Sunday, 23 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Divine Musician!

Saint Thyagaraja says to Rama,

‘You are my light; you are the beautiful smell.
You are the crux of my Life’.

‘Naa Jeevadhara Naa Nomu palama,
Naa Joopu Prakasamu, Naa Nasika Parimalama..’

In another Krithi, he says,

‘Can anything be more blissful than being with you?
Dancing and singing about you is more than enough for me’

‘Inthakanna Aanandamemi O Rama Rama!
Aaduchu Naadamuna Paaduchu Ethutara Veduchu Manasuna Koodiyundutta Chaalu’.

Thyagaraja saw the Almighty everywhere.

To him, Music and Rama was everything and he strongly believed that Music is the vehicle to attain Divinity.

I am reminded of Subramania Bharathi who sang ‘I see you in the feathers of the Crow.I see you in the Greenery.’He even went on to sing that when he touched the fire, he felt the pleasure of touching the God.

Only people who are divine are able to produce such divine words and works.

That is why, Thyagaraja’s compositions are still alive after more than 150 years.
Bharathi ‘s works are relevant after nearly 100 years.

In a similar vein, ILaiyaraaja, who sees Music, feels Music, breathes Music, and gives Music is a Divine personality. Like Thyagaraja, he believes in Naadopaasana.

Not many people know that during Dasserah(Navarathri), he invites great Carnatic Musicians to perform in his house.

All the Musicians enjoy their concerts there because of the Divine Experience they get.

Today, we are going to see another divine composition of his that is based on a beautiful and a Majestic Ragam.

The Ragam is Bilahari.

The two Thyagaraja Krithis quoted in the beginning are also in Bilahari.

Bilahari has 5 Swaras in the Aarohanam and all the 7 in the Avarohanam.

This kind of a structure is called as ‘Oudava Sampoornam’-‘oudava’ meaning 5 and ‘sampoornam’ meaning complete.

The structure of Bilahari is

Arohanam: sa ri2 ga3 pa dha2 Sa
Avarohanam:Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.

The Arohanam is the same as that of Mohanam.

Bilahari is also the Sudhha Madhyama counterpart of ‘Mohana Kalyani’ another beautiful Ragam.

As per some texts, there is a sparing use of the other ‘ni’(kaisiki) in Bilahari.

Singing or listening to this Ragam makes one very fresh. It wakes us up from the slumber making us shed our laziness.

No doubt, Bilahari is also considered to be a Morning ragam

There is a very interesting story behind the composition we are going to discuss today.

Raja sir and his Guru TVG sir were in Kollur in Karnataka, the place where Mookambika temple is located. They were in a cottage when suddenly they heard the chime of the temple bell. It sounded like the ‘ri’ to TVG sir while it sounded like the ‘ga’ to Raja sir.

Sa ri ga ..

And this was enough to trigger a conversation between the two Maestros. The topic was on Bilahari ragam and they went on and on discussing the beauty of this Ragam.

Within a week of returning to Madras, TVG sir received a call from his disciple requesting him to visit the Recording Studio.

The Disciple played this song and the Guru was spellbound.

With tears rolling down the cheeks, the Guru told the Sishya that he had never listened to anything better than this in Film Music..

In Indian Classical Arts, Guru occupies a very special place and it is said that whatever be the talents, one cannot shine unless one has the blessings of the Guru.

Raja sir has the blessings of all his Gurus.
That is why his Music sounds so divine despite being in a commercial set up like Films.

Let us now turn our attention on the composition that rendered his Guru speechless.

It is ‘Koonthalile..’ from ‘Bala Nagamma’(1982).

The opening itself is beautiful.

As one hears the ascending notes, the Lady voice (Sasirekha) hums and Violin plays with lilting grace.

The Pallavi starts with the silky smooth voice of Yesudass.

There is a unique delicacy in the structure.The first line moves in the normal pace while the second line has short pauses in between making it look majestic.

It is Rounded Mellowness as Yesudass sings the ‘Koonthalile..’ again adding some sangathis.

The Interlude has Galloping phrases, Humming, Impassioned Veena, Flute and Percussion all giving the niceties of the Raga Swaroopa.

The first Charanam is ornately structured.

It looks like a Pillar-strong at the same time very smooth.

Bilhari takes a meandering stroll with Veena and the percussion.
The stroll is depicted with the change in the gait of the line ‘Nadanthaal..’


We reach the higher plane and are lost there as we hear ‘Mel paathi thanai Paarkka..’

In the second Interlude, Bilahari swirls, twirls, and prances.

The delectable long spree of Thaanam gives us a wonderful Rhythmic Sway!

The second charanam has deft phrasings with multiple matrices of beautiful sangathis.

We see the Sculptures of Krishnapuram and Maamallapuram.

We see the paintings of Ajanta/Ellora.

We see the precious Gems.

We see the Lotus in the Moonlight.

We hear the euphonic Veena.

We drink the Nectar.

It is Divine Music...

தெய்வீக ராகம்!தெவிட்டாத பாடல்!!

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