Tag Archives: Tyagaraja

Shobhillu Sapta Svara

SaptasvaraHave you ever thought about how so many different cultures use music as a form of worship? We all know of the wonderful choral music traditions of the Christians, the chantings of the Buddhists, the kirtans of the Sikhs, the emotional outpourings of the Sufis and the many traditions of musical worship of the Hindus. Some are simply sacred music, like bhajans, their primary purpose being worship. Others, like Carnatic Music, have a deep thread of devotion running through them but retain an identity apart from their devotional roots. So yes, the use of music as a means of worship is common enough. But it is not very common to have music itself as the divinity being worshipped. That is the concept which I approach in my post today.

As a devotee of music, this concept pleases me greatly! To those of us who agree that divinity is omnipresent, this is no stretch of imagination. If divinity can be found everywhere, why not in music?  To those of us who search for that spiritual feeling in places of worship to allow us to connect with divinity, this makes it even easier. For music is there, real and accessible to most of us in one way or the other. We need not search for places of worship; we may worship the music right within us.

Sound as a divine principle comes to us Hindus from the Vedas. We all know the importance of AUM, I shall not venture there. The Vedas themselves are also called Shruti meaning ‘That which is heard‘,  emphasising both their divine origin and their oral tradition. Samaveda, in particular, ‘the Veda of Songs‘ includes notated music, perhaps the oldest surviving tunes of this world.  An interesting aside – the word vEd or knowledge comes from the Proto-Indo-Iranian word ‘weyd‘ meaning ‘to know, to see’.  The Latin videō meaning ‘to see, perceive, look comes from the same root word. So a sentence like ‘I have a video of the vedas‘ is etymologically quite amusing ! But I digress..

Coming back to the divinity of music, the Vedas refer to the divine nature of vAk वाक् or voice.  This divinity is said to be present in AUM. The Upanishads refer to Shabda-Brahman शब्दब्रह्मन् meaning The Cosmic Sound.  The word Nada-Brahman नादब्रह्मन् (nAda also means sound) is used instead of Shabda-Brahman in later treatises like Brihaddeshi by Matanga Muni (date unknown, speculated 6th-8th century CE). In this Nada is linked with various divinities.

न नादेन विना गीतं न नादेन विना स्वराः
न नादेन विना नृत्तं तस्मान् नादात्मकं जगत्
नादरुपः स्मृतो ब्रह्मा नाद रूपो जनार्दनः
नादरूपा पराशक्तिः नाद रूपो महेश्वरः

Without Nada, there is no music. Without Nada, there are no musical notes. Without Nada, there is no dance. Therefore the whole universe is composed of Nada. Brahma is known to be incarnate in Nada, as is Vishnu, Parashakti and Shiva.

In Sangeeta Makaranda by Narada (~11 century CE), there is an explanation of the passage of Nada through our body.

तम् नादम् सप्तधा कृत्वा तथा षड्जादिभिः स्वरैः
नाभी हृद् कण्ठ तालूषु नासादन्तोष्ठयोः क्रमात्
षड्जश्च .ऋषभ गान्धारौ मध्यमः पञ्चमस्तथा
धैवतश्च निशादश्च स्वराः सप्त प्रकीर्तिताः

that nAda, passing through the naval, heart, neck, tongue, nose, teeth, and lips, generates the seven svaras, shadjam, rishabham, gAndhAram, madhyamam, panchamam, dhaivatam and nishAdam.

-Article by P.P.Narayanaswami in Carnatica

There is a similar passage in Sangeetaratnakara by Saragadeva (13th century CE) in which the author links musical notes with Chakras (centres of spiritual centre within the body) and Nadis (subtle energy channels within the body), describing the passage of nAda through the body .

आत्मा विवक्षमाणोऽयम् मनः प्रेरयते , मनः |
देहस्थम् वह्निमाहन्ति स प्रेरयति मारुतम्  ||
ब्रह्मग्रन्थिस्थितः सोऽथ क्रमादूर्घ्वपथे चरन् |
नाभि हृत् कण्ठ मूर्धास्येष्वाविर्भावयति ध्वनिम् ||

Desirous of speech, the individuated being impels the mind, and the mind activates the battery of power stationed in the body, which in turns stimulates the vital force. The vital force stationed around the root of the navel, rising upwards gradually manifests nada in the navel, the heart, the throat, the cerebrum and the cavity of the mouth as it passes through them. 

from Sangita Ratnakara translation by R.K.Shringy

R.K.Shringy explains that ‘Nada is not merely an object of the sense of hearing. The concept of nada refers to the perception when subject and object are not differentiated‘. Normally when we name objects, we are naming the perception of that object in our consciousness. As such, the subject in our consciousness and the object outside have a relationship but are always apart. Nada on the other hand refers to the melding of the sound and its presence in our consciousness, when they become one. Nada is both the energy and its manifestation.

All this is but a lead up to my song choice of today. Tyagaraja has composed this masterpiece in homage to the divinity of music residing in the seven notes. He worships the divinities resident in the navel, heart, throat, tongue and nose, similar to the quotes from Sangeeta Makaranda and Sangeeta Ratnakara above. He refers to himself as the auspicious Tyagaraja; if for no other reason, surely the presence of the divinities within him makes this a just description! Set to the beautiful raga Jaganmohini (that which charms the universe), it is a favourite amongst Carnatic Music fans.

I have chosen this song today for a particular reason. When Dr.Balamuralikrishna passed away late last year, I was travelling and did not write a post in his honour. One of my readers wondered about it in a comment but it was not really forgetfulness on my part. You see, as I have mentioned in previous posts, my childhood home always rung out with Carnatic Music. Be it Semmangudi, Madurai Mani Iyer, G.N.Balasubramaniam, M.D.Ramanathan, M.S.Subbulakshami, S.Balachandar, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Balamuralikrishna and myriad others, they were all voices of my childhood, familiar and very very dear. Over the years, one after the other, they have passed away. With each passing it seems that I wave goodbye to one more dear one, to my past, to my history. Dr. BMK was particularly dear to me because he was my mother’s favourite. I can never listen to him without remembering my mother’s pleasure in his voice. His passing adds one more goodbye in my life and deepens the sorrow of my own losses. Sigh! Shobhillu Sapta Svara is a song I associate with him and I selected it as a tribute to a man who was the ultimate Nadopasaka, a devoted worshipper of the Nadabrahman.

Alternate link : Click here and choose song 2 (free membership of Sangeethapriya required)


Footnote : Lyrics

Language : Telugu
(Note – I do not speak Telugu; the translation here is from various internet resources)

पल्लवि
शोभिल्लु सप्त स्वर सुन्दरुल भजिम्पवे मनसा

अनुपल्लवि
नाभि हृत् कण्ठ रसन नासादुलयन्दु

चरणम्
धर ऋक् सामादुललो वर गायत्री हृदयमुन
सुर भूसुर मानसमुन शुभ त्यागराजुनियॆड

Transliteration

pallavi
shobhillu sapta svara sundarula bhajimpavE manasA

anupallavi
nAbhI hRt kaNTHa rasana nAsAdulayandu

charaNam
dhara Rk sAmAdulalO vara gAyatrI hRdayamuna
sura bhUsura mAnasamuna shubha tyAgarAjuniyeDa

Translation

Worship (bhajimpavE) the radiant (shObhillu) beautiful (sudurula) divinities (implied) of the seven (sapta) svara (notes), O mind (manasA)!

Worship the divinities glowing (implied) in (andu) navel (nAbhi), heart (hRt), throat (kaNTHa), tongue (rasana) and nose (nAsa) etc. (Adula).

Worship the divinities glowing in (implied) the sustaining (dhara) Vedas such as (implied) Rg, Sama etc. (Adulalo), in the heart (hRdayamuna) of the foremost (vara) gAyatrI mantra, in the minds (mAnasamuna) of the celestials (sura) and Brahmins (bhU-sura), and within (eDa) this auspicious (shubha) Tyagaraja (tyAgarAjuni) .

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, M.Balamuralikrishna

Manavinalakincha

NRKAfter my rather depressing post last time, I wanted to post something happy. Immediately my mind went to this song that I love in Raga Nalinakanti, a most cheerful sounding piece of music.

As I pored over the translation, my mind wandered off in a tangent with the pallavi line itself. ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to my appeal?’ says Tyagaraja. This device of addressing one’s own mind occurs in music and literature often enough for us not to be surprised by it. But today I asked myself ‘Who is the addresser and who is the addressed?’.

I was first reminded of the mindfulness exercises in some meditative techniques. One is supposed to watch the thoughts flow by without stopping them, just watching them stream past without reaction. A mind watching its own thoughts? ‘Who is the watcher?’ I wondered, ‘and who is the watched?’. I have tried this meditation technique myself and yes, it is quite possible to do this. And so another question arises – if the mind can split into the watcher and the watched, can it split into more parts?

I became engrossed in reading many articles on mind and consciousness, within Hindu thought or otherwise. But I couldn’t get any specific answers to my questions. Coming back to our song,  Tyagaraja says ‘O Mind, won’t you listen to the one who knows the compassionate heart of Sri Ramachandra? I am revealing all the secrets’.  Oh! So part of his mind knows secrets that the other part doesn’t know? I do know unhealthy minds can keep secrets –such as in amnesia- but can a healthy mind keep secrets from itself? I don’t think so. But the subconscious can and does keep secrets from the conscious mind. Is this intended to be a song from the subconscious to the conscious?

I know, some of you may well be thinking that I am making too much of this, that it is merely a literary device. That is probably very likely. Still, Tyagaraja was such an evolved soul; it behoves us to examine his words and make sure we look beyond the obvious and glean as much wisdom as we can from them. That said, this is such a lovely piece of music that one finds joy in the very flow of the notes. And sometimes that is more than enough.

For the last two days I have been hearing innumerable renditions of this song. There are so many beautiful renditions that it was a difficult choice for me. But when I heard this version by Nedunuri Krishnamurthy (1927-2014), I knew at once that this was IT! I missed honouring him when he passed away in December; I am happy to have the opportunity to feature this illustrious artist in my blog today. There is a wonderful shower of swaras following the song, I am literally dancing to them as I write this! My only complaint is the missing gamaka on the word ‘Tyagaraju’ which only TMK and SKR seem to include..I just adore that gamaka, always makes me melt to a puddle!

(There is a small glitch at 5:45, I assume it is from tape conversion, please ignore)

Alternate Link : Click here and download item 5 – free membership of Sangeethamshare is needed.

And if you want to listen to an outstanding violin rendition, listen to Kanyakumari  supported beautifully by Embar Kannan.

Alternate link : Click here and download item 9.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

Note – As I do not speak Telugu, the translation is heavily dependent on various web sources.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि

मनविनालकिञ्च रादटे मर्ममॆल्ल तॆल्पॆदने मनसा
(common alternate version of first word : मनव्याल)

अनुपल्लवि

घनुडैन (श्री) राम चन्द्रुनि करुणान्तरंगमु तॆलिसिन ना

चरणम्
कर्म काण्ड मताकृष्टुलै भव गहन चारुलै गासि जॆन्दग
कनि मानवा अवतारुडै कनिपिञ्चिनाडे नडत त्यागराजु

Transliteration in English

pallavi
manavinAlakincha rAdaTE marmamella telpedanE manasA
(common alternate version of first word : manavyAla)

anupallavi
ghanuDaina (shrI) rAma chandruni karuNAntarangamu telisina nA

charaNam
karma kANDa matAkRshTulai bhava gahana chArulai gAsi jendaga
kani mAnava avatAruDai kanipinchinADE naData tyAgarAju

Translation

Won’t (rAda) you (aTE) listen (Alakincha) to my appeal (manavini), O mind (manasA)? I am revealing (telpedanE) all (ella) the secrets (marmamu) .

Won’t You listen (implied) to my (nA) appeal, I (implied) who know (telisina) the compassionate (karuNA) heart (antarangamu) of the great (ghanuDaina) Sri Ramanchandra (rAma chandruni)?

Seeing (kani) those who, attracted (AkRshTulai) by the opinions (mata) of the ritualistic action (karma) section (kAnDa) of the Vedas (implied), suffer (gAsi jendaga) as wanderers (chArulai) in the forest (gahana) of worldly existence (bhava), the Lord having incarnated (avatAruDai) as a human being (mAnava) exemplified (kanipincinADE) the right conduct (naData). Therefore, O Mind, won’t you listen to the appeal (implied from pallavi) of this Tyagaraja (tyAgarAju)?

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Embar S.Kannan, Kanyakumari, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Tyagaraja

Sogasuga Mrdanga Talamu

MridangamDoes Carnatic music really need lyrics? Isn’t it better off without them?” I was asked recently.  This was not the first time I have heard comments dismissing the sahitya in Carnatic Music (CM).  Some make comparisons with Western Classical Music where there are no lyrics at all or Hindustani Classical Music where the lyrics play a much more minor part than in CM.

CM performances are a balance between the kalpita sangeeta (composed music, including lyrics) and the kalpana sangeeta (improvised music). The musicians show their own creativity and expertise in the kalpana sangeeta and therefore in their eyes it may take on a higher level of importance.  T.M.Krishna says in this interview that ‘the lyrical element of a composition is subordinate to the musicality of it’ and gives a very convincing demonstration to make his case. From an instrumentalist’s point of view, flautist Janardanan says in an interview that he would have a wider audience if the emphasis was not on playing kritis.

I am not a musician; I am a mere untutored shrota. To me, it seems as if the kalpita sangeeta is like the foundation and the girders of a building to which the musician add soaring facades and features with their notes. What would that building be without a foundation? Ragas don’t have a stand-alone existence in my world; instead ragas invoke sahitya and sahitya invoke ragas. And both invoke real life memories. When I see an aarati being performed on an auspicious occasion, kurinji springs forth in my mind as I sing ‘Seeta Kalyanam Vaibogame’ to myself. If someone casually asks ‘yaar adu?’ (who is that) my mind questions itself in bhairavi, singing ‘yaaro ivar yaaro, enna pero?’. If I hear abheri, I instantly say to myself ‘Nagumomu’; I did that even before I knew what nagumomu meant. As a great lover of CM, I cannot imagine it without its sahityam.

To make my case, I present the song Sogasuga Mrdanga Talamu by Tyagaraja in which he defines the components of a kriti (composition) as yati (the framework or pattern in which swaras and words are arranged), vishrama (peacefulness), true devotion, sweetness and navarasa or the nine moods (love, laughter, fury, compassion, aversion, terror, heroism, wonder, peacefulness). The songs, says Tyagaraja, should be imbued with the meaning of the Upanishads, have a purity of notes and sung to the accompaniment of mRdanga. It is evident that sahitya plays a central part in Tyagaraja’s definition of music; why should it be otherwise with us? There is a short lec-dem of this song here. Set to the energy infusing raga Sriranjani, it is a very popular song sung by many musicians.

To present this song today, I have chosen a rendition by Voleti Venkateshwarulu which I like very much. His pacing is brisk and energetic; one finds oneself nodding one’s head in happy resonance!

Alternative link : Click here

To contrast with the briskness, listen now to a leisurely exploration of the raga and song by M.D.Ramanathan. The song and raga take on another mood altogether. I was admittedly uncertain at first, wondering how Sriranjani would sound at such a pace, but now I am a convert..I like it very well indeed!


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

(Note: I do not speak Telugu; the lyrics have been validated aurally but the translation is dependent on various web resources)

पल्लवि
सॊगसुगा मृदङ्ग ताळमु
जत कूर्चि निनु सॊक्क जेयु धीरुडॆव्वडो

अनुपल्लवि
निगम शिरोर्थमु गल्गिन
निज वाक्कुलतो स्वर शुद्धमुतो

चरणम्
यति विश्रम सद्भक्ति विरति द्राक्षा रस नव-रस
युत कृतिचे भजियिञ्चु (alt: भजियिञ्चे) युक्ति त्यागराजुनि तरमा श्री राम

Transliteration :

pallavi
sogasugA mRdanga tALamu
jata kUrchi ninu sokka jEyu dhIruDevvaDO

anupallavi
nigama shirOrthamu galgina
nija vAkkulatO swara shuddhamutO

charaNam
yati vishrAma sad-bhakti virati drAkshA rasa nava rasa-
yuta kRtichE bhajiyinchu (alt: bhajiyinchE) yukti tyAgarAjuni taramA shrI rAma

Translation

Who (evvaDO) is the wise one (dhIruDu) who enchants you (ninu sokka jEyu) by charmingly (sogasugA) harmonizing (jata kUrchi) the beat (tALamu) and the drum (mRdanga)?

With true (nija) words (vakkulatO) conveying (galgina) the highest meaning (shirOrthamu)  of the Upanishads (nigama) in pure notes (swara shuddhamutO)?

Is it possible (taramA) for Tyagaraja to worship you (bhajiyinchu) by creating kritis (kRitichE) endowed with (yuta) yati (a pleasing framework),  vishrAma (peacefulness), true devotion (sad-bhakti), caesura or pauses in verse(virati), sweetness like grape juice (drAksha rasa) and the nine moods (nava rasa) ?

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Tyagaraja

Sri Raghuvara Aprameya

RamaIn Carnatic Music, we have a number of different forms of compositions like geetam, swarajativarnamkriti, javali and thillana. The mainstay of this music is, of course, the kriti which normally has a three-part form of pallavi, anupallavi and charanam.  Yet I recall that when my mother spoke of these, she called them kIrtanam in Tamil. ‘Are these two names interchangeable?’ I wondered while listening to the rather uniquely structured kriti which is my chosen song of the day.

The word kriti comes from the Sanskrit root कृ, kR to do. यत् क्रितम् तत् कृतिः  That which is created is a kriti, so in a general sense, it just means a creation. kIrtanam no doubt comes from कीर्तन kIrtana, to praise. Given that in Hindi, kirtan is more like a bhajan than a classical composition, I tend to think of it in the same terms. What is the difference between the two in Carnatic Music?

Seeking comprehension on the net, I found a very interesting article by eminent musicologist T.S.Parthasarathy in the journal Shanmukha (April-June 2005) . Not only was my question answered but I also learnt a number of other things, some of which I note below for your interest.

The word kriti to denote a musical composition was first used by Kalidasa (5th-6th centuries) in his Raghuvamsa. But this did not refer to a composition such as we know in Carnatic Music today. This structure owes its origins to the dhruvas and charanas of the Ashtapadi by Jayadeva (14th century). Though the pitamaha of Carnatic Music  Purandaradasa (15th century)  refers to his own compositions as kritis in his song Vasudeva Namavaliya, his compositions have various composition-form names. The majority are called kirtanas.  Tyagarja defines a kriti in his Sogasuga Mrudanga Talamu as containing yati (a pattern of swaras & words in a beat), visrama (rest), sadbhakti (true devotion), virati (pause), draksha rasa (grape flavour?!) and navarasa (the nine sentiments).

In normal parlance today, the words kriti and kirtanam are often used interchangeably. However, according to another eminent musicologist Prof. P.Sambamoorthy, there is a difference which I summarize below :

Kirtana

  • An older form (14th century); kritis evolved later from kirtanas
  • The lyrics are strictly devotional.
  • The melody and rhythm are simple; the music is subordinate to the lyrics.
  • The charanas are all sung to the same dhaatu (melodic-rhythmic structure as opposed to maatu which denote the lyrics) and the anupallavi is dispensable.
  • They are set to common ragas and are without ornamental angas like chittaswaras, sangatis etc.

Kriti

  • It may be devotional, didactic or introspective in character.
  • The accent is on musical excellence; the words take a secondary position.
  • The charanas may have difference dhaatus.
  • Sangatis (melodic variations) are a characteristic feature; a kriti lends itself to musical interpretation of the raga.
  • It normally has a pallavi, anupallavi and charanas. It can be enriched by ornamental angas like chittaswaras etc.

Coming back to my inspiration for educating myself today, Sri Raghuvara Aprameya by Tyagaraja, is interestingly different. It has four charanas, each set to a different melodic pattern. Some artists sing only the sahitya, but others sing the swaras as well, like they do for the Ghana Raga Pancharatna kritis. And interestingly, some sing the charanas in two speeds. What a delightful piece of music it is! Tyagaraja praises Rama as the one who enjoys music arising from swara and laya; well, if the music is like this, surely even God cannot but enjoy its magnificence? Set to raga Kambhoji, it has a brisk but contended mood which I enjoy very much indeed. For lyrics and translation, see footnote.

My favourite rendition of this kriti is by D.K.Jayaraman who sings the swaras and renders the charanas in two speeds.

Alternate Link: Click here and download song 8 (free membership to Sangeethapriya needed).

I was inspired today while listening to young Bharat Sundar make a very credible effort in his rendition below (alapana 48:17, kriti 1:08:08). He sings the swaras but renders the charanas only at one speed.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
श्री रघुवर अप्रमेय मामव

अनुपल्लवि
श्री रघु कुल जलनिधि सोम श्री राम पालय

चरणम् 1
सारस हित कुलाब्ज भृङ्ग संगीत लोल

चरणम् 2
विरोचन कुलेश्वर स्वर लयादि मूर्छनोल्लसित नारद विनुत

चरणम् 3
श्री भास्कर कुलाद्रि दीप श्री भागवत विनुत सुचरण

चरणम् 4
सीता नाथ त्यागराज नुतानिल सुताप्त सुगुणाभरण

Transliteration

pallavi
shrI raghuvara apramEya mAmava

anupallavi
shrI raghu kula jalanidhi sOma shrI rAma pAlaya

charaNam 1
sArasa hita kulAbja bhRnga sangIta lOla

charaNam 2
virOchana kulEshvara svara layAdi mUrCHanOllAsita nArada vinuta

charaNam 3
shrI bhAskara kulAdri dIpa shrI bhAgavata vinuta sucharaNa

charaNam 4
sItA nAtha tyAgarAja nutAnIla sutApta suguNAbharaNa

Translation

O Best (vara) of the Raghu clan, O Unfathomable one (apramEya) ! Protect (verb अव्  av) me (mAma)!

O Lord Rama, the nectar (sOma) in the ocean (jalanidhi) of the splendid (shrI) Raghu clan (raghu kula), [perhaps equating with the churning of the milky ocean, which brought forth the nectar of immortality] take care of me (pAlaya) !

O bee (bhRnga) hovering over the Lotus (sArasa) of the Solar dynasty (abja=lotus, hita=friend of, kula=dynasty – friend of lotus=Sun)! O enjoyer of music (sangIta lOla)!

O Lord (Ishvara) of the Solar (virOchana=sun) dynasty (kula)! One who is made joyful (ullAsita) by musical notes (svara), rhythm (laya) and melody (mUrCHana) etc (Adi)! One praised (nuta) by Narada!

O bright (bhaskara) lamp (light) of the solar (adri=sun) dynasty (kula)! One whose feet (su charaNa) are worshipped (vinuta) by the blessed (shrI) followers of Vishnu (bhAgavata)!

O Lord (nAtha) of Sita! One who is praised (nuta) by Tyagaraja! O friend (Apta) of Hanuman, the son (suta) of the God of wind (anila)!  One who is adorned (AbharaNa) by virtues (suguNa)!

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Filed under Bharat Sundar, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, D.K.Jayaraman, Tyagaraja

Dhyaname Varamaina

Meditation is verily the sacred dip in the Ganges. Can the mental stains of deception and treachery be washed away by dipping in rain water?

Dip in GangesAre you a Hindu? If so, do you believe that a dip in the Ganges will relieve you of your sins? If you say yes, you are in good company. Merely go to any ghat on the Ganges, be it Haridwar or Badrinath, Varanasi or Allahabad; you just have to look at the millions who take a dip in this holiest of rivers of India to know how strongly this belief is held on to.

Hinduism is not the only religion to offer a sin-wash. Catholicism, for example, offers absolution by confession. In Islam, there is Istighfar. Psychologically, if we have accepted the existence of sin, it is good to accept a kind of ‘escape clause’ as well otherwise the burden would be too heavy to bear, would it not?

I am a woman of strong faith but in this matter I do have some reservations. Let me take the most extreme of examples: think of the worst of sinners – murderers, rapists, paedophiles – and imagine that one stays next to the Ganges. He takes a daily dip. Can he live on in his depravity and be washed of sin on a daily basis? I cannot quite accept that! My sense of justice demands ‘karma phala’, a karmic debt. Does this mean that I don’t believe in the sanctity of the Ganges? But I do! A dip in the Ganges for me is symbolic – a physical ritual to represent a mental cleansing by way of prayer, repentance and a change of attitude and behaviour. The ritual without the attitude is not good enough. I probably sound sacrilegious to some…oh well!

On an aside, those of you who have the right to vote in India, would you please demand that your chosen politicians include the environmental protection of the Ganges in their agenda?

My ruminations are triggered by my song choice of the day. In  Dhyaname, Tyagaraja says that ‘meditation is like a sacred dip in the Ganges’, thus asserting to the holiness of both. But then he asks ‘can the stains of deception and treachery be washed way by dipping in rain water?’. Isn’t Ganges sourced by melting snow from the Himalayas? And isn’t snow just another form of rain? Is Tyagaraja too questioning the ritual? I cannot quite believe it…

Tyagaraja is not the only one who questions the cleansing of the body while the mind is unclean. There is a well known bhajan मन मैला और तन को धोये the mind is unclean and he washes his body’.  In a similar vein, Kabir says

मल मल धोये दाग़ न छूटे ग्यान का साबुन लाये पिया
कहत कबीर दाग़ तब छुटि है जब साहब अपनाय लिया
I rub and wash (my shawl) but cannot remove the stains. My beloved brought me the soap of knowledge. Kabir says the stain will lift when my Lord makes me his own.

Dhyaname is set to the raga Dhanyasi; to read more about this raga, click here. To present this song, I have a rendition by Malladi Brothers which I heard on a webcast last Sunday. I learnt about these webcasts from www.paalam.in but recently. Every Sunday, at 6:05 pm Indian time, they do a free webcast of music, dance, lecdems etc. I believe this was on for all of 2013 and I never knew! I hope this post brings this to the attention of others who may enjoy such webcasts. There is a bit of noise in the transmission and also a tiny gap when it failed; I hope you enjoy the song nonetheless. You can download my recording from the links below (almost an hour in all).

Alapana : click here
Kriti : click here
Thani : click here


 

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu
I am not a Telugu speaker; the following relies heavily on various web sources. I verified the lyrics aurally as well.

पल्लवि
ध्यानमे वरमैन गङ्गा स्नानमे मनसा

अनुपल्लवि
वान नीट मुनुग मुनुग लोनि वञ्चन द्रोहमनु कर पोना (alt: पोवुना )

चरणम्
पर धन नारी मणुलनु दूरि पर निन्दल पर हिंसल मीरि
धरनु वॆलयु श्री रामुनि कोरि त्यागराजु तॆलुसुकॊन्न राम

Transliteration

pallavi
dhyAnamE varamaina gangA snAnamE manasA

anupallavi
vAna nITa munuga munuga lOni
vanchana drOhamanu kara pOnA (alt: pOvunA)

charaNam
para dhana nArImaNulanu dUri
para nindala para himsala mIri
dharanu velayu shrI rAmuni kOri
tyAgarAju telusukonna rAma

Translation

O Mind! Meditation is verily the sacred dip in the Ganges.

Can the mental stains of deception and treachery be washed away by dipping again and again in rain water?

Spurning the wealth and women of others, overcoming slandering and causing harm to others, seeking the glorious Lord Rama on this earth and meditating on Rama is the true dip in the Ganges, as realised by this Tyagaraja.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Malladi Brothers, Tyagaraja

Endaro Mahanubhavulu

There are so many great ones! My salutations to them all ! To all those who experience the eternal bliss of seeing Him whose complexion is like the moon in the lotus of their hearts, salutations! To all the best amongst the blessed, whose hearts have become beautiful by being immersed in the singing of Sama Veda, salutations!

Tyagaraja

Humility : ‘the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance’. So says the dictionary.

I admit, I really struggled with this concept in my youth. ‘Why is it considered good?’ I would wonder. When we think less of others, it is belittling them – a decidedly negative thing. Why does it become noble just because it is applied to oneself? My argument was that  humility presupposes the existence of a superior quality. A person with no good qualities cannot be called humble. Then, if a person is unaware or downplaying this superior quality, they have either insufficient self-appraisal and self-valuation skills or they are pretending. Ergo, there is nothing admirable in humility!

It is only with maturity that I understood that humility is the only possible result of a true and rational appraisal of one’s qualities, of gaining perspective of one’s true place in the time and space continuum of the universe.

As an example, I can confidently say that I draw well; if you took a random sample, I might well fall within the top 10% for drawing skills. Humility is not being unaware of this quality or about pretending to be less than one is. It is in understanding that the distribution of skills is a bell curve; the top 0.1% is so sparsely populated that to get from being in the 90th percentile to the 99.9th percentile is improving my skills not by 9.9% but by an unquantifiable large ratio. It is also understanding that my skills as they stand are the result of influence from many artists before me, from cave painters to modern masters. It is to be grateful to the genes passed on to me. It is to be grateful to my mother and my teachers who encouraged me. It is to do with so many factors outside myself that humble is the only way to be! In fact I feel rather embarrassed even mentioning my drawing skills but I do want to illustrate my change of mind about the concept of humility so I will leave it in.

And so I come to my song choice of today which clearly demonstrates the humility of the great saint-poet-composer Tyagaraja, who is, I can say without hesitation, one of the most important figures in the musical history of India. Last week I listened to the music from the 167th Tyagaraja Aradhana and today I commemorate this event with this post.

There are so many great ones!’ he says in this song. ‘My salutations to all of them!’. Who all does he acknowledge? It is not a random salutation to all the greats in all spheres of life. Instead, it is a salutation to the those worthy of his salutation in his own sphere of greatness. By choosing to salute those who have excelled in his own strengths of music, devotion, spirituality and esoteric knowledge, it is clear to me that he was well aware of his own qualities.

For music, he salutes Narada, Tumburu, to those immersed in the singing of Sama Veda, to those who sing in praise of the Lord with raga and laya, those who do nama-sankirtana, and those who understand the happiness of listening to music with bhava-raga-laya.

For devotion and spirituality, he salutes those who see the Lord in meditation,  those who keep Him in their hearts, those who surrender to Him, those who view the world with love and compassion and those who have become true servants of the Lord.

For  esoteric knowledge he salutes the great sages and those who have understood the core knowledge of our great scriptures.

As to the composition, it is just a magnificent piece of music which one never tires of, however many times one hears it. Set to raga Sri, the sounds are dignified, contemplative, quiet. To know more about the raga, click here.

It is difficult to choose a rendition for you today. I have listened to so many renditions- voices old and young, male and female, brisk and meditative, stentorian and gently graceful, stylistic and straight-forward. To my ears today, what feels most ‘humble’ – my theme of the day – is T.M.Krishna’s simple rendition of this timeless kriti. Hope you enjoy it too!

You can download all the pancharatna kritis sung by TMK from this site.

For an instrumental version, I could not walk past this rare live video of the great Veena maestro from yesteryears, Chitti Babu. Is it not hypnotic? They say that Veena is the instrument best suited to display the beauty of Carnatic Music. What do you think?

For a more in-depth look at this kriti, listen to this interesting lecdem . The sound quality is unfortunately not so good but the content is excellent.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Telugu

As I am not a Telugu speaker. I am indebted to multiple web sources for meaning of words. I have reworded the translations I found for language and readability. For notation, click here.

Transliteration in Devanagari

पल्लवि
ऎन्दरो महानुभावुलु अन्दरिकि वन्दनमुलु

अनुपल्लवि
चन्दुरु वर्णुनि अन्द चन्दमुनु हृदया-
अरविन्दमुन जूचि ब्रह्मानन्दमनुभविन्चु वार-

चरणम् 1
साम गान लोल मनसिज  लावण्य धन्य मूर्धन्युल-

चरणम् 2
मानस वनचर वर सञ्चारमु निलिपि मूर्ति बागुग पॊगडने वार-

चरणम् 3
सरगुन पादमुलकु स्वान्तमनु सरोजमुनु समर्पणमु सेयु वार-

चरणम् 4
पतित पावनुडने परात्परुनि  गुरिञ्चि परमार्थमगु निज मार्ग-
मुतोनुपाडुचुनु सल्लापमुतो स्वर लयादि रागमुलु (alt:रागमुलनु ) तॆलियु वार-

चरणम् 5
हरि गुण मणिमय सरमुलु गळमुन शोभिल्लु भक्त कोटुलिललो
तॆलिवितो चॆलिमितो करुण गल्गि जगमॆल्लनु सुधा दृष्टिचे ब्रोचु वार-

चरणम् 6
हॊयलु मीर नडलु गल्गु सरसुनि सदा कनुल जूचुचुनु पुलक शरीरुलै
आनन्द पयोधि निमग्नुलै मुदम्बुननु यशमु गल वार-

चरणम् 7
परम भागवत मौनि वर शशि विभाकर सनक सनन्दना
दिगीश सुर किम्पुरुष कनक कशिपु सुत नारद तुम्बुरु
पवन सूनु बाल चन्द्र धर शुक सरोज भव भूसुर वरुलु
परम पावनुलु घनुलु शाश्वतुलु कमल भव सुखमु सदानुभवुलु गाक

चरणम्  8
नी मेनु नाम वैभवम्बुलनु नी पराक्रम धैर्यमुल
शान्त मानसमु नीवुलनु वचन सत्यमुनु रघुवर नीयॆड
सद्भक्तियु जनिञ्चकनु दुर्मतमुलनु कल्ल जेसिनट्टि नी
मदि नेरिङ्गि सन्तसम्बुननु गुण भजनानन्द कीर्तनमु सेयु वार-

चरणम्  9
भागवत रामायण गीतादि श्रुति शास्त्र पुराणपु
मर्ममुल शिवादि षण्मतमुल गूढमुलन मुप्पदि
मुक्कोटि सुरान्तरङ्गमुल भावम्बुल नॆरिंगि भाव राग लयादि सौख्य
-मुचे चिरायुवुल् गलिगि निरवधि सुखात्मुलै
त्यागराजाप्तुलैन वार-

चरणम्  10
प्रेम मुप्पिरिकॊनु वेळ नाममु दलचे वारु
राम भक्तुडैन त्यागराजनुतुनि निज दासुलैन वार

Transliteration

pallavi
endarO mahAnubhAvulu andariki vandanamulu

anupallavi
chanduru varNuni anda chandamunu hrdayA-
aravindamuna jUchi brahmAnandam anubhavinchu vAr-

charaNam 1
sAma gAna lOla manasija lAvaNya dhanya mUrdhanyul-

charaNam 2
mAnasa vanachara vara sanchAramu nilipi mUrti bAguga pogaDanE vAr-

charaNam 3
saraguna pAdamulaku svAntamanu sarOjamunu samarpaNamu sEyu vAr-

charaNam 4
patita pAvanuDanE parAtparuni gurinchi paramArthamagu nija
mArgamutOnupADuchunu sallApamutO svara layAdi rAgamulu (alt:rAgamulanu) teliyu vAr-

charaNam 5
hari guNa maNimaya saramulu gaLamuna shObhillu bhakta kOTulilalO
telivitO chelimitO karuNa galgi jagamellanu sudhA dRshTichE brOchu vAr-

charaNam 6
hoyalu mIra naDalu galgu sarasuni sadA kanula jUchuchunu pulaka sharIrulai
Ananda payOdhi nimagnulai mudambunanu yashamu gala vAr-

charaNam 7
parama bhAgavata mauni vara shashi vibhAkara sanaka sanandanA
digIsha sura kimpurusha kanaka kashipu suta nArada tumburu
pavana sUnu bAla chandra dhara shuka sarOja bhava bhUsura varulu
parama pAvanulu ghanulu shAshvatulu kamala bhava sukhamu sadAnubhavulu gAka

charaNam 8
nI mEnu nAma vaibhavambulanu nI parAkrama dhairyamula shAnta mAnasamu nIvulanu vachana satyamunu raghuvara nIyeDa
sadbhaktiyu janinchakanu durmatamulanu kalla jEsinaTTi nI madineringi santatambunanu guNa bhajanAnanda kIrtanamu sEyu vAr-

charaNam 9
bhAgavata rAmAyaNa gItAdi shruti shAstra purAnamu marmamula shivAdi shanmatamula gUDhamulan muppadi mukkOTi surAntarangamula bhAvambula nerigi bhava rAga layAdi saukhya
muchE chirAyuvul galigi niravadhi sukhAtmulai tyAgarAjAptulai na vAr-

charaNam 10
prEma muppiri konu vELa nAmamu dalachEvAru
rAma bhaktuDaina tyAgarAjanutuni nija dAsulaina vAr-

Translation

pallavi
There are so many great ones! My salutations to them all !

anupallavi
To all those who experience the eternal bliss of seeing Him whose complexion is like the moon in the lotus of their hearts (salutations..)

charaNam 1
To all the best amongst the blessed, whose hearts have become beautiful by being immersed in the singing of Sama Veda (salutation..)

charaNam 2
To all those who clearly see the form of the Lord by stopping the monkey like wanderings of the mind (salutations…)

charaNam 3
To all those who immediately surrender the lotus of their hearts at the feet of the Lord (salutations…)

charaNam 4
To all those who, cognizant of the true path which leads to the ultimate knowledge,  joyously sing about the supreme Lord who sanctifies the wretched, in ragas which arise from the seven notes and rhythm (salutations..)

charaNam 5
To all those countless devotees whose necks are adorned with the precious garland of divine qualities, who protect the world with their sweet glances filled with understanding, love and compassion (salutations..)

charaNam 6
To all those who are famous for remaining joyfully immersed in the ocean of bliss and ecstacy by always seeing with their (mind’s) eyes the beautiful Lord with his charming gait (salutations…)

charaNam 7
To all the great sages who are devotees of the Lord, to the Moon, the Sun, sage Sanaka, sage Sanandana, the Lords of the four quarters, the celestials, the kimpurusha, to Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahlada,  to Narada, the celestial musician Tumburu, to Hanuman, to Lord Shiva, sage Suka, Lord Brahma, the Brahmanas, the great holy ones, the eminent ones, the eternal ones, to all those who have experienced bliss (salutations..)

charaNam 8
To all those who, knowing your disaproval of wrong paths, in order to generate true devotion towards you, always sing joyful chants in your praise,  about the glory of your body, your name, your valour, your courage, your fortitude, your serenity of mind and the truth of the words uttered by you (salutations..)

charaNam 9
To all those benefactors of Tyagaraja who understand the core of (the hidden meaning of) Bhagavatam, Ramayanam, Gita, the Vedas, the Shastras, the ancient lores, the six schools of religious worship like Shaivism, the mindset of  thirty three crores of celestials, the happiness of (implied:music) with emotion, melody and rhythm, and have attained a long life of uninterrupted joy (salutations..)

charaNam 10
To all those who meditate on the name of the Lord at the time when love multiplies and have become true servants of the Lord praised by this Tygaraja, a true devotee of Lord Rama (salutations…)

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Chitti Babu, Compositions in Telugu, T.M.Krishna

Teliyaleru Rama

People do not have the knowledge, O Rama, of the path of devotion. They wander all over the world babbling but they do not have the knowledge of devotion. They get up early, take a dip in the water, smear themselves with sacred ash, count their prayer beads with their fingers, outwardly very praiseworthy! Inwardly they are dedicated to making money. But..they do not have the knowledge of the path of devotion.

BhaktiI am an atheist’ my son tells me.

It is Deepavali day and we are at the temple. My son’s statement is not a surprise; I am aware of his thoughts. Yet..

It makes me so sad’ I say.

Generally speaking, my tendency is to say ‘each to his own’. I feel very unqualified to judge people for the choices they make. Who is to know what is right? Yet in this case, it feels different. I see this as a my failure. As a mother, I should have made a better effort to teach him of a belief system which has given me much succour over my lifetime. I say as much to him.

Are you so sure of being right then? What if you are wrong?’ he asks.

I acknowledge that it is not really possible to prove the existence of God. At some stage, one has to take a leap of faith. Yet there is this feeling… I think it is like music appreciation. There is all this wonderful music, soul touching music, our world of Carnatic Music. Thousands pass by its path, unaware, untouched. Even amongst those who listen with great interest, only rarely does the music ‘speak’ in such a way that one’s soul merges with the music. The transmission may be there, but if one doesn’t have a receiver, one hears nothing! For music and for devotion, one needs a receiver within oneself, or so I think.

‘teliyalEru rama bhakti mArgamunu’ I tell myself as the title of the song comes to mind. I search for a translation to see that Tyagaraja speaks of something a bit different – not about the lack of faith, but about putting on a grand but false show of faith. Tyagaraja seems saddened.  ‘They can never know, O Rama, the true path of Bhakti’ he says. ‘They get up early, take a dip in water, smear themselves with ash, count their prayers on their fingers, but all a grand show for appearances’ says he. It seems far worse than a honestly stated atheism, doesn’t it? For full lyrics and translation, see footnote. The song is set to raga Dhenuka; to know more about this raga, click here.

I have been in the mood of yesteryear greats as last week’s post demonstrates. I have listened to many renditions these past few  days but keep going back to the one by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer which I present below. Sound quality is not very good but the music is exceptional.

Alternate Link : Click here and download song 3 (need free membership of Sangeethapriya.org)

For an instrumental version, here is a elaborated rendition of this song. I found it very interesting as elaborations of this raga are rare. Again sound quality is below par but definitely worthy of your attention.

Alternate Link : Click here and download song 2 (need free membership of Sangeethapriya.org)

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

I do not speak Telugu. I am indebted to various internet resources for the lyrics and translation below.

Transliteration in Devanagri

पल्लवी
तॆलिय लेरु राम भक्ति मार्गमुनु

अनुपल्लवी
इलनन्तट तिरुगुचुनु
कलुवरिञ्चेरे कानि (alternate: कलुवरिञ्चुत ?)

चरणम्
वेग लेचि नीट मुनिगि भूति पूसि
वेळ्ळनॆञ्चि वॆलिकि श्लाघनीयुलै
बाग पैकमार्जन लोलुलै
रे कानि त्यागराज विनुत

Transliteration in English

(note: k and g seemed to be used interchangeably in most sites I referenced)

pallavi
teliya lEru rAma bhakti mArgamunu

anupallavi
ilanantaTa tiruguchunu
kaluvarinchErE kAni (alt:kaluvarinchuta)

charaNam
vEga lEchi nITa munigi bhUti pUsi
vELLanenchi veliki shlAghanIyulai
bAga paikamArjana lOlulai
rE kAni tyAgarAja vinuta

Translation

People do not have the knowledge, O Rama, of the path of devotion.

People wander all over the earth babbling, but (they do not have the knowledge….)

People get up early, take a dip in the water, smear sacred ash, count the prayer beads (implied) with their fingers, outwardly being praiseworthy. Inwardly (implied) they are dedicated to earning money. But, O Lord praised by Tyagaraja, (they do not have the knowledge of the path of devotion).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Telugu, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Tyagaraja, U.Srinivas