Tag Archives: G.N.Balasubramaniam

Rama Katha Sudha


Happy Deepavali to all my readers! May the lamps you light enlighten your minds, may the sweets you eat sweeten your thoughts and words!

Lord Rama has been resident in my mind this whole week. Though the significance of Deepavali is region dependent, it is the story of Lord Rama’s return from the forest which lingers in my mind. Like everyone else in India, I learnt the stories from numerous sources. In childhood, my grandmother and my mother would tell the stories with great verve and energy. A little older, I read my own first version by C.Rajagopalachari which I enjoyed very much. I learnt so much from that book! I’ve read a few more versions since then but they never had the impact that the first book did. When I had kids of my own, I bought the comic book series from Amar Chitra Katha and read them along with my children. At the same time, we also saw the highly popular but atrociously made televised series by Ramanand Sagar. I also remember street performance of Ram Lila, upanyasams at temple grounds, Katha Kali performances…oh so many versions! The Ramayana in my mind is a mishmash from all these sources, with background music to match!

‘What would be the right song to celebrate His return from the forest?’ I ask myself. Something mangalakaram, in madhyamavati or kurinji I tell myself, though I have already featured these ragas. A mangalam perhaps? Surely He would have been invited back with a nice aarati? Sri Rama Chandranukku comes to mind. Yet..I don’t want to sing mangalam in this blog as yet (for the uninitiated, it indicates an end of a concert).  To find inspiration, I let my mind wander from story to story. Images flash past one after the other. Rama as a child, the treasured prince. Rama as a young man called to take up arms for Vishwamitra. Rama’s first sight of Sita. Kaikeyi’s jealousy. The banishment. Life in Chitrakoot. Shurpanakha’s nose. The golden deer. Lakshman’s rekha. Sita’s abduction. Garuda’s death. The heartbreak of Rama. Sugreeva and Bali. Questionable warfare. Hanuman. Sita amongst Ashoka trees. Vibheeshana’s defection. Hanuman’s burning tail. The bridge across the ocean. Waking Kumbhakarna. Indrajit’s magic. Lakshmana’s fall. Sanjeevani. Ravana’s ten heads. Victory. The triumphant return. Deepavali. Ah, how I take my pleasure in this old tale of Gods and sages, of demons and kings, of men who are animals and animals who are Gods. And I have my song for this post!

To drink the nectar like essence of the story of Rama is equal to ruling a kingdom’ says Tyagaraja. I hope you too have remembered the story of Rama along with me on this holy day and enjoyed its essence. ‘It is indeed the boat which enables us to cross the flaming ocean of existence in which we are bound by karma’ says the Saint. To see full lyrics and translation, see footnote.

On an aside, I remember a time, a long time ago, when I did not really appreciate Madhyamavati. It used to feel somewhat staid to me. Now I am amazed at how blind – or rather deaf – I was! This beautiful raga pours well-being into one’s soul; I will adopt Tyagaraja’s words and call this sudha rasa – the essence of nectar. To know more about this raga, click here.

When it comes to presenting this song, I am overwhelmed by the riches available to me. After listening to many hours of music, I have selected the confident and melodious version by Trichur V.Ramachandran (1940-), an artist I am featuring for the first time in my blog. A holder of all the prestigious awards (Sangeet Natak Academy, Padma Bhushan, Sangeetha Kalanidhi), he was for fortunate in having both the great G.N.Balasubramaniam and M.L.Vasanthakumari as his gurus.

If you have the time, I urge you to also listen to the versions by his Gurus as well. G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965) sings in his inimitable style, with his strong and pure voice while M.L.Vasanthakumari’s (1928-1990) version is both melodious and energetic. While you are in the mood for yesteryear greats, perhaps you would like to watch a video of this rare live performance by the greatest of them all, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (1908-2003).

For an instrumental version, I offer a rendition by the greatest of violinists, Lalgudi Jayaraman (1930-2013), a rendition which I love and listen to often. It has a wonderful call-and-answer with his son, G.J.R.Krishnan. Do not miss!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Tyagaraja
Raga : Madhyamavati
Language : Telugu

I do not speak Telugu and am indebted to various internet sites for the lyrics below.

Transliteration in Devanagri

राम कथा सुधा रस पानम् ओक राज्यमु जेसुने

भामा मणि जानकी सौमित्री
भरतादुलतो भूमि वेलयु श्री

धर्माद्यखिल फलदमे मनसा
धैर्यानन्द सौख्य निकेतनमे
कर्म बन्ध ज्वालन अब्धि नावमे
कलि हरमे त्यागराज विनुतुडगु

Transliteration in English

rAma kathA sudhA rasa pAnam oka rAjyamu jEsunE

bhAmA maNi jAnakI saumitrI
bharatAdulatO bhUmi vElayu shrI

dharmAdyakhila phaladamE manasA
dhairyAnanda saukhya nikEtanamE
karma bandha jvAlana abdhi nAvamE
kali haramE tyAgarAja vinutuDagu


Drinking the nectar like essence of Sri Rama’s story is equal to ruling a kingdom.

He who shines on this earth along with the jewel amongst women, Janaki, the son of Saumitra (Lakshmana), Bharata and others.

Oh my mind! (Drinking the essence of Sri Rama’s story) bestows the fruit of everything like Dharma etc. It is the abode of courage, bliss and well-being. It is the boat which enables us to cross the burning ocean of existence to which we are bound by karma. It is the destroyer of kali yuga. The Lord who is praised by Tyagaraja.


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, G.N.Balasubramaniam, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M.L.Vasanthakumari, Trichur V.Ramachandran, Tyagaraja

Dikku Teriyada Kattil

ForestI arrived on my post today by way of jetlag!  Last Sunday I arrived back at my home in Switzerland from my home in Australia.  After two months of long summer days, I was back into sub-zero temperatures, flurries of snow and short winter days. The 10 hours of time difference is difficult to get over and after having woken up at midnight for a couple of days, I managed to sleep until 3 am last night. My nights have been filled with Carnatic Music and this morning it was the poetry of the extraordinary Subramanya Bharathi which kept me enthralled. And as I said, I arrived at Dikku Teriyada Kattil for my post today.

In a forest through which I couldn’t find the way,
I grew tired in my search for you.

In this metaphoric poem, Bharathi likens life to a forest in which our soul is lost, forever searching for the Divine. This beautiful poem is sung by Carnatic musicians in different ragas. The most popular version is a Ragamalika – a string of different ragas – as sung originally by the great maestro G.N.Balasubramaniam. Only a subset of the verses are sung normally.

In the unsung verses, the heroine wanders lost in the forest, amazed at all the beauty of the world around her as well as the dangers. In the first verse which is sung, the heroine says:

I started falling as my legs tired, and my eyes grew sleepy,
when a lustful hunter stared at me to my embarrassment.
‘”Girl, I am maddened by your beauty!” he said and laughed.
“Oh my darling, I want to embrace you”

In other unsung verses, the hunter goes on to ask the heroine to lie with him, to eat and drink and make merry. Thus do dangers come to seduce us, implies the poet. There are passive dangers, like the lions and snakes the poet mentions as he sets the scene but also active dangers, like the hunter who intends to harm by way of pleasure.

Elder brother, I fall at your feet, do not say such cruel things to frighten me!
Is it correct to even to look in such a way at a woman who is married to another?

Who is the soul married to? Who but God himself! Our scriptures often portray the jeevatma (soul) as feminine and the paramatma (God) as masculine. The two are tied by sacred bonds as if they were wed.

‘”Don’t speak of rules! I seek only your pleasure, my sweet!
An enchantment intoxicates me like a bowl of aged liquor”

The hunter seeks pleasure, willing the girl to betray her principles. It is interesting that the poet has the hunter seeking her pleasure, not his. Is that the ultimate seduction? The most irresistible temptation is an offer of pleasure, is it not?

‘Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and fell.
Before long my faintness cleared and I woke to see You!’

Kannan is the name of Lord Krishna, but it is also means beloved. For her, both are the same.  The poet seems to say that when we are seduced by the illicit pleasures of the world, we need only take the name of our Lord and He will come to save us.

It is fascinating that in the version sung by GNB the words are altered slightly. He sings ‘I cried out ‘Kanna’ and leapt to embrace him’ !! Here the hunter is implied to be the Lord in disguise. A small change, but how it changes the story!  To those lost in this world, the only true seducer can be the Lord for what can more seductive than an offer of love from Him? There is yet another interpretation, that the girl was asleep from when fatigue made her drowsy to the time she woke up and saw ‘Him’. The poet may be implying that life is like a dream, all its pleasures and dangers a mirage and that one day we will wake from it to see the Lord.

This song appeals to me on multiple levels. The imagery is charming; a girl lost in the forest, not frightened but amazed at the world in which she finds herself. Accosted by a hunter, the world suddenly becomes a frightening place because her virtue is at stake. Great imagery! On another level, the metaphor makes sense to me and keeps me thinking. On a third level, I love the sound of the words which flow so elegantly, Tamil at its very best. On yet another level, I love the ragas the song has been set to, each verse infused with its own mood. It starts with Behag, lilting and light as she traipses through the forest. As she tires, we switch to Revagupti, a gentle and somnolent raga. The hunter seduces in Kuntalavarali and she begs him for mercy in Sahana. He talks cheerfully of his intoxication in Kapi and she loses consciousness in Paras. A gem of a song.

This song was so much owned by G.N.Balasubramaniam that it would be a travesty to offer any other rendition. I found this rather light, filmy version on youtube which I hope you enjoy.

For an instrumental version, listen to the great violinist T.N.Krishnan.

Alternate link : Click here

Footnote (Lyrics) :

திக்குத் தெரியாத காட்டில் — உன்னை
தேடித் தேடி இளைத்தேனே

கால் கை சோர்ந்துவிழலானேன் – இரு
கண்ணுந் துயில்படரலானேன் – ஒரு
வேட்கை கொண்டு கொலை வேடன் – உள்ளம்
வெட்கம் கொண்டொழிய விழித்தான் nbsp;

“பெண்ணே, உனதழகைக் கண்டு – மனம்
பித்தங் கொள்ளு” தென்று நகைத்தான் – “அடி
கண்ணே, எனதிரு கண் மணியே – உன்னை
கட்டித் தழுவ மனம் கொண்டேன்

“அண்ணா, உனதடியில் வீழ்வேன் – என்னை
அஞ்சக் கொடுமை சொல்ல வேண்டாம் – பிறன்
கண்ணாலம் செய்து விட்ட பெண்ணை – உந்தன்
கண்ணாற்ப் பார்த்திடவுந் தகுமோ?

“ஏடீ, சாத்திரங்கள் வேண்டேன் – நினது
இன்பம் வேண்டுமடி, கனியே!
மோடி கிருக்குதடி தலையை  நல்ல
மொந்தைப் பழைய கள்ளைப் போலே.”

காதால் இந்த உரை கேட்டேன் – ‘அட
கண்ணா!’ என்று அலறி வீழ்ந்தேன் – மிகப்
alternate : கண்ணா!’ என்று தாவி அணைத்தேன் – மிகப் 
போதாகவில்லை இதற்குள்ளே – எந்தன்
போதம் தெளிய நினைக் கண்டேன்


dikku teriyAda kATTil unait-tEdit-tEdi iLaittEnE

kAl kai sOrndu vizhalAnEn iru kaNNUm tuyil paDaralAnEn – oru
vEtkaik koNDu kolai vEDan uLLam veTkam koNDozhiya vizhittAn

peNNE unadazhagaik-kaNDu manam pittam koLLudendru nagaittAn aDi
kaNNE enadiru kaN maNiyE unnaik-kaTTit-tazhuva manam koNDEn

aNNA unadaDiyil vIzhvEn ennai anjak-koDumai solla vENDAm – piran
kaNNAlam seiduviTTa peNNai undan kaNNArp-pArttiDavun-tagumO

EDI sAttirangaL vENDEn ninadu inbam vENDumaDi kaniyE
mODi kirukkudaDi talaiyai nalla mondaip-pazhaiya kaLLaip-pOlE

kAdAl inda urai kETTEn aDa kaNNA endru alari vIzhndEn -migap-
alternate : kAdAl inda urai kETTEn aDa kaNNA endru tAvi aNaitten -migap-
pOdAgavillai idarkkuLLE endan bOdam teLiya ninaik-kaNDEn


In a forest through which I couldn’t find the way,
I grew tired in my search for you.

I started falling as my legs tired, and my eyes grew sleepy,
when a lustful hunter stared at me to my embarrassment.
‘”Girl, I am maddened by your beauty!” he said and laughed.
”Oh my darling, I want to embrace you”

Elder brother, I fall at your feet, do not say such cruel things to frighten me!
Is it correct to even to look in such a way at a woman married to another?

”Don’t speak of rules! I seek only your pleasure, my sweet!
An enchantment intoxicates me like a bowl of aged liquor”

Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and fell.
alternate : Hearing these words, I cried out ‘Kanna’ and leapt to embrace him.
Before long my faintness cleared and I woke to see You!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, G.N.Balasubramaniam, Subramanya Bharathi, T.N.Krishnan

Tamadam En Swami

Why this delay in helping this lone man? Who else is my support? Even when I bow at your lotus feet, where even the Lord of the Earth, Brahma and Indra pay homage, why this delay? Enough, enough, this worm like life! Enough of your games! Enough suffering in a mother’s womb! Enough of my struggles! I cannot bear it anymore!

1Carnatic Music, like other forms of devotional music, can be intensely emotional. As a classical tradition many hundreds of years old, it is also rigorous and structured.  We listeners need to put on two hats and use both the left and right sides of our brains to appreciate it to the fullest, which is what I attempt by way of this blog. Every now and then I come upon a piece of music where emotion overwhelms all else, at least for me. I have written posts highlighting emotions such as longing, despair, separation anxiety, surrender, romantic love and maternal love. And I always speak of devotion. But what I have never featured so far is Impatience!

An odd choice of emotion for devotional music, would you not say? But here is Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973), poet-composer extraordinaire, expressing his impatience in no uncertain terms. ‘What is the delay?’ he demands of his Lord Murugan. ‘Enough of this worm like life’, ‘Enough of your games’, ‘I cannot bear anything anymore’. His words are strong and demanding. At times he even sounds threatening ‘This won’t help you, the way you do not show grace on me!’. I like this wonderful saakhya bhavam shown by Papanasam Sivan, this treating of God as a near and dear friend. He acknowledges Him as Lord, he bows to Him, but he demands Grace as a right just as you would of a friend, with no overt obsequiousness.  It makes God so near somehow..someone you can argue with, make demands, even pick a fight with!I am envious of his so-easy relationship with God..

As for the rendition I have selected for you, you are in for a treat. When I came upon this recording by G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965), I was simply delighted! What a talent! What Papanasam Sivan has said with words, GNB expresses with his extraordinary musicality. Raga Todi in his vocal cords becomes a malleable, living creature, weaving this way and that, flowing through our synapses and overtaking our senses. This, my dear readers, is a masterpiece. To know more about the raga, click here.

You can listen to the kriti, kalapanaswarams and a short tani here :

I encourage you to listen to the whole rendition of about 23 mins including the alapanai by downloading the album here.

On an aside, yesterday I was listening to this song when I went shopping in Lausanne, bundled in a thick jumper and a voluminous raincoat, the hood covering my head and all signs of my ipod. I was busily nodding my head to time and when it came to GNB enunciating ‘Edu inimEl mudiyAdu porukka mudiyAdu…’, my hands too were gesturing busily. Seeing the rather odd glances coming my way, I realised what I was doing which reduced me to a giggling fit, thus marking me as a sure lunatic! This is dangerous music for one’s reputation, so hear publicly at your own risk!


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

Note: I have included only the second charanam as that is the only one I have heard sung. Karnatik.com lists another 2 charanams.

தாமதம் (alt: தாமசம்) ஏன் சுவாமி தமியேனுக்கருள் செய்ய
தாரகம் வேறு யாரய்யா சுவாமிநாதா (தாமதம்)

பூமி மணவாளனும் பூவில் வளர் அயனும்
புரந்தரனும் பணி அரவிந்தச் சரண் பணிந்தும் (தாமதம்)

போதும் போதும் இந்தப் புழு மலப் (alt: மலர்??) பிறவி
போதும் போதும் அரி பிரமன் வாழ்வும்
இனி போதும் உன் திரு விளையாட்டும்
அன்னை கரு வாதை (alt: வாசம்)  எனது திண்டாட்டம்
ஏது இனிமேல் முடியாது பொறுக்க முடியாது கருணை புரியாது
என்னுடனே இவ்வாது உனக்கு உதவாது சொகசுடனே (alt: சொகுசுடனே)
மாது இருவர் மருவும் மால்மருகனே இன்னும் (தாமதம்)



tAmadam (tAmasam?) En swAmi tamiyEnukkaruL seyya
tArakam vEru yArayya swAminAtha (tAmadam)


bhUmi maNavALanum pUvil vaLar ayanum
purandaranum paNi aravinda charaNam paNindum (tAmadam)

pOdum pOdum indap-puzhu malap-piRavi (GNB says malar-piravi)
pOdum pOdum ari biraman vAzhvum
ini pOdum un tiru viLaiyATTum
annai karu vAdai (vAsam?) enadu tiNDaaTTam
Edu inimEl mudiyAdu poRukka muDiyAdu karuNai puriyAdu
ennuDanE ivvAdu unakku udavAdu sogasuDanE (sogusuDanE? GNB says sogasu which is a Kannada word)
mAdu iruvar maruvum mAlmaruganE innum (tAmadam)


Why this delay in helping this lone man ? Who else is my support, O Swaminatha ?

Even when I bow at your lotus feet, where even the Lord of the Earth (Narayana), Brahma who is born of a lotus and Indra pay homage? (why this delay?)

Enough, enough, this worm like birth (=life),
Enough, enough, this life given by Brahma and Vishnu,
Enough of your games, enough suffering in a mother’s womb (meaning re-birth here), enough of my struggles!
I cannot do anything anymore!  I cannot bear anything anymore!
This won’t help you, the way you do not show grace on me! You stand in beauty together with your two wives O Nephew of Narayana!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, G.N.Balasubramaniam, Papanasam Sivan

Sama Gana Lole

DurgaA very Happy Navaratri to all my readers! Like other South Indians, I celebrate the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during these nine days. This year, I would like to make this Navaratri a festival of thankfulness, to express my gratitude to the Goddesses for their presence in my life.

I make my bow first to Shakti. She is the Goddess of Power worshipped in many forms. She is Durga, the peaceful and benevolent Goddess just as she is Kali, the terrifying and vengeful one. She is beautiful and alluring as Meenakshi just as she is frightening as Bhairavi. How can we reconcile these opposites and focus our minds on Her ?

As always I shall resort to analogies to demonstrate the perfection of who She is. Shakti is incarnate in this world as power and energy wherever you see. She is there, for example, in the bonds which hold the sub-atomic particles together. Without Her, the building blocks of this physical world would collapse.  In that form she is benign, life-supporting. But innate in those very bonds is the possibility of nuclear power of an intensity which can destroy all. In this form the same power becomes terrifying. So too are Durga and Kali one and the same.  She is both the benign ocean current and the terrifying tsunami. She is the energy of the magma which warms the earth from below, She is the destructive power of the lava from erupting volcanoes. She is light-giving electricity, She is the lightning which strikes to kill. She is everywhere around us and in us, from the physical power which holds the atoms of our body together to the psychic power of the Kundalini which holds our soul tied to this body.

Shakti Shri Saraswati

It seems to me that our Goddesses fit well into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I see Shakti’s domain as the foundation as it is She who makes life possible. She is the energy in our cells, in our limbs, in our heartbeats, in our Spirit, in the world which sustains us. Without her all else fails. So today I thank Shakti for her presence in our midst.

To celebrate her, I am offering a song in her praise which is set to the melodious Hindolam raga, written and composed by the great musician G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965). It is not a prayer, but an invocation; the poet demands nothing, he remembers, he acknowledges and he pays obeisance.  He calls her ‘an abode of limitless greatness’ and ‘an expert granter of boons’. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have a rendition by the remarkable young vocalist Abhishek Raghuram. Since I heard it, it has become my favourite version of this song. I hope you enjoy it as well. I have loaded only the kriti (21 mins). If you want to listen to the alapanai as well click the alternate link given below.

Alternate link : http://vimeo.com/26805640


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

साम गान लोले सललित गुण जाले अम्ब

सोम बिम्ब वदने निस्सीम महिम सदने
सामज मृदु गदने काम दान निपुणे  अम्ब

कोमलाङ्ग कामेश्वर वाम भाग सदने
नाम भजित साधु जन पाप कूट मदने
तामसादि गुण कल्पित तापत्रय शमने
तेम दया रस पूरित  दाम कमल नयने  अम्ब

Transliteration :

sAma gAna lOlE, salalita guNa jAlE amba

sOma bimba vadanE nissIma mahima sadanE
sAmaja mrdu gadanE kAma dAna nipuNE amba

kOmalAnga kAmEshwara vAma bhAga sadanE
nAma bhajita sAdhu jana pApa kUta madanE
tAmasAdi guNa kalpita tApatraya shamanE
tEma daya rasa pUrita dAma kamala nayanE amba

Translation :

She who longs for (lOlE) the music (hAna) of the Vedas (sAma), She who is a lattice (jAlE) of pleasing (salalita) qualities (guNa).

She whose face (vadanE) is an image (bimba) of the moon (sOma), She who is the abode (sadanE) of limitless (nissIma) greatness (mahima). She who arises from the Sama Veda (sAmaja), She who speaks (recites, gadanE) softly (mrdu), She who is expert (nipunE) in bestowing (dAna) our wishes (kAma).

She whose limbs (anga) are delicate (komala), She who resides (sadanE) in the left (vAma) part (bhAga) of Shiva (kAmeshwara). She who embraces (madanE) the heap (kUta) of sins (pApa) of the good people (sAdhu jana) who revere (bhajita) Her name (nAma). She who puts an end to (shamanE) to the threefold suffering (tApa traya, the three being adhyAtmika=caused by one’s own self, adhibhautika=caused by those around one, adhidaivika=caused by the Gods) caused by the qualities (gUna) such as Tamasa. She who is full of (pUrita) moist (tEma, implying perhaps melting?) merciful (dayA) feeling (rasa). She whose eyes (nayanE) is like a garland (dAma) of lotuses (kamala).



Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, G.N.Balasubramaniam

Vatapi Ganapatim

I beg forgiveness to my very dear Ganapati;  I should have started my blog with this post.  He is the God of beginnings;  His name is taken before starting any endeavour to reduce hindrances for he is Vighneshwara, the Lord of obstacles. Today I shall correct my lapse.

Many of the Hindu Gods are strongly associated with music and dance. I had mentioned Shiva, the eternal dancer and Krishna, the divine flautist, in earlier posts. Ganesha, as he is also called, is associated with poetry, literature and theatre. Not that far from music; all the Carnatic music songs I write about are poetry, aren’t they?

I honour Ganapati with this composition in Raga Hamsadhwani (click here for more information), a very well known song which is often sung at the start of performances. Written by Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) it has a certain heraldic quality with its brisk and rhythmic passages; it seems to me like a call to wake up and concentrate! The raga is said to have been created by the composer’s father, Ramaswami Dikshithar (1735-1817). The transliterated lyrics of this song can be found here. I give below the lyrics in Sanskrit. Those interested in poetry will note how beautifully the poet uses alliteration.

वातापि गणपतिं भजेऽहं वारणास्यं वरप्रदं श्री
भूतादि संसेवित चरणं भूत भौतिक प्रपञ्च भरणं
वीतरागिनं विनतयोगिनं विश्वकारणम् विघ्नवारणं
पुरा कुम्भ संभव मुनिवर प्रपूजितं त्रिकोण मध्यगतं
मुरारी प्रमुखाद्युपासितं मूलाधार क्षेत्र स्थितं
परादि चत्वारि वागात्मकं प्रणव स्वरूप वक्रतुण्डं
निरन्तरं निटिल चन्द्रखण्डं निज वामकर विध्रुतेक्षु दण्डं
कराम्बुज पाश बीजापूरं कलुष विदूरम भूताकारं
हरादि गुरुगुह तोषित बिम्बं हम्सध्वनि भूषित हेरम्बं

As with most Hindu prayers, there really is not much of a request from Ganapati – in fact, there is none. Instead, the prayer lists the identification features of the God, for example, the one with the trunk shaped like Om, the one with the mark of the crescent moon on his forehead, the one who is in the Muladhara Chakra, the tantric chakra located at the base of the spine etc. To me, it reiterates the fact that prayer is not about asking, but about merging the divinity within us with the Other. Prayer songs are just a tools to focus our minds on the other divinity so that this merging can take place.

Here is the prayer sung by G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965), in memory of my father who was very fond of this legendary musician. The quality of the recording is not good but it is evident why GNB was such a legend.

Raga Hamsadhwani has found its way North and is now sung by Hindustani Classical musicians as well.  For your interest, here is Vatapi Ganapatim performed by Channulal Mishra. Again, the quality is not good but its still interesting. I challenge you not to fall in love with Hamsadhwani after listening to the tarana. I wonder what makes something sound Carnatic or Hindustani? The raga is the same, the composition (in Sanksrit, our common heritage) is the same yet it is different! I love both Carnatic and Hindustani music; how lucky I am, for I have two wonderful worlds of music to take pleasure from!!



Filed under Carnatic Music, Channulal Mishra, Compositions in Sanskrit, G.N.Balasubramaniam, Muthuswami Dikshithar