Monday, December 09, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 76 (Vol # 7) Dated 09 Dec 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 76 (Vol # 7) Dated 09 Dec 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL 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 581 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

"Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste"
1.             (This essay was originally published around Deepavali in the year 1990.  Though the content of this speech/essay is essentially divine in purport, as it contains many intricate points about the fine-art of classical music, it has been included under the general heading of Indian Culture.)   Recently Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr had reached 100 years of age, famously known as 'Sangita Sãmrãt' – 'संगीत सम्राट', meaning an Emperor in Music.  PeriyavãL is some three years younger to him.  This Emperor of the world of Gnãna PeriyavãL, telling the Emperor of Music Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr, about the Divine Emperor Lord SubrahmaNya, while doing word to word translation with comments of Muthu Swami Deekshidar's poem, 'Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste' is a wonderful and thrilling experience never to be forgotten for those who were lucky enough to be present on that occasion.

2.            In June 1961 PeriyavãL was camping in a place known as Devakottai for Chãtur Mãsya Vratam.  In addition to that Vratam, he had also taken 'kãshta mounam' – 'काष्ट मौनं', meaning keeping silence of not even responding by gestures or sign language, 'remaining quiet like a piece of wood' is the literal meaning!  Since he hadn't declared as to how long he is going to remain silent, it was being presumed to be for may be a week or ten days, as it kept on getting extended.  It was not clear as to whether he is listening to prayers by his visiting followers or not.  Such being the state of affairs, some citizens of the nearby Kãraikkudi, known as Nagaraththãr, met him and placed their address and entreaty before him.  During that it was clear that Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr was presently visiting their town Kãraikkudi.  At once PeriyavãL asked them in sign language if they could bring that gentleman to him, to the surprise and relief of the assemblage!  Nagaraththãr people took leave promising to convey the message to Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr.

3.            By three in the afternoon Ariyakkudi had come to the camp highly excited that PeriyavãL had asked for him and that he had broken his vow of silence in doing so. Our PeriyavãL despite the title as 'Jagat Guru' – 'जगत गुरु', meaning the Master of the World, was well known for his asceticism and simplicity isn't it?  The place where he was staying was true to this attitude of his.   It was a single room dwelling in the garden of a bigger residence.  He had opened a window of that room and was giving audience to the visitors through that window only.  (May be our PeriyavãL was the first to start this 'one window policy' much talked about now-a-days!)  The followers were coming through an area full of undergrowth of all sorts of grass and weeds.  Get a glance of PeriyavãL through that window and returning from there in all humility.  May be that by doing so, our PeriyavãL was teaching some elementary lessons in 'simple living', I suppose!

4.            When our PeriyavãL was informed about the arrival of Ariyakkudi, he indicated that the visitor may be brought to the same window of that out-house.  Accordingly Ariyakkudi came there and did Sãshtãnga Namaskãra and got up.  That is all.  As he got up everyone was happily surprised by the fact that our PeriyavãL who was silent like the DakshiNa Murthy Swami all these days, spoke again!  With a smile on his face and laughter in his voice, he was saying, "I came to know about how you were awarded Padma Bhushan.  Then you must have been given the Red Carpet Welcome, and honoured in a gathering of all VIPs with much pomp and show!  Here I am making you come through thorns and weeds and sit down in dirt and dust!  Please do not feel offended."

Sangita & Sãhitya – Music & Poetry
5.            "You know why I called you here?  I wished to hear somebody singing Muthuswami Deekshidar's Kruti 'Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste', sung without any blemish in the parameters of music such as Raga, Laya, Sruti, Tãla and pronunciation of the words correctly without killing the meaning.  Many people make blatant errors in pronunciation and meaning of Sanskrit and Telugu songs.  When the words of the poem are written, keeping the musical aspect of Tãla and Chandas in mind the words may be broken into parts or combined.  While singing the words have to be pronounced without making grammatical mistakes in their utterance as well as meaning.  If the writer composer is good, the words will lend themselves to such separation and combination/clubbing of words without any errors creeping in.  But many singers now-a-days fail to understand and comprehend the meaning, uncaring for the bomb-shells they happen to be dropping in terms of monstrosities in the meaning!

6.            In this song 'Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste' itself in one place, the words are, 'guruguhãyagnãna dwãnta savitre' which should be uttered as, 'guru guhãya agnãna dwãnta savitre', to convey the correct meaning that, '(I pay my) Namaskãra to Guruguha who is the Sun to the darkness of ignorance'.  But some people while singing extend this 'guruguhãya' long enough, ending in 'gnãna dwãnta savitre', conveying the meaning that he is the Sun for the darkness of Gnãna!  PeriyavãL demonstrates as to how the errant singers say the words, conveying the wrong meaning.

7.             You know this Kruti 'Sankarãchãryam', I do not know whether you sing that song or not.  (This is a song by Subbarãma Deekshidar in the Raga SankarãbharaNam played by Dhanamma on VeeNa and sung by Semmangudi Srinivãsa Iyer and MS Subbulakshmi.  In it there is a sentence, 'parama Adwaita sthãpana leelam' meaning, 'he who establishes the principle of Adwaitam playfully itself'.   PeriyavãL demonstrates by singing the words.  In that song only when we emphasise the gap between the first two words, 'prama and adwaita' will stand apart.  Even when I sing it like this like an amateur, you can see that meaning comes out correctly without any aberration in Raga, Tãla and meaning isn't it?  The singers whose names I mentioned also sing like that only.  But some uncaring for the meaning extending the word 'paramaaaaa' and end up saying, 'dwaita sthapana leelam' meaning, 'playfully establishing the Dwaitam'!  Thus they convert the Adwaita ÃchãryãL into Dwaita ÃchãryãL! Saying this he laughs for a long period. 

8.            I know that in music there is no Dwaitam or Adwaitam.  Music takes the prime importance there.  Whatever the song is for, about whomsoever, the music itself integrates.  That is why though you are a VaishNavite, with you this song 'Sri SubrahmaNyãya' is so attached.  Or you are attached to it, or whatever it is.  I have heard your singing that song.  I do not have to certify that you are perfect in music.  I have noticed that you are letter perfect in pronunciation and good in music too.  That is why I called for you.  In my Durbar there are only stones and thorns.  You have come without any accompaniments and even Tambura too.  Whatever the inconvenience, uncaring for them please sing that song for me.

9.            As our PeriyavãL stopped his continuous monologue, Ariyakkudi cried copiously with tears pouring from his eyes.  He did a Sãshtãnga Namaskãra once again.  He said that he couldn't care less for any other honour or convenience than PeriyavãL asking for him to sing and his being able to fulfil that command!  "I do not know as to how to respond, that you could give me this honour to sing before you.  The lack of Sruti and accompaniments, have to be made up for, by your grace only.  To the extent as expected it is your Anugraha that should make me sing correctly."  Saying so, he prepared to sing as requested. 

Names of Ragas Based on Place Names
10.          SwamigaL said, "We call the Raga Kãmbodi and the name of that Raga is Kãmboji isn't it in music text books?"  When Ariyakkudi confirmed in the affirmative, PeriyavãL continued.  Kãmbojam is the name of Cambodia, as may be known to many.  Our Indian culture was widely spread there.  If you wonder as to whether this Raga is an import from that place, researchers like Professor Sãmbamurthy say that it is not so.  Many aspects of our culture have been exported to that place and not the other way around.  That country was far behind ours in development those days.  We were far ahead in development of music and comparatively the music in South East Asia was more like folk music.  So, what is the meaning of the evolution of that name?  Not only was Cambodia called as Kãmbojam, but there was an area adjoining our North Western limits of the Indian sub-continent that was known as Kãmbojam.  Kãlidãsa was well informed of the geography of North India.  In his Megasandesa, when the Yaksha tells the cloud the route for reaching the destination, by following his directions step by step, we can make out the route map!  So correctly he would have given the directions.

11.          Similarly in his drama of Raghu Vamsam, Raghu goes on carrying out a victorious offensive over nations one after the other.  As you follow the descriptions of places beyond the Indus River West and North of it, he has talked about one State of Kãmbojam.  That means within what was the undivided Bharath Desh, in the general area of Hindukush there was a place known as Kãmbojam.  This Raga of Kãmboji was evidently from that part of the country.  Many Ragas seem to have been named from the place names of their origin.  Don't we have Raga names such as, 'Sowrashtram', Kãnada, Navarasa Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, and Yamuna KalyaNi and so on?  Similarly this Raga Kãmboji must have been from Kãmbojam. 

12.          What the researchers say is that many Ragas have been in use in many parts of India from time immemorial. Later whosoever polished and made them memorably famous from whichever part of the country, happened to impart the place name to that Raga.  'Kedaram' as the name of a Raga is evidently from what is known as 'Uttara Khand' to-day, where there is the temple of Kedãrnath.  Raga 'GowLa' for example is from Bengal, the Gowda Desam.  Combining these two Ragas, there is a Raga known as 'Kedãra GowLa'.  All these three Ragas have been there in South India.  When that is so, what does it indicate?  It only shows that the North end of Himalayas, Southern end of Tamil Nadu and Eastern end Bengal are all unified and integrated by our music and its Ragas and that one or some or many exponents of those Ragas must have been there, popularising those Ragas.  People especially Sangita Exponents have been referred to by their place names, isn't it?  Take your own name and other such artists' names as, Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr, Semmangkudi Srinivasa Iyer, Madurai Somu and Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan.  What do we understand?  Many Ragas could have derived their names from the place names of the artists who made them so endearingly and memorably famous!

(To be continued.)




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