Sunday, 3 June 2012

ILaiyaraaja- The Metaphysical Musician..

Who or what is God?

To some, it is a form. To some, it is without a form. To some it is definite. To some it is indefinite. To some it is finite. To some, it is infinite. To some it is non-existent. To some it exists in the form of Love.

Well, the argument or debate continues and will continue forever.
Whether God exists or does not exist, the very fact that there is always a debate about Him speaks volumes about Him and finally He emerges victorious.(can there be victory or defeat for God?-point to ponder).

Let us look at this verse written by Appar (also called as Thirunaavukkarasar which literally means the one who is the King of the Tongue or Words)

விரிகதிர் ஞாயிறல்லர் மதியல்லர் வேத விதியல்லர் விண்ணு நிலனுந்
திரிதரு வாயுவல்லர் செறுதீயு மல்லர் தெளிநீரு மல்லர் தெரியில்
அரிதரு கண்ணியாளை ஒருபாக மாக அருள்கார ணத்தில் வருவார்
எரியர வாரமார்பர் இமையாரு மல்லர் இமைப்பாரு மல்லர் இவரே.

viri kadhir nyaayiRallar madhiyallar vedha vidhiyallar vinnm nilanum
thiritharu vaayuvallar cheRutheeyumallar theLi neerumallar theriyil
aritharu kanniyaaLai oru baagamaaga aruL kaaNaththil varuvAr
eriyara vaara maarbar imaiyaarumallar imaippaarumallar ivare

He is not the radiant sun nor is He the moon; He does not rule the Vedas; He is not the earth, He is not the sky, He is not the wind that moves around; He is not the glowing fire nor is He the water. He- whose garland is the fierce snake, appears with His consort on one side of his body- is neither a Deva nor a man.

This is one of the beautiful verses that gives the meaning of God in just four lines.

He is not the elements, the poet conveys that He cannot be measured or defined. At the same time, He can take any form-Man or a Woman or both(in fact this particular concept or form of the Masculine and Feminine is called as the Ardhanareeshvara. He was not born. He does not die.

Divine-The one with a form and without a form.

The essence of spirituality.

ILaiyaraaja’s spiritual outlook is well-known. His compositions exude divinity.His music is an external dimension of his spirituality.

As a matter of fact, if one scratches the surface of many of his compositions, one can discover many hidden gems not just in terms of musical value but also in terms of spirituality.

On this very special day as he steps into his 70th year, I am taking up a composition of his that symbolises the Saiva Siddhanta( or the concept of Shiva).

As per Saiva Siddhanta, the Supreme in constantly involved in 5 deeds:

1.Srushti- Creation
2.Stiti- Protection
3.Tirobhava-To obscure/hide (also test)
4.Samhaara- Dissolution
5.Anugraha-To grace

The song ‘Andela Ravamidi’ from the Telugu movie ‘SwarNa Kamalam’(1988) symbolises Saiva Siddhanta.


‘My Salutation to such a Guru, who is the Supreme Being’.

The sloka gives an introspective touch and raises our level of consciousness. The raga is Lataangi whose structure is sa ri2 ga3 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga3 ri2 sa. The akaaram at the end of each phrase in the clear voice of VaNi Jayaram adds sobriety.

The veena flows like a clear stream. The tabla tarang(melodic percussion) that appears for exactly 4 beats at the end of each avartanam symbolises the smiling buds ready to blossom.

There is a pause.

It is then a panoramic sweep as the raga changes to Dharmavati-whose structure is sa ri2 ga2 ma2 pa dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma2 ga2 ri2 sa- and the TaLa pattern changes to the 3-beat cycle Tisram.

It is Creation as the sloka on Shiva is rendered with clarity and coherence by SPB and VaNi Jayaram. The sloka as well as the percussion follows ‘ta ka/ta ka dhi mi’.

The Tala pattern now changes to Chatushram as we see the beauty of Creation in the Veena that plays the silken strands of Dharmavati.

The ‘ta ta/ ta ri ki ta ta aam’ is played by the mridangam and the ghatam leading us to the Pallavi that has a ‘anaagata eduppu’ with the song starting after the Tala (at 3/4th place).

‘The melodious music from my anklets-is it from my dance steps or is it from the heightened state of my mind’?

‘Does this divine song emanate from my lips or is it just the natural flow of happiness’?

‘This is the fruition of yaagas and the yoga’.

‘PraNava Naadam- the Life’.

Though these are the words of the lyricist( Shri.Sitarama Sastry), the swara patterns themselves convey the meanings.

The entire world reverberates and jumps with joy as the flute and the veena gleefully show a myriad of melodic phrases. The violins move with delicacy and dexterity.

The solo flute shows vivid vistas and the percussion leads to the first charaNam.

Ta ta ri ki ta thom ta ka ta thom thom ta ki ta


‘Ankle bells sound like the thunder and the movements are like the lightning’

‘I am like the cloud that brings the rains happily, I move like the wind’

‘It is the flow of the Ganga River, expressions like the myriad hues of the sky, True meanings to the art (of life)

‘It is the Dance of the Universe, Song of the water-falls, greenery all around. It is Parvati Devi’

The swara structure in the first line is majestic and beautiful.

The swaras amble across in the second line while the third line shows flexible movements-breezy and reposeful.

The last line shows the classical depth of the raga.

3. Tirobhava:

The chorus sings with an yearning with the sitar going around looking for answers. The search for the ‘hidden’ continues with the flute and the violins tugging at the heart strings.


The percussion plays the korvai
Ta ka ta ki ta/ ta ka ta ki ta/ ta ka dhi mi ta ka dhi mi ta ka dhi mi( twice with the one shown in bold played in ‘mel kaalam’)

Ta taangu (5)/ta ka tham(4)/ta ki ta thaam(5)/ta ka dhi mi thaam(6)/ta ka ta ki ta thaam(7)/ta ta thaam(4)/

/ta ta thaam (4)/

ta ka ta ki ta (5)/ ta ri ki ta ta ri ki ta thom (5 in keezh kaalam)/

ta ka ta ki ta(5)/ ta ri ki ta ta ri ki ta/thom (5 in keezh kaalam)/

ta ka ta ki ta(5)/ta ri ki ta ta ri ki ta thom((5 in keezh kaalam).

5.Realisation and Grace:

The glowing eyes -Na
Determination of mind- -Ma
Movement of Breath -Shi
Desire -Va
Thought -Ya

Naadam, Mantram, Stotram,Vedam, Yagyam-


At the basic level, meaning of Namashivaya
At the next level, the range of Dharmavati ragam.
At the highest level, salvation.

It is the TaaNdava, Ananda TaaNdava.
It transcends Time, Space, and Form.

It is the Ultimate Truth!

Brathuku pranavamai mrogu kadha..

PS: This is my 100th post in this Blog.I thank all the people who have been supporting and encouraging me.My aim is to make at least 500 posts and I am sure it will be possible with His blessigs!