Tag Archives: Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Needaan Mechchi Kolla Vendum

Bala GopalaA very happy Janmashtami (Gokulashtami, Sri Jayanti) to everybody!

This year is very special for me because I have my own Bala Gopala to play with! I am, of course, referring to my little grandson who is now 8 months old. The representation of Krishna crawling with butter in his hands, that would be about that age, wouldn’t it? You know that mischievous look that artists add to His eyes? Well, my little grandson has the very same look sometimes! The other day, I was tucking him into his bed for his nap. I neatly tucked in one side and walked around the cot to reach the other. By the time I did that, little Rohit had pulled the cover out and sat up, eyes twinkling and laughing at me! By the time I went from one side to another a few times, this had become the best of games 🙂 I finally told him firmly that he could sleep with no covers for a change and walked out of his room with a smile of my own, very proud of the little one’s bout of mischief! Ah, there you see is a conundrum of sorts, this pride in a child’s mischief, what’s that about? Is it because the mischief represents an agile mind and a sense of humour which we do take pride in?

My darling grandson has other tricks up his sleeve too! He has this way of looking away from me, as if gazing seriously at something far away. I would try to get his attention by making silly sounds or calling his name but he would keep his eyes averted. But I know his attention is on me as a little smile lifts one corner of his mouth 🙂 All the adults around him are totally attentive to him, so where did he learn this trick?  Native mischievousness, that’s what! Oh the love I feel for him when he plays this game with me! My heart overflows!

This is the emotion that Oothukadu Venkata Kavi wants us to capture and direct towards our bala Gopala, the divine child who will play games with us forever. The Kavi has done a brilliant job in conveying the pride in Yashoda’s ‘voice’ even as she tells her friend, ‘Only you will praise Krishna!’  What a perfect balance between pride and frustration in Yashoda’s description of her son’s doings!! Set to Raga Sriranjani, this song is popular with dancers as there is a lot of scope for abhinaya.

To enjoy this song, please listen below to an old recording by T.N.Seshagopalan.

I am also very fond of this version by Maharajapuram Santanam.

I was really keen to include a dance video, but the best I found is this very short version by the talented Harinie Jeevitha. Hope you enjoy it!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Oothukadu Venkata Kavi
Raga : Sriranjani
Language : Tamil

நீதான் மெச்சிக் கொள்ள வேண்டும் (alt: வேணும் )
எங்கள் நீல நிற மேனி மாதவன் செய்வது
நிமிஷம் போவது யுகமாய் ஆகுது

காதாரக் குழலூதி கன்றோடு (alt: கன்றுடன் ) விளையாடி
கண் முன்னே வந்து நின்று ஆட்டமும் ஆடி
ஏதேதோ ஜாலங்கள் செய்வதும் ஓடி ஓடி
எழிலுரு மங்கையர் மனைதொறும்  (alt: மனைதனில்)  புகுந்து
களவாடிடும் எனதாருயிர் மகனை

செய்யும் துஷ்டத்தனத்திற்கோர் எல்லையே இல்லை
தேடிப் பிடிக்க என்றால் (alt: என்னால்) சக்தியும் இல்லை
கையும் களவுமாக (alt: களவுமாக்க ) காலமும் வல்லை
ஆனால் காலம் தவறாது கோள் சொல்ல வந்து நின்ற (alt: வந்த )
மாதர்க்கு விடை சொல்ல நேரமும் இல்லை

கட்ட எண்ணிக் கயிற்றைத் தேடியும் காணோம்
கைக்கான கயிறெல்லாம் அளவாகக் காணோம்
மட்டம் என உரலோடு கட்டிடத் தோணும் ஆனால்
மட மட எனும்  ஒலி செவி புக வந்தால்
மருத மரம் இரண்டை காணவே காணோம்


nI dAn mechchi koLLa vENDum (alt: vENum)
engAL nIla nira mEni mAdavan seivadu
nimisham pOvadu yugamAy Agudu

kAdAra kuzhal Udi kanDRODu (alt: kanDRuDan) viLaiyADi
kaN munnE vandu ninDRu ATTamum ADi
EdEdO jAlangaL seivadum ODi ODi
ezhiluru mangaiyar manaitorum (alt: manaitanil) pugundu
kaLavADidum enadAruyir maganai

seyyum dushTattanattiRkOr ellaiyE illai
tEDip piDikka enDRAl shaktiyum illai
kaiyum kaLavumAga kAlamum vallai
AnAl kAlam tavarDadu kOL solla vandu ninDRa (alt: vanda)
mAdarkku viDai solla nEramum illai

kaTTa eNNIk-kayiTRait-tEDiyum kANOm
kaikkAna kayirellAm aLavagak-kANOm
maTTam ena uralODu kaTTiDa tONum ANAl
maDa maDa enum oli sevi puga vandAl
maruda maram iraNDai kANavE kANOm


(note – the alternate word usages do not change the overall meaning so I have not translated them)

Only you (nI dAn) will praise (mechchi koLLa vENDum) Krishna (implied)! With the doings (seivadu) of our (engaL) blue-skinned (nIla nira mEni) Madhava, each moment (nimisham) which passes (pOvadu) becomes (Agudu) an eon (yugamAy)!

Only you will praise (implied from pallavi) my (en) dearest (Aruyir) son (maganai) who plays (Udi – literally, blows) the flute (kuzhal) to our heart’s content (kAdu Ara – literally, to the solace of the ear), who plays (viLayADi) with the calf (kanDRODu), who also (-um) comes to stand (vandu ninDRu) and dance (ATTam ADi) in front (munnE) of one’s eyes (kaN) , and who does (seivadum) all kinds of (EdEdO) magical things (jAlangal), who runs constantly (Odi Odi), getting into (pugundu) all the houses (manai+tOrum) of young women (mangai) with elegant (ezhil) forms (uru) and stealing (kaLavADum)!!

There is no (illai) limit (Or ellai) to the mischief (dushtatanattirku) he gets into (seyyum, literally does)! There is neither strength (shakti) nor has the time (kAlam) come (vallai, contraction of varavillai) if He is to be (endRAl) searched (tEDi) and caught (piDikka) red-handed (kaiyum kalavumAga)! Nor do I have the time (nEramum illai) to answer (viDai solla) the ladies (mAdar-kku) who never miss an opportunity (kAlam tavarAdu) to come (vandu niDRa) and complain (kOL solla)!

In spite of searching (tEDiyum) for a rope (kayiTRai) with the thought of (eNNik) of tying Him (kaTTa), it can’t be found (kANOm, literally-not seen)! And all (ellAm) the ropes (kayir) which are found at hand (kaikkAna) aren’t long enough (aLaVAga kANOm)!  Finding (implied) something of the right measure (maTTam ena), the thought would come (tONum) to tie Him (kaTTiDa) to the mortar (uralODu). But then (AnAl) a rustling sound (maDa maDa enum oli) would be heard (sevi-ear puga-enter vandAl-come to), and the two (iraNDai) Indian Laurel trees (maruda maram) would be visible no more (kANavE kANOm)! [Note: This refers to an incident from Krishna’s childhood]


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, T.N.Seshagopalan, Uncategorized

Madhava Hrdi Khelini

Krishna-dancing.jpgHinduism is so very complex isn’t it! I call myself a Hindu but have only a limited understanding of all that it involves. It is such an inclusive religion, seemingly accepting quite contrary thoughts and ideas within itself! I picture Hinduism as a tree with the Vedas forming the strong roots of its philosophy. The trunk is made up of the scriptures such as the Upanishads, the Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Bhagawat Gita, all of which support and are supported by the Vedas. The trunk leads to many branches with their own scriptures. Though these branches may lead in different directions, they all belong together to form a whole. The tree being a living thing, it changes shape constantly as branches form and wither, and leaves grow and fall over time. But yet through all the changes, it remains the same.

In this ever-changing tableau, even the Gods have no permanence. For example, Indra is one the most prominent deities in the Rigveda but I don’t think any household altar in India today will have a place for him.  Krishna was not even mentioned in the Vedas; some scholars quote a single mention in the Chandogya Upanishad which may or may not refer to the same Krishna. The first mention seems to be in the Mahabharata. His story comes to us in fragments – his adulthood in Mahabharata (4 BC or earlier), his childhood in Harivamsa Purana (2 BC or earlier) and Srimad Bhagavata Purana (10 AD or earlier) and Krishna as an avatar in Vishnu Purana (1 AD or earlier). Of course dating these ancient works is futile as these were fluid works which were transmitted in an oral tradition, developing into their current known form over time. So even a deity as beloved as Krishna has no fixed reference for his story.

Coming to Radha, my subject for today, her arrival into the folds of Hindu thought is even more nebulous than most others. She is not mentioned in Mahabharata at all, nor in Srimad Bhagavata Purana.  There is a mention of her in Prakrit literature e.g. in Sattasai by Hala (6 AD or earlier), Gaudavaho by Vakpati (8 AD or earlier), Venisamhara  by Bhatta Narayana (9 AD or earlier) etc. There is also mention in some early works in Sanskrit such as Dasavatara Charita (11 AD) by Kshemendra. These early works may have inspired Jayadeva but it his Radha of Gita Govinda (12 AD) who is the Radha we know today. In the South, there is a stream of thought that Napinnai of Silappadikaram (6 AD or earlier) is the same as Radha. If that is true, then this may well be the earliest known mention of Radha.

There are many unanswered questions about Radha. Was Radha real or is she just a figment of a poet’s imagination? Weren’t Krishna and Radha just small children when Krishna lived in Vrindavan so why the eroticism? He went to Mathura to kill Kamsa when he was still a pre-teen, didn’t he? Some say that Radha was a teenager when Krishna was a baby, her love and affection for Krishna pure and platonic, very different to the erotic love in Gita Govinda. If Krishna loved her so much, why did he never send for her after he left Vrindavan?  Is Radha just an amsha of Krishna, a representation of one part of his nature? I have no answers. Personally, it makes no difference to my own beliefs but I do know that others may feel strongly one way or the other.

Whatever is the truth of Radha, it is Jayadeva’s poetry which led to her worship as a Goddess. Other poets continued what Jayadeva started, writing about the love of Radha and Krishna in local languages such as Govindadasa and Vidyapati in Bengali. As long as the monastic religions of Buddhism and Jainism had a stronghold, romantic desire was seen as something to be conquered. But by 12 AD, Buddhism was already in a decline in India. This was the world to which Jayadeva brought his highly erotic work about Radha and Krishna. With his songs gaining fame, sensuality came to be seen as one more path to spirituality. Slowly some parts of India, mainly along the Ganges, took to worshipping Radha as the consort of Krishna. Though not worshipped in the South of India, she is definitely accepted by Srivaishnavas as Vedanta Desika himself mentions Radha in Yadavabhyudaya.

What a long prologue I have given to my choice of song today! I found the subject interesting so got a bit carried away…

Today I bring to you a song about Radha written by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (1700-1765). Rarely did Carnatic vaggeyakarakas dedicate songs to Radha so this song is rather unique.  While Jayadeva’s work is overtly erotic, the Kavi’s words are more subtle with a subtext of eroticism. Sanskrit is a great language for multiple meanings!  I find that Raga Kalyani is perfect for the sringara bhava of this song. I must mention that it is one of the poet’s Saptaratna Kritis. Surprisingly, this song doesn’t seem to be sung often by musicians. I have always loved Aruna Sairam’s renditions of this song, so it is her music that I present to you today.

Footnote (Lyrics and Meaning) :

Composer : Oothukadu Venkata Kavi
Raga : Kalyani
Language : Sanskrit

माधव हृदि खेलिनि
मधुरिपु समदन वदन मधुपे जय (माधव)

वीतोपमान वेणुगान नाद सुलय रसिके रसालये
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
नानाविध पुश्पिताग्र सुगन्ध लता निकुञ्ज मन्दिर सदने (माधव)

राधे रसयुत रास विलासे

स्वर साहित्यम् 1
श्री हरि प्रेमाखण्ड मण्डल साम्राज्य अधिपते (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 2
सप्तविम्शति मुक्ता मालिक शोभित कन्धरे मधुकर (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 3
निन्दित सारस रिपु किरण धवल रदन विकसितोज्ज्वलयुत मनसिज (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 4
नगधर गोप वधूजन कुतुक नटनाद्भुत कम्प्रहार समान
चामीकर सरसिज करतल मृदु ताल कलकलरव मणि वलये (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 5
करतल कमले रति समये जित माधव मणिमय कुण्डल खेलित सुकर्णिके
प्रपीत तत् सुभाषित श्रुति युगले सरस रस रसने (राधे)

स्वर साहित्यम् 6
समधिक नव नव व्रज तरुणीजन चलाचल नटन कोलाहल समये
कृत रूषित माधव सहिते मुनि मनसामपि कलिल तन्नटन
निरवधि सुखानन्द निमग्न हृदये सदये अति अद्भुतानङ्ग
केली विलास चतुरे भावित त्रिभुवन मधुरस रसिके मधुकर
राधे रसयुत रास विलासे
हरि स्मरण सुखवर प्रसादे
मनो मुदित लीला विनोदे
हरिणाम् उपकूहित
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
सङ्ग्रहीतम् अपि श्स्त्र जघन रुचिर कनक वसने मृदु वचने ((माधव)


mAdhava hRdI khElini
madhuripu samadana vadana madhupE jaya

vItOpamAna vENugAna nAda sulaya rasikE rasAlayE
(madhyamakAla sahityam-twice normal tempo)
nAnAvidha pushpitAgra sugandha latA nikunja mandira sadanE

rAdhE rasayuta rAsa vilasE

svara sAhityam 1
shrI hari prEmAkhaNDa maNDala sAmrAjya adhipatE

svara sAhityam 2
saptavimshati muktA mAlika shObhita kandharE madhukara

svara sAhityam 3
nindita sArasa ripu kiraNa dhavala radana vikasitOjjvalayuta manasija

svara sAhityam 4
nagadhara gOpa vadhUjana kutuka naTnAdbhuta kamprahAra samAna
chAmIkara sarasija karatala mRdu tAla kalakalarava maNi valayE

svara sAhityam 5
karatala kamalE rati samayE jita mAdhava maNimaya kuNDala khElita sukarNikE
prapIta tat subhAshita shruti yugalE sarasa rasa rasanE

svara sAhityam 6
samadhika nava nava vraja taruNIjana chalAchala naTana kOlAhala samayE
kRta rUshita mAdhava sahitE muni manasAmapi kalila tannaTana
niravadhi sukhAnanda nimagna hRdayE sadayE ati adbhutAnanga
kElI vilAsa chaturE bhAvita tribhuvana madhurasa rasikE madhukara

rAdhE rasayuta rAsa vilAsE
hari smaraNa sukhavara prasAdE
manO mudita lIlA vinOdE hariNAm upakUhita
(madhyamakAla sAhityam-twice normal tempo)
sangrahItam api shastra jaghana ruchira kanaka vasanE mRdu vachanE


Victory to (jaya) she who dallies (khElinI) in the heart of (hRdI) of the intoxicated (madhupE) Krishna (madhuripu-enemy of Madhu) with the enamoured (samadana) face (vadana).

She who is the very seat of all enjoyments (rasAlayE), who enjoys (rasikE) the beautiful rhythm (su-laya) of the incomparable (vItopamAna) sound (nAda) of flute-music (vENu gAna)
She who is the slender woman (latA) who lives in (sadanE)  a house (mandira) like an arbour (nikunja) covered to the tips (agra) with all kinds (nAnAvidha) of fragrant (sugandha) flowers and blossoms (pushpita).

O Radha (rAdhE) who enjoys (vilAsE) the emotionally flavourful (rasayuta) Rasa* dance (rAsa) (Note* Rasa dance was a rustic dance of cowherds, the dance of Krishna and the Gopis).

Svara Sahityam 1
She who is the owner of (adhipatE) of the undivided (akhanDa) zone (maNDala) of Krishna’s (shrI harI) love (prEma).

Svara Sahityam 2
She who is free (muktA) of the twenty-seven (saptavimshati, unsure what this 27 refers to, some kind of shortcomings?), the lover (madhukarE) whose neck (kandhara) is adorned with (shObhita) a garland (malika).

Svara Sahityam 3
She whose loved one (manasija) is possessed with (yuta) an expanded (vikasita) splendour (ujjavala), with beautiful (dhavala) rays (kiraNa), who tore apart (radana) his enemy (ripu), the despicable (nindita) stork (sArasa, refers to Bakasura).

Svara Sahityam 4
She who is the woman (vadhUjana) of the one who held (dhara) the mountain (naga, referring to Govardhana), whose eager (kutuka) dance (naTana) with swinging (kampra) garlands (hAra) is extraordinary (adbhuta), who is like (samAna) a golden (chAmikara) lotus (sarasija), whose soft (mRdu) palms (karatala) beat (implied) a rhythm (tAla) while his gem-studded bangles (maNi valaya) jingle (kalakalarava, a confused noise).

Svara Sahityam 5
She with the beautiful ears (sukaRNikE) who has won over (jita) Krishna (mAdhava), she whose palms (karatala) are like a lotus (kamalE), whose gem-studded (maNImaya) earrings (kuNDala) move to and fro (khElita) at the time of (samayE) making love (rati), she with those (tat) eloquently (subhAshita) swollen (prapIta) pair (yugalE) of shruti (ears), she who savours (rasanE) passionate (sarasa) emotions (rasa).

Svara Sahityam 6
During (samayE) the hubbub (kOlahala) caused by (implied) a group (vraja) of many (samadhika) very young (nava nava) maidens (tarunIjana) in an ever-moving (chalAchala) dance (naTana), the well adorned (kRta rUshita) Krishna (mAdhava) along with (sahitE) holy men (muni) wholeheartedly (manasAm api) joined in (kalila) that (tat) dance (naTana). The clever one (chaturE) who created (bhAvita) the three (tri) worlds (bhuvana), the one who is fond of (rasikE) sweetness (madhurasa), that compassionate (sadayE) lover (madhukara) took pleasure (vilAsa) in the very (ati) extraordinary (adbhuta) amorous play (ananga kEli) giving (implied) infinite (nirvadhi) pleasure (sukha) and joy (Ananda) deep in (nimagna) the heart (hRdayE).

O Radha (rAdhE) who enjoys (vilAsE) the emotionally flavourful (rasayuta) dance of the cowherds (rAsa), who takes great (vara) comfort (sukha) in receiving (implied) the grace (prasAdE) of being in the mind  (smaraNa) of Krishna (Hari), who takes pleasure in (vinOdE) in the delightful (manO mudita) play (lIlA), who has been very much (upa) deceived (kUhita) by Hari (hariNAm) with all his praise (sangrahItam-collection, shastra-praise)(note: I’m uncertain about my translation of this sentence), whose beautiful (ruchira) hips (jaghana) are robed (vasanE) in gold (kanaka), who is soft (mRdu) spoken (vachanE)!


Filed under Aruna Sairam, Compositions in Sanskrit, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Yaar Enna Sonnalum

Oothukkadu Kalinga Nartana KrishnaHave you ever asked yourself ‘What if I am wrong in my beliefs? What if there is no God, no karma, no rebirth, nothing but nothingness when we are done here?‘. I don’t mean like a crisis of faith, but just those fleeting thoughts which linger, unanswered and unanswerable. The truth is, of course, we are all equally in the dark, the believers as well as the non-believers. Very often it is the non-believer’s arguments which seem more rational, more scientific. And even worse, the stories in the newspapers are of atrocities committed by believers, whatever genre their belief may be, rather than the non-believers. In this climate, it is hard not to eye the whole ‘belief’ thing with a certain wariness.

This struggle with belief is not new to Hinduism.  You may already know of the Nasadiya Sukta नासदीय सूक्त (Hymn of Creation) of the Rigveda. The last two couplets are of particular interest, which I quote below.

को अद्धा वेद क इह प्र वोचत्कुत आजाता कुत इयं विसृष्टिः |
अर्वाग्देवा अस्य विसर्जनेनाथा को वेद यत आबभूव ॥६॥
इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न |
यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद ॥७॥

But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows – or maybe even he does not know.

Rig Veda 10:129, Translation by A.L Basham (source)

It is so gloriously open-ended, isn’t it! These verses are about creation but there is something more fundamental, as if even the existence of the Gods and their power over creation is questioned. If even the Vedic seers had such questions in their minds, who will blame us if we do?

And yet there it is, my faith. Perhaps it is childhood indoctrination; in fact it almost certainly is that. However it has been such an old friend to me, has shaped my own character and the choices I have made in life so very much that it cannot be separated from me without causing grievous damage to all that I am. I very much identify with this quote by William Sloane Coffin Jr ‘I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings‘. It feels as if I leapt in my childhood, even before I knew I was leaping and over the course of my life my faith has grown wings. And like a kite it flies, tethered to anything rational by a mere thread.

But the questions remain.

And that is why I have chosen this beautiful composition by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer today.  ‘Whatever anyone says, fear not, O brave heart, keep singing about the compassion of the Lord‘ says he. Why did he write this song, I wonder. What did people say to him that he responded with ‘Even if this world says  a thousand things  we  should keep it aside thinking ‘what is it to do with us?’.  The words seem to speak to me when questions cloud my mind. Set to raga Manirangu, it has all the spirit and lyrical beauty of Venkata kavi’s compositions. It makes me smile because he encourages everyone to sing and even dance if they can!

Please listen first to Maharajapuram Santhanam’s rendition. It has been a while since I featured him, hasn’t it! I hope you enjoy his simply brilliant voice as much as I do.

And the second rendition that caught my fancy today is by Shobana Vignesh. Very nicely sung indeed!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer
Raga : Manirangu
Language : Tamil

யாரென்ன சொன்னாலும் அஞ்சாத/அஞ்சாதே  நெஞ்சமே
ஐயன் கருணையைப் பாடு – ராக
ஆலாபனமுடனும் பாடு – முடிந்தால்
அடவோடும் ஜதியோடும் ஆடு
அருமையென வந்தப் பிறவிகளோ பல
ஆயிரம் தந்தாலும் வருமோ ஆதலின்

நாரத நாதமும் வேதமும் நாண
நாணக் குழல் ஒன்று ஊதுவான்
நீரதக் கழல் ஆட கோபியரும் பாட
நேர் நேர் என சொல்லித் தானாடுவான் – அந்த
அய்யன் கருணையைப் பாடு

தோலை அரிந்து கனி தூர எறிந்து
வெறுந் தோலைத் துணிந்தொருவன் தந்தானல்லவோ
மேலைப் பிடி அவலை வேணுமென்றே தெரிந்து
விரும்பி ஒருவன் அன்று தந்தானல்லவோ
காலமெல்லாம் தவம் இருந்து கனிந்து கனி
கடித்து சுவைத்தொருவள் தந்தாளல்லவோ – இந்த
ஞாலமும் ஆயிரம் சொன்னாலும் நாம் அதை
நமக்கெதற்கு என்று தள்ளி நாமமும் ஆயிரம் சொல்லிச் சொல்லி
(அய்யன் கருணையைப் பாடு)


yArenna sonnAlum anjAdE (alt: anjAda) nenjamE
aiyan karuNaiyai pADu – rAga
AlApanamuDanum pADu – muDindAl
aDavODum jatiyODum ADu
arumaiyena vandap piRavigaLO pala
Ayiram tandAlum varumO Adalin

nArada nAdamum vEdamum nANa
nANak kuzhal onDRu ooduvan
nIradak kazhal ADa gOpiyarum pADa
nEr nEr ena sollit tAnADuvAn – anda
(aiyan karuNaiyai pADu…..)

tOlai arindu kani dUra eRindu
veRun tOlait tuNindoruvan tandAnallavo
mElaip piDi avalai vENumenDRE terindu
virumbi oruvan anDRu tandAnallavo
kAlamellam tavam irundu kanindu kani
kaDittu suvaittoruvaL tandALallavo – inda
ñAlamum Ayiram sonnalum nAm adai
namak kedarku enDRu taLLi nAmamum Ayiram sollich-cholli
(aiyan karuNaiyai pADu…..)


Whatever (enna) anyone (yAr) says (sonnAlum), fear not, O heart (anjAdE nenjamE) [Alternative – O brave heart (anjAda nenjamE) ], sing (pADu) about the compassion (karunaiyai) of the Lord (aiyyan). Sing (pADu) with (ODu) elaborations (Alapanai) of the Raga. If you can (muDindAl), also  dance (ADu) with (ODu) proper gestures and steps (aDavu). Even if you are given (tandAlum) many (pala) thousands (Ayiram) of precious (arumai) lives (piravigal), will this one come again (implied by varumO=will it come)? Therefore (Adalin)…..

He will play (ooduvAn, literally blow) a (onDRu) flute (kuzhal) such that (implied) it would put the music (nAdam) of Narada and the Vedas to shame (nANa). (Note : there is a second nANa in front of kuzhal, I don’t understand why. Is there another meaning to it? Or is it for emphasis?).  With his cloud-like (nIrada) anklets (kazhal) jingling (ADa, literally dancing), and the cowherdesses (gOpiyar) singing (pADa), asking (solli, literally saying) to be face to face (nEr nEr ena) He would dance (ADuvAn) himself (tAN) (I am a bit puzzled about the ‘nEr nEr ena’. Perhaps this is a reference to the episode where He duplicates Himself for each gopi and dances with each of them face to face?). Sing of his (His) compassion (pallavi line)

Didn’t (allavO) a man (oruvan), having cut (arindu) the peel (tOlai) and throwing away (dUra eRindu) the fruit (kani),  presume to (tuNindu) give (tandAn) only (tani) the peel (tolai) to Him (implied)? [Note: This refers to the episode when Vidura, in the excitement of having Krishna close by, peels bananas and offers the peels to the Lord instead of the fruit. Krishna too consumes it. Vidura on realising what he had done is horrified but Krishna says he would accept anything offered with love.] Further (mElai), didn’t (allavO) a man (oruvan), knowing (terindu) that it was wished for (vENum enDRu),  lovingly (virumbi, with liking) give (tandAn) a handful (piDi) of flattened rice (aval) to Him (implied)? [Note: This refers to the tale of Sudama]. Didn’t (allavO) a woman (oruvaL), having lived (irundu, literally been) lifelong (kAlamellam) in austerity, tenderly (kanindu) give (tandAL) a fruit (kani) after biting (kaDittu) and tasting (suvaittu) it? [Note: Refers to Shabari]. Even if this (inda) world (ñAlam) says (sonnAlum) a thousand things (Ayiram) we (nAm) should keep it aside (taLLi, literally push away) thinking ‘what is it to do with us?’ (nammakku edarkku enDru) and repeating (solli solli) His thousand (Ayiram) names (nAmam) sing (pADu) about the compassion (karunaiyai) of the Lord (aiyyan) (pallavi line).


Filed under Compositions in Tamil, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Shobana Vignesh, Uncategorized

Sendru Va Nee Radhe

Do go now Radha, go immediately! There is no time to think! You do not understand even if told, nor would you think of it by yourself. Don’t trust that Lord! After all, the promises of that illusionist  come from the mouth which ate mud!  For one who has measured  the earth , is it difficult to come to you and make up false stories? Even if Krishna came and told us a thousand things, is it really justified for us to believe it all?

In my last post, I talked of Sita, of her refusing to be left behind when Rama goes on exile. Krishna does not go on exile but He does leave Brindavan to complete all that He has to do in His incarnation. And Radha, His sweetheart, His love, is left behind.

What happens to Radha? In youthful love, she dances to His tune, both literally and metaphorically. In adulthood, she awaits her Lord for evermore while Krishna marries Rukmini and Satyabhama. Is she seen as the jilted sweetheart? But no! She is His eternal love and has a unique place in the Krishna story. She adorns many a Radha-Krishna temple in a status equal to that of the Lord. ‘Radhe-Krishna’ exclaim millions of Indians; naming Krishna as the one belonging to Radha.

Though Radha is sung of in many parts of India, there are hardly any Carnatic songs which feature her. Does the mystic love of Radha and Krishna not really capture the imagination of the more conservative Southerners? Whatever the case, I am pleased to offer for your listening pleasure this gem of a song by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. I am not sure whether it should be classified as a nindA stuti (backhanded praise of the Lord); it does seem like it should. After all, when normally we are told ‘Trust in God’, the poet says ‘Don’t trust anything He says!’. You can find the lyrics and translation in the footnote. The words are such that we need to look beyond them for a meaningful interpretation.

Do go and find him immediately!’. Radha is urged by the poet to go and seek out Krishna. ‘There is no more time to think’, she is told. Who is Radha? She is but the representative of the jIvAtma, the soul which resides in each of us. The song is urging us all to seek Krishna.

Krishna is ever busy herding His cattle and paying attention to the crowds who seek Him, says the poet. Radha waits forever for her Krishna to come to her. Are we too waiting for the Lord to find us? The poet urges us instead to actively try and find Him. ‘You neither think of seeking Him yourself, nor do you understand when told by others’ says he. A little scolding for us all from the poet!

Don’t trust Him’, says the poet to Radha, and us. ‘After all, the promises of that illusionist come from the same mouth which once ate mud!’. This refers to the story of Krishna as a small child. He is caught eating mud by His mother Yashoda. When questioned, He denies it. She asks Him to open His mouth and sees the whole universe within it. Did He lie? Yes. He did eat mud. No. How can He ingest anything when all the universe is contained within Him? Krishna created illusions – but which was the illusion? That the universe was within His mouth? Or that He was a little child who ate mud? No, He is definitely not to be trusted!

‘For One who has measured the earth, is it difficult to come to you and make up false stories?’. The poet has cleverly used the two meanings of alappadu; this line always makes me smile! Referring to the vAmana avatAra when Lord Vishnu measured the whole world in one single step, the poet says that, in comparison, the task of making up tales is no great thing for the Lord. We have a hint for the interpretation by the poet’s use of mAyan or illusionist for referring to Krishna. The world is but a mAyA, an illusion, a falsehood made up by the Lord. ‘Even if Krishna  came and told a thousand things, is it really justified for us to believe it all?’. The Lord encompasses everything, both that which is within the bounds of Maya and that which is outside the bounds of Maya.  The poet says thatNot all that is contained within the Lord is true’. The Lord tells us a many a tale in this illusion of life that He has created, we should not believe it all!

In the last sentence, the poet hopes that the Lord will come to him. ‘If  He were only to come alone near our location today, our penances will bear fruit and the result of our sins be gone!’.  Here, the poet joins Radha and all of us as a fellow seeker awaiting the Lord’s union.

This beautiful song is a Ragamalika in ragas Kalyani, Kambhoji and Vasanta. Given that I love all these ragas, it is no surprise that the song appeals to me so much! I have heard very few renditions of this song. The one I am most familiar with is by the supremely talented Sudha Raghunathan.

Another interesting rendition is by T.N.Seshagopalan, to whom you can listen here.


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer
Raga : Ragamalika – Kalyani, Kambhoji, Vasanta
Language : Tamil

பல்லவி (கல்யாணி)
சென்று வா நீ ராதே இந்தப் போதே
இனி சிந்தனை செய்திட நேரமில்லையடி

அனுபல்லவி (கல்யாணி)
கன்று பசு மேய்க்கும் நாட்டத்திலே
அவரை காண வரும் ஆயர் கூட்டத்திலே
சற்று நின்று பேச என்றால் நேரமில்லையடி
நேரில் வர ஒரு தோதுமில்லையடி

சரணம் 1 (காம்போஜி)
சொன்னாலும் புரியாதே -உனக்கு
தன்னாலும் தோன்றாதே
அந்த மன்னனை நம்பாதே
அந்த மாயன் வாக்கு எல்லாம் மண் தின்ற வாய்தானே

சரணம் 2 (வசந்தா)
உலகை அளந்தோர்க்கு  உன்னிடம் வந்தொரு
பொய் மூட்டி அளப்பதும் பாரமா
கண்ணன் நலம் வந்து ஆயிரம் சொன்னாலும்
நாம் அதை நம்பிவிடல் ஞாயமா
ஆயர்குலத் திறைவன் நந்தகோபன் திருமகன்
கொள்வதெல்லாம்   (alt: சொல்வதெல்லாம்) உண்மையாகுமா
நம்  தலத்தருகே இன்று தனித்து வர என்றால்
தவப்பயன் ஆகுமே வினைப்பயன் போகுமே


pallavi (raga kalyANi)
senDRu vA nI rAdE indap-pOdE
ini sindanai seidiDa nEramillaiyaDi

anupallavi (raga kalyANi)
kanDRu pasu mEykkum nATTattilE
avarai kANa varum Ayar kUTTattilE
saTru ninDRu pEsa enDRAl nEramillaiyaDi
nEril vara oru tOdumillaiyaDi

charanam 1 (raga kambhOji)
sonnAlum puriyAdE unakku
tannAlum tOnDRAdE
anda mannanai nambAdE
anda mAyan vAkku ellAm maN tinDRa vAy dAnE

charaNam 2 (raga vasantA)
ulagai aLandOrkku unniDam vandoru
poi mUTTi aLappadum bAramA
kaNNan nalam vandu Ayiram sonnAlum
nAm adai nambiviDal nyAyamA
Ayar kulattiraivan nanda gOpan tirumagan
koLvadellAm uNmaiyAgumA
nam talattarugE inDRu tanittu vara enDRAl
tavap-payan AgumE vinaippayan pOgumE


Do go (senDRu vA) now Radha, go immediately (inda pOdE)! There is no time (nEralimmai) to think (sindanai seidiDa)!

In His concentration (nATTam) of herding (mEykkum) the cows (pasu) and calves (kanDRu), in the crowd (kUTTatile) of cowherds (Ayar) who come (varum) to see (kANa) Him (avarai), He has no time (nEramillai) to stand and talk (ninDRu pEsa) nor is it is appropriate (tOdu) for Him to come Himself (nEril vara).

You do not understand (puriyAdE) even if told (sonnAlum), nor would you think of it (tOnDRAdE) by yourself (tannAlum)! Don’t trust (nambAdE) that Lord (mannanai)! After all (implied in dAnE), all (ellAm) the promises (vAkku) of that illusionist (mAyan) come from the mouth (vAy) which ate (tinna) mud(maN).

For one who has measured (aLandOrkku) the earth (ulagai), is it difficult (bAramA) to come (vandu) to you (unniDam) and make up a story (poi mUTTi aLappadum)? Even if Krishna (kaNNan) fortunately came (nalam vandu) and told (sonnalum) a thousand things (Ayiram), is it really justified (nyAyamA) for us (nAm) to believe (nambiviDal) it all (adai)? Is everything (ellAm) accepted (koLvadu-koL is normally used as an auxiliary, here it is used as an independent verb which means hold, contain, have) by that divine (tiru) son (magan) of the Lord of the cowherds (Ayar kulattiraivan) Nandagopan become true (uNmayAgumA)? If (enDRAl) he were only to come alone (tanittu vara) near (arugE) our (nam) location (talam) today (inDRu), our penances (tavam) will bear fruit (payan Agume) and the result (payan) of our sins (vinai) be gone (pOgumE)!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sudha Raghunathan, T.N.Seshagopalan

Adathu Asangathu Va Kanna

Come without dancing and swaying, Krishna, as your dance makes all the fourteen worlds sway and tremble! Even Lord Shiva abandons his own dance to come and see you dance! When you dance, all who listen to the anklets jingle on feet are intoxicated. If one of your devotees who come to see your divine dance cast an evil eye on you, my heart will be wounded so please come without dancing and swaying.

Hamsa hand

Beware the evil eye!’ my mother would warn me whenever I talked of any good fortune which came my way.  I learnt from childhood to be circumspect with whom I shared good news. This belief in the evil eye is widespread in India. What I discovered with surprise in the course of my life that it is not Indians alone who fear it. This superstition is common amongst many cultures in South and Central Asia, the Mediterranean region, parts of South America as well as parts of Africa. If there is mention of it in Atharvaveda, there is also mention of it in the Old Testament and in the Islamic scriptures. That it is so widespread lends credence to it, don’t you think? Our minds are more powerful than we think, who knows what damage an envious thought can do?

Hand-in-hand with this belief in the evil eye are the ways of warding against them. In India you will often see children with black dots painted on their face, houses with odd and ugly sculptures mounted prominently, etc. In my recent very short visit to Turkey, I noticed with surprise the ‘eye’ very prominently displayed everywhere. A very long time ago, my Iraqi friend gave me a Hamsa hand, also called the hand of Miriam or the hand of Fatima to hang on my front door. After nearly 20 years, it still hangs there.

But can a look of envy affect God himself? Is He in danger of having an evil eye cast on Him? It does seem an odd thought. Isn’t He all powerful? Who could harm Him? Yet one of the most famous prayers recited daily in many Vaishnavaite temples is the couplet written by Periyazhwar in the 6th century to ward of the evil eye for Narayana.

பல்லாண்டு பல்லாண்டு பல்லாயிரத்தாண்டு
பலகோடி நூறாயிரம் மல்லாண்ட திண்தோள் மணிவண்ணா! உன் சேவடி செவ்விதிருக் காப்பு

pallANDu pallANDu pallAyirattANDu
pala kODi nURAyiram mallANDa tiN tOL maNivaNNA! un
sEvaDi sevvi tirukkAppu

O gem-coloured Lord with strong shoulders, who overcame the wrestling Mallas, may the beauty of your divine red feet be protected for countless years, for thousands of countless years, for millions of countless years !

Periyazhwar was not the only one who thought of protecting God from the evil eye. In today’s song, poet-composer Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (1700-1765) sings to his beloved bala Krishna (Krishna as child). ‘Come without dancing and swaying’ he says. Krishna is so breath-taking when he comes dancing and singing that the whole world stops to watch. Even the great dancing Lord Shiva, whose dance keeps the world revolving, stops his dance to come and watch, says the poet. His description of the dancing Krishna is beguiling. He describes ‘The anklets of the tiny little feet’ which jingle,  the ‘plaited hair’ which is all in disarray by the dancing and swaying, the feather stuck in His hair displaced. He is still a beautiful God; ‘Azhaga’  the poet calls Him. Such beauty is in danger of the evil eye, is it not?  ‘If an evil eye is cast on you, my heart will be wounded!’ says he. This beautiful song is set to the Raga Madhyamavati. To know more about this raga, click here. For lyrics and translation see footnote.

There are many wonderful renditions of this song. I have chosen an interesting rendition of the song by one of my favourite musicians Aruna Sairam.

Alternate Link : Click here.

Now answer this quiz : The singer has brought in excerpts from four Oothkadu kritis into her rendition, as a Ragamalika. Which are the four kritis? Answers at the bottom of this post.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer
Raga : Madhyamavati
Language : Tamil

ஆடாது அசங்காது வா கண்ணா
உன் ஆடலில் ஈரேழு புவனமும்
அசைந்து அசைந்தாடுதே எனவே

ஆடலைக் காணத்-தில்லை அம்பலத்திறைவனும் (அம்பலத்து + இறைவனும்)
தன் ஆடலை விட்டு இங்கே கோகுலம் வந்தான்
ஆதலினால் சிறு யாதவனே
ஒரு மாமயில் இறகணி  (இறகு+அணி) மாதவனே நீ

சின்னஞ் சிறு பதங்கள் சிலம்பொலித்திடுமே (சிலம்பு + ஒலித்திடுமே)
அதைச்-செவிமடுத்தப் பிறவி மனம் களித்திடுமே
பின்னிய சடை சற்றே வகை கலைந்திடுமே
மயில் பீலி அசைந்தசைந்து நிலை கலைந்திடுமே
பன்னிரு கை இறைவன் ஏறு மயில் ஒன்று
தன் பசுந்தோகை விரித்தாடி பரிசளித்திடுமே
குழல் பாடி வரும் அழகா
உனைக் காணவரும் அடியார் எவராயினும்
கனக மணி அசையும் உனது திரு நடனம்
கண் பட்டுப் போனால் மனம் புண்பட்டுப் போகுமே

Transliteration :

ADadu asangAdu vA kaNNA (nI)
un ADalil irEzhu bhuvanamum
asaindu asaindADude enavE

ADalai kAna (kaNNA un) tillai ambalat-tiRaivanum
tan ADalai viTTu ingE gOkulam vandAn
AdalinAl siru yAdavanE oru mA mayiliRagani mAdavanE nI

chinnan-siru padangal silambolittiDumE
adai sevimaDuttap-piravi manam kaLittiDumE
pinniya saDai satRE vagaik-kalaindiDumE
mayil pIli asaindu-asaindu nilai kalaindiDumE
panniRu kai iRaivan Eru mayil ondRu
tan pasun-togai virittADi parisaLittiDumE

madhayamakAla sahityam
kuzhal pAdi varum azhagA
unaik-kANavarum aDiyAr evarAyinum
kanaka maNi asaiyum unadu tiru natanam
kaN paTTu pOnAl manam puN paTTu pOgumE


Come (vA) without dancing and swaying (ADAdu asangAdu), my Krishna (Kanna)
By your (un) dance (ADalil) all the fourteen (IREzhu) worlds (bhuvanamum) sway and tremble (asaindu asaindu ADudE), therefore (enavE) (come without dancing…)

To see (kANa) your (un) dance (ADalai), even the Lord of the temple (ambalattu-iRaivan) at Tillai (Lord Shiva) abandoned (viTTu) His (tan) dance (ADalai) and came (vandAn) here (ingE) to Gokulam
Therefore (AdalinAl), O young (siru) Yadava, who wears (aNi) the feather (iRagu) of a (oRu) great (mA) peacock (mayil), O Madhava (come without dancing…)

The anklets (silambu) on the tiny little (chinnan-shiru) feet (padangaL) will jingle (olittiDumE),
and the minds (manam) of the life forms (piravi) which listen (sevimaDutta) to it will be intoxicated (kaLittuDumE), the plaited (pinniya) hair (saDai) will be disarranged (vagai kalaindiDumE) just a bit (saTRE),
the peacock (mayil)  feather (pIli) will have moved (nilai kalaindiDumE) with all the swaying (asaindu asaindu). One of the peacocks (mayil onDRu) mounted by (Eru) the Twelve-Handed (panniRu kai) Lord (iRaivan) (Murugan) will bestow the gift (parisu aLittuDumE) of dancing (ADi) with its tender (pasum) feathers (tOgai) outspread (virittu)

Oh handsome Lord (azhagA) who comes (varum) while playing the flute (kuzhal paDi))
If one of (evarAyinum) your devotees (aDiyAr) who come (varum) to see (kANa) you (unai)
dance your (unadu) divine (tiru) dance (natanam) with golden (kanaka) bells (maNi) swaying (asaiyum)
cast an evil eye on you (kaN paTTu ponAl), my heart (manam=mind) will be wounded (pUN paTTu) (therefore, come without…)

Answer to the quiz :

The four kritis from which excerpts are sung are :

1. Thaye Yashoda in Todi
kAlinil silambu konja kaivaLai kulunga muttu
mAlaigaL asaiya teru vAsalil vandAa
kAlasaivum kaiyasaivum avan tALAmODi saidu vara
nIlavaNNa kaNNan ivan nartam ADurAn

2. Kshanameva Ganyam Anye in Bhupalam
nIla rUpENa ranjita kOmaLa nirmala padayuga nUpura galgala
lOva vurasthala kaustubha maNivara mukhatara smita nasmikara smaraNa
(note: Last part above is different as sung by Aruna Sairam)

sAra sAsana sanaka sanAtana sujana gaNAdi vinuta nartana
kOMaLa pada brndAvana viharaNa gOpa gOpikA jIvana smaraNa

3. Madhura Madhura in Atana
bahu vidha kaLabha kastUri tilaka gandham sugandham
samam samAgama guhuguhu itividha kOkila kalarava kUjita brndAvana sadanA
mAhEndra nIla dyuti kOmalAnga mrdu mandahAsa vadanA
kunda vrnda makaranda bindu samabrndahAra taraNa
chandra sUrya nayanA nAgEndra shayana ramaNA

4. Nirada Sama in Jayantishri
makara kuNDala dharita mahanIya vESA
sakala jana munigaNa samUha mana mOhA
tara kaTaka karatala jla jvalita jAlA


Filed under Aruna Sairam, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Ananda Nartana Ganapatim

I meditate upon the joyously dancing Ganapati. He is Spirit incarnate, he is the origin and the foundation, the form of Om, elephant faced, the greatest! He is praised by the joyful chiefs of sages. He lies hidden in the mind of Shiva Shankara.  He dwells as the reverberations when celestial musicians endowed with the lute and rhythm  strike a note. He is heaven for the wretched. He dwells with beauty in an incomparible divine kalEbara.  He dwells in light. He is incomparable. He is fitting. He is honoured by his devotees.

Narthana GanapatiHappy Ganesh Chaturthi to all of you!

Pillaiyar (His Tamil name) and I share a very amicable relationship. I think of Him as my friend and look often to Him to share the ups and downs of life with me. It wasn’t always so. Brought up in a Vaishnavaite family, He existed only vaguely in my peripheral vision. Naturally, when I married, left India and marked out one corner of my kitchen bench top as the altar of my new home, I did not look for a picture or idol to represent Him. Thus I reached the ripe age of 29 without really integrating Pillaiyar into my life.

Then in my 29th year something strange happened. Pillaiyar started invading my home. First it was a friend who came to visit and gave a little pencil holder carved with His form. Then came another friend from India who gave me a small idol which I placed in my altar. A friend from Bombay sent me prasad from a Vinayaka temple and yet another idol. My sister-in-law sent along a wall hanging in Batik, another Pillaiyar.  My mother sent a pocket calendar with a picture of Ganesh. Ah, I forgot to say – all this was over just a couple of weeks.

Very soon after that I had a psychic experience, an experience which gives me goosebumps even now. Don’t mistake me. I am just an ordinary woman. But very rarely in one’s life extraordinary things can and do happen. And so an extraordinary thing happened to me. After the experience I was left with an unassailable conviction that Pillaiyar had blessed me with a son. As we had not even contemplated having a second child, my husband looked at me with great disbelief when I shared my experience with him that evening. But a visit to the doctor a few weeks later confirmed it, and 40 weeks later I had a beautiful son to nestle in my arms. Now 22 years later, as I look at him sitting across the room engrossed in his book, I remember that day and the wonderful blessing I was given. And on this Pillaiyar Chaturthi day, I once again thank Him for sending me my son.  Needless to say, since that day so many years ago, Pillaiyar’s presence abounds in my heart and my home.

So what music did I pick for Him today? Those who follow my blog know how much pleasure I take in dancing Gods. And what can be more wonderful that a dancing Pillaiyar? In this wonderfully rhythmic song set to Raga Natta (click here to know a bit more about this raga), Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyar prays to Vinayaka while he dances his divine dance. For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

To present this song, I went for the obvious choice of a dance. In the video below, watch Padmashri and Sangeet Natak Academy winner Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant give meaning to this song with her beautiful Bharatanatyam movements.


Click here to listen to an energetic rendition by Aruna Sairam, with slightly different jatis.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

Note: I have transcribed the jatis as it has been sung for the dance video. It seems as if different musicians add their own jatis as I have heard a few different versions.

आनन्द नर्तन गणपतिं भावये – (परम् / सदा )
चिदाकार मूलाधार ॐ कार गजवदनं परमम् परम् (आनन्द)

सानन्द मुनीन्द्र गणनुत शिव शङ्कर मानस निलीयमानं
तन्त्रीलय समन्वित गन्धर्व सारण वरानुगीय मानं
दीन जन मन्दारं अनुपम दिव्य कलेबर शोभाय  मानं
भासमानं असमानं भजमानं भक्तजन सम्मानं

पा म ग मा रि सा स रि सा
तकदिमि तकजणु किट तडान्गु तक
दीम् त दीम् त ता तैय्य ताम्
ता तडम्तरि ता  तक तडं तडं तरि तै
तरि तरि तरि त  दिमि दिमि दिमि त
जडु जडु जडु त  दिमि दिमि किट त
किट किट किट जण जण जण

दिविपतिनुतं  पदसरिसजं
म ग प म नि प मरकत निभं
मदकरिमुखं प्रणव निनदं
अजितं अनघं शुभदं परमम्

कनकाम्बर धरणं एक रदनं / दन्तं

तक तडं तकत तरि दित्
तक तडं तकत तरि तक तडं तकत तरि ताम्
दित् तक तडं तकत तरि दित्
तक तडं तकत तरि तक तडं तकत तरि तै
तत् दित् तक तडं तकत तरि दित्
तक तडं तकत तरि तक तडं तकत त


Ananda nartana gaNapatim bhAvayE
chidAkAra mUlAdhAra OmkAra gajavadanam paramam param (Ananda)

sAnanda munIndra gaNanuta shiva shankara mAnasa nilIyamAnam
tantrI laya samanvita gandharva sAraNa varAnugIya mAnam
dIna jana mandAram anupama divya kaLebara shObhAya mAnam
bhAsamAnam asamAnam bhajamAnam bhaktajana sammAnam

pa ma ga mA ri sa sA sa ri sA
takadimi takajaNu kiTa taDAngu taka
dIm ta dIm ta tA taiyya tAm
tA taDambari tA taka taDam taDam tari tai
tari tari tari ta dimi dimi dimi ta
jaDu jaDu jaDu ta dimi dimi kiTa ta
kiTa kiTa kiTa jaNa jaNa jaNa

divipatinutam pada sarisijam
ma ga pa ma ni pa marakata nibham
madakari mukham praNava ninadam
ajitam anagham shubadam paramam
kanakAmbara dharaNam Eka radanam (or eKa dantam)

taka taDam takata tari dit
taka taDam takata tari taka taDam taka tari tAm
dit taka taDam takata tari dit
taka taDam takata tari taka taDam taka tari tai
tat dit taka taDam takata tari dit
taka taDam takata tari taka taDam taka ta (Ananda)


I meditate (bhavayE) upon the joyously (Ananda) dancing (nartana) Ganapati. He is Spirit incarnate (chidAkara), he is the origin and the foundation (mUla AdhAra), the form of Om (OmkAra), elephant faced (gaja vadana), the greatest (paramam).

He is praised (nuta) by the joyful (sAnanda) group (gaNa) of chiefs of sages (munIndra). He lies hidden (nilIyamAnam) in the mind (manasa) of Shiva Shankara.  He dwells (mAnam) as the after-song (reverberations?) (anugIta) (note: unsure if anugIya comes from anugIta) when celestial musicians (gandharva) endowed with the lute and rhythm (tantrI laya) strike a note (sAraNa). He is heaven (mandAra) for the wretched (dIna jana). He dwells (mAnam) with beauty (shObhAya) in an incomparible (anupama) divine (divya) kalEbara (body).  He dwells (mAnam) in lustre/light (bhAsa). He is incomparable (asamAnam). He is fitting (bhajamAnam). He is honoured (sammAnam) by his devotees (bhakta jana).

He is praised (nutam) by the Lord (pati) in Heaven (divi) (meaning Indra I think). His feet (pada) are like the lotus (sarasijam). He resembles (nibham) an emerald (marakata). He has a face (mukham) of an elephant (madakari is an elephant in rut, but here perhaps it just means elephant. Unsure). He is the sound (ninadam) of Om (pranava). He is unsurpassed (ajitam). He is faultless (anagham). He is the giver (-da as suffix) of welfare (shubha).  He is the supreme (paramam). He wears (dhAranam) golden (kanaka) clothes (ambara). He has one (Eka) radanam or dantam (tusk).



Filed under Ananda Shankar Jayant, Aruna Sairam, Carnatic Music, Classical Dance, Compositions in Sanskrit, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer

Paal Vadiyum Mugam

Krishna Baby2God is in everything. So say Hindu philosophers.  तत् त्वं असि – Thou art that, they say with great conviction. Poets have sung of this. सर्वं ब्रह्ममयं – everything is infused by God sang Sadashiva Brahmendra with even more conviction. Kabir has written that God is within each of us. जैसे तिल में तेल है, ज्यूं चकमक में आग , तेरा साईं तुझमे है, तू जाग सके तो जाग – Like there is oil inside the sesame seed, like there is fire within the flint stone, your God is within you, awake if you can wake. So if we look around us, we should see God in all and the great universality of everything in us and us in everything, right?

Easier said than done! I often wonder, how did the Saints do it? Is it like looking at the clouds and seeing shapes within? We look at the world around us and look for the shape of God to emerge? It seems doable with nature at times. When I see the beauty of great mountains, the sheer magnitude of the Niagara, the power of a thunderstorm – I can convince myself that I can see the hand of God.

It is even feasible to feel at one with inanimate things.  I sometimes confront the potato that I am chopping for dinner with a statement such as ‘what you call ‘I’ today, will soon be part of me, my body. You and I are one’. I am even known to declaim to the glass of water before I drink it ‘You were ocean, you were cloud, you were rain, you were other beings, and now you shall be me!’. And no, to those who are curious about the state of my sanity, neither the potato nor the glass of water have replied so far! So the inanimate, that I can do. But to see myself or God in all beings? Even in that idiot who took two parking places to park his tiny car so that I had to go in circles trying to find a spot? Is it possible? How did the Saints do it?

So it is with great interest that I pored over Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer’s song in which he says he sees Krishna everywhere. He writes ‘Whenever I see anything my thoughts go nowhere except your innocent face’. He provides examples : ‘When sometimes I am drawn to look at the line of the horizon, your tranquil face comes to mind!’ and ‘ Even when I find meaning in the song of a cuckoo, the music of your flute enchants me!’. So if I understand correctly, whatever he does, his mind and thoughts keep being drawn towards Krishna. He is not attesting to the fact that he sees Krishna everywhere, but to the fact that he himself can think of no other than Krishna. Is that the way then?

I will let you ponder the question if it interests you. For me, I will just take pleasure in this beautiful song, enjoying the enchanting and evocative images drawn by the poet-composer and marvelling at its foot-tapping brisk melody. Oh how I remember my mother today! She used to sing this song happily to herself while pottering busily in the kitchen. So it is my dearest mother I hear in this song, not the flute of Krishna! Set to raga Nattakurinji, this is a perennial favourite. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I  have chosen a rendition by the great Maharajapuram Santhanam.

For an instrumental version, listen to this interesting Veena rendition by R.Jayanthi with a flute interlude as well as solkattu (vocal percussion) in places.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பால்வடியும் முகம்
நினைந்து நினைந்தென் உள்ளம்
பரவச மிக வாகுதே (கண்ணா)

நீலக்கடல் போலும் நிறத்தழகா -கண்ணா
எந்தன் நெஞ்சம் குடி கொண்டு
அன்று முதல் இன்றும்
எந்த பொருள் கண்டும்
சிந்தனை    செல்லாதொழிய (பால்வடியும்)

வான முகட்டில் சட்று
மனம் வந்து நோக்கினும்
(உன்) மோன முகம் வந்து தோனுதே

தெளிவான தண்ணீர் தடத்தில்
சிந்தனை மாறினும்
(உன்) சிரித்த முகம் வந்து காணுதே

கானக் குயில் குரலில்
கருத்(து) அமைந்திடினும் (அங்கு)
உன் கான குழலோசை மயக்குதே

கருத்த குழலொடு நிறுத்த மயிலிற-
கிறுக்கி அமைத்த திறத்திலே
கான மயிலாடும் மோனக்குயில் பாடும்
நீல நதியோடும் வனத்திலே

குழல் முதல் எழிலிசை குழைய வரும் இசையில்
குழலொடு மிளிர் இளங் கரத்திலே
கதிரும் மதியும் என நயன விழிகள் இரு
நளினமான சலனத்திலே

காளிங்கன் சிரத்திலே
கதித்த  பதத்திலே
என் மனத்தை இருத்திக்
கனவு நினைவினோடு
பிறவி பிறவி தோறும்
கனிந்துருக வரம் தருக பரம் கருணை (பால்வடியும்)


pAl vaDiyum mugam
ninaindu ninainden uLLam
paravasa migavAgudE (kaNNA)

nIlakaDal pOlum niRattazhgA – kaNNA
endan nenjam kuDi konDu
andRu mudal indRum
enda poRul kanDum
sindanai sellAdozhiya

vAna mugaTTil chatRu
manam vandu nOkkinum
(un) mOna mugam vandu tonudE

teLivAna taNNIr taDattil
sindanai mARinum
(un) siritta mugam vandu kANudE

gAnak kuyil kuralil
(un) gAna kuzhalOsai mayakkudE

karutta kuzhalodu niRutta mayiliRagiRukki amaitta tiRattilE
gAna mayilADum mOnakkuyil pADum nIla nadiyOdum vanattilE

kuzhal mudal ezhilisai kuzhaiya varum isaiyil
kuzhlodu miLir iLang-karattilE
kadirum madiyum ena nayana vizhigal iru
naLinamAna salanattilE

kaLinga sirattilE
kaditta padittilE
en manattai iruttik
kanavu ninaivinodu
piRavi piRavi tORum
kaninduruga varam taruga param karuNai


Note: I struggled over the translation of some bits and am not myself convinced that I have it right, my apologies.

Immersed in the thought of that innocent face, my heart  reaches heights of ecstasy!

You, who are beautiful with skin the colour  of the  blue  ocean, have taken residence  in my heart from  that day to this day. Whenever I see  anything my thoughts go nowhere  except  (your innocent face).

When sometimes I am drawn to look at the line of the horizon, your tranquil face comes to mind! When my thoughts change at a track of clear still water, your smiling face appears before me! Even when I find meaning in the song of a cuckoo, the music of your flute enchants me!

In the expertise with which the dark flute with a peacock feather stopper is made, in the forest where the peacock dances, the cuckoo sings and a blue river runs,

In the glint/flash of the flute held in young hands from which meltingly exquisite music comes, in the flashing movement of your two eyes,

In the fast-moving feet on the head of the snake Kalinga, you still my mind. With the greatest of compassion, please give me the boon that in birth after birth I should melt (for you) with my dreams and memories intact.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, R.Jayanthi

Kuzhaloodi Manamellam

Krishna MusicI am back today with a song about dancing Gods, a recurring theme in this blog. I cannot quite resist the vision of Shiva dancing his Tandava, galaxies shattering and forming again under the force of His stamping feet, energy and mass weaving one into the other, Him both the creator and the created, both the destroyer and the destroyed, dancing His dance to eternity. Nor can I resist the image of Krishna whirling with his gopikas on moonlit nights in deserted groves, animals stilled and watchful, even the wind stilled,  heavenly music weaving a magic spell, enchanting everyone, He dancing with all we see, in all we see. One is a vision which leaves us spellbound in awe, the other mesmerises by its charm.  So when poets draw me such an image, I am beguiled anew.

Our poet-composer today is Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (c.1700-1765) whom I have featured a number of times already. In this joyful song of Krishna’s dance he says ‘After He has played His flute and stolen my heart, how can I have any grievance?’. I love this contentment which is so very unusual in our devotional poetry. We hear poets often wishing and wanting :  ‘take care of me’, ‘bless me’, ‘show yourself to me’. Despair and contrition is another running thread : ‘forgive me’, ‘am I not worthy?’, ‘I long for you’ they say. Amongst all this, I much admire this poet who takes joy in Krishna’s dance and says he has no complaints, discontent or grievance.  His vision of a dancing Krishna is so beguiling, his notes so joyful that we too can partake in the bliss that the poet has found. Do read the lyrics and translation in the footnote, the poetry is quite charming.

Set to Raga Kambhoji, Kuzhaloodi Manamellam is a well known and well loved song. To more about the raga, click here.

Today I have gone back to the voices of yesteryears, the Bombay Sisters. The style may feel old-fashioned to today’s ears but the music still sounds impeccable.

I had originally chosen Sankaran Namboothiri’s detailed rendition as Kambhoji sounds very good in his rich and powerful voice, but  alas, he has taken too many liberties with the lyrics in the second charanam. If you have the time for listening to him anyway, here is a link.

I hesitated over the instrumental version. I have heard it said that Kambhoji sounds best on the Nadaswaram, and the rendition which appealed best to me today was on the Veena. But given the title of the song, I present Sikkil Mala Chandrashekharan whose gentle handling of this song is very pleasant to hear.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

குழலூதி மனமெல்லாம் கொள்ளை கொண்ட பின்னும்
குறை ஏதும் எனக்கேதடி ( தோழி/சகியே)

அழகான மயிலாடவும்  (மிக)
காற்றில் அசைந்தாடும் கொடி போலவும்

மத்யம கால சாஹித்யம்
அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே
தனைமறந்து புள்ளினம் கூட
அசைந்தாடி மிக இசைந்தோடி வரும்
நலம் காண ஒரு மனம் நாட
தகுமிதி (/தகுமிகு) என ஒரு பதம் பாட
தகிட ததிமி என நடமாட
கன்று பசுவினமும் நின்று புடைசூழ
என்றும் மலரும் முக இறைவன் கனிவோடு

மகர குண்டலம் ஆடவும் (கண்ணன்)
அதற்கேற்ப மகுடம் ஒளி வீசவும்
மிகவும் எழில் ஆகவும்
காற்றில் மிளிரும் கொடி போலவும் (/துகில் ஆடவும் )
(அகமகிழ்ந்துலகும் நிலவொளி தனிலே…)

Translieration :

kuzhalUdi manamellAm koLLai koNDa pinnum
kuraiyEdum enakkEdaDi (tozhi/sakiyE)

azhagAna mayilADavum (miga)
kATRil asaindADum koDi pOlavum

madhyama kAla sahityam
agamagizhndulagum nilavoLi tanilE
tanai marandu puLLinam kUDa
asaindADi miga isaindODi varum
nalam kANa oru manam nADa
tagumidi (tagumigu) ena oru padam pADa
takiTa tadimi ena naTamADa
kandru pasuvinamum nindru puDai shUzha
endrum malarum mukha iraivan kanivODu

makara kuNDalam ADavum
adarkErppa makuTam oLi vIsavum
migavum ezhilAgavum
kATril miLirum kodi pOlavum (/tugil Adavum)
(madhyama kala sahityam)


After having stolen (koLLai) all (ellam) my heart (manam) with His flute (kuzhal) playing (oodi, literally blow), what grievance/complaint (kuRai) can I have, my friend?

As a beautiful (azhagAna) peacock (mayil) dances (Adavum), looking like (pola) a creeper (koDi) dancing (asaindADum) in the wind (kATril), I am joyous (agam=self, magizhndu=joyful) in the shining (ilagum) moonlight (niLavoLi). As birds(puL=birds, inam=class/flock) gather (kooDa), forgetting themselves (tanai marandu), as the mind (manam) longs (nADa) to see (kANa) the beauty/delight (nalam) of one who comes running, (oDi varum) dancing (asaindADi)  harmoniously (isaindu), singing (pADa) a padam (a kind of song) like (ena) tagumidi (a rhythm word), dancing (aDa) a dance (naTam) with a rhythm like takita-tadimi (rhythm words), as the calves (kandru) and cows (pasu) stand around in a guard of honour (pudai shUzha), the God (iraivan) whose face (mukha) is always (endrum) flowering (malarum) with a smile (implied), with tenderness (kanivoDu) [having stolen my heart……]

With his fish-shaped earrings (makara kundalam) dancing (Adavum), his crown (makutam) flashing light (oLi vIsavum) appropriately (adarkErppa), with great (miga) beauty (ezhil), like a flag (kodi/tugil) flashing (miLirum) in the wind (kAtril), [I am joyous….]



Filed under Bombay Sisters, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sankaran Namboothiri, Sikkil Mala

Alai Payude Kanna

Radha in Viraha2The world is bathed in moonlight; this night is almost as bright as day. The breeze wafts in the sound of the flute being played, somewhere far away. A young woman stands in the meadows, peering into the distance, seeking her love, the flautist. Her mind is awash with misery and longing, as restless as the waves of the ocean. At times, she is stilled by the music, for it is enchanting, this music that the flute player plays. At times, her overwhelming love makes her wait unbearable. ‘Won’t you come and embrace me in a lonely grove and make me flower with sensations?’ she begs in her mind. At other times, her attachment makes her full of jealousy and doubt ‘While I cry out for you in despair, are you frolicking with other women? Is this just? Is this fair?’.  Her heart lurches from one thing to another as she awaits her lover. And like the ebb and flow of the waves, her heart too ebbs and flows with love, longing and despair.

What an evocative image the poet-composer Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (c. 1700-1765)  has painted!! Oh the poignant grief of separation from one who is loved so very much! I have previously written a post on viraha bhava, which features often in Indian literature and music. Alai Payude Kanna, a well-known and well-loved kriti, is a superb example of this mood.  The poet writes of Radha’s wait for Krishna, but he also writes of the Bhaktas’ longing for union with the divine. Like the flautist who enchants and stills her, so too are we enchanted into the stillness of meditation and contemplation at times. As she begs for union, so too do we beg for Moksha, a release from this cycle of birth and death and union with the divine. As she despairs with jealousy and lack of faith, so too do we let doubts fill our mind causing our own grief. And always, like the restless waves of the ocean, our mind surges, forever seeking the Lord.

Set to Raga Kanada, a sad raga, the composer mimics the ebb and flow of the waves by the rise and fall of the melody. From a longing in the lower octaves, to a despairing cry for justice in the higher octaves, the speed changing to match the mood, and then back down the scales to a gentle sadness – it is very cleverly composed. When you listen, note the beautiful usage of the sounds of the words to show the urgency in the madhyamakala sangati. In the staccato sounds of ‘kaditta manattil urutti padattai’ , the alliteration of the ‘tt’ sound adds to the effect. To know more about the raga, click here.

Today I present Sudha Raghunathan’s version from her album Alaipayuthey Kanna which I bought in the early nineties as a casette tape. Formats have changed over the years but the music still remains very pleasing.

Mandolin Maestro U.Shrinivas is a musician whom I admire tremendously. Here is his excellent rendition of this kriti.


Footnote (lyrics) :

அலைபாயுதே கண்ணா, என் மனம் மிக அலைபாயுதே
(உன்) ஆனந்த மோகன வேணுகானம் அதில் (அலைபாயுதே)

நிலை பெயராது சிலை போலவே நின்று
நேரமாவதறியாமலே மிக விநோதமாக முரளீதரா
என் மனம் (அலைபாயுதே)

தெளிந்த நிலவு பட்டப்பகல் போல் எரியுதே
திக்கை நோக்கி என் இரு புருவம் நெரியுதே
கனிந்த உன் வேணுகானம் காற்றில் வருகுதே
கண்கள் சொருகி ஒரு விதமாய் வருகுதே

கதித்த மனத்தில் உருத்தி பதத்தை
எனக்கு அளித்து மகிழ்த்தவா
ஒரு தனித்த வனத்தில் அணைத்து எனக்கு
உணர்ச்சி கொடுத்து முகிழ்த்தவா
கனை கடல் அலையினில் கதிரவன் ஒளியென
இணையிரு கழலெனக்-அளித்தவா
கதறி மனமுருகி நான் அழைக்கவோ
இதர மாதருடன் நீ களிக்கவோ
இது தகுமோ, இது முறையோ, இது தருமம் தானோ?
குழலூதிடும் பொழுது ஆடிடும் குழைகள்
போலவே மனது வேதனை மிகவொடு (அலைபாயுதே)

For notation, click here.


alai pAyudE kaNNA en manam miga alai pAyudE
un Ananda mOhana vENugAnam adil

nilai peyarAdu silai pOlavE ninru
nEramAvadariyAmalE miga vinOdamAna muralIdharA en manam

teLinda nilavu paTTap-pagal pOl eriyudE
dikkai nOkki enniru puruvam neriyudE
kaninda un vENugAnam kATril varugudE
kaNgaL sorugi oru vidamAi varugudE
kaditta manattil urutti padattai enakku aLittu magizhtta vA
oru tanitta vanattil aNaittu enakku uNarchchi koDuttu mugizhtta vA
kanai kaDal alaiyinil kadiravan oLiyena iNaiyiru kazhal-enakkaLitta vA
kadari manam urugi nAn azhaikkavO
idara mAdaruDan nI kaLikkavO
idu tagumO! idu muraiyO! idu darumam dAnO!
kuzhal UdiDum pozhudu AdiDum kuzhaigaL
pOlavE manadu vEdanai migavoDu


My mind (en manam) is as restless as the waves (alai) in an ocean as I listen to the happy (ananda), bewitching (mohana) sound of the flute (venu) you play.

I stand transfixed  (nilai = place, peyarAdu = without moving) like a statue (silai pOlavE), unaware (ariyAmalE) of even of the passage of time (nEramAvadu), oh my mysterious (vinOdamAna) flautist (muralIdhara) !

The moon (nilavu) is clear (telinda) and shines (eriyudE) as bright as the day (pattap-pagal).  I seek you (implied in dikkai=direction nokki=looking), my brows  (iru=two, puruvam=brows) drawn (neriyudE). The breeze (kAtru) brings in the sound of your mellow (kaninda) flute music (vEnu gAnam) and my eyes (kaNgal) close involuntarily (sorugi) in ecstasy (implied in oru vidamAi= in a certain manner). Come, bless me (enakkau alittu=by giving me) with your feet (padam) and melt (urutti) my heavy (kaditta) heart (implied in manam=mind), filling me with happiness (magaizhtta)! Come (va), embrace (anaikka) me in a lonely (tanitta) grove  (vanam) and make me flower (mugiztta) with sensations (uNarchchi)! Come (Va) to the waves (alai) of the roaring (kanai=sound making) ocean (kadal) and give (aLittha) me your two (iru) feet (kazhal) which are equal (iNai) to the light (Oli) of the sun (kadiravan). While I call out (azhaikka) for you in despair (kadari, manam urugi=with melting heart), are you frolicking (kaLikka) with other (idara) women (mAdar)? Is this right (tagumo, muraiyo)? Is it fair (darumam)? Like your ear-ornaments (kuzhai) lurch (adidum) when you play (Udi) the flute (kuzhal), so too my mind lurches in grief (vedanai).



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sudha Raghunathan, U.Srinivas

Pullay Piravi

Even if you give me many virtuous births, please let me be born as a blade of grass in Brindavan, O Krishna. But grass does not last for many days, therefore please let me be re-born as a small stone. As your flower like feet embrace me, I will be filled with joy and forget my existence!

GrassPlease let me be re-born as a blade of grass’ says the poet-composer Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. What a hook!  Any listener would want to hear the rest of the song, just to know why! I am especially drawn to this composition because, like the poet-composer, I too am forever ‘designing’ my next birth!

Of all Hindu concepts, Reincarnation is something I find so very comforting. Simply stated, Hindus believe that the soul, which is indestructible,  is born again and again on this earth shedding bodies as one sheds one’s clothing. The concept of Karma is intertwined; we are tied by good deeds and bad deeds to the souls around us forever trying to erase this Karma debt we carry from life to life.   ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ goes the saying. Apply it to multiple lives and everything at once makes sense, as all of us have known people who seem to sow and sow and never reap (and vice versa)!!

To what purpose then, all these births? It seems to me that each life is a made-to-order grade in a school where our souls come to learn new lessons. In some we succeed and in some we don’t; no matter, we can be born again as many times as is needed. There are no ‘punishments’ for mistakes, just harder lessons to learn. As the soul matures, it becomes ready for Moksha, the release from the cycle of birth and death. At that time, with the grace of God, we are released and our souls merge with God (Advaita philosophy).

So how are we to hasten through this seemingly never ending cycle of life and death? Surely good deeds tie us to this cycle as much as bad deeds, for even good deeds result in Karma debt? Well, we can follow Krishna’s advice to Arjuna

कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भू: मा ते सङ्गोत्स्वकर्मणि ||

You have right only over the act, never over its fruits. Let not the fruits be your motive and yet don’t be attached to inaction.

And if we were to follow the principle of detached virtuous action as described above, perhaps we can hasten our way to Moksha. The only other way is to somehow find the grace of God and for that Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer has found a very innovative idea!

Let me born as a blade of grass or better, a stone in Brindavan’ says he to Lord Krishna in this song. ‘When your feet touch me, I will ascend at once in Moksha’.  What a clever idea! For the full lyrics and translation of this composition, see footnote. The song is set to Raga Senjurutti; to know more about this raga, click here.

I am very fond of Sudha Raghunathan’s rendition of this song from the album Alaipayuthe Kanna which you can listen to below.

Alternate link : Click here.

Another nice rendition is by T.N.Seshagopalan which you can download from here – song 11 (needs free membership of Sangeethamshare.org).

Footnote (Lyrics) :

புல்லாய்ப் பிறவி தர வேணும் – கண்ணா
புனிதமான பலகோடி பிறவி தந்தாலும்
பிருந்தாவனம் இதிலொரு (புல்லாய்)

புல்லாகினும் நெடு நாள் நில்லாது – ஆதலினால்
கல்லாய்ப் பிறவி தரவேணுமே – ஒரு சிறு
கமல மலரிணைகள் அணைய எனதுள்ளம்
புலகிதமூற்றிடும் பவமற்றிடுமே

ஒருகணம் உன் பதம் படும் எந்தன் மேலே
மறுகணம் நான் உயர்வேன் மென்மேலே
(உன் ) திருமேனி என் மேலே அமர்ந்திடும் ஒருகாலே
திருமகளென மலரடி பெயர்ந்த உன்னைத்
தொடர்ந்த ராதைக்கு இடந்தருவேனே
திசை திசை எங்கணும் பரவிடும் குழலிசை
மயங்கி வரும் பல கோபியருடனே
சிறந்த ரசமிகு நடம் நீ ஆடவும்
சுருதியோடு  லயமிக கலந்து பாடவும்
திளைப்பிலே வரும் களிப்பிலே
எனக்கிணை யாரென மகிழ்வேனே
தவமிகு சுரரோடு முனிவரும் விய நான்
தனித்த பெரும் பேர் அடைவேனே
எவ்வுயிர்க்கும் உள்கலக்கும் இறைவனே
யமுனைத்துறைவனே எனக்கும் ஒரு (புல்லாய்)


pullAi piravi tara vENum-kaNNA
punidamAna palakOTi piravi tandAlum
brindAvanam idiloru


pullAginum neduNAL nillAdu-AdalinAl
kallAi piravi taravENumE-oru siru
kamala malariNaigaL aNaiya enaduLLam
pulakitamuTriDum bavamaTriDum ena oru


oru kaNam un padam paDum endan mElE
marukaNam nAn uyarvEn menmElE
tirumEni enmElE amarndiDum oru kAlE
tirumagaLena malaraDi peyarndu unai
toDarnda rAdhaikkum iDam taruvEnE
dishai dishai enkaNum paraviDum kuzhalisai
mayangi varum pala gOpiyaruDanE
shiranda rasam migu naTam nI ADavum
shrutiyoDu layamiga kalandu pADavum
tiLaippilE varum kaLippilE
enakku iNai yArena magizhvEnE
tavamigu surarodu munivarum iyalA
tanitta perumpEr aDaivEnE
evvuyirkkum uL kalakkum iraivanE
yamunaitturaivanE enakkumoru


Please let me be re-born as a blade of grass, O Krishna.
Even if you give me many virtuous births,
Let me be re-born in Brindavan (as a blade of grass).

But grass does not last for many days,
therefore please let me be re-born as a small stone.
As the flower like pair (of feet) embrace me ,
I will be filled with joy and forget my existence,
therefore (let me be born as a blade of grass).

The moment your feet touch me,
the moment your holy body sits on me,
I will ascend in salvation.
I will make place for Radha who follows you,
whose feet are like those of Lakshmi.

As  the Gopis come from all directions
drawn to the music from your flute,
as you dance with emotion
and at the same time sing tunefully in rhythm,
in the tiredness that comes with effort (implied: you will sit on me and )
I will think joyfully that none is equal to me,
As demi-Gods and sages in penance are amazed,
I will achieve this unique distinction.
Oh God,  you who are in all beings,
Oh Lord of Yamuna (river), please le me be re-born as a blade of

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, Sudha Raghunathan, T.N.Seshagopalan