Tag Archives: T.N.Seshagopalan

Balagopala

Krishna BabyA very happy Janmashtami to all my readers! May Lord Krishna’s grace always be with you!

Today is the perfect day to meditate upon Bala Gopala, the young Lord Krishna, the cowherd who charmed the Gopikas ages ago, and who continues to charm millions even today. Don’t you think that Krishna as a child is quite irresistible? Mischievous and endearing, he is both child and God. When He steals butter from his mother’s pantry, He is a child; when He opens His mouth to show the universe contained within, He is God. When He allows Himself to be tied by a rope to His waist in punishment for his mischief, He is a child; when He drags the mortar he is tied to and uproots two trees, He is God. When He dances and plays with his friends, He is a child; when He dances on the serpent Kalinga’s head, He is God. So it is that we, his devotees, love Him like a child but worship Him like a God.

Bala Gopala is a God that children are drawn to very easily. I remember how attached I was to Him as a child. I thought of Him almost as a playmate, as a friend. How close He seemed at that time! There is a story which illustrates just that feeling. In fact, as a child of seven or eight, I acted in a play put up by Chinmaya Mission which was based on this story.

Once upon a time there was a young lad from a very poor family. Since his father had died, he was brought up by his mother. They lived in a little hamlet at the edge of a forest. When he was about seven, he started school. There were no schools in his hamlet; he had to go across the forest to the town on the other side. There were many wild animals in the forest and our little friend was fearful every time he had to cross.

“Mother, I am so afraid of the forest! Can you not walk with me to school?” He asked her.

She smiled at him. “Don’t be afraid. Your brother Gopala grazes his cattle in the forest. Call out to him if you are afraid, He will take care of you” said the wise and devout lady.

The next day as he entered the forest he grew fearful as always. Remembering his mother’s words, he called out “Brother Gopala, where are you? I am afraid, will you not walk with me?”.

He heard a voice in response and soon a young cowherd joined him, a beautiful dark-skinned little boy in yellow clothes, a joyous visage and a peacock feather tucked jauntily in his hair. They laughed and played as little boys do.  At the other edge of the forest Gopala waved him goodbye. This continued until the end of the term when all the students gave a gift to the teacher to honour him. Our lad was much too poor to afford anything but still he asked his mother.

“I must take a gift for my teacher mother. Is there anything you can give me?”.

Shaking her head she said “No son, I have nothing worthy as a gift. Why don’t you ask your brother Gopala? I am sure he can find you something”.

Which he did. Gopala gave him a small pot of yoghurt to give to his teacher. At the school, our little boy hesitated as his gift looked not very impressive compared to the gifts of the other children. Still, when it was his turn, he gave the small pot of yoghurt to the teacher, saying that it was from his brother ‘Gopala’. The teacher took it with thanks and poured out the yoghurt into a bigger pot. Much to his surprise, the little pot refilled. He kept pouring it out and it kept refilling! Realising who his pupil’s ‘brother’ was, he asked to be taken to the forest so he could see for himself. But much to the little boy’s dismay, much as he called out to his brother, he didn’t appear.

Finally he cried out piteously “Brother Gopala, don’t you love me anymore?”

They heard a voice in response. “I will always love you. I will appear only for you, for only you are worthy of seeing me.”

Hearing this the teacher was moved to tears and embraced the boy, for thanks to him he had at least heard the Divine Cowherd’s voice!

I ponder on the tale today, wondering what lessons I can glean from it. God is very close to the innocent, is he not. The little boy was not even praying; nor did he call out to God. Then whose call was He answering? It seems to me it was the mother whose prayers were answered. She tied Lord Krishna to her boy with the deft knot of love and prayer just like Yashoda tied Him to the mortar with her own bonds of love. We who have lost our innocence, what is our recourse I wonder? Innocence once lost can never be regained, can it? Something to think about….

To celebrate the day, I have chosen a beautiful composition in Bhairavi by Muthuswami Dikshithar. The words describe Lord Krishna – his appearance, his actions, his qualities, his powers. You can use each line as a gateway to a meditation on who He is. Or you could forget it all and drown in the haunting notes of Bhairavi which takes you to exactly the same place in the presence of God.

There are so many beautiful renditions of this kriti that it is difficult for me to choose one! Since I decided on the music two days ago, I have listened to at least a dozen or so renditions and I like so many of them! So here are some of my recommendations :

T.N.Seshagopalan gives a very solid and energy filled performance in this CD from 1990.

M.Balamuralikrishna’s rendition is softer, smoother and very peaceful. A touch of sadness and pathos in his Bhairavi, don’t you think?

The third is by T.M.Krishna and he makes an interesting technical note about the Bhairavi he sings being the ‘original’ of Muthuswami Dikshithar school. I also like his neraval very much. It is from the album December Season 2009 and is available in Dunya and Spotify for online listening (needs registration).

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
बाल गोपाल पालयाशु माम्
भक्त वत्सल कृपा जलधे हरे

अनुपल्लवि
नील नीरद शरीर धीर तर
नीरज कर निरुपम आनन्द कर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
लीलया गोप वेष धर मुरळी धर
श्री धर दामोदर वर

चरणम्
चाणूर मल्ल हरण निपुण तर
चरण निहत शकटासुर मुर हर
माणिक्य मकुट हार वलय धर
मत्तेभ कुम्भ भेदन पटु तर
वाणीशार्चित पीताम्बर धर **
वैजयन्ती वन माला धर **
आणवादि विजय मानसाकर
अपहत कंसासुर नत भूसुर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
द्रोण कर्ण दुर्योधनादि हर
द्रौपदी मान संरक्षण कर
वैणिक गायक गुरु गुह नुत
पुर वैरि विहित (alt: विनुत ) गोपिका मनोहर

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Transliteration in English :

pallavi
bAla gOpAla pAlayAshu mAm
bhakta vatsala kRpA jaladhE harE

anupallavi
nIla nIrada sharIra dhIra tara
nIraja kara nirupamAnanda kara
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
lIlayA gOpa vEsha dhara muraLI dhara
shrI dhara dAmOdara vara

charaNam
chANUra malla haraNa nipuNa tara
charaNa nihata shakaTAsura mura hara
mANikya makuTa hAra valaya dhara
mattEbha kumbha bhEdana paTu tara
vANIshArchita pItAmbara dhara **
vaijayantI vana mAlA dhara **
ANavAdi vijaya mAnasAkara
apahata kaMsAsura nata bhUsura
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
drONa karNa duryOdhanAdi hara
draupadI mAna saMrakshaNa kara
vaiNika gAyaka guru guha nuta
pura vairi vihita (alt: vinuta) gOpikA manOhara

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Translation :

pallavi

O The Child (bAla) Cowherd (gOpAla), protect (pAlayAshu) me (mAm)! O Hari (harE), you are dear (vatsala) to your devotees (bhakta), an ocean (jaladhi) of mercy (kRpA).

anupallavi

With a body (sharIra) like (here it means the colour of) blue (nIla) rain clouds (nIrada), you are most wise (dhIra tara). Your hands (kara) are like a lotus (nIraja). You bestow (kara=the one who causes) incomparable (nirupama) bliss (Ananda). You assumed the appearance (vesha dhara) of a cowherd (gOpa) by divine sport (lIlayA). You hold (dhara) a flute (muraLI). You are bearer of fortune (shrI dhara, name of Vishnu, also means He who holds Lakshmi). You are excellent (vara) Damodara, one whose waist was tied with a rope (from the Damodara Lila).

charaNam

You are the one who destroyed (haraNa) the wrestler (malla) Chanura with great skill (nipuNa tara). You slew (nihata) Shakatasura with your feet (charaNa). You are the destroyer (hara) of Mura. You are wearing (suffix dhara) crown (mukuTa) of rubies (mAnikya), garlands (hAra) and armlets/bangles (valaya). You very skilfully (paTu tara) fractured/broke (bhEdana) the high forehead (kumbha) of a mad /furious (matta) elephant (ibha) (from the story of the killing of the elephant Kuvalayapida). You are worshipped (archita) by Brahma, husband (Isha) of Saraswati (vANI). You wear (suffix dhara) yellow (pIta) garments (ambara). You wear (suffix dhara) a garland (mAlA) of forest (vana) flowers (vaijayantI, a kind of forest flower). You are victorious (vijaya) over egoism (ANava) etc (Adi) by his excellent (Akara) mental powers (mAnasa). You destroyed (apahita) the demon (asura) Kamsa. You are worshipped (nata) by Brahmanas (bhUsura). You defeated (hara) Drona, Karna, Duryodhana etc (Adi). You protected (samrakshaNa kara) Drapadi’s honour (mAna). You are praised (nuta) by the Veena player (vaiNika) and singer / musician (gAyaka) Guruguha (signature of the composer). You put in order (vihita) the enemies (vairi) of the town (pura) [does this refer to His protecting Dwaraka? I am unsure about this. The alternate word vinuta is translated often as praised so here it could mean ‘praised by the enemies ‘]. You are the enchanter (manOhara) of the cowherdesses (gOpikA).

 

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, M.Balamuralikrishna, T.M.Krishna, T.N.Seshagopalan, Uncategorized

Siddhi Vinayakam Anisham

ashtasiddhiHappy Vinayaka Chaturthi everybody! I hope you had a few moments to offer prayers to Vinayaka today; if not, the song I have chosen is a prayer in itself.

But I am running ahead of myself. We all know that one prays to Vinayaka for the achievement of goals, for success. The word siddhi which we use to preface His name translates to exactly that.  Who amongst has not demanded that Vinayaka help us pass our exams, get through that interview, get the promotion we are aiming for? I know even some people who claim to be agnostic sending up a ‘just in case’ prayer if the goal seems important enough! But these goals give us but momentary satisfaction, forgotten even as we set the next possible goal.  I wonder, are we wasting the good Lord’s time by asking for things which are too easy to deliver? Should we not be setting Him some stretch targets?

Vinayaka is also the Lord of the eight Siddhis (occult Yogic powers) referred to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. These are indeed amazing powers!

  • अणिमा aNimA : Power to become subatomic
  • महिमा mahimA : Power of become infinitely large
  • लघिमा laghimA – Power to become infinitely light
  • गरिमा garimA – Power to become infinitely heavy
  • प्राप्ति prApti – Power of attaining any objective
  • प्राकाम्य prAkAmya – Power of transmigration
  • ईशित्व Ishitva – Godlike power to create and rule
  • वशित्व vashitva – Power to control/subdue all matter

Vinayaka has the power to bestow the yogin with all of these occult powers. They sound rather dangerous, don’t they? Instead I think about the words metaphorically and I offer you alternate meanings to reflect upon.

  • अणिमा aNimA : The ability to concentrate such that we can focus our mind to a pinpoint.
  • महिमा mahimA : The ability to have such a broad world-view that we can encompass all.
  •  लघिमा laghimA : The ability to let go everything, all maya, so they we are weightless.
  • गरिमा garimA : The ability to absorb all challenges we face with the stability of the infinitely heavy.
  •  प्राप्ति prApti : The ability to stick to an objective until we achieve it.
  • प्राकाम्य prAkAmya : The ability to empathise so well with others that we virtually transmigrate into them.
  • ईशित्व Ishitva : The ability to create beauty and joy.
  • वशित्व vashitva : The power to rule over our weaknesses, to control our needs and subdue our passions.

Now, these siddhis are worth praying for, don’t you think? My song today is addressed to Siddhi Vinayaka, set to the beautiful raga Shanmukhapriya (Chamaram) and composed by Muthuswami Dikshithar. It is a song of praise, reminding us that He is the bestower of whatever we desire. The Yogic theme for today was inspired by the words reminding us that Vinayaka is present in the Mooladhara Chakra, that which much be awakened if we are to reach a higher state of being. For lyrics and translation, see footnote below.

There are so many nice performances of this popular kriti that I had some trouble choosing the one to present to you. The first one I would like you to hear is this excellent rendition by T.N.Seshagopalan (live, 1975). He is accompanied by V.V.Subramaniam and Trichy Shankaran.  I do have a weakness for TNS from that era!! (Alapana and Kriti)

Alternate link : Click here and download items 2 and 3 (need free membership to  Sangeethapriya.org)

I could not look past Pattabhirama Pandit for his most energetic and creative performance (Alapana and Kriti). He is accompanied by Mysore Srikanth, H.S.Sudhindra and Giridhar Udupa.

Alternate link : Click here and download items 5 and 6 (need free membership to Sangeethapriya.org)

If you have a taste for more, check out this lovely performance by MDR (item 7) and another very good one by Sumithra Vasudev (item 2).

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सिद्धि विनायकं अनिशं चिन्तयाम्यहम्
प्रसिद्ध गण नायकम् विशिष्टार्थ दायकम् वरम्

अनुपल्लवि
सिद्ध यक्ष किन्नरादि सेवितम्
अखिल जगत्प्रसिद्धम्
मूल पङ्कज मध्यस्थं मोदक हस्तम्

चरणम्
भाद्र पद मास चतुर्थ्याम् ब्राह्मणादि पूजितम्
पाशाङ्कुश धरम् छत्र चामर परिवीजितम्
रौद्र भाव रहितम् दास जन हृदय विराजितम्
रौहिणेयानुजार्चितम् ईहना वर्जितम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
अद्रि राज सुतात्मजम् अनन्त गुरु गुहाग्रजम्
भद्र प्रद पदाम्बुजम् भासमान चतुर्भुजम्

Transliteration

pallavi
siddhi vinAyakam anisham chintayAmyaham
prasiddha gaNa nAyakaM vishishTArtha dAyakam varam

anupallavi
siddha yaksha kinnarAdi sEvitam
akhila jagat prasiddham
mUla pankaja madhyastham mOdaka hastam

charaNam
bhAdra pada mAsa chaturthyAm brAhmaNAdi pUjitam
pAshAnkusha dharam CHatra chAmara parivIjitam
raudra bhAva rahitam dAsa jana hRdaya virAjitam
rauhiNEyAnujArchitam IhanA varjitam

(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
adri rAja sutAtmajam ananta guru guhAgrajam
bhadra prada padAmbujam bhAsamAna chaturbhujam

Translation

I (aham) incessantly (anisham) meditate (chintayAmi) upon Siddhi Vinayaka. He is the Lord (nAyakam) of the famous (prasiddha) Ganas, the foremost (varam) bestower (dAyakam) of the specific (vishishTa) object of desire (artha).

He is worshipped (sEvitam) by Siddhas, Yakshas, Kinnaras etc (Adi). He is renowned (prasiddha) in the whole (akhila) world (jagat). He is in the middle of (madhyashtha) the lotus (pankaja) of Mooladhara Chakra (mUla). He has the Modaka sweetmeat in his hand (hastam).

He is worshipped (pUjitam) by the Brahmanas etc (Adi) on the fourth day of the lunar cycle (chaturthi) of the month (mAsa) of Bhadrapada. He is the holder (dharam) of a noose (pAsha) and goad (ankusha). He is cooled (parivIjitam) by an umbrella (CHatra) and a chowrie (chAmara). He is devoid of (rahitam) violent or angry (raudra) emotions (bhAva). Who is resplendent (virAjita) in the hearts (hRdaya) of his servants (dAsajana). He is praised (architam) by Krishna (the younger brother (anuja) of the son of Rohini (Balarama)). He is without (varjitam) of desire (Iha).

He is the grandson (sutAtmaja) of king (rAja) of the mountains (adri). He is the elder-brother (agraja) of the eternal (ananta) Guruguha (=Kartikeya). His are the lotus-feet (pada ambujam) which bestow (prada) welfare/prosperity (bhadra). He is the four-handed one (chatur bhujam) who dwells (mAnam) in lustre/light (bhAsa).

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Filed under Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, T.N.Seshagopalan