Monday, December 30, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 86 (Vol # 7) Dated 29 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 last paragraph on page No 650 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   http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)

AruNachala Kavirayar & Rama Nãdakam
36.           The poet who wrote that song was AruNachala Kavirayar.  In Tamil Nadu literature about Sri Rama, after Kamba Ramayanam, it is 'Rama Nãdakam' that is famous.  In fact, in terms of familiarity with the masses, because of the ease of its diction and the Kamban's Tamil being considered as rather difficult especially with the passage of time, popularity and familiarity wise we should say the AruNachala Kavirayar's Rama Nãdakam, is in the first place.   Comparatively Kavirayar is of a more recent period of times that is, the 18th Century.  His language, proverbs and style of writing with the poems using more conversational Tamil than being too refined, as amenable to be sung as Keertans, became highly popular.  Covering all the events of Ramayana in a free style of conversational Tamil they were suitable for being staged as a Drama than being conducted as a musical concert.  Instead of being an Opera, they were more like a Dance-Drama.  Hence the songs from that work were sung on stage by musicians, used by Pundits narrating the story in the style of religious discourses known as Katha-Kãlashepam, by dancers in solo and group dancing; that it spread quite widely.

37.          Though the songs were good in their own merit like any Krutis, they were more popularly known as 'Rama Nãdaka Keertans'.  When a number of songs are so formed that they tell us a continuous series of events of an on-going story, those songs are known as a separate genre known as 'Daru'.  It is an added point that AruNachala Kavirayar was a champion of the principle of the oneness of Siva and Vishnu traditions.  His name itself indicates that he was a Saiva who gave the story of Sri Rama as a Vishnu Avatara.  He belonged to a particular caste known as 'Neerupoosi VeLãLar' – 'நீறுபூசி வேளாளர்', meaning 'farmers who wear the signs of the powdered and scented ashes known as Vibhuti / Neeru on the forehead, hands, chest and shoulders'.  Once upon a time they had converted to the religion of Jains and then returned back to the folds of Hinduism like Appar of the Nãyanmãrs.  Born in Tanjavur in a place known as Thillaiyãdi, after marriage he came to Seerkãzhi and remained there till his death at the ripe old age of 80 plus.  So, he is also known as Seerkãzhi-k Kavirayar also. 

38.          Born in a Saiva family, he was well read in Tamil and Sanskrit.  Though most of his education was carried out under the patronage of Saiva Matam of Dharmapuram Adeenam, to the extent of not bothering about the differences of Saivam and Vaishnavam, he had a deep affinity to the story of Sri Rama, that he created his 'Magnum Opus 'Rama Nãdakam'.  He was not much clued-up with music and its rules.  So, to the extent he was aware of, he could ensure that the words of the song would lend themselves to the rules of poetical metres and musical beats known as Tãla.  The credit for setting the songs to music in terms of appropriate Rãgãs for different moods goes to two of his Sishya-s both having names of Sri Rama as Kodandarama Iyer and Venkatarama Iyer.  They were both from Chattanatha Puram near Seerkãzhi, who learnt Tamil from AruNachala Kavirayar.  

Fights based on Language / Caste in Music
39.          Whatever the field, with or without any relevance there are a lot of mutually destructive quarrels that develop between people based on language and or castes nowadays, which is very unlucky for all.  In the field of classical music too nowadays, keeping the three famous masters known as Trimurthy on the one side and Tamil composers before them such as AruNachala Kavirayar and Muthu Thandavar on the other, a lot of muck is thrown about.  In fact the selection of those three known as Trimurthy, namely Thyagaraja Swami, Muthuswami Dikshidar and Shyãmã Sãstry; was not based on considerations of caste at all!  What did we see in the in the previous paragraph?  The two Brahmins namely Kodandarama Iyer and Venkatarama Iyer were students in Tamil under AruNachala Kavirayar who was from the caste of 'Neerupoosi VeLãLar'.  As his students they learnt much about the language from him and the teacher made use of the expertise of his students in Music, to refine and set his work to music.

40.          There is a word in Sanskrit known as 'Vakgeya Kãra' which means 'those who are good in Sãhityam that is writing poetry, as well as Sangitam that is music'.  Those three who are considered as the foremost in both Sãhityam and Sangitam were so named as the Trinity in Music cum Poetry as accepted by all.   Nobody knows when they were so named and as to who did that selection.  In fact this selection seems to have been done more out of all those poets cum singers in the world of Carnatic Classical Music, through a natural process of selection, that just happened to be based on, apparent excellence in word selection, appropriateness and validity of the sublime ideas expressed and the supreme value of the music so evolved; not based on language or caste!  If Sanskrit was the main criteria, then only Muthuswami Dikshidar should have been crowned as the Sangita Sãmrãt or something!  If majority was to be the criteria that mattered, both Thyagaraja Swami and Shyãmã SãstrigaL as the Telugu poets should have ruled the roost as the Duo or Pair!  It is just pure and simple bad luck that all three happened to be Brahmins and hence the accusation of partiality and discrimination!

41.          Looking at things exactly the way they were – without any imaginary or real axes to grind – all artists have been singing or playing instrumental music.  The poems and music of Thyagaraja Swami intimately and lovingly called Thyãgaiyer or IyervãL, were popularised mainly by Kanchipuram Nãyanã PiLLai and KeevaLur Meenãkshi Sundaram PiLLai.  Most of the Krutis by Shyãmã Sãstry and Muthuswami Dikshidar were popularised by VeeNa Vidhushi Dhanamma.  The ensembles comprising players of Nadaswaram, Dhavil and Jalra, mostly consisting Non-Brahmins only sometimes even including Muslims are mainly responsible for popularising most of the Krutis of Thyãgaiyer.  On the other hand Brahmins have been quite freely singing, imbibing and learning about the Tamil songs by Kavirãyar, MuthuthãNdavar, MãrimuthãpiLLai, Pãpavinãsam Mudaliyãr, Thãyum Anavar Pãdalgal, Thiru Arutpa, Appar SwamigaL and other Nãyanmãrs; irrespective of whether someone was a Brahmin or Non-brahmin!  From childhood I have also learnt most of these and never bothered to think if someone was a Brahmin or not!  After becoming a Sanyãsi too many artists and musicians have come and demonstrated their expertise in Nadaswaram, VeeNa, Flute and so on and so on in the Matam here.  The differences in languages and caste could never make a difference in our minds, attitudes and approach!  Having said that we do not want to see only the differences but should unify and integrate, I wish to emphasise only Samarasam and put a full stop here to this subject.  I have already gone too much far afield and delayed you all.  Let me come back to the subject about the songs of Kavirayar!

42.          AruNachala Kavirayar having written the 'Rama Nãdakam' and completed it, he wished to carry out the 'Arangetram' that is, official public announcement and acceptance of the new literary work, at Sri Rangam, as it was the place where earlier Kamban had done so for his Magnum Opus Ramayanam in Tamil.  The approval by the intelligentsia at Sri Rangam would have given the seal of universal acceptance, as it was so believed for many generations.  So not only did he select the same place as Kamban for his work's Arangetram, but also the same date of the year that is, the day of the Star of Hastam in the month of Phalguni!

43.          There was lot of sense in conducting the Arangetram of the Ramayanam based on Rama Nãdakam in Sri Rangam, because this very idol installed in the temple at Sri Rangam is the same one that was the family idol / Kula Deivam of the Ikshvaku Royal Dynasty to which fore fathers of Sri Rama had done Pooja for ages and so would Sri Rama have done during his time also.  But by his generous nature and as a gesture of good-will and friendliness, on his return from his 14 years sojourn in the forest, when Vibhishana was returning to Sri Lanka after attending the Sri Rama Pattãbhishekam in Ayodhya; Sri Rama gave this particular Ranga Vigraha as a gift!  It was Vigneshwara who tricked Vibhishana into getting the Sri Ranga idol permanently installed at this point of the island with the River Cauvery on either side, ensuring that it remains on the Indian soil!  Isn't it in the rightness of things that, the Arangetram for the Hero of the Literature takes place at the very station where his Kula Deivam has taken permanent residence?  Prominent members of the assemblage requested AruNachala Kavirayar to first sing a song on Sri Ranganatha first, in who's august and divine presence the Arangetram was being done.  So Kavirayar acceded to their request and promptly composed a song on Ranganatha.

The Song by AruNachala Kavirayar on Sri Ranganatha
44.          This is the song which I said some time back was of the genre known as Ninda Stuti which has been buzzing around in my mind which I wished to share with you all.  In earlier times this was a song, which used to be sung often by visiting artists to our Matam.  But the song that was rather famous for quite some time is not being heard at all nowadays!  I just don't know much of singing and whatever bit of good voice that I used to have is all gone.  But it does not matter as the words of the song are more important than how it is sung.  So let me tell you only the text.  (Though he said so, the compiler of the Deivathin Kural Sri Ra Ganapathy tells us that, Periyavã who had an appreciable amount of musical talent and a fairly good voice, while telling us the words of this and the next such poem, was sometime mumbling and sometime openly singing portions of the song quite clearly, nicely!)

45.          Having assembled a gathering for the Swami to be making a public display of lying in his royal bed or whatever, was rather odd as we noticed some time back, isn't it?  That is what Kavirayar had selected as the topic asking, as to 'what is the reason for your 'Lying in State' is it this or that or that'?  In it the poet goes on investigating as to what could be the reason for this odd behaviour with some humour, some sleight and some subtle dig, without being an open insult or ridicule!  The first question is this 'én paLLi kondeer aiya?' – 'ஏன் பள்ளி கொண்டீர் ஐயா?' –   meaning 'Why did you go to sleep, Sir?'  The Pallavi of the song is a repetition of the question – 'én paLLi kondeer aiya? Sri Ranga Natharé!  Neer én paLLi kondeer aiya?' – 'ஏன் பள்ளி கொண்டீர் ஐயா? ஸ்ரீ ரங்கநாதரே ! ஏன் பள்ளி கொண்டீர் ஐயா?'  

(To be continued.)

Sambhomahadeva

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