Tag Archives: Kadayanallur Venkataraman

Bhavayami Gopala Balam

Krishna BabyThe tradition of worshipping Krishna as a Bala Krishna or Bala Gopala (child Krishna) is an old one. There is evidence as early as 4th BC of this. The stories of his Leelas or miraculous play are widely known throughout India. In contrast to Rama, the previous avatar of Vishnu, who always followed rules and regulations, Krishna’s Leelas describe someone who broke many rules. While Rama’s life is about obligation, Krishna’s life is about play and delight.

I believe that the stories of Krishna’s play have deep symbolic meaning. For example, his love for butter symbolises God’s love for a pure and unsullied heart. His leela of duplicating himself for all the gopikas symbolises the multiplicity of God who is with every soul though he is One. Even keeping aside the symbolism, the endearing nature of the leelas allow us to bring forth the purest form of love that we human beings know – the love of a parent towards his/her small child – and allow us to transform that love into a love for the divine.

Today’s composition is by Annamacharya, set to Raga Yamuna Kalyani  by Kayanallur Venkataraman. The poet says ‘I meditate on the cowherd child’ and describes the beguiling form of the child who is ‘Glorious in a girdle inlaid with precious stones and small bells tied to his waist which rings with a multitude of sounds’. On listening to the song, my mind if filled with the image of my children as babies and these become indistinguishable from the image of baby Krishna as I am overwhelmed by the love for both Krishna and my children. To know more about this raga, click here.

One cannot think of this song without thinking of M.S.Subbulakshmi who had made this her own. However today I present a beautiful performance by Ranjani & Gayatri, the sisters with voices which synchronise so perfectly.

Alternate link : Click here.

For an instrumental version, listen below to Kanyakumari whose skills on the violin are truly impressive.

Alternate link : Click here.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

भावयामि गोपाल बालम्  मनः सेवितं
तत्पदं चिन्तयेयं सदा

कटि घटित मेखला खचित मणि घण्टिका
पटल निनदेन विभ्राजमानं
कुटिल पद घटित सङ्कुल शिञ्जिते नतं
चटुल नटना समुज्ज्वल विलासं

निरत कर कलित नवनीतं ब्रह्मादि
सुर निकर भावना शोंभित पदं
तिरुवेङ्कटाचल स्थितं अनुपमं हरिं
परम पुरुषं गोपाल बालम्

English Transliteration

bhAvayAmi gopAlabAlaM manaH sevitam
tatpadaM cintayeyaM sadA

kaTi ghaTita mekhalA khacita maNi ghaNTikA
paTala ninadena vibhrAjamAnam
kuTila pada ghaTita saMkula shinjite natam
caTula naTanA samujjvala vilAsam || 1 ||

nirata kara kalita navanItaM brahmAdi
sura nikara bhAvanA shobhita padam
tiruveNkaTAcala sthitaM anupamaM harim
parama puru.saM gopAlabAlam || 2 ||


I meditate upon (bhAvayAmi) the cowherd (gopAla) boy (bAlam) on whose feet ((tatpadam) my mind (manah) dwells (chintaYeyam)
always (sadA)

Glorious (vibhrAjamAnam) in a girdle (mekhala) inlaid (khachita) with precious stones (maNi) and small bells (ghaNtikA) tied to his waist (kati) which rings  with a multitude (patala) of sounds ((ninadEna)

With radiant (samujjwala) and lovable ((chaTula) appearance (vilAsam) while dancing (naTana), inclined (natam) with (sangkula) his curved (kuTita) pada (feet) tinkling (shinjita).

Hand (kara) engaged in (nirata) kalita (providing) butter (navanIta), feet (padam) made beautiful (shobhita) by the feelings (bhAvanA) of multitude (nikara) of gods (sura) like Brahma etc (brahmAdi)

Living (sthitam) in the hill (achala) of tiru (sacred in Tamil) vengkata, incomparable (anupam) Hari, supreme being (parama purusham), the cowherd boy (gopala bAlam)



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Kadayanallur Venkataraman, Kanyakumari, Ranjani Gayatri

Kurai Ondrum Illai

RajajiChakravarthi Rajagopalachari (1878-1972) known affectionately as Rajaji enjoyed an exemplary career as a writer, lawyer, politician and statesman. He served as the last Governer-General of India. I know of only this one song that he has written and what a lovely song it is! Set to music by Kadayanallur Venkatraman, it is a Ragamalika (Gardland of Ragas). This song is set to three ragas, Shivaranjani, Kapi and Sindhubhairavi.

Have you ever heard of a prayer song which says ‘I have no wants or needs’? By definition, prayer songs seem to ask of something, if nothing at least for mercy and grace from God. Not in this case. Here is a poet who asks for nothing. He says Though you stand willing to give anything you are asked for, I need naught else’. How I admire this sentiment! Something to aspire for, surely! For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

This song is so strongly associated with M.S.Subbulakshmi that it is difficult to present anyone else! I have heard better audio versions of hers but the bhava, the emotion, we see on her face is so wonderful that I just had to show you the video version. One thing strikes me – I don’t think I have ever heard this by a male Carnatic vocalist. Have you? I’ll be pleased if any reader can point me in the direction of a recording.

While looking for a good instrumental version, I came across this amateur video from Nallur Temple in Jaffna region, Sri Lanka. While watching unknown Nadaswaram players play this song for us, it came to me that while music in concert scenarios are academically more perfect, its like this that Carnatic music is most alive – on temple grounds, surrounded by worshippers, the music becomes its meaning.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

பல்லவி (ராகம் சிவரஞ்சனி )
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்தி கண்ணா
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை கண்ணா
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை கோவிந்தா

அனுபல்லவி (ராகம் சிவரஞ்சனி )
கண்ணுக்குத் தெரியாமல் நிற்கின்றாய் கண்ணா
கண்ணுக்குத் தெரியாமல் நின்றாலும் எனக்கு
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்தி கண்ணா

சரணம்  (ராகம் சிவரஞ்சனி)
வேண்டியதைத் தந்திட வேங்கடேசன் என்றிருக்க
வேண்டியது வேறில்லை மறைமூர்த்தி கண்ணா
மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா கோவிந்தா

சரணம்  (ராகம் காபி)
திரையின்பின் நிற்கின்றாய் கண்ணா – உன்னை
மறையோதும் ஞானியர் மட்டுமே காண்பார்
என்றாலும் குறை ஒன்றும் எனக்கில்லை கண்ணா
குன்றின்மேல் கல்லாகி நிற்கின்ற வரதா
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்தி கண்ணா
மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா

சரணம் (ராகம் சிந்துபைரவி)
கலினாளுக்கிறங்கி கல்லிலே இறங்கி
நிலையாகக் கோயிலில் நிற்கின்றாய் கேசவா
குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்தி கண்ணா
யாதும் மறுக்காத மலையப்பா- உன் மார்பில்
ஏதும் தர நிற்கும் கருணைக் கடல் அன்னை
என்றும் இருந்திட ஏது குறை எனக்கு
ஒன்றும் குறையில்லை மறை மூர்த்தி கண்ணா
மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா

For transliterated lyrics, word to word translation and notation, click here.

For a poetic translation (not word to word but the essence), click here.


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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Rajaji