Friday, 13 January 2012

ILaiyaraaja-The Luminous Musician..

‘Oh!The one whose face shines like the moon…like the Full Moon’,

sang the greatest carnatic music composer Saint Tyagaraja in his kriti

How can one not appreciate the beauty of that circular, luminous creature on the night sky?

Look at this description taken from ‘Nala Chempu’, part of Sanskrit Literature.

‘Kamadeva’s friend, the Moon has risen. Drenched in the moonlight, the entire universe seems like a dancing milky ocean. The Moonlight creates illusions in everybody’s mind.
The owl, a sworn enemy of the crow, is in a fighting mood and goes looking for the crow.But alas!The crow covered in the shining white light looks like a Swan and the owl beats a retreat..’

‘What does the crow do?Mistaking it for daylight, the sleepy crow in a state of trance desperately looks for its mate everywhere, totally oblivious to its presence right in front!’

‘The women mistake the moon rays- that peep through the trellised windows- for pearls and try to ‘pick up’ the gems.
They also start churning the pots filled with moonlight thinking it to be curd!
After all, who is not mesmerized by the moon and its rays? ‘

‘kshubhyat-ksherasamudra-saandra-salilollolairiva plaavayan
lokam locanalobhatah smarasuhrj-jaatah sa candrodayah
yasmin sambhrta-vairadaaruna-rana-praarambhino bhraamyatah
kruddholuka-kadambakasya puratah kaakopi hamsaayate

unnidro dina-shankaya krtarutah kaako varaakah priyaam
anvishyan-puratah sthitaamapiyathaa cakrabhramam bhraamyati...

muktaa-daam-manorathena vanitaa grnhanti vaataayane
goshthe gopa-vadhoor-dadheeti mathitum kumbheegataan-vaanchati’

(Translation courtesy-Manjari).

After all, who is not mesmerized by music in general and the compositions of one gentleman?Is it not a fact that his music too shines luminously like the eternal full moon on the sky of music?

Today’s song is based on a raga that literally means ‘Moon light’-Chandrajyoti.. Incidentally, the Tygaraja kriti quoted in the beginning is also in Chadrajyoti.

Chandrajyoti is derived from the 41st melakarta, Paavani.It is shaadava-shaadava-that is has 6 swaras in the ascending and descending.

Its structure is sa ri1 ga1 ma2 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha2 pa ma2 ga1 ri1 sa.
‘ga1’ is a vivadi swara and is called as Shudhdha gandharam.The concept of vivadi has already been discussed in this forum and I request the readers to refer to my post on ‘Sooryan’(ILaiyaraaja-The Sun).

The song taken up for discussion , ‘Saptasaila..’ from the Telugu film ‘Shri Yesdukondala Swamy’(1991) has a very interesting prelude.

The ‘omkara’ is rendered 9 times before the Pallavi.

If one calculates the no.of beats(though there is no percussion) and puts a simple Adi TaaLam as the ‘Om’ is rendered, one finds that the Pallavi starts exactly at the 36th beat-that is after 4 full cycles of Adi TaaLam followed by 3 beats.

What is special about this?
35 = 7x5.

The composition-from Pallavi- is set in Misram, the 7 beat cycle.
Even in the absence of percussion or in the ‘Om’ not following any particular TaaLam, the master starts it after 5 cycles of Misram which means that his mind always keeps working on the laya..

The percussion too is played with more stress on the ‘ta ka dhi mi’ part.

He touches the heart tenderly and strikes the head intelligently!

The Pallavi in the mellifluous voice of SPB unfolds with great zeal. It is full of spirit evoking spiritualistic feelings.The second part where one clearly hears the vivadi swara is beguilingly beautiful.The ‘akaaram’ at the end of the Pallavi is aesthetically charming.

The delicately woven Veena and the Sitar have a smooth rippling flow with the Flute shining like a pearl in the first interlude.

The first two lines in the first CharaNam move with sensitivity while the following lines delineate the contours of the raga Chandrajyoti.

In the second interlude, Laya Raja comes to the fore again.

The divine bell sounds ‘ta ki ta’ and then there is a gap of 4.
One hears only the 1st beat, the 5th,6th and the 7th beat.
It is ta - - - ka dhi mi and this pattern is repeated thrice.


The regal Sitar moves with elegant charm. The Flute follows with coherence and fluidity elegantly grafting the raga even as the Sitar smiles and nods its head in appreciation.

The second CharaNam is full of intricate phrases with each set of lines beautifully cascading upwards.

The first set of two lines in the lower octave has dignity and grace.
The second set of two lines in a slightly higher octave is impregnated with melody.
The third set of four lines in an octave higher than the previous one shows the innumerable shining facets of the raga.

The last set in the higher octave is scintillating.

The vivacious Sitar which appears between each set caresses us.

Towards the end, it is a rhapsody of sorts and the Sitar and the Flute take us to the summit creating a state of bliss.

It is riveting and gripping!

Poetry, Devotion, Music join together as we see and feel the divine silvery rays.

Saptaswara naayakaa..deepaka..