Saturday, 2 February 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Pious Musician!

‘Amma Ravamma Tulasamma Nannu Palimpa’..

Saint Thyagaraja sang this Krithi on Tulasi, the Garland of which adorns Lord Vishnu .

Tulasi has lot of Medicinal qualities .The Flavour of Tulasi is enough to give a divine feeling.It is like the healing touch of the Mother.

Addressing Tulasi as Mother is the most beautiful part of this Krithi.

The Supreme is worshipped in different forms.

Considering the Supreme as the Mother has been in vogue for many years.The Devi Worship finds a mention in one of the oldest texts in Tamizh, Silappadigaram:

ஆனைத்தோல் போர்த்தும் புலியின் உரி உடுத்து
கானத்து எருமைக் கருந்தலைமேல் நின்றாயால்
வானோர் வணங்கு மறைமேல் மறையாகி
ஞானக் கொழுந்தாய் நடுக்கின்றியே நிற்பாய்

Adorning the skin of the elephant and that of the Tiger
You stand on the Head of the Buffalo
You are the Supreme Veda and the Supreme Knowledge
And You are Worshipped by One and All.

Devi-also considered to be Shakthi, the embodiment of Energy- was worshipped by Poet Subramaniya Bharathi as well.

Muthuswami Dikshithar, and Shyama Sastri -who along with Thyagaraja are called as the Carnatic Music Trinity - have sung many Kirtanas on Devi.

Devi Worship involves a lot of connotations.

Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Krithis have not just the Musical Value but are also full of Mantras.The boundaries of Mantras and Music tend to overlap constantly in his compositions and it is transformed to a place of collective worship.

Devi worship also involves a Mystic Diagram called as Srichakra (Holy Wheel).It consists of concentric circles , inverted triangles, and Lotus Petals arranged in nine tiers symbolizing progressive levels of spiritual attainment.

Adi Sankara who lived in the 8th Century consecrated these Chakras and had them installed in some places in India.Such Temples are regarded as being very powerful and are esoteric. One such Temple is the Mookambika Temple in Kollur(Karnataka).

ILaiyaraaja had a very Divine Experience at the Mookambiga Temple way back in early '70s that transformed him completely and spirituality became part of his life after this.

That is why one composition of his is very special and is ensconced in our hearts as one of the most Divine Songs Tamizh Cinema has ever had.

It is ‘Janani Janani’ from ‘Thai Mookambikai’.

Kalyanam means good ominous thing(s).

Kalyani Raga is an embodiment of all the good things.

ILaiyaraaja , who is always in search of excellence and is in pursuit of the values embedded in a Ragam , has given us excellent compositions in Kalyani and has shown the contours, colours and various dimensions of this Ragam.

Kalyani is the 65th Melakartha and is an eternal charmer.It is a very old Ragam.In Tamizh Pann, it is called as ‘Arumpaalai’(அரும்பாளை).In Hindustani Music, it is called as Yaman.

The Thyagaraja Krithi mentioned in the beginning is also in Kalyani.

It is very difficult to describe the emotions Kalyani evokes because it is so deep.

Let us now look at ‘Janani Janani’.

As per the situation in the movie, this song is sung by Adi Sankara.

It starts with a Sloka from ‘Soundarya Lahari’- a collection of poems/slokas composed by Adi Sankara describing the Beauty(Soundarya) of Devi.

The sound of Tanpoora melts our hearts as we hear ‘SivaShakthya Yuktho..’ rendered in proper cadence with mellowness and passion:

‘Oh…Mother!You are the Universe.
You are the Reason.You are Complete’.

The Chitraveena now plays with depth and crispness as the Veena gives out a radiant smile.

With great sensitivity of expression, Raaja now renders

‘You are the most Beautiful Being in this Universe.
You sit on the Lion and occupy the left portion of your Nayaka(Lord Siva)’.

The Flute now plays with high melodic quotient distilling the essence of the Ragam.It mines valuable nuggets that add a rich glow to Kalyani.

The second stanza is very intelligently chiselled .The Divine Numbers go in the ascending order.

‘The Four Vedas,
The Five Elements,
The Six Maargas-ways of worship established by Adi Shankara,
The Seven Rivers,
The Eight Yogas,
The Nine Yagnyas

Worship You.

You are the daughter of the Mountains(Parvati),
You are the Daughter of the Seas(Lakshmi).
You are the Daughter of Fine Arts(Saraswathi).

The Veena now plays with Gentle, Persuasive, and Soothing Calmness striking a chord in our hearts.We feel the aroma of Kalyani pervading the surroundings.

The soulful phrases are now rendered with piety:

You formed on your own with the Golden lines.
The Slokas, Sastras and Your Netras(Eyes)
Form the Sakthi Peetam.

As he renders ‘Sakthi Peetamum Nee..’the first time, we feel joyfully evocative.

As he renders this the second time, we feel brimming with energy.

As he renders it the third time, we feel blissful.

The composition is heart wrenching and poignant and we do not feel like getting out of it.

Drawing inspiration from consecrated principles,

Assimilating the Concept and Spirit behind Tradition,

Guiding us to a Cadence of Spirituality and Contemplation,

It is an undefiled pure presentation.

It is the Sri Chakra itself in the form of Music.

Sakthi Peetamum Nee..Sarva Mokshamum Nee…..

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