Category Archives: Carnatic Music

Kanna Kattarul

Once there was a community called ‘The-Learned‘. They called the others ‘Not-The-Learned‘. I wonder, did the ‘Not-the-Learned‘ call themselves ‘The-Learned‘ amongst themselves? Who knows? Demonising the enemies is a well-known psychological tactic, isn’t it! Our protagonist belonged to the ‘Not-the-Learned‘ community though some say that he was born to ‘The-Learned‘ and went over to the other side. Some even say that he was son of the best amongst the ‘The-Learned‘ himself.

His mother prayed and sought the boon that he should live a long life and be all powerful. How can we know the power of a mother’s prayer? He went on to establish a powerful kingdom far to the east, in high lands after defeating a previous dynasty of ethnic origins, another community that ‘The-Learned‘ demonized. The three dynasties which followed him in that region trace their origins to him. They say he ruled for a long time, eons over different eras. Perhaps it was him, perhaps there were descendants of the same ilk. Let us not question that, stories lose their charm if examined too closely.

Our protagonist became more and more powerful, defeating enemies and enlarging his kingdom amongst the ‘Not-the-learned‘. Then his eyes turned towards the lands of ‘The-Learned‘. He defeated the ruler and took over those lands too. Powerful indeed! It is said that all the power went to his head, that he insulted a venerable lady of ‘The-Learned‘, that he kidnapped 16,000 women. Maybe true. Maybe an exaggeration. Stories are written by the victors, and in our story our protagonist is the not eventual victor. You remember that he was said to be fathered by one of ‘The-Learned‘? Tired of his atrocities, all ‘The-Learned‘ begged his father for assistance.

But there were his mother’s prayers to protect him, and more time passed. Finally, his father was re-born and grew up to marry his mother-re-born. Or perhaps it was his father’s descendants; it matters not to us. It is then that the venerable lady whom he had insulted went to his mother-re-born. Eons have passed, so I imagine that it is another such offended lady. Remember that ‘The-Learned‘ were now the subjugated community? A society which offers violence to women does not stop at one; violence against women, especially subjugated women, often becomes endemic in communities. It happens today. Anyway, it is said that his mother-re-born was offended by his treatment of women, and she herself went to his father-re-born for permission to wage war against her son. The war was furious, with many powerful weapons used by both parties. Finally our protagonist was defeated when he was beheaded by the discus weapon of his father-re-born.

It is this defeat of a powerful foe of ‘The-Learned‘ by the foremost amongst them that we celebrate on Kartika Amavasya, just before syzygy (showing off a new word I just learnt!) in the Oct-Nov lunar cycle. Or at least, one of the myriad reasons quoted by those in the know. I am, of course, talking about Deepavali/Diwali being the celebration of the destruction of Narakasura by Krishna.

As I browsed for ideas for a post today, I came upon this kriti in the auspicious raga Madhyamavati composed by Papanasam Sivan. Surprisingly, I don’t remember having heard it before though I see that there are a few renditions available online. I must also confess that I haven’t quite taken a liking to the song…I wonder why? Maybe you’ll like it better. But it’s still perfect for Deepavali as the lyrics honour the day. Here is a rendition by the evergreen Sudha Raghunathan. I’ve listened to her for close to 40 years and she still sounds good to me!

kriti from 12:01


Footnote: Lyrics

Language: Tamil

பல்லவி
கண்ணா காத்தருள் மேக வண்ணா
கடைக்கண் பார்த்தருள் -கமலக்

அனுபல்லவி
விண்ணாடரும் முனிவரும் வணங்கி வேண்ட
நரகாசுர வதம் செய்ய விரைந்து வந்த

சரணம்
பாமை வடிவான பூமிப்பிராட்டி
தேரோட்ட அசுரர் குலம் அழித்தவா
சக்ரபாணி உலகெலாம் மங்கள
தீபாவளி ஒளி வீச அருள் புரிந்த

Transliteration

pallavi
kaNNa kAttaruL mEgha vaNNA
kaDaikkaN pArttaruL -kamalak

anupallavi
viNNADarum munivarum vaNangi vENDa
narakAsura vadam seyya viraindu vanda

charaNam
bhAmai vaDivAna bhUmipiraTTi
tErOTTa asurar kulam azhittavA
chakrapANi ulagelAm mangaLa
dIpAvaLi oLi vIsa aruL purinda

Translation

O Lotus-Eyed Krishna (kamalak-kaNNA, also Kanna means Krishna) coloured (vaNNA) like the clouds (mEgha)! Bless (aruL) us (implied) with a glance (kaDaikkaN pArttu – literally looking from the corner of the eyes)!

When the celestial beings (viNNADar) and (-um) sages (munivar) worshipfully (vaNangi) requested (vENDa), you are the one (implied) who came (vanda) speedily (viraindu) to kill (vadam seyya) Narakasura.

With Bhudevi (bhUmi pirATTi) in her form (vaDivAna) as Satyabhama (bhamai) driving (OTTa) the chariot (tEr), you Krishna, the Discus-Holder (chakrapANi), are the one who destroyed (azhittavA) the demon (asura) clans (kulam). You are the one who graced (arUl purinda) us (implied) so that (implied) the auspicious (mangaLa) rows (Avali) of lamps (dIpa) shine brightly (oLi vIsa) worldwide (ulagelAm).

5 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Papanasam Sivan, Sudha Raghunathan

Devi Pavane

Tuesday, 13 Oct
Navaratri starts next Saturday, better start working on a post now‘ I tell myself. I’ve already left it a bit too late. I consider my choices and decide on picking a Navaratri kriti by Swati Thirunal. ‘If I alternate between him and Oothukadu, I’m covered for Navaratri for the next 18 years‘ I tell myself and giggle! I peruse the lyrics from Carnatica.net; I remind myself again to buy Govinda Rao’s book once the post from India is normalised. Which song shall I feature? Ah! There is the Saveri kriti I have always liked. That’s it.

Wenesday, 14 Oct
Babysitting day, no time for anything but my darling little tornado!

Thursday, 15 Oct
I am busy in the morning and I don’t sit at my computer until late afternoon. I have the lyrics in a PDF, but the Sanskrit font is old and I can’t copy it. I try a few things but give up soon. I spend the next hour patiently typing out the lyrics in Sanskrit. I can see some obvious spelling errors. I compare the lyrics with the transliterated ones elsewhere. Sigh, I just wish I had the book! I also make a playlist of about 15 renditions of the song to listen to and copy it to my phone.

Friday, 16 Oct
Cleaning and laundry day today. I put on my headphones and set to it. I have chosen artists from four generations, from the venerable elders to the quite young. MDR is the first on my list. I start the music and drown in it’s beauty. There is a சாவதானம் / सावधानम् – an attentiveness, a deliberateness and a leisureliness about his music which is quite hypnotic. When he starts his tanam, I feel such a rush of affection for him! Next on my list is KVN. I fall in love! I listen to it two times, then continue to listen to other renditions by MDR and KVN for the next 4 hours, dropping my playlist altogether. Today I can listen to no other. In the afternoon I split all the sandhis (joint words) in my document but have too much personal work to do to concentrate on the translation. I am so behind!

Saturday, 16 Oct
Happy Navaratri to myself! It’s babysitting day. I rush in the morning to cook lunch for my princeling. He comes soon, and I have to play, feed, change, play again, read, convince him into taking a nap, make biscottis with him, allow him to water the garden-and me, make tawa-naans for him (I have now perfected the recipe!), play some more, give him dinner, help his grandfather bathe him and put him to bed. Everything is easier said than done as his current favourite word is NO! I am too wiped out to do any blogging after he sleeps.

Sunday, 17 Oct
My princeling is up at 5:15. ‘Patti up‘ he says ‘Odi Odi‘ – he wants me to race with him up and down the house. His grandfather gives him breakfast and I get ready to play some more with him. By 10:00 he is ready for his 2nd breakfast/early lunch. I quickly make some dosai and feed him. We pack him up and drop him home. His parents look refreshed. We look quite the opposite. We are home by noon, I could have got to my translation but I’m wiped out. Instead I binge watch ‘Portrait Artist of the year 2020′ from Sky Arts, feeling deep envy for the artists’ skills.

Monday, 18 Oct
Good going today! I must have spent at least 4 hrs on my computer and I have almost finished the translation. ‘Musicians sing only the first charanam, maybe I should have left it at that‘ I think. But no, that’s a half-done job which I just can’t bear. Nobody is going to care except me, I know, but I care and that’s enough to work at it. There are some translations on the net but it is not word for word, so I can’t really verify they are correct unless I do it myself. I find it satisfying actually, and educational as well. I am struggling with a couple of phrases but I leave them for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 Oct, 2 am
I wake up in the middle of the night with a perfect translation of a phrase I struggled with yesterday! Thank you, Ms. Subconscious! I try to write my post in my head, but it doesn’t quite work. I abandon it and go back to sleep.

Tuesday 19 Oct, day time
I feel guilty about the renditions I did not hear yet, so I put my headphones on and go through my list. Then I go back to MDR and KVN. Nothing compares. I think with horror of the older gentleman whom I had met in my teen years who had gone on and on about how no one can touch the singing of K.L.Sehgal in Hindi film music. I had been so indignant! ‘What about Rafi’s Chaudvin Ka Chand or Manna Dey’s Pucho Na Kaise?’ I had thought to myself. 45 years or so later, I still remember that conversation and the boredom of older people starting a sentence with ‘in my days‘! Have I now become that? Do I like only musicians of the past ? Please no! But this is my blog and I can feature whomever I like, and it’s the venerable elders for today.

I finish writing this up and then do the transliteration. Tomorrow is Wednesday and my princeling will be back. I have to finish the post now. I have spent all afternoon and it’s time to go make dinner. I have no time for an editorial perusal; my readers just have to take it as it is.

This wonderful composition is in praise of Goddess Saraswati. It is the 3rd of Navaratri Kritis written by Swati Thirunal and sung in the Navaratri Mandapam of the Padmanabhapuram Palace every year. A prayer song, the poet describes and praises the Goddess in many ways, asking for Her blessings. You can read an interesting article about the Goddess and the music festival here. May the Goddesses bless us all this Navaratri! May she give wisdom to the leaders to lead us out of this world crisis, may she give knowledge to those who treat the ill and those who develop medicines and vaccines, and please may she give prosperity to those whose livelihood has been affected.

And finally to the music! Here is M.D.Ramanathan’s excellent rendition

And now the one by K.V.Narayanaswamy which I like so very much


Footnote : Lyrics and Translation

Language: Sanskrit
Note – I am not a scholar; I translate merely for the purpose of music appreciation. I have taken the liberty of making small corrections to the lyrics provided by Carnatica.net if the correction seems appropriate. I have especially corrected the long ‘I’ vowels which have been replaced by the short vowels, perhaps to fit the music. My apologies for all mistakes.

पल्लवि
देवी पावने सेवे चरणे ते बुधावने

अनुपल्लवि
भावुक दायी कटाक्ष विलासिनि
भारती देहि सदा कुशलम् भुवनेश्वरी

चरणम्
सोम बिम्ब मदहर सुमुखी भक्तजनाखिल
कामित दाननिरते कान्त कुन्द दन्ति
भीम अनन्त अज्ञान तिमिर भेदन मिहिरायिते
मामक हृदि विहार मान्य गुणा वासे
सामज पुङ्गव चारु गते
सुर साध्य नुते विमले वरदे भुवनेश्वरी

वारिद निभ चिकुरे वासवोपल नयने
मार शरासन रुचि चोर चिल्लिकान्ते
सारस कृत निलये जाम्बूनदमय भूषे
नारदादि मुनि नुत नाम समुदाये
भूरि मनोज्ञक राञ्चित वीणा
पुस्तक भासिनि चारु हासे भुवनेश्वरी

पातित दितिसुते श्री पद्मनाभ विलासिनि
वीत पाप जन गेय विभवे विद्या रूपे
चातको जलदमिव सादरमाश्रयामि त्वाम्
प्रीतिम् मयि कुरु लोक मातरयि नित्यम्
धूत मलम् कुरु माम् सदये
परिपोषित सूरिगुणे शुभदे भुवनेश्वरी

Transliteration

dEvI pAvanE sEvE charaNE tE budhAvanE

bhAvuka dAyI katAksha vilAsini
bhAratI dEhi sada kushalam bhuvanEshvarI

sOma bimba madahara sumukhI bhaktajanAkhila
kAmita dAnanirate kAnta kunda danti
bhIma ananta agyAna timira bhEdana mihirAyitE
mAmaka hRdI vihAra mAnya guNA vAsE
sAmaja pungava charu gatE
sAdhya nutE vimalE varadE bhuvanEshvarI

vArida nibha chikurE vAsvOpala nayanE
mAra sharAsana ruchi chOra chillikAntE
sArasa kRta nilayE jAmbUnadamaya bhUshE
nAradAdi muni nuta nAma samudAyE
bhUri manOgyaka rAnchita vINA
pustaka bhAsini chAru hAsE bhuvanEshvarI

pAtita ditisutE shrI padmanAbha vilAsini
vIta pApa jana gEya vibhavE vidyA rUpE
chAtakO jaladamiva sAdaramAshrayAmi tvAm
prItim mayi kuru lOka mAtarayi nityam
dhUta malam kuru mAm sadayE
paripOshita sUriguNE shubhadE bhuvanEshvarI

Translation

O Holy (pAvanE) Goddess (dEvi)! The learned (budha) bend down (avanE) in worship (sEvE) at your (tE) feet (charaNE)!

O Splendorous One (vilAsini) who (implied) is the bestower (dAyI) of happiness (bhavuka) with just a glance (katAksha)! O Saraswati! (bhAratI)! Please always (sadA) give (dEhi) us (implied) well-being/prosperity (kushalam) , O Goddess (IshavarI) of the whole world (bhuvana).

O Beautiful one (sumukhI) who is (implied) the destroyer (hara) of the arrogance (mada) of the spherical (bimba) moon (sOma) (i.e She who is more beautiful than the moon), you delight in/are committed to (niratE) bestowing (dAna) whatever is wished for (kAmita) by your devotees (bhakta jana) worldwide (akhila). You are one who has teeth (dantI) like jasmine (kunda)! O (ayi) you (tE) who destroys (bhEdana) terrible (bhIma), unlimited (ananta) ignorance (agyAna) like the sun (mihira) destroys (implied) the darkness (timira), you (repeating the meaning of tE) live (vAsE) as the honourable (mAnya) qualities (guNA) in the temple (vihAra) of my (mAmaka) heart (hRdI). You have the beautiful (chAru) gait (gatE) of the best (pungava) elephants (sAmaja). You are praised (nutE) by the learned (sura) and the accomplished (sAdhya). You are the unblemished (vimalE) conferrer of boons (varadE), O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!

O Beautiful One (kAntE) with (implied) hair (chikura) like (nibha) rain clouds (vArida), eyes (nayanE) like sapphires (vAsava=Indra, upala=precious stone; indranIla is sapphire), and (implied) eyebrows (chilli, short for chillikAlatA) which steal (chOra) the beauty (ruchi) of Kamadeva’s (mAra, name of manmatha) bow (sharAsana) ! O Lustrous one (bhAsini) with a beautiful (chAru) smile (hAsE) who has made (kRta) an abode (nilayE) on a lotus (sArasa), who wears (implied) golden (jAmbUnadamayaof gold from the river jambu) ornaments (bhUshE), who is praised (nutE) by a multitude (samudAyE) of important (bhUri) sages (muni) like Narada etc (nArada Adi), on whose beautiful (manOgya) curved (anchita) hands (kara) is a Veena-musical instrument (vINA) and a book (pustaka), O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!

O wife (vilAsini) of Shri Padmanabha (note: by some traditions, Saraswati was wife of Vishnu before being married to Brahma), who struck down (pAtita) demons (ditisutE)! People (jana) who lose (vIta) their sins (pApa) sing (gEya) of your greatness (vibhavE)! O Embodiment (rUpE) of knowledge (vidyA)! Like (ika) Chataka birds (chAtaka) take refuge (implied) in clouds (jalada), I respectfully (sAdaram) take refuge (AshrayAmi) in you (tvam). O (ayi) Mother of all people (lOka mAtara), be loving (prItim kuru) to me (mayi) always (nityam) and remove/destroy (dhUta) the sins/impurities (malam) in me (mAm). O Compassionate one (sadayE), with the nurtured (pariposhita) learned (sUri) qualities (guNE)! O Bestower of (dE) prosperity/well being/auspiciousness (shubha)! O Bhuvaneshwari (name of Saraswati, also means Goddess of the whole world)!

7 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, K.V.Narayanaswamy, M.D.Ramanathan, Swathi Thirunal

Natha Hare

Why does some poetry last eight centuries in the memory of men while others last not even a generation? I don’t really have an answer. I am referring to Jayadeva’s epic work Gita Govinda. If a work’s success is to be measured by its longevity, this work from the 12th century surely meets its mark. It is sung and danced to in different parts of India, from its native Odisha to Kerala, a couple of thousand kilometres away. I have already featured one song from Gita Govinda in this blog; today I am exploring Natha Hare which is well known to Carnatic Music fans.

The song describes Radha in a state of viraha or abandonment by her beloved. She is a forlorn heroine and Jayadeva paints a pitiable picture of her. My last post on a Qawwali describing an intoxicated lover is not that different from this post featuring a lovelorn Radha. Both represent the longing of the soul (Jeevatma) for the Divine (Paramatma), both use the human emotion of romantic love as an analogy. The former shocks us with drunken revelry, the latter with erotic imagery. Poets always use a combination of imagination and life experiences to draw us into an emotional understanding of what they want to convey, and Jayadeva has done that with exquisite artistry.

That exquisite artistry is matched by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (1926-2004) in giving abhinaya (expression of the sentiment) to this beautiful song. I particularly chose an ashtapadi this week because I wanted to feature this revered Guru of the Odissi dance tradition. He was acknowledged with the Padma Vibhushan in 2000 for exceptional and distinguished contribution to the arts. A dancer from Odisha to give abhinaya for poetry from the same State seems apt! I particularly enjoyed his portrayal of Radha dressing herself and secretly leaving her house to meet Krishna.

There is a longer version here for those who are interested.

Natha Hare has been sung by Carnatic musicians in different ragas. However none of the many renditions I listened to were of the full song. If you would like to listen to some renditions, here are a couple of links :

  • A rendition by Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna in Darbari Kanada. His renditions are very well known of course. I am a bit surprised that he has sung it as ‘nAda harE’ instead of ‘nAtha harE’.
  • A rendition by Unnikrishnan in Madhuvanti. Both the softness of the raga and the silkiness of his voice match the mood of this poetry to perfection.

As with other long pieces, I have given a word for word translation and an interpretation based on my understanding, limited though it is.

पश्यति दिशि दिशि रहसि भवन्तम्।
तदधर मधुर मधूनि पिबन्तम्॥
नाथ हरे जगन्नाथ हरे।
सीदति राधा वासगृहे धृवम्॥

pashyati dishi dishi rahasi bhavantam
tadadhara madhura madhUni pibantam
nAtha harE jagannAtha harE
sIdati rAdhA vAsagRhE dhRvam

Radha is surely (dhRvam) pining (sIdati) in the bed-chamber (vAsagRhE), sucking at (pibantam=drinking) that (tat) sweet (madhura), honeyed (madhUni) lower lip (adhara), secretly (rahasi) looking (pashyati) in all directions (dishi dishi) for you (bhavantam), O Lord (nAtha) Hari (harE), O Lord of the Universe (jagat+nAtha)

Radha awaits Krishna for a union much as a devotee awaits a union with the Divine. She looks in all directions, not knowing where He is. This quest for God is described by many poets in many different ways. A song from an old Hindi film comes to mind – तू ढूंढता है जिसको बस्ती में या के बन में, वह साँवरा सलोना रहता है तेरे मन में – He, whom you search for in populated places or in forests, that beautiful dark skinned one lives in your heart. Radha, who has Krishna in her heart, still looks blindly for Him everywhere.

त्वदभिसरण रभसेन वलन्ती।
पतति पदानि कियन्ति चलन्ती॥
विहित विशद बिस किसलय वलया ।
जीवति परमिह तव रति कलया॥

dvadabhisaraNa rabhasEna valantI
patati padAni kiyanti chalantI
vihita vishada bisa kisalaya valayA
jIvati paramiha tava rati kalayA


She (implied) eagerly (rabhasEna) hastens (valantI) to your (tvad) rendezvous (abhisaraNa), walks (chalantI) a few (kiyanti) steps (padAni) and (implied) falls (patatI). Girdled (valayA) with the soft (vishada) sprout (kisalaya) of a lotus plant (bisa) (implication-in order to cool the heat of her desire), now (iha) henceforth (param) she (implied) lives (jIvati) by imagining (kalayA) the pleasure of your love-making (tava rati).

She is eager for the union but stumbles and falls as she hastens to meet Him. Shall we take it to imply that the path to our union with the Divine is not a straightforward one? We will have doubts, we will stumble and fall and sometimes all that will console us is imagining that one day we will be be one with God.

मुहुरवलोकित मण्डन लीला ।
मधुरिपुरहमिति भावन शीला॥
त्वरितमुपैति न कथमभिसारम् ।
हरिरिति वदति सखीमनुवारम्॥

mahuravalOkita maNDana lIlA
madhuripuhamiti bhAvana shIlA
tvaritamupaiti na kathamabhisAram
haririti vadati sakhImanuvAram


Adorning herself (lIlA-disguising or dressing as one’s paramour) with ornaments (maNDana) like that of Krishna (implied), she (implied) looks (avalokita) again and again (muhuh) at herself (implied) and is accustomed to imagining (bhAvanashIlA) ‘I am (aham) Krishna (madhu ripu=enemy of Ripu)’ . How is it (katham) that Hari doesn’t (na) swiftly (tvaritam) come towards (upaiti) the rendezvous (abhisAram), she (implied) says (vadati) to her friend (sakhi) time after time (anuvaram).

To take on the colours or the form of the beloved is a metaphor for drowning oneself in His love. Our beloved Meera said मैं तो सांवरे के रंग राची – I am dyed in the colour of the dark one. The wonderful Bulleh Shah said रांझा रांझा करदी नी मैं आपे रांझा होई । सद्दो नी मैनूं धीद्दो रांझा, हीर ना आखो कोई । – By repeatedly calling for Ranjha, I myself became Ranjha. Call me Ranjha from now, don’t call me Heer. Jayadeva, who predates both Meera and Bulleh Shah, has used a similar metaphor in these verses. ‘I am Him‘ is Vedantic thought isn’t it, no wonder we come across it in many forms! .

श्लिष्यति चुम्बति जलधरकल्पम् ।
हरिरुपगत इति तिमिरमनल्पम्॥
भवति विलम्बिनि विगलितलज्जा ।
विलपति रोदिति वासकसज्जा॥

shlishyati chumbati jaladharakalpam
harirupagata iti timiramanalpam
bhavati vilambini vigalitalajja
vilapati rOditi vAskasajja


Thinking (implied) that (iti) Krishna (harih) has arrived (upagata) she (implied) embraces (shlishyati) and kisses (chumbati) the vast (unalpam-not small) cloud-like (jaladhara=cloud, kalpam=similar to) darkness (timiram). Realising that he (implied) has become (bhavati) delayed (vilambini), Radha (implied), a woman ready to receive her beloved (vAsakasajja – vAsaka=home, sajja=decorated/prepared), wails (vilapati) and weeps (rOditi) without shame (vigalita lajja).

Radha takes the very darkness that surrounds her to be Krishna, the dark one. Darkness is often used to symbolise ignorance. Radha, who in her ignorance thinks she is separate from Krishna, weeps in despair.

श्रीजयदेव कवेरिदमुदितम् ।
रसिकजनम् तनुतामतिमुदितम्॥

shrI jayadEva kavEridamuditam
rasikajanam tanutAmatimuditam

May this (idam), which has been said (uditam) by the poet (kavi) Shri Jayadeva accomplish (tanutam from verb tanutE) great (ati) delight (muditam) in an appreciative (rasika) audience (jana=public).

Jayadeva signs off, hoping that his verses pleases his audience. To me, this is not a very meaningful or important verse, but this is the verse included by most musicians!

Image citation : Radha Pining for Krishna from a Gita Govinda manuscript, Freer Gallery of Art
https://asia.si.edu/object/F2005.7/

9 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Classical Dance, Compositions in Sanskrit, Jayadeva, M.Balamuralikrishna, Unnikrishnan

Kana Kan Kodi Vendum

Lord ShivaHappy Shivaratri everyone! May Lord Shiva bless us all!

As always, I want to celebrate the day with a post in Lord Shiva’s honour. I have chosen a song which I love for many reasons. Kana Kan Kodi Vendum is written by Papanasam Sivan in praise of the Lord Kapaleeshwarar. Mylapore, where the temple is located, was the poet’s home ground, as it was my father’s. I remember many a visit to this temple in my childhood, many a concert heard in its grounds. I can never visit Chennai without a visit to this temple where echoes of my childhood and the loving care of my parents can still be heard deep in my heart.

I love this song also because it is in Kambhoji, a raga dear to me. Why do some ragas resonate inside you like a reflection of an emotion you never knew you had? When Kambhoji is sung, not just my head but my whole being sways in time. I meet the characteristic phrases of the raga like I would a dear friend of long standing.

A reader had commented recently that he enjoys kritis in Tamil, a language which he feels to be his own. That made me think. I too, I realise, perk up a little when a kriti is in Tamil. There is an added pleasure to enjoying the lyrics when the consonants and vowels sit so very comfortably on my tongue! This is surprising, as I believe I am more competent in Hindi and I speak Bengali more often than I speak Tamil. Still, one’s mother tongue has a special place in one’s heart, does it not.

I also love the lyrics of songs which are descriptive in nature. That drew me to Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer who is adept at drawing a picture which feels so very real. Papanasam Sivan has proven that he too can do an admirable job of describing a scene. Do check out the lyrics in the footnote. In my mind, I substitute the utsava moorti (the processional idol) by our Lord Himself, dressed not in skins and coated with ashes, but resplendent with glittering ornaments and fragrant garlands, His Goddess and His sons following. I add to this imagery the sound of the Nayanars singing and Nandi playing his mridangam. Would not the hordes of devotees melt at this sight and fall to His feet as Papanasam Sivan describes? Would they not be simply enchanted? Imagery and visualisation are powerful tools used for goal setting, self-improvement and meditation.  Lyrics which include wonderful imagery are good tools in our spiritual arsenal.

But you know, songs I like invariably become background music to my own life. It has just been a few weeks that my grandson has learnt to walk. He is still unsteady on his feet, his legs splayed wide for better balance. With his new skill, he sets out to explore the world with intrepidity! What a sight that is! The other day we set him loose in the park and he ventured courageously to explore his surroundings. My husband followed with the pram and the various paraphernalia that babies need, and I followed with my hands ready to grab the little one if needed. A little procession 🙂 And I said to myself ‘En kaNmaNiyin bavani kANa kaN koDi vENDum’ (One needs countless eyes to see my darling parading!). So there you are, I have brought the joy of the sacred to the profane, but the profane seems sacred to me now. Perhaps the separation between the two is not a chasm but just an ephemeral screen.

View this post on Instagram

En Kanmaniyin Bavani

A post shared by Sujamusic (@sujamusic) on

To present you this song, I bring to you a performance by Madurai Mani Iyer. My sister will no doubt laugh at me, as we were bombarded with his music in our childhood and have since kept quite away from it. I smile as I listen to it a number of times in the last few days, freely admitting that he is quite incomparable. I am remembering my father and his love for Madurai Mani’s music as I post this.


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி

காணக் கண் கோடி வேண்டும் கபாலியின் பவனி (காணக் )
அனுபல்லவி
மாணிக்கம் வைரம் முதல் நவரத்னாபரணமும்
மணமார் பற்பல மலர் மாலைகளும் முகமும்

மதியோடு தாராகணம் நிறையும் அந்தி
வானமோ கமல வனமோ என மனம்
மயங்க அகளங்க அங்கம் யாவும் இலங்க
அபாங்க அருள் மழை பொழி பவனி (காணக் )

சரணம்

மாலோடையன் பணியும் மண்ணும் விண்ணும் பரவும்
மறை ஆகமன் துதிக்கும் இறைவன் அருள் பெறவே
காலம் செல்லுமுன் கனதனமும் தந்தார்க்கு நன்றி
கருதிக் கண்ணாரக் கண்டுள்ளுருகிப் பணியப் பலர்
காண அறுமுகனும் கணபதியும் சண்டேச்வரனும்
சிவகணமும் தொடர கலைவாணி
திருவும் பணி கற்பக நாயகி வாமன்
அதிகாரநந்தி சேவைதனைக் (காணக் )
Transliteration

pallavi
kANak kaN koDi vENDum kapAliyin bavani (kANak)

anupallavi
mANikkam vairam mudal navaratnAbharaNamum
maNamAr paRpala malar mAlaigaLum mugamum
madiyODu tArAgaNam niRaiyum andi
vaAnamO kamala vanamO ena manam
mayanga agaLanga angam yAvum ilanga
apAnga aruL mazhai pozhi bavani (kANak)

charaNam
mAlODaiyan paNiyum maNNum viNNum paravum
maRai Agaman tudikkum iRaivan aruL peRavE
kAlam sellumun ghanadhanamum tandArkku nanDRi
karudik kaNNaarak kanDuLLurugip paNiyap palar
kANa aRumuganum gaNapatiyum chanDEsvaranum
shivagaNamum toDarak kalai vANi
tiruvum paNi kaRpaga nAyaki vAman
adikAranandi sevaidanaik (kANak)

Translation
Pallavi
One needs (vENDum) countless (kODi – literally, a crore/10 million) eyes to see (kANa) the procession (bavani) of Lord Kapali (Lord Shiva of Kapali temple, Mylapore).
Anupallavi
With His appearance (mugamum) decorated (implied) with ornaments (AbharaNamum) studded (implied) with the nine (nava) gems (ratnam) starting from (mudal) rubies (mANikkam) and diamonds (vairam),  and garlands (mAlaugaLumum) of many (paRpala) flowers (malar) full of (Ar) fragrance (maNam), with all (yAvum) His unblemished (agaLanga) limbs (angam) shining brightly (ilanga), our minds (manam) become enchanted (mayanga) wondering if it is (ena) the twilight (andi) sky (vAnam) full of (niRaiyum) stars (tArAgaNam) along with (ODu) the moon (madi), or is it (implied) a lotus (kamala) forest (vanam) . One needs countless eyes to see (from pallavi) the procession (bavani) of the Lord (implied) who showers (mazhai pozhi) grace (aruL) with the corner of his eyes (apanga).
Charanam
Before (mun) any further (implied) time (kAlam) passes (sellum), with the intention of (karudi) of gratitude (nanDRi) to the One who gave (tandArkku) gold (ghanam) and wealth (dhanam), and to get (peravE) His grace (aruL), let us (implied) bow down (paNIya) with a melting heart (uL=inside, uRugi=melting) after watching (kANDu) to the solace (ARa) of the eyes (kAN) the procession of the Lord (iRaivan) who is paid obeisance to by (paNiyum) Lord Vishnu (mAl) along with (ODu) Brahma (aiyan), and who is eulogised/praised (tudikkum) in the Vedas (maRai) and Agamas (Agaman) which are spread (paravum) throughout the world (maNNum) and heavens (viNNum). One needs countless eyes to see (implied) the service (sEvai danai) of Lord Shiva (vAman) on his vehicle with a bull’s face and body of a man (adikAranandi), along with Goddess Karpagambal (kaRpaga nAyaki) being served by (paNi) Goddess Saraswati (kalai vANi) and Goddess Lakshmi (tiruvum), followed by (toDara) Lord Subrahmanya (arumugamum), Lord Ganesha (gaNapatiyum), Lord Chandikeshwara (chandesvaranum), and the Ganas (shivagaNamum), while many (palar) watch (kANa).

14 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Madurai Mani Iyer, Papanasam Sivan

New Visions

My regular readers know that my focus is normally on lyrics and meaning. So I am stepping out of my norm in writing this post today. You see, I rather worry about the future of CM. Has it become something of an anachronism, to be appreciated by the aging or the aged? Concert goers often report that the audience is predominantly made up of seniors. If that is so, what of the future?

My exposure to Carnatic Music came when I was but a small child. My parents were in their twenties and thirties, and so were all their friends who also went to those concerts. Do the current generation of twenty-and-thirty somethings show any interest in CM? If they don’t, how will their children be exposed to this music like I was? Those days of playing outside sabhas with other children of rasikas with CM playing the background have certainly made a difference to my own tastes.

Perhaps it is entertainment available at home via TV and mobile devices which influence the type of audience at CM concerts. In my early childhood there was no television. My parents and other people of their age group depended on concerts, plays and movies for their leisure time. But with the constant bombardment of home entertainment, added to appalling traffic conditions, I guess going to concerts as a family outing is quite unappealing. How then are the little ones getting exposed to the concert experience?

Perhaps it is the lessening impact of religion amongst the youngters of today. After all, CM is mostly devotional, and maybe it does not seem so meaningful to the young as it does to those of us of a different generation.

I confess that I am rather old fashioned in my tastes in CM; I like it totally traditional. However, I don’t ever want to be one of those oldies who always start sentences with ‘in my days….‘!! With this is mind, I have, for the past few years, listened with interest to innovative videos on YouTube. What is the artists of the younger generation doing to appeal to the youth of today? CM artists have, for a long time, collaborated with musicians from other parts of the world in attempts to merge different worlds. These attempts don’t appeal to me. However, other innovations have caught my attention and I am presenting a few for your consideration today. Tell me what you think!


Carnatic Progressive Rock Band -Agam : When I first saw Harish Sivaramakrishnan’s video a couple of years back, I was quite struck with his voice and his presentation. I believe he and his band Agam are performed in mainstream sabhas last season. Look at the audience; so many youngsters and everyone enjoying themselves too! I’ll be happy to attend Agam’s concert if that’s possible one day.


I have also been following videos by Indian Raga on youtube. You can read about the iniative at their website here https://indianraga.com/.  Given that it is Ramakrishnan Murthy who sings (I do like him!) it is absolutely authentic. I have also been seeing Mahesh Raghavan’s videos for sometime, he is quite amazing with his iPad! How’s this for youthful appeal!


Now this is again from Indian Raga, but a totally different kettle of fish. Vinod Krishnan, Aditya Rao and Mahesh Raghavan give a Carnatic take on Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. Of course this is not CM, but will it influence youngsters to take an interest in CM, do you think?


This fouth video is totally classical but I have included it to showcase this talented youngster. The non-traditional setting and attire have no impact on his music but may make it more accessible to youngsters, don’t you think?

I hope you have enjoyed the music I have presented today. Perhaps, like me, you can reassure yourself that CM will endure, perhaps in a slightly different guise, but still recognisably CM!

 

12 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music

Arunachala Natham

A man who travelled 200km to save his parents’ bushfire-threatened home in Bobin on New South Wales’ mid-north coast (fire pictured in the town earlier this month) has claimed he was fired from his job for taking time off work. Picture: Peter Parks/AFP.The worship of fire and the worship with fire has been a part of ancient religions across the world. If the Adityas and then Agni were primary deities in the Vedas, the Zoroastrians saw fire as the light of Ahura Mazda. The Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome worshipped the Sacred Fire of Vesta, the Greeks bowed to Hestas and Hephaestus, the Aztecs had Chantico, to name just a few. Although I light a lamp every morning and evening at my home altar, although I have seen and participated in innumerable Hindu rituals where the homa fire stood as witness, I have always seen Agni as some remote God of the Vedic people quite unrelated to my own beliefs. I even saw the deification of nature as somewhat primitive, preferring to think of it as symbolic.

But lately I have become much more sympathetic to the idea of nature worship. My change of mind comes from, of all things, the Solar Panels we installed earlier in the month. ‘What?’ You are thinking, aren’t you, ‘Whatever is Suja going on about today?‘. So, here’s the thing. Since the installation, I have become so much more aware of the power that is that ball of fire we call the Sun. A slowtop, that’s what I am! One goes through life with blinkers on, doesn’t one, not even noticing the extraordinary which is within all those ordinaries around us! Our new solar panels produce so much electricity that we can run all our appliances during the day including a washing machine, dishwasher, induction cook top, fridges, vacuum cleaner, electric mop, TV and computer (to just name just a few) and still have extra to export to the grid. Is that not simply amazing? We don’t have a battery so we do use electricity from the grid when solar production is not sufficient but we are net positive.  I confess; all these years I have paid electricity bills without once glancing at consumption. Now suddenly I am hyper-aware and am just blown away by the wonder of solar energy. The fire so far away in the skies has so much power that even the most insignificant, miniscule part of it which falls upon our roof is enough to run our home! I know, this is something even school kids would know. But there is knowing and there is truly experiencing. It doesn’t feel primitive at all to respect that fire and call it a God, it is that awe inspiring.

But we Hindus have one more factor amongst our Gods and Goddesses. We realise that they have both benevolent and malevolent aspects to them. A kindly Durga and a threatening Kali are but two sides of the same, as are Shiva and Bhairava. That kindly solar fire which runs my home has also caused the most destructive havoc in Australia, my home country. Wild bush fires are all consuming, voracious in their appetite for more destruction. The earth is parched with drought and people are suffering. The temperatures across Australia are reaching record highs. We are a nation scorched. We need rain, rain which quenches the thirst of a parched land. But that is a prayer to Varuna, another God, and another post.

Today my musical choice is dedicated Shiva in his manifestation in the form of an Agni Lingam, am emblem of fire. Arunachala Natham, set to raga Saranga, belongs to a set of compositions by Muthuswami Diksthar called the Panchabhutalinga Kshetra Kritis. Many years ago I had featured Ananada Natana Prakasham in Kedaram which belongs to the same set of compositions. In my song choice of today, Dikshithar describes Shiva as resembling a crore of rising suns but also as a source of mercy. My land of Australia needs that mercy now.

Listen below to Sikkil Gurucharan’s meditative rendition of this song. The focus is on the purity of the composition; a fact which rather appeals to me. See if you enjoy the repeated use of sound ङ्ग (nga) in the charanam as much as I do!


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation)

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
अरुणाचल नाथम् स्मरामि
अनिशम् अपीत कुचाम्बा समेतम्

अनुपल्लवि
स्मरणात् कैवल्य प्रद चरणारविन्दम्
तरुणादित्य कोटि सङ्काश चिदानन्दम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
करुणा रसादि कन्दम् शरणागत सुर वृन्दम्

चरणम्
अप्राकृत तेजोमय लिङ्गम् , अत्यद्भुत कर धृत सारङ्गम्
अप्रमेयं अपर्णाब्ज भृङ्गम् , आरूढोत्तुङ्ग वृष तुरङ्गम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
विप्रोत्तम विशेषान्तरङ्गम् , वीर गुरु गुह तार प्रसङ्गम्
स्वप्रदीप मौलि विधृत गङ्गम् , स्वप्रकाश जित सोमाग्नि पतङ्गम्

Transliteration

pallavi
aruNAchala nAthaM smarAmi
anisham apIta kuchAmbA samEtam

anupallavi
smaraNAt kaivalya prada charaNaravindam
taruNAditya kOTi sangkAsha chidAnandam
karuNA rasAdi kandam sharaNAgata sura vRndam

charaNam
aprAkRta tEjOmaya lingam atyadbhuta kara dhRta sArangam
apramEyam aparNAbja bhRngam ArUDhOttunga vRsha turangam
viprOttama vishEshAntarangam vIra guru guha tAra prasangam
svapradIpa mauli vidhRta gangam svaprakAsha jita sOmAgni patangam

Translation

pallavi
I constantly (anisham) remember/recite the name of (smarAmi) the Lord (nAtham) of Arunachala together with (samEtam) Goddess Apitakuchamba – mother (ambA) with unsuckled (apIta-literally undrunk) breasts (kucha).

anupallavi
The God who (implied) grants (prada) release from the cycle of birth (kaivalya) simply (implied) by His lotus-feet (charaNa aravinDam) being remembered (smaraNat),  who resembles (sangkAsha) countless (kOTi, literally a crore) young (taruNa) suns (Aditya). He who is blissful (Ananda) consciousness (chit) incarnate (implied), He who is the original (Adi) root (kandam) of compassion (karuNA rasa) towards the flocks (vRndam) of learned men/divinities (sura) who seek refuge in him (sharaNAgata).

charaNam
He whose emblem (linga) is extraordinarily (aprAkRta) brilliant (tEjOmaya) (note: refers to the story of Shiva manifesting himself as an unmeasurable column of light at Arunachalam), He who holds (dhRta) a very (ati) wonderous (adbhuta) deer (sArangam – note this is the name of the raga as well) in his hand (kara), He who is unfathomable (apramEyam), He who is the lotus (abja) to the bee (bhRngam) who is Parvati (aparNA), He who is mounted on (ArUDHa) a tall (uttunga) and speedy (turangam) bull (vRsha), He who is especially (vishEsha) intimate (antarangam) with the best of the (uttama) learned men/Brahmins (vipra),  The savior (tAra) to whom the heroic (vIra) Subrahmanya (guruguha, also the signature of the composer) is devoted (prasangam) , He who bears (vidhRta) Ganga as an ornament (pradIpa) of his own (sva) top-knot (mauli), He whose own (sva) luminescence (prakAsha) surpasses that of (jita, literally wins) the moon (sOma), fire (agni) and the sun (patangam).

(A Notation is available at this site : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2019/07/arunachala-natham.html)

 

 

18 Comments

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

Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi

kadri-gopalnathWhat a great loss we Carnatic Music lovers have had this past week! Kadri Gopalnath, the saxophonist par excellence, is no more. A man who bent his will over the saxophone such that it blew to his tune, a man who paved an untrodden path to show that the saxophone is an instrument of choice for Carnatic Music, a man of immense talent that we have all admired over many years, he is a man who will never be forgotten. I dedicate this post to this man and his music. May he play his sax in celestial spheres for evermore.

In selecting a song to honour Kadri Gopalnath, I have chosen a devi kriti. Navaratri has passed by without my having made a single post.  This is my first miss for Navaratri since I started this blog in 2011. I cannot believe that one year I had even managed nine kritis for the nine days of Navaratri! So very belatedly, I am presenting this beautiful song to honour Goddess Ambika. This song is particularly suitable as the poet-composer Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar describes the Goddess as being ornamented with beautiful ragas. A post to honour a musician who created beautiful music and a Goddess who is adorned with the same is a good match, don’t you think! I also felt that a raga which is called Amrutavarshini or ‘she who showers the ambrosia of immortality’  is a good choice to honour a man whose music will remain immortal. At times, when I have listened to his music, when notes follow cascading notes, I have felt bathed in the beauty of music. The man who made the music has passed as I too will one day, but I imagine those moments of beauty remaining suspended little gems floating in the atmosphere for eternity.

Out of nostalgia, I am presenting a rendition from an old recording of Kadri Gopalnath from 1985, a rendition which is so very familiar to me.

Alternate link : Click here 

For a vocal version, I have chosen a recording from the same era. I have always had a great liking for Maharajapuram Santhanam who sings Sudhamayee with an effortless charm which I am sure you will appreciate.

Start video at 45:11.


 

Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सुधामयी सुधानिधि सुमशरेक्षु कोदण्डे

अनुपल्लवि
विधीन्द्र नुत विमले सलहौ वेद सारे विजयाम्बिके

चरणम्
सरसिजाक्षि जगन्मोहिनी सरसराग मणि भूषणी
हरिकेश प्रिय कामिनी आनन्दामृत वर्षिणी (alt: कर्षिणी )

Transliteration
pallavi
sudhAmayI sudhAnidhi sumasharEkshu kOdanDE

anupallavi
vidhIndra nuta vimalE salahau vEda sArE vijayAmbikE

charaNam
sarasijAkshi jaganmOhinI sarasarAga maNi bhUshaNI
harikEsha priya kAminI AnandAmRuta varshiNI (alt: karshiNI)

Translation

O Goddess (implied) who is imbued with (-mayI) and is a reservoir (nidhi) of nectar (sudhA), O Goddess (implied) who holds a bow (kOdanDE) made of sugarcane (ikshu) with arrows (shara) of flowers (suma).

O Goddess Vijambika who is praised (nuta) by Brahma (vidhi) and Indra, O Pure  One (vimalE)! O Goddess (implied) who is the essence (sArE) of the Vedas! Protect me (salahau – this word is in Kannada, not Sanskrit)!

O Lotus-eyed one (sarasija-Lotus, akshi-Eyes)!! O Goddess (implied) who fascinates (mohini) the whole world (jagat)! She who is decorated (bhUshaNI) by the gems (maNi) of beautiful (sarasa) ragas. The loving woman (kaminI) who is dear to (priya) Lord Shiva (harikEsha which is also the poet’s signature), She who showers (varshiNI) us (implied) with the ambrosia of immortal (amRuta) bliss (Ananda) [I’m unsure of the translation of the alternative version]

Note about translation : The lyrics were easy to translate except for the word Salahau. I looked up multiple dictionaries but could not find this word. Is it a typo, I wondered. Or perhaps a declension of some other word? Checking declension tables did not help. I searched for other uses of this word, but only MB seems to have used this word in his kritis. There was no trace of this word in kritis by any other composers. How odd, I thought! I have had a cataract operation only day before yesterday and am still struggling with my eyesight so all this computer work made me quite dizzy. I was almost giving it up after more than 2 hours of searches when I finally found a mention in an old article in Carnatica that this word is in Kannada and the Bhagavatar has often thrown in a few Kannada words into his Sanskrit compositions. Finally the mystery was resolved! All of you Kannada speakers are no doubt wondering at my ignorance!

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under Compositions in Sanskrit, Kadri Gopalnath, M.L.Vasanthakumari, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Muthiah Bhagavatar

Needaan Mechchi Kolla Vendum

Bala GopalaA very happy Janmashtami (Gokulashtami, Sri Jayanti) to everybody!

This year is very special for me because I have my own Bala Gopala to play with! I am, of course, referring to my little grandson who is now 8 months old. The representation of Krishna crawling with butter in his hands, that would be about that age, wouldn’t it? You know that mischievous look that artists add to His eyes? Well, my little grandson has the very same look sometimes! The other day, I was tucking him into his bed for his nap. I neatly tucked in one side and walked around the cot to reach the other. By the time I did that, little Rohit had pulled the cover out and sat up, eyes twinkling and laughing at me! By the time I went from one side to another a few times, this had become the best of games 🙂 I finally told him firmly that he could sleep with no covers for a change and walked out of his room with a smile of my own, very proud of the little one’s bout of mischief! Ah, there you see is a conundrum of sorts, this pride in a child’s mischief, what’s that about? Is it because the mischief represents an agile mind and a sense of humour which we do take pride in?

My darling grandson has other tricks up his sleeve too! He has this way of looking away from me, as if gazing seriously at something far away. I would try to get his attention by making silly sounds or calling his name but he would keep his eyes averted. But I know his attention is on me as a little smile lifts one corner of his mouth 🙂 All the adults around him are totally attentive to him, so where did he learn this trick?  Native mischievousness, that’s what! Oh the love I feel for him when he plays this game with me! My heart overflows!

This is the emotion that Oothukadu Venkata Kavi wants us to capture and direct towards our bala Gopala, the divine child who will play games with us forever. The Kavi has done a brilliant job in conveying the pride in Yashoda’s ‘voice’ even as she tells her friend, ‘Only you will praise Krishna!’  What a perfect balance between pride and frustration in Yashoda’s description of her son’s doings!! Set to Raga Sriranjani, this song is popular with dancers as there is a lot of scope for abhinaya.

To enjoy this song, please listen below to an old recording by T.N.Seshagopalan (from 15:44)

I am also very fond of this version by Maharajapuram Santanam but there is only one charanam.

I was really keen to include a dance video, but the best I found is this very short version by the talented Harinie Jeevitha. Hope you enjoy it!

 


Footnote : Lyrics and Translation

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
நீதான் மெச்சிக் கொள்ள வேண்டும் (alt: வேணும் )
எங்கள் நீல நிற மேனி மாதவன் செய்வது
நிமிஷம் போவது யுகமாய் ஆகுது

அனுபல்லவி
காதாரக் குழலூதி கன்றோடு (alt: கன்றுடன் ) விளையாடி
கண் முன்னே வந்து நின்று ஆட்டமும் ஆடி
ஏதேதோ ஜாலங்கள் செய்வதும் ஓடி ஓடி
எழிலுரு மங்கையர் மனைதொறும்  (alt: மனைதனில்)  புகுந்து
களவாடிடும் எனதாருயிர் மகனை

சரணம்
செய்யும் துஷ்டத்தனத்திற்கோர் எல்லையே இல்லை
தேடிப் பிடிக்க என்றால் (alt: என்னால்) சக்தியும் இல்லை
கையும் களவுமாக (alt: களவுமாக்க ) காலமும் வல்லை
ஆனால் காலம் தவறாது கோள் சொல்ல வந்து நின்ற (alt: வந்த )
மாதர்க்கு விடை சொல்ல நேரமும் இல்லை

கட்ட எண்ணிக் கயிற்றைத் தேடியும் காணோம்
கைக்கான கயிறெல்லாம் அளவாகக் காணோம்
மட்டம் என உரலோடு கட்டிடத் தோணும் ஆனால்
மட மட எனும்  ஒலி செவி புக வந்தால்
மருத மரம் இரண்டை காணவே காணோம்

Transliteration

pallavi
nI dAn mechchi koLLa vENDum (alt: vENum)
engAL nIla nira mEni mAdavan seivadu
nimisham pOvadu yugamAy Agudu

anupallavi
kAdAra kuzhal Udi kanDRODu (alt: kanDRuDan) viLaiyADi
kaN munnE vandu ninDRu ATTamum ADi
EdEdO jAlangaL seivadum ODi ODi
ezhiluru mangaiyar manaitorum (alt: manaitanil) pugundu
kaLavADidum enadAruyir maganai

charaNam
seyyum dushTattanattiRkOr ellaiyE illai
tEDip piDikka enDRAl shaktiyum illai
kaiyum kaLavumAga kAlamum vallai
AnAl kAlam tavarDadu kOL solla vandu ninDRa (alt: vanda)
mAdarkku viDai solla nEramum illai

kaTTa eNNIk-kayiTRait-tEDiyum kANOm
kaikkAna kayirellAm aLavagak-kANOm
maTTam ena uralODu kaTTiDa tONum ANAl
maDa maDa enum oli sevi puga vandAl
maruda maram iraNDai kANavE kANOm

Translation

(note – the alternate word usages do not change the overall meaning so I have not translated them)

Only you (nI dAn) will praise (mechchi koLLa vENDum) Krishna (implied)! With the doings (seivadu) of our (engaL) blue-skinned (nIla nira mEni) Madhava, each moment (nimisham) which passes (pOvadu) becomes (Agudu) an eon (yugamAy)!

Only you will praise (implied from pallavi) my (en) dearest (Aruyir) son (maganai) who plays (Udi – literally, blows) the flute (kuzhal) to our heart’s content (kAdu Ara – literally, to the solace of the ear), who plays (viLayADi) with the calf (kanDRODu), who also (-um) comes to stand (vandu ninDRu) and dance (ATTam ADi) in front (munnE) of one’s eyes (kaN) , and who does (seivadum) all kinds of (EdEdO) magical things (jAlangal), who runs constantly (Odi Odi), getting into (pugundu) all the houses (manai+tOrum) of young women (mangai) with elegant (ezhil) forms (uru) and stealing (kaLavADum)!!

There is no (illai) limit (Or ellai) to the mischief (dushtatanattirku) he gets into (seyyum, literally does)! There is neither strength (shakti) nor has the time (kAlam) come (vallai, contraction of varavillai) if He is to be (endRAl) searched (tEDi) and caught (piDikka) red-handed (kaiyum kalavumAga)! Nor do I have the time (nEramum illai) to answer (viDai solla) the ladies (mAdar-kku) who never miss an opportunity (kAlam tavarAdu) to come (vandu niDRa) and complain (kOL solla)!

In spite of searching (tEDiyum) for a rope (kayiTRai) with the thought of (eNNik) of tying Him (kaTTa), it can’t be found (kANOm, literally-not seen)! And all (ellAm) the ropes (kayir) which are found at hand (kaikkAna) aren’t long enough (aLaVAga kANOm)!  Finding (implied) something of the right measure (maTTam ena), the thought would come (tONum) to tie Him (kaTTiDa) to the mortar (uralODu). But then (AnAl) a rustling sound (maDa maDa enum oli) would be heard (sevi-ear puga-enter vandAl-come to), and the two (iraNDai) Indian Laurel trees (maruda maram) would be visible no more (kANavE kANOm)! [Note: This refers to an incident from Krishna’s childhood]

 

8 Comments

Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, T.N.Seshagopalan, Uncategorized

Madhava Hrdi Khelini

Krishna-dancing.jpgHinduism is so very complex isn’t it! I call myself a Hindu but have only a limited understanding of all that it involves. It is such an inclusive religion, seemingly accepting quite contrary thoughts and ideas within itself! I picture Hinduism as a tree with the Vedas forming the strong roots of its philosophy. The trunk is made up of the scriptures such as the Upanishads, the Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Bhagawat Gita, all of which support and are supported by the Vedas. The trunk leads to many branches with their own scriptures. Though these branches may lead in different directions, they all belong together to form a whole. The tree being a living thing, it changes shape constantly as branches form and wither, and leaves grow and fall over time. But yet through all the changes, it remains the same.

In this ever-changing tableau, even the Gods have no permanence. For example, Indra is one the most prominent deities in the Rigveda but I don’t think any household altar in India today will have a place for him.  Krishna was not even mentioned in the Vedas; some scholars quote a single mention in the Chandogya Upanishad which may or may not refer to the same Krishna. The first mention seems to be in the Mahabharata. His story comes to us in fragments – his adulthood in Mahabharata (4 BC or earlier), his childhood in Harivamsa Purana (2 BC or earlier) and Srimad Bhagavata Purana (10 AD or earlier) and Krishna as an avatar in Vishnu Purana (1 AD or earlier). Of course dating these ancient works is futile as these were fluid works which were transmitted in an oral tradition, developing into their current known form over time. So even a deity as beloved as Krishna has no fixed reference for his story.

Coming to Radha, my subject for today, her arrival into the folds of Hindu thought is even more nebulous than most others. She is not mentioned in Mahabharata at all, nor in Srimad Bhagavata Purana.  There is a mention of her in Prakrit literature e.g. in Sattasai by Hala (6 AD or earlier), Gaudavaho by Vakpati (8 AD or earlier), Venisamhara  by Bhatta Narayana (9 AD or earlier) etc. There is also mention in some early works in Sanskrit such as Dasavatara Charita (11 AD) by Kshemendra. These early works may have inspired Jayadeva but it his Radha of Gita Govinda (12 AD) who is the Radha we know today. In the South, there is a stream of thought that Napinnai of Silappadikaram (6 AD or earlier) is the same as Radha. If that is true, then this may well be the earliest known mention of Radha.

There are many unanswered questions about Radha. Was Radha real or is she just a figment of a poet’s imagination? Weren’t Krishna and Radha just small children when Krishna lived in Vrindavan so why the eroticism? He went to Mathura to kill Kamsa when he was still a pre-teen, didn’t he? Some say that Radha was a teenager when Krishna was a baby, her love and affection for Krishna pure and platonic, very different to the erotic love in Gita Govinda. If Krishna loved her so much, why did he never send for her after he left Vrindavan?  Is Radha just an amsha of Krishna, a representation of one part of his nature? I have no answers. Personally, it makes no difference to my own beliefs but I do know that others may feel strongly one way or the other.

Whatever is the truth of Radha, it is Jayadeva’s poetry which led to her worship as a Goddess. Other poets continued what Jayadeva started, writing about the love of Radha and Krishna in local languages such as Govindadasa and Vidyapati in Bengali. As long as the monastic religions of Buddhism and Jainism had a stronghold, romantic desire was seen as something to be conquered. But by 12 AD, Buddhism was already in a decline in India. This was the world to which Jayadeva brought his highly erotic work about Radha and Krishna. With his songs gaining fame, sensuality came to be seen as one more path to spirituality. Slowly some parts of India, mainly along the Ganges, took to worshipping Radha as the consort of Krishna. Though not worshipped in the South of India, she is definitely accepted by Srivaishnavas as Vedanta Desika himself mentions Radha in Yadavabhyudaya.

What a long prologue I have given to my choice of song today! I found the subject interesting so got a bit carried away…

Today I bring to you a song about Radha written by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (1700-1765). Rarely did Carnatic vaggeyakarakas dedicate songs to Radha so this song is rather unique.  While Jayadeva’s work is overtly erotic, the Kavi’s words are more subtle with a subtext of eroticism. Sanskrit is a great language for multiple meanings!  I find that Raga Kalyani is perfect for the sringara bhava of this song. I must mention that it is one of the poet’s Saptaratna Kritis. Surprisingly, this song doesn’t seem to be sung often by musicians. I have always loved Aruna Sairam’s renditions of this song, so it is her music that I present to you today.


Footnote (Lyrics and Meaning) :

पल्लवि
माधव हृदि खेलिनि
मधुरिपु समदन वदन मधुपे जय (माधव)

अनुपल्लवि
वीतोपमान वेणुगान नाद सुलय रसिके रसालये
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
नानाविध पुश्पिताग्र सुगन्ध लता निकुञ्ज मन्दिर सदने (माधव)

चरणम्
राधे रसयुत रास विलासे

स्वर साहित्यम् 1
श्री हरि प्रेमाखण्ड मण्डल साम्राज्य अधिपते (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 2
सप्तविम्शति मुक्ता मालिक शोभित कन्धरे मधुकर (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 3
निन्दित सारस रिपु किरण धवल रदन विकसितोज्ज्वलयुत मनसिज (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 4
नगधर गोप वधूजन कुतुक नटनाद्भुत कम्प्रहार समान
चामीकर सरसिज करतल मृदु ताल कलकलरव मणि वलये (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 5
करतल कमले रति समये जित माधव मणिमय कुण्डल खेलित सुकर्णिके
प्रपीत तत् सुभाषित श्रुति युगले सरस रस रसने (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 6
समधिक नव नव व्रज तरुणीजन चलाचल नटन कोलाहल समये
कृत रूषित माधव सहिते मुनि मनसामपि कलिल तन्नटन
निरवधि सुखानन्द निमग्न हृदये सदये अति अद्भुतानङ्ग
केली विलास चतुरे भावित त्रिभुवन मधुरस रसिके मधुकर
राधे रसयुत रास विलासे
हरि स्मरण सुखवर प्रसादे
मनो मुदित लीला विनोदे
हरिणाम् उपकूहित
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
सङ्ग्रहीतम् अपि श्स्त्र जघन रुचिर कनक वसने मृदु वचने ((माधव)

Transliteration 

pallavi
mAdhava hRdI khElini
madhuripu samadana vadana madhupE jaya

anupallavi
vItOpamAna vENugAna nAda sulaya rasikE rasAlayE
(madhyamakAla sahityam-twice normal tempo)
nAnAvidha pushpitAgra sugandha latA nikunja mandira sadanE

charaNam
rAdhE rasayuta rAsa vilasE

svara sAhityam 1
shrI hari prEmAkhaNDa maNDala sAmrAjya adhipatE

svara sAhityam 2
saptavimshati muktA mAlika shObhita kandharE madhukara

svara sAhityam 3
nindita sArasa ripu kiraNa dhavala radana vikasitOjjvalayuta manasija

svara sAhityam 4
nagadhara gOpa vadhUjana kutuka naTnAdbhuta kamprahAra samAna
chAmIkara sarasija karatala mRdu tAla kalakalarava maNi valayE

svara sAhityam 5
karatala kamalE rati samayE jita mAdhava maNimaya kuNDala khElita sukarNikE
prapIta tat subhAshita shruti yugalE sarasa rasa rasanE

svara sAhityam 6
samadhika nava nava vraja taruNIjana chalAchala naTana kOlAhala samayE
kRta rUshita mAdhava sahitE muni manasAmapi kalila tannaTana
niravadhi sukhAnanda nimagna hRdayE sadayE ati adbhutAnanga
kElI vilAsa chaturE bhAvita tribhuvana madhurasa rasikE madhukara

rAdhE rasayuta rAsa vilAsE
hari smaraNa sukhavara prasAdE
manO mudita lIlA vinOdE hariNAm upakUhita
(madhyamakAla sAhityam-twice normal tempo)
sangrahItam api shastra jaghana ruchira kanaka vasanE mRdu vachanE

Translation

Pallavi
Victory to (jaya) she who dallies (khElinI) in the heart of (hRdI) of the intoxicated (madhupE) Krishna (madhuripu-enemy of Madhu) with the enamoured (samadana) face (vadana).

Anupallavi
She who is the very seat of all enjoyments (rasAlayE), who enjoys (rasikE) the beautiful rhythm (su-laya) of the incomparable (vItopamAna) sound (nAda) of flute-music (vENu gAna)
She who is the slender woman (latA) who lives in (sadanE)  a house (mandira) like an arbour (nikunja) covered to the tips (agra) with all kinds (nAnAvidha) of fragrant (sugandha) flowers and blossoms (pushpita).

Charanam
O Radha (rAdhE) who enjoys (vilAsE) the emotionally flavourful (rasayuta) Rasa* dance (rAsa) (Note* Rasa dance was a rustic dance of cowherds, the dance of Krishna and the Gopis).

Svara Sahityam 1
She who is the owner of (adhipatE) of the undivided (akhanDa) zone (maNDala) of Krishna’s (shrI harI) love (prEma).

Svara Sahityam 2
She who is free (muktA) of the twenty-seven (saptavimshati, unsure what this 27 refers to, some kind of shortcomings?), the lover (madhukarE) whose neck (kandhara) is adorned with (shObhita) a garland (malika).

Svara Sahityam 3
She whose loved one (manasija) is possessed with (yuta) an expanded (vikasita) splendour (ujjavala), with beautiful (dhavala) rays (kiraNa), who tore apart (radana) his enemy (ripu), the despicable (nindita) stork (sArasa, refers to Bakasura).

Svara Sahityam 4
She who is the woman (vadhUjana) of the one who held (dhara) the mountain (naga, referring to Govardhana), whose eager (kutuka) dance (naTana) with swinging (kampra) garlands (hAra) is extraordinary (adbhuta), who is like (samAna) a golden (chAmikara) lotus (sarasija), whose soft (mRdu) palms (karatala) beat (implied) a rhythm (tAla) while his gem-studded bangles (maNi valaya) jingle (kalakalarava, a confused noise).

Svara Sahityam 5
She with the beautiful ears (sukaRNikE) who has won over (jita) Krishna (mAdhava), she whose palms (karatala) are like a lotus (kamalE), whose gem-studded (maNImaya) earrings (kuNDala) move to and fro (khElita) at the time of (samayE) making love (rati), she with those (tat) eloquently (subhAshita) swollen (prapIta) pair (yugalE) of shruti (ears), she who savours (rasanE) passionate (sarasa) emotions (rasa).

Svara Sahityam 6
During (samayE) the hubbub (kOlahala) caused by (implied) a group (vraja) of many (samadhika) very young (nava nava) maidens (tarunIjana) in an ever-moving (chalAchala) dance (naTana), the well adorned (kRta rUshita) Krishna (mAdhava) along with (sahitE) holy men (muni) wholeheartedly (manasAm api) joined in (kalila) that (tat) dance (naTana). The clever one (chaturE) who created (bhAvita) the three (tri) worlds (bhuvana), the one who is fond of (rasikE) sweetness (madhurasa), that compassionate (sadayE) lover (madhukara) took pleasure (vilAsa) in the very (ati) extraordinary (adbhuta) amorous play (ananga kEli) giving (implied) infinite (nirvadhi) pleasure (sukha) and joy (Ananda) deep in (nimagna) the heart (hRdayE).

O Radha (rAdhE) who enjoys (vilAsE) the emotionally flavourful (rasayuta) dance of the cowherds (rAsa), who takes great (vara) comfort (sukha) in receiving (implied) the grace (prasAdE) of being in the mind  (smaraNa) of Krishna (Hari), who takes pleasure in (vinOdE) in the delightful (manO mudita) play (lIlA), who has been very much (upa) deceived (kUhita) by Hari (hariNAm) with all his praise (sangrahItam-collection, shastra-praise)(note: I’m uncertain about my translation of this sentence), whose beautiful (ruchira) hips (jaghana) are robed (vasanE) in gold (kanaka), who is soft (mRdu) spoken (vachanE)!

6 Comments

Filed under Aruna Sairam, Compositions in Sanskrit, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Makelara Vicharamu

It is the season of big changes in my life. Here I was, happily chugging along in my ‘normal’ life, in a set, familiar pattern.  Then it was as if someone picked up the kaleidoscope of my life and gave it a good shake. For a while now there has just been a jumble of shapes and colours, in a movement too fast for a pattern to emerge. I know that soon it will settle down into a brand new pattern. I imagine our good Lord holding the kaleidoscope and smiling with mischief when he gives that one last whirl! But at the moment, like a piece of coloured glass being whirled around, I see nothing but a revolving world.

It all started early on Mar 30, 2018 when our daughter announced that we are to be grandparents by the end of the year. Our plan was always to return home to Australia when we become grandparents. My husband and I left India when we were very young. Our children were born overseas and though they saw their grandparents once a year or two, they never established a close relationship with them. “My children lost out on their grandparents“, I told myself, “but I will not do that to their children. I’ll be there for them.“. So with the news of impending grandparenthood, we set our plans in motion. We started putting our affairs in order and faced the prospect of a move back to Australia after 18 years of being away.

In December, we did become grandparents to a gorgeous little boy. It was with a heavy heart that I returned to Switzerland in March. Over the last few months I have missed his special achievements. I never saw the first time he turned over on his stomach, his achievements in commando-crawling, his growing dexterity etc. Sad. In the meanwhile, there has been much to do here. We are getting through it all step by step. Not long to go now; we’ll be home in early July.

While we did all the physical sorting and packing, I have had to do some mental sorting out as well. After all this time in Switzerland, I am bonded to this country. Even familiar sights take on a certain poignancy. I look at the lakes and mountains which surround me and think ‘I won’t see you again in my daily life‘. I thought I was reconciled but as I write this, involuntary tears run down my cheeks. How can I be sad when I have the most precious bundle to play with in Australia? Grief and joy disturbingly co-exist in my heart.

So back to my theme of ‘puppet on a string‘. When such massive changes take place in our lives, there is a feeling of helplessness, a feeling of being rushed headlong towards something, an inevitability, all of which may be attributed to fate and God’s hand as a puppeteer by those who believe in these things. I do.  This belief gives great comfort. When my stress levels become too high, I say to myself ‘Why should I worry? I will leave it all in God’s hands‘. For those who don’t believe, it may all seem a bit self-delusional! I too have my own doubts. Don’t our own actions chart the path of the future? Why would God bother about such a petty thing as my life? Still, my song choice of today reflects my need for believing in a God who will bother about me. Makelara Vicharamu is a composition of Tyagaraja set to raga Ravichandrika. The Saint refers to Lord Rama as the puppeteer who makes us dance in the drama of life.

I have listened to nothing but Makelara for the last few days! A popular kriti, there are many excellent renditions freely available online. I have chosen two interesting renditions for your listening pleasure. The first is by S.Kalyanaraman, a very clean, melodious rendition which sounds quite lovely to me. For some kritis, I like ‘drama’; for this one, I enjoyed the simplicity.

Click here to listen.

I think the lyrical beauty of the Raga is displayed very beautifully in this violin rendition by Ganesh & Kumaresh. I grew up listening to Lalgudi’s version of this song, so for me, the violin is just perfect for this kriti.

 


Footnotes : Lyrics and Translation

Language : Telugu
Please note that I do not speak Telugu. The translations are sourced from various internet sources, which I have tried to verify using dicionaries.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
माकेलरा विचारमु
मरुगन्न श्री राम चन्द्र

अनुपल्लवि
साकेत राज कुमार
सद्भक्त मन्दार श्रीकर

चरणम्
जत कूर्चि नाटक सूत्रमुनु
जगमॆल्ल मॆच्चग करमुननिडि
गति तप्पक आडिञ्चॆवु (alt: आडिञ्चॆदवु) सुमी
नत त्यागराज गिरीश विनुत

Transliteration

pallavi
mAkElarA vichAramu
maruganna shrI rAma chandra

anupallavi
sAkEta rAja kumAra
sad bhakta mandAra shrI kara

charaNam
jata kUrci nATaka sUtramunu
jagamella mechchaga karamunaniDi
gati tappaka ADinchevu (alt: Adinchendavu) sumI
nata tyAgarAja girIsha vinuta

Translation

Why (ElarA) should we (mAku) have worries (vichAramu) O Lord Rama (shrI rAma chandra), father of Manmatha (maruganna**)?
(**Note:  The site Tyagaraja Vaibhavam breaks this word as maruku – Cupid/Manmatha and anna – father. However, I could not verify maruku as Manmatha in any dictionary. Musicians sing it as maruganna. Marugu seems to be translated as something hidden. Is Cupid referred to as the hidden one? There is a comment by another blogger that mamuganna makes more sense, translated as ‘my father’.)

O Prince (rAja kumAra-son of king) of Ayodhya (sAkEta), the wish-fulfilling tree (mandAra, another name for Kalpavriksha) of true (sad) devotees (bhakta)! O One who bestows prosperity (shrI kara)!

Holding (-iDi) the strings (sUtramunu) of the puppets (implied) in the hands (karamunanu) and balancing (jata kUruchi) the drama (nAtaka) (implying the drama of life), you make us dance (ADinchevu) with an infallible (tappaka) pace (gati) to the extollation (mechchaga) of the whole world (jagamella), O Lord who is praised (vinuta) by Lord Shiva (girIsha), to whom this Tyagaraja bows (nata).

15 Comments

Filed under Compositions in Telugu, Ganesh-Kumaresh, S.Kalyanaraman, Tyagaraja