DEIVATHIN KURAL # 177 (Vol #
6) Dated 26 May 2013
e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti
Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier
part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam,
Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we
are going ahead from last Paragraph on page No 1226 of Volume 6 of the Tamil
original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too
mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com
Appreciation Caused Embarrassment
980. In the next
sloka No 66, the poet depicts enactment of a small drama on the stage in which
unintentionally an expression of appreciation causes abashment. The sloka is as follows: -
विपञ्च्या गायन्ती विविदमपदानं पशुपते-
vipanchya gãyanthee vividhamapadãnam pashupate:-
त्वयारब्धे वक्तुं चलितशिरसा साधुवचने |
vaktum chalita shirasã sãdhuvachane |
तदीयैर्माधुर्य्यै: अपलपित तन्त्रीकलरवां
tvadeeyairmaadhuryai: apalapita tantreekalaravãm
निजां वीणां वाणी निचुलयति चोळेन निभृतम् ||
veeNãm vanee nichulayati choLena nibhrutam ||
981. This drama takes place on a stage setting in AmbãL's assembly
hall say. AmbãL is happily listening to
a music concert. You can listen to music
only when you are relaxed and happy without any undue pressure of work or urge
to attend to something important. To
think of AmbãL in such a frame of reference as pleasantly and happily listening
to music will give us also immense peace.
Whose concert is AmbãL listening to?
She is Saraswathi Devi playing the VeeNa. The very source of literature
and fine arts is singing while playing on the VeeNa. It is just beyond our imagination even to
think of, let alone trying to express in words, in which the very Presiding
Deity of dance, drama, music, arts, crafts, fine-arts and all forms of spoken
and written expressions is singing and playing on the VeeNa, in the august presence
of AmbãL! The scene is just
mind-boggling to visualise!
982. 'Vipanchaya', means on the 'Vipanchi', which is a VeeNa, aka
'Parivãdhini'. Saraswathi's VeeNa has a
special name as 'Kachchapi'. Deities and
great people's weapons and instruments have special names. The bow of Easwara is known as 'Pinãka' and
hence he is also called 'PinãkapãNi'.
Similarly the bow of Maha Vishnu is 'Sãrnga' and so he has a name as
'SãrngapãNi' and Arjun's bow is 'GãNdiva'.
Nãrada the recluse devotee's VeeNa is called 'Mahathi' and Tumburu whose
name is normally mentioned along with Nãrada, has a VeeNa called
'Kalãvathi'. As I said, Saraswathi has
a VeeNa called Kachchapi, its name deriving from the fact that on one end of the
VeeNa the pot like attachment is of the shape of a Tortoise and in Sanskrit
Kachchap means Tortoise. Professor Sãmbamoorthy
told me that in Philippines such a musical instrument is in use and they call
it 'Katjapi'. In Lalitha Sahasranãma
also this name occurs, where it says that AmbãL's normal speech itself is as
sweet as the Kachchapi VeeNa –
'nija-sallãpa-mãdhrya-vinirbhartrsibha-kachchapi' – 'निज-सल्लाप-माधुर्य-विनिर्भर्त्सित-कच्चपी'. It is this idea that ÃchãryãL has developed
in to a drama in this sloka, using a generic name of 'Vipanchi' instead of its
specific name Kachchapi.
983. When you say 'vipanchyã gãyanthee', 'what is being played on
VeeNa' is the meaning. I am interpreting
it as 'playing on VeeNa and singing', do you know how? Later in the sloka it says, 'vividam apadãnam
pasupate:', meaning that by playing on the VeeNa she is describing 'vivdam' =
variety of; 'apadãnam' = exploits; 'pasupate: = of
Pasupati. The adventures, exploits and
escapades of Pasupati Siva have to be described in words for it to be
understood by the listener. Though here
AmbãL knows all that her husband would have done on
various occasion, in addition to instrumental musical nicety if the beauty of
the words of the poems (Sahitya) are also there the enjoyment is enhanced,
isn't it? That is why I am saying that,
Saraswathi is singing along with playing on the VeeNa.
984. We feel happy when people praise us. May be due to not knowing our real character
or just to flatter us so that they may get some favour done, people may praise
us. Otherwise how can anybody sing our
praise? If that is our case, with AmbãL nobody can ever really do so because, her character qualities
are immeasurably great, unknowable and indescribable! But, is Saraswathi singing AmbãL's
praise? No, she is singing about
Easwara's 'thiruviLaiyãdalgaL' – 'திருவிளையாடல்கள்' –
'vividam apadãnam pasupate:' – as they are the favourites of AmbãL,
she is listening about her husband's exploits as an epitome of fidelity! Saraswathi knows AmbãL's
mind as she is known as 'Sarvagna' the Omniscient! Like our ÃchãryãL, whosoever wish to win that
title of 'All-Knowing' as 'Sarvagna' have to win over Saraswathi Devi in the
final qualifying round sort of. So,
knowing AmbãL's likes and preferences, Saraswathi Devi is
singing praise of Easwara while playing on the VeeNa and singing with it. Like AmbãL Easwara
Mahima are endless! Saraswathi is trying
to do justice to that difficult task, as well as she can.
985. When experts sing in the presence of rich and knowledgeable
connoisseurs of art, they will make an initial study of their likes and
preferences, to be able to draw the maximum advantage out of the
situation. Saraswathi very much had this
ability. Had she played on the VeeNa say
before Easwara, knowing that he would like to listen about AmbãL's
greatness, she would have done that.
Here in AmbãL's presence she is singing about
Easwara. Sannidy is AmbãL's. Singer is Saraswathi. With singing she is also playing on the VeeNa
Kachchapi, well known for its sweet sound!
The subject being sung about is Easwara's adventures! Thus all aspects of the scene are of the
order of the superlative! At the start
of 'Sivãnanda Lahari, our ÃchãryãL says that, 'the bliss
of Sivãnanda is flowing from the histories of Easwara and
filling the huge chasm in my head'. Now AmbãL is
submerging in such a flood of bliss of Sivãnanda! Those stories are so blissful even while
reading. Now to be listening to
Saraswathi herself playing on the VeeNa and singing along, is just unimaginably
too wonderful even to think of!
986. AmbãL is enjoying the music and is
totally engrossed. At times she is
nodding her head – 'chalita sirasã' – 'चलित सिरसा' – appreciating it. To
clap ones hand is 'kara kampam' and to nod is 'sira kampam'. In clapping ones hands there isn't such
delicacy, I suppose. When the audience
is exhibiting their appreciation especially when the artist is noticing that
they are certainly discerning and appreciating the really subtle and delicate
'birkhas' and 'ghamakas', the singer gets highly motivated to experiment
further and come out with exquisite variations.
Even if the artist is as yet a learner and a bit diffident, if we
happily encourage at the right juncture, he may come out with some beautiful
combinations. So we should applaud
truthfully and listen with an open heart.
If we sit around as though we knew too much with a bit of a
sanctimonious attitude and a smug face, we will be killing the singer's natural
aptitude and he will be worse than his normal ability. This applies to all lines of art, games and
987. Ambikai is happily encouraging and Saraswathi is going on
making wonderful music and singing with it.
All that I have said are in that one line 'vipanchya gãyanthee vividhama padãnam pashupate:' – 'विपञ्च्या गायन्ती विविदमपदानं पशुपते:',
meaning 'while Saraswathi in playing on the VeeNa to the accompaniment of her
own singing of Easwara's various exploits'.
Saraswathi's name does not come here, it occurs only in the fourth
line. OK then what? "Then as you started saying some words
of appreciation", the poet tells AmbãL – 'tvayãrabdhe
vaktum chalita shirasã sãdhuvachane'
– 'त्वयारब्धे वक्तुं चलितशिरसा साधुवचने'. Here, 'tvayã' =
'by you'; 'chalita sirasã' = with nodding of your head';
'sãduvachane' = words of appreciation; ãrabdhe'
= as started telling'. She felt some
words of appreciation should be expressed over and above her nodding of the
head and just started saying. In between
the concert or talks, the audience erupts don't they, with words such as,
'Bhale, besh, sabhash'? Or they say
'Hear, Hear!' or 'encore'! These are
known as 'Sadhu Vachane'. Like this she
said just some two such words. AmbãL was
highly pleased and from her throat a few words were uttered. She did not even say fully, as the poet says,
988. What happened the moment AmbãL opened her mouth and started
speaking in appreciation of the music?
That is the third line of the sloka – 'tadeeyairmaadhuryai: apalapita
tantree kalaravãm' – 'तदीयैर्माधुर्य्यै: अपलपित तन्त्रीकलरवां', which we have to analyse
to understand. 'Tadeeyai:' = their, that
is 'of those words that AmbãL was uttering, their'; 'mãdhuryai:' = (by their) sweet grace of exquisite beauty;
'apalapita' = 'refused or insulted'; 'kala ravãm' = 'the
sweet sounds'; of the 'tantree' = the strings' (of the VeeNa). Put together the meaning of the third line
is, 'By the sweet grace and exquisite beauty of the words being uttered by AmbãL, the sweet sounds of the strings of the VeeNa were virtually
put to shame as though' was noticed by who else, but Saraswathi.
989. If we generally think as what would be the sweetest of
sounds, we are likely to come to a decision that it must be the sounds of the
VeeNa of Saraswathi, who is the Goddess of arts, crafts, fine-arts, learning
and knowledge. We are likely to think
that nothing can match her playing on the VeeNa, in excellence, sweetness and
grace! If something can match that, then
it must be her voice, we are most likely to assume. But now, when AmbãL is
about to say a few words – she did not sing – she only spoke. There was no rhyming or verbal
gymnastics. She did not do much talking
either. Just started talking and just
two words were spoken. By that time
Saraswathi's voice and her VeeNa sounds were just defeated! As we saw earlier that in front of AmbãL's facial beauty, the moon-light was rendered into sour
porridge; now before the sweetness of her few seconds talk, the singing and
playing on the VeeNa all this time by Saraswathi, were rendered to, not total
bunkum but nothing much to say!
990. Then what did Saraswathi do?
She stopped singing and bent her head down. What did she do to the VeeNa? She just covered the VeeNa in its casing or
container. Let us look at the words of
the poet. That is the fourth line of the
sloka – 'nijãm veeNãm vãNi
nichulayati cholena nibhrutam' – 'निजां वीणां वाणी निचुलयति
चोळेन निभृतम्'. The word to word
meaning is like this:- 'nijãm' = her; 'veeNãm'
= VeeNa (to it, she did something); 'nibhrutam' = hiding it so that it may not
be seen outside; 'VaNee' = that is Saraswathi; 'nichulayati' = covers. It means that, having seen that against the
exquisite sweetness of AmbãL's talk, the sound of her
VeeNa was beaten, so that it may not be seen outside, Saraswathi puts her VeeNa
back in its casing!
991. Normally, a run-of-the-mill artist will not accept that
somebody else is better than them.
Saraswathi evidently is not one of them.
She whole-heartedly agreed that compared with the 'heavenly music' in
the spoken words of AmbãL, her own singing and the sounds
of her VeeNa are better hidden. When
something is no match, they will say 'உறை போடக்
காணாது', meaning that it will not be able to make even a
covering! So she covered her VeeNa in
its casing 'உறை போட்டு மூடி விட்டாள்'!
That is, because AmbãL was
appreciating her singing and playing, she did not continue singing but said,
"Enough is enough"! (Though
she has said that 'enough is enough', we are not yet finished with the scene
and will continue with the discussion of AmbãL's
appreciation and Saraswathi's reaction to it, in the next edition of Deivathin
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