Tag Archives: Tulsidas

Sri Ramachandra Kripalu

RamaHappy Ramanavami everybody!

Dickens was a clever fellow, wasn’t he? I reckon he hit the nail on the head with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Just as Scrooge was haunted by this Ghost, I too feel the presence of the Ghost of Ramanavami Past all around me today. Is this how it is for everybody? Do we all go through life shaped and then haunted by an unchangeable past and hemmed in by an unpredictable future? I wonder, what past am I creating today? How will it haunt me later?

Thankfully for me, unlike Scrooge’s Ghost, my Ghost only shows me warm and wonderful memories of Ramanavami. From its annals of collective memory, it shows me the joy of Lord Rama’s birth and from my own personal memory, it shows me the joys of celebrations past.

As I pick the song for today I am haunted more than by just Ramanavami. This song has sent me hurling back in time to my school years. Every morning I would be woken by Vividh Bharati’s 6 am devotional music program which featured songs like my choice of the day.  I would sip my tea standing on the veranda, watching the sun make its way up the horizon, listening to the songs on the radio accompanied by mum’s voice joining in as she busied herself in the kitchen. She would have woken much earlier, for she would have showered, then finished her half-hour morning puja, made filter-coffee and be well into making lunch. On festival days and holidays, this morning devotional music would be followed by Venkatesha Suprabhatam and Vishnu Sahasranamam on my father’s favourite possession – a Grundig tape recorder that he bought in Germany in the 1960s. For the rest of the festival day, there would be non-stop Carnatic Music.

What a feast my mum would lay out for us! There would be panagam and kosumalli in addition to the festival menu of many dishes with vadai & payasam. How many hours she would have spent in the kitchen! Why don’t I remember thanking her? Forget festivals, did I even thank her for getting up early enough to pack me a cooked lunch everyday? I can’t remember.  So after all, I too have a ghost which haunts me –the Ghost of ingratitude, of taking my mother’s love for granted, for were not her meals just edible love?

Today’s song is by the great poet-saint Tulsidas (1532-1623). He extolls Rama’s beauty in wonderful verse, calling him equal to ‘innumerable Cupids’, like a ‘lustrous white lightning in his yellow garments’. The sounds of the words ring as pleasingly as the description of his Lord. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. His prayer is basically for the Lord who is the ‘destroyer of the great fears of life’ to ‘live in the lotus of my heart’. Is that not our prayer too?

So here is the voice which sang so beautifully through my growing years, Lata Mangeshkar, singing Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana.

For those who are unfamiliar with the life of Tulsidas, there is a Hindi film made in 1954 which is available on youtube with subtitles. Though it does stretch what is essentially quite a short story, I still enjoyed watching it; I do like the innocence of old films.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री रामचन्द्र कृपालु भज मन हरण भव-भय दारुणम् ।
नव-कंज-लोचन कंज-मुख कर-कंज पद-कंजारुणं॥१॥

कंदर्प अगणित अमित छवि नव नील नीरद सुन्दरम् ।
पट पीत मानहु तड़ित रूचि शुचि नौमि जनक सुता वरम् ॥

भज दीन बन्धु दिनेश दानव दैत्य वंश निकन्दनम् ।
रघु नन्द आनंद कंद कोसल-चंद दशरथ नन्दनम् ॥

शिर मुकुट कुण्डल तिलक चारु उदार अङ्ग विभूषणम् ।
आजानु भुज शर चाप धर सङ्ग्राम जित खर दूषणम् ॥

इति वदति तुलसीदास शङ्कर शेष-मुनि मन रञ्जनम् ।
मम हृदय कंज निवास कुरु कामादि खलदल-गंजनं॥

shrI rAmachandra kripAlu bhaja mana haraNa bhava bhaya dAruNam
nava-kanja-lOchana kanja-mukha kara-kanja pada-kanjAruNam

kandarpa agaNita amita chavi nava nIla nIrada sundaram
paTa pIta mAnahu taDita ruchi shuchi naumi janaka sutA varam

bhaja dIna bandhu dinEsha dAnava daitya vansha nikandanam
raghu nanda Ananda kanda kOsala chanda dasharatha nandanam

shira mukuTa kuNDala tilaka chAru udAra anga vibhUshaNam
AjAnu-bhuja shara chApa dhara sangrAma jita khara dUshaNam

iti vadati tulasIdAsa shankara shEsha muni mana ranjanam
mama hrdaya kanja nivAsa kuru kAmAdi khaladala ganjanam

O Mind (mana)! Pray (bhaja) to compassionate (kripAlu) Ramachandra who destroys (haraNa) the great (dAruNa) fears of life (bhava-bhaya). With eyes (lOchana) like a new (nava) lotus (kanja), with a face (mukha) like a lotus (kanja), and feet (pada) like a crimson (aruNa=dawn) lotus (kanja).

With boundless (amita) splendour (chavi) like innumerable (agaNita) cupids (kandarpa), he is as beautiful (sundaram) as a new (nava) blue (implies rain?) (nIla) cloud (nIrada). I bow (noumi) to that groom (varam) of Janaka’s daughter (sutA), who is like  (mAnahu) a lustrous (ruchi) white (shuchi) lightning (taDita) in his yellow (pIta) garments (paTa). 

I bow (bhaja) to the Sun-like (diNesha) friend (bandhu) of the wretched (dIna),  destroyer (nikandanam) of the demons (dAnava & daityA) dynasties (vansha). Son (nanda) of the Raghu dynasty, root (kanda) of joy (Ananda), gladdens (chanda) the Kosalas (his mother’s dynasty),  son of Dasharatha.

Beautiful (chAru) with a crown (mukuTa) on his head (shira), earrings (kunDala), and mark on his forehead (tilaka) and limbs (anga) generously (udAra) decorated (vibhUshaNam). With long hands to his knees (AjAnu-bhuja), holding (dhara) a bow (chApa) and arrow (shara) , winner (jIta) of the battle (sangrAma) with khara and dhUshaNa.

Thus (iti) says (vadati) tulasIdAsa. He who pleases (ranjana) the minds (mana) of Shankara and Adisesha (sEsha muni), who has contempt (ganjanam) for the wicked things (khala-dala) like (Adi) desire (kAma), please dwell (nivAsa kuru) in the lotus (kanja) of my heart (hridaya),

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Thumak Chalat Ram Chandra

How can one separate the music of India from its Gods? Devotion is a thread which links disparate parts of India together, just as music does. In the South, Carnatic music is almost all devotional. Though Hindustani music seems a bit more secular, the underpinning devotion is not far away. The Sufi Qawwalis that I love are Islamic devotional music. And then there is the devotional music from different regions – be it Bhajans all over India, Abhangs from Maharashtra, Kirtan from Punjab, Baul from Bengal, to name a few. There is the poetry of Kabir from Uttar Pradesh, Meera from Rajasthan, Jayadeva from Orissa, Avvayar from Tamil Nadu and so many other equally famous Saint-Poets who have paved the way for the Indian music of today.  Additionally, there are sacred chants in Sanskrit from Vedic times, a couple of thousand years before Christ – chants which are still sung in much the same way even today in many households, mine included.

Even when it comes to popular music, devotion is not ignored. Composers for Indian films often include devotional music of some sort. Who can remain unmoved by Man tarpat hai from Baiju Bawra or Ay Malik Tere Bande Hum from Do Aankhen Bara Haath? The current trend is to include some Sufiana music in almost every film.

Today I am posting a bhajan  written by Saint Tulsidas (1532-1623), a bhajan which is known and loved by millions. The poet says :

ठुमक चलत रामचंद्र बाजत पैंजनियां ||
किलकि किलकि उठत धाय गिरत भूमि लटपटाय |
धाय मात गोद लेत दशरथ की रनियां ||
अंचल रज अंग झारि विविध भांति सो दुलारि |
तन मन धन वारि वारि कहत मृदु बचनियां ||
विद्रुम से अरुण अधर बोलत मुख मधुर मधुर |
सुभग नासिका में चारु लटकत लटकनियां ||
तुलसीदास अति आनंद देख के मुखारविंद |
रघुवर छबि के समान रघुवर छबि बनियां  ||

It describes the little Lord Rama in beguiling terms. The poet imagines him as a little child, his anklets ringing, tottering unsteadily as he just learns to walk. His mother and nurses take him in their laps in turn. What an adorable picture is painted by the poet!  The last couplet is significant; when Tulsidas tries to give a simile for little Rama’s beauty, he fails to find an equivalent and can only compare Him to Himself!

Why depict a God as a small baby who doesn’t even know how to walk? Is this not in opposition to the idea of God as all knowing and powerful? Hindusim proposes four Yogas, or paths to salvation: Jnana Yoga (path of knowledge and introspection), Karma Yoga (path of duty and righteous action), Raja Yoga (path of meditation, discipline and control of the mind) and Bhakti Yoga  (path of adoration). In Bhakti Yoga, for ease of visualisation, a devotee’s relationship with God can be thought of in human relationship terms. For it doesn’t matter how you think of God, its about the love you feel for God. So one can think of God as sakha (friend)  like Sudama did, as a child like Yasoda did, as a beloved like Radha did or as a master like Hanuman did. Or as a father or a mother or a Guru (teacher), and there are classical examples of each. So visualising God as a small child is a perfectly acceptable path for Hindus. Songs like Thumak Chalat make this visualisation easier and sets the devotee well on his chosen path of Bhakti Yoga.

Today I present D.V.Paluskar (1921-1955) singing this song with beauty. The quality of recording is not the best but Paluskar’s astonishing skills are unmistakable. It is set to raga is Jaijaivanti, called Dwijavanti in the Carnatic system. To know more about this raga, click here.

Thumak Chalat–D.V.Paluskar

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