Saturday, 9 February 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Devout Musician!

Oh! Happily Singing Cuckoos! What Music is this - Dull And Gloomy?
When The Lord Of The Venkata Hill Bestows The Vivacious Life On Me ,
Come To Sing In Glee,
And If The Lord With Garuda In His Banner Graces And Commingle With Me ,
I Will Entreat You To Come And Delight Me in Soul Stirring Music!

பாடும் குயில்காள்!ஈது என்ன பாடல்?நல் வேங்கிட
நாடர் நமக்கு ஒரு வாழ்வு தந்தால் வந்து பாடுமின்
ஆடும் கருளக்கொடியுடையார் வந்து அருள் செய்து
கூடுவராயில் கூவி நும் பாட்டுக்கள் கேட்குமே!

Tamizh Literature is very rich in deed !

Apart from the wonderful Sangam Literature comprising Patthu Paattu and Ettuthogai composed more than 3000 years back, we have the Great Thirukkurall, The Five Major Epics-Silappadigaram, Manimegalai, Seevaga Chintamani, Valaiyapathi, and Kundalakesi- and The Beautiful Kamba Ramayanam just to name a few.

Apart from these , we have the Bhakti Literature which abound with Piety, Devotion and Compassion. The Poets were able to convey and express their feelings in a lucid way and their mastery of the language is simply amazing.

The above verse is from the ‘Naachiyar Thirumozhi’ which is part of the Vaishnavite Treatise ‘Naalayira Divya Prabandham’.

’Naachiyar Thirumozhi’ is a collection of 143 poems penned by Aandall. She has used beautiful Similes and Epithets in her poems and it is a real treat for avid lovers of Literature.

One of the major aspects of the Bhakthi Literature is that the poets never hankered for material possessions.They were steadfast in their approach and their only focus was to attain Supremacy by being in unison with the Almighty!

Apart from Aandall , there have been many poets who have sung verses extolling the Omnipotent/Omnipresent/Omniscient.

Maanickavaachakar was one of them.

Maanickavaachakar lived in the later part of 9th Century –just after Aandall.Though he has two works to his credit-Thirukkovaiyar and Thiruvaachakam-he is known more for the latter. Both these works are part of the 8th Thirumurai(treatise) of the 12 Saiva Thirumaurais.

His original name was Thiruvathavoorar(Thrivathavoor being the place of his birth which is about 25km.from Madurai) and he was the Chief Minister in the Court of the Pandiya King Arimarthanan. It was a normal life for the Minister until a Divine Intervention happened in a place called Thiruperunthurai and his life changed thereafter…

After penning ThiruVaachakam(Thiru-Divine, Vaachakam-Words/Verses), people started calling him as ManiVaachakar or MaanickaVaachakar(one who utters Gemlike Words).

Thiruvaachagam is the cry of the soul that wants to be free from the bonds and that longs to be united with the Supreme. The Mystic appeal in Thiruvaachakam melts one’s heart and makes one shed tears.

There is a saying in Tamizh ‘ThiruVaachakathirkku Urugaar Oru Vaachakathirkum Urugaar’meaning ‘One who does not melt while reading or listening to ThiruVaachakam will not melt for anything’.

ThiruVaachakam consists of 684 Verses in 51 parts!

While reading ThiruVaachakam, one is stunned by the fact that ManickaVachakar was also a mortal like us having all worldly desires but none of the verses is a prayer that petitions God for Material Possessions. Realising that everything other than the Almighty is only an illusion, he makes a fervent plea to be released from the bonds that imprison the deluded soul.

One can appreciate the real beauty of ThiruVaachakam , if it is rendered by someone who has really understood and appreciated the True Meaning and one who is an expert in Tamizh, Mysticism, Spirituality and most importantly Music.

Can there be a better person than the great Maestro who is the Master in all these and whose music is simply Outstanding and Divine?

Though there are a lot of great things about ILaiyaraaja’s interpretation of ThiruVaachakam, what strikes one first is his diction.

At a time when the ‘ள’(lla), ‘ண ‘(nna), ‘ழ’(zha),’ ற’(rra)-which are unique letters and are very special to Tamizh- are pronounced very badly in conversations and in the present day songs, he sets an example in pronouncing these letters and words and in the process shows how beautiful Tamizh is.

The second thing is that his tunes are set in pure Carnatic Raagas but the Orchestration is in Western Classical style!Though he does this regularly in his Film Compositions, it does take a lot of guts and gumption to do this in a Classic Work!

And he does this with aplomb !

Unlike what is widely believed , Raja has never called his ThiruVaachakam work as a Symphony nor has he named it a Symphonic Oratorio.

It is an Oratorio using Symphony Orchestra.

It is an humungous task to render all the 654 verses . After years of research, Raja has picked out the verses that give the essence of this great work.

What we are going to see today is the ‘Thirukkotthumbi Pathigam’ where the Knowledge is symbolized as the Humming Bee and MaanickaVaachakar requests the bee to ‘hum and sing’ to The Almighty!

There are totally 20 verses in Thirukkotthumbi Pathigam out of which 7 verses are rendered in the Album.

The Theme Raaga is Sudhha Dhanyasi. The Swaraas of the Raaga change in a coruscating way and in the process Sudhha Dhanyasi changes its colour- at times totally becoming a different Raga.

Throughout the 7 Verses here, one gets to hear the Drone of the Bees and it sounds differently in each of the Verses.

The Composition starts with the Violin Orchestra sounding like the Humming Bee taking a low flight and hovering around to listen to the greatness of the Almighty;
The Divine Force whose power cannot be fathomed by anybody.

The Maestro with a Voice Chockfull of Spontaneity now sings a pithy Aalap of Sudhha Dhanyasi as the Bee listens:

Who Am I-Who Is My Mind-Who would Know Me-if Only the Almighty who wears the Moon on His Head had not Bestowed His Grace on Me?Go and Hum to his Honeyed Feet..’

The Bee now takes a Joyous Flight ready to taste the honey…

Now comes the Honeyed Phrase that says ‘Don’t Drink the Honey from the Flowers that are just ordinary.Go to the Almighty who effuses Honey that enters each and every bone’.

The phrases ‘Ninaithorum’, ‘Kaandorum’, ‘Pesumthorum’ follow a wavy pattern and sound like the wind dancing on the drooping branch of a tree..

The Bee now slows down as its listens to the story of Kannappan who offered his eyes to the Lord.

The ‘Ma’ in Sudhha Dhanyasi is changed beautifully and it now becomes Raag Madhukauns(Madhu in Sanskrit means Honey!).The Gait or Gathi-as it is called in Carnatic Music Parlance- is also changed.

In a Yearning Tone , the Maestro sings ‘Despite My Love not being equal to what Kannapan had , the Lord has graced me with his Skylike Compassion.Go and sing to that Golden Feet’ .

The Bee is now in a pensive mood after listening to the story of Kannapan as the Shruthi Bedam takes place.The ‘Ga’ and ‘Ma’ change and only three Swaras Sa Ga Ma are used to depict the Mundane pleasures like Money, Fame, Family and the Cycle of Birth and Death.

The Raaga becomes Sudhha Dhanyasi again when he says ‘Go and sing to the One who dispelled all these Myths’.

The Bee takes a Graceful Flight and takes leisurely glides as the Raaga goes back to Madhukauns .

I am worse than a Dog with a Mind like a Monster.He pardoned me and made me sing quelling my unpleasantness like a Mother.Go and sing to him.’

The Bee now takes a Tantalising Trajectory with Repose as it listens to’ Who am I in front of the Supreme,
The One who rules the Heavens, All the Directions and the Seas.
Go and Sing to his Feet which is Immersed in Honey..’

The Bee now moves like waves and tries to visualize the Incandescent Figure which is All and Nothing and From whom Compassion flows like a Flood.

The Brilliant use of Ankle Bells symbolizing His Cosmic Dance ,the Structure of the Verse to making it sound like a Mangalam(the piece of Homage sung at the end) and all the four lines taking a Sinuous Pattern making it look like the Dance Of The Waves are like The Diamonds in the Crown!

Thiruvaachakam –set to Music by Illaiyaraja is a soft and supple fabric,

A Fabric woven with Devotion,

A Fabric laced with Spiritual Punctuations,

A Fabric Radiating Positive Energy,

A Fabric as intensely Colourful as It Is Emotional!

திருவாசகத்திற்கு உருகார் ஒரு வாசகத்திற்கும் உருகார்

இளையராஜாவின் இசைக்கு உருகார் ஒரு இசைக்கும் உருகார்.

One who does not melt for Thiruvaachakam will not melt for anything.
One who does not melt for ILaiyaraaja’s Music Will Not Melt For Any Other Music!

1 comment:

Arun Narayanan ( U109011) said...

Hello Sir ,

I am really spellbound by the intepretation of beauty of Thiruvasakam and its musical rebirth given by Ilayaraja. I dont think that thiruvasakam would have become popular had Ilayaraja not composed the music for it.
The interpretation of the music was really nice. I am blessed to read this piece of treasured information. The joy of reading this info will everlast in my senses similar to a best food eaten after a long time.