Category Archives: Compositions in Sanskrit

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)

 

 

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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!

 

 

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

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)!

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

Bhavayami Raghuramam

A very Happy Ramanavami to all my readers! May God’s grace fall upon you all!
I have chosen a concise Ramayana for you to listen today as you meditate upon Lord Rama. When I use the word ‘meditate’, I use it loosely, Meditation need not always be in a lotus position, does it? For me, it is often with my head nodding under my headphones. I call that worship too!
As to the song, it is a Ragamalika composed by Swathi Thirunal. There are those amongst you who don’t appreciate ragamalikas; I bring this composition particularly to your attention. While the lyrics list the major events in each kandam (canto) of the epic, the ragas paint the emotion in parallel. Balakandam is in a calm and stable Nattakurinji reflecting the stability of Rama’s childhood. Ayodhyakandam in Dhanyasi resounds with a gentle sweetness. I don’t think this goes against the story as Rama is perfectly content even in exile. Aranyakandam is in a romantic Mohanam reflects the happy life Rama and Sita lead in the forest in spite of Shurpanakha et al. Kishkindakandam is in a grief stricken Mukhari as both Rama and Sita suffer, each in their own way. Sundarakandam follows in a more hopeful Purvikalyani though it is still infused with sadness thanks to the minor Ri. Yuddhakandam finishes in an auspicious Madhyamavati, the traditional raga for a happy conclusion. And the whole is tied together in a prayerful Saveri. I understand the original version was only in Saveri. It was Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer who tuned it as a ragamalika, adding the chittaswarams as well. This is the version popularised by M.S.Subbulakshmi.
I have chosen a rendition by the young Trichur Brothers. I think they have done a very credible job indeed. There are of course some wonderful renditions by yesteryear greats. In my growing years my father used to play a tape by MS all the time; I still hear her voice in my head when I think of this song. And I just love MDR meandering through the composition in his inimitable style; I always take a particular pleasure in his re-catching Saveri at the end of every charanam; it’s almost a thrill to hear the switch to ga-ri-sa-da, ri-sa-da, sa-da 🙂 But there is also great enjoyment in listening to young voices sing these age-old songs with such conviction.  Trichur Brothers start their rendition with the following shloka. They sing it also in a ragamalika like the main composition. (Note : If you are new to Raga recognition and distinction, this is a perfect opportunity to try your skills on this shloka as you know which ragas to expect).
वामे भूमिसुता पुरश्च हनुमान् पश्चात् सुमित्रासुतः
शत्रुघ्नो भरतश्च पार्श्वदलयोः वाय्वादि कोणेषु च।
सुग्रीवश्च विभीषणश्च युवराट् तारासुतो जांबवान्
मध्ये नील सरोज कोमळरुचिं रामं भजे श्यामळं॥ 
vAmE bhUmisutA purascha hanumAn paschAt sumitrA sutah
shatrughnO bharatascha pArchvadalayOh vAyvAdi kONEshu cha.
sugrIvscha vibhIshaNascha yuvarAT tArAsutO jAmbavAn
madhyE nIla sarOja kOmalaruchim rAmam bhajE shyAmaLam
With Sita (bhUmisuta-daughter of the earth) on the left (vAmE), and (cha) Hanuman in the front (puras), in the rear (pashchAt) Lakshmana (son (sutah) of Sumitra), surrounded by (pArshvadalayoH) Shatrughna and (cha) Bharata, and (cha) with Vayu etc (Adi) in the corners (kONEshu), with Sugriva and the young king (yuvarAj – don’t know why it is yuvarAt in the shloka) Vibhishana, the son (suta) of Tara i.e Angada, Jambavan and in the centre (madhyE) the gently (komala) handsome (ruchim) dark-hued (shyAmaLam) Rama looking like (implied) a blue lotus (nIla sarOja), whom I worship (bhajE) .
Watch from 19:01
(for some reason embedding is not working)

Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

Pallavi and Anupallavi (Saveri)

भावयामि रघुरामम् भव्य सुगुणारामम् ।
भावुक वितरण परापाङ्ग लीला लसितम् ।।

bhAvayAmi raghurAmam bhavya suguNArAmam
bhAvuka vitaraNa parApAnga lIlA lasitam

I meditate upon (bhAvayAmi) the delightful (ArAmam), gracious (bhavya) and virtous (suguNa) Lord Rama (rAmam) of the Raghu dynasty, who playing (lasitam) at his Divine Play (lIlA) bestows (vitaraNa) happiness (bhAvuka) to others (para) with just his sidelong glances (apAnga).

Charanam 1 (Nattakurinji) – Balakandam

दिनकरान्वय तिलकं दिव्य गाधिसुत सवना-
वन रचित सुबाहु मुख वधम् अहल्या पावनम् ।
अनघमीश चापभङगं जनक सुता प्राणेशं
घन कुपित भृगुराम गर्व हरमित साकेतम् ॥

dinakarAnvaya tilakam divya gAdhisuta savanA-
vana rachita subAhu mukha vadham ahalyA pAvanam
anaghamIsha chApabhangam janaka sutA prANEsham
ghana kupita bhRgurAma garva haramita sAkEtam

He who is the ornament (tilakam) of the sun (dinakara) lineage (anvaya), he who killed (vadham) the demons (implied) beginning with (mukha) Subahu while protecting (avana) the sacrifice (savana) performed by (rachita) the Vishwamitra (son (suta) of gAdhi), he who purified (pAvanam) Ahalya, he who broke (bhanga) the bow (chApa) of the sinless (anagham) Shiva (Isha), he who is the husband (prAnesha) of Sita (daughter (sutA) of Janaka), he who destroyed (haram) the pride (garva) of the profoundly (ghana) kupita (angry) Parashurama (bhRgurAma as he is a descendent of bhRigu), he who is from (ita) Ayodhya (sAkEtam).

Charanam 2 (Dhanyasi) – Ayodhyakandam

विहिताभिषेकम् अथ विपिन गतम् आर्य वाचा
सहित सीता सौमित्रीं शान्ततम शीलम् ।
गुह निलय गतं चित्रकूटागत भरत दत्त-
महित रत्नमय पादुकं मदन सुन्दराङ्गम् ॥

vihitAbhishEkam atha vipina gatam Arya vAchA
sahita sItA saumitrIm shAntatam shIlam
guha nilaya gatam chitrakUtAgata bharata datta-
mahita ratnamaya pAdukam madana sundarAngam

He who went (gatam) to the forest (vipina) with (sahita) Sita and Lakshamana (saumitrI, son of Sumitra) at the word (vAchA) of his Lord (Arya) in spite of (atha) the destined (vihita) consecration (abhishEkam),  he who was in the habit of (shIlam) being extremely calm (shAntatam), he who went (gatam) to the residence (nilaya) of Guha, he who went (gata) to Chitrakoota, he who gifted (datta) Bharata his esteemed (mahita), bejewelled (ratnamaya, studded with precious stones) sandals (pAdukam), he who has an intoxicatingly (madana) beautiful (sundara) body (angam).

Charanam 3 (Mohanam) – Aranyakandam

वितत दण्डकारण्य गत विराध दलनं
सुचरित घटज दत्तानुपमित वैष्णवास्त्रम् ।
पतगवर जटायु नुतं पञ्चवटी विहितावासं
अति घोर शूर्पणखा वचनागत खरादि हरम् ॥

vitata daNDkAraNya gata virAdha dalanam
sucharita ghaTaja dattAnupamita vaishNavAstram
patagavara jatAyu nutam panchavatI vihitAvAsam
ati ghOra shUrpaNakhA vachanAgata kharAdi haram

He who went (gata) to the vast (vitata) Dandaka forest (AraNya), he who destroyed (dalanam) Viradha, he who was gifted (datta) the matchless Vaishnava weapon (astram) by the virtuous (sucharita) Agastya (ghaTaja – born in a pot), he who is worshipped by (nutam) the chief of birds (patagavara) Jatayu, he whose abode (AvAsam) was put in order (vihita) in Panchavati, he who destroyed (haram) Khara etc (Adi) who came (Agata) on the word of (vachana) of the very (ati) horrible (ghOra) Shurpanakha.

Charanam 4 (Mukhari) – Kishkindakandam

कनक मृग रूप धर खल मारीच हरमिह
सुजन विमत दशास्य हृत जनकजान्वेषणम् ।
अनघम् पम्पातीर संगताञ्जनेय नभोमणि
तनुज सख्यकरं वाली तनु दलनमीशम् ॥

kanaka mRga rUpa dhara khala mAricha haramiha
sujana vimata dashAsya hRta janakajAnvEshaNam
anagham pampAtIra sangatAnjanEya nabhOmaNi
tanuja sakhyakaram vAlI tanu dalanamIsham

He who killed (haram) the wicked (khala) Maricha who had worn (dhara) a form (rUpa) of a golden (kanaka) deer (mRga) here (iha), he who searched for (anvEsham) the daughter of Janaka (janakajA) who was seized (hRta) by Ravana (dasha – ten, Asya-face) who disregarded (vimata) the virtous (sujana), he who is sinless (anagham), he who, accompanied by (sangata) Hanuman (AnjanEya), made friends (sakhya karam) with Sugriva (son of (tanuja) the Sun (nabhOmaNi)), he who destroyed (dalanam) the body (tanu) of Vali, he who is supreme (Isham).

Charanam 5 (Purvikalyani) – Sundarakandam

वानरोत्तम सहित वायुसूनु करार्पित
भानुशत भास्वर भव्य रत्नाङ्गुलीयम् ।
तेन पुनरानीतान्यून चूडामणी दर्शनं
श्रीनिधिमुदधि तीरेश्रित विभीषण मिलितम् ॥

vAnarOttam sahita vAyusUnu karArpita
bhanushata bhAsvara bhavya ratnAnguliyam
tEna punrAnItAnyUna chUDAmaNI darshanam
shrInidhImudadhi tIrEshrita vibhIshaNa militam

He who, accompanied by (sahita) the best (uttama) amongst the Vanaras, offered (arpita) in the hands (kara) of Hanuman (child (sUnu) of Vayu) the beautiful (bhavya) bejewelled (ratna) ring (angulIyam) which was lustrous (bhAsvara) like a hundred (shata) suns (bhAnu), he who saw (darshanam) the blemishless (anyUna) (crest jewel (chUDAmaNI) brought (AnIta) in turn (punah) by him (tEna ie hanuman), he who is the reservoir (nidhi) of auspiciousness (shrI), he who met (militam) Vibhishana who sought refuge (Ashrita) on the shores (tIrE) of the ocean (udadhi).

Charanam 6 (Madhyamavati) – Yuddhakadam

कलित वर सेतुबन्धं खल निस्सीम पिशिताशन
दलनम् उरु दश कण्ठ विदारणम् अति  धीरम् ।
ज्वलन पूत जनक सुता सहितम् यात साकेतं
विलसित पट्टाभिषेकं विश्व पालं पद्मनाभम् ॥

kalita vara sEtubandham khala nissIma pishitAshana
dalanam uru dasha kaNTHa vidAraNam ati dhIram
jvalana pUta janaka sutA sahitam yAta sAkEtam
vilasita paTTAbhishEkam vishva pAlam padmanAbham

He who made (kalita) the best (vara) bridge (sEtubandham),  he who killed (dalanam) numerous (nissIma-endless) wicked (khala) demons (pishitAshana-flesh eaters), he who crushed (vidaranam) the huge (uru) ten-headed (dasha kaNTHa) Ravana, he who is extremely (ati) dhIram (brave), he who, along with (sahita) Sita (janaka sutA-daughter of Janaka) who was purified (pUta) by fire (jvalana), proceeded to (yAta) Ayodhya (sAkEtam), he who shone (vilasita) in coronation (paTTAbhishEkam), he who protects (pAlam) the world (vishva), he who is the lotus-navelled one (padhanAbham).

 

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Shankari Shankuru

AkhilandeswariI am in Australia at the moment, enjoying the last traces of summer and the advent into autumn. On Sunday we set the clock back for daylight saving and I gratefully received the gift of an extra hour in the morning! The weather is perfect, neither warm nor cold but just right….Goldilocks would sure have been happy! This is such perfect weather for walking. I am a regular walker, doing a brisk 10 km everyday.  These two hours each day are precious to me as this is when I listen to music with the utmost concentration. However, for the last couple of months I have instead been listening to lectures on spiritual matters (upanyasam / hari katha). It has been educational though I find some ideas questionable and some simply appalling! But more about that some other time…

My interest in lectures has meant that I am a bit behind with catching up with the music available online. There is so much of it nowadays, don’t you think? Can anyone possibly keep up with it all? I am rather overwhelmed! My music listening experience has also changed because of this. There was a time when I had only a very limited number of tapes and then CDs. I listened to them so often that I would be pre-empting every note, every pause in my mind as I listened. Nowadays I am always listening to something new. Exciting but also a bit sad…I miss the familiarity and sense of homecoming I felt with my favourites.   As I was playing catch-up on YouTube last week, I came upon this excellent concert by Ranjani and Gayatri from which I have chosen a song to present to you today.

Shankari Shankuru is composed in Raga Saveri by Shyama Shastri. Like many songs of this genre, it is a simple prayer followed by many phrases to identify, describe and praise the Goddess. As we listen, the phrases invoke physical imagery  (e.g. slender-waisted Goddess). We are reminded of stories by some phrases (e.g. remembering how Manmatha became an enemy of Shiva) and are reassured of the grace of the Goddess by other phrases (e.g. she gives reward to her devotees).

Though I choose to concentrate on lyrics in this blog, renditions such as the one I have chosen are more about the raga and creativity than about the lyrics. In this piece by Ranjani and Gayatri, the total time of 31 minutes is composed of 26 minutes of improvisation and only 10 minutes of composed music. The improvisation is in the form of Raga Alapana (slow melodic improvisation without rhythm 0-13:50) by the vocalists and the violinist. Neraval (melodic improvisation of a single phrase from the song within a set rhythm 17:31-25:15 )  and Kalpana Swarams (melodic improvisation using the Indian solfege within a set rhythm)  to 30:27. So of a total of 31.28 minutes, more than 26 minutes is the creative component. The composed content is just over 5 minutes. So as much as I go on about words, meanings, inferences and associations, this music is more about creativity and setting the mood. Saveri is a raga which sounds like supplication, even if no word is uttered.  How beautiful are the phrases created by these two extraordinary sisters! I must especially mention the young violinist Vittal Rangan who demonstrates truly impressive skills!

And those who have fallen in love with Saveri and would like to listen to another excellent rendition, here is R.Vedavalli doing an exceptional job of it.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

note – only third charanam is sung in concerts normally. Also though the long ‘I’ at the end of some words is shortened in songs, I have chosen to use the correct spelling in Sanskrit.

पल्लवि
शङ्करी  शङ्कुरु  चन्द्रमुखी अखिलाण्डेश्वरी (श्री)
शाम्भवी सरसिज भव वन्दिते गौरी (अम्ब)

अनुपल्लवि
सङ्कट  हारिणी रिपु विदारिणी कल्याणी
सदा नत फल दायिके (alt: दायकी ) हर नायिके  (alt: नायकी) जगत् जननी

चरणम् 1
जम्बुपति विलासिनी जगदवनोल्लसिनी
कम्बु  कन्धरे भवानी कपाल धारिणी शूलिनी

चरणम् 2

अङ्गज  रिपु तोशिनी अखिल  भुवन पोशिनी
मङ्गल  प्रदे मृदानी मराल संनिभ गमनी

चरणम् 3

श्याम कृष्ण सोदरी श्यामळे शातोदरी
सामगान  लोले बाले सदार्ति भञ्जन  शीले

Transliteration

pallavi
shankarI shankuru chandra mukhI akhilANDEshvarI
shAmbhavI sarasija bhava vanditE gauri amba

anupallavi
sankaTa hAriNI ripu vidAriNI kalyANI
sadA nata phala dAyikE hara nAyikE jagat jananI

charaNam 1
jambupati vilAsinI jagadavanOllAsinI
kambu kandharE bhavAnI kapAla dhAriNi shUlini

charaNam 2
angaja ripu tOshinI akhila bhuvana pOshinI
mangaLa pradE mRdAni marALa sannibha gamanI

charaNam 3
shyAma kRshNa sOdarI shyAmaLE shAtOdari
sAma gAna lOlE bAlE sadArti bhanjana shIlE

Translation

O Consort of Shankara/Shiva (shankarI)! Please create (kuru, literally do) tranquility (sham)! O Moon faced one (chandramukhI)! O Goddess (IshvarI) of the whole universe (akhilANDa) ! O ShambhavI (name of Parvati)! One worshipped (vanditE) by Brahma, the one born (bhava) in a lotus (sarasija)! O Mother (amba) Gauri (name of Parvati)!

One who removes/destroys (hAriNI) danger/crises (sangkaTa)! One who crushes (vidAriNI) enemies (ripu)! O Auspicious one (kalyANI)! One who gives (dAyikE) reward (phala) to those who always (sadA) bow to her (nata). O Consort (nayikE) of Shiva (hara)! O Mother (jananI) of the world (jagat)!

One who sports (vilAsinI) with Shiva (jambupati, from Jambukeshwara Temple of Tiruvanaikaval, where the Goddess is called Akhilandeshwari. This is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, representing water). One who takes joy (ullAsinI) in protecting (avana) the world (jagat)! One whose neck (kandhara) is like a conch (kambu)! O Bhavani (name of Parvati)! One who carries (dhAriNI) a skull (kapAla)! One who weilds a spear (shUlinI)!

One who pleases (tOshiNI) the enemy (ripu) of the God of Love (angaja)! One who nourishes (poshinI) the entire (akhila) world (bhuvana)! One who provides (pradE) good fortune/welfare/happiness (mangala)! O Consort of Shiva (mRda is a name of Shiva)! One who walks (gamanI) like (samnibha) a swan (marAla)!

O Sister (sOdarI) of the dark skinned Krishna (shyAma kRshNa) (also signature of the composer)! O Shyamala (name of Parvati)! One with a slender (shAta) belly/waist (udarI)! One who takes pleasure in (lOlE) the chanting (gAna) of Sama Veda! O Young one (bAlE)! One whose nature (shIla) is to always (sadA) dispel (bhanjana) grief (Arti)!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, R.Vedavalli, Ranjani Gayatri, Shyama Shastri

Maitrim Bhajata

Happy New Year 2016 replace 2015 concept on the sea beach

Happy New Year

So one more year has come to an end. That one micro-second when one year finishes and another year starts seems momentous, doesn’t it? Yet it is no different from the millions of micro-seconds that we have lived so far. We greet this new micro-second with cheers and wishes, hopes and dreams..and if one is particularly foolish like myself, resolutions that won’t last a week! I wonder, why do we cheer the unknown to come instead of grieving the end of one more period of one’s life? One starts life with endless possibilities but as moments pass the possibilities become fewer and fewer until at the last moment of our life there is only one possibility left. So while the world lights the skies with fireworks and parties its way into the New Year, I am sombre, looking back at what might have been and what is not.

2015 was such a hard year for so many people. I grieve for the all the people killed and maimed by terrorism and fundamentalism whether in Paris, Nigeria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Philippines, Yemen, Kenya or the innumerable other places which have seen such incidents. At the start of 2015 they too would have cheered and hoped and made resolutions which they did not keep. What happened to all those wishes when the terrorists blew them up? Did they disappear from the earth or are those wishes hanging heavily like overladen clouds? I grieve for all those affected by natural disasters, be it in the floods in Chennai, Malawi or Mozambique, the drought in Ethiopia, the heat wave in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, earthquakes in Nepal and Chile, wildfires in Canada, California and Australia, landslides in Burma, avalanches in Afghanistan or innumerable other such incidents. Did they not receive good wishes at the start of 2015? If they survived the disasters, will they ever heal from what 2015 did to them? I grieve for the earth itself which we continue to treat with careless abandon, filling landfills with toxic or non-biodegradable waste, filling the air with carbon and other emissions, filling rivers and water sources with even more waste. As polar bears struggle in melting ice caps, fish struggle with low oxygen levels in the water and animals struggle with disastrous changes in their habitat, shall we still cheer the start of 2016 or grieve over all that we could have done but didn’t in 2015? We humans selfishly follow agendas for individual interest at the cost of collective well-being, whether by killing rhinos for their horns, enslaving women for their bodies, using poverty as a weapon against the poor and in so many other ways that I despair of it all. All one can feel is shame that one is part of the same human race which does so much harm to itself and its environment.

Yet here is 2016, whether we want it or not. At the start of the year hope springs eternal, does it not! So I shall set aside all the grief of that which has passed and hope for joy and contentment in the future, not just for myself but for all of us who call earth our home. And I invoke the prayer song written by the Kanchi Paramacharya, Jagatguru Chandrasekharendra Saraswati and tuned by Shri Vasant Desai. On Oct 23 1966 M.S.Subbulakshmi sang it in the United Nations. This immortal song is as meaningful in today’s times as it was then. Please do read the translation in the footnote below, there is good advice for us all. May 2016 bring us all wisdom to follow the path recommended by the Paramacharya.

(from 6:14)

A much older M.S. sings the same song in the video below :


Footnote : Lyrics

Language : Sanskrit

in Raga Yamuna Kalyani

मैत्रीम् भजत अखिल हृज्जेत्रीम् (= हृत् जेत्रीम् )
आत्मवदेव 
परानपि पश्यत (= आत्मवत् एव परान् अपि पश्यत)
युद्धम् त्यजत 
स्पर्धां त्यजत
त्यजत 
परेषु परेष्वक्रममाक्रमणम् (=परेषु अक्रम आक्रमणम्) ||

in Raga Kapi

जननी पृथिवी काम दुघास्ते (=दुघा आस्ते)
जनको 
देवः सकल दयालुः
दाम्यत 
दत्त दयध्वं जनताः
श्रेयो 
भूयात् सकल जनानाम् ||

Transliteration :

maitrIm bhajata akhila hRjjEtrIm
AtmavadEva parAnapi pashyata
yuddham tyajata spardhAm tyajata
tyajata parEshu akramamAkramaNam
jananI pRthivI kAmadughAstE
janakO dEvah sakala dayAluh
dAmyata datta dayadhvam janatAh
shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAm

Translation :

Win over (jEtrIm) all hearts (hRt) by practising (bhajata) friendship (maitrIm).
Think (pashyata, literally look) at others (parAn) exactly (Eva) like you think of yourself (Atmavat).
Forsake (tyajata) war (yuddham), forsake (tyajata) competitiveness (spardhAm),
forsake (tyajata) sudden (akrama) attacks (Akramanam) on others (parEshu).
Mother (jananI) Earth (pRthivI) exists (AstE) like a wish (kAma) fulfilling cow (dughA) (reference to kAmadhEnu).
God (dEvah), our father (janaka), is completely (sakala) compassionate (dayAluh)
Be self-restrained (dAmyata), be charitable (datta), be merciful (dayadhvam). (*from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, see below).
May (bhUyAt) all (sakala) people (janAnAm) be prosperous/blissful/fortunate (shrEya)

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, verses 5.2.1-5.2.3

त्रयाः प्राजापत्याः प्रजापतौ पितरि ब्रह्मचर्यमूषुःदेवा मनुष्या असुराः; उषित्वा ब्रह्मचर्यं देवा ऊचुः, वीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इति; व्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दाम्यतेति 
आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति 

Three classes of Prajāpati’s sons lived a life of continence with their father, Prajāpati (Virāj)—the gods, men and Asuras. The gods, on the completion of their term, said, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: Control yourselves.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’

अथ  हैनं मनुष्या ऊचुः, ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदेवाक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इति; व्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दत्तेति न आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति 

Then the men said to him, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the same syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: Give.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’

अथ हैनमसुरा ऊचुः, ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति; तेभ्यो हैतदेवाक्शरमुवाच द इति; व्यज्ञासिष्टा3 इतिव्यज्ञासिष्मेति होचुः, दयध्वमिति न आत्थेति; ओमिति होवाच, व्यज्ञासिष्टेति; तदेतदेवैषा दैवी वागनुवदति स्तनयित्नुर् द द द इतिदाम्यत दत्त दयध्वमिति; तदेतत्त्रयं शिक्शेत्— मं
दानं दयामिति   

Then the Asuras said to him, ‘Please instruct us.’ He told them the same syllable ‘Da’ (and asked), ‘Have you understood?’ (They) said, ‘We have. You tell us: ‘Have compassion.’ (He) said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’ That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, the cloud, as ‘Da,’ ‘Da,’ ‘Da’: ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give,’ and ‘Have compassion.’ Therefore one should leam these three—self-control, charity and compassion.

Explanation :

The present section is introduced to prescribe the three disciplines of self-control etc. Three classes of Prajāpati’s sons lived a life of continence, i.e. lived as students, since continence is the most important part of a student’s life, with their father, Prajāpati. Who were they? The gods, men and Asuras, in particular. Of them, the gods, on the completion of their term—what did they do?—said to their father, Prajāpati, ‘Please instruct us.’ When they thus sought his instruction, he told them only the syllable‘Da’; and saying it the father asked them,’ you understood the meaning of the syllable I told you by way of instruction, or not?’ The gods said, ‘We have.’ ‘If so, tell me what I said.’ The gods said, ‘You tell us: Control yourselves, for you are naturally unruly.’ The other said, ‘Yes, you have understoodrightly.’

The common portions are to be explained as before. ‘You tell us: Give—distribute your wealth to the best of your might, for you are naturally avaricious. What else would you say for our benefit?’—so said the men.

Similarly the Asuras took it as, ‘Have compassion, be kind to all, for you are cruel, given to injuring others, and so on.’ That very instruction of Prajāpati continues to this day. Prajāpati, who formerly taught the gods and others, teaches us even to-day through the heavenly voice of the cloud. How? Here is the heavenly voice heard. Which is it? The cloudAs ‘Da,’ ‘Da,’ ‘Da’: ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give,’and ‘Have compassion.’ The syllable ‘Da’ is repeated thrice to represent in imitation the above three terms, not that a cloud produces three notes only, for we know of no such limitation as to number. Because to this day Prajāpati gives the same instructions, ‘Control yourselves,’ ‘Give’ and ‘Have Compassion,’ therefore one should learn these three of Prajāpati. What are they? Self-control, charity and compassion. Men should think, ‘We must carry out the instructions of Prajāpati.’ The Smṛti too says, ‘Lust, anger and greed—these are the three gateways to hell, destructive to the self; therefore one should renounce these three’ (G. XVI. 21). The preceding portion is but a part of this injunction, ‘One should learn,’ etc. Still those who can guess the motives of others hold different views on why Prajāpati spoke the same syllable ‘Da’ thrice to the gods etc., who wanted separate instructions, and how they too discriminatingly understood his intention from the same syllable ‘Da.’

Reference : http://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-brihadaranyaka-upanishad/d/doc122189.html

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, Compositions in Sanskrit, M.S.Subbulakshmi

Chetah Sri Balakrishnam

Krishna baby on leafI’m home! What a busy month I have had! At the start of September, my friend and I went to Moscow and St Petersburg for 9 days. Russia was so very impressive! Then there was a bit of local tourism in Switzerland before setting off for a 10 day driving tour in Italy. We’ve been to Italy many times, but we always find something new to savour and enjoy. As we drove about 2700 km, there was enough time to listen to music – but it was all Hindi film songs, Ghazals, Bhajans and Qawwalis. No Carnatic Music (CM) at all. I do enjoy all these forms but how I missed CM! You can well imagine what I have been doing since I am back to my normal routine since Wednesday…  It was only when I let the sounds of CM seep into my soul that I felt truly home.  It is indeed my ‘ishTa gAnam’ !

That was not always the case. I have often mentioned in this blog that I was brought up in a family where CM was like a playback track to life. But in my teen years, the music that I chose for myself was mostly Hindi film music. I did like CM, but it was limited to just a few artists…and I preferred instrumentals mostly. I did love Bharatanatyam and enjoyed dance music. When my father played his favourite tapes of Semmangudi and Madurai Mani Iyer on his Grundig, I would moan complainingly! What an asamanjam (ignorant idiot+++) I was! I am so ashamed of my teenage stupidity! This week, as I have been listening obsessively to Semmangudi, I look back to those days and wonder why I didn’t have the musical maturity to appreciate such an extraordinary musician… How is it that some young ones already have such a developed taste? Do the learnings from one life pass on to the next? Would I have a more discerning taste in my next life?

In this week of my obsession with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, I have chosen to feature a song which he sang very often and with great beauty. This wonderful composition by Muthuswami Dikshithar extols the qualities of Balakrishna in the charming raga Dwijavanti. The composer says that ‘His lotus like feet bestow all dreamed about objects of desire’. When I listen to this song, I like to think of what dreams I would like to lay on His feet…One that I would like Him to consider is my wish to be born as a Carnatic Musician in my next life. I am still working out the details of the dream, the voice of Bombay Jayashri if I am born a woman or TMK if I am a man, the amazing sweetness and grace of Lalgudi’s creative mind, the bhakti bhava of MS, the flamboyant flair of GNB’s renditions……all this would be nice, but it is the lighting fast, brilliant musical mind of Semmangudi which would be the essential ingredient! Listen to my selection below and see how amazing his kalpana swarams are..

Alternate Link : Click here and download track 8 (free membership to Sangeethapriya required)

If you like this kriti, then you are in luck as there are many good renditions of this song by very many artists. A couple that  I have enjoyed this week are :

Track 3 in this concert by K.V.Narayanaswamy (free membership to Sangeethapriya required). The leisurely pace suits this song very well.

The first song in this concert by T.M.Krishna. The video is not good but don’t be put off; the audio is fine.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
चेतः श्री बाल कृष्णं भज रे
चिन्तितार्थ प्रद चरणारविन्दम् मुकुन्दम्

अनुपल्लवि
नूतन नीरद सदृश शरीरम् नन्द किशोरम्
पीत वसन धरम् कम्बु कन्धरम् गिरि धरम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
पूतनादि  सम्हारम् पुरुषोत्तमावतारम्
शीतल  हृदय विहारम् श्री  रुक्मिणी दारम्

चरणम्
नवनीत गन्ध वाह वदनम् मृदु गदनम्
नळिन पत्र  नयनम्  वट पत्र शयनम्
नव  चम्पक नासिकम् अतसी  सुम भासकम्
नतेन्द्रादि  लोक पालकम् मृग मद तिलकम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
नव तुळसी वन मालम् नारदादि मुनि जालम्
कुवलयादि परिपालम्  गुरु गुह नुत गोपालम्

Transliteration :

pallavi
chEtaH shrI bAla kRshNam bhaja rE
chintitArtha prada charaNAravindam mukundam

anupallavi
nUtana nIrada sadRsha sharIraM nanda kishOram
pIta vasana dharam kambu kandharam giri dharam
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
pUtanAdi samhAram purushOttamAvatAram
shItala hRdaya vihAram shrI rukmiNI dAram

charaNam
navanIta gandha vAha vadanam mRdu gadanam
naLina patra nayanam vaTa patra shayanam
nava champaka nAsikam atasI suma bhAsakam
natEndrAdi lOka pAlakam mRga mada tilakam
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
nava tuLasI vana mAlam nAradAdi muni jAlam
kuvalayAdi paripAlam guru guha nuta gOpAlam

Translation :

O Mind (chEtah), revere (bhaja) the child Lord Krishna (shrI bAla krishNam), also called Mukunda, whose lotus like (aravindam) feet (charaNam) bestow all dreamed about (chintita) objects of desire (artha).

He is the young boy (kishOra) of Nanda, the One whose body (sharIram) looks like (sadrRsha) fresh (nUtana) rain clouds (nIrada), the One who wears (dharam) yellow (pIta) garments (vasana), the One whose neck (kandharam) is like a conch (kambhu), the One who holds up (dharam) a mountain (giri).

He is the incarnation (avatAram) of Purushottama (=the supreme being). He is the One who destroyed (samhAra) Putana etc (Adi), the One who resides in (vihAram) in calm (shItala) hearts (hRdaya), the One whose wife (dAram) is Rukmini (or does it mean He is the consort of Rukmini? Unsure).

He is the One whose breath (vAha, literally air) from the mouth (vadana) smells of (gandha) butter (navanIta), the sweet (mRdu) talking (gadanam) One. He is One whose eyes (nayanam) look like lotus-leaves (naLina patra), the One who sleeps on (shayanam) the leaf of a banyan-tree (vaTa patra). He is the One whose nose (nAsika) looks like a new (nava) Champaka flower, the One whose complexion (implied) appears like (bhAsakam) the Atasi flower (suma) (a blue flower), the One bowed to (nata) by Indra and the guardians (pAlaka) of the world (lOka), the One who wears a mark on the forehead (tilaka) with the deer-musk (mRga mada=kastUri).

He is the One who is garlanded (mAlam) with new (nava) clusters (vana) Tulasi leaves, the One who has ensnared (jAlam) sages (muni) like Narada etc (Adi), the One who is the protector (pAlakam) of the worlds (kuvalaya Adi = bhUlOka etc). He is Gopala, praised by (nuta) Guruguha (signature of the composer).

(Notation is available here : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2016/05/cheta-sri.html)

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer