Thursday, December 12, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 77 (Vol # 7) Dated 11 Dec 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 77 (Vol # 7) Dated 11 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 the middle of page No 588 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)

Thevãra PaNNsதேவாரப் பண்கள்
13.           "Do you have any acquaintance with research of music as related to the songs of Thevãram" PeriyavãL asked.  Ariyakkudi responded in the negative and PeriyavãL continued.  "Yes, of course you have set Thiruppãvai songs to music.  But unlike the Thevãram PaNNs, in the poems of Divya Prabandam, neither they have given the name of the PaNN nor do people sing them with any tunes.  Since mostly the Pasurams of Divya Prabandam are uttered by Brahmins, it has become a tradition to say them as they chant the Vedas with some ups and downs and gaps.  You must have selected the Ragas for each song as it suited your Mano-dharma while setting the Thiruppãvai songs to music."  Ariyakkudi replied, "Yes, as it appealed to my limited knowledge," in all humbleness. 

14.            "But the Ragas that you have set for them have become a standard that, other artists are also singing the way you have done with the same variations of Sangathi.  For long our ancient Ragas have remained constant in their original shape through the Thevãra PaNNs only, it seems.   The way the Vedas have been saved and protected by Vedic Brahmin communities without any changes or blemishes or experiments of improvisation; the Odhuvãrs have been doing the same with the Thevãram songs, from one generation to the next meticulously in the most disciplined manner.  It is something unique and exacting that they have done, without any change creeping in, in diction, the way the words are pronounced, and the way they are sung in terms of Sangathi, intonations, beats, pauses and emphasis.

15.          Their service in devotion has also proved to be great in service of music.  Ragas named as SankarãbaraNam, Bhairavi, Neelãmbari and such are there in PaNN singing with some different names for those Ragas.  Amongst those there are Sowrashtram, Kedãra GowLa, Kãmbodi and Yadukula Kãmbodi.  Kãmbodi is known as 'Takkesi' or something like that.  Kãmbodi is not a MeLakarta Raga and only a 'Janya' Raga, isn't it?  Ariyakkudi affirmed that Kãmbodi is only a Janya Raga, Harikãmbodi being the MeLakartha Raga for it.  (KTSV adds: - The Ragas are identified by the Swaras of ArohaNam [in the ascending order] of 'Sa for Shadjamam, Ri for Rishabham, Ga for Gãndhãram, Ma for Madhyamam, Pa for Panchamam, Da for Dhaivatham, Ni for Nishãdam and Ša for the higher Shadjamam and AvarohaNam [in the descending order] of having the Swaras of Ša, Ni, Da, Pa, Ma, Ga, Ri, Sa once again.  If you make the slightest change in them, the name of the Raga will change into something else.  In Indian Classical Music of the Carnatic variety, there could be 72 Ragas known as Janaka / MeLakartha Ragas.  Theoretically Raga is supposed to be based on the six Swaras between the lower and higher Shadjamam, with any basic pitch as the starting point.  The higher Shadjamam becomes the starting point for the next higher octave.  Now, there can be three different varieties of Rishabham, three of Gãndhãram, two of Madhyamam, three each of Dhaivatham and Nishãdam.  Panchamam is constant as the middle Swara between the lower starting point and the higher end point. So, there can be 72 Janaka / MeLakartha Ragas with the full complement of five Swaras between the lower and higher Shadjamam.  The Janya / derived Ragas can be theoretically 34,776, though due to difficulties of comprehension and grasp the Ragas in usage are much less.  Let us continue with the conversation between PeriyavãL and Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Aiyangãr.)

16.          "But, Harikãmbodi is the MeLakartha Raga and Kãmbodi is a Janya Raga that is more famous, like the son being more famous and well to do than the father.  Some Janya Ragas are more popular than the Janaka Ragas, isn't it?"  Ariyakkudi responded, "Bhairavi is also similarly a derived/Janya Raga from Janaka Raga Nata Bhairavi, but more popular as PeriyavãL says."  Then PeriyavãL said, "OK.  You sing that song Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste.  Having called you for that, I am going on talking."  As a rare feast of music, Ariyakkudi sang the song.  Though there was no Sruti and supporting instrumental music, it was very pleasant and wholesome indeed to hear the pure voice of Ariyakkudi.  Till he finished singing PeriyavãL was listening in with complete concentration with his eyes closed in rapt attention. 

'Encore' that is, Once More!'
17.          PeriyavãL said, "Since you were singing solo all by yourself, contrary to the normal, it was more prominent and the words were crystal clear.  I am using the formal expression of, 'truptosmi' – 'तृप्तोस्मि', meaning that I am totally satisfied.  (When an important formal Vedic Kãrya is conducted, some qualified neutral observers are requested to attend, who will make such a declaration that they are fully satisfied or may be make a comment or suggestion if need be.)  But I want you to sing again and stop at the end of each sentence so that I may be able to give the meaning of the words of the song.  Not that you do not understand, but so that as I translate the Sanskrit words into Tamil for the sake of people assembled here, I would be able to let my mind roam about in the classic literary beauty of Muthu Swami Deekshidar's expression, a little more. All those assembled here will also understand as to how such great writer-composers were capable of packing in so much of beauty, depth of understanding and comprehension in their creations!  Ariyakkudi sang that song once again with pauses at the end of each sentence so that PeriyavãL could explain the meaning.   From what PeriyavãL spoke that day and his comments on the subject on certain other occasions are collated and given hereinafter.  That brings us to the end of the Introduction.
***   ***   ***
SubrahmaNya is the Vedic God
18.          "Sri SubrahmaNyãya Namaste, Namaste"; - meaning repeated prostrations before and to SubrahmaNya Swami.  Having started with the salubrious and pleasant 'Sri', repetition of His name twice is to mean repeated repetitions and emphasise.  Similarly we say 'Jaya, Jaya' or 'போற்றி போற்றி', 'Namaste Namaste' – 'te + nama:' – 'ते + नम:' becomes, 'नम: + ते = नमस्ते'. 'Te' – ' ते' means to you, SubrahmaNya.  Throughout the poem this fourth declension of the verb 'to you' is what is used.   Namskãrams to You SubrahmaNya, repeatedly Crores and Crores number of times. SubrahmaNya means 'good BrahmaNya' or select or special.  What does 'BrahmaNya' mean?  From the word 'Brhmam' we take it as the very form of Parma Ãtma or one amongst the Holy Trinity of Brhma, Vishnu and Maheshwara.

19.          But there is another important meaning of Brhma and that is the Vedas.  That is why when a child is introduced to the Veda Mantras for the first time at the time of Upanayanam, it is called 'Brhma Upadesam' after which he becomes a traveller in Brhmam and hence is called a 'Brhmachari'.  To follow the Vedas and to observe its Do's and Don’ts meticulously is the job of Brahmins.  So Vedic means BrahmaNya.  Thus SubrahmaNya becomes the special God as related to Vedas, as the God deified in the Vedas, particularly special to that set of Brahmins who are totally involved in Adhyayanam, Adhyãpakam and related activities of conduct of Yagas and Yagnyas; collectively known as Vaidika Brahmins.       What is most important for Vedic activities?  It is conduct of Yagas for which you need the Agni / God of Fire and SubrahmaNya is of the form of fire.  He was born of the six sparks of fire / light from the third eye of Easwara.  So he is the God of Vedas as the most important of Devas, cherished by Vaidika Brahmins.  Our ÃchãryãL also has mentioned in SubrahmaNya Bhujangam, 'mahee deva devam, mahã veda bhãvam, mahã deva bãlam' – 'महीदेव देवं, महावेद भावं, महादेव बालं'.  The first phrase 'महीदेव देवं' means the God of Brahmins, the second phrase 'महावेद भावं' means the essence Vedas and the third phrase 'महादेव बालं' means the Son of Mahadeva that is Easwara. 

20.          'Thiru Murugãrruppadai' is one of the oldest devotional Tamil literatures, written by Nakkeerar, describing all the six Padai Veedu-s where there are temples for Sri SubrahmaNya.  He describes as to how the six faces of Muruga give different types of Anugraha to the devotees.  In that he says that one face is specially for sanctioning the wishes of Brahmins who strictly follow the tradition of perfect adherence to the chanting of Mantras and conduct of Yagnyas – 'oru mugam mantra vidiyin marabuLi vazhã adhu andaNar veLviyorkkumme' – 'ஒரு முகம் மந்திர விதியின் மரபுளி வழாஅது அந்தணர் வேள்வியோர்க்கும்மே'Then while describing Swami Malai aka Thiru Veragam also, he has talked about how Brahmins with strict observance of celibacy aka Brhmacharyam, nurse the three fires of Garhãpatyam, Ãhvaneeyam and DakshiNãgni, conducting various Yagnyas doing the SubrahmaNya Mantra Japa and Puja.  The Brahmins who participate in the Yagnya Karma are known as Ritwik of 16 different functional names in which one of them is 'SubrahmaNya'!  Thus the very fact that amongst his names as Muruga, Karthikeya and so on it is SubrahmaNya that is rather famous and popular, which goes to show that for Vedas, Vaidika Brahmins and Vedic activities, Sri SubrahmaNya is the 'Ati Devata' aka the Presiding Deity. 

21.          Muthuswami Dikshidar is connected to SubrahmaNya in more ways than one.  He has visited almost all important temple towns, like our ÃchãryãL did in his time.  Still he is known to be a great devotee of AmbãL.  At the end of his life, he is supposed to have been singing the song on Meenãkshi Amman, while leaving the mortal coil.  But in his birth and the start of his literary abilities are all having something to do with Sri SubrahmaNya.  The very name 'Muthu Swami' is the name of 'Muthu Kumara Swami' of Vaitheeswaran Kovil.  His father Sri Ramaswami Dikshidar was also an erudite scholar and quite knowledgeable in music.  He was also a Sri Vidya Upasaka.  Till he was 40 years of age, he did not have any off-spring.  Then he went with his wife to Vaitheeswaran Kovil and kept a vow of abstinence for a period of one Mandalam that is for 42 days.  His wife had a dream as though someone had tied a packet of items of religious purport of sanctity such as, fruits, betel leaves, areca nuts and flowers, in her lap, which was construed to be God's sanction of their wish.  Then finally one day she did become pregnant and the baby was born under the auspicious star of Krittika in the month of Phalguni which is the birth star of Lord SubrahmaNya too.  As he was born as blessing of the Presiding Deity of that Vaitheeswaran Kovil, he was named as Muthuswami.

22.          Then he learnt and practiced Music, Sri Vidya and also stayed in Kãsi under a Sanyãsa Guru.  His Guru dropped his mortal coil there in Kãsi.  Before that, he advised Muthu Swami to go back to South India.  He told him, "Go back to South.  On the way first go to ThiruththaNi.  There, SubrahmaNya Swami will fructify the purpose of your coming into being on this earth."  Accordingly he went to ThiruththaNi.  Had a dip in the Temple Pond and was climbing the steps to the hill-top temple.  He was accosted by an old man who called him by his name, telling him to open his mouth.  When Muthuswami opened his mouth, that stranger dropped apiece of sugar candy in his mouth and vanished.  At once Muthuswami knew as to who it was.  From that moment he was aware of the very purpose of his birth was composing and singing songs of deep devotion and high philosophy.  That productivity started instantly that at once he sang 8 Krutis on Guha in eight declensions of verbs as in the Shabda Kosh in Sanskrit.  

(To be continued.)




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