DEIVATHIN KURAL # 178 (Vol #
6) Dated 28 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 page No 1234 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
992. Ambikai who is very considerate of other's feelings, despite having a very sweet
voice, till now
appreciated the singing and playing on the VeeNa only by nodding her head. Now, when she tried to say a few words of
encouragement, it caused Saraswathi to bend her head in shame. In this we can discern the greatness of
both. Saraswathi thought, "Like
showing the way to the Sun with a lighted candle, I have tried to show off my
musical prowess in front of AmbãL who has such a sweet and wonderful
voice! The Tamil proverb, 'பெற்ற தாயிடம்
கற்ற வித்தை!' has become
true in my case!" With that she
bent her head in shame!
993. That was
how Saraswathi felt under the situation.
But what happened to the VeeNa?
This Kachchapi VeeNa did not pull its head inside as the tortoise can do
when needed. Having lost to AmbãL badly,
this Kachchapi VeeNa should have withdrawn its head inside, isn't it? When somebody has declared himself a pauper,
he has to face social / legal ostracization, the very word evolving from the
bird of the deserts Ostrich I suppose, which faced with unavoidable danger,
hides its face in the sand! Similarly
the one who has lost in business or sports will cover his head and face and
vanish from the scene. I am talking
about the adage, 'தலையை துணியால் மூடிக்கொண்டு ஓடினான்'!" (PeriyavãL squeaks in a joke about himself saying,
"We are Sanyãsi-s and we are required by Sãstrãs to always cover our head.)
decided that, this VeeNa which has been soundly beaten, 'literally soundly',
should not be seen outside. She is a
true and sincere person. So, though
AmbãL was appreciating her music, she tightly pulled the covers over the
VeeNa. Vocal singing can be abruptly
stopped. The sounds of the strings are
not like that. Even when the strumming
has been stopped there will be some 'anuraNanam' – 'अनुरणनं' meaning
resonance will remain for some time. This
will be easily noticed in the VeeNa wherein once you twang a string and stop,
the reverberating sounds will keep on echoing for some time. This can also be noticed in huge bells, there
will be a continuous 'doing…ng…ng…ng…ng', as it finally fades away! Stringed instruments are like that only. So, the moment Saraswathi heard AmbãL's 'sãdhu vachanam', as she closed
her mouth, the VeeNa would not have done!
So, as though telling it to 'shut up', she enclosed the instrument in
its cover! Thus we can imagine
idea also occurs to me. AmbãL did feel
happy, nodded her head and uttered some words of appreciation, alright. But, did she do all that only about the music
of Saraswathi? Or, what else could it be?
All that Saraswathi had sung were about Easwara Leela. Instead of giving attention to the music, but
concentrating on the words of the songs, thinking about her husband's various
exploits, AmbãL could have been feeling happy, nodded her head and even said
something in appreciation. May be she
could have been appreciating the literary merit of the songs. Saraswathi also, the instant she heard the
superlative quality of her voice could have thought, "With such wonderful
musical voice, AmbãL could not have enjoyed my music at all! Her appreciation, nodding of her head and
words of praise are meant for the intrinsic greatness of Easwara's actions or
for the literary value of the songs only.
Like a fool, I have been going on and on, thinking that she is
appreciating my singing and playing! Let
me just shut up and close this 'doing, doing sound' of my VeeNa!" She could have thought like that, which would
have increased her feeling chastened, many times!
996. All said
and done, it is a wholesome drama that goes on scene by scene; AmbãL's Sannidy;
Saraswathi's singing and playing on the VeeNa; the singing describing and
enlarging the various adventures of Easwara; AmbãL feeling thrilled, nodding
her head; her saying something in appreciation; the unique sweetness of her
voice; Saraswathi feeling chastened and hanging her head in abashment; her
putting the VeeNa quickly in its encasement; a drama to be re-enacted in our
997. 'Cholena' means by the cover. In this word 'Choli', the ' l, L', that is 'ல & ள' in Tamil
and 'ल & ळ' in Sanskrit are inter-changeable, that becomes 'choli or
choLi'. In Tamil, this word is 'உறை',
which means a cover as well as a scabbard for swords or pillows or spectacles
even. 'Choli' thus is a shirt or blouse worn
by women in general, in most of the Indian languages. There is one cereal corn which is called 'சோளம்' in Tamil because many individual
grains are nicely stacked up on a stalk and then the whole thing is enclosed by
layers of coverings, each a 'Choli'!
Then the capital of the 'ChoLa' Kingdom was known as 'உறை + ஊர் = உறையூர்'!
998. As the
poet goes on describing the beauty of AmbãL's body, after the face, fore-head,
eyes, ears and mouth; he has sung this sloka in adoration of her sweet and
mellifluous voice, for us to imagine and enjoy!
He reminds us all that by her Anugraha, we may also be blessed with expertise
and skilfulness in music and poetry.
கண்ட மும்மை; ஆணின் வெண்மை, பெண்ணின் செம்மை
The Three Lines of the Neck; Man's
AmbãL to music there is another sloka in Soundarya Lahari – No 69.
गले रेखास्तिस्रो गतिगमक गीतैकनिपुणे
विवाह व्यानद्ध प्रगुण संख्या प्रतिभुव: |
vivãha vyãnaddha praguNa sakhyã pratibhuva: |
विराजन्ते नानाविध मधुर रागाकर भुवां
virãjante nãnãvidha madhura rãgãkarabhuvãm
त्रयाणां ग्रामाणां स्तिथिनियमसीमान इव ते ||
triãNãm grãmãNãm stithiniyamaseemãna iva te ||
1000. From this
sloka we get to know as to how broad, deep and exhaustive was the knowledge of classical
Music that our ÃchãryãL had, who was known as the 'Sarvagna' – the
Omniscient! In this sloka, words such as
Gati, Gamaka, Gita and Grãma are all musical technical terms. These are known only to musicologist experts
who have studied the theory and not just singers. The end part of Bharata's 'Nãtya Sãstrã',
Sãrnga Deva's 'Sangita Ratnãkaram' and Venkata Mahi's 'Chaturdandi Prakasika'
are some of the books that can be referred for greater understanding. In this what I have gathered is rather
limited. So, my telling you about that
may end in quite a bit of confusion.
Hence I will try and keep my talk as simple as possible.
1001. I hope
you all know that there are a number of Ragas in classical music with seven
notes known as Swaras, forming the musical octaves. The Swaras are 'Sa', 'Ri', Ga', Ma, 'Pa', 'Da',
'Ni' and 'Sa' again. These Swaras are
known by their names as Shadjam, Rishabham, Gãndharam, Madhyamam, Panchamam,
Dhaivatam, Nishadham and again the higher Shadjamam. Within these Swaras too there can be
variations as listed below: -
r2 - Chatusruthi Rishabam
g2 - Saadhaarana Gaandhaaram
d2 - Chatusruthi Dhaivatham
d3 - Shatsruthi Dhaivatham
Ragas are defined and formed by the variations in the specific Swaras they
contain in the ascending and descending order known as ArohaNam and
AvarohaNam. These are fixed and not
variable. So within these fixed
parameters of Shruti, Raga and its fixed Swaras, variations depend on the
singer's imagination and reach and that is the 'freedom within discipline' that
gives the Carnatic classical music its unique charm. The Ragas differ from each other depending on the Swaras.
'Gati' means variations in the beat based on the number of time between beats
as 'Tisra', 'Misra' or 'Kanta'. Gati in
Tamil is 'Nadai'. 'Gamakam' as we
understand is to shake some Swaras instead of pulling them for long periods
without any variations in the vibrations of the Swara, which is known as
'Karvai'. In Thodi Raga for example the
'Gãndãram' is given a shake and in SankarabaraNa it is the Rishabham given
Gamaka. Gitam is the song, as we know. (KTSV adds: - This is just a bare minimum
introduction only. Please consult an
expert in this line, if you wish to understand this paragraph and this sloka
1002. In this
sloka ÃchãryãL is calling AmbãL as – 'gati-gamaka -gita-eka-nipuNe', meaning 'she
is incomparably the one who is the maestro in Gati, Gamakam and Gitam'. But
these words are not exactly in the meaning that we know of but in subtle
technical sense as known to experts in this art. So, Gati indicates the 'Marga' or way and
'Desi', means the way with variations.
That is, if you take 'Marga' as comparable to the movement of a train on
the rails, 'Desi' can be compared to the movement of auto mobiles! Gamakam is the trilling of the voice and in
that there are five variations based on timing.
Gitam means singing the Sahityam and the Swaras for it.
1003. In music
there are three 'Grama-s' (occurring in the third line of the sloka). It is a grouping of the Ragas as Shadja, Madhyama
and Gandhara Grama-s, as Sa-grama, Ma-grama and Ga-grama. It seems all three are in the heavens and on
earth only the first two grouipings were present and Ga-grama has never been
known to exist on the earth. This is the information from Lakshmidhara who
wrote a Bhashyam for Soundarya Lahari some six centuries back. When I asked some present day musicologists
they sang and demonstrated that between the lower base Swara Shadjamam and the
higher Shadjamam, Panchamam comes exactly in the centre and that we can say that
in practice we have only the Sa-grama.
that is music is born at the 'Kantam' or throat only, from the 'sound-box'
isn't it? So, in AmbãL's throat itself,
these three Gramas are present as three lines, says our ÃchãryãL. These three lines will be there in the throat
of all women. Because AmbãL had that and
to demonstrate that they are all her replicas, it is there in all women too. All men have a protuberance in the throat,
which women do not have. It is called
the 'Adam's Apple'. Adam is the first
man who ate the forbidden apple which caused Kãmam (desire / infatuation) from
which all human beings proliferated says Christianity. Some apple got stuck in his throat and all
subsequent generations of males are having this 'Adam's Apple' in their throat,
1005. As per our Sãstrãs, Parameswara had swallowed
the Kãlakoota poison as though it was a toffee.
Then AmbãL caught the neck by her hands and caused the poison to remain
at the throat like a spherical marble.
So to indicate that the indwelling Ãtma in all human beings is him, we
all have that projection the size of goose-berry in our throat. Both the stories somehow indicate that for
all of us there is a common origin and all human beings are brethren in some
way and inter-related undoubtedly! When
Man is the root of all existence on the world stage, the nice, fragrant, sweet
and nourishing apple; gives health, vim and vigour as they say, 'An apple a day
keeps the doctor away'. At the same
time all our health and wealth, vim and vigour are also the reasons for our proliferation
of divisions of, isms, schisms, caste, creed, internecine quarrels and hate! With Easwara as the root of all existence,
the bitter and destructive poison also becomes harmless and beneficial for all life
1006. All males are Easwara in human form. All women are the same, AmbãL being the
archetype. That is indicated by the Adam's apple in all males and the three
lines in the neck of all women! Appar
came to Thiruvaiyaru and saw pairs of elephants, birds and other animals and
saw all of them as the primordial couple of Easwara and AmbãL singing, "கண்டேன் அவர்
திருப்பாதம் கண்டறியாதன கண்டேன்". If we also turn our minds towards devotion a
little bit, we will also have the darsan of the Siva-Shakti pair, in all that
we see wherever we may turn our eyes to!
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