Category Archives: Neelakanta Sivan

Navasiddhi Petralum

Lord ShivaDon’t you find people with absolute beliefs quite intriguing? I do!  How do they arrive at it, I wonder? I refer to opinions, morality, beliefs and such, not to, for example mathematics, which I believe is absolute. Mathematicians may demur. In the world of thoughts and beliefs, I seem to be always in a twilight-zone where everything seems to shape-shift, with no absolutes.

My parents brought me up well, trying their best to teach me to distinguish between the good and the bad, setting me up with an understanding of our religion and moral standards without being prescriptive. But when I came out into the world, it did not quite match what I was taught. I saw people around me practicing what was questionable under my ‘rules’ yet they were good people, just people with a different set of standards, of morality, of religion and beliefs. ‘Ah‘, I thought, ‘What I was taught is a set of rules that applies just to the group I belong to‘. Like a Venn diagram, these sets have points of intersections, the commonality of values. ‘Perhaps these commonalities are the absolutes?‘ I wondered. Thou shalt not kill. Is that a commonality which is absolute? But hang on, when Arjuna hesitated in the battlefield did not Lord Krishna encourage him to do his duty? So even ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has exceptions, doesn’t it?

So slowly over a lifetime of seeing, experiencing and thinking, one by one my absolutes have dissolved to a great extent. Of course some absolutes remain. No Torture. No Child Abuse. No Rape. These are absolutes I believe in. There are others. But when it comes to religious, moral or social issues, my absolutes have melted away with the tide of time.

So it is with interest that I examined the lyrics of Navasiddhi Petralum by Neelakanta Sivan in raga Kharaharapriya. He has such definite views! So many absolute sounding statements! He classifies people as ‘chaff’ i.e. people without substance, and sinners. I have tabulated his thoughts, wondering how many of these I would agree with. Detailed lyrics and word by word translations are in the footnote. Have a look at the table and see where you stand. What if a person has devotion to Gods other than Lord Shiva, are they really sinners? What if people have limited intellectual capacity and wisdom but are kind and good? One should respect good parents, surely yes, but what about abusive ones? I think it is a good exercise to examine one’s own beliefs against those set by others, it makes one’s own stand more clear to oneself. And perhaps arrive at one’s own set of absolutes.

People without substance Sinners
Those who are without devotion to Lord Shiva Those who neither listen to the wisdom of others nor have their own
Those who frolic around forgetting the grace of God Those who do not meditate upon Lord Shiva
Those who avidly pursue money without counting sins and merits Those who destroy their own good character with anger and greed
Those who cause grief to their parents Those bad people who hiss and taunt everybody to fight
Those egoistic people who do not realise the truth even after having heard, seen and experienced it Those without the grace of Lord Shiva who gives us an everlasting state

I came to this song by way of listening to a marvellous concert called Thamizhum Naanum by Sanjay Subrahmanyan in which he sang this song. The concert is available at the Yuv site where, for a nominal fee, they are video offering a concert every week. This was the first. The audio and video quality were impeccable. This blog is not a commercial site and I hesitate to promote any commercial offering fearing that people may think I profit in some way. I don’t. But if you are interested in Carnatic Music, it may be worth your while to check out this site.

The first and foremost of the renditions I present today is by Semmangudi Srinavasa Iyer, whose rendition, I believe,  is a benchmark for this song.

I also like Kharaharapriya in the voice of Ranjani & Gayatri whose soft and smooth transitions from note to note is very pleasing to my ears.


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language: Tamil
Note : There are a number of variations to the lyrics in the renditions I listened to while writing this post, most minor. I have given below the version sung by Semmangudi with a few common variations I found in other renditions.

நவசித்தி பெற்றாலும் சிவ பக்தி இல்லாத நரர்கள் வெறும் சாவி (சம்போ)
எவர் புத்தியும் தள்ளி சுயபுத்தியும் இல்லாது இருப்பவர் பெரும் பாவி

நாதன் அருள் மறந்து போதம் இல்லாக் கூத்து நடிப்பவர் வெறும் சாவி (ஜகன்/தில்லை)
சீதமதி அணியும் சிவனை நினையாமல் இருப்பவர் பெரும் பாவி

தாய் தந்தை மனம் நோக செய்கின்ற குரு துரோகத் தனைவர்கள்(*) வெறும் சாவி
நாய் போல எவரையும் சீறி சண்டைபோடவே (alt: சண்டையிடும்) நலம் கெட்டார் (இல்லார்) பெரும் பாவி

பாபமும் புண்ணியமும் கணியாமல் பணத்திற்கே பறப்பவர் வெறும் சாவி
கோபமும் லோபமும் கொண்டு நல்ல குணத்தை குலைப்பவர் (தொலைப்பவர் ) பெரும் பாவி

கேட்டும் கண்டும் அனுபவித்தும் உண்மை உணரா கர்விகள் வெறும் சாவி
வாட்டமில்லாத கதி கொடுக்கும் நீலகண்டனின் அன்பில்லார் (அருள் இல்லார்) பெரும் பாவி (என்றும்)

(*) It sounded to me like தலைவர்கள் but the alternate தனைவர்கள் seemed more fitting. I do not know if this is correct.


navasiddhi peTRAlum shiva bhakti illAda narargaL veRum sAvi (shambhO)
evar buddhiyum taLLi suya buddhiyum illAdu iRuppavar perum pAvi

nAdhan aRuL maRandu bOdam illA kUttu naDippavar veRum sAvi (jagan/tillai)
sItamadi aNiyum shivanai ninaiyAmal iruppavar perum pAvi

tAy tandai manam nOga seiginDRa guru drOgattanivargaL veRum sAvi
nAy pOla evaraiyum shIRi sanDaipODa nalam keTTar perum pAvi

pApamum puNNiyum gaNiyAmal  paNattiRkE paRappavar veRum sAvi
kObamum lObhamum koNDu nalla guNattai kulaippavar perum pAvi

kETTum kanDum anubhavittum uNmai uNarA garvigaL veRum sAvi
vATTamillada gadi koDukkum nIlakanTanin anbillAr (alt: aruL illAr) perum pAvi (enDrum)


Even if they have achieved (peTRAlum) the nine (nava) extraordinary powers of the soul (siddhi), men (narargaL) without (illAda) devotion (bhakti) towards Lord Shiva are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi) . Those who reject (taLLi) the wisdom (buddhi, literally intellect) of others (evar) and are (iruppavar) without (illAdu) wisdom (buddhi) of their own (suya) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those who, forgetting (maRandu) the grace (aRul) of the Lord (nAdan), foolishly frolic (kUttu naDippavar, literally play act) even without (illa) intoxication (bOdam) are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi). Those who exist (iruppavar) without thinking (ninaiyAmal) of Lord Shiva who wears (aNiyum) the cool moon (sitamadi) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those sons (tanaivargaL) who cause distress (manam nOga) to their parents (tAy tandai-mother, father), committing the sin of harm to one’s teachers (guru drOgam), are mere (verum) chaff (sAvi). (Note-Parents are our first teachers) Those without (keTTAr) goodness (nalam), who like (pOla) dogs (nAy), hiss at (shIri) and fight (sanDaipODa) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those who, without counting (gaNiyamal) sins (pApamum) and merits (puNNiyamum), avidly pursue (paRappavar) only money (paNattiRkE) are mere (veRum) sAvi (chaff). Those who, due to (kONDu, literally having) anger (kObam) and greed (lObham) destroy (kulaippavar) their own (implied) good (nalla) character (guNam) are great (perum) sinners (pAvi).

Those egoists (garvigaL) who, despite having heard (kETTum), seen (kaNDum) and experienced (anubhavittum), do not realise (uNarA) the truth (uNmai) are mere (veRum) chaff (sAvi). Those without the grace (aRuL illAr) of the Lord Shiva (nIla kaNTan, literally the one with the blue throat) who gives the everlasting (vATTam illAda, literally unfading) state (gadi) (ie. Moksha).






Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Neelakanta Sivan, Ranjani Gayatri, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Uncategorized

Ananda Natam Aduvar Thillai

Happy Shivaratri everybody! As music lovers, our worship is music, our prayer is music and our blessing is music, is it not? And so here I am, offering a song of the Dancing Lord in worship and in prayer, praying that I shall evermore have the blessing of a heart fulfilled by music.


Cosmic Microwave Map, can you spot the S and H?

It might seem strange to you but I always associate Lord Shiva with Cosmology! You see, the image I have in my mind is of Him dancing, galaxies streaming around Him, the background sound of OM keeping sruthi like a tanpura, His ascetical beautiful face blissful, His matted hair flying, the snakes on His neck swaying, the drum in Hand beating the beat of the world, His movements ecstatic, His contemplation the existence of the universe, His pulse its rhythm. So yes, I think of Cosmology when I think of Him. Knowing that Shivaratri was coming up, I picked a lecture to see from the Oxford University podcasts. I only understood parts of it but there was something there which made me laugh! Check out what the speaker shows at the 22nd minute. The letters ‘S’ and ‘H’ show up in the microwave map (see above), a cosmological message from the time the Universe was created! I wonder when they are going to find the ‘I’, ‘V’, and ‘A’!!! Lord Shiva’s signature on his handiwork, don’t you think? 🙂

There was something else which sparked my interest. The model which I had read before said that the universe was expanding like a balloon, but that the rate of expansion reduces as time passes. I had imagined that it would then attain some kind of stability. Instead, I understand (and I may be well have misunderstood!) that the expansion is in fact accelerating, and that the model that emerges is that of a universe which will expand faster and faster until it collapses into itself to become what it was before the Big Bang. And then perhaps it would start a new cycle again? Is that the cycle of destruction and creation which we ascribe to Lord Shiva? I must read up a bit more on this subject….

To remember Lord Shiva’s dance today, I have chosen a lovely song composed by Neelakanta Sivan in the raga Purvikalyani. I listened to many a rendition but this week, I couldn’t get past the old timers.. So first up is K.V.Narayanaswamy with a gorgeous rendition below.

Alternative Link : Click here and select song 3 (Free membership of Sangeethapriya required)

For a slightly longer version with an alapanai, here are the Hyderabad Brothers. I do like their singing, I should listen to them more often!

Alternate Link : Click here and select song 10 (free membership of Sangeethapriya required)

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

ஆனந்த நடம் ஆடுவார் தில்லை
அம்பலம் தன்னில் அடி பணிபவர்க்(கு)-அபஜெயமில்லை (ஆனந்த)

தானந்தம் இல்லாத ரூபன்
தஜ்ஜம் தகஜம் தகதிமி
தளாங்கு தக  தத்திங்கிணதோம்
தளாங்கு தக  தத்திங்கிணதோம்
தக திமி(alt:திகு) தக தத்திங்கிணதோம் (ஆனந்த)

பாதி மதி ஜோதி பளீர் பளீர் என
பாதச் சிலம்பொலி  கலீர் கலீர் என
ஆதிக் கறை உண்ட நீலகண்டம் மின்ன

(மத்தியம காலம் )
ஹரபுர ஹரசிவ சங்கர
அருள் வர குருபர சுந்தர (alt: அருள் குருபர சிவ சுந்தர )
அண்டமும் பிண்டமும் ஆடிட
எண்திசையும் புகழ் பாடிட

Ananda naTam ADuvAr tillai
ambalam tannil aDi paNIbavark-apajayam illai (Ananda)

tAnantam* illAda rUpan
tajjam takajam takadimi
taLAngu taka tatingiNatOm
taLAngu taka tatingiNatOm
taka dimi (alt: diku) taka tatingiNatOm (Ananda)

pAdi madi jyOti paLIr paLIr ena
pAda silamboli galIr galIr ena
Adi kaRai uNDa nIlakaNTam minna

(madhyama kAlam)
harapura hara shiva shankara
aruL vara gurupara sundara (alt: aruL gurupara shiva sundara)
aNDamum piNDamum ADiDa
eNdisaiyum pugazh pADiDa

*Note : தானந்தம் is pronounced as tAnandam by most singers, however as it is derived from Sanskrit word अन्त meaning end, the correct pronunciation would be tAnatam in my humble opinion.


The Lord (implied) will dance (ADuvAr) his Dance of Ecstacy (Ananda naTam) in the (tannil) temple (ambalam, normally hall or court) in Chidambaram (tillai) where, for those who worship (paNibavarkku) at His feet (aDi), there is no defeat (apajayam).

With an infinite/endless (tAnantam illAda) form (rUpan), with a beat (implied by the solkattu or beat-words) like (ena) tajjam-takajam…tatingiNatOm (..the Lord will dance)

With light (jyOti) flashing brilliantly (paLIr paLIr ena) from the crescent moon (pAdi = half, madi = moon), the sound (oli) of ankle-bells (silambu) on his feet (pAda) ringing sharply (galIr galIr ena), His (implied) blue-hued (nIla) throat (kanTam) which swallowed (uNDa) the primeval/ancient (Adi) impurity (kaRai) glittering (minna) (reference: Shiva drinking poison from the churning of the ocean).

‘O Auspicious One (shankara)!! O Benign One (shiva)!! O Destroyer (hara)!! (Not sure what harapura indicates here…) O Beautiful One (sundara)! O Benevolent One (aruL vara)!  O Ultimate (vara) Preceptor (guru)!! Thus do (implied) all eight directions (eNdisaiyum) sing (pADiDa) His praise (pugazh) while the whole globe (piNDam) and universe (aNDam) dance (ADiDa).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Hyderabad Brothers, K.V.Narayanaswamy, Neelakanta Sivan

Endraikku Shiva Krupai

When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace? When will this wretched person’s grief cease? When there is wealth, all kith and kin come to praise and serve. When there is a reduction of wealth they do not speak even when they see us! When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace to push away this wicked and villainous world and get liberation?

Neelakanta SivanSycophancy : A self-seeking, servile flattery towards people of power or influence in order to win favour or for personal gain.

I have recently returned from a very enjoyable holiday in India. As we were accompanied by some friends from Switzerland, I found it very interesting to see India and Indians through their eyes. My topic for the day is triggered by their observation about the excellent service we received at all the hotels we stayed at.

Though their comment was positive, and true, I often noted an obsequiousness which was distasteful to me. This, of course, excludes public servants who were surly and apathetic as always. This servility in India is markedly different to one’s experience in other countries. In Western Europe, for example, for the most part one is treated with distant civility with the exception of taxi drivers in Paris who treat everyone with an equal level of insolence. In Australia one is treated with a rather familiar friendliness. In USA, it ranges from sullen indifference to pushy forwardness. It is only in India that have I seen this particular servility.

If people are just simple and humble by nature, then it is of course praiseworthy. But this is not the case. The same service staff often display marked difference in manner when dealing with their colleagues. This servility is obviously in expectation of tips. In my song choice of today, Neelakanta Sivan condemns sycophancy towards the wealthy. I am however more sympathetic with it. When the tips that they hope to gain make so much of a difference, who can blame them? Is it not need which drives their behaviour? Should we not blame the disparity in society for their servility? If obsequiousness lets them survive, so be it. I tip them more than generously and hope that at least for that one day their life is easier to handle.

Of course Neelakanta Sivan is not talking of service staff. He talks of parasitic relatives. ‘When we have wealth, many kith and kin will come to praise and serve us. When wealth reduces, they will not even speak to us’. Does he speak from personal experience? It seems he was in a position of power and wealth which he resigned subsequently. Click here to read a short article about him. He calls this world ‘wicked and villainous’ and wonders when he will be blessed by Lord Shiva to  attain liberation. He is a bit harsh on the world, don’t you think? The song is lovely though. It is set to Raga Mukhari and its effect is sorrowful, devotional and introspective. To know more about this raga, click here.

To present the song, I have first chosen a lovely rendition by a maestro from yesteryears K.V.Narayanaswamy (1923-2002). The song is often sung starting at the anupallavi, so do not be surprised.

Alternate link : Click here and download song 7 (free membership needed to

Another beautiful rendition is by the mellifluous sisters Ranjani-Gayatri. Mukhari is all about bhava or emotion and they bring that faultlessly into their performance.

Alternate link : Click  here

I am also very fond of the more leisurely rendition by T.M.Krishna in his CD Janaranjani. This is available on Spotify; needs free membership to listen.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

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

என்றைக்கு சிவ கிருபை வருமோ – ஏழை என் மன சஞ்சலம் அறுமோ ?

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

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


enDRaikku shiva krupai varumO- Ezai
en mana sanchalam aRumO?

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

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


When (enDraikku) will I receive (literally, will come varumO) Lord Shiva’s grace (krupai)? When will this wretched person’s (Ezai) grief (mana sanchalam) cease (aRumO)?

Just as (pOl) the cow (pashu) comes (varum) tenderly (manam kanindu) on hearing (kETTu) the voice (kural) of it’s calf, (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace) to remove (tIrkka/nIkki) the grief (uLLat-tuyaram) of one who fears nothing (onDRukkum anjAda)? (unsure if it is the grief which fear’s nothing….)

When (pOdu) there is wealth (danam unDAna), all kith and kin (uramuRaiyOrgaL – short for for uravumuRaiyOrgal) come to praise and serve (konDADi-tonDADi). When there is a reduction of wealth (danam kuRaidAl) they do not speak (pEsAr) even when they see us (kanDAlum). (When will I receive Lord Shiva’s grace in order to) push away (taLLi) this abhorrent(kaittavamAna – unsure about this; kaittu is abhorrent, kaittavam I read in one translation as destined) wicked (polla) and villainous (chaNDALa) world (ulagam) and get liberation/moksha (nargati/sadgati chella-literally go to the ‘good destiny’) .


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