One of the most misused (and to a great extent abused) words is spirituality. Many people believe that if they are ‘believers’, they are spiritual; or that if they visit any place of worship religiously, they are spiritual; or if they perform any act to ‘please’ their favourite God’, they are spiritual.
Such people can at best be called as Businessmen with strong negotiating skills.
Talking about Business, there is a growing number of self-styled God men and Swamijis who promise the sky to all their devotees (‘sky’ here does not mean the Moksha).
Quid pro quo!
Is this what spirituality all about?
Put in simple terms, Spirituality is directly related to the human spirit. One who is spiritual does not crave for physical comforts nor will he /she be materialistic.
Take the case of Saint Thyagaraja.
In one of the Krithis he says, ‘I see Erudite people proficient in Vedas/Epics waste their time in arguing about useless things. They are caught in a web and live in a Utopian world. They perform Yaagas and sacrifices so that they can enjoy the worldly pleasures. These people can never find the Truth nor the true meaning of God. I place my faith only on you since I realized that all the so called materialistic happiness is only a mirage.I therefore engaged myself in praying to you (to give me salvation)’ right from my childhood..’
‘Ninne nera namminaanuraa O Ramaa Raamayya.
Anni kallalanucu adi paadi vedi pannagashayana ne chinna tanamu naade.
Veda Shaastra Puraana Vidyalache bheda vaadamula deeraka bhramayu vaarala juchi.
Bhogamula koraku bhuvilo Rajasammuna Yagadulonarinchi yalayu varula juchi.
Ee Janmamula ninnu rajee chesuko ieka rajillarani Thyagaraja Raghava’.
This is what is spirituality!
Tamizh poetess AaNdaaL, whose name is synonymous with the month of the tamizh month Margazhi is another example.
Right from her childhood, she wanted to merge with the God and considered Him as her husband. This would sound somewhat odd to the uninitiated. But the fact of the matter is that her love for the Lord had nothing to do with the conjugal bliss. It was on a much higher plane and level (skeptics might quote some of her verses terming them as ‘erotic’ but the inner meanings are entirely different and to a certain extent is beyond the grasp of mortals!).
Look at this poem:
‘My bones melt and the eyelids of my long eyes have not closed for many days
Choked in torments of separation and love laden heart
I flounder in a sea of sorrow, without the canoe of Vaikuntan’s grace
You know it well Oh! Cuckoo,
Please Coo and call the sanctimonious Lord’
Whose body shines like the Gold!
‘என்புருகி இனவேல் நெடுங்கண்கள் இமைபொருந்தா பல நாளும்
துன்பக்கடல் புக்கு வைகுந்தன் என்பது ஓர் தோணி பெறாது உழல்கின்றேன்
அன்புடையாரைப் பிரிவுறு நோய் அது நீயும் அறிதி குயிலே!
பொன்புரை மேனிக்கருளக் கொடியுடைப் புண்ணியனை வரக் கூவாய்!’
Unable to bear the torment of separation from the Almighty, she requests the cuckoo bird to ‘coo’ and herald his arrival.
What one sees here is the spirit that longs to be with the God forever. There is no other expectation and therefore absolutely no sense of materialism.
People who are genuinely spiritual, work with a single-minded devotion and dedication. Little do they care for other luxuries since they know what real happiness is all about. Such people are also highly disciplined and focused. In other words, they are austere.
Though it might sound far fetched, I feel people like Einstein and Ramanujam were also spiritual because they never hankered for any name or fame or money.
Likewise, I would put ILaiyaraaja too in the same bracket. Here, I am not just referring to his spiritual pursuits. I am viewing him through the prism of a music composer. Seeing him from this perspective throws up a lot of interesting facts. It is said that he composes tunes in a jiffy and that the score-sheet is given to the musicians (orchestra) within no time. Such a task is impossible unless people are highly focused, dedicated, disciplined and austere.
Now, people may argue that after all it is Cinema and that he is a ‘Music Director’ who delivers based on the demands of the Film-makers. Let us not miss the wood for the trees.
His works even in below-average films are stupendous and can be considered as great musical compositions (I can quote many examples.. In fact a cursory glance at this Bolg itself is proof enough!).
Many of his songs also take us to a higher plane and we do not care for the name of the movie/story/hero. What matters to us when we listen to such compositions is the divine state we reach.
A real spiritualist is one who not only practises spirituality but also guides others or at least make others experience divine feelings.
Therefore, ILaiyaraaja is the spiritual guru for all of us..
Today, we are going to see one more great composition from an obscure film.
The song is ‘Vazhimel Vizhiyai Edhir Parthirunthaen’ from ‘Archanai PokkaL’(1980).
The composition is based on Pantuvarali, a very interesting ragam.
It is the 51st melakartha and is known by the name Kamvardhini.Muththuswami Dikshithar called it as ‘Kashiramakriya’.
It is the pratimadhyama raga of Mayamalavagowla-that is only the variant of ‘ma’ is different. But it has an entirely different flavour and is unique in its own way.
There are a lot of classical compositions in this ragam. This ragam is frequently sung by musicians in carnatic concerts since it has an ‘aura of popularity’.Beacause of this aspect, it is called as a ‘janaranjaka ragam’.
The structure of Pantuvarali is :
sa ri1 ga3 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.
The raga is more beautiful in panchama varjya phrases-ni ri ga ma dha ni, ni dha ma ga, ga ma dha ni…
Let us now look at the composition.
The beginning is somewhat different with the resonance of the sitar strings. It plays with verve as the pretty flute enters with flourish. It is delicate and soft. At the same time it reaches alluring depths to give a yearning melody. It is enriched by the lucent Jalatarangam.
The Pallavi in the dulcet tone of Janaki exudes sensitivity. One sees the aesthetic subtleties when the flute and the sarod alternate after the lines ‘Varuvai Maamukhile’ and ‘Nee Varuvai Maamukhile’ when they are rendered the second time. The line ‘Sukham Ekanthamai Malara’ touches the beautiful spots of the ragam.
The first interlude is marked by the gracefully grafting sitar. It moves like a clear gurgling stream with the Tabla and the rippling flow of the Jalatarangam. The musical ripples continue with the Jalatarangam and the melodic rhythms.
The CharaNam is finely etched. The first two lines are majestic while the third line is dynamic. The last two lines are magical. The contrasting motifs and the pirouetting at the end are stupendous.
The second interlude is sculpted with beautiful musical phrases.
The shehnai played with finesse strikes a deep chord. The subtle strings juxtaposed add to the beauty. The sitar gives an array of short phrases. We are then in for some scintillating moments as the nifty flute, the soft and supple piano and the subtle bass vie with one another. It looks like swathing layers and strokes of colours. Strung together brilliantly, it looks like an intricate tapestry.
The entire composition is replete with melodic progressions of phrasing that take us to a higher plane.
..and a spiritual experience!
வழிமேல் செவியாய் எதிர்பார்த்திருப்போம் உனது பாடல்களை..