to a grammar called a Raga? How and when did it traverse 2500 kms across India to establish itself in Carnatic Music? I don’t know the answer to any of that. But when I look over my shoulder, I see an infinite web of silver strands, with countless nodes where contributors stand, some glowing bright with importance, others just shadowy figures, some with bright colourful turbans. I see the web continue far into the future too. And I am ensnared in this silver web, unable to move away. Will my yearning for more music ever be satiated? ArumO Aval?

And so to my song choice of today, based, I admit, purely on the rightness of the first two words to the theme of this post!

 Arumo Aval is a lovely song written by Kannan Iyengar in Mand and made famous by the great songstress of yesteryears, M.L.Vasantakumari, to whom we shall listen first. To know more about Mand, click here.

Alternate link : click here.

The version I listen to most often is the one by T.M.Krishna, which I quite adore!  As an aside, he rolls his Rs with such gusto, doesn’t he? I so like it!

Alternate link : click here.

 With this post I am taking a short hiatus as I am away travelling. I will be back blogging in a month or so, see you then!


Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி
ஆறுமோ ஆவல் ஆறுமுகனை நேரில் காணாது

அனுபல்லவி
ஏறுமயில் ஏறி குன்றுதோறும் நின்றாடியவன்
பெரும் புகழும் தெரிந்தும் அவன்  பேரழகை பருகாமல்

சரணம்
ஞான குருபரன் தீனர்க்கருள் குகன்
வானவரும் தொழும்  ஆனந்த வைபோகன்
காண கிடைக்குமோ  கூறுதற்க்கில்லாமல்
அற்புத தரிசனம் கற்பனை செய்தால் மட்டும்

Transliteration

pallavi
Arumo Aval Arumuganai nEril kANAdu

Anupallavi
Erumayil Eri kunDRu tOrum ninDRADiyavan
perum pugazhum terindum avan pErazhagai parugAmal

charaNam
jnAna guruparan dInarkkarul guhan
vAnavarum tozhum Ananda vaibOgan
kANakkiDaikkumo kUrudark-killAmal
arpuda darisanam karpanai seidAl maTTum

Translation

Will my yearning (Aval) be appeased (Arumo) without meeting (=without seeing (kANAdu) directly (nEril)) the six-faced Lord Murugan (Arumugan)?

Even after knowing the great (perum) fame (pugazh) of He who rode a peacock (Erumayil Eri) and danced (ninDRu Adiyavan=stood and danced) on each hilltop (kunDRu tOrum), will my yearning be appeased (ArumO Aval) without drinking (parugAmal) in his (avan) great beauty (pEr azhagai)?

He who is the guru and deity (paran) of knowledge (jnAna), the hidden One (guhan) who bestows grace (aRul) on the wretched (dInarkku), He is the one worshipped (tozhum) even by the celestials (vAnavarum), He delights (vaibOgan) in joy (Ananda)! Will I ever get to (kiDaikkumO) see (kANa) this wonderful (arpuda) vision (darisanam) without having to say (kUrudarkkillAmal)? Will my yearning be appeased (ArumO Aval) by imagining (karpanai seidAl) alone (maTTum)?

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Kannan Iyengar, M.L.Vasanthakumari, T.M.Krishna

Endaro Mahanubhavulu

There are so many great ones! My salutations to them all ! To all those who experience the eternal bliss of seeing Him whose complexion is like the moon in the lotus of their hearts, salutations! To all the best amongst the blessed, whose hearts have become beautiful by being immersed in the singing of Sama Veda, salutations!

Tyagaraja

Humility : ‘the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance’. So says the dictionary.

I admit, I really struggled with this concept in my youth. ‘Why is it considered good?’ I would wonder. When we think less of others, it is belittling them – a decidedly negative thing. Why does it become noble just because it is applied to oneself? My argument was that  humility presupposes the existence of a superior quality. A person with no good qualities cannot be called humble. Then, if a person is unaware or downplaying this superior quality, they have either insufficient self-appraisal and self-valuation skills or they are pretending. Ergo, there is nothing admirable in humility!

It is only with maturity that I understood that humility is the only possible result of a true and rational appraisal of one’s qualities, of gaining perspective of one’s true place in the time and space continuum of the universe.

As an example, I can confidently say that I draw well; if you took a random sample, I might well fall within the top 10% for drawing skills. Humility is not being unaware of this quality or about pretending to be less than one is. It is in understanding that the distribution of skills is a bell curve; the top 0.1% is so sparsely populated that to get from being in the 90th percentile to the 99.9th percentile is improving my skills not by 9.9% but by an unquantifiable large ratio. It is also understanding that my skills as they stand are the result of influence from many artists before me, from cave painters to modern masters. It is to be grateful to the genes passed on to me. It is to be grateful to my mother and my teachers who encouraged me. It is to do with so many factors outside myself that humble is the only way to be! In fact I feel rather embarrassed even mentioning my drawing skills but I do want to illustrate my change of mind about the concept of humility so I will leave it in.

And so I come to my song choice of today which clearly demonstrates the humility of the great saint-poet-composer Tyagaraja, who is, I can say without hesitation, one of the most important figures in the musical history of India. Last week I listened to the music from the 167th Tyagaraja Aradhana and today I commemorate this event with this post.

There are so many great ones!’ he says in this song. ‘My salutations to all of them!’. Who all does he acknowledge? It is not a random salutation to all the greats in all spheres of life. Instead, it is a salutation to the those worthy of his salutation in his own sphere of greatness. By choosing to salute those who have excelled in his own strengths of music, devotion, spirituality and esoteric knowledge, it is clear to me that he was well aware of his own qualities.

For music, he salutes Narada, Tumburu, to those immersed in the singing of Sama Veda, to those who sing in praise of the Lord with raga and laya, those who do nama-sankirtana, and those who understand the happiness of listening to music with bhava-raga-laya.

For devotion and spirituality, he salutes those who see the Lord in meditation,  those who keep Him in their hearts, those who surrender to Him, those who view the world with love and compassion and those who have become true servants of the Lord.

For  esoteric knowledge he salutes the great sages and those who have understood the core knowledge of our great scriptures.

As to the composition, it is just a magnificent piece of music which one never tires of, however many times one hears it. Set to raga Sri, the sounds are dignified, contemplative, quiet. To know more about the raga, click here.

It is difficult to choose a rendition for you today. I have listened to so many renditions- voices old and young, male and female, brisk and meditative, stentorian and gently graceful, stylistic and straight-forward. To my ears today, what feels most ‘humble’ – my theme of the day – is T.M.Krishna’s simple rendition of this timeless kriti. Hope you enjoy it too!

You can download all the pancharatna kritis sung by TMK from this site.

For an instrumental version, I could not walk past this rare live video of the great Veena maestro from yesteryears, Chitti Babu. Is it not hypnotic? They say that Veena is the instrument best suited to display the beauty of Carnatic Music. What do you think?

For a more in-depth look at this kriti, listen to this interesting lecdem . The sound quality is unfortunately not so good but the content is excellent.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

As I am not a Telugu speaker. I am indebted to multiple web sources for meaning of words. I have reworded the translations I found for language and readability. For notation, click here.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
ऎन्दरो महानुभावुलु अन्दरिकि वन्दनमुलु

अनुपल्लवि
चन्दुरु वर्णुनि अन्द चन्दमुनु हृदया-
अरविन्दमुन जूचि ब्रह्मानन्दमनुभविन्चु वार-

चरणम् 1
साम गान लोल मनसिज  लावण्य धन्य मूर्धन्युल-

चरणम् 2
मानस वनचर वर सञ्चारमु निलिपि मूर्ति बागुग पॊगडने वार-

चरणम् 3
सरगुन पादमुलकु स्वान्तमनु सरोजमुनु समर्पणमु सेयु वार-

चरणम् 4
पतित पावनुडने परात्परुनि  गुरिञ्चि परमार्थमगु निज मार्ग-
मुतोनुपाडुचुनु सल्लापमुतो स्वर लयादि रागमुलु (alt:रागमुलनु ) तॆलियु वार-

चरणम् 5
हरि गुण मणिमय सरमुलु गळमुन शोभिल्लु भक्त कोटुलिललो
तॆलिवितो चॆलिमितो करुण गल्गि जगमॆल्लनु सुधा दृष्टिचे ब्रोचु वार-

चरणम् 6
हॊयलु मीर नडलु गल्गु सरसुनि सदा कनुल जूचुचुनु पुलक शरीरुलै
आनन्द पयोधि निमग्नुलै मुदम्बुननु यशमु गल वार-

चरणम् 7
परम भागवत मौनि वर शशि विभाकर सनक सनन्दना
दिगीश सुर किम्पुरुष कनक कशिपु सुत नारद तुम्बुरु
पवन सूनु बाल चन्द्र धर शुक सरोज भव भूसुर वरुलु
परम पावनुलु घनुलु शाश्वतुलु कमल भव सुखमु सदानुभवुलु गाक

चरणम्  8
नी मेनु नाम वैभवम्बुलनु नी पराक्रम धैर्यमुल
शान्त मानसमु नीवुलनु वचन सत्यमुनु रघुवर नीयॆड
सद्भक्तियु जनिञ्चकनु दुर्मतमुलनु कल्ल जेसिनट्टि नी
मदि नेरिङ्गि सन्तसम्बुननु गुण भजनानन्द कीर्तनमु सेयु वार-

चरणम्  9
भागवत रामायण गीतादि श्रुति शास्त्र पुराणपु
मर्ममुल शिवादि षण्मतमुल गूढमुलन मुप्पदि
मुक्कोटि सुरान्तरङ्गमुल भावम्बुल नॆरिंगि भाव राग लयादि सौख्य
-मुचे चिरायुवुल् गलिगि निरवधि सुखात्मुलै
त्यागराजाप्तुलैन वार-

चरणम्  10
प्रेम मुप्पिरिकॊनु वेळ नाममु दलचे वारु
राम भक्तुडैन त्यागराजनुतुनि निज दासुलैन वार

Transliteration

pallavi
endarO mahAnubhAvulu andariki vandanamulu

anupallavi
chanduru varNuni anda chandamunu hrdayA-
aravindamuna jUchi brahmAnandam anubhavinchu vAr-

charaNam 1
sAma gAna lOla manasija lAvaNya dhanya mUrdhanyul-

charaNam 2
mAnasa vanachara vara sanchAramu nilipi mUrti bAguga pogaDanE vAr-

charaNam 3
saraguna pAdamulaku svAntamanu sarOjamunu samarpaNamu sEyu vAr-

charaNam 4
patita pAvanuDanE parAtparuni gurinchi paramArthamagu nija
mArgamutOnupADuchunu sallApamutO svara layAdi rAgamulu (alt:rAgamulanu) teliyu vAr-

charaNam 5
hari guNa maNimaya saramulu gaLamuna shObhillu bhakta kOTulilalO
telivitO chelimitO karuNa galgi jagamellanu sudhA dRshTichE brOchu vAr-

charaNam 6
hoyalu mIra naDalu galgu sarasuni sadA kanula jUchuchunu pulaka sharIrulai
Ananda payOdhi nimagnulai mudambunanu yashamu gala vAr-

charaNam 7
parama bhAgavata mauni vara shashi vibhAkara sanaka sanandanA
digIsha sura kimpurusha kanaka kashipu suta nArada tumburu
pavana sUnu bAla chandra dhara shuka sarOja bhava bhUsura varulu
parama pAvanulu ghanulu shAshvatulu kamala bhava sukhamu sadAnubhavulu gAka

charaNam 8
nI mEnu nAma vaibhavambulanu nI parAkrama dhairyamula shAnta mAnasamu nIvulanu vachana satyamunu raghuvara nIyeDa
sadbhaktiyu janinchakanu durmatamulanu kalla jEsinaTTi nI madineringi santatambunanu guNa bhajanAnanda kIrtanamu sEyu vAr-

charaNam 9
bhAgavata rAmAyaNa gItAdi shruti shAstra purAnamu marmamula shivAdi shanmatamula gUDhamulan muppadi mukkOTi surAntarangamula bhAvambula nerigi bhava rAga layAdi saukhya
muchE chirAyuvul galigi niravadhi sukhAtmulai tyAgarAjAptulai na vAr-

charaNam 10
prEma muppiri konu vELa nAmamu dalachEvAru
rAma bhaktuDaina tyAgarAjanutuni nija dAsulaina vAr-

Translation

pallavi
There are so many great ones! My salutations to them all !

anupallavi
To all those who experience the eternal bliss of seeing Him whose complexion is like the moon in the lotus of their hearts (salutations..)

charaNam 1
To all the best amongst the blessed, whose hearts have become beautiful by being immersed in the singing of Sama Veda (salutation..)

charaNam 2
To all those who clearly see the form of the Lord by stopping the monkey like wanderings of the mind (salutations…)

charaNam 3
To all those who immediately surrender the lotus of their hearts at the feet of the Lord (salutations…)

charaNam 4
To all those who, cognizant of the true path which leads to the ultimate knowledge,  joyously sing about the supreme Lord who sanctifies the wretched, in ragas which arise from the seven notes and rhythm (salutations..)

charaNam 5
To all those countless devotees whose necks are adorned with the precious garland of divine qualities, who protect the world with their sweet glances filled with understanding, love and compassion (salutations..)

charaNam 6
To all those who are famous for remaining joyfully immersed in the ocean of bliss and ecstacy by always seeing with their (mind’s) eyes the beautiful Lord with his charming gait (salutations…)

charaNam 7
To all the great sages who are devotees of the Lord, to the Moon, the Sun, sage Sanaka, sage Sanandana, the Lords of the four quarters, the celestials, the kimpurusha, to Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahlada,  to Narada, the celestial musician Tumburu, to Hanuman, to Lord Shiva, sage Suka, Lord Brahma, the Brahmanas, the great holy ones, the eminent ones, the eternal ones, to all those who have experienced bliss (salutations..)

charaNam 8
To all those who, knowing your disaproval of wrong paths, in order to generate true devotion towards you, always sing joyful chants in your praise,  about the glory of your body, your name, your valour, your courage, your fortitude, your serenity of mind and the truth of the words uttered by you (salutations..)

charaNam 9
To all those benefactors of Tyagaraja who understand the core of (the hidden meaning of) Bhagavatam, Ramayanam, Gita, the Vedas, the Shastras, the ancient lores, the six schools of religious worship like Shaivism, the mindset of  thirty three crores of celestials, the happiness of (implied:music) with emotion, melody and rhythm, and have attained a long life of uninterrupted joy (salutations..)

charaNam 10
To all those who meditate on the name of the Lord at the time when love multiplies and have become true servants of the Lord praised by this Tygaraja, a true devotee of Lord Rama (salutations…)

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Chitti Babu, Compositions in Telugu, T.M.Krishna

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

Nanaati Batuku

NDEMy head is swimming with the words of the book that I have just finished reading. I look at the world around me, wondering if it is all a mirage, as unreal as the dream I dreamt last night. Just as the sun dispels the early morning mist before me, will the blessing of God dispel the veil of Maya one day? Will I be able to see and feel the oneness of the universal consciousness then? I ask myself questions for which there are no certain answers.

My fey mood has been triggered by an account by Dr. Eben Alexander of his Near Death Experience (NDE) in his book called ‘Proof of Heaven’. I have long followed this genre of books; the first time I read on this subject was nearly 18 years ago and I have continued to read on and off since then.  These books are first-person accounts of people who have been close to death or have died and then been revived. They talk of their spiritual journey before and during their ‘death’.  What did they see? What did they experience? I am always fascinated by these accounts though I am far from being a morbid person. I wonder, am I looking for confirmation of my own beliefs in these books?

Obviously, NDE accounts vary in credibility. There are some which are self-glorifying (I was ‘the chosen one’ syndrome), others are too denominational to be credible (my faith gets into heaven, all else in hell syndrome). Then there are the scientific explanations which explain away NDEs as synapses firing in a dying brain, an alteration of brain chemistry. Still, the commonality of experiences often give me pause and I have always kept an open mind. This last book I read seems the most convincing because of the credibility of the witness, a Neurosurgeon from Harvard, and that when he was in a coma for a week with bacterial meningitis, his neocortex (the area of the brain responsible for conscious thought, sensory perception, language etc) was not functional.

So what did he experience? Many things, but some things resonated more with me than others. He says that in that other place ‘everything was distinct, yet everything was also part of everything else’. This is one of my core beliefs, that we are one and all is God Sarvam Brahmamayam. He describes the presence of a Being, ‘a brilliant orb’, which was ‘omniscient, omnipotent, and unconditionally loving’ and which was of ‘infinite vastness’. This resembles the ultimate Brahman of the Upanishads who is ‘eternal, omnipresent, free from all changes, self sufficient, not composed of parts, self-effulgent’  as explained by Adi Shankaracharya (8CE) in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya. Dr.Alexander writes that there was a sound he heard which was associated with the Being and that it sounded like OM. Again, this matches Hindu thought as in this quote from Katha Upanishad ‘The syllable Om is Brahman’.

Dr Alexander’s concludes that the brain is not the source of consciousness, that consciousness exists beyond our physical selves. The scientific-rationalists of course think that consciousness is the product of the brain; when the brain is dead, the consciousness ceases to exist. Dr.Alexander proposes that the brain acts as a filter to keep out memories of the infinite. Is this not what we call Maya?

Do you wonder that with these thoughts in my mind, I chose to listen to Annamacharya’s exquisite kriti Nanaati Batuku in the most mystical of ragas Revati? And what a song! It strikes exactly the correct note for me today. Annamacharya says ‘This day to day existence is but a drama’ .  He stresses ‘To be born is real, to die is real, everything in between is just drama’. So what is real? ‘That which is beyond is liberation’ he says. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

One cannot think of this song without thinking of the wonderfully emotional renditions by M.S.Subbulakshmi. Yet today, it is to T.M.Krishna’s rendition that I am drawn and that is what I present to you. His beautiful voice adds even more beauty to this kriti.

[Alternate link (sorry, seems to have a scratchy sound here): http://mio.to/ybQ4 %5D

For an instrumental version, listen to Kadri Gopalnath on the Sax giving strength to the beseeching notes of Revati.

[Alternate link (not the same version) : click here ]


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

I do not speak Telugu so I have transcribed them in Devanagri script. The lyrics have been sourced from various sites on the internet and aurally verified. Special thanks to Sri Sistla for an excellent compilation of Annamacharya kritis.

पल्लवि
नानाटि बतुकु (/ब्रतुकु ) नाटकमु
कानक कन्नदि कैवल्यमु ॥

चरणं 1
पुट्टुटयु निजमु पोवुटयु निजमु
नट्टनडिमी पनि नाटकमु ।
येट्ट नेदुट गलदी प्रपञ्चमु
कट्ट कडपटिदि कैवल्यमु ॥

चरणं 2
कुडिचेदन्नमु कोक चुट्टेडिदि
नडुमन्त्रपु पनि नाटकमु ।
वोडि गट्टुकोनिन वुभय कर्ममुलु
गडिदाटिनपुडे कैवल्यमु ॥
चरणं 3
तेगदु पापमु तीरदु पुण्यमु
नगि नगि कालमु नाटकमु ।
एगुवने श्री वेङ्कटेश्वरुडेलिक
गगनमु मीदिदि कैवल्यमु ॥

Transliteration :

nAnATi batuku (/bratuku) nATakamu
kAnaka kannadi kaivalyamu

Charanam 1
puTTuTayu nijamu pOvuTayu nijamu
naTTanaDimIpani nATakamu
yeTTaneduTa galadI prapanchamu
kaTTA kaDapaTidi kaivalyamu

Charanam 2
kuDichEdannamu kOka chuTTEDidi
naDumantrapu pani nATakamu
vOdi gaTTukOnina vubhaya karmamulu
gaDidATinapuDE kaivalyamu

Charanam 3
tegadu pApamu tIradu puNyamu
nagi nagi kAlamu nATakamu
eguvanE SrI vEnkaTEshvaruDElika
gaganamu mIdidi kaivalyamu

Translation :

This day to day existence is but a drama. That of which we have but a glimpse (is seen yet unseen) is liberation.

To be born and to die, these are real (truth). In between these two events, all that we do is drama. That which is right in front of us, is the universe. That which is the ultimate end, is salvation.

The food and drink we consume, the clothing we wear, this conjured up things we do is is all drama. When you cross beyond these, there is salvation.

Our sins never reduce. The good-deeds to be done are endless. All these laughable time-bound acts are drama.  The one who is in the higher place is Sri Venkateshwara, beyond the skies and the universe is salvation.

 

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Filed under Annamacharya, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Kadri Gopalnath, T.M.Krishna