Tag Archives: Lalgudi Jayaraman

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 and Translation) :

Composer : Tyagaraja
Raga : Kalyana Vasantam
Language : Telugu
(I do not speak Telugu and the information below is dependent on various web sources)

नाद लोलुडै ब्रह्मा-
नन्दमन्दवे मनसा

स्वादु फल प्रद सप्त
स्वर राग निचय सहित

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


nAda lOluDai brahmA
nandamandavE manasA

svAdu phala prada sapta
svara rAga nichaya sahita

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


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).


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

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

Adamodi Galade

Is it just, O Lord Rama, this whim of yours in not talking to me when I have held your feet with such devotion? O Merciful Lord! Is it not true that when the erudite Anjaneya saluted you, you asked your younger brother to convey the details to him? However, is this fair, this whim of yours in not replying to this Tyagaraja?

HanumanMost of us who have grown up in India have a special place in our hearts for the epic Ramayana. Our behaviour, our beliefs, our language – all this and more are influenced by this great epic. However, if we are asked if Ramayana is myth or history, if it is legend or reality, many amongst us will be conflicted. I am. My heart believes, but my mind questions many of the incredible occurrences. I try and add my own reasoning (totally unproven!) to make it real, for I want it to be real.

Take, for example, Lord Hanuman and the legions of Vanaras (apes) who have a starring role in Ramayana. ‘Talking apes? Really?’ My mind asks me. Given my beliefs, I feel both guilt and shame for asking such questions and then hasten to counter-ask myself ‘What if some Neanderthal men were still around at that time? Would they have been seen as another species i.e. as apes?’.  The dates don’t fit, but what if?

Evidently, I am not the only one who wants to find logic to fit the legends. I-Serve, the Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas seems to be populated by exactly the same kind of people. They were much in the news last year when they used astronomical dating of planetary positions mentioned in the Ramayana to get dates for some important events. Lord Rama’s birthdate was 10 January, 5114 BC, they say with authority. Their paper is an interesting read for anyone interested in the Ramayana.

So when I came to the topic of today, the first meeting of Lord Hanuman with Lord Rama, I see it in my mind’s eye as a somewhat mythical history, but history nonetheless. Before we come to Sarga 3 of the Kishkinda Kanda of the Ramayana, Sita is already taken. Rama and Lakshmana are on her trail. Dressed simply like hermits, they still have the appearance of princes. It is at this time that Hanuman is sent as a messenger seeking help from them by Sugreeva, the younger brother of Vali, the Vanara ruler of the region, who has now become Sugreeva’s enemy.

Dressing himself as an ascetic in order not to alarm then, Hanuman approaches them. His speech is full of praise, as seems to be the polite form of address in those times, before introducing himself. Rama is well pleased with his greeting. Turning to Lakshmana, he praises Hanuman’s knowledge of grammar and the Vedas. But he does not speak directly to Hanuman, letting Lakshmana be his spokesperson. This is believed to be the protocol of those times in dealing with messengers. For the verses and the translation, read here.

Tyagaraja uses this incident in our song choice of today, Adamodi Galade, set to the charming Charukesi raga (to know more about this raga, click here). Tyagaraja asks Lord Rama if it is fair that he persists in his whim of not speaking to him and reminds him that it was thus with even Hanuman, that the Lord did not reply directly to him when spoken to. Does Tyagaraja imply that if the Lord would not speak to Hanuman himself, what chance did he have? Does he see himself as a loyal servitor of Lord Rama, just as Hanuman was and thus worthy of his love? He does seem to berate the Lord, calling him whimsical! For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

To present this song, I am in the mood for some legends today. To start with, I present a rare live presentation from the musician whose Charukesi I love better than anything else, the inimitable Lalgudi Jayaraman (1930-2013).

And for a vocal version, I can present no other than the Maestro with a voice like nectar, Dr.Balamuralikrishna (1930-). He was a man who pushed the boundaries of tradition in his time and is a living legend now.

Alternate link : in Sangeethapriya, accessible with a free account.

Next I would like to recommend a very interesting interpretation by the great Veena player, Chitti Babu (1936-1996). I was surprised to note the Vedic hymn style notes produced in the alapana and in the thanam as well, something I associate with Revati, not Charukesi. It ends abruptly, but still do listen, this raga sounds particularly beautiful on the Veena.

Alternate link : In Sangeethapriya, accessible with a free account.


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Tyagaraja
Raga : Charukeshi

Language : Telugu
I do not speak Telugu and have sourced the lyrics and translation from various internet sources, especially
Tyagaraja Vaibhavam. This I have calibrated against multiple performances and modified as seemed fit.

आड मोडि गलदा (alternate: गलदे) रामय्य माट(लाड मोडि )

तोडु नीड नीवे अनुचुनु (alt: यनुचुनु) भक्तितो गूडि (नी)
पादमु (alt: पादमुल) पट्टिन नातो माट(लाड मोडि )

चदुवुलन्नि तॆलिसि शंकरांशुडै
सदयुडाशुग सम्भवुडु म्रॊक्क
कदलु तम्मुनि पल्क जेसितिवि
गाकनु त्यागराजु आडिन माट(लाड मोडि )


ADa mODi galadA (alt: galadE) rAmayya mATa (lADa mODi)

tODu nIDa nIvE anuchunu (Alt: yanuchunu) bhaktito
gUDi (nI) pAdamu (pAdamula) paTTina nAtO mATa (lADa mODi)

chaduvulanni telisi shankarAnshuDai
sadayuDAshuga sambhavuDu mrokka
kadalu tammuni palka jEsitivi
gAkanu tyAgarAju ADina mATa (lADa mODi)

Is it just, O Lord Rama, this whim of yours in not talking to me? (Note: mODi has been translated as obstinacy, haughtiness etc. but I liked whimsical which is also a valid translation by the dictionary. You take your pick!)

Is it just, O Lord Rama, this whim of not talking to me who considers you alone to be as constant as a shadow, when I have held your feet with so much devotion?

O Merciful Lord! Is it not true that when the erudite Anjaneya, born of the Wind God, who is also an aspect of Lord Shiva, saluted you, you asked your younger brother to convey the details to him? However, is this whim of yours in not replying to this Tyagaraja just?


Filed under Carnatic Music, Chitti Babu, Compositions in Telugu, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M.Balamuralikrishna, Tyagaraja

Lalgudi Jayaraman RIP



Lalgudi RIP


I deeply mourn the passing of the great Maestro. Today my music rests silent.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Lalgudi Jayaraman


Are my words ridiculous ? Is my public extolling of you ridiculous? If I see you always out of fear, out of doubt and out of grief, asking you for refuge, O Protector of those who seek your refuge, am I being ridiculous?

PersonasPersonas & Masks. Are you wondering how I have come upon this rather unlikely topic for Carnatic Music? Well, I was listening to this beautiful kriti by Tyagaraja in which he asks of his God  ‘Are you ridiculing me?’ and it struck me that prayer is something that strips us of all our masks, doesn’t it?

Saints or sinners, we will all admit to putting on one or more personas to get through life. Our work persona is quite different from our home persona which may again be different to our social persona. In fact, the Latin word persona means mask. Part of the need for masks is in response to society’s demands  that we are seen to be ‘normal’, ‘cultured’, ‘business like’, ‘civilized’, etc. Part of it is our own deep-seated insecurities and shortcomings.  Can we ever be our true selves even in front of our closest friends or family? I reckon not. Are we our true selves even in front of the mirror? Not always. There will always be some barrier, some veil behind which we hide.

Every now and then, when in deep grief and great fear, and especially in prayer, the veil drops and we are revealed for what or who we are. Even Meera sang once, साजि सिंगार बांधि पग घुंघरू लोक-लाज तजि नाची  ‘dressing up, tying bells on my feet, I danced without embarrassment (shame)’. She had let her veil drop, physically and metaphorically, in her quest for God. Society mocked her then but reveres her now.

In Tyagaraja’s composition today, he is aware of having dropped the mask but is still uncertain about how he will be perceived, not by society but by God.  ‘Are you ridiculing me?’ asks Tyagaraja to his Lord Rama. ‘Is my public extolling of you ridiculous?’.  There he is, singing song after song, laying his heart at the feet of God for all to see, what if he was just making himself an object of ridicule? ‘If out of fear, out of doubt or out of grief, seeking you if I ask for refuge, will you mock me?’ says Tyagaraja. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

I am very fond of this lovely composition, especially on the violin. But first listen to  the majestic voice of the Maestro Maharajapuram Santhanam.

For an instrumental, I will pick my favourite instrument-the violin, by my favourite Maestro, Lalgudi Jayaraman. I have also excellent renditions by Kanyakumari and a masterly performance on the Veena by Jayanthi Kumaresh which I enjoy very much.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

As I do not speak Telugu, the song is transcribed in Devanagari script. Lyrics are from multiple internet sources, aurally verified.

परियाचकमा माट पदि गुरिलो पॊगडिनदि

वॆरपुननुमानम्बुन वॆसनम्बुन ने कोरि
शरणागत रक्षक निन्नु सन्ततमुनु शरणानग

ऒक मुनिकै द्रौपदि द्वारक निलया शरणानग
ऒक माटकु विभीषणुडु ओर्व लेक शरणानग
सकलेश्वर प्रह्लादुडु  जालिचे  शरणानग
हित करुणडै ब्रोचितिवे त्यागराजुनि माट


pariyAchakamA mATa padi gurilO pogaDinadi

verapunanumAnambuna vesanambuna nE kOri
sharaNAgata rakshaka ninnu santatamunu sharaNAnaga

oka munikai draupadi dwAraka nilayA sharaNAnaga
oka mATaku vibhIshaNuDu Orva lEka sharaNAnaga
sakalEshwara prahlAduDu jAlichE sharaNAnaga
hita karuNaDai brOchitivE tyAgarAjuni mATa


(based on internet sources)

Are my words ridiculous ? Is my public extolling of you ridiculous?

Out of fear, out of doubt and out of grief, seeking you always, if I say ‘give me refuge’ O Protector of those who seek your refuge, am I being ridiculous?


When Draupadi, fearing Durvasa, said ‘O resident of Dwaraka, give me refuge’, when Vibhishana, unable to bear the harsh words (implied, of Ravana his brother), said ‘Give me refuge’,  when Prahlada, out of grief, said ‘Give me refuge’, did you not benevolently protect them? If so, are the words of this Tyagaraja ridiculous?


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Tyagaraja

Thillana in Pahadi

He who causes welfare, the Great God Shankara, the beneficent Lord who removes all fear, He who holds Ganga, the consort of Gauri, I worship your lotus feet.

Those who have been following my blog know of the sad demise of my laptop after an accident with a cup of tea last month. Well, I finally received my fancy little convertible laptop/tablet last week. Jumping into the task of setting it up with geeky delight, I was soon enough swiping my screen this way and that, downloading and discarding apps, and playing with my start screen until I had it just right. A few frustrations, evidently, but I am ready and back in business!

What should my first post on my new laptop be? Such a dilemma! Should I pick one of my favourite ragas? Isn’t it the raga which sets the mood? Or should I pick one of my favourite musicians? Perhaps I should look for some meaningful lyrics, something regarding a good start maybe? Should it be for Ganesh, the God of beginnings? Or maybe a song for my ishta devatas, the Gods on whom I lean the most?

Frustrated with the convoluted thinking of my left brain, I looked enquiringly at my right brain. She smirked knowingly and said ‘Just pick what you love’. She has this supercilious air common among those who believe that being touchy-feely is somehow superior to logical reasoning! Frowning ferociously at both the ladies, I determinedly turned away from their squabbles.

This brings to mind a conversation I had with with my friend, a psychologist, who mentioned in passing ‘the wise mind’. Looking it up,  I found ideas which I always believed in but never articulated. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy contends that there are three basic states of mind. When we operate with the reasonable mind, we have a rational and logical but somewhat detached world-view. When we operate with the emotion mind, we are driven by our perceptions and emotions, distorting factual information but listening instead to what our emotions dictate. The wise mind is the middle-way where our thinking is intuitive, an integration of ‘direct experience, immediate cognition, and the grasping of the meaning, significance, or truth of an event without relying on intellectual analysis’.

What has all this to do with music? Just my belief that when we listen to music, we must do so with the wise mind. One one side we must analyse and appreciate the skill of the composition, the expertise of the rendition, the meaning of the lyrics, the knowledge of the raga and tala but at the same time we must be open to the emotions the music evoke, to feel, to experience and then to gather all that music and make it a part of our souls.

And so finally to my music selection for the day. I have known this piece of music for nearly 30 years as it is a tukkada item in one of my favourite CDs ‘South Meets North’ about which I wrote early last year.  I love it now as much as I loved it when I heard it the first time. The Raga Pahadi speaks to me of snow-capped mountains and rushing springs, of wide spaces and cool air, of peace and other-worldliness, of Lord Shiva in deep meditation on Kailasa. I had only ever heard the instrumental version of this song and thus far my response to it had been on a purely emotional level. I loved it so much but never thought of looking for a vocal version. Imagine my delight last month when I was enjoying my daily walk, the ice-cold Lac Léman gleaming under the low winter sun, the snow-capped Alps rising majestically in front of me when the new album I had loaded on my iPod presented me with a vocal rendition of the same song! Suddenly I heard the words and it opened a whole new world of appreciation to this piece of music. And so today to share my delight with you I present this wonderful Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman in the Raga Pahadi. If you would like to know a bit more about this raga, click here. The simple sahityam in Sanskrit says

मङ्गल कर महादेव शंकर शम्भो भवभय हारा
गङ्गाधरा गौरी पते तव पङ्कज पादौ भजामि

mangaLakara mahAdEva shankara shambhO bhavabhayahArA
gangAdharA gaurIpatE tava pankaja pAdau bhajAmi

He who causes welfare, the Great God Shankara, the beneficent Lord who removes all fear, He who holds Ganga, the consort of Gauri, I worship your lotus feet.

Listen first to Lalgudi Jayaraman’s rendition of his own composition from the album South Meets North.

Alternate Link : Click here

Now listen to the Hyderabad Brothers vocal rendition from their album Annapoorne.

Alternate Link : Click here

I hope you have enjoyed the music as much as I have!



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Hyderabad Brothers, Lalgudi Jayaraman


RainAs the sky in Melbourne seems to be quite grey this morning, I am playing this old favourite of mine set to Raga Amrutavarshini, meaning She Who Showers Nectar.

We Indians have always associated rain with joy. Not for us the associations of the Western world which link rain with cold, gloom, threat and generally bad times.  Quite the opposite for us, isn’t it? We associate rain with joy, exuberance, hope, growth  and prosperity.  In Australia, an immense land with low water resources, the Western association seems like nonsense. Here, we too look gladly at rain, so this song is very appropriate.

The composer, Muthuswami Dikshitar, prays to the Goddess saying ‘you who captivates us into a nectar like joy, shower us with nectar like rain’. He goes on to praise Her compassion, entreating Her to bring us rain. Legend says that Dikshithar was on his way to Ettiyapuram to see his brother. Arriving at a place under severe drought, Dikshitar sang this song. When he came to the part ‘Salilam Varshaya Varshaya Varshaya’ a heavy downpour started which went on to relieve the drought. It is said that many agnostics and atheists became theists on seeing this.

I love the sound of Amrutavarshini. To learn more about the raga, click here. I have heard talented artists bring forth the patter of rain on roofs with their kalpanaswarams, sometimes the gentle tapping of a spring shower, sometimes the furious drumming of a torrential downpour. I personally prefer brisk renditions as the scale seems to become even more joyful with rapid execution. Here are a few renditions that I particularly enjoy :

First, click below to listen to Aruna Sairam’s brisk rendition (7 mins) which is a tattoo of sounds reminiscent of the subject matter; it is a thundershower in summer, beating out all thought but the music.

Next, listen to a more elaborate version (19 min) by the Hyderabad Brothers with a nice alapanai leading up to a brisker kriti and kalpanaswarams; much like a long afternoon of  interspread light and heavy showers.

And third, listen to this fantastic violin interpretation (9 mins) by Lalgudi Jayaraman which is very lyrical and reminds me of peacocks dancing to spring showers in lush surroundings.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

The composition is in Sanskrit.

आनन्दामृताकर्षिणि अमृत वर्षिणि
हरादि पूजिते शिवे भवानि

समष्टि चरणम्
श्री नन्दनादि संरक्षिणि श्री गुरुगुह जननि चिद्रूपिणि
(मध्यमकाल  साहित्यं)
सानन्द हृदय  निलये सदये सद्य सुवृष्टि हेतवे त्वाम्
सन्ततं चिन्तये अमृतेश्वरि सलिलं वर्षय वर्षय वर्षय

For lyrics in Southern languages, click here.


AnandAmrutAkarshiNi amruta varshiNi
harAdi poojitE SivE bhavAni

sree nandanAdi samrakshiNi sri guruguha janani chidroopiNi

sAnanda hrudayE nilayE sadayE sadya suvrushti hetavE tvAm
santatam chintayE amruteshvari salilam varshaya varshaya varshaya

O Bhavani, you who are adored by Shiva and other Gods, who captivates us into a nectar like joy and shower us with nectar like rain.

You who are the protector of the son of Lakshmi (Kama, possibly referring to when Shiva revives Kama by request of Parvati after burning him to ashes), you who are the mother of Guru Guha (Karthikeya), you are a form of the intellect/spirit, you who dwell in hearts full of joy, you who are compassionate, give us (be the cause of – from noun hetu) good rain soon, I think of you always O embodiment of nectar, shower us with rain, shower us with rain.



Filed under Aruna Sairam, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Hyderabad Brothers, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Mara Vairi Ramani

Aiyaarappar Temple TiruvaiyaruI am haunted these last few days by this lovely composition in the uncommon Raga Nasikabhushani. It has taken root in my mind and I catch myself singing snatches to myself and swaying to its rhythm at unexpected times. This composition is attributed to Tyagaraja but there seems to be some doubt about it. No matter who has composed it, it gentles my soul and wraps me in its peace.

The poet-composer addresses Goddess Shakti in the form of Dharmasamvardhani, the deity at Tiruvaiyaru. The lyrics read as an attestation – This is Her, he says, and She is the one has bestowed me with gifts. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. Click here to know a bit more about the raga.

First listen to the composition played brilliantly by Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin.  He brings out the true beauty of the raga in such an elegant and effortless way!

Now listen to one of the few detailed renditions that I have heard of this raga (about 20 mins total with alapana, krithi and swarams). The vocals are by Raji Gopalakrishnan whom I came across but recently. I was immediately taken by the unusual timbre of her voice but even more by her relaxed style of delivery. A voice to hear when one is at peace with oneself. I shall try and get more of her music for I enjoyed her performance very much.

Footnote (Lyrics):

Language : Sanskrit

मार वैरि रमणी मञ्जु भाषिणी
क्रूर दानवेभ वारणारि गौरी (मार वैरि)
कर्म बन्ध वारण निष्काम चित्त वरदे
धर्म (सम्) वर्धनि सदा वदन हासे शुभ फलदे (मार वैरी)

mAra vairi ramaNI manju bhAshiNI

krUra dAnavEbha vAraNAri gaurI (mAra)

karma (or kAma) bandha vAraNa nishkAma chitta varadE
dharma (saM)vardhani sadA vadana hAsE shubha phaladE (mAra)


O Beloved of Lord Shiva (the enemy of cupid), O Sweet Spoken one!
O Gauri, enemy of elephantine demons!
She who resists those tied by karma (or kAma=desires), She who blesses those with no desires, O Dharmasamvardhini (Goddess of Tiruvaiyaru), She who has an ever-smiling face, O giver of auspicious rewards.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Raji Gopalakrishnan, Tyagaraja

Two Thillanas in Misra Shivaranjani

Those who have been following my posts know that I have been haunted by Shivaranjani this week. I am still not ready to move on, so here are two Thillanas in this raga of pathos. These are compositions of two musicians I admire tremendously. For those unfamiliar with Carnatic Music, a Thillana is a form of composition, very rhythmic in nature and well suited to classical dancing.

Lalgudi2Lalgudi Jayaraman (1930) is my first love and probably will remain my last. This is an enchantment which has lasted a lifetime. I strongly believe that his music comes as close to Divine as music can.  I have always imagined his music to be like a channel, a wormhole in spacetime, which allows the listener to travel from this mortal world to other mysterious and heavenly places. Playing concerts from when he was just 12 years old (he is 81 this year), his life has been dedicated to music. He says ‘I am nothing without Music. Even in all my future births I want to be born only as a musican’ (quote).  I pray that I am born wherever he is and get to keep enjoying his music.

SanthanamMaharajapuram Santhanam (1928-1992) was blessed with a voice which would make anyone pause and take note. In the mid-seventies, when he came to Delhi for a concert, he stayed in our friend and neighbour’s home. I remember sitting in their living room, listening to him practice and sing to the family.  He was a man with an impressive girth and a larger-than-life presence. His voice had such resonating force and beauty that it left an indelible impression in me. A truly amazing artist. I remember attending his concert that evening as if it were just yesterday. The magic of his voice lends strength to these memories from long ago.

Both these amazing musicians have composed Thillanas in  Misra Shivaranjani (click here for more on this raga). Today I present you these Thillanas performed by the maestros themselves.

First listen to Lalgudi Jayaraman’s rare recording of a life performance of his own composition with  his son G.J.R.Krishnan, starting from 22:20.

Was that not exquisite? I wept when I heard it first; I still find it heartrendingly beautiful. For the pallavi and its translation, see footnote.

Don’t miss listening to this vocal version by Bombay Jayashri, whose voice, I think, is closest to the lyrical sounds of her Guru’s strings. She is quite outstanding, do listen:

Alternate link : Click here

Now listen to Maharajapuram Santhanam’s performance of his own composition with (I think) his son Maharajapuram Ramachandran.

Alternate link.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

The Lalgudi Thillana has a lyrical pallavi which perfectly mirrors the mood of the raga.

மானைத் தேடி வந்த தேனை உண்டு வள்ளி மானை மணந்த மயில் வாகனா நானோ நின்னை (?நினை?) எண்ணி நாளும் ஏங்கி வாட ஏனோ இன்னும் என்மேல் இந்த பராமுகம்

mAnait-tEDi vanda tEnai uNDu vaLLi mAnai maNanda mayil vAhanA nAnO ninnai (?ninai?) eNNi nALum Engi vADa EnO innum enmEl inda parAmugam

O Rider of the peacock who came searching for a deer, ate some honey and married the deer like Valli! As for me, I languish thinking of you all day, why do you still neglect me?

The Maharajapuram Santhanam Thillana is beautifully rhythmic and the alliteration of ‘va’ in the first line is very pleasing.

வா வேலவா வடி வேலவா மயில் மீது நீ வா குமரா வா வரம் அருள வா தாமதம் ஏன் தயை புரிய தருணம் இது  மகராஜன் பணிந்திடும் மயில் வாகனா

vA vElavA vaDi vElavA mayil mIdu nI vA kumarA vA varam aruLa vA tAmadam En dayai puriya taruNam idu maharAjan paNindiDum mayil vAhanA

Come O spear-holder! One whose spear is sharp! Come on a peacock! O Kumara, come to grant me boons! Why the delay? This is the time to show compassion! O Peacock-rider who who is venerated by Maharajan (signature of poet).  


Filed under Bombay Jayashri, Carnatic Music, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Maharajapuram Santhanam


Tripura Sundari Yantra

Sri Yantra, shown on the left, is the most important of Hindu yantras or geometric devices used for meditation. This represents Shakti and Shiva,  Creation and Destruction. One can meditate outwards, starting at the central bindu (dot) and slowly going outwards, meditating on the creation process, from simplicity to complexity, from unity to diversity. Or one can meditate inwards, meditating on the destruction process, eliminating complexity one by one until you arrive at the central bindu. There is, of course, symbolism involved in each of its component parts, which this site explains.

There is great mathematical interest in the Sri Yantra as it is quite complicated to construct, especially the forms with spherical triangles. Correctly drawn, all the intersections should be correct and vertices of the large triangles should fall on the enclosing circle. This needs an advanced understanding of mathematics which the Hindus did not have at the time when it was first seen in the Atharva Veda (12 BC?). There are other points of interest. When correctly constructed, the base angle of largest triangles is the same as that of the Great Pyramid of Giza built in 2600 BC. From its proportions, one can derive Pi (π) and Phi (φ), the Golden Ratio. This research paper describes the complexities for mathematically inclined readers (quite beyond me!!). For practically minded people, this site shows how to construct this Yantra.

One interesting story (I don’t know if it is indeed fact) is that when Dr.Hans Jenny, Swiss researcher in Cymatics (study of relationship between sound and form) used a Tonoscope to record the ‘form’ of the sound Om, it produced a perfect Sri Yantra!

What has the Sri Yantra to do with my music blog? There is a researcher who says that Ragas and Raginis can be derived from the proportions of the geometrical elements of the Sri Yantra. But what triggered me to write of this Yantra today is that the song I have chosen  is in praise of Lalita, Tripura Sundari whose symbolic representation is the Sri Yantra. Just as this yantra can be used as a focus for meditation, Mayamma written by Shyama Shastri (1762-1827) in Raga Ahiri can ease you into a tranquil state. A song in Telugu, it is sung in vilambit kaal (slow pace). The raga creates a devotional mood and a stilling of the mind. To know a bit more about the raga, click here.

The poet-composer says ‘When I call out to you as ‘Mother’, will you not respond to me?’. The predominant mood of the song seems to me to be surrender, especially in the first charanam where the poet repeats नम्मिति (I trust in you) thrice, surrender and affirmation in one. (See footnote for lyrics). Surrender is an important concept in Hindusim which I have not talked about before. In the Bhagawat Gita, Sri Krishna says :

सर्व धर्मान् परित्यज्य माम् एकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहम् त्वाम् सर्व-पापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ||

Dharma means not only religion, but also duty, virtue, custom, law,  decree, righteousness, customary observance etc. ‘Leave every dharma’, Krishna says ‘and surrender only to me, I will deliver you from all sins, do not worry’.  It is this sense of surrender that rings loud and clear in this beautiful song.

To listen to a beautiful version of this song by T.M.Krishna, click here.

For an instrumental version, listen below to Maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin

Footnote (Lyrics) :

In Sanskrit

मायम्मा(य)नि पिलचिते
माट्लाड रादा (नातो) अम्बा  ||

न्यायमा मीनाक्षम्मा मीनाक्षि(नी )किदि
निन्नुविना वेरे दिक्के वरुन्नारु ||

सरसिज भव हरि हरनुत सुललित नी पद पङ्कजमुल
स्थिरमनि नम्मिति नम्मिति नम्मितिनि
करुण जूडवे कात्यायनि कालिका भवानि
परमेश्वरि सुन्दरेषु राणि बालांबा मधुरवाणि ||

विमुत जन पाप विनोचनी ओ जननि घन नील वेणी
विदल्लित दानव मण्डल शमनी (दमनी ?)
वनज लोचना सुधाकरानना वरदायकि
अनमयु निनु कोरियुन्नानम्मा बङ्गारु बोम्मा ||

अभयमोसगि नन्नु ब्रोवुमु ओ वरदा नेर दातवु गदा
अम्बिका बिड्डपै गॊप्पग दयरादा अखिल लोक जननि
अनाथ रक्षकी अनेटि बिरुदु गादा वैभवमु गल
श्यामकृष्ण सोदरि वीर शक्ति त्रिपुर सुन्दरि ||

Transliteration and Translation :

mAyammA yaninE pilacitE mATlADa rAdA (nAtO) ambA

When I call out to you as ‘Mother’, will you not respond to me?

nyAyamA (mInAkSammA) mInAkSikidi
ninnuvinA vErE dikkevarunnAru

Is this fair mother Meenakshi? Who else is my sanctuary but you?

Charanam 1 :
sarasija bhava hari haranuta sulalita nI padapankajamula
sthiramani nammiti nammiti nammitini
karuNa jUDavE kAtyAyani kALikA bhavAni
paramEshvari sundarEshu rANi bAlAmbA madhuravANi

O lovely one, extolled by Brahma who resides on a lotus, Vishnu and Maheshwara. I steadfastly trust only your lotus like feet, I affirm (by repeating). Please show mercy O Katyayani, O Kalika, O Bhavaani, O Supreme Goddess. O Queen of Sundaresha (Lord Shiva of Madurai), O Balamba with the sweet speech.

Charanam2 :
vimutajana pApa vimOcani O jananI ghana nIlavENi
vidaLita dAnava maNDala shamanI (damanI?)
vanaja lOcanA sudhAkarAnanA varadAyaki
anayamu ninu kOriyunnAnammA bangAru bommA

O Mother, you dispel the sins of your worshippers. Your dark tresses are like rainclouds. O destroyer of demons! O lotus-eyed one! O Moon-faced (=beautiful)! O giver of boons! I constantly pray to you, o Golden One!

Charanam 3 :

abhayamosagi nannu brOvumu O varadA neradAtavu gadA
ambikA biDDapai goppaga dayarAdA akhilalOka jananI
anAtha rakSaki anETi birudu gAdA vaibhavamugala
shyAmakrSNa sOdari vIra shakti tripurasundari

Please grant me refuge. O granter of boons, are you not very generous? O Ambika! Don’t you have abundant compassion for your child? You are the protector of the whole universe. You are called the protector of destitutes. O sister of the celebrated dark-skinned Krishna. O courageous Shakti, Tripura Sundari.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Shyama Shastri, T.M.Krishna