Category Archives: Tyagaraja

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).

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

Rama Ni Samanamevaru

ScaleYesterday I listened to two concerts on YouTube. Now this is a more momentous occasion than the statement reflects. I don’t often get time to listen non-stop to music so this was special. As usual my life feels like a runaway train with me hanging by my fingernails! But I’ll leave my life be for the moment. As I said, I was listening to concerts of two young men whose music I enjoy. Both have excellent gurus. Both have glorious voices, a remarkable stage presence and styles which have the mark of their guru on them. Actually, I find myself listening more and more often to young artists nowadays. I enjoy their energy and verve, and if they stumble now and then, they have a lifetime to fix it so I don’t worry about it.

The first concert I heard was by Sandeep Narayan. Since hearing him do a fantastic Bhairavi during the season in 2016, I have been clicking on his concerts online. This was a nice concert; I particularly liked the order and mix of kritis chosen which is a skill in itself. His dwijavanti was pleasing, his take on chalanatta was interesting and the hamsanandi thillana at the end and karpagame to conclude were both quite lovely. The main item on the menu was a solidly performed pakkala nilabadi in Kharaharapriya.

Next I turned to Vignesh Ishwar. I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to him live but I have really enjoyed a number of his concerts online. I was happily nodding to his singing when the young man launched into Kharaharapriya and I thought ‘Hey, I can do a one-to-one comparison now, can’t I!’. Alapana done, the kriti taken up was ‘Rama Ni Samanamevaru‘ which made me laugh. Here I was all set to do a comparison and there was Tyagaraja with ‘There is none to compare with you Rama!’. I was happy to find a theme for my blog post – our tendency to make comparisons. The rest of the concert was good. The main piece was in Begada, not my favourite raga, but I still enjoyed it.

The kriti set me thinking about how very judgemental we human beings are. We are forever judging others on the things they say and do, on their achievements and failures, on their character and abilities and so on. It is rather non-stop, isn’t it! Or is it only I? I talk confidently on a collective when all I am sure of is myself! I love my children equally, or so I hope, but I confess to comparing them especially when one of them makes me sad. ‘He is so oblivious to my needs‘ I’ll say to myself , ‘She would never have left me like this‘.  Or ‘She is so sharp, are girls always this unkind? He is so much kinder‘.   Of course, we also compare people to themselves. ‘He was so much better in his previous film‘.  ‘Oh, she looked nicer in red than in green, didn’t she!‘. It is not always unkind or negative.  We may as easily say ‘Amma, this is the best rasam you have ever made!‘ Still, the comparisons are more often negative than positive. Is it just our need to categorise and put things in order? As a Carnatic Music fan, I am often critical of performances. Even while I am listening to one musician, I may well be racking my brain thinking of some other artist, some other occasion when I felt a turn of a phrase may have sounded better! What a waste of time! Instead of being in the moment and enjoying the pleasure of what falls into my ears, my mind is scrambling elsewhere! Is it a common failing or is it just me? Whatever the case, it is high time to stop it I think…

As Vignesh Ishwar inspired this post, let us first listen to him singing Rama Nee Samanamevaru in Kharaharapriya. Alapana starts at 16:12 and the kriti at 28:15. Dr Hemalatha on the violin sounds very good.

And for a second rendition, who other than T.M.Krishna, who is Vignesh Ishwar’s guru. Maybe you will, like me, enjoy noting the stylistic similarities passed from guru to shishya.

And for an instrumental, I present the very talented vainikas from my own home town of Melbourne, the Iyer Brothers. The recording is a bit tinny but it is still enjoyable. They are accompanied by their daughters. The sound of four Veenas synchronised has such a majestic quality!


Footnote : Lyrics

Language : Telugu
(Note: I do not speak Telugu; the details below are based on a number of online resources)

Sanskrit Transliteration :

पल्लवि
राम नी समानमॆवरु रघु वंशोद्धारक

अनुपल्लवि
भामा मरुवम्पु मॊलक भक्तियनु पञ्जरपु चिलुक

चरणम्
पलुकु पलुकुलकु तेनॆलॊलुकु माटलाडु
सोदरुलु गल हरि त्यागराज कुल विभूष मृदु सुभाष

English Transliteration :

pallavi
rAma nI samAnamevaru raghu vamshOddhAraka

anupallavi
bhAmA maruvampu molaka bhaktiyanu panjarapu chiluka

charaNam
paluku palukulaku tEneloluku mATalADu
sOdaralu gala hari tyAgarAja kula vibhUsha mRdu subhAsha

Translation :

Who (evaru) is equal (samAnamu) to you (nI), O Rama, the uplifter (uddhAraka) of the Raghu dynasty (vamsha)?

Like a parrot (chiluka) in a cage (panjarapu) of devotion (bhaktiyanu) of your wife (bhAma) who is as gentle (implied) as the shoot (molaka) of sweet marjoram (maruvampu). (Note: There seem to be a number of interpretations of this line – is it Sita who is like a parrot in the cage or is it Rama? Who is enslaved by devotion? The devotee or the devoted?)

You (implied) who have (gala) brothers (sOdaralu) who speak (mATalADu) like honey (tEne) drips (oluku) at each word (paluku palukulaku)!  You who youself (implied) are so gently well-spoken (mRudu subhAsha)!  O Hari (name of Vishnu), you are (implied) the ornament (vibhUsha) of Tyagaraja’s family (kula)!!

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Iyer Brothers, Sandeep Narayan, T.M.Krishna, Tyagaraja, Uncategorized, Vignesh Ishwar

Nada Loludai

Meditation MusicA Happy New Year to all those who celebrate it today! I wish you the very best for a year of personal, professional and spiritual achievement!

Can we divorce the musician from the music he/she creates? This question has been buzzing in my brain since I read some comments in a music group that I follow in Facebook. There were some pithy comments about the politics of a particular musician and the resulting rejection of his music by some. Others seemed to think that his politics had nothing to do with his music. As I walk the shores of Lake Léman on this cold spring day, this question seems an important one to address in this blog.

This is not a new question; it has arisen a number of times over the years. I remember my father making disparaging comments about a flautist from yesteryear whose love for alcohol was well-known. And yet, my father would never miss his concerts! I remember my own goggle-eyed reading of the crazy antics of a great Bollywood playback singer whom I admired very much. ‘How am I to see this man?‘ I used to wonder, ‘As a madman or a genius?‘. I remember my friend from Berlin describing her experiences with helping host very famous Hindustani musicians – the amazing vocalist who came so drunk to the stage that he almost fell off, the very senior maestro of the topmost echelon and his unusual sleeping arrangements with his much younger lady disciple and so on. ‘Stop‘, I had cried out to my friend ‘I don’t want to know!!‘.  I was right, every time I listen to their music I have this annoying niggle at the back of my mind which I just don’t want to have. And what of those wonderful musicians from the Western world of the sixties whose music came from a drug-induced haze? And then we come back to this musician whose politics and even ideas on music don’t sit well with me, but oh, his singing is so divine!

This is not limited to music alone, of course. Van Gogh is well-known for having insurmountable mental health issues. I still spent hours in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, drooling over his canvases. The great Michelangelo’s scorn and misbehaviour towards his young rival Raphael is well know, yet I worshipped at his creations as I did at Raphael’s. And who can top my very favourite Caravaggio who murdered someone and came to an untimely death!  But it was in front of his canvas that I unshamedly shed tears in appreciation to a master of his craft.

So it comes back to the question, can we admire the art without admiring the artist? It should be stressed that I am not making a quality judgement here in as to who is admirable and who is not; that is for you to decide. The pragmatic part of me thinks that only the most delusional amongst us can afford to cast the first stone. And where do we draw the line? Alcohol is ok but not drugs? Socialism is ok but communism is out? Are we not venturing into McCarthyism and the Hollywood Blacklist ? But what do we do with this feeling of distaste that we have for certain artists? I categorically refuse to watch Woody Allen films; I just cannot disassociate the art from the man.

Dear readers, don’t look to me for answers, I only have questions today! But for myself, I have a theory that the musician is just another instrument, a pathway between Nada Brahmam and the listener. The songs I hear have started their journey a long time back, as a germ in the mind of a composer, in a raga which may have originated hundreds of years before even he was born, a composition heard and sung by disciples generation after generation until finally it is there in front of me and I am listening to it. The creativity the musician adds to it is just one more step in a long process of creation. Inside my head, heart and soul it reaches completion, added on to all the music I have ever listened to, in this life and all the lives I have lived before, like a mountain stream which has joined the ocean. Who worries about what pen a story was written in? Why would I worry about the musician when all I wish to hear is the Nada? Tyagaraja says ‘Attain supreme bliss by being immersed in the Nada‘ in the composition I have selected to present today. I take his advice and concentrate on the Nada alone.

My first and last love in Carnatic Music will always be Lalgudi Jayaraman, who cajoles and beguiles with the violin which bows to his mastery. I fell for his Kalayana Vasantam eons ago and still turn to him for a ‘fix’ when I have a longing. Here is his short 7 min rendition.

Alternate Link : Click here

For an immersion in the beauty of Kalyana Vasantam for 30 minutes, listen to this vocal rendition by Maharajapuram Santhanam. The alapana gently sweeps and ushers us into the lyrical kriti. How can a voice be both majestic and sweet?

Alternate Link : Click here  (needs free membership to Sangeethamshare)

Lastly, any post on Kalyana Vasantam is incomplete without a rendition by Kadri Gopalnath who has made this raga his very own. On his Saxophone, the raga takes almost a strident note, demanding immediate attention.

Alternate rendition (I could not find my version online) : Click here 

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu
(I do not speak Telugu and the information below is dependent on various web sources)

पल्लवि
नाद लोलुडै ब्रह्मा-
नन्दमन्दवे मनसा

अनुपल्लवि
स्वादु फल प्रद सप्त
स्वर राग निचय सहित

चरणम्
हरि हरात्म भूसुर पति
शर जन्म गणेशादि
वर मौनुलुपासिञ्च रे
धर त्यागराजु तॆलियु

Transliteration

pallavi
nAda lOluDai brahmA
nandamandavE manasA

anupallavi
svAdu phala prada sapta
svara rAga nichaya sahita

charaNam
hari harAtma bhUsura pati
shara janma gaNEshAdi
vara maunulupAsincha rE
dhara tyAgarAju teliyu

Translation

O Mind, attain (andavE) the rapture of absorbtion on the Brahman (brahmAnanda) by immersing (loluDai) in music (nAda, literally sound), which includes (sahita) the seven (sapta) svara (notes) and a multitide (nichaya) of ragas (rAga) that bestow (prada) sweet (svAdu) results (phala).

Vishnu (hari), Shiva (harA), Brahma (Atma bhU – self born), Indra (sura pati – Lord of the Gods), Kartikeya (shara janma – born in reeds), Ganesha, great sages (vara maunulu), etc (Adi) workship (upAsincha) nAda (implied), of this Tyagaraja is aware (teliyu) on this earth (dhara).

 

 

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Filed under Compositions in Telugu, Kadri Gopalnath, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Tyagaraja

Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame

Kalyanam

January 27 2018
I wake up at 4:30 am after just a few hours of restless sleep. It will be dawn soon. The Australian sun is set to warm us to 38ºC today. I wince at the thought of sweltering inside my heavy Kancheepuram silk sari. But I have a hundred things to do before I get to that stage. I hurry to get ready and start the day with drawing a simple kolam on the porch. I bustle about getting things ready for the priest who comes in and sets the stage for the wedding on the deck outside our living room.

I look around our home. The furniture has been moved elsewhere; hired chairs and ottomans face the deck. The dining table rests in the garden while caterer’s tables take up the dining area. The kitchen bench is decorated with many vases of fresh flowers. Strands of fresh flowers decorate the entrance, strands that my sister and friends strung for hours yesterday.  Strands of artificial marigold hang on balustrades inside and out. An arbor decorated with fresh flowers stands on the deck. Borrowed brass lamps decorate the hallway. A large colourful Rangoli that I painted on canvas decorates a corner of the living room. A hundred LED tea lights are arranged along the corridor and on the Rangoli.  I think of all the friends and family who gathered yesterday to get our home decorated and I thank them silently.

October 2016
My daughter and her partner announce that they are engaged and would like to be married by the end of 2017. She is a senior paediatric registrar, half Tamil Iyengar, half Bengali, fully Australian. He is a psychologist, both Australian and Polish. She would like to get married at home, she tells me. I do not dissuade her but my mind races with questions. We have been working with a builder since March 2016 on a project to knock down and re-build our home in Melbourne. The project is scheduled for 2017. Will our new home be ready in time given the vagaries of Melbourne weather? Just to be safe, we move the wedding date to Jan 2018.

November-December 2016
My husband had waved goodbye to our old home in March 2016. He will come back only when our new home is ready.  I’ve returned to Melbourne for finalising details with the builder and empty our home. I spend much of November sorting through years of gathered possessions and memories. I pack what needs keeping and discard as much as I can. This is such hard work! Finally everything is packed and sent off to storage. The empty shell of the home-that-was makes my heart ache. The house will come down by the end of Feb 2017; I shall be in Switzerland by then.

January 2017
An hour‘ my daughter tells me ‘The rituals must be limited to an hour‘.  I stare at her wordlessly. I think of how little control I had at my own wedding. I chose my husband but that is all the choice I made. My parents made all the decisions for the wedding as it was to be a Tamil one. Like all girls I had dreamt of a lovely wedding, instead it was a day of misery for me. All I remember of the day is my husband’s fury at being made to do rituals he had no belief in and no wish to do, my father’s fury at being forced to accept a Bengali son-in-law who did not value his culture, beliefs and his need for such rituals, my mother’s grief and fear for my future, my in-laws disappointment in having to deal with an alien culture, and above all, my shame at all the drama I had caused in my parents’ life. It was a traumatic day and I still cannot remember it without my eyes flooding rivers of sorrow. I know I don’t want that for my girl. If it is an hour-long wedding she wants, it is an-hour long wedding she will get. We have a meeting with Sriraman mama, the priest, and come up with a doable list. It ends up being an hour and a half but we are all content.

June-Aug 2017
I am back in Melbourne for another few months. We have made good progress with our new home. We have been lucky with the weather, the builders have lost only a few days for rain, less than expected. I had done a lot of running around in December, choosing bricks, outside paint colour, roof tiles, windows, doors, and the like. This trip is for choosing a zillion things for the indoors. Who would have thought that even a small thing like choosing the kitchen tap involves multiple trips to plumbing supplies stores, involving many woman-hours?!!! The light fittings are a great challenge thanks to the high roof of the cathedral ceiling. The kitchen design takes many iterations to get right.

In the meanwhile, plans for the wedding are going along well.  We select a flower supplier, caterer, photographer and videographer. We’ll have to find someone to do the lighting. The guest list is ready; we are still working on the invitation card format. The celebration has grown to a party in Kolkata on the 13th for extended family and friends, a celebratory family trip to the Sunderbans, a registration wedding in Melbourne on the 25th followed by lunch for the immediate family, a Henna night, a Hindu ritual followed by lunch on the 27th, an Australian style event followed by dinner and dance that night. I have a created a spreadsheet for the task list, we would be lost without it.

November-December 2017
I am back in Melbourne for the final stages of the building.  Even now, the builder calls me daily to make one decision or the other. With the time difference between Switzerland and Melbourne, I have often to make decisions without discussing with my husband. It is stressful. I consult YouTube and have a ‘do-it-myself-Grihapravesham’ ceremony on a ‘auspicious day’ even before the house is ready. Finally I can get my things back from storage. I work hard in unpacking and getting my house in order, including stocking up a minimal kitchen. I leave for India on the 5th of January, the house must be ready before then. The builders are still tinkering around doing the last bits of cabinetry etc before they leave for their Christmas break. I have a panic just after Christmas when the sewer blocks up. Everyone is away, it can’t be fixed now. I retreat back to my sister’s house, with the builder promising to get it fixed while we are in India.

My husband has taken responsibility for arranging the Kolkata get-together with the help of his cousin. He has also reviewed options for the Sunderbans trip; all I do is book it in. I have already arranged hotels in Kolkata. Tickets have been bought. My daughter has finalised the invitation and has posted them. RSVPs are being collected and collated with our list. I have fixed a Henna lady and arranged for dinner that night. I think the wedding plan seems sound.

January 27 2018
I watch as my Polish-Australian son-in-law ties an Iyengar Thali (Mangalsutra) around my daughter’s neck. Sriraman Mama has done very well, getting it all done in exactly the time promised. I throw akshata (yellowed raw rice) on their heads in blessing, praying that their marriage leads them to a lifetime of happiness. My sister and aunt whirl the aarati tray and we all join in singing ‘Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame‘. There is still the evening celebrations to follow. The couple will exchange vows which they have written themselves, there will be speeches from the family, the groom’s family will welcome the bride with a bread-salt-and-vodka ritual, they will dance a Polka with the groom’s family and a Bollywood medley by themselves. There will be cake cutting and eating and drinking and merry-making. But for me, with the singing of ‘Sita Kalyana’, the wedding has reached its completion.

February 12 2018
I’m still in Melbourne for another couple of weeks. My husband calls me from Switzerland to wish ourselves a happy anniversary. He is still on the 11th while I have rushed forward to the 12th. I let my mind wander to my daughter’s wedding and our own wedding 36 years ago. Ours has not been an easy marriage. The many differences in culture and beliefs, in temperament and tastes, in needs and wants…all the differences make many an ordinary thing into a matter of contention. But we have one most important thing in common – a shared value system. Perhaps in the end that is the only glue a marriage needs.  I wonder what the thoughts of my daughter would be on her own 36th anniversary. And I lay prayers at the feet of all my Gods.

What else can I play on this day but Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame? This version by Dr.Balamuralikrishna is familiar and dear to me.

I also enjoyed listening to Mr & Mrs T.M.Krishna sing the version below.

 


Footnote : Lyrics

Language : All except the pallavi is Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सीता कल्याण वैभोगमे
राम कल्याण वैभोगमे

चरणम् 1
पवनज स्तुति पात्र पावन चरित्र
रवि सोम वर नेत्र रमणीय गात्र

चरणम् 2
भक्त जन परिपाल भरित शरजाल
भुक्ति मुक्तिद लील भूदेव पाल

चरणम् 3
पामरासुर भीम परिपूर्ण काम
श्याम जगदभिराम साकेत धाम

चरणम् 4
सर्व लोकाधार समरैक वीर
गर्व मानव (alt:मानस ) दूर कनकाग धीर

चरणम् 5
निगमागम विहार निरुपम शरीर
नग धराघ विदार नत लोकाधार

चरणम् 6
परमेश नुत गीत भव जलधि पोत
तरणि कुल सञ्जात त्यागराज नुत

English Transliteration

pallavi
sItA kalyANa vaibhOgamE
rAma kalyANa vaibhOgamE

charaNam 1
pavanaja stuti pAtra pAvana charitra
ravi sOma vara nEtra ramaNIya gAtra

chharaNam 2
bhakta jana paripAla bharita sharajAla
bhukti muktida lIla bhUdEva pAla

charaNam 3
pAmarAsura bhIma paripUrNa kAma
shyAma jagadabhirAma sAkEta dhAma

charaNam 4
sarva lOkAdhAra samaraika vIra
garva mAnava (alt: mAnasa) dUra kanakAga dhIra

charaNam 5
nigamAgama vihAra nirupama sharIra
naga dharAgha vidAra nata lOkAdhAra

charaNam 6
paramEsha nuta gIta bhava jaladhi pOta
taraNi kula sanjAta tyAgarAja nuta

Translation

Oh the grandeur (vaibhOgamE – from sanskrit vaibhava, the E at the end denotes an exclamation) of Sita’s wedding (kalyANa)! Oh the grandeur of Rama’s wedding (kalyANa)!

charaNam 1
He who is the object (pAtra) of worship (stuti) by Hanuman, the son of Vayu (pavanaja), He whose character (charitra) is pure (pAvana), He whose excellent (vara) eyes (nEtra) are like the sun (ravi) and the moon (sOma), He who has a charming (ramaNiya) body (gAtra).

charaNam 2
He who is the protector (paripAla) of his devotees (bhakta jana), He who is capable of shooting (bharita means filled which I have interpreted here as a capability) a multitude of arrows (sharajAla), bestower (da) of worldly possessions (bhukti) and salvation (mukti), He who is playful (lIla), He who is the protector (pAla) of Brahmanas (bhUdEva).

charaNam 3
He who terrifies (bhIma) the wicked (pAmara) and the demons (asura), He who fulfils (paripUrNa) all desires (kAma), He who is dark-skinned (shyAma), He who is delightful (abhirAma) to the whole world (jagat), He who resides in (dhAma) in Ayodhya (sAkEta).

charaNam 4
He who is the support (AdhAra) of all (sarva) mankind (lOka),  He who is one (Eka) hero (Vira) of the battle (samara), He who keeps far (dUra) from arrogant (garva) people (mAnava) (alternate: arrogant minds (mAnasa)), He who is as strong and steadfast (dhIra) as Mount Meru (kanaka aga = golden mountain).

charaNam 5
He who wanders (vihAra) in the vEdas (nigama) and the Agamas, He whose body (sharIra) is incomparable (nirupuma), He who holds (dhara) a mountain (naga), He who is a destroyer (vidAra) of evil (agha), He who is the support (AdhAra) of those people (lOka) who bow (nata) to him.

charaNam 6
He who is sung (gIta) in praise (nuta) by Lord Shiva (paramEsha), He who is the ship (pOta) for crossing the Ocean (jaladhi) of existence (bhava), He who is well-born (sanjAta) of the Solar (taraNi) dynasty (kula), He who is praised (nuta) by Tyagaraja.

 

 

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, M.Balamuralikrishna, T.M.Krishna, Tyagaraja, Uncategorized

Ninne Bhajana Seyu

Ananta shayanaAre you a one-God man/woman? Do you restrict yourself to praying to your One and no other?

I pray on an everyday basis to a number of Hindu deities. I do have my own One, the One who always listens with a sympathetic ear to whatever  I happen to go on about. I also have a Second-to-the-One for days when I am not on speaking terms with my One. What, you don’t have ‘I’m-SO-annoyed-with-you’ moments with your One? You must be much better tempered than I am!! Of course I also pray to different deities for their expertise in specific matters. I am most certainly not a one-God woman!

My meanderings arise from something I heard recently. I had mentioned a few weeks earlier that I have taken to listening to upanyasams (lectures on spiritual matters), mainly by Velukkudi Krishnan, Dushyant Sridhar and Visaka Hari. Velukkudi Krishnan is especially erudite; his depth of knowledge is quite astounding! Is it possible to learn this much in a lifetime? I am all admiration! Much as I admire his knowledge, I confess that at times I am confounded by some of his pronouncements!! For example, he says in one of his lectures that people should sleep in what they wear ‘normally’ and not change into night-clothes! Really??!! Leaving pronouncements such as this aside, there was one repeated advice which caught my attention. He says that if you serve Lord Vishnu, then you should pray to none other as otherwise He would be offended! Again – Really???? Surely these kind of feelings are human, not Divine? Velukkudi Krishnan does add that it is the same for whichever religion/deity you adhere to; ‘stick to your One’ he says.

I assume that these ideas are Sri Vaishnavite ones as proposed by Ramanuja, the extraordinary theologian and philosopher (11-12 CE). In his times, the Chola kings ruled in South India. Though the kings were predominantly Shaivite, the society was a secular one. Not only other Hindu sects but even Buddhists and Jains had many followers in those times. Under the circumstances, Ramanuja’s preaching that one must follow Lord Vishnu and none other was no doubt a way to preserve Sri Vaishnavism from all the other religious influences. Are his one-God-only ideas just part of the politics of religion?  Is this kind of thought even valid amongst today’s Hindus?  That said, I admit to total ignorance on the subject; I am merely thinking aloud…

I personally do not know even one single Hindu who prays to only one deity! When the Hindu pantheon offers a veritable smorgasbord of deities, each with their own domain expertise, is it not human nature to pray to as many of them as you can relate to? Leave alone Hindus, even in a strictly monotheistic religion like Christianity, prayers are offered to not just their God, but also to His messenger Jesus Christ and to his mother Mary as well as any number of Saints. Many of the Saints have their own speciality ‘domains’ too! I have visited many Catholic places of worship; there are as many candles in front of the Saints as there are in front of Jesus! Listening often to Sufi music, I see that even Muslims sing in praise of and in prayer to their many Saints. Many of us, it seems, spread our prayers wide!

Coming to Carnatic Music, our great composers wrote in praise of many different deities though they were known for their devotion to particular ones. For example, Tyagaraja was a devotee of Lord Rama, Dikshithar was a worshipper of Goddess Shakti, and Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaiyer was entranced by the young Lord Krishna.  Yet in my song choice of today, Tyagaraja says ‘I am the one who chants only your name, I shall not beseech others!’. Set to Raga Natta, it is a lovely composition which appeals to me greatly. I always enjoy Natta with its vigorous and rousing feel. But today the first rendition I have chosen for you has a more contemplative mood. M.D. Ramanathan has a unique sound, one I enjoy immensely, especially in songs such as this. For your ease of listening, I have chosen the rendition loaded in YouTube. The sound quality is poor, but the music is anything but. Listen to my ‘Alternative’ for slightly better sound and a longer rendition.

Alternative : Click here and play song 2. Free membership needed to Sangeethapriya.

The second rendition I would like you to listen to is by Jayanthi Kumaresh on the Veena. I find that the  resonance of the instrument is particularly suited for Natta, don’t you? This talented artist has gifted us with a hypnotic rendition. Don’t miss this!

Alternate link : Click here and play song 1. You need free membership to Sangeethapriya.

And for a third, listen to this energetic and vibrant performance by Sikkil Gurucharan here.  I really enjoyed the kalpana swarams. Again, the recording quality is not the best.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu
Please note that I do not speak Telugu; the lyrics and translations are credit to various online resources.

पल्लवि
निन्ने भजन सेयु वाडनु

अनुपल्लवि
पन्नग शायि परुल वेड लेनु

चरणम्
स्नानादि जप तप योग ध्यान
समाधि सुख प्रद
सीता नाथ सकल लोक पालक
त्यागराज सन्नुत

Transliteration

pallavi
ninnE bhajana sEyu vADanu

anupallavi
pannaga shAyi parula vEDa lEnu

charaNam
snAnaAdi japa tapa yOga dhyAna
samAdhi sukha prada
sItA nAtha sakala lOka pAlaka
tyAgarAja sannuta

Translation

I am a worshipper (bhajana sEyu vADanu) only of you (ninnE).

O One recumbent (shAyi) on a snake (pannaga)! I shall not (lEnu) plead (vEDa) to anyone else (paralu).

You are the provider (prada) of happiness and well-being (sukha) which come from (implied) bathing in holy waters (snAna), repeated prayers (japa), penance (tapa), Yoga, meditation (dhyAna), deep concentration leading to identification with the object of meditation (samAdhi) etc (Adi). O Consort (nAtha) of Sita! O Guardian (pAlaka) of the entire (sakala) world (lOka)! O One praised (sannuta) by Tyagaraja!

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Jayanthi Kumaresh, M.D.Ramanathan, Tyagaraja

Manavinalakincha

NRKAfter my rather depressing post last time, I wanted to post something happy. Immediately my mind went to this song that I love in Raga Nalinakanti, a most cheerful sounding piece of music.

As I pored over the translation, my mind wandered off in a tangent with the pallavi line itself. ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to my appeal?’ says Tyagaraja. This device of addressing one’s own mind occurs in music and literature often enough for us not to be surprised by it. But today I asked myself ‘Who is the addresser and who is the addressed?’.

I was first reminded of the mindfulness exercises in some meditative techniques. One is supposed to watch the thoughts flow by without stopping them, just watching them stream past without reaction. A mind watching its own thoughts? ‘Who is the watcher?’ I wondered, ‘and who is the watched?’. I have tried this meditation technique myself and yes, it is quite possible to do this. And so another question arises – if the mind can split into the watcher and the watched, can it split into more parts?

I became engrossed in reading many articles on mind and consciousness, within Hindu thought or otherwise. But I couldn’t get any specific answers to my questions. Coming back to our song,  Tyagaraja says ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to the one who knows the compassionate heart of Sri Ramachandra? I am revealing all the secrets’.  Oh! So part of his mind knows secrets that the other part doesn’t know? I do know unhealthy minds can keep secrets –such as in amnesia- but can a healthy mind keep secrets from itself? I don’t think so. But the subconscious can and does keep secrets from the conscious mind. Is this intended to be a song from the subconscious to the conscious?

I know, some of you may well be thinking that I am making too much of this, that it is merely a literary device. That is probably very likely. Still, Tyagaraja was such an evolved soul; it behoves us to examine his words and make sure we look beyond the obvious and glean as much wisdom as we can from them. That said, this is such a lovely piece of music that one finds joy in the very flow of the notes. And sometimes that is more than enough.

For the last two days I have been hearing innumerable renditions of this song. There are so many beautiful renditions that it was a difficult choice for me. But when I heard this version by Nedunuri Krishnamurthy (1927-2014), I knew at once that this was IT! I missed honouring him when he passed away in December; I am happy to have the opportunity to feature this illustrious artist in my blog today. There is a wonderful shower of swaras following the song, I am literally dancing to them as I write this! My only complaint is the missing gamaka on the word ‘Tyagaraju’ which only TMK and SKR seem to include..I just adore that gamaka, always makes me melt to a puddle!

(There is a small glitch at 5:45, I assume it is from tape conversion, please ignore)

Alternate Link : Click here and download item 5 – free membership of Sangeethamshare is needed.

And if you want to listen to an outstanding violin rendition, listen to Kanyakumari  supported beautifully by Embar Kannan.

Alternate link : Click here and download item 9.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

Note – As I do not speak Telugu, the translation is heavily dependent on various web sources.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि

मनविनालकिञ्च रादटे मर्ममॆल्ल तॆल्पॆदने मनसा
(common alternate version of first word : मनव्याल)

अनुपल्लवि

घनुडैन (श्री) राम चन्द्रुनि करुणान्तरंगमु तॆलिसिन ना

चरणम्
कर्म काण्ड मताकृष्टुलै भव गहन चारुलै गासि जॆन्दग
कनि मानवा अवतारुडै कनिपिञ्चिनाडे नडत त्यागराजु

Transliteration in English

pallavi
manavinAlakincha rAdaTE marmamella telpedanE manasA
(common alternate version of first word : manavyAla)

anupallavi
ghanuDaina (shrI) rAma chandruni karuNAntarangamu telisina nA

charaNam
karma kANDa matAkRshTulai bhava gahana chArulai gAsi jendaga
kani mAnava avatAruDai kanipinchinADE naData tyAgarAju

Translation

Won’t (rAda) you (aTE) listen (Alakincha) to my appeal (manavini), O mind (manasA)? I am revealing (telpedanE) all (ella) the secrets (marmamu) .

Won’t You listen (implied) to my (nA) appeal, I (implied) who know (telisina) the compassionate (karuNA) heart (antarangamu) of the great (ghanuDaina) Sri Ramanchandra (rAma chandruni)?

Seeing (kani) those who, attracted (AkRshTulai) by the opinions (mata) of the ritualistic action (karma) section (kAnDa) of the Vedas (implied), suffer (gAsi jendaga) as wanderers (chArulai) in the forest (gahana) of worldly existence (bhava), the Lord having incarnated (avatAruDai) as a human being (mAnava) exemplified (kanipincinADE) the right conduct (naData). Therefore, O Mind, won’t you listen to the appeal (implied from pallavi) of this Tyagaraja (tyAgarAju)?

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Embar S.Kannan, Kanyakumari, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Tyagaraja

Challare Ramachandruni

RamaHappy Ramanavami to all my readers. Today is a day of worship. There are those who worship with prayers and offerings but in this blog, I offer worship just with music.  With my song choice of today, with the words of Tyagaraja and the voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi, I shower Lord Rama with champaka, lotus, jasmine and parijata flowers.

The thing is, I have been terribly distressed this week and not in the right state of mind for worship. I had been pouring out my confusion and distress into a post which I had intented to post today, in spite of it being Ramanavami. ‘How can I think of worship when my heart is so heavy?’ I had thought. ‘This blog reflects the music of my heart, and if it has a note of dissonance today, so be it’.

When I woke this morning and ambled bleary eyed to my prayer alcove to say ‘Good Morning’, that was still my intention. But as I stood there, a sort of acceptance washed over me. And so I have kept aside my other post and here I am in a state of worship after all.

Let us shower flowers on Sri Ramachandra with a joyous mind says Tyagaraja.  My mind is not joyous today, I have to work at it. Setting aside ignorance and observing self restraint, let us shower lotus flowers on Him. Is grief for worldly matters also just ignorance? Is giving into distress a lack of self restraint? Perhaps this song is addressed to me after all.. Let us whole heartedly worship Sri Ramachandra so that there are not countless births and deaths. Today, with my heavy heart, I see the beasts hidden in the hearts of men..and if prayers can get me away from this cycle, I will pray with all my heart.

I present you M.S.Subbulakshmi who wrings every possible emotion out of Ahiri.


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Telugu

Note: MS sings only a subset of the charanams which I have marked in blue. As I do not speak Telugu, the translation relies on various web resources (tyagaraja vaibhavam, sahityam, karnatik).

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
चल्लरे रामचन्द्रुनिपैनि पूल

चरणं 1
सॊम्पैन मनसुतो इम्पैन बंगारु
गम्पलतो मञ्चि चम्पकमुलनु

चरणं 2

पामरमुलु मानि नेममुतोनु
रमा मनो-हरुनि पैनि तामर पूल

चरणं 3

ई जगतिनि देव पूजार्हमौ पूल
राजिलो मेलैन जाजि सुममुल

चरणं 4
अमित पराक्रम द्युमणि कुलार्णव
विमल चन्द्रुनिपै हृत्कुमुद सुममुल

चरणं 5

धात विनुतुडैन सीता पति पैनि
चेतुलतो पारिजात सुममुल

चरणं 6
ऎन्न रानि जनन मरणमुलु लेकुण्ड
मनसार त्यागराज नुतुनि पैनि पूल

Transliteration in English

pallavi
challarE rAmachandrunipaini pUla

charaNam 1
sompaina manasutO impaina bangAru
gampalatO manchi champakamulanu

charaNam 2
pAmaramulu mAni nEmamutOnu
ramA manOharuni paini tAmara pUla

charaNam 3
I jagatini dEva pUjArhamau pUla
rAjilO mElaina jAji sumamula

charaNam 4
amita parAkrama dyumaNi kulArNava
vimala chandrunipai hRt kumuda sumamula

charaNam 5
dhAta vinutuDaina sItA pati paini
cEtulatO pArijAta sumamula

charaNam 6
enna rAni janana maraNamulu lEkuNDa
manasAra tyAgarAja nutuni paini pUla

Translation

Let us shower (challarE) flowers (pUla) on (paini) Lord Ramachandra (ramachandruni).

With a joyous (sompaina) mind (manasutOnu), let us shower (implied) nice (manchi) champaka flowers (champakamulanu) from beautiful (impaina) golden (bangaru) baskets (gampalatO) .

Abandoning (mAni) ignorance (pAmaramulu) and observing self-restraint (nEmamutO), let us shower (implied) lotus (tAmara) flowers (pUla) on (paini) He who is beloved (manO haruni) to Lakshmi (ramA).

Let us shower (implied) jasmine (jAji) flowers (sumamula), the best (mElaina)  amongst all the flowers (rAjilO pUla) fit for (arhamau) worship (pUjArhamau) of the Gods (dEva) in this world (jagatini).

Let us shower (implied) the lotus  (kamala) flowers (sumamula) of our hearts (hRt) on the spotless (vimala) moon (chandra) of the ocean (arNava) of the Solar (mani=jewel, dyu=sky) dynasty (kula) with infinitely (amita) mighty(parAkrama).

Let us shower (implied) pArijata flowers (sumamula) with our hands (chEtulatO) on (paini) the consort (pati) of Sita, praised (vinutuDaina) by Brahma (dhAta).

Let us wholeheartedly (manasAra) shower (implied) flowers (pUla)  on He is who is worshipped (nutuni) by this Tyagaraja so that there are no more (lEka uNDa) countless (enna rAni) births (janana) and deaths (maraNamulu).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Tyagaraja